Hungry Hungry Hippie

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Squash dinners

I finally got around to making a jar of freezer jam with these pineapple guava fruits.

They are such a confusing taste for my tongue to process.  It’s kiiiiinda like the texture of apple, but with a kiwi-ish tartness and acidic sweetness.  That sounds so weird right?  It’s hard to describe!  Definitely a tropical thing that I’m not used to.  I made a big pot and whatever didn’t fit into the jar, I used in oatmeal for breakfast.  Which tasted similar to when I make oatmeal with applesauce.  I didn’t use any additional sweetener in the oatmeal and everyone ate it without any idea that it was any different than my usual batches, so I guess that means people like the guava?  I let it simmer for a long long time on the stove, occasionally adding in more water and letting it reduce down again and again.

I didn’t take a photo of the final product though.  Oops!  We already had an open nectarine jam, so it’s in the freezer for whenever.

Lunch plate number one of two.  This is the last of the smoked salmon from my final trip to Costco.  Now I’ll have to keep my habit in check because it’s $$$$ to buy it elsewhere in the amount I really want to eat it.  😛

For dinner I busted into the spaghetti squash I got at farmer’s market.

I scooped out a bit for the kids, and then added pesto to each side for me and Kyle to eat directly out of.

Would you say your pesto is the besto? Friends reference anyone?

I would!

I added dry roasted pinenuts because why not.

I looooove spaghetti squash eaten right out of the squash.  Is once a week too often for this kind of meal?  Hoping Kyle gives that plan the green light.

More delightful chocolate bars for dessert!  Toffee Coffee bar with 55% chocolate.  OMG.  Charles always has delicious chocolate flavors, but this is truly the best I’ve tried.  The one with cashews in it sounds like it would be amazing, but it was actually kinda so so.  This, however, was stellar.

The chipotle bar was good to eat along with it because it slows my roll.  The heat really forces slow savoring.

I spent breakfast time the next morning making chili.  I sautéed half a yellow onion in the IP before adding in ground beef and browning that.

Next I added in kidney beans and quinoa and two jars of home-made tomato sauce.

One jar was chopped tomatoes from our garden and the other was home-made marinara (I thawed them both overnight).

Chili request satisfied!  Chili for lunches all week long!

For dinner I made this kale salad.  I’ve made it a few times before, and it was just as good as I remembered it being.

Because it was a decent sized squash, I made half the pan with taco spices and the other half plain (to have on hand for my lunches).

Tossed with the massaged kale, feta, avo, toasted pepitas, and then…

The best part of all… TORTILLA CHIPS.

I crushed them all up in the salad and it was heavenly.  Why are chips so addictive.  (I mean, it’s the salt, but man are they good.)

 

Cilantro double down

I haven’t been super hungry in the mornings this week so I’ve been making my coffee with full fat coconut milk to hold me over instead of breakfast.  It has been working out great because by the time lunch arrives I’m properly hungry (starving) and I get to dig into a huge bowl of goodness without feeling super stuffed.  I think my low appetite may be because I’m doing less intense workouts.  For the most part, the short 22-24 minute run to drop P off at school is all I do.  It’s plenty of a workout considering I’m pushing both kids in the double stroller (they are HEAVY!). By contrast, the ride home with only V feels super light.

The weather has gotten cooler but I’m hoping to continue our jogging commute all year long.  The kids like listening to a podcast together, I like not dealing with parking in the small school lot, and it means I get a workout in doing something I have to do anyway.  Not to mention how great it is for the environment.  And that it’s actually faster than getting them in and out of the car for such a short distance.  And it kills some of the time between his drop off and hers.  So many reasons!

I love this Thai salad.

I have already had it twice this week.

The only thing different was what kind of nuts I used, cashews vs peanuts.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I made the salad with peanuts one of the times this week.  I feel pretty safe eating them since P is so far into maintenance.  I have given him an extra peanut with his daily dose a couple of times and he hasn’t had any issues, so that’s reassuring.

I know you can’t tell in the photo, but this avo was T H E  H U G E S T I have ever seen.  It was bigger than my hand.  So naturally I had half of it and pretended it was a normal half, even though it was about as much avo as a whole one would typically be.  No shame in my ‘cado game.

I made this yummy salad for dinner, which all revolved around this sauce.

It’s a chermoula sauce from America’s Test Kitchen.  I halved it thinking the kids wouldn’t be into it because it’s predominantly cilantro, but I regret it since Kyle and I LOVED it and it was much milder than I thought it would be once it was mixed into everything.  I’ll have to make it again.  We were both big fans.  And I just realized since I had cilantro on my Thai salad, I have been doubling down on the cilantro quite a bit lately!

Here’s my version of the recipe:

Cilantro Chermoula

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (I used some of the stalks too)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pulse together in a blender/magic bullet until the cilantro is well chopped and everything is incorporated.

I tossed the dressing with spinach before adding in millet and chicken.

I made the millet in the rice cooker and baked the chicken in the oven before shredding it.  And then toasted some slivered almonds and seeds at the very end of the chicken’s baking time.

Voila!

I sometimes forget about millet, but it’s such an under rated and under used grain.

I sub it for couscous to make any recipe that calls for it gluten free.

I had this for dessert.  It was my birthday present from my mom and dad and was a new flavor that I’d never had.  Of course it was incredible, because it had toffee AND nuts.  There’s no better combo in my book.  Thanks parents!

Farmer’s market haul

At long last.  A weekend in town.  More specifically a HEALTHY weekend in town.  I started Saturday morning out with my girlfriends.  I rode my bike to brunch at Cafe Bernardo downtown (which was so fun) while Kyle and the kids were at the Home Depot craft.  Later on, we met up at farmer’s market, where I got a ton of produce, which I then put in the car for Kyle to drive home so that I didn’t have to bike back balancing kale and squash on my back.

The best part about farmer’s market is getting the more unique stuff that stores don’t carry…like this unknown squash (I bought the section, not the whole squash).  I have been trying to choose the vendors who don’t wrap things in plastic because then I just put it in my own veggie bag.  But it was only in there for a second because I roasted it as soon as I got home.

I’ve never seen a squash like this!  It was bright bright orange and oddly crunchy – like a cross between an apple and a carrot – when I cut into it.  It roasted up just like a normal root vegetable though.  And then, since I had no dinner plans, I decided to use it that night!

But I’ll get to this meal later.

While the oven was on, I got in more prep.  I bought this yucca last week with the idea of making my own chips.

I had no idea what I was doing here, but I figured I would just treat it like any other starch (like a potato).  I peeled it with a knife because the outside had a weird waxy coating on it and then sliced it into thin rounds.  I used my big sharp knife because it was a lot harder to cut than a potato!

Then I spread them out on a baking sheet and sprayed them with oil.

And baked them at 375 for 30 minutes with a few minutes on broil at the end.

They smelled SO GOOD.  I had some with Monday’s lunch…

Not to get totally out of order, but here’s the chicken salad and carrots I had with that same meal.

2 breasts of chicken (shredded) + 1cup Sir Kensington’s mayo + 3 celery stalks (diced), 1 honeycrisp apple (diced) + 1 cup pecans + salt + pepper

Should be enough for a few days of lunches!

The yucca chips were really good by the way.  The end pieces were a little harder than I’d like, but the thin middle pieces were perfect!

But back to the weekend…since I had a bigger breakfast than usual, I wasn’t too hungry for lunch, so I had some of these lentil and Brussels leftovers from last week.

And then I continued prep mode.

Per my son’s request, I made bacon wrapped dates.

As well as banana bread (per my daughter’s request).

And a few more things, like washing and de-stemming a few bunches of kale, chopping carrots, and making chickpeas in the instant pot.

Eventually it was time for dinner, and by then I had settled on making a kale salad with some of the stuff I had prepped.

I used the lard from the bacon wrapped dates to massage the kale down and then added in made some farro to turn it into a proper hippie bowl.

I’ve made salads with bacon wrapped dates before (because Mr. P is OBSESSED with them) so this isn’t a novel concept in our household, but it is a little different so I will still post the recipe.  I’m trying to update my recipe page to get all these new bowls I’ve been making on there.  I love looking back when I can’t think of what to make and getting ideas, so hopefully it’s helpful for you guys too.

Kale and Grain Bowl with Bacon Wrapped Dates

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro (~2 cups cooked)
  • 1 bunch kale, destemmed and cut into bite sizes pieces
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups squash, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 12-15 slices of bacon
  • 12-15 dates
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

First make the bacon wrapped dates, by preheating the oven to 400.

Slice the slabs of bacon in half so you have 24 – 30 pieces.  Remove the pits from the dates and slice them in half.  Then wrap each date halve with bacon and rest it on a baking sheet with the seam down (so it stays wrapped up).  Bake for 15 minutes.

Once the bacon wrapped dates are done and cool enough to touch, set them on a plate and pour off the grease into a large salad bowl with the kale.  Massage until the kale is wilted.  Add the apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper as you want.

To roast the squash, turn the oven down to 375.  Toss the cubes in olive oil and spread out on a greased baking sheet and rosat for 25-30 minutes (until tender when you poke it with a fork).

To cook the farro, use a 2:1 ratio of water:grain and simmer on the stove until it’s tender (or use a rice cooker like I did).

Finally, assemble everything together.  You can cut the bacon wrapped dates into smaller pieces if you want and add extra salt and pepper to taste (I used salted almonds so I didn’t need to add any seasonings but feel it out for yourself).

The kiddos loved this one, obviously, and I even managed to sneak myself a few leftover bacon wrapped dates for my lunch salad the next day.

But before I get to Sunday, may I present to you…

My new favorite “every day” chocolate.

Kyle got me this for my birthday because I told him the chuau firecrackers bars are too $$$$ (why I can’t let my husband splurge on me is a question for another time).  Let’s just skip over the therapy session and discuss the bar.  It’s awesome.  And it makes me limit the amount I eat because it has some heat to it!  It’s a perfect kick in the mouth that makes you eat slowly and savor every bite.  I loooove it.  And because it’s Nugget’s own brand, it’s totally affordable!

The banana bread I made was half whole wheat flour and half quick oats and it worked out so well.  The kids were SO excited to get some that morning.

P had to be at church early that morning because the choir was performing at al three services.  Luckily he ate the banana bread faster than fast and we were out the door.  Kyle and V met us for the second service (the one we usually attend) and it was basically the cutest thing.  They did sign language with the songs and the kinder kids seemed so small compared to the big 5th graders, although he definitely thinks of everyone as his peers.

Even though we had spent the whole morning together, P wasn’t ready to separate when we finally left church and asked if we could do something special.  Knowing V was probably anxious for me to get home and make her lunch, I tried to think of something easy that would still please him…and we settled on a nature walk around our neighborhood.  He was thrilled and the weather was gorgeous, so it was a great end to the morning.

For lunch I made a salad of leftovers with kale massaged in balsamic vinaigrette and then topped in the rest of the bacon wrapped dates, manchego, and avo.

It was awesome.  And even more awesome eaten in peace with football on, while the kids played together upstairs.  They play so well when they are reunited after they’ve been separated for a few hours.

For dinner I made lettuce cups.

Kyle had requested pork and I felt like something lighter because I had a mom’s dessert and drinks night later on, so lettuce cups seemed liek the perfect compromise.

I added fish sauce, tamari, fresh ginger, and green onions to the pork.

I thought two pounds seemed excessive but I was wrong.  We ate it all.

The kids had rice bowls at first, but then asked for their own lettuce cups once they saw how we were eating them.  I had accounted for this to happen because I know how they operate.  Had I given V lettuce without it being her idea, she probably would have been iffy on it.  She likes (loves) lettuce of all kinds as long as it has dressing, but plain lettuce is hit and miss.

Anyway, it was delish and it also used up the last of the cilantro which was just barely hanging on for one final meal.

Phew!  Feeling all caught up now.  On Wednesday.  😛

A tiger and a princess

How did everyone’s Halloween go down?  We went trick or treating with BOTH kids this year!

I took Pacman last year solo, but Valley got to join in this year and she was ALL FOR IT.  It was so sweet.  We only went to 10ish houses but they thought it was awesome.

We’d already gone downtown earlier in the day for Davis’ trick or treat trail where you hit up a bunch of local vendors for candy…but they didn’t really care about it too much and the crowds were kinda crazy so we kept it quick.  V found these princesses and HAD to go over, but as soon as she approached them she froze.  I’ve never seen her so quiet or shy – she was a completely foreign girly. Look at her skeptical little face up there!

After the kids were in bed Kyle and I dug into this plate of goodies (from the annual neighborhood potluck where we all had dinner).

P and V were in heaven surrounded by the neighborhood big kids…he actually asked me to go eat inside and leave him!!!  TOO SOON!  Not everything about growing up is sad though…a year or two ago I never would have imagined letting P eat whatever he wanted from a potluck event ESPECIALLY without me helicoptering over the whole situation.  Now the two of them are self sufficient enough to hold their own in older company and it’s almost as enjoyable for them as it is for me to witness.  I makes me proud to see them act self confident and kind.

ANYWAY.  Back to the food.

Earlier in the day I had loaded them up with protein to compensate for the impending sugar (which actually barely came).

I had more of this tuna salad (which I thought I already blogged about, but in looking back couldn’t find, so maybe I didn’t?) with Lundberg rice chips and carrots.

Both the chips and the tuna salad lasted me three servings.  The tuna salad was basic – just celery, Sir Kensington mayo, and dijon mustard.

I love having something prepped for week days!  I don’t even have to think, I just pull it out as soon as the kids are fed and settled into their quiet times.  V is nearly done with naps and it’s a big time bummer.  She stays up too late on the days that she naps, so I prefer the bedtime routine on days that she doesn’t nap, but she’s also not as good at independent play as P so her “quiet time” doesn’t allow much solo time for me.

In other odds and ends news…

I made pizza one night.  It’s such an easy win, I should do it way more often.  I’m like the hero of the day when I make pizza.

I had a two pack of Vicolo crusts in the fridge from a couple of weeks before.  V had begged for a pizza night so I bought the crusts just to appease her and then it got put on the backburner…until I was scrambling for dinner one night (post food poisoning) and voila!  Pizza night finally had it’s moment!

The kids split one of the crusts with daiya and pepperoni and Kyle had the other to himself with goat cheese and parmesan, while I had half of a Cappellos pizza leftover from who knows when (stored in the freezer).

Look at this modest dessert!  Probably a world record for the smallest amount of chocolate ever eaten by me in one sitting.

Another dessert record happened the next night when I pulled some cobbler from the freezer and had it with coconut ice cream.  INSTEAD OF CHOCOLATE!  Who am I??

Should I be happy that “mama” at least made the cut for his thankful tree, or should I be insulted that I was ranked below both “legos” and “food” (specifically bacon)??

Wild Rice Salad with feta, walnuts, and pomegranate

Wild rice is such a cool ingredient.  I love it’s chewy bite.  It’s actually a grass and has the second highest protein content (second only to oats). Anyway, I had a pomegranate ready to be used and from there the recipe just kinda fell into place.

For the dressing, I wanted something a little different than a vinaigrette.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a simple vinaigrette, but I’ve been going that route a LOT these days.

I decided on an orange shallot dressing, but sautéed the shallots in olive oil first to take off some of the bite.  I also toasted walnuts at the same time.

Orange Shallot Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 3 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Saute the minced shallot in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent and cooked through.  Turn off heat and let cool slightly before adding the rest of the oil, orange juice, vinegar, and salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Half went on the rice and half got massaged into the kale.  And when I say massage, I mean really get your hands dirty and work the leaves.

I used a whole bunch of kale, which I massaged from the above down to the below with half the dressing.

Once the rice was done cooking, I mixed the rest of the dressing into it.

Next I added the kale.

Followed by the walnuts and pom arils.

And then last but not least, the feta.

This was a big hit with the whole family.  Everyone polished their portion off and Kyle couldn’t stop raving about it.  P loooooves walnuts and pomegranate and V asks for kale salads with cheese whenever I ask her what she feels like for dinner, so it’s pretty much covering everyone’s faves.

Doesn’t it look like a festive holiday salad?  The red and green are making me feel all the Christmas feels and I’m usually of the mindset that we need to properly soak up Thanksgiving before we can look ahead, but for some reason I’m ok with it right now.  I think the pandora holiday station may make it’s debut this week…

Wild Rice Salad with Feta, Walnuts, and Pomegranate and Orange Shallot Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice (~4 cups cooked)
  • 1 bunch curly kale, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 4-5 oz feta, crumbled
  • orange shallot dressing (see above)

Directions:

Cook wild rice (I used a rice cooker, but you can use a pot with a 3:1 water:rice ratio).  While the rice is cooking, make the dressing.

Prep kale and then massage half the dressing into the kale.  Once the rice is done, mix in the rest of the dressing.

Toast walnuts for ~10 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

To assemble the salad, toss the rice, kale, and walnuts together and then fold in the pom and cheese.  Serve and enjoy!