Quinoa & Mixed Green Salad with Spicy Candied Pecans

This salad is modeled after my absolute favorite salad at Earl's restaurant. The combination of cooked quinoa and greens threw me off at first, but oh my gosh is it ever delicious. I have made my version of their "West Coast Prawn Salad", which I am sure is reduced in calories and vegetarian friendly! It is filling, yet light and has pecans and avocados so you get your healthy fats for the day!

Quinoa & Mixed Green Salad with Spicy Candied Pecans

2 handfuls of washed mixed greens
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup cooked & cooled quinoa
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 tablespoon cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add pecans, sugar, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat, and keep stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until toasted. Set aside. 

In a large bowl add quinoa, avocado, and strawberries. Stir to combine. Add mixed greens on top and toss until the quinoa is mixed through. This is where you would add your dressing if you wanted. I made a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, raw sugar, and pepper. Just pour over the top and mix until coated. 

Transfer salad to a plate and top with your candied pecans and feta cheese!


Cinnamon-Chai Banana Muffins

So recently I gave my blog a little make-over and update, only to discover that I have really been slacking on the baked goods. This obviously translates to ---> I never eat baked goods. Wrong. I am just getting lazy and buying them at the store. So I decided to try and use up some stuff in my fridge and put a twist on an old favorite. Also we were out of milk....so once again, a recipe create from lack of groceries.

This chai tea concentrate is really awesome stuff. All you do is mix it with some milk or water and you have a super taste latte or cup of tea. Since I like it so much in a drink, I figured it wouldntt be too bad in muffins either. It is not  a very strong taste, but gives a great little hint of chai. 

Cinnamon-Chai Banana Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup chai tea concentrate
3/4 cup mashed extra ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter or shortening

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk and set aside. 

In another bowl combine sugar and butter. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, soy milk, chai tea concentrate, and bananas. Stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated. 

Line muffin tinn with wrappers or spray with non-sick spray. Add about 1/3 of a cup or until 3/4 full. In a small bowl combine sugar and cinnamon. To each muffin add a small spoonful of cinnamon-sugar. Using a toothpick, swirl around into a pretty design :)

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. 


Chili-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

I have been seeing these everywhere lately! It is like I was meant to make them or something. Foodgawker, Pinterest, on a cookbook cover at the grocery store. So I thought I would give it a try, since it is a great vegetarian meal. You can top these with any of your favorite toppings. I think cheddar cheese and avocado would be great too. 

On a side note.... I have had Pinterest for a while now, but only recently started to use it. Holy time waster.. it is  addicting. But what a great way to get creative ideas for food, home, beauty, and fashion! If you haven't tried it yet (which I am sure you have) check it out!!

Chili-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
1 large Sweet Potato
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
10 small corn tortilla
1 tablespoon fresh or jarred jalepeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 green onions, sliced
1 lime
Handful Cilantro
10 small corn tortilla

Peel sweet potato and dice into 1/4 inch cubes. Place cubes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Drain potato and set aside. 

 Cut lime in half. Set aside one half for garnish. 

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Once hot add sweet potato, chili powder, cumin, jalepeno, garlic, juice from 1/2 lime, salt and pepper. Sautee for 5 minutes until some potato pieces are beginning to brown. 

In a small pan heat a small amount of oil or butter. Fry each tortilla for 1-2 minutes on medium on each side. You can definitely leave this step out, but warm tortillas are the best!

To assemble place a spoonful of sweet potatoes, and a spoonful of black beans on a tortilla. Top with green onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice!


Hawaii! Kona, Waikoloa, Polulu, and Hawi

On the beach one of our last nights. There were so many turtles on this beach it was unreal!

For Christmas my hubby and myself took 10 days in Hawaii to visit my parents. They recently moved to Waikoloa, Hawaii and we had not seen the new place yet! Anyways, it was a great trip! Got to work on my tan, eat some new foods, hike some awesome trails, and enjoy the heat! Here are some pictures of the trip!

Our friends Jadene and Tyler met us there for a few days and Jadene brought these to the beach one day. They are called Rumbatons and are soooo weird. A super hard koosh ball shell and a clear jelly ball with a huge seed inside. Super tasty though and fun to eat!

We took an awesome hike in the Polulu Valley. You start super high and hike 20 minutes down....

to a secluded black sand beach. The sand was like powder! Then you hike about 1 hour up the other side...

to another amazing view of beautiful sea cliffs. You can continue the hike to complete the 18 mile trail. Maybe next time. Ours was about 4 miles round trip, and the perfect amount for a day hike!

Some of the turtles from the first beach pictures. They are so chill, don't even open there eyes when you walk by. 


Cherry Tomato and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Lets just chat about New Year resolutions for a second....

I don't know if I have ever made a resolution....maybe when I was younger I made one to stop chewing my nails. Well let's just say I have never paid for a manicure, so that didn't stick. I think that resolutions are great, and not just for January first.  The last year I made a resolution in February and another in June.  Both had to to with eating habits, an both have stuck pretty well.

 If you are going to make a resolution, and you want it to be successful I think the key is to be realistic and specific with yourself. For example don't just say: "I am going to eat healthier." Does that mean less fat, more veggies, no fast food? I think a great resolution that most people should really, really, try is to always have a vegetable with every meal. And not just a carrot. Realistically your plate should always be half full of veggies.  I am not just saying that as a vegetarian, but if people really knew the benefits of eating lots of fruits and vegetable maybe they would stop counting ketchup as a veggie and jelly as fruit.

Anyways, my resolution this year is to be a better vegetarian. I still eat fish but not chicken, beef, or pork. But sometimes.....when the right slice of bacon comes along. I just can't say no. Between breakfast meats, hot dogs and beef jerky, I am a weak person. Which is super random because you would think, "Okay, if a vegetarian is going to cheat they would probably have  a nice steak." Well not me. I want the worst possible meats for you. So I am really going to try and stop the bacon wagon. Also, I realize that I could have said "that's what she said" about 10 times in that paragraph. LOL On to the recipe of the day!!

If I were ever to go on a diet where you could only eat raw foods (aka have never been cooked) I might die. But only after I ate this. If your New Year resolution was to eat more veggies this is a great place to start. A simple veggie salad with healthy oil and fully intact with all of its nutrients. I made this salad, was going to save it for dinner, then ate it all. I wanted to put white beans in it as well to make a complete meal but didn't have any. I think they would be great though, so if you do give it a try!

Cherry Tomato and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

1 large Zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic- minced
1/2 lemon
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Using a vegetable peeper (or potato peeler if you don't have one) peel the zucchini length wise into thin ribbons. Half or quarter the cherry tomatoes and combine in a bowl.

In the bowl add olive oil, juice from lemon, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic. Toss to coat! Easy, quick, and healthy!

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