Friday, January 20, 2012

Samer's Hummus Recipe

I've received quite a few requests for recipes so I decided to re-post this most requested one (my friend Samer's hummus recipe).  I'm also making it a little easier to find recipes by posting links on my "Recipes" page to all previous recipes in my blog, by title.  You can always type in "recipe" into the search bar also to pull up any blog that uses that word.

I wanted to thank all the new people who have become members of my blog on Google.  It's fun to see new faces on there!  I'd really like to get my Feedburner numbers up, so if you haven't subscribed to my blog via email, please take about 30 seconds to do that.  To the right of the screen you'll see the words "follow by email".  Just type in your email and hit submit.  Then you will need to go to your email and verify your subscription in the link that Feedburner will send you.  You'll automatically receive each updated posting straight to your email from that point on!
Super easy and thank you in advance!

On to the recipe...  Samer's Hummus recipe is the best I've made...and I've tried plenty!  I was so grateful when he shared this with me and allowed me to put in on my blog.  I has been my most requested recipe to re-post so here you are!

Samer's Hummus

This is how it looked when Samer made it. 


*2 15oz cans of Kuner's Garbonzo beans (no salt added)

1/2 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup of Tahini (I found it at Fresh & Easy...Samer gets it from Middle Eastern markets)

1/3 cup of lemon juice (approx the juice of 2 med lemons)

1/4 cup of water (if desired...I needed it)


Empty cans into food processor or blender, 2/3rds drained. You need the liquid in there so the beans don't stick to the sides.  If cooking your own beans, add water or it will really clog your machine.

Add the salt and garlic powder and turn on the processor/blender.

Keep an eye on it and make sure the beans are moving and not sticking to side. If they are, add just a little bit of water to keep it going. Let run for 2 minutes or until the beans look less and less grainy...

While it's still running, add the olive oil, tahini and lemon juice

Let run until desired smoothness. You can add more of any of the ingredients to desired taste. I've discovered if one of the ingredients' flavor is overpowering, adding some water or tahini helps balance it out.  The longer you let the processor run, the smoother the texture will be.

Plate, and decorate with fresh chives, tomatoes, paprika, and cumin powders. Drizzle olive oil on top.
My notes:* I used dry beans, soaked them for 24 hrs and then boiled for 1 hr.  Make sure the pot is full of water because it will boil out by the end.  This is supposed to be a money saver however when it heats my house and I'm paying for AC to cool it down and it's 108 outside...I'm thinking go with the canned beans.  In the winter though...great way to warm up the house and add humidity!  I used about 2 cups cooked beans.

Serving suggestions:  Serve for dinner, as a dip for a party, appetizer, etc...  Dip chips, pita bread, crackers, pizza crust (my method of choice tonight!), or cut veggies such as green/red bell peppers, carrots, celery, etc...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

Do you ever know what the right thing is to do but do the opposite of it anyway?  I guess the truest definition of that is 'sin' but no, this blog is not about sin and God's amazing Grace and Redemption (although I do love that topic!).  It's actually about being sick.  This week our family has been hit hard with fevers, sore throats, runny noses...basic cold symptoms that really wipe a person out.  Now, we used to get this in September, October, November, December, get the picture.  We were one of the SICKEST families around.  I've often joked that I needed to take out stock in Kleenix because I was sure I kept them in business. 

Many of my childhood memories revolve around me, tissues and sore throats.  In college I sang in a choir and we would take a yearly tour for a week around California, singing in churches.  Every year I went and mouthed the words because I'd be sick and have no voice.  My first year of teaching, my biggest fear was what to do when I was sick and didn't have a voice, because it happened SO OFTEN!

I joked yesterday with a friend that I feel like I'm a living science experiment.  I went into Clean Eating/Healthy Lifestyle with Optimal Health as my end goal.  My supposition was that if you eat clean and healthy, your body will be able to fight disease and you will stay healthy.  And if anyone would know what it's like to be sick, it's me.  For the most part, I'm pleased to say, I'm proving my theory to be true.  Sickness and germs are still around me and my body is constantly under attack, especially on weeks like this one where the other 4 in my family have all been sick.  Would I get sick too?  Or would my food truly be my medicine?

I did really well last week.  I ate cooked food (clean only!) one time a day and otherwise it was all raw.  Broccoli salad, sweet potato salad, green smoothies, Walnut pate, etc...  Amazing food...seriously delicious!  I had no symptoms of sickness while everyone else was sneezing all over me.  Until...yesterday.

When I made my BIG mistake.

I was coming home at 6 p.m., exhausted and hungry.  Instead of going home and eating food I'd already prepared, I drove through Panda Express...our former favorite food.  We chowed down.  The kids wanted dessert and I said, "Are you kidding me!  You just ate sugar coated chicken.  You just HAD your dessert!"  Which is 100% true.  But my sweet tooth was kicked into high gear so I topped it off with the only sugar left in the house...1/2 bag of M&M's.  Within 30 minutes not only did I feel terribly sick to my stomach but I had a raging sore throat.  The germs in me had been fed with their favorite food, sugar, and I was getting sick.

I knew better!  I knew that I was in the middle of the battle ground but I still gave in!  Sometimes I frustrate myself SO MUCH.  I went to bed early and woke up with the same sore throat, if not worse.  So I went to my daily arsenal (which I had completely neglected yesterday) and fired it up.  I know there are many more things to do than this, but this is what I do DAILY.
  • 1 spoonful of bee pollen (don't do if you're allergic to bee stings)
  • glasses and glasses of water (should be 1/2 your body weight in ounces)
  • hot tea with honey
  • 3 vitamin C tablets a day
  • 1 freshly-squeezed lemon to a glass of water + 5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (it's nasty business but it works!)
  • green smoothies a day (both with 5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract)
  • And most important...NO SUGAR!
Ironically, this is what a family friend, Kimbra Nungessar, wrote yesterday in her Menu Monday raw cooking emails.  Kimbra has been a Raw/Vegan for 9 years and her husband is co-author of the cookbook TopRawMen (click to link to their website).

"People wonder why they and their kids are always sick in the winter. We blame sick classmates, cold weather outside, too many germs inside, the list goes on. Think about this...Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. Candy, sugar, Candy and more sugar. Sugar kills our immune system. Normally after Easter sickness disappears and our kids run healthy through the summer and early fall until....Halloween, Thanksgiving...etc. I encourage you to control the amount of candy and sugar in your kids diet. I can literally turn runny noses on and off in my kids via their diet. Some of the worst offenders are well meaning Sunday School teachers and school teachers which feed high sugar snacks to the kids on a weekly basis. 

Use the dollar store or garage sales to fill a basket with small trinkets. Let your kids cash in their candy for an item from the basket. However, don't stash the candy away in the house because guess who will eat it in a moment of! Throw it away, give it away or send it to work with someone you know.  If your kids want to work together let them slowly put their candy treats in a collective jar. Write the prize on the outside of the jar: family movie night, trip to bounceU, whatever would motivate your kids. When the jar is full of sweets they get to go on the treat!"
I love it!  Thank you SO much Kimbra! 
It's now 1:40 p.m. and I am sore-throat free!  Yay to healthy eating!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Brownies for Dinner

This has been a crazy busy week.  I went from vacation-mode (totally relaxed, having tons of time to work on things at home, like my blog and new Etsy site) to jumping into the deep-end of life once again. 

I'd wanted to write several new blog posts by now and put up a new recipe but it hasn't happened and isn't looking like it will until about this time next week.  So.... I've been asked a few times to share this brownie recipe again and think it will be the perfect filler-post until I can get back to writing.

Speaking of my new Etsy site, here's the link in case anyone's interested:

And my new Facebook Fan Page, which is  ironically also called "Naturally Sweet Surprises".  (Neither of these links are food-based sites.)

I called this post "Brownies for Dinner" because these clean-eating brownies are packed full of protein.  They are also sugar-free and gluten-free.  And there were no beans involved in the baking of these brownies!  They are my kids' favorite dessert for our new lifestyle.

Speaking of is my daughter's birthday and I bought the tiniest cake I could find.  It was called a "baby cake" and was made for 2 to share.  I cut it into 6 pieces and none of us could finish our slice!  Two of the kids asked to wrap theirs up to finish tomorrow.  This is just cake from a grocery nearby!  In my past life I would have polished off 1/2 the cake in one sitting, no problem.  Tonight my tongue and stomach were telling me things my eyes weren't quite agreeing with...too sweet, too fake tasting.  My eyes kept saying, "What's wrong with you?  It looks amazing!"  I was nearly sick from the cake and my eyes are going to have to catch up with the rest of me pretty quick here.

On to the recipe.  It's originally from The Gracious Pantry.  (Click to see original recipe.)  I posted this back in November as a "Recipe of the Week".  Enjoy!

Clean-Eating Brownies

Brownie Ingredients

1 (16 oz.) container almond butter
4 egg whites
1 cup honey (raw if at all possible)
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup cacao powder (if not available, Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder is next best)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup organic dark chocolate chips (42% cacao or higher)
Brownie Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Step 1 – Add each ingredient, in the order listed, to a large mixing bowl, one at a time. Whisk in each ingredient completely before adding the next.

Step 2 – Pour into an oiled 9x13 baking pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

This recipe yields 20 brownies.  Each brownie has 217 calories and 5-8 grams of protein, depending on what type of calculator you use (and what type of nut butter).

So simple, right!  Some tips I have from my experience baking them...
·         I used crunchy almond butter because that's what I had.  Still tastes great and the kids haven't complained about the nut pieces in them but next time I'll do it with creamy.
·         You can use peanut butter or cashew butter instead of will alter the taste.  I'd recommend trying with almond first so you know the base taste and then alter.
·         The cheapest way to make these would be to buy almonds in bulk and blend your own almond butter.  I'll be trying it that way one of these days!  (I have now tried it and no longer think this would be easy or cheap.  But it is possible.)
·         Honey - the healthiest version of this will be with raw honey.  Try to avoid store-bought processed honey if at all possible.  Most of that comes from China and is filled with toxins you do not want to consume!
·         The mixture is too stiff to whisk by hand so use a hand mixer to make it easier.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Year's Revolution, part 1

I love new beginnings.  I've always loved Mondays as they are a fresh start to the week.  I've loved the 1st of the month and 1st of the year.  But I've never loved New Year's Resolutions.  Like most people, I make one (or more) with all the greatest intentions...but with no intentional acts to make my resolution a reality.  Last year I was praying about this and decided I would choose one thing to revolutionize my life for the year of 2011.  So I called it my New Year's Revolution.  (The funny thing was, after making this decision, suddenly that term was all over the Christian radio stations.  But I came up with it on my own!)

So, my Revolution last year was to improve on all things "kitchen".  That meant doing the dishes in a more timely manner (getting a new dishwasher in 2011 really helped with that!), cooking healthier, making meal-times more of a family affair.  That's really all there was to it.  I did not go into it intending to lose weight, learn about whole, clean, raw foods, etc...  All I wanted to do was improve in those little areas...cleanliness and family time.  But God heard my prayer and indeed made my revolution into a REVOLUTION.  I have never experienced so much change in one year. 

So I'm going to step out a little and put my before/after photos up.  I'm not finished with this revolution.  I need one more year to complete it.  But I've made such giant leaps that the baby steps left shouldn't be too hard. (I can hope, anyway!)  These photos are really hard for me to put up because they're embarrassing.  I never saw myself as being overweight, unless I looked at a photo of myself.  And looking at these photos was my reality check.  I'm so glad I embarked on this journey!  (may I never go back)

This was at my heaviest, 199 lbs.  Taken Feb 2011.  I call them my "Weight Watchers Pictures"

My "After" Pic, taken Oct 2011.  160 lbs
That was my favorite shirt but after taking this photo I realized it was a size 16/18.  It went into the donate pile!

This was taken Jan 4, 2012.  I haven't lost any additional weight BUT haven't gained any either.  Still at 160, I have 10 lbs to go to be where I want to be.  I'm very pleased that by eating Clean/Raw, I've been able to maintain a stable weight for so long.