Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Themed Yogurts

I love all the new fall flavors of yogurt available! Chobani also has a Pumpkin Twist that I unfortuantely couldn't find. I did try their Meze Dip in Smoked Onion Parmesan but the smoked flavor made it taste like meat so I couldn't eat it. Otherwise I imagine it could be a good sauce to put over pasta. Here's my review of everything I tried.

Chobani Apple Crisp Twist - delicious, it's an apple cinnamon yogurt with pieces of spiced walnuts, cinnamon crunch & glazed pie crust pieces. The yogurt was pure white and tasted very authentic. And the pie crust pieces were an awesome add on.

Chobani Pumpkin Blended -  This tasted really authentic and delicious.

Chobani Caramel Apple - I thought the caramel flavor was a little too smoky, there were a few small pieces of apple. I would just rate this ok.

Siggi's Pumpkin Spice - This had a very mild pumpkin flavor, it was more about the spices.

Noosa Pumpkin Yogurt - This seasonal yogurt used to be only available at Target, but now Whole Foods has it! Noosa is my favorite yogurt but it's high in calories and sugar so it's only an occasional treat for me.
Noosa is an Aussie style yogurt which is similar to rich Greek yogurt. It’s made in Colorado from milk free of artificial growth hormones (rBGH) and artificial preservatives from outdoor cows that eat grain and alfalfa grown without pesticides. Eating organic yogurt free of artificial sugar (splenda) has always been really important to me. Their pumpkin flavor is absolutely divine, it was incredibly delicious!! I split the container into two servings so it’s better calorie wise. Definitely make sure to get your hands on one, you won’t regret it! Noosa also has some new flavors out, a whole line of yogurt with hot pepper in it, no thank you! But I do want to try the Mexican chocolate.

Ok so I know this is a post just about yogurt, but I had to also throw in one other thing.
Annie's Pasta in a pumpkin and sweet potat0 sauce - I was skeptical about this one, but it was surprisingly good. The directions say to use non-dairy milk but all I had was vanilla almond milk, thankfully the vanilla flavor was almost non-existent. I added some butter, peas and a little left-over pumpkin I had from a pumpkin I recently baked. Then sprinkled some cheese on top and it was delicious!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spicy Vegan Chili

There's a farmers market that sets up once a week by my office so I always take a stroll through during my lunch break. I picked up a bunch of veggies and was impressed that my two full bags only cost $10. I recently read Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi's memoir where she talks about spices a lot. I have a cabinet full of spices (see here). For the first time ever, I purchased two green peppers. I know nothing about peppers, so I googled when I got home to figure out what the difference between the two were. The big one was a poblano pepper and the small one was a jalapeno pepper. After cutting the peppers and removing the inner seeds with my fingers,  I washed my hands thoroughly with soap.  Afterwards, I started to feel parts of my fingers burning, I checked my hands and didn't see any cuts, I guess the pepper got absorbed through my dry skin. Later I jumped in the shower and when I tried to remove my mascara with water, well boy was I in for a surprise, the pepper was still on my hands and my eyes were burning! Fair warning here, use caution when cutting peppers and don't touch the inside seeds. This being my first experiment cooking with peppers, it really gave a nice rounded deep flavor to the chili, but it's not too hot to eat, it just the right about of heat. This recipe will be replacing my previous go-to chili recipe.

I used one link of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo, which I also used in my paella recipe.  The secret ingredient is raw cacao nibs, which is bitter unsweetened chocolate. I always buy red bell peppers for whatever I'm going to use it for (even though they are more expensive) because a rule I live by is to always make a colorful plate for every meal. 

1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
2 bell peppers (red and yellow)
1 carrot
1 cup kale
4 celery stalks
1 lime (squeezed and zested)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 red onion
1/4 cup corn
3 garlic cloves
1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TB agave syrup
raw cacao nibs
soy chorizo

 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 TB chili powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 ½ tsp ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
dash cayenne
1 bay leaf

  1. In a large pot heat a little oil over and add the onion and garlic and saute a few minutes.
  2. Add the ginger and cumin and let cook for one minute.
  3. Then add all the peppers for a few minutes.
  4. Next add the celery, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, garlic powder, bay leaf, nutritional yeast, agave, vinegar, cocoa and lime. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes uncovered.
  5. Add beans, sausage, corn and kale. Stir well, cover with lid and simmer on low for 1 hour. 

Nutritional Analysis 
Makes 5 servings, 386 cal, 20g protein, 17g fiber

Monday, October 17, 2016

6 Amazing Pumpkin Recipes To Make This Fall

Fall has become one of my favorite seasons since it involves everything pumpkin. Saying goodbye to summer isn't easy, but the crisp autumnal breeze and festive aspects of fall make the transition easier. From watching the leaves change color, to apple picking, pumpkin patches, and making seasonal fall foods, there's so much to enjoy this season. I love pumpkin recipes as much as the next person but would rather stay away from the high-calorie pumpkin pie.  Here are some true and tried recipes to get your pumpkin fix with these low-calorie but high nutrient foods. Did you know that pumpkins are high in fiber and contain the antioxidant beta-carotene which keeps your eyes sharp? This week on my blog will feature fall themed foods you need to add to your list to try this season.

Last week I baked a sugar pumpkin to have fresh pumpkin puree. With it I made Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal for breakfast all week, it was delicious!

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Bread  check out the calorie comparison I did between my recipe and Starbucks pumpkin bread.

Overnight pumpkin oatmeal - if you're not ready to turn the oven on yet.

Pumpkin curry - if you love Thai food, you'll want to try this.

Pumpkin soup with tofu croutons.

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake - Last Friday I went out to lunch and saw on the menu "Pumpkin Pie Smoothie" which I'm sure would be delicious but made with ice cream which is just way too much sugar for me. It reminded me I had a delicious but low in sugar protein shake made with pumpkins. Watch the video of me mixing it up.

Check out my other favorite fall recipes.

Friday, October 14, 2016

13 Trader Joe's Foods You Have to Try This Fall

I just got my Trader Joe’s flyer in the mail and couldn’t wait to hit up the store to stock up on pumpkin products. I decided this year not to get some of the usual: pumpkin butter and pumpkin cream cheese as I figured those involve repeatedly spreading on something unhealthy (bagels or waffles). I love macarons and find that TJ's frozen macarons are affordable (versus going to a macaron shop) and low in calories. Every fall TJ's comes out with pumpkin macarons, but this year they changed the recipe and added a lot more spices. When I went apple picking a couple weeks ago I was dying to have some apple cider so I had to pick up a bottle at Trader Joes which is perfectly spiced!  I always bake my own pumpkins instead of buying it in a jar, tastes so much better. Here's my recipe for sugar pumpkins. Here's your must-have fall Trader Joe's shopping list:

Fall Zucchette Pasta (a pumpkin shaped pasta that derives its orange hue from butternut squash)
Pumpkin Ravioli
Sugar Pumpkin
Pumpkin Body Butter (see my review of the Coconut Body Butter)
Pumpkin greek yogurt
Apple Caramel yogurt
Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea
Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage
Pumpkin macarons 
Spice Cider
Sweet Potato Sage Gnocchi

Not photographed is the Cauliflower Rice which TJ's sells this both frozen and in the fridge with the vegetables. It's a great substitute for rice. I've made it myself from scratch before, but it's a lot of work!

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I love dressing up.  The Great Gatsby Party was my first big dress up event of the year. If you need a good movie to watch to get you into the Halloween spirit, I highly recommend The Book of Life, it's cartoon based on the Day of the Dead celebration. This year my costume is based on a comic book character, stay tuned. Here are some costumes I've had in the past, the first three pics were taken in the same place because I kept going to the same party every year.

                                                              Belly Dancer - I used to take classes



Day of the Dead - purple is my favorite color and I wanted the makeup to be different than the traditional
Thai Princess inspired by my 4th trip toThailand

Salt N Pepa

Buzzfeed did a hilarious article called 18 Halloween Costumes That Are As Ridiculous As 2016 Has Been. Here are my previous posts on what celebrities wore for Halloween:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson who post divorce has become an alcoholic and takes the train everyday (so her roommate still thinks she's employed) by her former house where her ex-husband now lives with his new wife and baby. Next door lives Megan and Scott Hipwell whom she does't know but appear to have the life she always wanted  based on what she views through the train.  Then one day as the train passes, she sees something shocking that fills her with rage. The following day she wakes up with bruises all over her body and no memory of what happened the night before, typical alcohol blackout. On the news she hears that Megan Hipwell is missing. So Rachel inserts herself in the case to "help" find Megan.

I listened to the book on Audible which takes place in London so all the characters had British accents. Thus, I was surprised to learn the movie was based in New York. However Emily Blunt's native British accent seems to go in and out during the movie. Rachel's self destructive behavior due to her alcoholism was the most fascinating part of the book but I don't think that plays out as much as it could in the movie. Emily Blunt didn't go through much of a physical transformation required for the role, just a  lack of make-up and I'm-so-pathetic manner. In an interview she said her cast mate Justin Theroux guessed she was pregnant during filming based on how she didn't really throw herself into action scenes.

The book is told from three female narrators, none of which you feel you can trust. The book shares a lot more back story than the movie does about each character, one critical scene was taken out I thought. The movie chose to tell this story in a non-linear format to stay true to the book. I couldn't stand Anna's character wearing a very obvious blonde wig.  Edgar Ramirez's character was just as mysterious in the movie as in the book. A lot his storyline from the book was also omitted from the movie so you didn't see too much of him. There was one curious moment in the movie where Dr. Abdics was asked his ethnicity but the director refused to go there. It was surprising to see Lisa Kudrow playing a much older role, she will forever be freeze framed for me as her age on Friends.

The trailer for the movie really makes it look like a psychological thriller, which the book is. I think since  I had read the book and knew the ending, it lost that heart pounding thrill for me. I still would rate it a great film with great performances. The book is still number one on Amazon, did you know last year Amazon had gone out of stock of it once?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Plum Fall Colors

With fall in the air, warm apple cider are heating things up, pumpkin treats are making their debut, and fashionwise I’m wearing more layers. With that change, I feel I’m supposed to ditch the light hues of summer, namely my light pink handbag. This season I’m coveting all things in a rich dark plum color. Plum is a perfect transitional shade into fall, it’s darker and moodier, and the color I painted my bedroom.  I started being a Kate Spade fan in college and still have my entire collection of handbags, can’t bring myself to throw them away. I recently learned something new (to me), that Kate Spade sold her company a few years ago to start another company under a new name. Check out the story here. If you order from Amazon, on Oct 1 they started charging tax to DC residents so I put in a big order on Friday, my last tax-free one. Here are some bags I have on my wishlist, can’t decide which one to get, what do you think? I painted my nails Zoya Haven to match.

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