June 30, 2014

Kabobs with Tri-color Bell Peppers

This is a two-step dish with delicious results. Kabobs come in all shapes and sizes. These are South-Asian style kabobs made with ground beef, shaped, and fried. Luckily, I have found a way to avoid the frying. I usually make the kabobs ahead of time, and freeze them to use whenever I am in a time crunch. You can enjoy with rice, naan, or even atop a salad. I love all three options!


For the kabobs-
1lb lean ground beef
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt


Combine spices into the beef, mix until well incorporated. Using your hands shape the beef into round pieces that resemble hamburger patties. Spray a large fry pan that has been heated to medium heat with non-stick cooking spray, and lay the patties into the pan.
Cook one side for about 4 minutes, and flip to other. These are now done and can be enjoyed as is

To create the above pictured dish- 

Cut half of a red, orange/yellow, and green bell pepper, respectively,  into slices. Cut 3-4 kabobs lengthwise into slices. Spray non-stick cooking spray on to a pan.
Heat the pan to medium-heat.
Stir-fry peppers for a minute
Add in kabob slices
Sprinkle black pepper to taste
Continue until all is heated through- about 2-3 minutes
Garnish with cucumber


June 25, 2014

Chocolate Chip Muffins with Chocolate PB2 topping

I've had many fails perfecting this recipe until now. I finally got it right! Healthy muffins!
 They are low in sugar, healthy, and almost guilt-free. They almost felt too good to be true! The PB2 cuts down on calories too! Have you tried it before? It's low calorie powdered peanut butter! You can make it as think or as thin as you want. Try these out when you want a healthy treat.


1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
2/3 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of chocolate chips 

For the topping:

1/4 cup of Chocolate PB2
Water to mix
Mix to desired consistency


Combine all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips. Mix in wet ingredients. With a spoon or whisk incorporate ingredients until wet. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake until golden at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. 

June 23, 2014

My Very Own Tea Ceremony

I just love tea! It soothes my senses, tickles my taste buds, melts away sorrows, and delights as it warms my body to its core. Even in the summertime! 

It's tea time, all the time!

To my great and utter disappointment, I have had to limit my caffeine consumption. But, for growing baby inside me? Anything. It's only temporary. I suppose I can make do with less, as long as its not cold turkey. So naturally a tea lover like myself was elated when my doctor said I could have less than 300 mg a day! This opened up a world of possibilities. I could have black tea in the morning, green tea in the afternoon, and finish off with an herbal tea in the evening. All within my caffeine limits! Could there be anything better than that? Maybe throw in a slice of cake. At that point, I'll just pass on and go straight to heaven. So I'd like to share elements of my morning tea ritual. I like to call it a "tea ceremony." 

My baby and I fill up a pot of water. Okay, she watches intently throughout the whole thing. I add a few ingredients to the water like fennel seeds, a cinnamon stick, and a few cardamom pods. It really adds flavor, and a delicious fragrance. I wait until the water comes to a boil.

In the meantime, I set aside some loose tea. I usually use about 2 teaspoons for 2 cups of water. It's so much more flavorful than bagged tea. Although I keep bagged teas around for convenience as well. There is really great loose leaf tea set you can get to try out the roaming free variety right here.

Add the loose tea to a tea pot with a strainer. Let the tea sit for the amount of time required. It's usually about 6 minutes for my black tea. It is a little less or green and herbal teas.
Pour into a cup, add sweetener as needed.


Do remember to try it with the herbs suggested; it really does add a subtle difference!

Anyone else out there like tea as much as I do?

June 20, 2014

Book Review Fridays- The Giver


  I had read this book as part of my required reading in middle school, and had since forgotten about it. It's been quite some time since then. When I found out recently that it was being turned into movie, I decided to revisit a childhood memory. Come to think of it, I don't really think I grasped any of the concepts in the book in my initial read. I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on, and why this society lived the way they did.

    Fast forward to now, The Giver  by Lois Lowry definitely was easier to understand than when I last handled these words over a decade ago. It's science-fiction story for young adults, but I think it enjoyable for any age, or maybe I am just saying that make me feel better. 

    The book opens with a description of a black and white strict society bound by rules that dictate a majority of everyday life. Milestones such as birth, marriage, life path are all pre-determined.  These rules are set by the elders of the community. To date, no one has challenged this - that is until Jonas arrives. No, I am not talking about Joe Jonas. Although, that would be nice to see him play the character of Jonas in the movie... or would it? Probably not

 Jonas (the main character) is unable to adjust after he receives some knowledge about his society's past memories. His role in life is to become the "receiver of memories," and the person that held that position previously is about to retire as he has aged now is called the "giver."
So that is who that old man on the cover of the book is. In middle school, I thought it was Jonas in the future or something.

His knowledge of memories opens him up to his society's past, where there was color, less censorship, and individuality.  The current world he lives in requires everything to be the same.

    What he once knows begins to crumble, and he and the Giver decide the society needs their memories back in order to restore the previous way of life. I am guessing they figured out living in black and white is not fun. The only way this can happen is for Jonas to leave the community. His leaving will allow the memories to disseminate across his people. 

    I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a Utopian society, although this seems more of what I'd imagine a communist society to be like. It also reminds of that movie with Reese Witherspoon where everything is in black and white. I can't think of the title.. starts with the letter P.  When I think Utopia, I think colorful, fun, and get reminded of those Fruitopia commercials a few years back, (remember those?). Maybe the description should be changed to utilitarian society, and not Utopian society?

Either way it's a pretty interesting topic that is discussed in the book. Something new, and different. It's definitely worth a read. If you do end up reading it, tell me what you thought of it. 

Score- 4.6 out of 5

If you would like to purchase the book using Amazon.com you can use this link

June 18, 2014

Easy Pizza Cupcakes

Want a simple and easy treat for dinner? I got the idea from Pinterest, they looked tempting to make! This literally took me 20 minutes. The crescent dough I used did not have any artificial ingredients. I got it from Safeway, and it was called Immaculate brand. Have any of you tried it? I thought it just as good as the popular brands.  I also love that you can make these as individuals to please everyone in the family!
Here's how my pizza cupcakes turned out-

1 can of crescent rolls, or refrigerated pizza dough
2 tablespoons pizza sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
toppings as desired

Preheat oven per directions on can. Open container, and cut dough into 6 equal pieces. Press each piece into the bottom of a sprayed cupcake tin until almost flat. Add pizza sauce, mozzarella, and ingredients to each piece as desired. Bake until cooked through- mine took about 12 minutes. These were a hit, and so easy to make. Try them out!

June 16, 2014

Pregnancy Brain

I have this constant foggy feeling in my head all day. It's like it never sharpens. As a result I am becoming more forgetful, and incredibly aloof as I progress along in my pregnancy.  I know it's normal for women to experience "momnesia" during pregnancy. But, I don't remember it being this bad the last time around. It's actually gotten pretty serious. I have a full blown case of "pregnancy brain." Here's how I know- 
  • I forgot I left the fridge door open, and didn't notice for 2 hours
  • I never remember to flush 
  • I didn't see the wall I walked into (this actually happened)
  • I can't remember when baby's last diaper change was
  • I stepped on poor baby's hand as she was crawling near my feet. I didn't even see her there!
  • I put salt instead of sugar in my coffee, and it hasn't happened just once
  • My never know where my phone is, and I always forget where I put it
  • I wandered around the grocery store for an hour without remembering what I needed to get, and came home with half of the items on my list. 
Needless to say, I think Dad and baby are a little worried when I'm around. I remind them constantly that this is temporary, and soon I'll snap right back into place!... or so I think

I did some research of my own to figure out what exactly is going on with me. I just want to feel normal!

 So apparently it's all just chemicals in our brain. An article on WebMD says there is a huge surge in hormones like progesterone, and estrogen that are about 15 times the normal amount in our pregnant bodies. This can affect our thinking process. So, that explains all the silliness!

 Another cause could be the stress and anxiety of what lies ahead. This can also cause our brains to re-shift priorities. Short- term memory is primarily affected during this time, so we can rest assured that that it's just the fleeting stuff anyway, not the stuff that really matters.
But, it gets worse before it gets better, especially in the last few weeks before pregnancy. So just be mindful of this, and don't be too hard on yourself, after all you're the one giving birth!

The silver-lining? It ends after pregnancy, and there is no lasting effect of the surge of hormones. It just happens for the time being, and goes away after baby's arrival. Yes!

Hooray for pregnancy brain! Not.

June 13, 2014

Book Review Fridays- Nudge

I read this book while I was completing my Master's degree (required reading) , and have since have kept it on hand to refer back to from time to time. Nudge by Richard Thaler, and Cass Sunstein is a highly informative read. Although, I must offer a note of caution- it is a somewhat dense read. If you are wanting a breezy read, this is not the book you would want to pick out. It is, however, a pick for those days you want some food for thought. So bear this in mind when reading.

The book challenges that humans are making the common mistakes as a result of the social contract we adhere to... in other words - that we all follow a trend based on our predecessors on a large scale. We make the same mistakes, and continue to do so without realizing. The "nudge" part indicates that we should actively think about the decisions we are making, and work to move away from auto decision-making mode, and into a more active thinking mode to improve our lives. It further provides evidence of this theory by citing several studies that have recorded instances of humans commonly using biases, and backgrounds as their basis to make decisions.

My only challenge to this notion would be that if we are a result of our experiences, how can we make conscious decisions that go against the very thread of how we understand the world around us? We understand things through examples of our parents, and our life happenings. If not this, than what? Where do we get information different from our predecessors? Were they not in the same conditions (I mean the "human condition") we were in? This was my only concern when thinking about applying this book to reality. Who knows? - maybe you'll find the answer when you read the book.

Overall, I think it very similar to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you can check-out my review here, but has a more scientific tone, and a more serious message. I think with constant re-reading and understanding I might truly be able to make better decisions about "health, wealth, and happiness," but I'm sure changing thought processes can take a while.

Score- 4.8 out of 5

If you are ready to pick your brain, you can use this link to Amazon.com here

June 11, 2014

Guilt-Free Banana Bread Muffins

Any type of muffin, cupcake or pastry is my weakness. I seriously get weak in the knees. But,  I have had to limit that kind of stuff lately. The other day, I had a few ripe bananas staring at my face just asking to be put to use, so I put them to work! They gladly participated in my quest to make the classic banana bread a little healthier. I substituted out the butter for coconut oil, and made some other changes to make these guilt-free muffins!


1 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic coconut sugar
1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)
1 medium egg
1 large ripe banana- mashed

What to do-

- Preheat oven to 350 degress
- Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix until all are incorporated, set aside
- In a separate medium sized bowl, combine the mashed banana, sugar, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla extract until all is mixed together 
- Gradually add in the flour mixture- a little at a time,  until all is blended together
- Pour into muffin tins
-Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown

Makes 4 large muffins
Calories- 240 per muffin

June 9, 2014

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken

This is one of my absolute most favorite dishes in the world to eat. I could eat it every day if it wasn't a heavy carb and calorie laden meal. Now I stick to once in a while. 
We make it once every few weeks when I really feel like going all out. I have two sauce versions I use for this. I either use jarred Alfredo sauce if running low on time, or make the sauce myself. I prefer the homemade sauce. The sauce doesn't take very long to make, and it's super healthy when compared with the restaurant, or jarred sauce versions.


1/2 lb of fettucine noodles- boiled until al-dente
2 whole chicken breasts- Pan fried or grilled
1 teaspoon dried parsley

For the Sauce:

2 cups cauliflower florets- cut into small pieces
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter


Boil the the cauliflower in the stock until tender about 15 minutes. Add in butter, and salt/pepper to taste. Puree in a blender until smooth. 
Mix in fettuccine noodles. Top with chicken breast, and sprinkle with dried parsley as desired. 

Serves: 2

June 5, 2014

Newborn survival tools

I remember the newborn phase. The phase when a tiny fragile beings needs your every waking moment while you are mentally, and physically exhausted from the miracle that is child-birth. You need all the tools out there that can help you manage the sleep-less nights. 

When I was expecting my first baby, I had no idea where to begin, or how many of each item I needed. I have since figured it out and wanted to share the most important items and their quantities to avoid overspending, or overbuying. I am simply sharing with you what worked best for me. You can follow through the links, if it is something you decide is useful for your registry, or just want to take a closer look at. I found the Amazon.com prices were a great deal when compared to most brick and mortar shops. I ended up buying most of my stuff online because in my third trimester I was just too big, and too tired to go shopping. 

I would say the items here are good for about the first 3 months depending on the size of your baby. 

This is a list of all the things I found MOST useful during the time that I needed it for my now 11- month old, and will be needing this upcoming October (when I'm due)

  • 6-8 Onesies- I just bought 2 packs of 0-3 month sizes. I kept other outfits for pictures, and other occasions separate. Although, I hardly used them.  My newborn wasn't into partying when she was first born. Now? a total party animal. Fancy clothes were better to use as she got older. These onesies were essential because baby was kept swaddled most of the time, and the onesie kept just the right temperature for her little body. Also, I didn't buy too many because I wasn't sure what would fit baby since I didn't know how big she was going to be when she entered the world. This amount was perfect. 
  • 2-3 Swaddle Me Blankets- We learned how to swaddle at a class we took at the hospital, but our little miss would break out of the DIY swaddle blankets really quickly. I found these to be super helpful for sleep time. We used these for naps, and bed time. She was cozy, and happy. And I didn't have to worry about her swaddle coming undone in the middle of the night. 
  • 6-8 pairs of socks- I like to not buy too many socks at one time, because over time I find the laundry eats up our socks, and we somehow end up with mismatched socks. I found this amount of baby socks just enough for the first few months
  • Diapers- Be sure to buy a variety of sizes but in one brand. I had 2 sizes ready for baby's arrival. Just to make sure we got the best fit. I wanted to use cloth diapers, but I couldn't see myself enjoying the process. 
  • Changing Pad- This is a great tool to use to lay baby down on during diaper changes. I have one that is curved to protect the wiggly little worm. 

  • 4-8 Wash Cloths- of course, you can use the sink to wash baby, but I found it be a little dangerous because she would get all slippery. You don't have to bathe baby until she is about 3 weeks old, or the stump for the umbilical cord falls off.  So after that happened, we got soapy wash cloths and gave baby scrub downs to keep her clean.  We graduated her to an infant tub at 3-4 months. 

  • Double Electric Breast Pump- if you are breast-feeding, you will find this so very helpful. The hospital recommended that we not use this until after the first 2 weeks so that baby can develop good breastfeeding skills, but you can use it whenever you feel comfortable. This will help you get some help from a partner in feeding, and keep up your supply if baby is having trouble latching on. This was the case with me. Little miss couldn't stay properly latched on and I didn't want to lose my supply, so I pumped after feedings. Also, the breast pump I suggested is very ergonomic, and costs way less than other pumps. 
  • 2-3 bottles- I wouldn't recommend buying too many. My little pumpkin didn't like most of the bottles I had for her, and I ended up not using them. I still have a few boxes of unused bottles because she refused to drink from them. Wait until baby is here to buy bottles, and see what works best. I found these bottles to be the most liked. 

  • Pepple Watch- This one is a little pricey , but SO worth it. It has been so incredibly useful in helping me time feedings, accept text messages, answer calls, track alarms- all from my wrist. I didn't have to crane my neck to look at phone, and I was hands-free! 
  • FeedBaby App- This app is free to download, and so helpful. It tracks your feed, pee, and poo schedule. It tells you how long between your last feed, or last changing. It also gives a daily breakdown of ounces consumed, and diapers changed. It does all the thinking, and remembering for you.  So incredibly useful! 
  • Baby Jungle Gym- I loved using this item for tummy time. We started tummy time early, and this provides the stability, and softness for baby to lay on her tummy. I remember she absolutely loved laying in this gym. She would kick her little legs in excitement. The funny thing is that she STILL plays with it. So definitely a good buy! The one through the link is priced significantly less than the other ones, but I think does the job well. No need to pay more. 
  • Baby Swing- There are so many great options with this. We got one that had music play along as she rocked back and forth. She used it for a few months, and then after she was mobile, she forgot all about it. Until then, it was so helpful to keep her entertained after my mom left. I could do housework, and cook  while watching her enjoy her swinging ride.
  • Changing table- This is probably the MOST important thing on my list because I wasn't sure if we needed this. Everyone suggested changing baby on the bed, and that this was an extra. Nope. Not the case. I use this so much, and the sections helped me organize all my baby stuff. I use this every single day for changing diapers, clothing, after bathing, etc. I also found the most economical one. There was one at the store, but I ordered this one online, and found it the perfect size. Be sure to measure out the length and width of the area being put in,- we have a smaller space, and this is just the right fit. Any bigger and it would not have worked out as well. 

These items sums up the essentials. If you have some other items you couldn't live without, Please share them with me! I can add them to my list! If you're not quite there yet, and still trudging along through pregnancy- read Pregnancy survival tools

June 2, 2014

Nana-Nectar Smoothie

Summer time means smoothie time, so I've been on a smoothie kick lately. I am doing a lot of experimenting around with the fruit I have at home. I have had some misses, but this was a hit! I am proud to announce that this was one of the yummiest smoothies I have had in a long time. 


1 medium banana
1 nectarine
1 mango ( peeled and cut)
1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup of coconut water
1/2 cup of ice
Sweetener if desired


Mix all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth