January Recipe Challenge: South America

I go through travel bug stages.  Last year, I was itching to go to India, then I went.  This year I’m itching to go to China and Peru, I’ve yet to go.  Not entirely sure why I want to go to those places but they seem awesome!  I really would love to do the Inca trail.

So tonight for the January recipe challenge, I made Peruvian Chickpea Stew.  Sorry for all the soups/stews, I’m a huge fan of soup/stew, and when I look for recipes I look for things that I would like.   Peruvian cuisine is such an interesting mix of many different cultures.  I find it really intriguing.

I first tried Peruvian Chickpeas at Super Pollo.  If you live in the Washington DC metropolitan area, please please please go to Super Pollo in Arlington, VA for some wonderful pollo a la brasa (yes I’m promoting meat eating because this stuff is amazing).

Tonight I put my chef planning kit to work!  I decided I needed some company for dinner, so I had a mini dinner party.  I only invited a few people so we could all fit at my tiny table (plus sadly I can’t afford to feed the 20 people I wanted to invite).

Peruvian Chickpea Stew

inspired by Recipezaar’s Peruvian Chickpea Stew

1lb dry garbanzo beans/chickpeas
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions or 3 small onions, diced
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 can whole canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 tsp coriander powder
3 tsp cumin powder
3 tsp allspice
2 small yellow squashes
8oz (approx) of vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

First,  cook your chickpeas until tender, a little under cooked is fine as they will simmer for a while later. You can probably use canned garbanzo beans too, but honestly I don’t think those taste as good.  You’d be amazed at how much better cooked dried beans taste over canned beans.

Then sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil on pretty high heat until slightly browned and translucent.

Then add the chickpeas, tomatoes, spices, squash, and broth.  Stir and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Serve with quinoa for a high protein very healthy meal!

I really liked this recipe.  It’s very healthy but hearty and tasty!  The spices are an interesting flavor combination.  I definitely recommend this! It wasn’t the same as the ones I had at Super Pollo but still delicious and probably a million times healthier!

To round out my mini dinner party, I made an Arugula and Pear salad using this recipe from Eating Well.  Honestly this salad was ridiculously good.  I tweeked the dressing a bit adding a bit more dijon mustard and a little less olive oil.  I also only used arugula, no other lettuce.  It was delicious!  I highly recommend this salad if you’re looking for a wonderful side dish!

For dessert, I made Fitnessista‘s Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies!  They were a hit!  No one knew they were vegan!    I made a few tweeks as well.  Instead of maple syrup, I used agave nectar and omitted the molasses since I didn’t have any and didn’t want to spend all that money for a teaspoon of molasses.

I just realized, actually this whole meal was vegan!  Very tasty and very balanced. Here’s my plate:

Salad side above and chickpea/quinoa side below.

A note about calories:

I decided to not count my calories for this meal.  I enjoyed it and made sure not to over eat too much, I filled half my plate with salad, 1/4 with chickpea stew and the other 1/4 with quinoa.  I also had 2 cookies, no big deal.  I splurged a bit, but I’m okay with that.  By the end of the meal, I wasn’t stuffed I was good and satisfied.  Yes, I probably could have eaten more but I didn’t feel the need to.  Life is about balance.  I want my weight loss to be manageable and sustainable, not painful.  One meal is not going to derail my efforts, I tracked the rest of the day (see my sparkpage) and tomorrow will be a normal day again and all will be well in the world.

I like to live by the 80/20 rule: Eat well 80 percent of the time and indulge 20 percent of the time.  Good rule in my opinion. What do you think?

Anyway, I’m off to watch more Mad Men!  Have a great night!

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Barney Butter

Do you ever see things on blogs then really want to try them?

I’m a huge fan of nut butters, okay I’m slightly obsessed even though I’ve only tried Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and Soy Nut Butter.  They’re delicious and keep you full for a long time!

Seeing nut butters of all sorts on random blogs got me perusing websites one day to see what products I could buy around here.  I wandered to the Barney Butter website to find they are giving free samples!  Check it out!

Barney Butter is Almond Butter.  Recently I’ve been enjoying consuming Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter, which while good is not nearly as good as the roasted almond kind.  But mostly I’ve been avoiding almond butter and sticking to PB.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you don’t love it, don’t eat it, especially when it comes to calorie dense foods.

This morning, I decided to put my PB to rest and squeeze my Barney Butter sample onto my oatmeal.

They came in convenient little 90 calorie packages, which would be perfect for travel.  Apparently it also comes in large jars, but I’ve yet to see it in stores.

This stuff is nothing short of fantastic.  Of course, this makes sense as almond butter is delicious, and this one has added sugar (evaporated cane juice), which makes everything even more tasty.  I would choose it over the raw Almond Butter any day.

But don’t take my word for it!  Order your free sample on their website!

In other news, while thrifting with the roommate yesterday she came across a fabulous vintage coat that sadly didn’t fit her but fit me perfect!  These are the perks of being short I guess!

Locally made too!

I found a salad spinner!  Only $2!

And a cheap copy of The Poisonwood Bible which I’ve heard is really good.

Now I’m off to the gym for what I hope will be a great workout!  Have a great day!  Don’t forget to smile!