Friday, June 8, 2012

Homemade Hummus with Homemade Tahini and Homegrown Cucumbers Makes a Tasty Lunch

Today's lunch; homegrown cucumber, celery, rice crackers and homemade hummus. I thought I would share this today because I made my own tahini to go in the hummus and found it to be quite simple.

I started making homemade hummus a few years ago when I got a Magic Bullet and realized hummus was SUPER easy to make and yet, quite expensive at the store. Plus, I don't know why but everything at the store is sold in huge containers, I can never eat it all before it goes bad. No one sells a single person sized container of anything unless you buy one piece of fruit. 

I had at one time a large container of tahini, again, too big for one person but that is what the store had, but in searching around the kitchen, I couldn't find it. Plus I'm pretty sure I bought it in 2010 so it probably wasn't any good.

I seemed to recall tahini was really just sesame paste. Now how do you make sesame paste? I had sesame seeds left over from my flax seem cracker project so I took to the internet to see how to make the paste. It's just sesame seeds and olive oil. Simple!

How to make tahini:
  1. Toast some sesame seeds. This doesn't take long. I burnt the first batch I toasted in the time it took me to get a lemon and olive oil out; the second batch was better. For one Magic Bullet container worth of hummus, you only need a few hand fulls of sesame seeds.
  2. In a food processor or Magic Bullet, add sesame seeds and a little olive oil. Not too much, always can add more. If you are using a Magic Bullet, use the smallest container.
 Mine maybe had a little too much oil but that was ok with me since I was adding it to the garbanzo beans with more oil to make the hummus.

How to make hummus with the Magic Bullet: 
  1. Put a full can of garbanzo beans in the tallest container for the Magic Bullet.
  2. Squeeze a little lemon juice in with the beans. Not too much, you can always add more. 
  3. Add one or two garlic gloves.
  4. If necessary and desired, you can add water or chicken or vegetable broth until the consistency is what you want. 
 I did have to add some water to get it to blend all the way. I stopped the Magic Bullet a few times and stirred the hummus to make sure all the whole beans were gone.

You can of course add other things to your hummus. Experiment and try different flavors!

This still makes a lot of hummus for one person but at least it costs WAY less. Way less? Yes. A can of beans cost maybe $1.50, a couple of cents for sesame seeds ( I used 2-3 hand fulls to make the tahini.), nominal costs for lemon juice, two garlic gloves, olive oil. The whole thing maybe cost $2.00.

In comparison, the rice cracker package cost $3.00. And don't get me started on organic cucumbers. I went to the grocery store recently and saw organic cucumbers for $2.19! EACH! Mine today was basically free since I already made up for the cost of the plants I bought with the first 4 cucumbers I cut off.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Run Because I Thought I Never Could - National Running Day

I started running as an effort to get out, be social and meet people that were healthier than myself. I wasn't set on running, I just wanted to find a social activity. At a friends recommendation I went to a Team in Training meeting to sign up. I wanted to do a sprint tri and called my good friend in Atlanta to see if she wanted to do it with me. Somehow she convinced me a marathon would be way more fun and I ended up signing up to run in the 2009 San Diego Marathon! Keep in mind, I hadn't run any distance really to speak of EVER. I had completed a few 5K's to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation but I have never run the entire 5K. A marathon was going to be a feat.

Here is my post about my marathon

It was an amazing journey and I am proud to say that years later, I am still running. Not marathons maybe but I am still running and that in itself is a win.

I never thought I would run. Years ago I tried and a boyfriend of mine laughed at the way I ran. This embarrassed me so much I decided not to run. I actually stopped just about all athletic activity. It wasn't until sometime later, long after the boyfriend was gone, that I even ventured into a gym.

What I learned while training for my marathon is everyone runs funny. Some people run on the sides of their feet, some people lean way far forward, some people sort of hobble, some people run on the balls of their feet, etc. The point is they run. They are trying and they are being who they are. So I run because I never thought I could...and I can.

Go for a Doughnut Run. It's National Doughnut and Running Day!

I love twitter, you can learn such interesting information. I popped on twitter while drinking my morning coffee saw that it was National Doughnut Day. Awesome I think, perfect excuse to get a doughnut from Starbucks later. Then as I scroll down I see it is also National Running Day. Of course, because you have to run to burn off the darn doughnut!

Here is the link to National Doughnut Day.

Here is the link for National Running Day.

If you want to combine the two activities, here are a few doughnut runs. Sadly some of these have past but there's always next year!

Iowa State University 5K

Charleston Doughnut Run

Krispy Kreme Challenge

Bartow County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard's Run for the Donut 5K

Catch you later...I'm off on a doughnut run!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Great Tasting Fruit Smoothies with Cucumbers

I just love free books on the Kindle Fire. Yesterday I got an email from Pixel of Ink, a website that highlights free or inexpensive books available on the Kindle. One of the books they highlighted was Vegetarian Super Snacks. It was free yesterday, today it is still a good deal at $2.99 or free to borrow for Kindle Prime Members. I swiped (the new version of thumbed) through the book and found an interesting recipe for a blueberry and cucumber smoothie. Seeing how both my sister-in-law and I are growing LOTS of cucumbers, this interested me.

Today we tried the recipe, it was light and refreshing, perfect for the summer. We made one minor change, we used kefir instead of yogurt.

It was simple; one cup of blueberries, 2 cucumbers, a little lemon, yogurt and a little honey. That's it. I will say it makes a lot. If you have a family, this recipe is perfect. If it is just you and your cat, you might want to scale back the portions.

Fresh cucumbers from my SIL garden

Cucumbers, blueberries, honey, kefir, lemon

We used a Vitamix but any blender would work.

Nearly blended.

No spec of cucumber is visible.
Look at how smooth the smoothie looks!

By the time I got back to my house in big D I was hungry so I pulled out the magic bullet and used half a cucumber, some misc frozen fruit and some almond milk. This was also very tasty and one of the great things about a magic bullet is the single sized portion. I always seem to make too much when I use the blender and I never seem to be able to get Ginger to eat any smoothie.

So either way, whether you follow a specific recipe or wing it and throw some cucumber in with a bunch of fruit, it makes for a delicious, light and refreshing smoothie!

Stewed okra using fresh okra and tomatoes, yum!

I'm staying with my brother and sister-in-law for a few days and they have a beautiful garden full of cucumbers, tomato, okra, corn, pumpkin, beans and cantaloupe. The okra are particularly prolific. I had cut off about 4 or 5 in the morning and by dinner time there were 4 or 5 more to cut off. We had a bounty of okra an a few tomatoes; a dinner plan was forming.

I found a recipe for stewed okra using fresh okra and canned diced tomatoes on the blog, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Since we had fresh tomatoes that needed to be used, I cooked them for about 15-20 minutes, added a little water and spices and let the tomatoes cook down. Here is a picture of the stewed tomatoes.

Here is what the okra looked like fresh.

Fresh okra cut and ready to cook
I added the okra to the sauteed onions and cooked them for a few minutes. It was amazing, the RED okra turned GREEN! It was like magic, first they were red and then they slowing turned a typical okra green.

Okra uncooked

Okra after it has been cooking for a few minutes

 Once the okra was cooked I added the stewed tomatoes and cooked a little longer. And there you have it, stewed okra with fresh okra and fresh tomatoes. We decided to use up some pasta too and just threw it all together, results below.

Stewed okra and pasta

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Making Almond Milk with a Hurom Juicer

I was at lunch with some friends and someone mentioned they made fresh almond milk with their Vitamix. The process sounded a little like when I tried to "juice" with a blender; blend, strain, squeeze excess water out. It sounded time consuming and a little messy. I thought about my Hurom juicer and the recipe that came with it for almond corn milk and had two fleeting thoughts; I wished it explained just almond milk and why would anyone go to the trouble when you can get almond milk from Whole Foods for $1.99? My curiosity got the best of me and I found myself at the store buying bulk almonds.

I watched several videos on how to make almond milk and read several things on the internet on how to do it. It appeared to be simple enough; soak, juice, drink. But is it REALLY that simple? Yes, it IS that simple!

Here is one of the better videos that describes how to do it with a Hurom.

I followed everything he did except peeling the almonds. The skin on my almonds seemed so thin it wouldn't come off. I tried and I had to scrap each almond. Too annoying for me. I figured with the juicer you probably didn't need to worry about it so I chanced it and left the skins on.

Almonds that have been soaking over night.

After I soaked the almonds I rinsed them and put them in 4 cups of cold water. I scooped out the almonds and water and put them in the Hurom juicer. It is a bit of a juggling act. You have to turn the juicer on before you pour the water and almonds in, otherwise the water just runs through. But the instructions on the juicer say to NOT run the juicer without food in it and being a rule/instruction follower, this was playing a bit of havoc in my brain. I worked it out though. :)

The process is so quick it is ridiculous. The most time consuming part of the whole experience was waiting for the almonds to soak. Less than a minute later...almond milk.

Almond Milk!

I ended up with a liter of almond milk, which means the almonds eked out .226 of a cup. (1 liter = 4.2267.... cups)

I wouldn't say this is a way to save money. The Whole Foods almond milk is 32 oz for $1.99. My almond milk made just slightly more than that but cost $2.74 for the almonds. The taste however far out weights any cost factor, it is GOOD! Plus I saw some posts where people had used more than 4 cups with 1 cup of almonds, making it definitely cheaper than buying store bought.

Here is what is left, almond pulp. I have heard you can do stuff with this, use it to bake breads and such. There again...sounds like too much work. I just put it in the compost. I'd be happy to use it if I had a specific recipe but when I stray from instructions, I tend to end up with terrible tasting food.

What was left

I added some vanilla to it and poured myself a glass, was so good! I immediately made some coffee.

A few things I learned. 

1. People (info on the internet) say you should strain it. The Hurom does leave a small amount of particles in the milk. I do mean SMALL! I strained mine and there was almost nothing at the bottom of the strainer. If you don't like tiny bits of things in your milk though, straining it would be good.

2. It separates so shake it before using. I don't know what my almond milk from Whole Foods looks like, it comes in a carton and I just shake, open and pour. I suspect because it is so processed it doesn't separate quite as much as fresh juiced almond milk. Fresh almond milk though looks a bit like day old green juice where the food separates from the water so it looks actually kind of gross. Just shake it up and it will look like almond milk again.(see pics below)

3. In coffee you will see little white things floating around, don't worry, it is almond. I've tried several kinds of store bought almond milk and some don't mix well with coffee, they seem to curdle or leave bits of white at the top of the coffee, kind of like when cream goes bad or you use really old powder cream, it just won't dissolve. For fresh almond milk, this is just part of the almond, tiny bits. You could blend it (in a blender or magic bullet) with the coffee to break it up more but I just stirred it well and drank it. As long as I don't vomit profusely later...I'm good with almond bits in my coffee. But presentation wise, it could use some work.

Almond milk that separated pretty quick after I put it in the refrigerator.

Mixed almond milk.

New Bag Styles