summer quinoa salad with avocado and spinach

I don’t know about you guys, but when my husband and I are both hungry we tend to get a little crabby (ok…really crabby).  So we made up a rule that until we eat, we cannot talk to each other.  This little rule has changed our marriage 🙂  We don’t get into petty arguments over nothing anymore!  It’s actually really funny to think about, but it’s the truth.

All of that to say – this salad takes a little bit of time to make, so just make a snack to eat while you are making it so a UFC fight doesn’t break out in your kitchen 🙂   I found this delicious recipe off of pinterest (obsessed with that).  It is so refreshing with all of it’s natural ingredients.  Enjoy!


1/2 c. dry quinoa (I used Basil and Rosemary Quinoa and it was amazing).
2 c. vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1 c. cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 avocados diced
2 c. spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 c. onion
2 small cloves garlic

Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of salt and pepper


Soak the quinoa in a pot in the veggie broth for about 15 minutes. Then, turn on the heat to medium high and let the quinoa come to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to medium/low and let quinoa simmer. Stir occasionally and cook quinoa for about 20-25 minutes just until the liquid absorbs, so there is just a small amount of liquid left in the pot. Remove from heat and set aside.

In your food processor, put your spinach and cilantro in and pulse until finely chopped. Pour into a large bowl. Then add your onion and garlic into food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the cilantro mixture. Toss the garbonzo beans into the cilantro mixture until coated. When the quinoa is cooled, pour into the salad mixture.

Separately, add all ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Then pour over the salad and toss. Finally, add the avocado and tomatoes and toss.

down on the farm

Harper is sick for the first time this week with an ear infection. I never knew how hard it would be to watch your baby be in pain. Despite the infection, she is still the happiest baby…of course. I know when I’m not feeling well being inside helps only to a certain point, and then I am itching to get out into the fresh air. Lucky for us, we live just down the street from the cutest farmstead, Deanna Rose. My sister and her girl came with us – we had such a great time feeding the billy goats, petting the horses, and just being outside.

There is something healing in what God has given us in nature.

sweet potato black bean burger

During lent of last year, my husband and I did the Daniel Fast which was an amazing growing experience for us. This Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger from the Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast was one of our favorites during the fast and it is now one of our go-to meals. Often, I fix them when guests are over or in town and everyone enjoys them, including those who claim to not like sweet potatoes (or they are good at pretending!) Also, because it calls for sweet potatoes, I often fix several extra and have mashed sweet potatoes on the side (fix like regular mashed potatoes, add almond milk and pumpkin spice seasoning to taste).


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
¼ cup oat flour* (see note below)
½ tablespoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili pepper seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

avocado, sliced
whole wheat thin buns


  1. Preheat oven to broil setting.
  2. Cook sweet potatoes. Bring pot of water to a boil. Add cubed sweet potato chunks. Remove from water when soft (when you can easily stick a fork through them). Drain and smash.
  3. Smash half of the beans with a fork. Add mashed sweet pototoes along with all other burger ingredients to a food processor. Process until it resembles dough texture.
  4. Scoop out 1/3 cup of bean mixture and place on 17″ baking sheet that has been rubbed with olive oil. Flatten and shape into a patty. Repeat for all burgers. Makes 6-8, depending on how thick you want them.
  5. Broil 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. Flip burgers and broil 2-3 more minutes.
  6. Serve on whole weheat thin buns with sliced avocado on top.

• To make your own oat flour, place rolled-oats in a food processor or blender and process until fine (1-cup old-fashioned oats yields 3/4 cup ground oats).
• The burger is just as good without the bun – I think I might actually enjoy it better that way.

southwest quinoa salad

This past summer in Manhattan it was extremely warm in our apartment (no central air). The prospect of lighting up the stove and adding to the thick, humid air in our little kitchen was about as enticing as wearing wool tights to hot yoga. So, we decided to make a delicious raw southwest salad by Little House of Veggies. Recently, with the spring weather in the air, I started craving this raw dish and decided to add some quinoa and make my own variation.

I haven’t worked much with quinoa and I have been eager to give this protein-dense seed more attention in our kitchen; this seemed like the perfect dish to incorporate some quinoa! If you aren’t familiar with quinoa, it is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse! It’s high in protein (18%), magnesium and iron; it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source; and it is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus. The texture reminds me of couscous.

Enjoy this healthy dish! Note: this salad is great for leftovers – it works great for a quick lunch or put the mixture in a whole-grain wrap and make it a meal.


1 cup quinoa (measuring 1 cup uncooked)
1 avocado, diced
¼  cup red onion, finely diced
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
½  yellow squash, diced
½  zucchini, diced
2 cups spinach, chopped
¼  cup broccoli, finely chopped
¾  cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Creamy Lime Dressing:
4 ½ T fresh lemon juice
4  T fresh lime juice
1 ½  T Veganaise
¼  cup olive oil
2 t cumin
1 t salt
dash of cayenne pepper
crushed black pepper to taste


  1. Cook quinoa. If working with unrinsed quinoa, soak quinoa for at least 15 minutes. After soaking, rinse for two or three minutes in a fine strainer. (If using pre-rinsed quinoa, skip this step.) Add quinoa and 1 ¼ cup water to pan. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to low. Cover and cook for 30-35 min. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff and set aside to cool. (I spread it out on a cookie sheet.)
  2. Wisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Place chopped veggies and cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to blend.

vegan lunchmeat

Now that Harper is crawling EVERYWHERE and pulling up on everything she can, I have to keep my eye on her 24/7. I need to get one of those play areas that trap them inside of it so I can get a little more accomplished. By the way, why am I not smaller and more toned than before I had her? I don’t sit down all day for the most part and I’m constantly picking her up and moving her away from the stairs. These are the things I think about. *sigh*  Welp, onto reality…

I don’t like spending a lot of time preparing a lunch for myself during the week, because I honestly just don’t have the time. So when I found this vegan lunchmeat recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Vegan DadI went to Whole Foods that day, got these simple ingredients and made this wonderful lunchmeat.

This recipe is super fast, super cheap and lasts us up to a week. I won’t lie – at first the texture is a little awkward, but the taste makes up for it and you get used to it. I love this recipe and thought it was perfect, so I didn’t change a thing about it.


1 cup white beans
2 cups water
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp sage
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
2 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten


Start steaming water in your steamer
  1. Place all ingredients except the gluten flour in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Add gluten flour and work into a dough.
  2. Shape dough into a log and wrap in heavy duty foil. Try to make the roll as thick as possible. Steam for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees in the last 15 mins of steaming. Remove “meat” from steamer and bake for 45-60 mins.
  4. Cool and slice when ready to make sandwich. Store in refrigerator.

raw oatmeal

Derek and I have some great friends who were on the RAW diet for awhile and they have shared so many great recipes with us that are so tasty and surprisingly simple.  I don’t know why, but for some reason breakfast is the hardest thing for me to conjure up.  I’m either so picky that NOTHING sounds good except my coffee or I’m just too lazy after feeding Harper…either way, I don’t like breakfast as far as cooking goes. How many times can I eat cereal…blah.  Well if you are like me, things are about to change for you – this raw oatmeal recipe is so easy, so good and so healthy.  It almost feels a little naughty when I eat it because it reminds me of cookie dough.  Either way…you need to go make it ASAP.


2 apples ( sometimes I do 1 apple and 1 pear )
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup your favorite nuts ( I love cashews or pecans )
1/3 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon


Put all ingredients into your food processor and just pulse until well blended.  Maybe even pour a little almond milk over it.  DELISH!

my gym partner

I don’t know about any of you, but having a baby in the winter months is a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E sometimes.  I feel so trapped in my own house as I am sure Harper feels the same.  She is probably thinking, “How many times can we read Brown Bear Brown Bear in a day mom.”  Spring is nearly here ( 80 degrees the last few days here in good ole Kansas ) and we are loving playing outside and going for our walks again.  After months of telling my husband how bored I was getting at home with our 8 month old at the time, we decided to join a children’s fitness center, My Gym. And, can I just tell you it has been the most fun thing for Harper and me to do together!  We dance and we workout our muscles ( hey, I chase her around everywhere and pick her up…count that as squats and curls ).  It is a great place that is starting to teach Harper a healthy lifestyle of being active, but also having so much fun and learning at the same time.

pasta with zucchini, yellow squash, and spinach

This past fall my husband and I went to the Cleveland Clinic to be with my mother and stepfather while my stephfather had surgery. During his long surgery, we grabbed a bite to eat at a cafe in the waiting area. Lucky for us, it was pasta bar day! The chef took his job very seriously and enjoyed teaching everyone about the food dish he was creating for you. The pasta he created for us was superb; so, we were very eager to recreate this dish when we got home!

It’s simple, easy, nutritious and very tasty! When training for our marathons, my husband and I ate this the nights before our long runs and we ate it leading up to race day.


1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
½ onion, diced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed (about 1.5 c fresh)
1 jar pasta sauce of choice
5-10 oz whole wheat pasta (bowtie, fusilli or ziti)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste


Put on a large pot of water and boil for cooking pasta.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, squash, and zucchini to the pan; cook, stirring often until softened. Add spinach to pan; then add salt and pepper over vegetables. Clear a spot in the pan and add minced garlic; allow it to cook for 30 sec-1 minute before mixing in with the rest of the vegetables (adjust garlic based on your pasta sauce; if it has a lot, you might not desire much extra). Mix in pasta sauce and simmer.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until tender, 8-10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Add the vegetable mixture, toss to coat.

Note: I prefer more vegetables to pasta; so I use half of a package of pasta. If you prefer more pasta, use the entire 10 oz package. 

green smoothies

A few weeks ago Courtney was trying to think of new ideas for breakfast; so, she asked me what I usually ate in the morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an exciting answer for her. I have been eating Kashi Go Lean with almond milk everyday for breakfast for over a year – I just love it and it’s packed with protein! But, Courtney’s questions got me thinking about switching up my breakfast.

After a little research, in an effort to even out my caloric intake throughout the day (eat nearly the same amount of calories for breakfast as I do for lunch and dinner) and to start the day with something more than grains, I decided add a green smoothie to my breakfast. And, well, green is my favorite color; so this was bound to be a good decision!

For me, it seemed rather odd to add “greens” to my fruit smoothie – I thought I would have to gulp down the smoothie to get past the weird taste it created when combined with fruit. But after I blended up my first smoothie, I was SHOCKED. The fruit overshadows any taste of the spinach! I called my husband, Ty, into the kitchen the first morning begging him to hurry up and try it (just to make sure I wasn’t crazy). He agreed; the spinach taste was absent from the smoothie. I can’t get enough of these green smoothies – I have had one every morning for the last three weeks!

So far, I have created these blend variations: Green Tropical Smoothie and Green Berry Smoothie.

green tropical smoothie ingredients:

1/2 c frozen pineapple
1/2 c frozen peaches OR 1/2 c frozen mango
1 medium banana
3 ice cubes
1-1.5 c fresh spinach

green berry smoothie ingredients:

3/4 c frozen blueberries and raspberries
1 medium banana
4-5 strawberries OR 1/2 cucumber
4 ice cubes
1 c fresh spinach


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to substitute the spinach for kale or the banana for avocado. I haven’t tried it, but the “word on the street” is that it’s just as yummy!

Note: Try not to over-blend or it gets “frothy.” The smoothie will only turn out the bright, green color when mixed with light colored fruits. 

If you try different blends or already have a favorite of your own, let us know what they are in the comments!

happy healthy baby

Have I told you how happy my baby girl is.  She will light up the room the second she enters.  She will make an entire table at a restaurant forget about the foods on their plates and be fully engaged with her.  She is our sunshine.  I do think it’s part of her personality, but I also believe my husband and I have a huge part of her happiness ( I’m with her 24/7…of course I am)  🙂  We are always so careful with our attitudes around her and making sure we are ALWAYS positive and happy.  If we have a little dispute, we discuss it later when we are alone.

Healthy living is not only the things we put
into our body, but the things we see and hear.  

Of course she eats healthy ( later post on her food ) but her little brain is taking in so much information and making her the person she will be.  My attitude has changed as well because I now think about things before I say them ( very mature of me I know ), but as a women and emotions are always crazy, this can be very difficult at times.  Sometimes I just want to stomp my feet and bang my head on the ground until I get my way – but my husband as assured me MANY of times that will NOT work ( boo ).  I want to always be an example for Harper even when she isn’t watching me or hearing me.  I want to be the person she says she wants to be like when she grows up.  I want to be her best friend, and more importantly I want to be her momma.