Coconut lentil soup

I have a feeling it won’t be cozy soup weather much longer in California. With this in mind, I took full advantage of some canned food I had in my cabinet and made a coconut lentil soup recently while my grandma, mom, and little brother were at my house. I love having family over and cooking for them!

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The lineup

This soup actually turned out better than I thought it would! The coconut milk made it creamy dreamy but, with the added (homemade) veggie broth, it wasn’t too heavy. I ended up using 2 cans of lentils for more volume and less liquid, which worked perfectly.

As always, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows.

Note: I omitted onions because my grandma’s not a fan. If you’re in the mood, I suggest adding them. Although, since I also used jarred garlic, I have to say it was pretty sweet not having to chop anything for this recipe.

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Still sweater weather here!
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Love those greens

Coconut lentil soup

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 6 – 8 *freezes well*

Ingredients:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  • Add garlic into a pot and heat up for 1 minute (I didn’t put any extra oil in so this step was fast; plus I was using jarred garlic — if you use fresh, wait until the garlic turns translucent in some OO)
  • Add canned tomatoes, lentils, and coconut milk + veg broth
  • Stir in spices
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered
  • Take off heat and add spinach, stirring until wilted
  • Serve and enjoy (this would probably also be delicious over a scoop of brown rice)

 

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My attempt at staging my soup… ha.

Friday Favorites – March

LOVE GOODLY box

March was a month of subscription boxes for me. I’ve wanted to start using cleaner cosmetics and products for years now but haven’t gotten around to researching better things to use. Plus, it’s pricey to experiment with natural products…

Happy for me when Mike found the Love Goodly box; a bi-monthly subscription that includes all natural and vegan beauty products. What a great way to sample new things at an affordable price! ($29.95/month)

I got my first box this month and it included an eye cream, sunscreen, a face mask, lash serum, and chapstick. So far the Lash Love is my favorite (I use it for my lashes and brows) with the eye cream coming in a close second. I’ve also tried the chapstick and the sunscreen (SPF 17 – how random) and both are great products too. Although, I don’t find myself reaching for either of them everyday. I’ve yet to try to the face mask but stay tuned.

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Box of Style

I also subscribed to Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style. I found it featured on the Skimm when they were offering 25% off your first box and thought, why not? After all, the spring box was a tribute to California. 😉

This box included sunglasses, a necklace, a headband that can also be used as a belt or choker, a duster (really why I ordered the box!), a toner, and another chapstick. I’ve basically only used the necklace but have a trip to San Diego this summer and plan to get some good use of the sunglasses while there.

It was exciting getting the box but, without the discount, I wasn’t willing to spend $100 4x a year on it. Partially because I looked up past boxes and, while everything is always cute, I noticed there were a lot of repeat items; mainly sunglasses and jewelry. …For a girl who wears prescription glasses and basically only my engagement ring + my tergaus loop in my ear, it doesn’t make sense for me to have a surplus of either.

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Long weekends away

Mike and I took a day off and flew down to LA for St. Patricks Day weekend. One of our closet couple friends moved down there a few years ago and we both miss them so much. It’s always good to see them. It feels like no time has passed when we get together. (Read about our trip to Mexico with them in 2016.)

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It was uncharacteristically rainy in Southern California but we entertained ourselves just fine. Our weekend adventures included going to see Black Panther (so good); eating tacos at a hole in the wall spot (my favorite); successfully completing an escape room together (great bonding); and staying cozy inside with a traditional Irish dinner, Gusiness, and hours of pictionary.

Berries and seeds

I’ve been on a berry kick this month; routinely stocking up on raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries for the week and then mixing them all together to enjoy every morning.

I’ve also been loving hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds. I keep little jars of them at work, along with oatmeal, to add to my berries in the morning for a healthy, filling breakfast. (If I’m not too hungry – which is often the case in the mornings – I’ll sub a banana for the oatmeal but keep a sprinkle of hemp hearts for healthy fats and omegas.)

Homemade iced tea

We’re flirting with summer in California and I think I’m falling in love. I can’t wait for days on days of warm weather, sunshine, flip flops, and sunscreen (who else loves the smell of sunscreen?!).

Also synonymous with summer, iced tea. Something I’ve been making plenty of lately. I like to make peppermint or a decaf blackberry one so I can have it after dinner, before bed.

We also recently got this pitcher from Amazon and I love it / feel fancy using it. 💁

Other Friday Faves:
January
February

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1

Lemon tahini over lentils

What is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, added sugar free, and wheat free?

A California dinner party.

…get it? because Californias are such hippies?!

Ok, not the best joke but this dinner is. The best.

And yes, it’s vegan; nut, soy, dairy, sugar, and wheat free.

More importantly, it’s delicious.

Also important: it’s easy.

Most importance: Mike loves it. (Which makes me want to make it every week which means he might get tired of it soon…)

I hope you give this dinner a try soon! You won’t regret it. I’ve mentioned it’s delicious and easy but it’s also SUPER FILLING which is a real selling point for me. The lentils keep ya full (13g plant based protein per 1/4 cup ehyoo) but the tahini and lemon dressing make it feel like you’re indulging. Feel free to add any green veggie you have on hand; or serve the lentils and tahini on top of a giant salad for a summer night twist.

Tip: I’ve recently started soaking my lentils before cooking them (to get more protein and other added benefits!) because of this article.

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Soaking lentils

Lemon tahini over lentils

Prep time: 10 minutes – Cook time: 25 – 30 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup soaked green lentils
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of 1 small lemon

Directions:

  • Cook lentils in 2 cups of water until soft, about 25 – 30 minutes
  • Strain lentils and put aside
  • Mix in lemon juice with tahini until combined
  • Incorporate with lentils
  • Serve with something green on the side
  • Bon appétit

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I add the lemon and tahini straight to the lentils to be sure they are all coated but alternatively you can drizzle it on top of them once plated

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[Review] Float Station

For Christmas Mike got me a gift card for a “float” at Float Station. Have you heard of this before? Floating is basically immersing yourself in a sensory deprivation tank for one hour. You can’t see or hear; taste, smell, or feel. You “don’t feel” because you’re floating in the water with a ton of episome salt in it. It’s like going to the Dead Sea without the flight.

I first heard of sensory depravation tanks my senior year in high school and was like, lol no. Our teacher told us we would get extra credit if we went in one and wrote a paper after. At the time, even if the idea of being alone with my thoughts in a dark tomb (how I pictured it) wasn’t off-putting enough, the price tag was.

Flash forward ~10 years and I have the chance to have my senses deprived; for free. (Well, kind of.. Christmas presents when you’re engaged are sort of like buying yourself a gift. What’s his is mine and vice versa.) Anyway, I finally got around to doing my float this week.

Apparently one float is equal to 4 hours of sleep or a vacation. Say what!? That alone is reason to do it. Although… I didn’t find that to be true 😉 but I was told you have to float more than once to reap the benefits. (Fact or scam? Who knows)

The Float Station in Campbell is really nice; with clean white walls, relaxing music, low lighting, and modern, minimal furniture. It felt more trendy than spa, which made me feel like I was in The Fifth Element. As expected, the ladies who checked us in were bubbly and all-knowing (that might sound snide but it’s not; they put me at ease because, truth be told, I was a little nervous before).

We were taken to our respective rooms and given a brief tutorial on floating. Basically, shower before you get in (but don’t use the conditioner because of the oils – conditioning is for after your float); put earplugs in before you get in the pod; the music will turn off after 10 minutes and back on again when you have 10 minutes left (this point ended up making me anxious while floating, but more on that later); move around and stretch when you first get in and then try to stay still for the rest of your float (already knew that wasn’t going to happen); and, most importantly, relax; let your mind be still (idk how that feels, btw).

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The floating pod (and what looks like a toilet seat but it actually a ring for your head to rest on)

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Ok, so let’s cut to the chase. My float lasted about 40 minutes. I was moving around like a mermaid in there, and my mind was not still for a single moment. I’ll admit it was cool to be weightless and floating. The pod isn’t claustrophobic, which I was nervous about. It’s actually pretty nice in there… But, in my opinion, an hour is a long time to stay in. Plus, with my earplugs in, I couldn’t tell if the music was back on again or not. I was getting all anxious that my cue to wrap up my float was on and I’d miss it. I ended up getting out early mostly because I didn’t know if the music was on or not; that and I scratched my nose which got salt water on my lips. Game over.

It’s all toasty and body-temperature warm in the pod, so getting out was a little chilly. I immediately tiptoed to my phone and discovered I still had another 20 minutes left. Oh, well… time for a long shower, I thought, with conditioner.

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You’re able to turn off the blue light once in there

Overall, floating was an experience but I’m not sure I’d pay to do it again. Unless, the float was shorter (and 1/2 the price)… then? Holler.

Friday Favorites – February

Brain.fm

Someone at work recommended this to me and, placebo effect or not, I love it! It’s “music for the brain” that you can listen to when you’re trying to focus on work, meditation, or even reading. There’s also a sleeping one that I haven’t tried but plan to. When I’m starting to feel frantic at work with a million things to do, I pop in my earbuds and turn on a 2 hour “work focus” playlist. Instant focus.

Sadly I only have a few more listens that come with the free trial but Mike and I are thinking about paying for it. He’s tried it too and also finds it helps him focus.

Cherry and almond chocolate

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In February I wanted to cut back drinking alcohol and I’m happy to report that having a cup of tea, a cutie 🍊, and a few pieces of this cherry and almond chocolate from Whole Foods was an easy swap for a glass of wine.

I know it’s a low % of dark chocolate but I have so little of it in one sitting, I don’t really care. Plus, I can’t get over how delicious the combo of crunchy almonds and gooey dried cherries are. THE BEST.

Honey bush tea (and these cute cups)

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As mentioned, I’ve been all about a honey bush tea that we got from Steepers in downtown Campbell. I’m typically not a tea lover but I crave this one; especially since it’s been cold here lately.

I love drinking it out of these cute, costume cups my grandparents bought us a few years ago fro Christmas too. It just feels fancy for some reason!

Barre classes

So sore but so good. Last week I went to Cardio Barre and Barre Sculpt. Omg, the booty and the calfs! I definitely need to attend regularly to build up my strength but barre is the only workout, aside from yoga, that I look forward to. I hope to go at least once a week in March. I go to a local gym but I remember Jessica Smith had some good barre workouts on YouTube so always an option for an at home workout.

YouTube vlogs

Lately I’ve been heading over to Pick Up Limes almost daily to soak in Sadia’s nom vegan recipes and minimalist lifestyle approach. I’ve* made her Olive Tapenade a few times now and everyone raves about it.

I have also been watching a lot of Sarah Lemkus’ vlogs. Also a vegan (see a trend here??), Sarah lives in New Zealand and a lot of her vlogs consist of her and her family drinking smoothies and going to the beach. (I might be a little bit jealous.) She also does some opinion pieces (one on coffee and another on alcohol and how bad they are food you; clearly I disagree… hah) and occasional recipes. Her videos are a little long but I like watching them on my iPad while cooking dinner.

*By “I’ve” I mean, I measure out the ingredients and Mike chops everything ❤

THIS recipe

Shameless plug but I made this last week and had leftovers throughout the weekend. I also had enough to freeze for another time. It is such a yummy, comforting, filling recipe.

I also made this sauce again for dinner when Mike and I had our neighbors over on Monday. So creamy. Easily one of my top 3 recipes.

Other Friday Faves:
January

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1

Moroccan Stew

It’s winter in California which means rain, rain, and more rain. That’s good news for my drought prone home state but I find the winter blues creeping in. This dinner is perfect for warming both your body and soul; great for the nights we’ve been having!

The cumin and paprika in it gives it a nice kick that keeps you cozy. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and, I don’t know about you, but I always feel better about myself when I’m filled with nourishing food.

This would be a perfect dish to bring to a neighbor or to enjoy with family because it makes a lot. And who doesn’t love a yummy stew (that someone else made!) on a cold night?! Consider making it for someone special in your life. (Bonus points if you pair it with a crusty baguette or a side of pre-cooked rice to really round out the meal for your loved ones.)

Side note, I don’t know how I came up with this name but this is what I called it years ago when I first made this dish and it’s sticking. 😉


Moroccan Stew

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 35 minutes – Servings: Enough to share 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 32 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces of diced tomatoes
  • 1 box of chickpeas (~13oz)
  • 1 bag frozen kale (or spinach)
  • optional: brown rice or bread to serve with

Directions

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and fragrant
  • Add carrots and potatoes for 4 – 6 minutes
  • Add cumin and paprika
  • Add vegetable broth and bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and add tomatoes, simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add kale during the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t go brown
  • Scope and serve

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Cooking and catching up on Netflix!
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Love Whole Foods BPA free cans (Trader Joe’s get on it!)

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Color Factory

Mike and I visited the Color Factory in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Holy photo ops! 😉

It was a fun experience and worth the money (tickets were $35/person), mostly because you get treats along the way. You start the journey walking down rainbow steps. (Pretty sure this is also when Mike realized we were going to be taking way more pictures than he wanted to that evening… must.capture.everything.)

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At the bottom of the steps, a Color Factory employee greets you, tells you a few rules and gives you your photo cards that you can scan during your experience to take HD pictures in the rooms. Our first pic is below. 🙂

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There’s a Willy-Wonka-feeling smell wall after. I was less than impressed with this but that could have been because THERE WAS SO MUCH COLOR WAITING TO BE EXPLORED.

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Plus, MACAROONS!

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A back and white room was next, complete with charcoal lemonade to sample.

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After macaroons and lemonade, was the orange room; a room that was painted orange with an orange couch and orange things on the walls. I think this is something I could have put together but whatever! It warranted a picture nonetheless.

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Next was a tiny room filled with balloons. Pretty cool! This was the first room that was more interactive, which I enjoyed.

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We ran into a plethora of disco balls after, in a room that was playing old disco hits.

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Then, a giant light bright. Sounds super Silicon Valley but I was kinda like, been there, seen that at the Googs

In typically Mike fashion, he explained the wall to me and the mechanics behind it. Also super Silicon Valley, an engineer fiancé. ❤

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We were dumped into a bright white room with 5 foot green markers after. I think this room is better in theory than reality. It turns out, a marker that is as big as you are is hard to use. (Disclaimer: the photo below is staged — I did not have the talent, or the strength, to draw that heart.)

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My second favorite was next! 10,000 colored ribbons hanging from the ceiling to walk through. It felt whimsical to be surrounded by all of those ribbons, despite the little kids you couldn’t see in there that were constantly bumping into you. lol

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THEN THE BEST ROOM OF ALL TIME.

One word. Confetti.

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It was so fun scoping up handfuls of confetti and throwing them up above us. Like, I want a confetti room at my next birthday.

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The only downside, confetti everywhere. (I was finding pieces in my purse for days.)

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(There was also a “selfie” room, that had a printer spitting out selfies from the internet every second. They were all over the floor, black and white selfies everywhere. And… that was kind of it…?

To be fair, maybe there was some profound artistic message that was lost on me. Idk, either way, no photos of this room.)

The big sha-bang ending was the yellow room/ball pit. Again, I’m already familiar with the ball pit game from my days at Google but this one was massive and had cameras on the ceiling to take pics like these:

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As to be expected, diving into a ball pit is still as fun as it was as a kid. But, hot!

A sweaty, swell time.

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After the ball pit, we got our last treat. An ice cream cone that wasn’t photographed.

Overall, I’m glad we went and recommend going if you can snag tickets! Just be sure your phone is charged. 📸

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