It’s official, I’m moving.

Okay, not really.  But after my 8 days in the Caribbean paradise of Puerto Rico, spending the rest of my days there seems like a marvelous idea.  These past few days back in the Texas heat and no beach certainly has not lessened the feeling.  By now, I’m sure you know what one of the main highlights of my trip was.  You guessed it, FOOD!  Oh yes, this vacation was filled with the most amazing, mouthwatering, mind boggling delicacies you could possibly imagine!  Arroz con gandules, coconut ice cream, passion fruit, mangos, yuca fritas, pinchos, and the list goes on and on.  I ate everything I could possibly want and more!  Now instead of describing to you each and every thing I ate, I thought I’d take the opportunity to subject all of you to my vacation pictures.  Now for those of you who do not wish to view each and every photo of my gluttony, scroll to the end where I have posted a recipe from Puerto Rico I experienced for the first time this trip that can only be described as completely and utterly life changing.

Can you guess which food item I might be referring to?  Little hint, it shows up in five of the pictures.  Did you see it?  It is a papaya shake!  Oh yes, it was love at first sip.  There really are no sufficient words to describe how heavenly it is, so don’t just take my word for it, make this now!  Now I’m not sure how hot a commodity papayas are in your area, but I found mine in Kroger.  Look for the ones that feel softest.  If they are not too soft wait for them to ripen a bit before opening.  Once it’s ripe, cut in half, rinse out the seeds, and peel the skin (be aware that fresh papayas do not necessarily smell or taste pleasant, but I promise they will be wonderful in the shake).  Then all you need to do is cut them into chunks, freeze them (to read how much Becky and I love our freezers, read Becky’s Ode to My Freezer ), and make this recipe!

Batida de Papaya (Papaya Shake)

  • 2 cups frozen papaya
  • 2 cups milk (or whatever substitute you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons brown or raw sugar (you can also use about 1 tablespoon of agave nectar)  *add or subtract amount of sweetening to your preference
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (unless you’re using vanilla flavored milk substitute)

Blend and enjoy this little bit of Caribbean joy!

On another happy note, I’m happy to say that I didn’t gain weight on this vacation.  I know!  I can’t believe it either!  My strategy was to eat what I wanted, but in small amounts, all throughout the day whenever I was hungry.  Now, if I had been there another week, I probably would have consumed about 100 more papaya shakes and I’m sure I would not be able to say the same.

Wisdom nugget of the day:  Eat papaya shakes, be happy.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

Ode to My Freezer

To celebrate 28 days in a row of triple digit weather here in North Texas, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to my freezer, which bringeth forth all cold things. My current goal is to get skinny enough to actually climb up inside of my freezer and take a nap comfortably. Only 95 pounds to go and I’m IN. So far only my head can fit, but the best moments of the summer have been when my head is in that cold, cold freezer.

I’ve always preferred to eat fruit at room temperature. Lately, however, room temperature fruit slowly makes its way into the fridge and, inevitably, into my beloved freezer. Then into a smoothie. Then my mouth. After it’s all swallowed, it sits in a beautiful, cold lump in my belly until it melts and I have to start the process all over again. Sometimes I get too full for another smoothie, and that’s when my head goes in the freezer for a bit, usually until my eyes are good and dry. Then I shut my eyes and let my lips dry out. Then freezer time is over.

But somehow, the hot always comes back. It’s always there, waiting. If it wasn’t for my blessed freezer I would have no escape, no refuge. So here’s to you, freezer. Keep doin’ yo thang.

(starting with my favorite and ending with my most favorite, recipes included)

Banana Soft Serve

Ingredients: Banana
Instructions: Freeze, blend.

Freezy Mango Delight

That's coconut on top, but I like to pretend it's snow.

Ingredients: Mango, coconut milk
Instructions: Freeze, blend.

VirgiVegan Pina Colada

Ingredients: Pineapple, coconut milk
Instructions: Blend the heck out of it. Die and go to heaven.

Okay, I realize I’m being kind of a smart aleck calling these “recipes”, but it’s literally impossible to make this difficult. Freeze your favorite fruits and blend them with your favorite milk. Sweetener is optional, straws are NOT. Smoothies make summer a little more bearable and a LOT more delicious. And don’t forget to thank your freezer for all of its hard work!

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl

DISCLAIMER: I’m not actually trying to lose 95 pounds. That was sarcasm.

Highs and Lows of a Texas Summer

So, ready for fall yet? I know it’s not just Texas that’s experiencing the most blazing hot summer in decades. No fun. I’m sick of 106. Really, really sick of it. Goodbye summer, and good riddance…I wish. Still over a month left of it, but then, oh glorious day, I’ll be able to spend time outside again! I like fresh air and Vitamin D.

On the up side, anyone else enjoying great deals on summer food lately? I got strawberries yesterday for 88 cents a carton. 88 cents! I got eight of them and froze five, so we should be pretty well strawberried for a while.

Washed and waiting for their beheading (or cap removal...tomato, tomahto).

Other super finds: peaches (47 cents a pound and eating one at this very moment, actually), red bell peppers, tomatoes, and wild caught salmon. I loooove salmon season! Fish is the only “meat” we eat, but we shy away from the farm raised stuff after many informative/scary articles and documentaries. I prefer not to eat fish that were fed chicken feathers, thanks. Anyway, I went a little crazy and spent over $30 just on salmon…but hey, this opportunity will not present itself again for another whole year! I’ve been feasting:

Friday dinner

Satuday dinner

I ate salmon for dinner on Thursday as well, but was too excited to remember to take a picture. That night we fired up the grill – best way to cook it, by far. I decided not to make any today because I figure I’m pretty well stocked up on omega-3s for the time being.

I’ve been waiting for red bell peppers to go on sale so I could spruce up my homemade hummus. Roasted red pepper hummus is mmm mmm good! I made some whole wheat pita bread to go with it.

Okay, I wanna eat that again. RIGHT NOW. Only I’ve just sufficiently stuffed myself with a second juicy peach and handful of walnuts. I guess the hummus can wait until the belly starts growling again. So probably about 45 minutes from now. 🙂

We go through a LOT of tomatoes in this house. They haven’t quite reached strawberry status, but they’re getting there, in big part to homemade salsa. We eat the stuff like it’s goin’ out of style. Unfortunately, my most recent salsa-making didn’t turn out so well. Oh no, it’s not what you think: the salsa is delicious. I, however, am seared.

It just LOOKS innocent.

Apparently I left the end of my spoon too close to the burner. It melted, and then it melted ME.

My battle wound.

Luckily no one was home to hear me shouting four-letter words that I usually only ever say in my mind. I couldn’t help it – that hurt. Stupid dumb spoon! It’s the spoon’s fault. The things I go through for good salsa! The hubs better REALLY appreciate this batch!

OH – I also managed to finally get my cabinets organized! Tupperware was threatening to take over my entire kitchen…it had to be stopped! Besides, it was at the point where find a matching container and lid was nearly impossible. Now everything is neat and easily accessible:

I wouldn't say this one is "neat", exactly, but I can find everything, okay?

Yep, I’ve been busy! So last night I took a fun, well-deserved break. The hubs is out of town, so I invited my little brother for a movie night sleepover. It was great! He found it HIGHLY amusing that everything I offered him to eat was homemade. He thinks I’m a grandmother and have no life. He’s pretty much right, but what can I say? I like spending my whole day cooking and going to bed early! Although, we did stay up past 2 am and slept in until 10:30 this morning. I haven’t done that in years!

Alright, time for this girl to get some stuff done around here. Try to stay cool, folks, and beware of the spoons. They’re out to get us.

~Becky, a seared skinnyfat girl

I take my greens with ice cream…

There are just some days where I do not feel like eating “regular” mealtime food.  Sometimes I just want to eat dessert all day long.  I’ve had about four of these days this week.  So what do I do?  Deny my cravings?  Never!  I eat these:

Now before all you have a heart attack at this seemingly nutrition deficient meal choice, let me tell you what’s in it.

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 spoonfuls of cocoa powder
  • 1 spoonful of peanut butter
  • 1.5 cups of fresh spring mix (spinach, arugula, and lots of other healthy greens)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use either coconut or almond milk)

I blend all of this together in the blender.  For the topping I like to mix it up.  For the one in the picture, I topped it with whipped cream, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a crumbled brownie (all I did for the brownie was add 1/3 cup cocoa to the Beany Blondie recipe).  Other times I will top it with pineapple or strawberries, it just depends on what I want.  So there you have it, a full serving of raw leafy greens, fiber, good carbs, protein, lots of nutrients, and a very, very tiny amount of added sugar. 

This afternoon, I did feel like eating a regular meal.  I had two pieces of grilled gluten topped with muenster cheese and chimichurri sauce and sautéed veggies.  Yum! 

My sweet tooth didn’t totally stay quiet, so I had a lemon pomegranate cream “mocktail” (half a frozen banana, the tiniest drop of lemon extract, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, coconut milk blended together and topped with 100% pomegranate juice and a little bit of sparkling water). 

It made for a very wonderful meal!

Listen to yourself and think about what you are eating!  If you really want something, find a way to make it healthy and nutritious.  That’s my motto. 

By the way, you can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter .

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

Quinoa with Glazed Tofu and Broccoli

That’s right, it’s tofu time. Y’all knew it was coming. Believe me, it’s definitely worth trying this recipe at least once. I did and now I can’t stop making it. But before I share the tofu greatness, I’ve gotta show you what the hubs just ate. He asked what was for dessert immediately after inhaling his dinner, as he does every evening. Actually, he never technically asks, he simply states “I like ice cream” (he’s talking about banana soft serve, by the way), and that means it’s time for dessert. Then, while I’m getting it ready, he’ll shout into the kitchen, “I liiiike ice cream. I like it.” Sometimes if I take too long, he’ll appear in the kitchen with a pouty, crying face, point to his belly, and say, “Here. Here.”

We have the best way of communicating.

I asked him what he wanted tonight, and he responded with “I like ice cream”. I replied that I was aware of that, but that he had lots of options to go with his ice cream: a healthy brownie, beany blondie, or spelt cake (I’ve been busy!). Of course, he chose all three. He’s not spoiled at all.

This is the mama of all desserts. Promise.

It doesn’t get much more extravagant than this, and he went crazy over it. This is what’s on the plate:

Healthy Brownie
Spelt Cake
Chocolate Chip Blondie
Banana Soft Serve
Peanut Butter Chocolate Sauce
Coconut Cream
Fresh Strawberries
Chopped Walnuts
Shredded Coconut

THAT is how you eat dessert…or at least how a spoiled husband eats dessert. Now, let’s move on to dinner, shall we?

This is an Asian-inspired dish that is simple, delicious, and full of protein. Please forgive the lack of pictures – you see, the hubs is always starving when I get home from work, and it’s a mad dash to get food on the table to ease his growling stomach. No time for photography. It was hard enough to get the shoddy pictures I did get…he didn’t seem to like his food being ready and not being able to eat it.

Quinoa with Glazed Tofu and Broccoli
(tofu recipe by VYY)

1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water
1/8 cup sliced onion
2 small whole garlic cloves
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

I threw all of the above ingredients in the ricemaker last night. Easy, easy, easy.

2 cups broccoli, chopped bite size
Salt, to taste

Sautee the broccoli in an inch of water until the water is gone and the broccoli is still bright green, but tender. Add salt, to taste, and set aside.

Tofu: (the best part!)
1 package hard tofu
3 T liquid aminos
3 T honey (can be agave, but must be a liquid sweetener)
Juice of 1 lime
1 big clove crushed garlic
1/8 – 1/4 crushed red pepper flakes (depending how spicy you want it)

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices, and then in half again to form triangles. Sautee in two DRY frying pans on medium heat – do not add oil! Whisk together all of the ingredients for the glaze. Flip the tofu, and when golden on both sides, add equal halves of the glaze to each pan. Let the glaze boil down, and when sticky, flip tofu again.

Add broccoli when the tofu is light brown on both sides. The glaze should no longer be thin, but be careful, it is easy to let the glaze cook for too long. If you think it looks or smells done, don’t wait – turn off the stove! Serve glazed tofu and broccoli on a bed of quinoa.

I’ve made this at least 3 or 4 times in the last month. We LOVE it.

This was the cutest, burntest broccoli tree I've ever seen! It seriously looks like a REAL tree, only teeny weeny.

That’s all there is to it! Such a tasty meal and oh-so-healthy! Definitely my new favorite way to eat tofu. I’m pretty sure it’s the hubs’s new favorite, too, based on his rave review:

“I like it.”

~Becky, a glazed skinnyfat girl

Embrace Simplicity

If I haven’t mentioned, I really like to cook. Creating delicious food is absolutely one of the most exciting parts of my life. I’m constantly experimenting in the kitchen, in fact, I’m practically in there from the time I get home from work until I go to bed. Many times, dinner is new and exciting, and sometimes is a real work of art!

Lunch is a different story altogether. As much as I enjoy trying out new recipes and expanding my culinary horizons, I’m a simpleton at lunchtime. You can almost always assume my lunch will consist of protein (many times in bean form), fruit, and always, ALWAYS a salad (usually of gigantic proportions). I know, BORING, right? Example of boring below: a week of lunches in a row.

Yum! Sometimes boring is best, and food doesn’t have to be fancy to taste good. When I was studying to be a journalist (that didn’t last long), I learned the commonly used acronym KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid, which happens to apply as equally to food as it does to writing news stories. Isn’t it nice to know that eating healthfully doesn’t have to be complicated? It doesn’t get much easier than tossing some chopped tomato and cucumber with spinach, does it? Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and bask in simple salad scrumptuosity. Dump a bag of dry beans, a small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, serrano pepper, and salt in your crock pot before bed and have a week’s worth of beans ready to go in the morning. A healthy lifestyle is not sustainable or realistic if food preparation is consistently time-consuming and inconvenient. Embrace simplicity!

Even more important than simplicity of preparation is simplicity of ingredients: the fewer, the better. This is the Skinnyfat mantra, really. Less is more. Eat food how it came out of the ground or off of the tree or vine. Though it’s convenient to drive to the nearest McDonalds and pick up a quick lunch, there is absolutely nothing simple about a Big Mac. Here is the ingredient list for the Big Mac bun from the McDonald’s nutrition site:

Big Mac® Bun: Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed.

Let me stress: that’s just the bun. Do you even know what half of that stuff IS?? And if not, why in the world would you want to put it in your body? What’s more, the few recognizable ingredients such as enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and soybean oil offer no nutritional value whatsoever. Nada. Zip, zero, zilch. Empty calories. The only thing your body will do with those ingredients is turn them into fat.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share the ingredients I use when making bread:

Flour, water, yeast, honey, salt.

That’s 5 ingredients compared to McDonald’s 34. Unfortunately, the majority of us are programmed to actually prefer fatty, sugary, processed foods over natural foods. Learn to enjoy the taste of whole foods. Tastes change with time, believe me, I used to HATE salad! I didn’t start eating salad until probably 2 or 3 years ago, but now I’m an addict. Once your palate is accustomed to food in its natural state, the way it was meant to be eaten, processed foods filled with chemicals, additives, and preservatives will become nearly inedible. Eating should be a pleasurable AND healthy experience, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Train your taste buds to recognize and adore real food and healthy living will be a delight.

Embrace Simplicity!

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl keeping it simple, stupid.

Throwback and cake…

Okay, so I was going through some pictures and I just happened upon my “Becky & Elesha” file.  I couldn’t resist, so here is a snapshot of Becky and I throughout our marvelous friendship.

The beginnings (2006)

We love Christmas and hats (2007 )

Always being silly (2008)

With my favorite blonde (2009)

Yes, we love each other (2010)

Becky and I share a lot of loves, but today I’m going to focus on one in particular: coffee.  Oh, the joy of coffee – the aroma, its bittersweet perfection, the joy of sharing conversation over a cup of it.  I must admit that I enjoy a small cup of espresso almost every morning, as part of a balanced diet, of course.  The other day, I met a lady who was 94-years-old and in awesome shape.  She was hanging out at the pool in 100 degree Texas weather and walking around cracking jokes, laughing.  It was amazing!  I’ve seen 70-year-olds who look older than she did!  My hubby asked her what her secret is and she answered “I drink coffee everyday”.  That sounds good to me.

So this brings me to another love of mine: cake.  I’m certain most of you can understand why it is a love of mine.  I mean, what’s not to love?  Sweet, moist, decadent, melt-in-your mouth cake.  Now there is this thing called coffee cake.  Match made in heaven, right?  Well, the thing is, coffee cake doesn’t actually have coffee in it at all.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like coffee cake and everything, but it really should just be called cinnamon cake.  Adding coffee to the name just builds up all this expectation of coffee flavored cake and my hopes are always dashed.  Well, no more.  I give you:

Real Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 2 ½ cups oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (I used half and half)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups raw sugar
  • ¾ cup butter (or any substitute)
  • 1 cup milk (I used coconut milk)
  • ½ cup applesauce (in place of 2 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground coffee (I used Kona)

Mix all your dry ingredients, except the raw sugar, together.  Then mix all your wet ingredients with the raw sugar and heat for about 1 minute in the microwave to dissolve the sugar and melt the butter.  Then mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a hand mixer.  If you want to add a cinnamon crumble, pour a portion of the cake batter into a muffin tin to bake two muffins.   Pour the rest of the cake batter into an oiled cake pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes at 350.

Once the cake is baked through, take out of the oven and let it cool a bit before take it out of the cake pan.

Now it’s time to make the dark chocolate ganache.  Don’t you love that word, ganache?  I do.  Even the word sounds delicious.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup coconut milk (I’m sure soymilk would work as well)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 semi-sweet chocolate baking squares (I used Baker’s.  If you don’t have baking bars, just add whatever chocolate you have until consistency seems right)

Pour the milk and coconut oil into a saucepan and heat on low to medium heat until warm.  Once it’s warm, begin to melt the chocolate into the saucepan.  When the ganache is done, it will have a silky texture.

Now you can coat your cake with this amazing goodness.  Then sprinkle your cinnamon crumble over it and stick it in the fridge to harden up.

It really is perfection.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl

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