Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Healthy Brownies

I made these once and my hubby was the only one who wasn't thrilled with them. I made them again and even K (who ate half of the first batch) wasn't too thrilled. Not sure what I did differently but they were mighty beany the second time around. That's my warning.
I have made some healthy brownies before, they had icing and were made with sweet potato. I liked them. A lot. So when I came upon this recipe for Black Bean & Avacado Brownies I thought it was worth a try.

Wow, taking a picture of food is harder than I thought it would be
Well, they are yummy. The kids love them. My hubby even ate some approvingly. They were super easy and are not too bad for you. You probably can tell they are not really rich, but they still taste yummy. The texture is perfect and fudgey.

When I mentioned them on facebook a ton of people responded to the fact that they were gluten free. It doesn't really make much difference in our house but you know I have a fondness for the South Beach Diet/ Zone Diet in terms of healthy eating. No flour definitely helps with less carbs and the avocado is a "good fat".

I got the link off Kalyn's Kitchen a South Beach blog. And the recipe itself came from Cara's Cravings which looks like a good source for lots of fun things.
Enough chatting here is the recipe:

Black Bean & Avocado Brownies

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 of a ripe avocado (60gm)
6 tbsp cocoa powder (30gm)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons white sugar (75gm)
2 teaspoons instant espresso
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper.

Combine black beans, egg substitute, agave syrup, and avocado in food processor.
Blend for a few minutes, until completely smooth.
Add remaining ingredients and continue blending until fully combined,
stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spread into parchment-lined baking dish.
Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean.

These are best if you let them sit overnight before slicing and enjoying!

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 12
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 98.0
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 134.6 mg
Total Carbs: 19.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 4.2 g

I imagine you could substitute Honey for the Agave if you don't have any/don't like it.
She mentions in the post that the agave is needed for moistness.
There is a bit of sugar in this one, but it is just a bit. Works out to 1/2 tbsp per serving.


I mentioned in my 10 + 3 update that I had been eating higher calories this last week. And boy has it been easy. Check out the goodies that were floating around this house last week.

Chocolate Pecan Torte by my sis

Apple pie by my hubby (his specialty)

Two year old Birthday cake by my sis and brother in law
It has been tasty around here!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An accent

I always hear on the decorating shows that you should have a neutral backdrop and change things up with accent colours. About every show on HGTV could claim that as a quote. Well, our beige, brown and tan living room qualifies as neutral for sure. I have had quite a few colours in the living room on and off since we moved here but it never seemed perfect.
Then I read that the colour of the year was going to be turquoise. Later, I found the huge candlesticks that are on the mantel and decided to go for it.
I think the turquoise looks good with all the brown and makes the teak roll top desk look fabulous. It also looks great with grey, which is the neutral I am moving towards.
So I have been picking things up here and there to play up the theme. By the way, here and there really means at Superstore and HomeSense.
It is hard to have pretty things in your house if you have monkeys and you actually let them in the living room. Now that we have a playroom I have considered banishing them to the basement permanently, then reconsidered. Instead I chose only non breakable turquoise things, like this melamine bowl and serving plate. A insists they should have something in them. I am working on it. Any non breakable suggestions?

And this last little tin was printed with a very busy winter scene. A bought flavoured popcorn from some fundraising kids that came to our door. It is huge so I saved it and painted it with gesso then craft paint and used a rub on to make the label. It turned out a bit bright, but I like it inside the cabinet. It looks just right behind the glass doors.
So, what colours do you have going on at your house? And have you ever heard of the blog House of Turquoise? So great. It is my inspiration now that Turquoise is my new best friend.

10 + 3 Challenge update

As of Sunday (I am posting late because I was working night shift) I now declare this to be the 5+3 challenge. Things are moving in the right direction. Again I met all my goals for exercising, water drinking, food journaling. I also am noticing a resurgence of muscles, I like that.
But, I am finding issues with my diet that I didn't know were there. I am planning on tackling a few of those this week. More veggies are in order. It is just so darn much work to wash and chop and chew, and I am lazy. But I am trying to do it this week and thanks to Costco I have a few things already chopped up. The rest of this is pretty much to help me remember what my plan is from here on out so feel free to stop reading if you like ;^) I am finding it easy to stay pretty low on my calories and am remarkably consistent even without really trying. This is good except I think my body is content here and not super responsive, considering the exercise I have been doing. I pretty much proved that this week as I upped my calories and lost the same. I am going to try calorie cycling this week and see how I like it.
I would also like to do a week where I only do the Tabata Protocol for exercise. I would like to do 6 minutes 6 days and nothing else, and just see how it goes. It isn't going to work this week with our schedule, but I will keep it in mind for later.
That's it for this week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Song lyric Sunday, I mean Monday?

As with my goal update I am behind due to illness. But I heard this great song on the radio on my way home from work last week and wanted to get it on here before I forget. I am totally a fan of quiet songs with just voice and guitar. Love that pared down style.

Maybe you all have heard this before but I live under a rock, that is I have rocks in my pocket, purse, stroller and car. I hear a lot of the alphabet song and not much else these days. So it's new to me anyway.

Your Hands
by JJ Heller

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
That you would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will make all things right
Yea, one day you will make all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

10 + 3 Challenge

Update for the week, coming to you a bit late. What can I say, the sinus infection is hanging around a bit longer than expected. I am falling behind and might even need to give in and go to the doctor.

So here is the short and sweet version. Tick, tick, tick. I am rocking the goals. I even ate more veggies this week. Moving towards healthy.
Next week more of the same: water, veggies, and Kettlebells x 3 days.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More mantels

Remember way back here when I said I was rearranging things?

My dining room looked like this...
and my living room looked like this...
I have recently been inspired by Layla at the Lettered Cottage and her advice for mantels.

And more recently by the Nester's mantel linky party.

So here is the simplified version of my own mantel.
And the cupboards on either side...

I think it turned out just fine... for now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

10 + 3 Challenge

Update for this week.

Water - Improved. I had at least 5 glasses every day. Yeah for water.

Food Journaling - Good. I recorded 6 days out of 7. It is a pain but I am snacking less so I guess it's working. Also, I need to focus on more fruits and veggies for next week.

Exercise - 5 days done! As per my initial goals I did 3 K-bell workouts (hard ones I might add), and walking/yard work on 4 days. Because I sometimes did both in one day, it equals 5 days of exercise. I don't know my schedule for next week- no work pre booked - so I am going to plan it the same as this week and work around what ever happens.

It feels good to say I accomplished all my goals for the week.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

They call it upcycling...

Upcycling is when you take something that is still useful but ugly and redo it instead of chucking it. I think this has always been going on but apparently it is now becoming trendy and green.

Here is the before of an ugly-ish yellow dresser (in the corner under all those tools) that we found in our house in the old workshop. It had a fake wood laminate top screwed onto it and it was nailed to the wall. Not sure if the previous owners left it because it was nailed down or because they thought it was ugly.
We weren't exactly sure if we were going to keep it so this is the best before picture I can find. When my hubby detached it from the wall he noticed that is was actually made of wood, with dovetail joints and all. It was decided then that we would keep it. It lived under the deck for over a year. Slowly my vision for the dresser became clear, especially after reading all about Holly's projects at Life in the Fun Lane. A bought a paint sprayer that can be used with our air compressor, I picked a pink that matches L's quilt. Finally, when we changed her to the big girl bed it was time to work on the dresser.

Here is that side of her room before: IKEA dresser/change table that has been through 3 babies, my Grandma B's mirror that I painted white, and toys, books and clothes stored all around.

Here is the after. The dresser was sprayed Odessa Pink (Benjamin Moore HC 59 ), the hardware is antique brass from Lee Valley Tools, the shelf is from IKEA (where else- Ekby Hensvik).

I know the white stereo is not that pretty but somebody needs it to go to sleep. Here is L messing with the dimmer switch on her light.
This suitcase belonged to A's Grandma (GG Nan) and I saved it from the garbage when we cleaned out her apartment for her move. I love it. It is filled with patchwork quilts made by my Great Grandma for us around the early 80's. And on top is a hand dyed wool blanket my Aunt made for me as a child.

Don't ya just love the inside? Beautiful.

The mirror that was Grandma B's got moved to this corner along with a peg rack. The peg rack was downstairs and I used it to practice using the paint sprayer. Now it can hold cute things like her new tutu or the dress my Great Grandma made for me that both L and I have worn.
Here's a close up of the shelf, toy baskets and teddys.

Under a thick layer of white paint the legs were really wood. A discovered this by removing them and sanding them one by one as he spun them on his drill. Pretty creative, huh? I used some old stain we had in the cupboard and gave them a light stain. I like how the brass at the bottom is similar to the handles and knobs.

A quick close up of the hardware. The top drawers had three routered lines in the middle so they got 2 knobs. The bottom drawers were flat so I used pretty cool pulls. I have to write little labels and put them in for the finishing touch.

There you go. A pretty pink dresser for a new big girl room.

I am going to try and add this to the Power of Paint Party over at Domestically Speaking. Hope it works.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A little painting project

Here is a mirror I bought for $10 at the Ladies Time Out dutch auction.
Big, gold, and according to the sticker on the back ... from Sears.
Here is a lonely wall at the top of the stairs.
Here she is painted a light grey.
Turned out pretty well, I think.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A new rug

Finally. I have been wanting to replace our living room rug at least since we moved into this house a year and a half ago. But I finally decided it was a priority at Christmas. It finally got purchased a few weeks ago when we had a babysitter for the afternoon.

We are new to the world of babysitters and I decided I really love the whole idea. Someone who is young, has lots of energy, a flexible schedule, enjoys being with the kids and thinks we are giving her a lot of money. Perfect. Slightly off topic but worth mentioning none the less.

Anyway we had a pretty big budget for the rug and decided to find something nice. After reading a bit too much Cote de Texas and Pure Style Home I decided seagrass was what I wanted. Durable, doesn't stain, looks natural and blends with the colour of our hardwood. See Lauren's post on choosing a rug here.
Sounds easy, but finding it has been another story. I looked around, considered ordering online, but never quite decided on anything. Flash forward to date afternoon in March... "Hey honey, let's just pop into the Urban Barn outlet, OK?" and with that the clouds parted and we saw the perfect rug.

We needed at least 8 x 10, this was 8 x 12. We wanted seagrass, sure enough seagrass. We wanted a reasonable price, this was... holy smokes a third of our budgeted amount. Sold. Get that thing in the car before anyone changes their mind.
Personally, I think it makes the Living room look bigger. It does indeed look good with the hardwood. And it is nice to walk on, not soft but more like the feeling your feet get in those sandals with all the little bumpy things in the soles. Someone please tell me they know what I am talking about....

Moving on. Our living room looks good except for one small-ish detail...
Yep, still waiting for a new sliding glass door. The guy comes to measure this week so it shouldn't be more than a month before we get a new slider. Nice.

Hey can you spy something new in the middle picture? More on that later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

10 + 3 Challenge

This is a quick update. I am counting the week Sunday to Saturday because that is how sparkpeople does it. So last week here is how it went....

water - tick. I did indeed drink more water, as I said before this is not the hard part for me.

food journaling - X Not so good. In fact I didn't even start. We were away for a few days and crazy for the rest so it just didn't happen. But hey, I have already started to record today's food.

exercise - I didn't quite make 5 times last week. I did 4 days of Kettlebells and fully explored my new video. I love it and can't wait to workout when the munchykins go to bed tonight.

There was a good reason I only got 4 days in, though. A bad cold (that I suspect is RSV) has overtaken the children, and as of today, A as well. I am not sick (yet) but I did spend 3 evenings contemplating taking one or the other of my asthma kids to Emerg for terrible croupy coughing fits. So you see I couldn't just go and get sweaty then shower when I was busy listening to coughs and taking kids out in the cold in their PJ's. I am, however, quite pleased with my 4 exercise nights as I probably would have only done 2 if I weren't trying to meet a goal.

There ya go. Start on the food journaling and try for the full 5 days of exercise are on teh agenda for next week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Spring Break

We don't have work schedules like everyone else. A and I both work shift work. Sometimes the weekend is Wednesday - Thursday. Sometimes the weekend is 4 days long. We usually work on the holidays (at least one of us). We have never been away for the May long weekend or labour day weekend but we do fun stuff when everyone else is at work. We also never go to the mall, grocery store or Costco on the weekends and strongly pity those of you who must.

Anyway, our random schedule has been tamed a bit by the big K - Kindergarten. Suddenly we are bound to the same schedule as everyone else. Yuck. But we also must acknowledge the holidays that everyone else observes and feel more compelled to take advantage of them.
even the Border Guard said these 2 look alike

So this Spring Break we took the oldest kid (R) to Birch Bay. Thanks to some free babysitting by both sets of Grandparents and free accommodation at the family trailer we were able to spend all our money shopping. We haven't been to Washington since the passport rule came in. We just got our passports for the first time ever, even though we lived in America for 3 years. Ahh back in the day.
Can you feel the wind chill from these shots?

Anyway, we visited Target (why can't we have Target here?), the outlets and US Costco (huge). Spent our money on spring and summer clothes for everyone and then relaxed the next day. It was freezing and windy but we still managed a walk on the beach. We also slept in sleeping bags and played games like pick up sticks and Skip bo. R thought he was the centre of the universe for 24 hours and had a great time. What more could a 5 year old want.