Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good Eats // Superfoods Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

I love this salad! I enjoy making salads because they are a great way to incorporate healthy items with bursts of delicious flavors despite the healthy factor. I also find them to be forgiving in taste even while getting experimental with the ingredients. While flavoring other foods can be a delicate thing (not too little, not too much), giving salad a kick or twist of flavor usually lends to it becoming a delicious favorite. Plus it's fun to find new ways to combine flavors within a salad that you can then use in other dishes too!

I came up with this salad while taking the Healthy Start 7 challenge earlier this month and I promised the recipe would follow. So here it is packed with the following superfoods:
Spinach:: packed with antioxidants and vitamins, it is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and a source of Omega-3
Quinoa:: high in protein, contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein, rich in fiber and minerals, and it's gluten-free
Beets:: fights disease, strengthens neural tubes, regulates digestion with fiber, high in immune boosting vitamins A, B & C, and they are packed with potassium
Pomegranate:: filled with B & C vitamins, potassium, and folic acid, anti-inflammatory, improves blood flow, anti-cancer, heart healthy, antioxidant packed, and contains folate which helps repair DNA
Sunflower Seeds:: aid digestion, improves memory, increases energy, provides protein, fiber and complex carbs
Cherry Tomatoes:: a powerhouse of vitamins A, C & K, potassium, fiber, and most importantly beta-carotene and lycopene (a powerful antioxidant when paired with a healthy oil), all while being low calorie
Celery:: Vitamin C, fiber, minerals (potassium, calcium, molybdenum, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as the B vitamins thiamine, niacin, folate, and B6), anti-cancer/Alzheimer’s, eliminates toxins from the kidneys, anti-inflammatory, low calorie and boosts metabolism
Carrots:: high in beta-carotene, anti-cancer, low calorie, immune support
Red Onion:: antioxidents, banishes free radicals, anti-cancer, helps fight the virus of the common cold, reduce high blood pressure, and can help control glucose levels
Citrus Vinaigrette:: more vitamin C and healthy fat to make those vitamins work at max capacity

Several hand fulls of spinach and mixed greens
1 C cooked quinoa
1 medium red beet, cooked and diced
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 carrots, shredded
1/4 red onion
handful of cherry tomatoes, whole or sliced
2-3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1/2 the seeds from 1 pomegranate 
1 orange, juiced
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp brown mustard

How to make it::
1. Cook your quinoa ahead of time (I usually use leftover quinoa in a salad or it's great for breakfast). Check out some great tips on how to cook your quinoa.
2. Cook beet ahead as well. I roast mine in the oven with skins on covered in EVOO for roughly 40 min at 350, or until fork tender. Then I peel them (while wearing gloves since they stain) once they've cooled.
3. Prep your veggies/fruits. Fill bowl with greens and top with veggies.
4. Make dressing and toss over salad. 
Check out our other recent recipe creations from out Healthy Start 7 journey:  Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes and Fruity Brussel Sprouts

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Home // And Baby Makes Three

Not long ago, I shared a little tbt (throwback Thursday for those that don't know) of our first little "home" together in Pasadena where I started this blog. While we don't own a home because that doesn't fit our lifestyle/careers just yet, we try our best to make whatever space we live in feel like a home. Hence the name of this blog, A Home Beautiful. A beautiful home definitely goes beyond what you put in it, but it sure is fun to create your own unique spaces, isn't it? 

We actually moved to this space quite a while ago now...when we were growing our little family. Right near the end of my pregnancy actually. A great time to move, right? In the urgency to find a place, relocate for my husband's job, and get settled before baby made three we found this typical carpet/tile, vinyl shades, everything is off-white SoCal townhouse but a mile from the beach. To be near the beach in a dog and kid friendly neighborhood...this pregnant mama was sold. In fact, I took the place on the spot.

Fast forward to now...we have surfaced from babyville and have entered toddlerhood where I actually have a moment to myself once in a while (which means finally getting back to blogging!) However, that doesn't mean I haven't been busy working on this little homestead. Oh no, in fact some things have changed a few times over and I probably wasn't mindful enough to take pictures of it all. But, I do want to share with you the progress I have made so far in making our current town house a town home. To do so, I thought I'd start at the beginning. The very beginning. Here it is::

((PS:: I'll be sharing some transformations of these spaces soon so be sure to check them out!))

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Good Eats // A Fruity Way to Enjoy Brussel Sprouts

I did it! During our recent Healthy Start 7 eating challenge, I conquered brussel sprouts for our family. I made them, well, de-licious. Yay! (I wanted to do a cartwheel after cooking these, I was that excited.) And, as always with my favorite recipes, they were super simple to make.

1/2 pound brussel sprouts (fresh)
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black ground pepper
1/4 C chopped pecans
About 12 grapes, halved or quartered
How to make it::
1. Core your brussel sprouts. This is not the easiest part, but once you get the hang of it, it does go rather quickly.  First, it helps to slice off the hard stem. It also helps to think of these as baby cabbages for me. Then take a look at the hard white center inside. What you want to do is carve that out. It's bitter and the main reason, I believe, people don't eat this tasty veggie more often. The leaves of the brussel sprout (baby cabbage) are awesome and good for you. So give it a shot. Core those suckers.
2. Once cored, peel the leaves. You don't have to be gentle here and do them one by one...that would take too long. Just peel off the outer leaves however they come off is fine, ripped, whole, whatever. Toss them in a bowl. When you get down to leaves that have no green and are only hard and white. Discard them. If it isn't green, it's most likely bitter. If it's some green, it's probably good. Use your own judgement.
3. Take all your baby cabbage leaves (I mean brussel sprouts) and toss them in the olive oil and generous sea salt and black pepper to your taste (the measurements above are suggestions).
4. Add tossed leaves to a pan on medium heat. You don't want to burn them, just sauté them so don't get it too hot. Cook until they just before they wilt a bit.
5. Add pecans and grapes and cook until the grapes are warmed, 1-2 minutes more. Serve.

Enjoy these with a Chili Lime Sweet Potato as a vegetarian meal or alongside your favorite chicken, beef, or other protein.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Good Eats // Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes

As promised a few days ago, here is the recipe for Chili Lime Sweet Potatoes. I got inspired for this Chili Lime sauce while on our Healthy Start 7 eating challenge earlier this month. If you missed out on our journey you can read all bout how we jumped off the New Year with a solid week of healthy eating here (just make sure you start at the beginning).

4 sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce (found in the international food aisle)
1 Tbsp raw honey
Generous squeeze of fresh lime juice (about 1 lime worth - I like it limey)

How to make it::
1. Bake your sweet potatoes. I do 425 for about 20 minutes, until a fork goes in easily. Tip: I use a BBQ skewer through them long way to make sure the centers cook all the way. And they cook faster too.
2. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
3. Slice your sweet potato and cover with a spoonful of the sauce on each side.

These go great with my tasty (even-my-husband-likes-them) brussel sprouts I'll be sharing tomorrow. We ate these taters and brussel sprouts alongside my moms delicious and not quite as healthy meatloaf after our healthy eating challenge was over. It went really well together.


What would you serve this tasty spud with?  We enjoyed this with a fruity twist on an unlikely vegetable. Check out the post tomorrow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 7

We did it! We completed a whole week of healthy eating of the Healthy Start 7 meal plan. It was an adventure, and at times trying to our old eating habits (especially wanting to just do something easy and order take out!). But we made it through the week and cleansed ourselves of same icky eating for seven whole days. It felt amazing to dedicate our bodies to God during this time and submit to eating nutrient rich whole foods and eliminating the things we may enjoy but also know provide little to no nourishment to our bodies. When we nourish our bodies with good food our bodies can perform, grow, heal and thrive the way they are intended (all good things our Father wants to bless us with) and are at less risk for disease, sickness and complications.

While this whole eating healthy journey this week was part of a resolution (my resolution #3 and 1/2, this year), but it wasn't just that. It was a chance to make a true change and renew our minds about food. When you do something intense like this with dedication and live it out successfully, even in a short spurt, something good is going to stick. That's the point! Put in the short-term, hard effort and take out a major, long-term benefit. I say that's a great deal.

So what did we take out of this? 

1. Well, as I've mentioned - it may seem trivial to those who already enjoy it but quinoa has found a major place in my pantry. I always just saw it as an occasional alternative when I got tired of eating rice (my husband's favorite as I mentioned). I learned how versatile it really is and new ways to cook it and I really enjoy it now.
2. Sugar and junk just really take a back seat in my daily eating routine now. I learned how much I don't need them (or want them) when I'm feeding myself good, whole foods. Do I still eat sugar? Yes, I still know how to have fun! Am I obnoxiously avoiding white sugar and trying to eat healthier sugars where I can at every opportunity? Yes. 
3. I've found a new level of "no shame to my game" when it comes to avoiding things I don't want to eat, because at the end of the day it's about the body God gave -me- to maintain. Have you ever had those thoughts in your head about food like, "But my mom made this special for me," or "Everyone else is really enjoying this," or "It's just one slice..." Yeah, yeah...you've heard all those sugar-craving mantras before, have you? Well, here's a replacement for all of that. I only get one body, it is mine to maintain, so I will decide what goes in it. Period. No shame. No hurting anyone's feelings. Seriously, they'll get over it. However, depending what you're eating...you might not.

If you have a resolution to eat well this year or if you just want to take your eating habits to another level, check out Healthy Start 7 over at Total Life Pursuit blog.  And if you don't know what Total Life Pursuit is:  read all about it here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 6

Today was a special day for our eating adventure and the day I got bold enough to make my own quinoa recipe totally from scratch. I was so excited I already posted it before I even shared Day 1 here on the blog (also see days 234, & 5). I won't go into all the exciting details again but check out the link to my tasty quinoa pancakes below.

So Day 6 fell on Saturday for us leaving me some extra time in the kitchen in the morning to get adventurous and come up with these tasty Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes. Delicious! I really went out on a limb making these having no idea if they would be good or not and I could NOT believe how good they were. Go check out the recipe and try them yourself, you'll be amazed!

Dinner today was a tasty spinach salad. After a hearty quinoa breakfast a light salad for dinner was great. Stay tuned for my own spinach salad recipe from Day 1 coming up on the blog.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 5

I'm not going to lie, I've probably never eaten this much quinoa before this week...like in total ever. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But by day 5, it has truly earned a huge boost in my pantry - as in it has made it's way to regular staple now right up there with rice. If you knew me better, you'd understand I could feed my husband tacos and rice (pretty much any kind of rice and any way you want to make it - but mainly sticky white Japanese rice) and his stomach would be incredibly satisfied.

If you've been following for the past few days (1, 2, 3 & 4), roughly 7 or 8 meals have involved quinoa for us so far this week. The reason in quinoa is such a powerful source of food for Healthy Start 7 eating plan is because quinoa sort of imitates a grain the way it is cooked, it's texture and how it is used in dishes. But nutritionally it is a complete protein containing all the 9 essential amino acids our bodies need, it is a high source of fiber, calcium and it is gluten-free and easy to digest. It makes a great basic food and eating it at this intensity for one week really opened my eyes at how to adopt this wonderful food into our regular eating habits.

Wonderful world of leftovers and embracing a new way of eating dinner for breakfast (instead of our favorite breakfast for dinner). Just simply put eggs in it. Today I had the leftover Quinoa Stir-Fry with scrambled eggs and a healthy pick-me up dose of Siracha to top it off. That'll wake you up in the morning! If I were eating this without restrictions, I'd throw it in a tasty wrap and make a morning burrito out of it.

Dinner today was Healthy Start 7 Veggie Stir-Fry. This recipe brought back garlic-chile sauce to my kitchen in a fierce way. It's such an easy way to season veggies and make a quick and healthy meal packed with flavor without any sugar or other icky ingredients we've been trying to avoid. Yum!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 4

Half way through our Healthy Start 7 eating plan, Day 4 was an easy day. Lots of leftovers to choose from and an easy and delicious dinner that took no effort to enhance flavors to our preference. We loved it! Check out Days 1, 2 and 3 while you're here.

Leftover quinoa chili with a twist...scrambled eggs. This was soooo good. Like so good I want to eat it now talking about it good. The light and fluffy, no frills scramblers added such a great texture to this already tasty dish. I say no frills because my husband usually cooks eggs around here...(side note: he makes the best eggs I've ever eaten. In. My. Life.  Including every amazing hotel breakfast bar with super pro chef omelets and stuff. Yep, his are the best, ev-ah...ever? ever? Yes!) However, his have cheese, which we weren't eating so hence, no frills. Being married to the best egg maker ever has it's perks, like he taught me his light and fluffy secrets. So maybe, one day, I'll divulge them here. To you. And then you can impress your other halves too.

PS: Little one was into this dish the first time, but put some of dad's fluffy eggs in it. No stopping him. He tried to eat half my breakfast at the park this day. He's so a future foodie like his mama.


Tonight we tried the Healthy Start 7 Lentil Bean Soup recipe. Spot on! This recipe is perfectly delicious and is going to have a long life in our home. We both already want to eat it again soon. It makes a good amount too. Not so much that you get tired of eating the leftovers, but enough that you get to enjoy it a few times. Little one's verdict here? He was obsessed with this soup. Which was great for me because it was packed with healthy food and getting him to eat veggies these days isn't always the easiest. Win all around!

Note: I tried this recipe both as is and partially blended as it suggested and we preferred it partially blended.

Aren't beans bright and beautiful before they're cooked? What are your favorite lentil dishes?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 3

Day three really felt like I was in the swing of things. After two days of quinoa as our main protein source I was still missing some things in my diet (taste-wise) that I was used to - yogurt for breakfast, tossing chicken in a salad at lunch, and of course...my whey protein after the gym. *sad face* The plus side was I found myself at the place mentally where I knew I was really committed to making it through the rest of the week.

A struggle I still found at this point was that I was still hungry at the end of the day. One of the habits I was hoping to abandon from doing this health fast was snacking late at night. I tend to eat healthy most of the day and then reward myself at night if I still feel hungry by eating something cheat-y. Not good! The reason is because I don't always get the calories (good ones) in that I need during the day.

Fortunately, I discovered two new recipes on this day that I wanted to eat lots of and I could because they were two healthy veggie recipes. Upping my intake of calories with an extra snack (a double dose of hummus with my carrots, or an extra handful of nuts) or just eating a portion and a half at meal times really helped this week work well for me and cut the late night cravings.

Lesson:: It's okay to feed your body when you're feeding it something good. Giving into the bad calories at night means you've got to up your healthy calories in the day time so you aren't left fighting off an icky craving for junk later!

Our meal plan suggested a smoothie, so we tried out the delicious Healthy Start 7 mango smoothie recipe. It was a hit. I almost always make my smoothies with berries for antioxidants so this was a nice change of pace for me. I added a drop of pineapple and extra coconut. It was tropical heaven goodness!

Lunch was leftovers for me since we are only a family of two and many of these recipes are to feed at least four. Everything was awesome left over that we made, which is always a good thing in my opinion. Check out Day 1 and Day 2 to see some of the recipes we've made already.


I opted to skip to Day 4's dinner...Sweet Potato with chili sauce and brussel sprouts. #1) because tonight called for salad with avocado and the avocados I had delivered were not good...so sad :( Avocados are such delicious yumminess unless you get a hard, watery one that isn't really ripe yet. Ick! What can I say? We are so spoiled with them year round here. My skin is so thankful.

Reason #2) because I was excited to make two veggies that I want to incorporate more in our diet:  Sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.  I've always liked them they just weren't something I craved (unless of course you're talking sweet potato fries!). Plus I know how good they can be for you, so I want to eat them in a healthy way that tastes good. But what I was really excited for was to find a way to make them good to my husband. These were two veggies that were like dirty words to him. Not that brussel sprouts are everyone's favorite or anything...they definitely have a bad rap. But really, when done right, they are soooo good. And I'm happy to say I now have a way that I absolutely crave both of these Good Eats!!  Aaaannndd my husband actually said he "LIKED" these brussel sprouts and wants to eat them again. Victory.

You can view the Healthy Start 7 recipe for this tasty meal. And stay tuned for my yummy versions after our week of healthy eating posts! It's worth the wait.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 2

Welcome to our journey with the Healthy Start 7 eating challenge. Before you get started, read all about Day 1. Or just jump right in here on Day 2. And stay tuned for the whole week through Day 7. Plus, come back for all of my yummy original recipes that came out of this healthy eating challenge, like those pancakes from the other day that I want all the time now...Yum!

Really, just thank you for reading any and all posts on my blog. I appreciate it and enjoy!

Our meal plan suggested broiled grapefruit for breakfast, however I knew that was not going to fill us up so I opted to try this another day...and I skipped ahead to Day 4's breakfast. Quinoa cereal. I followed the Healthy Start 7 recipe for this (opting for strawberries, pecans and unsweetened coconut as toppings) and it was really good. It was a big hit with the little one. I think my hubby would prefer his steel-cut oats but that's okay with me. This will be a new protein-packed breakfast choice for me when I have leftover quinoa to use up...since quinoa has found a regular spot in my kitchen pantry after this week's challenge.  

Nothing special today...just leftover salad. We're only a family of 2.5 and my husband ate all of his fresh and raw salads for the week at his work cafeteria. I was so proud of him for sticking to this healthy choice every day. The only time I've ever truly wanted to eat a salad every day, I was pregnant. I craved this homemade lemon salad dressing I make and I had to have it all the time. Haha, I guess I'll have to share that sometime for all the healthy mommies out there.

This Quinoa and Veggies Stir Fry was definitely tasty and it was a miracle dinner in my book. Okay, shhh...this recipe totally allowed me to get my fantastic other/better half to eat some pretty wild vegetables he'd rather turn his nose up at. 1) mushrooms! He was a great sport and knew they were in there and ate this anyway. He's so committed. 2) eggplant, big wow here...I made sure to peel it as the recipe stated (genius, and why have I never tried that before?) and diced it super small. I also took the advice to buy a small size Japanese eggplant because it wouldn't be as bitter. 3) yellow squash, I normally get a weird look to anything with the word "squash" in it. Don't even know what that's about. 4) tomatoes: these guys are hit or miss but sliced so they don't get too hot inside and sautéed like this, he enjoyed them. 

The big hit in this recipe is the seasoning. There's so many seasoning options you can do with it. I opted for fresh parsley, basil and a special ingredient here that wasn't recommended in the original recipe...we topped it with Sriacha sauce for some kick. Woah! Flavor on so many levels I can't even explain it. Just go make it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Healthy Start 7 // Day 1

As promised, today starts our journey with Healthy Start 7, which I introduced as part of my New Year's Resolution series. Actually, we already did the challenge with pretty flying colors if I must say so myself. But today we start sharing it with you. Well, actually, I shared my first recipe to come out of this healthy eating challenge yesterday with some yummy Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes (that are GF & SF to boot!). You're going to want to try that one...and many of the other recipes that I created while on this cooking journey, PLUS all the recipes from the plan were excellent too!

What is Healthy Start 7? The main focus of this challenge was to eat healthy consuming mainly fruits/vegetables, the protein-packed grain alternative - quinoa, eggs, and beans/legumes, while completely removing all dairy, meats, grains, and junk/sugar/alcohol. There is also a spiritual degree to this process and it is encouraged to focus on scripture, prayer and worship during this time.

Why do this? This way of eating closely aligns with the Daniel Fast. (There are several variations of the plan out there.) The benefits of eating this way for a time are tremendous, in my opinion. Body, soul and spirit and all effected while on this plan. It is certainly healthy for bodies in obvious ways, it clears out the toxins and other unhealthy things we put into ourselves that effect our emotional/mental lives, and in we are surrendering our will and choices about food over to God, eating for health and not for indulgence.

In my final resolution this year I shared that eating healthier is a huge goal of mine. Starting the year off with the Healthy Start 7 way of eating was a great jump start to this goal getting to the next level. Here on the blog I'll share my recipes that came out of this journey as well as photos of many of the yummy and delicious recipes we made developed by the talented nutritionist - Jessica - over at Health + Happy blog.

While today is a Tuesday, you can start your Healthy Start 7 any day of the week. Just do it for 7 days. It helped me to look over everything, decide what I wanted to make and then put a grocery list together. That way I had everything I was going to cook for the week and it really helped me to keep from sticking to it.

So here's Day 1::

Healthy Start 7 was an omelet with peppers, onions and tomatoes (no recipe was provided).

If I was going to get my husband to eat this, I had to opt out of the tomatoes, although I love them. I added some of my own flavor and secret seasonings to this very similar to my Sage Scramble. Stay tuned for the official recipe...

Lunch every day was a salad so I won't share all of my adventures with lunch. There were a few salad recipes included with the Healthy Start 7 recipes. I opted for my own since I really enjoy making beautiful salads. It's one of my things in the kitchen. One of my best girl friends begs me to make her salads...haha. I'll be sharing this *beaut* with you soon...

Okay, our first Healthy Start 7 recipe. This was ah-mazing. I couldn't believe it didn't have any meat in it. And while my husband's first reaction was: "It'd be really great with some cheese or sour cream on it", which totally made me laugh because, if you recall, we were avoiding dairy. And if you knew my husband, he'd put cheese and/or sour cream on pretty much any stew-ish dish out there. However, he would've settled for my healthy version of sour cream - a mashed avocado - however, ours were not ripe yet. Hubby opted for this recipe to be a "keeper" even without the meat. This recipe was a major win in our house! Go make it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes // Gluten & Sugar Free!

I am so excited to share our first recipe that I developed out of our Healthy Start 7 challenge (which I first introduced to you yesterday in my New Year's Resolution #3 (Part 2) post). While a pancake recipe was not included in the Healthy Start 7 meal plan for breakfast, quinoa was a huge staple of the challenge. When first preparing for this challenge I remember thinking, What are we going to eat for breakfast? While I enjoy smoothies, I don't want one every day. And eggs are great (which was the only dairy included for extra protein), but I often enjoy warm grains in the morning - oatmeal, whole wheat pancakes or toast. When quinoa pancakes were suggested as an alternative to my normal whole wheat, I was up for a new cooking challenge.

I scoured Pinterest and my other go-to sites for a start on a good recipe. Many of the quinoa recipes I found still include all-purpose flour...not allowed on our plan. Or there was the other extreme (one of which I attempted), which included no flour and was super wet and watery, and lets just say it ended up in the trash. Quinoa alone didn't work out for me. Many recipes also called for traditional sugars, which we were also avoiding during this challenge. (To get super technical, we weren't supposed to be using any flours, baking soda, etc., but at the end of the day, this is still the healthiest pancake I've ever eaten!)

So what's a girl to do? I wanted a truly healthy pancake that met our challenge requirements and still tasted good...not some I'll-choke-it-down-because-I-know-it's-good-for-me experiment. I took the tips I found from the all-quinoa recipes and what I know from making my own whole wheat versions and *boom* this recipe was born. It was a major hit with both the hubby and our little one who regularly begs for "cakes" (aka, pancakes)...my true motivation for making a healthier version.

NOTE:: I have made this recipe with and without a sugar substitute. It is just as yummy without. I'd encourage you to try it without and opt for your sweetness to come from a small amount of maple syrup, raw honey or sugar-free jam on top! However, if you so choose, I recommend a dry sugar substitute, such as stevia. I originally used coconut sugar (shown in the photos below) in this recipe but I didn't feel it made a huge difference in the taste. If you want to try a wet sugar substitute, try using less lemon juice and more lemon zest to keep the lemon flavor while reducing your liquid. Try 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp raw honey, molasses, or fresh (not from concentrate) apple juice.

((Stay tuned:: I'll be sharing my research on sugar substitutes soon and will post the link here when it's published. What I found may surprise you.))

1 C uncooked quinoa
3/4 C almond milk
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp ground flax
1/4 tsp sea salt
(optional: alternative sugar*)
2/3 C coconut flour
1tsp baking soda
1 C wild blueberries

How I made it::

1. Thoroughly rinse your quinoa (this is good to do anytime you make it as it helps remove the bitterness). Soak in filtered water overnight, or for several hours. Drain and rinse.

2. Add rinsed quinoa to blender with almond milk, coconut shreds, coconut oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, flax, and salt. Also add sugar substitute at this point, if using. Blend thoroughly. You can't over blend it so make sure the quinoa is really ground.

3. Whisk baking soda and flour in separate bowl, stir into wet ingredients until incorporated. Batter will be fluffy and slightly thick.

4. Stir in blueberries and set griddle/pan to medium heat.

5. Use a small bit of coconut oil to coat pan so the batter doesn't stick. Then follow this timer flow I use to cook each pancake evenly and without burning them. Plus, I only have to set my timer for one time, which is helpful. But do whatever works for you!
  • Set timer to 2 minutes.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan, shimmy pan so batter spreads out. 
  • At 2 minutes, flip cake. 
  • *Reset 2 minute timer.*
  • At 1 minute, remove pancake from heat, add more coconut oil to grease pan, pour batter to make next cake. 
  • Allow 20-30 seconds of timer to run out, reset timer and continue cooking first side of pancake for 2 minutes. 
  • Flip and repeat from ** until out of batter.

6. Serve with maple syrup and butter, or honey and/or sugar-free jam (on pretty paper plates for easy clean up...because, hey this mama has plenty of other dishes to do already with all the cooking that goes on around here!).


**Baby and husband approved**

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Year's Resolution #3: Healthy Living // TLP Style (Part 2)

Yesterday I posted my New Year's Resolution #3 (Part 1) and today is the day for the final wrap up of my goals (decisions) for 2014. You can read about the first two decisions here and here. As I mentioned, I'm in a season of focusing on the physical area of my life and living in Total Life Pursuit in that area. Yesterday was about working out and today is all about food.
Getting to the next level of physical fitness in my body for me is not just about the burn, but also about the fuel. What goes in my mouth! Okay, in my honest opinion, this is the real reason why people make the diet/workout resolutions every year. Even if you don't work out, this is where your physical health really starts. What we put into our bodies is so important, not just for our weight but for our overall total health, for lack of disease, for vitality, for old age to feel good. Who wants old age to feel bad? Who wants to spend the last good years of their life unable to do the things they love, have energy, or even just get out of bed without pain. Some of that starts with moving and grooving and working out like I said in Part 1. But seriously, food is the complete other half of this! 

Little known secret about me, if I weren't a communications specialist I would totally be some kind of nutritionist. I love food. But recently in life (since being pregnant, growing a human life, and feeding a baby), I've developed a serious passion for learning how to make food healthier for my family. So where does TLP come into this and getting to the next level of healthy eating? 

To start 2014 with a healthy eating bang, as most intend to do, our pastor put us to the TLP challenge. A Healthy Start 7 challenge to be exact.  This healthy start was mainly focused around food, but not just physical food. It also included spiritual food, physical challenges and more to bring your physical life in line with your spirit. Lining up the areas of your life is the TLP way after all. So eating healthy in this challenge wasn't just to look better, feel better or choose better food for our bodies. It was all of these things, but at the core, the focus was to have our eating and the food we chose for our bodies for an entire week be dedicated completely to God. 

The meal plan our pastor and his amazing daughter-in-law (a knowledgeable and experienced nutritionist - you can read her amazing blog Health + Happy for all things health, nutrition, beauty, and amazingness!) put together was based on the Daniel Plan. There are various versions of the plan out there; this one included fasting from all breads, meats, dairy, sugar/junk food, and alcohol. You can see the Healthy Start 7 meal plan here

This meal plan was a true challenge. What would I feed my husband? Would he stick to it with me? Could we really eat that much quinoa?! Forget the living without sweets for a week...big deal, I don't have a huge sweet tooth anyway, although this was still tough. For me the struggles were:  How could I go without my normal proteins, my after-workout whey protein that I love, and salty foods like the occasional potato chip? And would it be enough food? What would we eat?!

It turned out it wasn't hard to get plenty of food (and, yes, my wonderful husband stuck to this with me with flying colors - proud wifey!). This 7 day challenge opened my eyes to a whole new way of eating and nutrition. I learned new ways to combine foods and think about what I should or shouldn't eat at any given meal. I realized you really can have an amazing and filling dinner plate of purely vegetables. I brought more "dinner" foods onto my breakfast plate. I found new, fun ways to utilize leftovers without incorporating a bad carbohydrate in some way. I discovered I don't really miss meat anywhere close to how much I thought I would... wow!

Best of all, I learned a new level of discipline about eating. Eating to live a vital life is so different than eating to merely sustain life. Dedicating my eating to God brought me to a new level of just how amazing and wonderfully he designed our bodies. If you feed your body well, it will function well. No brainer, right? We all know sugar and other unhealthy foods make us lethargic and have countless ailments, yet we think, "Oh, just this once..." or whatever we tell ourselves. Before this fast, I definitely snacked when I knew I shouldn't have and would often eat late in the evening because I didn't get enough good food during the day.  If you struggle with these types of eating habits, I would greatly encourage you to try Healthy Start 7. Fasting from the things we struggle with is an amazing way to give the struggle over to God. He will cleanse it from you and give you a fresh start!

So what is Part 2 of my New Year's Resolution #3?

Resolution #3? (Part deux): I've decided to continue to grow in my journey of learning healthier ingredients, eating habits, and cooking techniques. I am going to eat to live, rather than live to eat. I want to enjoy good food that is good for me. And if I really enjoy a food that isn't good for me I at least want to attempt at finding a healthier alternative (or seriously limit my intake of the not so healthy choice!). I want to feed my family healthy, nutritious yet deliciously homemade foods that nourish their life in more ways than one! 

Annnddd, the fun part for all of you about this final resolution? I plan to blog my healthy discoveries, alternatives and successes with food here on the ahomebeautiful blog. Food is such a core of our home. I feel like I'm always in the kitchen since I make most of our meals and I find myself saying "I should blog that" a lot. So, this year I intend to do just that, starting with all of our adventures with Healthy Start 7 starting tomorrow. Stay tuned and enjoy!

Follow my other healthy recipes found under Good Eats

Check out resolutions #1#2, and #3 (part 1).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year's Resolution #3: Healthy Living // TLP Style (Part 1)

If you've been following along, earlier this week I shared my New Year's Resolutions #1 & #2. Today I'm sharing the last but not least, Resolution #3. I hope you enjoy!

First, what is Total Life Pursuit?  "Total Life Pursuit is all about pursuing life totally!" TLP, as it's known for short, is a lifestyle.  (It is also a book.)  TLP is living in excellence and prospering in every area of life. It teaches you how to get to the next level in each of area of life (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, and financial) and to recognize that true change and a new way of living is totally possible.

Since I've had the pleasure of coming alongside and partnering in TLP with our Pastor (you can read all about that in Resolution #1), I've also had the opportunity to learn and practice this lifestyle. I am currently in a season of focusing on the physical area of life. I don't believe you can change all areas of your life at once, nor does TLP prescribe you do this either. That would be way too hard, and true change takes attention and dedication.

So my main focus right now is on two things: working out and eating healthy. Typical resolutions, right? They would be if it meant intending to go to the gym more and wishing I ate healthier. But since I'm practicing them TLP style, these are things I'm actually doing and achieving, and you can too!

View from the top of Mammoth mountain (no filter)

Working out:
Since our Pastor is a CPT, I've started doing his TLP workouts. Wow! These are amazing. I've been training once a week for just under three months now and I have seen tremendous results. As in, I actually have visible abs in my stomach. I'm a naturally thin girl (thank you Lord for skinny g.e.n.e.s!), but I have had a little one and I'm not in high school anymore...or my 20s either (so it's been way long since I've seen abs, okay). I'm a proud thirty and a hot wife and mama! However, after a little one, turning thirty, and let's face it, taking care of your home, husband, baby, etc... finding time to take care of your body? Not always easy! I had definitely dwindled in my motivation in the physical area of life. I had settled for what TLP defines as mediocre - which for me was relying on my skinny genes, hoping my under arm flab wouldn't get too saggy or noticeable while going to an occasional gym class or running/walking the dog/baby a few times a week. That's not much of a workout routine and hoping/wishing to be physically fit (...someday again...) does nothing for you!

What I've discovered about my workout motivation is that having a regular workout date with a trainer or class is a must for me! I did this while I was pregnant and it kept me in amazing shape, kept me at a healthy weight gain and I believe helped shed the pounds after the baby not to mention the strength it gave me during labor. (But more about that another day...). If you can't afford a personal trainer, join a gym and take classes. If you can't afford the gym, join a local community class or other local meet up groups - there are sooo many if you look for them. If you can't afford that and you have the internet (you at least have access to it, because you're reading this!) there are lots of sites that offer daily workouts and communities online that can encourage you to stay committed and accountable to your fitness routine. (One I personally like is The Daily Hiit. Their high interval workouts are intense, a quick 12 minutes, and quite effective). 

So why do I want to work out? 1) To feel good. And not just about myself and physical looks, that's nice and all, but to physically feel g o o d for my life. My whole life. I want to get out of bed when I'm 80 and not be afraid of falling, cracking, or not even be able to walk. I plan to live a long, long life so I want to live it vitally. I want to keep up with my kid(s) as they grow. I want to participate in the active part of life. I want to travel and ski with my husband in the years we actually have more money to afford skiing! I want to look out over God's creation and beautiful landscapes from the mountaintop well into old age!

What's my third resolution of 2014?

Resolution #3 (Part 1): I have changed my mind that working out is and will be a regular way of life for me. This currently means keeping up with TLP training, attending 2-3 regular classes a week at the gym, walking or jogging my baby on my other non-rest days of the week, and doing 1 interval training on my own, either at the gym or at home. This last one is because I want to encourage myself that working out is truly my new way of life and I don't always need to depend on training or a class to do it. 

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2!

What is your workout motivation? Share what works for you or what keeps you going in the comments. Thank you beautiful followers for your motivation.

Check out resolutions #1#2 and #3 (part 2).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our Home:: Where it Started

A throwback Thursday to our little house in Los Angeles where I originally started this blog just for fun. As a freelancer you tend to have periods of unemployment and during a rather dry season for work, this hobby started. Here are a few old school photos (a few saturated pre-instagram photo effects) of our cute little house. This is the house where we started our family. It will always be a treasure to us.

Our Home Sweet Home

Love Note Morning Glories

Patio Nook

The backyard was featured on and remolded by an HGTV show. I loved all the wall textures, built in bench, and layers of foliage. And there were cute party lights for entertaining at night. It was the first place I spent with my morning coffee and devotionals and where we ended many evenings with a nice glass of pinot by the fire pit. When we have our own home someday, I can't wait to design a comforting oasis backyard!

Grill Oasis

Side Yard

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolution #2: Sweet Honesty

Okay, so it's time to get really honest. I can be a shy person. Most of my friends probably wouldn't describe me that way. I'm closer to the extrovert side of the scale than introvert (although since marrying a classic introvert I've gained some more introverted tendencies over the years, which I'm totally fine with and actually like). But back to why my friends find me outgoing...like a lot of people, when I know you, I'm all there. I'm present, I'll say what I think and be my silly/deep/talkative/ and transparent self.  I'm the person that will make friends anywhere I go and have no concerns talking to strangers. I am still in touch with a friend I made in the restroom at a concert in Pasadena three years ago! So yeah, I'm outgoing. (Detour:: plug for her amazing new product - ringcozy! I have one. Go get one! Put a ring cozy on it.)

However, there's this piece of me that hesitates in certain areas. Let's call it what it is was:  insecurity. And I emphasize was, because I have resolved to rid myself of insecurity this year. It's funny, because just until recently I wouldn't have even described myself as an insecure person. I don't think even my husband (who knows me better than anyone) has ever described me that way, because we do acknowledge each others struggles in an iron-sharpening-iron sort of way. It actually took a series of things for me to come to a place just the other day where I actually wrote it down and called this thing - this hesitation I've allowed in my life for so long - by it's real name:  i n s e c u r i t y.

And I'm excited about that! When you can acknowledge something for what it is, things that you need to rid yourself of in your life, then you can truly deal with them. So this isn't even a "resolution" as most would define it, it's a decision.

First, how did I come to name this thing in the first place?  In a recent sermon, our pastor asked everyone to physically write down something (or things) we wanted to get rid of in our lives and then nail these pieces of paper to the cross. The reason is to put into action something you are choosing for your life spiritually. It's a very powerful thing to physically hand over a struggle to Christ. He takes on our struggles on the cross. He asks us to do this in his Word. So when you align with that, things change!

I know this because I've done this spiritual exercise before (which I'll share with you another time soon, now that I'm banishing insecurity from my life and all...but that's for another day!).

This time around, I found myself shocked at what I wrote down. Among other things I knew I needed to give up, when I wrote down the word insecurity it surprised me because, as I mentioned, I wouldn't have defined myself that way. And I'm not now. I'm calling out this thing, the thing that held me back in some ways - whether with people I knew or didn't know, with choices I made, with choices I didn't make, with fear of judgement, concern of what this or that makes me look like or seem like or...you get it. I'm someone who has a deep sense of privacy. That has always been my excuse. I am a private person, and that's fine. I remain to be, in ways. But that doesn't have to hinder my outgoing side that is real and good either.

What's my second resolution of 2014? 

Resolution #2:  I decide to be my sweet and honest self. You might not like it, but that's for you to choose. And I'm okay with that! I have a God who loves me, who will rid my mind and heart of insecurity because insecurity is a lie designed to make us feel bad and hold us back - from people, from choices, from life.

So here I am putting insecurity aside. Writing this post. Blogging this blog.  If you happen to read it, I pray it inspires you. And I hope you, as always, Enjoy!

What are you getting rid of this year? What have you decided? 

Check out resolutions #1#3 (part 1) and #3 (part 2).

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolution #1: Total Life Pursuit

Yesterday I shared fourteen inspirations from my 2013 to help inspire your 2014. Today I want to share with you the first of many resolutions I've made this year that I will be sharing here on the blog. Go!

So in 2013, I left my freelance career because I felt led by God to pursue wife-hood and mama-hood full-time. And it's been one of the best decisions of my life! I also put faith in God that, despite not working in a traditional sense, he would provide a place for me to use the talents he's given. And he did just that!

Over the last year, I have become increasingly involved with a vision our pastor had been dreaming. He was led to become a Certified Personal Trainer and create a lifestyle program. This lifestyle vision is called Total Life Pursuit  (or TLP as most call it for short).  It's all about pursuing life to the next level in all 6 areas of life (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational and financial). I started off helping with a the logo, a business card...then editing a few things. The more I read the more excited about it I got and the more involved I got in the project. Long story short, by the time I left my job I was fully editing the TLP book and designing the cover to go with it. 

It has been an amazing journey and an honor to work alongside a truly inspired man of God on this vision. Personally, as an editor I have never been so inspired nor as excited as I am to say this book is here and ready to be a part of your life!  I say a part of your life, because this is not one of those books you read just once. It is one of those books that you read, and reread, and go to as a reference, and come back and refresh on a certain area you want to focus on. It's a manual for life. (Actually the TLP Life Manual is yet to be published, but we're working on it!)

Before I go any further, seriously, go buy his book - Total Life Pursuit: Living Remarkably in the Six Major Areas of Life. Or get it on Kindle. It will change your life! Besides, who doesn't want to live a remarkable life? 

So what's my first resolution of 2014?

Resolution #1:  I am continuing to partner with our talented pastor to put my God-given talents to use with his God-given vision for Total Life Pursuit. And to motivate as many people as possible to join this lifestyle revolution!

Check out resolutions #2, #3 (part 1) and #3 (part 2).


Total Life Pursuit: Living Remarkably in the Six Major Areas of Life
Synopsis: Somewhere we have accepted mediocre, or less, as tolerable in different areas of life, especially if we excel in one or two areas.  We can excel in every area.  We have what it takes.  Total Life Pursuit will take you through the six major areas of life and help you grasp what you need to begin your assent, one step at a time, to the life that you have dreamed of living.

Total Life Pursuit is written to call people to a higher level of living and to equip, encourage and build the hope needed to achieve success.

Stay tuned to the TLP blog for life changing motivation, healthy goals, spiritual food, workout tips and more!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fourteen Inspirations for 2014 // Happy New Year!!

Last year my New Year started off with a general "be inspired" as much as possible goal. And for me that basically meant to read more books than usual (a hard goal to beat as an editor and book lover who's always reading several books at any given time).  But I did manage to squeeze in a few more books than I thought I would and read some interesting and definitely inspiring material last year. 

Here is some inspiring material I devoured (from books and elsewhere) that I hope inspires your new year in 2014! Some is deep, some is fun...these are just the top 14 treasures I discovered (or rediscovered) that inspired me to live a better life. 

As always, Enjoy!


One of my favorite authors. Well said.
I want to be reminded to be thankful for all I have every day!

I love this and I laugh every time I read it.

I want this reminder every time I have a tough situation while parenting!
I apply this to parenting because it's a great reminder to stop and listen to our children.
You might just learn something from their fresh perspective of life.