oh, happy day

living lola mantra
living lola mantra via My Chickas

While I don’t remember posing for this picture, maybe it was that awesome champagne in my hand, I do love the sentiment.

Living Lola Life Lesson:

Always keep a good bottle of champagne in the fridge. Today just may be the day that calls for the bubbly. You never know what is coming around the corner.

Be prepared to celebrate.

via TCM

 

Classic Champagne Cocktail 

1 dash of angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

Cold, dry champagne

Twist of lemon peel

 Add the dash of bitters to the sugar cube in the bottom of a chilled champagne glass and slowly pour in the champagne. Garnish with the lemon peel.

Cheers,

lola

 

For Julia

via HookedonHouses.net

When I began this post, I didn’t realize I would be posting it on the 100th Birthday of Julia Child. A recipe post is very apropos. Her legacy lives on in every food blog, every recipe “Pin” and every Instagram picture we share. Creating good food is an art and social media has helped up become part of this Food Appreciation culture.

Julia encouraged us all to simply TRY. She is the Godmother to all of us, the kitchen goddesses and gods everywhere, that play in our kitchens each day cooking, baking, entertaining and sharing our love of food.  Happy Birthday, Julia!

 

Everywhere I go, people are kicked into high gear “Back to School” mode. Especially this past week, as I have been helping my sister and her teacher/friend/colleague decorate their classroom. (Jen, what the ‘h’ do you call Carolyn?) As you can see, I have had to turn on my “teacher speak” since working at a place that molds and shapes young minds. Not easy when a hammer, nails and a power sander are involved. That is how my sister and her teacher friends speak…”What the “H”?!…”Don’t be such a ‘B’!”

That is why I could never be a teacher. I would yell, “What the HELL?” Then, open the TOP drawer of my desk for my flask. Why even bother hiding it in the bottom drawer? I have raised four children. I know exactly where the stash should be hidden: Within reach.

I remember those getting ready days. All the forms to fill out, the summer reading to cram in, the packets to pour over, trying to wind down summer sleep schedules for the brutal early mornings around the corner. I lived it. I loved it.

I do not miss it.

I listened to my sister and her friends going over “first day” itineraries and lesson plans. As I worked quietly on the bulletin boards, all I could feel was relief and gratitude wash over me. Relief, that I do not ever have to receive an email from “EDLINE” again and Gratitude, that the good Lord up above gave me the strength to survive emails from “EDLINE”.

(FunFact: Edline is an online service for students and parents to keep up with grades and assignments under the guise of being helpful, when really all it does is stress you out entirely.)

Being an empty nester, I found myself all caught up in the Back to School hoopla, but, with time on my hands. Since I am not out in the 102 degree heat, schlepping Staples/Target bags filled with school supplies into my car, I decided to come up with a super-power filled muffin that I would feed my kids for the first few days of school, if they were here, of course. I had been wanting to try a variation of a Morning Glory muffin with kale. We already eat carrot cake, why not?

I was so amped, that I even dragged my still-like-new food processor out of the cupboard. I always see this apparatus as cumbersome. I cooked and baked for 23 years without it. Just getting it out and setting it up requires a musical score. But, once it is all set-up, it’s pretty amazing. I shredded the carrots and kale in less than 2 minutes. Although it did take me 20 minutes to wash, dry and put the darn thing away. Yin and yang, I guess.

Before you say to yourself, “There is no way in hell, my kids would even try a veggie/healthy/power whatever muffin,” let me just say two things.  1) It’s “…no way in ‘H'”…remember, the kids…shaping and molding young minds, and, 2) These muffins are sweet and you can even make them sweeter by simply adding a little more sugar.

If your kids start school as early as mine did, then it’s still dark outside when you’re trying to get a balanced, nutritious  breakfast crammed down their throats, before you hit the carpool line or bus stop. They won’t even be able to see all the green goodness and protein power these little muffins pack.

If they ask, just tell them it’s what “The HULK” or superheroes have for breakfast. Or something about making them smarter or stronger or faster. You’ll know what to say. We are mothers. We are great at this “s”.

Morning Glorious Bran Muffins

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match to get your 2 1/2 cups of flour. Use what you have on hand. I just happen to keep a variety of flours and bran (hello, fiber) stocked in my pantry. Also, your fruits, veggies and nuts can be substituted and adjusted for your family’s tastes. Let your inner Julia shine and go get creative!

Serve warm with butter, orange marmalade, apple butter or Larkin’s suggestion, cream cheese frosting….Enjoy!

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. quinoa flour

1 c. wheat bran

1 Tbs. milled flax seed

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins)

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

2 c. shredded carrots

1-2 c. shredded kale (of course, I used 2 cups. Hence, the Green.)

1/2  Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (little tub)

1/2 c. all-natural applesauce (little tub)

2 Tbs. canola oil

3 eggs 1/2 c. agave nectar (or brown sugar or molasses or honey)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, bran, flax, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cranberries and walnuts. Fold in shredded carrots and kale. In a second bowl, gently whisk eggs, yogurt, applesauce, oil and agave. Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture; mix well. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 18 gloriously healthy muffins.

Note: Value does not include cream cheese frosting

a divine summer spirit

I had one of those perfect summer days. You know. Productive, kids visiting, fabulous weather, dinner with friends…even a hilarious prank call to a friend at work.  The only thing missing was my dear hubby, working in Texas, supporting my perfect summer day lifestyle. Thanks, honey.

It all started with a bike ride, early in the morning.

There were strawberries at every farm stand.

As I peddled on, more and more berries. So, I started thinking…between breathing, of course….

How about a nice, cold, refreshing strawberry cocktail?

Sometimes a rigorous workout leads to divine inspiration. Usually around the time you start seeing spots.

 Let me preface: I drank plenty of water first. By happy hour, I was ready for my divine summer spirit.

Strawberry, Cucumber, Champagne Cooler

12 strawberries, stems removed and halved

6 slices, peeled cucumber

1 tsp. light agave (or natural sweetener)

ice cubes

champagne or sparkling wine

Puree strawberries, cucumber and agave in a blender with one or two ice cubes.

Pour into a glass and top off with your favorite champagne.

Garnish with a cucumber round.

Cheers to summer!


 

 

hot yoga in a dish

I know, I know. A spicy, Indian-like chili dish in summer. But, it has been “chilly” and rainy here, so we were craving, well…chili.

With the fat burning properties of turmeric and super powers of kale combined with summer temperatures, think of it as Hot Yoga in a dish.

via eHow

 

Your mind, body and soul will thank you.

Healthy, Hearty Turkey, Lentil, Kale, Bean Chili

 

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed lentils

2 quarts vegetable broth

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 pound ground turkey

1 large can of fire roasted tomatoes ( 28 oz)

2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (I may have used 4; I really went to town)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can of kidney beans, optional for extra “heartiness”

2 cups chopped fresh kale

salt to taste (taste before salting; kale has a salty flavor…we don’t need extra salt)

Directions:

Bring lentils and vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, onion, celery, ground turkey; cook and stir until the turkey is crumbly and no longer pink and looks more like ground beef, so the men-folk don’t balk; about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, turmeric, cumin. Play with the spices to your personal level of zest-iness. Simmer about 5-10 minutes.

Stir the turkey mixture into the simmering lentils. Add the kidney beans, if you wish to do so. Continue simmering until the lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Right before serving, stir in the kale and just look in awe at the gorgeous color of healthy, green goodness. I garnished with a low-fat cheddar cheese and avocado slices, because we are Texans.

The Boy, who is growing and always hungry, could only eat one bowl. He was actually satiated for one hot second.

Namaste.

for the love of Kale

I had planned to post this on Friday, but had to attend a funeral in South Texas. As we made the drive from Harlingen Airport to Brownsville, I was taken aback by the sheer number of brand new fast food restaurants that lined the freeway. South Texas, known as “the valley”, is 81 percent hispanic. This many fast food options, in this area, simply does not make sense.

 “According to a national examination survey, Mexican Americans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.  They have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes, and they are 50% more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.” –Office of Minority Health/U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

March is National Nutrition Month. As a Latina, health conscious blogger, I felt obligated to pass along these statistics, along with good information about how vital it is to make better choices about food and your health, especially within the Hispanic community.

I’ve had so many relatives develop Diabetes, including my dad, who also survived a massive heart attack last summer. Between my mom, my sister and myself, he is lucky: he has 3 bossy, latina women in his life that tell him what to eat!  So, once more, here you go, dad: for the love of you…and Kale!

Last year, I spent my first New England winter at our vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. MV is a popular summer haunt that depends on the tourist season to survive; many businesses and restaurants shut down for the winter. For year round residents, fresh food variety can get pretty limited and expensive.  I noticed that the market, which carries local farm produce, was always in abundance of this inexpensive, beautiful, green leafy vegetable…Kale. I was intrigued.

 In Texas, we eat greens, as well. There are plenty of southern dishes that include mustard greens, collards, cabbage and spinach. But, I wasn’t familiar with preparing kale. Well, there are as many ways to add kale to your diet, as you can imagine. Remember “Bubba” in Forrest Gump? “…shrimp gumbo, shrimp creole, shrimp kabobs….” It’s just like that with kale.

 The best news is that Kale is not just good for you. Kale is a Superfood!

And, what is one of the best foods to combat diabetes? Yep! You guessed it.  Livestrong.com is an excellent resource that sings kale’s praises and lists other foods to help battle various illnesses.  Fighting cancers, burning fat, reducing risk of cataracts; the nutritional magic of kale is pretty remarkable.

Last year when I began my obsession with this cruciferous gem, I stumbled upon Diana Dyer’s blog, “365daysofKale”.  How lucky was I, to find a kale soul mate? She grows her own kale, and she inspired me to add it to my own Vineyard garden last Spring. (By July, I had eaten it all.) She has valuable information, research and recipes on her website.

 

And, then there is this guy, Bo Muller-Moore. I’m sure he’ll go down in the Kale Hall of Fame. His story has gained national attention because fast food chain, “Chick-fil-A”, wants him to stop production of his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts.  The corporate giant, which has illiterate cows vandalizing billboards  spreading the “chickn” movement, is causing such a stir, the legal defense for Bo is threatening his 10-year-old small, eco-friendly business in Vermont. If you are a fan of small business (and/or kale) and want to help take a stand against “corporate bullying”, go check out his site. Join Team Kale!

 

 

Kale Fun Fact: You can use it for decoration. There are many varieties of Ornamental Kales. You can add them to floral arrangements, or display them in bunches for incredible color throughout you home.  

A multi-tasking, decorative superfood; strong, healthy and beautiful. What’s not to love?

 

Honestly, I eat kale almost daily. I am always finding ways to add it to all of my cooking. As I start adding more recipes to “Living Lola”, you’ll see that I will always try to sneak in a little kale. Now, you’ll understand why.

If you have never prepared kale, here are a few easy suggestions to getting creative with this very versatile veggie:

  • add a handful of chopped kale to you favorite smoothie
  • scrambled kale and eggs: saute kale to soften with your butter or oil; scramble away
  • coarsely chopped kale can be added to ANY soup, right before serving
  • add chopped kale to any pasta dish; the bright green adds gorgeous color
  • instead of chopped parsley to garnish, finely chop kale
  • kale chips, that seem to have swept the nation: spread big pieces of kale on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, dash of salt, bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Keep on eye on them to test your oven for desired crispness.
  • crumble baked kale chips over popcorn to add huge nutritional value to snacking

Okay, okay. Now, I’m starting to sound like Bubba. But, you get the idea.