One Pot Mexican Quinoa

This One Pot Mexican Quinoa was totally meant to be.  Let me explain.

1. Over the weekend, I randomly found an unopened bag of quinoa in the depths of my pantry.  I haven’t cooked with quinoa in months, so this was huge!

2. I went a little crazy during my last grocery run and bought a ton of vegetables that we probably could have done without.

3. Vishnu’s schedule is all kinds of crazy right now.  So far this week, he’s worked two 11a-11p shifts and one 7p-7a shift.  And he has one more night shift to go.  It’s a little hard to plan and make meals during weeks like this.  I tend to want to make a big batch of something and just eat it throughout the week/weekend.

The combination of these three things plus a little creativity on my part amounted to a delicious Mexican Quinoa dish that was reminiscent of enchiladas.  YUM!

Quinoa enchilada 3

This dish has it all – it’s full of warm, slightly spicy flavor, several different textures, and a ton of healthy ingredients.  It’s the complete package!

AND if you play your cards right (AKA do a little bit of prep work beforehand) this dish will be ready in ~30 minutes.

Here’s how I made it!

One Pot Mexican Quinoa
Serves 4-6

1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, partially seeded and minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium sweet potato, finely diced
12 ounce bottle of enchilada sauce (I’m partial to Trader Joe’s), divided
4.5 ounce can of diced green chilies
14.5 ounce can of black beans, rinsed
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
Toppings – avocado, cheese, olives, sour cream, whatever you want!

1. Add the oil to a deep medium saucepan and place over medium heat.
2. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapenos to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper and cook for additional 2 minutes.
4. Add the sweet potato, 1 cup of enchilada sauce, and green chilies to the pan.  Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes on medium-low heat or until sweet potatoes are cooked through.
5. Add remaining enchilada sauce, black beans, lime juice, quinoa, salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin powder, and chili powder.  Mix well, cover, cook for 8-10 additional minutes on low heat.
6. Serve warm with your favorite enchilada toppings sprinkled on top!

Quinoa enchilada 2

What’s your favorite Mexican dish?  It’s so hard for me to choose!  But if I had  to, I would pick enchiladas filled with veggies, beans, and lots of gooey cheese.  With a side of rice, beans, and guac of course!

Three Things Thursday (22)

Even though it may seem like bloggers share 100% of their lives with strangers on the internet, I guarantee that isn’t the case.  Personally speaking, I probably only share 5-10% of the true day-to-day behind the scenes kind of stuff.

With that being said, I thought I’d share three pictures that never made it on to MIS or any other form of social media.  A little backstage tour of my iPhone photos if you will!

3 Things Thursday

(1) Me and my boo

Par and Vishnu

My dad snapped this pic when they were visiting, and I would say it’s pretty typical Par and Vishnu!  And I promise Vishnu was just fine, even though it looks like he can’t breathe!  In fact, he loves it when I shower him with attention (AKA take over every inch of his personal space).

(2) Texting with my sister

Texting with my sister

Like I said in Monday’s post, I’m not a solo selfie person.  I’m also not a very fashionable person.  I have a few standard go to outfits, but beyond that, I’m pretty clueless.

BUT if there’s one person who I would send a solo selfie #ootd picture to, it would be my sister.  The funny thing here is that I’m the crazy texter in my family.  Like my parents thought I was drunk one night because my texts made no sense kind of crazy.  My sister, on the other hand, always has well thought out texts with zero mistakes.  And that is exactly why her use of the word “horn” made my day!

(3) A powerful quote

Quote

Words to live by!

Have a great Thursday and thanks for reading. Smile

If you’re a blogger, write a post and link back to one or all of the hostesses: Raj from Pink Chai Living, Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch, or Salma from The Write Balance. Then share a link to your post (not your blog’s home page).

5 Ways to Incorporate Coconut Oil into Your Beauty Routine

Coconut oil has been trending for a while now.  It’s pretty much the magical cure for everything it seems. 

Personally, I cook a lot of my dishes using coconut oil.  I also love coconut oil hair masks.  I even gave oil pulling a chance (sadly, it wasn’t for me)!

So yeah, you name it and coconut oil can probably do it!

Aside from using it on my hair, I had yet to incorporate coconut oil into my beauty routine.  As you all know, my skin is super sensitive and prone to breakouts.  I was terrified that the oil would cause my skin to freak out, so I never used it on my face.  Until recently that is.

After reading a countless number of articles and blog posts, I decided that I should at the very least give coconut oil a chance in the beauty/skincare department.  And to my surprise, most people reported that it didn’t break them out. 

So off I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some of their organic coconut oil.  For one thing, I wanted to keep my cooking oil and my beauty oil completely separate.  Also, Trader Joe’s oil (when you buy it in store) is super affordable for the quality you get – virgin, organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed.  And these are all must haves when considering what brand of coconut oil to buy. 

With that being said, here’s how I’ve incorporated coconut oil into my beauty routine…

5 ways to use coconut oil

1. Lip balm – Every night before I go to bed, I rub a tiny bit of coconut oil onto my lips.  It does feel a little strange at first, but when I wake up in the morning, my lips are super soft.  And believe it or not, they stay that way pretty much throughout the day.  LOVE!

2. Eyebrows – Not sure if any of you can relate, but my eyebrow hairs shed.  And it’s only getting worse with age!  So when I read that coconut oil stimulates hair growth, I decided to start applying a tiny dab to my eyebrows.  I haven’t been doing it long enough to see a difference, but I figure it can’t hurt!  And this is part of my nighttime routine as well.

3. Under eye area – Earlier this year, I started researching anti-aging creams.  Even though I’ve been spared up until now, you never know when those crows feet will pop up.  But because I was dealing with acne issues for the first half of this year, I put all the anti-aging stuff on the back burner.  And then I read that coconut oil is a great natural anti-aging solution.  Basically, I rub a tiny amount under and around each eye before bed.  Again, I haven’t been using it long enough to notice a difference, but hopefully it keeps those wrinkles away!

4. Eye makeup remover – Eye makeup remover has never been a part of my beauty routine.  My everyday face wash and good old fashioned water seemed to do the trick.  And while any traces of makeup appeared to be gone, I always woke up with itchy dry eyes the next morning.  And then I started using coconut oil as an eye makeup remover (massage a small amount directly on to eyelids and surrounding area and wash away with normal face wash and water).  It magically melts away all my makeup, AND I wake up to normal eyes!

5. Body moisturizer – Did you know that when applied to the skin, coconut oil absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily residue?  Me neither.  And that’s why I never bothered to use it as a moisturizer.  Eventually, like everything else on this list, I decided to give it a go.  I work from home, so even if I looked like a grease monkey, no one would see me.  Lo and behold, coconut oil is an amazing overall moisturizer.  Like I said, it’s not greasy, it smells amazing, and it leaves my skin feeling soft and silky.  I’m sold!  Just be sure to use a nickel sized amount at a time.

So as you can see, coconut oil truly does do it all!  You can cook with it, you can use it as a mouthwash (if you wish), and you can most definitely incorporate it into your everyday beauty routine.

What’s your favorite way to use coconut oil?

Weekend Recap – Bits and Pieces

Another Monday, another weekend recap!

FRIDAY

Our Friday evening wasn’t all that exciting.  Unless you count a mini Modern Family marathon and eggplant parm exciting.

Eggplant parm

I followed Andie’s recipe and was really happy with the way the dish turned out.  Especially the crunchy breadcrumb topping!  I know my globs of cheese aren’t all that attractive, but the combination of fresh mozzarella and parm was perfect!

Vishnu went to bed a little earlier than me because he had work the next morning.  I stayed up and waited for our friend Rohit to arrive.  Rohit drove up from Miami to visit for the weekend.

SATURDAY

Vishnu left for work at the crack of dawn, Rohit left to meet up with another friend around noon, and I enjoyed a Saturday at home.  After knocking off some of the must do things on my list (cleaning, a work out, etc.), I relaxed and watched TV for 1.5 hours.  Time well spent!

That’s not all I did though.  I also curled my hair.

Curls

Excuse the half selfie and my huge eye!  I’m not a fan of taking solo selfies, but I wanted to share how my hair turned out, so this seemed like a good compromise.

Anyway, you guys!  I have to give my new curling wand (<—affiliate link!) a shout out again.  It’s AMAZING!  I’ve never felt comfortable curling my hair before because it always ended up looking like a huge nest on my head.  But this wand changed everything.  And at this price, it’s practically free!

Moving on…

The reason I put some effort into getting ready was because we had dinner plans with Rohit and his friend.  We met them at a new-to-us restaurant in Tampa called Datz.  Holy moly, this place is good!  The menu is full of comfort food dishes made right – pastas, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, etc.  There is literally something for everyone.

Datz - black bean burger

Horrible lighting equals horrible pictures!

Not sure what’s going on with me, but I ordered yet another burger!  As you can see, the portions are huge.  I managed to eat half of the bottom bun, the patty itself, and a few chips before calling it quits.  Absolutely delicious though!

SUNDAY

Sunday started with a quick Target and Trader Joe’s run.  Did you guys know that Trader Joe’s has it’s own coffee grinders?  I did not!  Basically, customers can pick a container of whatever beans they want (most of TJs coffee is in the whole bean form) and grind them in-store.  Amazing!

Trader joes coffee grinder

I was all ready to make us lunch when I got home, but Vishnu and Rohit suggested we grab brunch at Red Mesa.  Who am I to say not to a Mexican inspired brunch?

Red Mesa brunch

I decided to go with a scrambled eggs dish, but the real star of the show was the black beans.  So much so that I ate all the beans and only a fourth of the eggs!

The rest of our day was spent doing a few things here and there to help us prepare for the week.

And there you have it – bits and pieces from our weekend!

Thanks for reading and have a good Monday!

No Added Sugar Challenge – A Progress Report

It’s been 20 days since I started my no added sugar challenge.  And believe it or not, I’ve managed to tame (not eliminate completely!) my sweet tooth. 

The first few days were obviously the hardest, but I avoided the added sugars.  Then came Chicago.  I didn’t drink any alcohol, I didn’t drink any sugary drinks in the morning, but I did have dessert at RPM (there is no way anyone can resist the donuts!).  And then I had a few bites of the chocolate tart at Osteria Via Stato

But you know what, I don’t feel guilty, and I certainly don’t regret my decisions.  And here’s why.  A big reason why I love dessert is because eating it is always a special experience.  One you share with other people.  These were conscious decisions, not emotional ones.   NBD!  And really, the donuts at RPM are truly little bites of fluffy heaven! 

RPM donuts

A recycled picture…but you get the point!

Other than those few bites of dessert, the only other added sugar I’ve been consuming every now and then is honey.  When I was in Chicago, I ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning, but because it was completely plain, I had to sweeten it with a tiny amount of honey to make it palatable.  Also, I make my own salad dressings now, and I need to add a little bit of honey to balance the acid from the vinegar. 

Again, I don’t think of my use of honey as a weakness.  It beats the sugary muffin or store bought dressing alternative.  Am I right?

Other than that, I’ve stuck with the rest of the challenge.  Promise!  How you ask?  Lots of willpower and fruit.  I usually eat a piece of fruit with my lunch.  And I’ve been avoiding the after dinner no added sugar treats.  If I really want something sweet, I’ll make some banana fro-yo (one frozen banana, a little almond milk, and a little instant coffee all blended together). 

Fruit

Apples, berries, and grapes are my favorites!

Once the challenge is officially over, I’ll share more tips and tricks along with the benefits I’ve experienced. 

And for anyone who thinks my little challenge doesn’t count, I beg to differ!  I avoided 95% of the desserts available to me in Chicago (cookies, bars, M&MS!, etc.) without having to think twice.  And I’ve gone from staring at the bag of chocolate chips sitting in our fridge, to forgetting about it altogether (until right about now).  WHO AM I?!?!

More to come…

What’s your favorite no added sugar treat?