Soup’s On! Tabatchnick Soup Review

Just discovered a line of frozen soups in my local Publix grocery store that I never noticed before, and bought every veggie-based one they have! Not sure if it’s a new product or not, but I’m loving these soups because

  1. All the ingredients look pretty healthy, with less oil and salt than many canned soups
  2. There are two individual packs, so no more thrown out leftover canned or boxed soup
  3. The price is pretty great – about $2.50 per carton, so at $1.25 a serving they’ll fit into anyone’s budget
  4. With 4 cartons and paired with some fruit, or maybe a potato or a salad and some nice whole grain bread, I’ve got my own lunch or light supper for a week figured out!

So far I’ve tried two – the black bean and the (organic!) lentil: truthfully they’re maybe not the most flavorful soups I’ve ever had, but then again I usually add seasonings to commercially-made soups anyway. So these are a great base to add seasonings or canned, fresh or frozen veggies.

What’s at your grocery store? Let me know so I can spread the word!

Easy breezy tunes from the ‘70’s to cooldown or chillax to

Want some ideas for some groovy island-style songs from the ’70’s for a cooldown from your workout, or just to relax in your hammock?   Try these on for size – and we’d love to hear from you what other songs you like to mellow out to!

Kokomo  – the Beach Boys – go to a dozen tropical islands all within a 3-minute song!

Surfer Girl – the Beach Boys – were you the girl they were singing about?

There are dozens of other Beach Boys songs that are great for hammock days!

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin – ‘nuff said.

Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto – With such a sexy, breathy voice, the Brazilian beauty, the wife of the guitarist Gilberto, was probably the epitome of the “Girl from Ipanema.” I’m trying to get in touch with her to see if she’ll contribute to our upcoming vegan CD!

Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens – my dream was to be able to sing that high. I’m still dreaming.

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley and the Wailers – “Don’t worry about a thing,
’cause every little thing’s gonna be alright.”  Great words to live by!

Island Dreamin’ – Tsunami Wave Riders – not from the ‘70’s but since it’s from my band and it’s my list, I can break the rules and include it anyway! (and if you promise to relax to it, we’ll give you a free download!)

 

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Relaxation is not just for people!

Today’s Super Quick and Simple Salad and Sweet Potato Lunch!

I’m busy getting the house ready for my son, daughter-in-law and 3-year old grandson’s stay here (yay!) in between their 4-month long vacation and tai chi school experience in China (I know – how fun, right?)  and their new digs here in North Carolina.  So as usual(!) I’ve procrastinated cleaning the house until the last minute, and needed a super quick, super healthy lunch to give me some energy. Maybe I’ll call it a “linner” – half-lunch, half-dinner, and then I’ll just make a fruit salad for dinner, easy breezy-style!

I’ve been watching Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s excellent new PBS Special, Eat to Live, (more on that later) and am inspired to consciously try to incorporate more of his recommended “GBOMBS” – Greens, Berries, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans and Seeds – into our diet.

I like the contrast of the warm sweetness creaminess of the sweet potato with the cold crunchiness and tanginess of the salad – but if anyone has ideas for other dressings and seasonings that would go together well for this lunch, please let me know!

Anyway I just popped a large sweet potato in the microwave for maybe 4 or 5 minutes, then added just a bit of Earth Balance margarine, and a small drizzle of maple syrup – which is my go-to topping for oatmeal too. Then I mixed up a huge salad from a mix of prewashed organic spinach, kale, and some organic romaine. The romaine were the only greens I had to wash, but if they’re organic I don’t get too carried away, since a little bit of the dirt is actually good for you (maybe not so great for your teeth, though!)  I added some chopped onion, some shrooms, pumpkin seed, tomato and a little ground flax seed for good measure, as well as a few slices of cucumber soaked for a day in some beet juice just to be fancy. Some agave mustard dressing bought from my favorite local vegan restaurant/shop, Bean Vegan Cuisine, and I was all yummy-fied in under ten minutes!  Took care of Joel’s  “G,O,M, and S” all in one fell swoop – a few berries for a snack or in a fruit salad, and the B for Beans are the only thing left I have to figure out – maybe some roasted garbanzos would do the trick!

By the way this made lunch for two but I had so much salad leftover I threw it into a ziplock and will use it for a “soda salad” – a salad in a soda glass – tomorrow!   Ahhhh – so easy breezy.

Forgive me, Aldi’s!

Hadn’t been to Aldi’s for a very long time – even though a new one had opened up just a couple miles down the road.

You see the last time I had gone in one, I was hit first thing by a bunch of pop-tart-looking artificial creations, candy, and awful-sounding cereals. NOT the store for me, I concluded, and walked out without buying anything.  But after a long trip to Aldi’s over the weekend with hubby Ron, I need to beg your forgiveness, Aldi’s – I have judged you too harshly! (or maybe you got a makeover?)  While some of the old junk food is still there at the beginning of the store, just walk on by – there’s a land of healthy products waiting for you just ahead!  We had fun trying to track down all the vegan and healthy items we could find, and figured we saved at least $100 over our normal grocery store prices!

I’ll be sharing more of the cool products I got in future blogs, but here’s a sneak peek of my new kitchen contents:

  • A small but pretty great selection of organic fruits and veggies. Blueberry smoothies here I come!
  • A large line of organic products called Simply Nature
  • An awesome spicy bean hummus – just add some pita triangles and some raw veggies and lunch is done!
  • A couple salad dressings – tahini goddess and roasted red pepper – that are great with cut-up veggies. My all-day snack yesterday, and when a friend came over, I had food to share in about two seconds!

While you still need to go to a regular grocery store for odds and ends (their spice selection is pretty sparse, for one, and you probably won’t find napkins and stuff like that), Aldi’s is a really great place to start with your shopping list. I’m really lucky because my closest Aldi’s moved in almost right next door to a regular grocery store, so doing a “two-for-one” shopping trip isn’t going to be a big deal for me – but if your Aldi’s isn’t handy for you, then maybe make it a once-in-a-while thing-

But definitely check it out if you can – and I hope you have as much fun as we did!

SKEY

Ever feel guilty when you buy arts and crafts?

I love arts and crafts – especially art. Sometimes I like creating my own tropical art and wearables, but I think I probably enjoy going to arts and crafts shops, fairs and festivals and seeing what other people have created even more.  People are so amazingly creative and talented, and window shopping is so much fun!  Not always, but fairly often, I’ll also go home with some (usually) small treasure someone made. But I will also also fairly often feel guilty later about that purchase – did I really need it? Should I have used that money for something more “practical,” or just saved it?  (And if I didn’t feel guilty before that, sometimes friends or families’ comments suggest that I should!)

If you’re like me too, here’s a quote for you that I saw on a meme the other day that puts things in a different light and is guaranteed to make you feel better – that you actually did a good thing, and should possibly do more of it!  So instead of feeling guilty, let’s be proud that we are supporting talented artists:

 “When you buy something from an artist, you’re buying more than an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You’re buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You’re not buying just one thing, you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul……. a small piece of someone else’s life.”

Cool, huh? And it’s so true – of all the things we buy in life, someone else’s talent, dreams and spirit are all embodied in those big and small treasures we take home, making them some of the most special things we will ever own (not to mention artists usually can’t follow their dreams if someone isn’t buying from them)!

So don’t buy arts and crafts if you can’t afford to also put food on your table, but as long as you can do that, save a little extra to support the amazing artists of the world (and have fun too!)

paper art

“The greatest dishes are very simple dishes.” … Virginia Woolf

I like this quote by the famous English writer, feminist and author of  A Room of One’s Own, but I’m not entirely sure what she meant by “greatest.” At face value you might assume that she just prefers the taste of dishes with the fewest ingredients/preparation, but since she was a feminist I am inclined to think that she also means that simple dishes are simply less time-consuming, and get you out of the kitchen faster and leave you with more time to do what you want in life.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of sites by talented vegan and vegetarian cooks who post lengthy and complicated recipes that look amazing – this is not one of them!

I almost never make a long or complicated recipe – partly due to the fact that most fruits and vegetables are delicious with very little extra help, and partly because even when I do make a long recipe, it seldom turns out delectable enough that I think “gee, that was worth all that effort.”  And sadly, my family usually agrees!  But if you are a good enough cook that this is not the case for you – your cooking is delicious AND you enjoy the process of cooking along with the extra cleanup, shopping, etc. etc., I applaud you and I would never try to turn you away from your passion and talent.  That’s just not where my passion or talent lies, and I think it’s time that many of us women stop spending so much precious time in the kitchen and start doing more of what we came here on earth to do – whatever that is. Plant a garden, have coffee with friends, take a zumba class, write that novel, or discover a cure for cancer (oh wait – eating a lot of veggies helps with that!)

And what about our families? While most husbands and kids would no doubt prefer a great cook as a wife/mom, as long as we feed them healthy food in some fashion (or even better, teach them how KOCIS_Korean_vegetable_dish_(4553316183)to help out or do it themselves), they’ll survive.  We are also setting a good role model for our daughters that their self-esteem does not have depend on whether or not they can bake an amazing cheesecake, but rather on what other amazing things they can do.

So if you are like me and want to get out of the kitchen as fast as .possible (or never go in there in the first place!), I gotcha covered!  This website will contain tons of tips, tricks, resources, and uber-quick and easy recipes to make cooking – or not – easy breezy!  You’re welcome.

(And if there’s anything special you’d like to see in this site, or ways you’d like me to help you, please let me know! I am committed to making your life a breeze!)

Love pickles? Get two-for-one

Ever since I had to pull all-nighters cramming for finals in college, and then later on when finishing reports for work, pickles were always my main go-to snack buddy. Somehow the crispiness, sour taste, and my own crunching would perk me right up. The sodium in a whole jar of pickles was probably off the richter scale, but since I’ve picked up much worse snack habits throughout the years, so I plan to return to my old way – but even cheaper and better!pickles blog picture2

I love the fresh and crispy taste of Claussen pickles from the deli section of groceries, but the cost? Not so much. So I decided to get 2 or 3 times my money’s worth by making my own easy breezy pickles after I’ve eaten the last pickle.  I just fill the pickle jar (leftover juice and and all) with cut up cucumbers, onions, or, if I feel adventurous or have leftovers, other crisp vegetables. In a day or two I’ll have some really fresh tasting semi-pickled veggies with a lot less sodium and almost as good tasting as the originals.

Give it a try! Just make sure to eat your homemade versions within a week or two, since the veggies haven’t been properly prepared like normal pickles.

Late night projects? We’re ready for ya!

What other ideas do y’all have for stretching food?  Let’s share them!

Music – your new personal trainer!  (continued)

Yesterday I talked a little bit about how useful music is to get you motivated to exercise, and gave you a couple quick tips: crank up the itunes before you want to start exercising, customize playlists for your different activities, and plant earbuds in several places and try to put them back in the same place every time, so you’ll  be able to be your own exercise DJ at all times!

Today, fellow Breezies, I wanted to let you in on another magical secret of music: it can actually speed up your post-workout recovery time!  Had you heard about this already? Nope, me neither. And it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of music, although researchers discovered that slower music made people more relaxed (and did that really need a study for that?).

Need some suggestions for cooldown music? May I recommend a slower tune by the Tsunami Wave Riders called Island Dreamin,’ which won Single of the Year a few years back at the Hawaii Music Awards (another shameless plug for the band I’m in).  It always gives me a license to chill and maybe it will do the same for you (but watch out if you’re working –  your boss may decide to revoke your license!)

So don’t put your iPod away just cuz your workout’s over – keep the tunes a comin’!

Want to check out the study?

Michal Eliakim, et. al. “Effect of Rhythm on the Recovery From Intense Exercise.” Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2013. Vol 27. Issue 4. p1019–1024. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318260b829

Music – your new personal trainer!

As a former fulltime tropical musician (sorry but this seems to be a good opportunity to throw in a shameless plug for the band I’m in with a bunch of fun and talented members – the Tsunami Wave Riders – www.tsunamiwaveriders.com – and please download some of our music for free on our site!)  I really love music, and I’ve discovered that the great majority of people do too.  And I’m a huge believer in using music to help you get motivated to exercise, and also to help you get relaxed when you’re anxious or stressed. I have a few tips of my own for you, and  I’ve also been surprised at just how many different ways they’ve discovered that music can help your health, and I can’t wait to tell you about all of them so that you can start getting your full daily dose of music!

Since almost everyone struggles with maintaining your motivation to exercise, let’s talk about how music can help you.  Did you ever not feel like exercising at all, but then you put on your headphones and things didn’t seem that bad?  If you don’t have an exercise playlist, I highly recommend creating one – how about a couple different ones for the different types of sports or activities you do? It’s helpful to customize it according to the normal length of your workout and include warmup and cooldown types of songs, and you can also add new songs in every now and then to keep it fresh. Sometimes – I hate to admit this – but I’ve gone to a park to walk and then discovered I left my headphones at home, so then I went to get coffee – or did something else – til I had the chance to go back home and get them. Did I ever make it back to the park on those days? Nope, never that I can recall!  So now I’ve finally gotten a little wiser to my procrastinating ways so that 1) always have a spare set of earbuds – even if they’re just from the dollar store – stashed somewhere, and 2) when exercising at the park or a gym, I try to always put my earbuds back in my purse immediately after my workout, and I bought a sunglasses case from the dollar store just for this purpose, which I’ve attached to my purse so that it can never escape.

Hope these tips and the others we’ll be talking about in days to come will help you exercise a little more often and get all the amazing benefits out of both music and exercise –  and I’d love to hear all of your great ideas as well – including workout song ideas too!  Just email me at Joanna@easybreezyliving.com.

Got Beans?

Got beans?

Then you’ve got the makings of a great easy breezy meal! There are SO many different quick and easy dishes that have beans as the major ingredient and I’m going to start posting some of my favorites – but first, let’s talk a little about how good are beans?  Let me count the ways:

  • They’re high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • They’re a great substitute for meat in almost any dish.
  • They are great for travel – most cans of beans will probably still be edible 100 years from now, don’t need any refrigeration, and some have an easy-opening tab on them.
  • They’re versatile – most beans can be swapped out for their kissin’ cousins in recipes.
  • They’re easily mashed since they’re small and soft, which makes them great for dips and sandwich, wrap and taco fillings.
  • They’re cheap.
  • They’re available everywhere! Have you ever been in a grocery store in any state or country anywhere that didn’t have them? I thought not.
  • There are probably more great things about them, but let me just cut to the chase and give you the dang recipe for today!

For each 2 or 3 sandwiches you will need:

The basics:

  • 1 can of chickpeas or kidney, pinto or navy beans
  • A couple Tablespoons of vegan mayo or to taste. Homemade mayo is your healthiest option (and I’ll be posting a recipe or two for it) but Tofutti’s Vegannaise or Just Mayo (easy to find now and may also be available in sriracha and other flavors) are both great storebought versions if you’re not trying to leave oil altogether out of your diet
  • Some nice whole grain bread – toasted or plain, or a wrap

Nice to have 1 or more of these:

  • A couple Tablespoons of some sort of onion – green, white, red, or yellow, shallots, etc. – wow I suddenly realize how many colors onions come in!)
  • Another vegetable such as shredded or diced carrots or celery, and
  • Some kind of seasoning – salt and pepper, garlic pepper seasoning, curry powder, sriracha, hot sauce, etc.

Let me know what your favorite sandwich combos are! Just use the “contact me” form.