Monthly Archives: March 2018

Super Easy Super Creamy Hummus

img_6460-2.jpgHummus could probably be considered a “luxury item” here in Costa Rica. It is very expensive and can be challenging to find. For this reason, I started making my own.  I’ve only made two varieties, plain and roasted red pepper. To be honest, I’m not sure the roasted red pepper is that much different and might not be worth the extra steps, but often I roast peppers for a variety of uses, so when I do, I throw one into the batch of hummus.

I can’t remember where I stumbled across this particular hummus recipe, but I do remember my skepticism when I first encountered it. The trick to this hummus, and its creamy texture, is that you don’t drain the chickpea/ garbanzo bean liquid, and you microwave the the chickpeas with garlic, infusing them with the garlic flavor. I love a lot of garlic flavor to my hummus, but it can add a bitterness; this method eliminates that bitterness. One thing to keep in mind with this recipe, however, is to make it in advance so that it has a chance to cool before serving.

For reasons I have not yet discovered, (it seems like all types of citrus fruits grow spectacularly here) lemons are also a luxury item here. Limes (called “limons”) are the standard and the most common variety is the mandarin variety which has an orange fruit but a green peel. If you prefer lemons and have easy access to them, by all means substitute lemon juice for the lime juice (maybe decrease the amount a little at first since lemons tend to be more sour than limes- you can always adjust accordingly).

hummus 1.JPGINGREDIENTS:

1 Can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) undrained

1/2 Cup Tahini

4-5 Cloves whole, peeled, fresh garlic

Juice of 1 lime

1/2-1 tsp. salt (to taste)

1 TBS. Olive Oil * (I’ve discovered this to be an optional ingredient because the time I forgot to add it, the hummus was just as good; so my thinking is, why add the extra fat?)

 

hummus-2.jpg

INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour chickpeas (with liquid) into a microwave safe bowl. Add garlic cloves. Microwave for about 5 minutes.

Add chickpea and garlic mixture, tahini, lime juice and salt  and olive oil (if using) to blender or food processor. Blend on high (scraping down sides as needed) until hummus is smooth and creamy. Taste and season with additional salt or lime juice as desired. The hummus will seem a bit thin, but it will thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

*If you would like to make roasted red pepper hummus, simply add a roasted red pepper  (skin removed) to the blender with the other ingredients. There are tons of other add-in (cilantro is one I will likely try); get creative and just throw it in the blender.

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I’m Back…after a Life Hack

waterfall picTo my faithful followers and occasional visitors, you may have noticed that my blog has been stagnant for quite some time…years, in fact. The reasons for this are numerous and varied, but best summarized by the phrase “life hack.”

Several years ago, I made a commitment to change my diet and lifestyle; as with most things in life, this was a process. I started by cleaning up my diet and being conscious of what I was putting in my body- this included eating leaner meats and introducing more fruits and vegetables. In addition, I cut out alcohol entirely…yes, I eliminated alcohol entirely. For most people, that seems like a very drastic choice, but it was actually easier than I thought, and I have no regrets. In addition, I started exercising (mostly doing yoga) on a regular (at least five days a week). The results: in a period of about eight months, I lost nearly thirty pounds, was able to get off blood pressure medication, and my overall mood and energy level improved drastically.

Since my humble initiative, I have stepped up my game quite a bit. I so fell in love with yoga and meditation that I decided to become a certified instructor. My diet continued to evolve, and I eliminated meat entirely. I am technically a “pescatarian,” but I think the best description is that I enjoy a primarily plant based diet, but I eat fish/seafood, dairy and eggs on occasion. Also, initially I eliminated all white sugar and white flour foods, and still avoid them for the most part. I like to think of my diet as pretty “clean”- avoiding processed and packaged foods (not really anything new for me since I love to cook) and focusing on simple healthy foods. Does this mean I will always take a pass on a delicious dessert (even one made with white sugar and white flour)? Hell No! I allow myself indulgences on occasion, and because they are mostly occasional, I enjoy them all the more.

My exercise has evolved as well. Yoga is still my primary focus (I enjoy a fitness oriented style of yoga which incorporates traditional asanas with cardio based high intensity interval training), but I also added some strength training (two days a week) which is great for building bone density and staving off osteoporosis. Most recently, I’ve added hiking and surfing (not sure the surfing will last) as added forms of exercise.

What I learned along my yoga journey is that yoga is much more than just a physical practice; it is a mental practice. I took this to heart to the best of my ability. I made meditation and gratitude reflections a regular practice (I had learned meditation techniques years earlier, but never committed to practicing it daily). I also began to evaluate my life in terms of “attachments,” and tried to simplify my life.

So, that was phase one of my life hack. I rejuvinated my physical health and made great strides in rejuvinating my mental and spiritual health. But as I looked more closely at my lifestyle and my daily life, I came to the realization that, despite my anti-materialistic views, the reality was that I was living a very materialistic life. I also came to the realization that it would be hard for me to change my life if I remained in the United States. This led me to the life-altering, and daunting decision to move out of the US. With both of my kids in college, and the results of a presidential election that left me filled with sadness and uncertainty, I decided better now than later.

As a teacher, I have the advantage of portability- particularly because I have experience teaching ESL. Getting a job was genuinely the least of my worries; it was all of the other logistics and details that caused more than a few sleepless nights. My heart was somewhat set on Costa Rica, but I was willing to consider opportunities anywhere in Central America which seemed like a world away, but is geographically not that far. An opportunity in Costa Rica quickly presented itself, and in a matter of days I had a job offer. I accepted the offer and immediately (3 months is not a lot of time to sell, give away and pack a lifetime of “stuff”) got busy with preparations.  My days and nights were spent determining what to sell, give away, or throw out, and then pricing and photographing everything that I planned to sell. I became a regular lister on ebay, poshmark, and Craig’s list, and welcomed many strangers into my home- many of whom helped cart off my “prized possessions,” while helping to add to my bank account. It was exhausting but exhilarating! A guy would come by to check out my compound mitre saw and would leave with a new set of dishes he didn’t even know he needed. Everyone left with gift bags or a pack of pretty paper napkins (a former obsession of mine) whether they wanted them or not. There were a few things I couldn’t part with; a friend is enjoying a few large antique pieces and an oriental rug (and also agreed to store my Christmas ornaments), my sister-in-law graciously allotted me basement space for family photos and keepsakes, and my daughter has a very well decorated college apartment. The thorn in my side was paperwork! I hired a friend’s son to scan recipes and important documents and I was able to recycle countless boxes of paper. In the end, I transported eleven suitcases to Costa Rica, and probably could have survived with only ten. Not included in that count was my dog Humphrey who miraculously survived a very long journey (that is worthy of a whole post).

From the moment I shared my decision to expatriate, I learned that many other people consider doing the same (even if only for a few years). I hope to eventually compile a few posts with some advice.

So, what can you expect from this blog? I’m not quite sure, but as my tagline reads… a little bit of everything. I love my “new life,” and hope that you will enjoy me sharing it.

As we say in Costa Rica: Pura Vida!