Saturday, October 31, 2009

Costumes

Today is Halloween, you know.

& today was my first 5K race EVER, you know.


& today Wisconsin is playing Purdue, you know.


& today is the first year I'll have my very own trick-or-treaters, you know.

THREE COSTUMES A CHARM!

I ran in the Monster Dash dressed as a baseball player.

I'm watching the game dressed in my red & white bucky shirt.

I'm handing out candy in a TOP SECRET costume. [I know the anticipation is killing you!]

I'll say it again,
THREE COSTUMES A CHARM!!!

Don't worry- I'm taking lots of photos [now that I've located my camera, finally] to give you a full Halloween recap come m
Monday morning.

[If you want previews, be sure to follow me on twitter! (@mooreshugar) I've been putting photos from my blackberry on twitpic!]


Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Friday, October 30, 2009

Coming Soon

Information on this:


Tomorrow is my first official race. The Troy YMCA Monster Dash 5K. I am so excited! The eagerness has set in- MAJORLY! Everytime I think about the race, I get the "right before the rollercoaster drops" feeling.

I sent out a twitter call to some runner/bloggers asking for tips and suggestions for my first race and I have been doing some reading at runnersworld.com and such- I plan on having a low key night with a good, healthy dinner and an early bedtime.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. [that is my excited "noise"]




Also- bar reviews are SURELY going to be coming shortly!

Remember when I opened my Halloween gift from my parents?
Well, my sister also sent me a package that I received yesterday- but this package was a "Happy First 5K" gift! Thanks, Melissa! I am so grateful for your love and support!




I may be facing my big race all alone tomorrow- but I know I have the support of my family and friends behind me!

Fabulously Frightening Follow Friday

Then Heather Said, "It's time for Costume Tricks and Party Treats!"

For this weeks Follow Friday, I wanted to keep with the spirit of things;

I have two blogs I suggest you read for some Halloween Ideas :)

The first is a blog I just started looking at a few weeks ago, called WTF Costumes. It all started during a google search for a good costume for me to wear to my 5K Monster Dash on Saturday morning. I stumbled upon WTF Costumes and spent quite a bit of time looking through the posts- I was VERY entertained! Go check it out for a giggle!

The second blog is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE blogs- Hostess with the Mostess. Hostess is one of the first blogs I subscribed to, and I simply adore just about every thing she posts! Ideas for holiday dinners, birthday parties and other celebrations- from decorations, theme ideas, centerpiece creativity, recipes for food and beverage, and lots of products she loves- her blog is filled with so many great ideas!
[also - she recently posted a babyshower by Jesi Haack Weddings, JL Designs, and Sweet and Saucy Shop that was basically made for my unborn child: here, and here - anthro + owl + carrot cake + beautiful decore and all for a baby with a name thats on the tip top of my "future children name ideas" list in the ellusive green book]



Are you hosting a Halloween celebration? What decorations do you plan on using? Are you dressing up, tomorrow?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My New Favorite [made up] Word

Then Heather Said, “I’m RUNGRY!”

Yesterday I worked my part-time retail job after working my full-time office job.
This means not getting home until 9:30 PM.
For some unexplainable reason, at 9:20ish I decided I had a craving. Shockingly not for BBQ Kettle Chips which I had been talking myself out of all day. Thankfully, that craving went away. But what I was craving was a run.

A run? Seriously? YES!
Enter my new favorite word: “Rungry”

Run.gry- [ruhng-gree], adjective. Having a desire, craving, or need for a run; Feeling runger. ;)

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It started the MOMENT I got in my car and the urge to jog got stronger and stronger, until I found myself changing into workout clothes, gloves and headband included.

I knew it was definitely too dark at 9:45 PM to go to the trail I normally run on, so I decided just to run on the main road in my little village- which was very well lit and safe (people were still sitting on the patio of the Irish pub and watching me from the coffee shop windows.) I had no idea the distance I would be running, or how long I would last, after being at work for over 14 hours. But I just had to get moving.

I started with a warm up speed walk for a bit, while on the phone with my friend Megan. Eventually, we decided to talk later, and I really picked up the pace. I didn’t time myself or really even set any goals. I just ran until I was ready to stretch. [its time I let you in on a little secret. I think the reason I wanted to run most of all, was because I really wanted a good stretch, and I’m a firm believer that cold stretches are not the best stretches. I would much rather jog for a bit in order to get a good stretch in for sore legs than just to stretch on its own.] All in all, I was out of the apartment for exactly 35 minutes.

Today, when I went to google maps to track my distance and see how many miles my little cardio jaunt managed to added to my week. It seems that all together, speed walking included, I completed 3 miles. I felt satisfied and had a good long stretching session while watching some television.

I think my running in town was a good change for me. A change of scenery and lack of quarter-mile markers assured I wasn’t running according to habit and I was able to challenge myself without keeping an eye on the clock. It felt so good just to get my legs moving and breathe in the cool air. I really enjoyed myself. [of course, after running until 10:16 PM, my body was wound up and NOT ready for bed until almost 1:00 AM- oops.




Then Heather Said, “Thanks Mom & Dad!”

When I got home from my run, I opened a package I received from my parents. My mom is an AWESOME care package creator! She sends a package for each holiday, and I was more than happy to open my Halloween present a few days early.

I got some very fun stuff, but I’m most excited about this:




My mom and dad sent me 10 different energy bars!; 7 Power Bars and 3 Balance Bars. I’m so thankful for my parents! Especially because they are so supportive with my healthy living lifestyle- supporting my running and being active! I’m pretty lucky to have such an awesome family. I was so touched that my parents included healthy stuff in my Halloween package to go along with my “best Heather ever” lifestyle. And to make things even better, I’ve never had Power Bars or Balance Bars so I was pretty intrigued!

The Balance Bar flavors are chocolate mint cookie crunch, cookie dough, and sweet & salty chocolate almond. The Power Bars were from 4 different Power Bar product lines “Fruit Smoothie” in creamy citrus, tangy tropical, and berry blast, “Harvest Whole Grain” in oatmeal raisin cookie and peanut butter chocolate chip, “Original Power Bar” in Oatmeal Raisin and a “Nut Naturals” Fruit and Nut Bar. I’m really excited about getting to use try all of these bars; you can look forward to some bar reviews in the near future!




Then Heather Said, “Drumroll Please!”


The winner of the Starbucks Thank You Giveaway is:




MichelleYPalmer! Email me your mailing address and I will put your Starbucks VIA Ready Brew and Passion Tea in the mail :)

Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about the giveaway!



What is your favorite kind of bar? Are you a classic granola lover? Do you have a certain brand or flavor you love the most? My favorite bar I've had so far is a toss up between the Ginger Snap Larabar and a Clif Nectar Bar (i like the pink ones best!) But I'm super excited to try a Glo Bar eventually!!

Also, i just have to ask- can you use 'runger' in a sentence ;) ???

Defining Myself

On my sparkpage, in my “about me” section (which I updated just a few days after the broken engagement), the last line reads; “I am choosing to take this time to define who I am and who I want to be.”

And it would seem that this week I’ve put a bit of a label on. I’m not really sure how it happened- it wasn’t something I strived for, like “Runner.” And it’s not something that I’ve always felt, like “Writer”. It just suddenly appeared.

Last week when I was sick, I made a list of all the meals I had eaten during the week to see if perhaps there was a common thread to my symptoms. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Criminal Minds reruns on cable, because I was determined to see if something in my diet was causing me to be “ill” even though I felt “fine,” much like the FBI searching for similiarities in victims to be able to profile the unsub. Seriously, I need to lay off the Criminal Minds/Law & Orders/CSIs. I watch crime shows DAILY now. I digress- I am NOT defining myself with Crime-Show-Enthusiast [not yet, anyway.]

Upon looking at my list, I noted that something was missing.
The meat.

And so I started thinking back to what I had prepared and purchased in the last month or so. I realized that in the last several weeks, there were only 4 times I remember eating meat. One dinner including a tilpia fillet and three meals away from home. It seems I’ve gotten in the habit of loving mushroom burgers over beef, and sweet and sour chickpeas (thank you Ange!) rather than chicken. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, it just sort of happened.

I haven’t had ground meat in the house, but I did have a massive bought-in-bulk-at-BJ’s box of Boca Pattys that I’ve been substituting in any meals I make that would normally call for ground turkey [like my favorite mini-meat-loaves. Now my favorite mini-loaves-period.] And I’ve been loading up on the veggies in my diet, using winter squashes as often as possible and adding black beans and chickpeas to just about everything as well. Sunday when I was craving chili, I loaded up my recipe with dark, light, and white kidney beans and left the meat out of the equation.

When I really thought about the food I’ve been eating lately, I took my normal action and started questioning. Does this mean I should jump onto the vegetarian bandwagon? I just recently read Matt from NoMeatAthlete’s guest post on Rachel’s Blog, SheditandGetit, where he recounts how giving up on the meat helped him qualify for the Boston Marathon. Would I give up meat to become a better runner? Should I? Why would I? Why would I not? What other benefits are there to vegetarianism? What benefits are there to eating meat every day? What am I missing and what am I gaining? [I am a bit question-neurotic]



During my self-debating, I remembered reading a while back about a word I came across on Caitlin’s blog when she was in Tennessee.
FLEXITARIAN.
Kelly and Meghann
have both discussed their own views of Flexitarian this year as well.

So what does "Flexitarian " mean?
According to my favorite not-the-perfect-place-for-reliability-yet-that-never-stops-me-because-i-love-this-website internet source, Wikipedia: Flexitarianism is

"is a semi-vegetarian diet focusing on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption. A self-described flexitarian seeks to decrease meat consumption without eliminating it entirely from his or her diet. There are no guidelines for how much or how little meat one must eat before being classified a flexitarian. Flexitarian is distinguished from polpescetarian, i.e., one who eats only chicken and fish, but does so exclusively.
In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat."


I am not afraid of labels. I proudly label myself by relationships (daughter, sister, friend, etc.), activities (blogger, crafter, writer, runner, etc.) and passions (believer/Christian, badger-fan, encourager, etc.)- why wouldn't I want to define myself with that label?

Then Heather Said, "I eat a Flexitarian diet."

What this means:
I love veggies and whole grains and other protein sources and usually try to load my meals up with those goodies.
I have been more adventurous in the kitchen trying new produce and veggie-products I've never used before.
I'd much rather eat a black bean burrito than a chicken burrito, and especially over a beef burrito.

What this doesn't mean:
I think that Flexitarian is the best way to eat for everyone.
I think that you should eat a flexitarian diet, too.
I won't eat my mothers breakfast caserole every single chance i get.
Or anything else she cooks which I don't think I could ever pass on.
I will never eat another Brat while watching a sporting event. (oh, PUL-EASE.)
I'm never going to decide to try/begin/experiment with a "vegetarian" or "vegan" diet.


Also, I have realized that I need to keep an eye on my protein because of this. Therefore, I've started tracking my food at sparkpeople again. I don't know how long I will be keeping track of what I eat, but I do know that since I've made the determination to identify my eating less meat, I need to be responsible and make sure I am letting my body have what it needs; especially with my running a few times a week. [also- a lack of protein + change in milage COULD have something to do with me being sick last week- but i'm not sure about that.] So far, it seems like I have been doing a fine job naturally substiting protein filled foods in meals where I haven't had meat, but I want to keep a close look on my choices in the next few weeks.

What are your favorite meat-free protein rich foods? I'm interested in getting some sort of protein powder to add to my fruit smoothies but don't know what to start with; do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cómo se dice "Glo!"

Then Heather Said, “Quiero intercambio de sopa!”

Good Afternoon, my friends! Yesterday I received a tasty soup recipe from my first-cousin-once-removed-in-law (yes I looked it up!), Aimee.

I haven’t seen Aimee and Michael (my first-cousin-once-removed) and their BEAUTIFUL children in YEARS. Luckily, I have been able to keep up with them the past year or so on Aimee’s Blog. I love reading about their family adventures and the cute things the kids are always saying!

Here’s what Aimee sent me:

Aimee’s Soup!

Ingredients:
1 envelope chicken fajita seasoning mix (or taco seasoning, whatever is on hand)
1 1/2-2lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/3 cup salsa (any variety)
1 cup cubed Velveeta
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup heavy cream (don't be scared, save this for a celebration day)

Optional toppings (highly recommended):
Fritos
Guacamole
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Directions:
Prepare fajita mix according to package directions. In large skillet, cook chicken with fajita mix until fully cooked, set aside.
In same skillet, saute onion in butter, until glossy...stir in flour until blended.
Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, unil thickened (not real thick though).
Add tomatoes, salsa, Velveeta, Jack. Cook and stir until cheese melted.
Add chicken. Stir in cream (do not boil).

When thickened, garnish with optional toppings. Enjoy!

Aimee’s variation notes: You can easily add corn and black beans to this recipe to make it even chunkier! Hope you like it!


Aimee, I must tell you, this soup looks FANTASTIC! I foresee another Soup & Margarita Fiesta at my humble abode in the near future :) Thanks for sharing with us!




Then Heather Said, “Get Glo-ing!”

I want to point your attention in that direction: >>>>>>>>>>
(If you are viewing this in google reader or something similar, click on over HERE and take a look at my page.)

You will see another link has been added to Then Heather Said- for Glo Bakery.
Glo Bakery is a vegan bakery specializing in health bars [globars], although she does create many other vegan treats. Glo Bakery is in Canada, but US Shipping is now available.

Everyday I hear more and more about the wonders of these Glo Bars – and I even put them on my Christmas Wish List :) Everyday for the past few weeks I’ve been tweets and blogs highlighting fabulous reviews of these yummy (and good for you!) treats! [for one review, see my friend Julie’s blog post here.]

Angela, the brilliance and heart behind Glo Bakery, also writes a fabulous blog (which I highlighted here) and is celebrating her 1-year Blogiversary this week. As part of the celebration, she is offering a Glo Bakery Glo-Out sale! Head to the Glo Bakery Cart to see the deals! (and go ahead and tell her I sent you ;) )

[ and Santa, if you are reading, help a girl out ;) ]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday; the Photo Edition



Another photo of Danielle and I at the corn maze. I feel like I was a little spoiled by two full days of girl time! I wish we lived closer!

Last night, I did have long-distance girl time with another one of my very close friends, Rachel. I'm stoked, because we decided that Monday nights will definetely be a Rachel&Heather long-distance girl time date! Starting at 8:00 PM Eastern, of course, for some One Tree Hill! :) We discussed the show as we watched, her in Texas and me in New York. and it really did make me feel like we were enjoying one anothers company and doing something "together(ish)."


Remember when I told you about my making a necklace early this year and promised a photo? Here you go.


I've started my Christmas Shopping. A bit early? I don't know about that. I'm quite excited about getting everyone on my list something fabulous!

Also have been working on my amazon.com wish list. And I may have recently listened to a Christmas CD. And thought about takin out my decorations "just to look at". And have started planning my Christmas Cards [with an extra special twist this year!]. Perhaps I'm a little excited for the holidays?


This past weekend I tried to like beer, again. This happens every so often. I decide it's time that I give it a whirl. I tried this Post Road Pumpkin Ale. I didn't like it. I will stick to my red wine.



Does anyone want to come over and play trivial pursuit? I am in desperate desire for a game night! I'll even serve some treats.


Did you see this lovely little piece of work on Operation Beautiful?? During the carving of this fab pumpkin, I also seemed to have accidently carved my hand. But it is bandaged up and healing well. Woot.


Friday night, I went to see comedian Kathleen Madigan at the GE Theater at Proctors with my boss Jen and her husband, Jeff. Kathleen was FABULOUS. Laughing for a few hours was the perfect way to end my week :)


Do you watch THAT Morning show? It comes on E! and I have been loving having it on as I go about getting ready in the morning. Mark, from the original Road Rules and about a MILLION of the RWRR Challenges is one of the hosts, and I've always been a fan- does anyone else watch this?


Don't forget to enter the Starbucks Thank You Giveaway!



I had this realization Sunday during my run, and decided to post an Operation Beautiful Note for MYSELF on my apartment door, so that everytime I leave the house to go out on a run, I remember it's truth.

Before my run on Sunday, I told myself I was going to run 3 miles, no stopping, no matter what.

I often struggle with pacing myself. I have been running under 10 minute miles if I'm only running a mile at a time. But if I try to run two 10 minute miles in a row, I get really tired by the one and a half marker. I have been trying to slow my pace down to 11 or 12 minute miles for a leisurely jog and to be able to (hopefully) increase my milage. It's not going so well. I have a hard time running anything more than around 10 and a half minute miles- and that is even difficult.

I ran to a point of exhaustion and found myself in a spot I did not want to be about two miles in. On the side of the path ready to lose my lunch. I walked it off, and after my recovery walk, I was back to jogging again. During this jog was when I remembered a video that Caitlin posted months back. In it, she was mid-bike-ride just after coming off her injury break and she had stopped to take a video because she realized that she should be greatful for what her body CAN do and not try to push it farther than it could go.

I thought long and hard about this as I ran another mile before needing to walk again. I should be happy with what my body can do. Yes, I should continue to condition and train my body to go farther, faster, and BETTER- but I also need to be HUMBLE ENOUGH to be OKAY with not being able to run 3 miles right now. I am still NEW to running. I am still FIGURING OUT the best ways for me to prepare, fuel, and recover from runs.

So often I compare myself to other runners. Especially my friends who run, that have been able to run 3 miles for a long time now (Laura), and people who are celebrating their PDRs and going farther each day (Stef). And I tell myself I haven't been running ENOUGH, or hard ENOUGH, or pushing myself ENOUGH- but that's just silly. I need to go at my own pace: no one elses. Even if that means running 10 minute miles and recovering for 30 seconds before another 10 minute mile, recovery, and 10 minute mile to complete my 5K on Saturday.

Because this running thing is not about ANYONE ELSE but me.
My Body is Strong enough to run at my own pace. To pound the pavement several times a week. To Stretch and Stride. To carry me through my goals. To feel the wind, the sun, the cold, and the rain that I run through.

My Mind is Strong enough not to compare myself to everyone or anyone else, and to keep pushing myself AT MY OWN PACE, to get further and faster. To not give up because I don't match up to someone whom I think I should run LIKE. I should run like ME. And my mind is strong enough to know this.

My Heart is Strong enough to continue to chase my love for the running, and to be humble and thankful for what I can do. To desire and drive towards my goal of racing in all 50 states. My heart is strong enough to face the finish line I will find on Saturday morning, in costume (still not sure what), no matter how fast I run or how often I walk as long as I'm ready to push on to the next race.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The First [little] Giveaway

A little over a week ago, I had a lunch date with a friend at one of my favorite places to indulge: Smokey Bones BBQ. I have a deep longing every so often for these pretzel rod appetizers they have [as I write this, my mouth is literally WATERING!] and I can usually go for anything that goes well with BBQ sauce.

Even better, during the fall, Smokey Bones has some pretty freakin’ amazing football themed deals- As in every College Football Saturday [College Football Saturdays are a favorite! But that has really nothing to do with this post.], NFL Sunday, and even Monday nights after 8 (MNF anyone?) all their appetizers are half off. This means my pretzel rods of goodness (with THREE dipping sauces!) are less than $3 in my neck of the woods. Holy Moly – add this great treat deal with the fact that I LOVE LOVE LOVE their “Hail Mary” (ahem- punny drink names make my happy in my heart. And in my tastebuds. I’m just saying.) and you could say that Smokey Bones is my FAVORITE PLACE to watch a game [other than Camp Randall, of course!]

Smokey Bones is a favorite. But that has really nothing to do with this post.

So, anyway, last weekend, after said pretzel rods, Hail Mary, and things dipped in BBQ sauce [like pretzel rods! ;) ] I headed to Starbucks for another indulgence, hoping it would fuel me for an afternoon of productivity in the reading and cleaning department [of my apartment. Ba-dump-ching.]

So to Starbucks we went. And the indulgence did in fact continue.

Grande Soy Toffee Nut Latte is a favorite. But that’s not what I ordered. And therefore, that really has nothing to do with this post.

It’s October, and I’ve been on Pumpkin-Overkill-Mode lately, so OF COURSE, I had to go for the Grande Soy Pumpkin Spice Latte. And it was good.
While I was at Starbucks, I sent out a twitter plea, asking for advice on whether I should purchase some VIA. I hadn’t yet tried it, and of course, being a Starbucks fan for almost a decade now [I think my first visit was back in 2000] I was curious. Could this really be as good on the go as if I were to grind my beans and make my own cup at home? Luckily, I took the advice of my friend & barista-extraordinare Tim, and picked up a box.

You may remember my being kind-of-almost-something-must-be-wrong-with-me-yet-i-feel-fine ill last week. This led me to put off trying my VIA Ready Brew until Thursday morning, at the office.

I was excited. I poured the packet of via into my mug. I used the hot water from our water cooler. I noticed how rich & dark the coffee looked right away. I breathed in deep the smell of the medium blend Colombian and I was happy.

And Impressed! Rich, smooth and tasty! And Then Heather Said, “THIS IS FABULOUS” and shared her findings with her co-workers.

Let’s take this story back in time a bit: flash back style.Last Monday during my lunch time, before I went home early from work, I read a twitter from previously mentioned Tim, that read, “What are the 3 top reasons you would buy Starbucks VIA? Best answer gets some VIA!!!”

I put my creative hat on, and twittered away:

1) include in cards mailed to pals for long-distance coffee dates
2) keep one in emergency car kit: no coffee=emergency!
3) share with postman, toll booth operator, store clerk, hair stylist, etc: people whom deserve xtra thank you’s.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up from my maybe-sick-or-something-nap and read this
“@timkong: @mooreshugar Great job with the VIA Suggestions. Email me your address and I’ll mail you some VIA.”

HOORAY! I love winning :)

I’ve already sent out one long-distance coffee date.
and I added two VIA Ready Brew packets to my emergency car kit.
And now, I wanted to share some VIA with people whom deserve an extra Thank You: and that would be YOU – my readers! Whom have supported and encouraged me through the difficult stuff and celebrated the good stuff with me!

So, without further ado:

The First [little] Giveaway



Starbucks coffee is a favorite.
TAZO Passion Tea is a favorite.
and that is the point of this post.

The winner will receive a pack of on-the-go Starbucks favorites from Then Heather Said; VIA Ready Brew & TAZO Passion tea!

ENTER NOW!
There are three ways to enter:
1. Share: leave a comment with your favorite “warm me up!” beverage for fall.
2. Post a link on your own blog to the giveaway
3. Tweet Tweet: Are you on Twitter? Tweet about the giveaway:

@mooreshugar is hosting a starbucks thank you giveaway: http://thenheathersaid.blogspot.com/2009/10/first-little-giveaway.html

[if you tweet or post a link on your blog, please let me know via a comment on the blog so I don’t miss any extra entries! ]

The giveaway will end Wednesday, October 28, at 11:59 PM. I will choose the winner randomly and share with you on Thursday morning.
go ahead- enter away!

Pumpkin Craze: Soup Swap Recipes Continue

It’s been a little while since I posted a Soup Swap recipe- and this weekend, I put one of the entries I received to the test: and let me tell you, this recipe ACED it!

This recipe was sent in by a friend of mine from Texas, Robbie. Robbie and her husband Ron have three WONDERFUL kids- and they are one of my most favorite families in southeast Texas! Time with their family has definitely helped me to set standards of my personal desires for my own (future) family; How to prioritize family needs, and constantly show love to my (future) children. And to laugh through life; the good days and bad.

Ron & Robbie have also taught me how a woman should be respected, cherished, and treated in a relationship- usually with out needing to explain what he is doing, but rather just loving by Ron loving Robbie out loud and without barricades. Their love is honest and a beautiful testament of God’s love for us.

I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job explaining how awesome this family is (perhaps cause it’s Monday morning?)- so I’m just going to hope you understand: THEY ARE AWESOME.

Onto the soup:


From Robbie’s email:

Thanks to Rachel Ray, this is a family fav. It's especially good served with smoked mozzarella quesadillas...they make DELICIOUS dippers. This soup uses a fabulous blend of ingredients that combine to make a heart-warming and tummy-pleasing flavor. Upon first glance, it may not seem like something even worth trying, but go ahead. I'm quite certain you will be pleasantly surprised. Like other soups, I'm sure this would be better the second day, but I can't say for sure. We have never had any left for another meal. It is always eaten up the first time around. ENJOY!!

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned or packaged vegetable stock
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice (Fire Roasted tomatoes work well too)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
2 cans (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (found often on the baking aisle. NOT pie filling)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon curry powder (or to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Coarse salt

Directions
Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Saute onions 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve.



Then Heather Said, “Here are my modifications and specifics”:
-I skipped the onion. And therefore the EVOO.
-I used Libby’s pumpkin – I had opened up a LARGE can on Friday for oats and such, and I used the remains, which was probably about 25 oz, rather than 30.
-I was all out of cumin, and didn’t realize it until I was already cooking- Instead I used onion powder- not really as a substitue, but just as MORE yum-ness.
-I had a long debate with myself about the need for heavy cream. Could I use vanilla soy milk? Light cream? Ricotta for a bit more flavor? After going over this self-discussion for about 20 minutes on my Sunday run, I finally decided to stop at the market on my way home and pick up some heavy cream. Next time I may experiment more.
-I served with fresh dark whole wheat bread I got from the local bakery section of my small village market.
SO GOOD.



It’s clearly October: I’ve kind of been on pumpkin OVERLOAD the past few days. Pumpkin oats, pumpkin granola, pumpkin soup, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice pancakes, pumpkin pie kashi bars, pumpkin muffin, even tried pumpkin beer. (I am declaring tomorrow a pumpkin free day: don’t want to burn out!) What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

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