Last Saturday we were completely snowed in. With 30 inches falling in 24 hours (I measured) I honestly can't remember that much snow falling that fast. The roads were a mess and I was thrilled to stay safe and snug at home and try out a few healthy recipes.
Problem was I didn't have all the ingredients I needed. My husband, who's always up for a crazy adventure, said he be glad to drive to the grocery store with me, but it would have to wait until the afternoon.
By 3:00 when we pulled out of the drive (thankfully our snow plow guy had already come 2 times by then) it was a total whiteout. When we pulled up to our mailbox to get the mail we briefly got stuck, and at this point I said, "Oh forget it! Let's just pull back into the garage. I can make something else." To which my husband says, "No. Let's go. It will be fun. It will be a bonding adventure."
Know-it-all-me says, "Yeah, it will increase the dopamine in our brains. That's what happens when you share adventures with your spouse. And then you fall madly in love again."
It's absolutely true. So, listen up. Make sure you and your significant other are continually having crazy adventures, or at least doing something more exciting than dinner & a movie. Here's what science writer Tara Parker-Pope had to say recently on the subject in the New York Times:
"The theory is based on brain science. New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love, a time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new partner. (They are also the brain chemicals involved in drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder.)"
To read Pope's full article, click here.
And if you want to see a very interesting video from Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutgers who has done extensive research on the nature and chemistry of romantic love and marriage, click here.
Back to our snowy adventure and the real reason for this post, the 2 DELICIOUS HEALTHY RECIPES I made while snowed in! As soon as we pulled onto the main road I knew we were in big trouble! We couldn't see a thing, the usually plowed main road was completely snow-covered & I knew this was insane. I envisioned a terrible accident, permanent paralysis, disability, knocked out teeth, totaled car, all for a can of coconut milk, oat flour, and maybe a rental movie.
There was no way my husband was going to turn back, though. He was loving this and that dopamine was flooding his brain. I think cortisol, the stress hormone was flooding mine. In the end we got to the store, picked up all the needed ingredients, and when hubby asked if I wanted to go on to the video store I said, "Yeah let's do it! We've come this far."
The video store shelves were pretty much cleaned out, but I took the recommendation of the 20-something video store clerk and rented Reign Over Me with Don Cheadle and Adam Sandler. I hate Adam Sandler, but love Don Cheadle and took a chance. You may never trust my recommendations again, but blame it on our dopamine intoxication. We both LOVED this movie. It's about grief, loss, the power of friendship, and the need to have someone you can really talk to, especially men. Let me know if you agree or not with this recommendation.
Now for the recipes. The first one, Red Lentil Mulligatwney with Apple-Celery Salsa, I got from my friend and cook extraordinaire, Dick. It's exotic and satisfying! The original recipe comes from Cooking Light. The second recipe, Guilt-free chocolate chip muffins, comes from the March issue of Health, and was developed by Bethenny Frankel, a celebrity natural foods chef. I typically don't like using applesauce for a fat substitute and wouldn't have even tried these muffins, but the picture looked so good. It's unbelievable that oat flour, applesauce and cocoa can produce such a yummy treat. Even my husband loved them. They're so rich that one muffin really satisfies the chocolate addiction.
Red Lentil Mulligatawny with Apple-Celery Salsa For a copy of this recipe on a single page click here
2/3 cup finely chopped Granny Smith apple
¼ cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 ½ cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup dried small red lentils
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups light coconut milk
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
¼ tsp. coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ tsp. salt
1. To prepare salsa, combine the first 4 ingredients, cover and chill.
2. To prepare soup, combine broth, lentils, and onions in a soup pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Cool about 15 minutes. Pour contents into a blender (you can do this in 2 batches-I did it all at once) & blend until smooth. Pour lentil mixture back into the pot. Blend the coconut milk, tomato paste & dry spices in the blender until smooth. Pour this mixture into the soup pot & whisk into the smooth lentil mixture. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, until heated through. Remove from heat & add the lime juice.
3. Ladle into bowls & top with ¼ cup of the salsa.
Makes 4 very generous servings
Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Muffins For a copy of this recipe on a single page click here.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 8 muffins
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. canola oil
1/2 cup Splenda brand sweetener (or 1/2 cup turbinado sugar)
1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1/4 tsp real almond extract (optional)
3/4 cups oat bran flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar (optional)
Place 8 paper or silicone liners (if you haven't tried these they're great!) in muffin tin; coat with cooking spray.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine applesauce and next 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the next 6 dry ingredients. Add oat mixture to applesauce mixture; stir until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan a half-turn after 10 minutes. Muffins are done when tops are firm to the touch.
4. Cool slightly. Top with powdered sugar, if desired.
Serving size: 1 muffin