Take Back the Kitchen: Spinach with Chick Peas

I just spent a week in Seville, Spain and spent a good deal of that week at my friend Antonio’s bar. He made the best Spinach with Chick Peas or Espinacas con Garbanzos. Although I have eaten this dish every time I have visited Seville, I never thought to make it. Until now. It doesn’t compare to Antonio’s but it is still pretty darn delicious. I combined a bunch of recipes I found online and ended up with this tasty version. Enjoy!
Espinacas con Garbanzos
1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 15 oz cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
8 oz tomato sauce (I just pureed diced tomatoes)
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp blanched almonds, preferably Marcona almonds
In a medium sized frying pan, heat up two tbsp olive oil.
When hot and starting to smoke, add in the spinach and stir until fully coated with the oil.
Remove the spinach from the pan.
In the same pan wiped out with a paper towel, add in 1 tbsp of the olive oil and let it heat up again.
Add in the minced garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes until wilted.
Remove the garlic and onions and puree in a food processor with the almonds, vinegar and the tomato sauce.
\When it is pureed, add it to the pan again with the cooked spinach and mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Add in the cumin, paprika and salt and stir.
Add in the chick peas and stir gently so all the ingredients are combined.
Stir in the remaining olive oil.
Adjust seasonings to your liking and serve hot.
For more of Alma Schneider’s amazing recipes, visit www.TakeBacktheKitchen.net.

Five Ultimate Summer Vacation Getaways

10471_10151004914625205_343749027_n.jpgTypically this time of year, my entire family gets incredibly antsy and starts begging me to make vacation plans. You see, every summer, without fail, we try to take at least 2-3 vacations so that we can finally unwind from the year and reconnect with one another. The problem is, this year, now that my kids are teenagers, I no longer am the vacation dictator in our family. I used to just select a trip and then tell everyone where we were going on a need to know basis. Not anymore, it’s now a free-for-all where everyone wants to go somewhere else and I have to search the Internet for the most affordable deal that we’ll all enjoy. So here are some of the trips we’re considering…
1. A Royal Caribbean Cruise out of Galveston, Texas — We’ve never actually been to Texas — except on a random connecting flight, but I discovered this port of call while searching Cruise.com for affordable trips this summer. I have tried Royal Caribbean before and am a fan and we’ve never been to some of the cool ports of call that they visit including Honduras, Belize and Falmouth Jamaica. The only question I have is how hot is it in Honduras in August? I’m thinking you could probably fry an egg on any sidewalk and the humidity is probably around 300%.
2. A Mediterranean Cruise — Now this is my #1 choice for a trip and my kids would love it too. I mean who wouldn’t want to see Italy, the South of France, Santorini and Turkey all in one trip? The only downside is the airfare is astronomical during the summer and unless we have $10-$15K stashed away, a European getaway is not in the cards for us this year.
3. Treasure Beach, Jamaica — This is my personal favorite. We’ve already been to this off the beaten path location after visiting Jake’s resort and fell in love with the locale, the people, the food, you name it. In fact, we love it so much we actually want to move there one day. But for now, I’d just love to go back, rent a villa with our own housekeeping staff and read 10 books in 7 days. My family isn’t having it though. They’ve been there, done that and want to go somewhere else. See you another time Jakes…although I miss you desperately!
4. Israel — Here’s another one on my must visit list. I have cousins who live in Haifa who I haven’t seen in years and I cannot wait to introduce my family to them and expose them to some of the most breathtaking and inspiring places I have ever seen in my life. From climbing to the top of Masada to viewing a Roman amphitheater in Cesarea, there is nothing quite like visiting Israel. Again – the price though is a bit out of our range so this one will have to wait a few more years too. Good thing my daughter will be 18 in a few years and can go for free on birthright, maybe we’ll join her then..although I’m sure she’s going to want to go without us.
5. Hawaii — I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and this year, I’m still dreaming of stepping off a plane and taking in all that breathtaking scenery. Plus, I have seen the movie 50 First Dates about 75 times and would probably drag my kids to all the places where they shot scenes for the film. Seriously though, we definitely have this on our destination list — it’s just a matter of finding a good deal so we don’t break the bank.
So there you have it — my 5 must see destinations this summer. I haven’t decided where we are headed yet but something tells me there’s a cruise out of Texas in my future. What about you? What destinations do you plan to hit this summer? If it looks good, I might just change my mind!

Forget summer bodies, here’s how to get in shape for life

With warmer weather truly on the way, you might be tempted to go all out to achieve the perfect summer body. The trouble is, taking this short-term approach to getting in shape can be a recipe for yo-yo weight loss and a lifelong battle with the bulge. Rather than focusing on what you look like in a bikini on the beach for a few short months, it’s much better to slim down in sustainable ways that you can keep up over the long term. If you want to get in shape and stay that way for life, keep reading.
Make changes to your diet that you can actually stick to
It’s easy to understand why crash diets are so popular. The prospect of being able to shed lots of weight within a short space of time is an alluring one. However, it’s impossible to keep these fad eating programmes up for the long haul. Often, they cut out crucial food groups and they can be very unhealthy. They also make unrealistic demands on your self-restraint. OK, so completely cutting out chocolate, cheese and other treats might be doable in the few short weeks before a summer sojourn, but what about when you’re back from the beach and don’t have a holiday to look forward to?
It’s much better to make more subtle but sustainable changes to your eating habits. Bear in mind that the average woman needs around 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, while for men this figure is 2,500 calories. If you want to shed some pounds, you’ll need to cut your calorie intake and make sure you use more energy than you consume. How much you cut your intake by will depend on your weight, lifestyle and goals, but whatever your target, make sure your diet is healthy, nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. You can find out more about weight loss from your doctor or trusted online health services such as Online Doctor.
Build more exercise into your everyday life
Unknown.jpegAs with the food you eat, there’s no point in setting unrealistic targets when it comes to exercise. Sure, working up a sweat by spending hours in the gym could do wonders for your weight loss, but with your responsibilities at home and at work, how long could you expect to keep intense regimes like this up for? A more savvy approach is to build activity into your everyday life. For example, make sure you take the stairs instead of the lift, and try cycling or walking to local destinations rather than reaching for your car keys.
Even being active with your kids by taking them swimming or to play in the park could help your efforts to get in shape. Vigorous housework can be a great way to burn energy too.
Be patient
Following advice like this does require patience and perseverance. You won’t see major results in a matter of weeks; instead, the changes will be gradual. However, by sticking to your plan, you should succeed in losing weight and the best thing is, you’ll find it easy to keep up your new regime up. This could spell the end of your weight loss woes
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.