Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Craft

I found a really great crafty idea to make as an Advent calendar over here. I was super excited to find something that I could put together last minute for some friends. These replace the candy advents that we used to love growing up that usually had really cheap, not-so-tasty chocolate in them. Hello gum!

I glued together two packs of Trident gum, each with 12 pieces to form the 24 day countdown to Christmas. Then I cut some card stock and scrap-booking paper to wrap around the gum packages. Glued on the paper and wrote my little message. Numbered the gum and voila! advent gum calendar. I love it!

Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Got Change?

I've been reading and listening to a lot of different health ideas recently. As you know this is all a part of my lessons associated with my health coaching curriculum. I want to bring to you a short paragraph out of the book, Integrative Nutrition written by the founder of IIN, Joshua Rosenthal. This first chapter is entitled Question What You're Told and really challenges us to question everything that we know. I certainly know that what I've been taught in my schooling and what I'm told to teach as a nutrition educator is based on the USDA guidelines. This chapter really reveals a lot behind where our food guidelines and recommendations come from. The part that makes me so sick is to realize that everything is put into place based on money. Read this:

"If we want to be healthy, we need to eat nutritious foods. It really isn't difficult. Unfortunately, billions of dollars are spent every day trying to seduce us not to do it. The food industry, drug companies, politicians, civil servants and even the medical profession all have strong vested interests in making money and not in protecting our health. In one way or another, almost all the sources of information we would expect to support our quest for overall health are contaminated for reasons of financial gain. Face it America, being sick and overweight keeps corporate profits healthy." 

The text goes on to show that however true the above statements may be there is great hope for change. The world is beginning to wake up to the reality and make change.of our present diets' effect. We are the agents of change that must take action. We get a vote every time we spend money on food. Corporations will get the message after we show them where we want to spend our money and what type of food we buy. Get involved people; with our dollars, our voices and our forks, we have the power to create change. Time to get busy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kitchen Crew

My mother and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this past week. After a giant Thanksgiving meal prepared for only four people, we felt like the dishes would never end. We had a delightful four days spent relaxing and eating much.

My Thanksgiving plate in all it's beauty:

We also ventured back into the kitchen to make bierocks. We had a bunch of cabbage on hand and I suggested making bierocks to use it up. She kept asking when I had made bierocks and learned how to do it. I assured her that I don't really remember ever learning how to make them, but knew they were simply dough filled with meat and cabbage. Not that difficult. We managed just fine.

First a filling was created out of red(why is it called red cabbage when it is obviously purple?) cabbage, onion, garlic, beef. I also added a touch of spicy mustard and Worcestershire sauce with black pepper. 

Dough was made. I went for a nice medley of rye, whole wheat, and white flour on this one. Rolled out the dough and cut into squares to be filled. 

Baked and ready for the eating. They were pretty good. I must say that you can roll out the dough pretty thin. It does a really good job of baking up and leaving you with a lot of bread and not much filling. These were good, but I think could have been thinner. Overall, success!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Feeling Crafty with a Soapbox

This past weekend I pulled out a few projects that I've been intending to complete for some time now and I actually completed them. I'm pretty excited about my new message center shown below. This project included an old frame that I had. I attached a simple piece of chicken wire to the back and voila!

These are my favorite children in the world. Aren't they precious!
Next up includes a couple of pillows created around the same time my t-shirt quilt was created. I had extra t-shirts that didn't make it into the quilt so I decided they would work well for small pillows. I stuffed them with my used drier sheet collection so they are pillows that smell good as well!

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with some friends regarding shopping and the holidays. I try to convince just about everybody that they should shop local as much as possible. I also feel free to tell everybody my personal opinion of Walmart as simply supporting a sweatshop in China. I understand we can't get everything in small town America but there are still many options to get great gifts that actually support the American economy and not Vietnam and/or Sri Lanka. If we support our local people and stay away from their markets maybe they can support themselves as well. Just a thought.

Here's a few shopping ideas:
  • Don't leave your own hometown. Shop local. Visit that random antique shop, jewelry store, or in our town amazing candle boutique. Keep your money in your own local economy. 
  • Consider practical gifts like: pre-paid oil changes, grocery store gift-card, massage gift, gym membership, etc. Once again, supporting local economy.
  • Visit Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items including most everything imaginable. I even have a shop here, looks like I need to get to creating!
  • Support those lovely ladies around your town that sell items directly. It seems like everybody is selling MaryKay, Scentsy, Premier Jewelry, Princess House, or Tupperware nowadays. I know that most of this stuff is still produced in foreign lands, but at least you are supporting local people that receive a living wage to bring it to you.
  • Give a gift of time! This is my favorite, simply because studies have shown over and over that people are not happy because they have more stuff. They are happy because they have relationships with other people and feel love with others. Consider a dinner date gift or even a house-cleaning gift.
  • Get out your crafty fingers and make something extra special for those special to you. You know homemade craft items always made your mom proud when you were in elementary school, I'm certain they still make my mom proud today!
There's my soapbox. Now get to thinking outside the box this Holiday season!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Earlier this week a friend of mine asked me if I would make some cinnamon rolls for a church lunch she was providing. I love the opportunity to make a good baked good so I agreed to the task of making two dozen rolls for today. I may have temporarily forgotten about this task but I certainly completed it by taking the rolls out of the oven this morning around 7:30, icing them at 8:00, and delivering them to the church around 8:15 am. Mission accomplished. I just devoured the one roll I kept for myself and it was mighty tasty.

I altered a recipe that I found in a family cookbook from one of my neighbors.

Combine together in a large mixing bowl:
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups thin mashed potatoes (I used about 1 cup of dried potato flakes in with hot water to make 2 cups soup-like consistency)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat flour
  • 7 cups AP flour

Mix and/or knead the dough until a smooth dough is created. This took approximately 5 minutes? for me in a  mixer. I honestly don't really time things because I use a method called checking the gluten window to determine whether my dough is kneaded enough. Add additional liquid and/or flour if necessary. Last night I added about 1/4 cup additional water because it needed more moisture. This will vary based on the season. The whole wheat flour also absorbs more liquid so this would be an additional reason more liquid may be necessary. After mixing I hand-kneaded on the counter for about 30 seconds before allowing to rise in a covered container for approximately 1-2 hours until doubled in bulk. 

After rising, divide the dough into two. Gently shape into a round and then roll out into rectangle. Slap some butter on the dough, a nice combo of cinnamon, brown sugar, and white sugar as well. Then roll up starting with the long side. Use some fabulous mint flavored, or not mint, floss to cut precise beautiful rolls. Put into a greased pan and allow to rise again. I allowed mine to rise overnight in the fridge and baked them in the morning. If you're doing this don't forget to take them out of the fridge approximately 1 hour before baking so they can come to room temp and/or complete their final rise.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. 

Ice with your favorite frosting or icing. Enjoy sparingly!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wood Fashion Greatness

I have been a very happy diner the past couple of meals. Last evening I convinced a few of my friends to travel with me to Salina, KS to dine at a fabulous little cafe. They had never even heard of the place so it was quite a treat. I am always a little apprehensive about taking my friends to new places because I have such a different restaurant, food, flavor preference than the average person; however, I think they really enjoyed the experience and the great food. We went to Wood Fashion Cafe. It is honestly the only restaurant that I would personally choose to dine at and feel very good about my dining experience in this area. Check out their website to learn more, but they source almost all their ingredients locally. They also change the menu seasonally or whenever they feel like it. But honestly, there are so many different things to choose from on the menu, I could probably eat there everyday for a month and still have something different and excellent to dine on. Absolutely love it!

Here is what I dined on last night. An amazing spinach fettuccine with butternut squash and shitake mushrooms. I also enjoyed a lovely salad with an orange sage vinaigrette dressing. 

Then today I happened to visit the town of Salina again and went to eat at Wood Fashion Cafe with my parents. They have dined here before and also love it. Today I had a grilled salmon, spinach and cheese sandwich with rice and beans. Yum!

I might add that I am quite proud of myself for remembering to take pictures of my food before devouring it. After staring at my two dining selections, I'm realizing that my plates have not been filled with as many vegetables as they should. Guess I better get to eating my fruits and veggies for dinner. Nonetheless, these were quite healthful choices, sourced from local producers, and supported small town business owners. This is one happy camper signing off. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cookie Relations

I'm getting ready to package these up to take to my neighbors. Some of you may wonder why I'm baking for my neighbors. They never bring me anything. However, my goal in this great town of Abilene is to get to know as many people as possible. I believe that we were created to live in close community with people and if they aren't going to invite me over I'm going to knock on their doors. It's usually I little less awkward when they answer the door and I have something in my hands to give instead of just knocking and asking how life is going. I also love to bake and if I kept everything in this house that I made, well that would just be a bad idea.

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Simply in Season cookbook)

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 Tablespoons molasses

Mix this all together until well mixed.

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add to the above mixture and beat in.

2 1/2 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Add dry mixture to wet ingredients. Drop on greased baking sheets. I used a cookie scoop to deposit and then had to flatten them a bit as they didn't spread at all on their own. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 12-15 minutes.

Pretty tasty and relatively healthy cookie to enjoy!


It's a great day to be alive. I had fun this morning creating a short birthday video for my dear friend Jamie that is celebrating her day of birth a long way from home. I looked completely ridiculous with my morning hair, but I know that Jamie could care less and perhaps it might even make her smile a little bit more to see my crazy image. Oh what a blessing to be able to share life with others, even when they are halfway around the world. What a blessing to have this new day to celebrate life.

I started my day creating a giant list of things to do. It's pretty big and I think quite doable. Then in my reading time this morning, this scripture jumped out to me. Another one of my favorites:

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31

This makes me go back to my to-do list and think again. Are these activities that seem so important being completed for the glory of the Lord? I'm thinking that one item, bake cookies for my neighbors, needs to upped  in importance. Better get busy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ham Loaf

I had my very first ham loaf tonight. Mind you, I DID NOT MAKE it myself. It's actually one of those things that involves meat and my saying for that goes, "Meat does not belong in a loaf." Ham, beef, pork, whatever, meat does not belong in a loaf. Bread belongs in a loaf, not meat. In one of my moments perusing around my local super small town grocery I noticed a rather interesting package in the fresh meat section. This package had three different types of meat, ground up and piled beside each other as if they were piles of silage. They were all different colors and this is how I knew they were different kinds of meat. On the package was a hand written note that said Ham Loaf and included a recipe. Add eggs, bread crumbs, milk, ??? I immediately was disgusted and thought, "That's something I think I would be okay never eating."

Tonight I ate ham loaf. I went to a dinner before a meeting that I was to present at about my role as a Family Nutrition Program Assistant. I knew that a lovely group of older community ladies was making the dinner. In my previous life, when I loved all things common, I would be super excited for this. However, tonight I actually thought about eating before I went so if the food was not an option for my body, I wouldn't starve. I ended up eating a tiny bit before, but still went to the dinner hungry. I then found out that ham loaf is my co-worker's favorite meal and that is why we were eating it. The dinner was great. We had some cheesy potatoes, green beans with bacon, ham loaf, and crescent rolls. So much for pretending to be a vegetarian. The dessert portion was a pumpkin cake mix bar big enough for two people. Yum.

If you've never had ham loaf, I suppose it is something that we should all try once. I have to say that it was actually good. Definitely not something that I will be making on my own or ever suggesting somebody make, but something that I can write about at least. Since dining on this delicacy, I've learned that it is a common food in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and not really known in the rest of the country. I suppose we must be extra special having the ground meat kit in our local grocery meat section.

Bucket List:
  1. Try Ham Loaf - CHECK!
Have you ever eaten ham loaf? Thoughts?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

I've always loved this scripture passage and this morning as I read it in its context where Paul is scolding the Corinthians for their sexual immorality I am reminded of its goodness. Not only are we to flee from sexual immorality that is a sin, but I need to be reminded that everything I put into my body and do to my body is a reflection of my image of God. My body is a temple, bought at a price, that I have been given to honor. 

I praise God for the health that I have in my body. The ability to exercise freely without pain and do my part to keep it functioning properly. I pray that I may honor my body in what I put into it, remembering it as a temple of the Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Tonight I had my very first health coaching session. In cased you missed the memo, I decided to enroll in the health coach certification program from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. This is a year long program and will involve an overview of over 100 different health theories. Additionally, I will learn how to set up my own health coaching practice and from there the possibilities are endless. More to come about this specific program and what I'm learning in the near future. 

For tonight though, I had my first health coaching session via telephone with Debbie, whom resides in Connecticut. She did a health history with me which is the first step in a health coaching consultation. This involved asking me numerous questions regarding my health, family history, and personal satisfaction. It's kinda intense, but definitely a necessary first step. I definitely should have known this was coming, however, I was still speechless when she asked what goals I would like to set before our next session. Here's my honest reply, I suck at making goals. I'm not sure how I became this way, because I really do remember being that person in high school that had it all figured out. I loved writing goals. Now, they terrify me. I suppose this is a fear of failure for me. If I never put it into writing, then I can't possibly fail. Right? However, I need goals, I know I need something to work toward.

So here we go. My goals before my next session in January include: 
  1. Write my intentions for the program and make my big announcement to the world, aka, all my contacts about what I am studying and plan to gain from the program. (This is something that is intended to gain support from my personal contacts and let people know just exactly what I am doing.) 
  2. Keep a food journal for at least one week. (I've tried this before and always quit. However, I need to be more aware of exactly what I am putting in my body.)
I know that I really need this accountability and I'm excited to see how I can equip myself with the tools to help others make healthy lifestyle choices. I've got to start with myself, so here we go.

One of the questions during the health history was what do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner. My breakfast response was very easy because I generally always eat oatmeal however, my response for lunch and dinner was a bit difficult. I mentioned that I make a lot of soup and eat it for long periods of time. In honor of that response, I whipped up another batch of random soup.

Tonight's delight: Curried Red Lentil Soup

Containing: Onion, carrots, red bell pepper, garlic, red lentils, swiss chard, chicken broth, mixed curry spice blend, lemon juice, S&P

Wouldn't you know after I took several bites, I realized I had added a bit much of the cayenne pepper and added a bit of plain yogurt to cool it down a bit. I ate it with sourdough masa crackers. Pretty delish and perfect on this cool evening!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

With Thanksgiving

We gathered together our little family of friends and gave thanks. We gave thanks for the opportunity to be together, to share life together, to break bread together. We gave thanks for the life that we are given, the  family and friends that we share, and the food that is so abundant. With Thanksgiving to Jesus.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homemade Pasta

If you've ever thought about whether making your own homemade pasta was worth it, let me tell you, YES! I recently went all out on my lasagna and made homemade noodles. These were so delightful and rather simple.  The inspiration came from none other than Alice Waters and "The Art of Simple Food."

Starting with simply flour and eggs. I even went ahead and used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached AP flour. Then I added about 1/4 cup of my pumpkin puree. I used this because I wanted to experiment and also because I knew that my pumpkin puree was not extremely flavorful so I knew it would hardly be noticed. Then I added 3 whole fresh eggs. My pasta was a beautiful light golden color mostly because of the fresh bright orange egg yolks. This was kneaded together for a short time and left to sit for at least and hour.

After a good rest the dough is rolled out. I chose to separate this into two sections and roll out thin. Fresh past expands quite a bit in cooking so go about as thin as you can.

Next it is sliced into strips for lasagna or whatever other shape pasta you are going for.

I cooked two strips at a time in a big boiling pot of salted water for only about 3 minutes. I knew that this would be further cooked in the oven so I didn't want to overcook it here. 

Cooked pasta is drained and rinsed in cold water before laying out to rest until lasagna preparation began.

It would have been nice had I taken a picture of the finished product. But wouldn't you know that I once again forgot to photograph and instead dined on the lasagna as soon as I could with some great company! It was mighty tasty!

Later today I shall be attending my first Thanksgiving Dinner of the month. I'm super excited for this dinner with my family of friends. I'm in charge of rolls and sweet potatoes. I've already failed on my bread making as I forgot the yeast in my rolls that I mixed at 7am this morning. I decided that I didn't want to waste the greatness so I've attempted a resuscitation of the dough. We'll see how that turns out. Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures of this dinner!

Thanksgiving Pie #1

I had a couple of lovely friends over for dinner last night and I decided it was a perfect occasion for my first Thanksgiving pie of the season. I fell in love with several of the Thanksgiving pie suggestions from King Arthur Flour and decided to start with the Cranberry Fudge Pie. If you need a little help deciding which baked goods to bless your Thanksgiving table this month I would highly suggest checking out this site. King Arthur really knows the good stuff!

This pie was so rich and delicious. It started out with a graham cracker crust. I think there might have been a bit much of the crust in the recipe so it was extra thick. Next was the creation of a lovely chocolate ganache which is simple chocolate melted with heavy cream. For this I used a nice combo of semi-sweet chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips. This is poured into the crust, topped with toasted pecans and chilled overnight.

Next a lovely cranberry sauce was created by boiling together juice, I used apple juice because that's what I had instead of the prescribed cranberry juice, along with sugar. Then dried cranberries were added and a package of fresh cranberries. Cooked together until the fresh started to pop and then chilled as well.

Cranberry sauce is added on top of the chocolate layer and chilled together. Ready for the eating. 

I usually manage to forget to photograph the final product on the plate before eating. I suppose I'm just not that precise of a food blogger yet, because my first thought is not to photograph but to eat! It was certainly tasty. Rich with the chocolate layer but perfect with the sweet/tangy combination of the cranberries. Delicious!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beauty on 11/11/11

Snyder and I went exploring on this very special day.

We found much beauty in the town of Abilene, KS. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rain Down

Today I'm thankful for:

  • Rain! It is finally raining and it has been for most of the day. I actually rode my bike today to work not being fully confident that it was going to rain today. It did and I seriously debated toughing it out and riding home in the pouring rain and wind. However, I took the advice of all the ladies in the office and accepted a ride home. But praise God for rain! 
  • I got home and enjoyed a delightful cup of my new mint tea. This tea bag is a genius invention. Check out the picture. I'm not so sure it's really all that necessary and the bag says, New Eco-friendly design. Looks like a lot of extra paper processing to me, but it sure is pretty fun!

  • I will be heading out soon to play some more volleyball. I got to play on a fall rec team with some wonderful new friends and we're playing another season. I'm excited!
  • Tonight I enjoyed a lovely dinner of eggs with chard and a beautiful market tomato. This made me realize that I need to be thankful for these fresh eggs and embrace them because........We had another CHICKEN MASSACRE! This time they all got wiped out. No more fresh eggs until next spring. 

Fall Back into Baking

This weekend was one of the first weekends in a long time that I was actually at home in Abilene and did not have a plethora of things on my agenda. Add to it the additional hour with the end of daylight savings time. I quickly filled my time with worthy activities like socializing with the friend family, doing laundry, baking with lots of pumpkin and apples, watching football, and eating often with others. 

Friday, after a day filled with teenagers and ceramics quizzes while substitute teaching at Chapman Middle School, I ventured out to the farm for some Lumber Jill moments. I just had a hankering to cut some firewood and throw it so I prodded my father into a trip to the woods for some firewood action. Every now and then I really feel like doing some exercise with a purpose and this was the day. 

I decided that it was time to hit the baking action so I could deliver some goodies to my neighbors. I like to bake and I know that most people like baked goods, so this is my attempt to get inside other's homes and be a real neighbor. It amazes me how most people live right beside people for so long and know nothing about them. I know I didn't move to this town simply to have an Abilene address, I want to get to know these people! Slowly but surely maybe others will knock on my door. You don't even have to bring baked goods, I like any visitor!

First attempt was a whole wheat pumpkin cranberry scone. This recipe I had scribbled down on a piece of scratch paper in my planner for some time. They were super easy to put together and quite healthful as they had no fat added, made with whole grains, and little sugar. They were really good right out of the oven, however, after cooling they lacked a whole lot of greatness. I suppose that scones are intended to be eaten with tea or coffee anyway and they definitely needed this the next day. I didn't get around to delivering them anywhere on baking day so I didn't feel like they would be bit hit with others the next day. 

Enter my dining delicacy Sunday breakfast. Oatmeal with yogurt, pepitas, and crumbled pumpkin WW scone. This was quite tasty.

My second creation with pumpkin included some awesome pumpkin crescent rolls. This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simply in Season. I highly recommend this cookbook as it contains fabulously healthful recipes organized by the seasons. The recipe was a sweet potato crescent roll recipe that I adapted with pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes. These went over well. 
My dough, about half whole wheat.

Given one rise, rolled out and cut into pizza slices.

Rolled up crescent style.

Final product; probably could have used a brushing of
butter to make them shine but I opted not.
A Sunday of baking produced two apple delights. I had a bunch of apples that really needed to be baked with because they weren't lending much appealing tastes to eating fresh and I already have applesauce in the fridge. Both recipes courtesy of King Arthur Flour, Whole Grain Baking cookbook.  This is another one of my go-to baking books. I love to bake with the added nutrition of whole grains and most often tell myself it's healthy if it has whole grains. Never-mind the same amount of butter and sugar as a regular recipe, it is whole grain!

First a Walnut Apple Coffeecake:

It's a super moist explosion of apple in there as it had diced apple in the batter already and I substituted half the butter with applesauce. I can't bring myself to put a whole cup of butter in a coffeecake so I subbed applesauce which makes the final product so very very moist. This would be what I divided up and took to the neighbors. 

Next up was the Apple Brown Betty. This recipe I made because I also wanted to use the kinda lame non-fat scones I had. Apple Brown Betty goes like this: 

Peel apples

Slice apples

Add lots of spices, a little sugar, and lemon juice. 
Mix up your bread crumbles, oats, good amount of sugar and butter. 

Layer your apples and crumble.

Bake to a beauty. 
I think it is definitely better than the brown betty we make once in bake lab. I don't know what that was, but I don't remember being impressed or very interested in it. This, however, is absolutely splendid. That may be due to the fork that I inserted shortly after removing it oven and the bite I enjoyed while still warm.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Color the Potluck

It is certainly my job to bring health and color to any potluck that I attend. All people that know me well know how to find what I bring. Does it look colorful and is it healthful and nutritious? Now I don't claim to always bring healthy things, however, more often than not I do feel the need to bring something healthy. It's not that I don't enjoy a really great unhealthy treat but I just feel like it's my role as a nutrition educator and a health coach student to bring something with life, color, and nutrition to the table. 

Today for our church potluck I chose this wonderful collection of bell peppers. Super simple this is simply a nice combination of red, yellow, green, and chocolate bell peppers mixed together with a red onion, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh parsley. Sprinkled with salt it was a refreshing healthy salad. The peppers were the end of the season fresh peppers from a KC market and a KC friend's garden. Perfect. 

This would be the soup I made last night for our KSU football watch party. It was a nice combination of all things random in my fridge that needed to be used, a mix of chili and taco soup. You'll find plenty of onion and bell peppers in this one along with corn, tomatoes, V8 juice, a few okra, carrots, can of chili beans, and a healthy serving of bulgar. My friend Amos remarked, "This is good, but it would be better with meat." Silly meat eaters just can't get over having something without meat.  I thought it was tasty after I added a healthy amount of chili powder, taco seasoning, paprika, cumin, and red pepper.