Weekend highlights & a side of Sweet & Crunchy Summer Slaw

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This past weekend was great for a few reasons.

First off, big congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law on the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Ava Rose.  I can't wait to meet the little peanut (in real life).  It will be along 5 months, but we had a great first skype date tonight and some other family members dropped in for a visit!  Talk about perfect timing.  Being away from family is hard, but it's skype dates like this that make you feel like you are still part of the action.  Nothin' like a good skype date.

First we got to meet baby and see mama:
Then my aunt Mary stopped by (while Ava napped in The Monkey Hat):
Then my aunt Jan & my brother Chris joined the party:
 Ava sure is one lucky girl!

Second great thing was that we had our 4 Mile Walk for Water event in Brussels.  It was supposed to be over Labor Day, but due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that there is no Labor Day in Belgium (in September), we pushed it up.  The fundraiser is still open and I encourage you all to walk this coming weekend where ever you are!  We had a great time.  I think it gave each of us something to think about.  We are all truly blessed and it feels good to help those less fortunate.  So far we have provided 24 people with access to clean water for life and raised $600!  If you do walk, please take a pic and send it over.

Here's a quick sample.  More pics to come :)
After the walk we had all of the participants over for a little BBQ action.  Have a BBQ to go to this Labor Day weekend?  Need to bring a side dish?  Try this Sweet & Crunchy Summer Slaw.  A little sweet, a little tangy, it's a palette pleaser. 
The dressing is mostly made up of a yogurt, honey, mustard and lime.  I can only make a slaw sans mayo, so this is key when looking for a dressing and I just so happened to stumble across a wonderful recipe by The Perfect Pantry.
I loved the addition of cranberries to this slaw.  It was a great added flavor.  A bit surprising, but welcome.
Perfect BBQ side after your Labor Day Weekend Walk for Water and perfect end to a wonderful weekend. 

Sweet & Crunchy Summer Slaw
As adapted from The Perfect Pantry

1/2 small head of red cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 head of broccoli, with stem, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/3 c chopped almonds

1/3 c Greek Yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
2 T Honey
1 1/4 t Dijon Mustard
2 T white wine vinegar

Whisk together dressing ingredients.   Combine slaw ingredients in a large bowl.  Add dressing.  Mix.  Refrigerate a few hours before serving. 

There you have it a very simple slaw.  Bon Appétit!
 And my favorite pic from our skype date!

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Curried Avocado Egg Salad

Pin It Though I am not a big fan of egg salad in general (Mayo = biggest fear), this Avocado Egg Salad was über tasty and a perfect light, filling summer lunch.
It gets its creamy texture from a ripened Haas avocado and Greek Yogurt.  Packed with protein and healthy fat this version will keep you full longer than your average egg salad recipe.
Get perfect hard boiled eggs by placing eggs in a sauce pan just cover in water.  Turn to high heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and turn off heat.  Let sit for about 13 minutes.  Perfectly cooked and no unappetizing grayish ring.

This recipe is proof that you don't need to spend lots of time and money in order to put healthy whole foods on the table.  In fact, this dish comes together in 17 minutes 37 seconds flat, including egg boiling time.

Curried Avocado Egg Salad
As adapted from Never Homemaker

4 organic eggs
1 ripe Haas avocado
1/3 c Greek Yogurt
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 t curry powder (more or less to taste)
salt & pepper
2 whole wheat pitas

Hard boil eggs.  Place in ice bath to cool.  While eggs boil mix mashed avocado, yogurt and pepper.  Peel eggs, chop.  Add to avocado mixture.  Add curry powder, salt and pepper.  Mix.  Serve in a whole wheat warmed pita.

Bon Appétit!

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4 Mile Walk for Water: Update - 9 days left!

Pin It Almost half way to our goal of clean water for 40 people (17 served so far!) at the Labor Day Weekend  Walk for Water Fundraiser.  Please make a donation (directly at the link), share the link, walk & conserve water so we can reach the goal and make a difference in the lives of 40 people.  Only 9 days left!  Can we do it?

The Below Graphic pretty much says it all:

Degrees of Thirst

Created by: www.OnlineAssociatesDegree.com

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Brussels Flower Carpet 2012

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Brussels Flower Carpet was going on this past weekend so we went downtown and checked it out.
Only happening once every other year in Brussels' Grand Place, the carpet is something to see.
Go early to avoid the tourists.  We didn't.
 Made out of Begonias, barks, precious materials, sands, soils and pigments, the carpets theme was Africa.

Unrelated, but also in the weekend's events, we kayaked down the Lesse River in the South of Belgium.  It's not everyday you kayak past an old castle.
Lots of people thought kayaking was a good way to beat the heat.  It was the hottest day ever in Belgium...I may be exaggerating, but I am not complaining.

In other events, I have officially become too lazy to make dinner so I am eating toast with butter and raspberry jam.  It tastes magnificent.... I think I will do this more often. 
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Falafel Inspired Veggie Burger

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Happy Wednesday-Sunday, Belgium!  Yeah, it's Wednesday, but it's a holiday.  I could get used to this.... drinking coffee... morning blogging... and going to check out the Flower Carpet today in Brussels (which only happens every other year)!

Anyway, remember how I said I <3 L'As Du Fallafel ?  While taking the train to Paris on a Wednesday-Sunday afternoon is a possibility... it would make for one spendy falafel.  And I am a girl on a budget.  So I made a veggie burger inspired version of my own.  A little healthier & still some fun. 

Can't beat spending an afternoon on Rue de Rosiers in Paris Fallafel in hand...but a sunny afternoon on my terrace Falafel Inspired Veggie Burger in hand will also do.
Topped with cool creamy homemade Tzatziki sauce, it'll have ya sayin' mmmmm.  I love a good sauce especially when it's healthy.   Not only is the sauce healthy, the burgers are, too!  These healthy burgers are full of protein which we needed after our 5 hour hike the other day.
Start by making the yogurt sauce, which consists of plain yogurt, cucumber, garlic, some freshly chopped dill, white wine vinegar, and some salt and pep.  Let the flavors blend together in the fridge while you make your burgers (longer if possible).  The sauce is a must on these falafel inspired burgers.  
Mix the base (1 can chick peas, rinsed, blended with 2 eggs in a blender or food processor until slightly chunky) with shredded carrots, sliced scallions, chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped hot pepper, lemon zest, fresh cilantro, sunflower seeds and spices.  Once mixed add bread crumbs & mix.  Let stand for 10 minutes before making your burgers.
Form into patties.  We made 5.  Heat your skillet with a little oil and fry 'em up on medium hear.  About 7-10 minutes for each side until browned.  You could also bake for a slightly healthier option.

Falafel Inspired Veggie Burgers
as adapted from Marin Mama Cooks

makes 5 veggie burgers

1 can chick peas (or make your own)
2 eggs
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, shredded
1 small spicy pepper, chopped (optional: depending on your taste buds)
1 T lemon zest
2-3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
2 T sunflower seeds
3/4 t cumin 
1/4 t red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper 
3/4 c whole wheat bread crumbs
1 T olive oil, for frying

For serving:
5 whole wheat pitas
1 red pepper, chopped
1/3 head of red cabbage, chopped
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)

Mix chick peas and egg in a blender or food processor and blend until slightly chunky.  Mix vegetables, seeds and spices to chick pea base.  Salt and Pepper.  Add bread crumbs.  Mix.  Let sit for 10 minutes before making patties.  Form your patties.  Heat a skillet to medium with olive oil.  Fry your burgers each side 7-10 minutes on the first side (or until browned, up the heat if you must).  Flip and brown the other side with the cover on for about 7 minutes.

Serve in a pita with red peppers and cabbage (perfect amount of crunch) and smother in Tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 c plain yogurt (Greek preferred)
1/2-3/4 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped finely
1-2 T fresh dill (depending on your taste)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 t white wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients and chill for one hour before serving.

Bon Appétit!
Also, good with creamy tzatziki on their own! 

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Wallonia: Weekend Hiking Adventure

Pin It I woke up on Saturday morning to Paul looking up different hikes in the Wallonia region of Belgium.  It's been something we have wanted to do for a while, but either the weather didn't permit or we had other plans.  Paul found a 7km hike just outside of Falaen, Belgium that looked interesting so we thought we'd go to the starting point and find the path when we got there.  Apparently, a little more research would have done us right.

We started at the Ruins de Montaigle, as the website said.  We weren't quite sure where to go from there, but within a few minutes we found what we thought was the path
After about 2 hours, through woods and farms fields and even some small villages, we didn't feel like we were going in the right direction (read:  back where we came from) but decided we had invested too much time to back track.  So we carried on.

Good idea?

Not so much.  
But, it was a gorgeous day and we were enjoying ourselves.  Seeing a few interesting things along the way.  We weren't overly concerned.  We were on the path following the red and white stripe sign,  NBD.
We came across some old rail road tracks......
a French WWII memorial site...
& a port-a-potty hanging from the sky.  Strange?  I thought so.

After about 3 1/2 hours, we started to wonder where this path was taking us.  We were getting a little tired, a little hot, a lot thirsty and more than a little bit sick of walking around in the middle of no where.

After about 4 1/2 hours we started thinking this must be some kind of sick joke.  These red and white stripes don't lead anywhere!  Well they lead somewhere, just not where we want to go.

 Then, we started to hear some loud bumping music.  When we came to a clearing, we saw the city of ........Dinant:
Now, we didn't know how far Dinant was, but we knew it wasn't close to where we started.  So this wasn't exactly a good thing.  We decided to continue in the woods on the path and by pass the city.  I know what you're thinking.  After about 10 minutes, I think we could hear each other thinking "is this a good idea or completely nuts?!"  Thankfully we both agreed on the ladder and headed back to the city.  This was our chance to figure our where the heck we were!  While, it was only 7pm and we still had a little over 2 hours of daylight left... we had no idea where this crazy path was even taking us.
Dinant looked like a really cool village, one we definitely have to go back to.  We thought about stopping for a drink, but our responsible halves kicked in (damn them!) and we thought better to figure out our action plan.  At the tourist information we found a map and realized we had gone in a big triangle and would have at least a 3 hour walk to get back to the car.
We decided our best bet would be to head to the train station.  We asked the ticket booth worker if he spoke English, but no such luck... so in our best French we said where we needed to go.  He shook his head "no train."  Luckily, a man and woman overheard us and offered to help.  He translated a bit for us and we explained that we needed to go to Falaen.

The man suggested we go to Maredsous, as there was a bus that would take us there and it isn't too far from Falaen.  The train guy seemed to think this was a good idea.

We looked out the window to the stop and right there was the bus to Maredsous!  The guy told us to run.  We did, but were nervous about what we would do once we got to Maredsous, obviously.

No map + almost dead phone = two lost Americans

I asked the bus driver if he spoke English, again no luck (boy, we are spoiled in Brussels).  I looked out to the man and gave him a pleading look, as if to say PLEASE HELP!!  Thankfully, the driver wasn't in a hurry and the man made it to the bus and explained where we needed to go.  The bus driver shook his head.  He doesn't go to Falaen.  The man asked about us walking from there.  The driver looked at us like we were crazy and said something to the man.  The man then asked if we had a place to stay when we got there, as there would be nothing in the village and it was getting late.

We said our car is at the Ruins de Montaigle.  "The Ruins de Montaigle?" the driver asked.  We shook our head yes.  He said he goes right past the ruins de Montaigle!  Get out.  GET OUT!  Read here:  me going Elaine Benes on the bus driver. 

He didn't seem to mind.  We forked over the 6 Euro and after about a 15-20 minute private bus ride (without stops) got dropped off directly  at our car just outside the Ruins de Montaigle. 
Best. Timing. Ever.
We were literally jumping for joy.  Needless to say, go ahead and go to the Ruins de Montaigle, but don't follow the red and white striped signs.  Who knows where you'll end up!?  I still wonder.  In fact, I am losing sleep over it.  

Next up is a Falafel Inspired Veggie Burger. Nom Nom.  No, I didn't make this when we got home... we went straight to Domino's, got two larges and scarfed them down immediately.  It was amahzing.

What's your craziest hiking adventure? 

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Update: 4 Mile Walk for Water

Pin It While I write this blog post about 60 children will die from a water related illness.  Sixty Children.  It may not be something we want to think about, but it is something we cannot ignore.  Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water related illness.  While a few years ago this number was 15 seconds.  People and organizations like water.org are doing everything in their power to raise awareness and change this reality and you can help.

A little less than a month until the first annual 4 Mile Walk for Water and we have already raised $275 and are over 1/4 of the way to the goal of $1,000.  So far we have served 11 people, meaning we have provided 11 people with access to safe and clean drinking water for life.  We have let a child go to school for the day, a mother go to work, a father sleep at night knowing that he doesn't have to live with the fear that his children could get a severe illness or die from the dirty water they are drinking on a daily basis.  We have made a change.  Click here to learn more about the 4 Mile Walk for Water or make a donation.  Let's make more change.
Thanks to all of those who are already joining in the 4 Mile Walk for Water.  If you want to get involved, it's easy.  Just share the link to the fundraiser and help raise awareness on the water crisis.

Learn the facts @ water.org.  Share the facts @ facebook, twitter, etc.

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Je t'aime Paris.....et Fallafel

Pin It I really wanted to go to the Olympics.  Really bad.  But we couldn't get tickets.  So we went to Paris instead.  Not too shabby.
 Spent the day walking around the gardens at Versailles.
Had a picnic at the "Little Venice" in Versailles.  It was interesting to watch all of the different "rowing" styles.  Clearly, some of these people haven't been watching the Olympics!
The gardens were in full bloom and the musical fountains were in full swing.  Though full of tourists, it was a little magical.
The next day was mostly about food.  Right by our hotel was the cutest bakery in Montmatre, Coquelicot (Métro Abessess).  Here, they serve coffee by the bowl.  Literally. Nothing like a bowl-o-joe to get you going in the am.
We'll be stopping here again when we stay at the same hotel in October.  Next time, I plan on trying the almond and pistachio croissants, which according to a yelp review are to die for.  The French sure know how to do bread & pastries.  Though, I have to have faith in my Belgian friends and am planning on trying this Boulangerie this weekend!  I'll let you know how it compares.  I doubt they will serve my coffee in a bowl which is a plus, especially to get you jacked up for a day of free museum viewing.  All of the museums in Paris are free on the first Sunday of the month.  We went to Musée D'Orsay, which has an amazing Impressionist collection.  A must see when visiting.
After an afternoon of Impressionism and Pointillism, we were hungry.  So like any other Sunday in Paris, we headed to L'As du Fallafel on Rue de Rosiers 34.  
If you are looking for this institution, you will know when you are getting close, because people eating fallafels are littered everywhere in the surrounding streets.
Though the line may seem long, they really know how to operate this joint.   You will have your fallafel in hand in no time.
Can I get a shirt that says I <3 L'As du Fallafel?
Exhibit A: Fallafel in hand

How to order a Fallafel to go @ L'As Du Fallafel:

1.)  Follow the yellow napkin wrapped falafel eating people (get off at Métro St. Paul).
2.)  When you arrive, order from the guy shouting something about a fallafel in French.  Pay him and he'll give you a ticket
3.)  Get in the line on your left.
4.)  Hand the Falafel making men your ticket (I swear they are faster than Jimmy John's and we all know Jimmy John's is freaky fast.
5.)  Eat your falafel in a nearby park or on the curb if it suits you.  It suits me.

Even the NYT loves L'As Du Fallafel.  Keep in mind they are closed on Saturdays, as it's the Jewish Sabbath.  For me, this area is the best spot to spend a Sunday in Paris.

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