Spicy Paprika-Dusted Spaghetti Squash Seeds

The above is just a fancy way of saying I roasted spaghetti squash seeds and threw a bunch of good spices on them. Consider it your reward for the nuisance that is figuring out how the hell to cut a squash in half without slicing your hand off, pulling your tricep (Life-changing tip: You can roast it whole, or throw it in the oven for 10 minutes to soften up, and then cut it in half), or both.

It’s so easy, and the result is a real treat. Eat them as a snack (you’ll never pay $4 for over-salted, under-seasoned sunflower seeds again) or toss them into salads as a crunchy topper or sprinkle over warm dishes as a seasonal garnish.

The ugly before…

The prettier after…
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Seeds of one spaghetti squash, scraped out
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whatever other seasonings you want slash have on hand
1. Line tinfoil with spaghetti squash seeds. Pour olive oil and spices over and toss with hands until evenly coated.
2. Roast in 200° oven for 20 minutes, or until seeds have reached desired crispy-ness. 
Feel free to add to main dish, like I did below in this eggplant-onion saute, but make sure you don’t try one before stirring into the mix (because once you pop one, they’ll probably all be gone before you make it to this step)

3 Surprising Pantry Staples Vegans Can’t Live Without

PETA’s Libby Awards made me really happy. Best vegan cheese: Food for Lovers queso cheese? Yay! Best vegan-friendly restaurant chain: Tropical Smoothie Cafe? Double Yay! (Can’t get enough of their Beyond Meat options) Best vegan meat: Gardein Sizzling Schezuan Beefless Strips? Got ’em in my freezer and can’t wait to toss ’em into this Chinese Stirfry tonight from The Ginger People. And best vegan snack: Dole Banana Dippers with Almonds and Dark Chocolate make a great friend for any sweet tooth, if you ask me. But here are a few simpler treasure troves of vegan deliciousness that you can find at almost any supermarket. P.S. Your stomach will thank you if you start throwing them into your rotation more often.

1. Really good cinnamon.

I love Frontier’s Organic Vietnamese cinnamon, but any nice variety will do. Add it to the obvious dishes like oatmeal and smoothies, but it also makes a welcome addition stirred into savory meals like stews or spicy marinades.

2. Rice Cakes.

Sounds a bit strange to ask you, dear readers (all 12 of you!), to keep these crunchy cakes on hand, but they’re a lifesaver when you’re in a pinch the day or two before grocery shopping. I crumble them up into a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing as makeshift croutons or have them for breakfast with a thick layer of almond butter, banana slices and a sprinkle of that ever-handy cinnamon on top.

3. Nutritional Yeast.

I’m consistently amazed on how well these bits of flaky goodness (you can buy it powdered too) dazzle in pasta dishes that call for parm or mixed into a big tossed salad. Basically, whenever I feel like I’ve been forgetful with taking that B12 supplement, I sprinkle these vitamin B12 flakes over whatever I’m eating.

Easy Vegan Superbowl Chili Everyone Will Enjoy

Ah, gameday. Who wants to labor in the kitchen for hours on end when you can prepare something easy and simple in a snap?

1. Start with a can of preferred beans (I went with  Bush’s pinto beans in a chili sauce, but quickly rinsed them under water to slash some excess sodium).

2. Gather your veggies, for a meaty texture, I turned to eggplant and mushrooms. I also had carrots and onions on hand so I added those to the mix. Feel free to experiment!

3. Chop, chop, chop. 

4. Keep chopping away. Hand hurt yet? Rub a little ground chipotle or smoked paprika to your veggies to infuse a bit of a kick. Or, if you want to keep it milder, try sprinkling some cinnamon on your veggie pile.

5. Sautee veggies on stovetop. Meanwhile, boil carrots in water until tender.When you’re done with the carrots, use the boiling water to get one cup of your favorite rice going (I went with RiceSelect Royal Blend Texmati light brown rice with flaxseed, whole wheat pearl cous cous and black lentils because I had it in my pantry, but any simple rice will do). I have no idea if this adds any health benefits, but since using leftover boiling water from greens apparently does, can’t hurt and it lends a nice flavor to the rice.

6. Combine all ingredients together in pot, mash beans around and mix thoroughly. Go Seahawks!

…and yes, I’m basing my rooting decisions on the fact that I’ve been to the Gorge (Thanks, Jake!) but never Red Rocks (Broncos).  I know…

How Do You Get Fresh Herbs Year Round?

Yeah, I had no idea either. Until I stumbled upon my new vegan flavor boosting obsession: Litehouse Freeze-Dried Herbs. Since one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to not sprinkle sea salt as much, on well, everything, I tried the instantly fresh salad herb blend (parsley, red onions, chives, shallots, garlic and dill). All you do is add a bit of water once you sprinkle some out to de-freeze dry them, and voila! Fresh herbs in a jiffy on a raw tomato dish, but the blends also work great in soups, pasta sauces and sprinkled atop baked potatoes. They also have other varieties like basil and oregano so if your winter garden is anything like mine and a #wintergardenfail, having these in your pantry makes flavorful cooking easy and more affordable than that $9 parsley bunch you bought for a recipe calling for a tablespoon just to have 80% of it go bad before you can even use the rest…