January Foodie Penpals

Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean organizes Foodie Penpals every month.  Participants are assigned a pen pal and send a fun, food package by the 15th of the month, with contents that add up to no more than $15.  In February it’s going global–to Canada.  All of the details are at the end of the post…if you’re interested, get in touch with Lindsay by February 4th!

This was my first month participating…I loved it!  I was the kid who had penpals growing up.  I loved writing letters, receiving letters with exotic stamps, and learning more about people my age living across the world.  At one time I had penpals in Holland, Japan, U.S.S.R. (that’s what it was back then), Italy, Sweden, and Spain.  I even met my Italian penpal a number of years ago–it was so fun to be all grown up and meet someone I’d been exchanging letters with for years.

I was paired up with Julie over at ROJ Running–you can check out her blog to see what I sent her.

On to the exciting package that showed up at my doorstep!  Jessica from Fit Talker (and Eater) sent me a box of delicious goodies!  Check out her blog–she posts spin workouts and writes about all sorts of fitness and all-around life-related posts.

The first clever thing that jumped out at me was the Jessica used pages from workout magazines as the packing paper.  Loved that!


Jessica outdid herself!

January Goodies from fittalker.wordpress.com

Cucumber Dill Lentil Chips–ate these with hummus and enjoyed them
Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi–I’d never seen WW gnocchi and appreciate that they are high in fiber.  I haven’t made these yet but I know they’ll be great for a cold winter comfort-food kind of night.
–  Peach Preserves–delicious!  Big chunks of peaches.  Great on AM toast!
Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit Bars — these went straight into my gym bag as an emergency pre-workout snack.  They are 100% fruit!
 – Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute— I know I’m behind the blogging times with this one, but I’d never tried it.  Love it!  It’s salt-free which is a big (+) for me because I just do not enjoy salty food or seasonings.  I put this in my 5-ingredient bean dip and tried it on roasted veggies.  A tasty everyday seasoning.

Source: AddictedtoCostco.com

Mia Dolci Cinnamon Crisp Cookies–Immediately upon opening these, the QAG dove in to grab a hand full.  I have a tendency to first smell new food (a quirk, I know), and the smell reminded me of the Royal Danish butter cookies that my grandmother always used to have at her house.  (My favorites were the pretzel-shaped cookies – even though they all tasted the same!)
The cinnamon cookies are light and flavorful!

So…a big thank you to Jessica for a fun package and a big thank you to Lindsay for organizing Foodie Penpals!  It was really fun to participate…I got to “know” (virtually) new bloggers and try new treats–a Win, Win!  I’m excited to participate in February.

Foodie Penpal Details

-On the 5th of every month, you receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

If you’re interested in participating for February, please send  an email to Lindsay by February 4th at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:

-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
– Whether you are a US or Canadian Resident

Noshing – 5 Ingredient Bean Dip

I have a super easy recipe for you today–5 Ingredient Bean Dip.  It may even take less than 5 minutes to assemble.  I’ve made this using many different variations–feel free to experiment with what you have on hand.

Easy Bean Dip made with pinto beans

5 Ingredient Bean Dip
*1 can of beans, rinsed and drained (I recommend cannellini, pinto, or navy)
*Juice of 1 lime
*Cilantro or parsley (use enough to fit your tastes)
*1 tsp cumin
*A dash of garlic salt
*Optional – tahini or a splash of apple cider vinegar 

1.  Add the beans, lime juice, cilantro, and seasonings to a food processor.
2.  Blend until smooth (add 1/2 tsp tahini or a dash of apple cider vinegar if the dip needs to be smoother or appears dry)
3.   Enjoy!

I like to keep a dish of this on-hand for veggies.  It’s oil free and low in fat (if you don’t use the tahini), tastes fresh and delicious.

Navy Bean Dip with Roasted Pepper

Friday I made another version of this dip and it may be the *best* dip/take on hummus to come out of my Cuisinart!  The trick:  roasted peppers.  I used the same base as above (navy beans) and added roasted peppers.  Wow!  Delicious.  This was a good way to use up the small sweet peppers that were starting to wilt.  I de-seeded them, sprinkled with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, roasted at 400 degrees for about 15 min (took them out when the skin started to blacken).  Navy beans make for a very creamy dip and the roasted peppers give this a smoky, hearty flavor.

Question:  What’s your favorite healthy dip?