Tasty Tuesday #7: Tempeh and Black Bean Taco Bowls

Good morning! I hope all of you are having a wonderful morning and a great week. 🙂 It’s hot here in the windy city, so I got my run in early this morning. I am so happy I did, even though I have the day off work, because holy cow it’s getting humid! I had another good run this morning of 3 miles at 7:35 pace.  🙂 I have a ways to go before getting to where I was before my injury, but I am starting to feel more like my old self. I still have to build up my mileage slowly and continue my PT exercises, but at least my run pace is starting to come down as I get back into shape!

Now, for the real reason I am here…Tasty Tuesday! This week’s Tasty Tuesday is a taco recipe because I am a little too excited about Taco Tuesday! I know, I know I already shared a taco recipe with all of you last week….BUT tacos are so tasty and this recipe is different! I love both recipes, but these tacos are a little more filling than the black bean and quinoa ones from last week. Plus, I absolutely love meals in a bowl and anything that is made with black beans, if you guys could not tell. 😛 These tempeh and black bean taco bowls are tasty, filling, full of protein, healthy, and last, but not least they are vegan. Bonus points for how quick they are to make! So do yourself a favor and make tacos tonight! I do have to confess that I made these last night…I could not wait for taco Tuesday! haha. I really want to make them again tonight because they are so delicious…. Without further ado here is the recipe! 🙂

Tempeh and Black Bean Taco Bowls

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 packet taco seasoning (I used mild, but if you like things spicy I’d use medium or hot) 

1 cup rice of your choice (I used Jasmine rice)

1 package of tempeh (I used Lightlife original)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

1 cup of fresh or frozen peppers

oil (as needed)

Optional: red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, tortilla chips

1. Prepare the rice according to the directions on the package.

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2. Mix the packet of taco seasoning with water, according to the package directions. Set aside.

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3. Cut the tempeh into bite sized pieces.

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4. Let the tempeh marinate in the taco seasoning mixture for 5-10 minutes.

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5. Sauté the tempeh in oil and spoon some of the taco seasoning mixture into the frying pan for added flavor. Fry until the tempeh starts to brown ( ~ 10 minutes).

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6.  In the meantime, sauté the peppers in oil. Add the drained and rinsed black beans once the peppers are almost fully cooked (~10 minutes.). Optional: for more flavor add some of the taco seasoning mixture to the pepper and black beans too.

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7. Once everything is fully cooked, serve! Spoon the rice into bowls, add the tempeh, black bean/ pepper mixture, and any desired toppings (salsa,red pepper flakes, pico de gallo, etc). Mix it all together! If bowls aren’t your thing, serve in a warm tortilla! YUM!! 🙂

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I hope all of you have a great day and more importantly, a happy Taco Tuesday (am I the only one who thinks of the Lego movie?)!

Today’s question: Any fun plans this week or weekend? I’m going to Lollapalooza this weekend and I cannot wait! 🙂

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Tasty Tuesday #6: Brick’s restaurant review

Good evening, friends! I hope all of you are having a great Tuesday. Today I wanted to try something new and do my first ever restaurant review on this blog. Living in Chicago has given me nearly unlimited access to pizza, but I have made it my mission to find the best tasting thin crust and deep dish pizza places in the windy city. Did I succeed?

Today’s review is about Brick’s, a tiny little pizza place located at 1909 N Lincoln Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood (http://brickschicago.com/index.html). They have the best tasting thin crust pizza I have tasted in the city so far! I went there twice in this last week alone…Granted, I normally only go out to eat once or twice a month, but this was worthwhile exception! I went out to Brick’s on Wednesday for a date with my boyfriend, but then again Sunday with our friend from college who was in town. We decided he needed to try Brick’s too. He had his share of deep dish during his visit and was game for something new. He was not disappointed!

Brick’s is so tiny that it is easy to miss. The restaurant is located in what looks like a basement, but do not let that scare you away. Once you go down the stairs and open the door you are instantly in a dimly lit, but quaint and welcoming little restaurant. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables. They have a few small tables with candles perfect for couples and some larger tables and booths for groups. They usually have a game on the TV and some music playing in the background. It is noisy, but not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation. During both my visits this week our waitress was nice and checked on us often. All the employees were friendly in general.

The first thing I did during both my visits in the last week was order a beer. They have a pretty extensive beer and wine list. They also have a decent bar. What my boyfriend and I really like about Brick’s is that they have drink specials during the week Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday the Wisconsin beers were half price, so my boyfriend’s can of Schlitz was $1.50 and my bottle of Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge was $2.50. On Sunday, there was not any drink specials so we all ordered cans of Schlitz. You cannot really beat $3 cans in Chicago… It’s not bad for a “cheaper” beer either.

Bricks vegetarian pizza

For the date on Wednesday, my boyfriend and I tried the vegetarian specialty pizza (pictured above). We split a 14 inch, but had plenty of leftovers. In terms of pricing, the 14 inch was $22.95, so not too bad! Brick’s has several vegetarian specialty pizzas or you can create your own. They also have meat pizzas for those of you that eat meat. The vegetarian was amazing. It had green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and is topped with basil. It was perfectly crispy, but not burned. They did not go overboard on the cheese which was good. I like deep dish, but it almost has too much cheese…When I eat thin crust I like one that is easy on the cheese, crispy, and full of veggies.

When our friend was in town on Sunday, I ordered a 10 inch vegetarian pizza (again!). My boyfriend and our friend split one of the pizza specials: a 12 inch spicy pizza with pork and veggies. I cannot remember the exact name of the pizza. The 10 inch was $12.00 and the 12 inch was $18.50. I had leftovers on Sunday, but they did not. The leftovers were almost as delicious as eating in the restaurant. The leftovers were still crispy, not soggy. As a side note I cannot stand cold pizza, I always have to reheat my leftovers. 😛

Overall, both my boyfriend and I loved the vegetarian pizza.  I think he liked it better than that one with meat that he split with our friend on Sunday. Our friend enjoyed Brick’s too! It is not only a great place for a date, but also a fun place to hang with friends or to take out-of-towners to. The pizza tastes wonderful, it’s vegetarian friendly, they have a decent drink menu, weekly drink specials, and it won’t break your wallet. I highly recommend checking out Brick’s if you live in Chicago or if you are visiting. 🙂

I MAY have found the best thin crust pizza in the city, but stay tuned! I have many more pizza places to try. Maybe next time I’ll review a deep dish place!

Do you prefer deep dish or thin crust? What’s your favorite pizza place? Have you ever been to Brick’s?

Tasty Tuesday #5: Pasta Bean Casserole

Good evening friends! Sorry I have been MIA for a while. It’s been a little crazy on my end as I just got a part time job (after a month of searching, yay!). I had orientation for my part time job on Friday and my first day of work was today. I am a cashier at a local grocery store and wow today was crazy! I learned so much in one shift and definitely have room to improve. I hope to do a better job tomorrow, though, and I’m sure the first day is the hardest just like anything in life. Also, my nutrition classes begin next Monday already… Where has summer gone?!

Anyway, today I wanted to share with all of you a recipe that my boyfriend’s mom sent us. She found it in a vegetarian cookbook, but I am not sure what it is called. We made several changes to the original. If any of you want to know where the original recipe came from I can ask her, just comment below that you want the original. This recipe is delicious, healthy, not too spicy (can be adjusted though), quick, and filling. My boyfriend basically cooked the entire batch tonight as I was resting after my first work shift. I really have a keeper- he’s sweet, eats vegetarian food with me, and can cook! 😛 I’m a lucky girl. 🙂

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Pasta bean casserole

yield: 4-5 generous servings

ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1/2 bag frozen sweet peppers OR 1/2-1 whole chopped sweet or green pepper

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 14 oz can tomato sauce

1.5-2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 box of your favorite pasta (we typically use bowtie or wagon wheel)

1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1. In a medium or large saucepan heat the 2 tablespoons oil on medium high. Add the peppers and cook until they are tender (about 3 minutes).

2. Stir in the chili powder and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic powder, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture often.

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4. In another smaller saucepan cook the pasta according to the directions on the box or package.

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5. Once the pasta is cooked stir it into the tomato mixture.

6. Add the kidney beans to the tomato-pasta mixture and cook until the beans are thoroughly heated. Serve the casserole!

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What is your favorite vegetarian Mexican style food? I’m looking for more vegetarian Mexican style recipes to try so please share ideas with me here if you have any. Have a great night everyone! 🙂

Tasty Tuesday #4: easy, peasy black bean salsa

Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted a black bean recipe! Since black beans are one of my favorite foods and what inspired the name of this blog, I figured it was time for another black bean recipe. This black bean salsa is super easy to make, relatively healthy, and only takes about 5 minutes from start to finish. It would probably taste even better if you made your own salsa from scratch, but then it would take a little longer to make. This recipe is courtesy of my boyfriend and his sister. It will definitely be a part of our snack rotation here from now on. It tastes wonderful with tortilla or pita chips. 🙂

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easy, peasy black bean salsa

ingredients:

1 can of organic black beans

2/3 cup of salsa (we used On The Border Medium Salsa)

steps:

1. Drain and rinse a can of black beans.

2. Put the uncooked and rinsed black beans and 2/3 cup of salsa in a food processor.

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3.  Puree the black beans and salsa until relatively smooth.

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3. Store the salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


While this salsa is delicious, I’d still have to say homemade black bean burgers are my favorite way to eat black beans. I posted a recipe for black bean burgers previously if any of you are curious . I’m thinking of making black bean brownies in the near future and featuring them on this blog, but we will see! I am always searching for new recipes using black beans so stay tuned. 😛 Have a great night everyone!

Have any of you ever had black bean salsa before? Also, do any of you have any recipes for homemade salsa you’d be willing to share with me? If so comment here or email me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com.

Tasty Tuesday #3 stir fry edition & exciting news

Hi friends! I hope you all have had a wonderful Tuesday so far. Mine has been filled with a whole lot of nothing…in a good way though! I wasn’t feeling very well so I spent most of the day resting, reading, and watching Netflix. My boyfriend was kind enough to have a Netflix marathon with me.

I highly recommend “Spinning Plates”, one of the documentaries we watched today. It profiles three very different restaurants and gives you an inside look at their ideas, how the restaurants are run, and what inspired their restaurants. One of the restaurants featured in the documentary is Alinea, right here in Chicago. They are rated three stars. the highest Michelin rating given to a restaurant and thus an expensive place to eat. I think it costs over $200 to eat there! Regardless, it was cool to learn about a restaurant not too far from where I live, about the Michelin rating system,  and about what owning/running a restaurant is actually like. I will say Alinea is just a LITTLE bit out of my price range though ;).

Well… sorry for the random tangent about Netflix, now onto what I really wanted to share with you all: a simple stir fry recipe! This stir fry is super easy to make and can be modified in many ways, from the vegetables you use to the protein source you chose. I’ll admit the pictures and recipe are actually from our dinner Sunday, but it’s been a few days since I posted so I thought I’d still share the recipe today. It was my first time using the Wok my boyfriend’s parents got me for my birthday a few months ago and I have to say if you have a Wok, use it! It is much more fun and easier to stir fry in a Wok than a traditional frying pan. This recipe is super easy and takes under a half hour from start to finish, perfect for those busy nights. 🙂

Simple Vegetarian Stir Fry

yield: 3-4 servings

ingredients

1 cup of Jasmine rice plus 2 cups of water (or brown rice)

1/2-1 block of extra firm tofu

2 bell peppers

1 zucchini

1 can of water chestnuts

canola oil

seasoning ingredients

1 Sun-bird stir fry seasoning mix (doesn’t have MSG!)

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup water

dash of ginger

1. Clean the bell peppers and zucchini. Peel the zucchini. Chop the vegetables.

2. Prepare the rice as indicated on the package, If using Jasmine rice I recommend 2 parts water to one part rice for tasty “sticky” rice.

3. Put some canola oil in the Wok and turn the heat on high.

4. After a couple of minutes add the veggies to the Wok.

5. Press the water out of the block of tofu and then chop.

6. Add the tofu to the veggie mixture in the Wok and stir fry for a few minutes.

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7. Prepare the seasoning as indicated on the stir fry seasoning mix packet (mix the contents of the packet, the sugar, soy sauce, and water together).

8. Add the water chestnuts to the Wok as well as the seasoning mixture once the tofu and veggies have started to brown.

9. Stir fry the entire mixture until thickened (approx. one minute).

10. Serve the stir fry over the rice and add a dash of ginger if desired.

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I probably make tofu stir once a week because I like it so much and it’s easy! I think it would be extra tasty with some stir fried pineapple too.  My boyfriend commented that since we make stir fry so much we need to make up our own seasoning mixture and I agree with him 100%. We made a spicier one with jalapeños once, but other than that we usually just use that seasoning mixture. Expect more stir fry recipes in the future as we experiment/try other seasoning combinations/ stir fry recipes! 🙂

Now onto my exciting news!

running update

As some of you already know, I am recovering from a case of IT band syndrome and have not been able to run much for the last month. Well, on Monday, my boyfriend and I went to a local running store to join in on their fun run night. It ended up being a pain free three miler for me! I did yoga before and after the run and rolled out my awful IT band with bruises to prove it, but a day later my IT band is still no tighter than before! Finger crossed, but it looks like after an entire month of no running I’m BACK at it! I’m am still going to take it very slow- running every other day (with cross training in between), but with continued yoga, rolling out, and my IT band rehabilitation exercises I am hoping to be back for good. I long to run further distances and to start training for another race, but I take a completely pain free run as a small victory and that definitely has made my week so far!

Well, friends I hope you all have an awesome night!

What Netflix documentary would you highly recommend? Also, what is your favorite way to season stir fry?

All moved in (finally) & tasty Tuesday #2-black bean burger edition

Good evening. I hope you all are having a great day! As of today, I’m happy to say I’m finally all moved into my apartment and I now have Wi-Fi here! It’s been a busy, but fun few days.

Move in/ last few days recap:

Saturday: Saturday was moving day. Once all our items were put into the apartment we cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and started unpacking and arranging the place. We did take a break to check out a local pizza place, as it is Chicago after all. 😛 I got a thin crust individual red pepper and basil pizza and my boyfriend got an individual of one of their specialty pizzas with bacon, chicken, jalapeños, and some other things. In all the craziness of moving I forgot to take pictures of the pizzas. We will definitely be back there, though, as it’s not far from our apartment, reasonably priced, and delicious!

Sunday: The first order of business on Sunday was grocery shopping. Luckily, there is a decent grocery store within a half mile of our apartment. The grocery bill was a little more expensive than we were expecting, though. I’m going to try to figure out good things to make that are relatively healthy, but not super expensive. Stay tuned as healthy grocery shopping on a budget in Chicago may be a potential topic here. :P. After grocery shopping, my boyfriend and I decided to try a local coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up and some Wi-Fi. We both had homework and studying to do for our summer classes. The coffee shop we went to had plenty of seating, was cute, and my iced almond milk latte was divine. My only complaint is that it was a pricey coffee shop so this will definitely be an occasional treat.

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After some homework I finished unpacking all my clothes and we rearranged the main room to utilize space better. We live in a studio apartment, but it is spacious as far as studios are concerned. Also, the kitchen here is actually bigger than the kitchen I had in college when I lived in a house with five people!

Monday: Monday was a pretty laid back day, especially because we were already unpacked. My boyfriend convinced me to try a short run with him despite my IT band injury. It has been almost a month since my half marathon and the discovery of my IT band injury so I was a little nervous. IT band injuries can heal in as soon as a week or two or take several months. In my two previous cases of IT band injuries I fell into the few months category. Maybe it took me longer in the past because in college, as a DI cross country/track runner, I still had to get aerobic training in and couldn’t just take some time off during my injuries.

Well, anyway, I tried a short run with my boyfriend and was fine! I was so shocked that my IT band didn’t lock up and that I was not in excruciating pain during the run! This time around I took nearly two weeks off of all forms of aerobic exercise so maybe that helped. I’m still completely shocked,  This short, slow run was basically all I could handle distance wise and I’m going to be cautiously

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optimistic as later on Monday night my IT band felt tighter. And now today (Tuesday) it is a little sore. Sad smile I’m going to be smart and gradually add in running every other day or every two days and keep up with my rehabilitation exercises and yoga. My fingers are crossed that I am on my way back to running healthy and can still run a second half marathon this fall! For dinner we made my favorite food- black bean burgers! My boyfriend also really likes them so that’s a bonus! I will share the recipe below. Smile

Today: I had my summer class today. but while I was gone the guy came to our apartment and installed the cable and Internet. Yay Wi-Fi! Finally! Then after I got back from class, my boyfriend and I ran to the store and explored the area near our apartment more. It looks like we are going on a bike ride later this evening and then cooking dinner. I can’t believe it’s already evening! I guess time goes by quickly when you have class for three or four hours.

Tasty Tuesday-black bean burgers

This recipe is inspired by the Simplest Bean Burgers (pg 660) in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman and the Create-Your-Own Veggie Burger Recipe in The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic. I personally don’t add onion, but I included it here because I am guessing most people like onions in their black bean burgers.

yield: 4 black bean burgers

ingredients:

1 can of black beans (preferably lower sodium ones)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1 small onion diced

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder with parsley or chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

water as needed to help form black bean burgers

vegetable oil for cooking

1. Drain and rinse the can of black beans. Mash the black beans in a bowl or using a food processor (TIP: putting the black beans in the microwave for a minute may make them easier to mash).

2. Add 1/2 cup oats, the spices, and soy sauce to the black bean mixture. Add some water and mix everything together (The amount of water needed will vary, but will probably be a few tablespoons. You just need them to be moist enough to roll into patties).

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3. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the skillet and turn the heat to medium.

4. Form the black bean mixture into patties

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5. Cook patties until nicely browned (about five minutes) and then flip and cook the other side until browned.

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I usually serve the black bean burgers with steamed vegetables or rice. Add any extra toppings that you desire such as tomatoes or lettuce. They also taste good topped with BBQ sauce.

Besides being delicious, another bonus of black bean burgers is that they aren’t very expensive to make, but still healthy. They will definitely be a regular in our dinner rotation!

What is your favorite thing to cook with black beans?

Tasty Tuesday #1- my favorite snacks

Good evening! I don’t know about you, but I just finished watching the USA vs. Belgium World Cup game. It was a slow moving game until it went into extra time where both teams were 0-0 initially.  Belgium scored twice during the extra time and USA scored once at minute 106. Belgium will advance to the quarter finals against Argentina. What a heartbreaker for the USA, but I am still proud of my country and they fought hard. I am happy I was able to watch the game live! I have a summer class once a week on Tuesdays and for the last few weeks I’ve had to commute from home to class for a total commute time of nearly 4 hours. I got out of class early today and my commute took less time than normal so I was able to catch the game! This is my last week of a long commute though, thankfully! I move to my apartment this weekend and I will be much closer to my class there.  🙂

My favorite snacks

I am a big fan of snacks. In fact, I LOVE to snack! I’m more of a grazer than a three meals a day kind of girl. I’d rather eat smaller meals/snacks more often during the day. The amount of meals/snacks I eat in a day really just depends on what workouts I am doing and how my body feels. For tasty Tuesday I thought it would be fitting to discuss something food related so, I thought I would share five of my favorite snacks right now.  I try to eat healthy most of the time and my snacks reflect this. I do think that moderation is key and a little dessert or processed food every once in a while shouldn’t hurt or jeopardize your health though. 😉

1. Smoothies. I absolutely love smoothies! I  typically make mine with fresh or frozen fruit, vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, and almond milk. I also like to freeze my smoothies and eat them with a spoon, kind of like ice cream. I’ve been eating frozen smoothies a lot lately. 🙂  I am going to eat this cherry smoothie later, once it is frozen:

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2. Hummus with pretzels and/or carrots. I also love hummus and I’ve been eating Sabra original and Tribe sweet red pepper or original lately. Both brands are delicious, but I really need to learn how to make my own hummus because it is probably a lot cheaper.

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3.Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips. When I’m craving something sweet this is my go to snack. It tastes especially good if you put the Greek yogurt and dark chocolate chips in the freezer for a bit. My favorites are Oikos vanilla or plain Greek yogurt and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.

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4. Homemade energy bars. My current favorite homemade energy bar is the banana oat energy bar from the Runner’s world cookbook.  I also really like homemade energy bars with peanut butter such as the ones I made and posted here on this blog last Saturday.

5. Popcorn. Most microwave and bagged popcorn are high in fat and full of unrecognizable ingredients which is unfortunate because popcorn is delicious and can be healthy. Thankfully, if you pop your own in an air popper you can turn it into a healthy snack. I typically eat air popped popcorn plain or with a little salt or cinnamon sugar. As far as microwave popcorn goes, Orville Redenbacher’s Simply Salted is the most “natural” I could find in terms of unrecognizable ingredients. I believe it just has popcorn, oil, and salt and I eat it sometimes instead of air popped. I also enjoy  an occasional bag of microwave kettle corn.

What are your favorite snacks right now? Also, any suggestions on toppings for air popped popcorn?