Posts Tagged With: Food

WIAW Oats, Kale, and Chipotle

My first WIAW! I love looking at everyone’s mid-week eats and decided to join in the fun.  Being the literal person that I am, I took “What I Ate Wednesday” to mean to photograph and post everything consumed today, Wednesday. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t even have a foot out the door this morning and I noticed WIAW posts popping up. Apparently most people post what they ate last Wednesday, or what they ate the previous day, or any other day they choose. Maybe this is why it’s not called “What I Ate ON Wednesday”. 😦 Ah, the omission of one little word. For me, this revelation means that today’s entry is being posted later than most.
WIAW Title Nine Lunch Bag

4 out of my 5 (or 6) meals are generally eaten at work, which means presentation lacks while function wins. I am still on the hunt for the perfect clean eating cooler or bento box. Until then, I bring all my eats in glass (or a few plastic) containers and baggies, and haul them in a tote bag. We visited the Title Nine store in Madison over the weekend, and they packaged my purchase in this cheerful little bag which has now become my temporary lunch tote.

Meal 1: Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats

WIAW Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are so easy! I prefer my oats warm, especially when your furnace goes out on one of the coldest nights of the year; you really don’t want cold oats. I mix it up the night before, put in the fridge, and when I get to work I microwave for 30 seconds to take the chill off. This particular combo was so tasty! I also prefer my oats pretty thick, so if you like yours a bit more watery, wait until morning to see how it looks and add more almond milk as needed. For me, this is the perfect ratio for thick & creamy oats. Here’s my little “recipe”:

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Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 T Dried Tart Cherries
  • 1 T Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams

Directions

  1. Mix oats, almond milk, and cherries in a covered container and place in fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning, microwave container for 30 seconds (or eat cold, if you are into that).
  3. Top with chocolate peanut butter.

Serves 1
288 calories, 42 carbs, 12 fat, 9 protein

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I also added some fresh sliced strawberries to today’s oats.

Meal 2: Alouette Spreadable Italian Herb Cheese Portion with Crunchmaster Crackers

WIAW Crunchmaster Crackers from Costco

These are the new competition to Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges. They come in foil-wrapped 40-calorie portions which makes it easy to throw in a lunch bag. Very smooth and easy to spread. These Crunchmaster Multigrain Crackers are my current favorite cracker. We buy a big box at Costco. They are gluten-free, but do contain soy from the tamari (soy sauce) they use to flavor it with.

Meal 3: Raw Kale Salad with Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds & Poppyseed Dressing, Topped with Sliced Cucumbers, Hard-Boiled Eggs & Baby Carrots

WIAW Kale Salad

WIAW Eggs and Carrots

This bagged Sweet Kale Salad by Eat Smart is pretty good! It contains raw finely chopped broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and chicory with a packet of dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin seeds for a topping. It also comes with a poppyseed dressing which is quite good and works well with the greens. I topped my salad with some cucumbers for a watery crunch, and two hard-boiled eggs for protein. I also had some baby carrots (regular carrots are preferred, but these were actually cheaper that week).

Meal 4: Chobani Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt & Earnest Eats Superfood Trail Mix Bar

WIAW Chobani and Earnest Eats

My favorite Chobani flavor. It was my favorite last year, and still is today. I also wanted something chewy, and these bars from Earnest Eats get the job done.

WIAW Starbucks Americano

On my way home from work, I stopped for an Americano at Starbucks for my evening winter commute. This was my first coffee of the day! Surprisingly, I did not miss the early morning jolt, but I have to admit that this afternoon cup tasted wonderful and made the scenery of frozen cornfields seem less wicked.

Meal 5: Chipotle Bowl with Brown Rice, Barbacoa, Fajita Vegetables, Tomato Salsa & Green Tomatillo Salsa

WIAW Chipotle Bowl

Normally I’d have a salad at Chipotle, but I had a salad for lunch and wanted something warmer so I went with the bowl topped with lots of Tabasco. I can never finish a whole bowl myself, so I saved half of this and will have it for a snack or lunch tomorrow.

Maybe next week I’ll have to do “What I Ate On Tuesday, But Blogged About On Wednesday” to join in the fun a little earlier. 😉

What was your favorite food of the day? Do you feel that keeping a visual food diary helps to keep you accountable on your nutrition goals? Do you eat most of your meals at work?

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Marker Madness Poker Run

Saturday was the annual Veteran’s Weekend Poker Run, also known as “Marker Madness”. While most poker runs are done on motorcycles–ours was entirely human-powered–a trail running poker run.

Poker Run Trail Running

Weather was on our side, with morning temps in the 50’s, a rarity for a Midwest November. After receiving our first cards and maps, we set off into the woods orienteering-style.

Poker Run Woods

This park doesn’t see a lot of visitors, downed trees criss-crossed the trail and a thick blanket of leaves covering roots and rocks made the experience a bit rustic and wild.

Poker Run Forest Preserve

Combined with dense vegetation and overgrowth, the trail was very narrow and hard to follow in some areas.

The goal was to follow a very basic map and locate the checkpoints. Checkpoints consisted of one of the following:

  • Marker
  • Pumpkin

If you found a marker, you used it to color the location on your map to prove you found it.

Poker Run Checkpoint

Here I am at one of the checkpoints. The marker was dangling in the rafters of a small shelter which meant that I had to climb up on the bench to reach it.

Poker Run Map

My map began to look a little more colorful after finding a series of checkpoints.

Poker Run Pumpkin

Some of the checkpoints didn’t have markers, but instead plastic Halloween pumpkins filled with playing cards. These were few and far between, but if you were lucky to find one, you’d (blindly) draw a card from it to build your poker hand.

After running around the woods coloring and collecting cards we headed back to the shelter to turn in our poker hands.

Poker Run Fire

We were greeted with a warm fire.

Poker Run Breakfast

And a fantastic spread of post-run food.

Poker Run Hash

Like this delectable Apple, Butternut Squash, and Bacon Breakfast Hash made by The Girl with the Green Soup Pot. We brought a thermos full of spicy sausage gravy and biscuits, while others brought fruit, muffins, and more. Runners sure know how to eat!

Poker Run Aerial Map

An aerial detail view from my Garmin data. Much of the run was along the narrow river that separates the park into north and south. Most of the route was flat, but there were a few steep climbs up the bluff to keep things interesting.

This was a fun way to get some exercise, use problem-solving skills, and enjoy the company of friends on a dreary late autumn day.

It is good to be a part of this pack, this crazy pack of trail running souls.

Categories: Running | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Week’s Eats

In a rut and looking for some dinner ideas? Here is what I’ve been making this past week.

Hot Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus

Hot Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus from Eating Bird Food

My Notes: Flavorful and quick! We only used 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper and that was plenty. I’d think that the 1-2 teaspoons the recipe calls for might be too much for most people. You can always start out with less and add more! I added some red and green bell pepper, plus baby spinach, to increase the veggie-ness.

Elana's Pantry Chocolate Chip Scones

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones from The Almond Flour Cookbook

My Notes: Makes 12 (not 16). I wouldn’t call these scones as they lack the classic scone texture, but they taste like excellent pillowy cake-like chocolate chip cookies. Try them! I’ve made these twice in one week – once with dark chocolate chips and once with Enjoy Life! chocolate chips.

Clean Eating Apple Grilled Cheese

Apple Grilled Cheese with Grainy Mustard from Clean Eating

My Notes: Added smoked turkey for more protein, and ate with sliced honeycrisp apple and salt & pepper pop chips! Simple, super fast lunch!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Closeup

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Veggies

Cauliflower Crust Pizza from Janetha at Meals & Moves

My Notes: Made a much smaller pizza than expected. Used up some veggies on hand (bell peppers and mushrooms). Baked on parchment-lined baking sheet, flipping before adding toppings. Not as crispy as I like my crusts, but nice and “bread-like”. Interesting concept, would try again with some changes, but good base recipe if you want to try working with cauliflower dough.

Tandoor Chef Pizza

Tandoor Chef Roasted Eggplant Naan Pizza

Okay, this isn’t homemade, but it’s out of this world! My local co-op had this on sale for $2.24 and it is worth every penny. The eggplant gets crispy, has a slight spice to it, and the naan crust is fantastic. The only downside is that these pizzas are small and soooo good that I can easily eat a whole one myself, and I do.

Clean Eating Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie with Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potato Crust from Clean Eating

My Notes: Liked this more than I thought I would! Good for a cold autumn night. Leftovers were equally as tasty.

All of the above are easy to make and QUICK. I work full-time and don’t have a lot of time and energy to spend hours in the kitchen every night. Most of the recipes I make are quick and require few ingredients.

What are you cooking up this week?

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Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Here is the recipe that I mentioned yesterday: Spicy Stuffed Peppers!

Paleo Gluten-Free Stuffed Bell Peppers

I wanted something inexpensive, simple, and tasty that could be a one-dish oven meal and these peppers did not disappoint. The subtle kick from a sriracha-laced glaze and crushed red pepper-spiked filling gave these peppers a dose of flavor. Shredded raw cauliflower takes the place of rice and cheese, while sneaking in extra nutrients. Nobody would ever guess that cauliflower is inside!

RECIPE

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Spicy Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo-friendly.

Ingredients

  • 6 bell peppers (any color, I used half green and half red)
  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (I like Muir Glen)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower, shredded (see note below)
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut tops off bell peppers, discarding membranes and seeds. Place peppers cut-side up in a 11″ x 7″ baking dish. Save tops for another use.
  3. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onions over medium heat until meat is cooked throughout and no longer pink, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes through shredded cauliflower, stirring until combined and most of liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Turn off heat.
  4. Fill prepared peppers with ground beef mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, sriracha, and worcestershire. Spread tomato sauce mixture over the tops of the peppers, completely covering the beef filling.
  6. Bake uncovered, in a 350 degree oven, for 1 hour.

Serves 6.

Notes:

*Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is gluten-free and was reformulated a few years ago to also be soy-free, but check label if soy is a concern to you, or simply omit.

I use 93% lean ground beef so there is little fat leftover in the skillet. If you find that you have a lot of grease after browning, feel free to drain it before adding the garlic and other ingredients.

How to Shred Cauliflower: Wash and cut cauliflower into small chunks. Attach the shredding disc and stem to your food processor. Drop cauliflower chunks into food processor shoot, pressing down with the tamper. Alternatively, you could also use a cheese grater held over a large bowl. I prefer the food processor because it shreds in perfect small pieces quick and easy. You want the cauliflower to look something like this.

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Gluten-Free Peppers

Step 3: Fill Prepared Peppers with Beef Mixture

Healthy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Step 4: Top with Sriracha-Tomato Sauce

My beautiful friend Dana inspired this recipe, when she recently mentioned that she wanted to make stuffed peppers. Her family has gluten, soy, and dairy restrictions, which is why I wanted to make something that fit that profile. Coupling that with recent concerns of arsenic in rice products, some are also limiting their consumption of rice, while others omit it for the Paleo diet. I decided that cauliflower was a good, healthy substitute to alleviate concerns from all of the above.

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A Healthy Food Community is Growing

Living in a community plagued an abundance of fast food restaurants and more greasy bar food than one could imagine, it is refreshing to see some healthy and creative women in our community combating that.

Rural Girl Soups

Rural Girl Soup to Go

Rural Girl Salad to Go

Last month, I had the opportunity to sample some soups & salads at a special event from a new soup delivery business called Rural Girl Soups. The concept is a weekly soup service that will deliver soup to your front door. The owner, Gail, makes all the soups from scratch and her husband Joe makes the deliveries. You leave a cooler with ice on your front step, similar to an old-fashioned milk delivery service. Rural Girl also sells colorful salads, cookies and resells hand pies from Over The Top Sweets in Elgin, Illinois and Potter’s Crackers from Madison, Wisconsin. (I just wrote about Potter’s in my last blog post, I picked up a package of their Rhubarb Graham Crackers at the Dane County Farmer’s Market!)

Jo Cessna Natural Cook

Then there is Jo Cessna, a lady who is helping us eat healthier one dish at a time. She calls herself A Natural Cook, and focuses on clean eating principles. Jo makes appearances a local events (I first saw her at a Progressive Wine Tasting last year), and does workshops and private or small-group cooking lessons. She also sells recipe cards and has a blog with more good stuff!

It is refreshing to these smart, beautiful, entrepreneurial women leaving their mark to help this community get back to real food. I’m inspired by these women and I want to be part of this real food movement and help to inspire others.

I’ve been busy in my own kitchen trying lots of new recipes. Most of the recipes I have been trying have been Paleo-ish or at least clean eating and gluten-free.

Mustard Lime Chicken

Elana’s Pantry Mustard Lime Chicken on the grill with a side of cauliflower puree. This marinade rocks and is so simple! Lime juice, cilantro, dijon mustard, olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper all mixed up in the Vitamix. I only had time to marinate it for 20 minutes (just long enough for the charcoal to get hot) and it was plenty of time! Loads of flavor here. The best part? I have a leftover breast that I plan on slicing up for a salad for lunch today!

Almond Cheddar Crackers

From the Almond Flour Cookbook, I made these Cheddar Cheese Crackers. They are made from almond flour, salt, baking soda, cheddar cheese, grapeseed oil and eggs. They were super easy to make (the oils from the cheese keep the dough nice and easy to form and roll), using parchment paper keeps things clean and pre-scoring them made it a cinch to snap after baking. I had to increase my bake time by 10 minutes to get them golden brown. They taste very similar to Cheez-Its only much better for you. I used a sharp cheddar from Wisconsin that I grated fresh (way better than the pre-shredded cheese!) and the flavor was great. The only thing I am not thrilled about is the texture which is a bit soft. It kind of reminds me of eating a stale cracker that has softened. 😦 I still like them enough to eat them, but wish they were crisper. This recipe makes A LOT of crackers so I may smash some and use it as a “breading” for baked chicken!

Paleo Breakfast Cake

Paleo Breakfast Bread. Wow. Super simple and quick to make! These contain only almond butter, eggs, honey, vanilla extract, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. The recipe also calls for stevia, but I left that out as I find it too bitter in baked goods. I mixed it in my Kitchen-Aid and then into the oven it went for 15 minutes (quick!). This “cake” has a mild sweetness and is really addicting!

Paleo Breakfast Cake

Moist, not overly sweet with a beautiful nuttiness. I usually wait for a cake to cool before cutting it, but I cut into this within minutes of it coming out of the oven. It tastes great warm, and sliced up fine. It also tastes good room temp. I had to stop myself from eating the whole pan.

I am in a baking mood this week, but a friend reminded me to focus more on eating vegetables and other healthy, clean, natural foods, and not just making Paleo-fied desserts and treats. I don’t always get into the baking mood though, so I am just enjoying it while I’m on a roll. However I will have to pay extra attention to adding more veggies into next week’s meal plan because I wholeheartedly agree with her (right after I make these Primal Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies). 😉

I almost forgot, I won Tales from an Average Runner’s Cryocup Giveaway! Mr. Nine made a ice massager from a Dixie Cup filled with water, but this looks better and more durable. I’ll let you know how it works once I get to try it.

Do you have any real food activists in your community? How are they making positive changes? Any tips on baking crackers that stay crispy?

Categories: Food, Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Craving Quiche

Spent a fun-filled weekend in Madison.

Giraffe at Henry Vilas Zoo

Went to the zoo.

Pier on Lake Mendota

Walked along the Lake Mendota.

Stones Throw Madison

Did some bargain shopping ($10 clearance Lole top!).

Hopalicious and New Glarus

Stocked the fridge with some fave Wisconsin brews and my favorite preserves from the Dane County Farmers’ Market.

Potter's Crackers

And a few more Farmers’ Market finds like Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread and these Rhubarb Graham Crackers from Potter’s Crackers.

There was also lots of eating, wandering around, a trip to Olbrich Botanical Gardens and we even went over to Sundance to see the film Salmon Fishing in Yemen.

Today I stayed home and got caught up on things like laundry and mowing the lawn. After attending to the fun domestic stuff, I took a little trip to Barnes & Noble and treated myself to a new cookbook. After a week of eating out (between my Door County and Madison travels) I wanted to jumpstart some healthy eating and be inspired with some new recipes.

The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

I’ve been making many of Elana’s recipes from her website and thought it was time that I bought her book. While in Madison, I had some of the best quiche ever from La Baguette. Authentic French bakery, the quiche and pastries taste just like I remember from Paris. Swoon. While the quiche was sinful, it was also most likely made with butter and heavy cream (that is why it tastes so darn good!). I was happy to see a healthier version of quiche in the cookbook and decided that I’d make it for dinner tonight.

Quiche Crust

Here is the Savory Pie Crust (I did a sloppy job pressing it in the pan) made with just almond flour, baking soda, salt, green oniongrape seed oil and water. I did have to bake it about 12 minutes longer than the recipe stated, but it came out perfectly golden and made the house smell like almond cookies.

While the crust was cooling, I cooked the onion, broccoli, mushroomssun-dried tomatoes and garlic. I let the veggie mixture cool and went to water some plants in the garden. A half hour later and I was ready to prepare the quiche. I whisked 3 eggs and gently stirred in goat cheese & salt. I folded in the veggies and poured it into the prepared crust. Baked for 35 minutes and then let it sit for another half hour (while I did some more gardening).

Savory Quiche

The completed Savory Vegetable Quiche cooling on the table.

Quiche Closeup

Sliced and plated, ready to eat. Mr. Nine added lots of hot sauce to his, and admittedly the quiche was rather bland. I decided to forgo the hot sauce and just enjoy the mild veggie flavors. The crust was a bit crumbly, like a graham cracker crust. Next time I’d add another egg or two (my egg to veggie ratio seemed off, but I just eyeballed my measurements) but this was a good “healthy quiche” recipe. Of course it wasn’t as indulgent and creamy as La Baguette, but I won’t have to spend an extra hour (or two, or three) in the gym because of it. 😉

As I am writing this blog post, I smelled something burning. My Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars! It wasn’t quite ready at 25 minutes, so I left it in for a few more but forgot to set the timer. 😦 I hope they are not too ruined… they look okay, but do smell a little overdone. I have no idea how long they’ve been in there… but longer than they should have been. Boo. I really wanted these to snack on this week and do not feel like making another batch tonight.

It is amazing how you can sit down at the computer for “just a few minutes” blogging, reading emails, catching up on Facebook and suddenly a huge chunk of time is gone.

Do you ever lose track of time while on the computer? Do you ever set a timer for yourself to limit your online time? What is your favorite quiche recipe? Rich and indulgent or light and healthy?

Update: The Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars ended up being edible. A little on the dry side, but not burnt. They were probably in there 10-15 minutes longer than they were suppose to so that says a lot to how fool-proof this recipe is. 🙂

Categories: Food, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Week of Food Highlights

This week may have gotten away from me, but I haven’t forgotten to snap photos of FOOD! 🙂 Here are some highlights from the past few days.

Butternut Squash Burger

Burgers with Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions from Paleo Table. Served with Sweets & Beets and sliced strawberries. Loved a bun-less burger topped with butternut squash! However I could do without the sausage. Next time I’ll stick with 100% grass-fed ground beef and leave the ground sausage out. She has a method for doing caramelized onions, but I was short on time and just sauteed a Vidalia until soft and sweet. This was a great combo worth trying.

Vitamix Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup from Elana’s Pantry. So simple, just olive oil, onion, broccoli, water and salt. That’s right, no broth! I was worried it would not be flavorful, but it was. A good little soup to mix up in the Vitamix, however it was very watery and was more of a sipping soup than a soup you’d eat with a spoon.

Clean Eating Tarragon Chicken

Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon from Clean Eating Magazine. Great, classic flavor. The leeks loose their bright, light green color in the cooking process but the taste is wonderful. Mild yet flavorful.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Squares

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars from Little B’s Healthy Habits. I made these with Truvia instead of Stevia in the Raw (which is too bitter for me). The peanut butter flavor is mild and it is not too sweet. A dense chocolate cake that is perfect for a post-gym treat. Very moist and healthy and a good starter protein cake recipe that you can tweak to your liking. Store these in the fridge since they are all natural!

Berry Tart

An early birthday cake from my sweet Mom – a fresh berry tart from Whole Foods! SO GOOD! Hands down, the best birthday “cake” I’ve had. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries & kiwi atop a vanilla custard nestled in a shortbread-style crust. This was unbelievable people, gone in less than a day. I went to the fridge looking for more tonight, hoping another would magically appear. It sure is a good thing that Whole Foods is an hour drive from us or else I’d be there now in my pajamas with fork in hand.

Homemade Tomato Sauces

My MIL stopped by today and brought all these containers of homemade pasta sauces. An entire shelf in the freezer is loaded! Any suggestions on what to make with these sauces? I am trying to stay away from too many grains today, so a gluten-free or paleo-friendly option would be ideal.

Finally Running

In other news, I ran my first 5k distance since mid-December! It has been over 4 1/2 months and it has been tough. I went from running 15 miles to zero due to my IT Band injury. I have lost some speed, but I almost hit a sub-30 and I wasn’t even trying for that, I was just having fun running in the cold rain on a cloudy day. I have a race coming up this weekend (I signed up in early January when I was still optimistic and didn’t think I’d be injured so long!) and can’t wait to pin on a bib number and hear the shotgun start. I am not going to try for a PR of course, just want to finish and have fun! A few months ago I was depressed and honestly felt like I’d NEVER run again. I’d run 500 feet and be in so much pain, even after taking weeks off from running. Looking down at my Garmin and seeing that beautiful 3.10 number really made my day. Hopefully I’ll be back to running half marathons again by this fall, but for now I’m taking it one day at a time.

What have you been cooking this week? Have you ever had to take an extended period of time off from running for an injury?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

What I Missed About Running

One foot in front of the other.

Merrell Pace Gloves

Yesterday I headed out for a late evening run. While moving along inhaling the heady fragrance of lilacs, I realized what I missed most about not being able to run the past few months. It wasn’t so much the physical activity. There are other forms of exercise that you can do to keep your heart and body healthy. It wasn’t the thrill of racing, or the camaraderie of group runs (although that is indeed missed). What I missed most was delighting in the simple details that you experience during a run.

Lilac Bush

The smell of lilac.

Gravel Pitted Road

The uneven, pitted streets that collect tiny pools of rain water.

Brick Wall

The texture on the facades of buildings that have been around longer than me.

Lily Of The Valley

Sidewalks lined with lily of the valley.

These are just a few of the things I missed. Don’t even get me started on trail running.

This experience cannot be replicated indoors on a treadmill or elliptical. Sure I could take a walk outdoors and enjoy the sounds, sights and smells but it is different when you are running. Your senses are heightened. Your breathing is deeper and you inhale the smells around you more intensely. You are covering more ground in the same amount of time than you would if you were walking thus experiencing more. And since you are moving at a faster rate, each experience with a sound, smell, sight or feeling is so fleeting. You take it in and hold onto it as long as you can, before exhaling and releasing. Anticipating the next sensory delight which awaits around the corner. You could replicate this to a degree with bicycling, although I feel that some of the sensory elements are removed since you are moving faster. (Although I adore cycling for other reasons which I’ll share someday.) For whatever reason, maybe it is the rhythm that it creates, running is the right speed and method for me to pull enjoyment and inspiration from my surroundings. It is a way to get to know a neighborhood in a more intimate way, or a therapeutic dose of nature. Either way, it is so much more than running.

Inhale. Exhale.

And because no post is complete without a little talk about food, I bring to you “Two Nights of Elana’s Pantry“. Carrot Muffins, Apricot Power Bars… I find myself going back to Elana’s Pantry for more. As good as the muffins and bars are, I needed some savory ideas for dinner and Elana delivers in that department, too. Last night I made her Green Chili Turkey Burgers.

Elana's Pantry Turkey Burger

It’s a simple combination of ground turkey, green chiles, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. While Mr. Nine was grilling these, I went out to the garden and picked some asparagus and prepared it with wilted asparagus drizzled with oil and vinegar. Nothing like super fresh veggies and a good protein! The burgers were moist and full of flavor. We enjoyed these sans-bun to make it gluten-free and didn’t need any toppings! That says a lot for a humble turkey burger. Leftovers were enjoyed for lunch today and reheated fabulously. My only tip would be to layer the formed patties between small sheets of parchment paper on a plate and freeze for about a half hour or until slightly firm. I would have done this if I had the time. The patties were super soft with a high moisture content, and Mr. Nine executed his superb grilling skills to ensure that they stayed in one piece. While he was out there grilling, I had him throw on a few chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner – Mexican Chicken and Rice.

Elana's Pantry Chicken and Rice

Doesn’t that look yum? What is fantastic about this recipe is that the “rice” is really cauliflower! Mr. Nine took a whole head of cauliflower and fed it through the food processor fitted with a grating disc. He only did this because I had a minor kitchen accident with the blade that required bandaging my thumb. 🙂 Elana says to use the “S” blade, but I thought the grating disc did an excellent job and kept all the pieces uniform. The whole dish contains grilled chicken, onion, cauliflower, green chilies, salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro and salsa. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly, but you could take some of her other suggestions and add cheese, or even black beans. This recipe is really versatile. Personally, I left out the celery and cut the oil and salt in half (the original amounts seemed unneccessary). I could envision other veggies like red or orange bell peppers – use your imagination!

Now the question is, did the cauliflower taste like rice? I am not sure you could fool anybody into thinking it was rice, but it wasn’t bad at all. It essentially had the same texture, color and shape of cauliflower and the flavor was somewhat neutral and absorbed the spices and other flavors. I think this could definitely grow on me. I like the idea of having a cruciferous vegetable instead of rice because it is way lower in calories and higher in nutrients. I made a little comparison chart to illustrate this.

Cauliflower Vs Rice Comparison Chart

With the cauliflower, you are getting way more potassium, fiber and vitamin c, and lower carbs and calories. The rice has the advantage on the minerals, but all in all I think the cauliflower is the better option. What do you think?

Tonight’s questions: What would you miss about running if you had to stop? Have you ever made cauli-rice?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluten Free Bars, Shrooms and The Walk to Run Kickoff

Happy Tuesday! We are moving one step closer to the weekend, life is good!

Because my recent bars baked with Stevia in the Raw (SITR) didn’t work out I decided to look for a recipe that didn’t use ANY added sugars or sugar substitutes. I don’t mind regular Stevia in my morning coffee, in MRM Whey Protein Powder or in the occasional baked goods however I want alternative options that don’t rely on it. I really liked the Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins from Elana’s Pantry because they were only sweetened with dates, so I went back to her site looking for more ideas. I found one with only 5 ingredients, 3 of which are kitchen staples!

Apricot Bars

These bars are made entirely from dried apricots, pecans, eggs, vanilla extract and sea salt. Okay, 6 ingredients if you count the chocolate chips that I added. 🙂 A food processor made prep quick and easy, and using a 8″ x 8″ pan made for effortless 1-dish baking. These bars are moist, flavorful and not too sweet. Mr. Nine liked the flavor, but he thought the texture was weird. I’ll have to disagree and say the texture was fine, a cross between a traditional cookie bar recipe and a Larabar. They hold their shape nicely (if you allow them to cool properly before cutting). The nuts give these bars a little texture and the chocolate chips add tiny bits of sweetness. Use dark chocolate (70% or higher) if you can or leave the chocolate out entirely if you have a strict diet. I love dark chocolate and the small amount (1/2 cup for the whole batch) is very reasonable. These are also gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use chocolate chips from Enjoy Life), and paleo-friendly (if you are okay with dark chocolate). Another bonus? They only take about 5 minutes of hands-on time to make. Throw the food processor container, blade, measuring cup, spoon and spatula in the dishwasher and sit back while they bake in the oven. I will definitely make these again, perhaps experimenting with additions of cinnamon, chia seeds or shredded coconut!

Batch of Apricot Pecan Bars

Excited to have this whole batch to snack on throughout the week. I keep mine in the fridge to prolong their freshness, but I doubt they’ll last more than a few days. I already had one with breakfast and two as a post-workout snack.

Here’s the recipe for Apricot Power Bars if you want to try them yourself!

In other food news, I made these yummy Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Pam at Paleo Table. Unlike traditional stuffed mushrooms which are filled with cheese and breadcrumbs, these contain no grain or dairy! Ground Italian sausage adds bulk, while mashed sweet potato adds body.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

I used baby portobello mushroom caps that were 3″-4″ in diameter and increased the cooking time until I saw that the mushrooms were beginning to release some water content (about 35 minutes). Instead of mixing the sausage and potato in the food processor, I simply mashed the potatoes in a bowl and then stirred in the almond meal and sausage-onion mixture. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, these stuffed mushrooms both savory with a hint of sweetness. These also reheat well in the microwave, making them perfect for a grab-and-go work lunch. I’m saving this gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo recipe because it is a definite win.

I’ve been writing a lot about food lately and not very much about running. I’ll explain why in another post but I have been slowly running again. Not very fast, and not very far, but I’m moving in a forward direction.

Speaking of forward directions, our running group hosted a Couch to 5k style running program and the kick-off meeting was last night.

Running Program

Photos by Brian Drendel

We had a huge turnout! It was so refreshing to see so many people from the community come out to take the first steps in training to run a 5k. For many this will be their first 5k. The program lasts 9 weeks with 3 weekly group runs using the walk-run approach. You can spot me above calling out the t-shirt raffle winners. I’m excited to volunteer this year, meet new people and hopefully inspire them to stick with the program and make running a lifelong activity.

Have you ever tried a Couch To 5k or Run to Walk program? Were you successful? Any advice or tips that I can give to these new runners next week?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stevia and Cybex

After a long night of thunderstorms, it felt good to sleep in and then have an extra-long breakfast while watching Moneyball.

I wanted to bake something for work lunches for the upcoming week, and came across my bookmarked recipe for Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread.

LiveFit Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread

It was easy to throw together, and they turned out quite well despite today’s discovery. I hate Stevia in the Raw (SITR).

To be fair, Jamie lists Ideal Xylitol in her ingredient list but that is not something I’ve been able to find in the stores. After doing some research, I found that many people use SITR in place of sugar in recipes. SITR is easily found at my grocery store and seemed like a good substitution.

This is only my second time baking with it (the first time was making Clean Eating’s Meyer Lemon Bars) and both recipes came out way too bitter for my taste. I wanted to do a little experiment this time, and used Truvia in the actual batter of the cake (bread) and used the Stevia in the Raw only for the cinnamon/”sugar” mixture. The cake part of the bars was actually quite tasty! It was the cinnamon SITR swirl part that tasted bitter and ruined the recipe. I dissected the bars to try to remove as much as the cinnamon swirl as possible to salvage some of bread.

I need to do some more research on these sugar substitutes, but my intuition tells me that no artificial sweetener is truly good. Last week I made muffins that were sweetened entirely with dates, and I really like the idea of using natural, whole foods to sweeten food instead of all these alternate sugar products on the market.

Frustrated with today’s baking experiment, I focused on lunch instead.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

Grilled bacon-wrapped pork tenderloins with a chimichuri sauce, asparagus and an orange-pineapple-banana-honey-sweet potato mash. This came from a magazine-style cookbook that my Mom gave us for Easter. The mash was interesting. It is filled with citrus flavor. Definitely a different way to have sweet potatoes.

While at the bookstore last night, I saw an article about how the Cybex Arc Trainer is one of the best forms of cardio in the gym. It has been a long time since I’ve used it (it has been known to bother my knee) but was inspired to give it another try.

Cybex Arc Trainer

I just did the pre-programmed interval training option which alternated between 25-45 resistance for a total of 30 minutes, which is very similar to the workout outlined in the magazine. 30 minutes was enough to work up a sweat after my short chest lifting session. No knee pain! I think I’ll give this piece of gym equipment a try more often on cardio days to switch things up. Although I prefer to do cardio outdoors (running, cycling, skiing, rollerblading, hiking) there are certain days where it is easier to do it at the gym while I’m already there for weights.

Came home for a quick shower and then we went to visit some friends and go out for dinner. My stomach was not feeling the greatest, so I stayed away from the margaritas and opted for a simple dinner of chicken tortilla soup and a steak taco. I really wanted an ooey-gooey chimichanga or quesadilla, but knew that the deep-fried, cheese-filled nature of it would have me sick for the rest of the night. Thankfully, the soup is INCREDIBLE at this restaurant so I didn’t feel deprived. It was topped with plenty of fresh diced avocado, which in addition to the guacamole we had pre-dinner, was the perfect amount for my daily avocado fix. 🙂

Our friends have the cutest, most mature and well-behaved 4-year old I’ve met. During dinner she was quietly drawing, and before we left she handed me this masterpiece.

Drawing

She said that the picture was of me, and the chores that I have to do. Unfortunately she is right. There are many chores that I sadly never got around to this weekend that will still be waiting for me come Monday morning.

Have you ever baked with Stevia in the Raw? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite form of “in-the-gym” cardio?

Categories: Fitness, Food | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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