Sunday, May 31, 2009

Savory Berries

Last week berries were on sale (3 for 5) and I went a little crazy :) I cannot wait to pick your own once they are in season here!! Some quick searching revealed some savory ways to use the berries, and I couldn't wait to give them a shot.

Kevin's Quinoa w/Balsamic Roasted Asparagus & Strawberries was the first of the dishes I tried. I really wanted to add goat cheese, but I didn't have any in my apartment!! This is probably the only time it's every happenned :) I didn't have feta, either, so I used some of the gruyere instead and grated that into the quinoa while still warm. I did add some chopped pistachios after the picture, oops! I was a little short on juice, I should've made a little more, but this made for a fantastic lunch!

Quinoa w/Balsamic Roasted Asparagus & Strawberries

I got a chance to use my baby crockpot to make some Chipotle Blackberry Pulled Pork. I used 1/2lb piece of pork tenderloin and adjusted the amount of sauce (1/4 w/extra blackberries), subbing ketchup for the chili sauce and fresh grated ginger for the preserves. Yummy! I love a good (lean) pulled pork, and this was so tender! The sauce was great, a little kick and very flavorful-- I'll definitely be repeating this!

Chipotle Blackberry Pulled Pork

The warmer weather we had also lent itself to the desire to grill, even if it was indoors. I used this recipe for Strawberry BBQ sauce to grill up some chicken (although it would go with any meat or tofu). I topped it with a quick 'salsa' if you can call it that! I simply chopped up some strawberries and mango, added a little bit of Daregal Fresh Frozen Cilantro, and called it dinner :)

Grilled Chix w/Strawberry BBQ Sauce & Strawberry-Mango Salsa

The side dish hiding in the background will come in another post, I need to get to bed and there's already lots of good food here!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Training for My First Tri

Here's a peek at the month before my frist sprint tri (which was Aug 5), click to enlarge. Prior to this, I had been swimming, biking, and running; there wasn't much rhyme or reason to anything but my runs. Just to post the links again, I used training plans from Runner's World and Women's Health to guide me. They have excellent tips for starting from scratch and 8week plans if you're interested!

**Disclaimer: This was only what I did the month before my first tri, this is not a training plan for everyone! It's just meant to provide an example, a starting point that you might adjust to your own needs.**

I'm not a great swimmer, I blame the tube they "accidentally" left in my ear until college. When I first got into the pool I was used to keeping my head above water. See, aren't you feeling better already? It took me a few times to finally get back into keeping my head in the water, and when I first started I couldn't do more than a lap or two without stopping to catch my breath. The more I swam, the more comfortable I felt, and the longer I was able to swim without feeling completely winded. Bilateral breathing is something that I'm still working on. The two workouts I aimed for the following:
1- 200m warm up, 800m straight, 200m cooldown
2- 200m warm up, 3x50m as fast as I could 30sec rest, 100m, 200m [optional], 3x50m as fast as I could 30sec rest
I have two speeds (that I can tell), my normal pace, and then what I perceive as alot of effort for the 50m sprints. The faster pace is one that I cannot keep for 100m, despite my efforts. I have started to incorporate some kicking laps, as I noticed my legs are lazy when I'm just going at a normal pace for awhile. Maybe that's ok since I'd like to save some energy for the bike and run? I really need to take some lessons to improve my form!

In the water

When shown in minutes, this was a spinning class. When marked in miles, I was able to get out for a ride on my bike. I have a tendency to push myself more in a spinning class, as I'm still getting used to a road bike and now clipless pedals. I actually haven't done a tri with the pedals yet, so no, you don't need them!

Look at those sneaks ;)

It was strange to run so little, but you don't really need to be running every day. Apparently my runs consisted of tempo runs (in orange, I just tried to keep a challenging pace for 2-3mi with a .75mi warmup and cooldown) and brick workouts. More on bricks in a second. I did my tempo runs at the track with a watch.

T2: are my legs moving??

Wait, what are we building? This term is actually used to describe the transition between the bike and the run (T2). As in, your legs feel like bricks. I'd say it's essential to try this at least once beforehand so you know what to expect. Hop off your bike, put on your running shoes, and go. No really, move! :) It really feels like you're going nowhere! Does it get easier? MMmm, I don't know if I have a good answer to that one yet!

A Few More Notes
I like to strength train, and you can see I didn't give that up. What I tried to do is complement the workouts I was already giving my legs and shoulders. You'll also notice PT on my calander, this just refers to exercises I learned going to physical therapy, aimed to strengthen my knees/thighs/hips and prevent injuries. This is serving as a great reminder to be better about these :)

Another thing I noticed is that I didn't have many true rest days. However, my strength training wasn't intense, and most workouts were under 45min in duration. Do you need to work out every day? Definitely not! And I don't know if I'll be able to follow such a schedule this summer. While I'm going to try to swim, bike and run 2x/week, there will be days I have no time, and days when I have more. My approach will be to try and double up-- maybe a spinning class in the morning before work and a 30min swim at lunch time or after work. Or follow up a run on a hot day with a jump in the pool (wouldn't that feel nice?). Hopefully I will also have time for my new love--Body Pump (called Group Power in my current gym), which is weight lifting in class form. But we'll see how it all shakes out!

My philosophy is not to stress if you miss a workout-- I plan in enough variety and quality workouts, that I will be prepared :) Training for a sprint tri is completely do-able with a busy schedule. I really don't know if I'd be able to manage training for an olympic distance tri, though. Maybe some day!!

Ok, next up I'll compile some tips and answer all your questions. Let me know if you have any others since my first post! I was a bit on the fence about adding these pictures, as I haven't been as good with my eating of late and don't quite look like that right now ;) I'm hoping that they provide me the motivation to get back on track and re-focused on enjoying life!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The root of my desire?

Katie's New Food Challenge strikes again! This time I picked up this funky looking root...

What is it? Yuca, or cassava. The cassava plant is a woody shrub with inedible leaves (they can make cyanide!) and a long thick root. Yuca does need to be cooked before consumption, so don't try it raw. It's a starch, similar to potato, that is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. And here's a fun fact- tapioca is actually the starch extracted from yuca!

I picked a smaller piece, as I had NO idea how to get at the edible part and wasn't sure what I'd be able to do with it. Turns out you are supposed to peel the brown waxy rind... my peeler wasn't quite able to do that (too thick), so I just cut it away to reveal the white root underneath.

Ok, now what? After some contemplation and recipe searching, I decided to use my mandoline and thinly slice the yuca.

I then used this method to make yuca chips in the microwave! I could've done it in my oven, but it was already being used, and this was incredibly easy. I sprinkled them with a little bit of kosher salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper, tossed them around in a sprayed pie plate, and after 2-3 min, voila!

Along with a quick Mango-Avocado Salsa, my yuca chips made a great snack! If I had gotten a bigger root, they'd be perfect chip alternative at a bigger gathering :)

Mango Avocado Salsa
Recipe by Shannon

1/2c-3/4c diced mango
1/2 avocado, diced
1 small shallot, minced
1/2T-1T Daregal fresh frozen cilantro (or fresh cilantro, chopped)
juice of 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients. Sit at room temp for a bit to let flavors come together before serving.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Egg Rolls

After having jicama a few times, I had thought about using to make egg rolls. Why? I'm not really sure, as they're not something I've eaten more than a handful of times. Paired with some broccoli slaw from the store and baked tofu, I really liked my rendition! To boost the protein content, I made an avocado dip that turned out amazing, if I do say so myself ;)

Sauteed Broccoli Slaw & Jicama

Egg Rolls w/Tofu, Jicama & Broccoli Slaw
Recipe by Shannon
Yield: 9 rolls

1 block of tofu, sliced and pressed
9 egg roll wrappers
~1c jicama, cut into matchsticks
1/2-3/4 pkg broccoli slaw
2 scallions, sliced
1/4c water
1-2T soy sauce (I used a scant 1T)
1T cornstarch

Marinate tofu in your favorite marinade (I used a honey balsamic one, overnight in the fridge). Bake at 425 ~15min/side until nicely browned. (I'd try not to get it super crispy like I did!) When cool, cut each slice into 3-4 lengthwise (to resemble matchsticks). This can be done ahead, just refrigerate until assembling the egg rolls.

Heat ~1T canola oil in pan over med-high heat. Add Broccoli slaw, cook down a few minutes until starts to wilt (but still has a slight crunch). Combine water and soy sauce, stir in cornstarch. Add sauce, 3/4 jicama, and scallions to slaw. Stir to coat and let heat through. Remove from heat and add the rest of the jicama (I did this to make sure some stayed crunchy, but in the end I couldn't tell which was which. So I guess I'd add it all in at once next time!). This can also be done ahead of time as well.

Preheat oven to 400deg. To begin assembling egg rolls, lay out the wrappers. Add 3 slices tofu then top with ~2T slaw. Roll up like an egg roll (or try to!). Spray pan with cooking spray, add egg rolls, seam side down, and spray the top of the rolls. Bake 8-10 min. Flip over and bake an additional 5-7min. They should be nice and crispy! Let cool, then serve with an avocado dip (see below) or your favorite dipping sauce!

Avocado Dip

1/2 avocado
1/3c cottage cheese or greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 lime
~1t Daregal fresh frozen cilantro (or fresh)
dash hot sauce (to taste)
s/p to taste

Blend all ingredients using your device of choice-- I picked my hand blender, but a small food processor would work too! Serve alongside egg rolls or your favorite chips.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tomato Goat Cheese Strata

Before the strata, I just wanted to say thanks for all of your amazing comments on my last post!! I will be answering all of your questions soon, but first-- more food, since you need to be well-fueled for any day ;)

Walking through the store the other day, I came across a loaf of day (or two)-old Iggy's bread for $1. After hearing Dawn sing its praise, I knew this loaf was destined for a strata and quickly put it into my basket :) I perused some of my bookmarked strata recipes, and picked this Tomato Goat Cheese Strata as I also had a chunk of goat cheese that REALLY needed to be used!

I followed the recipe, using Whole Wheat Sourdough and a can of Fire-Roasted Whole tomatoes that I just broke apart in the pan. I added 1T of Daregal fresh frozen Italian blend to the tomato mixture (my tomatoes didn't have any spices, I also left out the sage), and ended up baking it in a 9"square pan. It was stuffed to the brim, and I may have had to sneak a few chunks of bread to make it all fit :)

While the recipe supposedly made 4 servings with an 8oz loaf of bread (which I thought mine was), it looked immense! I cut it into 6 servings and enjoyed it for breakfast all week long with a green smoothie. A great way to start the day!!

One more thing, remember that Italian Grilled cheese I posted about using Daregal Fresh Frozen Herbs (which I did see at my Shaws!!!)? Go RATE my recipe in their contest if you can spare a click :) This was so good, it blew my mind!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why not Tri?

First came the running, then came triathlon. It was an idea that simmered in the back of my mind for over a year as I heard some of my fellow grad students talk about their training and experiences. I went to one of their races and got to see it happen. To actually watch so many people as they complete each leg of a triathlon is quite moving. It's like you can see the challenges they've had to overcome in their facial expressions. I got the same feeling watching the Boston Marathon this year-- I'm a sap, I teared up!

As I began to realize my limits with running, the sport of triathlon really appealed to me. What can I say, I enjoy competition :) Without any commitments, I began to take some spinning classes at the gym, and tried swimming at the pool. I am NOT a swimmer, so it took awhile for me to feel even remotely comfortable in the water. When it came to biking outside, I had some issues, as the bike from my past was too small and hurt my knees (proper fit is important!). But each day things got easier.

A year went by, me thinking about doing a tri, worrying about my knees, wondering if I could do it. Now I feel like this was a year wasted, but I'm not going to lie--I was apprehensive! Finally it started to come together and I decided to give it a tri (haha). These articles from Runner's World and Womens Health Magazine provided alot of helpful information and gave me guidelines for my own training. It is a commitment to train for swimming, biking, and running, but it doesn't have to consume all of your free time!

The first race? I chose a women's-only sprint tri in Philly, appropriately called SheROX. (They have now teamed with Danskin to run events in multiple cities, check the website for one near you!) A sprint distance tri ranges anywhere from 1/4-1/2 mi swim, 10-16mi bike, and 2-3.1mi, depending on the course. I would definitely recommend a women's only race for a first event--not only did they have a mentor program for first-timers, but the support on race day was unbelievable. I loved every minute of it and was so thrilled by the new experience!! So... what are you waiting for??

Are you ready? (pre-race, SheRox 2007)

Ok, well, this post is turning out to be longer than anticipated, so I will try to compile the helpful tips I got along the way into another post. In the mean time, what questions do you have??? Is anyone else training for a tri right now? (I'm signed up for the Danskin New England at the end of July, looking for some more races) What is your biggest worry? I know I had quite a few! Would you be interested in seeing what I actually did for my training? In the mean time you can check out what college student and pro triathlete Jen Perez has to say in her interviews by Jenn, Ashley, Caitlin, and Meghann!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ready Healthy Go!

I apologize if you've seen Tina or Lauren's recap, but I wanted to let everyone in the Boston area know about a wonderful opportunity to get healthy, fresh food when you're on the go! A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Jeff- the founder and CEO of Ready Healthy Go and try his company's products. Their menu provides many amazing choices, ones that I could totally see myself creating at home. Fresh, convenient, and most importantly tasty-- a great option if you're near The Harvard Coop or their other gym locations.

The sandwiches are made using Iggy's bread, which is reason enough to get one :) But with choices like Roasted Portobello, Chipotle Spiced Chicken and Grilled Asparagus, you'll have trouble picking which one! Asparagus on a sandwich? Loved this idea, as well as the smoky eggplant spread that accompanied it. The sandwiches were all winners, but it was the amazing spreads (sweet pea mockamole and basil white bean puree) that added so much flavor and kept dancing around in my head :) A great way to boost nutrition without adding alot of calories!

(top to bottom: Grilled Asparagus, Chipotle Spiced Chicken, Roasted Portabello)

Next up were the wraps, Vietnamese Tofu, Turkey Green Apple and Just Veggies. These were all fantastic, with the standouts being the Apple Vinaigrette on the Turkey Wrap, Edamame Hummus on the Veggie Wrap, and the texture of the tofu! Luckily Jeff was nice enough to share one of their secrets to their dressings ;) I'll have to give it a try myself... so you'll have to wait!

(l to r: Vietnamese Tofu, Turkey Green Apple, Just Veggies)

And then came the salads. I did not expect to be able to sample so many things, but it was great. Except that I liked everything, and it was hard to stop at just a taste! We got to try the Sesame Glazed Salmon, Herbed Chicken and the Jicama and Citrus Salads. All of these were awesome, there's no way for me to pick a favorite :) All their nutrition info (found online or on the products themselves) includes dressing--if you look at the numbers, you'll understand why I was impressed!!

(top to bottom: Sesame Glazed Salmon, Herbed Chicken, Jicama and Citrus)

Bottom line? Loved it. They cater, too, so I'll have to put in a plug at work! Jeff has done an amazing thing- bring together the people required to make fabulous, healthy, fresh meals available to me when I need to eat on the go!

Thanks to Lauren and Tina for their pictures, as I was sans camera! It was a fabulous night with the girls :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Berries 3 Ways

This post is dedicated to a friend of mine who, upon seeing me with a 2lb container of strawberries, asked what I was going to do with them. Hmm... "Eat them" just didn't quite seem like an adequate response! And while I did eat my fair share, I managed to try a few of your recipes-

Baked Oatmeal (minus the pepitas as I didn't have any)

I made a few slight changes to this recipe, cutting back on the honey in the ricotta mix, using agave nectar in the berries, and baking it in a small square pan instead of individual ramekins since I broke one of mine :(

While curd is usually made with citrus and egg yolks, pureed fresh strawberries took center stage in this Strawberry curd. The consistency was quite thick and made a nice spread on toast or into some greek yogurt! It was also fabulous on a rice cake with a layer of cheese (laughing cow, cream cheese, goat cheese...)--a great new spread!

So there you have it, just in time for summer- some ideas of what to do when you realize you just picked 10lbs of strawberries (not that I've done that...)!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who's ugli?

I was pretty excited to see Katie's New Foods Challenge, as I always have my eyes on fun things in the produce section of the grocery store! First were the ramps I found, which I really enjoyed. This time I made the switch to a fruit...

Ugli fruit! It's also known as uniq fruit, or Jamaican tangelo, and believed to be a hybrid of a grapefruit, tangerine, and perhaps a pomello. Like other citrus fruit, it's high in vitamin C and has some fiber to boot. How to pick a ripe one? I had no idea, but according to this website, it is only picked when ripe (so it will be ripe in the store) and can range from green to yellow to orange. While I found recipes for an Ugli Salad w/Avocado & Shrimp and Uniq Lemon Marmelade that sounded great, I got lazy and decided to try it in its natural form... I just ate it :)

It has a thick rind that was very easy to peel. The segments came apart easily, but the casings were quite tough, so I ended up starting to peel them and squeezing out the pulp with my teeth. Perhaps eating it like a grapefruit would've been easier! It was SO juicy, it's a good thing I didn't try to eat this on my couch! I could tell it was part grapefruit, but it was very sweet and refreshing. Maybe next time I'll try those recipes...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Good Eats & Sweet Treats

Sheesh, where do the weeks go? With my mind on other recipes, I took the opportunity to make some of your recipes! They came out so well that I had to share :)

I think the star of them were Veggie Girl's Blondies! Holy moly, if you have not tried her recipe, RUN to the kitchen!! These were phenomenal. I followed her recipe, using macadamia nuts, white choc chips, coconut, and lime zest for the add-ins. I didn't have the correct size pan so I used a smaller one, which only added to the gooey deliciousness. I had to share these with some of my friends otherwise they would've been devoured all too quickly!

I got reviews from them too, just to make sure I wasn't biased (thanks guys!).
"Wow --- the blondies were delicious. Melt in your mouth goodness."
"By the way, your blondies were the highlight of my day... :-) Perfectly moist, soft and sweet."

Tropical Blondies

Next up was Kelly's Spinach, Tempeh & Mushroom Stroganoff. I changed the proportions based on the ingredients I had, but it was very good. My picture does not do it justice, you should go check out her blog! At least I used the last of my broken fettucine noodles!

With the last of my brie, I made Cauliflower Risotto w/Brie & Almonds. This creamy brie was certainly perfect for risotto! Delicious :)

Cauliflower Risotto w/Brie & Almonds

Monday, May 4, 2009

A little help?

Hi everyone, just a quick post to say if you liked my Nutty Quinoa w/Brie, Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pesto recipe, would you cast your vote in the Ile de France Recipe Contest?? CLICK HERE to rate my recipe, and any others that were submitted!

Nutty Quinoa w/Brie, Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pesto

A few of you asked about Daregal in my last post, and a quick check on their website revealed their availability at a few stores, including Shaws, A&P, Stop and Shop, and Giant food. They also have information about how to get their products in a store near you (click above link)! Don't forget, you can enter their sweepstakes for a chance to get some of your own!

I'll be back soon with some more food, but until then-have a great week!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here, there and herbs!

Remember these?

They're the fresh frozen herbs that Matt from Daregal sent me. They might be the solution to all my problems. Ok, well, maybe just two problems--having fresh herbs on hand when I need them, and not letting any go to waste! The idea behind these is almost like canning for tomatoes- they're picked fresh, washed, and frozen so quickly that all the goodness (aroma, nutrients, and flavor) remain.

I'm sorry to say I've only tried one so far because I feel like I've been here, there and everywhere, but it was awesome! I can't wait to try the rest :) Head on over to Daregal, they're having two exciting things going on-- a sweepstakes for free herbs AND a recipe contest (hurry ends May 15)! Here's what I came up with...

Italian Grilled Cheese
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 1

While I added the amounts I used on my sandwich, adjust to taste. I picked up the cheese and various marinated veggies from the antipasto bar at the grocery store, perfect for a quick and easy dinner!

1 ciabatta roll
1-2 thick slices of fresh mozzarella
Healthy shake of Daregal Italian blend
3-4 quartered Artichoke hearts
1 Roasted Red Pepper
2 Marinated Pequilla Peppers

Slice open the roll, add slices of mozzarella. Sprinkle on a good amount of Daregal Italian blend, then add with artichoke hearts and both peppers. Top with the other half of the roll and cook up using a panini press or a grill pan (I just placed a heavy pan on top of mine to make sure it was warmed through). When it's nice and melty, dig in!

A few more things before I forget... Mambo Sprouts is also sponsoring a recipe contest. If you haven't been over to Diet, Dessert & Dogs yet, now's the time! Not only does Ricki have some incredibly cute pups, but she's got so many great recipes, and is even giving away her new cookbook!! So very exciting :) Gina's also giving away Ani Phyo's new cookbook. I have been interested in all the raw treats popping up around blogland, and can't wait to try some of them myself! Have a great weekend everyone!!
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