Thursday, March 31, 2011

For the Love of Pizza!

I must admit, I have been a big fan of pizza my whole life. In fact I'd say it's a major contributor to all the weight I gained over the years. Too many pizzas ordered in for lunch at the office, then again the next night at home while too busy with work to cook, then again on a crop night at the store, and so on and so on. Of course overdoing the quantity pizza and laden with high fat ingredients certainly had a hand in it. So, over the past year or so on my weight loss journey, I have had very very little pizza. In fact I would say less than 5 times in the past 15 months and those were all veggie/healthier pizzas.

Today I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs - Kath Eats Real Food - and saw a beautiful whole wheat pizza with eggplant, mushrooms, dandelion greens and cheese, made by her husband (they are in the process of opening up a Great Harvest bakery so there's often drool worthy (but pretty healthy!)) food on her blog. [As an aside, can I just say how much I would LOVE to do what they're doing?]. Anyway, with some leftover eggplant already cooked in the fridge from sandwiches the other day, I decided I'd spend the afternoon learning how to make my own pizza dough and create my version of their pizza.

I found a recipe on Cooking Light, subbed 1/2 of the flour for whole wheat flour and got started. After over 6 years in this house I only realized today that my oven has a bread proof setting! How awesome is that? I mixed, kneaded and set it to rise/proof in the oven for half an hour. It worked! I rolled it out and set it up on my Pampered Chef pizza stone.

Then I prepped my toppings. I chopped up some rosemary and put it in a tablespoon of olive oil with some fresh ground pepper and salt. Then I sauted 1 minced clove of garlic in a little bit of olive oil and added it to the rosemary mixture. I sauted some mushrooms, heated up the leftover eggplant, chopped some fresh basil and italian parsley, cut up some compari tomatoes and shredded some monterey jack cheese.

To assemble, I first brushed the herb/garlic olive oil over the entire pizza and sprinkled with some oregano. Then I layered eggplant, mushrooms, baby spinach leaves and tomatoes. I sprinkled the fresh italian parsley over the tomatoes, then layered on the cheese and finished with the fresh chopped basil!

10 minutes in the oven at 500 degrees and here's my beautiful pizza! Now, to wait til after yoga class to tell you if it's any good or not (although looking at it, I can't imagine how it couldn't be!).

I roughly calculated nutrition on this and dividing into 6 slices, it's 350 calories/slice, 14g fat, 4g fiber, 8g protein.  (Without cheese at all it would bring it down to 250 calories/slice, 5g fat, 4g fiber, 1g protein.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kale & Veggie Lasagna

I went looking for something to make for dinner with Kale and happened across this recipe while browsing Tastespotting. I added some more veggies to it and altered it a bit (as usual!). This is a lot more cheese than we ever usually eat but a nice treat for a weekend meal. The added veggies made it more substantial too. Delicious and we get to have it for dinner again tomorrow night. Love leftovers that mean I won't have to cook after work tomorrow!

Kale & Veggie Lasagna
serves 8

  • Large bunch of kale, stems removed
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini/summer squash
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 TB canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 3 cups light cottage cheese, drained
  • 1 cup light ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups shredded part skim mozarella cheese
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 12 no boil lasagna noodles (or 1/2 package)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add kale and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can, use a kitchen towel. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
  2. Saute veggies in a nonstick skillet over medium heat with 1 TB canola oil. (start with onions, add mushrooms, then zucchini.
  3. For tomato sauce: Combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp kosher salt in a cold saucepan. Heat over medium high, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the crushed tomatoes, italian seasonings, oregano. Reduce heat and let simmer 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
  4. For cheese mixture: Strain all liquid out of cottage cheese with mesh strainer. Combine with ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 pepper. (next time if I have some fresh parsley, i'll chop some up and add in with the cheese as well). NOTE: set aside 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan to use on top of lasagna.
  5. Preheat oven to 375. 
  6. Assemble lasagna in a 9x13 pan. Start with a thin layer of sauce, then a layer of noodles, half the cheese mixture, half the kale, half the baby spinach, half the veggies, half the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles, then the rest of the cheese mixture, the remaining kale, baby spinach and veggies. Top with the remaining noodles, then remaining sauce. Sprinkle the final 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan that was set aside.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and browned. (mine did get a little overdone at 45 minutes, so I put down 40 for the recipe - pay closer attention to your oven than I did!). Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into 8 generous slices and serving.
430 calories, 17.5g fat, 44g cholesterol, 1200mg sodium, 542mg potassium, 38g carbs, 5.3g fiber, 30g protein.

Shrimp Po' Boys

Thad's latest 'favorite' sandwich, he dreams about it! When I made them this week I had to run to the local grocery store for rolls, and at 4pm, all that was left in the bakery were these little ciabatta rolls - so we had two each - almost like a shrimp po boy slider. What really makes this sandwich great is the little kick the tartar sauce has to it. The original recipe is from Cooking Light, July 2009. I made a few adaptations. I think it's a fairly healthy version of a po-boy and tastes delicious. I haven't been able to find any really good whole wheat/whole grain bakery quality sandwich rolls, which would improve the nutritional value of this sandwich. I did serve with a few chips on the side - a new brand we tried and LOVE- Late July organic Mild Green Mojo Multigrain Chips. I'll definitely grab more when they are on sale again!

Shrimp Po-Boys
serves 4

  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayo (I use light canola oil mayo from Whole Foods)
  • 2 TB sweet pickle relish
  • 1 TB chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp chopped capers
  • 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (I use Sriracha Rooster hot sauce)
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (I use Costco's frozen shrimp, precooked and tail off)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt free cajun seasoning 
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • 1/2 cup shredded romaine (I used mixed baby greens instead)
  • 8 thin slices tomato
  • small white onion
  • Slice white onion in thin rings. Cook them in a nonstick pan with a little oil to softened, lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside in a small bowl.
  • Combine mayo, relish, shallots, capers, hot pepper sauce in a small bowl.
  • Combine shrimp & cajun seasoning in a bowl, toss well.
  • Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add shrimp to pan, cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  • Cut each roll in half horizontally. Spray with canola or olive oil and toast either in the oven or on a flat nonstick skillet.
  • Top bottom half of each rol with lettuce, tomato, onion and 1/4 of the shrimp. Spread top half of each roll with about 2 TB of the sauce. Place on top of sandwich.
  • Enjoy!
I would say this is very approximate as your rolls will vary as well as the type of mayo you use, but it is still a good estimate: 401 calories, 12g fat, 172mg cholesterol, 152mg calcium, 44g carb, 30.7g protein, 2.7g fiber, 4.4mg iron

Building Fitness Confidence

As I've talked about before, one of the things I've struggled with lately has been concentrating more on what I can't do in yoga and not having confidence in my abilities. I do see that changing and I feel like I've come far in being open to just trying even when something looks hard or that it's something I don't think I could do - and the results have been both surprising and positive. A couple weeks ago with encouragement from both Thad and the teacher, I started going to the 201 class with Thad on Thursdays. I had not been going Thursdays because 201=advanced class, and to be honest, I was afraid! With Thad and Debbie's encouragement I took a chance and was so happy that I'd gone. I learned a tremendous amount in one hour and came back the next week! I just do what I can and push myself to just try anyway. I'm building confidence.

After class Thursday night, again Debbie encouraged me to try something else new, at another local studio. She and another one of the teachers were attending an advanced 4 day intensive immersion class. On Saturday morning the studio's regular morning class is taught together with the group in immersion. Thad went to it last time and got a lot out of it - but I insisted I wasn't ready for it. I gave it some thought over the past couple days and decided, why not? So I went this morning and am so glad I did! There had to be 80-100 people in the class, co-taught by the owner of the studio and a teacher well known in the Anusara yoga world (both men, incidentally). We were crammed in with 6 inches between mats, sweat pouring off us for 2 1/2 hours. Thankfully the focus of the class was on backbends, something I feel more comfortable working towards and have some flexibility, versus something like arm balances where I'd have been way out of my league. I learned a lot from their technically step-oriented teaching approach, and tried everything (even if I could only get to the top of my head trying to go into wheel). I left feeling good - and exhausted - but proud of myself for going.

In writing this blog entry I realized that this confidence issue with fitness is something I've had to battle along the way, and probably a lot of people do. When I started Jazzercise, and probably up until the Fall when I finally got to the point that I could do class 100% high impact, I know I had a lack of confidence in my abilities - or perhaps it is just frustrating with myself of wanting to already 'be there'. I am certain that there will always be frustration along the way, no matter what I'm doing, but I'm going to really try harder to be confident in my abilities to TRY something - rather than holding myself back - because I keep surprising myself ;)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mediterranean Tuna Panini

I have always loved tuna - growing up my mom made me a tuna sandwich in my lunch pretty much everyday and I never got sick of it. This is what I might call a 'grown up' tuna sandwich, missing the fat from mayo/salad dressing and the bonus of healthy, more sophisticated flavors. I don't currently own a panini press, but I think one is in my near future. Since I didn't have one, I used another pan weighed down with heavy cans to press the sandwich. I'm in love with the High 5 fiber bread from Great Harvest, and it was perfect with this sandwich! This recipe is from Eating Well, July/August 2007.

Mediterranean Tuna Panini
serves 2

  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/2 plum tomato, chopped
  • 2 TB crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 TB chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 TB minced red onion
  • 1/2 TB chopped pitted kalamata olives (I had regular black olives open so used those)
  • 1/2 tsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 sliced whole grain bread
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  1. Have panini press ready, or a medium skillet and 2 heavy cans ready by stove.
  2. Place tuna in a medium bowl and flake with a fork. Add tomato, feta, artichokes, onion, olives, capers, lemon juice and pepper; stir to continue. Divide the tuna mixture among 2 slices of bread (about 1/2 cup each). Top with remaining bread.
  3. Heat 1 tsp canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan. Place the other skillet on top of the panini then weigh it down with the cans. Cook until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until second side is golden, 1-3 min.
per serving: 336 calories, 6g fat, 61mg cholesterol, 35g carbs, 34g protein, 5g fiber, 543 mg Sodium, 52 mg Potassium

A couple notes about tuna - 
  • my favorite canned tuna is Costco's Kirkland brand, white albacore. It is consistently high quality tuna. There was an interesting article in Costco's magazine about it a couple years ago - take a look at it if you're interested.
  • with that being said - chunk light tuna has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mediteranean Goat Cheese Veggie Sandwiches

For lunch yesterday I started with a recipe from Cooking Light, May 1998 and went from there using what I had in my fridge. Loved this sandwich and wanted to document it here so I can be sure to make it again (well and so I don't get accused of never repeating a recipe!).

Mediterranean Goat Cheese Veggie Sandwiches
serves 2

  • 2 ciabatta or panini rolls, sliced in half
  • 1 ounce goat cheese
  • 1/2 TB kalamata olive paste
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 of a red or white onion, sliced in thin rings (I used a mandolin)
  • 1 roma tomato sliced
  • 1/2 small eggplant sliced
  • 3 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp capers, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • garlic salt

  1. Heat oven to 375. Slice eggplant and tomato and arrange on baking pan (spray first if necessary) (I use my Pampered Chef bar pan or baking stone). Sprinkle garlic salt on top. Put in oven when heated and bake for about 10 minutes until eggplant is cooked - keep an eye on it because the time will vary depending on how thick your slices are.
  2. I like my rolls toasted a bit so after slicing I spray with canola oil spray and heat each side on a griddle on medium heat on the stove.
  3. In small nonstick pan, spray with canola oil spray, heat to medium and lightly cook onion rings to just tender.
  4. Spread goat cheese evenly over cut side of bottom half of rolls. Spread olive paste evenly over goat cheese.
  5. Arrange spinach on top of goat cheese and olive paste. Then layer eggplant slices, roasted tomato slices, basil, and chopped capers. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle fresh ground pepper. Cut into wedges and serve!

Pappa what?

One of the latest trends in pasta (okay, I know you're thinking, seriously? pasta trends? but it's true!) is pappardelle. It's a very wide flat noodle that flops around on your plate mixed in with all the deliciousness you choose to toss it with. I used Garlic Herb Pappardelle from (of course!) Al Dente Pasta. I have found in cooking this pasta that I need to have my ingredients ready to go that it will be tossed with to mix it right away after I drain the noodles or else the pasta will stick together forever. I got it just right last night and Thad raved about it!

The recipe I used is the cover recipe from April 2011 Cooking Light - Pappardelle with Baby Spinach, Herbs, and Ricotta. I also added in some mushrooms to make it a little heartier for dinner. Here's my version of the recipe:

Pappardelle with Baby Spinach, Mushrooms & Herbs
serves 4

  • 8 ounces uncooked pappardelle pasta
  • 1 TB kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese (I used lite)
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (I just grabbed 3 big handfuls)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (I didn't have chives, so subbed green onions)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1 TB canola oil
  • 3 TB grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

  1. Fill large pot with water, add 1 TB kosher salt and get it boiling. Pasta only takes 3 min to cook so you want to drop it in just before everything else is ready.
  2. Heat 1 TB canola oil in frypan and saute mushrooms
  3. Chop, chop, chop all those fresh herbs! Place in large bowl along with spinach leaves, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 1/4 tsp kosher salt. 
  4. Throw in that pasta! Cook for 3 minutes. Scoop up 1 cup of cooking liquid before draining the pot and combine it with ricotta and parmesan in a food processor or blender until well blended. (you might want to start with 1/2 cup and add from there, but I knew I had a lot of spinach in the bowl so went with the whole cup to start). Drain noodles and place in the large bowl with spinach and herbs. Add 2 TB olive oil and toss quickly. Add in ricotta cheese mixture and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Marrekesh Stew

As I was flipping through magazines cleaning off my coffee table, I found this recipe in Everyday Foods and tore it out. Not sure which month it was, but it was recent. This dish is a little spicy but could be toned down by using less cayenne pepper - either way it's very flavorful with so many spices and very hearty! It made a bunch and I have several containers in the freezer for another day.

Marrekesh Stew
Serves 8

  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced large
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (I used 6 small red potatoes instead)
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 small eggplants cut into 1 inch pieces (I used one medium one)
  • 1 can (15.5oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • cooked couscous (optional) for serving
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, and allspice and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add carots, potatoes and squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown, 5 minutes. 
  2. Add tomatoes and broth (veggies should be completely covered by liquid, add water if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered for 20 min.
  3. Add eggplant, stir to combine, and simmer until tender, 20 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until chickpeas are warmed through, 5 minutes. Serve stew with couscous if desired. To store, cook then refrigerate for 1 week, or freeze for 3 months.
(without couscous)
212 calories, 3g fat, 6g protein, 44g carb, 9g fiber

Linguine with Shrimp & Sun Dried Tomatoes

A delicious combination of flavors, this was also an easy dish to prepare. This is from Cooking Light, April 1997. I adapted it slightly. Next time I'll also cut up the olives to spread it around a bit more.

Linguine with Shrimp & Sun Dried Tomatoes
serves 4

  • 1 1/2 ounces sundried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 5 oz uncooked linguine (I used Al Dente Carba-Nada Roasted Garlic Fettucine)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen precooked no tail shrimp from Costco)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I substituted vegetable broth because I didn't have any white wine)
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 TB capers
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 16 small black pitted olives
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan

  1. Combine sun-dried tomatoes and boiling water in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes, and drain well. Slice thinly, and set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; set aside.
  2. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add shrimp and green onions; saute until shrimp are heated (or cooked if using raw shrimp, about 5 minutes). Add sun-dried tomatoes, wine (or broth) and next ingredients through garlic; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove shrimp mixture from heat, and add cooked pasta; toss well. Serve with cheese.
376 calories (28% from fat), 11g fat, 4.8mg iron, 140mg cholesterol, 294mg calcium, 37.9 carbs, 927mg sodium, 30g protein, 1.8g fiber

Cookbook Challenge - Week 12 - Minestrone Soup

I'm rediscovering my Moosewood cookbooks (or discovering them for the first time!). This soup recipe is from The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking). I was surprised how thick the soup is, and I did adjust it slightly along the way, so here's my version. I loved it and also shared it with my parents and my aunt who also really enjoyed it - in fact we ate it for lunch a couple days in a row! I think this recipe is one that can easily be adapted to what you might have in your fridge to use up too.

serves 8-10

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (I just used 2 medium onions)
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (I used two med-small)
  • 1 small zucchini diced (or 1 cup diced eggplant)
  • 1 small yellow squash diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp basil (dried) or 1 TB fresh chopped basil
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced (I had some sweet baby peppers to use up and so used about 5 of those plus about 1/4 of a green pepper that I had previously diced and frozen)
  • 3-4 cups of water (or more to the consistency you prefer)
  • 1 28oz can tomato puree
  • 1 15 oz can cannelini beans (or chick peas)
  • 1 cup dry pasta (any shape) (I used rotini)
  • 2 medium sized ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup freshly minced parsley
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic and salt. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add celery, carrot, eggplant (if using), oregano, black pepper, basil. Cover and cook over very low heat and about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, water and tomato puree. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer another 5 minutes.
  3. Bring the soup to a gentle boil. Add pasta, stir and cook until the pasta is tender. Stir in the diced fresh tomatoes and serve right away, topped with parsley and parmesan.
This recipe freezes well! I froze several servings when I made this and easily defrosted and ate it later in the week. A very filling lunch soup!

Fitness Update

First - a recap - I think the last time I checked in I was whining about what I couldn't do in yoga and feeling so humbled by it after being in good shape and doing jazzercise for so many months and how different the two are. Well I have moved beyond that! Like most things in my life - when I am faced with a challenge, I attack it head on. No one would ever say I'm not a determined person once I set my mind to something.

For the past several weeks I've been going to yoga about 5x/week. Mostly power yoga classes, with a couple basic and restorative classes thrown in. This week I even did a double - a power class followed by restorative - which was awesome! I'm amazed at my improvement and increased strength and how I feel.  Last week I got a better handle on my crow pose - at least a couple seconds before crashing down :) I was even able to do a supported headstand against the wall (assisted). I also started in position to get the feeling of what kicking up into a handstand should feel like. And that low plank of mine in chatarunga is getting much stronger! It makes me feel amazing and really shows how a continued practice builds onto itself each day.

On the downside - I've barely made it to Jazzercise - last week not at all and the week before only twice. I need to find a better balance in my week to get it in a few times because I really enjoy it - but I find that if I do that in the morning and yoga at night, I'm worn out by day 2. So, have to try something else this week!

It's also very exciting that we're finally at the first day of Spring! YAY! I am so so done with Winter. Spring means we can start going to Kensington for walks with Izzie in the morning again. I love the peacefulness of walking along the lake out in nature and the special time with Izzie and Thad. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cookbook Challenge - Week 11 - Tuscan Harvest Soup

Another new recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health, another winner! A hearty vegetarian soup, or vegan if you leave out the parmesan on top. Get chopping and prep everything...

Tuscan Harvest Soup
serves 4-6 (makes about 10 cups)

  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs of celery)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carots (about 4 large carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel bulb (about 1/2 fennel bulb)
  • 2 cups chopped green cabbage (about 1/2 cabbage)
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 TB minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup finely shopped fennel leaves OR italian parsley
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1 slice whole grain bread for each serving
  • extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • chopped fresh tomatoes for garnish
  1. In a covered soup pot on medium-low heat, cook the onions and salt in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ground fennel, and celery and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped fennel bulb and cabbage, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the squash softens but does not fall apart, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. In a blender, puree 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of the soup. Stir the puree into the soup pot. Add the remaining beans and the black pepper, thyme, and fennel leaves/parsley. Simmer covered for at least 10 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded.
  3. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and toast the bread. To serve, place a slice of toast in each soup bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Ladle the soup over the bread and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top.
  4. Top each bowl with fresh chopped tomatoes and or shredded Parmesan cheese. 
Nutrition: (does not include tomatoes or parmesan)
per 1 cup: 152 calories, 5g protein, 26g carbs, 6g fiber, 4g fat, 536g sodium

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Morning Routines

I think pretty much everyone has their own little morning routine. I'm fairly consistent with mine and have learned to enjoy getting up early in the morning and getting a great start to the day.

6:30am Alarm goes off. Most days I turn it off and get up. Some days I hit snooze a couple times and drive Thad crazy (because his alarm doesn't go off til 8am!)

6:31am  Bathroom routine

6:35am  Izzie out to potty and Izzie breakfast

6:40am  Glass of water, pills

6:41am  Laptop on the couch. Check email, facebook, read blogs, news

6:55am  Izzie potty

7:00am  Back to bedroom to get ready to go workout. This is also when Izzie hops onto bed and takes my spot next to Thad. This morning I just had to pull the covers over her and grab my camera. She's the cutest dog ever! :)

7:15am Get water ready for workout, eat a banana, do some quick cleaning

7:30am Out the door!

I have to say, I love my mornings! :)

Cookbook Challenge - Week 10 - Polenta with Greens and Eggs

I'm convinced that The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes is one of those cookbooks where just about everything sounds good and tastes great!  I went looking for an easy recipe to make after yoga class one night and came across this breakfast/dinner dish. I added in some sauteed onions and sliced baby portabellas to make it a little heartier for dinner. It was delicious! Here's my adapted recipe.

Polenta with Greens and Eggs
serves 4

2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole grain cornmeal (I buy cornmeal labeled as Polenta in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch of Kale
2 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloved, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Onions & Mushrooms
1 small yellow onion, diced
6 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp olive oil
4 large eggs
1 TB water

  1. For the polenta, in a medium saucepan on high heat, bring water and salt to a boil. Gradually pour in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 10 min.
  2. For the greens, remove hard stems and tear kale into 2 inch pieces. In a skillet on medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, kale and salt. Cover and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, toss with the vinegar, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. For onions and mushrooms, heat oil in skillet on medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms until translucent and tender. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  4. For the eggs, in same skillet, warm olive oil. Gently break the eggs into the skillet, drizzle in water, cover and cook on low until the egg whites are set, about 3 minutes.
  5. Spoon polenta onto 4 plates, top with cooked kale, onions and mushrooms, place egg on top.
Optional: add grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh tomatoes on top.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Giving up Meat

Not permanently!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Thad and I are going to give up meat for Lent. We're not going truly vegetarian because we will still eat fish. I'm looking forward to the challenge from a cooking standpoint and a health one as well. I've been needing a bit of a jump start again lately and this is perfect and I'm looking forward to it. Tomorrow morning I'll work on a meal plan for the week - I have a lot of choices after a shopping trip to Costco earlier this week - spinach, salad greens, mini sweet peppers, carrots, blueberries, pineapple, fish, etc.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cookbook Challenge - Week 9 - Raspberry Mustard Crusted Chicken Breast

I am behind in posting, but don't worry, I've still been cooking from my cookbooks each week!

This one was from a cookbook I got out of the library actually - Canyon Ranch Cooks: More Than 200 Delicious, Innovative Recipes from America's Leading Health Resort. It was very tasty and used flavors I normally don't cook chicken with - but after it was done, I think it was too much work, I don't think I'll make it again unless for guests.

Raspberry Mustard-Crusted Chicken Breast 
serves 4


for the raspberry mustard:
4 TB dijon
4 TB fresh or frozen raspberies
3 tsp honey

for the fig vinegar:
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
6 TB chopped dried figs
2 tsp honey

for the chicken breasts:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tsp minced pistachio nuts
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp olive oil

  1. combine ingredients for raspberry mustard in blender until smooth. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight to let flavors mingle.
  2. In a small saucepan combine ingredients for fig vinegar. Bring to boil, reduce and simmer over low for 1 minute. Cool, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Strain.
  3. With a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts between wax paper to 1/2 inch thick.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, pistachios, salt and pepper. In a shallow pan, place chicken breasts in raspberry mustard sauce and turn to coat. Roll each in breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Heat a large saute pan with olive oil. Saute breasts over medium until chicken is cooked through and light brown, about 3-5 min on each side.
  6. Reheat fig vinegar in a small pan. Serve each breast with 2 TB fig vinegar.
per serving: 295 calories, 24g carb, 9g fat, 85mg cholesterol, 30g protein, 620 mg sodium, 3g fiber

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spicy Fire Roasted Tomato, Kale & Bean Soup

I had some kale to use so went searching for a new recipe. I came across a Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup recipe on Whole Foods' website, read a bunch of the comments about it, and made it my own. Loved it and am excited to have leftovers again today for lunch. This recipe turned out very hearty and is easily adaptable to what you might have on hand or want to use up.

Spicy Fire Roasted Tomato, Kale & Bean Soup
serves 6-8

  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped (instead I used some leftover roasted garlic I had this time)
  • 48 ounces chicken or vegetable broth (I used a mix - 1 whole box vegetable broth and 1/2 box chicken broth I had open in the fridge)
  • 1 large bunch curly kale chopped
  • 1 28 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (love Muir Glen's)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked wheatberries (any small grain would work, I had this already cooked in the freezer)
  • 3 large carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TB italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (plus I had a little fresh thyme left to use up and threw that in too)
  • parmesan rind (optional- I had one in the freezer leftover from a block of parmesan, threw this in for extra flavor and then removed it before serving)
In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add broth, kale, tomatoes and carrots. Add thyme, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, parmesan rind. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add beans and cooked wheatberries and heat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove parmesan rind. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shoes and Shopping

I never really gave too much thought to the fact that as I lost weight all over, I would also lose in my feet. What this means is that I've had to get rid of most of my shoes (of course Thad said I had too many anyway). But the problem arises now when I have an outfit and literally no shoes that can be worn with it. No regular pumps left in my closet + a cute new dress I got last week + plans for the weekend = need to go shopping. Although I'm now working part time, we are doing our best to save money - both in spending less and in adding to our savings. We will be moving back to California later this year and will need to have as much saved as possible. So, I'm very careful with what I buy - looking for special sales and clearance items, using coupons and promos when I can. I also consider how many x or y items I really need to use, how little I can get away with having in my closet, and am mindful of the fact that I may not be in a size for a long enough time to justify buying nicer clothes. At this point I don't expect my shoe size to change anymore, so I feel okay about buying better quality shoes.

And so I made a trip to the mall this morning. First stop - Nordstrom. I mean really, what better store for shoe eye candy than this high end department store well known for it's shoe department? They did not disappoint and I happened in there during the first hour of a shoe sale (thinking, it must be meant to be, right?). As I tried on several right shoes (they only put one shoe out for each pair on the sales racks), I found a pair I absolutely loved. Looked at the 'sale' price. Put them back. Looked through 2 more racks, wandered the department and went back to those shoes again. I just couldn't resist their pull! Via Spiga black patent leather peep toe pumps! They feel good and look great. So when a sales guy asked if I wanted him to get the other shoe for me, of course I said yes. Just to see how they looked on. At least that's what I told myself. Then as I walked around in them, I decided I just had to have them. Had to! Of course, this is where my weakness for shoes gets me in trouble, and the danger of impulse buying raises its ugly head. I mean, $85 as a sales price is great when the shoes were regular $170, right? right! As he started ringing me up, I flipped open my wallet and realized - UH OH! I left my debit card in my bag from yoga last night. crap! So, he promised to hold them for me and I walked to the car, disappointed and annoyed that I'd have to go all the way home and come back. As I'm telling Thad on the phone on the way home - both about the perfect shoes I had to have and the fact that I didn't have my debit card - I started thinking, hmmm, maybe this is a sign I shouldn't be buying those shoes. Will I get enough wear out of them to justify the high price? Could I find something I'd like just as much somewhere else? Perhaps.

So after a quick lunch at home I headed out to DSW. I made my way down the dress shoe aisle trying on shoes, still thinking how much I loved the $85 pair more than ones here for $60, and then I took a shot at their clearance racks in back. Why didn't I come here first to begin with? seriously! I have been all about shopping for good deals on nice quality clothes, shoes should be no different. I walked out of there with TWO pairs of shoes - a black patent leather slingback pump by Me Too and a black leather slingback peeptoe shorter pump by Liz Claiborne - for a total of $45. I saved $130 according to my receipt. And now I have a dressier and more casual pair of nice shoes. WOW, now that is great shopping I can feel good about - and a lesson learned about impulse buying! :)