Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Warm soup, cold day

So we've been sucked into a polar vortex here in Indianapolis and we can't seem to get up into the double digits for more than a day or so. Soup seems to be on the menu a lot. This weekend I made version of Olive Garden's zuppa toscano - a potato and kale soup with Italian sausage. I still have one bowl of that soup left. And tonight I used the butternut squash I've had stashed away into a soup.

I love butternut squash, but it's such trouble to peel and cube. I wish my local grocery store carried already cubed squash. But it does not. So I do the work myself. Anyway, I had butternut squash and I had pork loin leftover from the weekend. I decided sliced pork with a curried squash soup on the side sounded good. I had a similar soup at the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful a couple weeks ago when I went to visit my sister in Yellowstone country.

Here's what I did.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, deseeded and cubed
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup chicken broth
Cilantro for garnish

Steam butternut squash until soft, about 15-20 minutes.

In a medium pot, combine squash with coconut milk, tomato paste, spices.  Puree squash with immersion blender until ingredients are well combined. Add broth slowly until the soup is the consistency you like. (You can also use a food processor or blender to puree the mixture, then simmer.)


Over medium heat, let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Add cilantro for garnish.  

Serves 2 bowls, or 4 cups of soup. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In denial

I'm getting a cold. I don't want to admit it, but I've got the pressure in my head and that little tickle at the back of my throat making me want to clear it all the time. So tonight may be an early night.

In the meantime, I'll keep drinking my water, shots of Emergen-C and tea until I feel like I've kicked it.

Tonight's dinner was black bean tacos with diced onions, avocado and salsa on corn tortillas. I had three of them. The kiddo had cheese nachos.


Water drinking 101 and some other random advice for today

This started out about some random things I was thinking and became a blog about how to drink a water. We'll start out with the random though.

After you blog about being exhausted, don't try to catch up on your DVRed shows; you'll just fall asleep and miss most of them. I always think maybe I can just close my eyes during the commercials, but we all know that just doesn't work.

If you find an item of clothing you love, buy a few of them. If you buy most of your clothes at thrift shops and you find an item you love...well it sucks to be you (or me, in this case). Thankfully the currently pair of pants I love this winter are from Kohls, so I'm stocking up in multiple colors. Last year's pair was from Goodwill and eventually the zipper broke. Yeah, I realize I probably could have found someone who could replace the zipper, but I would have ended up spending more than the jeans were worth and they probably would have sprouted holes as soon as I paid for the repair. :(

Don't drink a gallon of water on the day you have to sit for prolonged periods of time or won't have easy access to a bathroom. This should be obvious, but sometimes I forget. On second thought, maybe you should drink water on days you have to sit for a long time so you are required to get up and move/stretch your legs.

When I'm trying to drink more, I use a 20ish oz water bottle. I fill it up from the water cooler first thing in the morning at work. Then I make sure to finish it before I go to the bathroom and I refill it each time I go to the bathroom. I've been doing this for awhile, so I can drink 20+oz between each bathroom stop - I suggest a smaller (10-12 oz maybe) container if you are just starting to drink more water. Your bladder will adjust.

Also, and this you may not know, if you drink a gallon of water a day, you might want to add a small amount of salt to it (like 1/2 tsp per gallon) to avoid an electrolyte imbalance - yes, too much water can be a bad thing. You won't taste the salt, but your body will appreciate it. I keep a small container of Himalayan salt and a measuring spoon in my desk at work for this purpose.

Using a dry erase marker, put a tally on the side of your water bottle each time you fill it up during the day to track how much water you drink (I tally when I finish each bottle - I had 135 oz during the workday yesterday).

Two yummy snack ideas:
  • PB Yogurt - Plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I like Fage) + PB2 + honey + cinnamon. Great as a dip for apples. Or just eat it with a spoon. I'm guilty of both. 
  • Popcorn, roasted almonds and dark chocolate chips mixed together in a bowl. (I wait until the popcorn is cooled so the chocolate doesn't melt, but you might want the chocolate to melt). Do it.
That's all for now.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hump day exhaustion

I am happy to say day 3 of T25 is done. I could have sworn it was Thursday most of the day today, so I was disappointed to realize this afternoon it was only Wednesday. 

Today's workout – Total body circuit – was tough. I’m tired now and could probably go to bed, at barely 9 pm. Food was okay. Sweet potato quinoa salad was a little bland. I felt like it needed something – maybe more spice. For dinner I made some pasta with mushrooms, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. It was all right, but I probably could have worked a little harder on getting the sauce balanced a little better.

Tomorrow on the docket are a simple lunch of turkey, bell pepper, avocado and crackers and I’m leaning towards bean tacos for dinner. I’ll probably make a quesadilla for the kidlet.


Short post because I’m exhausted. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two days down...

I got through my second day of T25 without any problems. Working out in the morning puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day. I also drank a lot of water today and I think I must have been retaining water over the last few days (lots of sodium-filled snacks over the weekend) because my ring is fitting quite large today.

The chicken waldorf salad today was really good, but it would've been even better on a bed of greens. The quinoa patties were...not very patty-like. It's not the recipe's fault though - I had to leave out the egg so it wouldn't stick together. I think next time I'll include some mashed up beans or something to boost the protein even more and help it stick together.

I also took a full freezer inventory this evening. We have waaaay too much sausage. Five packages of chicken sausages (different varieties) and 2 full packages of regular smoked sausage. That's in addition to ground beef, ground meat substitute (which I realized was not gluten-free after I bought it), steak, chicken, tilapia and some turkey burgers.

The kiddo had a beef slider and a banana for dinner. I'm okay with this meal because it included more veggies than she realized. I mixed baby food (mixed vegetables) into the sliders. Scott had a hastily put together, but hot sandwich of leftover pork butt on french bread with honey mustard.

Tomorrow on the lunch menu is quinoa and sweet potato salad. Not sure yet what I'm going to take for snacks. The dinner plan is chicken piccata and steamed brussel sprouts. I'm not sure what I'll make for the rest of the family.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Focus and Go

I started my new fitness challenge today – T25. Twenty-five intense minutes 5 days a week and I’m attempting to do the meal plan this time too (I haven’t followed the meal plan in the past with fitness programs, including Insanity and P90X). I say attempting at the meal plan because the types of meal plans that come with these programs can be frustrating sometimes when I’m substituting half the meal due to my avoidance of dairy and gluten, but I’m going to try to eat many of the top 25 foods Shaun T suggests and create some meals on my own using the same ingredients in the meal plan (I can’t eat the same five dinner for 90 days). 

Here’s that top 25 that I’m working with:

Greek yogurt
Oatmeal
Shakeology
Brown Rice
Sweet Potatoes
Quinoa
Apples
Raspberries
Melon
Kale
Broccoli
Bell Peppers
Garbanzo beans
Avocados
Eggs
Lemons
Tomatoes
Onions
Chicken Breast
Salmon
Tilapia
Raw Almonds
Lentils
Bananas

Other than the yogurt (which I might have in small amounts), eggs and salmon (which I can’t stand); it’s a pretty solid list of foods that I can build meals from with minimal extras besides olive oil, vinegars, herbs and spices.
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I got through today’s workout with minimal breaks and eat pretty well today. I had butternut squash soup for lunch and a small serving of pasta with red sauce and a big bowl of steamed lemon pepper green beans for dinner. I really wanted to get chips post-workout when I stopped to pick up granola bars for the kid, but I didn’t. I grabbed an itty-bitty bag of pistachios instead.


I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s meals because they are new recipes – chicken waldorf salad for lunch and quinoa patties for dinner. I'll let you know how they turn out. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm back...with a recipe


 Oh my goodness, where have I been? I haven’t posted anything here in ages.

Well, actually I can tell you where I’ve been. I’ve been training for, raising money for and completing a marathon! My first marathon and I tackled the hills of San Francisco for it. It really hogged up my time for a while there. But that’s done and I’m on to the next thing.

I’ve got about two months in which I’m not actively training for a specific event (my off-season, if you will) so I’m going to do Shaun T’s T25 program. Then in late January I will start training for my Ragnar Relay in June – 200 miles, 2 days, 12 people. We’re going to run from Madison, WI to Chicago.

And I also plan to complete about 3 triathlons next summer. 

But this is supposed to be about food. Last night I made a newish recipe. Growing up my mom used to make tamale casserole (I’ve also heard it called tamale pie). I loved it. It was one of two casseroles from my childhood that make me feel warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately it’ll take more time to figure out how to do the chicken enchilada casserole I love so much – the dairy-free part keeps getting in the way. 

But tamale casserole was totally doable, once I found the right vegan cornbread recipe. And I did it. I found it with the help of my good friend Google. I halved the recipe from Post Punk Kitchen. It’s moist with a crunchy crust and that golden yellow color and a little sweetness. Super yum.

This dish turned out just the way I remember it and got high marks from the family (including my uber picky one). 

Tamale Casserole

Filling:
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb ground meat – I use turkey
1 can tomato sauce
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tbsp chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Cornbread topping:
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup soymilk (I actually used coconut)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat over to 350. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Brown meat over medium high heat in a large pan with peppers, onion and garlic. Drain if necessary. Add tomato sauce, corn and chili powder. Reduce heat and let simmer while you prepare the topping.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and the vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).

Add the oil and maple syrup to the milk mixture. Whisk with a wire whisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula.

Pour filling into baking dish. Immediately pour cornbread topping over meat mixture. Spread to cover.

Bake 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve immediately.

Approximately 6 servings