Archive | July, 2013

Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

30 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

We are enjoying a easy-breezy, stress-free week at our house  which means easy meals that Baby Bird and I can prepare together.  It also means that several meals will be “clean out the pantry” affairs that help ensure we use up some of the ingredients we have on hand before I have to head to a market.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Monday’s lunch was a perfect example of keeping it simple a cheap by using what we had on hand- not to mention using ingredients the little one is guaranteed to gobble up at every meal. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta is a kitchen creation born from our family fondness for tzatziki sauce and pasta in all forms.  I serve it cold and never heat the kefir so that none of the probiotic organism bolstering the super-healthy kefir aren’t damaged.  If you chose to heat it, you would still have all of the fabulous macronutrients and polysaccarides… but it would lose it’s probiotic functionality.

Another reason I love this recipe?  Baby Bird loves to help scoop pasts, fill the pot with water, rinse the pasta with cold water, and “toss” the pasta in the sauce.  As all moms know, the more your kiddo helps with food the more likely they are to enjoy it without any hassles.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Toddler (and penguin) Friendly Meal

And did I mention it’s super easy and an ideal way to utilize pantry staples?

Bookmark this one for the days that you just can’t imagine having to run to the grocery store or the nights that you have meetings and need to leave a meal in the fridge for your family.

Go Running, Mama!- Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2 cups plain kefir
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp parsley flakes

Directions: In a ramekin or small bowl, crush the salt into the garlic cloves to form a coarse paste.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic paste in the olive oil for several minutes to infuse oil with garlic flavor.  Whisk oil and garlic paste into kefir.  Add the parsley and mix thoroughly.

In a large bowl toss pasta with kefir sauce.  Serve immediately or further chill in refrigerator.

Relax, Mama: Sun, Run & Fun

29 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

It’s summer.

It feels like summer outside, but it doesn’t feel like summer in my mind.

Does that make sense?  It probably makes sense to most moms.

I started the summer with a sizable list of things I wanted to accomplish, and the list has grown instead of receding.  Not only are the to-do’s piling up, but I feel like I haven’t managed to squeeze in any of the fun summery things that make me love Austin oh-so-much.

*sigh*

During summer weekdays, the Baby Bird and I have only managed to make it to the pool once, Deep Eddy once, and Barton Springs once.  We haven’t made it to Art Park at all this summer.  We’ve squeezed in a bare minimum of green market visits.  We’ve yet to make it to visit the dairy goats to see “other mama’s who make milky.” (Oh yeah, I’m still nursing a toddler.  I may have neglected to mention that previously.)

It’s possible that my little scheduling blip while I had surgery several weeks ago is partially to blame.  It’s also possible that I’m learning to let go of all my highly idealized view of immersing my daughter in every experience under the sun to ensure she has the “best childhood possible” and instead am living in the moment with her more and more each day.  If we don’t get to take a “zoom zoom bus” ride through downtown to go see the “Texas Castle” (Capital building) and I don’t manage to have pictures of this fantastical journey to someday artfully arrange in her baby book we will all survive.  After all, you don’t have to have plans to make memories.

Relaaaaaax, Mama.

It’s a lesson both Baby Bird and the hubs are working hard to drive home for me which is good… because I’m a planner over-planner.

Sometimes my type-A tendencies can beat my hippie lala leanings into submission.

The hubs and I had a beautiful, organic, dog-friendly, earth-friendly, locally sourced wedding.  I planned it.  And the entire wedding party may have had color-coded schedules telling them where to be by the minute for three whole days.  And some of the guys still drank too much (that was NOT on the schedule) and were late to the rehearsal… and the wedding.  Guess what, Mama (See how I’m talking to myself here!?)? It didn’t detract from the experience or the memories at all.

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

When Baby Bird turned two I decided to scale back from the soiree I threw for her first birthday and just have a little play date lunch party at home. I made individual sized pizza crusts in the shape of Mickey silhouettes in that each child could customize for lunch (you know… totally laid back), created a craft, and made four dozen Mickey silhouette cookies iced in plain-white so that kiddos could decorate their own cookie with food markers. For an hour and a half long lunch party.  For two year olds.  The kiddos slapped together pizzas, ravenously gulped down Mickey faces, and then had playtime free for all.  Not a single cookie was decorated by a toddler.  No one left with their craft.  Guess what, Mama (reminder to me, once more)? It was fabulously fun and the Baby Bird still talks about it.

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

Even when we visited Walt Disney World for Marathon Weekend- a place where hyper planning with a toddler in tow makes you a genius instead of a nuisance- I managed to go a bit overboard with excel files, itineraries, and an ADR schedule truly unrivaled in quality and value (How do I know, you ask?  I created a spreadsheet, studied menus and costs, and basically became a WDW ADR actuary.  Is that a thing?  It should totally be a thing!).  And though the memories created by my countless hours of planning are priceless, I’ve come to realize that the little one would have been just as happy waving at characters in passing and the parking herself on a curb near the castle to spend the day watching stage shows and passing parades.  And those memories would have been just as magical (although not nearly as tasty and value-packed).

Go Running, Mama- Sun, Run & Fun

I’m letting go of the schedule reins just a bit.  I promise.

Thankfully, the people I love most give me little pauses here and there that help me remember how fabulous life can be when we get to enjoy just being.  The past weekend, my little fam got the chance to join my parents at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort for a mini-vacation… and a chance to refocus on such moments.

Having grandparents with us also gave us the added bonus of couple time without having to take a “couple” trip- we could hang out withe Baby Bird but also spend time on our own while the little one napped or needed quiet time.

I, of course, prepared for the weekend by creating a mental checklist of everything I wanted to do while there- run such-and-such distance at such-and-such pace each day, workout early each morning, study my French, menu plan for our big vacation trip, menu plan for the next few weeks……….

Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

What actually took place on vacation strayed from my list just a bit.  I didn’t menu plan.  At all.

I didn’t study a single French term.  Or even read.

I didn’t write.

I didn’t even run all of my runs the way they were set on my training plan.

Go Running, Mama!

I did run though.

I ran once once treadmill (Yuck! I had forgotten how much I hate treadmills!) because of the temperature and once with my husband (HUGE luxury we don’t frequently get with a toddler at home). We also enjoyed the opportunity to work out in a gym each day while grandparents played with Baby Bird on the beach at the pool.

Beyond that, I spent a good deal of time enjoying the company of my daughter and husband in the sun (which for me means frequent layers of SPF 70 , a sunhat, a nice shady spot given my Melanoma situation.)  I closed out the weekend blissfully slowed down.

Go Running, Mama!- Run, Sun, Fun during family vacations

Perfect timing too, because this week is a “dead” week for us.  No playgroup, no dance camp, no parties to plan- just time with the Baby Bird!  Normally it’s the type of week where I would be inspired to dust off the list of things we haven’t accomplished yet this summer, but thanks to my weekend reminder of the beauty of each moment I’m planning for our week off to be a bit different.

We aren’t going to be held hostage by anything- today that means Baby Bird is building castles around her beagles and sporting pink training panties, I’m fitting in exercises amidst spontaneous activities,  and I’ll be running in the evening instead of the morning.

Tomorrow?  Who knows.

All I know is that it should be glorious.

And memorable.

I’m planning on it 😉

Bean and Greens Pizza with Purslane + Amaranth Greens and Aduki Beans

25 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Beans and Greens Pizza

We took a fabulous little min-vacation this past weekend to the Hyatt Hill Country Resort for a little resting, running, and relaxation which was a very welcome pick-me-up for my ultra-busy husband.  Knowing that we would be gone for the weekend, my grocery and CSA basket usage the past week was geared towards using up the most perishable local produce before we left and only shopping for healthy snack items that we could tote to the resort.

When we got home on Sunday, I pulled out the item in the fridge that needed to be used that night for dinner which happened to be a beautiful bunch of purslane and amaranth greens.  You see them in the photo?  With the heart around them?  Yeah, I kinna love purslane and amaranth greens.  Like… a bunch.  Holy salad awesomeness!

Go Running, Mama!- Beans and Greens Pizza

Our default meal on Sunday nights is homemade pizza.  It’s a great way to use up leftovers or unused produce and any leftover slices make an easy lunchbox meal that can be packed quickly on busy Monday mornings.  We’ve enjoyed greens on salads many times before, so I was excited to give it a go with some of my current favorite greens.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Go Running, Mama!- Beans and Greens Pizza

While I baked the pizza, hubs dry-hopped an IPA with citra hops and cardamom pods in his Randall Jr.  as his contribution to our relaxing Sunday dinner.  You see that- I’m not the only kitchen creative in this house!

The results were splendid- wilted greens, caramelized onions, and seasoned adzuki beans could have stood alone (as they do in the photo above) but we decided to up the comfort factor with a little cheese.  (Feel free to go sans-cheese to keep it vegan or dairy free.)

Pizza and beer make for a happy Sunday meal- especially when the pizza is topped with ingredients that are going to fuel you the right way on Monday morning.

Go Running, Mama!- Beans and Greens Pizza with Purslane, Amaranth, and Aduki Beans

Beans and Greens Pizza with Purslane + Amaranth Greens and Aduki Beans

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 heaping cups of flour
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • cornmeal

For pizza toppings:

  • 1 bunch purslane and amaranth greens mix, tough stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly slices
  • 1 can aduki beans, rinsed and drained (Eden Organic uses BPS-free cans)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt pepper

To make crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whisk flour, undissolved yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Heat water to between 120-130 degrees F and add to dry ingredients.  Add olive oil and stir until well combined.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth and elastic and turn into a ball to rest.Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest 10 minutes.

Line a full sheet baking pan with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Roll with a rolling pin or hand stretch to fit the capacity of the pan (this will make a rectangular pizza- use a pizza stone if you desire a round pizza).  Carefully pinch and turn up the edges all the way around the dough to form a slight lip on your pizza crust.

Bake for 10 minutes and then remove to top before continuing the baking process.

To make toppings for pizza:

Pour beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.

While crust is rising and par-baking, coat a saute pan with olive oil and heat pan to medium/medium-high.  Add onions and season with 1/2 tsp salt.  Throughout preparation of crust cook onions, stirring occasionally.  Once onions begin to brown, reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Coat the saute pan with olive oil once again and hear pan to medium-high heat.  Add beans, ume plum vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and oregano and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 3-5minutes until heated through and then add one clove of garlic, thinly sliced.  Saute for 2 minutes more before adding greens mix to pan.  Saute until wilted, stirring frequently, and then remove from heat.

To assemble pizza:

While par-baked pizza crust is still warm crush the second garlic clove, slice it in half and rub the crust with the cut portion of the clove.  Using a pastry brush, brush entire crust with olive oil.  Spread caramelized onion across crust evenly.  Add beans and greens mixture to pizza crust.  Sprinkle with cheeses.

Remove from baking pan and bake directly on the oven rack in the 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is crisp.  Remove to a cutting board.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting with a pizza wheel.

Serves 4 adults and one toddler.

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

22 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Thursday night is normally a pretty casual dinner around our house.  My husband incorporates two days of fasting into his nutrition routine, one of which is Thursday, so I normally use that as a leftover evening or graze of fruit and cheese with the little one while we enjoy a guitar serenade from fasting Daddy.

This Thursday I intended to cut up a plate of fruits and veggies to share with the Baby Bird and make myself a big salad in order to use up our more delicate local produce before we eft for a weekend mini-vacation.  Quick, easy, resourceful.

Thursday evening, however, Daddy came home and let me know that he had adjusted his fasting days for the week and would be joining us for our evening meal.  Here is a little nugget about our relationship- my hubby is a gracious and reasonable man who would be perfectly happy eating our simple fasting night fruit and veggie plate with us, but he works so hard every day to provide and opportunity for me to stay home raising our daughter that I feel like he deserves a “real meal” for dinner.

I surveyed the items I had pulled from the fridge to utilize that evening- an arugula mix of salad greens from Animal Farm, peaches from Cooper Farms, and two beautiful tomatoes from Finca Pura Vida.  I couldn’t help but think that this would make a for an indulgent fried green tomato salad if my tomatoes weren’t so beautifully red.  But seriously, who laments juicy, red tomatoes!?

It might make me seem a bit petulant, but I couldn’t get the idea of fried green tomatoes out of my mind.  Plus, I had some beautiful breadcrumbs I had just made from the leftovers of a rosemary farmers’ loaf and a jar of roasted green pepper harissa in the fridge that would make an ideal condiment.  I also knew from previous experience that I can bake almost anything instead of frying- with equally crispy-delicious results.

Maybe, in theory, baking slices of red tomato in substitution for frying slices of green tomato is a sacrilege… especially for a Southern girl like myself.  But let me tell you, y’all… in practice it is anything but.  Those lovely red tomato slices came out fabulously crunchy and golden but without losing any of the slightly-firm-yet-juicy-deliciousness you get from a perfect, ripe tomato.  Bravo, Finca Pura Vida- y’all know what you’re doing over there on your vines!

Whisked up a quick dressing (Dressing in our house is a “little o’ this, little o’ that” affair created measurement free and on the fly.  For this salad it meant rice wine vinegar, olive oil, aioli, ume plum vinegar, and a dollop of garlic & onion jam being glugged together and seasoned with coarse salt and pepper.), drizzled it on, and tickled my arugula greens a la Jamie Oliver to dress them (love him or hate him, Jamie Oliver’s salad tickle fingers are the only respectful way to dress your salad).  Layer on sliced peaches, your baked red tomato slices, and a dollop of spiciness et voila!

Quick, easy, fresh.

Oh, and delicious!

Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

  • 2 tomatoes, slicked thick
  • 1 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1 c plain kefir
  • 1 tbs fines herbes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a baking pan lined in foil with olive oil.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomato slices with salt and lay on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Flip after 10 minutes.

Place cornmeal in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.  Add kefir to a second shallow dish.  Place bread crumbs in a third shallow dish and season with salt, pepper, and fines herbes.

Dip tomato slices in cornmeal, then kefir, then the breadcrumb mixture and spread on the baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven and flip with an offset spatula.  Return to the oven for 15-20 more minutes until tomato slices are golden brown.

Serving suggestion: Serve on an arugula mix salad dressed lightly with an aioli-based dressing with sliced peaches and a dollop of roasted green pepper harissa.

Serves 2 adults and 1 toddler.

Just Shut Up and Run!

18 Jul Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

One week ago, I decided to share my little idea- Go Running, Mama!– with the world.  On the day that I published the blog, it had two viable pages and one little post aout my smoothie recipe from that morning.  And although, one week later, there still isn’t a vast history of post I’m mighty excited to carve out a little chunk of space in cyberspace that is mine all mine.  Excited… but also a little surprised by my recent posts- pop tarts, smoothies, tacos, harissa, ice cream.  On Go Running, Mama!

Notice what’s missing?  Yep, running posts!  And this is why….

Go Running, Mama!

“What’s the deal, Mama? Let’s go running!”

Five weeks ago I had surgery and was sidelined from all activity until seven days ago.  All activity.  No running… no yoga… and, supposedly, no teaching dance.  I’m not normally the kind of gal to obey doctor’s orders about restricted activity, but this time I had stitches in my abdomen that slightly complicated things (not to mention that they had to potential to leave an insanely ugly scar if I stretched them out too early).

So I mostly obeyed.  I didn’t run so I wouldn’t turn my torso or sweat into my incision.  I didn’t do yoga so I wouldn’t rip though my sutures or elongate my scar.  And I only demonstrated choreography once full out while teaching dance.

After four weeks of rest, I was beside myself with excitement to start running again when cleared.  The night before my first post-surgery run, my running coach emailed me my newly amended training schedule and I couldn’t wait to see what she had in store for me.  When I opened it up I was immediately discouraged- 30 minutes easy, rest, 30 minutes easy and 6 strides, rest, 10 minutes easy + 3×2 medium pace + 10 minutes easy, 6 miles easy, rest– by the nice easy week she had planned. Grrrr!  Coming off of four months of hard workouts and considerable effort, that looked  pretty similar to my four weeks of sitting on my butt.  How would that ever get me back into the swing of things?  Surely four weeks hadn’t set me back so far that 30 minutes of easy running would require any effort, right?!

Wrong.

Go Running, Mama!- ready to get moving

Ready to get moving again…

My first run back was abismal.  It was one of those hot, humid days that is rare even for the searing Austin summer- the kind of day where you feel more like you are swimming forward through the air rather than running through it.  Thirty minutes felt like an eternity.  My easy pace didn’t feel all that easy.  My stats on my GPS watch infuriated me no matter how I rotated thought them.  I arrived home tired and sweaty- which is normally good when it isn’t coupled with frustration and discouragement.

The second run wasn’t much better.  Neither was the third.  Essentially, the entire first week was complete rubbish.  I kept calling them “trash runs” and my husband kept reminding me that every run is better than not running so there aren’t any “trash runs.”  That might be so… but they were  still trash runs.  I would head out on my run alone, get inside my head, and spend the next 30+ minutes berating myself for falling so far behind where I had been just a short four weeks before.  I spent a whole week telling myself with each footfall that it seemed impossible that I will get to the point in December where I can run a sub-4 hour marathon like my coach and I had planned.  In short, it was a bad week.

I needed a way to claw myself out of my self-doubt spiral.  Luckily, assistance arrived in the form of a running buddy!

Earlier this week the hubs was out of town, so my mom and brother came to stay and help out while he was gone.  It’s rare that I get to do a weekday run with anyone other than myself because we have to stagger our early morning runs to ensure someone is always home with the babe.  Even on the rare occasion that we have a grandma in town to help with the little one, my husband runs so much faster than me that it is nearly impossible for us to match up our paces to run together.  Monday morning, however, I got to run with my brother while my mom did baby duty.  Normally, my brother would also be far too fast for me on a short or middle distance run, but this week our circumstances matched up perfectly- he is on leave and in rest mode after some recent military training and I’m in post-surgery recovery mode trying to ease myself back in (begrudgingly).

As we head out to run on an uncharacteristically cool, overcast day I reminded my brother that I was supposed to keep it at a nice, slow 10 minute pace… and that even at that slow pace I might struggle.  He assured me that was fine by him and kept me engaged in conversation from the get go.  The minutes, hills, and miles few by and 30 minutes later we arrived at home slightly under my easy pace. I felt good.  I was smiling.  I was confident.  It was a relief to reclaim my normal post-run self-assuredness that I am improving myself and my life, however gradually, with each footfall of each run.

My brother and I didn’t do anything monumental on that run- it was familiar terrain at a slow, familiar pace- but having someone with me to keep me from listening to and engaging the mental heckler who had taken up residence in my subconscious made all the difference.  We talked about vacation plans, career and life goals, and made fun of ourselves quite a bit.  We talked about simple things which kept my brain quiet.  Through all the chatter and laughter I brought myself back to a place of internal quiet and focus.  Apparently, sometimes it takes good conversation and a great friend to allow you to just shut out negative thoughts so you can shut yourself up and run.

Go Running. Mama- Shut Up and Run

Seven extra sedentary lbs don’t exactly make you excited to run in a sports bra… but it’s summer in ATX people!

So right now I’m slow.  I’m a good seven pounds heavier.  But I’m back in the swing of things.  And I’m running this body again!

It’s time to shut off the self doubt,

Shut up,

And run.

Unjunked Blueberry “Pep” Tarts with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

17 Jul Go Running Mama- Unjunked Blueberry "Pep" Tart with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

When it comes to planning to ensure our nutritional needs are met in this household, I deal with considerable inner conflict- As an active mom with an equally active husband and daughter I want to live by my inborn desire to graph, chart, and color coordinate our weekly menu guaranteeing all our nutritional needs are fully met and no food will go to waste:  As a hippie momster locavore foodie I want to live only by what’s freshest and most exciting, ingredients that speak to me at a moments notice or flavor combinations that engage my senses most fully when they are accidental discoveries.  Though it would probably be easiest on my sanity if I took a hardline stance and invested fully in only nurturing my type-A side, the hippie drippy lala in me seems to be guiding our family palate this summer to enjoy what the universe is offering at a moments notice.  Happily, I’m learning that the universe is just as opposed to wasting food as serious Jenn.  I’m also learning that the universe has some killer ideas about snacking awesomeness!

While in WIlliams Sonoma recently, I stumbled upon a Toaster Pastry Press that was on sale for $2.50.  No, I didn’t put the decimal in the wrong place- that is actually $2.50!  Obviously the universe was insisting I purchase that press because A) I love embarking on fun food adventures that my toddler can join in as well, and B) anytime anything is marked down to $2.50 in Williams Sonoma you would be completely crazy not to purchase it!  I set it aside knowing it would be just perfect for a rainy day kitchen adventure sometime.

Fast forward to the past 48 hours in Austin where, tut tut, it’s looked like rain (hint one…).  The arrival of our weekly CSA box provided a most welcomed diversion for a homebound toddler who was delighted to discover a pint of local blueberries inside.  “These are good for making!” she declared (hint two…).  As I started running through recipes in my mind to see what clever, toddler-friendly item I could conjure I remembered the local whole wheat flour we had received last week and the super duper exciting pastry press.  Okay, Universe… I give in!  Toaster pastries it is!

Go Running Mama- Unjunked Blueberry "Pep" Tart with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

My little one has never had a pop-tart-esque pastry before, so I didn’t really have to “compete” with a familiar comfort item but I’m not one to try to duplicate icky food by making more nutritious versions of ickiness.  What’s the point of that?  It just disappoints those who find the original comforting and doesn’t add anything to the party for those who want a really tasty snack instead of a copycat of bland and dissatisfying comfort food.  My daughter is a big fan of graham crackers, so I decided to tweak our homemade graham cracker recipe for the dough.

Go Running Mama- Unjunked Blueberry "Pep" Tart with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

We obviously had to use the blueberries for the filling, so I whipped up the same honey-sweetened reduction I use for homemade fruit yogurt.  I also remembered I had some leftover coconut-macadamia nut butter I made this weekend to serve dolloped on top of a tropical fruit salad that would make a lovely addition.

The end result?  Totally stellar yumminess brushed with maple syrup.  I’m not sure there will be any left for breakfast!

My daughter is obsessed.  As she frantically signed “more” to me, her mouth filled with the final bite of her pastry, I made the mistake of colling them Pop Tarts.

“More Pep Tart, peeeease,” she pleaded.

More Pep Tarts it is, Dear.

Go Running Mama- Unjunked Blueberry "Pep" Tart with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

Unjunked Blueberry “Pep” Tarts with Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter and Maple Glaze

  • Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 c blueberries
  • 3 tbs local honey
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3 1/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c wheat germ
  • 1 scant tsp coarse salt
  • 4 tbs grade B maple syrup
  • 2 tbs almond milk
  • 8 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon

To make blueberry filling:

In a small saucepan, heat blueberries, honey, water, and almond extract over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Stir frequently and simmer to reduce by half using a wooden spoon to crush berries that do not pop on their own.  Reduce heat to medium if necessary.  Once reduced, remove pan from heat to thicken.

To make pastry dough:

Add flour, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon to a mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate.   In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, almond milk, olive oil, and vanilla.  Mix well to combine.  Make a well in the dry ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Turn out onto a baking pan lined with parchment and roll dough into a rectangle to cover baking sheet about 1/8 inch thick.  Chill at least 30 minutes.

To assemble “pep” tarts:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

If using a toaster pastry press, cut dough according to press instructions.  If using a pastry or pizza wheel, cut dough into 3×4 inch rectangles.  In the center of every other square, place 1 1/2 tsp coconut-macadamia nut butter and 1 1/2 tsp of blueberry filling.  Cover with dough and crimp edges with pastry press or fork tines.  Chill for at least 10 minutes.

Bake in oven for 14-16 minutes.  Using a pastry brush, glaze each pastry with grade B maple syrup immediately after removing pan from the oven.  Allow to cool on pan for five minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 6 pastries

Coconut-Macadamia Nut Butter

  • 4 c shredded coconut
  • 2/3 c raw macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbs grade B maple syrup
  • coconut oil (to suit personal texture preference)

Directions: Add first three ingredients to food processor and process for 10 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl and check consistency of butter (should be similar to nut butter, although slightly drier).  Continue to process if needed.  Add coconut oil by the teaspoon is texture and consistency is to dry for your liking and you desire more spreadability at room temperature.  Store in an airtight jar.

Roasted Green Pepper Harissa

16 Jul Go Running Mama- Roasted Green Pepper Harissa

There are few things in the world that can excite my toddler like the delivery of our summer CSA boxes- the colors, textures, varieties, and aromas provide enough introspective stimulation to magically end even the most earth shattering of temper tantrum.  She loves to carefully handle each item and describe it to the fullest extent that her limited vocabulary will allow:

“Oooh, nice cold green pepper.  It’s slippery and smooth!”  She beams with particular pride when she is able to call the item by name.

And- I’m not going to lie- I beam with pride each time she can correctly name a vegetable.  And I’m well within my right to do so- the more time she spends knee deep in the shredded newspaper lining our box, bonding with with the purslane and peaches the more likely she is to eat each item when it arrives at the table and she can recall the lovely bounty she lovingly arranged in our refrigerator and pantry.  I go to great lengths to ensure none of our CSA produce goes to waste, but every season provides us with its own wave of bumper crop that starts to stump me… and bore me.

Last week, I listened to my sweet girl ramble on about “green HOT pepper” twelve separate times (“Watch ooooout… it make your fingers spicy!”) and this week I got to giggle at “yellow fernanner pepper” no less than 16 times.  Folks, thats a whole lotta of pepper to deal with at one time in a family of three!

When we woke up this morning to our second day of rainy dreariness, I felt like our breakfast routine needed a jolt of brightness and heat- a little artificial sunshine, if you will- to get us going.  A quick glance in the fridge reminded me that my cache of peppers could be a great candidate.  I’d already settled on scrambled eggs this morning instead of our normal smoothie/juice, and I desperately wanted a freshly made condiment in place of my standard Sriracha. That’s when it hit me- HARISSA!

I turned on the broiler, pulled out the banana peppers, a few hot peppers, and a green bell pepper and got to roasting.  Twenty minutes later we had some very happy scrambled eggs, and now I have a beautiful jar of fresh spiciness in my fridge (and not nearly as many peppers!).

Okay, so maybe it’s not truly harissa in the purest sense since there are no dried peppers and not a single red pepper to boot, but it’s bright, beautiful, and the perfect balance of heat and complexity so it pays homage to its namesake well.

Go Running Mama- Roasted Green Pepper Harissa

Roasted Green Pepper Harissa

  • green bell pepper; halved, stemmed, and seeded
  • 5 hot green peppers of your choosing
  • 14 medium-large sweet banana peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon (to taste)

To roast peppers:

Set oven to broil.  Spread peppers on a baking sheet, positioning the cut half of the bell pepper downward.  Place baking sheet in oven, positioning 6-10 inches from heating element. Roast peppers until skin is blistered, turning frequently with tongs.  Remove blistered peppers to a brown paper bag as they finish and allow to cool.  Once cool to the touch, peel peppers. Stem the peppers, fully seed the banana peppers, and seed the hot peppers dependent upon level of spice desired.

Assemble harissa:

Roughly chop peppers.  Add peppers and all ingredients except olive oil to food processor and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil and puree to desired consistency. Store in fridge in an airtight jar, covering the surface of the harissa with a layer of olive oil to preserve freshness.

Carrot Top Tacos

11 Jul Go Running Mama- Carrot Top Tacos

I’m greens obsessed.  I’ve come to live for farmer’s market or CSA delivery days when I know I’ll discover an enticing mound of weedy little shoots or a  cache of seasonal yumminess with their green tops still intact.  It makes me simply giddy!

If time allows, which it normally does, I love experimenting and discovering new applications for seasonal greens but when time is of the essence and I’m afraid I wont make it to my precious, delicate greens in time my tried and true strategy is to either make pesto or chimichurri with them that I can either use soon thereafter or freeze in an ice cube tray to use later (or to eat it with a spoon, which I totally suggest if you ever whip up pesto with kale, spinach, sweet chard, and pecans- trust me on this).

Go Running Mama- Carrot Top Tacos

The one dissenter from my “save the greens” mentality has always been carrot tops.  I feel like whole carrots get wilty the very second they enter my home with their tops on, so I’ve always just chopped and discarded them immediately instead of allowing them to join the pile of beet greens and turnip greens neatly cropped and awaiting their creative use.  Several months ago, I ran across an interesting recipe for roasted carrot tacos dressed with carrot green chimichurri that piqued my interest in the possibility that carrot tops can be more than just compost fodder, so when my Greenling box arrived with green bell peppers, hot peppers, a sweet onion, and carrots with their tops intact this week I knew exactly how I wanted to adapt that recipe to encompass the goodness in my box- roasted carrot and green bell pepper tacos with black beans, caramelized onions, and carrot green chimichurri.

This was a very good meal indeed.  Carrot greens are redeemed.

Go Running Mama- Carrot Top Taco Recipe

Carrot Top Tacos

Ingredients for Carrot Green Chimichurri

  • greens from one bunch of carrots
  • one hot pepper, stems and seeds removed
  • two cloves of garlic
  • juice from half a lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for Tacos

  • about 3 cups of carrots sliced into 1/2 inch coins
  • 2 green bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus more for pan
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • one can of black beans (Eden Organic uses BPA free cans)
  • tortillas
  • lime wedges

To make the chimichurri:

Rinse and pick over the carrot greens and remove and tough or woody portions of stem.  Roughly chop the remaining greens to keep stems from getting wound in the food processor.  Add greens and remaining ingredients (olive oil last) to the food processor and pulse until well combined and desired consistency is reached.

To make tacos:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

While oven is preheating, coat a saute pan with olive oil and heat pan to medium/medium-high.  Add onions and season with 1/2 tsp salt.  Throughout preparation cook onions, stirring occasionally.  Once onions begin to brown, reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown.

Drain and rinse beans.

Toss carrots and bell peppers with 1 tbsp olive oil and spices (1/2 tsp salt reserved for onions).  Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven when veggies are fork tender.

As veggies roast, heat black beans on the stove in a small pan.

Using a skillet or dry saute pan toast each side of tortillas, using tongs to flip between sides.  Keep warm wrapped in a kitchen towel.

Assemble taco ingredients within a toasted tortilla and serve with a lime wedge.

Serves: 4 adults and 1 toddler

Adapted from Rosemarried: Roasted Carrot Tacos with Carrot Green Chimichurri

Banana “Ice Cream”

11 Jul Go Running Mama- Banana "Ice Cream"

In a very sane, balanced, totally no judgmental way I’d say we are pretty health nutty in our household.  We do our best to make sure that the goodness of healthy choices translates over to our toddler each day as well- even if that sometimes equates to a 48 hour black bean and raspberry eating binge in her two year old world.  I might even venture out and say that we are downright responsible consumers…. until there is ice cream on the table.

Ice cream = All bets are off

Portion control on a large carton?  No way- eat the carton. Buy the pint cartons? Eat multiple cartons. Buy only one tiny, single serving carton? Run to the store to buy a bigger carton.  It’s 1.2 miles from my front door to the ice cream freezer section and I can carry a pint in each hand on the run back if need be.  Just watch me pick of the pace so it wont melt.

Heck, the hubs and I even did a stint as raw vegans and- until the little one started eating solids- we might have been able to keep it up for good had ice cream never been invented.  But alas, it was invented.  Even more damaging is the fact that our taste buds know that it exists so we can’t pretend that it doesn’t.  No matter how hard we try to boycot it’s existence in the confines of our fortress of healthy choices, Goofy will inevitably have an ice cream stand on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse during the measly 23 minutes of screen time my daughter chooses or the grandparents will gift her a nifty felt build-your-own-ice-cream-sundae stacking set and the next thing you know I get caught licking the television or trying to squirrel away a woolen mound of chocolate “ice cream” with rainbow sprinkles.  Honestly, that’s just embarrassing.  I’m a 30 year old woman, for crying out loud.

Luckily for me… and Daddy… and my daughter’s future ability to control herself around make believe food items, we’ve discovered banana “ice cream” which isn’t ice cream at all but frozen bananas with non-dairy milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.

The texture is right, the flavor is right, and since I only make it by the serving I have to put just enough thought and effort into my consumption that overeating would be laborious.  That’s not to say it’s difficult- because it certainly isn’t- but it’s just the right amount of effort to make me think before I eat.

Even better, baby girl prefers this the real ice cream which makes me a happy mama!

Go Running Mama- Banana "Ice Cream"

Banana “Ice Cream”

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • *non-dairy milk, enough to cover the blades of your blender
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Direction: Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth, using tamper to incorporate frozen banana slices as needed

Serves: 2 adults and 1 toddler

*Hemp milk is a great choice in this recipe to amp up the nutrient density without sacrificing flavor.  The bananas are sweet enough that milk really isn’t lending much flavor to the finished product.

My Smoothie Plus Juice Revelation

10 Jul Go Running Mama- Routines

As the stay at home mama of a toddler (and a former classroom teacher), I’m a big fan of streamlined routines.  After all, any place I can save a little time and effort means even more time for family adventures or physical activity.

Go Running Mama- Routines

I make prep time count to save time- Cherries are pitted immediately; half are frozen for smoothies, the others make easy snacks!

Morning routine is one of those places where efficiency is a necessity- we have two adults who need to get in training runs and showers and a toddler to dress while I tackle lunches, snack boxes, and smoothies and juice to make before we usher Daddy out the door on the way to work and I snag the little to make it to the dance studio or park playtime.

Even a little tweak here and there, as insignificant as it may seem, gives us a happy cushion in our domestic rush hour, but finding these areas for adjustment is rare.  However this morning I experienced a happy accident that is destined to become a beautiful second saver in our morning routine… I was out of coconut water!

Coconut water is a staple in our household, so I’m still not exactly sure how this happened nor how I overlooked the gaping hole in our pantry normally filled by carton after carton of the good stuff.  I’d like to blame Daddy for drinking the last carton and not alerting me, but that would be ridiculous given that I reorganized the fridge and pantry less than 48 hours ago and failed to notice the lack of coconut water in both locations.  Regardless of how it happened, at 8 am this morning I found myself without a drop of coconut water.

I made our juice for the morning- a super fab mix of cucumber, celery, parsley, kale, spinach, and apple- and started pulling out our smoothie staples when I realized my predicament- plain kefir, raw oats, freshly pitted cherries frozen (an abomination to many, I realize, but freezing them means I don’t have to add ice to the smoothies to thicken them up), coconut oil, kelp flakes, macadamia nuts, grade B maple syrup, cinnamon… and no coconut water!

For a moment I was dumbfounded.  What’s a mama to do?  Without any liquid it would be too thick, water would make it taste watery, and I didn’t love the idea of adding more dairy.  But then it hit me… add the juice!  Woohoo!

I held my breath and gave it a try.  Not only were the texture and flavor fabulous, but combining the two will save me the time of gathering, cleaning, and prepping an extra Lifefactory glass bottle for each family on a daily basis which buys several delicious minutes every morning.  Plus, I have a great new smoothie to add to our repertoire!

Go Running Mama- Revelation Smoothie

Revelation Smoothie

  • 6 oz plain kefir
  • 10 oz fresh green juice
  • 1/2 cup raw old fashioned oats
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen cherries
  • 1/3 c macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 tsp kelp flakes
  • 1 tbsp grade B maple syrup
  • cinnamon to taste

Directions: Add ingredients to blender in the order listed.  Blend on high until smooth.

Serves: 2 adults and a toddler