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Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

2 Jun Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Whew!  The blog has been silent for quite sometime, but I have a good excuse…

We packed up Baby Bird for her first international jaunt to Paris and Ireland (Yes, I realize that it sound weird to list a city and then a country as separate destinations, but I figured it was easer than listing every town we visited in Ireland!) where we all ate entirely too much bread and cheese for 15 days.  But we ran it off…

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

A little run through The Burren- International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

So I guess we sort of had baguette immunity since we were running.  That’s a thing, right?

We’ve only been home a few days- we are currently struggling to get a toddler back on the correct time zone… YIKES!- and I’m trying to keep things simple, so when we got an invite to a friends house for dinner* I went with my very favorite, super simple summer combo of watermelon and feta for our addition to the fete.  Just to be fancy, I jazzed it up with avocado, mint, and a pomegranate simple syrup that were still all very easy but felt slightly elevated.

To be clear, this is the salad that will accompany me to all gatherings in the next few months.  So if you invite us over, don’t you add this to your menu and then expect me to arrive with a berry crostada embellished to look like the American flag.  You’ve been warned!

Okay, okay… if you ask really nicely, I’ll still show up with a patriotic dessert.

But you better have plenty of watermelon salad!

 

*If you invite people over for dinner after they’ve been out of town with a toddler for awhile, you are totally awesome.  Chances are anyone traveling with kids is exhausted and looking for any excuse to not have to cook a meal at home… and then clean it up!

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint, and Pomegranate Dressing

  • about 1 lb watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 6 oz solid feta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 cup unsweetened, pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice, sugar, and maple syrup to a simmer and reduce to form a thin simple syrup.  Set aside in a container to cool.

Layer watermelon, avocado, and feta in a large serving bowl.

Pick the mint leaves from the springs and chiffonade.  Sprinkle leaves across the top of the feta layer.

Serve with dressing on the side (the most attractive presentation) or toss with simple syrup dressing just before serving.

 

#BetterGoodThings- Marathon Lasagna Rolls

28 Apr #BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

 

Yikes!  The disorganization of my mind is spilling directly over onto the blog.

Guess what day it isn’t?

It isn’t the third Thursday of the month.  That’s the day that Better Good Things is supposed to grace the headlines on the blog, but this month that day rolled by long ago in what was a haze of Boston Marathon prep for me (and STAAR test madness for Evin).  Just to be clear- that didn’t mean that I didn’t create and share this recipe with my family in time for my deadline… it just meant I forget about y’all.

*hangs head in shame and looks up with endearingly sad puppy-dog eyes*

I am sorry.  I’m the blogging equivalent of your super flakey friend this month.

You know the friend who always makes really ambitious, elaborate plans with you to go on a fabulous girls’ trip in the not-too-distant future and then becomes vaguely busy the closer the date grows?  Yeah.  That one.  (Which reminds me- I think I might be slightly committed to trips to both the Amalfi Coast and Vegas that I need to start side stepping out of pretty soon… because I’m totally busy… with things.)

For April, Evin and I chose to “better up” lasagna- a beloved favorite in many a kitchen- which launched us into a great philosophical debate.  Are we “easying up” healthy things or “healthying up” easy things when we are engaged in our “bettering?”  And really, how do you define healthy?  And what is actually considered easy?

Too many questions.

Honestly, who knows!  I love that we went with Better Good Things in place of Healthier or Easier because it just means that we can make it whatever the heck we need it to be that month.  Whenever we want for that matter as we’ve so proved a good 10+ days late.

As luck would have it, this month better means both healthier and easier in my book.  I created lasagna rolls that make portioning easy (hooray!) and that cut back on the fat while upping the protein ante with cottage cheese in place of obscene amounts of ricotta and mozz as well as bison in the place of beef.  It’s pretty amazing, it packs well for lunch, and it can be frozen in the pre-bake stage for later use.

To make matters even better on my end, this became the only non-bland pre-race meal my husband could stand in the week leading up to Boston so we have dubbed them Marathon Lasagna Rolls.  They will definitely keep their place on our pre-race menu from here on out!

Looking for Evin’s lasagna take?  Standardized testing for elementary students really sucks, so she hasn’t gotten around to it because cheering her son through an unnecessarily stressful testing situation is way more important than getting creative with lasagna noodles.  Everyone say a prayer, light a candle, or rake your Zen garden for The Boy over at Food Good Laundry Bad as he braves the testing gauntlet!  When she’s got hers up I’ll update and share the link.

 

*UPDATED*  Evin rocked this month with Slow Cooker Lasagna which she claims is “not a recipe.”  Part recipe, part how-to, it’s 100% genius and definitely an idea that I’m glad to have in my arsenal for busy days!

 

#BetterGoodThings: Marathon Lasagna Rolls- a healthier and easier lasagna with bison and cottage cheese

Gimme a break- Rolled up pasta isn’t inherently gorgeous… but it is really yummy!

Marathon Lasagna Rolls

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 12-15 lasagna noodles
  • 10 oz ricotta
  • 2/3 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 jar organic marinara
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Heat 1 tbs of oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion and cloves until soft and fragrant.  Add the bison to the pan.  Over medium/medium-high heat, break up bison into large pieces.  Add spices and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  Season with additional salt and pepper as desired while browning meat.  Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add lasagna noodles, along with a dollop of olive oil, and boil for about 6 minutes.  Drain.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, and the ground bison mixture.

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil.

Working with one lasagna noodle at a time, lay out each noodle and spread with a generous 2 tbs of filling.  Roll up and place in baking dish.  Once baking dish is full, top lasagna rolls with sauce and cover with foil.

Bake at 400 for 30 min.

To freeze in individual portions: Follow the recipe directions through assembly but instead of preparing it in a 9×13 baking dish, spread them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them into freezer bags and freeze. When serving, place your preferred number of frozen lasagna rolls in a baking dish and top with sauce. Put foil over baking dish and bake at 350 for 60 minutes, or until heated through. The time will vary based on number of rolls.

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola

9 Apr Homemade Oat and Seed Granola with oats, salba, chia, pepitas, and flax

As I recently filled you in, I’m on a mission right now to keep The Hubs feeling full while watching his race weight as we continue the countdown to Boston.  This task is far more difficult than one might expect; on one hand he is the most relentlessly driven, self-disciplined person I’ve ever met, yet on the other- as soon as it’s territory he doesn’t have to dominate (read: any and all of the choices on the food he consumes)- he very willingly relinquishes all control.  Don’t read into this as a complaint, I take great pride in the fact that such a capable, intelligent person would entrust his diet to me fully.  It does mean that I have a very important job.

It also mean that my phone features a constant feed of questions about what he can and cant eat.  Which is pretty adorable:

text collage

A donut? Are you serious?

See… adorable.

In order to keep Mr. Adorable away from the donuts on the road to Boston, I try to send a variety of tasty, wholesome snacks along each day to help keep him feeling satisfied.  Granola is the absolute easiest option since it can be consumed a variety of ways- dry as trail mix, sprinkled over yogurt or cottage cheese, layered over sliced bananas and fruit, or in a bowl with alt-milk and a spoon.

For me, granola is one of those foods it makes me sick to think of purchasing because the store bought versions are A) infuriatingly expensive in comparison to their raw ingredients and prep effort level, B) normally contain lots of unnecessary salt and refined sugar, and C) are always lacking just a little something that would make it exactly what you wanted… but that you could easily make at home in the perfect, custom manner.

Chances are, you have the basic raw ingredients hanging out in your pantry just waiting to be used.  See what I mean:

  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1/2-3/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (coarsely chopped if using apples or apricots)
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt or kelp flakes
  • 4-6 tbs of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbs of coconut oil

From there you can get fancy with a pinch of this or a dash of that, but in the end it’s really all the same.  It ends up being a great way to use up odds and ends in the pantry- which is far more eco-friendly and budget conscious than buying store bought.

Granola making (and consuming) rarely looks the same way twice in this household, but I do have a favorite framework I like to work around that includes lots of fabulous seeds and other little nuggets of scrumptious goodness.  Give it a go in your kitchen, but don’t be afraid to change it up to your liking.  And- MOST IMPORTANTLY- don’t turn it into something that necessitates a trip to the grocery store… use up what you’ve got in that pantry.

Unless, of course, you aren’t yet someone who stocks oats, seeds, and grade B maple syrup. In that case, get thee to the market PRONTO!

 

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola with oats, salba, chia, pepitas, and flax

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola

  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • generous 1/2 cup raw almond, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 2 tbs salba
  • 2 tbs black chia seeds
  • 2 tbs quinoa (raw)
  • 2 tbs golden flax seeds
  • 2 tbs shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 tsp kelp flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbs grade B maple syrup
  • 2 tsp local honey
  • 2 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • slash of vanilla extract
  • splash of almond extract
  • generous pinch of sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, toss well to incorporate.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, toss, and return to bake for 10-15 minutes more.

Allow to cool completely on baking pan before serving of storing.

*Frequency of tossing during cooking as well as length of cooling time will affect the size of your granola clusters.  If you like chunkier granola, toss less and allow to cool completely undisturbed.

Will keep in airtight container for about 2 weeks in fridge.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl with The Mother of All Taco Seasoning

25 Mar The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Here we are y’all… a month past Austin Marathon and I’m still avoiding writing about it.  I’ll get there, but there are so many other things going one and the fact that it doesn’t really count as a race because I basically strolled through the second half makes it feel pretty unnecessary to even recap.  Besides, I’m SO BEHIND on recipes right now it seems the recap will have to be squeezed in amidst far more interesting and yummy topics.

And, since I’ve currently got a backlog of recipes half written and ready to post, this is the perfect time to delay them further to write about what I’m making a this very moment in my kitchen.  Obviously, that makes perfect sense!

Boston Marathon is just a month away, so logically The Hubs is facing an achilles injury with less than four weeks before he has to line up in Hopkinton.  No bueno!  Luckily, we’ve got a little time and a lot of awesome resources so we aren’t concerned.   Who needs long road runs when you’ve got access to an AlterG and 3 hour aqua jogs (in a 25 meter pool none the less… The Hubs has deemed it the “actual insanity workout”)?  Dedication and hard work trump perfect circumstances every time, mostly because perfect circumstances don’t exist.

What does this have to do with food?  Major changes in training intensity this close to a race coupled with an injury mean we need to keep a careful eye on his weight and nutrition- even more than usual.  Every calorie has to count big time in terms of nutrient density.  Which means bye bye to refined carbs and the sugary treats that he loves to sneak!  I have to make sure he is satisfied and nourished enough that he doesn’t have the desire to snag a candy treat when I’m not around.

It also means making dinners that can be packed up as lunches for the next day because I’ve got my hands full at night ensuring I pack the right combination of snacks to keep him full… but not too full.

Last week, I brought a tray of my made-over mac and cheese to my friend Laura’s house for a lunch playdate, and she served me a quinoa side dish very similar to the one I feature here that I promptly mixed in with my serving of mac- and it was delicious.  I quickly realized that the concept of her quinoa side dish would be a versatile one that I could draw on for years to come.  As I made my menu plan for the coming week, the memory of that little quinoa side kept shouting at me in my brain “Top me with ground beef and serve me over salad!”

If you’re a distance runner or endurance athlete, you’re probably pretty familiar with skillet style meals- brown some meat, dump in beans and tomatoes, and serve over rice.  While easy, I’m not a huge fan because skillet meals lack texture or color interest- they are meals of necessity and not enjoyment.  This beef and quinoa taco bowl is just as easy, but far more flavorful and offers levels of interest for your eyes and your palate.

I make my own taco seasoning, and you should too.  Mine is spicier and smokier than the one my friend Laura makes and serves mixed straight into the quinoa , but that’s the beauty of making your own spice mixes- you can make them perfectly to your liking.  I served the beef and quinoa over mixed baby herb greens, but you can just as easily use it to stuff an tomato, a pepper, or an avocado… or wrap it up in a spelt tortilla.  Top it according to your nutritional needs and taste preferences- plain kefir (instead of sour cream), queso fresco, or diced avocado.

The Mother of All Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • 2 tbs chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp organic sugar
  • 1 tsp Chihuahua de Mexico wood smoked salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked tomato powder

Directions: Mix all spices in bowl to combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl- Perfect for endurance athletes!

Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or veggie broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs+ of homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 lb grassfed, lean ground beef
  • grapeseed oil
  • serving options: plain kefir, queso fresco, mixed baby greens, avocado

Directions: Rinse quinoa well and drain thoroughly.  Bring veggie broth or water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add quinoa and I smashed garlic clove to the broth.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork.

Thinly slice remaining garlic clove. Saute sliced garlic in a dollop of grapeseed oil for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned.  Over medium/medium-high heat, add ground beef  and break up into large pieces.  Add taco seasoning (add seasoning to taste, I like to start with 2 tbs) and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook.  If desired, season with additional salt while browning meat.

Line a colander with paper towels and pour in ground beef to drain off/ absorb any unnecessary fat.

In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, corn, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Squeeze lime juice into quinoa mixture and toss to mix thoroughly.

Serve quinoa on a bed of greens, topped with beef and additional toppings of your choice.

 

#BetterGoodThings: Colorful Veggie Bars

20 Feb #BetterGoodThings- Colorful Veggie Bars

This month for Better Good Things (on the Third Thursday… because Evin loves alliteration!) Evin, the mama in charge at Food Good Laundry Bad, and I decided to tackle a recipe that makes its rounds pretty frequently on Pinterest and holds a place near and dear to my heart.  Sometimes it’s called “veggie pizza”… sometimes “veggie bars”… but it always shares some commonalities- ranch dressing, mayo, and icky supermarket crescent rolls.

When I was little, my mom used to make this as one of her go-to potluck appetizer recipes.  It was oh-so yummy and stands as a fabulous nostalgia food for me but- despite the veggie variety on top (my mama used to do stripes of diced carrot, cauliflower, on broccoli)- it’s been a no-no in our house given the traditionally super-processed base ingredients.  Which means this one was destined for a makeover…

At first glance, it probably seems like the first thing to go should be the canister of crescent roll dough- I know that is the first thing Evin axed on her end- and that was my plan as well (because homemade crescent roll dough does sound like a fun baking adventure) until I happened on a serendipitous discovery… my favorite “cheat” brand of ready to bake goods –Immaculate Baking– makes crescent roll dough.  The best part is that a roll of Immaculate crescent roll dough is only $4.95 at Whole Foods making it $0.05 less than the $5 cap for specialty ingredients that Evin and I set for Better Good Things.  The grocery gods are smiling upon me!

#BEtterGoodThings: Colorful Veggie Bars made with kale, purple cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, and tomatoes at gorunningmama.com

For the most part, the rolls of crescent roll dough you purchase at the supermarket contain soy (tons and TONS of soy), red 40 (which has suspected links to cancer, ADHD, and allergies/irritants), and tertiary butylhydroquinone- a form of butane used as a preservative with links to tinnitus, asthma, ADHD, nausea, stomach cancers, and interruption to estrogen levels in women.  No biggie, right?  My lovely friends at Immaculate Baking leave out all of those nasties!  And just to be clear, they’re not really my friends… they just make a great product that is a better choice for my family.  Which makes them feel like family!  Full disclosure… this product does contain canola oil which is not my favorite choice, but here and there I excuse it in the name of brief and infrequent convenience.  And because I had a stomach virus last week which morphed into a cold this week and I just can’t imagine having to work through the rise and rest periods for yeast dough at this moment!

But if you’re standing firm on no canola oil (because you probably should), check out Evin’s Real Food Veggie Pizza that totally boycotts dough-in-can…

#BetterGoodThings- Real Food Veggie Pizza

Regardless of your crust choice, jump on board with me for my ranch dressing better choice-  In place of the usual ranch dressing topping (soybean oil, phosphoric acid- lowers bone density, calcium disodium EDTA- can cause kidney damage…) I opted for a kale pesto-esque spread made with cream cheese.  Want to keep it vegan?  Forgo the cheese; up the kale content; and add some olive oil, nuts, nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt!

#BEtterGoodThings: Colorful Veggie Bars made with kale, purple cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, and tomatoes at gorunningmama.com

(Note: This images show a half portion of the recipe I below)

Instead of doing my mama’s standard veggie stripes so beloved from my childhood, I tossed the veggies together so that no one has to miss out on any goodness.  The purple cauliflower?  A total essential in our house!  Not only does it look simply gorgeous, but it is also a surefire way to get my little girly girl to down veggies on even the pickiest toddler days!  (Need a go to girly snack? Pink hummus dyed with beet juice served with purple cauliflower for the win!)

#BEtterGoodThings: Colorful Veggie Bars made with kale, purple cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, and tomatoes at gorunningmama.com

If you’re like me and have a fridge stuffed with veggie leftovers that constantly need using, having a roll of family friendly crescent roll dough on hand could help you create and easy meal out of those leftovers by customizing the toppings.  Even better- it’s one of those meals that feels like an art project for little hands which can be a huge lifesaver on fridge cleanup day.

Sometimes playing with your food is such a good decision!

#BetterGoodThings- Colorful Veggie Bars made with kale, purple cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, and tomatoes at gorunningmama.com

Colorful Veggie Bars

(In the pictures above, I reduced my recipe by half to make a manageable size for just us three… the recipe I’ve included here will make an entire jelly roll pan worth which is perfect for take along snacks for your next playdate or extended family game night… or just a bigger family in general!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls of Immaculate Baking crescent rolls
  • 8 oz organic cream cheese
  • 6 oz parmesan cheese
  • about a half a bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into small pieces
  • 2 tbs plain kefir
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup purple cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/2 cup broccoli slaw
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Roll the crescent roll dough out to cover the pan and press seams together.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the kale and garlic together they form a paste.   Add cream cheese, parmesan, and kefir and pulse to an even, spreadable consistency.  Spread kale mixture on the cooled crescent roll base.

Finely dice the cauliflower, tomatoes, and bell pepper.  Toss with the broccoli slaw and sprinkle evenly across the kale spread, pressing lightly into the spread to keep in place.

Slice with a pizza slicer and serve immediately. Or store in refrigerator in layers separated by parchment.

Breakfast on the Run: Baked Egg Cups To Go

15 Jan

The The Hub’s new Team Rogue schedule is a bit of a game changer in our household (not just because they’ve lead him to finally accepting that he has insanely loud feet).  He’s now out the door for the day pre-workout instead of our old routine in which he ran the neighborhood/area, came home to eat breakfast and get ready for work, and then left for the day.  Because it was routine, I found this slightly easier in my mind because the dirty laundry made it in the bathroom immediately and I could worry with his morning nutrition on the spot.  In reality, I’m realizing that it made me less strategic- and also meant The Hubs often made his own eggs while balancing a business call if and when I managed a morning run for myself.  We’re multi-taskers ’round here, y’all!

I’m realizing that pre-prepped breakfast to go is a thing of beauty.  It forces me to be strategic and also means I don’t feel like a lazy bum on the mornings that I sleep in a bit later than I meant… because I was up later than intended… because I took extra time to stop and smell the roses with the little one during the day… (You see the cycle right?)

Last week I created Mango Recovery Muffins for The Hubs to tote along for breakfast and this week I’ve added baked egg cups into the mix.  They are easy enough that you could bake them the morning of if you prefer, but I’m streamlining our morning shenanigans (read as: I’m not waking up at 4:15 am for someone’s track practice until it’s because I have to get up to drive Baby Bird to the track) so I’m baking them the night before and packaging them up neatly for the next morning.

Breakfast on the Run: Bake Egg Cups, fruit skewers, Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins, and Raspberry Refrigerator Jam from Go Running, Mama!

As you can see- via the beauty that is my late night Instagram snapshot- The Hubs left this morning with two baked egg cups, fruit skewers, a Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffin, and a generous scoop of raspberry chia refrigerator jam.  The kiwi blueberry skewers made it easy for him to eat his fruit quickly without having to use utensils or picking up each piece with his fingers.  A little box of balanced, satisfying, premade nutrition designed for him to consume quickly in the transition from workout to work.

Now that is a productive start to the day!

Baked Egg Cups To Go

Ingredients

  • 2-4 jumbo eggs
  • i slice of thick cut bacon; cooked, fattiest part removed, and diced
  • truffle salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

“Grease” silicone muffin cups with olive oil.  Place muffin cups on a baking pan or sheet.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each egg with diced bacon, truffle salt, and pepper.

Place baking sheet and muffin cups in oven and bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan each 6 minutes.  Remove when eggs are white and yolks still have a slight wobble.

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

13 Jan Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Last week I intended to post about my goals for this year.  Actually, I planned to post within a few day of my recap of last year’s goals but I just hadn’t seemed to settle on measurable parameters quickly enough to do so.  Then I meant to get them typed up this weekend.  And again today…

Maybe one of my goals should actually be typing up and airing my goals?

In reality, two of my very huge goals for this year are putting my family (That include ME!  I’m a part of that family so my needs are going to become more important too!) ahead of everything else and being honest with myself about each day’s “must do’s” as opposed “like to do’s.”  Guess where my goals blog post falls?

What was a “must do” today were some household responsibilities and then allowing Roomba to do my vacuuming while I enjoyed some crafting and  outdoor time with Austin’s most natural gardener.

Go Running, Mama!

Seriously.  That adorable little one wins every time.  And I’m not allowing unnecessary responsibilities to make me feel bad about that anymore.

And, of course, dinner was on that “must do” list as well.  After a day of play and a later than expected work evening for The Hubs it really became a “must do quick” sort of task.  So I kept it quick and dirty easy and healthy.

Quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, mashed avocados, and grapefruit… in a pretty little pile on a plate. Done and done.

And now I’m off… because sleep is topping my “must do” list right now!

Bonsoir!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can Eden Organics BPA free black beans
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a sauces pan with vegetable broth and  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.  Set quinoa aside to cool.

Drain and rinse black beans.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with a fork.  Add juice from one lime, diced yellow bell pepper and salt to taste.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix kefir, juice from one lime, cilantro, green onion, and salt to taste. Set aside.

Cut the pith and peel from the grapefruits.  Using a paring knife, remove each grapefruit section.

To serve, assemble ingredients in a bowl- quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, guacamole, and grapefruit sections.

If storing, keep ingredients separate and assemble when serving.

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

6 Jan Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

It’s a new year and, as I focus on finalizing my goals for 2014 by adding quantifiable terms, I’m also focused on creating meals that are quick, cost-effective, and- most importantly- nutrient dense as The Hubs kicks it into gear for his racing streak.  This orzo dish is super simple and packs a serious nutrient punch from broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, kefir, and pine nuts.

There is the issue of the bacon.  It certainly doesn’t get the “healthy” label and totally isn’t necessary to the integrity of the completed dish.  But I add it.  Because The Hubs specifically asks for it.  And because bacon.

Whether you enjoy it sans-bacon or fully loaded, I’m sure you will enjoy it on a busy night where you are still crazing nutrient rich, homemade fare.  And you’ll continue to enjoy it the next day because it makes a stellar leftovers lunch as well.

Enjoy!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 4 cups raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
  • 1 cup cauliflower cut into small florets and stems
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cups pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + more for pasta water
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • sea salt

Directions: Spread bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Prepare the orzo according to directions, adding a glug of olive oil to the water to help keep pasta from sticking together.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well once more, removing to a separate bowl.

Add 3/4 cup water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add a large pinch of salt to the water and stir in the broccoli and cauliflower.  Cover and cook for 1 minute to soften ever so slightly.  Quickly drain the veggies in a strainer and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.  Drain well.

Grate the zest of one lime and set aside.

Combine two cups of the cooked broccoli (avoid the cauliflower florets for texture reasons), the garlic, 1/3 cup of the pine nuts, the parm, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 2 generous tbs of lime juice in the food processor.  Add the olive oil and kefir and pulse until smooth.

Toss the orzo, bacon, and remaining veggies.  Add the pesto and lime zest and toss to coat.  Fold in the avocado gently before serving.

Makes 6-8 adult dinner portions.

Top 13 in 2013

2 Jan My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

This blog has been a new adventure for me and, even though it only covered the second half of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at my 13 most popular posts of 2013.

It’s been a lot of fun sharing, and I’m excited about another year with y’all!

Top 13 posts in 2013- Go Running, Mama!

13. Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick Me Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors (September)- Forgetting water during a high altitude half marathon, finding out I had mono, and the smoothies that got me through the ordeal!

12. Carrot Top Tacos (July)- Spiced carrots and beans with carrot top chimichurri.  Never, ever waste your carrot tops again.

11. Maple Bacon Biscuits (September)-  Maple.  Bacon. Biscuit.  Trifecta.

10. Gifts from the Heart: Apple Cinnamon Ornaments (December)- An ultra non-toxic clay that makes heavenly scented ornaments or an amazing material for sensory play.

9.  #FirstontheFirst Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Penuche Frosting (October)- We were supposed to make candy, but I cheated and frosted a very yummy cake with this praline-esque frosting.

8. #FirstontheFirst Gateau Larsson (September)- My Scandinavian twist on a traditional Basque dessert.

7.  Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments (December)- These smooth ornaments are an inexpensive (and toddler friendly) alternative to a trip to a ceramics studio.

6. Creamy Garlic Kefir Pasta (July)- A probiotic packed easy meal.

5. Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars (August)- Lunchbox snacks don’t get much healthier.

4. Meeska… Mooska… Mouseka Cakes: Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties (August)- Healthy food tastes even better in Mickey Mouse form.

3. #FirstontheFirst Candy Canes for Cheaters (December)- Once again, we were supposed to make candy.  And I didn’t.  But I think you’ll forgive me when you taste these cookies.

2. Frosty the Cheese Man: Snowman Cheese Ball with Hand Cut Tortilla Chips (December)- The most adorable, toddler friendly appetizer you’ll ever bring to a gathering.

1. Gifts from the Heart: Homemade Ornaments– Salt dough ornaments are a classic go-to holiday activity.

Looking for even more fun?  Here are my five favorite posts you may have missed this year…

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2013- Go Running, Mama!

Long Run Breakfast: Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits and Fruit Salad

30 Dec Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Hey, Jenn… remember when you stated a blog and called it ‘Go Running, Mama!’ because you spent all of your ‘me’ time running?  Remember that? Do you think you should… I don’t know… actually talk about running again sometime soon!?

Fair point, Inner Dialogue. Very fair point.

Except I haven’t been running consistently since the summer because the second half of 2013 has been a bit of a comedy of errors for me.

So what’s a mother runner on hiatus to do?  Post about my husband’s runs.  Obviously.  It’s smoke and mirrors, y’all… just enough to get myself back into training mode (which is happening TODAY) so that you forget that you read the last 10 posts and thought “She should have called this blog ‘Go Make Ornaments and Cookies, Mama!'”  It’s all a clever ruse.

This weekend The Hubs had his first long run with the Team Rogue Sisson crew.  We’ve both been working with an amazing coach, Leah Soro at Enlightened Performance, for a almost two years (I like to describe myself very officially as the most infuriating runner Leah has ever had to coach) and she has pushed The Hubs to a level of excellence… not to mention the miracles she always works with me in the inevitably short period in which I focus before each race and claim I’m going to be consistently dedicated forever and ever from that point on (Spoiler Alert: I never follow through on that promise).

The only thing that is lacking with one-to-one coaching is teammates.  For me, this is is fine- I need someone who is going to help me work around toddler illness and playdates, late nights and nap boycotts, and who understands that workouts change based on whether or not I might need to push a stroller that day (Hill repeats?  During a week filled with freezing rain? With a toddler in a jogger?  It’s great to be able to send a text to Leah and get some different direction); when I need a running buddy I toss mine in the stroller; and there are no shortage of ladies I know willing to run my pace during a race.  I need the world’s most flexible way to be a coached runner- which Leah has patiently and graciously provided for me.

The man of the house is different.  If it’s on his plan, he will do it.  If there is a blizzard he will still do it, and he will probably do it better and faster than you asked him to perform.  And then he will come home and do double the conditioning exercises you asked him to do, a focused yin yoga series and foam rolling, and commence to quiz me on his appropriate nutrient intake based on that specific workout given our current elevation and a slight fluctuation in his temperature and heart rate.  And then he’ll do 100 burpees because he’s been standing still for too long.  So he’s a little serious.

In his less than three years as a runner he has made major strides, much of that with Leah’s guidance.  Joining Team Rogue is going to give him a new edge- the ability to push himself to the performance level of even faster athletes.  Peer pressure at its finest.  I don’t know if you can tell, but he’s not the kind of guy who likes to be left behind.

The Team Rogue Sisson crew was scheduled to run 20 miles on Saturday.  The Hubs is coming back from a calf injury so he said he thought he’d run 15 or 16.  I know him, so I figured that meant he would run a 10 mile warm up at 4:30 am and then decide to run the full 20 with Rogue as well.  Judging by his extreme focus and determination when laying out his gear on Friday night, the odds seemed in my favor.  30 miler, anyone?

Big training events are celebration points at our house, so Baby Bird and I decided to make a big breakfast for Daddy.  After a long run, he needs around 20 grams of protein and ideally we aim for around a 3:1 carb to protein ratio for his meal 30 minutes after his run.  Though I knew he would come home and immediately ask for bacon and eggs, I wanted to back off of the cholesterol and rely on healthier fats.  I decided on scrambled eggs, fruit salad,and maple walnut kefir biscuits.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Our scrambled eggs are eggs with just a pinch or salt, butcher cut pepper, with a little olive or grapeseed oil in the pan- no extra daily mixed in.  (Last year we did an elimination diet in which we discovered The Hubs performs better when he avoids uncultured dairy) We mixed up a fruit salad with berries (high in antioxidants), bananas (potassium), mint (abundant in nutrients such as vitamin A and iron), and avocado.  In addition to the abundance of healthy monounsaturated fats contained in avocados, they also help to slow down the flow of glucose to your cells so they provide a bit of a balance to the high sugar content in fruit salads (especially if they contain high glucose fruits like grapes, date, bananas, or oranges).

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits were born of my love for all things drop-biscuit married to the prolific use of walnuts, grade B maple syrup, and kefir in my kitchen.  We are seriously obsessed with kefir.  I often use it as a substitute for sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt when cooking.  It’s a great probiotic addition to smoothies and make a really simple pasta sauce.  Plus, it’s about as toddler friendly as probiotics get.  Lifeway Probugs have been a game changer for us, Baby Bird thinks they are the greatest dessert in the world.  When she saw that Lifeway had a booth at ACL Kiddie Limits this year and were giving away free Probugs push pops, she declared it the coolest event in the universe.  She is still talking about how much she loves ACL.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

A maple walnut biscuit should clearly be a sweet biscuit.  Using maple syrup in the biscuits lets me cut down considerably on the sugar content, and using grade b maple syrup lets me use even less maple syrup in the sugar’s place without sacrificing sweetness or mapleyness.  Glazing the biscuits with grade B maple syrup packs an extra punch of manganese and zinc for a guy who is sufficiently sweating out huge quantities of salts and minerals on a daily basis.  Walnuts are high in omega-3s but, more importantly, research shows they may have significant cardiovascular benefits.  And a healthy heart is a very good thing for an endurance athlete.

When The Hubs returned home from his run (20 miles… underachiever) he was in great spirits and very much in need of a post run meal.  Once he hit the entryway, I heard the expected question… “Can we have some bacon?”

The answer was yes… a little… spread sparingly on a walnut kefir biscuit (in the form of bacon beer jam) and enjoyed with fruit and eggs.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits and Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

That was an acceptable compromise.

We all sat down to enjoy a recap of that morning’s run over a fabulous breakfast.  And admire the sweet new Adidas Glide Boosts he purchased at Rogue after his run.

And, of course, to enjoy a little family core work and yin yoga.  And to discuss the carb to protein ratio in the exact breakfast portions The Hubs had just consumed.

Some things never change.

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits- Go Running, Mama!

Maple Walnut Kefir Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted cultured butter (slightly softened)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs grade B maple syrup + more for glazing biscuits
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • generous 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream.  Add the maple syrup and kefir and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda and whisk well to incorporate.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.  Gently stir in the walnuts.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper.  Bake for 12 minutes until biscuits are beginning to brown slightly.

Remove to a cooling rack and brush biscuits with maple syrup to glaze.

Make 12-14 biscuits.