Tag Archives: eat clean

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.

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.

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!

Get to Know Your Grains: Quinoa (Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars)

12 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars; clean, healthy snack or breakfast on the go

About eight years ago I was exposed to quinoa at Walt Disney World while staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Boma, the African buffet restaurant on property, served a hot quinoa breakfast porridge every morning and even without knowing its nutritional prowress I found it to be a delightfully tasty alternative to normal breakfast cereals.  I knew I just had to have it as a morning meal option in my own home.  Anyone who has been to WDW knows that they do customer service right so when I asked about how it was prepared, the chef provided me with the preparation method and recipe.

When I returned home, I did a little research on this mystery grain and quickly learned that it was quite the super grain.  Along with preparing quinoa in the mornings I started seeking out other ways to enjoy it.  At that point I was living in Houston and the fabulous Monica Pop would sell a red quinoa salad (that I have often tried to copy, yet have never managed to get quite right) at the T’afia farmers market that became a common staple for me.  I also started making a quinoa and flax granola occasionally that- looking back- seemed very forward thinking despite the fact that my friends made fun of me for taking time to home make a seedy little granola.  It’s probably one of the biggest contributors to my crunchy hippie reputation amongst my NFL dance friends.

By now I think most everyone is familiar with quinoa and has used it at least once in their kitchen- even if it’s simply been in place of rice as a side dish.  And however you might use it, you’re doing your health some serious favors.  Nutritional evaluations of quinoa lead most dietitians to classify it as a complete protein.  It’s high in antioxidants, phytonutrients and the flavonoids quercetin and kaempherol- higher, in fact, than the celebrated cranberry.  It contains eight essential amino acids yet is low in fat.  It is gluten free.  It’s easy to prepare and store for midweek meals.  No wonder it’s considered the “Mother Grain.”

To be frank, practically the only way you can go wrong with quinoa is to pronounce it phonetically.  Stop with the “kwin-oh-uh”… it pronounced “Keen-wah.”

Say it with me- “Keeeeeen-waaaah.”

Now go eat some!

Nutritional Information (1/2 c prepared quinoa)-

  • Calories- 111
  • Total Fat- 4 g
  • Sodium- 7 mg
  • Carbohydrates- 19.5 g
  • Fiber- 2.5 g
  • Protein- 4 g
  • Vitamin E- .6 mg
  • Thiamin- .1 mg
  • Riboflavin- .1 mg
  • Niacin- .4 mg
  • Vitamin B6- .1 mg
  • Folate- 37.5 mcg
  • Calcium- 16 mg
  • Iron- 1.4 mg
  • Magnesium- 59 mg
  • Phosphorus- 140.5 mg
  • Zinc- 1 mg

Go Running, Mama!- Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars; clean, healthy snack or breakfast on the go

These are perfect for my toddler’s snack during dance camp because they pack a protein punch!  If you’re making them for adults, up the flavor factor by tossing in some additional baking spices.  You can also toss in raisins to make them more similar to traditional granola bars for bigger kiddos.

Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars

  • 2 1/2 c quinoa, prepared and at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs flax meal
  • 6 tbs water
  • 1/3 c almond milk (I’m crazy for Califia Farms)
  • 1/3 c grade B maple syrup
  • 1 tbs local honey
  • 1 tbs cinnamon (ceylon is the best bet for use in this quantity)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 370 degrees F.

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.

In a small mise en place bowl, mix flax meal with water and allow to congeal.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and flax meal mixture.  Reserving quinoa, add remaining ingredients and whisk once again.

Add quinoa and mix well to combine.

Pour into parchment lined baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before removing on parchment to a cooling rack.

Once completely cool, cut in  a 2 inch grid to create 16 bars.

Meeska… Mooska… Mouseka-Cakes: Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties

5 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties; easy, healthy, make ahead meals in fun character shapes

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling icky!  As can be expected when you have a toddler in the house, Baby Bird sensed this and decided to wake up extra early while Daddy was our for his long run and swim.  She pampered me with lots of hugs and kisses- which I adore from my sweet girl- but she also wanted my undivided attention directed towards making character voices for all of her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse character dolls.  Not exactly a relaxing moment of recovery.  Though caffeine is normally avoided in our household, caffeine made a welcome appearance as I did my very best Goofy impersonation waiting for Daddy to make it home.

Go Running, Mama!

I do my best to be a super healthy gal, but sometimes this happens.

Since there is no such thing as a mama sick day, I knew I wasn’t going to get tons of rest which meant I needed to try to buy myself some time wherever possible.  On top of that, I wanted to attempt to stay in my home in my yoga shorts, sweatshirt, compression socks, and totally-not-of-the-moment-for-a-30-plus-year-old-mother messy bun barring medical emergency or fire.

One problem- I needed to go to the grocery store.  Aside from a major run on the market last week for end of the season peaches, I hadn’t purchased much produce lately as I was working through what he had in the fridge.  I also haven’t gotten a CSA order in a few weeks since we have been in and out of town.  And, thanks to feeling icky, I forgot to confirm this week’s Monday order so I wont start my week off with a rescue box of goodies.

Even if I had remembered to confirm my order I still would have been in a jam because Baby Bird has Mickey Mouse Dance Camp this week thus a yummy lunch that is both toddler friendly and toddler manageable must be packed for 5 days.

So my choices were a) go to the store b) make it work and get creative in the kitchen.

I’m sure someone is looking at that and thinking “hmmm… isn’t ‘c) send your husband to the store’ an option?”

In short- no.

No, it’s not an option.  My husband is very helpful.  He is very kind.  He will shop for every item on our list.  But he will also call me about each item as though I must guide him to the exact location for each and every thing like I’m the world’s only grocery Onstar.  He is a perfectionist and wants to bring home exactly what I needed.  But when I’m feeling bleh- done is better than perfect, so that was a no-go.  Plus, his weekend time is far better spent loving on Baby Bird than going Whole Foods Orienteering.

Don’t fret!  There’s a little something you should know about Jenn- cooking is almost like breathing to me.  Seriously… if I haven’t cooked something recently it’s possible that I’m dead.  Running, dancing, and cooking are cathartic experiences for me and since we don’t have a treadmill or a dance room at our house, a good deal of home time is spent in the kitchen having fun.  And anyways, this past Thanksgiving when I was so sick with the “super flu” that I could barely stand up I managed to rally and cook a 5 course meal (in aseptic technique a la the science lab teacher I used to be) that I couldn’t even eat so feeling icky is just a minor bump when it comes to food action.  I may train for marathons on the pavement, but I also train for moments like this in my kitchen.  Trust me- there are at as many miles on my Kitchenaid stand mixer as there are on my most recent three pairs of Adidas Bostons combined!

But I digress.  Back to the challenge at hand…

The produce situation was abysmal.  There were some berries (score for lunch bag snacks!) and TWO ZUCCHINI left over from the previous evening’s zucchini pie.  That’s it for fresh and seasonal.  Sad.

Luckily, last week my sweet friend Laura and I were chatting about the big hits in our toddlers’ dining repertoire as we waited for our girls in toddler yoga and she happened to mention that her little one could always be counted on to eat quinoa patties.  Quinoa patties are awesome because they are an easy “disposal” food for any leftover chopped veggies you have on hand as well as an ideal vehicle in which to hide nutrient dense greens that can sometimes be a struggle for picky eaters. Plus they freeze really well.  I had totally forgotten about how great and easy they were and made a mental note to make some for Baby Bird soon.

Go Running, Mama!

Baby Bird still hasn’t quite grasped the hand placement for bridge!

Since we always have a plethora of quinoa on hand, soon became Sunday as I knew they would pack will in a toddler lunch and require no utensils.  Quinoa patties were a perfect fit for some grated zucchini and they also gave me the opportunity to use up some leftover black beans and corn kernels from last Friday night’s Southwestern pizza.

I made a little more quinoa than I needed for the patties as well so I could whip up a batch of Cinnamon Quinoa Lunchbox Bars that could pack easily for snack time at camp as well as make an easy breakfast if I wasn’t in tip top shape by morning.

Instead of the usual round patties, I went for a Mickey Mouse shape.  How fun will that be for Baby Bird when she eats her Mouseka-lunch at Mouseka-camp!?

The quinoa patty experience reminded me one of one of the biggest encouragements for starting this blog- remembering all the things I’ve done that I feel are worth repeating!  On that note… thanks for virtually hanging out with me and helping to clear my never ending case of Mommy-brain.

Enjoy!

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties; easy, healthy, make ahead meals in fun character shapes

Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties

  • 1 1/2 c quinoa, prepared and cooled to room temperature (about 1/2 c quinoa cooked in 1 1/2 c water or stock)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 c diced onion
  • 1/2 corn kernels (I used frozen- defrosted)
  • 1/3 c black beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs flax meal
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 tbs chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp prepared dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Position a box grater over a kitchen towel. Grate the zucchini onto the towel.  Gather the shredded zucchini in the towel and wring over the sink to remove excess liquid.

In a small mise en place bowl, mix flax meal and water and allow to congeal.

Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add corn, beans, and shredded zucchini and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to incorporate and remove pan from heat to cool.

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg.  Add flax meal mixture, flour, and chives and beat once more to incorporate.  Add the quinoa to the egg mixture. and mix.  Turn the zucchini mixture onto a cutting board and roughly chop before adding to the egg mixture.  Mix well to combine.

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties; easy, healthy, make ahead meal

Spoon mix into cookie cutter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a cookie cutter (Our Mickey Mouse cutter encompasses the combined area of a 3.5 inch biscuit cutter, so if you are making these for adults a round cookie cutter about 3.5 inched in diameter will work perfectly!) spoon the mixture into the cookie cutter until it fills the cutter halfway.  Gently slide the cookie cutter off of the patty and repeat, making sure to space them out enough that you can flip them halfway through cooking with a spatula without disturbing the shape.

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Quinoa Lunchbox Patties; easy, healthy, make ahead meals in fun character shapes

Remove cookie cutter carefully to maintain shape

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven to flip and then bake for another 15 minutes, rotating the pan when you return it to the oven.

Makes about 16 patties (8 servings)

Question for y’all: Does anyone else have a great, easy tried and true recipe you wish you didn’t frequently “forget?”

Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley (Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches)

1 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household whose carbohydrate consumption came from potatoes, white rice, white bread, and enriched wheat pasta.  Who can blame my mom?  She was feeding a family consisting of two carnivorous meataterians who abhorred cruciferous veggies and anything “new”, herself- a lifelong locavore gardener and diet dabbler, and me- an angsty teen vegetarian weirded out by beans- on a limited budget in a suburb where access to alternative choices was limited.  As can be imagined in such circumstances, by the time I graduated from college the thought of consuming another baked potato or serving white rice next to baked chikin was enough to fully extinguish my appetite.

When I started branching out as an adult, I have to admit that it took a little getting used to when experimenting with grains that had actual flavor, complexity and mouth-feel.  I wasn’t used to really having to chew carbs.  Fast forward to the present and I’m pretty sure that at this point I could differentiate between most grains in a blind taste test based on texture and flavor (Uh oh… Did I just discover a new, lame party trick for myself!?)

I’m normally a Whole Foods shopper, but in the un-suburban Stepford-esque utopian community I live in there is a pretty fancy HEB supermarket within easy jogging distance so every once and awhile I will shop there with the Baby Bird especially since they installed a “Buddy Bucks” machine that gives kiddos points for every Buddy Buck they earn while being helpful shoppers (I don’t know for sure, but the CEO must have a toddler!).  I’ve noticed that they have a pretty impressive bulk including nuts, spices, “healthier” treats, and grains.  I’ve also noticed that normally the only people shopping the grains when I’m there is myself and the Bird who always points out to me that everyone else is “getsing the Sunny Fruits snacks” instead.

It’s human nature to default to the things we are most familiar with, so I can only assume that is what is happening with grains- if you’re not familiar maybe you avoid them!?  That makes me sad because I LOVE grains, so I thought I’d start a little informal series spotlighting some really great grains.

Barley seemed like a great place to start because I made an awesome, easy meal with it several days ago.  And because most people think of beer first when they think of barley which, even though great beer is awesomeness, totally sells barely short. In this recipe I used pearl barley which is refined slightly for quicker cooking time.

A bit about pearl barley…

Pearl (or “pearled) barley is a wheat free- but NOT gluten free– grain option.  Pearl barley is barley that has had part of its outer bran layer removed along with the hull making it, technically, a refined grain.  Barley however contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just the outer layer so it retains beneficial fiber and associated nutrients through processing.  Pearl barley cooks much quicker than whole grain barley.  Look for pearl barley that is tan in color as opposed to white to ensure it has retained some of its outer bran layer for maximum nutrient density.

Nutrition Information (1/2 c cooked pearl barley)

  • Calories- 97
  • Carbohydrates- 22 g
  • Fiber- 3 g
  • Total Fat- .35 g
    • Saturated- .5 g
    • Monounsaturated- .5 g
    • Polyunsaturated- .15 g
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- 16.5 mg
    • Omega-6 Fatty Acids- 101.5 mg
  •  Protein- 1.75 g
  • Vitamin K- .6 mcg
  • Thiamin- .05 mg
  • Riboflavin- .05 mg
  • Niacin- 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin B6- .1mg
  • Folate- 12.5 mcg
  • Calcium- 8.6 mg
  • Iron- 1 mg

Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 lb (about two) heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 peach
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • pepper

Directions: Boil barley in a pot a water for 20 minutes.

While barley is boiling, diced tomatoes and peach.  Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves and add to tomato/peach mixture.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine and coat.

After 20 minutes drain barley and rinse with cold water.  Toss tomato mixture into barley.

Serves- 3 adults and 1 toddler as a meal.

Remember to carefully check the package on all foods you purchase and consume if you are excluding an allergen or ingredient from your diet.  Just because the raw ingredient normally does not include an allergen does not mean that certain brands do not process or expose ingredients to allergens.  Know your brands and their manufacturing processes!

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.

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.

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.