Tag Archives: healthy

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: Mac and Cheese Makeover (Complete with Cauliflower, Squash & Kale)

21 Mar #BetterGoodThings- Mac & Cheese Makeover- Yellow Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, Nutritional Yeast, Kale, and Turkey Bacon

#BetterGoodThings- Mac & Cheese Makeover- Yellow Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, Nutritional Yeast, Kale, and Turkey Bacon

This month for Better Good Things, Evin and I decided to better up (that’s a phrase now… I’m totally making it a thing) mac and cheese.  Apparently her kids are addicted to the orange stuff from the box, and even though baby Bird can’t eat much of the boxed stuff (Because soy.  And because NO.) besides a few types of Annie’s, she was introduced to a version she could eat while she was staying with grandparents and was apparently on a major mac and cheese jag during her trip.  So much so that when she came home she asked for it at every meal.  Every single one.

Now, I shouldn’t pretend that N has never had boxed mac because she most definitely has indulged.  On oh-so-overwhelming toddler days I have on occasion broken out the Annie’s mac and tried to make myself feel better by lacing it with non-gmo corn, peas, and diced carrots.  She is partial to the one with the oozy, Velveeta-esque cheese that really freaks me out.  I get it… the texture is smooth and creamy… but cheese that oozes out of a pouch?  That shouldn’t happen.

But did I mention that I totally understand her love for the oozy cheese?  After all, I secretly binge eat queso in the closet.  Not often…. but sometimes.

I had almost decided that soy free pseudo-cheese could be our private, dirty little mother-daughter secret until my mom told me she had heard rumblings that you could make your own “processed cheese product” that was actually made with real ingredients.  After much poking around and experimenting, I settled on a recipe I’m quite pleased with based on the one developed by Cristina at An Organic Wife.  She is an awesome, real-food guru so I urge you to check out her purist version at the link.

I’ve used this “real-veeta,” as I’ve come to call it, in a less cheesy mac and cheese packed with veggies that doesn’t lose any of it’s cheese depth or flavor.  It also bares that beloved day-glow orangyness… NATURALLY.

#BetterGoodThings- Mac & Cheese Makeover- Yellow Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, Nutritional Yeast, Kale, and Turkey Bacon

So much orange food…

You may look at the turmeric and nutritional yeast and think “Hmmm… those a weird for mac.  My kids won’t eat it.  I’m skipping those!”  Be forewarned, that will dramatically change the color, depth, and flavor- and your kiddos will call your bluff.

The kale and turkey bacon on top are the icing on the cake and add a satisfying crunch and bite.

Trust me on the orangey goodness.  The flavor, texture, and color are there.  Your kiddo wont be the wiser of the fast one you just pulled!

#BetterGoodThings- Homemade Real-veeta (Velveeta) made with whole food ingredients

It’s a beautiful nightmare, y’all! Whole food block-o-cheese…

Homemade Real-veeta

(following An Organic Wife‘s proportions)

  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2/3 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 package gelatin (2 tsp)
  • 2 tbs water
  • 1 1/2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2/3 cup organic whole milk

Directions: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water and allow it to bloom for five minutes.

Add shredded cheese to a powerful blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix) and sprinkle in nutritional yeast. Line a mini loaf pan with parchment or plastic wrap.

In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.  Remove milk from heat once it reaches a boil and whisk in gelatin mixture until smooth.  Pour immediately into blender and process until smooth.  Pour cheese mixture into mini loaf pan.

Refrigerate for at least three hours.

#BetterGoodThings- Mac & Cheese Makeover- Yellow Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, Nutritional Yeast, Kale, and Turkey Bacon

Made-Over Mac and Cheese

  • 1 block of homemade real-veeta, cubed
  • 1/2 a head of orange cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 5 oz bag of frozen, cubed butternut squash (defrosted)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup monterrey jack/cheddar cheese mix, shredded
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 a bunch of curly leaf kale
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1tbs olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 a bunch of kale
  • turkey bacon, cooked and diced
  • 2 cups pasta

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the kale to bake. Rinse and dry very well. Cut leaves from stem and tear into small pieces.  Toss kale pieces with with olive oil, 1 tbs nutritional yeast, and a generous pinch of salt and spread into a single layer across a baking sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake the kale for 15 minutes.  Toss kale, rotate, and return to oven for 12 more minutes.  Check the kale for dehydrated crispness before removing from the oven.  Return from oven for one to two minutes if needed, watching carefully, to ensure they are crisp but not browned.  Gently remove to a bowl to cool completely.

Raise over temperature to 375 degrees F.

In a small pan, saute the butternut squash in the butter to slightly caramelize the surface.

In a steamer basket, steam cauliflower florets for 5-7 minutes until soft but not mushy.  Add both the cauliflower and butternut squash to a blender or food processor.  Add salt to taste (about 1 tsp was good for us), 2 tbs nutritional yeast, and the milk and puree.

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Pour puree into a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and add cubed real-veeta and 1/3 cup shredded cheese stirring to melt.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente according to the instructions.  Drain pasta and add immediately to the cheese sauce, removing from heat.

Pour pasta and sauce into a 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven and serve warm, topped with bacon and crispy kale chips.

Hankering for even more mac?  Check out Evin’s take right here.  She gussies her mama version up with Sriracha… oh the goodness!

#BetterGoodThings- Mac and Cheese Makeovers

#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.

Homemade Gummy Hearts

26 Jan Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

We’ve got a toddler in the household, so our home runs on the currency of stickers, kale chips, and fruit snacks.  The Hubs hates stickers.  They end up on everything and are a beast to peel off of the tile after he unknowingly grinds them in place on the way out the door for his 5 am run.  I have fingernails, so stickers aren’t my adversary.  I, on the other hand, am opposed to fruit snacks.  Even the organic, naturally flavored ones are just concentrated nuggets of sugar- and that’s not even visiting the food dyes and preservatives in  the supermarket variety.  (Why are these things called “fruit snacks” anyways?  Let’s be real.  Actual fruit- fresh or dried- should be called “fruit snacks” and everything else should be correctly labeled as gummy treats.)  But Baby Bird love both stickers and fruits snacks, so there aren’t getting eliminated- we just needed to find a way to make them better!  Happily, I discovered this homemade gummy bear recipe from Taralyn over at Undressed Skeleton and was eager to give it a try.

Since Baby Bird loves Valentine’s Day and we are on a heart shaped treats kick at our house (check out our amazingly healthy heart shaped cherry kale pops), I though it would be fun to make little gummy hearts that we could also use as better snacking options to give to friends in place of the go-to red dye 40 laden store bought treats (I’ve totally got my good friend Evin and her struggles with food dyes on the mind).  We stayed pretty true to Taralyn’s recipe and the results were fabulous- sugar free gummy treats packed with fresh fruit!

We had lots of great local citrus on hand thanks to our CSA box, and it was nice to intimately know the source of our ingredients!  We had lots of oranges, Meyer lemons, and lovely key limes so I opted for a citrus medley for the strawberry snacks (1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup key lime, 1/4 Meyer lemon) that would be delightfully tart next to the banana snacks (made with a bit of orange juice) with would naturally be very sweet.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

The process is insanely simple- simmer the fruit, juice, and -in the case of the strawberry snacks- local honey until very soft.  We opted for local honey in place of the stevia in Taralyn’s recipe for two reasons: a) anything to help with Cedar Fever in the ATX, and b) the jury is still out on stevia in this household.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Once the fruit is softened, you pop the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.  Remove the blender cap to allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add the gelatin and process in the blender once again.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Pour the mixture into a pan and pop into the fridge to cool for an hour.  The size of the pan you use for cooling with dictate the width of your gummy treats.  I didn’t want ours to turn out too thin, so I chose containers that would give us thicker treats.  The strawberry recipe also makes roughly double the treats of the banana which I feel is an ideal balance of tart to sweet when tossed together!  Baby Bird strongly prefers the strawberry citrus flavor as she tends to enjoy more complex flavor profiles in her foods.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

For nice tiny hearts, I used a fondant cutter to cut our shapes.  Once you cut the shape, you have to give it a little jiggle to detach it from the bottom of the pan and it will lift up easily as you remove the cutter.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Needless to say, they were a huge it!  It was tough to snatch pictures of them before they disappeared.  Baby Bird figured I had momentarily lost my mind because I was allowing fruit snack consumption without even the slightest frown on my face and she was determined to exploit what she assumed was a lapse in judgement as long as possible.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

The texture is nice a firm- far more similar to an actual gummy bear than a jello jiggler- which is awesome.  Before we tried these, I was a little afraid that they would be more like amped up jigglers.  They have also given me high hopes that I can tweak this recipe to make homemade energy gels for our long runs.  Heck, if I can figure that out I may be able to add another distance race to my schedule from all the savings!

Now if I can only figure out how to make homemade stickers that don’t require Mommy’s nails or a putty knife to remove them from the tile…

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Strawberry Citrus Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh citrus juice (at least 1/2 cup orange juice + additional citrus juice of your choosing to create 1 cup)
  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 tbs local honey
  • 5 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions: Combine juice, fruit, and honey in a small pan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until strawberries are very soft.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 200+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

Banana Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions:

Combine juice and banana in a small bowl.  Mash banana with a fork and stir to combine with juice.  Add mixture to a small pan to simmer for 3-5 minutes until banana is very soft and slightly golden in color.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 75+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

*These can easily be toted as lunch bag or diaper bag snacks, but since these are made with fresh fruit and no preservatives, store in the fridge until you pack them up to send as a treat.

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!

Kale and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and Pine Nuts

10 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Kale Cauliflower Soup with Pine Nuts

There are three publications I wait for with bated breath- Martha Stewart Living, Nutrition Action Healthletter, and each and every Williams Sonoma catalogue. And, although the first two are completely amazing, my favorite is probably the Williams Sonoma Catalogue. There’s just something about paging through such a well curated and expertly styled selection of kitchen goods that is euphoria inducing. A hot bath, a quiet house, and a moment to daydream about how chic the agrarian trend of beekeeping could be? Oh Martha, wouldn’t you be proud of this stay-at-home-hot-mess if as I jarred my own honey and wrapped each one in a washcloth I knit with the Purl Soho kit and tied them off with a homemade Lifestyle Crafts letterpress tag. But alas… handicraft hobbies are pricey and Baby Bird’s schooling can’t be paid for in macrame tchotchkes, so those ambitious daydreams will continue to live tantalizingly on the pages of each William Sonoma book of temptation.

A few weeks ago we had a mail day that produced the trifecta- Martha, Nutrition, and WS… Hooray! After Baby Bird’s bedtime, I cozied into bed to scheme about what I can’t wait to make (Plums with Sparkling Wine, Black Pepper, and Tarragon), what steps I need to take to improve my health (looking over the US nutrition report card made me glad the plums topped my “to be cooked” list instead of the beautiful flourless chocolate espresso cake), and what kitchen goodie I’d love to get my hands on (obviously, I could be creating far superior pizzas if I had a pizza peel). As I devoured the pages of the WS catalogue, tucked onto a page with the new VitaMix blenders that are short and squat enough to fit under the cabinet on the countertop (right after I have a special pull out drawer made for my VitaMix during our kitchen remodel no less) was a recipe for Kale and Cauliflower Soup.

I’m a sucker for a nutritious, healthful soup and an absolute kale nut so it was immediately bumped above all the recipes from the September issue of Living on my “must Make” list. I made a few adjustments to suit our tastes at home- I eliminated the celery and doubled the kale along with cutting back on the vegetable stock to create a thicker soup. I also opted to season my kale chips with blood orange pepper- my newest spice obsession.

It was easy, yummy and nourishing. This is one we will definitely be revisiting as we start into Autumn and dream of crisp weather that we will never see here in Austin.

Go Running, Mama!: Kale Cauliflower Soup with Pine Nuts

Kale Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and Pine Nuts

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 bunches curly kale, stems removed, leaves chopped, keeping each bunch separate
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 1 c water
  • 1/3 c pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • butcher cut pepper
  • Maldon sea salt
  • blood orange pepper

Directions: Preheat over to 450 degrees F.

Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally. Roast 20-25 minutes, until edges are golden and crisp.

Reduce oven to 300 degrees F.

Toss one bunch of kale with 1 tbs olive oil and season with salt and blood orange pepper. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast, rotating half way through and stirring several times, for about 25-30 minutes until kale is crisp.

Meanwhile, in a stock pot over medium heat, saute the onion in 2 tbs olive oil until tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and broth and increase heat to medium-high to simmer.  Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining bunch of kale, increase heat to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Puree soup in blender or using an immersion blender.  Top bowls of soup with kale chips and pine nuts.  Add kale chips immediately before serving as they will lose crispness once in the soup.

Something to Celebrate: My BRF’s Runiversary

20 Aug Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

I’m not a life long runner.  I didn’t start running until after I gave birth to Baby Bird and when I started I hated it.  But I saw results… and I cleared my mind… and I felt like a better person as time wore on and the miles got easier.  As I often say, running made me the person I was always meant to be- it transformed me into me.

Apparently other people could see those changes in me as well.  Over the past two years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about my “running testimonial” from people (most frequently “Why the heck would you choose running!?”) and every once and awhile someone feels moved to give running a shot themselves to see if they too can experience the near transcendence I often describe.

Exactly a year ago, while I was in the thick of training for my first full marathon I received the following text from my very good friend Rachel while she was trying to kill time during a predictably redundant teacher training session:

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Over the course of the next four hours (if you are a veteran teacher who has been subjected to inservice geared towards first year educators, you can totally understand why she had so much time to kill), our text conversation transformed from the idea of Rachel beginning to run to planning to help her train for her first half marathon in six months time.  And that afternoon, Rachel went for a run.

And she hated it.

But she stuck with it.

And she saw results… and she cleared her mind… and she felt like a better mother, wife, friend, and teacher as time wore on and the miles got easier.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

In February, I had the privilege of pacing her through her first half marathon.  She may have sworn at me.  I may have physically drug her up the hill affectionately termed “the big one.”  I may have sort of peed my pants so that I wouldn’t have to stop and throw off her rhythm and momentum.  And she may have finished 10 minutes ahead of her goal time… and 5 minutes faster than my first half marathon.

Because she is awesome, fierce, and powerful… as a mother, wife, friend and teacher.

As a runner.

Go Running, Mama!- My BRF's Runiversary

Happy Runiversary, Rachel!  I’m looking forward to all the miles to come.

 

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.

Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Crust

7 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

I love Whole Foods Market.  Have I mentioned that yet?  If I haven’t I apologize because I think it is one of those facts about me that is essential to know in order to fully grasp my personality.  When I say I love Whole Foods, I’m not throwing the word around is a flippant manner… it is a love with a purity so inspiring and real I’m shocked I haven’t written and published a book of odes about it.  I love it.

When our family moves (which we have a tendency to do) or we select a vacation hotel, proximity to the closest Whole Foods is always a top three factor.  If you’re close to a WHole Foods, you’re always guaranteed easy access to healthy, tasty fare that is often far more reasonably priced than respectable restaurant meal that you could purchase elsewhere of equal quality.

I know people like to refer to it as “Whole Paycheck” because if you try to shop there the way many people are used to shopping major discount grocery chains it is going to cost you an arm and a leg!  Shopping Whole Foods requires you to shop smarter and figure out where your food dollars are best spent… and then not waste money on filler junk that you shouldn’t buy anywhere anyways.  Plus where else can you conveniently find coconut aminos, soy free miso, bulk heirloom dried beans, and a fishmonger stocked on sustainability practices in one place?

Don’t need any of those items above and still think it’s an unjustifiable budget breaker? Then clearly you haven’t discovered The Whole Deal. The Whole Deal is WFM’s monthly coupon flyer which is very useful for the savings it offers, but is even better for the budget recipes it shares each month.  There are quite a few meals in frequent rotation at our house that were inspired by Whole Deal recipes all under $4 a serving.

This month’s Whole Deal featured a Feat and Zucchini Pie that they calculate at $1.44 per serving… if it’s cut into 8 servings.  I’ve tweaked it a bit, upping the zucchini content, adding a zucchini lattice top, and sprinkling some spices to give it appeal to my family’s palate… so maybe now it’s $2 per serving when it’s cut into 8 servings.  In reality, I feel like this would feed four adults and one toddler (or 4.5 people!?)  which would make it around $3.55 per serving.  Not too shabby a price for a healthy meal packed with the season’s plentiful squash crop… and it would be even cheaper if you luck onto a sale or happen to grow a little zucchini in your backyard.

A pretty tasty deal indeed!

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Crust

  • 2 lbs zucchini (about 3 meium zucchini)
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 frozen  or homemade pie crust

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut both ends off of one zucchini.  Using a mandoline slicer, slice that zucchini lengthwise thinly to prepare enough slices for the lattice top (I used about 16 slices- it will vary depending on length of your zucchini) and reserve remaining zucchini to grate.  Stack slices into two stacks based on width- this will help you to pair overlapping strips when topping to pie with lattice work.

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

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and flour.  Stir in cheese, zucchini, and spices.  Mix well to combine.

Pour mixture into pie crust shell.  Using lattice technique (Simply Recipes has a great photo tutorial– you would basically start with step two) top the pie with zucchini strips, overlapping strips as needed to cover length of pie taking care to use strips of similar widths when overlapping.  Crimp the edges of the pie crust down over the exposed outside edges of the zucchini strips.

Go Running, Mama!- Zucchini Pie with Zucchini Lattice Top

Bake for 50-55 minutes until firm.

Serves (realistically) 4 adults and a toddler.

This Week’s Game Changer: Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes

6 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes with Caramelized Onions, Cilantro, and Cojita Cheese

Go Running, Mama!- Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes with Caramelized Onions, Cilantro, and Cojita Cheese

I was mighty proud of myself when I went to sleep on Sunday night because not only did I have a pretty full week of blogs planned out, but I also have them mostly written and scheduled!  This might not seem like a huge feat to those who run a blogging empire, but from the perspective of a dabbler with a three week old blog it’s a pretty big deal since I’m still it the process of getting everything setup around here at “Go Running, Mama!”

I was super excited about starting the week out knowing that I could start working on the weeks to come- a thought that made the over-planner in me giddy.  But then something happened that changed my plan.  Something wonderful that had to be shared immediately– no waiting allowed. That “thing” was last night’s dinner.

I’ll spare you the usual adorable story or witty anecdote and skip right to the good stuff- this recipe deserves that level of respect.  All you need to know is that I’ve been haunted by the idea that roasted tomato and corn shortcake could be an amazing thing for quite some time.  During yesterday’s trip to the market, there was a great price on beautiful corn and cherry tomatoes so I indulged my hunch.

Go Running, Mama!- Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes with Caramelized Onions, Cilantro, and Cojita Cheese

The Major Players- legit shortcake, diced cojita cheese, roasted corn, caramelized onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, and cilantro

I’m so glad I did.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further delay I present…

Go Running, Mama!- Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes with Caramelized Onions, Cilantro, and Cojita Cheese

Roasted Tomato and Corn Shortcakes

For the shortcakes:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbs butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbs melted butter
  • 2 tbs palm shortening
  • 3/4 c + 1 tbs plain kefir

For the filling:

  • 2 fresh ears of corn, husks intact
  • 1 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 3 oz Cojita cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions (My method included using two ovens.  You could use one, but your active cook time with take longer.): Preheat one over to 350 degrees F and the other to 400 degrees F.

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. Add water by the tsp if onions begin to dry out.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Remove only the outermost husks from the corn and detach the silk tassel if still intact.  Roast corn directly on a rack positioned in the middle of the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

In a small baking dish, add tomatoes and drizzle with 4 tsp olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until tomatoes begin to split.

In a food processor, combine all dry ingredients for the shortcakes and pulse to combine.  Add cold butter and shortening and pulse until mixture is crumbly and no large chunks of butter or shortening exist.  Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in kefir.

Once you remove tomatoes from the oven, increase temperature to 450 degrees F.  Drop shortcake dough onto cookie sheet in large rounded spoonfuls.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

Remove corn cobs from oven.  Using an oven mitt, peel back the husks but do not remove as they can be used to hold the ear of corn.  Cut the corn kernels from the cobs into a bowl.

While shortcakes bake, separate cilantro leaves from stems and roughly chop.  Dice cheese into small cubes.

To assemble, split shortcakes in half.  Layer caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, roasted corn kernels, cheese, and cilantro.

Enjoy!

Serves 4 adults and 2 toddlers.