Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Motivation

it definitely feels like fall today. i love this kind of weather during the days. it's sunny yet cool and crisp. but in the morning it's hard to get out of bed. i want to stay tucked and snuggled under the covers. it's also getting darker earlier and i find it easier to make excuses to not go to the gym. i don't always feel like exercising, but i never regret doing it when i finish and i always feel energized and instantly better about myself after.

there are a couple of things i do to motivate myself to get there. i love comfy gym pants. it may sound a little crazy but i get so excited when i find a new pair of exercise capris or pants that are comfortable and somehow manage to look cute at the same time. i'm not saying to go out a buy new clothes every time you need motivation to go to exercise, but having a couple of comfortable items you feel good in will make you feel better about yourself and dread getting out there a little less. i found a super comfortable pair of under armour (yay for baltimore-based companies) capris this summer. i lived in them! when i went the sports authority the other day, i saw the exact same style but i a long pant and i was trilled! i wore them for the first time today to my training session and was excited to put them on. i know, it's the little things in life. if you are interested they can be found here http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/womens/apparel/bottoms/pants/pid1204484-Women-s-UA-TNP-Pant/1204484-080

the other trick i have is that i put on my gym clothes in the morning. that way, when i finish cooking i can come home, eat, and head to the gym. i have no excuse not to go, i'm already dressed and ready. plus, i would feel really badly if i was dressed to exercise and just never did it. how lazy am i? now, i realize this isn't possible for everyone. i have the luxury of being able to wear anything to work. however, you can still use this trick. as soon as you get home from work, change into your gym clothes. go about doing what you need to do before you exercise, but you will be more likely to go if you are already dressed. if you usually go in the morning, lay your exercise clothes out by your bed so you can put them on as soon as you wake up before you can change your mind.

p.s. roxy gets so excited whenever she hears the camera clicking noise when i take a picture, so here is an action shot of her getting up to wiggle. how cute is she?

Chicken Leftovers

i am happy to report i ate all 4 servings of my veggies yesterday. the only problem? at the end of the day, i realized i only ate 1 serving of fruit. boo:( so, my revised plan is 3 veggies and 3 fruits daily. i'm doing well so far today, had 1 fruit, 1 veggie in my green monster this am for breakfast. for lunch i had chicken tacos (recipe below) and an orange for another fruit and veggie. 2/3 the way there!

so, about my chicken tacos. this has been a family staple for as long as i can remember. a family friend gave us the recipe and growing up we all loved it. it's great for kids because you can "sneak" vegetables into their diet. the only bad thing about the recipe is the sauce called for 3 tbs of mayo. i cleaned it up but using greek yogurt instead and it still tastes great.

seriously, you have to try this recipe it is so good and so easy. it's a perfect use for leftover chicken and great for lunch too. you can also omit the tortilla and eat it like a chicken salad.

Chicken Tacos with Spike Dressing
(serves 4)

4 whole wheat tortillas
4 romaine lettuce leaves (or 2 c spring mix)
2 c chicken, chopped (i use rotisserie but any kind of cooked chicken is fine)
2 c broccoli, cooked or raw
1/2 c shredded cheese
1/2 c tomatoes, chopped
spike dressing (see recipe below)

warm up chicken and broccoli together in the microwave. assemble tortillas or take everything to the table and let everyone assemble their own. this is how i assemble mine:

place lettuce in the middle of the tortilla.

put 1/2 c of chicken mix on top of the lettuce

1/2 c of broccoli on top of chicken

chopped tomatoes on top of broccoli

shredded cheese on top of tomatoes

2 tbs spike dressing on top.
roll up and enjoy!

Spike Dressing

1/8 c extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs spike (seasoning found usually in the organic spice section)
few drops of low sodium sauce
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs plain greek yogurt

whisk together in a bowl. drizzle on top of chicken tacos, salad, or sandwiches. can also be used a dip for veggies.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Second Serving of Veggies

i actually didn't really eat lunch today because the green monster filled me up so much (another good side effect). so, for a snack i had cucumbers with hummus. very yummy. just some chopped cucumbers, 1 tablespoon of hummus, a squeeze of lemon, and some freshly cracked black pepper. stir it up and enjoy. (the hummus makes it very filling)

2 vegetables down, 2 to go!

Very Green Monster

this is definitely the greenest green monster i have ever had. as i was adding all of the ingredients i kept thinking "i don't know if i am going to like this!" indeed, it was the most "green" tasting green monsters i have made but it was surprisingly still pretty good.

why the extra-green smoothie? well, i came to the realization last night that i need to eat more veggies. i am convinced everyone is either a fruit or a vegetable person. i think most people like either fruits or vegetables more. obviously we need to eat both, but i would rather have fruit hands down. i like veggies, but i love fruit. therefore, i set a goal of eating more vegetables every day. i easily get in my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, but at least 3 of them are fruit. i try to eat a salad for lunch but it doesn't happen most days. so here i am declaring to the world (or at least the three people that probably read this blog - hi mom!) that i am going to eat 4 servings of vegetables every day this week. hey, it's a start right?

the easiest way for me to get a serving is to add the spinach or kale to my smoothies. so, i am going to have a green monster every day this week. today i was ballsy and added 2 new things to my green monster (chia seeds and ground ginger). i have had the chia seeds for quite some time now and have yet to put them in my smoothie - mainly because i always remember when i have already consumed half of it. what are chia seeds? i am so glad you asked! here is what i found out about it from some online research pieced together from various sources. i hope i am not plagiarizing.

"Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. As a source of protein, the Chia, after ingestion, is digested and absorbed very easily. This results in rapid transport to the tissue and utilization by the cells. Another unique quality if the Chia seed is its high oil content, and the richest vegetables source for the essential omega-3 fatty acid. It has approximately three to ten times the oil concentrations of most grains and one and a half to two times the protein concentrations of other grains. These oils, unsaturated fatty acids, are the essential oils your body needs to help emulsify and absorb the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, & K. Chia seeds are rich in the unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic, which the body cannot manufacture. When there are rich amounts of linoleic acid sufficiently supplied to the body trough diet, linoleic and arachidonic acids can be synthesized from linoleic acid."

chia seeds don't really have a taste. they are very small and don't blend together so it does taste like strawberry seeds or similar when you drink them. i also took a ginger root capsule i have (they are supposed to help with motion sickness which, unfortunately, i suffer from). most of you probably know the health benefits of ginger like migraine relief (another i suffer from, fun, fun), heartburn prevention, reduces pain and inflammation, and some studies even show it may have cancer prevention qualities.

so, if you are brave enough to try my extra-green, green monster here is the recipe:

Extra-Green Monster
(makes 1 large serving)

1/2 c 100% orange juice
2 oz mango puree
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 banana
1/4 c frozen mango
1 oz kale
1 tbs ground flax seed
1 tbs chia seeds
contents of 1 capsule of ground ginger
1 c ice

blend together in blender till smooth.

ok, i'm off to make my salad for lunch:)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pesto Ideas

i was thinking i should give some recipes that use pesto since i gave you all my pesto recipe a little while back. i always make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. once frozen, i pop them out and throw them all in a freezer bag. then i can pull out one or two at a time and they are perfect portions sizes - as a rule of thumb, 1 pesto ice cube serves 2.

i actually made this last night for my mother-in-law, niece, nephew, and husband. it was super easy and everyone loved it. (i apologize for the poor picture, maybe one day i'll get that new digital camera i am wishing for)

the stuffed chicken is a very easy recipe and can be changed easily. you can really put anything you have on hand into this dish with the ricotta and mozerella!

*please refer to the august 27th post (basil galore) for my pesto recipe.

Stuffed Chicken
(serves 4)

4 chicken breasts (thinly sliced or pounded thin)
1/2 c ricotta
1/2 c shredded mozerella
1/4 c mushrooms, chopped
1/4 c artichoke hearts, chopped
4 tsp pesto

preheat oven to 350.
mix together ricotta, cheese, mushrooms, and artichokes. divide mixture among 4 chicken breasts. place mixture in middle of each breast. roll up chicken and secure with toothpicks.
place rolled-up chicken on lined baking sheet. spread 1 tsp of pesto on each chicken roll.
bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Mushroom and Artichoke Pesto Pasta
(serves 4)

1/2 box whole wheat rotini (or your favorite whole wheat pasta)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 oz sliced mushrooms (i used baby bellas)
10 oz frozen artichoke hearts
white wine (optional)
2 tbs pesto 
grated parmesan

bring large pot of water to a boil. cook pasta according to package instructions.
meanwhile, saute mushrooms and artichokes on medium heat with olive oil until browned and tender. add a splash of white wine, if desired and continue to saute until liquid is cooked off.
drain pasta and toss with mushroom mixture and 2 tbs pesto. top each plate with grated parmesan.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nuts About Peanut Butter

tonight we had EA and RJ over and they helped me bake! it turned out to be so much fun!

i used a recipe i found from another website (ohsheglows.com) for peanut butter bites and we used all different kinds of toppings. EA and RJ helped press the crust into the mini muffin pans. then, we each had 6 crusts to fill any way we wanted. we had peanut butter filling and my personal favorite, nutella, as well as lots of fun toppings - chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, toffee bits, mini m&m's, and butterscotch chips. we even had some raspberry jam to make p,b&j bites. anyway, we had so much fun filling them all different ways, E even got involved in the creation process! RJ made one with every topping possible.

after dinner we sampled our creations and the recipe received a unanimous two thumbs up from all 4 of us! 10 out of 10 for this one. thanks to "oh she glows" for the inspiration - i only did 2 minor tweaks, reflected in the recipe below. the recipe traditionally just calls for the peanut butter filling (which was delicious) but i encourage you to try adding fun toppings like we did. obviously, the yummy toppings make the dessert less than clean, but just use the peanut butter filling and you will still be following the clean eating way.

Peanut Butter Bites
(makes 24 mini cups)

1/4 c Earth Balance (or butter)
1/4 c sucanat
1 c spelt flour
1/4 c milled flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c agave nectar

1/2 c smooth peanut butter
1/2 c skim milk

preheat oven to 350.
mix crust ingredients with your hands. fill a greased mini muffin tin with approximately 1 tsp of crust. press into bottom, making sure the crust comes up on the sides a bit. add peanut butter filling on top of the crust and top with whatever toppings you choose.
bake for 15 mins. cool completely before removing from pan.

Baking with Agave Nectar

my first recipe from my new "baking with agave nectar" cookbook was ok. i was a little disappointed because my expectations were so high. makes me think of what E always says. something along the lines of set the bar very low. then, when you barely exceed it, its good. i'll remember to have lower expectations for the next recipe.

i made date nut squares. i'd give this one a 6 out of 10. it's not horrible or inedible by any means but they are not incredible either. i think the reason my hopes were so high was because the author said this under the recipe:

"these are my all-time favorite bars; i just love dates and nuts together. these bars have a crumbly texture with a creamy date center enhanced by raspberry juice."

i even followed the recipe to the letter (something i rarely do). except now that i look at the recipe, i realize i didn't it called for raisins and dates and i only had dates, so i didn't use the rasins. maybe that's the key. my mom had one and wasn't impressed. my dad said they were good but i will say he likes everything. E actually liked them and said the flavor was good.

well, here is the recipe if you decided to try them. if you like dates and nuts, these might be great for you.

Date Nut Squares
(makes 16 (2") squares - 200 calories per square)

2 c pitted dates, chopped
1 c rasins
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c raspberry (or berry-blend) 100% juice

crust and topping:
2 c walnuts
1/2 c oat flour
1/2 c barley flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 c light agave nectar
1/4 c canola oil

     preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil an 8" square baking pan.
     filling: put all ingredients (dates through juice) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed and the dates have formed a puree. (i used an immersion blender at the end to make it smooth). set aside.
     crust and topping: grind 1 c of walnuts in a food processor and chop the remaining 1 c. place all the walnuts in a bowl. add the oat and barley flour and cinnamon. add agave and oil and combine with a fork until crumbly.
     press a little more than half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. spread the date mixture over the crust and then top with remaining topping.
     bake for 25 minutes or until golden. cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creamsicle Daydreams

it is very hard to take pictures of food. this is something i never really realized until recently. (for obvious reasons of course, i am now taking lots of picture of food. before, not so much.)

that said, i would like a fancy digital camera. perhaps a nikon like AJ's or a nice canon. (i have a manual canon rebel i loved. it went with me to italy and france and back. but sadly, it is now considered a dinosaur - not so digital. i cannot bring myself to get rid of it for some reason though. it was a college graduation present from the person who is a big reason i graduated from college - my poppop.) anyway, a girl can dream. and, my bday is around the corner and so is christmas. somehow i don't think santa will get the memo. so for now, please bear with my not so great picture posts.

today i had the most wonderful post-boxing smoothie. it was really E's idea. in fact, he made one very similar this past weekend. one of his favorite flavors is creamsicle. it was also a very busy day so i really didn't make anything else today. one of those days . . .

Creamsicle Smoothie
(serves 1)

1/2 c 100% orange juice
1/4 c greek yogurt
1/2 scoop vanilla dessert protein powder
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1 c ice

blend together and enjoy!

on another note, i just got my "baking with agave nectar" cookbook in the mail. i can't wait to try out some recipes. stay tuned for some yumminess.

on a second note, i saw a martha stewart clip about the new york allergen-free bakery. i'm also excited to get her cookbook BabyCakes: The Cookbook. i will have to try some recipes out on A&W when we visit them in october.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Test Day

i was supposed to spend today with my mom but she was feeling under the weather, so i spent some time in the kitchen instead. i have been wanting to try a couple of recipes. i did 3 today and 2 turned out well, 1 did not.

i made my first attempt at a larabar. i'm not sure how many of you have tried larabars but they are so good and only a few ingredients. plus, i can pronounce all of them! my favorite is cashew cookie. seriously the only ingredients in it are dates and cashews. it sounds so easy yet its so good. i tried to make a chocolate chip cookie version of a larabar. it contains just dates, cashews, vanilla extract, and chocolate. yum! it's still a work in progress but i was pleased with the first results.

Chocolate Cookie Bar
(serves 3 - 170 cal per bar)

1/3 c pitted dates
1/2 c raw cashews
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs grain sweetened chocolate chips

chop dates in a food processor until finely ground into a paste. remove and place in bowl. add cashews into processor and process until finely chopped. add cashews to bowl of dates. pulse chocolate chips in processor until roughly chopped. add to cashews and dates. add vanilla extract and mix with hands until incorporated.
shape into a long log in between two sheets of plastic wrap. refrigerate for 30 mins, then cut into 3 pieces. wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and store in fridge.
recipe can be doubled or tripled to make more bars.

the next recipe i did was a disaster and i won't even bore you with my failed attempt at a raw chocolate chip cookie recipe i found online. however, i did make an espresso ricotta creme that was delicious! it was very creamy and it felt like i was being bad and cheating even though i wasn't. i'll take it! i adapted the recipe from giada de laurentiis, one of my favorite food network chefs.

Espresso Ricotta Creme
(serves 6 - 200 calories per serving)

1 (15oz) container part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 c agave nectar
1/2 tbs instant espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
cocoa powder

blend all ingredients together in a food processor for at least a minute until well blended. distribute among 6 ramekins and keep in fridge until ready to eat. just before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Quinoa - Miracle Grain

i love quinoa. seriously, i could go on and on about the wonder that is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). let me first give you the definition according to the ever-popular wikipedia:
"a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain."

of course, my first thought is, what in the heck is a pseudocereal?!? well, "pseudocereals are broadleaf plants (non-grasses) that are used in much the same way as cereals (true cereals are grasses). Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals." obviously . . . thanks wikipedia:)

in plain terms, it looks very much like a grain (similar to couscous) but it's not technically a grain. quinoa is actually a complete protein. as i read this, i realized "complete protein" is one of those words i hear thrown around a lot but i never truly knew what is meant. back to wikipedia . . .
"A complete protein (or whole protein) is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all of the essential amino acids for the dietary needs of humans or other animals"

so, because of the very high protein content of quinoa (12%–18%) and it's balanced set of essential amino acids, it is a very smart choice for those attempting a healthy eating lifestyle as well as vegetarians and vegans. quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorous and is high in magnesium and iron. are you starting to see why i sing it's praises? last but not least, quinoa is gluten-free and easy to digest. it's so fantastic, i discovered quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's controlled ecological life support system for long-term spaceflights.

as you can see, it is a super food. oh, one other detail, it tastes good! actually, i think it doesn't have a whole lot of flavor on its own which is a good thing because it absorbs other flavors so nicely. the basic cooking instructions are very simple.

Basic Quinoa

1 C quinoa
2 C water

rinse quinoa. (it can have a slightly bitter flavor if you skip this step, so don't - just soak in some water in a pot and then drain, or run under cold water in a strainer)
bring water and quinoa to boil. reduce heat to low and cover. let simmer, covered, for 15 mins. (small grains will appear to break open). serve warm or let cool and store in fridge for up to 5 days.

sometimes i cook it in chicken stock if i am going to eat it plain or as a bed for chicken or fish. however, if it is cooked in water, you can spice it up with a number of yummy flavors. i like to make a batch monday to have for the week. as i said before, i mix it with homemade marinara and parmesan for a yummy pasta-like dish. you can toss it cold with chopped veggies and a vinaigrette for a wonderful cold salad - perfect for lunch. clean eating had a fantastic recipe for a lime and garlic shrimp orzo. i substituted quinoa for the orzo (per K's recommendation) and it was fantastic!

Shrimp with Lime and Garlic Quinoa
adapted from clean eating magazine september/october 2009

(serves 4-6)

3/4 c quinoa
1c frozen corn
3 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 green onions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

cook quinoa according to package instructions. heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. add garlic and cook another minute. add corn and cook until shrimp is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. mix together hot quinoa, broth, salt and pepper, green onions and lime juice. serve shrimp and corn mixture on top of lime quinoa.

you could also have it for breakfast instead of oatmeal. seriously, how versatile is this wonder food?!?

Maple Pecan Quinoa
(serves 2)

1/2 c milk
1/2 c water
1/2 c quinoa
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c toasted pecans
2 tsp maple syrup (agave works here too)
(1 c - fresh berries, optional)

bring milk, water and quinoa to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. turn off heat and let sit, covered 5 minutes. meanwhile, toast pecans in skillet on medium heat until just starting to brown 3-5 mins. stir in berries (if using) and cinnamon. divide into two bowls and top with pecans. top with 1 tsp of maple syrup or agave nectar.

be sure to experiment a little, just as you would with oatmeal. if you like hot oatmeal for breakfast, you will like quinoa.

give quinoa a try. it is so good for you and you can't go wrong. please send me your quinoa experiments - i'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

K is Back!

another review from my sister-in-law - the clean eating magazine recipe reviewer.

I think what I love best about the "Clean Eating" magazine (and I HIGHLY recommend you subscribe....well worth the price.  Go to cleaneatingmag.com), is that I am learning about a lot of new ingredients that as a stay-at-home mommy cook, I have never discovered before.  This time, it was fingerling potatoes.  They were touted as having a richer, more flavorful taste, and they do!  Plus, they cook faster than regular potatoes, and can be substituted for the regular ones.  This preparation was heavenly....the potatoes melted in your mouth.  That was definitely our favorite part of the meal.
The pork was good, but nothing special.  It took longer to cook than listed in the recipe, and the almonds did not want to stick at the end.  I did substitute regular butter for apple butter (could not find apple butter anywhere!  apple jelly, yes, but not apple butter), so maybe that was part of the problem.  Kids and husband ate it all, so that made it a winner, but the longer cooking time made planning difficult.  I would definitely do the potatoes again though!
Candy Apple Pork Tenderloin
(serves 4)

pork tenderloin and glaze:
1/4 c unsweetened apple butter
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs agave nectar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 4 oz portions
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 c unsalted toasted chopped almonds

fingerling potatoes:
1 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes, 1-2" in length
zest a juice 1 lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 400.
cut potatoes in half lengthwise and toss with lemon juice, zest, thyme, oil, salt and pepper. arrange in single layer on lined baking sheet. bake for 20 mins, turning once until potatoes are golden brown and fork tender.
meanwhile, in small bowl stir together apple butter, vinegar, agave, garlic, and cinnamon until combined.
season pork on all sides with thyme, salt and pepper, and 1/2 tsp oil. heat remaining tsp oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. sear pork on both sides, about 2 min each side.
remove pork from pan. coat each piece with apple butter mixture and place on lined baking sheet. roast in oven for 15 mins or until pork is cooked throughout. remove from oven and roll in almonds.
slice each piece into 3 and serve with potatoes.

nutritional info per serving (4 oz pork, 1tbs glaze, 2 tbs almonds, 6 oz potatoes)
calories: 540, fat: 20g, fiber: 4g, protein: 42 g

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marinara Madness

i have been meaning to make some marinara sauce and i finally got around to it this evening. it was the first time i used this recipe (adapted from barefoot contessa). it turned out really well. i'm not really into canning so i am going to freeze portions of it.

Chianti Marinara Sauce

3 tbs olive oil
2 onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 c chianti wine (or other red you have on hand)
2- 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes (make sure they have no added sugar)
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
2 tbs fresh chopped basil
salt and pepper

saute onions in olive oil till softened. add garlic and cook 1 minute. add wine and simmer till reduced by half. add crushed tomatoes and herbs and simmer 1-2 hours till thickened. add salt and pepper to taste.

i cooked up some ground beef and added it to half of the marinara to make meat sauce. you could also use fresh, peeled tomatoes and let them break down. then use immersion blender to smooth it out.

after the sauce was ready i was really hungry from cooking all afternoon. i didn't want to wait for water to boil for spaghetti so i put some sauce on top of some cooked quinoa. i was surprised how good it was. i mean, it was delicious. i ate 2 bowls:)

for those of you who have never heard of quinoa or have never tried it - you must. i will dedicate a post to this fantastic super-grain soon, but for now, here is the recipe for the simple quinoa i made this evening.

Italian Quinoa

1 c cooked quinoa
1/2 c chianti marinara sauce
1 tbs grated parmesan

stir it up and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4 year old puppy

some puppies never grow up. our youngest yellow lab roxy will most likely always be a puppy. she started out as a lap dog. if E or i would sit on the floor, she would curl up in our lap and demand attention. she is now 4, and still sits in our laps and demands attention. she still wiggles uncontrollably when she has a ball or sock in her mouth and she still gets into things she shouldn't.

i came home from cooking for a client today, dropped my bags, grabbed a quick lunch, and rushed off to my training session. upon return from the gym, this is what i found:

what is that?? i wondered out loud.
upon further inspection:

 i realized it was once a bag of flour. apparently, i left my cooking bag a hair open and a certain snoopy dog decided to have a look-see. hmmm, was it dignan or roxy? not a tough question:

her white whiskers and paws gave her away (as if i didn't already know who did it). good thing she's cute!

after the flour clean-up i had a recovery smoothie. a strawberry-vanilla protein shake which, i swear, tasted like a strawberry milkshake.

Strawberry-Vanilla Smoothie

1 C frozen strawberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 C skim milk
3 cubes ice
water, if needed

blend together in mixer. add some water if too thick or ice if too thin. enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

E's Favorite

so E and i were watching an episode of diners, drive-ins, and dives and saw linguini with white clam sauce. this is most likely in E's top 5 list of all-time favorite foods. ever since then i have been thinking about making it. well, tonight was the night.

i didn't use a recipe but tried to make it somewhat healthy. ok, let's be serious, it doesn't fall into the good-for-you category, but it isn't as bad as i thought once i typed it up and calculated. i used whole milk instead of heavy cream (i wouldn't use a lower fat milk than whole due to curdling tendencies), whole wheat pasta, and olivio spreadable butter with olive oil. one note, it's traditionally called linguini with clam sauce but E and i like angel hair pasta better so that's what i used. i served it with a salad to make me food a little better and so i would eat less of the pasta. it didn't work, E and i ate all 4 servings worth - just the 2 of us.

here is the recipe.

Linguini with Clam Sauce
(serves 4 - 375 calories per serving)

1 tbs olive oil
1 heaping tbs minced garlic
1 can baby clams with juice
1/4 c dry white wine
1/3 c whole milk
2 tbs parmesan cheese
1 tbs olivio butter
3/4 lb whole wheat pasta

prepare pasta according to package.
saute garlic in olive oil for a minute, then add whole can of baby clams and white wine. simmer till reduced. add whole milk and cheese and simmer again till reduced. add butter. add cooked pasta to sauce and stir till sauce covers all of the noodles.
sprinkle with 1 tsp parmesan cheese.


i just discovered i like brussel sprouts!

for those of you who are still reading, i realize it is not a popular vegetable. today was the first time i have ever had them. hard to believe (being a chef and all) but i had never tasted brussel sprouts! my clients don't exactly request them all the time and my mom never made them for us growing up because she didn't like them.

however, today, my monday client wanted to try them. i simply roasted them in the oven on a high heat. i figured it was now or never and i actually liked them. i am now convinced they have a bad rap. they tasted very similar to cauliflower to me. i guess cauliflower is another under-appreciated vegetable though. clients rarely want it either. poor veggies.

for those of you who are brave enough to try them, here is how i cooked them.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
(serves 4)

1 1/2 lbs brussel sprouts
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs minced garlic

preheat oven to 450 and place rack in top third of the oven.
wash brussel sprouts and cut in half. place on baking sheet covered in foil. drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle garlic, salt, and pepper over. toss together and back 10 mins. turn sprouts over and bake 5-10 more mins. check often to avoid burning.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ravens Sunday

congrats to the bmore ravens for winning their first game of the season. it's going to be a good year!

for some reason, i never seem to feel like cooking sunday evenings. maybe it's because i am always planning my menus and grocery lists for my clients for the week ahead. thinking about all the cooking i am going to do doesn't motivate me to whip up dinner on sundays.

anyway, tonight E was craving pizza so we ordered out. not exactly adhering to the eat clean diet but some small tweaks make a difference. for example we almost always get thin crust so at least we aren't getting much of the white flour crust. i am still hoping one day papa johns will introduce whole wheat thin crust pizza. plus, i always try to load up on veggie toppings. tonight i had mushrooms and roma tomatoes. hopefully there isn't too much sugar in papa john's pizza sauce.

back on track tomorrow. i always have a better time eating clean during the week!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rainy Saturday

there is something so wonderful about a rainy saturday. E and i were supposed to take dignan and roxy to the country club of york for their dog swim today but it was rained out. we were all sad about this and very disappointed we didn't get to see, EA, RJ, and K but there is nothing like a good nap on a rainy saturday. it felt so good. plus, when i woke up it was a little chilly so i had a nice cup of chai tea. yum.

E and i spent most of the afternoon drying out our basement after a minor flood down there. a combination of tons of rain and an unknowingly unplugged sump pump is a recipe for disaster. anyway, lots of moving around and wet/dry vacuuming later, we are on our way to a once again dry basement. hopefully a couple of days of running the dehumidifier will do the rest of the work. we did lose our rug that was down there though so we have to look at the not so nice basement floor. anyone have any good/cheap ideas for how to hide our ugly floor???

anyway, after all that i wanted to do something easy for dinner so i threw together a beef stir fry. just some sirloin steak, leftover brown rice, and whatever veggies i had in the drawer and voila!

Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry
(serves 2 - 250 calories per serving)

10 oz sirloin
1/2 tbs olive oil
1 sm spanish onion
1/2 c shredded carrots
1 pkg shiitake mushrooms (5oz)
1/2 pkg frozen broccoli florets
1/4 c garden peas
4 oz cooked brown rice
2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c bean sprouts

heat wok over medium-high heat. sear sirloin for approximately 3 mins per side. remove steak and let sit while cooking veggies.
add olive oil to pan. add onion and carrots and saute until softened. add rest of ingredients expept bean sprouts and soy sauce. saute till cooked through.
slice sirloin into thin strips and add to pan to finish cooking. add soy sauce and bean sprouts and cook 1 more min.
divide onto 2 plates and enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Maryland Goodness

there is nothing better than an authentic maryland crab cake. if you have never had a homemade crab cake at someone's house in maryland, chances are you have never had a real crab cake. unless, of course, you happen to be lucky enough to have eaten a crab cake at friendly farms in upperco. in which case, you have tasted a bit of heaven. but, i digress.

i had a hankering for crab cakes, so i got some fresh jumbo lump crab meat from the store and whipped up my aunt's secret recipe. ok, so it's not technically secret because it isn't even written down anywhere. its in her head and she has passed her knowledge onto me. now, i'm not claiming the best maryland crab cake ever made, but it's pretty damn good.

while i won't be divulging the recipe online i will tell you this - the key is to broil it. these crab cakes can barely hold it together because there is so little filling so, pile it together on a sheet pan and broil them in the oven.

oh, one other thing. i won't give you the recipe, but if you come to my house with a bottle of wine and a fabulous dessert, i will make them for you. promise!

1st guest blogger

my sister-in-law K is doing this clean eating thing with me. not only is it great to have someone who is in it with you, it's also nice to have her testing recipes too! we both subscribe to the clean eating magazine and she has been trying a recipe from it once a week - she is very organized. so, she'll be my guest blogger occasionally with her findings - good and bad.

here's her first review of beef fusion enchiladas. . .

Well, the magazine may say this is "clean" eating, but it is definitely not "clean" cooking!  I have never used so many pots and pans in my life.  My kitchen was a disaster when I was finished.  Plus, the time estimate given for this recipe was a joke (15 mins).  It took me over an hour to make, and by the time it was served, I couldn't even eat much I was so exhausted!
The flavors were good, and I would highly recommend the edamame puree.  It's a great alternative to guacamole and a really nice base on the tortilla.  That said, you can cut the time by almost half by buying pre-shelled edamame!  My mistake.  R and I loved the dinner (what I could eat of it), but the kids were just okay with it.  They loved the steak, but just picked at the rest.  Would I make it again?  Maybe only once a year!  I need to recover from the experience!  Maybe you'll have more luck.....
here is the recipe from clean eating magazine:

Fusion Enchiladas


1/2 Small onion. diced
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 cup Frozen shelled edamame beans
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Chili powder
2 tsp Fresh lime juice
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 tsp Olive oil, divided
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Cumin, ground
8 oz Sirloin beef, thinly sliced
1 cup Corn kernels (frozen & thawed, canned or fresh)
1 Medium red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups Baby spinach
1 1/2 cups All natural low-sodium tomato sauce, divided
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
8 Small whole wheat flour tortillas (about 6 to 8 inches in diameter)
1/2 cup Low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 425F
Prepare "refried" edamame: Bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add onion, garlic & edamame, bring back to a boil & cook for 4 mins. Drain onion-bean mixture, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Pour bean mixture & reserved cooking liquid into a food processor & add cumin, chili powder & lime juice. Puree until almost smooth & season with salt & black pepper. Scrape into a bowl and set aside
Prepare beef filling: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp oil, garlic & cumin. Add beef & mix well to season
In a nonstick saute pan, heat remaining 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and saute for about 1 min, until lightly browned. Add corn, red pepper & Spinach, and mix well to combine. Add 1/4 cup tomato sauce and cook for 1 to 2 mins, until heated through. Season with salt & black pepper & remove from heat
Spread 1/2 cup remaining tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 in baking dish and set aside
Spread tortillas out in a single layer on a flat work surface. Scoop 2-3 tbsp edamame filling and spread in the center of each tortilla. Top with 2-3 tbsp beef mixture and roll tightly. Place enchiladas seam-side down on top of tomato sauce in baking dish. Cover with remaining tomato sauce, top with cheese and place dish in oven. Bake enchiladas until hot throughout and cheese is melted, about 8 mins.
Remove from oven and serve immediately

Thursday, September 10, 2009

almond bread

for some reason i thought it would be a good idea to jump back into exercising after 10 days of no activity (i blame the state of maryland because they insist on having a 10 day long fair). by jump back into i mean a 1 hour personal training session with my favorite mac trainer, G at 1pm yesterday followed by 60 mins of yoga with weights today at 6:30am and (yes, there's more) 1 hour of boxing today at noon with G. yeah, so note to self, don't do 180 mins of high intensity exercise within 24 hours. i am praying i can move tomorrow. it already hurt to lift my arms up to wash my hair in the shower. not a good sign.

ok, enough complaining. many ibprofen later, i am ready to bake - my reward for grueling workouts. this time, almond ricotta bread. it was originally supposed to be vanilla ricotta bread but i didn't have a vanilla bean. while it may not seem imperative to the recipe i think it will add a lot of flavor and since i didn't have it, i changed it to almond.

Almond Ricotta Bread
(14 servings - 150 calories per serving)

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c part skim ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 c agave nectar
2 tsp almond extract

preheat oven to 350. sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. in separate bowl whisk together ricotta, eggs, agave, and almond extract. add flour mixture and mix till incorporated. pour into greased 9" loaf pan.
bake at 350 for 15 mins. lower temperature to 325 and bake for 25-30 more minutes until tooth pick comes out clean. top will be slightly browned and will pull away from sides of pan.
slice into 10 slices when cooled.

enjoy a slice after dinner as dessert or for breakfast with berries on top.

Greenish-Brown Monster

i thought i'd post another green monster from breakfast this morning. this time, no protein powder and its actually a brown monster because of the ingredients. again, not pretty but sooo good!

Berry-Banana Green Monster
(serves 1 - 225 calories)

1/2 c frozen raspberries
1/2 c frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1 handful baby spinach
1/2 c blueberry-pomegranate v8 v-fusion
1/2 c low sugar orange juice
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp flax seed
1 c ice

blend till smooth and enjoy!

one more tip:
i used to loathe cleaning the blender after my almost daily smoothie but i discovered an easy way. simply rinse out the blender and lid. then add a drop of dish soap and fill 3/4 full with hot water. put on the lid and blend at various speeds. it works so well and gets the blender clean! i do take the blender apart every 3rd or 4th time to thoroughly clean it or throw it in the dishwasher when i run it. hope that helps. i was excited when i tried it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

one of my favorites - breakfast for dinner. it takes me back to my childhood. when mom would be gone for an evening, dad would cook me and my big bro W breakfast for dinner. usually waffles or pancakes with lots of syrup and bacon! yum.

so tonight wasn't quite that, but it was good. E suggested it while we were at wegman's this morning and since then, i have can't stop thinking about eggs. i made breakfast burritos. yum!

i used 2 eggs, onion, shiitake mushrooms, amy's organic salsa, low fat shredded mexican cheese, salt, pepper, and brown and serve turkey sausage links. then i wrapped it all up in a whole wheat tortilla.

i encourage breakfast for dinner at least once a month! i'll post my clean pancakes recipe soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Snack Bars

i feel like i eat some kind of packaged bar everyday. on a good day its a larabar. i love larabars! the good news is that they contain all natural ingredients. seriously, i can pronounce every ingredient on the list and most flavors only contain 3-5 ingredients. on a not as good day i have a chocolate chip cookie balance bar or a kashi granola bar. not that these are all that bad for you but they have lots of ingredients and i can't pronounce all of them. they aren't clean.

so, i am currently working on a homemade bar i can eat on the go. my first experiment with the peanut butter oatmeal bars turned out pretty well but it's not quite there yet. plus man/woman cannot live on peanut butter bars alone!

so, today i tried a different variation on my peanut butter oatmeal bars. and ta-da! we have almond chocolate chip bars. the recipe is similar to the PB bars but i changed a couple things and added unsweetened shredded coconut and ground flaxseed. i am very happy with the outcome. they have a decent amount of protein in them too because of the almonds and almond butter. so easy too! i encourage you to try them soon! oh, and i highly recommend them with a glass of ice cold milk (i am a farmers daughter after all:)

check back for more variations of my on-the-go bars! hopefully more successes than failures.

Almond Chocolate Chip Bars
(makes 12 bars - 200 calories per bar)

1 1/2 c quick oats
1/2 c ground almond meal (or pulse raw almonds in food processor till finely ground)
1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c agave nectar
1/4 c shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 c grain sweetened chocolate chips
2 tbs ground flaxseed
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt

preheat oven to 350. mix all ingredients together in bowl until combined. spread into greased 8" square baking dish. bake at 350 for 15 minutes until edges start to brown.
cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.

Green Monster!

if you have never had a green monster this probably doesn't look very appetizing. but you are wrong - it's yummy! it's super good and good for you!

there are an infinite number of combinations for green monsters. this particular one is a mango-banana green monster. i also frequently make peanut butter-banana or strawberry mango, papaya-berry-banana, blueberry-banana, chocolate-peanut butter. get the picture? lots of options. you basically need some fruit, spinach or kale, ice, and a liquid and you are good to go. the great thing is the fruit completely masks the spinach/kale flavor but you still get all of nutrients from the leafy greens.

i try to have one once a day to automatically get some fruits and veggies into my diet. it may not look good, but you seriously need to try it. if you like fruit smoothies, you will like green monsters. the green color will be verying levels of intensity depending on the ingredients. for example, if you add some red berries it turns brownish, lighter color fruit allows the green to shine!

here is what i put in it today:

Mango-Banana Green Monster
(serves 2 - just cut ingredients in half for 1 smoothie)
225 calories per serving

1/2 c frozen mango
1 frozen very ripe banana
1 scoop dessert banana cream protein powder (optional)
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 tbs ground flaxseed (optional but so good for you)
1 tbs agave nectar
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c v8 v-fusion juice (i used pomegranate blueberry)
1 1/2 C ice

blend all ingredients in blender till smooth. add more liquid if too thick or more ice if too thin.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fair Food

this week has been an excellent example of how good clean eating is for me. i have been working at the state fair all week and have not been eating well. it is very hard there. everything is fried - hello fried oreos! i even managed to consume 3 smaller versions of the above pictured peach sundae. the first could of days i was pretty good. i packed some lettuce to make salad and had clean snacks to take with me (2% string cheese, clean cream cheese cookies, pistachios, apples, etc.)

anyway, long story short, i fell off the wagon and i could feel it. my body feels badly when  eat poorly. it seems clear that you are what you eat.

stay tuned for me back on the wagon this week! i'll be trying some new recipes too. i'm looking forward to it. now, off for some recovery sleep. 4 straight days of 10+ hour days has taken its toll.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Taste of Fall

maybe it's the cooler weather that made it feel like fall and made me want to try these pumpkin sandwich cookies. again, i am fairly green at the whole baking thing. even more so with clean baking. i am impressed with my results though. every success i have makes me want to bake a little more. and, knowing it isn't horrible for me makes me even happier:)

i did some serious tweaks to this recipe which originally called for splenda (yuck), canola oil, and white flour. i replaced the fake sugar with agave and sucanat (i was afraid to use all agave for some reason), the canola oil with coconut oil (this was my first venture with the coconut oil) and the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour (not as grainy as whole wheat flour). i also substituted 1/2 the eggs with flaxseed. the icing will be a light brown color instead of white because of the agave and sucanat.

i made these cookies 2 different ways. either as a sandwich with 2 cookies and the filling in between or as one cookie topped with the filling as an icing. either way is good. these are also good cold from the fridge! oh - and yes, E liked these too. i'm bringing out his sweet tooth little by little.

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
1/2 c agave nectar
1 c sucanat
1/4 c coconut oil
1 egg
2 tbs ground flax + 6 tbs water, whisked together (replaces 2 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 c old fashioned oats
1 1/2 c finely grated carrots

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz earth balance cream cheese or regular cream cheese (at room temp)
1/4 c agave nectar
1/4 c finely ground sucanat (pulse in food processor for 30 seconds)
2 tsp vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350
using an electric mixer, combine first 6 ingredients (agave through vanilla) and beat on medium speed until well mixed.
sift together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients
mix in oats and carrots until just combined. chill dough in fridge for one hour or until firm.
scoop teaspoon size dough onto parchment lined baking sheets.
bake at 350 for 12-14 mins.
prepare frosting by beating all ingredients together on medium high speed until smooth.
once cookies are cool, spread cream cheese filling onto one cookie and sandwich with a second cookie and serve.

makes 48 cookies or 24 sandwiches
180 calories per sandwich
90 per cookie topped with icing

What is Clean Eating?

so i've already had some "what exactly is clean eating" questions. if you were to google clean eating, you may get slightly different answers, but this is what it means to me - in my own words.

clean eating is:

+ eating food in its most natural state. this includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. complex carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. choosing whole grains (whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, whole wheat bread, etc) is much better for you because they have more fiber, are easier to digest, and don't cause your blood sugar to spike the way refined white flours and sugars do.

+ no sugar. period. i use agave nectar when necessary. honey is fine because its natural and i use sucanat sometimes for baking. if the label on your food item has sugar, aspartame, or corn syrup in the ingredient list - put it back!

+ avoiding processed foods. basically, if it looks like it did when it was in the ground/on a tree - go for it. if it comes in a box, limit it.

+ eating 5-6 smaller meals a day. this usually means breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as 2-3 snacks. eating every couple of hours keeps your blood sugar steady and keeps you from getting so hungry you eat everything in sight.

+ limiting alcohol intake. but let's be serious, i am very lenient on this one.

it is amazing what i discovered when i simply started reading nutrition labels. in america, we put sugar in everything! no joke. actually, it's really sad and it's why we are an addicted nation. cutting sugar out was very hard at first. but now, i feel a difference. i feel tried, irritable, and very crappy when i have sugar now.

i aim to do most of my shopping in the perimeter of the grocery store. all of the middle isles have the man made, processed, boxed food. food that more likely than not had sugar added to it. your produce, meat and seafood counters, and dairy all are usually on the perimeter of the store. shop the aisles just for whole wheat/whole grain things.

there you have it. feel free to add things/give your opinion - i'd love to hear from you!
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