Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pancakes in the morning, patties at night

I have never been a big pancake person.  When you eat them at restaurants, they usually have too much dough and way too many toppings.  They are good for about 3 bites, and then your stomach implodes.  At least, that's what happens to me.

So when Mr. PT first offered to make pancakes for me, I was skeptical.  I did not consider them to be the best way to start the day.  But, for the sake of being polite, I agreed to join him for pancakes.

I am so glad I did!  He introduced me to the world of buckwheat!

 This mix makes the most delicious, hearty pancakes you will ever eat.  After making a big batch and enjoying 2-3 each, we put them in the refridgerator and eat them during the week for breakfast.  A quick minute in the microwave with a touch of syrup, topped with vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit...and you have a breakfast to wake up for!

So that's how I woke up this morning.  After a long day of work, I needed to spend some serious detox time in the kitchen.  So I got to work on one of my favorite recipes...tuna patties!  These can also be tuna burgers, but I did not have hamburger buns, oops.

You will need:
-2 cans of tuna, in water, drained
-2 1/3 cup bread crumbs (Progresso makes the only kind I could find without trans fat)
-1/3 cup chopped celery or green pepper
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-3 eggs
-spices to taste

Mix all the ingredients together.  Form into patties and brown off in a skillet with olive oil.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy with a rice or veggie side!

Have I mentioned I love cooking?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Good Sunday Morning

 fresh fruit dipped in yogurt mixed with peanut butter, Mom's banana bread

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

My title refers to the fickle weather we have been experiencing here in town.  We had a few wonderful days of warm weather that left us with a severe case of spring fever.  Mr. PT and I finally got the chance to open up the windows, air out the apartment, and test drive our new porch.  I must say, after a long day at work, you can't beat sitting on a porch with warm dish and a cold beer, just watching the neighborhood come alive.  For this occasion, I boiled some whole wheat pasta and topped it with cooked asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms along with cold tomatoes, chunky mozzarella, and a scattering of lemon zest.  It was the perfect mix of carbs and veggies, and the lemon zest gave it a neat springy touch.

Pasta with Fresh Veggies

You will need:
-2 servings of whole wheat pasta (I recommend penne, but use whatever you want)
-one stalk of broccoli, cut into small pieces
-1/2 lb asparagus, chopped into bite size pieces
-cup mushrooms
-1/2 tomato, cut into chunks
-2 tbs lemon zest
-olive oil and spices

Prepare water to boil.  While you are waiting, cut veggies and saute mushrooms in a separate skillet.  When the water is boiling, throw the asparagus and broccoli and cook 3-4 minutes until tender.  Spoon veggies out of water and throw pasta in, cook pasta according to box.  While the pasta is cooking, throw cooked veggies in with mushrooms and season with pepper and other Italian spices (garlic if you love it like I do!).  Strain pasta, top with veggies, fresh tomatoes, cheese, lemon zest, and olive oil.  Mix it all up and enjoy!

If you could not tell, I'm going through a vegetable craze right now...I really cannot get enough of them when dinner time comes around!  This week has been asparagus themed, so tonight, I made a similar dish.  Unfortunately, the weather has dipped down into the 30's again, so the porch is temporarily closed.  But this was a nice warm dish that Mr. PT and I still enjoyed.

 Brown rice with Vegetables and Manchego Cheese

This is basically the same as the previous recipe, except we sauteed all the veggies together in the Wok (asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, onion) with olive oil and lots of good spices (basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, anise).  We spooned in our favorite manchego cheese before serving and ate with a nice slice of French Bread and a dark porter beer (the beer to help mourn the lost warm weather).

I had to include this picture of the veggies...aren't they beautiful?  And the best part, this dish has NO SALT.  All of the spices I use are salt free, and the rice is very basic as well.  Just goes to show you really do not need the extra salt to make a dish taste good.

Here's to hoping for more posts from the porch!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The day off

Being a health conscious kind of guy, Mr. PT had been cooking for himself long before we met each other.  So he has quite a few recipes up his sleeve...some better than others.  Today he stepped up to the plate and treated me to both breakfast and dinner!  I enjoy cooking, but sometimes it is nice to have someone else put food on the table.

For breakfast, he cooked up some cream of wheat.  This is a pretty bland dish left alone, so you have to jazz it up.  He added warmed blackberries with their juices, fresh strawberries, and a little bit of honey.  It was delicious!  This is definitely not an "instant" breakfast, but it only takes about 10 minutes to prepare.  If heating milk over the stove sounds like something that would help you wake up in the morning, this is a good dish to make.

For dinner, he got a little more complicated.

 whole wheat pasta with salad shrimp and veggies

For this dish you will need:
-whole wheat pasta 
-a bag of frozen salad shrimp
-1/2 zucchini, peeled and chopped
-stalk of broccoli cut into small pieces
-1/8 cup chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
-mozzarella cheese to garnish
-olive oil, pepper, jerk spice

In a skillet, saute onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli with olive oil and pepper until soft.  While you do this, boil water for pasta.  While doing that, heat salad shrimp in separate skillet with jerk spice.  Cook pasta according to box and strain.  Add a little olive oil to the pasta.  Spoon pasta on plate with cooked veggies, shrimp, and garnish with cheese. 

I practically inhaled this dish, it was so good.  The fresh vegetables really added a wonderful flavor with the shrimp.  If you don't like shrimp, you can do without, or use chicken instead.  I could get used to this!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oops, Ash Wednesday!

With all the craziness of personal and professional lives, it is easy to forget special days.  Today, I forgot Ash Wednesday!  Ooops!

Luckily, I made fish for dinner (thank you subconscious mind).  Mr. PT and I do not eat fish as much as we should, but when we do, it is a welcome reunion!  I like fish on its own, with rice, with pasta, or, like tonight, with salad.  Tonight, I made a delicious dish filled with yummy vegetables and leafy greens.

I know I've mentioned this before, but one of the keys to cooking healthy meals on a regular basis is having fresh items in stock.  If you have fresh fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator, it is easy to get creative with dishes.  I tend to buy the same old veggies, so tonight, I vowed to pick up some zucchini and broccoli on my next trip to the store to mix things up.

I plan on giving up chocolate for Lent this year...boring? Maybe, but difficult? YES.
Looks like I'll need to figure out some new dessert options...

salmon filet brushed with olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, pinch of salt, black and red pepper

 sauteed mushrooms, red peppers, red onion, and corn

You will need:
-head of green or red lettuce
-filet of favorite fish
-lemon/lime juice
-1/4 red pepper, chopped
-cup mushrooms, chopped
-1/8 cup of chopped red onion
-1/3 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
-olive oil, salt, pepper

Separate, wash, and spin lettuce, set aside.  Saute mushrooms, pepper, onions and corn in olive oil until soft.  Season with salt and red/black pepper.  Brush filet with olive oil, citrus, and spices.  Place in aluminum foil and broil until done in the middle (5-10 min).  Assemble salad with vegetables and fish, top with fresh carrots and balsamic vinegar and...


Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's for Lunch?

I had a request to write a post about different types of lunches that are healthy and filling.  I pack lunches for myself and Mr. PT every morning for work, so I logged all my lunches this week to share!  These are pretty typical lunches that I pack, although they vary depending on leftovers from dinner, what is available or in season, etc.  But these are pretty standard!

I usually eat part of my lunch around 10:00am since I eat breakfast at 6:00am.  If you find yourself getting hungry throughout the morning, I suggest eating a light snack, something you can eat quickly and on the go!  I also drink either coffee or tea in the morning and try to drink at least one bottle of water in the afternoon.

Another important point is that I work at a school, so I usually get home around 4pm and eat a light snack before dinner.  If you are at an office until 4 or 5pm, you might want to pack a little extra.

Apple, Dannon vanilla yogurt mixed with Grape Nuts and walnuts, Luna bar

PPJ on whole wheat bread, banana, Clif bar

Yogurt with Grape Guts, oats and walnuts, carrots, homemade banana bread

Salad with carrots, raisins, almonds and cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dressing, banana, Luna bar

  Leftover black bean and corn salad, granola bar

When I pack a lunch, I try to include at least 1 item that is fresh, whether it's a fruit or vegetable.  That way I'm not eating all processed foods.  I make sure the foods that are processed do not include high fructose corn syrup or trans fats (after my big realization a few weeks ago).  

I hope this gives you a good idea about what a personal trainer would suggest eating for lunch.  If you are packing your lunch, you are already ahead of the game because that means you are spending time with your food and you know what you are putting in your mouth!  Good job!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spice it up!

I love discovering new recipes that turn into favorites.  I find recipes in a number of different ways...books, cooking shows, magazines, newspapers, friends, and family members.

Hopefully the readers of this blog will share some recipes as well!

I have recently been excited about the catalog for Penzey's Spices.  It comes once a season (4 times a year) and contains numerous recipes in all categories, from oatmeal pancakes to flank steak.  It also has personal anecdotes from spice buyers, which are fun to read.  If you love spices and creating new dishes, this is a catalog you want to get!

Tonight, I tried a NEW recipe from Penzey's that Mr. PT and I absolutely loved.  It was fresh, filling, and fun.  It caught my eye because it contained a few of my favorite ingredients...avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro.  If you are like me and dig these ingredients, you will want to try this.

Black Bean Salad with Corn Tortillas

You will need:

2 15oz cans of black beans, thoroughly rinsed
1 roma tomato, diced
2 avocados, diced
3 tbs lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil (or a little less if you like)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbs spice (onion, garlic, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic, chive, chipotle, etc.)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and set aside to let the flavors mingle.  Serve with chips or tortillas, top with cottage cheese or sour cream.

Feel free to add chicken or beef.  You can also make it as spicy as you want, and if you are a Penzey's user, I used the Salsa and Adobo spices.  If you've never been to a Penzey's, you should check it out.  It is a spice buyer's paradise!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pizza Pizza

Mt. PT and I rarely eat out, but when we do, he always wants pizza and I always want sushi.  I have yet to master homemade sushi (I'd rather eat it from a wooden boat anyway), but pizza I can do!  The best pizzas are made with homemade crust, but that happens about 1 every 5 pizzas.  The pre-made crusts aren't too bad and they require much less rising time (none!).  Just be careful, some brands are loaded with extra sodium and possibly trans fats.

I buy Kroger brand pizza crusts (find them in the pasta section) because they seem the least offensive and you get two!

Mr. PT literally had an hour to come home and eat between appointments tonight, so I whipped this pie up in about 15 minutes!

I gave up on pizza sauce a long time ago.  It just seemed unnecessarily salty and did not taste all that great.  So I took the extra simple route and started slicing fresh tomatoes to use as a "sauce."  I promise, you will not miss the stuff in jars.  Here is the complete recipe for a loaded pizza..give and take as many veggies and meats as you like:

-1 pizza crust
-1 fresh tomato, or 2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced
-1/4 green pepper, chopped or sliced
-1/4 red pepper, chopped or sliced
- 2-3 tbs chopped red onion
-3-4 mushrooms, chopped or sliced
-2-3 tbs Italian spices (basil, oregano, garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc)
-mozzarella cheese (as much as you like)
-olive oil

Load the crust with tomatoes and veggies, sprinkle with spices, top with cheese and pepperoni, then drizzle with olive oil.  Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes (or until you smell it in the next room!).

I think we ate this in less time than it took to bake!  This version of pizza is much lighter than restaurant or frozen pizzas.  You will feel so good after eating it.  Enjoy!