Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Express Noodles

Sometimes you just want pasta!

Mr. PT and I got home from the gym tonight famished, so noodles seemed like the perfect meal.  However, I was tired of the same old tomato just did not sound appealing tonight.  So I scrounged whatever vegetables I had left in my crisper and threw together a most excellent dish, if I do say so myself!

My mother taught me the secret of a good roux.  When made correctly, a roux can be perfectly paired with whole wheat spaghetti.

Start with olive oil or butter warmed in a large skillet.  Soften your favorite vegetables or meats.  Tonight, I sauteed sliced mushrooms, chopped red onions, and thinly sliced red peppers.  I seasoned these with a touch of salt and pepper.  To make the roux, I combined about 1/2 cup of chicken broth, (you can use vegetable broth), 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice, and about 2 tablespoons of white flour.  I stirred this on medium heat until it was thick, adding my seasonings (garlic, basil, parsley).

Mr. PT was in charge of the pasta!  While I was thickening up my roux, he boiled 1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti.  When that reached al dente, I threw it in the pan with my soupy sauce and let the flavors soak for about 5 minutes.

After a long day of work and a tough cycling class, this tasted delicious sprinkled with some mozzarella cheese.

Give yourself a break from Ragu...try a roux!

Combine with a quickie strength workout.  100 bicep curls, 100 shoulder lifts, 100 tricep curls.  Use heavier weights than normal since you're making it quick!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Pump up your chicken salad!

Chicken salad is one of my go-to dishes.  Mt. PT and I do not eat a lot of meat, but sometimes I crave this dish my mother used to often make.

Why don't we eat of lot of meat?  Well, that's an interesting question.  Sometimes I think it is because of the price.  Whenever I buy meat at the grocery store I want to buy the really good meat, and I just don't know if I can justify buying that on a weekly basis at this point in our lives.

Other times I think we just prefer vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans over meat.  I would much rather sit down and eat a quinoa stir fry with freshly sauteed vegetables and delicious spices than a chicken nugget.  I feel better after eating lighter foods.

And then there are times when I get that guilty twinge in my stomach about animal cruelty.  With all the information out there now about cage free chickens, free range cows...I think Mr. PT has made me watch too many foodie documentaries.

But THEN, there is that rare, yet wonderful moment when I'm in a restaurant and order a deliciously cooked hamburger.  I have to admit, when you crave it, it hits the spot.

So, I guess I'm not a total vegetarian (clearly not a vegan), but I do respect certain ideals of both of those eating preferences.  At the end of the day, you should focus on having a balanced that ensures you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  If you would rather choose grilled chicken over a hummus wrap, go for it.  But if you have wellness goals on your brain, try to reach for the hummus wrap at the next opportunity.

 After saying all that, to make my pumped up chicken salad, you will need:
-2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
-1 whole carrot or a handful of baby carrots, diced
-1-2 stalks of celery, diced
-1/8 cup diced onion (optional)
-1/8 cup diced red or green pepper (optional)
-handful of sliced almonds
-1/4 cup light mayo (or plain Greek yogurt)
-3/4 cup cooked brown rice
-pinch pepper and salt
-spice to taste (basil, parsley, garlic, dill, celery seed)

Mix all ingredients together and serve on toasted bread, topped on a salad, or paired with a serving of low fat cottage cheese. Enjoy!

Combine with a positive attitude about exercising.  Tell yourself, "I'm helping my body," "I'll feel great afterwards," "It will get easier the more I do it."  Exercising is physical, yes, but it requires a healthy mind too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Day!

Well, I have the day off for president's day, but Mr. PT's classes are canceled because of the 5 inches of snow we have outside!


A snow this fantastic deserved a fantastic breakfast.  I bought some buckwheat groats at our local natural foods grocery last week and have been waiting to use them!  I found this delicious-looking recipe on Pinterest which led me to this blog!  Thanks for the great idea!

Spinach and Groats Egg Bake

What are buckwheat groats?
They are basically a buckwheat seed that has been hulled and nothing else.  The hard, outer covering is removed and you have a groat!  Consider it a gluten-free, protein packed grain.  And this stuff is truly whole grain.

For the egg bake, you will need:
-1/2 cup buckwheat groats
-1.5 cups water
-1/4 cup oats
-pinch of salt

-1/8 cup chopped onion (more if you want)
-1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
-1 handful of toasted nuts (your preference...I used cashews, soynuts, and sesame seeds)
-2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add the groats and oats and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the grains are soft and most of the liquid is gone.  

While waiting, saute the onions until soft.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Set aside.  Combine cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, nutmeg, and toasted nuts.  Add spinach and onions.

Divide cooked grains into 2 oven safe bowls.  Top with cheese mixture and cracked egg.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until egg has set.

After they bake for 15 minutes, pull one bowl out and see how the egg is doing.  I cooked mine 10 minutes too long because the egg looked like it was still runny.  In reality, it was done and the rest of the dish was getting quite crispy.  The egg will be slightly rubbery, but it is still a wonderful addition to the dish.

Mmmm...the nutmeg, onions, and spinach were such a lovely combination.  And this dish will seriously fill you up.  I ate this at 8:30.  It is now 12:30.  I am still full.  

Combine with a goal.  Having trouble motivating yourself to exercise?  Give yourself a goal for the day.  Write it down if necessary!  "I will go to the gym and do squats until I can't feel my butt."  "I will do as many sets of 10 push-ups I can until my arms are burning."  "I will sprint the last 1/2 mile of my run."  Then tell yourself, "I CAN do this.  I WILL do this."

What are your fitness goals?  Leave a comment!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


No, strawberries are not exactly in season right now.  However, the joy of frozen fruit is that you can put it in the microwave and pretend it's July.

Well, it's official.  Pinterest has now become an addiction.

It really is amazing how many food blogs exist!  It can be overwhelming to decide which ones to follow, but it is encouraging to know that so many people out there still love and cherish the art of cooking.  Pinterest is great because you can surf through a nice variety of the many ideas that foodies are sharing all over the world.

I recently found a recipe for quinoa cakes on this food blog.  They were simple to assemble and delicious as leftovers the next day!

You will need:
2 cups cooked quinoa
2/3 cup grated cheese (I used a mix of mozzarella and parmesan)
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Heat up the oil in a skillet.  Mix all ingredients together and let them sit for about 5 minutes.  Form small (or big, your preference) patties and brown off in the oil.  When you are finished, keep the patties warm in an oven set at 250 while you make the dips!

You will need:
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt/pepper to taste

I also made an avocado based dip (replace the lemon with 1 mashed avocado).  Whisk these ingredients by hand or pulse in a food processor.

These made a wonderful dinner when paired with cheesy steamed broccoli!

Combine with a run in the snow.  Don't let the cold weather slow you down! When it comes to running in the cold, layers are key.  You should be chilly when you first start, that way when your body warms up you won't overheat.  Here are some other cold weather running tips:
-ear warmers work better than hats (they allow the heat to escape as you run)
-wear clothing you can strip and tie around your waist if necessary
-gloves usually get too hot...wrap your hands in a long sleeve shirt to begin instead
-moisture wicking fabric makes a big difference!
-take advantage of cold but sunny days!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Show some love!

Oh my goodness, is it February 14th already??

This can be the most hated/loved day of the year.  My family has always taken Valentine's Day pretty seriously.  We used to make hand-made valentines and exchange them while eating a festive dinner prepared by Mom.  I usually ended up with a pair of heart decorated socks.

Whether you like this nutty holiday or not, we are in the doldrums of winter so any reason to celebrate is essential!

Mr. PT woke up this morning to heart shaped banana bread muffins.  Man, he is so spoiled sometimes!

For delicious banana bread muffins, you will need:
-2 1/4 cups of flour (white or whole wheat)
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1 1/4 tsp baking powder
-1 1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp cinnamon (or more)
-1 tsp cloves
-1 tsp ginger
-1 tsp nutmeg
-2/3 cup milk
-1/2 cup yogurt
-2 tbs veggie oil or apple sauce
-2/3 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs)
-1 1/4 cup of mashed bananas
-2/3 cup chopped nuts (optional, I use walnuts)

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and wet ingredients and mix well.  Slowly add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the nuts.

To make these muffins extra hearty, I added a few generous handfuls of oats!

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

I made jumbo muffins!  I sliced one in half this morning and used a cookie cutter for the heart shape.  Banana bread is a great way to use those old brown bananas you stash in the freezer.

Happy Valentine's day!

Combine with one long day of exercise a week.   Most workouts only need to be 30 minutes, but allow your body to move for 60 once in a while.  Build that endurance!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This calls for cauliflower!

Is it still cold enough for soup?

I think Mr. PT was getting a little tired of our squash varieties.  So I turned to a vegetable I do not often use...cauliflower!

When I was little my mom would make broccoli soup.  I was the only kid that would eat the slimy green stuff.  But it was so delicious!  So when I found this recipe for a non-dairy cauliflower soup (, I had to try it.

You will need:

-1 head of cauliflower
-3-4 tbs of olive oil
-pinch salt
-1 sweet onion
-3-4 cups of water or vegetable stock

Rub cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Put in a baking dish with 1/2 cup of water.  Bake for 1.5 hours at 350.  Remove and cool.  Chop it up!

Saute onion in a pan until soft.  Add cauliflower and stock and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Puree in a blender until smooth.  Return to the pan and simmer.  I added dried parsley, tarragon, and a pinch of black pepper. 

So good, and so good for you!

Combine with a home 3 sets of 10 push-ups, 20 crunches, 15 squats and 50 jumping jacks.  Finish with stretching. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Snacks

Even personal trainers enjoy a nice spread on Super Bowl Sunday.  Mr. PT, being the pizza lover that he is, requested pepperoni rolls.  I found a simple recipe on Pinterest that I altered to make them as healthy as I could.  Oh man, these are good.

You will need:
-puff pastry
-canned diced tomatoes, or diced fresh tomatoes if you have them
-mozzarella cheese
-fresh basil
-1 egg, beaten

Defrost the puff pastry.
Preheat oven to 400.

Layer the tomatoes, pepperoni, basil, and cheese on the pastry.  Do your best to roll it into a log, tucking the pastry at the ends to keep the filling in.  Seal the roll and brush with the egg.  Use a sharp knife to slice the roll into pieces.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

If I make these again (which I probably will, based on Mr. PT's reaction) I will make my own dough.  Puff pastry is wonderful but the ingredient list might make you cringe a little.

Looks like it's going to be a close game! Enjoy!

Combine with a goal.  Sign up for a 5k, 10k, sprint triathlon, duathlon...something that will motivate you to get moving.  

What is your favorite Super Bowl snack?  Leave a comment!


Muffins in the morning

In college, I was sometimes known as "muffin a meal" girl.  My friends would tease me because I would justify muffins as a meal.  In all fairness, these muffins had to be decent in size and full of hearty ingredients like nuts, fruit, and bran.  They were so delicious and filling, why not make them a meal?


Well, those days are back!  Last week Mr. PT and I took a break from cereal and yogurt and enjoyed these muffins made hearty with whole grain flour, buckwheat, carrots, walnuts, apples, and raisins.  I tweaked this recipe from the King Arthur's Flour website.  They were so good I made another batch yesterday!  I replaced the oil with applesauce this time and the muffins actually came out fluffier!

You will need:

1/2 cup raisins or another dried fruit
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large tart apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup buckwheat or wheat germ
3 large eggs
2/3 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange or cranberry juice

Preheat oven to 375. 

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in hot water and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, nuts, and buckwheat/wheat germ.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and fruit juice. Add to the flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Drain the raisins and stir them in.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with batter.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. 

I know the ingredient list looks lengthy, but you probably have most items in your cupboards.  These are so yummy! You can eat them plain, or smear on some light butter or jam.  As you can see, I used my jumbo muffin pan to make some seriously sized muffins.  You will have no choice but to call it a meal.


Combine with working out.  Just do it. Now.  GO!

What is your favorite healthy meal-on-the-go?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spice up a salad

If you are not into the arugula pesto, try to spice up a salad with this herby green.  I tossed it with spinach leaves, raisins, walnuts, grated pecorino cheese, and balsamic/oil dressing.  With a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich on crusty bread, your kitchen will feel like quite the bistro!

Arugula is part of the cruciferous family, sibling of well known veggies like cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and bok choy.  It is loaded with iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin C.  What more could you ask for?

Combine with a quick 30 minute workout...go outside and run/walk for 20 minutes.  After you have worked up a sweat, do 10 minutes of pilates-type exercises.  The combination of the cardio and strength is great for your heart.

What is your favorite vegetable?  Leave a comment!