Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend...keeping it light

Memorial Day weekend!  A wonderful weekend to honor our heroes...full of family, friends, and all around good times.

Mr. PT and I had a fantastic weekend filled with biking, trail running, wine drinking with friends, beer drinking with family, and of course, eating!

I am sure you found yourself making some interesting food choices this weekend.  Green salad or macaroni salad?  Watermelon or Jello?  Chocolate chip cookies or fresh strawberries?

This is a weekend in which the 80/20 rule can really make a difference.  Choosing fresher, natural, and healthier foods 80% of eating opportunities will preserve your waistline and your overall feeling of wellness after a long, fun weekend.

Here is a sample of foods I ate this weekend that fall into the 20% category that I do not feel guilty about:
-3 glasses of white wine
-1/2 ice cream sandwich
-1/2 serving restaurant french fries
-1/2 dark chocolate covered graham cracker
-3 beers
-several bites of decadent brownie and bumbleberry tart (shared between 4 at a restaurant)
-bagel with cream cheese and jelly
-single serving of black raspberry chip ice cream (yum)

Not too bad, right? Although I did not get a photo of everything else I ate this weekend, here is a glimpse of a few dishes I had that fell into the 80% category.

 Bruschetta with fresh strawberries and sweet potato fries
Salsa and guacamole with chips, berries, and bread with...

caprese dip!

Intertwined with these homemade dishes was a lot of fresh fruit, copious amounts of water to keep hydrated, 1/2 black bean burger at a restaurant, pizza and hummus dip at another restaurant...and well, you get the point.

The weekend ended on a bang with...

Fresh green salad with radicchio, baked chicken tenders, walnuts, goat cheese, roasted beets, broiled potatoes with rosemary and dill, and a big chunk of watermelon.

So I guess my point here is that you can celebrate the long weekends by eating some treats, but try not to push your health to the side for 3 days straight.  It makes for a rough Tuesday.

Combine with active party activities!  Get a vball, bball, or fball game started.  Throw some cornhole or bocce ball. Go jump on your kids' trampoline for a while.  Exercise doesn't always have to be a planned effort!

Stay tuned for beet recipes!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vegetables and Fruits...Week 3!

Mr. PT picked up our new vegetables and fruits today!  I was surprised to see the abundance of cherries and strawberries since word on the street was the rain was drowning the spring fruit harvest.

So we got the familiar (tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, bok choy, herbs) and the unfamiliar (beets).  Hmm...beets are new to me.  

What do you think I should make?  Here are some options:
-roasted beets with balsamic, olive oil, goat cheese and walnuts
-beat napoleons with goat cheese
-white-wine roasted beets
-beet pancakes with yogurt dill sauce

The possibilities seem to be endless!

Combine with a commitment.  Write down "I will exercise today for 30 minutes" on a post-it note and stick it on your front door when you leave for work.  If you stay home, stick it on your bathroom mirror.  Do this at least 3 times a week.  If you can't afford a personal trainer, be your own!

Summer Breakfast

Baguette-French toast with fresh cherries and yogurt

Looking for an easy way to eat healthier?  Eat at home.  

Combine with your own bodyweight.  It's your best weightlifting tool!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good Food, Good Days

Our last shipment of vegetables brought us an abundance of spinach!!  Mr. PT and I ate a lot of salads this week, however, we were also able to enjoy a few excellent meals that non-traditionally incorporated our juicy greens.

One night, we came home from a long bike ride up the mountain and lined corn tortillas with spinach leaves, topped with black beans and cheese.  We heated these "tacos" up in the oven and topped them with salsa.  You could hardly taste the spinach (which might be good for some of you) but the texture change was awesome!  They had a subtle crunch on the inside and the tortilla held up a little better (corn tortillas tend to get droopy when warm).

On Saturday morning, we woke up thirsty for a hearty smoothy!  We threw in the usual...banana, vanilla yogurt, milk, 5-6 carrots...but then we added a handful of spinach leaves.  In case you were wondering about the taste of this smoothy, it was saved by frozen strawberries and cinnamon.  These last two ingredients gave it a delicious fruity punch.  Mr. PT added peanut butter to his for some extra protein.

Our strawberries were generously donated by our neighbor who has a plethora of them in her backyard!!  To freeze, you must wash them, let them dry completely, "flash freeze" them (put on wax paper and freeze for about an hour) then pack them in a freezer bag and freeze (in case you were wondering).

This last meal does not have spinach, rather, it contains the delicious red kale we received from our veggie share last week.  I wanted to try something different with the kale this time around, so I tweaked a recipe I found from this fellow blogger.  It sounded simply fresh and light...right up my alley.

You will need:
-1/2 bunch kale (any variety) or about 3 packed cups sliced into ribbons
-2-3 tsp minced garlic (more if you like!)
-1/2 box pasta
-1/4 cups olive oil
-2 lemons (1 sliced in half and then into thin wedges, the other zested and juiced)
-1 green onion, diced
-rosemary, black/red pepper, salt

Heat a large pan with 1 tbs. of olive oil.  Saute green onions until soft.  Throw in 1 tsp garlic and kale ribbons and saute until the kale has wilted.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 tsp garlic and 1/2 of the lemon wedges.  While these are "infusing," boil your water and cook your pasta accordingly.  When the pasta is strained and ready to go, carefully remove  and discard the soggy lemon wedges.  Add the rest of your minced garlic and rosemary to the oil and simmer for 3-5 minutes on low. 

 (infused olive oil)

Meanwhile, put your pasta in a big bowl and toss with rest of the lemon wedges, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cooked kale mix.  Finally, add the infused olive oil and toss.  Enjoy warm with some mozzarella cheese or cold as a pasta salad. 

This dish was extremely flavorful and wonderfully light.  Mr. PT and I treated ourselves to a few slices of baguette with butter on the side.

This vegetable share will only get more interesting!  Stay tuned!

Combine with house hunting on foot or wheels.  Even if you are not in the market for some new digs, it is fun to browse your favorite neighborhoods and get ideas from others' landscaping and paint jobs.  Why not get exercise while you're at it??

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taking Flax to the Max!

What is another way to get more fiber, Omega 3's, protein, and antioxidents in your diet?

Flax seeds!

I got these in bulk at our local food co-op for a pretty decent price, considering how few you need to eat to benefit from their hearty qualities.

Some will say the verdict is still out on flax seed.  If you want more information, as always, there is a superfluous amount of information on the internet.  I would recommend checking out Spark People, a Cincinnati based organization focused on nutrition and exercise.  As always, you want to feel comfortable when adding any sort of "supplement" to your diet.

I have been eating flax for the past 2 weeks, about 1 teaspoon a day, and let me tell you, things are moving and grooving!  I won't go into much more detail than that, but, these little guys pack a powerful fiber-licious punch!

I have mostly been sprinkling it on my yogurt and cereal in the morning...

But I also got creative and sprinkled it in my peanut butter!

They really do not have much of a taste as long as you don't go overboard, which you don't want to do.  Too much fiber can be a scary thing. 

Try adding some flax to your diet and tell me how you feel!

Combine with...trying not to compare yourself to others.  Everybody has a different physical and chemical makeup.  Do what is best for you body at this time in your life.  Set yourself a goal of feeling better and let your body do the rest.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Formula for satisfying a craving

Comfort food + healthy choice.

This is a good formula for those of us with the occasional hankering for greasy, cheesy food. (occasional???)

Tonight I wanted to celebrate a long, rough day of work followed by a long tough class at the gym with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Not just any grilled cheese...a grilled cheese with freshly baked herb bread, real butter, garlic seasonings, and sliced manchego cheese.


So this is not the healthiest option in the world, I get that.  However, you can't be 100% healthy all the time.  This is why I paired it with a fresh salad (using my GFGP greens!) topped with strawberries, corn, walnuts, and a sprinkle of cheese.  Dressed with balsamic/oil dressing.


Still yum!

Combine with a mix of arms and abs.  Complete 30 minutes of push-ups alternating with ab exercises.  Trust me, you'll feel it.  If you're not into floor push-ups lean against a wall and do them there.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Good Food, Good People

Mr. PT and I have decided to support our local farmers here in Roanoke, as well as sustainable farming and distribution of our fruits and veggies!  In exchange, we get 25 weeks of the best and freshest produce available in a 100-mile radius.  We also get some food for thought:
"The elusive future goals of improved physical health and a more sustainable agriculture system seem far away compared with the instant gratification we’ve been trained to prefer.   We applaud your deep understanding of the myriad connections between fresher food and improved nutrition, between your personal health and that of our entire the end of the day, we all must have faith in something to feed us, to sustain our physical lives.  Where we choose to place that faith—in local fields or in faraway factories, in small neighboring producers or in international corporations—makes all the difference in the world reality we create." (Good Food, Good People)

Mr. PT picked up our first shipment of produce today! How exciting!

 Baby bok choy, green garlic, hydroponic tomatoes, red kale, lettuce, strawberries

Mr. PT also picked up some freshly baked pita bread and onion loaf.  You might look at this assortment and think, what on earth do I make with this???

Well, GFGP thought of that!  They sent us some neat recipes to go with the lot!  Tonight I tried this concoction:

You will need:

-1/8 cup unsalted butter
-1 large green garlic
-2-3 baby bok choy, washed and separated
-1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
-1/4 sliced zucchini
-1/3 peeled and sliced eggplant

Melt your butter in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Add chopped green garlic and saute until golden/brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy, zucchini, eggplant, and chicken broth and simmer until veggies are tender, 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and other spices of choice (I threw in some Mexican spices, but Asian spices would also be delicious!).  Add 1-2 tbs. flour to thicken if you desire. Sprinkle with grated manchego cheese, or your favorite cheese. Serve warm with pita/crusty bread. Enjoy!

This was so delicious and light, and I loved using all my fresh veggies.  It tasted like a hearty miso soup.  A little vino also paired nicely with the meal!

A new friend of mine donated this wine to our fridge.  I thought the name aptly suited the meal and our new adventures with local produce.

Does your city support local farmers and sustainable food?  Check it out!

Combine with...don't let the weather ruin your workout!  Planned on a bike ride but the skies had other plans?  Get to the gym and hop on a stationary bike!  Or put on a hat and get out and walk/run, rain won't hurt you!  (But lightning will, so be smart!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Le Poulet

Hold onto your hats...I'm doing a post about meat!!

Do you get tired of eating lunch meat?  Do beef sticks make you question meat's origin?

Well, try this approach.  Buy yourself a medium sized chicken, spend some time roasting and cleaning, and enjoy a week's worth of "winner winner chicken dinners!"

I started with a whole chicken from these guys. 

Leave a comment if you've used this brand before!

I unwrapped my chicken, removed the organs from the inside (no worries, they put them in a little plastic bag to reduce the ICK factor), and placed it in a large broiler pot with 2-3 cups water, carrots, and onions.  Then I seasoned the top with a mix of salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic, and chipotle.

I baked it at 400 for 15 minutes, then turned the oven down to 350 and slowly roasted it for about 1 1/2 hours.  The instructions with this chicken said to bake to 180 degrees, so I was dutiful with my meat thermometer.

I removed it from the oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Mr. PT sliced off some nice pieces and I served it warm for dinner with vegetable quinoa, cooked veggies, and cottage cheese.  It was so tender, juicy and fresh tasting!  Just delicious!

Meal #1

The hardest part of this whole deal is the cleaning of the cooked bird.  It takes about 30 minutes, but you are left with an excellent supply of tender chicken pieces!

A night or two later, I made the fillings for a chicken potpie.  Find that recipe, here.  Instead of putting it in a pie, I served it alongside rice and saved the rest for Mr. PT's lunches and unstructured weekday dinners.

boiling veggies

potpie filling in skillet

Meal #2

Are you tired of chicken yet? Hope not, because next I put it in a corn tortilla with black beans, onions, peppers, cheese, avocado, fresh tomato, and Mexican spices.  

Meal #3

One bird, three meals!  Not to mention the few times I stood in the kitchen and munched on a few unadorned pieces when hunger struck after work.

So, this may seem like more work than the pre-packaged chicken you get at the store.  And I totally agree that this would be difficult to do every week.  But every month or so?  I think I could do it!  I bet you could too.

I also believe projects like this help you become more tuned in with your food.  I'm not saying you should go raise a chicken in your back yard, name him George, then cook him for dinner.  But making a chicken start-to-finish like this (bones, guts, and all) reminds you to be grateful for the sacrifice the little guy made.

Combine with a game!  Softball, soccer,'s time to join a team!  Get out there and move!