Monday, August 27, 2012

Make way for more vegetables!

It's Monday!

Time to clean out the fridge and make way for more vegetables from our farm share!

Hm.  What to do when you have a bunch of vegetables you don't know what to do with.

Or, if you are not participating in a farm share but want more vegetables on your plate, what comes to mind?


Chop some tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro.  Toss with corn, beans, lime/lemon juice and spicy spices (cumin, cayenne, chipotle...the works).

How about stuffed baked summer squash?

From the Good Food Good People family...
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  •  1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • About 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 delicata squash (about 2 lbs. total), halved lengthwise and seeded
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in sage and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine eggs and parmesan. Stir in nut mixture. Divide stuffing among squash halves, sprinkle with more parmesan, and bake until tender when pierced with a fork and tops are browning, about 45 minutes.  Pair with green beans and corn salad.

Or maybe a sandwich?  Toast your bread with havarti cheese, spinach leaves, onions, and mushrooms then slap on a fried egg!

Eggs aren't your thing?  Replace with tomato and pepperoni!

When all else fails, throw a bunch of chopped vegetables tossed with olive oil and salt into a 450 oven for 20 minutes.  Toss with spinach leaves, chopped cabbage, your favorite herbs, balsamic vinegar, and a snazzy cheese for a hearty salad.

This mix comprised of cubed potatoes, squash, onions, mushrooms, corn, peppers, and carrots.  That will clean your fridge out!

Okay, if you are looking at these options and thinking, NO WAY, do what my preggo sister does.  Throw some spinach leaves in a tasty fruit smoothy as this fellow blogger does (yes, her pictures are much fancier than mine...I'm dealing with it).

I know you think Mr. PT and I are veggie freaks, but trust me.  If you start eating more vegetables, you will start enjoying them more.  I promise your body will thank you.

Combine with...exercise.  Try not to get overwhelmed with the plethora of information on the best way to exercise.  Just get out there and move.  Do it consistently.  Push yourself.  You'll feel a difference.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Oh my, we have a lot of potatoes.

Red, white, purple...they are stacking up in my pantry!!

I love roasted potatoes with veggies and herbs, but the other night, I had a hankering for mashed potatoes.  But I didn't have any butter or cream in the house.

Luckily, I found this recipe to help me out!

I did not have parsnips or blue cheese, so I used sliced peppers and cheddar cheese instead.

I know what you are thinking...delicious, but not exactly nutritious, right??

Wrong!  In small servings, I (and Mr. PT) consider this to be a rather healthy entree.  Like I mentioned before, there is not butter or milk, unlike most mashed potatoes.  There are no preservatives, like most instant brands.  And the silky potatoes are laced with freshly sauteed vegetables.  Did we go overboard on the cheese?  Nope.  Did we pair it with fresh fruit? Yes!

This dish also survived two days of packed lunches!  I love that!

Combine with a jump in the pool.  Need a routine?
-10 laps warm up
-5 laps kickboard
-5 laps freestyle
-5 laps pull
-10 laps medly/choice (4 free, 3 back, 3 breast)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our last night of true freedom


Alas, it is the last official night of summer.  Tomorrow, Mr. PT and I will wake up at the ungodly hour of 6:00am, put our work clothes on, and head to our respective schools to teach the youth of America.


We had a fantastic final weekend.  Yesterday, we enjoyed a quiet Saturday morning with toast and coffee, then rode our bikes to the gym for a quick strength workout (but long enough to make me incredibly sore today).  We then hit up the local farmer's market for fresh bread and finally landed at Big Al's Healthy Stuff where we got to sit on the front porch, feel the cool breeze, and listen to our buddies play jazz tunes.

But the fun didn't stop there!

After getting munched on by mosquitoes doing yard work, Mr. PT and I had a quick shower/shave and headed to our friends Liz and Andy's house for a lovely home-cooked meal.  Now, when I say home-cooked, I mean seriously home cooking!  Liz and Andy have the most impressive garden I've ever seen.  Actually, they kind of have three gardens.  Actually, their whole back yard is pretty much a garden.  It's amazing.  Herbs, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, artichokes, melons, zucchinis, name it, they grow it.  

Their goal was to prepare a meal using ingredients grown within a 100 mile radius.  So we enjoyed kebobs with fresh veggies, local meats, pickled squash, local bread, and peach AND rhubarb strawberry pie with fresh crust.

Holy mackeral, it was fantastic.

The best part was that we all filled our bellies and felt light and airy as we walked to our cars to leave.  That is the the glory of eating fresh.

Anywho, this morning we awoke to a lovely rain that Roanoke desperately needed.  After the rain stopped, the air remained a cool 65 degrees all day.  I got my 4 mile run in this morning, while Mr. PT hit the trails this evening.  While he was gone, I prepared my own 100 mile radius meal using the assorted fruits and vegetables I continue to get from my farm share.

It's chilly in our little house!  So I baked up some summer squash and topped toasty bread with warm, softened vegetables tossed in balsamic.  We enjoyed some fresh watermelon and plums for dessert (Mr. PT sneaked ice cream later!).

This squash, called delicata squash, is similar to acorn squash.  My farm share people instructed me to do this with it:

You will need:
  • 2 delicata squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (I used lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the squash cut side down into a baking dish. Pour water into the dish to about 1/4 inch deep.
  2. Bake in preheated oven until the squash pierces easily with a fork, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, blend the butter with the lime juice and chili powder in a small bowl. Mix in the lime zest, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the butter mixture into the cooked squash, and serve immediately.
For the vegetables, just toss red onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes with olive oil, and a pinch of salt/pepper.  When soft, turn off heat and add about 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm over bread.

Although it is sad to see summer vacation end, Mr. PT and I had a lovely summer filled with friends, family, and fantastic fresh food.  Mr. PT and I have goals for the upcoming 9 months, both personal and professional, which is both exciting and scary!

Combine with a run in the rain.  It's still warm, so you can enjoy the feeling of getting soaked and not freezing cold!  Make sure you wear a hat to keep the water out of your eyes and protect your phone/ipod if you carry one!  Beware of thunder/lightning and have fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Farm fresh foods

Mr. PT and I continue to enjoy the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs we are receiving through our farm share this summer.  Recently, we have been getting some amazing melons, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. 

I sliced into my watermelon tonight for dinner and was surprised to find it was...


It was slightly sweeter and less acidic...perfectly paired with fresh blueberries.

Our amazing farm share companions also shared a delicious sounding recipe for our white, red, and purple potatoes.  It reminded me of my grandma's traditional German potato salad...without the bacon grease.  I made a few changes (you will see in parentheses).

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. small red Idaho (and purple and white) potatoes – quartered or cut into 6th’s if large
  • 1 – red bell pepper – seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • fresh corn kernels cut from 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 4 oz. uncooked pancetta (or 3 slices of turkey bacon) cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (or diced havarti cheese)
  • 2 scallions, sliced into 1/4 inch slices (optional) (or chopped red onion)
  • Dressing:
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray. Dump cut potatoes on sheet pan and spread out into a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place in the oven and set timer for 15 minutes.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, combine the vinegars , mustard a large pinch of salt, pepper, and olive oil and whisk to combine.  Set aside.
  5. After potatoes have been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the red bell peppers and the pancetta (turkey bacon). Cook for another 10 minutes and then add the corn.
  6. Cook for an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until potatoes are golden and tender and vegetables have caramelized.
  7. Remove pan from oven and drizzle the dressing all over. Using a spatula or a couple of spoons toss the potatoes, corn, peppers and pancetta (bacon) so that they are evenly coated with the dressing. Sprinkle with the crumbled blue (havarti) cheese and the scallions (red onion). 
This was a winner winner chicken dinner for us!  Very flavorful and much lighter than most store-bought potato salads.
The other day, Mr. PT and I did not get around to eating dinner until 9:00pm.  We were hungry, but not exactly craving a belly-buster meal.  Our farm share continues to deliver large amounts of cherry tomatoes, so I whipped up a salsa-type dish with leftover shredded chicken.

I chopped the tomatoes and added freshly chopped basil, parsley, red onion, orange and yellow pepper, and chicken and seasoned it with lemon juice and salsa spices (cumin, garlic, oregano, cayenne pepper, etc).

Grab a hold of as many fresh items as you can and start throwing them together for your next meal!  If you are feeling overwhelmed with how to start, remember that vegetables are usually better softened, seasoned, and mixed with a grain or starch.  Ok...go!

Combine with a long walk.  Listen to your body.  If you are feeling fatigued after several consecutive days of exercise, give your body a break.  You won't gain 5 pounds of fat or lose 10 pounds of muscle in 24 hours.  However, a little bit of movement everyday is a good thing, so grab your a friend, partner, or iPod and walk the neighborhood.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What about wheatberries?

Tired of rice and whole wheat pasta?

Try wheatberries!

They are loaded with fiber, protein and iron because they have undergone almost no processing.  They are the entire whole wheat kernel!  Pretty neat!

When boiled for about an hour, they have a slight crunch and a delicious nutty flavor.  As you will see, they can be paired with just about anything!

My first wheatberry dish was a vegetable stir-fry, of course!

I sauteed corn, green pepper, onions, kale, and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt/pepper, tossing in the cooked wheatberries.  Yum!

Next, I threw them in with black bean bruschetta, following this recipe, replacing the chickpeas with black beans and using shredded colby jack instead of gorgonzola.

Not the best picture, but still, YUM.

Finally, I followed an Ina Garten recipe for a wheatberry salad, minus the carrots.

Served with fresh fruit salad (yellow watermelon, peach, nectarine, cucumber, and blackberries) and steamed broad beans.  This recipe proves once again that balsamic vinegar can make any dish.

I ran out of wheatberries before I could try them cooked with milk, cinnamon and oatmeal!

Oh well!  I challenge you to find some new recipes for this grain that is truly whole!

Combine with a long, long workout on a day when schedules do not exist.  Push yourself and see where your endurance really takes you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fun food in Asheville

Don't you love exploring new cities?

Traveling is great because you get the opportunity to observe different lifestyles, fashions, land formations, and people.

Not to mention the fantastic food you just have to try while traversing the streets.

When Mr. PT and I traveled around Europe last summer, I had a great time sharing our unique eating experiences with readers.  If you missed that entry, see it here!

Well, last Thursday, I hopped in the car to meet up with my mother and 2 sisters in Asheville, NC for a girls only weekend!  We had such a great time seeing the sights and spending time with one another.  

And, oh my goodness, did we eat some fantastic food!  A lot of my pictures did not turn out as well as I had hoped, so I'll give you the cream of the crop.

The first restaurant we checked out was called Bistro 1896.  We sat outside on the front patio and enjoyed people watching and local street performers.  The food was incredibly fresh with delicious flavors and textures.  I was not too hungry, so I ordered an appetizer as a meal.  Thank goodness I did because the Bistro Bruschetta was out of this world!

 Bistro Bruchetta
        Tomato, basil, red onion, fresh mozzarella & Asiago cheeses, balsamic reduction          

My sister enjoyed this delicious dish:

 Chicken Salad Sandwich
Grapes, walnuts and Dill-Havarti cheese with field greens on toasted whole wheat

The next day, the group was hungry for brunch.  The women in my family all have a special place in our hearts (and stomachs) for Latin food.  If it's spicy, cheesy, and tossed with salsa and avocado, bring it on!  

So you can imagine our excitement when we stumbled upon Chorizo!  Everything on their menu sounded so delicious, it was difficult to order just one dish.  However, in my opinion, I ordered the most delicious item on the menu.

Latin Nachos
 chicken, black beans, goat cheese, salsa, avocado, ranchero
sauce, topped with one fried egg

Words cannot describe how delicious this was.  I was convinced with black beans, avocado, and goat cheese in a crispy shell.  But to top it all off with a fried egg??  Brilliant!!

This restaurant was so awesome we decided to return the following night for dinner.  Although I don't have an image, you can picture Anaheim chile pepper stuffed with spinach-goat cheese, served alongside green beans, roasted pepper, olive, eggplant, artichoke, and yucca.


We also had a wonderful dinner of tapas at Curate.  Again, no pictures, but if you decide to check it out, I encourage you to dive into the berenjenas la taberna (fried eggplant drizzled with honey and rosemary), escalivada (roasted red pepper, onion, and eggplant drenched in a sherry vinegar dressing served on crusty bread) and pan con tomate (crusty bread with fresh tomato, olive oil, and manchego cheese).

So if you find yourself near Asheville, NC, check out these delicious stops along the way!

Combine with vacation exercise...formal workouts can be difficult when you are exploring new territory in your street clothes.  Instead of feeling the need to run a 5k, squeeze in mini-workouts throughout the day.  Park the car a decent distance from the car, take the stairs instead of the elevator to your hotel room, and haul your shopping bags around with pride!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Salsa, Salad, Bruschetta...all in one!

I made the most delicious, yummy, tasty, dish the other day.

I got the idea from this fellow blogger, whose pictures make basically any dish look amazing!

I love how this dish has chickpeas!  I'll admit, I sometimes get tired of hummus, but I adore these little legumes!

Instead of a poblano, I used whatever pepper was in my fridge (green, yellow).  I also cut out the mint and added chopped zucchini.  Instead of roasting in the oven, I softened my veggies in the skillet like a stir-fry.  

Onions, peppers, corn, tomatoes, chickpeas...seasoned with basil, parsley, and cilantro?  Not to mention olive oil, red-wine vinegar, and tangy gorgonzola cheese?

Did I mention this was seriously delicious??

Vegetables softening in the skillet with olive oil

The great thing about this dish is that you can eat it with corn chips as a salsa.

You can put it on crusty bread as bruschetta.

Heck, you can eat it plain as a salad!

Please make this and eat it.  You won't regret it.

Combine with a personal trainer's 3 sets of 8 minute of strength exercises.  Mr. PT and I circulated 3 arm and abdominal exercises for eat set.  For example:

Set 1:                                                                      Set 2:                                                      Set 3:
rows                                                                        push-ups                                                 flys
abdominal twists                                                    quick jumps                                            biceps
triceps                                                                    sit-ups                                                     reverse flys