A quick little post so you don’t think I’ve dropped off the earth again! I’ve been busy working lots, teaching my running class, training for the Steamtown marathon, playing a ton of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, looking into the idea of buying a house, and dealing with a whole bunch of family worries all wrapped up in one. It’s a busy month! I’m very happy overall, despite what my vague social media updates may imply — just busy, that’s all.
On a recent trip to Virginia to visit one set of grandparents, I discovered the joys of a store called World Market. They’re really only in the South (the closest to us is in Rockville, Maryland!) and like Pier One meets West Elm meets Wegman’s meets the Home Decorator’s catalog. It’s a mix of eclectic home goods and urban-rustic furniture, quirky food products and pretty kitchen ware. I snagged a $4 popsicle mold (in addition to four faux vintage drink tumblers, paper lantern string lights, watermelon mint tea, a brushed metal jewelry tree, two bottles of blood orange soda…) with the intention of making some healthy, summery pops for snacking or even breakfast.
The photo above was my first attempt. Organic coconut milk (my new ingredient obsession) met three kinds of fresh raw fruit and a bit of agave nectar. That’s all.
This made a great treat for Father’s Day afternoon, but I’d also be tempted to eat them for breakfast if the day was hot enough. What are your favorite ways to make popsicles? Any suggestions on how to make them more nutritionally sound?
Chia seeds are the biggest thing since quinoa, if my trips to Whole Foods are any indication. This ancient superfood is popping up everywhere from bottled drinks to best-selling books like Born to Run, which sparked my interest in them.
Why? Chia seeds are high in protein, antioxidants and omega-3s and an easy way to add nutritional value to every meal. Seriously, just two tablespoons packs 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams protein, 177 mgs calcium, and nearly 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids!
Most people use them as a topping to other foods, or added to things like smoothies, drinks, oatmeal or yogurt. Because they don’t have have much of a taste it’s easy to incorporate these little gray and brown seeds into everything. When you soak them in water for 30-60 minutes, it becomes gummy/gelatinous, which you can then use to add bulk foods like oatmeal or smoothies or just as a drink.
I tend to mix a few spoonfuls into a glass of water with lemon juice before I go exercise or when it’s hot outside. I’ve also sprinkled some on the oatmeal that I pack for work.
Where to buy? Right now, your best bet is to look in the bulk bin section of stores like Wegman’s. It’s almost always cheaper to purchase that way than in a pre-bagged version. I would recommend bringing your own glass container if possible, because these little suckers stick to everything and I always spill some.
If your local store doesn’t stock them, look to retailers like Amazon or Navitas.
Here are a few ways to try for yourself:
- Professional triathlete Brendan Brazier suggests this Blueberry Chia Pudding
- Chia fresca or iskiate, a refreshing and energizing drink featured prominently in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run
- Blueberry lime smoothie with chia and cashews, from the New York Times Recipes for Health column
- Energy gels for distance runners, from WalkJogRun.net
- Pomegranate cherry chia fresca, for light summer dinners
- Baby kale salad with strawberries and chia seed dressing from Audrey’s Apron
(Smoothie image from The New York Times.)
I had an inexplicable craving for chocolate chip muffins this week. You know the ones. Enormous, filled with chocolate, beckoning from every coffee shop, two meals worth of calories in one paper lining. That’s what I wanted.
So I made it better.
Chocolate Chip Cranberry Muffins with Greek Yogurt
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup sugar (you can use baking Truvia, but I hate the taste)
- 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
- 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper linings and very very lightly grease with cooking spray. In a large bowl, slowly mix all ingredients except chocolate and cranberries until just combined. Stir enough to break up the lumps, then stop. Gently fold in the rest. You may need to add a splash of water or milk if the batter is too thick.
Spoon into muffin pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool. Makes 12.
Healthier than the original version, with added protein, but still moist and delicious enough to be a real treat. You could definitely add your own favorite toppings to this like fresh blueberries, nuts or other dried fruit.
Today’s lunch: crispy black bean tacos! This week I bought half a dozen cans of various beans, with the intention of cooking protein-rich dinners, including some vegetarian ones. A post by The Kitchn inspired this idea and now my Pinterest boards are chock full of new recipes.
The first day of spring inspires that “let’s get back on track feeling” so why not start with a good meal? I used to make similar tacos back in college after reading it in Bon Appetit.
Today’s version went like this: mix half a cup of black beans, one chopped green onion, and a good couple shakes of Cholula hot sauce (garlicky, spicy goodness). Mash the beans slightly and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Spoon the bean mixture onto two whole wheat tortillas (mine were about 4-5” in size). Spray a pan with a bit of vegetable oil and fry the tortillas carefully for about a minute, then fold in half and brown each side. Just don’t burn like I tend to do. Serve with half a mashed avocado and fresh cilantro.
I could have just had one, but I was pretty hungry. The good news is, this makes a great dinner and filled me up for about six or seven hours.
You know what Pinterest? You’ve redeemed yourself. After many skeptical browsing sessions and being assaulted by dubious DIY, cream-cheese-laden dinner recipes and vaguely sexist wedding pins, this recipe gives me hope for you.
The original recipe actually come from Iowa Girl Eats, as an attempted replica of Chick-fil-A’s crispy chicken bites, which are both oh-so-delicious and oh so bad for you. For my purposes, I decided to replicate using firm Nasoya tofu, served with a salad and roasted asparagus.
The secret to getting that juicy fast food flavor at home is marinating the tofu (or chicken, your choice) in…pickle juice! It give it a tangy, salty taste and the protein felt incredibly tender.
The tofu bites were amazingly seasoned and best served fresh out of the pan, when they’re still juicy, hot and crisp. I loved the homemade tangy honey mustard sauce alongside it and even used as a salad dressing for the rest of the meal.
(RECIPE BELOW THE JUMP!)
Helloooooo new favorite snack. I’ve been making this sneaky treat whenever I have a sweet craving lately.
Greek yogurt is such a healthy option, especially for breakfast or a mid-day snack, as it’s packed with protein (about 10-11 grams!). Low-carb and low-sugar dieters love it too. AND, just six ounces of this thick and creamy yogurt also provides about 20 percent of your daily calcium, in roughly 100-130 calories depending on brand and serving size.
I usually buy plain nonfat Greek yogurt (Fage or cheap-o store brand), but it tends to be a bit tangy on its own for my tastes. Skip the flavored versions and add your own fresh fruit, honey or homemade granola.
Or make this!
"Cookie Dough" Greek Yogurt
- 1 individual container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp nut butter (peanut butter, hazelnut butter or something like the chocolate almond butter pictured above)
- Optional: 1 tsp mini chocolate or dark chocolate chips; 1 tsp brown sugar
Stir all ingredients together in a glass or chilled bowl until well combined. Top with chocolate chips or brown sugar.
It tastes sort of like peanut butter cookie dough, with around 250 calories. Surprisingly rich and filling, so sometimes I even split it in half and save the rest for later.
(Inspiration for this post came from GirlGoneCountry.com)
I’ve been cooking low-carb meals for the past two and a half weeks as part of the South Beach Diet. My fiancé and I are both trying it as a way to kickstart the year and our individual health goals (which include both of us losing weight). While diets in general can be “fad-ish” and unsustainable, I’ve enjoyed breaking free of our usual habits and find that the no-carb rule is forcing me to be more creative in the kitchen.
Anyway, I’ve used these noodles by House Foods quite a few times. I’ve never been a big fan of the Hungry Girl site (no offense to author Lisa Lillien) because of the reliance on packaged and processed goods.
But I’ve liked these. They’re made mostly of tofu, yam flour and water, and a full package is just 40 calories. Not filling on its own, but I like adding vegetables and flavorful sauces for a low-carb and low-calorie meal. There are a few recipe suggestions online, but I’ve found that stirfry or Asian-inspired preparations work best. Don’t bother making the “faux alfredo” if you see it online. Trust me.
Try this take on cold sesame noodles, served warm with added spinach and scallions.
Shirataki Tofu Noodles in Sesame Peanut Sauce
- 1 package House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodle
- 1 heaping TBSP peanut butter (I prefer to use chunky)
- 2 tbsp skim or soy milk
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- one glove minced garlic
- Handful of spinach, washed and chopped into fine ribbons
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sesame seeds (optional, I rarely have any around)
Directions: Drain the package of tofu and rise for 4-5 minutes, then drain in a strainer while you prepare the sauce. In a bowl, mix peanut butter, milk, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic, then whisk well. You may need to microwave this for 30 seconds to better combine the ingredients. Place the noodles in a frying pan for a minute or two, cooking out some of the moisture. Toss in the sauce and stir until bubbling. Add spinach and scallions and toss until everything is coated in sesame peanut sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds if you’re using them, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
You could also add some shelled edamame to this for more bulk and protein. Don’t skip the sesame oil because it really adds flavor, but be careful not to go overboard.
My working-from-home breakfast: quinoa porridge made with tri-color quinoa (cooked ahead in a rice cooker), skim milk, cinnamon, chunky peanut butter and a quarter of an apple, topped with a bit of milled flax seed blend. Very easy to make with this recipe and it keeps me full for hours.
I am aware that my blog as of late has been more food pictures than talking about exercise and fitness. Sorry? I’ve been cooking a lot, but running infrequently. It’s cold and dark and I’m in one of those ruts where I just don’t want to go outside. Winter, man!
Only ran three times in January so far, but managed a few sessions at Unite Fitness (including one later today) that include cardio, strength training and yoga all in one class.
The dude and I have been dieting by cutting out sugar and most carbs, to moderate success. I lost five pounds to start with, but then we slacked off a bit. Would like to get down to my goal weight of 135 pounds by the end of this month; it’s very possible if I stick to it and get back to running and strength sessions as usual! I’m registered for a Valentine’s 5k in two weeks so if anything, I need to get prep for that.
I’m in this unfortunate place where my gym packages are all expiring at the same time and now that I’ve switched jobs I no longer have access to my old personal trainers. So I’m looking for somewhere new to go in Philly that 1. Includes classes, 2. Has clean equipment and 3. Isn’t $50 a month. Suggestions?