Friday, April 30, 2010

Tuna Nicoise Stovetop Casserole

This recipe is one of the first on my "to make" list from the March/April 2010 issue of Clean Eating Magazine. It looked colorful and easy to make--i.e., very short--and the ingredients are things I usually have lying around anyway. I made it for lunch today because The H is out of town (again, I know!) so he and his fish allergy would not be endangered. I'm nice like that.

Tuna Nicoise Stovetop Casserole
from Clean Eating Magazine
serves 8

2 cups couscous
8 small red potatoes, cut into halves, or 4 large red potatoes, quartered
2 6-oz cans or pouches water-packed tuna
1/2 lb frozen green beans, thawed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced

Juice and zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp white onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Olive oil cooking spray

1. Cook couscous according to package directions.

2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil; cook potatoes 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, mix tuna, green beans, olives, and potatoes. Add couscous once it is cooked.

3. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and zest, Dijon, onion, garlic, vinegar, oil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over tuna-couscous mixture.

4. Heat large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce heat and spritz with olive oil spray. Saute the tuna-couscous mixture about 5 minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.

My changes:
Quinoa for the couscous
Used a rice cooker for the quinoa
Lime instead of lemon
Shallot instead of onion
Doubled the garlic, even though I halved the recipe
Did not mix ingredients in bowl before heating in the skillet

I could have done without the potatoes, or at least made them much smaller. The flavor of the quinoa/beans/olives was fantastic, but getting a mouthful of plain, blah potato kind of killed the moment. Everything else had a delightful, well-rounded flavor and texture.

I'd say this would be good with chicken, or at least without the tuna, but I really think the tuna adds a subtle (very subtle, if you use canned like I did, since it breaks up so small) extra touch that would be missed if you subbed another protein. The magazine lists the cost of this recipe at $10.00 for the whole shebang, which comes out to $1.25 per serving. Not bad, especially for something so flavorful, fresh, and clean. Tell your friends--clean eating doesn't have to be expensive!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm back in the game!

Not that I ever truly *left* the game... anyway, I'm home! Starting with breakfast, I got right down to filling my fridge with good, clean eats.

Breakfast was steel-cut oats with a new topping combination this time:

Chocolate peanut butter, frozen tart cherries, and pecans (oatmeal not pictured). Not my favorite, but a nice change. Sorry for the dark pic; the sun wasn't really awake at 7.

While breakfast cooked (I made 4 portions and refrigerated three of them), I also boiled some eggs and when those were done, I cooked a package of frozen edamame.

I LOVED my morning snack today! Two eggs with horseradish, edamame, and two Cuties. Super sweet! Plus, I have my pretty plates back. No more boring hotel white! This pic makes me happy.

Lunch was pretty good--a veggie burger with spinach, mustard, and pepperoncini on a whole-grain sandwich thin, with three sliced baby bell peppers and a Laughing Cow cheese for dipping.

No, the mustard was not applied artistically specifically for the photo. I always squiggle my mustard. No lie.

I loved the burger but could've done without the cheese with my bell peppers. I really prefer them with olive oil and a dash of sea salt... so that is how I ate the last five pieces.

Afternoon snack was on the go, between grocery shopping and a haircut. I ate the last Nature's Path choco-peanut bar and a slice of deli turkey. Once I was home, about 2 hours later, I had a piece of wheat toast with sunflower-seed butter for my pre-run snack.

It tasted exactly like sunflower seeds, which I always forget how much I like until I have them somewhere. This will be a tasty alternative to my usual peanut butter, and leave a jar of almond butter available for making cookies this weekend!

Dinner was with my girls' run friends--taco night. I made a little salad out of romaine, the delicious Crock-Potted chicken, a sprinkle of cheese, and fresh tomatoes. I also had corn chips and peach salsa, with a gigantic glass of water. I was *so* thirsty! The little guy came with me and had black beans, chips and guacamole, a (banana?) muffin, some cheese, and then we shared an M&M cookie.

I'm now sitting down to work with a blueberry Chobani and bottle of water. Looking forward to making some real recipes again tomorrow! I have a full fridge that I'm mighty proud of.

Does Chobani make anyone else's teeth kind of sticky-squeaky?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homeward bound

7:15am - Breakfast at hotel
Fage fat-free plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup cantaloupe and two tablespoons chopped walnuts, plus coffee. This was very filling. I would like to remember this as a breakfast alternative once I'm home and back in my steel-oats and/or peanut butter toast rut.

9:45am - Snack in airport
Dried apples, raw almonds, organic dark mint-chocolate square, water.

11am - Flight #1, 1 hour

11:15am - Snack in flight
Nature's Path choco-peanut granola bar, pretzels, water

1:00pm - Lunch in airport
Cheese ravioli in marinara sauce (2 of 4), baby shrimp, tomato-mozzarella salad, cucumber-onion salad, water. I was thrilled to find a place for lunch that offered *beautiful* salads--fruit, Greek, caprese, tomato-cucumber--at the airport! The little guy shared everything but the shrimp with me. He actually spit that right back onto the plate. It was his first experience with any kind of shellfish.

The H had Burger King--a Whopper and a hamburger, with fries, and without buns. I tried to convince him to order from the place where the little guy and I got our beautiful lunch, but he refused. I felt like a failure as a clean eating ambassador. He ate some of my caprese salad.

3:45pm - Flight #2, 1.5 hours

4:00pm - Snack in flight
Odwalla chocolate superfood bar, water with lime, Yummy Earth organic lollipop (thanks, Katie, for the recommendation!)

7:00 pm - Dinner at HOME sweet, wonderful HOME!
Chipotle barbacoa (spicy beef) fajita burrito with pico de gallo, grilled peppers and onions, very little cheese--no rice or beans--lots of water.

9:45pm - Snack at home
Decaf with organic half and half (yes, I did indeed dash out to the store for this an hour after arriving home), one serving (3 pieces) of Trader Joe's milk chocolate peanut butter cups, and a stick of low-fat string cheese.

I don't usually do low-fat cheese, even though it is more in keeping with a truly clean diet, but I chose this one because it was lower in saturated fat and higher in protein than the regular sticks. The texture was not as soft as the regular kind would be, of course, because of the lower fat content. The only additional ingredient is vitamin A palmitate, which I learned is used as an antioxidant and added to reduced-fat dairy products to "replace some of the vitamin content lost through the removal of milk fat" (from Wikipedia... not a scholarly source, but easy to understand). I think they will make a suitable protein component to my morning or afternoon snacks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Home stretch

Today is our last full day in DC/Alexandria. For some reason, this 12-day trip has felt a lot longer than our two-week stretch in Austin, TX last summer. Maybe because the little guy is way more active (and talkative) and we've been in a studio room rather than a 2-bedroom suite? I was fortunate enough (::snort::) to be blessed with the bug the little guy had yesterday.

Breakfast was steel-cut oats with walnuts, raisins, and a little brown sugar, along with my lovely coffee. The little guy and I had a big-bed picnic while he munched a piece of toast (The H found bread at the breakfast buffet) and watched the Disney Channel. We each had a banana. Actually, I'm pretty sure he had two... one at 6:30 with The H, and another at 8:30 when I was getting ready.

Since we had to leave the room for housekeeping to do their thing, we wandered down the street and ended up at Whole Foods yet again, more to look around than actually buy anything. It's super-windy here today, and I dressed the little guy inappropriately, so he was cold on our walk. Oops. The grocery store was a good choice. We did end up with a package of organic whole wheat creamy/deluxe style mac 'n' cheese, at his request. We could've done worse. The ingredients list was pretty short compared to the other "natural" kinds on the shelf. After cruising the aisles for a while we headed over to the fountain by the Metro station for a snack--a plain roll and strawberry applesauce for me, and peaches with oyster crackers for him.

Lunch was the aforementioned mac 'n' cheese, which I ate from a mug and he from a leftover container since the dishwasher was running and we literally used EVERY last dish in our kitchenette yesterday. It was good that we chose the one with a creamy pre-made sauce, because my milk-and-butter (and hummus, lol) stash is severely lacking at this point in our trip, and there is NO way I'm shelling out more $ for them now. I forgot to take a picture.

Snack was... something carb-y. The little guy had a squeezable applesauce. Then it was off to the train station for a nice long ride to Silver Spring. There we met my cousin, his wife, and their three kids for pizza at ZPizza, which has gluten-free crust so The H was a happy camper. Well, that and he didn't see the total bill. Folks, bring your big guns if you go here. The "Provence" pie was delicious with added chicken sausage, but it sure wasn't cheap. Oh, it's organic, too, which no doubt added to the bottom line. I forgot that part.

And now I'm packing... well, procrastinating on the packing. Dreading it is more like it. :(

I have a picture or two from today, but the camera is charging... maybe I should've put that sentence at the top of the page, so you wouldn't have gotten all the way to the bottom of my whiny post without seeing any food or little guy's cuteness. Hrmmm. Talk to you all when I'm back in the mitten.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Survival mode

The tone of our trip changed this morning when the little guy woke up with an ooky tummy. Suffice it to say, he's on the "BRAT" diet today--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Except no toast, because I'm not buying a whole loaf of bread for the three slices he'd *maybe* eat before we leave on Wednesday morning. We did make yet another trip (sorry, wallet) to Whole Foods for some single-serve applesauce packets that we can eat this week (and then bring on the plane with us, in case he's not better by then), some probiotic yogurt, and brown rice. He will not be partaking of the black bean soup I have planned for me and The H tonight, that's for sure.

So today got off to a groggy start because of a crappy night's sleep, which ended with the little guy in bed with us. Those of you who know me should realize this means it was REALLY bad. That is one of my "never ever as a parent" things. But we all got a good 2.5hr stretch of sleep this way, so never-ever whatever. Breakfast was late and not that great. Canadian turkey bacon, egg-and-pancake sandwich, melon, coffee, oatmeal (regular, not steel-cut) with walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. Yep, I went there.

It's been a stick-close-to-home kind of day, especially given the rain. It held off yesterday, for which we are grateful, but let loose on us today. The little guy and I managed a walk up King Street for some window shopping (why isn't anything open before 11am?!) before the rain got the best of us and we ducked into Bittersweet for a midmorning coffee. He slurped an applesauce and some water while I ate a too-big carrot raisin muffin and hazelnut coffee. Between that and my clunker of a breakfast, I feel pretty bad about what I've eaten so far.

By this time the rain had gotten so bad, The H called the hotel shuttle van to pick us up. Good thing, too. I am not that great at steering a finicky umbrella stroller one-handed while holding an umbrella over the two of us on smooth pavement, never mind the rough, uneven brick pavers that are everywhere here in Old Town Alexandria!

Lunch for me and The H was a rotisserie chicken meal from Whole Foods--chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic broccoli, and sauteed squash with onions. The little guy picked at some rice, a banana, and a yogurt before his nap. I can tell I had either too many calories and/or not enough exercise today because even at 4:30 I wasn't hungry, and lunch had been almost 4 hours earlier.

Once the little guy was awake I sent him and The H outside for a yogurt picnic, then tried to get back on my eating track with an apple and almond butter snack-in-a-jar.

Yes indeed, we polished off an entire 12 ounce jar of almond butter this week. Yum! I also shook up some protein with one of the skim milks I got from breakfast.

Dinner was the black bean soup I'd been meaning to make since we got here. It turned out really well, and surprisingly spicy for the small amount of chipotle (half, plus some sauce) pepper I used! Served with baked blue-corn chips topped with grilled chicken and cheddar.

The little guy had a tummy-friendly meal of egg white, Saltine cracker, plain pretzels, and a yogurt-banana smoothie. He wasn't very hungry at all, but was super happy and chatty, so that's an improvement. Here's to a better tomorrow!

I hit the treadmill for my last run in DC (a 5 mile trudge--even my legs are tired of being here) after dinner. Tomorrow we're having dinner with some of my family, and we leave early Wednesday morning to catch our flight HOME!

My post-run fuel was an Odwalla Bar, "Berries GoMega" flavor, with some raw almonds and lots of fresh, cold water. And, goodnight.

***my laptop isn't recognizing the camera; I will edit to add pics when it's cooperating again!***

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Road weary...

Today marks day 8 of our trip and believe me, we're all feeling it. The little guy has started to cry for "own bed, right now!" The H is feeling the walls of our studio-style room close in; being "home" all weekend has that effect on a person who has previously been out from 8am to 5pm. I am proud of the running and decent eating I've been able to do, but am anxious to get back into my own kitchen. I've been flipping through a Clean Eating Magazine I brought with me and have already flagged about a half-dozen recipes to make when we get back. It's making me homesick for my four-burner gas range and oven!

The forecast for this morning (and actually, for the remainder of our time here) called for rain, turning to thunderstorms. This ominous outlook inspired me to get up and out the door for a long run as soon as the little guy woke up (ok, a half an hour later) to hopefully beat the wet. And it worked! We were graced with sun (and humidity) the whole time we were out this afternoon.

I meandered along the Mt. Vernon Trail for just over 10 miles (out and back) and got to watch a large portion of the George Washington Memorial Parkway 10-Miler, albeit backwards, and never felt a drop of rain. I feel very accomplished having done a run of that magnitude while on "vacation" more or less, and in an unknown area. I refueled with a chocolate protein shake and banana... and coffee, of course.

Our plan for the rest of the day was to jump on the Metro and check out Eastern Market.

We wandered the streets and stalls, snacking on chocolate-covered edamame and raw almonds/dried apricots, for awhile before having lunch at a teeny-tiny place across from the market building. I had a margarita chicken sandwich (the little guy ate my rice and beans) and The H enjoyed a chicken fajita salad.

I was so hungry at this point that I could not tell if the sauce on my sandwich was mayo or sour cream; nor did I care. That sucker went down fast.

By this time the little guy was transforming into CrankyPants McGee so we high-tailed it back for naptime. We all slept for a bit, then The H got up to go for a run.

Snack time was pretty much catch-as-catch-can, trying to use up some of our grocery stock. The little guy had some yogurt. I had chips and red pepper hummus. The H had the rest of the agave granola and yogurt. Then the two of them went swimming while I made dinner: gluten free pasta with red sauce and a vegetable medley.

I like this corn-quinoa pasta for its different texture than our usual rice pasta. It held the sauce very well and was not mushy at all. The vegetables, from Trader Joe's, were fresh-tasting and crisp.

After the little guy was in bed I strolled to Whole Foods (I'm going to miss having that a block away, but my wallet sure won't!) and picked up some more coffee and snacks for our return trip. I also snagged some canned corn and grilled chicken from the salad bar, to put in our chipotle-black bean soup tomorrow (or Tuesday) night. Now The H and I are settling in with our nightly decaf and the other two mini creme brulees from last night. Hope you had a great weekend!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ah, weekend

7:30 am - Breakfast
We were all up early (thanks, little guy) and had breakfast together at the buffet downstairs. I ate three wedges of the little guy's Belgian waffle topped with syrup and walnuts, as well as some fresh pineapple and coffee. No pics--the camera battery was charging.

After breakfast we gathered a few things--snacks, camera, diapers--and headed off to see the White House and the National Aquarium.

9:45 am - Snack
On the way I had a Kashi chewy granola bar, and The H and I shared some almonds and dried apricots while the little guy played with his beloved fruit snacks. We passed a bunch of carts like this

but did not give in to their greasy, fattening temptation... especially after Five Guys last night! :)

For something bearing the title National, the aquarium was pretty unimpressive (unless we missed a ton of it), but the little guy loved looking at the fish, alligators, and turtles, so it was a good choice for us... especially since it had started to rain outside.

11:30 am - Lunch
For lunch we stopped at the food court below the Reagan building. The little guy and I shared a chicken shwarma platter (chicken, rice, tabbouleh, and tomato-cucumber salad) while The H had a chicken kabob platter. That was probably some of the best "fast" food we've had on our trip.

3 pm - Snack
We all got to take a little snooze for a change, before second snack time. The little guy picked at some yogurt and cocoa bunnies, The H had a bowl of agave granola and bunnies, and I made a breakfast burrito (a whole egg + another white, salt, pepper, and cheese) with my pita from lunch.

The H and I also shared an apple and some coffee (leaded, this time!) with half and half. It was a pretty big snack, but we were starving. Part of me thinks that's because our lunch was not loaded with filler and preservatives.

Low-key was the theme of the afternoon. We trucked down to the guest lounge where I helped the little guy make a fort out of couch cushions while The H looked up a place for dinner.

5:30 pm - Dinner
Bertucci's, an Italian place on King Street, won the proverbial coin toss. They are one of the first restaurants to come up in a "gluten free Alexandria, VA" web search. It turned out to be a great choice.

The H and I split a beautiful Caprese Salad to start, while the little guy colored and snagged a tomato or two.

Then his "cheese pasta pillows" (ravioli) arrived, so we got him started eating while we waited for our food.

Some fancy awesome salad with chicken for The H...

Minestrone soup with a side of broccoli for me.

The menu said the broc was supposed to be roasted, drizzled with a lemon-wine sauce, and topped with Romano cheese, but it was most definitely steamed, had no wine flavor, and was sparsely sprinkled with what looked like grated Parm from a can. I still ate it (minus the few pieces The H stole) but asked for extra lemon. Incidentally, The H mentioned that this week is probably the healthiest he's ever eaten on a business trip. :D

8 pm - Dessert
We left dinner feeling satisfied but not overstuffed and, at my request, ventured off our beaten path to find the Trader Joe's not too far away. TJ was kind enough to provide dessert for us.

Mini creme brulee, with dark-chocolate-covered edamame (!) and a glass of deep, dark, delicccccious red wine. All come highly recommended by me for a nice treat. Check 'em out if you are fortunate enough to have TJ's nearby! Not the cleanest, but remember we don't claim perfection here.

Tomorrow we're off to Eastern Market in the morning, then I'm planning a nice long run while The H and the little guy do some father-son bonding. You know, like watch cartoons and take a nap. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fabulous Friday

8am - Breakfast

Steel-cut oats with apple butter and chopped walnuts and raisins from the breakfast buffet--my favorite combination this week. I'll be sure to repeat this with my last serving of home-brought oats. I enjoyed this with some fresh pineapple and, of course, my one true love:

Hello, gorgeous.

11am - Snack time

After shopping with the little guy (I got two new tops to go with my two new Gap skirts from Monday) I had a Kashi honey almond flax chewy granola bar on the way to look for a more suitable midmorning munch, all the while hearing the little guy say "Go back to hotel! Take a nap!" Yeah... he wasn't kidding.

I scooted into Bruegger's and grabbed a protein smoothie (no added sugars, and 16g of protein per serving) that I swigged on the way back to the hotel.

The little guy was still asleep by the time we made it back to our 4th floor room, so I left him in the stroller and closed the curtains... and uploaded the pics I'd taken so far. :) He ended up snoozing for an hour, before lunch, which never happens anymore.

1pm - Lunch time

The H was done with work early so the three of us got Jimmy John's (turkey for me, no mayo, with hot peppers--no chips) and enjoyed a windy little picnic near the hotel. The little guy loved being able to run again! It was nice to be in green, open space. Hotels and strollers are rather confining for small fry.

4pm - Snack time

I smeared half of my last whole wheat wrap (the other half was moldy) with almond butter and apple butter. It gave me heartburn. After a failed attempt at a second nap, we piled into the Metro with the running stroller and set out to run around the National Mall--we ended up with 4 miles (plus some walking) and a very tired but well-behaved little boy!

I love running.

7 pm - Dinner and bedtime

The H went to hunt and gather for us (Five Guys--ever had it?) after feeding the little guy some mac 'n' cheese, fruit, and turkey.

I utterly devoured my burger--topped with lettuce, tomato, green peppers, mushrooms, and mustard--and most of my fries. I liked the ones with potato skin on them best.

Even after consuming these eighty trillion calories, I was craving something sweet. If there had been a Dairy Queen closer than 6 miles away, The H would've been off like a shot, and I would have inhaled a small Blizzard. Instead, I ate the rest of the fresh pineapple from this morning and made a (surprise! Ready for this?) pot of decaf. :)

I must have been hungrier than I thought (and I felt famished) because for all I ate at dinner, I don't feel that overloaded. At all. Of course, I don't usually run three days in a row (5mi, 4mi, 4mi) and walk multiple miles on top of that, either. We're still trying to decide what to do tomorrow. Probably a museum...

SAHM = Stay at Hotel Mom

Today was as typical as any we'd have at home. We ran some errands, did some laundry, gave the little guy a bath, let him watch part of a movie, colored pictures, played with blocks, and somewhere in between managed to eat three meals and a couple snacks. Not all our days "on the road" have to be "on the go" as well. The little guy needs some downtime, and some normal activities to keep him sane and cooperative.

Breakfast was coffee, a hardboiled egg with sea salt, a chocolate-cream-cheese muffin The H brought me from the breakfast buffet, and a banana-almond-butter wrap.

After breakfast, the little guy and I walked the half-block to Whole Foods for baby wipes, half and half, and a snack. We also spent some time smelling and testing lotions, which he adores. Our snack was simple and colorful: assorted fresh fruit, two hardboiled eggs (we only ate the whites), some edamame, and shredded cheese, at his request.

We enjoyed our little snack near the fountain by the Metro station, then wasted some time wandering around before getting back to put the creamer away. At this point we grabbed our bag of dirty laundry and headed to the laundry room, quarters in tow for buying soap. Once the washer was going, we came back to our room for lunch--black bean quesadillas.

The little guy only ate the beans out of his, plus a few apple slices, and some organic French vanilla yogurt. He also destroyed a peach Activia to the point that he required a midday bath... after we switched the laundry to the dryer. At this point he was getting pretty mellow, so we snuggled for a bit and watched Elmo in Grouchland until the dryer was done. One last trip to the laundry room, and I had fresh clothes to fold while he napped.

...and napped and napped! Little dude pulled 3 hours on me, which overlapped into my next planned snack/mini meal time. What to do? Ah yes, grab the tubs of raw almonds and dried apricots from the kitchen counter, and sneak back to the computer for a quiet little nosh. When he woke up, I had a bowl of Nature's Path agave granola with low-fat milk.

He enjoyed the rest of the plain hummus with some chips.

Dinner was provided by Cosi. The H had a lovely-looking Greek salad with added steak.

I opted for soup-and-sandwich, like I tend to do when given the option. My soup was tomato basil and the sandwich was roasted veggie on wheat, with a side of baby carrots.

The soup was creamier than I was imagining; I only ate about half. The little guy ate effectively nothing, except a few olives from The H's salad. He sipped some milk. So glad we paid $5 for a pizza he almost refused to even *look* at. :(

It was a wearying day for me, even though we didn't "DO" anything... I think the little guy was testing out the Terrible Twos water. Once he *finally* settled down to sleep (he was hungry, ya think?) I hit the treadmill for a fast 4 miles--even quicker pace than my 5 yesterday. Gotta love "frustration motivation."