Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Granola bars

When I saw these bars on Oishii, one of the blogs I follow, I was so excited to try them. The pictures reminded me of Nature Valley granola bars, which are wheat-free, which makes them safe for The H. I am pretty good at buying them on sale, but why bother when I usually have all of the simple ingredients hanging around the house? I was especially thrilled when I read about these, since my standard granola recipe is always too crumbly to hold a bar shape.

You can find the original recipe for these bars here; what follows is my kinda-sorta cleaned-up version.

Granola Bars

makes 24

4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Sucanat
3/4 cup SmartBalance 50/50 olive oil blend, melted (1.5 sticks)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
3. Press firmly into a jelly roll pan (or a cookie sheet with high sides).
4. Bake for 15-30 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Cool completely and cut into bars.

I scored these while they were still warm, which was good because they crisped up as they cooled. The H and I each had some while they were warm and the underside was slightly chewy. I'm impressed with how well they held together and plan to make them again. I really like the toastiness of the browned edges. The H has already requested a version with chocolate drizzled over the top. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blogger fail.

Wow, it's been a while. Sorry about that! I've been loosening the clean-eating reins a bit too much lately as my marathon training mileage peaked and The H traveled for the better part of three weeks, but I'm decreasing my miles for the next three weeks, and plan to be a better blogger. Promise!

The little guy and my sister accompanied me to our co-op pickup last week, where we got the following:

Green beans (ok, I grew them but they looked nice here), some kind of pepper I can't remember, pattypan squash, shallots, grape tomatoes, unpictured beef burgers, and unpictured organic raw-milk gouda with dill.

So far, these lovely goodies have made appearances in several lunches and dinners, none of which were photo-worthy. The tomatoes were used on Sunday, as were the beans. The peppers starred in several egg dishes (scrambled, b'fast burritos, a hash-type thing I made in a starving desperation one day). A few taters and a pattypan were also eggified, as was one of the shallots.

Here's our meal plan for this week:

Sunday - beef madras with grape tomatoes over brown rice, steamed green beans

Monday - local beef burgers with sliced tomato, roasted local fingerling potatoes and carrots

Tuesday - "brats and spuds" in the CrockPot... not exactly clean, but I plan to make it cleanER by making a few substitutions

Wednesday - dinner with friends at their house

Thursday - chicken apple sausage salad with local sausages, local apples, and bleu cheese

Friday - a beef enchilada casserole modified from the most recent issue of Clean Eating Magazine...details to come when I make it!

Saturday - out

Sunday - potato-crust quiche with local eggs and the remaining chicken sausage

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The H can cook!

Did you know that? He actually used to cook for us (when it was just the two of us) at least once a week. His specialty was cheese ravioli with sauteed mushrooms, marinara sauce, and garlic bread. Alas, then we learned about his wheat allergy, and that was the end of that. To his credit, now he makes great burgers, is a good grill-master, and is usually quite willing to help in the kitchen. The problem is that I'm too territorial (read: bossy) to relinquish cooking control very often. BUT sometimes, a guy's gotta do what a guys' gotta do.

Last week, we were on "staycation" and I decided that I wasn't going to cook every night. Where's the 'cation in that? ;) He pulled together these beautiful turkey-black bean nachos all by himself, start to finish. I may have advised about one or two things, but I was completely hands-off. And it was good.

The turkey was seasoned with taco seasoning, there's fresh-off-the-cob corn in the mix, and a few home-grown (not at my home...) summer tomatoes in there. He even bought and chopped a fresh avocado. The whole shebang was topped with (local) shredded cheddar. Happy 'cation to me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

As the Bean Sprouts: HARVEST!

OK so really I've been "harvesting" the beans here and there since they started springing up, but I finally had too many to keep up with eating fresh. I'm not about to pretend that I'm ready for adventures in canning/preserving, so I asked my sister--gardener extraordinaire--about blanching them.

Using some very simple instructions, I was able to save over 20 ounces of fresh, beautiful beans for future use.

What looks like a heap of dirty dishes is actually all you need for this simple process (I didn't use a metal colander inside the boiling pots).

I packaged my beans into 7-ounce portions, sucked the air out of each bag, and stashed them in the freezer. They'll be good up to 9 months from now, but somehow I don't think they'll last nearly that long. This was a super-easy process that I was able to complete while the little guy napped--I even ran out to pick some SUPER fresh beans to make sure my harvest was completely up to date.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A meal plan!

Imagine that. Sometimes I *do* remember to post these. The H is scooting to the ATL this afternoon, so the little guy and I are on our own. Le sigh.

Sunday lunch - grilled chicken, roasted broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, bresaola salad, watermelon. What can I say? I wanted to send him off with a full and happy belly before being at the mercy of fast food and burgers for the week.

Sunday dinner - pancakes and sausage for the little guy, steel-cut oats with walnuts and dried cherries for me. I plan to make extra portions for quick breakfasts throughout the week.

Monday - leftover chicken and broccoli for the little guy, with some mac 'n' cheese, and a Frank's RedHot chicken-and-spinach wrap for me.

Tuesday - mini pizza (on a sandwich thin) with chicken and black olives for the little guy; leftover chili for me. We'll share some apple slices. If he ends up having dinner with an aunt or grandma while I go run (or maybe Thursday) I'll save the chili for The H's lunches, and eat a Trader Joe's crab cake and leftover broccoli instead.

Wednesday - grilled chicken burgers and homemade oven fries...with what?

Thursday - whole wheat penne with marinara and sauteed mushrooms and spinach.

Friday - chicken breast with green curry simmer sauce (a Trader Joe's find) over brown rice... I think. This one is up for debate depending on The H's return flight.

Saturday - Up for grabs! I'm running a half marathon in the morning with a bunch of friends and might just be in the mood for pizza or something equally effortless.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers have always intrigued me, though I haven't had occasion to use them until now. Our new local produce store had them for a good price (I can't remember if they were local or not) so I was excited to make this recipe from Clean Eating Magazine. They were spicier than I was expecting; the heat kind of grew as we continued eating them. Of course, we also put Frank's RedHot on top, at least until we realized how spicy they were. The H had two servings, there is one serving leftover for a lunch, and the little guy ate plain brown rice, 1/2 ear of corn, and black beans.

Mexican Poblano Stuffed Peppers

from Clean Eating Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010
serves 4

1 cup cooked red beans, drained and rinsed (I used black)
1 cup cooked long-grain brown rice
1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed (I used 1.5 ears fresh local corn, cut off the cob)
1 medium tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, diced (omitted--didn't have)
2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped (used 3 green onions--sounded too wimpy otherwise)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp chili powder (I used 1/2 tsp--again with the wimpy!)
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped (omitted)
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
4 large poblano peppers, seeded and cut in half
1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheese
4 Tbsp low-fat sour cream (omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 75* and spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix beans, rice, corn, tomato, zucchini, onion, garlic, chili powder, cilantro, oil, salt and pepper.**

2. Scoop 1/2 cup of filling mixture into each pepper half and place in roasting pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40-45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake another 10 minutes.

3. Top each pepper half with sour cream and serve immediately.

**The filling mixture can be prepared one day ahead and stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Nutrition info per 2 halves:
Calories - 242
Fat - 7g
Carbs - 35g
Fiber - 8g
Sugars - 6g
Protein - 12g
Sodium - 197mg
Cholesterol - 17mg

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Marathon training update: 6 weeks to go!

Hard to believe I'm now two-thirds of the way through marathon training. Only six weeks left, and I will be on that starting line! Every time I think about it, I alternate between excited butterflies and "how can I get out of this?" nerves. Last week I was diagnosed with a heel spur and plantar fasciitis, both of which are quite painful. I'm supposed to be wearing a night splint for the PF, using arch supports in my shoes, and icing my foot for the spur. Taking ibuprofen after a run is part of my routine, too.

My doc said I could still run on it as long as it's not getting worse (if it does, I'm up for a cortisone shot--ouch!). Ironically, the best long run I had recently was the day after this diagnosis. I ran 18 miles with friends in Traverse City, MI. The route was scenic, the company was good, and my foot didn't hurt too badly. Here are some pictures from the day!

At our friends' campsite, 7am... nervous as all get-out.

I did not want to get out of that warm, comfy car...

But just a few short hours later, I'm DONE! I just ran EIGHTEEN MILES folks!

The best part of that day was feeling like I could keep running at the end. Who would've thought? :) That was the first time in training that finishing the race distance seemed realistically attainable. My remaining weekend runs are 19, 12, 20, 12, and 8 miles before that big ol' 26.2.

I'm actually running another half marathon (13.1 miles) on the 12-mile day, two weeks from today. A bunch of friends are running it as well, and a change of route/scenery is a blessed relief at this point! I'm looking forward to it. My time for 13 miles today was about 2hr 9min, which is a little under 10 minutes per mile. My race pace is usually faster than training pace, though I don't plan to go out full-force that day. Got to save some energy for the 19 miles the following week! Now if only my foot would cooperate...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Load up!

This is one of the tastiest, no-cook meals I've made in a long time. For the minimal effort that goes into it, the flavor return is immense. The only "cooking" I did was to slow-cook the black beans (but of course you can use canned) and use my rice cooker for the quinoa. This meal is great way to keep extra heat out of your kitchen on a summer night! My modifications follow the recipe.

The Loaded Bowl
from Clean Eating Magazine, Sept/Oct 2010
serves 12

3 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked black beans)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (more or less according to your taste)
2 fresh avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
Fresh lemon juice to prevent avocado from browning
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Juice of 4 limes
Zest of 1 lime

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. While it is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, and cilantro.

3. Dice avocados and drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside.

4. Combine all dressing ingredients in a bullet-style blender. Pulse until garlic is incorporated and dressing appears creamy. Set aside.

5. Fluff quinoa with fork and add to bean mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add lime juice and zest; toss to combine. Top each serving with avocado pieces and dressing.

This salad will keep well, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days. Without the avocado, it could last up to 6 days, and may be frozen. Feel free to substitute brown rice for the quinoa, or add grilled chicken to make a heartier meal.

I made a lot less quinoa (my rice cooker only holds so much--I think 1 cup uncooked?) but still used the full 2 cups beans, pint of tomatoes, 2 avocados, 2 limes and the zest of one, and the full dressing recipe with 2 cloves garlic. We had about 1/2 cup cilantro to use up, and it was plenty. We did not portion this individually, but served it family-style with the quinoa on the bottom and the colorful goodies spread out on top.

This served four adults generously, with one portion leftover for my lunch. We didn't use all the dressing, but it was nice to have the extra on the side for those who wanted it.

Nutrition information per 1-cup serving:
Calories - 293
Fat - 12g
Saturated fat - 1g
Carbs - 39g
Fiber - 6g
Sugars - 1g
Protein - 9g
Sodium - 59mg
Cholesterol - 0mg