Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving week meal plan

Sunday lunch - gluten free mac 'n' peas with bacon, grapes, turkey sandwich for The H

Sunday dinner - chicken in lemon-mushroom sauce with quinoa and kale chips

Monday - The H's office Christmas party at one of our favorite downtown restaurants

Tuesday - kale, sausage, and white bean soup after running group

Wednesday - turkey chili and gluten free cornbread

Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving! We're celebrating with The H's extended family. My assignment is to bring gluten free bread or rolls and a dessert The H can eat. I think I'm adding a dish of blackened green beans with shallots to my responsibilities, and perhaps some hard boiled eggs.

Friday - TBA

Saturday - TBA

Have a wonderful, safe holiday week! Don't be afraid to indulge a bit. What is your favorite Thanksgiving food splurge?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly meal plan

Too much of the time when I go to make a weekly meal plan, I'm focused on making NEW recipes, and I forget to comb through my own blog (or others') for things we've tried and loved. This week I'm trying to bring back a few old favorites.

Sunday lunch - gluten-free pumpkin chia chocolate protein pancakes with turkey sausage patties

Sunday dinner - ???

Monday - marinated chicken breast with cilantro-lime quinoa and roasted broccoli

Tuesday - white chicken chili from the Plan-D Cookbook

Wednesday - turkey sausage ragu

Thursday - pizza for my men while I'm out with friends (run, yoga, dinner)

Friday - rutabaga frittata

Saturday - TBA, as usual

On a mildly related note, have you ever had Concord grapes? I found some locally-grown ones at our big-box grocery the other day (surprise to me!) and bought some... but now I don't really know what to do with them. They do contain seeds, and have a tougher skin than the green variety the little guy loves. I'd love some ideas!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Adzuki Beans and Rice

Seriously good (the little guy ate two helpings!). Seriously non-photogenic.

I'm not really sure what led me to purchase adzuki beans, other than perhaps flipping through a blog that used them in a recipe and realizing they don't need to be soaked before cooking. The next time I went to our local health food store, I was determined to find them. They look like this:
After much research regarding cooking times and suitable meals to make with these brick red beauties, I decided on this recipe, with a few very minor changes.

First, I halved it. I had no idea how my men would react to this dish and didn't want to have 4-6 portions leftover. Second, I used spicy Italian turkey sausage, which my store happened to have on sale. Finally, I subbed organic, no-MSG, gluten-free beef stock concentrate for the bouillon cube. Other than that, we made it as directed.

But really. There was no chance I'd post a picture of it, and you all know how low my photo-quality standards are. Just try it. Take a big forkful and fill your belly with the mildly spicy deliciousness. Maybe close your eyes first.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meal plan

I cannot believe we're starting the second week of November already. Just this afternoon I was looking through the "Racing Ahead" section of Runner's World, perusing some upcoming races, and realized the one I was most interested in happened over two weeks ago. Serves me right for reading past issues, but still... it's November!

The weather here was delightfully pleasant this weekend, almost springlike, but the early sunset and pitch dark at 7 PM beg to differ. With that in mind, coupled with the fact that I saw a four-letter word that begins with "S" in the forecast (::sob::), my meal plan for this week trends toward comfort food.

Monday - adzuki beans and rice with kale chips

Tuesday - pot roast (with carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, mushrooms, rutabaga) after running group

Wednesday - slow cooker lentil soup

Thursday - leftovers after yoga

Friday - quinoa stuffed peppers

Saturday - TBD

Lunches - shrimp noodles, brussels sprouts with chicken sausage, leftovers

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chia seeds and crazycakes

Surely you've heard of chia seeds... if not for their amazing health/endurance benefits, then because of these awkward looking things:
Those may have (thankfully) fallen by the wayside, but chia seeds are experiencing a comeback that is based on proven performance rather than fad. You can read about them here and here.

I recently started adding them to my diet for two reasons. First, it can't hurt. A little extra protein, fiber, and omega-3s are welcome around here. Second, perhaps they might even help as I train for my third--oh yeah, and fourth--marathon!

In the space of a week, after much hemming and hawing and pro/con comparing, I made the leap and registered for two marathons, a mere two weeks apart. Crazycakes! The first will be performance-based with a pretty ambitious goal in mind, and the second will be more for the scenery and experience of racing at a higher altitude, with a little bit of family vacation before and after. So far, I know at least two friends who will be running each of these--and pacing me for the first--so I'm pretty happy. Training will officially begin mid-December. That's next month! Why does life seem to go by faster as we get older?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gluten-free chocolate macaroons

The little guy has been really into playing chef lately. He says he wants to be a cook when he grows up--a cook who makes "glooten cupcakes" for me and him, and "glooten-free cupcakes" for his friend and The H. He has even come up with a name for his future bakery. I love watching his imagination develop!
To encourage his kitchen creativity, I decided to find a recipe for the two of us to make this week. The newest issue of Clean Eating Magazine arrived just in time! I had no problem finding a cookie recipe that was simple to make, didn't require any new ingredients, and that would be easy for the little guy to help with. The finished cookies are sweet, lightly crisp with almost a brownie-like interior, and perfectly portioned. They're even tasty for breakfast...

Double Chocolate Macaroons
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 4, Issue 9
makes 24 cookies

8oz dark chocolate (60% cocoa or greater), chopped, divided
1 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
3 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup liquid egg whites (I used two large egg whites)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350* and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt 3 ounces of the chocolate on high for 45 seconds. Stir and continue microwaving in short intervals, stirring often, until completely melted. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, stir together coconut, cane juice, cocoa powder, and salt until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate until just combined.
4. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites, vanilla, and almond extracts until combined. Add mixture to coconut mixture and stir until well blended.
5. Scoop 1-Tbsp portions and set on parchment-lined baking sheet. Pinch the tops of each into a low pyramid shape (I skipped this and went for rounded tops instead). Bake for 14-15 minutes or until outer layers are firm, bottom edges are lightly browned, and centers remain soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

This is where the little guy and I stopped--they were plenty sweet without the next step, and I didn't want to make any more mess of the kitchen than we already had. Feel free to proceed if you wish. Perhaps if I were making these for a party, I would have completed them as directed.

6. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining 5 ounces of chocolate, stirring often. Carefully holding each macaroon upside down by its base, dip the peak into the melted chocolate. Place chocolate-side-up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition info per cookie:
Calories - 119
Fat - 8g
Saturated fat - 6g
Carbs - 11g
Fiber - 2g
Sugars - 7g
Protein - 2g
Sodium - 20.5mg
Cholesterol - 0mg

Sunday, October 30, 2011



The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: "a fortunate stroke of serendipity.

Today after church when the little guy asked what was for lunch, I found myself reluctantly saying, "How about pancakes?" You see, pancakes (+ eggs or chicken sausage) are one of my go-to, last-resort, cupboards-are-bare meals. I can mix them up on a moment's notice, probably even in my sleep. Goodness knows I stopped using a recipe for them ages ago. While I try to mix up the mix-ins and toppings so we never really eat the same 'cakes twice, today I was really, really not looking forward to another stack.

I started rummaging through the freezer to see if there was something, ANYthing, I could put into those pancakes that would make them remotely more interesting. That's when I unearthed a bag of frozen cubed potatoes. I had utterly forgotten about it! My wheels started turning... I had potatoes, onion, bell pepper... I hate the word, but could I come up with a decent hash?

Oh yeah, baby. I ran the potatoes under water for a few seconds to start thawing, then added them to a hot skillet with grapeseed oil and diced onion. A little of this (kosher salt, black pepper, dried dill) and a little of that (diced ham, red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, salsa, garlic-and-chili-infused macadamia oil) made its way into the skillet. When I was happy with how that looked and tasted, I quickly cooked a few eggs in another non-stick skillet and slid them on top of each serving.
With a little dash of Frank's, my one true love, this meal was complete. And gooooood. So good, in fact, that I didn't even miss the white cheddar I had forgotten to grate on top. It didn't even cross my mind until I was cleaning up the kitchen and saw the cheese on the counter.

With a scrambled egg instead of a runny one, this would make a great breakfast burrito. This meal can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the ham, and could be vegan-ized by omitting the ham and topping with scrambled tofu instead of eggs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meal plan

Sunday - leftovers
Monday - cilantro-garlic shrimp from Clean Eating Magazine
Tuesday - chili (or similar) in the CrockPot after running group
Wednesday - portobello gnocchi with marinara sauce, roasted brussels sprouts
Thursday - lentils and quinoa
Friday - pizza? It's a known pre-race meal for me and we're doing a 5K on the 29th!
Saturday - TBD

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Old Town Alexandria, 3-year-old style

Here's how we spent our day:

Playing ghost
Petting moss 
 Cheesing for the camera while acorn hunting
 Watching a construction site (he loves the cranes)
 Taking a coffee (for me!) and cookie (oatmeal raisin) break
 Hanging out at the fountain near the train station
 Observing the bubbles and money in the fountain
 Playing with (antagonizing?) one of the tiniest dogs he's ever seen
 Bumming around a farmers' market we found a block from our hotel
 A brief cuddle with his oh-so-tired mama after dinner
 Gelato date! He chose pineapple-basil. :)
He also spent time in the pool with The H, but I didn't document that. It's slightly different than how it might look if The H and I were here by ourselves, no doubt. But it was fun and tired him out, so I'm a fan.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kid-friendly beef vegetable soup

This recipe is another Squeaky Gourmet gem. While I can't post the recipe, I can tell you this: watching the little guy eat several bowls of this (twice--it makes a lot!) without complaining about the veggies is more than worth the cover price, had I actually paid for this book. He claims to not like zucchini, onions, or mushrooms, all of which are in this soup, but once I had him close his eyes and eat it, the complaints ceased and all I heard was "YUM! I LOVE it!"
We called this "taco soup" because the seasoning is slightly reminiscent of Mexican food--and because tacos are fairly familiar to the little guy. Once he chowed his servings, I told him what was in there and said now he couldn't tell me he didn't like those things anymore. In addition to the zukes, 'shrooms, and onion, this hearty bowl contains ground beef, wild rice, grape tomatoes, and celery. That'll bring your veggie intake up for the day!

Since it does make so much, we had leftovers another day. I'm pleased to report that this freezes and reheats very nicely. I dumped a semi-thawed brick of soup into a slow cooker one afternoon before running group, and we came home to savory simmering goodness that was perfect for warming up on a chilly fall evening.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ten things

1. I'm running the Army Ten-Miler in DC next Sunday.

2. The little guy, who claims to not like zucchini, happily gobbled his entire bowl of beef & wild rice soup (which contains zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions) with his eyes closed so he didn't have to see them.

3. My sister, who blogs at, got some nerve-wracking news recently. If you have any good thoughts, prayers, or "best wishes" vibes to share, please send some her way.

4. My parents are in Kashmir for a few weeks.

5. I ran an average of 8:02/mile for my four-mile tempo run Friday. In 28mph winds on a not-entirely-flat route. Lots on my mind, apparently.

6. Yesterday was the busiest I've been in a long time--up at 6:30 for a run, ran 8 miles, prepped for a bridal shower, hosted said shower at my house, cleaned up, started packing for our DC trip, went out for coffee with my sisters (one of whom stayed with us last night, 9-month-old in tow), came home to finish packing, and conked out sometime before midnight (I think).

7. We recently revisited this meal for dinner. It was a great way to warm up on a blustery, stormy, power-blinking night.

8. I *adore* fall weather, including the kind mentioned above. LOVE love love it.

9. As much as I love my shorts and tanks, I've been itching to wear my colder-weather gear again. 

10. My first blog giveaway is coming soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meal plan Monday

With our little family back under the same roof, it's time to get serious about a meal plan for the week. No more restaurant food for awhile, please!

Monday - GF pizza loaded with veggies
Tuesday - dinner with friends: a compilation of garden-grown veggies, chicken, and quinoa, with homemade salsas and two kinds of tortilla chips (sweet potato and chocolate, in case you wondered)
Wednesday - GF pesto pasta with chicken and tomato-feta salad
Thursday - breakfast dinner
Friday - TBA
Saturday - leftover beef & wild rice soup

I do have some recipes and pictures to post, I promise. Soon! But probably not between 9 and 10pm tonight, because I will be engrossed in fall TV premiers! One more reason to loooove this season.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Not MIA, just technologically challenged!

I'm still here, with lots of potential blog posts banging around in my head. But I couldn't log in to Blogger for awhile! Frustrating.

This weekend The H and I are hanging out in our city's downtown, playing tourists and celebrating our anniversary. I'm excited to show you some of the treasures we've found (coffee and cupcakes, to name a few), and to get back onto a clean and fresh meal plan on Monday. There are some fantastic restaurants around us, and we have taken full advantage, but it's certainly not what I'm used to three meals a day!

We're going to start the day with a run along the river tomorrow, which should get the week off on a good note. He and I don't often run together, but we did when I first started running, and it's always a nice change in my routine to have him along.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mayo-free potato salad

In an inadvertent last hurrah to summer, we ended up with a picnic-themed meal Sunday night. The H grilled up our last package of hamburgers from our half-of-a-half-of-a-cow purchase, and I got to work on side dishes.

When I first started eating clean in May/June 2009, a mayo-free potato salad is one of the things I found myself making often. We had summer birthday parties and the requisite cookouts with friends to attend, and I wanted to bring something that I would feel comfortable eating, but that would still allow me to feel like I was participating in the spirit of the season... goofy? Maybe. But everywhere I took my mayo-less taters, everyone said how refreshing it was. I even made it for the little guy's first birthday party.

This isn't that exact recipe, but it's what I could come up with on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon.

Mayo-free Potato Salad
a Clean Eating Machine original, inspired by my mom's recipe

10 small-medium red potatoes, scrubbed clean and cubed into bite-size pieces
1/2 regular cucumber, mostly peeled (I like a little green for color)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely
1/4 to 1/2 cup jarred dill pickle juice
1/4 cup diced green onion, green parts only
2-4 hard boiled egg whites
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Kosher (or sea) salt and black pepper to taste

1. Place cubed potatoes into a large pot and fill with water until just covered. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Boil 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender.

2. Meanwhile, prepare other ingredients. Place diced sweet onion in a large bowl.

3. Drain cooked potatoes and add to bowl with sweet onion. Pour pickle juice over the potatoes while warm, and stir to combine. Let stand long enough to stop steaming. There should be a bit of juice in the bottom of the bowl, but you don't want the potatoes to be swimming in it.

4. Add cucumber, green onion, a drizzle of olive oil, some red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in chopped egg whites. Serve cold or at room temperature.

We had a fresh sliced farmers market melon and a not-your-typical green salad to round out the meal. I'll share that one with you another day! Even though summer is coming to an end (how did that happen so fast?!) this makes a great addition to any party/picnic table.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Several summery salads

At the end of last week, I was feeling the pull of the farmers market. Crisp colorful vegetables, juicy sweet fruits, locally-made foods just waiting for me to take them home... After dropping The H and the little guy off in the morning, I meandered down there. Incidentally, I also needed an idea for dinner. As I wandered around, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of local food, inspiration struck: summer salads!

I was a little worried about offering a selection of salads to The H for dinner; as much as I love to graze on multiple dishes and don't mind not having meat on my plate, he is very much a "meat + veggie + starch = meal" kind of guy. He usually doesn't mind (too much) when I branch out, and he is starting to as well, but for some reason my mental lack of direction at the beginning of my trip made me wonder how this would be received.

The salads I came up with were tomato-mozzarella, quinoa with balsamic grilled vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, onion), and cucumber-sweet onion. At the last minute I remembered an uncooked mushroom-swiss bratwurst from Ken's in the fridge, so that was added to the grill with the balsamic veggies.

When I was growing up, my mom would make a cucumber-onion salad similar to this. I could never get used to eating slices of raw onion... I *wanted* to like it, but I just never quite warmed up to it. Since then I've tried making it myself, playing with the types of onions and the dressings I put on them. This one was probably one of my favorites--half of a cucumber from my mom's garden, half of a local sweet onion, kosher salt and black pepper, a little bit of olive oil from the co-op, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. I sweetened it up with a sprinkle of evaporated cane juice.

Here is what the table looked like when we sat down:

Know what?

There were no leftovers, aside from a single portion of plain quinoa. Summery salad success!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Samosa addendum

Yesterday I reheated two of the samosas for lunch. In a 400* oven for 10-15 minutes, they crisped up nicely and the filling was piping hot.

I did mix up a quick little dip for them using Greek yogurt, a dash of Sriracha, and some dried cumin. It was a delightful combination of cool and spicy, and it complemented the hot-sweet samosa filling just right.


Sweet potato samosas

Indian food, or even Indian-inspired food, is probably the number-one thing I cannot get The H on board with. He'll put up with my recurrent attempts to sneak curry powder into things, but that's about it. The fact that I cannot find gluten-free phyllo dough (or fillo, depending on the packaging) releases him from the obligation of even a single bite. You're welcome, honey.

This recipe also gave me an excuse to use my new garam masala, courtesy of a trip to Penzey's when we were in Connecticut. 

Sweet Potato Samosas
from Clean Eating Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7
makes 12 samosas (serving size: 2 samosas)

1.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups cauliflower stems and pieces (one small head)
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/8 tsp sea salt, divided
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
12 sheets frozen whole-wheat phyllo dough, thawed (my store did not have whole wheat)
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Bring a 3-qt pot of water to boil over high heat. Add sweet potatoes and cook for five minutes. Add cauliflower and cook for an additional ten minutes, until vegetables are fork-tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a small saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until soft and slightly browned. Set aside.
3. With a potato masher, mash potato-cauliflower mixture until smooth. Mix in onion, peas, cilantro, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne.

4. Assemble samosas... this part took me a while to figure out, but once I got it down (two lumpy victims later) it was effortless to reproduce.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on a cutting board and mist with cooking spray. Fold in half lengthwise and mist with spray again.

Place 1/3 cup potato mixture at top left corner. Fold corner over filling to opposite side, making a triangle.

Fold triangle over to meet straight side, then up to the top again.

Continue folding over until you reach the end of the phyllo sheet.
Repeat steps with remaining filling and phyllo.

5. Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray--or use a sheet of parchment paper--and place samosas on sheet. Brush tops with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
My two folding failures made their way to my plate for lunch, along with some cilantro-lime quinoa and kale chips. While I was convinced that two wouldn't be enough, they were plenty filling.
When I have these for leftovers, I will look for a dipping sauce recipe. The flavors are great together, but I felt they were missing *something* like a tangy yogurt dressing that would really push them to the "fantastic!" category. This recipe is pretty labor-intensive, not one I would consider for a quick weeknight meal unless I was planning to use leftovers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly meal plan

In no particular order, here's what will be made (or eaten) in my kitchen this week:

Pesto pasta
Gluten-free pizza
Sweet potato samosas
Taco bowl with leftover cilantro-lime quinoa
Chicken-salsa-rice with black beans (slow cooker)
Teriyaki salmon from Clean Eating Magazine, with brown rice
Salt and pepper shrimp from the latest Clean Eating Magazine
Homemade chicken nuggets to freeze for an easy little guy meal

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cilantro-lime quinoa

Are you one of those unfortunate souls who can't stand the taste of cilantro?

I'm sorry.

Not that it's my fault, but I'm sorry that you will not be enjoying this deliciously tart, nutty side dish anytime soon.
I've become a big fan of buying ingredients that can multitask, like a bunch of cilantro, without dictating that you make exactly the same meal--or even genre of meal--twice in the same week. For that reason, among others, I was giddy to see a recipe for sweet potato samosas with cilantro in the most recent issue of Clean Eating Magazine...but that's a future post!

Anyway, back to this "recipe." I put a few things into my rice cooker (two rice-cooker-measuring-cups of quinoa, three of water, the juice from one lime, some dried coriander, a sprinkle of kosher salt, a generous handful of chopped cilantro, and a packet of Trader Joe's chicken stock concentrate) and switched it to "cook." Thirty minutes later, we had steamy, flavorful quinoa that was the perfect complement to our grilled chicken and homemade pico de gallo (another use for cilantro). Yum.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This summer I decided to branch out a bit and try growing more than just green beans, since that turned out well last year. Part of this expanded gardening attempt means I now have several basil plants growing in my yard. And yes, they are growing! So much, in fact, that a friend was kind enough to harvest some for me while we were in CT (to keep it happy), and I still had enough to make a batch of pesto with the stuff that remained.

Well, I thought I did. But it would've been a small batch. Not quite enough for the company we were having for dinner. And when I went to my beloved Ken's Fruit Market (they have a website now! isn't it pretty?) to grab another bunch or two, they were out. ACK! My company was on its way, if not at my house already, and I had to decide what to do, quickly.

And thus, spinach-basil pesto was born. Thanks to most of a bag of spinach in my crisper and the end of a jar of Trader Joe's pesto genovese, my meager harvest turned into a giant delicious heap of green goodness. Even the little guy, once we convinced him to just try it already, enjoyed his.
We served this with a salad (I know, leafy green overkill much?) and yellow watermelon from the farmers' market. That was the juiciest melon I've ever had! I think it's called a "yellow doll" or something. The little guy needed a bit of convincing to try that, too (are all newly-turned-3-year-olds this picky?!) but then he couldn't get enough.
These photos are remarkably less staged than even my usuals, since I almost forgot to snap any before we sat down to eat.

I used Bridget's blog for inspiration, mostly regarding the toasting of the nuts/garlic and bruising of the basil, but the quantities I used were based on what I had available. The spinach helped mellow the bite of the garlic and peppiness of the basil, but it still had plenty of flavor. My nuts were walnuts; my oil was grapeseed. I added 8 ounces of cooked chicken to the pasta before stirring in the sauce to make it more filling. And, of course, the pasta I used was gluten-free.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I was right...

I had no idea what day it was when we got home! We left for Connecticut on a Sunday, and returned on the second Thursday. For most of our extended  trips, we are gone Sunday through Saturday. When The H travels alone, he gets back on a Friday. So Friday felt like a Sunday to me and Saturday to him. Now that it's Sunday, it feels like...well, something else. I'm all messed up. What a jumble!

The little guy and I made the best of it, however, and made a stop at the farmer's market on Friday for some deliciously seasonal produce. Here's a couple-days meal plan I was able to concoct:

Friday - chicken tacos with cilantro-lime rice, corn on the cob, and homemade pico de gallo
Saturday - my former running partner's wedding! Leftovers for lunch
Sunday - breakfast-dinner for lunch, then homemade pesto pasta with chicken, watermelon, salad in the evening

My lunches on Friday and Saturday were largely composed of this beauty:
A rainbow of tiny tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, both from the farmers market, with basil from my yard and olive oil/vinegar from the co-op. I enjoyed a side of Greek yogurt with local blueberries and raw honey on the side. It was *almost* as good as ice cream. Don't let The H know I said so.

Friday, August 5, 2011


This morning the little guy and I took The H to work, which meant we had the car all day! Oh how I love that glorious, sweet, wonderful (too small) car! It shuttled us ever so kindly to Target/Starbucks for my morning coffee--the hotel ran out of non-flavored creamer, do you believe it?--and some good ol' time wasting for me and my little buddy.

I don't care that we got there well before 9am, or that we left close to 11am. We had a darn good time cruising the aisles, playing with toys that make noise (yes, we put everything away), and even letting me try on some clothes. He came out of there with a Matchbox car and some bubbles, and I am three very simple, very-on-clearance wardrobe basics richer. Oh, plus we got some applesauce for lunch, and a carton of half-and-half... just in time to get back to our hotel and see the Sysco food delivery truck hauling in a fresh shipment. ::womp womp::

We spent the rest of the morning running barefoot in the grass, giggling like, well, a three-year-old, and chasing bubbles until the little guy sat down on the grass and said, "Is it not close to bedtime yet?" And away we went, into our room for a quick lunch, stories, and nap. Whew! Based solely on 7am to 1pm, so far I'd call this one of our most successful on-the-road "Mommy and Caleb Days."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good news/bad news, CT style

Good news: I got to run outside again--5 miles this time!
Bad news: It was more humid than I was expecting.
More bad news: Because I didn't think I'd have time to run a full 5, I didn't pace myself very well (should've left just five minutes sooner!) and the last half mile was done at a pretty smokin' pace.
More good news: ...the last half mile was done at a pretty smokin' pace. :)

Good news: After my run, I made a bagel scramble (two eggs, spinach, red pepper, green onion, salsa, cheddar) to help up my veggie intake.
 Bad news: Most of my $1.60 red pepper was rotten/moldy inside (and I chose it SO carefully last night!!) so everything usable got tossed into this one meal.
 More good news: It was yummy.

Good news: The little guy and I did some laundry this morning; my running shorts/bras are all clean and stank-free again!
Bad news: In the two hours since I let them know we'd be out, housekeeping didn't make it to our room.

Good news: There is a pizza joint within walking distance, so the little guy and I went there for lunch.
Bad news: We were out past his naptime...

Good news: He went to sleep anyway! And I got to eat my Greek salad (lettuce, tomato, green pepper, feta, balsamic vinaigrette, added my own baby carrots) in peace.
Bad news: Garmin Connect isn't working right now so I cannot upload my run. Some dumb glitchy updates going on. I want to see those splits! Whine whine whine. I'm done now.
More bad news: After typing it eighty seven thousand times, the word "news" looks pretty stupid.

Wednesday number one

I got to run outside! There is a paved multi-use trail just over a mile from here. Granted, it's pretty much all uphill for that first mile, but whatever. Next time I'll drive there and just enjoy a normal, non-prehistoric machine, non-knee-busting workout. I got just over 4 miles in at a 9:something average pace, which felt like at least 5mi and a minute faster. Ooof. It's rather flat where I'm used to running!

Here's the rest of the day:

Pre-run: half a piece of toast with honey and organic peanut butter
Exercise: 4.25 mile run and core work, followed by an hour and a half in the pool with the little guy
Breakfast: green monster with lowfat milk, banana, spinach, chocolate protein powder
Snack: farmers' market popcorn and two chocolate Joe Joe's cookies
Lunch 1: quinoa-rice cakes with hummus and turkey, half a pear, half an orange, sesame almonds
Lunch 2: leftover chicken enchilada with rice and salsa
Dinner: Sooooo not clean. And too salty. But along with that-which-shall-not-be-named, I had a small side salad (iceberg, blah...with tomato and olive oil vinaigrette) and a bowl of fruit salad (grapes, banana, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple)
Snack: The H and I had some peanut butter fudge ice cream when the little guy went to bed

I've noticed a lack of fresh vegetables in my diet this week, so while The H put the little guy to bed, I went to Target for some kid-free time and came back with these goodies:
The baby carrots are super-thin and sweet (I'm not a fan of the fat ones that taste like dirt) and will be great in hummus. I'm going to add them both to my meals tomorrow. I will also make sure my dinner is more veg-heavy than they have been. The Crystal Light--not usually my thing!--is sweetened with real sugar and claims to have electrolytes in it; I will add some to my bottle of water on my next run. The Larabars had a $1 off coupon on them, and I like 'em. :D

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First of two Tuesdays

Our trip to CT is longer than a week, but shorter than two. We left on a Sunday and get back on a Thursday. So today is the first of two Tuesdays here. I'm going to be so confused when we get home.

After a different breakfast than yesterday--Kashi GoLean Crisp, with fresh blueberries and low-fat milk--the little guy and I slapped on some newly-purchased sunscreen and headed out into the sunshine to explore our surroundings on foot. Yeah, that didn't take long. From our hotel, and not even all on sidewalk, we can get to a gas station, Dunkin' Donuts, two nail salons, a convenience store, Subway, a pizza joint, and Bank of America. He was less than thrilled. I was wondering where in the world I (and The H) will get to run. The side street(s?) that are nearby look to be straight uphill. The memory of the prehistoric treadmill I pounded on Monday makes me determined to at least TRY running outside.

After wandering, we came back to our room for a little guy quiet time (he has been up before 6:30 every day since he turned three, and I'm NOT a fan!) while I made lunch. His plate was loaded with strawberries, hummus, and GF pretzels, with a cup of macaroni on the side. I'm a sucker.
Remembering that I needed more vegetation and variety in my meals, I made a sandwich on seedy-wheaty bread with hummus, spinach, and low-sodium turkey lunchmeat. On the side I had green grapes the size of golf balls, and a dish of strawberries with yogurt. It was quite a bit more filling than yesterday's soup; go figure. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello from Hartford!

OK, we're not actually *in* Hartford, just a bit south, but "Hello from a tiny town in Connecticut you've probably never heard of!" didn't sound as snappy.

We got in yesterday afternoon so The H could start his assignment with the client this morning. After breakfast the little guy and I chilled in our room, watching junk TV and waiting for the pool to open. I also gave him a new puzzle to work on while I ate. That lasted about 30 seconds; this kid is a puzzle whiz. He LOVES them.
While our suitcases were mysteriously (much) lighter than they've been for past trips--even the one we took about a month ago--I've packed quite a number of breakfast/lunch/snack options for me and the LG so we don't have to eat out all the time.

This morning I started with whatever wheat-looking toast they had at the breakfast buffet, with a chocolate protein shake (using milk from breakfast) and coffee, which we brought from home. My toast was topped with an organic crunchy peanut butter The H got on his last trip and some honey my parents brought us from their trip to France.
Yes, it was a very brown breakfast. Tasty, though. Tomorrow I'll try to remember to include some fruit.

Once the pool opened, my highly excitable companion and I ventured down there. He did SO great this time, right away wanting to "go to the last step" and have me swim with him to the ladder in the deep(er) end (the pool goes from 3ft to 5ft) so he could get out, walk around, and do it again. Whew! Swimming works up a big appetite; we snacked on some farmers' market popcorn on the patio next to the pool while our suits dried and housekeeping straightened our room.
Lunch for me was creamy broccoli soup and crackers, courtesy of the soon-to-be-closing Subway we landed at for dinner last night. They'd made a fresh batch (or so they say... some things I'd almost rather not know) but funnily enough, soup was not a hot seller on a 90* day, so they were giving cups of it away. The little guy asked for peanut butter and jelly, which he polished off with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, along with an Activia yogurt, some gluten-free pretzels, and a glass of milk. Then we shared an orange from breakfast.

Once The H got back from work, we piled into the [very small] car and made the quarter-mile trek to the Target (which, incidentally, you cannot do on foot... such a tease) behind our hotel. We stocked up on some fresh items like spinach, grapes, and eggs, and grabbed a few things that forgot to come with us. Like, um, sunscreen. We ended up at Red Robin for dinner, where I once again thoroughly enjoyed a grilled chicken sandwich with melon.

I took advantage of The H being able to put the little guy to bed, and dashed out to the hotel "gym" for a treadmill run on one of the most ancient dinosaurs of machinery I've ever set foot upon. Broke a good sweat doing the "5K lake route" program, so I guess it worked just fine. I lifted a few weights for good measure. Then after some crunch twists and planks, I proceeded to eat my weight in chips and salsa. It was SO GOOD and exactly the snack I wanted after my workout. The end. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Green-ish monster

The basis for this smoothie/shake comes from Squeaky Gourmet, my go-to resource of late. Some of the recipes in the book are SO SIMPLE and yet, I'd never thought to make them. Clean eating doesn't have to mean complicated, and even I forget that sometimes.

Anyway, this shake is supposed to be made with milk, protein powder, coffee (a packet of Starbucks Via works great--just dissolve it in a bit of warm water first so it's not gritty), vanilla, and ice. After making that a few times--The H likes it, too--I decided to mix it up a bit today and greenify it.
The one I made today contains almond milk (plain, unsweetened), chocolate protein powder, instant coffee, spinach, a dash of vanilla, ice and about a tablespoon of coconut butter.

Cool and refreshing, with the tasteless benefits of spinach. Not a bad way to start a day that I'm feeling under the weather!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Banana bread bliss

Remember how I said this was the best banana bread recipe, gluten-free or otherwise?


It has been relegated to second place, after this guy (not the one in blue):
Behold, the new best-ever vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free (except for the chocolate chips) banana bread! This beauty hails from Erin McKenna's cookbook BabyCakes.

Seriously, this loaf has changed my perception of GF baked goods, homemade or otherwise--and believe me, I've had plenty--from this day forward, henceforth and forevermore. (That sure looks good. Think she'll ever let me have a taste??)
Pretty tall order, right? You haven't tasted it, or you'd be nodding in agreement.

It's light, fluffy. Springy to the touch. Sweet but not overpowering. Completely devoid of that funky mouth-roof tingle or telltale GF aftertaste. Unbelievably soft. Not gritty. Very cake-like. Purely blissful. (It's about time, Mom!)

Equally blissful are the giant muffins I made out of the leftover batter, studded with walnut pieces.
These beauties, as big as my palm, nearly got Hoovered up by yours truly before I could even take a picture. Then self restraint won out, and I set [most of] them aside to cool before bagging them individually for a treat or quick breakfast later this week.

It's hard being so virtuous.

I don't know why this recipe turned out darker than any banana bread I've ever made; it's certainly not burnt. Maybe the coconut oil does that? The recipe, interestingly enough, is slightly different from the version Ms. McKenna posted herself in December 2010. Guess the only thing to do is try them both and hold a taste test!

Invite me over for that, ok?

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
from BabyCakes by Erin McKenna

2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk (I used plain unsweetened almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium-large fruits)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325* and lightly grease a loaf pan with oil.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup oil, agave, milk, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

3. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips using a rubber spatula.

4. Fill loaf pan halfway with batter (make the best muffins ever with the leftover!) and bake in center of oven 35 minutes, rotating pan after 20 minutes. The finished loaf should bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.

5. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cutting board or cooling rack. Slice and serve immediately, or cool completely before serving. Wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.