Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Training has officially begun!

This is the first official week of my training plan for the 2011 Bayshore Marathon. So far I feel like I'm a *little* ahead of the game (on purpose) because I never really quit training after my marathon in October. My weekend long runs have been 8, 10, or 12 miles, and my three midweek runs are usually 4-6 miles each. Once in awhile I will toss in another easy run of 3-6 miles. Hopefully with what I feel like is a stronger base going into this training schedule, I won't have to be as strict as I was last summer/fall.

I haven't quite decided if I will continue my "peanut butter cup before any 10+ mile run" regimen or not. It certainly didn't *hurt* my training last time; my weight hovered in the same 5lb range the whole time, but it wasn't exactly a clean fuel option. Of course, a splurge here and there is a solid part of my routine... so we'll see. I might wait until the weather gets a bit warmer to reinstate that; eating a giant cup of ice cream when 30* feels like a heat wave isn't all that appealing.

Are you planning for any big events this spring? Fitness-related or otherwise. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mini meal plan

Monday - roasted chicken with spinach-barley risotto

Tuesday - chicken, leek, and white bean soup from The Eat-Clean Diet book, modified for the slow cooker, served with clean-eating Waldorf salad from the same book

Wednesday - adobo pork tenderloin with black bean pico de gallo (another ECD recipe)

Thursday - leftovers or breakfast-for-dinner

Friday - I think we are visiting family for the weekend... otherwise, back to Ken's Fruit Market I go!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New cookbooks!

Do you ever feel like you make the same foods again and again, and just get kind of tired of your "usuals"? I've been feeling that way lately, so I'm on the hunt for some new cookbooks and recipes to shake things up.

This past week I quit my part-time job (I had a choice between that and going back to the office full-time, which I couldn't do without some major family/home life upsets) so I will have a few more hours to myself starting this week. What better time to focus on cooking and blogging?

One of the books I'm looking forward to reading is Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever by Dee McCaffrey. From what I gather by reading online reviews, McCaffrey's principles align with clean eating and avoiding processed foods--right up my alley! I look forward to posting a review of this book, as well as the Plan-D cookbook, sometime in the next few months.

Have any of you read these books?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

U-G-L-Y this pie ain't got no alibi!

It's ugly (whoop whoop!) it's ugly! 

Told ya: 

Oh, and delicious.

This was our token slow-cooker meal for the week, assembled in the afternoon and eaten when we got home from running group. Topped with a little sour cream (Greek yogurt, if you have it, would be perfect) and Frank's RedHot, it was worthy of seconds--something I rarely opt for these days.

I'd never used foil "handles" in the CrockPot before, so I wasn't sure if I did them right, but it's pretty hard to do wrong. I think. :z The recipe never stated if the corn tortillas were supposed to be soft or hard, so I took a gamble that if they'd meant hard, they would've been listed as such. Perhaps I'll try hard ones next time. My softies kinda disintegrated on me, as you can see.

Mile High Enchilada Pie
from Incredibly Easy Gluten-Free Recipes
serves 4

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 jar (12-16oz) salsa of choice
1 can (or homemade equivalent, about 1 2/3 cups) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (I used 2 pressure-cooked and shredded boneless breasts)
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro and sliced red pepper, optional

1. Prepare foil handles for 3-4qt slow cooker* and place into the crock.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together salsa, beans, chicken, and cheese.

3. Place a tortilla on top of the foil in the bottom of the crock. Top with a scoop of chicken mixture; spread almost to edges of tortilla. Continue alternating tortillas with chicken mixture until both are used up.

4. Cover, cook on low 6-8 hours (mine was in for about 6 hours before we ate, and I think it was too long--you can see how some of the beans burnt at the edges. I'd say 4hrs would be about right, since both chicken and beans are cooked through already) or on high 3-4 hours. Remove with foil handles. Garnish with optional pepper and cilantro, if using.

* Tear off two 18x2 strips of foil and fold lengthwise to double their thickness. Cross pieces in an "X" on the bottom of the slow cooker crock, bringing excess up the sides of the crock and out the top.

Yes, it's ugly. But it's good. So close your eyes if you have to, and go make one.

CHALLENGE update: Tortillas, chicken, beans, salsa, cheese, and sour cream were all purchased at Ken's Fruit Market. We did not use cilantro or bell pepper.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rutabaga. It's just fun to say.

Ever had a rutabaga? On purpose? It's been years for me. My family used to participate in historical interpreting/re-enacting at Fort Michilimackinac when I was in high school, and I recall making a pot pie that included rutabagas during the "harvest" weekend--that's the last time I remember rutabaggin' it.

Tonight when I made this frittata for dinner, I was excited to use one again. Not because I remember being over the moon for the lumpy brown veggie, but because I couldn't remember what it was like, and I felt like I was trying it for the first time. I like trying new things--food things, that is. I'm a creature of habit everywhere else. ;)

Here's a play-by-play.

It was ugly.

With the ends sliced off and this rocklike veggie in half, it was time to peel.
It was easier to peel than the butternut squash I prepped next. (Love that Rosle peeler! You can find it on Amazon; it's also in the Kitchen Gadgets section of my aStore, which is linked to the right).

Because of the way I wanted to use it, cubed was the best shape.
I was surprised to see that my "rutabaggy" (as I called it at the Fort) turned a lovely golden color.
It was a fantastic addition to this frittata; I told The H that one day I'd like to eat just the filling, sans eggs--though the whole thing was really, really good.

Rutabagas are similar to potatoes in texture (the website I referenced for cooking tips likened the flavor to a turnip, but really, how many people would be like, "Oh yeah, I know exactly how a turnip tastes; good comparison!"?) but with more flavor, almost a touch of sweetness.

Oh, and this was my first experience with collard greens, too. Thanks for posting and blogging this great recipe, Local Cook!

I'm going to crack open my copy of History from the Hearth, a cookbook that the lead interpreter wrote (for which my sisters, friends, and I modeled*), and see what other uses I can find for this surprisingly tasty root veggie. I think it would be fantastic mixed into homemade mashed potatoes or sliced into a casserole of scalloped taters.  

*Yep indeed, pics of an awkward tween Clean Eating Machine have been published for the world (ok fine, "the few random people who've ever seen this book") to see. And that's how I rock it, rutabaggy style.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Part of my occasional hangup with clean eating is that too often snacks and meals are not so easy to grab. So many other things "sound" better because those are the things that are faster to open, easier to access. You know, like opening a bag of potato chips and mindlessly munching a handful or six instead of boiling some edamame to have alongside your sandwich at lunch, or cracking into a package of cookies instead of taking the time to make your own. You've been there. Me, too.

I realized today as I prepared lunch--using some leftovers and other odds-and-ends that would otherwise have been overlooked as we opted for another restaurant meal--that I have control over this. (I know, right?) It's my choice to buy the chips, which then makes it an easier choice to open and EAT the chips. (Brain surgery here, folks.) I need to take the initiative to buy and prepare healthy foods for myself and my family. INITIATE the action you want to see in your own life.

As inspiration struck, I grabbed three clementines, zipped their skins off in a flash, and plunked the ready-to-eat sections into a bowl to go with lunch. The little guy nommed half of a kiwano that we bought earlier this week. All three of us enjoyed our Dr. Praeger's patties, and that bowl of oranges was *gone* before the chips (what, you thought they were fictional?) were even mentioned.

And then I went and boiled some edamame. The little guy saw them in the pot and said to me, "HEY, dat's you! You are my edda-mommy!" :) Happy, healthy Sunday, everyone!

Here it is! My CHALLENGE meal plan.

Monday - stroganoff beef and mushrooms with brown rice risotto and green beans (this one isn't entirely Ken's-bought, since I had intended it for Sunday night before we went shopping, but I did check that stew beef, brown rice, and fresh green beans are indeed available there, so it is *possible* to create this meal within the parameters of my challenge; I'm just not--though the mushrooms and sour cream are applicable)

Tuesday - Mile High Enchilada Pie in the slow cooker, from the Incredibly Easy Gluten-Free cookbook (corn tortillas, kidney beans, shredded cheddar, chicken from Ken's, seasoning from my own spices). This is the same cookbook that my spaghetti squash with black beans comes from.

Wednesday - Rutabaga and Greens Frittata from the Local Cook (eggs, rutabaga, collards, bacon, onion from Ken's)

Thursday - Quinoa stuffed peppers (quinoa, diced tomatoes, bell peppers, green onion, kidney beans, and cheese from Ken's, taco seasoning from my spice cupboard)

Friday - gluten-free pizza (Bob's Red Mill GF crust mix that we already use is available at Ken's, although mine came from a Subscribe & Save order on Amazon. The portobellos, tomato sauce, provolone, and bell peppers are from Ken's)

Saturday - roast chicken (yes, the same one that has been listed on my plan before... call me lazy) with red potatoes, carrots, brown rice, and roasted butternut squash (the chicken is a co-op acquisition, but Ken's does indeed carry whole chickens; the other veggies and rice are from Ken's). I plan to make chicken stock with the carcass and some parsnips that I'm picking up as part of my co-op order on Wednesday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Well, hmm...

So The H isn't traveling after all (yay!!), which means I need a new meal plan. The one I came up with for the week he's away--which I'd still love to use one day--contains things he can't have. I would like to keep up my challenge of shopping at Ken's Fruit Market, but I have to create a more suitable meal plan first. It's a good thing the new issue of Clean Eating Magazine arrived last week! I'll post the plan when I get it finalized, probably sometime Sunday.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

CHALLENGE: Clean eating from the corner market

Next week, I am challenging myself to shop only at one store--a little family-run place called Ken's Fruit Market, a mere half-mile from where we live.

Too often I hear or read of people who are hesitant to try clean eating because it requires "weird" ingredients, or things that can only be found at specialty grocery stores. My goal for the week, starting next Sunday the 16th, is to bust open that misconception by doing all of my clean-eating shopping at this no-frills corner market.

Ken's Fruit Market is not an organic grocer, a health food store, farmers' market, or co-op. It is, however, a local business run by, essentially, my neighbors. They stock quality produce, many canned foods and dry goods, and they have a fully operational meat counter with a delicious and not-always-mainstream selection.

For this week-long experiment, I will not rely on any health-food-store pantry acquisitions. I plan to create my week's worth of dinners using only what I buy at this local market, with the exception of my spice cabinet.

The recipes I will make all come from the January 2011 issue (Volume 4, Issue 1) of Clean Eating Magazine. The H will be out of town when I attempt this, giving me a chance to make things like curries and fish that he doesn't care for or cannot eat due to allergy. This will let me focus on my challenge of shopping at one store without altering the recipes to accommodate his needs.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a shopping list to make...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Unplanned meal plan

The H was supposed to be traveling this week, and I had a great idea for my meals this week with that in mind--more on that later. Anyway, I had to come up with an H-friendly plan sort of at the last minute. Here it is:

Sunday - gluten free pizza at the corner pizza joint! A new acquisition for them.

Monday - broccoli soup from this recipe with grilled cheese sandwiches

Tuesday - chicken and brown/wild rice in the slow cooker with roasted butternut squash

Wednesday - flank steak fajitas using beef from the co-op

Thursday - out with The H, who wants to go new-suit shopping

Friday - roast chicken with carrots and potatoes (whole chicken from the co-op)

Saturday - breakfast for dinner--a frittata? I have a few ideas in my Google Reader...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Party time!

Tonight is The H's company holiday party. Better late than never, I guess! I'm looking forward to the night out and food that I didn't have to cook--and because of The H, there should be several gluten-free options!

I got these goodies to go with my dress for the party. The jewelry is from a fair-trade store next to my favorite Thai place, so naturally I had to stop in while I waited for my lunch to be ready yesterday, and the tights were just too cute to pass up (not from the same store). Purple and black argyle--just right for jazzing up a conservative gray dress, don't you think?

In preparation for tonight's caloric overload, I ran 10 miles this morning. (OK not *really* in preparation; I would've run 10 miles even if the party wasn't tonight.) I don't know about where you live, but it was a whopping 5* here this, maybe 8* (yes that is Fahrenheit) by the time we ran. Bone-chilling! The sun was out... as if that's any consolation. :)

It's funny to me that I was out there pounding the snow-covered pavement with a smile on my face, when just a few years ago, I would have used the thermometer as an excuse to stay in bed. So glad to get that jump on the day! It truly makes me happy. Go ahead and roll your eyes--or nod in agreement!--at my mushy gushy running love. The H does it all the time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Have you ever seen ice cubes sink?

Yep, my ice cubes sunk to the bottom of my green monster this morning. I think that's the first time I've seen that happen!

I enjoyed this with several pieces of chocolate biscotti from Clean Eating Magazine. If I could ever find the issue that recipe is in, I'll post it for you to enjoy, too. Until then, it's mine, allll mine! (No really... it's not gluten free.)

Something new...

You may have noticed--or maybe not--that I prefer to keep my site free of ads and sponsors. I just don't care for the cluttered look of ad-laden blogs. I have a hard time focusing on the content when things are constantly flashing, crowding, scrolling, and otherwise taking up my visual space. To be fair, I have this problem in real life, too--I can't focus on something The H is trying to tell me when the radio is on, the TV is too loud, or the little guy his hooting in my ear. It's not you, it's me. :)

But you may also notice that sometimes I link to products I use and books I read. And in the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I'm in the process of setting up an Amazon Associates store that will be linked from this blog. That means if you click on one of the links I insert (for a food scale, cookbook, etc.) it should take you to "my" store on Amazon, and if you happen to purchase the product through that link, I receive a small commission on the sale. My store will be stocked with things I already use, as well as recommending related items. I get to hand-pick the things that appear there, which will be fun.

I follow a few other blogs that use this tool, and so far I don't think it makes their sites look too busy or commercial-y. My goal is to add a simple link on the right-hand side, where I keep my tags list, so you can visit the store that way as well as through any in-text links I include. Due to my being somewhat computer un-savvy, this may take awhile to set up, so don't expect a change overnight, and please don't expect this blog to become a big commercial. I've really tried to avoid that thus far, and don't plan to change it all that much. Perhaps with The H's help I can get it running smoothly soon. Until then, go try a kiwano!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Kiwano! (kee-WAH-no)

Ever heard of it? It also goes by the name "horned melon," although this funky little fruit is far different from any melon I've ever had.

The H put this in my Christmas stocking. It's kind of been tradition for us to exchange fruits every year, and this time he really stumped me with this one.

We looked it up in my Cook's Handbook and also online, where I learned to expect the inside to be gelatinous, green, and full of edible seeds. Various sources will tell you this has a flavor similar to cucumber and banana. I found it to taste... green.

Given two choices for how to eat this (in vertically-sliced wedges, or in half with a spoon) we chose the wedge option and added it to a plate of citrus fruit. This accompanied a spinach frittata for lunch this past weekend.

The little guy was a trooper and gamely tried a wedge...

It's a go!

Who likes kiwano?

We do! My sister, the little guy, and I appreciated it more than The H. The Jello-like interior was not a pleasing texture for him. It's very slurpy. It isn't something I'd snack on daily, but it wasn't *gross* either in taste or texture. A fun experiment. :) You can read more about this colorful fruit here, if you are interested.

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken

The first time I made this recipe was about two years ago. Each time we have it, I think of another way to improve upon an already-good thing. What follows is my latest iteration, modified for the CrockPot.

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken

heavily modified from this recipe on
serves 2-4

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
8oz canned pineapple chunks with juice reserved
1 1/2 Tbsp Sucanat
1 tsp jerk seasoning
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder*
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes*
1 medium onion, cubed
2 bell peppers (different colors), seeded and cubed
4oz mushrooms, cut in half
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups cooked brown rice
(*I didn't have these separately today, so I used 1/2 tsp taco seasoning instead)

1. In a medium bowl, combine cubed chicken with 1/2 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp pineapple juice, sucanat, jerk seasoning, cinnamon, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Set aside to let flavors combine.

2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, peppers, and mushrooms, and place in crock with pineapple chunks.

3. Heat the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add marinated chicken in small batches and cook until lightly browned but not cooked through, turning over to brown the underside. Make sure not to crowd the pieces. As they brown, transfer them to the crock.

4. Once all the chicken is in the crock, deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup water. Add 2 Tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice and let reduce for 1 minute. Pour over the chicken and veggies in the crock.

5. Cover crock and cook on low 3-4 hours, or until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot cooked rice.

The H really enjoyed this. I didn't care for how soft the peppers got, but that's my own fault for socializing too much after running group! This was on low for almost 5 hours before we ate it, and it was just too long. The chicken wasn't dry, but the peppers were too soft, and that was my only complaint.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First meal plan of the new year!

Totally thrilling, right? ;)

Saturday - Tonight we had pork, sauerkraut, and potatoes--our New Year's tradition. The pork was in the form of bratwurst from our local co-op, and some of the tastiest I've had. Sauerkraut was also from our great state, and mixed with browned onions and simmered 'til warm. For the potatoes, I used my favorite stand-by and roasted them, seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and rosemary. I served them with Greek yogurt, to which I'd added some seasoning mix from The Spice House.

Sunday - Ground turkey chili with gluten-free cornbread. Ideally, I plan to make the cornbread in my new 8-inch cast iron skillet!

Monday - Turkey Reubens, using the leftover sauerkraut, lunchmeat turkey, and local Swiss cheese, minus the Thousand Island dressing. I'll try to make a sauce using Greek yogurt again. I'll also need to make a loaf of clean wheat bread for myself; The H is still working his way through a GF pumpernickel and another homemade GF loaf.

Tuesday - Jerk chicken in the slow cooker... I think. I've made this a few times before, but never in the CrockPot. If I recall the recipe correctly, it should translate just fine. When we get home from running group, I'll reheat some brown rice and serve the chicken with that (the recipe also includes pineapple and bell peppers).

Wednesday - Steaks with sweet potatoes and green beans, frozen from 2010's garden yield.

Thursday - How about leftovers? I have a chicken-and-wild-rice soup portion frozen, as well as one or two bowls of beef stew, and I imagine we'll have at least one portion of chili and/or jerk chicken in the mix by now.

Friday - Whole roast chicken with roasted broccoli/cauliflower and carrots. I'll make stock and soup from the carcass next week. If this doesn't pan out (you know, if I forget to thaw the chicken), I'll make a soup with the broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower instead.

Saturday - The H's company holiday party at a restaurant/bar downtown.

Happy New Year, everyone!