Monday, March 28, 2011

Vegan(ish) banana muffins

This recipe popped up at just the right time, in one of those "you might also like..." features at the bottom of the blog I was reading--one of my favorites! We hosted our running group's long run on Saturday and needed to come up with food for about 20 hungry, sweaty people. Since I am the Clean Eating Machine, I try to provide post-run goodies that jive with that persona. Practicing what I preach and all that. :) This muffin recipe called for stuff I already had available, so I could make it basically cost-free. Love that!
Banana-Millet Muffins
from The Clean Eating Mama
makes 12 muffins

2/3 cup whole millet
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I subbed Bob's Red Mill GF flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt (don't overdo it... about 1/8 tsp)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup soy milk, or non-dairy milk of choice (I subbed cow's milk since I had it)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup non-dairy or organic chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375* and line a muffin tin with papers or reusable liners.

2. Grind millet in a blender or food processor until nearly powdered. Dump into a mixing bowl and add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. Combine mashed bananas with oil, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix gently; fold in chocolate chips.

4. Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

When I first tasted one, I thought they were kind of gritty, but then I realized that was the millet talking. If you don't want that touch of crunch, grind your millet more finely. The chocolate chips provide a touch of sweet creaminess, and if you're a fan of putting butter/Earth Balance/jam on muffins, that would be tasty, too. I double the recipe and ended up 24 large muffins and 12 mini muffins, with a few left over after the run. I enjoyed two of them with coffee this morning after my 8-mile run (marathon training is ramping up...).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gluten freaking-good flourless cake

The H wowed us all with this (not-so-clean) dessert recipe for Thanksgiving. (I know! It was ages ago! I thought I had one more photo to upload, but I guess not. Sorry for the tardiness! Try it for Easter.) He found it in a gluten-free cookbook I have, and decided to make it all on his own. The only thing I contributed was the ingredients... and my phenomenal taste-testing abilities.

Check it out!

The cake was, as expected, very dense. It had an almost candy bar-like texture. Incredibly rich and delicious fresh or left over! I told him that he may have worked himself into a permanent position as family baker. This recipe will likely be requested for a long time to come.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

from Incredibly Easy Gluten-Free Recipes

serves 12

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

12 squares (1oz each) unsweetened chocolate

4 squares (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate

6 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup strong coffee

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, divided

1 cup whipped cream (optional) for serving

1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350*. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease with Crisco.

2. Beat cream with 2 Tbsp sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form; set aside.

3. Place all chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is melted, stirring every 30 seconds. 

4. Beat eggs and remaining one cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at high speed about 7 minutes, or until pale and thick. Add melted chocolate, coffee, and salt to egg mixture; beat until well blended.

5. Fold the whipped cream (from Step 1) and 1/4 cup walnuts into egg mixture. Carefully spread into prepared pan; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts. Place pan in large roasting pan and carefully pour hot--not boiling--water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until set but still soft in center.

6. To unmold, loosen edge of cake with knife. Place a serving plate upside down over pan and invert. Serve warm, garnished with the optional whipped cream.

We had some extra batter and didn't want the cake to go *right* to the tippy-top edge of the pan, not knowing how much it would rise, so we played it safe and made a second, smaller cake on the side.

(the font may appear different-colored because I typed the recipe in Word and pasted into Blogger later)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Should've snapped a pic!

Tonight was "fridge clean-out night" for dinner. So far, I've stuck to our weekly meal plan down to the letter, which both shocks and pleases me. Alas, that's going out the window tomorrow when The H takes me and the little guy out for dinner with a gift card he was recently given... but I digress. TONIGHT we had leftovers, just as I'd planned. The H, who had chili for lunch, opted for broccoli soup and a make-it-up-as-you-go pizza gluten free pizza crust. What he did with it (lightly prompted) was fantastic! I had the other portion of chili, btw.

The crust was about the size of a pie plate. (OK, it was exactly the size of a pie plate. Because that's what I had pre-baked it in.) He brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled it with feta and grated Parmesan, topped that with half a sliced red pepper, two chopped artichoke hearts (saved from this salad), and fresh sliced Provolone. It went into a hot oven and baked 'til hot and bubbly.

Then we ate it. And it was yuuuummy. I should have him do stuff like that more often...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Italian Shrimp Salad

This recipe appealed to me because 1) I love shrimp and 2) I need to eat more salads.
Italian Shrimp Salad
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 2
serves 4

12oz fresh or frozen raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup shelled fava beans (I subbed edamame)
1 6oz jar artichoke hearts, drained, quartered, and rinsed
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow for a splash of different color)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red grape tomatoes, halved
3 cups Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 recipe Honey & White Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp unsalted pine nuts (I subbed walnuts that I toasted lightly)

1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes, until shrimp turn pink. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and rinse in cold water; set aside.

2. In the same water, add beans and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine shrimp, beans, artichokes, green pepper, fennel, tomatoes, and lettuce. Add vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper, tossing gently to combine. Divide salad between four plates and top each serving with 1/2 tablespoon of nuts.

Honey & White Balsamic Vinaigrette
(from same CEM issue)

2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp raw organic honey
1/4 tsp mustard seeds, ground (double this)
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate until serving or use immediately. Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Even The H appreciated the freshness and crunchy of this salad. When I first read it, I thought it sounded pretty bland and very green. It was a nice alternative to reheated leftovers for lunch on a rainy day, though. I LOVED the toasted walnuts on top!

In the future I'll be sure to squeeze or pat my shrimp dry; my salad was very *wet* between the shrimp, artichokes (even after they were drained), tomatoes, and dressing. Before I packaged my leftovers, I let the leftover shrimp--couldn't mix them together because of The H's allergy--marinate in the extra dressing for more flavor without actually adding more dressing when I go to eat it next.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A bit of a meal plan...

My heart's not in this one, so it's not written in stone... but here's my lazy-day meal plan for the coming week:

Sunday lunch - leftovers (chicken & bulgur for me, orange-beef stir fry for The H, mac & cheese from our favorite local joint for the little guy, all with green grapes and mango on the side)

Sunday dinner - pizza with friends

Monday - breakfast dinner (chicken apple sausage, allergen-free waffles)

Tuesday - chili in the CrockPot after running group, hopefully with gluten-free cornbread

Wednesday - barbecue chicken with fresh green beans and butternut risotto

Thursday - perhaps leftovers again?

Friday - beef stew and gluten-free peach muffins

My lunches this week will be broccoli soup from last week (I froze two large portions) and the shrimp salad I didn't get to make yet, along with whatever other leftovers we end up with after the meals above.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lemon Chicken & Bulgur Salad

This recipe is one of the many from the March/April 2010 Clean Eating Magazine that made my list this week. What drew me to it was the simplicity of a lemon-marinated chicken combined with bulgur (which I can use this week, rather than subbing H-friendly quinoa!) and mint, which I have never used in my cooking.
The chicken deserves to marinate a lot longer than a measly 30 minutes, so plan for that. Mine was in the marinade for several hours, as I prepped most of this ahead of time while the little guy was at daycare. A squirt of lemon or lime is almost necessary at the end, to brighten up the flavors. As I was eating this, I thought honey would be a welcome addition (and wouldn't be out of place taste-wise) in the marinade next time, though I'm not sure how that would go when it's time to cook. Any ideas?

Lemon-Grilled Chicken & Bulgur Salad
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 2
serves 4

2 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup fine-grain bulgur wheat
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I used whole raw ones that I chopped with help, as you can see above)
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, oil, pepper flakes, cumin, and lemon juice. Stir to coat and marinate 30 minutes in the fridge.

2. Preheat a grill or grill pan (I used a cast iron skillet) to medium-high heat. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Remove from heat; add bulgur and lemon zest, cover, and let sit 5-7 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in almonds, mint, salt, and pepper.

3. Remove chicken from marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through (juices should run clear if you poke the thickest part). Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes, then chop and add to bulgur mixture. Serve warm or cold.

I doubled everything (my chicken breasts were huge) and served this side-by-side the first time, but chopped the leftover chicken and divided it between the four portions of bulgur I had left. The little guy, who attempted several times to say "bulgur" but could only ever manage "bo-git," ate his required two bites plus a little more of his own accord. Despite the quantity of red pepper called for, the chicken was definitely not *spicy* by any means, so I'm considering this kid-friendly.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Menu plan

The H is jetting off to sunny Florida for work this week, so my meal plan this week is based on things *I* want to eat that he may not be able to, as usual. Some of these things may be made as lunches and eaten whenever.

Unlike most of my meal plans, I'm not assigning a day to any of these. I am just planning to make what sounds good when I have the time for it. All the components (or reasonable approximations that I need to use up!) are already in the house. I like to shop ahead when The H is traveling so I know I'm ready to prep and cook when the mood strikes.

Grilled cheese and broccoli soup from Chef Mommy
Italian shrimp salad (Clean Eating Magazine)
Lemon chicken with bulgur (Clean Eating Magazine)
Cellophane noodles with shrimp (a Clean Eating Mag favorite!)
Orange beef stir-fry (Clean Eating what if I so handily happened to have an issue on me when I made this plan and went shopping?) :D

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Marathon training update: 14 miles

Today's long run was 14 miles, the longest I've run since the marathon on October 17th. And I survived! It helped having two friends with me the whole time, and while it still wasn't easy, it was more enjoyable than I had been fearing. New shoes probably contributed to that, too. My knees were a little achy (I've been slacking on my calcium supplement) but the other issues that have been bothering me lately were kept to a minimum--probably better than they've felt in a few weeks, actually.

Our overall pace was still under 9:00 per mile (8:55 average), which was a pleasant surprise based on the hefty wind and wicked hill we dealt with. We finished in 2hr 5min--faster than my first half marathon. I love seeing progress like that! Tonight I think we're going out to dinner with The H's parents; after burning over 1,000 calories this morning, I just may enjoy a little dessert... And now I'm off to take a nap while the little guy is snoozing, too. 

This is what my splits were like (sorry for the smooshy formatting; this is a copy + paste from the Garmin site):

Avg Pace

1 00:08:24 1.00 08:24
200:08:34 1.00 08:34
300:09:00 1.00 09:00
400:09:07 1.00 09:07
500:09:03 1.00 09:03
600:09:26 1.00 09:26
700:09:13 1.00 09:13
800:09:19 1.00 09:19
900:09:05 1.00 09:05
1000:08:48 1.00 08:48
1100:08:32 1.00 08:32
1200:08:32 1.00 08:32
1300:08:56 1.00 08:56
1400:08:54 1.00 08:54

Friday, March 11, 2011

Salmon Wrap

This was a nice lunch-appropriate alternative to a plain old hunk of salmon on a plate with veggies. I had never steamed fish on the stovetop before, but I probably will again; I like how it kept the fish pleasantly tender. As with the curried chickpeas from earlier this week, this would benefit from a squirt of lime before serving.

Dilled Salmon Roll-Ups
from The Best of Clean Eating
serves 4

6oz raw salmon fillet
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 clove garlic, minced (I used 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic)
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
2 (12-inch) whole-wheat lavash breads
1 medium tomato, sliced
2 leaves cabbage or lettuce

1. Over medium-high heat, set a steamer basket over one inch of water in a medium pot; bring to a boil.

2. Place salmon in the steamer basket skin side down. Cover pot and cook for 6-10 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. The flesh should flake easily when it is done. Remove from heat, remove skin, and roughly flake fish with a fork.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, dill, and celery. Add cooled, flaked salmon and stir to combine.

4. Place lavash wraps on a cutting surface. Spread the salmon mixture down the middle of each bread, leaving two inches to spare at each end. Place tomato slices over the salmon mixture and top with lettuce or cabbage leaves.

5. Fold the uncovered ends of the lavash toward each other and over the filling; roll up tightly. Cut each roll in half and serve.

I am rather inept at rolling tortilla-like products (these are Smart & Delicious wraps with olive oil) so mine cracked, but you get the idea, I'm sure. Next time I'll warm the wrap first.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coconut Curry Chickpeas

Earlier this week I *finally* buckled down and made this recipe that has been on my to-try list for several months. The combination of coconut milk (I've never used it before) and curry powder (one of my favorite "no H around" ingredients) sounded super-tasty, and the fact that this comes together in only 10-15 minutes was extra appealing.

Sad to say, though, this didn't quite live up to the expectations I had for it, and I'm not quite sure why. I served it over rice noodles and added some Sriracha once I tasted it and found it lacking something... but that still didn't hit the spot I was looking for.

Perhaps I will add some lime juice when serving next time, and increase the garlic and basil. The silver lining to this semi-flop is that it only makes two servings, so I'm not left with a zillion cups of a disappointing recipe.

Coconut Curry Chickpeas
from The Best of Clean Eating
serves 2

Olive oil cooking spray
1 cup napa cabbage or bok choy, sliced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup coconut milk (be sure to shake the can first)
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat a nonstick frying pan (I used a cast iron skillet), lightly coated with olive oil spray, over medium heat. Add cabbage and saute until it shrinks down. Add onion and pepper; saute for 2-4 minutes.

2. Add one tablespoon of the coconut milk, along with the garlic, ginger, and curry powder; saute another 2 minutes. Add chickpeas, remaining coconut milk, and salt and pepper; heat through. Add fresh basil and serve.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Marathon training update: 6 weeks down

This weekend marks the one-third point in training for my second marathon. My long run on Saturday was 10 miles, which I completed at an average pace of 8:55 per mile--I finished just under an hour and a half. Honestly, that's kind of on the slower end of my usual these days, which is weird for me to say. Last time, just this past summer, I was averaging about 10:10/mi for runs of 9-10 miles. My long run pace was never under 9:00 per mile last training cycle; I didn't start speeding up, ironically, until after the marathon. It was a red-letter day if I finished a long run faster than 10:00/mi pace.

Just before my 18-mile training run last September, I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and a bone spur on my right heel. I made it through training and the race just fine, and it seemed to have calmed down quite a bit, until this month. Sad to say, the spur has been causing me more problems lately. It's been hurting during a run instead of just mildly uncomfortable afterward. I hope that changing to a fresh pair of running shoes will help, but I'm kind of nervous about it being so painful this early in training. 

This weekend the long run jumps to 14 miles...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's been a while...

Seems like it's been ages since The H went out of town for work without us (a nice perk to being semi-retired), but alas, it had to happen sometime. Little guy and I are on our own for a few days next week, which means I get to make non-H-friendly things again!

So far I'm thinking salmon one night (got any fantastic recipes I should use?) and curried chickpeas the next night, with perhaps a trip to the Indian place for good measure. I've had those chickpeas on my "to make" list for at least a month! It's a recipe from Clean Eating Magazine.

This afternoon I'm also planning to make a loaf of clean eating wheat bread, which I've made before; this time I'll try to remember to post the recipe! 

Anything interesting on your menu this week?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Carbs + protein: Why?

One of the principles of clean eating is to eat 5-6 times a day, including a lean protein and complex carbohydrate in each meal or snack. But why the combination of carbs + protein?

For one thing, it helps me feel like I'm having more than just a mindless munch. Combining fruit and nuts with cheese, or chicken with vegetables, makes it feel more mini-meal-ish. Not only does it physically make me feel more full, it also works mentally. Knowing I just ate a real, solid combination of good, clean foods rather than just a handful of pretzels or a single piece of fruit encourages me to *not* keep eating.

On a more scientific note, according to Tosca Reno in The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, "Eating protein causes your metabolism to speed up as a direct result of the numerous chemical reactions required to digest protein... Eating a meal that combines lean protein with complex carbohydrates causes your BMR to begin to rise within one hour. This increase lasts from three to twelve hours..."

Eating these mini-meals of carbs + protein helps your metabolism stay stoked all day long and keeps your blood sugar stable. The best part of that? No mid-afternoon crash! Once I started eating clean, I felt more energetic, calmer, and less mood-swingy. Now when I slack on eating quality carbs and protein throughout the day, I can definitely feel a difference. I'm more sluggish, less motivated, feel more tired, and have a general foggy-headed feeling. Not fun! I'd rather fuel up with carbs and protein and get on with life--I have things to do, after all, despite being semi-retired. :)