Thursday, August 30, 2012

This salad is BOMB!

Lately I’ve had a serious craving for a sub sammich. Since I’m not eating wheat, this really presents a problem. I’m not really a sandwich eater, so the no wheat thing hasn’t bothered me in that respect. But I do love the occasional sub. And a couple weeks ago I was really feeling the lack of wheat and all I wanted was a giant sub. So I got to thinking about what’s in a sub that I love and how can I make it into something I won't feel guilty about eating. 

For several years of my very early childhood, I lived in Philly. And I am a huge fan of the cheesesteak! In fact, when my family moved to Kentucky, one of my parents' old friends used to ship us the rolls for them so we could make authentic ones at home! I then decided to rethink the cheesesteak and turn it into a healthy but delish alternative.

What I came up with was a salad that had all the flavors I love from that oooey gooeey unhealthy sandwich. A steak bomb (as they call them here in New England) salad! This recipe serves 3 STARVING people.

Here’s the breakdown:
3 Portobello mushroom caps
1 red onion
2 green peppers
mixed greens
shredded Kerry Gold cheddar cheese
*I use this because it’s grass fed dairy
1 avocado
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Montreal steak seasoning
Worcestershire sauce

Marinate the whole Portobello caps in a gallon size Ziploc bag with Montreal seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Let sit as long as it takes to prep everything else. Slice the red onion into ½” slices. Cut the green peppers in half and take out the seeds. Grill the green peppers, onions and mushrooms for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. When you flip the mushrooms, sprinkle the shredded cheddar on top to melt it. Meanwhile, smash avocado in red wine vinegar. Put mustard, avocado mix and just more than ¼ cup of olive oil in a salad dressing container. Shake vigorously. Add salt and pepper. Taste it. If you need more olive oil, add it. You'll know if its too acidic. But be careful, you won’t need too much oil because the avo is fatty. When it tastes right to you, toss it into the mixed greens. Cut up the green peppers, mushrooms and onion into strips. Lay them over the dressed greens. Voila!

This is a hearty hearty salad. And it actually tastes a lot like a steak bomb! I served it with a piece of grilled chicken because Josh really needs more food than that. But for me it was really enough as its own dinner! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peachy Keen Pork

Lately I’m eating more protein than ever. For years I was convinced that a vegetarian heavy (not exclusive) diet would be a way for me to keep trim. But through lots of experimentation I find that upping the protein and veg is not only the way for me to get to the body I want but it is also assisting with my strength building and my overall focus, especially in the morning. I’ve also noticed that in the mornings I’m hungry for breakfast: as I should be considering the overnight fast. Which whether rational or not makes sense in my little brain as a good thing. Things seem to be in order for me in this way and I’m especially happy with my performance in the gym.

That said I’ve also taken a huge interest not in just what protein I am eating, but also what my protein is eating. I don’t know why it took me so long to care, but I’m really happy that I’m here now. So I’ve moved to grass fed beef which tastes great and helps me sleep at night. What’s that commercial about Happy Cows? ;) You know that I shop as much at the farmers’ markets as possible, but until last weekend, it didn’t occur to me that I should buy my protein there too. I got into a discussion with a woman from Stillman's at the Turkey Farm where they specialize in protein. In fact, they offer a meat CSA that I plan to join as soon as I eat all the stuff I bought from them last weekend. But the nice lady really talked to me and you could tell that she cared. How refreshing to talk to someone who cares so much about their product and the way their animals are treated. Now, I’m no member of PETA, but I do believe we should respect all living things even if we’re only going to eat them later. So the woman assured me that the beef was all grass fed as well as the lamb. But I mentioned to her that of course the pork eats grain. Well friends, I was wrong wrong wrong wrong! Apparently the piggies at Stillman eat the left over veggies and fruit that doesn’t sell in the market on top of their regular grazing diet. Whaaaat? She even said that lately they’d been eating peaches and that you can taste it!

Moments prior to this conversation I picked up 6 white peaches from Kimball Farms. If that’s not a sign from a great power, I don’t know what is. Thank you food gods for directing me! So a couple days later I made grilled pork chops with grilled peaches and baby greens. THE BABY GREENS I’VE BEEN GROWING IN MY WINDOW!

Here’s the breakdown

2” pork chops
white peaches
baby greens
*if you’re not growing them just buy something delicate
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
borsari seasoning
*you’ll find a pic of this on my blog from 10/20/11
coconut oil
olive oil

If your coconut oil is solid, mix in some of the borsari. If not don’t. Sprinkle a liberal amount of borsari on your chops. You’ll think it’s too much but with a 2 inch chop, you need lots of seasoning. Let your chops sit for 10 to 15 minutes to come to room temperature. Preheat your grill to about 425 degrees if you have a thermometer and if not 15 minutes preheating should do it. Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits. Sprinkle them with cinnamon. Grill the chops for 5-6 minutes on each side. (This will give you a medium or medium well which I’m usually skeeved by with pork, but I know where my meat was coming from and I know that it’s been handled with care.) When you flip the chops put the peaches on the grill. Remove everything at one time. Meanwhile mix up baby greens with fresh lemon juice and an itty bit of olive oil. Slice up the peaches and stack them on the chop. Drizzle just a little bit of honey over the peaches and chop. Then stack up the greens. 

I mean I’m literally smiling while I type this. This dish made me so happy!

This meal was not only enlightening to me on how food can taste when it’s not mass produced in some plant, but was so delicious and I felt amazing eating it. Even felt a little awesome knowing I’d grown part of it! I recommend this meal to you with no doubt that you’ll absolutely love it. But please do yourself a favor and check into what you’re eating. We’re all obsessively at the gym and getting fit, but if we’re fueling our bodies with ick, what are we really accomplishing?

Cheers to your health!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish BLUE FISH

This summer, I’ve really embraced the nice weather. I think being from the south spoils you a bit as far as the sunshine goes. But after 7 years in Boston, I am definitely a summer reveler! Not that this past winter was bad in terms of snow and cold, but this summer, I’ve made an avid attempt to be more active specifically outdoors! Yes, I always get workouts in and that’s active, but I mean getting outside and doing fun things that keep me from sitting on my couch or cruising the Natick Collection!

So on recommendation from my overly active personal trainer and fitness guru, Anthony Ortiz, I ventured to the North Shore for some stand up paddle boarding. Against the advice of my hair dresser citing the abundant presence of Great White Sharks in the area this summer. But that’s the Cape, so eeehhhh….took it on to Beverly!

Paddle boarding was awesome! Not just normal awesome, in fact, I plan to go again in a week, but I digress. One of the most awesome parts of the trip to Beverly was a pit stop at a local farmer stand. You know them; the kind on the side of the road. It was at this stop I found wild hand picked blueberries! What a treat. If you’ve seen these, you know they’re teeeeny weeeeny and super sweet! Much better than the ones we get in the regular grocery. I mean, they’re hand picked for goodness sake! So I used half of them to make some wheat free blueberry muffins. But what I concocted with the rest of them was so delicious it made me smile and hum while I ate it!

At the Union Square Farmers’ Market earlier that morning, I picked up some other beauts that I thought I’d share with you. They’re called fairy tale eggplants. They’re so purple and sooo cute! The man who sold them to me suggested just throw them right on the grill, so that’s what I did with some asparagus to double up on the veg that night!

I eat a lot of fish, so I’m constantly trying to change up the flavors. This time, I decided to make a blueberry sauce to go with my mahi.

Here’s the breakdown
2 mahi fillets
1 cup wild blueberries
1 Tbsp honey
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
coconut oil

Put oil on your mahi fillets and salt & pepper them. Do the same with the veggies. Let them sit. Turn on your grill and let it heat up for 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, put the blueberries, lemon juice and honey in a small sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until it starts to break down. With a spoon press down on some of the berries to make them less round. Stir frequently until the sauce thickens then stir in a pinch of salt and pepper. Throw you fish and veggies on the grill (4-5 minutes a side for the fish, just a hair less time for the vegetables, but flip them every so often). Then drizzle the blueberry sauce on the fish. You may need to add a bit of water to the sauce if it gets too thick, but don’t worry, the berries are so flavorful, you won’t water down the flavor at all! Then mix in the chopped fresh mint with the heat off. Everything onto a plate and voila! Couldn’t be easier!

It was a very merry farm dinner; the kind I love best! And I held on to the left over blueberry sauce and plan to make a salad dressing with it. Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Green Slime(r)!!!

You KNOW you remember this guy! I’m going to give you a recipe today that inspired me to revisit Ghostbusters via Google. But what I’m giving you is a lot healthier than whatever he’s eating here! And far less scary!

A couple weeks ago, one of our favorite Los Angeles transplants returned permanently to California. This was definitely a very sad loss, but being involved in a program where people come to work from all over the country, one must expect to lose friends to geography once they enter the world of normally paid medicine! Despite my wish to just stomp around and pout, I decided to host a dinner for her and invited our other favorite Los Angeles transplant. However, I am still working on said transplant to come back after his 8 months served in California. Sound like prison? Good! Ray, I hope you’re reading!

With all of this useless information I’ve given you, one piece of useful information is that my dear friend Sarah is a vegetarian. A no fish vegetarian. Since I’ve recently amped up my protein intake in the form of lean meats, it took some real thinking on what to serve for dinner. But alas, I had a great idea for green gazpacho and it turned out absolutely beautiful. Gazpacho is a cold tomato based soup. However, I decided I was nixing the tomatoes and this is what I came up with.

Here’s the breakdown for 4 servings:

2 cucumbers, peeled
1 yellow bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 scallions
½ Serrano pepper
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
*I did not measure this, you shouldn’t either
olive oil
fresh basil leaves, torn

Put everything except for the olive oil and basil in a blender. Ray brought the Vitamix since I blew out my blender on my cleanse! And hello Vitamix! You could blend up bodies in that thing! Ok Ok back to instructions.

Start blending and add olive oil slowly until the texture of the mix is smooth and soupy. You may have to do half the veg and add the other half once it's smooth. This will then need to be chilled for an hour or so. I didn’t have that much time, so I then blended a handful of ice into it. Either way is fine. Then pour into small cups. Pour a leeeeetle bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with some torn basil.

This was an incredibly refreshing version of traditional gazpacho with a bit of a kick! My little vegetarian friend loved it and so did us meat eaters! Presentation on this was super impressive, so I highly encourage you to serve it for a dinner party.

Told you it was beautiful!!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guilt Free Pumpkin Muffins

There are very few people in this life who know or have seen my breakfast habits. This includes Josh. The only person who really knows is my home girl Electra. Why you ask? Because for 4 years staring at her across my cube, she watched me eat breakfast. Or instructed me to do so if I was cranky. Which she’ll tell you wasn’t very often because I’m a ray of sunshine in the morning. Ok, maybe she wouldn’t tell you that. In fact, what she might actually tell you is that I’m pretty much a mime until I’ve eaten breakfast and had a full and very strong coffee! But she loved that about me, right E?

That said, she would also tell you that post decision to not be a pork chop, you’d never see me eat a bagel, muffin, waffle or other type of serious breakfast carb! Not that I don’t like them. When I was a teenager and my metabolism was something out of a fairy tale, I ate a bagel or two every day! Alas, 30 approaches and I just don’t eat those kinds of carbs. Until now!

I’ve recently cut mostly all wheat and grains out of my diet. While that’s a story for another day, I’ll say that it’s been the easiest thing I’ve ever changed about my diet. But I was craving some sustenance with a breadish nature last week! That’s when I learned I could make muffins with almond flour! Sweet mother of breakthrough! Day saved!

I found a recipe on the basics for making muffins without wheat and per usual modified it Meagy style!

Here’s the breakdown – Pumpkin Muffins:

1 ½ cups almond flour
¾ cup canned pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp salt 
2 Tbsp honey
*Total approximation here, I just squirted some out of my Bear!
2 tsp almond butter
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
¼ cup golden raisins
*Another approximation, just dumped some in
Pumpkin seeds
Coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin tins with coconut oil. I used two tins that hold  6 muffins each. Mix all the ingredients except the pumpkin seeds and pour evenly into tins. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top. I actually didn’t do this and when I added them at the end they just bounced off! Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack. You know your oven, so underestimate and then check. The last thing you want to do is over cook them! Done and done!

Now, I did not eat one of these every day. If I had a hard evening workout, I’d have one with an egg filled breakfast the next day. Or if I had a very early workout, I’d eat one afterwards as second breakfast! Hey E, what about onesies!? Anyway, just because they’re better for you than wheaty muffins from Dunks doesn’t mean you should mow them! But you definitely should enjoy them without guilt when you do eat them!