Archive for October 2012

Foodie Penpals: Three Lynches agree – we’re nuts for October’s box

In this month’s Foodie Penpal pairing, I was lucky to get a box of tasty vegan treats from Galen of OMGosh I’m Vegan.

I’ve never met a nut I didn’t like, and these items were no exception.

The salt and pepper pistachios have a nice little bite to add to the nuts’ natural tanginess, and I always love Justin’s nut butters. The biggest hit, though, has been the dark chocolate peanut butter (I know, right?). I’ve been adding it to yogurt and fruits, Miles (our 6yo) has been gleefully carrying chocolate PB sandwiches to school, and I think I caught Tim going for it straight from the jar the other day.

The only item not pictured above is the packet of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, which ended up in my recovery smoothie after the RW half marathon before I had a chance to photograph it.

We also received several sesame-based snacks – pomegranate-blueberry sesame strips and Somersaults nugget-style crackers.

I appreciated having a few more high-protein snack options, since I’ve been single-handedly keeping Northeast regional egg producers in business lately with my race-training diet. And Miles surprised me by really liking the Somersaults, which gave us another nut-free snack option to pack for school.

So thanks to Galen from all the Lynches, who enjoyed this box immensely!

Interested in participating in Foodie Penpals? Head past the jump for details.

Read more

Foodie Penpals: Guest post from Katie

A special treat (it is Halloween today, after all) – a guest post from Foodie PenPal participant, Katie Moran. I sent her a box this month, and since she’s a non-blogging reader, she agreed to post her recap here!

Thanks so much to Kat for letting me do a guest blog! My name is Katie and I do not have a blog but love reading them and joined foodie pen pals to meet new people and find new amazing blogs to read like Eating the Week!

I am from San Francisco and love Boston so I was excited to get some goodies from there! First of all she sent me a bunch of snacks when I told her my love for snacks, and first up were these wonderful dry roasted pumpkin seeds! What a wonderful fall snack – slightly salty and organic, right up my alley, perfect for a between lunch and dinner snack to hold me over until dinner. I just try to not finish the bag in one sitting!

Next, she sent me some of her kid’s favorite snacks – these pineapple and apple-banana crisps! These are so light and airy, I just loved them.

I had never tried freeze dried anything so I was not sure what to expect but they were amazing, I wish I could get them here! What a great breakfast snack. All natural, no artificial ingredients or preservatives and they taste yummy, yes please!!! Just like a fruit in chip form, how genius!

Head past the jump to read about more treats

Read more

RWHalf recap: Hill is a four-letter word

If I’d made a checklist of preparations for the Runner’s World half marathon I ran this past Sunday, it would look like this: pick up my first-ever named bib (check)…

… nearly-six-hour drive down to PA, to log race #5 on my 50-states list (check)…

…visit to the expo to try on Altra zero-drop shoes and mingle with Runner’s World editors (check)…

…listen to hilarious, inspiring tales from Bart Yasso’s presentation, feel like a weirdo milling around while Olympian Shalane Flanagan stretched her hamstrings on the floor 10 feet away from me, and generally enjoy myself in the jam-packed weekend of events (check).

What’s not checked off from this imaginary list? Pay ANY ATTENTION AT ALL to the elevations on the course, which organizers had warned us repeatedly was very, VERY hilly, and modify my expectations accordingly.

1,002 ft of total climb, aka 500 ft more than I’ve ever done in a single run

The result: I seriously considered a DNF for the first time ever in a race, and posted my slowest finish time ever (2:04, the first over-2:00 halfathon time I’ve had, even if we discount the 2-minute potty break). So how exactly did that all go down? Head past the jump.

Read more

Recipe ReDux: Orange you glad it’s fall?

Do you know any nutrition nerds, in particular the card-carrying expert kinds called RDs? When I was doing some informational interviews, trying to decide if I was interested in the profession, I asked one RD how she would characterize the people working in dietetics. Her answer (“We’re all very… organized.”) was an understatement – what she meant is that dietetics is full of whip-smart, ambitious, detail-oriented over achievers.

Since I’m not yet an RD but play one on TV, I followed in those type A footprints for this month’s Recipe ReDux. We were tasked with creating recipes that feature fall’s plentiful, orange-hued, carotenoid-rich foods like pumpkin, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and golden beets.

Butternut squash came right to mind – I love these tasty, versatile gourds, which have something like a billion percent (slightly less) of your vitamin A needs, and a nice chunk of vitamin C, potassium, manganese and more. But why stop a just one orange ingredient, or even two? So I backed those squash and stuffed them full of dried apricots, carrots and lot of other goodies.

The result is a baked stuffed squash with cinnamon-infused barley, tart apricots and cranberries, healthy little legumes and a sweet-tart dressing.

I angled for some extra credit with this triple-orange dish, and if you want to boost your kitchen grades too, have a go at the recipe:

Roasted butternut squash stuffed with cinnamon-infused barley, apricots & carrots

2 servings, approx. 500 calories each

1 cup pearled barley

3 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

1 butternut squash

1 carrot, peeled and diced into very small pieces

1/3 cup dried apricots

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sliced almonds

½ cup chickpeas

1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

½ Tbs olive oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp maple syrup

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Grated cinnamon to taste

Bring barley, cinnamon stick and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45-50 minutes (until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the top off the squash near the stem, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and membranes, and use a paring knife, melon baller, or whatever other kitchen wizardry you’ve got going on to make a good-sized “bowl” from each half.

Put the squash cut side down in a large baking dish with ½-1 inch of water, and bake for 30-40 minutes (more for larger, thicker squash).

While the squash is baking, mix ½ cup of the cooked barley, apricots, cranberries, almonds and chickpeas in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and nutmeg. Pour the dressing over the barley mixture and toss to coat.

When the squash has finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and turn the heat down to 375 F. Carefully remove the squash from the pan. Empty the water from the pan, line the bottom with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Put the squash back in, cut sides up, and spoon half the barley mixture into each half. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon, return the squash to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove, let cool for 5 minutes or so, and serve.

I’m not the only one orange-minded over-achiever, so check out the links to recipes from my fellow ReDuxers:

Rocky Balboa Week: Eggs, eggs, and more eggs

“You need higher quality protein, and more of it,” said the sports dietitian I consulted recently, when I was looking for help with my out-of-whack appetite and over-the-waistband squishiness. Since I already eat eggs, she encouraged me to work them into my diet whenever possible, along the way toward increasing my daily protein intake by a good 35-65% (yeesh).

So there I was, staring them down by the dozen, and wondering just how many eggs over medium I could take before I (ahem) cracked.

And I’m thinking now that my RD has some sort of Client Reluctance Sensor, because just today as I was firing up the ol’ blogamjig to write about eggs, I saw her tweet this…

…about her egg-centric blog post. Ok, I’m on board, I swear! I get how eggs are an economical source of high quality protein (meaning they contain all the essential amino acids, the ones your body can’t make itself). I’ve even extolled their virtues on ETW previously.

So I started with an ingeniously simple but novel (to me) way to prepare them – microwave scrambled eggs, from an article over on Greatist. Two eggs, a Crown Royal glass (look, that’s all I had clean), 90 seconds, and voila.

Simple enough on its own, but then they can be fancied up with any sort of add-ins. I went for another nutritional powerhouse – beans – and some salsa to make a quick filling snack.

But there are myriad other ways to fancy up these awesome ovals – from a vegetarian Cobb salad to tangy lemon curd – that I found when hunting around for more ways to empty that long brown cardboard container. Want to try? They’re all in this week’s recipe round up:

  • Microwaved eggs from Greatist (here)
  • Eggs poached with curried tomato sauce from Cooking Light (here)
  • Mini chile relleno casseroles from Eating Well (here)
  • Scrambled eggs and oats from Spark People (here)
  • Lemon curd with berries from Cooking Light (here)
  • Poached eggs with yogurt and mint from NY Times (here)
  • Chickpea Cobb salad from Chubby Vegetarian (here)

RW Half Training: Saving the best for last

When I started training for the Runner’s World half marathon, I was lamenting how I was out of shape, slow, and hating running in the face. Tempo and interval workouts were uniformly miserable, distances that would have counted as a day off in marathon training felt unfathomable even at slow long-run speeds, and getting a new halfathon PR seemed way, way out of reach.

Looking for the turning point

Then weeks 9, 10 and 11 came around, and suddenly stuff just clicked. I started hitting my target pace on 400m intervals consistently, even as the intervals got more and more numerous. Double-digit long runs passed under my feet and I didn’t feel like an extra from The Walking Dead at the end. Halfathon pace was actually maintainable.

So what made the difference? Well, it’s probably not rocket science – if you run consistently and with progressively more challenging workouts, you’re bound to get better at it. But there are a few specifics I could point to:

Consistent strength training. In marathon training, I was woefully neglectful of the need to build and maintain muscle (“I just ran 18 miles. Squats and pushups?  Are you NUTS?”). But I know that strength training is important for everyone, including runners, so I put the time in twice a week to run through some basic strength + cardio interval sessions like this:

(Head past the jump for a few more)

Read more

Pest Control Week: Beneficial brassicas + Brussels sprouts frittata

If asked, many people would tell you they try to avoid pesticides in their food – by buying organic produce, growing their own food using non-chemical pest control, or eating meat that was raised on low-or-no-chemical feed. But getting ready to make the whaaaaaa face when I say you should deliberately eat some pesticides.

No, not the kind brewed up by Industrial Chemicorp, LLC. I’m talking about the natural pest-resisting compounds in brassicas, better known as the cabbage and mustard family or as cruciferous vegetables.

Cabbage, broccoli, mustard, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi and other members of the plant genus Brassicaceae are chock full of phytochemicals, notably indoles and isothiocyanates. The plants use them to ward off pests, but it turns out those compounds also help humans ward off some other insidious invaders. Research shows that the indoles and isothiocyanates in brassicas can increase DNA repair, and that people who consume more cruciferous vegetables are at lower risk of developing some cancers.

Brussels sprouts frittata

My own research, however, shows that they are not effective at warding off dachshunds (who stole several of my recently harvested Brussels sprouts right out from under my hand).

The sprouts that survived the Dog-Shaming-worthy onslaught went into a new recipe I worked up for lunch – Brussels sprouts frittata with capers, parsley and parmesan cheese. With a splash of balsamic vinegar on top, it has a taste that is savory, nutty, slightly sweet and a smidge bitter all at once.

The frittata recipe follows, but you should also take a tour through the other beneficial brassicas with this week’s worth of recipes from around Teh Interwebs:

  • Brussels sprout and shallot hash from Epicurious (here)
  • Roasted kohlrabi from AllRecipes (here)
  • Roasted broccoli and garlic soup from Not Eating Out in New York (here)
  • Rigatoni with roasted cauliflower and spicy tomato sauce from Herbavoracious (here)
  • Thyme-roasted root vegetables from Eating The Week (here)
  • Sweet potato sandwich with cabbage slaw from Dorm Room Dinner/Big Girls Small Kitchen (here)
  • Roasted brussels sprouts with cranberry and barley from Cookie + Kate (here)

Brussels sprout frittata

Two servings, approx. 285 calories each

½ red onion, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup Brussels sprouts
½ cup water
4 whole eggs + 1 egg white
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs capers
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Cut the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut them into halves or quarters, so that you have leaves and roughly ½-inch size pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are turning translucent.

Add the Brussels sprouts and a pinch of salt; cook another 3-4 minutes, until the leaf edges are turning brown. Pour in the water and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, mustard and parsley. Grate in some black pepper, then pour the mixture over the onions and Brussels sprouts in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes.

Heat the broiler to high. When the frittata is done cooking on the stove, remove it from heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Put the pan under the broiler for 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into four wedges (two per serving). Top with a little balsamic vinegar, if you like.

Foodie Penpals: Treats from the Sooner State

Nothing against California – where several of my recent Foodie Penpals boxes have originated – but I was pretty excited to get a box from Oklahoma in September. I was paired with Cassie in Norman, OK, who sent me a great box of stuff from a local store called Native Roots Market.

Included in this month’s box were a bag of granola, several Italian herb mixes, and a bag of chocolate chip flapjack (which I’m not entirely sure if I should eat straight or make into bars, but either way sounds good!).

Cassie also send several containers of nuts, and a variety of Kind bars – which were tasty enough that I ate two before taking this picture. The pecans have been in heavy rotation as toppings for baked sweet potatoes, which are in oversupply around here since last month’s Recipe ReDux.

Thanks again, Cassie, for the fun box from the Sooner state!

Interested in participating in Foodie Penpals? Head past the jump for details.

Read more