Spaghetti Squash Spring Roll Bowl

I can’t take credit for this one, either; my food-sleuthing friend sent me a link to another recipe that I just *had* to try. This one is from Pinch of Yum; it’s her amazing Spring Roll Bowls.

I have to say that I don’t really know what a spring roll is, and the original recipe seems to assume that I will. What I mean by that is there really aren’t any measurements for anything save for the sauce; there aren’t any measurements for the herbs or for the amount of vegetables I should be including. So, I did the hard work for us less-savvy foodies and took the risk to establish some metrics here. Also, I (kind of) carb-smarted these a little by replacing the rice noodles with spaghetti squash.

The sauce, though, is amazing, and the recipe I didn’t change at all:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup agave or brown sugar
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup lime juice
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil

Put it all in your food processor and whiz away until it emulsifies. I used brown sugar, and I used slightly less than the 1/4 she called for. Next time, I do think I’ll cut it down even more. And she’s right about the fish sauce. That stuff is GROSS until it’s mixed with something else. If you get some on your hands, wash them with soap right away because it is FUN. KY.

Then I used:

  1. spaghetti squash
  2. 1/2 a large cucumber
  3. 3 big carrots
  4. 1 red pepper
  5. a pound of thawed shrimp
  6. a handful of basil
  7. an equal amount of mint
  8. an equal amount of cilantro

I cut the spaghetti squash in half and put it in about 1/2 inch of water in a rectangle pyrex dish. Then I microwave it for 15 minutes. I have no patience to wait for my oven. [[Scrape out the spaghetti noodley-goodness right before you plate, because COLD spaghetti noodles are GROSS.]]

Julienne the cucumber and carrots and set them aside.

Mince/chop the herbs.

Cook the shrimp in a little bit of fat (oil or butter) until they’re pink (just a few minutes, really). I also julienned the red peppers and put them in the pan with the shrimp to soften them up a bit.

Alright. Plate the noodles, dump the sauce on the noodles, dump the shrimp/peppers on the sauced noodles, and then put the cold veggies on the side, and sprinkle the minced herbs on the top.

spring roll bowlDon’t judge my inability to properly mince the herbs. They were lovely.

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It’s What Good Friends Do (Sweet Potato Hash)

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 2.37.40 PMGood friends send you a random text message on Friday afternoon with a link to a recipe. And because you’re trapped in a glider with a newborn latched onto your body like a lamprey for 23 hours a day, you jump at the opportunity to feel like a productive human being, especially since the ingredients are (mostly) available in your pantry. But enough about you. (Or me.)

This recipe has been adapted from Anne Burrell’s Sweet Potato, Bacon, and Apple Hash posted on the Food Network site. I’ve made a few changes, mostly to streamline the process and account for ingredients I didn’t have on hand.

To make 4-ish servings, you’ll need:

2 apples

2 big sweet potatoes

4 slices of super thick bacon (or 8 slices of regular bacon)

1 or 2 handsful of Archer Farms (Target) Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix

olive oil

an egg or three, depending on how hungry you are, how many protein macros you need, and/or how many people you’re feeding

***

Cube the sweet potatoes and apples. (I scrubbed them and left the skin on; you could peel them if you wanted. But man up. Eat the skins.)

Toss the sweet potatoes in some olive oil and roast for 8 mins @ 400.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, fry the chopped bacon in a large frying pan.

Drain the bacon grease off and put the bacon back in the frying pan.

sweet potato hash 1.jpgWhen the potatoes are done roasting, combine them in the frying pan with the chopped apples and cooked bacon, and cook for a bit to soften the apples. Spread the hash out to the edges of the pan and cook an egg (or three) to your liking in the middle of the pan.

Serve the hash with your eggs on top, and sprinkle with the trail mix.

 

 

Making Do

Last week I sat in on a lecture/workshop at the college, where we learned about digital archive work and research. During the workshop, we had to fill out a survey, a kind of “answer these questions and we’ll tell you what kind of researcher you are based on your score” survey.

One question asked me to describe my favored cooking technique, and the answers were something like:
a) find popular recipes online
b) ask friends for their favorite recipes
c) see what’s in your pantry, and make something up

Well, because I’m a smart-ass, I filled in my own answer: “d) I don’t cook.” [Which of course made my score invalid. But anyway.]

Except that I must.
Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 8.13.20 PM
there’s only so many times I can abide chewing on a cold chicken breast. I must make do.

So, here’s me, making do. And I realize that I’m actually c) from above: I found random staples in the fridge (spinach) and pantry (crushed tomatoes with basil and garlic) and threw in all in a pot with some chicken and sausage.
chickensausagesoup

FTW.

the granola coma at the end of this post

Did anybody read the book _There’s a Monster at the End of this Book_ as a kid? It was a Sesame Street story where Grover spent the whole time trying to get the reader to STOP READING THAT BOOK because there was a monster at the end!! He built brick walls to keep you from turning the pages. And you’d turn the pages and he’d get all exasperated at you. And then he became more frantic as the end neared, you know, because there was a monster at the end. !!

Yet at the end, the monster was Grover himself. And he felt so silly having been scared.

So, I feel similarly about this recipe I’m about to share. You really REALLY don’t want to have it (for a few reasons): First, if you’re a dumbass like I am, you won’t buy the ingredients pre-chopped, and you’ll spend your entire Sunday afternoon chopping the shit out of some hard-ass nuts. Second, when you finally HAVE the finished product, you’ll eat wayyyy too much of it. Because it’s pretty damn amazing.

So, you can turn back now. Stop reading, just forget about this whole post. It really is a pain in the fanny. And you’ll be miserable when you eat half the batch in an afternoon. Really. X-out, red light, close the tab, go back to Facebook, get back on tumblr, go pin something on Pinterest. Just quit while you’re ahead.

Oh. You’re still here. Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. *sigh*
Cherry Granola
pregranola
1 C sliced almonds
1 C chopped pecans
1 C chopped pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C honey
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C coconut oil
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C chopped dried cherries and/or raisins

Preheat your oven to 300. Combine the honey, syrup, and oil in a glass bowl and place it on your stove, so that as your stove heats, the oil melts and the honey gets really liquidy. (You could also stick it in the microwave.) Now, chop all your nuts. Or be smart and buy them already sliced/chopped.

Combine your nuts and honey/syrup/oil in a large bowl; add cinnamon, salt, and chopped cherries/raisins and stir.

Lay out the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and bake, turning once in a while, for about 20-30 minutes. Be sure not to burn the edges.
granola
Eat. Beware the granola coma.
granolalove

Staples and Rations

Two strategies I have for productive fueling are 1) relying on staples and 2) rationing them.

So, some staples I ration but rely on:

1. Roasted or grilled chicken (leftover), chopped with an avocado and salsa. I have to limit myself to eating this only once a day, because otherwise I’d be eating multiple avocados daily. I draw the line at ONE.
chickenavocadosalsa I’ve been also using Boar’s Head Buffalo Chicken in this dish (if you’d even call it a “dish”; really, it’s just food thrown into a bowl straight out of the fridge). I know that deli meat can be suspect, but I figure if I spend $10 a pound it’s probably mostly meat, right?

2. Blueberries.
blueberries-fresh I eat these about a half pint at a time. Well, I generally have help; if there’s a container out, my kids will grab handfuls as I’m eating them. I started buying double just so I could get my fair share. But I try not to eat more than a half a pint if I can help it. Sometimes, if the berries are getting elderly (you know, wrinkly and dry, like we elderly tend to be), I’ll eat the rest of them so they won’t go to waste.

3. Justin’s Almond Butter packets. Here again, I’m eating only one a day. I generally enjoy these with an apple or a banana as accompaniment. Also, here’s a pro-tip: once you THINK you’ve sucked out all the goodness from the foil packet, tear the packet open completely and lick the insides. There’s a good 2-3 more licks of butter left in there!! (NO! I’m not desperate. Just frugal. And in love with nut butter.) I will say: do not attempt to pry open the packet and lick out the leftovers while you’re driving. That makes for a very buttery steering wheel.

4. SFH Recovery Whey Protein. Generally, I’ll mix a scoop of this with about 24 ounces of water post WOD. I like that it is a good shot of protein, which I know I still don’t eat quite enough of. Also, by diluting it heavily, I get a decent amount of water, which I  don’t ever get enough of, either. Plus the water makes me full for a little while.

5. 2-minute microwave eggs: Put two eggs in a coffee mug; blend with a splash of milk or half and half. Cook in microwave for 40 seconds; remove and stir. Cook for another 35 seconds or so. Eat with salsa. (I eat a lot of salsa. I don’t ration it.)

6. Hard-boiled eggs. Just remember to peel them first if you’re going to try to eat them while you’re on the road. It’s a pain to peel a boiled egg while you’re trying to keep your eyes on the highway. Plus the peels get everywhere. No, I don’t know this from experience — it’s just common sense. Ha.

7. Larabars. I stick with the old school kind: Apple and Cherry Pie, Cashew Cookie, Coconut Cream. Avoid the varieties with peanuts and chocolate chips.

What staples do you rely on?

Let’s Talk Quantity

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 10.13.46 AM

One characteristic of Whole 30, paleo/primal-style, and other clean-eating nutrition systems that sets them apart from others is that they ignore issues of quantity.

And with good reason. Firstly, they are conceived to be lifestyles, not temporary diets. And so while programs like the zone and strict macro-nutrient counting/rationing certainly have purposes and places, such attention to detail every. single. day. for the rest of one’s life is not particularly useful.

The problem emerges, though, when someone like me is told: “Eat meat, vegetables, fruit, some nuts and seeds, and no sugar.”

I think to myself, cool. I can do that. And then I proceed to eat an entire pound of sunflower seeds.

Well, I exaggerate. But you get my drift. I can pretty easily make all the right choices about WHAT I’m fueling my body with, and the entirely wrong choices about HOW MUCH I actually need as fuel.

The best lesson I ever learned about portioning was not about weighing ounces or counting calories; it was about measuring time and attention. Unfortunately, it was one of those lessons I was given early and didn’t really learn until much later. Growing up, I was the oldest of four and my sibs and I behaved like a pack of wolves. If you ate fast, there might be enough left for you to have seconds. And my mother would admonish us: “EAT SLOWLY. CHEW YOUR FOOD,” because we were basically in a race with one another for that last Banquet Salisbury Meat Pattie. And so I didn’t really listen to her. I was hungry, and I liked meat and gravy, and I wanted more.

The problem is (and we do all know this, yes?) that your stomach is slow to recognize when it’s full, and slower still to send the message to your brain that there’s no more room. So by the time you actually FEEL full — especially if you’re eating like a savage — you’re probably overfull.

And I’ll speak from experience here: being overfull of bacon and Brussels sprouts is just as miserable as being overfull of pepperoni pizza.

So, the next time you sit down for some lovely steak and zucchini, grilled chicken and asparagus, sweet potato and sausage, whatever: pay attention to HOW you eat. Are you distracted, eating while checking email and Facebook? (Guilty.) Are you rushed, eating quickly between meetings and classes? (Guilty.) Are you thinking about something else, like trying to guess the 13.2 open WOD, and not fully present while you eat? (Ohh. So guilty.) Are you being social, visiting with friends and moving hand-to-mouth as you discuss workplace gossip? (Man. I’m just writing about me, here.)

For some of you, quantity and mindless eating are non-issues. And I’ll speak for the rest of us and say: you’re a bunch of lucky bastards. But everyone can benefit from sitting quietly for 15 minutes to eat slowly; mindful eating can make a huge difference in how well we’re fueling our bodies. Now, I’m not advocating that every meal be a mediation session. But trying it once or twice allows us to pay attention in small ways — such that the next time you’re eating socially, even when the food you’re eating is clean, you have a small space of awareness for how much you’re eating and how full you feel.

Photo courtesy notspavin. Used with permission via Creative Commons.

Magic Banana Pancakes

bananaeggsbefore Today, I turned two eggs and a banana into pancakes. It was magic, I tell you.

And then, I made those pancakes disappear. Viola! Or Wall-La! Or Vie-Oh-La! Or however you prefer. Those bitches were GONE. Magic.

Magic Banana Pancakes:
(Makes about 6 small pancakes.)
Take two eggs and one banana.

Put the banana in the food processor; whirl. Add the eggs. Whirl for 10 push-ups.

Heat some fat of your choice in a pan. Coconut oil, butter, bacon fat. I used some (@1/2 tbsp) butter, just because I like the saltiness.

Pour the batter in small puddles. (Small puddles flip better.)

Do 20 slow, really good push ups.

Flip (the pancakes. Or, if you can do a backflip in your kitchen, I approve of that as well).

Do 20 more push ups.

Eat the crap out of them.
bananaeggs

Kale and Shrimp

kaleandshrimpThere’s been a lot of accusations flying around these parts about someone buying all the kale in the local grocery stores, leaving none for others.

Well, I have no comment.

But I do have another recipe that uses this most wonderfully healthy leafy loveliness: Kale and Shrimp. Or, Kale and Scrimp, if you prefer.

You will need:

1/2 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. We like the 16/20s, but any size will do. If you buy it frozen, thaw it in some cold water.
about 6 cups of chopped kale
1/2-2/3 C crumbled feta cheese*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp prepared pesto

Heat the oil in a large shallow pan. When the oil is hot, put the shrimp in there and toss them around briefly so they begin to cook. Add the cheese, kale, garlic, and pesto, toss a bit, and then cover so the shrimp can cook through, the kale can wilt and soften, and the feta can melt.

When the shrimp is a lovely pink and the kale a bright green (shouldn’t be too too long), plate up and EAT. If you have grain-eaters among you, you can serve it over pasta. But who are we kidding here? Pasta is just filler.

*Wait, what? That’s CHEESE! Is dairy clean?? Well, it is if your body doesn’t mind it. Adding dairy moves us from paleo to primal (for more info, google Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson) eating, which can still be an extremely effective method for returning your body to a state of fueled functionality. As with all nutrition/fueling choices, your mileage may vary based on your personal preferences and what your body responds to.

On Your Birthday…

cake-front-view2…you have my permission to eat whatever you like. However, this is ONE DAY out of 365. And while you are certainly welcome to extend your celebration for a week (birthday week!! Yessss!), extend that celebration by doing things you love with people you love (but not with continued out-of-control eating).

The end.

Surround Yourself

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” -Oprah Winfrey

There was a person I once knew. This is a true story, I assure you, with the details stripped so I don’t hurt anyone.

Anyway, this person had a hard time staying out of trouble. S/he repeatedly found hirself spiraling out of control with drugs and bad decisions. Every time it appeared s/he’d pulled hirself from the depths of some bottom, though, I watched as s/he returned to hir group of friends, who all tended to abuse drugs and make similarly poor decisions.

This person could not COULD. NOT. stay clean or live sanely when s/he surrounded hirself with that group of friends.

In fact, to this day, this person still lives on the fringes. Can’t really keep a job, doesn’t really have an address. And it’s because, I believe, s/he chooses to live among similarly-minded people who prefer a very different lifestyle than I myself would choose.

Which is fine; people get to live their lives the way they’d like, I suppose. My point is, though, that our chances at success with ANYTHING are often shaped by the people we surround ourselves with. This is one reason CrossFit is so amazing and life-changing for many of us: people who are dedicated to CrossFit are inherently dissatisfied with mediocrity and half-assed-ness. When we surround ourselves with people who are ALWAYS STRIVING, we tend to strive ourselves.

The same transfers to eating. When we surround ourselves with people and ideas that resonate with our own goals, our chances for success increase. (Though the opposite is true, too: hanging out with people who ridicule you for your strange cave eating might be counter-productive.)

So surround yourself with people whose ideas about food and fuel are parallel to yours. The best way to do this? Convert your friends! Regale them with the success you’ve already had, how much better you feel, how you sleep better and how your hair is shiny and how your energy has increased. Be a fuel evangelist.

Or, if you ever need a supportive network of clean-eaters: you know you’ve already got one. It’s right here.