Category: health

Italian Tomato-Basil Tart

Easy and flavorful, this dish was a total hit among my bookclub ladies! I had several requests for the recipe, which is  adapted from a  Cooking Light reader-submitted recipe. My version is slightly less healthy, and quicker to make.

Crust:
– 1 10.5 oz package precooked brown rice (I used Trader Joe’s)
– 2 TBS commercial pesto
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
– 1 egg
– Cooking spray

Filling:
– 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
– 3 eggs
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/4 tsp. black pepper
– 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
– 1 cup mozzarella cheese
– 1 link Italian chicken sausage, sliced into thin strips. I used Al Fresco‘s, but you could also try 1 ounce prosciutto, or 1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon – or go meat free!
– 4 small, flavorful tomatoes, thinly sliced. The original recipe called for plum tomatoes but I used Kumato brown tomatoes because they are just darn good!
– 2 TBS chopped fresh basil, or a 4 inch ribbon of basil in a tube (the grocery store was out of fresh, I’m not just lazy)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, combine packaged rice, Parmesan, 1 egg, and pesto. Press the mixture into the sprayed pie plate, firmly smooshing it into the bottom and up the sides of the dish. It will be a bit crumbly. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove from oven.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Kumato Brown Tomatoes

4. Combine milk, 3 eggs, salt, peppers and basil in a bowl. Whisk it together.

5. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and half of the chicken sausage into the bottom of the prepared crust. Top with half of the tomato slices. Repeat another layer with remaining mozzarella, sausage and yummy tomatoes. Pour the milk/egg mixture over the contents in the pan.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees while leaving the tart in the oven. Bake an additional 35 minutes or until set. Enjoy hot or cold!

Cooking Be Damned

Sure, cooking can enjoyable and fulfilling, connecting me to food and expanding my creativity. But not of late; it simply feels like a ton of effort. After I finished a workout this morning and felt hunger pangs urging me on, I tried to get excited about making pesto

Topped with salt and pepper is my favorite option

scrambled eggs and wilted garlic spinach. Fail. I ate a banana, whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread (you can make your own! I bought mine) with peanut butter and half an avocado.

I recently read a phrase about how to be successful in your life pursuits, be they work, fitness, relationships, whatever. It suggested that the best thing you can do for yourself is be honest about your weaknesses so that you can plan around them.

The alternative is what Joan Didion calls “magical thinking.” For those of us who are perpetually late, magical thinking goes something like this, “Of COURSE I can get there in 10 minutes. I did that one time, you know.” In reality, 99% of the time it takes 25 minutes, but we prefer to think that magically what we want to happen will actually happen. Basically, it’s our successful self delusions.

For instance, I can say, “Tomorrow I’ll get up early, go for a jog and feel great all day! Woo-yah! ” In truth, I love sleeping far too much to get up for a morning workout. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve succeeded in rising with the alarm with nothing but my willpower driving me. This is a

Planking – of the fitness varietal.

weakness that I can choose to ignore and then feel guilty every single time I hit the snooze button. Or, I can find a trainer and PAY someone to kick my ass 4 days a week, knowing there’s a group of fit ladies that I want to compete with. When the alarm sounds, I remind myself that I paid good money for this, that the trainer is waiting, and when the Super Spartan race comes around, I’m going to be so glad I did those 4,000 lunges and hours of holding plank position.

#29 on the list is a favorite

Same for cooking. Part of me WANTS to cook a wholesome, flavorful meal that I can sit and enjoy, and happily pack up leftovers. But truthfully, if I’m cooking for one, I just want to make something relatively healthy in 10 minutes or less with minimal decision making or brainpower required.  Enter one of my favorite fallbacks: New York Times’ 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. (This came out in 2007? I’ve been using it for 5 years? Feelin’ old now). Though I’m not sure “Boil a lobster” is an easy option in my definition, there are some winners.

In sum: self-delusion is out, self-reflection is in. And cooking be damned.

The Little Red Hen Meets Super Spartan

I’m in like Flynn. It’s on like Donkey Kong. Who rocks the house? This chick rocks the house. Are there Torros in the atmosphere?

Voted “Best Obstacle Race 2012” by Outside Magazine, I am now signed up for the  Mid-Atlantic Super Spartan Race, taking place August 25, 2012. As described in the literature:

The Super Spartan obstacle race provides an 8+ MILES / 20+ OBSTACLES battlefield of insane mud running with 15 or more obstacles to test your physical strength and mental resolve. This endurance race consists of mud runs, trails, and both mental and physical obstacles and challenges.”

I signed up for a personal trainer yesterday, to jumpstart me from the ease of cardio land into kick-butt conditioning mode. Every obstacle you fail on the course, you do a set number of burpees. And the Mid-Atlantic has 30 obstacles.

I invited some sporty spice friends who like adventures to join me, but no bites so far. And that’s fine. I’m taking a page from The Little Red Hen, “Then I’ll do it myself.”

Quick Salmon Wraps w/ Dill Yogurt Sauce

I like to eat healthy, but I demand flavor too, which is one of the many reasons I’ll never be a professional bodybuilder. Can you imagine subsisting on egg whites, steamed broccoli and broiled chicken? Yes, it’s food – but it’s not good tasting food.

This is a tasty wrap that’s fast and flavorful:

– Pouch of pre-cooked, flavored salmon, like the Lemon & Dill from Bumble Bee
– Wrap of choice. I like Trader Joe’s Reduced Carb Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
– 6 oz. plain greek yogurt, any brand
– Juice of 1 lemon
– Dill, 1 sprig fresh or  1 TBS dried
– Garlic powder to taste
– Salt ‘n Pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper – stir til smooth and juice is incorporate. Add in dill and stir. Taste and modify. The sauce’s flavor will enhance with time – keep extras in the fridge.

2. Portion out salmon and yogurt sauce in your wrap of choice. Roll up.

3. Chow down! Over a plate, preferably, to catch drips.

Bison Steak, My Way

Step 1. Buy Bison steak.

Step 2. Heat pan on medium heat.
Step 3. Toss bison steak into pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
Step 4. Flip bison steak. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 3 more minutes.
Step 5. Let sit for 2 minutes. Slice and eat. In my world, the rarer, the better!

Apparently, bison is quite healthy. Check out this article, “Bison: The other red meat.”

Rending the Social Fabric

For the most part I tend to write about food and recipes and happy moments, with some ponderings on relationships and work complaints. I avoid a lot of politics and have never once had an urge to be a political figure. I live in an area of the country where politics hangs in the air; it feels like I subsist on it sometimes. The endless rhetoric and talking heads talking about nothing of substance but defending it tooth-and-nail disconcerts me.

tiny but oh, so powerful

But I read an article today and want to share it. The writing is delightful with phrases like “…a frenzied donnybrook fight…” and, “The first rule of understanding apocalyptic movements is this: If someone tells you the world is ending, believe them. Because for them, it probably is.”

It takes a wide-angle lens on what changed society in the last century, namely: the internet, landing on the moon, and effective contraception, an issue that I am a strong supporter of. “What’s the big deal with birth control?” I’ve wondered while escorting women into Planned Parenthood or signing a petition to not declare a clump of cells a ‘person.’ I am grateful to not be a single mother due to the access, cost and education that made birth control available to me. 

I recently made the mistake of sending what I considered an unbiased and informative article on the Obama Affordable Care Act Contraceptive Coverage to my (Catholic) family . That schism has yet to be breached.  (I mean, come on, data shows that 98% of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.)

Why is it a big deal? Read Sara Robinson’s  perspective in her articulate piece, “Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now.”

If I Had a Personal Chef

Yesterday was a long day. I got to work early, stayed late. I ran interference, demurred, cajoled, led, prompted, sighed and try to align the hours in the day to the ever increasing to-do list. Gym plans? Nixxed. Getting home with daylight remaining? Nope. Calling my friend back for a leisurely catch up? Not even.

For one reason or another, I haven’t walked in the door until nearly 8pm every night this week. Which means I’m hungry, cranky and tired. And last night it was my turn to cook. Normally I’d round up a cart full of groceries earlier in the week and be down to the creative recipes by Thursday night, but we’re leaving town today for 4 days and who wants to come home to a $5 bag of organic lettuce turned to slime? Our cabinets contained ramen noodles, butternut squash sauce, goat cheese and a lemon.

Solution: Whole Foods. Yes, I am aware of the backlash regarding their high prices, the touted elitism of shopping in their stores, and the exacerbation of racial and class disparities their stores highlight. But I am a single, professional adult living with another single, professional adult (Hello DINK) and I choose where to spend my money. And their food tastes good.

I wanted something easy and healthy, and settled on a menu of:
Tequila-lime salmon
– sautéed asparagus with garlic, salt and lemon juice
– 90-second Brown rice quinoa blend
– $5.99 bottle of white wine that was not memorable but very drinkable
– Fistful of chocolate chips (Okay, I already had these at home)

Within 20 minutes, the food was cooked and plated and I was plopped on the couch, just in time for me to get it on with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Which brings me to my point: sometimes I wish I had a private chef.

Motivation for the Gym

Every day at 4pm I just want to throw off my clothes and curl up in bed with a bowl of mac ‘n cheese, my fuzzy blue robe and an engrossing book.  Yet this this isn’t really an option – or at least a good option – in this world we call adult reality. So I’m going to the gym tonight after work. For real. I have a gym date with the boyfriend.  Here are a few things I’m using to motivate myself in these dark months (I’m never moving to Alaska, by the way):

1. Fitness Quotes

Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels. 

If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution. 

Fit is the new skinny.

Being lazy might feel good at the time, but being active feels better in the long run. How badly do you want it?

2. Pinterest Fitness Board: http://pinterest.com/penneysage/fitness-motivation/

3. Packing my gym bag and hauling it to work, knowing I have to either look at it forlornly before I leave or take it with me and use it.

4. Signing up for a class where my spot counts. I like spinning and it’s dark so who cares what I look like. But the slots are limited. I didn’t call early enough tonight. It’s gonna be Tabata instead. Bright lights, chipper people. But it only requires a 20 second attention span.

I can do this. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

Done with the Run

I’m drinking a hot cup of Doodles special blend coffee, glasses on, patio door open to the smells of fall. After 32 hours of running and cheering plus an extra long 13 hour drive home, the Bourbon Chase is officially over. I’m home in pjs, contemplating how much effort will be involved in cleaning out the “Black Bullet” we called home for 4 days before returning it to enterprise.

So in the spirit of procrastination, a few images from the race:

Our 12-person relay team at the race start: Jim Beam Distillery
  • Best foods consumed during race: Black Cherry PowerBlocks, Pretzel M &Ms, Bananas, Cinnamon Raisin Mini Bagels, Clementines, Coffee, Coconut Water.
  • I Wish I’d Packed: Shorts, Pajamas, more Coconut Water, a Sleep Mask, Camera.
  • Things  That Kept me Sane: Stores in the towns that stayed open until 4am so we could invade and use their clean restrooms, Knowing my final leg was shorter than my first leg, Twitter, Daydreams of egg mcmuffins and my bed, Bryan’s sleeping bag, Coffee, Phone Adpater for charging on the go.

    Fall foliage on the road back in Kentucky

 

HERMES RUNS

Or at least that’s what my fingernails say at the moment. Tonight after work, 5 friends and I are driving down to Kentucky to meet up with 7 other lucky runners to compete in the Bourbon Relay Chase.  This is a 200-mile, 12-person relay race over about 35 hours.

nailing the motivation

Our team name is “Runners Distilled” and our motto is “Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing.”

Our mascot is Hermes (or Mercury, if you prefer the Roman mythology), who is bold, clever, athletic, faster than the wildest wind and secret agent of Zeus.

We’ve got gold wings for our shoes, neon posters for the windows, sparkle tights for a variety of uses, enough food to feed a small army and lots of enthusiasm.

And we’re running for a great cause: the National Hospice Foundation. In the course of 7 months we collectively raised $5,791.00, which is 115% of our goal.

The Black Bullet

I picked up our minivan yesterday and have lovingly dubbed it the Black Bullet. Did you know that Chrysler Town & Country makes a ‘Touring’ model? Me neither. But this baby has leather seats, a DVD player with two screens, rear camera, touch screen radio, under seat tow ‘n go (my request), dual climate control, cruise control and a whole lot of other bells ‘n whistles that I’m not sure how to use.  Another name could be the “Keep Your Kids Entertained on Long Trips” model.

But I digress: I’m going running! A lot! With some awesome people and for a good cause. And then on Monday I’m taking the day off to sleep and eat and hang out with the cutie boyfriend and furry cat. A girl’s got to relax sometimes.