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cross country skiing

It was chilly up here in New Hampshire yesterday, so we started with a hearty breakfast!

My mom made a delicious breakfast with broccoli quiche, sour cream coffee cake and fresh cut cantaloupe.  It was a great start to the day.

And, my plate!

After breakfast we headed out to cross country ski with my in-laws.  I haven’t been cross country skiing in a really long time, so it took a little while to get the hang of it, but once I did it was fun!

We went to the rental place to pick up our stuff.

After what seemed like forever to get our gear, we headed out to the slopes!

We made it 2 laps around these cross country trails.  It felt like a great total body workout!  I am exhausted. 🙂  Some pics of our day!

It was mostly flat or uphill, until we came to the hills – yikes!

We made it down and stopped by the river for some photo ops!

It was a gorgeous day!  After we finished skiing, I snacked on my new favorite bar for some protein before lunch.

Once home, we had panini’s and homemade soup for lunch!

I enjoyed a grilled cheese with cheddar and some roasted root vegetable soup from Barefoot Contessa made by mom!

After lunch we took a scenic drive up to the Mount Washington Inn!  The sky was a gorgeous blue and so clear that we had a perfect view of Mount Washington from the Inn.

We decided to sit in the gorgeous lobby overlooking the enormous fireplace and enjoy an afternoon cocktail!

I enjoyed a hot apple grog (cider and brandy) along with my mom and father-in-law, while Brant and his mom enjoyed an Irish Coffee.

With a cinnamon stick!

And, some snacks.

Once home from our lovely and relaxing afternoon, we started preparing for the dinner party!

A fun cheese platter!  I have a major cheese weakness…I love the Apricot Stilton, yum!!

And, the whole appetizer spread.

Lots of yummy choices, but I stuck with the cheese and crackers.  They went better with my cosmopolitan!

Dinner was chicken marsala, israeli couscous salad, spinach pie, and salad.  Here is some of the spread.

My favorite was the couscous!  YUM!

And, it is so simple!  Just israeli couscous, toasted pinenuts, raisins and some herbs.  Delicious.  I made a plate up of green salad and the couscous with added mushrooms from the chicken marsala (minus the chicken)!  Along with a glass of red wine.  Perfect!

quinoa stew and macaroons

My yogurt maker made delicious yogurt!  I’ll post towards the end of the week with some ideas and uses for it. 🙂

It was Day 2 of my weight training today, so I worked out my Legs & Abs.

5 minute warmup – jumping jacks

Legs

  • Lunge & Lift – 3 sets of 12
  • Stability Ball hamstring curl – 3 sets of 12
  • Mountain Climbers – 1 minute
  • Calf Raises with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Squat jumps – 1 minute
  • Deadlifts with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Step-ups with 10 lb weights – 3 sets of 12
  • Burpees – 1 minute
  • Leg lifts – 2 sets of 12

Abs

  • Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Reverse Crunches – 3 sets of 15
  • Bicycles – 3 sets of 20
  • Frogs – 3 sets of 10
  • V-ups – 3 sets of 10

5 minute cooldown – jumprope

Tough workout tonight, my legs were burning during those squat jumps and burpees!  I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it!

Then, it was time for dinner and baking!

Tonight on the menu was our favorite – quinoa!  You probably think that we eat quinoa all the time.  Well, we do!  It is a delicious grain (actually, it’s a seed) and it pairs nicely with any type of vegetable.  Quinoa is about 15% protein, which is very high for a grain, so we rarely eat much other protein with it.

We used a recipe out of one of the Moosewood Cookbooks tonight.  These cookbooks are great, especially for vegetarians.  They make all sorts of delicious recipes.

Quinoa cooks like a couscous does, very quickly.  I started dinner by rinsing 3/4 cup of quinoa (it is important to rinse the quinoa because the seed produces a natural coat to protect itself from insects and you want to rinse this bitter coat off) and placing it in a pan with twice as much water to boil.  Once it boils, you just reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  A few minutes before the quinoa was cooked, I added some corn to the mix.

Meanwhile, I chopped up my veggies: garlic, onion, green pepper, zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.

Add the onions and garlic to a pan heated with olive oil and cook until tender.  Then, add the pepper, zucchini and squash and cook until a little browned, 5-10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes along with 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a tablespoon of thyme and cover, simmering until the veggies are all tender.  Then add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  We like our food a little on the spicy side, so I added extra pepper flakes!

Serve the stew over a scoop of the quinoa mixture!  The quinoa really works nicely with the stew.  It is a much lighter dish that it would be with a rice.  Delicious!

Quinoa with Vegetable Stew

adapted from Moosewood Restaurants Low-Fat Favorites

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and add to pan with water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender and fluffy.
  2. When quinoa has cooked for about 10 minutes, stir in the corn, and continue to cook.
  3. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until the onions soften.
  4. Add the pepper, zucchini and squash; cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and thyme.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until veggies are tender.
  6. Add red pepper flakes, then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Fluff the quinoa mixture, spoon it onto individual serving plates and ladle on the vegetable stew.

Nutrition Facts: About 300 calories per serving.  9.2 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fat.

My dessert creation of the night were some delicious Almond Coconut Macaroons and Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons!  We are having some friends over for dinner this week, so I needed to try some things out.  I can’t serve just any old thing to my guests. 🙂

I got this recipe from another foodie’s blog and they came out perfectly.  Plenty of almond and coconut flavor.  I added extra sun-grained chocolate chips to the chocolate ones which makes them much more chocolaty and sinful!

I buy my raw almonds and raw coconut whole because you get more bang for your buck, so my first task was to chop them all up.  I ground up the almonds in my food processor until they were almost to a flour-like texture.  I did the same with the coconut, but made sure it had more texture.

Once chopped, I mixed all of my ingredients together and formed them into ice-cream scoop sized balls.  These are supposed to be placed in a dehydrator, but mine isn’t large enough, so instead I turned my oven on to 170°F (the lowest it will go) and “cooked” them for about 4 hours.

Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract

Double Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons

borrowed from Joggerslife.com

makes 9 macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Raw Almonds, ground (flour-style)
  • 1 Cup Raw Ground Coconut
  • 2 Medjool Dates, spun in food processor
  • 1/8 Cup Raw Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Sun-Grained Chocolate Chips

Directions for both recipes:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°F. (or use a dehydrator at 105°F for 6-8 hours)
  2. Combine all ingredients.  You’ll know it’s perfect when everything sticks together easily.
  3. Form batter into round balls, and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Allow to stay in oven for 3-4 hours, or until macaroons are firm to the touch. (mine took 4 hours)

These babies are so good.  I could eat them all day long!  They would be great topped with a little almond butter, or even broken up over some coconut ice cream!

I will be making these for family and friends in the very near future!  They just might be the 2010 Christmas cookies!  By then, maybe I’ll have a bigger dehydrator. 🙂

nutty for coconut

I was just doing some research, for my own personal benefit, and came across all of these tremendous health benefits of coconut!  I absolutely love coconut – the coconut meat, water, oil – everything about it!  And, it is all good for you!  Many people try to stay away from coconut (and do the same thing with nut butters!) because of the high fat content, however, those people are missing out on the super health benefits that this fruit (and all of it’s parts) have.

I have read about the benefits of coconut before, during my marathon training, because I had seen coconut water in the grocery store and wanted a healthier alternative to boost my electrolytes (instead of drinking gatorade) after my long runs.  I now drink coconut water multiple times per week just because I love it!

I was interested in more research on other parts of the coconut, so I began again…

I found a great website, Coconut Research Center, which highlights the importance of coconut in a diet, as well as, for medical purposes.  I read through their list of health benefits, and have included a list of 10 highlights (or benefits that stuck out to me!):

  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.

Why wouldn’t you want to eat and/or drink something that has such amazing health benefits?!

When I embarked on my healthy eating adventure, I completely replaced all bad oils in my pantry with healthier oils, such as coconut oil.  Therefore, when a recipe calls for a different type of oil, I reach for my favorite resource, Super Natural Cooking, and try to find a healthier fat to use in it’s place.  In most baking recipes, I substitute coconut oil for canola or vegetable oil.  Canola and vegetable oil are not bad to use, but coconut oil provides many more benefits to your health, and is a healthier fat.  You will see that I did not do this for all of my holiday baking!

I could go on and on with all of the articles and websites that I have read about coconut, but instead I leave you with some interesting articles on the benefits of coconut:

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Coconut Oil, Healthy Living Magazine’s Interview with Bruce Fife, CN, ND.

The Fat That Can Make You Thin, by Bruce Fife, CN, ND.

Coconut Oil, by Raymond Peat, PhD


snow & pancakes

Sunday morning we woke up to a beautiful snowfall in Southie!  We only got about 8-10 inches in Boston…it was nothing like other parts of the Northeast, but it was still beautiful!
 
Pictures of the snow on our porch! 
 
 
 
 
We decided to make a perfect ‘snowed-in’ breakfast of whole-grain pancakes with chocolate chips and raspberry syrup – YUM!  Brant whipped up the batter and the pancakes, while I worked on the raspberry syrup (and staying out of his way!).
 
Whole-Grain Pancakes (from 101cookbooks.com)
makes about 12 pancakes
  
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup natural granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 1/4 cups organic buttermilk
  • 2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
  • Stir all the ingredients until they are just combined. Don’t worry if the batter is a bit lumpy, you don’t want to over mix.
  • Heat your skillet, pan, or griddle to medium-hot and brush it with a bit of butter. Test for the right temperature. If a drop of water dropped onto the pan starts to dance, you are in the ballpark.
  • Pour about 1/3 of a cup of batter into the skillet. Wait until the pancake bottom is deep golden in color, then flip with a spatula and cook the other side until golden and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining batter.

We decided to make these pancakes extra special and add chocolate chunks to them!

Yum!

huge pancakes cooking on the skillet

flip once nice and golden brown

On to the syrup!

While Brant was cooking all of our delicious pancakes, I decided to use Heidi’s idea (from 101cookbooks.com) and make a flavored syrup.  We didn’t have blueberries like she suggessted, so instead I used some frozen raspberries we had in our freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup natural granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup real-deal, PURE, maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water

frozen raspberries

  Directions:

  •  Add 6 ounces of raspberries, 1/4 cup natural granulated sugar, 1/4 cup real deal, pure maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of water to a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then simmer for 5 or 6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and press the raspberry mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl.
  • Mash the fruit to get all the juiciness extracted.
  • Throw out the solids.

raspberries and syrup simmering on the stove

Pour syrup over pancakes and top with more raspberries and chocolate chunks.  

ready to eat!

Enjoy!

After our delicious breakfast, we ventured out to dig out our cars!  Living in Southie, people are very meticulous about their spots…and use “space savers” to save those spots when they leave!  Luckily, shovelling was not too bad this storm, and we are fully prepared with our cone!  

Having fun shovelling!

    

pumpkin pie, coconut water & stuffed peppers!

Coconut Water

I was up super early for a run this morning before work – 10 mile tempo run.  It is one of the few longer runs I have left for this training and I am psyched!  I am definitely going to miss being on a strict schedule (because I like to be on a schedule!), but it will be nice to take a few mornings off when I feel like it :-).

I am usually famished after these 10 mile runs, but before snacking I love to sip on my coconut water while I get ready for work.  I only recently discovered coconut water after I was trying to find a replacement to Gatorade.  I would rather drink something more natural, and I do not love the taste of Gatorade, but I know that I need the salt and electrolytes to replenish after the run!  I have heard such mixed reviews about the water, but personally I love it, especially when it is cold.  It doesn’t have much of a coconutty flavor, but you can taste a hint of it.  I have tried a few brands, but my absolute favorite is ONE!

IMG_0010

Yummy Coconut Water!

I had some extra time today, so I searched for articles about coconut water and found this great one that highlights all of it’s great benefits!  Check it out here.  And, some benefits from the article listed below:

  1. Keep the body cool and at the proper temperature.
  2. Orally re-hydrate your body, it is an all natural isotonic beverage.
  3. Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  4. Naturally replenish your body’s fluids after exercising.
  5. Raise your metabolism.
  6. Promote weight loss.
  7. Boost your immune system.
  8. Detoxify and fight viruses.
  9. Cleanse your digestive tract.
  10. Control diabetes.
  11. Aid your body in fighting viruses that cause the flu, herpes, and AIDS.
  12. Balance your PH and reduce risk of cancer.
  13. Treat kidney and urethral stones.
  14. Boost poor circulation.

I didn’t even know it had all of these benefits when I started drinking it, but it looks like it’s worth it for me :-)!

 

Pumpkin Pie

I guess my post for the day is a little random, but I was very excited to try out this new Seasonal Flavor yogurt from Stonyfield today!  I love the fall, and it is just not complete without some pumpkin pie!!  I decided that it would be my dessert after lunch, so I scarfed down my lunch in order to try it.

IMG_0015

Stonyfield Pumpkin Pie

Well, I was very disapointed :-(.  I thought that it tasted a little artifical and more spicey than pumpkiny and I was bummed…and felt a little silly for going balistic when I saw it at whole foods last weekend.  Oh well, live and learn.  🙂  Normally, I love Stonyfield Yogurt, so don’t get me wrong.  Their summer yogurt was strawberry lemonade and was delicious…and their Banilla (banana + vanilla) is to die for, especially in smoothies!

 

Stuffed Peppers

Dinner tonight was stuffed peppers from Everyday Food Magazine.  It was a new recipe for us, and I was so excited!!  They came out absolutely delicious and had so much flavor.  In fact, they were so good that we ate too fast before I could snap a picture!  We substituted cheddar for the provolone since that is what we had in the house.  A definite must try!

IMG_0004

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Goodnight!