Unintentional "cooking" of my salad planned for the beach

Unintentional “cooking” of my salad planned for the beach

Super motivated on a Sunday morning to go to the beach and bring some healthy vittles to avoid a trip to the snack shack at the beach. The shack at the beach is lacking when it comes to food offerings. Overpriced frozen foods that you wait to have heated up and served to you in a paper box. The worst offender is the “pizza.”

I’m reasonably sure it is a knock off of Ellio’s pizza. No offense to Ellio’s, but, I think my parents may have served us that Ellio’s pizza a few too many times. I can barely look at it and I always thought it didn’t really taste anything like real pizza. But, I digress…

So, I got out my mandoline, “french fry cut” the yellow zucchini, orange pepper, etc. I threw all the ingredients together in Tupperware, drizzled some oil, vinegar and lemon juice and set it on ice. I was super excited to eat it while kicking back in the salt air.

After putting in my time at the shore watching three energetic boogie boarders, I finally sat down to have my salad. Took it off the ice, it was nice and cold. And then it dawned on me…I DIDN’T BRING A FORK!

Oh yeah, and the (now maligned) snack shack didn’t have any forks either! Criminy!

So, I brought the salad back with me and finally got a chance to eat it this evening. The veggies were nicely “cooked” by the citrus and vinegar, a ceviche if you will. Super crunchy and refreshing. Big on Vitamins A, C, Potassium and loads of other vitamins and antioxidants. Oh yeah, and of course low calorie.

Ingredients

1 yellow zucchini (sliced on the mandoline to look like noodles)

1 orange pepper (also sliced on the mandoline)

1/2 vidalia onion

Handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4-5 broccoli florets (only threw these in because I grew them in the garden)

1/2 cup of hearts of palm, salad cut

Herbs (Basil, Oregano, savory, thyme)

Red wine vinegar

Toasted sesame oil

Juice of half a lemon

Method

Throw all vegetables together, drizzle oil and vinegar and lemon juice over them in a tupperware. Add a few pinches of salt. Shake up the tupperware. Enjoy immediately or let stand overnight for a more crunchy/pickled version.

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Salad Nom Noms

Salad Nom Noms

I do have a garden growing in the backyard, but, the yield has been spotty at best. We are talking like one green bean per day, a few snap peas here and there, shabby chard and broccoli that flowers before I get a chance to eat it. The tomatoes are coming along, but, they are still green. Oh yeah, and peppers that are at a stand still. Honestly, I have had better luck accidentally growing peppers in the refrigerator by leaving them in the vegetable bin too long. (that phenomenon is called “internal proliferation” and for you fellow food geeks, there is an explanation of it here.

So, even though I planned on making myself some killer homegrown salads this summer, so far, not happening. Thus I settle for a “refrigerator salad.” My herbs are doing well though, so I try to treat the basil like a “green.” I do always have on hand a few salad staples and they make for a hearty, healthy side dish or as a base for some fabulous protein topping (i.e. salmon or tofu.). If you have leftover of the salad, it can be used as a stir-fry base as well.

Ingredients

1-2 handfuls Snap Peas (Blanched) (1 cup has 44 calories and 4 grams of fiber)

1-2 heads broccoli (blanched)

2 carrots (peeled/blanched)

1/2 red pepper

1/2 red onion

Basil and any other herbs hanging around

Sesame oil (only used it because I was out of olive oil)

Red wine vinegar

Himalayan sea salt to taste

Method

1. Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil.

2. Prepare an ice bath to submerge the vegetables in after boiling.

3. While waiting for the water to boil prep all vegetables.

4. Once the water is boiling, throw in the snap peas for roughly 1-1 1/2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and submerge into the ice bath.

5. Repeat with the broccoli and carrots.

6. After all the vegetables are blanched, toss everything into a bowl, drizzle with some sesame oil and red wine vinegar.

7. Add the herbs and salt to taste.

Hot night, light dinner

Start the weekend off right with a protein shake!
Coffee, whey protein, banana, and peanut butter powder (45 kcals/2 tbsp!).
Add ice and a dash of cinnamon, perfect for before or after your workout.
Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings ~200 kcals, 20g protein

Beats a bag of goldfish!

Beats a bag of goldfish!

It never fails in my house, around 8 pm, a 3 year old will be sent in by the troops (a 6 and 10 year old who are buried in Minecraft) to request a “snack.” Every night, I review the various fruits readily available on the kitchen table. For some reason, this is not the “snack” the 3 year old is looking for. He retreats. Then a 6 year old will appear. She requests a “real snack.” I ask what a “real snack” is, since stone fruits and bananas clearly don’t qualify.

Apparently a “real snack” is goldfish crackers. Or donuts. Or ice cream. REALLY? I’m not sure when the line between snacks and treats became blurred, but, there seems to no longer be a distinction.

I won’t get into my theory on how this blurring happened, but, I regard snacks as food items that you eat between meals. They are nourishing and help tide you over until the next meal. Donuts, ice cream and cookies are treats. As in, after you have eaten all of your growing foods for the day and had a good amount of physical activity TREAT yourself to something sweet. Goldfish are another issue altogether (kiddie crack anyone??)

In any event, I decided to try a compromise and go heavy on presentation of a treat, but, mostly nutritious ingredients to make a “parfait” for the Minecraft addicts. The parfaits were a hit, but, you can bet after they were eaten, the 3 year old requested “more cereal.” I guess it’s an improvement over goldfish!

Weeknight Parfait

Ingredients

1 apple pie Lara Bar (on the bottom of the cup like a crust)

1/2 cup of strawberries (cut up)

1/2 cup blueberries

Nonfat vanilla or plain yogurt (~1/2 – 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon Barbaara’s Shredded Spoonfuls (for topping)

Drizzle of Agave

Method

1. Cover the bottom of a cup or bowl with a Lara Bar (cut up or crushed).

2. Spoon a few tablespoons of yogurt on top of the bar.

3. Add strawberries and/or blueberries as the next layer.

4. Spoon a few more tablespoons of yogurt over the fruit

5. Repeat step 3

6. Spoon the rest of the yogurt over the fruit, add crushed cereal and drizzle some agave (optional)

If you’d like more information on snacks vs treats, there is a good post on the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s site worth checking out.

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A little herbal inspiration from the burgeoning herb garden inspired to this simple delicious and healthy quickie dinner. Grabbed some chives, basil, thyme, parsley and/or cilantro and pulsed it altogether with s little bit of dijon mustard and a little bit of lime juice with a splash of sesame oil in the mini Cuisinart.

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I had some scallops, not so much fresh as recently purchased in one of those shrink wrap packages from the local Korean grocery store, and maybe hanging out in my fridge just a little too long…They smelled okay though, so onward and upwards.

Made a quick marinade of sesame oil, lime juice, ginger and garlic and let the scallops hang out in there for a few minutes.

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Prior to starting the saute, also cut up some veggies as a nice accompaniment to the scallops. Peppers, onions, zucchinis, nice round circle cuts to imitate a “pasta” side dish.

After a 3-5 minute saute of the scallops, plated with a drizzle of some herbal pesto and side of veggies, totally delicious and satisfying.

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Finished product is high in protein, low in calories and off the charts in taste.

ImageOkay, I am an Elvis Costello fan and I couldn’t help myself. But, Allicin is the compound in garlic that is thought to offer several health benefits.

Anyway, I thought I was avoiding all of this flu mishegoss by taking a daily multivitamin, being stringent with my purell and alcohol swabbing of public surfaces. But, alas, I came down with a…

…stuffy nose.

When you aren’t used to having a stuffy nose, it really blows. (pun intended) No amount of saline spray or Sudafed was reducing the inflammation that was taking over my sinuses. I then remembered a cure I used back in my younger days, culled from the (sometimes) great Andrew Weill.

I can’t remember which book, I think it was Spontaneous Healing, that really pushed the garlic/ginger agenda as natural cures for inflammation even upper respiratory illnesses. I used to brew teas from fresh ginger root and eat cloves of fresh garlic to get rid of colds, etc.

These days I am hesitant to eat full cloves or garlic or raw ginger, heartburn and bad breath are a scourge of the middle aged! I have no problem adding them in generous amounts to soups and other foods though.

I came up with the following concoction which has the following ingredients:

Swiss Chard, ginger and tomato soup

Red Swiss Chard

Garlic (at least 2 cloves)

Fresh Ginger (at least a half domino size) chopped very finely

Onion (half of any onion should work)

Parsnip – 1 diced

Low Sodium vegetable broth  – 1 box

1 can crushed tomatoes

Canola Oil

Cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Tear off all of the leaves from the stems of the swiss chard. Wash well. Make use of the stems. Roughly dice them so they are no bigger than a fork size. Heat up a stock pot, once it is heated add a turn of canola oil.

Add all of the chopped garlic, ginger and onion. Saute for a few minutes. Then add the chard stems. Allow these to soften for a minute or two. Now add in the swiss chard leaves, allowing them to reduce for a a couple of minutes as well. Throw a pinch of salt in now because it helps the leaves soften quickly.

Pour in the broth and mix everything together. Allow it to come up to a simmer and then add in the can of tomatoes. At this point, throw in the parnsips because they will easily soften. Toss in some cumin or your favorite savory spice. Allow the soup to come to a boil and then lower to very low heat.

I added sriracha to this for added sinus clearing power, but, a little red wine vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice would make a great finish as well.

Results? Drastically reduced sinus pressure, less congestion and satisfying, low calorie meal!

 

 

 

 

Red peppers, carrots and green beans make this salad super crunchy

Red peppers, carrots and green beans make this salad super crunchy

One can of “hearts of palms” has 50 calories. The other ingredients are low in calories and carbohydrates, but, together they make a very hearty salad. Blanching the carrots and green beans ensures they will be super crunchy.

Dressed with some red wine vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste, you can utilize this all week. The finer the chop, the more you can dip/salsaish you can go, the bigger the chop the more you can use it as a base for other toppings. I’ll be using it tomorrow over a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with 4 ounces of leftover chicken.