Protein Recovery Smoothie

  After a long run or intense training, I’m usually pretty hungry, but also pretty lazy. I don’t want to cook anything and sometimes even a sandwich just seems to take too much effort. I started making these delicious protein smoothies and they fit my post-run needs perfectly: they are easy, quick, delicious, and healthy. With no mystery ingredients or preservatives, these smoothies taste like a chocolate milkshake (more like a Wendy’s frosty), but fit into a clean eating diet. Win-win!

Full disclosure: Learn from my unfortunate experience. Bananas can have a laxative effect on some athletes. If your tummy is sensitive to banana (mine definitely is) have this AFTER your workout, not before 🙂

Speaking of bananas, I freeze my bananas in little bags and use them in smoothies right from the freezer. This prevents me from finding gross, rotten bananas in my fruit bowl and they thicken the smoothie more if they are frozen. If you don’t have any bananas frozen, just use a room temperature banana and maybe add a little more ice. No big deal.

Raw cacao is an incredibly healthy, minimally processed cocoa powder that retains its antioxidant properties because it is not heat processed. It is more expensive than regular Dutch processed cocoa powder, but it has an amazing, rich chocolate flavor without bitterness. Worth the extra pennies, but you can use other unsweetened cocoa powder as well if that is what you have.

Enjoy these warm, summer months, but keep yourself hydrated and your body fed!

Protein Recovery Smoothie (makes 1-2 servings, depending on how hungry you are!)

  • 1 peeled banana, frozen
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of organic peanut butter (any nut butter will work)
  • 1 tablespoon raw, hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic, raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup organic rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1-1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately with a straw or a spoon.
  4. Enjoy!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

20140130-090322.jpg

Are you sick of winter? Our winter here in NC has been pretty mild, but that point from late January to late February is a big ol’ grumpy time for me. Much of the northeast is seeing record snowfall, and for me at least, that means oatmeal. Not those dusty packets of super sweet instant oats, but rich, hearty toasted oats. Toasted oats? Yes, indeed!

Sometimes I read foodie articles and marvel at my own lack of creativity or insight. I read an article recently that revolutionized my oatmeal making, and I kept thinking, “why didn’t this occur to me?”. The article asked why, when we toast rice and other grains prior to cooking, we don’t ever toast our steel cut oats before making oatmeal. Toasting brings out wonderful flavor in nuts and grains–what would risotto be if we didn’t toast the arborio rice prior to adding the stock? I know right?

I decided a dark, cold, rainy morning was a good time to experiment with this technique. I don’t think I will ever make oatmeal another way again. Oh. My. Goodness. Toasting the steel cut oats gives the oatmeal an amazing depth of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. And since grumpy winter mornings call for going a little over the top with our breakfast, I added some cinnamon and almond butter to the oatmeal for a protein-packed, super healthy start to the day. This is crazy delicious. I want to eat this all the time.

So go ahead, toast your oats! Let me know what you think. I think you will never look at oatmeal the same way again!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter per serving
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of kosher or sea salt
  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and just foamy.
  2. Add the oats and stir well. Continue to cook the oats, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The oats should darken slightly and give off a wonderful, nutty aroma.
  3. Add the water and continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is to your desired consistency (I like mine very thick, so I cooked it for 40 minutes).
  4. Plate the oatmeal in serving bowls or mugs. Add one tablespoon of almond butter, a little pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze the oatmeal in greased muffin tins, giving you servings ready to heat in the morning. Also, this oatmeal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Scrambled Duck Egg Burrito

IMG_2037Duck eggs. Have you tried them? They are pretty awesome. It took me a while to work up to duck eggs. I mean, the chicken eggs I buy from farmers seemed so wonderful–why mess with a good thing? I decided to take the plunge at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and I may never go back.

Why?

Duck eggs are like chicken eggs times two. They have very large, orange yolks and are much richer in taste than chicken eggs. I love them scrambled or fried sunny side up, but they are also terrific in baked goods. Nutritionally, they have more omega 3 fatty acids and almost double the protein of chicken eggs. They also have more fat and calories than chicken eggs, so if you are watching your weight carefully, you’ll want to be mindful of that.

This recipe is a simple way to make the most of the flavor of duck eggs with very little added. I love this recipe for a quick breakfast or lunch, especially when I am craving protein. Of course, you can do this exact recipe with chicken eggs–just make sure they are good quality eggs!

Scrambled Duck Egg Burrito (serves 1)

  • Coconut oil cooking spray or 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 small, whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 duck eggs
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. queso fresco
  • 1 teaspoon salsa
  1. Heat a small skillet sprayed or lightly coated with coconut oil over medium low heat.
  2. When pan is warm, add the tortilla and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip and warm the second side for another minute. Remove the tortilla to a plate and set aside
  3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and use a fork to scramble the egg whites and yolks.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pan and use the fork to keep the eggs moving in the pan. Cook eggs until opaque and just barely cooked–about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top the tortilla with the egg.
  6. Crumble the queso fresco onto the egg.
  7. Top with salsa. Roll the burrito and serve immediately.

 

 

Eggs in Purgatory

IMG_1999It’s been a long, crazy summer for us, and I am finally getting back to posting. Actually, I’m finally getting back to cooking, which means I finally have something (anything) to post!!! I feel as though I am emerging from a period of great darkness, into a beautiful sunshine-y day. So, cheers to new beginnings, great friends and daily miracles. Speaking of miracles, this has been an amazing summer for tomatoes in North Carolina. We’ve had plenty of rain (but not too much), lots of sun and warm (but not scorching) temperatures. Tomatoes are rocking our world this summer!

If you check the popular lists of superfoods out on the internet, you may not find tomatoes on the list, but they should definitely be there. Chock full of vitamins and lycopene, tomatoes are little powerhouses. What is lycopene? Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family and may help protect the body from prostate and breast cancers as well as protect the blood vessels around the heart. While lycopene can be taken in pill form, it is most highly effective when eaten in cooked tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes breaks down the plant fiber and releases lycopene in a form more easily absorbed by the body.

This dish is pure, summer simpleness, although it does involve turning on the stove–not my favorite thing in the hot summer–but it is worth heating up the kitchen a bit. The tomatoes, zucchini and onions are stewed down until very thick, then topped with eggs, covered and simmered until the eggs are done to your liking. Voila! Totally good for you, with a bit of protein and a hit of spicy.

This version is a takeoff of an Italian breakfast dish and the “purgatory” in this case comes from red pepper flakes and sriracha chili sauce. This combination of tomato and eggs, however, has variations in Middle Eastern, Jewish and Chinese cooking as well, so it has been around (and loved) for a very long time. We had this for supper and it was delicious. You could add other vegetables as you like and experiment with new combinations that work for you! I want to try this with some freshly roasted red sweet peppers for more of a smoky flavor!

Eggs in Purgatory (serves 2-3)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 small, fresh zucchini, washed and diced
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce or harrisa (optional)
  • 4-6 fresh farm eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh ciabatta or other good quality bread
  1. In a large, deep saute pan or non-cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 5-6 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan, stir well, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Check on the tomatoes frequently. If they are scorching, turn the heat down to medium low and continue to simmer.
  5. Add the diced zucchini, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir well and simmer for about 15-25 minutes or until most of the liquid from the pan has evaporated. This could take longer depending on the heat of your stove, your pan, and the amount of water in the tomatoes.
  6. Drizzle the tomato mixture with the sriracha, add chopped, fresh basil and stir.
  7. When the mixture is very thick, use a spoon to make 4-6 small nests in the tomatoes. Crack one egg into each nest, cover the pan and simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
  8. Check for seasonings and serve immediately topped with cheese and with warm bread on the side for dunking!

 

Breakfast Toasts

20140304-103451.jpg

I have been wanting to try these high protein breakfast toasts for some time now, but it’s a delicate balance with avocados. You have to plan your meals around when they are ready, and for some reason, this has rarely coincided with when I have extra time in the morning. One silver lining of yet another snow day is that we had a relaxing morning to experiment with some new breakfast dishes.

I think I am in love with this breakfast. Eggs are by far and away one of my favorite breakfast foods (they run a close popularity race with steel cut oats), and the pairing of scrambled eggs and avocado is pretty magical. I had my toasts fairly pure–just sprouted grain toast, mashed avocado and scrambled egg–but you could easily go crazy with this by adding bacon, crispy prosciutto, smoked salmon, a bit of salsa, cheese or whatever you happen to be craving in the morning.

Total assembly time was 15 minutes, so they don’t take long to prepare and clean up is fairly quick as well. I ate both toasts for breakfast because I was feeling pretty hungry, but on a normal morning, one would probably be enough. I would gladly have this for dinner, too, especially on nights when I am a bit rushed!

Using this recipe, each toast has 311 calories, 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Using regular bread or adding extras on top will change the nutritional value slightly.

Breakfast Toasts (makes two open-face toasts)

  • 2 slices organic sprouted grain bread (I used Ezekiel sesame bread)
  • 1 ripe, organic avocado
  • 2 fresh farm eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Toast the bread to your liking (I tend to like it crispy). Set aside.
  2. Remove the pit from the avocado and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Mash it well with the back of a fork.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk the two eggs. Cook in a small, non-stick pan over medium heat. I like them scrambled, but you could make them over-easy or fried as well.
  4. Assemble the toasts by spreading the mashed avocado onto each toast. Top with the scrambled egg. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and/or pepper, if you like.
  5. Serve immediately.

Steel Cut Oats and Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Traditional 28-ounce tin of McCann's Steel Cut...

I love to run. And that’s really pretty funny because I’m not very fast or agile.

Growing up, I never ran and wasn’t even athletic. I was the “creative” one, and somehow that excused me from participating in sports. When I was about 30, a friend loaned me a book that changed how I viewed running. The book was The Courage to Start, and it detailed the progress of John Bingham from heavy, smoking, drinking, middle age dude to svelte, non-smoking, still slow-as-molasses runner. I wasn’t in terrible shape when I started running, but it was comforting to have someone tell me it was ok to be the penguin, not the gazelle.

It sounds silly now, but growing up, it never occurred to me that you could be athletic and not be consumed with competition. Or with being super fast. I always assumed people ran because they wanted to be faster than everyone else, not because they wanted to feel good or to challenge themselves to just be better than yesterday.  I loved that book, and it encouraged me to find a love of running and an appreciation for what my body can do and not be critical of what it can’t. I will never be a gazelle, but I can be the penguin who is thankful for every day that my legs and lungs are strong enough to see me through.

Tom and I started training for a half marathon last fall, and we will run our big race at Disney in a couple of weeks! Our long runs are now at 15 miles and we are setting our sites even higher! Last week, we registered for the City of Oaks Marathon in November. Really, every time I write or say that, I kind of freak out a little.

Here’s the thing about running. Running makes me hungry, and when I bump up my mileage, I become voracious. But if I eat what I feel like eating, I will be way less of a gazelle and more like a sloth. One of my favorite fill ‘er up foods is steel cut oatmeal.  If you haven’t tried steel cut oats and you think you don’t like oatmeal, I’d encourage you to try it. It’s a whole different animal from those paper packets of highly sugared, processed oats. Steel cut oats are very high in fiber, higher in protein and high in iron. In fact, I don’t know why Popeye wasn’t eating oats, because they have more iron than spinach!

Steel cut oats take longer to make (about 30 minutes) and that can be daunting when you’re hungry and tired. They are, however, a great make-ahead dish. I like to make a batch, pop it in the fridge and heat up single servings in the microwave as I need it. Also, steel cut oats can be made in a crock pot overnight, so you’ll have hot oatmeal first thing in the morning. Easy peasy.

Think oats are boring? Add dried cranberries or any other dried fruit and maybe even a tablespoon of brown sugar. Or maple syrup. Or chopped nuts. My favorite is dried cranberry, pecan and brown sugar. The trick is to keep the sugar to a minimum.

So fuel up, get outside and have fun! The recipe below is for basic steel cut oats and here are some links to my favorite add-ins!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal

Banana Pudding Refrigerator Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oatmeal (stovetop)

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • dried cranberries, chopped pecans, brown sugar, whatever makes you happy
  1. Combine oats and water in a small pot and heat to boiling.
  2. Boil oats for about 1 minute and turn the heat down to medium. Stir.
  3. Cook oats on medium for about 30 minutes or until it is very thick like porridge. Stir frequently to keep from sticking to pot.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.

Steel Cut Oatmeal (crock pot)

Note: you will need to experiment with your slow cooker to see what setting works best. For mine, the low setting was still too high, but the “keep warm” setting works like a charm.

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream
  1. Add all ingredients into crock pot.
  2. Cover and heat on low or warm.
  3. Cook for 7-8 hours
  4. Ladle into bowls and add your favorite toppings

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

20140130-090322.jpg

Sometimes I read foodie articles and marvel at my own lack of creativity or insight. I read an article recently that revolutionized my oatmeal making, and I kept thinking, “why didn’t this occur to me?”. The article asked why, when we toast rice and other grains prior to cooking, we don’t ever toast our oats before making oatmeal. Toasting brings out wonderful flavor in nuts and grains–what would risotto be if we didn’t toast the arborio rice prior to adding the stock? I know right?

So since we have had three snow days in a row (rare here in North Carolina), I decided a lazy morning was a good time to experiment with this technique. I don’t think I will ever make oatmeal another way again. Oh. My. Goodness. Toasting the steel cut oats gives the oatmeal an amazing depth of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. And since snow days are mornings where we go a little over the top with our breakfast, I added some cinnamon and almond butter to the oatmeal for a protein-packed, super healthy start to the day. This is crazy delicious. I want to eat this all the time.

So go ahead, toast your oats! Let me know what you think. I think you will never look at oatmeal the same way again!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter per serving
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Pinch of kosheror sea salt
  1. In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted and just foamy.
  2. Add the oats and stir well. Continue to cook the oats, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The oats should darken slightly and give off a wonderful, nutty aroma.
  3. Add the water and continue cooking and stirring for about 30 minutes or until the oatmeal is to your desired consistency (I like mine very thick, so I cooked it for 40 minutes).
  4. Plate the oatmeal in serving bowls or mugs. Add one tablespoon of almond butter, a little pinch of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Stir and serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze the oatmeal in greased muffin tins, giving you servings ready to heat in the morning. Also, this oatmeal will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Superfood Breakfast Smoothie

20131119-085040.jpg

Game on, breakfast! We’ve been working to perfect our morning smoothies to enhance their nutrition density and help us fuel up for our long runs. By George, I think we’ve got it! This smoothie has the taste and texture of ice cream with just a few healthy ingredients, plus the added benefits of maca powder and chia seeds–two superfoods that help with hydration, stamina and hormonal balance. Did I mention it tastes like ice cream? Yep. For breakfast. Seriously, we eat our smoothies with a spoon, they are so thick and ice cream-y.

These smoothies feature two superfoods–maca powder and chia seeds. Here’s a bit of information on each:

Maca Powder

This is our first attempt at using maca powder as a nutritional supplement. Maca powder is an Incan superfood sourced from a root grown in the Andes mountains of Peru. It is known to be high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12. Maca also contains two essential fatty acids and is very high in fiber. Apparently, maca powder stimulates the endocrine system, which controls hormones, and it is thought to be a good hormone regulator for both men and women. Initial studies indicate that taking regular, small doses of maca powder can help significantly with hot flashes and hormonal fluctuations experienced in early menopause. There are also legendary stories about maca’s effect on the virility of men, but these have not been found to be true in scientific studies.

To be eaten, maca powder really needs to be mixed with something. I tried tasting it by itself and…well…it tastes like a dried root would taste. In the smoothies, though, you can’t taste it at all, so that’s an easy solution!

I can say that for me, I noticed a substantial increase in energy after my first smoothie with the maca powder. Rather than inheriting some Incan super power, I think I may be low in my B vitamins, but whatever works! I notice that I definitely have more energy in the morning and have cut back my caffeine consumption considerably. Maca is a keeper!

Chia Seeds

I’ve posted about chia seeds before with our chia pudding experiments this summer. Chia seeds are pretty incredible. They have tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. And they absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid, making them wonderful for folks trying to stay hydrated. I’ve never noticed any immediate improvement in my health or well-being when taking chia seeds, but I definitely feel fuller for longer after eating anything with chia in it.

We’re adding chia seeds to our smoothies to add some protein and help us stay hydrated as we add miles to our runs. If you are exercising a great deal, hydration begins before your workout. Like, days before. I’m pretty terrible about remembering to drink water, but I am trying to be more mindful (an alert on my phone helps). And staying hydrated helps keep your skin healthy looking and clear as well!

Here is our recipe for Superfood Smoothies. You could easily add spinach, kale or other greens and change it up the way you like! The goal is to use frozen fruit to get that thick, ice cream like texture. The yogurt adds protein and some thickness, which I like, but you could leave it out with no problem.

Superfood Breakfast Smoothies (makes 2 smoothies)

  • 3 cups frozen fruit (we use a combination of mango and berries)
  • 4-6 ounces yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of organic, raw, maca powder
  • 1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds
  • 2 cups organic, unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  1. Put all ingredients in a high powered blender (Vitamix or Nutribullet work well).
  2. Blend on low, then switch to high until all fruit is pulverized and incorporated and the mixture is thick, like ice cream.
  3. Serve immediately.

Spicy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal

20131119-083433.jpg

I love steel cut oats on a chilly morning and I really love chocolate. This spicy chocolate pecan oatmeal tastes decadent, but is actually super healthy. You could leave out the maple syrup for an even healthier version. We used raw cacao powder, which I like better than processed cocoa because it has so many antioxidants and a richer taste.

Spicy Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 1cup steel cut oats
  • 4 cups organic, vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw, organic cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried, ground cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon dried cayenne powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  1. Add the first 5 ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker. Stir well.
  2. Cook on the lowest setting (I use the “keep warm” setting on mine), cook oatmeal 7 hours or overnight.
  3. Stir well (the cacao may rise to the top– just stir it back in) and add additional almond milk if the oatmeal is too dry.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Great Green Smoothies

20131113-153302.jpg

It has taken me a while to try the veggie smoothie. Maybe it’s the green color or the fear of new things or maybe it was the kale, but I was a little skeptical that a veggie smoothie would taste good.  I held off making them for months, all the while checking Pinterest for green smoothie recipes. Now I wonder why on earth I didn’t give it a go sooner.

These smoothies are not sweet like their fruity cousins, but they have a fresh, clean flavor that is wonderful and energizing. We are experimenting with different flavors to find a balance that is sweet enough for Ellie, but not all fruit. I’ll post our successful recipes here, so check back! One reason I like the blended smoothie over a juiced variety, is that I still have all the fiber in the vegetables and their skins–it really does keep me full a long time.

The texture of these smoothies is very thick, and they are best enjoyed through a straw unless you like a nice, green mustache. We found these great, compostable straws at Whole Foods!

Great Green Smoothies (makes one smoothie)

  • 2 organic apples, washed, cored and cut into 6-8 pieces each
  • 2 stalks organic celery, washed and trimmed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 organic cucumber, washed (not peeled)
  • 1 large handful organic baby spinach, washed
  • 1 tablespoon organic maca root powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender.
  2. Blend on high until all the ingredients are pureed.
  3. Serve chilled or over ice.
%d bloggers like this: