Fettuccine with Salmon, Peas and Corn

IMG_2001Some days, I just crave salmon. I can’t explain it, really, but when I have that craving, there is nothing to do but give in and enjoy. I’ve learned to listen to my body, and when it wants protein, I usually give in. Typically, we buy locally produced seafood and meat, but salmon isn’t local to North Carolina, so I make an exception for it. We purchase wild caught salmon, not farm raised, which ups the price for dinner. So, instead of giving up on it or blowing my budget completely, I like to add it to pasta, which stretches our meal out a bit. To save money, we also bought wild salmon pieces (the leftover pieces from trimming fillets) instead of pricey steaks or fillets. Since we were cutting them up anyway, it didn’t seem worth the price to buy a larger cut.

We tend to eat pasta dishes on Fridays or Saturdays, the day or two before our long runs. In our marathon training, we are up in the 20+ miles now (when the oppressive humidity allows), so we need the carbs to help us fuel through our running schedule. We agreed that this recipe is a keeper.

This pasta dish is wonderfully satisfying. It includes wild caught salmon pieces fresh, local organic corn, which is super good right now and peas. If you thought ahead and froze spring peas, this is a terrific use for them! This dish also uses a creamy faux alfredo sauce made from cauliflower–yes, you read right. Cauliflower! This genius recipe was posted by a talented food blogger on Pinch of Yum. HERE is her recipe. It is amazingly awesome.

Fettuccine with Salmon, Peas and Corn (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 lb. organic fettuccine noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 lb. wild-caught salmon pieces, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 cups fresh, raw, organic corn (you can use frozen as well)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 recipe cauliflower alfredo sauce
  • Kosher or mineral salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Prepare the cauliflower alfredo sauce and set aside.
  2. Heat water in a stock pot for the pasta. When the water boils, add a healthy amount of salt to the water. Add the pasta and cook according to directions (about 10 minutes for fettucine).
  3. While the pasta boils, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, or until onions are soft. If onions begin to brown, turn the heat down.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
  6. Add the salmon and cook with the onions for about 4 minutes or until salmon is opaque on the outside.
  7. Add the corn, peas and cauliflower sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
  8. Heat the sauce until all is warmed through–about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet. Toss all together to combine.
  10. Serve immediately.

 

 

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Pasta with Kale, Sausage and Tomato

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It has been a long time since I’ve posted to my little blog, and much has happened to shake things up around here. First, the weather–how ridiculous has that been? I keep expecting a summer snow-nado to come barreling down my street followed by a plague of locusts. It could still happen. In the midst of crazy weather, Ellie and Tom have started softball season, which throws us all into a temporary crazy schedule. But the final, and bigger thing, is that Tom and I are training for a marathon this fall and registered for the Disney Goofy Challenge in January. Because, you know, nothing else is going on. So we need quick, easy dishes that are healthy, locally based and filling.

This dish is a very soul and tummy satisfying meal that we through together with ingredients we had on hand. You could substitute chard or spinach for the kale if you like, depending on what is in season. It freezes well, so it can be ready in a snap on those busy nights!

Pasta with Kale, Sausage and Tomato (6-8 servings)

  • 13 ounces dried tomato penne pasta (or your favorite pasta shape)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 lb. locally produced Italian sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 bunch kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Soak the tomatoes in hot water according to the directions. Drain and reserve.
  2. Bring a stock pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
  3. While water is heating, warm the olive oil in a large skillet to medium.
  4. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring well so garlic does not brown.
  5. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan and reserve.
  6. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente.
  7. While pasta is cooking, add the sausage to the pan and cook until browned with no pink remaining.
  8. Add the kale, sun dried tomatoes, onion/garlic mixture and pesto, stirring well to coat everything with pesto.
  9. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  10. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss everything well. If pasta is dry, add some of the pasta liquid to the skillet.
  11. Serve topped with grated cheese.

Running Goals and Food as Fuel

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For the past 15 years or so, I have been a casual runner, entering the occasional 5K race and always enjoying it. Last year about this time, I decided I would venture into new running territory and run in a local women’s 10K race. Why? I have no idea, but it seemed like a fun thing to do (and it was!).

Assisted by an unusually mild winter and spring (pretty much the opposite of this year), I started running regularly and using a GPS program called Run Keeper to log my mileage and time. I couldn’t believe I did it! I was beyond excited that even in the 95 degree heat, I could run a complete 10K race–the farthest I had ever run. At the race, I met a woman who, without knowing it, changed my whole year. And maybe my life. She started running later in life and together with her daughter had run many of the Disney races. She encouraged me to go for a half marathon at Disney. She said I could do it. Those words are very powerful.

At home, in a crazy fit of lord knows what (running endorphins?), I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. And signed up my husband, Tom, as well. Then I panicked. How in the world would I run 13.1 miles? Well, friends, there is nothing like investing about $3,000 in a race, hotel, airfare, etc. to help you along with a goal. I downloaded a Jeff Galloway training plan and we were on our way.

Last week, we ran our race. It was awesome. Full of Disney magic, fun, hard work, beautiful weather and personal satisfaction. While the race itself was fabulous, the journey of our training over the past 6 months was really the greatest part. I am learning to appreciate so many things about my body and to treat it well. To give it rest when needed, to strengthen its weaker parts and to feed it what it needs.

And now we have a new goal! We are signed up to run a full marathon in November and the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge in 2015. We have a long way to go to double our distance, but it will be fun trying.

Spring is a time when many of us decide to pull out our dusty running shoes and get outside. But just as important as what we wear, is what we eat. Here are some links to recipes that have worked especially well for us over the past few months. Some are meals and others are snacks/desserts. I hope you find these helpful!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Chili Lime Shrimp Salad

Clean Energy Bars

Crunch Chai Spiced Granola

Double Chocolate Raw Fudge

Fish with Tomato and Fennel

Mediterranean Shrimp and Feta

No Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

Raw Honey Almond Butter Truffles

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Eggs

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

Winter Vegetable Stir Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce

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

Summer Corn and Black Bean Salad

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When summer starts blazing with heat and humidity, I usually lose my desire to cook anything complicated. I love cold vegetable salads in the summer–their fresh flavors add a a lot to grilled foods and if you add some protein (like sustainably caught tuna), you can turn a side dish into an entrée in a snap!

I found a corn salad recipe on Pinterest recently, and it looked promising. The photos were artful and lovely and the description sounded very tasty. I made it according to the directions, and not only was it not tasty, it didn’t look anything like the photo. Grrr. This made me wonder if anyone had actually made the recipe or if they were just re-pinning a bit of food porn. Pinterest is weird like that. Also, what is up with all the processed food recipes calling themselves “Amish” recipes? Pretty sure Amish people don’t eat cheese spread and Nutella. Just sayin’.

Once I found myself with a sub-par recipe, I re-assessed the situation, and came up with a plan to fix the salad. This is what I ended up with. The photo may not be beautiful, but the flavors are, and I vouch for the recipe because I actually did make it and eat it myself!

To update you, I finished my first 10K race, the Athleta Esprit de She, in the blazing heat and had such a great time, even if my time wasn’t great. It was wonderful to run with a group of women–what terrific, positive energy! I met some wonderful people, including a lovely lady named Pam, who encouraged me to run the Disney races. At 59, she has been running for 3 years, and has finished 8 half marathons with her daughter. Her blog, We Run Disney, is HERE if you want to check it out! As I close in on 50, I have been really giving a lot of thought to what I want to accomplish before that milestone. Pam was so friendly and encouraging, that I emailed her for more info. and now, I have set a new goal–Tom and I are going to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2014! Yes, yes, you wonder how Tom qualifies as a “princess”. Turns out, princes can run with a qualifying princess, so now our decision is what kind of matching costumes to wear (Tom would vote for “no costume,” but what fun is that?). And at some point soon, we will start training. Fun!

Salads like this will help us train in the sweltering months ahead! You can make this full recipe or divide everything in half for a smaller amount. Either way, it’s all good!

Summer Corn and Black Bean Salad (makes about 8 servings)

  • 4 ears of organic corn
  • 2 cans organic black beans
  • 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped chili peppers (I used 1/2 can of roasted Hatch New Mexican peppers)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook corn in your preferred method. I leave the cobs wrapped in the husks, cut the bottom inch off and microwave the cobs two at a time for 3 minutes. Let the cobs cool a bit, then grab the tops of the husk and silk and push the cob out the bottom. You should end up with one naked cob and a handful of husk and silk.
  2. Using a sharp knife or a scraper, remove the corn kernels from the cobs and put in a bowl.
  3. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the bowl.
  4. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Add to the bowl.
  5. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over the vegetables and mix well.
  6. Cut up the avocado (or mash like guacamole) and fold into the vegetable mixture.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. Serve chilled.
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