Winter Citrus Salad

It’s that time of year when we crave some sunshine, warmth and summer.  At least I do.  It’s also a vital time to take in lots of vitamin C to boost our immune system and ward off funk.  I had been pondering just how to do this.  Generally during the winter I don’t crave or desire salads, but prefer something warm and comforting (without putting on extra weight in an ideal world).  I decided to do some googling to see what fruits were in season and lone behold citrus fruits are.  Bonus, I love citrus especially grapefruits and tangerines.  Mmmmm!  

I love a fresh fruity salad in the summer, it always makes me feel light and energetic.  How lovely it would be to have the same effect in winter. Though I haven’t been diagnosed, I do feel “blue” in the winter (SAD).  The days when the sun is loath to shine and the temps hardly tickle the freezing point puts me in a slump and I’d like nothing more than to sit under a huge comforter and knit.  That’s obviously not a realistic choice so I usually fight, compromise or trick myself into staying active & eating healthy with a range of strategies (motivational pics, rewards, yes, rewards, review my Why, etc).  

So here comes the salad and my hopes to pack myself full of healthy goodness and boost my spirits.

Serves 1

Vinaigrette (makes extra):

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp raw honey

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp minced fresh basil

1/8 tsp minced fresh ginger

Dash pink Himalayan salt

Pinch Chile powder

1/2 tsp minced shallot

1 Tbl roasted almonds

1/3 cup rinsed chickpeas

Organic baby spinach

1-2 tangerines

1/2 chopped red and yellow bell pepper

Whisk all of the vinaigrette ingredients together.

Place your spinach, chickpeas and pepper in a bowl.  Toss with a heaping tablespoon of vinaigrette.  Top with slices of tangerine and toasted almonds.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  Was delish with mango-peach sparkling water or a Sauvignon Blanc ūüėČ
Cheers

Sweet Potato Packet

Greetings!  I’ve been so tardy on posts and I have no excuse.  I finally had the Morton’s neuroma surgery in November and to be honest, I’ve been in a knitting and reading frenzy since. (I can’t help myself, but I’ve read about 4 books and knitted several washcloths, 3 scarves, a hat and started fingerless gloves and a crochet blanket.)  Needless to say I’ve been on a bit of a fitness hiatus due to the surgery, some very modified yoga, weights and a few short stationary sessions but that’s about it. Until a couple weeks ago; I’ve finally been able to get back into a fitness routine.  The left foot is still not 100% but it does seem to be improving.  I have a run/walk for triathlon base training this weekend and I’m excited, nervous and a smidge anxious.  This will be a big test regarding how well the surgery went as well as recovery.  Fingers crossed!  I miss that runners high, the scenery, fresh air, I don’t need to keep going.

All that being said I’ve still been on the meal plan and prep train.  I can’t function without it and I have no idea how people do! ūüėÄ. I have been in a bit of a food funk though, no big cravings for anything in particular.  I knew I wanted something with minimal prep and cooking (more time to knit, bahaha!).  I also wanted something comforting since the cold has finally befallen us this January.  It’s a whopping 3¬įF with a windchill of -5, wait, -5 isn’t as bad as I thought.  It’s still freaking cold.

All of those thoughts bring a Sweet Potato Packet to mind with portobello mushrooms, leeks, walnuts and a sprinkle of cheese.  I hope you enjoy.

Serves 1 

1 sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1 leek, sliced

4-6 mini bellas, wiped clean and sliced

2 Tbl walnuts

Shredded Gruyere cheese

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp fresh minced basil and oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes, sea salt & pepper

1Tbl extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400¬įF.  

Note on leeks (I learned this from Real Simple). To prep, slice off inedible green part and root.  Slice leeks and place in a bowl of cold water, swirl.  The sand falls to the bottom & your leeks float.  How cool is that?!  Then just strain, or I fished them out and gently squeezed to remove the water (since I’m only working with 1)

Toast your walnuts for about 3-5 min at 350, be sure not to burn.

Toss the potato, leek, bellas & spices in a bowl with the olive oil.  Be sure all of your goodies are evenly coated.

Take a piece of parchment paper approx size of a baking sheet and fold in half.  Place your veggies on the paper, top with roasted walnuts and about 2Tbl shred Gruyere.  


Fold paper over and fold all the way around.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, unwrap and enjoy!  It’s that simple!  The mushrooms are a bit roasted and the potatoes have a lovely sweet and spicy flavor (thanks to the red pepper). This paired well with white tea, carbonated water OR a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ūüėČ


Wonderful additions would include Swiss chard or baby kale.  
Cheers!

Oh my Salad!

Greetings!

Never in a million years did I ever think I would start a blog, and here I am.  It goes to show you how time and experiences change people.  My blog gives me the opportunity to talk about things I love: fitness, FOOD, knitting, outdoors, reading, pets.  I honestly think had I never became a fitness coach, I would never have started a blog.  Coaching inspired me to try new things, create new foods, and dive deeper into hobbies that I currently have.  So, life is pretty sweet!

Speaking of coaching, I am wrapping up a fun Salad Challenge that I had running on FB and wanted to end with a bang.  I saved my fave salad for last, I had previously had cranberry chickpea salad and southwest salad.
Because I’m looking forward¬†to¬†warmer temperatures, running on the trails, fishing and sitting on the back deck listening to golfers holler,¬†I whipped up a modified version of a salad I absolutely enjoy during the warm summer months.¬† It is a blend of pear, organic mixed greens, a light yet tangy vinaigrette, toasted nuts and I’ve taken it a step further to add a little extra zing to the dressing and some much needed protein.¬† FYI, when you’re seriously lifting weights, you have to be serious about getting some healthy protein or you’ll crash.¬† The original recipe came from a Cooking Light seasonal (you know, one of those $10 mini cookbooks you find seasonally in the magazine aisle as you kill time trying to find, oh wait, not really look for, your husband at the grocery store).¬† Anywho,¬†the recipe¬†totally¬†inspired me, I love fruit and toasted nuts in salads, especially in the summer months.¬† Toasting nuts brings out the extra flavor of the nut, adds warmth and texture and gives you a dose of healthy fat and a bit of protein.

Just to point out, this was the first time this vegetarian baked tofu!¬† I KNOW!¬† I can’t believe it either, and now I can’t wait until tomorrow to bake the next batch for another salad.¬† It was delish.¬† I will definitely be experimenting with that some more ūüėȬ† As you’ve probably figured out, I like to prep meals and then cook them as I need them (unless they reheat well).¬†¬†That being said, this is made for 1 person but I know you’re all¬†smart cookies and can add as needed if you’d like to make this for the family.

Tofu-Pear-Walnut Salad.
1/3 pkg extra firm organic non-gmo tofu (pressed)
1 pear, thinly sliced
2 cups roughly chopped organic mixed greens
1-2 Tbl toasted walnuts

Dressing:
1 1/2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp champagne vinegar
1 Tbl minced shallot
~1/2 tsp Dijon or spicy brown mustard
Dash pepper
Dash sea salt
Optional! ~1/4 tsp nutritional yeast

I added the nutritional yeast for funzies and it was delightful.¬† If it’s not your thing, leave it out.¬† The dressing is very nice without it.

So, let’s get cookin’!¬† To prep the tofu, I’ve gotten into the habit¬†of rinsing it with cold water, then pressing.¬† I sliced¬†the 1/3 into half, lengthwise then placed it between paper towels and put a heavy dish on top for about 15 minutes while the oven preheated to 400F.

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Mix up your dressing by adding all ingredients together and whisking.¬† Keep in mind that the shallots and seasoning will settle, so give it another whisk before you’re ready to add it¬†to the greens.

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When the oven is ready, slice your tofu into cubes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.¬† Pop it in the oven and set the timer for 20, be sure to toss the tofu about halfway through and one extra time if you’d like it to bake evenly.¬† When the timer goes off, check the tofu, if it’s golden brown and slightly poofy, it’s ready.

In the meantime, add your greens to a bowl and toss with about 1 Tbl vinaigrette.
Place your pear slices around the periphery of the plate (because it’s pretty and who doesn’t like to eat well-presented food).¬† Add your tossed greens to the center.

Toast those walnuts!¬† Place walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in a toaster oven (if you don’t have one, pop them in with the tofu).¬† The walnuts will only take a few minutes, so keep an eye.¬† I toss them after about 90 seconds, when they are fragrant, pull them or they will burn and nobody wants burned nuts!¬† Add the nuts to the salad.

When the tofu is ready, add it to your salad and grab yourself a beverage.¬† I was enjoying this for lunch, so pineapple-coconut sparkling water paired well.¬† I imagine that a nice Pinot Grigio would also pair well (ahem, I’m just kidding, I know it pairs well).¬† Enjoy!¬† This is a lovely vegetarian salad packed with healthy protein and fat.

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I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  If you do any modifications, please share!

Cheers.

P.S. My loveable rottie, The Mollinator, is woofing in her sleep at my side… ūüôā¬† there’s a cute, happy thought for ya.

Sandwich lover

My-oh-my I love sandwiches!¬† Honestly,¬†one of my favorite meals¬†is a great sandwich that is paired with a great craft beer…it doesn’t get much better than that.¬† I’m simple, I know.¬† Now that winter is upon us, though you wouldn’t know it since it’s supposed to reach 45 today in December in Wisconsin (say whaaat?), I now look¬†forward to¬†grilled/toasted sandwiches to satisfy my craving.¬† The other week vegetarian times shared¬†a grilled gouda-Portobello sandwich and I had to give it a try.¬† I applaud inspiration for new/modified recipes so, yesterday I¬†gave it a go¬†and today I modified it, to make it a little more robust, in my opinion¬†ūüėȬ† My only regret is that I’m following portion sizes to obey the rules of my current Health for the Holidays challenge, otherwise I would have probably attempted to mow down two of these delicious¬†toasted sammies.

Toasted Portobello Sammie: serves 1

Find some great Tuscan bread or whole grain bread, sliced about 1/2″ thick
Earth Balance
Ultra thin sliced Colby jack cheese
Organic Power Greens (that’s right, power greens, a mix of spinach/kale/arugula/chard, I want to hear you say GRRR when you eat them!)
2 medium sized Portobello mushrooms, rinsed and I scoop out the gills
Balsamic vinegar
Stone ground Dijon mustard

Brush balsamic on your mushrooms and bake at 350 for 14 minutes (turning halfway through).

While¬†the mushrooms¬†do their¬†thing, lightly spread Earth Balance on¬†1 side of your each slice of bread.¬† When mushrooms are ready, pull them and slice about 1/4″ thick.¬† Place 1 slice of bread (“butter” side down) in a pre-heated pan and spread mustard on the flip side, top with 1 slice cheese, greens, mushrooms, 1 slice of cheese and the other piece of bread.¬† Toast it up!¬† If you have a Panini maker, this will go much faster for you.

Now, you could go full vegan and use Daiya cheese.¬† I love vegetarian and vegan food, but prefer to tackle one new ingredient at a time and¬†for this recipe¬†that was Earth Balance.¬† I was pleasantly surprised!¬† I don’t typically use butter much anyway, but for toasted sammies you just can’t substitute with an olive oil spray, it’s not the same.¬† Also, just so you know, I substituted the earth balance in my Christmas cookies yesterday, my hubby and dad didn’t know the difference but complimented how fluffy and delicious the cookies were.¬† Was it all the earth balance?¬† Probably not, but it did seem fluffier when I was prepping the cookie dough, just sayin’.

Anywho, next time I’ll try the Daiya or if you do, please comment/share your thoughts.¬† The only thing that would have made this sandwich better would be a great beer (perhaps a Block Party amber from Karben 4) but alas, I’m still working so that’s a “no” for now.¬† I settled for a sparkling water which was honestly just as good for lunch.

I hope you enjoy.

Cheers!

 

 

Meal in 5 ingredients

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the 1st of December!¬† On the plus side I’m¬†super¬†stoked that I’ve started a new¬†Health for the Holidays challenge¬†today on Facebook.¬† I’m so excited for my challengers;, they are pumped!¬†and so am¬†I.¬† ¬†I¬† have a feeling this is going to be a great month and people are going to see some great results even with the busy holiday schedules and temptations.¬† ūüėČ

New challenges¬†inspire me to create new recipes that people can easily meal prep for busy schedules.¬† I like to experiment on myself first…obviously.¬† An inconsistent work schedule¬†is something I¬†routinely deal¬†with, I don’t have a set schedule and I’m often working out of my car.¬† So, for an added challenge, I¬†pulled ingredients¬†primarily out of my pantry to create a healthy lunch or dinner that can be made with 5 ingredients.¬† I had a can of butter beans, black olives and some organic balsamic vinaigrette around.¬†¬†Here comes a super¬†easy¬†and healthy salad, which can be modified if you’re looking for more substance or flavor.¬† I’ll include options at the end as usual.

5 Ingredient Bean Salad
Makes 3 lunches

1 can rinsed butter beans (or any white bean you like)
1/2 can black olives, halved
1 pint organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1 organic bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbl Balsamic vinaigrette

Get ready for it….¬†¬†Combine your rinsed beans, chopped bell pepper, olives and¬†tomatoes in a bowl.¬† Drizzle the balsamic over the top and lightly toss….Ta daaa!¬† I told you it was easy, then go ahead and split it into 3 meal prep containers and you have lunch or dinner on-the-go.¬† Could be heated if you like.

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There are a few options you could do to modify this into a more substantial meal, so here goes:

Add pasta, artichokes, other bell peppers, fresh basil, feta cheese to name a few.  The whole point was to keep it simple and work primarily from what I had in my pantry, but I love modifying recipes.  I hope you enjoy, and if you do modify, please share!

Cheers!