Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Healthy Eating!

It's been a month since my last post - I've been getting summer ready!  Detoxing, eating healthy and working out six days a week, which means in general I prepare less complex meals and try out fewer recipes.  NOT to say that you can't make a creative and blog-worthy recipe while eating healthy!  But generally, I've been less creative and eating simple meals designed for their nutritional value over gourmet cooking.  However, I have come up with a few things I wanted to share that won't break your calorie bank!
This detox has been a bit of a challenge - I decided to cut out bread, refined flour, refined sugar, coffee, and stick to only whole grains, proteins, fruits and veggies!  After just a few days I was feeling amazing and seeing results.  After a couple weeks, I was extremely low energy, fatigued and cranky!  I definitely have had a few "cheat meals" on the weekends.  In fact it helps motivate me to keep going and hit the gym harder than ever on Monday morning.  I generally eat every 1-2 hours, so I've included everything I might normally eat in a day, in case you are looking for meal plan ideas!

Breakfast: Bananas with Quinoa
Ok, I know this doesn't sound that great.  But it's weirdly addictive!  This is something I threw together one day because I had some leftover quinoa and an old banana and I was trying to get out of my daily toast-and-peanut-butter routine.  Quinoa is a versatile grain that can go savory or sweet - I cook a whole box at once, keep it in the fridge and eat it throughout the week.  (Save yourself a hassle and buy the pre-rinsed kind! I get Ancient Harvest from the rice section at Safeway.)  A hot breakfast really fills me up before my morning trip to the gym and this has a nice sweet/earthy/crunchy combo that I enjoy much more than a plain old boring bowl of oatmeal.  Use a really ripe banana to get that delicious caramelized flavor and you will forget all about this being diet food!  Plus, it literally takes 60 seconds to prepare and I'm out the door.  It's so easy to change up depending on what you have in your fridge and pantry - try it with strawberries, blueberries, pecans, coconut, honey, agave, nutmeg, ginger, a dollop of greek yogurt... the sky's the limit!  (PS - I REALLY love the orange zest in this, but since I'm too lazy to zest a tiny bit of orange every single day, I add the zest of one or two oranges when I cook the quinoa.  It really adds a lot of flavor and it still works nicely if you're using the quinoa for savory dishes too!)

1/2 cup white or red quinoa, cooked (with orange zest, if you like)
1 splash milk (less than 1/4 cup)
1 generous sprinkle cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp)
1 very ripe banana, sliced
1 generous drizzle maple syrup (about 1 tsp)
1 generous sprinkle sliced almonds (about 1-2 tbsp)

Layer all ingredients in a bowl and heat in the microwave for about 40 seconds.  Stir and enjoy!

Cardio fuel.

Breakfast: Buckwheat Pancakes with Strawberries
This is a little more indulgent, and so tasty!  We made this over a weekend away at a cabin in the Delta and I have to say, I think I like them more than regular pancakes (don't tell my mother).  If you're in a hurry buy buckwheat pancake mix, but I like to make everything from scratch!  It's easy to double or triple, and I saved the leftover batter in my empty milk jug so I have it ready to pour.  The below will make 4-6 pancakes depending on size.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for serving
Butter, for serving

Whisk all ingredients except fruit in a large bowl.  Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium.  Chop the strawberries into small pieces and drizzle with the maple syrup.  Set aside.  When the pan is hot, melt butter in the pan and pour in batter, frying until the surface bubbles.  Flip and keep warm until ready to serve with butter and maple syrup.  Garnish with macerated strawberries.

Buckwheat, otay??

Lunch: Kamut Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Parmesan and Crispy Fried Sage
I try to eat my carbs early in the day as much as possible.  Kamut (ka-moot) spirals by Eden is a whole grain pasta I picked up at the Sacramento Co-op.  Tastes just like regular pasta, not dense or grainy, and is relatively inexpensive.  This was also a great excuse to use some of my fresh home-grown sage leaves from my new patio herb garden!  See my past recipe for butternut squash puree and just add the rest.

1 serving kamut spirals
1 cup butternut squash puree (see recipe)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 fresh sage leaves

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a small frying pan.  When hot, add the sage leaves until they cook and crisp, 30 seconds or so.  Allow to drain on a paper towel.  When pasta is cooked, toss with the puree until heated through.  Move to a serving bowl and garnish with the grated Parmesan cheese and fried sage leaves.

Mmmm carbs.

Lunch: Greek Salad
A great use for some of your leftover quinoa!  Make a big batch like this if you hate dicing veggies like I do :)

2 cups quinoa
3 tomatoes, diced small
1 cucumber, diced small
1 red onion, diced small
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup diced pepperoncinis (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fat-free feta cheese, crumbled

Mix all ingredients with the dressing.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to use.

Dinner: Salad Caprese
Another simple dish, but so good!  I started making this because my herb garden has three very productive basil plants and this is a perfect use for the fresh leaves.  Make it in advance or enjoy right away.

2 tomatoes, sliced or cut into wedges
2-3 glugs balsamic vinegar (about 2 tbsp)
2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp olive oil
Generous sprinkle of salt and pepper
Layer ingredients on sliced tomatoes, or toss wedges in a bowl so that all ingredients are evenly coated, and enjoy!

Mmmm lycopene.

Dinner: Sauteed Kale with Almonds
1 large bunch lacinto or curly kale, washed, leaves stripped from stalks and chopped
1/2 cup sliced almond or whole almonds, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
The zest and juice of one lemon

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan.  When hot, add the kale and salt and pepper and cover, tossing occasionally.  When cooked, remove to a serving dish.  Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice over top, toss again and serve.

Snack ideas between meals: 1 8 oz serving of orange juice, 1-2 bananas, 1 hard boiled egg, 1 8 oz serving Bolthouse Farms Mango Protein Plus, 1 8oz serving plain greek yogurt with honey, 1 handful unsalted nuts, 1 avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper, 1 8 oz serving lowfat cottage cheese, 1 or 2 pieces low fat string cheese, 1-2 cups fruit such as cantaloupe, strawberries or grapes, 1 sliced red bell pepper, 1 cup baby carrots with my white bean or romesco dip, 1 serving peanut or almond butter with an apple, or 2 cups salad greens lightly dressed.


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