Friday, October 14, 2011

Roasted Pears with Balsamic Glaze

Sorry for the lack of picture with this one! As I'd mentioned in my Sunday Dinners post, these were just fun get-togethers with friends, so we weren't all that strict with taking photos of all our food, or even remembering which recipes we used!

Fortunately for you (and us, so we can re-create it!), I did jot down the recipe we used for this delicious dessert. It's actually pretty simple to make, and fairly healthy as far as desserts go! And it should be, seeing as we got the recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook! In any case, it's a nice, light dessert for when you want something sweet and slightly rich after a meal :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

North African Chickpea & Vegetable Tagine

Here, I present you with the tagine recipe we made at last week's Sunday dinner! We borrowed the recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook, but with a few variations:
  • We doubled the recipe. Both her husband and I are fairly heavy eaters, and her college best friend was also visiting from London, so we had company!
  • My friend accidentally picked up chicken broth instead of veggie broth. With two vegetarians as the table (myself included), I rejected the idea of adding this. Instead, I added an equivalent amount of water, along with a tablespoon of tomato paste and some salt & pepper. The dish was really good, so that's a WIN!
  • We added some chopped portobello mushrooms, just because my friend had some and wanted to use it up.
  • We used quinoa instead of coucous because the nutrition profile was better.
  • We skipped the pistachios because my friend didn't want them, but totally forgot to add the mint (we noticed this after dinner, as the chopped mint was still on the chopping board. Oops.) 
The dish ended up being delicious, and my friend's big, meat-eating, tomato-hating husband approved of it! Definitely a good recipe in my book :) Next time, I may just use the tomato paste method instead of veggie broth since it turned out so well. I also like the addition of the portobellos and the replacement of the couscous with quinoa. I might leave out, or reduce the amount of zucchini/squash; or perhaps just pick smaller ones, since they didn't add all that much to the dish. I will definitely do the mint and pistachios next time, just to see how it would change the flavor of the dish. Also, doubling the recipe yields a LOT of food. Next time, a single recipe is probably good enough for 4, especially when served with a starter salad and dessert ;-)

North African Chickpea & Vegetable Tagine
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound), chopped
2 large carrots, cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
1 (14.5 ounce) can reduced sodium vegetable broth
2 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 cups hot cooked whole wheat couscous (we used quinoa)

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir zucchini into skillet; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer tagine to serving bowl; sprinkle with pistachios and mint. Serve over couscous.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spinach Poppyseed Salad

Originally a strawberry spinach salad, this salad has seen various incarnations in my own hands, as well as during our Sunday Dinner series. I'd originally gotten the idea to create this salad when I worked at the Medical District and would frequent The Original Ferrarra Bakery for lunch. It is somewhat of a misnomer; though they are definitely still a bakery with a long history, they have also opened up a restaurant which is very popular among those that live and work nearby.

One of my favorite things to get was their strawberry spinach salad. It featured the obvious strawberries and spinach, as well as a generous serving of gorgonzola, pecans, and a poppyseed dressing. I haven't yet figured out how to replicate their dressing, so I usually just buy mine at the store... but that could be another challenge in the future!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Precision Nutrition

Before I start posting the recipes to this week's Sunday dinner, I wanted to talk a little more about the plan I'm following. I've been trying to make sure I'm being compliant with the Precision Nutrition guidelines in addition to following the exercise program. So all the recipes I chose are should fit, I think (hey, I'm just learning!) One thing I like about the program is that it stresses that at first, you just have to *try* to follow the guidelines. If you're not exactly sure, that's ok, since the idea is that you're easing yourself into it, and at least you're becoming *more* compliant that you were before reading the book and starting the plan!

The thing I like the most about Precision Nutrition is that it also give exercise recommendations based on your goals. So it really is a complete system! Since I'm trying to lose fat, I'm following the month-long Woman's Guide to Body Transformation. Since this is a food blog, I won't go into too much details about the workout program (I'll save that for my training blog). But it does go a little bit into detail about the Precision Nutrition system, way at the bottom of the guide where it talks about the nutrition portion of the body transformation program.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunday Dinners

A good friend of mine recently got married and has since developed an interest in learning how to cook good, healthy meals. Prior to getting married, she often ate out, ordered in, or resorted to boxed prepackaged microwavable meals. As a fun thing to do together, she has enlisted me into cooking with her from time to time, usually once or twice a month. We generally pore over recipes, decide on a menu, go grocery shopping, and then prepare our home-cooked meal for her husband and any other friends we invite over for the evening. It's definitely a fun way to hang out on a Sunday afternoon/evening!

It occurred to me that all this time, I should have been blogging about our creations! So as part of my holiday challenge, I'll start posting pictures & recipes of our dinners, especially the ones that turned out particularly well and/or those that fit within my Precision Nutrition diet standards! This week, our dinner consisted of a spinach salad, a chickpea and vegetable tagine, and roasted poached pears with a balsamic glaze.

I'll post recipes for the dishes we did this week, as well as some of the recipes we'd done before, if I can find them ;-) If I can't, I'll just post pictures, and we'll all just WISH I remembered how to make them again :-P Though, please excuse the picture quality, as most of these Sunday dinner pictures were taken on my iPhone!

Stay tuned for this week's recipes!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grocery Shopping!!

Ok, I'm a huge nerd. One of my favorite things to do when starting a new diet is to go grocery shopping! It makes me feel pretty empowered to stay on track-- since I already bought the food, I may as well eat it!

I've complied a list of my favorite things to buy while dieting. Obviously, I also have condiments and spices in my kitchen, but these are the items that I make sure to keep re-stocking on a regular basis. Most of the stuff on Berardi's Precision Nutrition Superfood list are already on the grocery list, so yay me! I must be doing something right ;-)

- Omega-3 Eggs
- Egg whites or Egg Beaters
- Greek Yogurt, Friendship Whipped Cottage Cheese
- Tempeh, Tofu, Seitan (especially Field Roast & Uptons Naturals)
- Beans (black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo)

Fruits & Veggies
- Dark, Leafy Greens (spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens mustard greens, etc)
- Lettuce (usually mesclun, though sometimes butter or bibb)
- Tomatoes
- Red, Yellow, or Green Peppers
- Broccoli/ Cabbage/ Cauliflower/ Carrots
- Berries
- Citrus fruits

- Olive oil, grapeseed oil
- Avocados
- Flax Seeds
- Nuts, Nut butters

Pantry Staples
- Cocoa powder, coffee, dark chocolate
- All-fruit spread, honey, raw sugar, maple syrup
- Quinoa, steel cut oats, rolled oats
- Whey protein

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Different Kind of Holiday Challenge for 2011

Hey, loyal readers! If you're still out there, sorry for the absence! I'd totally meant to pick up where I left off blogging about my trip to New Orleans last February, but got a bit sidetracked with life in the process :( Now it's October, and I've realized that my New Year's Resolutions have gone the way of most: uncompleted!

To be fair, I'd been battling a running injury which actually turned out to be a biking injury that manifests only while running. So while I'd thought I was resting it and letting it heal by not running and biking instead, I was actually making it worse! By the time I'd realized what was happening, half the season was over, my injury had gotten progressively worse, and I was barely running at all. A whole lot of yoga and massages later, it's still not 100% better, but signs are improving, as I did a 6-mile run last weekend- my longest run since June!

Since my New Year's Resolution will not come to fruition for the first time in 5 years, I decided to challenge two friends to a different kind of Holiday Challenge.... A diet and fitness challenge!

My personal challenge is to lose 7% body fat by New Year's Eve, which comes out to about a half a percent a week. I started last week, and I've already lost 0.6%, according to my Omron Body Fat monitor! I plan on posting the trials and tribulations of my food journey here in this blog, while recounting my exercise adventures in my training blog.

As a guideline to what I'll be eating, I'm planning on using the plant-based version of Precision Nutrition to plan my meals and help me get leaner. I'm looking forward to trying it out and blogging about my journey this holiday season!

Related post cross-posted in my training blog.