Archive for ‘Cooking’

April 9, 2015

Passover Running and a Squeaky Toe

The past few weeks have been a blur of deadlines, lots of training, and totally inadequate sleep.  By last Wednesday the cracks were starting to appear and I was starting to feel the warning signs of overtraining.  We were headed to Balitmore on Thursday to spend Passover with the Caveboy’s family, so I was looking forward to catching up on some sleep and having a good excuse to back off the 2-a-days.  We had a lovely holiday, but between the cooking and Seders I’m pretty sure I ended up more sleep-deprived that before.  I did manage to get some good runs, though possibly a little too good.

I’ve nearly eliminated easy runs from my schedule to make room for the biking and swimming, and the result has been that I’m now finding pacing much more difficult when I do have an easy day.  I went out for a 6-miler on Friday and a 7 on Saturday with the intention of keeping my heart rate down and running 9:30-10 minute pace.  The neighborhood around the Caveboy’s home is relentlessly rolling, though, and I found myself continually charging up hills, realizing it, and then trying to bring the pace down on the downhills, which never works.  On Sunday I had semi-tired legs and 12 miles at 8:13 pace on the schedule.  It was one of those days where I really wanted to have done my run, but not to actually do it.  For starters, nutrition was a challenge since most of my usual pre-run foods were not kosher for Passover.  While avoiding leavened bread and corn syrup has never been a major issue for me, we also further distinguish Passover meals from the rest of the year by preparing food with separate dishes and utensils.  That means no blender for smoothies, no GU’s, and no Accelerade.  I was hoping to scrounge up some honey packets, but had no success, so I ended up slicing up an orange, putting it in a zip-loc, and smooshing it into my running belt.  To quote Eric Cartman, “Now that’s what I call a sticky situation.”   I didn’t want to stray too far from the Caveboy’s, so I mapped out an annoying multi-loop neighborhood route which would at least avoid any major traffic.  It was overcast and windy and the loop turned out to be even hillier than I’d imagined.  According to the Garmin data, I had two climbs at 5%, and 1,100 feet of gain.  I had to do one section of it three times, which was demoralizing since I knew after the first one exactly how much it sucked.  Since the route was continuously up and down I tried not to look at the Garmin pace too much and just go by feel.  I spent most of the last loop telling myself to pull up my big girl tights and just get it done, which I eventually did.  The verdict was an average 8:14 split, with which I was pretty damn pleased.

I had noticed a weird sensation in the tendon in my big toe the day before, and after the long run I tried to figure out what was going on.  It didn’t hurt, but it felt like the tendon was sliding against something.  When I moved it I could feel friction and it was actually making a squeaking sound.  A visit to Dr. Google determined that this is actually a thing—it’s likely a form of tendonitis in which the sheath rather than the tendon itself is inflamed.  Dr. Google further recommended RICE, which was fine since I wasn’t planning to run on Monday anyway.  By Tuesday morning it was no longer squeaky, so I went ahead with my 5x1K intervals as planned.  Sure enough, post-run the squeak was back.  My initial instinct was to push through the rest of the week’s runs as scheduled since next week will be a taper before the More Women’s Half, but I may actually be getting smarter, because I reconsidered.  The half next week is not an A race, or really even a B race.  It’s too close to the NYC half to be much of a data point, and I’m doing it solely to get my 9 NYRR races in this year.  Risking injury to get a few more training runs in for a race that doesn’t matter is stupid.  I scrapped my Thursday tempo run in favor of a bike tempo, and may skip the 8-mile “long” run this weekend too.  I have a 4-mile race (again for my NYRR 9) on Sunday, but I will probably avoid additional running unless all systems are go.

 

On the Passover fueling front, when we got back from Baltimore this weekend I made a batch of my Passover-approved Caffeinated Quinoa, which has been my pre-workout breakfast all week.

 

Caffeinated Quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup strong black coffee

1 cup quinoa

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cocoa

½ tsp salt

 

  1. Combine water, coffee, salt, and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed. (The quinoa is ready when the curlicues are visible.)
  3. Stir in cinnamon and cocoa.

 

Serve, or refrigerate for later.  Stir in milk, almond butter, nuts, dried fruit, etc if desired.

 

December 8, 2014

Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Harvest Salad
I call this my “harvest” salad in part because it’s seasonal, but mostly because it’s my go-to meal for using up leftovers.  I seem to make one of these for dinner once a week, and it’s a perfect (and fast) post-workout lunch on the weekend.  The bulk of the kale and the fact that it’s warm make it hearty while still being light, and the flavor profile options are endless.  For the one I made yesterday, I used leftover roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts that I had in the freezer, along with some butternut squash I had cubed and roasted the day before.  I was also having a bowl of my Turkey Bone Broth Soup, so I didn’t add protein to the salad, but I often thrown in leftover chicken or open a can of smoked trout.

My current favorite combos are:

Chicken or tempeh with peppers, onions, and chipotle seasoning

Chicken or turkey with roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and curry

Sliced beef steaks with Brussels sprouts and sweet potato

 

IMG_2217

 

Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Total Time: 10 minutes

Active Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 salad

Ingredients

Base:

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

2 cups curly kale, stems removed

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tsp tarragon vinegar or acid of choice

salt and pepper to taste

Additional spices depending on combo below – curry, chipotle, etc.

Veggies:

1 -1 1/2 cups cooked or frozen vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash, sweet potato, beets, peppers, onions, etc.

Protein:

1/3 -1/2 cup leftover chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tempeh, etc.

 

Method

Heat a skillet over medium.  If your veggies are frozen, add them to the skillet with 1/4 cup of water and cover for a few minutes to defrost.  Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and cut the kale into bite-sized pieces.  When veggies have softened, add the kale and drizzle with oil, tossing a bit to evenly coat.  Add more water if necessary so that there is about 1/4 cup in the skillet.  Cover and steam for 4 minutes, increasing the heat to medium-high.  Mince the garlic and add after about 2 minutes.  If you’re adding protein to the salad, put it in the skillet to warm, along with any additional spices.

After 4 minutes, remove the lid and allow the water to cook off.  Toss the mixture occasionally, but allow it to sit still long enough for some of the kale and vegetables to caramelize a little.  When it’s almost done, add the vinegar, salt, and pepper, and toss again.  Give it one more minute on the heat, and serve.

 

December 4, 2014

Leftover Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Every year when the turkey carcass is picked clean and the leftovers have been put away, I look at the pile of bones and think, “I should make a stock from that.”  By that point in the day, however, the thought of embarking on yet another culinary undertaking always seems like too much.  This year, I was prepared—I had a plan and a slow cooker.

When I roast my turkey, I always throw a mix of veggies in the bottom of the pan with about 1/3 of a bottle of wine and some herbs.  It makes a delicious gravy base, and this year it served double-duty.  My mix this year was celery, carrots, shallots, mushrooms, and a few whole cloves of garlic.  After the turkey had roasted and the gravy had been evacuated they were still reasonably intact.  I threw about a third into the bottom of the crock pot, and put the rest in the fridge for later.  I put the carcass in the crock and added about a quart of water, clamped the lid on, and set it on low.  I let it simmer for 24 hours, and then removed the bones and bits as best I could.  The amount of meat that came off what appeared to be a pretty clean carcass was pretty shocking, but the hard part was separating out the then soft bones and connective tissue from the meaty bits.   Careful work with the slotted spoon eventually prevailed, and I transferred the remaining broth and meat to a stock pot on the stove.  I strained out the veggies that had been simmering overnight and added the ones I had reserved from the roasting pan.  I threw in some of the leftover turkey, as well as fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, along with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne for kick.  An hour later, I had some fantastic soup on my hands.  I ended up with about a quart and a half, which isn’t a bad yield for something made entirely of the bits I would normally have thrown out.  I also have big plans the next time I roast a chicken…

May 22, 2012

Seasonal Ingredient Map

I happened upon this great  tool at epicurious a few days ago thinks to my impatience for fresh peaches.  It gives a list of in-season produce for each state, month by month.  I’ll definitely use this to figure out when I need to stock up and clear space in the freezer this year…

 

 

May 17, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

I don’t have any photos for this recipe because I hadn’t planned to post it when I did the cooking.  I make this soup every couple of weeks—generally whenever I can get a good deal on red peppers.  It’s one of my go-to recipes and not one that I generally give a lot of thought to, but this week it turned out so well that I decided that it deserved a wider audience.  You’ll note that as written, the recipe doesn’t include any salt, which is simply because I don’t think it needs it.  The canned tomatoes will add some sodium content, and you can add vegetable stock if you wish, though I prefer the thick texture of the soup without it.  The smoked paprika adds a lot of savory depth, but by all means, add salt if you wish.  Without further ado:
 
Total Time: 1h 20 min
Active Time: 40 min
Yield: 3-4 quarts (depending on inclusion of stock)
 
Ingredients
6 red peppers
2 28-oz. cans roasted crushed tomatoes (I use an organic brand that includes Italian seasoning.  If you can’t find a pre-seasoned variety, you’ll have to add basil and oregano to taste.)
4-6 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion
2 shallots
6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1-2 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. pepper
Vegetable stock (optional)
 
Instructions
 Preheat the oven to 375. 
 
Place whole red peppers on a baking sheet, drizzled with a little olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes on one side, then rotate every 10 minutes or so until the skin on all sides has started to blacken and blister.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. 
 
While the peppers are cooling, prepare the other ingredients.  Chop the onion, shallots, and garlic and prepare the herbs. 
 
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  While the oil heats, quarter the peppers and remove as much of the skin and seeds as you can. I don’t recommend rinsing them, however, as it washes away a lot of the flavorful juices.   
 
When the oil is hot, add the onion and shallots and sauté until translucent (5 minutes or so).  Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes more, until it begins to get a little color. 
 
Add the peppers and the tomatoes, stirring to incorporate the liquids.  Add the paprika, black pepper, red pepper, rosemary, and thyme.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes.  If you like a thinner soup, you can add some vegetable stock at this point.   
 
Remove from heat and carefully spoon soup into a blender.  You’ll need to do this in batches.  Blend until smooth.

April 29, 2012

Go-To Paleo Snack: Broccoli Slaw

20120429-161633.jpg

This quick broccoli slaw has become one of my go-to staples in the last several weeks. It’s quick to make and keeps well for about a week in the fridge. I usually take a container to work for an afternoon snack, or reach for it when I get home from the gym and can’t wait for dinner.

I’ve never been a big fan of slaws in general, but I really like the lightness of this one. The ingredients are simple, but it has a really nice play of sweet and savory favors and a great combination of textures. Enjoy!

ingredients
2 heads broccoli
1/4 – 1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 – 1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 – 3 tbsp. sour cream
1 – 2 tbsp. natural mayo

Directions
Get some water boiling in a medium saucepan.

Break or cut the broccoli into individual florets, leaving the stems attached. If you have to cut off the bottom of the “trunks,” cut them into pieces roughly the same size as the rest of the broccoli.

When the water has come to a boil, throw in the broccoli and blanch for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like it. When it’s done, drain it in a colander and run cold water over the broccoli for a few minutes to stop the cooking and set the color.

While it’s cooling, chop your cranberries into smaller pieces and add them, along with the slivered almonds, to a large bowl.

Now being chopping the broccoli, cutting it as finely as desired. While you do this, you can singe this song.

For more of a traditional slaw texture you can use a food processor, however I found that it holds up better of the course of a week if the pieces are larger. I like to cut the stems on a diagonal so they can soak up the dressing.

When all the broccoli is chopped, add it to the bowl, along with the sour cream and mayo. Stir so that everything gets well mixed, and add salt to taste.

April 15, 2012

Kabocha Fries, and a Cautionary Tale


I’ve been noticing an interesting trend over the past year, which is that the more Paleo my diet has gotten, the more I seem to relish watching the Food Network. I suspect that it’s some sort of compensatory mechanism–I love baking, but Paleo, at least by my reckoning, offers few opportunities. I think watching Paula Deen make horrifyingly gooey, fudgey, caramel-drenched brownie concoctions actually gets it out of my system a bit. This morning was sipping my coffee and switched on the Food channel, where I caught the last few minutes of Hungry Girl. Or, rather, I mostly ignored the last few minutes of Hungry Girl. (Honestly, what is her deal? One minute she’s trying to get the fat out of salad dressing and the next she’s making cookies with Splenda, and 5 minutes after that she’s making whole-wheat pasta…) So anyway, the point is that I was reading a book and only half listening when she started talking about making kabocha squash fries. I should have started paying attention at that point, but instead I started Googling to figure out their nutritional profile. I learned that kabocha’s are high in beta carotene, vitamin C, as well as B1 and B2, and are lower in carbs than butternut squash. Super. What I did not learn is how to properly prepare a kabocha.

Kabocha prep in progress

Undaunted by this small detail, I hit Sprouts this morning before the gym and procured the squash, among other things. My usual routine after the gym is to preheat the oven, do whatever prep work I need for dinner, or in this case, lunch, and then take a shower. It was probably good that I still had my running clothes on, because cutting and peeling the squash turned out to be a serious upper body workout. I couldn’t find any particularly helpful advice online about prepping kabocha, so I improvised as best I could. I started by slicing the squash in half vertically and removing the seeds. I then quartered it, and halved the quarters. I tried peeling them at this point, but found that the curvature made the process difficult and inefficient. Since I planned to cut the fries with a crinkle cutter, I needed the pieces to be as flat as possible anyway. I ended up basically cutting the eighth wedges into thirds, peeling them, and then cutting them into fries.

After much crinkle-cutting, I prepped the fries in batches. The only time I’d had kabocha before was in a Japanese preparation, so I decided to go with my usual seasonings for butternut squash for this first foray into fries. I tossed the squash with almond oil, cinnamon, chipotle and ancho chile powder, and salt. I then popped them in the oven and hit the shower. When I got out I started in on cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, which is where our cautionary tale starts. I had peeled the squash into the sink, and I was careful to rinse the peels down the disposal in small batches with plenty of water. Nothing seemed amiss until I started washing my knives and cutting board, and noticed that the water didn’t seem to be draining. I flipped the disposal on again, and heard the reassuring hum, but the water did not get sucked down; instead, it turned a rather ominous shade of brown and a few squash seeds floated up in the churning water.

After exhausting all my usual tricks–manually cranking the disposal until it clears, snaking, and trying any reasonable suggestion on Google, I was frustrated, but not ready to give up. Finally, after an hour of plunging, with strategic opening and closing of the sink vent and the drain on the other side, I finally got the clog cleared. I never actually thought I would be grateful for being forced to acquire the knowledge of a journeyman plumber to pass my architecture licensing exam last year, but it actually came in handy. All’s well that ends well, I suppose, but please, save yourself the hassle and DON”T PUT THE PEEL DOWN THE DRAIN.

Anyway, between cutting up the kabocha and all the plunging and scouring of the sink that followed, I feel like I logged an extra upper-body session today. The fries were delicious, and (minus the plumbing issues), worth the work. This was also the first time I tried the crinkle-cutter, and I think it was worth the investment. The nagging problem I usually have with squash or sweet potato fries is that they tend to stick and burn against the pan, even when they’re not otherwise overdone. Adding texture to the fries really helped the sticking problem, and while I’m generally against kitchen gadgets that only do one thing, I’m happy to make room for this one.

And now, finally, for the recipe:

Spicy Kabocha Fries

Ingredients

1 kabocha squash

1 tsp chipotle powder

1 tsp ancho chile powder

2 tsp cinnamon

almond oil, or fat of choice

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375.

Using a long, sharp knife, halve the squash vertically, then cut halves into quarters. Halve the quarters again, and cut the wedges into thirds. (You’ll have two triangular-shaped pieces and one rectangular from each section.) Peel using a vegetable peeler.

Using a knife or crinkle cutter, cut each piece into french-fry-sized pieces. You’ll end up with some odd-shaped pieces, but as long as they’re all roughly the same size, it won’t matter. Once fries are cut, drizzle them with oil and the seasonings and toss. (Depending on the size of your squash, you may need more or less seasoning than what is suggested.)

Spread the fries out in a single layer on oiled baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through. Serve immediately.

March 21, 2012

Food for Thought: Lunch for a Week in 30 Minutes

Since going Paleo I started packing a salad for lunch every day.  It’s quick to prepare, doesn’t require waiting for the microwave in the kitchen at work, and it also guarantees that by midday I’ve put a big dent in my veggie requirements.  It’s easy to get in a salad rut, though, and I like to mix up my proteins and fats throughout the week.  In the past year I’ve gotten a system down where I can prepare everything I need for a week’s worth of salads in about half an hour, and still eat something different every day.  I still often mix it up with dinner leftovers or a special lunch if I have extra time during the week to prepare something, but this guarantees that there will be  a healthy Paleo lunch option waiting in the fridge every morning–no excuses!

Every week I make sure the pantry is stocked with a few cans of wild-caught salmon and tuna.  (I also keep a few in my desk drawer at work in case of emergency.)  I also buy a pound of organic greens and package of organic, free-range chicken tenders every week.  (Buying full breasts would be more cost-effective, but this post is all about convenience.)  On my designated cooking day, I usually prepare three sauces or dry rubs.  My favorites are blackening spice rub, Asian marinade, barbecue sauce,  Mexican dry rub, and Buffalo sauce.  For the sauces and rubs that I use most often, I usually make a larger batch and store it for a few weeks’ of meals, further streamlining the process.  I also like to keep the “accessories” on hand: some roasted red peppers, pine nuts, sesame seeds, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, etc, which I can quickly throw in to build up the salad.  Leftover veggies from last night’s dinner are also an excellent resource.

Once you’ve prepared your seasonings of choice, take a pair of poultry shears and cut the chicken tenders into bite-sized pieces.  Divide them among the seasonings and stir to coat.  If you have time, you can marinate the chicken for 15 minutes to a few hours, or you can get right to it.  At this point you have two choices.  If you’re feeling particularly lazy, preheat the oven to 400° and grease up a baking sheet.  If  you have a little more time and energy, heat your fat of choice in a saute pan over medium heat.  If you opt for the oven, spread the chicken pieces into a single layer, keeping the different seasonings separate.  They should take between 10-15 minutes to cook through.  If I’m going with the oven method, I often take the opportunity to crisp up some turkey bacon at the same time (we are kosher-Paleo here at the Cavegirl) for additional salad garnishment options.

The advantage of using the saute pan is that you can tailor your fats to the complement the flavors of the seasonings you’ve chosen.  (If you work from the lightest flavors to the heaviest and spiciest, you can even skip rinsing the pan in between.)  Assuming your batches are around 3-5 tenders each, they shouldn’t take more than 7 or 8 minutes to cook through.

While the chicken is cooking, I make up some dressings.  For the seasonings listed above, I find I can get by with a citrus and a soy-ginger vinaigrette, though I like to keep a good commercial ranch around to pair with the spicier preparations.  There are some wonderful Paleo dressing recipes here, and I encourage you to try varying combinations.  When the chicken is done and cooled, I package it up into serving-sized portions and either freeze it or keep it at the ready in the fridge.

I am not a morning person, so I like things to be as simple as possible when I’m getting ready for work.  At that point, all I have to do is portion out my greens, select a protein, and throw in whatever extras I want.  The dressing goes in a little container on the side, and I’m out the door.  Between the different chicken seasonings and the canned fish at the ready, I find I can come up with a variety of salads from just a few ingredients.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, but as this has become more and more routine, it also seemed less and less post-worthy.  It’s an incredibly simple preparation of already simple ingredients.  I think it’s worthwhile, though, because half the battle of successfully going Paleo is having some simple, go-to meals at the ready, especially in the beginning. Cooking ahead is a great solution, but it’s no fun eating the same thing for a week.  I always found that I was much more tempted to cheat when I was bored or in a rut with my meals.  And while salad every day doesn’t seem all that exciting on the surface, I find a little window dressing can go a long way.  As always, experiment, and see what works for you.

February 20, 2012

Kale Two Ways: Paleo Nachos & Warm Kale Salad with Deconstructed Guacamole

Paleo Nachos

Warm Kale Salad

I finally got around to trying kale chips this weekend, and as soon as I tasted the first batch, I thought “kale nachos!”  I threw together a test batch, and it was then that it occurred to me that the same ingredients would make a great salad as well.  The ingredients are the same for both versions, and I encourage you to give each a try.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale

2 ripe haas avacados

1 jalapeno pepper (only used for the nacho version)

1 small bunch cilantro

1 roma tomato

1 shallot (or 1/4 red onion)

1 clove garlic

juice of 1/2 lime

pinch sea salt

chili powder

cumin

garlic powder

oil of choice

pepper jack cheese (optional)

salsa

Preparation for the Nachos

Preheat oven to 350.  Wash and dry the kale completely, and remove stems and large veins.  You want leaf pieces about 2″x2,” though uniformity isn’t critical.  Drizzle kale with oil and sprinkle with chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and salt.  Distribute evenly in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes, making sure not to burn.  The kale should be crisp when done.

While the kale is baking, make the guacamole.  Chop the jalapeno, shallot, cilantro, and garlic finely.  Remove the seeds from the tomato and chop.  Skin and pit avocados and combine with previous ingredients.  Add the lime juice.  If you like your guacamole chunky, you can just stir everything with a large spoon.  For a smoother consistency, mash the avocados a bit with a fork as you combine everything.  Taste and add salt as required.

When the kale is done, pile leaves on a plate and sprinkle with cheese, if using.  Pop back in the oven for 2-3 minutes to melt cheese.  Add guacamole and salsa.  You could also add pickled jalapenos, a little browned ground beef, sour cream, etc, depending on your pantry and paleo preferences.

Preparation for Salad

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Wash and dry kale, removing larger stems.  Chop garlic and shallots finely and add only the shallots to pan.  When shallots are translucent, add kale and saute for about 5 minutes, until bright green.  Sprinkle the kale with chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder.  While the kale warms, slice avocado and chop tomato and cilantro.  Add the garlic and saute a few more minutes, until it begins browning and kale starts to wilt.  Plate the kale and dress with avocado and tomato, sprinkling with a pinch of salt and drizzling with a little more oil if desired.  A little cheese melted over this salad is great as well–do your own experimenting!

February 14, 2012

A great visual aid for choosing cooking oils…

http://smallbites.andybellatti.com/handy-dandy-cooking-oil-comparison-chart/