Monthly Archives: May 2010

Israeli Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad

The sound of lawns being mowed, birds singing, the smell of neighborhood barbeques.. aaaah now that’s what I love about summer. Although it’s currently 55 degrees and raining in Seattle, I assume that it is in fact summer in most other parts of the country. Therefore I am in the mood for some summer salads. Israeli couscous plus roasted vegetables, tossed with oil and balsamic vinegar… equals a match made in heaven.

I was grazing my way through Whole Foods the other day, when I couldn’t help but admire the salad bar: crisp, fresh spinach, butter lettuce, arugula, olives galore, a beautiful bean salad, marinated artichoke hearts, savory mushrooms, toppings of sunflower seeds, but also roasted pumpik seeds, fresh herbs, Israeli couscous.. wait, Israeli couscous?? What is that? Well it looked delicious and I had to have it. So-glad-I-did. Those little edible pearls had a perfect al dente texture, completely satisfying to the bite, and marvelously silky-smooth while rolling around on the tongue. Yes, I did enjoy my couscous salad.. at home of course. I didn’t stand in Whole Foods eating over the salad bar, but I thought about it 🙂

So that tasty lunch-on-the-run had me thinking I should make my own couscous salad, and so I did! This recipe was adapted from a Bobby Flay that I found on Food Network. You can find the original recipe here.

Israeli Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp spicy mustard
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 zucchini
2 yellow summer squash
1 red bell pepper
10 Crimini mushrooms
10 asparagus spears
10 cherry tomatoes
8 ounces dry Israeli couscous
1 cup vegetable broth (low sodium, low fat)
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Mix first ingredients, through garlic. Cube all the vegetables and add to the marinade, through cherry tomatoes. Let the vegetables soak for 15-20 minutes, then transfer (leaving marinade behind) onto a baking sheet and roast veggies under the broiler for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, toast couscous in 1 T olive oil on the stove top for about 3 minutes, add broth, water, and cook until al dente (about 7-8 minutes). Drain, mix couscous with roasted veggies, add back the oil and balsamic marinade and chill in the refrigerator. Once chilled add shredded fresh basil. Viola! You’re ready for your next potluck.

Health Note: Israeli couscous is just semolina flour and water. So unlike refined/enriched flours found in white bread or white pasta, this contains all the fiber and nutrition of a whole wheat pasta. Prepare, eat, and enjoy in moderation. I recommend a 1/2 cup serving over fresh greens, like spinach. Deeeelish!!

Question:
What kind of summer salads are you whipping up?

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Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Recipes

Tootie Fruity Smoothie

Good mooooorning! How is that for a mouthful? I experimented with a new twist on the Green Monster, quite berry-licious. As local, organic fruits hit the markets I am cleaning them out. This week I have been is dire need of a nutrition detox.. not the kind of detox yoooou’re thinking about. 😉 (click here for the Down Low on Detox Diets). I just need a week of good, whole foods; no junk, no alcohol, just pure freshness!! So, ta-daaa… it’s smoothie time..

I’ve been hooked on green monsters ever since I started following blogs. It actually all began with my first blog crush, Jenna. Bethany still likes to tease me about saying things like, “my new best friend Jenna says..”. Or about the fact that I started drinking Layer Cake Shiraz after seeing her blog about it. Yes, I’m a nerd, and now the cat’s outta the bag. 😀

Soooooo, as for my my new crush. It still packs the same punch as the original GM, but with extra immune-boosting berries. Plus, all that spinach is loaded with Popeye antioxidants that keep things regular, while significantly reducing your risk for prostate, ovarian, and colon cancer. Hello ladies and gentleman, have you had your spinach today? Everything you need…

Berry-Green Monster
2 cups (or handfuls) raw spinach
1 cup almond milk
1 cup mixed berries: blackberries, rasberries, strawberries
Spoonful plain greek yogurt (about 2 T)
1 T almond butter
1 cup ice

 

 

 

 

I wasn’t planning on adding the almond butter, but to be honest, the spinach flavor was a bit overpowering without it. I still love my banana and spinach smoothies, but this is a tasty way to mix things up. Perfect for a post-run fix.. or a Sunday treat while basking in the warm summer sun. However, drinking it as a pre-run smoothie is just asking for trouble. I do not advise. But speaking of running, I am pleased to say that the weather here has turned around. I can actually leave my flood gear at home… but I don’t dare pack it to the basement yet. 😉 Also, thank you soooo much for all the comments last week. It was awesome to get so much love from all the new faces. I think one of the greatest things about blogging is meeting people who share a passion for food and fitness. I look forward to visiting your blogs as well. So with that I’ll another great quote. This one rings true with me too..

“Some days you’ll be slower than others. Some days might hurt a bit. But as long as you’re on the road it’s going to be a good day” –anonymous

Amen to that!

Question Time:
What mantras really get you laced up for a run?
What’s your favorite smoothie concoction?

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Filed under Fitness, Healthy Cooking/Eating, Hot Topics in Nutrition

Pesto Delight on a Dreary Day

Pesto is one of those things I discovered as an adult, and now, just can’t get enough of! It is soooo delicious. I made my first batch of it last month, and it’s so darn easy that I made it a few more times! Sorry Trader Joe’s, but I won’t be needing your jarred pesto services any longer. On Sunday I whipped up a batch of the following:

1 cup fresh, torn basil leaves
1/2 cup grated parmesan-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T chopped walnuts
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves
pinch of sea salt

Toss it all into the food processor and botta-bing, botta-boom, pesto!! This was my own conconction, and since I’m the one eating eat, I decided to use walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts. Did you know that walnuts have the highest protein content of all nuts? AND that they’re a great source of Omega-3’s? Stop everything right now, and go get yourself a bag of walnuts!! And then enjoy them in moderation 🙂 because healthy fat or not you still only need about 44-78grams a day (that’s based on a 2,000 calorie diet). 

If you haven’t a clue about nutrition facts on labels, just know that a well balanced diet includes 20-35% fat, 45-65% carbohydrate, and 10-35% protein. Still not sure how to adapt that in your diet? Visit the USDA’s mypyramid.gov, and personalize your calorie intake based on your individual needs.

So, back to pesto, I lathered up a couple chicken breasts on the Foreman. (because simplicity is key on a weekday). Let them cook for about 7-8 minutes while I assembled a wrap: spinach, onion, cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper.. and a couple turns of grated pepper. Now I’m good to go for lunch wraps!

In running news, I totally got soaked today. That whole saying “April showers brings May flowers”.. obviously didn’t come from a Seattleite. There were April showers, and now there are more May showers. I seem to time my runs just perfectly too. The sky will be beautiful with fluffy white clouds, and then when I get about 3 or 4 miles away from home the sky just opens up and pooooours. Today I seriously would have been better off in flippers. So while other runners were ducking for cover I took a photo on my Blackberry. You. Are. Welcome. 😉 Don’t those clouds look angry?


And my quote of the day from Runner’s World just chimmed in on my phone. It seems a little bizzare, maybe it’s a sign that I’m supposed to share it with you:

″I run because it is so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.″ –Arthur Blank

That quote was just what I needed this week. I’ve definitely had a few obstacles lately, and if it weren’t for running I’d be home blowing bubbles right now in a state of delirium. Well.. maybe not the bubbles part. 🙂 On that note, happy hump day to you all!!

Questions:
Do you find that running helps you overcome life’s challenges?
And what food did you discover as an adult that you just can’t get enough of?

18 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Real Coffee Creamer.. It’s Darigold!

Goooood morning world!!! So I haven’t shared this with y’all yet, but last week I went to Darigold and participated in sensory testing for some new chocolate milk products hitting the market. What a tasty job. I went in hungry, and left feeling mighty fine. Mmmm… chocolate milk. YUM! 😀

Something I loved about Darigold is that they have a product line simply meant for indulging (incredibly rich, high fat, irresistible, once-in-a-great-while kind of indulgences), while primarily developing products for everyday healthy, conscious eating… and their website has oodles of recipes I can’t wait to try. Warning **recipes call for real butter** 😉 Since I’ve learned that good cooking requires using only the best ingredients, I don’t shy away from using real products anymore, especially since they contain more natural ingredients, and less of that chemical garbage. So when it comes to Darigold, another thing I love is that their products contain no high fructose corn syrup or trans-fat, way to go Darigold!

True confession here: I have been hooked on sugar-free French Vanilla coffee creamer since I don’t know when. I love it. I have a brand ( the unmentionable), and it gets my morning started right. The only problem is.. it’s fake. It’s a non-dairy creamer with partially-hydrogenated soybean oil listed as the second ingredient (right after water), and next is corn syrup. I know there is no avoiding the two. They’re everywhere. But if I can limit my intake at home I’ll be a lot  better off.

Thanks to the media, we’ve all heard about how HFCS and trans-fats are the enemy. Both are linked to causes of the current obesity epidemic, Type 2 diabetes, and trans-fats also significantly increase risk for heart disease. Yikes! So in an effort to move away from that, I am giving up my non-dairy creamer for the real McCoy. Darigold has a new product on the market. It’s real half and half, with only 4 ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, and flavoring. Look for it in the cold case next to all the non-dairy creamers. Its pretty delish, and I would recommend making the switch. For more on trans-fats and HFCS look for my upcoming post on Elite Nutrition.

Well that’s how I’m starting my Monday morning. What about yours? Do you take cream with your coffee?

9 Comments

Filed under Product Review