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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Besides running, one of the hobbies I am passionate about is gardening! The problem is that passion does not necessarily translate into talent. This is the first year that I managed to dial in the formula for a truly successful tomato crop (dig at least six inches into the top soil and mix in compost in a 1:1 ratio with the soil, then add a little EB Stone Organic Sure Start Fertilizer (affiliate link). About six weeks later or when the fruit first starts to set, sprinkle on a little more fertilizer.) And voila:

tomato row

Plants so tall and laden with fruit I had to tie the row up with twine!

I usually harvest the tomatoes before they’re fully ripe and let them ripen on the counter, just so the pill bugs and other critters in my garden don’t get at the tomatoes before I do. So you can see tomatoes in various stages of ripening in this food art arrangement my 9-year-old made the other day with the harvest:

Food art harvest

Yes those are mini pumpkins, harvested in July because they grew as renegades in my compost pile. The harvest also includes lemons, limes, apples, and red and green grapes.

I’ve been using up a lot of tomatoes with this super easy blender salsa recipe from Yummy Mummy Kitchen, but I also wanted to try to make fresh tomato sauce for the first time ever. I ended up adapting and combining several recipes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for what I consider a delicious fresh tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and fresh herbs.

Read on to see how to turn this:

IMG_5556

Into this:

IMG_5494

Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe

Prep time: 20-30 minutes depending on how aggressive you are peeling the tomatoes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

4 cups ripe fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
1 large yellow onion (chopped)
4 T olive oil
10 cloves garlic (minced)
5 whole bay leaves (optional)
1/2 cup fresh basil (chopped)
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
2 T fresh rosemary (chopped) (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used 1/2 t each)

Directions

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (if you use a cast iron pan, bonus points and bonus iron for you — the acidity of the tomatoes will leach some iron out of the pan) on medium high heat.

2. Brown the onion for 2 minutes, then add the garlic for one more minute.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and bay leaves if desired. Heat to bubbling, then turn down to low to simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add the basil, parsley and rosemary as desired and simmer just to warm. Remove bay leaves.

5. If you want a smooth sauce, let the sauce cool and then puree it in a blender, or transfer the hot sauce to a large pot and use a stick blender to puree.

Makes 8 servings. Recipe doubles easily.

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You know it’s finally fall weather in Southern California when you can stand to turn the oven on to make Healthier Banana Crumb Muffins (allrecipes.com) and at the same time turn the stove on to make pumpkin curry soup (According to Kelly — that recipe is so simple especially if you use canned organic pumpkin from Trader Joe’s, and you put the whole onion and garlic cloves in the blender with some of the chicken broth to make it smooth).

I had one kiddo home from school today with a fever/cold situation, so I took the opportunity to be extra-productive with my time at home and entertain the kiddo by letting her put the fruits and veggies into the Breville Juicer to make the beet juice. (Did you know that some research indicates that beet juice can help boost athletic performance?)

Just look at all these beauties!

fruits and vegetables

What’s in the bowl: purple, orange and yellow carrots with the carrot greens (organic so no peeling necessary), yellow beets (organic but peeled to reduce the earthy flavor of the beets, although next time I’ll just scrub well and leave on the skins), Rome apples (not peeled but cored — any variety of apple will do), and lemons and limes (peeled but with the white pith still on for that extra boost of vitamins).

According to the Breastfast Zinger Juice Recipe (allrecipes.com) you just toss them in to the juicer on a one-to-one ratio — one carrot to one beet to one apple to one lemon. I had a lot of produce to use up so I put in about six of each and ended up with about 36 ounces of juice (there’s a lot of foam on there but one really nice thing about the Breville container is that the lid is specially designed to hold back the foam when you pour the juice out!)

I love how it separated into these gorgeous colors. I did stir it before drinking, though!

I love how it separated into these gorgeous colors. I did stir it before drinking, though!

The juice turned out to be delicious! Full disclosure: my 6-year-old hated it and my 12-year-old loved it. The 9-year-old likes beets but is not a fan of beet juice (go figure) so I won’t be trying it on her.

The juicer intimidates me (the noise maybe? The violence of the “pressing” — it seems more like a wood chipper than a “presser” to me!) but it is super easy to use and surprisingly easy to clean. My other favorite juice recipe so far is Healthy Green Juice with green apples (any apples, really), kale, celery, cucumber, lemon and ginger. It’s got a kick to it but I love it!

Do you have a juicer? Do you have any recipes to share? (Feel free to post them in the comments or leave a link to your recipe!)

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On the anniversary of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, my thoughts are with all those affected. I’m looking forward to seeing the race come back better than ever next Monday.

Personally, when someone says “Boston Marathon” I think back to the day I brought home my first baby from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I sat in the back seat of the car so I could hover nervously over my newborn on the drive home. Much to my chagrin the drive took extra long because we had to take a circuitous route back to our tiny on-campus apartment at MIT due to road closures for the marathon. Eventually we made it home safely and without tears (the baby’s or mine)! I can hardly believe it, but that baby turned 12 years old this past weekend! Which brings me to purpose of this post — the birthday cake:

Chocolate mousse cake

In our family, we’ve got birthdays in January, April, July, August and December, which means I’ve had many opportunities to experiment with various recipes to come up with the perfect chocolate cake and frosting recipes. The ones I’ve tried in the past were either too dry or too brownie-like (don’t get me wrong, I love a good brownie, but not when it’s supposed to be cake)! Finally, I’ve found the best chocolate cake ever. The following recipes make a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse frosting and a chocolate/raspberry/blackberry filling.

Cake:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-iii/detail.aspx

For the cake, use organic sugar (regular sugar is too bitter) and high quality cocoa powder (not hot chocolate cocoa powder) — e.g. Ghirardelli or the raw cacao sold at Sprouts. For the vegetable oil, we used safflower oil.

Chocolate mousse frosting:

http://allrecipes.com/video/3244/chocolate-and-raspberry-mousse/detail.aspx?e11=chocolate%20mousse&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&event8=1&prop24=SR_Showcase&e7=Recipe&soid=sr_showcase_1

For the mousse, the ingredients list is at the end of the video above. Double the mousse recipe to frost a two-layer cake. Use a high quality brick of baking dark chocolate like Valrhona. Put the metal mixing bowl in the freezer before you whip the cream and make sure the cream is chilled beforehand as well. Again use organic sugar. For the filling between the two layers of cake, mix 1/3 of the chocolate mousse with a small pack of blackberries and a small pack of raspberries. Frost the cake with the remaining chocolate mousse and garnish with the remaining berries. You can shave some extra chocolate on the top with a cheese grater if desired.

To keep the frosting from melting, put the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. Enjoy!

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Are you tired of paying for expensive sports drinks full of unnecessary food dyes and artificial flavoring? Try this recipe for 40 ounces of homemade natural sports drink:

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe

30 ounces of water
10 ounces of 100% fruit juice of your choice (see some options below)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 rounded teaspoon of salt

Shake well to dissolve sugar and salt.

(The suggested ingredients for this recipe were shared with my running academy group by chiropractor and clinical nutritionist G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN. I researched several different juices for the recipe and compared them with commercial sports drinks below).

What type of juice should be used to make a homemade sports drink?

Any kind of 100% fruit juice works, but keep in mind that the calories and other nutritive values will vary by the type of juice (see sample information below — I am not a nutritionist but I did some research on various types of juices). I always prefer organic juice. You might have to play around with a mix of juices to get the right flavor, sugar, and salt balance for you. Some good choices:

Cherry juice: one study found that drinking cherry juice can reduce muscle soreness due to exercise. (Source: WebMD Juice Wars Slideshow)

Pomegranate juice: this juice has a high level of antioxidants. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

Pineapple, orange, lemon and lime juices (not from concentrate, and preferably fresh-squeezed). You might want to limit the lemon and lime juices to a small amount for flavoring and pair them with other juices. Lemons and limes have high acidity levels that can cause stomach upset.

Note that no matter which juice you choose, you always want to try out a sports drink first on several training runs and not on a planned long run or race!

Nutrition Information Per 20 Fluid Ounces of Sports Drink

I used 20 ounces of sports drink for this comparison because it is half the recipe and nearly fills most standard sports bottles (I prefer the 21-25 oz. CamelBak sports bottles (not an affiliate link)). It also compares well to the G2 powder pack which is mixed with 20 ounces of water.

Fruit juice (5 oz. juice in 20 oz. sports drink):

Granulated sugar: 72 calories, 18.9 g carbohydrates (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 4.5 tsp. granulated sugar)

Table salt: 0 calories, approximately 98 mg sodium (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 1/8 tsp. table salt)

How does a homemade sports drink compare to other sports drinks like Gatorade G2 and Fluid?

Let’s compare homemade sports drink with pomegranate juice to Gatorade G2 Fruit Punch Powder for 20 oz. water and Fluid Performance Sports Drink Blueberry Pomegranate for 20 oz. water (When I buy sports drink I choose Fluid because it’s what has been offered on course for both of my full marathons and I make sure to train with what will be available during the race. I have also tried the G2 powder packs which are very convenient but I do not like the red dye). Of course, you could always adjust the homemade recipe above to approximate your favorite sports drink.

Calories per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 157 calories
  • Homemade cherry: 153 calories
  • Homemade orange: 266 calories (again, you could reduce the added granulated sugar to adjust this amount)
  • G2: 130 calories
  • Fluid: 167 calories

Carbohydrates:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 39.5 g
  • Homemade cherry: 38.9 g
  • Homemade orange: 63.6 g (less if you add less sugar)
  • G2: 32 grams
  • Fluid: 40g

Sodium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 112 mg
  • Homemade cherry: 110.5 mg
  • Homemade orange: 102 mg
  • G2: 230 mg
  • Fluid: 334 mg

It is interesting to me that the homemade recipe is so much lower in sodium. Consider your needs and adjust the salt or supplement with salt tablets on your run. See the interesting Active.com article How Much Salt Do You Need While Running?

Potassium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 336 mg
  • Homemade cherry: 256 mg
  • Homemade orange: 860 mg
  • G2: 70 mg
  • Fluid: 109 mg

Magnesium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 11 mg magnesium
  • Homemade cherry: NA
  • Homemade orange: 47 mg
  • G2: NA
  • Fluid:  18 mg

Have you tried a version of this recipe? What do you think? It takes some experimentation to get the mix right for you. I like pineapple juice but plan to play around with other flavors to get the salt and sugar balance just right.

Do you have a favorite homemade sports drink recipe? Feel free to share your own recipe or link in the comments.

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Happy Saint Paddy’s Day everyone! A leprechaun visited my house in the wee hours of the morning. He left shamrocks and little green pots of “gold” (quarters) for me and the kids to find.

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My house might not always be tidy but I do keep a beautiful bouquet on the table as a bright spot amidst the chaos. The leprechaun approves!

My kids have always known the true identity of the leprechaun-bunny-fairy-claus but still enjoy playing along.

After our treasure hunt the leprechaun made us all some green eggs. I politely declined artificial green food dye so Mike came up with a creative alternative. He made his own natural green dye from water and a crushed leaf of swiss chard with the stems removed!

It's extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

It’s extra classy when you use a wine cork as your muddler.

Once he strained out the crushed leaves, it made a beautiful bright green dye:

eggs with natural green dye

and some delicious green eggs!

green scrambled eggs

Speaking of greens, I love this graphic from No Meat Athlete on seven healthy, tasty greens that are often overlooked in favor of spinach and kale:

Seven greens graphic info

Obviously I’ve had swiss chard, and I’ve tried arugula too. I haven’t had turnip greens but I have had beet greens (sautéed in olive oil with garlic and salt – yum!) The rest I will search out the next time I make it to Whole Foods!

Are you Irish? Yes, I’m a whopping 1/16th Irish!
Did you run the L.A. Marathon or any other St. Patrick’s Day race today? How did it go for you? I have heard many good things about the L.A. Marathon and hope to run it someday.

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With my refrigerator practically bursting with winter greens from my CSA farm shares, I decided to use up a bunch of kale by making kale chips. My kids and I devoured these so quickly I wished we had even more kale! Try these as an alternative to potato chips.

Baked Kale Chips with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

one bunch of curly kale
one tablespoon of olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Garlic-infused Organic Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s)
salt to taste (I used sea salt)
parchment paper if you have it

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and dry the kale thoroughly. Remove the center rib from each kale leaf with a kitchen knife, scissors, or by tearing. Tear or cut each leaf into bite-sized pieces.

Raw kale, ready for a sprinkle of olive oil.

Raw kale, ready for a sprinkle of olive oil and salt.

Toss the kale with the olive oil and salt (tip: it’s best to add the least amount of olive oil necessary to coat the kale — any more than that and the kale leaves will remain soggy rather than become crispy). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (if available) and spread the kale evenly over the sheet.

Glistening with garlic-infused olive oil and salt.

Glistening with garlic-infused olive oil and salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully in the last minutes to remove the chips as soon as they are just browning at the edges. You can use tongs to toss the kale chips halfway through cooking. If you remove the chips as they begin to brown, they will be crispy but not crumbly.

Goodbye beautiful baked kale chips. Prepare to be gobbled up in seconds!

Goodbye beautiful baked kale chips. Prepare to be gobbled up in seconds!

Have fun with this recipe and experiment with the flavorings. Some people use seasoned salt. Others like to coat the kale with soy sauce or vinegar instead of olive oil. Have you ever made baked kale chips? What’s your favorite way to season them?

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Making your own trail mix could not be easier or more forgiving (have fun with the ingredient choices and portions below to make it to your liking)! I threw some together for a preschool class snack and it took less than five minutes and, best of all, I could prepare it the night before and not have to fuss with it in the morning before school.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Homemade Trail Mix

Ingredients:

1 large container of organic raisins
1 small packet of organic dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your liking — chopped apricots, pineapple, mango or dates would be good)
1 tub of salted or unsalted peanuts
1 tub of salted or unsalted sunflower seeds (or pepitas, almonds or cashews)
2 cups or more of dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, carob chips or M&Ms

Optional:
2 cups or more of plain stove-popped popcorn

Instructions

Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together. Package into serving sizes or serve in the bowl.

This homemade trail mix is high in calories (which is what you want in a trail mix, right?) but if you want to reduce the calories for a healthier snack, add in the plain stove-popped popcorn and that cuts the calories per serving significantly.

Survey: Do you call it trail mix or GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”)? I called it GORP as a kid but I’d forgotten all about that!

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