Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

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:


Into this:


Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe

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

Cook time: 15 minutes


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)


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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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.



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:


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


  • 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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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


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

2 cups or more of plain stove-popped popcorn


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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If you’re looking for a pretty side dish for brunch, a fun preschool snack, or something for the kids after school, try these simple pear cups with cheese cubes!

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Pear Cups with Cheese Cubes

1 organic pear per two people (Tip: if your pears are not quite ripe, put them in a paper bag with a banana overnight and the ethylene gas will help ripen the pears)
blocks of cheddar cheese and colby jack cheese (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, or this would even work well with Brie or cottage cheese too. If you use Brie, spoon a little honey mustard on top and the combination will taste like heaven and look pretty too!)


Preparation Time:
5 minutes for each set of two pair halves (Note: try to prepare these cups just before serving. I made mine about an hour before serving and that was fine, but any longer and the pear will brown and the cheese might get soggy from the pear juice).


Rinse and dry the pear. Slice it in half vertically (from stem to bottom). Cut out the core and a little bit extra in the center to create a pear “cup.”

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

Cut up the cheese blocks into small cubes and arrange the cubes inside the pear cups, piling the cheese as high as possible. Serve ASAP but you can refrigerate them for an hour or so before serving if desired. You can either eat the cheese and the cups separately, or enjoy them together for a tasty treat!

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Part of what I love about getting a weekly box of organic produce from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm is that it forces me to cook with vegetables that are in season, meaning that they are grown locally, taste better and are fresher than those in the grocery store.

The fennel bulb, lounging by the pool

The fennel bulb, lounging by the pool.

The fennel bulb, stalks, leaves and seeds are all edible. If you don’t have access to a CSA or farmers market, you can buy fennel in the grocery store for around $2.00-$2.50 a bulb (in California expensive prices — yours might be cheaper!) depending on the size, and it’s readily available in autumn through early spring.

When I got fennel in my weekly farm share haul, I wasn’t sure what to do with the licorice-scented bulb. Fortunately I had also recently come across this book at the library used bookstore for $3.

Vegetarian Planet

It’s Vegetarian Planet: 350 Big-Flavor Recipes for Out-Of-This-World Food Every Day by chef Didi Emmons, and even as a non-vegetarian I love it! I spent one evening by the fire marking all the recipes I want to try and I flagged much of the book! (On a fennel note though, I do feel the need to disclose that the Carrot Fennel Soup recipe in the book was not a hit — it had nice orange color and was flavorful but the strong fennel taste was not a favorite in my family. I found I enjoyed the leftover soup served cold better than hot.)

Quick Vegetable Stock Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

2 carrots
1 tomato
1 fennel bulb
1 large onion
8 garlic cloves
10 cups water

Roughly chop the carrots, tomato, fennel bulb (if you wish you can chop the whole thing — bulb, stalks and leaves) and onion. Crush or mince the garlic. Put the vegetables in a stock pot with the water, bring it all to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the vegetables out and you should have about 8 cups of vegetable stock. Vegetable stock freezes well. What I don’t use right away I like to store in portions of 2 cups each in the freezer. I find that fresh vegetable stock is easy to make and less expensive than store-bought (especially this quick version — Vegetarian Planet also has a recipe for Basic Vegetable Stock that takes a little longer and requires more ingredients).

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