Archive for April, 2012

Experimenting with Grits

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I tried some “hard” polenta at a restaurant last week. It was OK, but it had been sauteed or fried in too much oil, and that made it a bit heavy and unappealing. A few days later, I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw their Stone Ground White Grits. I got to wondering … what is the difference between grits and polenta? The only ingredient listed on this package was “corn,” just like unprepared polenta. Aside from yellow (polenta) versus white (grits) corn, they look pretty much the same to me. OK, maybe the grits are a little more coarse, but could I use these grits to make a polenta-like dish? Hmm …

Tonight, I was cooking dinner for my training partner. I forgot to start the brown rice on time for dinner, so I decided to experiment the grits. I found a very simple polenta recipe (http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/3996/Simple_Polenta) and made a small batch based on this recipe.

1 cup water
1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup Trader Joe’s Stone Ground White Grits
1 -2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or your choice of fresh herbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring the salted water to a boil. On medium heat, whisk in the grits and continue to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken. Whisk in the herbs and olive oil, and continue to cook until desired thickness. The grits can be served immediately for “soft” texture or poured into a ramekin or other container to cool and firm to a “hard” stage.

For a first try, I liked it. I thought it needed a little more salt, and will definitely play a bit more with this. It’s a hot evening, so I wanted something on the lighter side, therefore no cheese. Perhaps on a cold, rainy wintery night I’ll try this with cheese.

These were a side dish to grilled chicken breasts, steamed veggies (asparagus, brussel sprouts, organic broccolette, and organic sugar plum grape tomatoes), and brown rice (the timing worked out just fine, and I wanted to serve the rice just in case the grits were awful). I think tomorrow I’ll try grilling the leftover piece of “hard” polenta-grits on my George Foreman grill. I have to come up with a name for this. Grilenta? Polrits? Oh, no, no, no … those won’t do.

The chicken tonight was Rocky free range chicken. When I went to the store to buy it, I noticed that whole Rocky Junior chickens (http://www.petalumapoultry.com/rocky_jr) were on special, so I got this brilliant idea … why not buy a whole chicken and cut it into pieces and make my own boneless skinless chicken breasts and save $2+ per pound? I know how to do this! A little out of practice, maybe, but … I know how to do this. It’s much more cost effective this way.

Let’s just say … I’m really out of practice and I’m going to be eating chicken all week.

I marinated the breasts in a little olive oil, fresh squeezed organic lemon juice & zest, and fresh organic thyme. They marinated for about 2 hours, then I cooked them on my George Foreman grill. This little machine was a terrific investment.

Low Fat Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries

For dessert … I made low fat lemon curd (recipe posted previously) and served this with fresh organic strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.  This is the only item from the entire dinner that I photographed!

This curd is a little different from the original recipe because I used organic blue agave sweetener, which is a low glycemic sweetener. From what I understand, lower glycemic level (or index) foods are better at maintaining even blood sugar levels. I’m just learning about this, and it seems that there are a lot of factors involved, but it seems to me, the less processed (whole wheat vs. white, brown rice vs. white, juices vs. whole fruit, al dente vs. soft-cooked) the lower the glycemic index (“GI”).

The end result was a yummy lemon curd!

Here are some links to more information about glycemic index:

I still think, for me, that balance is the most important eating habit. I am fortunate to have, for the most part, pretty healthy food preferences. I don’t like “diets” because I find them to be too restrictive and I like to have a lot of variety in my diet when it comes to food. I guess that’s my inner foodie.

 

Just A Little Ride …

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

After yesterday’s ride, I really should recover today and rest up. I’ve been running errands, cleaning, organizing, and finally rewarded myself with a quick little jaunt on this sunny, hot, breezy day. One hour. Low resistance, high cadence.

Seven days from now, I will have completed my fourth Tour de Cure and my second century ride. Not that I’m counting down, or anything …

Seven Days and Counting!

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

2011 Tour de Cure

 

Seven days from RIGHT NOW . . .

I will be about 2 hours 30 minutes
into my fourth Tour de Cure ride!!!
http://tour.diabetes.org/site/PageServer?pagename=TC_homepage

I ride the beautiful Napa Valley Tour de Cure:
http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/SanFranciscoArea?pg=entry&fr_id=8064

There are a variety of rides for every level cyclist – http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/SanFranciscoArea?pg=informational&fr_id=8064&type=fr_informational&sid=8510

This year I will take on the 100-mile ride again:  http://main.diabetes.org/site/DocServer/2011_100_ROUTE-color.pdf?docID=94668

Last Big Training Ride Before My Tour de Cure Century!!

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Last night my training partner asked me where I planned to ride today. I told him either Cantelow or Cardiac, because I needed to get some hills in this weekend. He told me, “One of them is not enough.” So, I took his advice and rode both Cardiac Hill and Cantelow Road today.

I started out in Davis, rode to Winters, and then out Hwy 128 to Lake Berryessa and up Cardiac Hill.

Lake Berryessa Dam

 

Top of Cardiac Hill

 

Top of Cardiac, headed out towards Napa

Hmm ... back to Winters?

Hmm ... head towards Napa?

I rested a few moments and contemplated heading out towards Napa, but decided to head back towards Winters. I’m not ready to take on the other side of Cardiac Hill solo yet. It’s a long climb with false summits, or so I hear. I’ve ridden down that way, but I’ve only driven up it.

Perhaps by the end of summer I’ll be ready to take it on solo. If not, that’s OK, too.

Lake Solano

I headed back down the hill and stopped for water at Lake Solano Park. They’ve got the water turned way down, so it’s kind of hard to fill a water bottle, but it’s better than nothing. There were a few families there barbecuing, oh it smelled so good!

From here I headed Pleasants Valley Road to Putah Creek Road, then to Winters Road, and Allendale, and Timm (?) Roads, to English Hills & Cantelow Road.

 

I plodded steadily up the hill; each time seems to get a little easier. I’m relearning how to gear for this hill. A few years ago I was riding it about once a week, and usually up the steep side. I’ll get back to that, but today wasn’t the day to take on the steep side. Soon.

I stopped at the top to take a photo, a drink, and a snack, and shortly thereafter another cyclist arrived. I love how encouraging cyclists are. He told me I did some great climbing up that hill. Wow! We chatted a few minutes, then headed down the hill. He was heading off to climb Mix Canyon, then back over Cantelow. Mix Canyon is another climb I need to try this summer.

View from the top of Cantelow Road

Then it was homeward bound.

 

My total ride today was 82.4 miles. Hills, wind, and not quite enough food or water. I’m feeling it a bit; tomorrow’s ride will definitely be an easy, flat ride for me. My training partner says that today was the perfect day for me to get that last big ride in before the Tour de Cure. The rest of the week it will be pretty easy rides and resting up.

Then, on Sunday, May 6th I ride my 4th Napa Valley Tour de Cure and my second century ride! This is an awesome ride – beautiful scenery, very well supported (AMAZING volunteers, so encouraging and inspiring!). If you’ve never done a ride like this, you really should check it out:  http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/SanFranciscoArea?fr_id=8064&pg=entry

 

 

Eight Days to Go!!!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

“Training is everything.  The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” ~ Mark Twain

Hmm … where to ride, where to ride? Must be some hills involved and MUST be SOON!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Only 8 more days to train for the Tour de Cure … better be sure to eat right!

The beginnings of salad ... heirloom cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumbers

 

 

 

 

 

With artisan lettuce and homemade basil-balsamic vinaigrette

Ready to steam ... asparagus, brussel sprouts, and broccolette

Roasted pork tenderloin, marinated in extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, and garlic

Did you know that pork tenderloin is a good source of B-vitamins, such as Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6)? It’s also a good source of protein, and is pretty low in calories. A 3-ounce serving of pork tenderloin has 120 calories (30 from fat) and 22 grams of protein (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Pork_Lamb_Nutrition_Facts.pdf). 

We also had brown rice and a baked yam, but I didn’t get photos of those.

Festive candles ...

Whole wheat banana bread, with dark chocolate and walnuts

Mmm ... the chocolate is still melty ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not too late to make a donation to help find a cure for diabetes!! If you can, please help to support me in raising money for this great cause.

Check out my Tour Page: http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/TourdeCure/SanFranciscoArea?px=4725188&pg=personal&fr_id=8064

Raindrops on Roses …

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Don’t You Wish You Were Here?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Artisan Lettuce with Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil-Balsamic Vinaigrette with Grilled Bread.

 

To make the Basil-Balsamic Vinaigrette, simply put a few basil leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a couple of small cherry tomatoes, salt & pepper in a blender (I used a Magic Bullet!) and blend. Taste it.

Like it? Use it.
Not? Adjust to your liking, then use it.

 

Calm Before the Storm

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Wow! Gorgeous morning for a ride! There’s a storm blowing in, rains should be here by tomorrow and run through Thursday. At least that’s what the weather forecasters are saying today …

This silly little camera can’t possibly capture how beautiful it was out there, but here are a couple of views …

Russell Bike path, heading back to Davis.

 

Looking back towards Winters ... wishing I could head back in that direction, but that will have to wait for another day.

Must head off to work!

Riding Into The Wind

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The beautiful thing about riding into the wind on the way out, is that you get to ride with the wind on the way back!

Happy Monday! It’s a beautiful morning out there for a ride. I’m glad I got to get out there to enjoy it a bit before the rain starts again. Forecast is rain for Tuesday and Wednesday.