Archive for October, 2013

Ideas for Healthy Holiday Recipes

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

I am loving having Internet access on the machines at the gym. While I was on my favorite machine this morning, I came across some great information and recipes for healthier holidays. Check out the Mayo Clinic website for some great holiday recipe ideas and loads of valuable nutrition and health information.

The holidays this time of year can wreak havoc on individuals with health concerns, such as diabetes. If you’re diabetic, be sure to check out the American Diabetes Association website, also, for healthy holiday tips and recipes.

Enjoy in good health!

Pure Comfort

Monday, October 28th, 2013

A day like today calls for some serious comfort food. Here are a few of my childhood favorites – and these came out just about as good as my Mom’s!

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Crisp, tart-sweet, and perfect for baking.

It’s crazy windy in Davis today. Far too windy to safely or comfortably ride, so I have been doing a few chores, making a big pot of soup, and feeling a bit cranky in general about this wind. There I stood in the kitchen, wondering what in the heck else I could do to keep me from interrupting the big game (again) … my gaze fell upon a bowl of apples in the kitchen. Hmm … what better way to beat this mood than with a warm, homemade apple crisp, and to fill my home with the spicy-sweet fragrance of freshly baked apples and spice?

Apple Crisp

Prepare the filling.

3 large Granny Smith apples
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon of flour
A few dashes of apple pie spice blend
1 teaspoon sugar
A pinch of salt

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple pie spice blend
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the topping.

Prepare the filling:
Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place sliced apples in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon flour, a few dashes of apple pie spice blend, up to 1 tablespoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine and set aside and prepare your topping.

Prepare the topping:
Combine the flour and rolled oats, dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of your favorite apple pie spice blend, a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. With your fingers, work in about 1/4 cup of very cold butter (cut into small cubes). Do not overmix the topping. If desired, add the walnuts and quickly stir with a fork.

Ready to bake.

Evenly distribute the topping over the apples and bake in the center of the preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

Serve warm and savor every sweet, spicy bite. Of course, it’s fantastic with a good vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, but it doesn’t need it.

Even though the wind is now howling out there, it feels cozy warm inside with a big pot of homemade soup on the stove and a fresh from the oven apple crisp. Time to light a few candles, serve up some soup, and watch the big game.




Oats in a Smoothie?

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Creamy, Smooth, and Delicious!

One of my colleagues at work mentioned that she puts oats in her morning smoothie. I’ve tried it a few times and it is wonderful! It lends a creamy mild sweetness that’s hard to beat. I like to use steel cut oats, but you could also use old fashioned (rolled) or quick oats, too. Just remember to use plain oats, and not pre-mixed sweetened oatmeal packages. If you have a Vitamix, you can simply add the raw oats with the rest of the ingredients. If you have a standard blender, you may want to soak the oats in the water, a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator – use about 1 cup water to 1/4 cup steel cut oats. You could also make oat flour in a food processor by pulsing the oats until they’re very fine. The oat flour will blend more easily in a standard blender.

Green Smoothie Shooters

This morning I added 1/4 cup of steel cut oats (about 170 calories total) to this recipe, which makes 2 large smoothies (plus these two cute little shooters). In addition to the oats, this smoothie has 2 big handfuls of baby greens (kale, spinach, chard), 1 1/2 cups water, and 12 ice cubes. It’s got one peach, about a cup of pineapple, and 2 scoops of whey protein.

Yes, the oats add a few calories, but I think they’re worth it. Oats provide heart-healthy soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Oats are also a good source of minerals and protein, and numerous studies have shown that oats have many health benefits.

Oats can be a good breakfast choice for diabetics, too.

For more information on how to incorporate green smoothies into a healthy diabetic diet, be sure to check out this article on the American Diabetes Association website.

For information on how you can register for the American Diabetes Napa Valley Tour de Cure 2014, please see here! Join me in Napa, California on Sunday, May 4, 2014 – take the ride of your life! If you want to help support my ride, please click here and make a donation. Every bit helps.

Click here for some more great nutritional and health information information about oats.

Power Greens Smoothie

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Power Greens Smoothie

This smoothie is refreshing and light. The greens are very subtle, and the fruit adds a lightly tart-sweetness. It is very lovely and bright green – this photo really does not do it justice.

Power Greens Smoothie

1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 kiwi, peeled and halved
1 peach, sliced & frozen
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, frozen
2 scoops whey protein powder
2 big handfuls of mixed baby greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc…)
8-12 ice cubes

Place ingredients except ice in the order listed in a large capacity blender, such as a Vitamix. Blend until smooth, add ice to reach your desired thickness.

This recipe makes enough for 2 large smoothies.

A Lost Weekend

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Life can be so cruel sometimes … like when you’re sick on a perfect-weather weekend. I rode nary a mile this weekend, and barely made it to the gym at all this entire week. And if ever a Fall weekend was perfect for cycling, this was it. I even had to take a very, very rare sick day this week, and had to back out of volunteering to help with morning snacks for the Davis Bike Club’s Foxy’s Fall Century. A group of friends were having a special foodie event – I had to miss that, too! I did make my work event on Saturday, though – UC Davis Preview Day!

Matcha Smoothie

So, it turned out to be a pretty low key weekend, with some much needed rest at home watching reruns on the Food and Cooking channels, and hanging out with a warm cat on the couch.

This morning’s smoothie was very light and interesting with a matcha green tea whey protein powder. I whirled this in my Vitamix with about a half cup of water, 1/4 cup steel cut oats, a big handful of baby kale greens, a handful of frozen red grapes, about a half cup of frozen pineapple, and six ice cubes. This made a lovely green smoothie, and was delicate and lightly sweet.

I’ve finally got an appetite again, and tonight am preparing a Maple Mustard Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin, with Roasted Herbed Potatoes, and Maple & Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple.

Brussels Sprouts & Apple - ready to roast!

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple*

2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1 large Gala Apple
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and trim the Brussels Sprouts. Peel, core, and cut the apple into 8 wedges. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes, to your desired tenderness. You’ll want to check them after about 10 minutes and give them a stir. This will help them to cook evenly. You can also cook these in a cast iron skillet.

While the sprouts are cooking, combine the maple syrup and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook gently until reduced to a thick syrup. Watch carefully – it can go from perfect to too sticky in a moment.

Be careful to not overcook the sprouts. You can get a nice char, but don’t cook them until they’re soft. They’ll be bitter and nasty.

* inspired by this Weight Watchers recipe.

Purple, Gold, & Red Potatoes with Thyme & Rosemary

Herb Roasted Potatoes

1 pound waxy potatoes
Olive oil
Fresh herbs of your choice
Salt & pepper to taste

Half the potatoes, toss with the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan. Roast until perfect.

If you’re pressed for time, you can par-cook the potatoes for about 7-10 minutes in the microwave. Cook them about halfway, then prepare and roast as above.

Maple-Mustard-Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin, about 1-1/2 pounds
about 1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs of your choice (I used thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley)
1 heaping tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Maple Mustard Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Place tenderloin in a zip-top bag. Whisk herbs, mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, and salt together, then pour into the bag with the pork. Seal bag and give it a little shake to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for at at least 4 hours or overnight.

Roast or grill the tenderloin to an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

I liked each dish individually, but all together on one plate the meal needed color. Hmm …

The Unnamed Smoothie

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Interesting ...

My ride was cancelled for wind this morning. It’s looking more like a trip to the gym and a nice walk later.

That didn’t stop me from a healthy start to the day. This smoothie may be a bit of an adventure for some, but it’s worth a try. I haven’t yet settled on a name yet, so for now…

Unnamed Smoothie

1 cup filtered water
2 scoops whey protein powder
1 fresh peach, pitted and quartered
1 fresh kiwi, peeled and quartered
2 cups honeydew (about 1-inch chunks)
1 big handful baby kale
1 cup red cabbage (about 1-inch chunks)
3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
8-12 ice cubes

Measure water into a large capacity blender, such as a Vitamix. Add ingredients in the order listed. Start on low speed, then increase to high and blend until smooth and creamy. For a thicker smoothie add ice cubes and blend until smooth.

Makes enough for two large smoothies packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.

If you’re new to the vegetable-fruit smoothie experience and like a sweeter smoothie, you might want to substitute apple or pineapple juice for the water, or add a little honey or agave syrup.

Speaking of sweetness … later today I’ll be doing a bit of baking to send some goodies to Ohio: brownies, banana bread, and oatmeal cookies. I’ll post pictures.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup

It’s getting to be soup weather, and this will definitely hit the spot after a good 60+ mile ride today. The morning started out pretty cool and calm, but the day warmed up and got a little bit breezy by the time I got home.

This soup is very easy to make and makes a hearty, satisfying, and healthy meal. It’s a variation of a previous post for Beef, Lamb, Vegetable, & Barley Soup. Use whatever vegetables, meat, and stock you have on hand. If you don’t have fresh vegetables, you can use frozen. You can add kidney or garbanzo beans, if you like. You could also substitute rice or pasta for the barley. You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by omitting the meat entirely and using 100% vegetable stock. Mushrooms are a great addition, especially to the vegetarian version.

I’ll be serving this soup tonight garnished with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh herb rolls I picked up at the Nugget Market bakery today.

You can make a little, or you can make a lot.  This soup reheats well and keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, and in the freezer for a few months. If you’ve got room in your freezer, make a big batch and stock up! The holidays are coming and we’ll all be extra busy and in need of a quick, healthy dinner. Simply remove from the freezer in the morning and thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat for dinner, serve with some crusty bread, and you have a quick, healthy, satisfying dinner.

Magenta Mystery

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found online while working out at the gym. Yes, I was working out and researching green smoothie recipes – the joys of technology – some of the machines now have Internet! This is fantastic, because now I don’t notice the brain-numbing TVs with IQ-reducing shows and music videos. As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been doing lots of searching and reading about green smoothie recipes, and I’ve found some great ideas at this website,

A little tart ... a little sweet ... and super satisfying!

Magenta Mystery

1 cup filtered water
1 small banana
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 cup pitted dark cherries, frozen
2 scoops whey protein
2 cups chopped red cabbage
8-12 ice cubes, optional

Measure water into a large capacity blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the banana, blueberries, cherries, whey protein, and cabbage in the order listed. Start on low speed, then increase to high and blend until smooth and creamy. For a thicker smoothie add ice cubes and blend until smooth.

Makes enough for two large smoothies packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.

I am looking forward to getting some good cycling in again this weekend. Last weekend I got two great rides in for a total of 144 miles for the weekend. I’m hoping to do at least as much this weekend; the weather looks quite promising.

Have a terrific day … it’s FRIDAY!

Catching Up, But Just A Little

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

I am loving my Vitamix and have had a smoothie almost every day since I bought it. I’ve been doing lots of reading about smoothies, green smoothies in particular. There are so many recipes out there and the possibilities practically infinite. Just remember, though, that just because a smoothie is green, does not mean it is healthy, low fat, or low calorie. There are some extremes on both ends of the spectrum, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at recipes and what you ultimately want to gain (or lose) by drinking smoothies.

I have got to come up with some catchy names for my recipes, but for now, this will just be called a green smoothie. Sorry there is no photo; I’m a little rushed to get to work this morning.

This makes 2 large smoothies, so if you don’t have a large capacity blender, you’ll want to halve this recipe. Place the following items in your blender, in this order*:

1 cup filtered water
1 fresh peach, pitted and quartered
1 fresh kiwi, peeled and quartered
1 cup honeydew melon chunks
1 handful of baby carrots
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
2 large fistfuls of baby kale greens
9-12 ice cubes

Start your blender on low, then increase the speed to high. Blend until smooth and creamy.

This smoothie is low fat and packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. According to this website (CalorieKing), this smoothie has only about 200 calories per serving, depending on the protein powder you’re using. It is light and refreshing, yet will keep you satisfied for hours.

*Placing the softer items in the blender first help the smoothie to blend more quickly. I suppose you could just pour the liquid in last if you want (it will naturally settle to the bottom).