Archive for February, 2014

UC Davis Wears Red Day

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Today I participated with my colleagues in UC Davis Wears Red Day. See our heart – I am somewhere in the bottom center.

I <3 UC Davis!

For heart-healthy dietary information, be sure to check here.

For heart-healthy physical activities guidelines, click here.

Keep your heart healthy – come ride with me!

Minestrone Soup Recipe

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

As promised…



Roma Tomatoes








Minestrone Soup

4 ounces of thick-sliced bacon*
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
3 large stalks of celery, diced
8 to 12 ounces of crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 ounces of waxy potatoes (red, purple, gold)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, snapped into about 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen grilled eggplant and/or zucchini**
1 pound fresh Roma tomatoes, cut into 6-8 pieces each
1 pound of hearty cooking greens (spinach, chard, kale, escarole)
32 ounces of beef stock
32 ounces of chicken stock
32 ounces of vegetable stock
3 to 4-inch long piece of Parmesan rind
12 ounces of whole grain shell pasta
4 ounces of Pesto Alla Cycling Foodie
1 can Cannellini beans, well rinsed
fresh herbs – basil, thyme, parsley, rosemary

Trimming the bacon.

Trim as much fat as possible from the bacon, and set aside. Cut the meaty part into about 1/4-inch pieces. Place the fat and meaty pieces into a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon is just a bit browned. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. When it is cool, separate the meat and fat. Discard the fat; set the meat aside for now. You can use the bacon fat or not – it does add a lot of flavor and this amount of this bacon does not really add that much fat for the amount of soup you’re making.

Ready to cook down a bit.

If necessary, add a little olive oil to the pot and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and saute until slightly softened. Add carrots and celery and saute until fragrant. Remove from pot and set aside. If necessary, add a little more olive oil and saute the mushrooms until softened and much of the liquid is cooked out. Return the onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Add the remaining vegetables, bacon pieces, then the stock. Drop in the Parmesan rinds. Cover and cook gently until the greens are wilted.

Stir in the pesto. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the beans and fresh herbs. Allow to heat through before serving.

Serving suggestion …

Place a handful of fresh, hot homemade croutons in the bottom of a soup bowl. Sprinkle with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Ladle in the hot soup,garnish with a bit more Parmesan cheese, and enjoy with a hearty glass of Italian red wine!

This makes a very large pot of soup, so be prepared for leftovers. As with many homemade soups, this one is even better the next day. It also freezes well.

* My favorite bacon for this is Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ends & Pieces – I always trim off as much fat as possible before cooking.

** I used Trader Joe’s Misto alla Grigoia Marinated Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini.

Safety Reminder

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Safety Reminder - Wear Your Brain Bucket ...

So You Can See Another Beautiful Sunrise!

Minestrone Soup

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014
My twist on the Classic Minestrone Soup

Recipe and more photos later …

Finally – A Bit of Rain!

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Finally ... some much needed rain in Davis!

Oooh, it’s feeling like soup weather! Minestrone, anyone?

Dressing Up a Jar of Pasta Sauce

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Dressed Up Sauce

So, so glad to have the chance to ride yesterday! I logged only 56.6 miles, but it felt like a little more. More than anything else, I am sure this has to do with my not riding much recently, but we also encountered some of those “Davis Hills” again. The breeze picked up, but then calmed down a bit by the time we were headed back. The ride was nothing too exciting, just my normal warm up loop and then a jaunt out to Winters and back.

I did work up quite an appetite, though. On my warm-up loop I was already thinking about dinner. What to cook? I really did not want to run to the store yesterday – pre-SuperBowl crowds, you know? Hmm … what’s on hand? Greens, of course. Baby spinach and kale. Protein? Some beautiful, light, healthy cod. Shiitake mushrooms. How about a super healthy and light dinner of sauteed shiitakes with spinach, then some pan roasted cod? I picked up a jar of apricot-chile jam the other day and that sounded like it would make a lovely glaze for the fish. That sounded like a great plan!

After my warm-up loop, I grabbed the cod from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.

Then we headed out towards Winters. It was a bit slow-going, but at least we were out in the abundant sunshine. There were only a few other cyclists out, so I was especially glad to have company on my ride.

We stopped for snack at Steady Eddy’s for a water refill and snack. It’s under new ownership and they’ve made just enough changes to make it feel different. They moved a few things around. Not to be so picky, but … there isĀ  no more Coca Cola in bottles. Cans, yes, but it’s just not the same. I don’t know why, but it just isn’t. And … no oat cakes?! Hopefully they were just sold out. Oh, well … I guess I just need to come up with my own oat cake recipe. The good news is that there were still lots of familiar, friendly staff faces there.

Oh, yes … the sauce … you’re wondering when I am going to talk about pasta sauce. I got sidetracked.

When we got home from our ride, I made a few snacks. A handful of mixed nuts. A half cup of low fat Greek yogurt. A big bowl of heirloom cherry tomato, cucumber, and avocado salad loaded with fresh thyme and parsley, lightly dressed with a touch of olive oil and balsamic glaze and a sprinkle of pink sea salt. A bite (okay, two) of dark chocolate. Lots of water and a Zevia ginger root beer. I am not much for diet soda, but this one is sweetened with stevia, an all natural and zero calorie sugar substitute. It’s pretty good – light and refreshing. I’m not entirely used to the flavor of stevia, but it’s better than those nasty artificial sweeteners.

By the time it got to be dinner time, the cod was still frozen. Hmm … now I really did not want to go to the store and I was hungrier than I expected to be, so what else could I make?

There is always pasta in this house and a box of whole grain thin spaghetti practically jumped out of the cabinet into my arms. I haven’t made spaghetti in ages! There was also a jar of prepared sauce. Jarred sauce, even really good jarred sauce, just won’t do. I have to dress it up.

Dressed Up Sauce

1 jar of your favorite prepared tomato-based pasta sauce
1 splash of olive oil
4-6 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 large carrot, grated
6-8 small fresh tomatoes
3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
fresh herbs
freshly grated good quality Parmesan cheese
1 box of your favorite pasta

Prepare all of your ingredients – clean the vegetables and herbs. Chop the herbs and set aside. Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta.

In a large, non-reactive skillet or saucier, heat the olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat. I like to brown them just a bit. Add the shredded carrot and saute a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook down just a bit. Add the spinach, cover with a lid, and let it steam a few moments to wilt, then add the sauce. Give it a little stir, then cover and cook gently. You don’t want this sauce to boil – that will destroy the texture of the vegetables and make it acidic. You just want it to bubble gently. I like to add about half of the herbs to the sauce when it is cooking, and use the other have for garnish. I used fresh thyme and Italian parsley for this dish. I love fresh thyme with mushrooms.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

Cook the pasta. Drain. If you want, drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta.

Assemble your dinner. This is best served in a large, flat bowl.

Building the Plate

Dinner is Served!

Portion the pasta into warmed bowls. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese and fresh herbs. Top with sauce and a little more cheese and a generous sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Whenever possible, I use whole grain pasta. Spinach pasta would be fantastic with this sauced. If you’re gluten-intolerant, try this with a gluten-free brown rice pasta.

You can make this vegetarian, or it is also great with sausage. To keep it healthy – choose a low fat chicken or turkey sausage loaded with herbs. I had about 1 tablespoon of leftover chopped bacon that I added to the sauce and that added just a nice hint of flavor.

Like Pasta Primavera? Simply add more vegetables. This would be wonderful with zucchini, squash, eggplant, onions, whatever vegetables you like.

Want to make this entirely from scratch? Skip the jarred sauce and use homemade tomato sauce. (That will have to be a different post.)


Now it’s time to get ready to ride today before the rain starts.