Archive for January, 2015

Beautiful Day for a Davis Ride!

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

So excited to ride in Davis today! I miss it so much!

A Two Workout Kinda’ Day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I got some stuff done this morning and then went to the gym. My New Year’s present to myself was a membership to a new gym. I’m looking forward to some spin classes soon, and enjoyed a gentle yoga class one night last week. I’m trying out new machines, some old favorites, and this is a good thing because cross training will help to make me a stronger cyclist.

But I’ll never stop loving riding my bike, so when the day went from cloudy and cold to sunny, what else was I to do? Even though I had a good workout at the gym this morning, I had to ride.

Tower Bridge, Sacramento

Enjoying some unexpected sunshine this afternoon.

Pasta with (Healthy) Meat Sauce

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

This is so easy to put together and makes for great leftovers.

Healthy Meat Sauce

2 pounds of lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, slightly crushed
optional – red chili flakes for a little heat
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (more, if you desire!)
1 small red onion, finely diced
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (either white or crimini mushrooms will be great)
2 pounds of fresh roma tomatoes, cut into about a 1/4-inch dice (keep the juice!) or 1 can of crushed tomatoes (about 28 ounces)
2 tablespoons pesto, or about 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 4-ounce can of tomato paste
1 large jar of your favorite prepared marinara sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Your favorite pasta (I’m partial to either whole grain or spinach pasta)

For garnish, freshly grated or shaved cheese, such as Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, & freshly chopped basil and/or parsley

Line a colander with 2 layers of paper towels and set aside. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, fennel seeds, and chili flakes; cook thoroughly. Some people like to chop it up really finely, but I like some chunks in there, so break the meat up as much or as little as you like. When it’s cooked through, scoop the meat into the colander, cover to keep warm, and allow any excess fat to drain. If you’re using lean turkey, there shouldn’t be much. Set the meat aside for now.

Wipe out the skillet, add the second tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook a little, being careful to not brown it. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute a few minutes, just until softened. Add the diced onions and cook a few more minutes, just until the onions are translucent.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them now. Stir well and allow to cook over medium heat until they’ve softened a bit. Then add the meat, pesto or chopped basil, tomato paste and stir to blend well. Finally, add the prepared marinara sauce and stir to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you are using canned tomatoes, then add them with the marinara sauce.

Cook over low heat, gently simmering, while you prepare your pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

To serve …

Ladle your pasta into a bowl, top the hot pasta with some freshly grated cheese.

Top with the hot sauce. This is wonderful with a garnish of mushrooms cooked in a bit of red wine.

For the garnish of mushrooms cooked in red wine … credit must go to Tia Stella … and I’m typing this from memory, so hopefully I’m not missing anything. What you’ll need:

1 tablespoon each butter & olive oil
6 ounces of white mushrooms, cleaned and cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices
a generous splash (well, maybe 2) of dry red wine
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed skillet, until the butter melts and just starts to bubble a bit. Add the mushrooms, saute a few minutes to soften. Add the red wine and stir, cooking until the wine is reduced and you’ve got a nice slightly thickened sauce. If you want, you can add a little bit more cold butter* to help thicken the sauce and make them kinda’ decadent. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*If you add a bit more butter, start with about a teaspoon of cold butter cut into small cubes, and whisk it in to the pan. You’ll want to be careful at this point to not let it get too hot or the sauce will “break” and the butter will separate out make the sauce oily (for lack of better word at the moment!)

If you don’t like to cook with wine, you could use a good balsamic vinegar in place of the wine.

This would be a great meal after a big bike ride like the Napa Valley Tour de Cure. Come ride with me! There is still plenty of time to sign up. If you don’t or can’t ride, please consider donating to my ride. Please help me reach my goal to be a Champion again this year! I am a long way from reaching my goal this year, so any help will be much appreciated.

Coming Soon … Pasta with (Healthy) Meat Sauce

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Spinach Linguine with Meat Sauce - made with super lean ground turkey

This would be a wonderful meal the night before, or the night after, a big bike ride!

Spicy Chipotle Shrimp with Stir Fried Vegetables

Monday, January 12th, 2015

A wonderful post-ride recovery meal - easy, low carb, high protein, and delicious!

Spicy Chipotle Shrimp with Stir Fried Vegetables

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
8 ounces shrimp (medium to large size), cleaned, shelled, & deveined
1 – 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or red onion
1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 – 2 tablespoon Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, finely diced
1/4 cup dry white or sparkling wine
salt, pepper, red chile flakes to taste

about 4 cups of assorted vegetables* of your choice, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons orange juice
a dash of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped

Prepare all of your ingredients. Rinse the shrimp, shell, and devein them. You can leave the tails on or pull them off – it’s a matter of personal choice.  Lay them on paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Over medium-high, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wok. Add the shrimp and cook until they just start to turn pink. Remove from heat and set in a colander to drain. Wipe the wok clean.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the wok and reheat, on medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot or onion and cook until they just begin to caramelize. Add the Chipotle peppers and heat through. Return the shrimp to the wok and toss to combine well. Add the wine and cook on medium heat to reduce the wine and thicken the sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm.

In another wok, heat the last tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add your vegetables in batches and stir fry a few minutes. Add the orange juice and soy sauce, and cook just until the excess liquid is mostly evaporated. It’s important to not overcook the vegetables for this dish, so watch them carefully.

To serve, divide the vegetables between two large dinner bowls, top with the shrimp, and garnish with the cashews.

This makes two large servings.

We used asparagus, carrots, celery, French green beans, mushrooms, and snap peas.

If you want to add some healthy carbs, this would be great with some brown or black rice.

 

Pennies from Heaven

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Do you believe in "Pennies from Heaven?"

As Promised … Pasta Primavera

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

This is an awesome dinner to serve the night before a big ride. To make it a great recovery meal, serve it as a side dish with some good lean protein such as fish, chicken, turkey, or pork tenderloin.

Pasta Primavera

1 tablespoon good olive oil
Assorted vegetables*, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into about 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 can tomato paste
1 jar of marinara sauce
your favorite pasta

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Saute the vegetables for a few minutes, just to start them cooking. Add the tomato paste and marinara sauce. Stir to combine well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 to 30 minutes. How long you cook the sauce will depend on how crisp you like your vegetables. I tend to like mine on the crisp side, so when I prepare a Primavera this way, I only cook the sauce 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to the directions its packaging. Drain the pasta, and if desired, toss with a little olive oil.

To serve …

Portion your pasta into a bowl.

Ladle your Primavera Sauce over the pasta.

If desired, sprinkle with a little freshly grated cheese, such as Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano. A good, crusty bread will be a nice accompaniment, also. If you feel like something a bit richer, then feel free to add a bit of Italian Sausage, sweet or spicy would be good. To keep it on the light side, be sure to use a lower fat sausage, such as chicken or turkey.

* Tonight I used asparagus, carrots, fresh fennel, French green beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and snap peas. You can use any combination you like! That’s the beauty of a recipe like this – it is so very flexible. It’s easy, nutritious, low in fat, and delicious, too.

Coming Soon … Pasta Primavera

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

On the stove right now is a big batch of super healthy, super easy Pasta Primavera sauce. It’s loaded with veggies, low in fat, nutrient-rich, and flavorful. I’ll post the recipe soon.

Pasta Primavera Sauce ... perfect with spinach linguine!

 

Cioppino Party

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

Last night I had some friends over for dinner. After the holidays, we’re all feeling a bit, dare I say, overindulged? However, last night was the final “holiday” party for 2014. It just had to wait until 2015 due to everyone’s schedules. So a light and healthy meal with just a touch of decadence was in order.

We had a few appetizers, the usual fresh vegetable platter, some cheese and crackers, and one experimental recipe – Roasted Crimini Mushrooms with Herbed Goat Cheese and a Balsamic Vinegar Glaze.

Roasted Crimini Mushrooms

Fresh Veggies

For the entree, I made Cioppino, mostly based on this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. I made just a few modifications, but tried to follow her recipe as closely as possible because I’ve never made Cioppino before.

Cioppino

3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
28 ounces of chopped fresh Roma tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white white
2 cups oyster broth
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 pounds mixed seafood: mussels, shrimp, scallops, calamari
1 1/2 pounds wild caught fresh swordfish, cut into chunks

Mis en place: assemble and prepare all of your ingredients.

In a large pot (at least 5.5 quarts), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, and shallots; saute about 8-10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute another 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, wine, broths, water, and bay leaf. Stir to combine well. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to gently simmer for about 30 minutes. This will allow the flavors to blend.

Add the mixed seafood, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add the fish, stir gently, and cook another 5-10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

Ladle into bowls and serve with a good, crusty bread. This recipe makes six generous portions.

Cioppino - light, yet rich and satisfying, this Cioppino will make you want to head back for seconds.

We served a 2011 Luna Canto, which paired nicely and stood up to the spicy kick of this Cioppino.

For dessert, I made a “Paleo” Apple Crisp that I know you’ll want to try.

 

 

“Paleo” Apple Crisp

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

I wanted a dessert that would be comforting and delicious, but also on the lighter side. What could I make? There on the kitchen counter sat a bag of Granny Smith apples, staring at me, calling out, “Pick me! Pick meeeeeeeee!” Hmm … I fondly remembered my mother’s apple crisp … warm, sweet, comforting. How could I take this idea and make it a little lighter, a little healthier? I found an intriguing recipe for a Paleo Baked Apple Crisp. I followed this recipe almost exactly, except that I added the zest and juice of one lemon, a sprinkle of ginger, used butter in place of the coconut oil, and sprinkled a little extra pecans on top for extra crunch. I also covered it during part of the baking.

"Paleo" Apple Crisp

 “Paleo” Apple Crisp

6-7 Granny Smith apples
juice and zest of one lemon
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons raw honey, heated a little to melt, if necessary
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a sprinkle of ground ginger

For the crumble topping:
1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons finely ground pecans
2 tablespoons raw honey, heated a little to melt, if necessary
2 tablespoons butter, cut into about 1/4-inch chunks
optional: one additional tablespoon of finely ground pecans to sprinkle on top of the crumble

While the apple mixture is baking, prepare your topping. Combine all of the topping ingredients well and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel, core, and slice apples into about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Combine apples, lemon zest and juice, orange juice, honey, maple syrup, and spices in a large bowl and gently toss to combine well. Pour into a baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, then cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with crumble topping, and if desired, sprinkle with another tablespoon of finely chopped pecans. Bake another 20 minutes until the juices are nice and bubbly. Allow to cool a bit. Serve warm.

You don’t really need to serve this with whipped cream or ice cream, and that kind of undoes the healthy aspect, but it was still a celebration and everything else was pretty healthy, so we whipped up a little heavy cream with some vanilla sugar and homemade Southern Comfort vanilla extract (“vintage” 2010).

"Paleo" Apple Crisp with Southern Comfort Vanilla Scented Whipped Cream

Enjoy!