Archive for February, 2015

Challenge: Day 17

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Today was a different kind of challenge because I was cooking for family and wanted to make a meal they’d all like, but would also fit within my Challenge. Well, for the most part fit the Challenge.

The menu:

Stuffed Mushrooms
Chicken Provencal
Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms
Stir-Steamed Vegetables
Pasta with just a drizzle of olive oil
Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

The stuffed mushrooms weren’t really on the Challenge, because they were made with full fat cheese, but I figure they didn’t have that much filling, so two small ones would be sort of OK. Next time I make them I will try a reduced fat cream cheese and I think add some sun dried tomatoes for color.

Stuffed Mushrooms

They’re easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean 12 large crimini mushrooms. Simply pop the stems out of the caps and trim and discard the cut end. Chop the stems finely, then saute in a little olive oil with some fresh garlic. Cook until the excess liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool. Blend about 4 ounces of cream cheese (preferably light), about 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 teaspoon each paprika, black pepper, and onion powder. When the mushroom and garlic mixture has cooled, mix this in to the cheese mixture. Make a little well in the mushroom cap, scooping out the soft, fleshy center. Just barely scrape – you want to maintain the integrity of the mushroom cap. Evenly divide the cheese mixture into the mushroom caps and gently press down to fill the cap and even out the top. Bake about 20 minutes, remove from oven, and top with just a touch more Parmesan cheese. Increase heat to broil, then return the mushrooms to the oven for a few minutes just to brown the tops a bit. Be careful – these can quickly go from perfect to burnt!

Chicken Provencal

For the Chicken Provencal, marinate a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little white wine, olive oil, and herbs de Provence. Marinate at least a few hours or best if overnight. You will want to slice each breast into two or three thinner pieces before marinating. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a heavy bottomed skillet on high and pour in no more than 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. When the pan is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade and add one piece at a time to the skillet. Reserve the marinade. Brown the chicken a little on each side. Cook a few minutes on medium-high heat, then add about 1 cup of white wine and cook until it’s reduced by about half, then top with chopped fresh tomatoes – I like to use heirloom cherry tomatoes because they’re delicious and easy to work with. Use about 1 cup of the cut tomatoes per breast of chicken. Then add the marinade to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is tender and fully cooked (about 20-30 minutes, depending on how thick you’ve cut your chicken). Season to taste with salt and pepper. We enjoyed this with a little pasta, but it would be equally good with rice, or just on its own.

Shrimp with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

The Shrimp with Spinach and Mushrooms could hardly be any easier. Saute sliced mushrooms until they just begin to soften, then add fresh spinach. Cover and allow to steam until the spinach begins to wilt. Clean and devein the shrimp, saute in a non-stick pan, turning each shrimp just once. Add the cooked spinach and mushrooms to the pan, give a gentle stir to combine well. Cover and allow to cook on low for a few minutes, careful to not overcook the shrimp (they’ll get tough). Season to taste with salt and pepper. I have a feeling that bacon would add great flavor to this, but … not so great for the Challenge!

Stir-Steamed Veggies - asparagus, broccolette, carrots, green beans

The Stir-Steamed Vegetables … see here for the method.

The cookies … clearly are not on the Challenge, but it’s Sunday Dinner with Family, so …

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a recipe I have been working on and it’s showing great promise.

I got a quick ride in this morning, and was hoping that I had had time for more, but then it got super windy in the afternoon, so I was thankful that I was not out in that.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Challenge: Day 16

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

I have pretty much given up trying to track everything, but I’m sticking pretty closely to the portions.

Dinner last night was Spicy Teriyaki Shrimp with steamed vegetables. After a long, long week, it was super satisfying and delicious.

Spicy Teriyaki Shrimp with Stir Steamed Vegetables

2 cups mixed fresh vegetables cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
6 to 8 large shrimp, cleaned, peeled, deveined
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon (or more!) chile garlic sauce

Clean, trim, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Drain well, but make sure they’re a little moist still. Heat a large non-stick wok. Add your vegetables one at a time, starting with whichever vegetable will take the longest to cook (I started with the carrots). Once all the vegetables are in the wok, give a good few stirs or shakes to evenly distribute the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and cover.

Asparagus, broccolette, carrots, green beans - prepped and ready to cook

Heat a smaller non-stick skillet. You can use a little cooking spray, if you like, but you won’t need much oil. You’ll want to cook the shrimp on medium-high until they just turn pink. Add the sauces, stir gently to evenly coat, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook just a few minutes until the shrimp are fully cooked.  You don’t want to overcook them, though, or they’ll get tough.

To assemble the dish, place your steamed vegetables in the bottom of a serving bowl. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the vegetables.

Spicy Teriyaki Shrimp & Stir-Steamed Vegetables

If desired, you can garnish with some raw, unsalted cashews


Challenge Days 13, 14, 15

Friday, February 20th, 2015

So, I’m still following the guidelines pretty closely, but I haven’t been tracking everything – just too busy!

Here’s a summary:

  • Lots of veggies
  • Not enough fruit
  • Just about right on protein
  • Too much work
  • Still going over a little on the carbs and nuts, but they’re healthy carb & nut choices and the “overage” is moderate, so … I’m OK with that for now.

Dinner tonight will be Mahi Mahi poached in green tea, served with steamed greens and mushrooms. I’ll try to get some photos posted.

Gotta’ run. Have a great night!

Challenge: Day 12 Dinner

Monday, February 16th, 2015

As promised, here is the recipe from last night’s dinner.

Spicy Teriyaki Chicken with Vegetables

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon (or more) garlic chile paste
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
4 cups mixed fresh vegetables

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Slice each breast in half, so that you have 4 thin pieces. In a glass dish large enough to hold the chicken, combine the teriyaki sauce and garlic chile paste. Add the chicken and toss to evenly coat. Cover and marinate at least a few hours, but overnight is better.

To cook the chicken, you could cook it in the oven, grill it, or simply cook it in a skillet. I used a non-stick skillet.

On medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken if necessary. Reduce heat to low, pour the marinade over the chicken, then add the diced pineapple. Stir gently to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook about 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked (internal temperature 165-degrees Fahrenheit).

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your vegetables. I used asparagus, broccolette, carrots, crimini mushrooms, and green beans. Clean, trim, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Drain well, but make sure they’re a little moist still. Heat a large non-stick wok. Add your vegetables one at a time, starting with whichever vegetable will take the longest to cook (I started with the carrots).

To “stir-steam” you can use just a tiny bit of oil if needed, but don’t use much more than a quick spritz of a cooking spray, otherwise you’re stir-frying.

"Stir-Steamed" Asparagus, Broccolette, Carrots, Crimini Mushrooms, and Green Beans

Stir or “toss” the vegetables frequently to avoid burning them, then cover for a few minutes to allow to steam. I like my vegetables very crisp, with just a hint of tender, so I covered very briefly.

While the vegetables are steaming, remove the chicken from the heat and set aside, covered to keep warm. Increase the heat on the remaining pineapple and sauce; allow it to reduce to thicken.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Portion your vegetables into a serving bowl, top with your portion of chicken, spoon about 1/4 cup of pineapple over top. Serve piping hot! This would be great with a garnish of cashews, but I had already eaten my nut allotment for the day.

Dinner is served!

This made enough for 1 big dinner (1 cup chicken, 2 cups veggies) and 2 smaller lunches (1 cup chicken, 1 cup veggies).

Yesterday on my challenge, I figured that my dinner could be as much as 1 cup protein, 3 cups vegetables, 2 cups fruit. I could still eat more cheese or healthy fats, if I wanted. I did have a little extra carbs (about 2 cups total), but I did ride about 56 miles, so that made sense.

Totals for the day:

* 2 cups vegetables
* 1/2 cup fruit
* 3 cups protein
* 2 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 2 T dressing
* 3 tablespoons nuts

So, I’m still not getting the portions quite right, and I just realized the nuts should be teaspoons, not tablespoons, but … oh, well. There are also things that I have no idea how to categorize, such as the cup of miso broth I had after my ride yesterday. I just have to remind myself … this is my version and I’m just doing this for fun and to get back on track because I feel like I’ve gotten a bit off track food-wise in the past few months.

That said, I’ve got a busy day ahead of me and it’s time to get out on a ride because it is just too gorgeous outside to not ride!

Challenge: Day 12

Monday, February 16th, 2015

It’s another perfect cycling day here in Sacramento. This morning I did almost the same ride on the American River Trail, but only about 56 miles.

My ride was powered by a bowl of steel cut oats (1/2 cup pre-cooked volume), with a few pecans, and drizzle of pure maple syrup. I’m sure a latte helped, too! During the ride, I had one packet of blueberry fig bars (220 calories), 1 gel, and loads of water. By the time I got home I was super hungry, but wanted to still eat on the lighter side because it’s so close to dinner. I’ve had some Greek yogurt, nuts, miso broth, and a Baby Bel light cheese.

Last night I started marinating some chicken for tonight – in teriyaki with some garlic chile paste. I’ve got a fresh pineapple that I think will be a nice addition, but I haven’t decided if I want to have it cooked in with the chicken or on the side. I’ll post that later.

Now, I’m just procrastinating on doing some chores, so off I go …

Discovering Pacific Rockfish

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

If you have never had Pacific Rockfish before, you want to try it. In terms of nutrition, it’s a great source of lean protein, a natural source of vitamin D, and potassium. A 3-ounce serving provides the daily supply of selenium. Not only that, but it has a lovely delicate flavor and buttery-flaky texture.

Pacific Rockfish with Cherry Tomatoes

4 to 5 ounces of Pacific Rockfish filet
1 teaspoon avocado oil
1 cup Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chard, arugula (your favorite cooking greens)
2 cups sliced fresh Crimini mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse, trim, and slice the mushrooms. Rinse and spin your greens. In a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan, saute the mushrooms, watching carefully so they don’t burn. You can add a little oil, if you want, but I’ve found that with a good non-stick pan, you don’t need to. Top with the greens, cover, and allow to steam on low heat until they’re nicely wilted.

For the fish, heat the avocado oil in a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan. You’ll want to get the pan fairly hot so that you can get a nice sear on the fish. Quickly sear on both sides. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until the fish is very tender and flaky, and the tomatoes are reduced just enough to make a delicious, light sauce.


To serve, portion the spinach and mushrooms on one side of a wide, shallow bowl. With a slotted spoon, portion the cherry tomatoes onto the other half.

Prepare the base of your dish.

Place the fish on top of the tomatoes, spoon the sauce over the fish.

Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

This is a very simple, light meal. You can certainly add fresh herbs and other seasonings as you wish, but to me, this is perfect because it allows the delicate flavor and buttery texture of the fish to really shine.

This is a large portion and it makes for a great recovery meal after a big ride. I have a feeling I’ll be eating a lot like this as I get ready for my 2015 Napa Valley Tour de Cure. Please consider donating to my ride – it is a great cause!

I’m estimating the total calories for this dish to be:  315
Fish = 160
Oil = 40
Tomatoes = 30
Greens = 45
Mushrooms = 40

Challenge: Day 11

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day! We have the perfect weather for cycling here today, and the air is pretty clean, too! So, I celebrated Valentine’s Day by treating myself to a long bike ride along the American River Trail.

At the turn around point. I love this bike!

Quick stop on the way home - William B. Pond Park along the American River Trail.

I rode about 65 miles, so I think I earned a few extra carbs today. I fueled my ride with a nice, heart-healthy bowl of steel-cut oats, with a couple of walnuts, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and about 1 tablespoon of dried blueberries.  During the ride, I had 2 small whole grain fig bars and a Cliff gel.

I was way overdressed for how warm it got, so by the time I got home I was in need of some cool refreshment.

Fresh, cool watermelon is a perfect way to rehydrate after a ride.

And hungry, too!

Whole Grain Rice Medley with Smoked Chicken Apple Sausage and Green Beans.

This is about 1 cup of carbs, 1/2 cup protein, and 1/2 cup veggies, so it’s easily within my Challenge!

I have got to start getting some longer rides in so I can get ready for my 2015 Napa Valley Tour de Cure!!! Please consider donating to my ride – it’s a great cause!


Challenge: Days 9 & 10

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Day  9 –  I didn’t really track things so well. I was just too busy. That said, I stuck to the Challenge pretty well. I made a beautiful Heirloom Red Spinach Salad and added the leftover beef, a few mushrooms, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was a perfect lunch.

Day 10 – I have been counting tomatoes as vegetables, but really should be counting them as fruit, so I’m switching over starting today.

Tonight for dinner I sauteed a little bit of thinly sliced fresh fennel in a non-stick pan. Then I lightly seared a piece of beautiful wild-caught cod filet. I put the fennel back in the pan, then the fish, and then topped it with about a cup of the Tomato Fennel Sauce  I made earlier in the week. Cover, reduce to low, and gently simmer until it’s thoroughly warmed through and the fish is nice and flaky. It was really good! Light, healthy, and delicious. I served it with 1/2 cup whole grain rice blend. So, that’s protein, carbs, veggies and fruit!

* 2 1/2 cups vegetables
* 3 cup fruit
* 1 cups protein
* 1 1/2 cups carbs
* 1/4 cup healthy cheese (“light”)
* 2 tablespoons nuts

Something close to that. I’m not quite getting this right according to the 21-Day Fix, but … I’m not really following that. I’m just using that a a loose guideline.

Today was a spectacular weather day. I wish I could have been out on my bike riding. I’m conflicted. I really want beautiful weather so I can ride, but we really desperately need rain.

Challenge: Day 8

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

I’ll have to do this later today, but here’s Day 8 Dinner …

Remember that piece of beef I was marinating? Here it is!

Coffee-Marinated Steak with Heirloom Red Spinach and Crimini Mushrooms

I marinated a small piece of beef in a little coffee, balsamic vinegar, and Herbs de Provence. It had very nice flavor.

The Red Heirloom Spinach was interesting. I’m trying it in a salad today for lunch, with a little of the leftover beef, some fresh mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and a light espresso-balsamic vinaigrette.

Totals for the day:

* 3 1/2 cups vegetables
* 1 cup fruit
* 3 cups protein
* 1 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 1 T dressing (homemade marinade)
* 2 tablespoons nuts

Must run! Work, work, work!

Challenge: Day 7

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Today was going along fine until about noon, then I suddenly felt funky sick. I had a little ginger candy and that worked like a miracle and I feel OK now. I’m thinking maybe I had too much coffee and not enough food this morning. I started drinking lots of water and nibbled on my food as tolerated.

I made a light, healthy dinner tonight with the leftover salmon from last night.

Spicy Teriyaki Salmon with Steamed Veggies

Totals for the day:

* 3 cups vegetables
* 1 cup fruit
* 2 3/4 cups protein
* 1 1/2 cups carbs
* 2 T healthy cheese (“light”)
* 1 1/2 T dressing (Teriyaki sauce & Sriracha)
* 2 tablespoons nuts