Thursday, April 21, 2011

Forget them... run for it!

 The most annoying thing in the world, other than fad diets that do more harm than good, and all the women who refuse to lift sufficient weight because they thing they'll look like a beast overnight, is listening to all the hype about how bad running is. The terrible part about this commotion, is that the people who make these bogus claims are people who have no idea what they're talking about, who make assumptions based on correlating but non-causative events.

Several people tell me about their friend's uncle who had both of his knees replaced because he's been running all of his life. In reality, that uncle had his knees replaced because either A. lack of proper training or B. didn't listen to his body while running or resting like he should have. In Anatomy 301 in college, I wasn't even a runner yet. I didn't yet have that understanding about the wonders running does for you body. If someone even made such a comment with "wonders" and "running" in the same sentence to me, I would have thought they were crazy. However, I will always remember my professor explaining Wolff's Law: "Every change in the function of a bone is followed by certain definite changes in its internal architecture and and its external conformation." In Lehman's terms, Wolff's Law explains that a bone strengthens and deposits mass in response to the stress placed upon it. Running, with proper form, is actually great for you. It builds your bone mass better than any other aerobic activity. I say better only because you can withstand running for a longer period of time than plyometrics or other high intensity activities. For proper running form, check out Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. Pretty awesome stuff. I have not suffered any major injuries since I started following his Chi Running guidelines, and I actually run much faster and more efficiently.

Check out this article posted on Runner's World. Maybe you'll be inspired to go for a run :) 
10 Reasons Why Running is GOOD for You

I also get chastised by cyclists for running so much. They argue that running is hard on the body whereas cycling is so much more gentle and efficient. Again, I cite to them Wolff's Law. On a bike, you have no weight bearing pounding to signal your body to increase your bone density. Thus, over time you can actually decrease your bone mass by cycling and not doing any type of running or weight lifting exercises, due to the simple fact that bone mass decreases as you age naturally. Check out this article which explains my understanding.
Why Running is Better than Cycling

yummy honey nuts!

I love honey roasted nuts and all those fancy nuts you can buy at the local markets. Not only are they tasty, they make for an incredible snack! However, I really wanted to make a batch of my own with less sugar and more of the nuts I believe to be healthier. I tried to make a batch before this successful one, and almost decided you just can't have your cake and eat it too. But then again, I thought, I've always had my cake and ate it too, so why not this time? My second shot was a great success! :) Use whatever nuts you prefer.

1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw peanuts
1 egg white
1 T honey
2 T brown sugar
2.5 T stevia in the raw
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk egg white until thick and foamy, then add the nuts and honey and stir until evenly combined. In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, stevia, cinnamon and salt, and pour into the nuts and stir until evenly coated. Spread the nuts into even layer on the baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let nuts cool and place into air-tight container.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

tofu and asparagus stir-fry

The only regret I have after making this meal is that I should have had soba noodles (buckwheat noodles) in my pantry and used those. This dish would be wonderful with soba noodles. However, the flavor was just as wonderful with brown rice noodles. Jake is a big fan of asparagus, unlike me. I like my asparagus the way I like most of my veggies.... covered in garlic or some other sauce. Luckily, I've got Rocco Dispirito in my recipe collection so that I can use his rockin' stir fry sauce for my stir fry so that it's not drenched in anything unhealthy. This dish is soooo yum!

Rocco's rockin' stir fry sauce (recipe follows)
16 oz brown rice noodles or soba noodles
1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 bunch asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces
1 T sesame oil

Boil pasta according to package directions. Saute the tofu for about 2 minutes in sesame oil once pan is hot, then add asparagus and saute for another 2 minutes. Add drained pasta into pot with asparagus and tofu then add sauce and stir. It's that simple!


1 T sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped fine
1 T cornstarch
6 T GF low sodium soy sauce
3/4 low-fat, low-sodium all natural chicken broth
3 T vinegar
1/2 cup simply Heinz ketchup
salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper

Heat large skilled over high heat. Add sesame oil to hot pan. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions and saute for a couple of minutes. Place cornstarch in a medium bowl, add the soy sauce, broth, vinegar, and ketchup and whisk together. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pan and bring to simmer, whisking constantly until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper. This sauce can be stored for up to a week in an air-tight container.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

tortilla-crusted cod cakes with garlic-ed asparagus

Adapted from

Crunchy and healthy cod cakes? Yes please! As I said, I'm leaning toward eating more seafood and vegetarian protein as opposed to turning to steak and chicken every night. These cakes are my attempt at following through, and they worked out well. I will say one thing, these cakes are very fragrant when they cook. If you've ever smelled calamari while it was cooking, this smells similar. It's not fishy, just fragrant, so keep a door open!

1 medium red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
4 T olive oil
1 large jalapeno, chopped finely
1 1/2 lbs cod fillet
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
3 lemon slices

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat ovenproof skilled with 1 T oil, add onion, cilantro, and jalapeno and cook until softened. Pulse the co, egg, salt, pepper, and onion mixture in food processor until combined, but not pureed. Form 6 large cod cakes. Coat each with tortilla chips. Heat skilled with 1 T oil over medium heat, and add the cakes and cook until golden brown, 3 mintues per side. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve with lemon slices, to be squeezed over the cakes just before eating.

Saute one bunch of asparagus in 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 T olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mrs. Ringlestein's amazing salmon

Jake has some really amazing friends. Not to take away from my friends, because they're awesome as well, but I've been wowed by my new friends/family. While Jake was is on deployment or underway, his best friends call and make sure I'm getting along okay and handling my new situation well. One of them happen to live in the same city and invited me over for dinner with he and his room mates one night while Jake was gone. Kevin made his mother's salmon recipe, which I was pretty iffy about as I watched him prepare it. Salmon has always tasted fishy to me, but I've always wanted to like it. To my surprise, the dish was fantastic and is so simple and delicious. For the rest of you salmon haters, you should definitely give this dish a try.

2 salmon fillets, about 1.5 lbs
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup GF breadcrumbs, plus 1 T Italian seasoning if using plain breadcrumbs
3 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 juice of freshly squeezed lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line small pan with aluminum foil and place salmon fillets on foil. Spread oil onto fillets, then honey. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly across fish, as well as the seasoning. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. Squeeze the lemon over the fish. Place the salmon into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The rule of thumb for salmon is to bake it for 10 minutes per each 1 inch of thickness. My salmon was 2 inches thick so 20 minutes was perfect and it wasn't overcooked at all. I apologize if this isn't as amazing as Kevin's mom's original recipe, but I wrote it from memory and cooked it this way last night and it turned out wonderfully :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

why vegetarian? why carnivore? why does it matter?

Many people talk to me about their vegetarian diets and others tell me about their meat-lover diets. Which one is better? Well, neither are healthy whatsoever if certain nutrients aren't found in the particular diets.

I love the move toward more Paleolithic, Caveman type diets these days. These diets enforce the importance of eating simple, unprocessed foods. Everything eaten is made by hand and at home, for the most part. However, I believe it is equally as important to understand that more protein does not necessarily mean more healthy. Our bodies can only digest a certain amount of protein. I wouldn't condone anyone eating more than 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight that they wish to weigh. For example, I weight 125 pounds, so I will not eat more than 125 grams of protein in one day. 25 grams of protein is usually the maximum amount of protein our bodies can handle at any given meal. Eating a 10 oz steak is not going to do your body good. Eating a 10 oz steak and no veggies at all can actually do your body a good deal of harm, in the long run.

I hate hearing people talk about how healthy they are because they don't eat meat so they don't eat all the fat or get the carcinogens to which meat eaters are vulnerable. The only reason this frustrates me, is because these vegetarians tend to be the same vegetarians who don't understand they need to eat some form of protein in order to keep their immune system healthy and fully functioning. Eating processed vegetarian foods is totally the opposite of what a healthy diet should consist of. I'm not talking about tofu and tempeh, because those are great sources of protein in the vegetarian diet. I'm speaking of the veggie burgers, pastas, fat and sodium-packed dairy, sodium and crap-packed tofu sausage, and other fake food. It is totally possible to have a healthy, nutrient-dense diet as a vegetarian. A soy-whey protein shake blend such as BodyByVi (which tastes like cake batter by the way), as well as Greek yogurt, nuts, tofu, tempeh, beans, and eggs and fish if not on a strict vegetarian diet, are perfect to satisfy your protein needs.

I am actually going to move toward more vegetarian/pescetarian eating habits. I was vegetarian for over a year, and did really well with my protein needs and maintained my active lifestyle. I feel as though I have been getting a little too excited about all the meat I've been cooking up, and am going to begin to explore the world of vegetarian cooking, once again, with the exception of seafood, eggs, and some dairy. I'm a big fan of challenges, so here we go.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

healthier chocolate peanut butter cake

I make a birthday cake for my dad every year. I try to make a cake for other friends and family when I get the opportunity to do so. Growing up, I would bake carrot cake for my grandmother and german chocolate cake for my grandfather, on their birthdays. It seems a little strange to bake cakes to give to someone on their birthday, but to me whatever you can do well is what you should do for someone on a special day. I bake well, and birthdays are incredibly important to me.

I'm not sure why I think birthdays are so important. My parents always wished me a happy birthday and made sure the day was awesome and I had some presents and what not, but it was never anything crazy like the ones you see on TV or some of the ones my friends have had. My parents made more certain that every single day of our lives was special and they would give me some sort of present almost everyday. This may sound materialistic, but by present, I mean some type of candy, CD, an adventure such as taking us to the park or water slides or pool. They did what they did best, and that was parenting. I'd like to attempt to carry on that sort of passion for those I love, but I still think birthdays are special. People are my favorite aspect of life. I love people so much it hurts, even if I don't even know them that well. I love my clients so much that if one of them leaves whether it's due to moving or something else, it hurts me to see them go. I love my family so much that a part of me will always be homesick since everyone will probably never be in the exact same place with me at the same time so I'll always have someone to miss. This is why I love birthdays. A birthday is a day where I can tell you how incredibly thankful I am to have you in my life, to be a part in changing my life, and for allowing me to learn from another wonderful person.

So to thank my chocoholic dad for being such a huge part of my life, I baked him a cake, eventually. Well, both of my parents are sweetoholics, so I didn't really stand a chance. I didn't get to bake him a birthday cake on time this year since a new precious little bundle of joy was born the day after his birthday and I could only make one trip to see my sweet little nephew. Instead, I baked him a cake a month later when we took a trip to the Outer Banks. I'm glad it worked out that way, since my friend Caroline posted an amazing recipe for this healthier version of a chocolate peanut butter cake on her website just a few days before I left for vacation. I won't repost the recipe, but will let you visit her website at: Secret Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. She is MUCH better at decorating and making things look delectable and even posted the nutritional value.

Happy birthday again Dad!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

portobello pizza

Booooooooo mushrooms! And boooooooooo Celiac Disease for not letting me eat pizza anymore! On the other hand, thank goodness for having a mother-in-law who ordered the portobello mushroom pizzas at Lubo Wine Bar a few months back. I had a taste of one and couldn't believe I actually liked it. It's genius! These pizzas are so incredibly easy and tasty and healthy! The first and only healthy pizza, I'm pretty darn sure.

6 portobello mushroom caps, scrubbed by hand with water
1 jar Classico spicy tomato and basil sauce, or homemade
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 cups part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
handful spinach
about 18 turkey pepperoni slices

Bake the portobello caps, stem side down for 5 minutes in a preheated, 325 degree oven. Stir minced garlic and olive oil together for about 2 minutes, then add tomato sauce, just to heat. Take the caps out of the oven, flip the over so the stem side is up. Pour equal amounts of sauce onto each cap. Add all other ingredients onto caps, finishing with mozzarella and parmesan. Add any other ingredients you would like. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

fried chicken... once in a blue moon!

It's a fact. Fried chicken is terrible for you. But then again, everything is terrible for you if you eat too much of it. My mom makes the best friend chicken, period. I haven't had it in a while, and I know how much my husband loves it so I tried my hand at it, never having fried chicken before. Much to my surprise it turned good! If it weren't good, my taste-tester/hubby would eat his plate-ful and tell me it was good. However, he ate his share, then another, and asked me why I didn't make more. I know this still didn't turn out nearly as great as my mother's, but it will due for now!

1.25 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts
1.5 cups peanut oil
1 cup coconut milk or buttermilk
1 cup GF flour
3 T GF breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 T black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder

Marinate the chicken breasts in 1 cup of milk for at least 1 hour... 3 would be best. Combine the flour and next 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour oil into deep skillet and turn pan onto medium high heat. Roll marinated chicken into the flour mix then gently set into pan. Flip the breasts every 5 minutes, and continue this for 25 minutes or until chicken is golden and crispy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

shrimp paella

Recipe adapted from Rocco Dispirito's Chorizo and Shrimp Paella recipe featured in Runner's World magazine, April 2011 issue.

I honestly did not know this recipe was Rocco Dispirito's. I saw an article for the ultimate runner's meal in the Runner's World magazine this month, and it looked yummy enough to try. Once I finished copying it down, I saw Rocco's picture at the bottom. I don't know what it is, but there's something about Rocco's cooking that just draws me in. Maybe it's simply because he's a triathlete, therefore we eat very similar foods to fuel our very similar activities. Whatever it is, every time I am in New York I will be hoping to run into him and tell him how much I love his food so that he will let me open a restaurant with him and give all of his recipes a test-run. Maybe.... just maybe.

You can make this dish with any kind of protein you want. Your protein can be chicken, crabmeat, chorizo, beef....whatever. You can even use tofu if you really hate meat that much.

1 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp saffron threads
1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 lbs shrimp
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas

Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil  and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add saffron, rice, and broth then cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juice then cover pot and cook for 20 minutes. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, cayenne, and red pepper. Stir shrimp and peas into mixture, adding more broth if mixture is dry. Cover and cook until shrimp is cooked and rice is tender, about 10 minutes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

clam and herb linguine ...claaaamazing! :D

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, April 2011 issue.

Growing up, oyster roasts happened all the time, and I have grown to absolutely love oysters. However, I always see clam recipes and have never made one that turned out great. I found this incredibly simple recipe that looked delicious, so I made another attempt. Success!!! This dish only takes about 30 minutes, if not less, and is so awesome!

12 oz linguine (brown rice or amaranth, or any other gluten free variety)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 T chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 T olive oil
1 vertically sliced medium yellow onion
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine (I used riesling, and the sweetness was perfect for the dish)
1 1/2 dozen clams
2 T butter
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Mix parsley, oregano, and lemon rind in small bowl and set aside. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add onion, red pepper and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add wine and clams; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until shells open. If any shells remain unopened, discard. Combine clams mixture, pasta, butter, salt, and black pepper in large bowl, toss until butter melts. Sprinkle with parsley mixture and toss.

If you're not a carb person, you can definitely just forget the pasta all together and use all the same ingredients otherwise, and eat a bowl full of clams... you will be pleased, I almost guarantee :)