Spinach Berry Salad with Curry Dressing

Tuesday night I attended an amazing yoga class (more on that tomorrow). I didn’t have too much time beforehand to eat a real dinner, so I left the class rejuvenated…and hungry! I was craving something light but flavorful, and remembered a recipe I found online a couple weeks ago but had never tried. Luckily my weekly farmer’s market visit’s ensured that I had all the ingredients.

 

I followed this recipe more or less, and was happy with the result. It yielded a dynamic and fresh salad. I liked the contrast between the lightness and sweetness of the berries with the deeper flavors of the curry dressing.

 

 

Today I am on the road again for client meetings. I am still so very sore from yoga, therefore  the goal of today is to not look like an eighty year old as I walk around. I think I will be okay as long as  I don’t need to kneel beside someone or have to reach for something high on a shelf.  🙂

Heirloom Tomatoes

Shopping at the farmer’s market has become part of my Saturday morning routine. I love selecting fresh, local fruits and vegetables. I enjoy the open air environment and getting to speak with the vendors, who are consistently more friendly and knowledgeable than the people who work in the produce section of grocery stores. I often talk to the vendors and ask them to select ripe fruits for me, or generally teach me more about food. I am always up for trying something new, and even the weirdest looking vegetables don’t scare me away.

So when I noticed heirloom tomatoes in many stands, I could not help but be curious.

At first I brushed them off, because let’s be honest-they are so ugly! The skin is cracked and discolored, and the fruits are often weirdly shaped-almost monstrous. None of the fruits boasted the perfect rounded shaped or bright red color that I associate with ripe tomatoes.

However one morning, as I was picking through some green beans, I heard one lady say to her companion, “Have you ever tried a heirloom tomato? These are the best tasting tomatoes you will ever eat!” This assertion caught my attention, but I did not take the leap of faith and buy any heirlooms that day.

A couple weeks later, I had the chance to talk with a very enthusiastic tomato grower at the farmer’s market about heirloom tomatoes. He explained that heirloom tomatoes are not hybrid breed like the commercial varieties in stores. Hybrid tomatoes are bred for disease resistance, greater number of fruit per plant, shape, size, color, and longer shelf life. The seeds are not able to produce progeny with their same traits, so growers have to buy new seeds each year.

In contrast, heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated; therefore the collected seeds are able to bear fruits which resemble those of the parent plant. These plants have greater genetic variation than the hybrid plants, and also lack the gene that provides the red color. Scientists recently speculated that this gene may be associated with lower sugar levels, which could cause store bought tomatoes to be less flavorful (see NY Times article below).

The vendor went on to say that, “Heirloom tomatoes today include the same varieties that Thomas Jefferson grew in his garden;” that statement stuck with me more than anything else he said. These tomatoes are like antiques (thus the name heirlooms); seeds that are passed down for generations. And while a lot of the genetic and biology stuff went over my head, I can appreciate tomatoes with great taste over perfectly shaped red spheres.

If you are interested:

http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/100/5/1085.full (This one is science-y, but very informative)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/science/flavor-is-the-price-of-tomatoes-scarlet-hue-geneticists-say.html?_r=1

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/30/science/la-sci-tomato-taste-20120630

Pina Colada Smoothie

source

I have another great smoothie recipe to share with you all today! It combines two of my favorite tropical fruits: pineapple and coconut. The pineapple provides lots of natural sweetness, and the coconut milk adds a thick, creamy texture. Think of it as a virgin pina colada…. with protein powder.

This is a more high-calorie smoothies than I usually featured, and would not be helpful for those of you looking to lose some weight. The coconut milk contains a lot of fat (which is why it is soo delicious). If you want to slim this recipe down a little bit, substituting coconut water for the milk would still provide a subtle coconut flavor without all the calories. Coconut water is a great source of hydration, and is packed with potassium. However, I personally do not love the taste and somewhat slimy quality of coconut water. I will be sticking with my fatty coconut smoothie or nothing at all 😉

Pina Colada Smoothie

1/4 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup water

1 banana, frozen

1/4 cup cubed pineapple, frozen

1 scoop protein powder

Add the liquids and then the solids to a blend. Blend until smooth.

source

***In case you were desperately wondering when my camera will arrive as much as I am (which I’m guessing no one is), it officially left Miami yesterday at 6pm. I will be continually refreshing USPS in search of its latest location!

One Hour Whole Wheat Bread

Making homemade bread is something that I have always wanted to accomplish, but never felt the desire to spend six hours on the process. I figured that one day I would take the time to do some research, experiment, and then find a bread recipe that works for my life. However, in general I do not eat bread very often, so I didn’t feel like I was really missing out on much by occasionally buying a manufactured loaf instead of making my own.

For no apparent reason, on Tuesday I randomly became obsessed with the idea of making bread. None of the blogs I read regularly posted about bread or bread recipes, and I honestly cannot remember what lit a fire underneath me. But whatever the cause, I spent the better part of my lunch hour scouring the internet for bread recipes that looked feasible for my time constraints (under  hours from start to finish) and knowledge (so…you have to add yeast to flour, right?).

This one hour bread recipe from Single Housewife scored high on both those criteria, so I rushed to buy some yeast and a bread pan after work.

 

While the bread took me closer to an hour and a half to make, I was still pleased with how it turned out. I used all whole wheat flour, so it was quite a dense loaf. The camera I am using right now is not good enough to show detail, but if I could take close up shots, you would see the dried cranberries and almonds that I threw into the batter. I liked the extra sweetness the cranberries added, without making it a dessert loaf.

 

I have demolished the loaf without much help from my roommate! It has been perfect for a grab and go breakfast, after toasting and slathering with PB Crave.

I will probably try the recipe again with a couple of alternations to make the bread less dense and more fruity, but for the next week or so I think my body needs to recover from the shock of gluten overload!

Anyone have other simple bread recipes or mix in ideas?

Banana Stuffed French Toast

I had another long run this morning! Listening to music really helps the miles go by when I am on the treadmill., and now I also have the Olympics on TV to distract/inspire me in the mornings. I am still working out the kinks in my workout playlist, but on the whole it is motivating…until some John Mayer comes on and I want to go relax while eating breakfast in bed. Other than that, the training is going well and I am hopeful that I will be able to keep it up as I travel more for work in the coming weeks.

One of the biggest difference of running longer distances is the fuel that my body needs. When I started out with 3/4/5 mile runs, I would just go straight from the bed to the gym without even drinking much water. However, now I really need some carbs to get my through the run. My default breakfast solution is toast and peanut butter, which is quick and easy. But if I had the time, I would definitely make this banana stuffed french toast every day!

This french toast is so creamy and rich without the ridiculous calories and fat of other recipes. I found it was substantially easier to fold pieces of bread in half rather than putting two pieces together like a sandwich (or cutting a slit in thickly cut bread). This recipe makes two mini french toasts, perfect for a pre-run treat!

Banana Stuffed French Toast

serves one

Ingredients

2 slices of whole wheat bread

1 egg

2 Tbsp almond milk

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana, mashed

2 tsp plain whipped cream cheese

Whisk the egg and milk together. In a separate bowl combine the spices, banana, and cream cheese. Stir the mixture well (the bananas and cream cheese can be a little lumpy). Take the slices of bread and put half the banana mixture on one side of each piece. Fold the bread over to cover the mixture and pinch the edges closed. Dunk the stuffed bread into the egg mixture. Cook the bread on a oiled pan on low heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side.

 

Also I want to give a happy birthday shout out to my mom!!

🙂

Mocha Berry Smoothie

I have been a smoothie fanatic these past couple of weeks. The mixture of the blazing hot weather and the fact that I can take breakfast on my way to work, has definitely added to the appeal of smoothies. I usually make 3-4 each week, and try to vary the flavors a little bit each day. My regular rotation of flavors include: bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and coffee. If I want something a little heartier, I will also throw in some oatmeal or spinach. Every once and a while I will try a new combination. Sometimes it’s not a combination I would ever replicate: banana chocolate coffee-I thought it sounded good, but it wasn’t! And occasionally it is delicious enough to make again and again. Until I realize that I really should blog about my success! Today’s flavor is Mocha (blue)Berry, and it is perfect as a fruity treat with a little caffeine kick!

  

 

Coffee is becoming more of a smoothie staple as I become addicted to caffeine (I blame the K cup machine in the office), but I rarely want to sit down and drink a cup of coffee. I usually workout in the mornings, and freshly brewed coffee does not help me cool down and stop sweating enough to put on make up. However, I have gotten in the habit of turning off the warmer and letting the java cool while I work out and shower. When I am ready to make my smoothie before heading out the door, the coffee is room temperature and great as a smoothie addition. Obviously if I had an espresso machine I would use it in a heartbeat, but coffee is working just fine for now! I actually got the idea for this flavor combination from a coworker who ordered a raspberry mocha from Starbucks (on the sad sad day that the K cup machine broke). I sampled his drink and was surprised how well the coffee and berries blended.

Mocha Berry Smoothie

makes 16 oz

3/4 cup cooled coffee

3/4 cup almond milk

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 scoop protein powder

Pour the liquids and blueberries into the blender. Top with protein powder and blend until smooth!

***No camera yet, so Flickr pictures will have to suffice for a while!

Kiwi Lime Quinoa Salad

I got the idea for putting Kiwi in a quinoa salad from Iowa Girl Eats. I love sweet juicy kiwis, and I think they pair well with lime and banana. The tartness and sweetness of the lime and the fruit balance each other out for a light, summery dish. The bright greens also make for a very attractive dish.

Kiwi Lime Quinoa Salad

serves 2

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked and chilled

2 kiwis

1 banana

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

dressing

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions: Peel and dice the banana and kiwis (I used a potato peeler for the kiwi). Combine with the bell pepper and quinoa. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Serve immediately.