Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Early Morning Workouts!

Last month I started waking up at 4:30am (a couple times a week) to go to the gym before work.  For years I have been an "after-work gym person".  I could never understand how or why people would get out of their warm, comfy beds so early... until I started making it part of my workout routine.  I must say, it is an AMAZING feeling to be finished with your workout before the day has even really begun.... or before the sun is up for that matter!  Not to mention the rest of the physical benefits associated with early morning exercise...
 
Early morning exercise increases metabolism, increases energy throughout the day, and increases your body's ability to burn calories!  But my favorite benefit of early morning exercise is that it gets your endorphins flowing... and when I finish my workout I am relaxed and in a good mood to start the rest of my day! :)
 
 
 
Working out early in the morning also means I have time in the evening to dedicate to culinary adventures.... like Mom's Boston Cream Pie birthday cake..... STAY TUNED!!!!
 
Off to the kitchen I go....

Monday, July 30, 2012

Recipe: Greek-Style Flatbread Pizza

Just another 'Manic Monday'... work, then gym, then laundry and house-work... so I opted for something quick and easy for dinner.  Since I still have a bunch of leftover tomatoes from the bag-full I took from my parent's house last week (see recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce) I decided on a greek-style flatbread pizza topped with fresh tomatoes!  I always keep some sort of flatbread or naan bread in the freezer... it makes for a quick pizza since the crust is ready to go, all you have to do is top it with whatever toppings you have on hand!

Greek-Style Flatbread Pizza
(makes 1 pizza - 1 serving)
- 1 flatbread (or naan bread)
- 2 tbs. hummus
- 1/4 cup shredded 2% reduced fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- handful of baby spinach
- handful of chopped kalamata olives (optional) - I didn't have any, but if I did I would top with them too!
- pinch of red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 400.  Spray a cookie sheet or pizza pan with a non-stick cooking spray.  Place flatbread (or naan bread) on the sheet. Spread a layer of hummus on top of the bread. Top with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, baby spinach, and feta cheese.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top.  Bake for 10-12 mins.  Be careful not to burn the bottom!  Remove from oven, let cool, cut and ENJOY!


I served the flatbread pizza with a side of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, drizzled with Italian dressing. :)


Did you know? Tomatoes are excellent sources of potassium, folic acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E!

Tomatoes have many more health benefits, read more here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/tomatoes-health-benefits_b_886214.html

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Run-spiration

A few words of inspiration to get me motivated for my Sunday morning run....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

C is for Cookie!

Ok, I know... I know. Oatmeal over-kill!!  But I REALLY like oatmeal... and apparently my sister (fellow food and fitness lover) does too.  She made these gooey, chewy, moist oatmeal cookies the other day and I felt it would be a crime not to share the recipe.  Next time she's going to need to bake me my own batch... so yummy!!

Soft Oatmeal Cookies
Ingredients:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil, preferably canola
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup “mix-ins” (dried cranberries, mixed dried fruit pieces, raisins, mini chocolate chips or chopped nuts)

Preparation:
Heat oven to 350ºF. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, egg, oil, applesauce and vanilla on medium speed of electric mixer until combined. Add combined flours, baking soda and salt; beat on low speed just until blended. Stir in oats and “mix-ins.”
 
Drop dough by level measuring tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
 
Bake 9 to 10 minutes, until light brown. (Do not over-bake. Centers will appear soft.) Cool 1 to 2 minutes on cookie sheets; transfer to wire racks. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 9 min
Recipe from http://foodgawker.com/

P.S. - OATS AND OATMEAL ARE A HEART HEALTHY FOOD!!!

Happy Olympics!

Spam and the 2012 Olympics

This evening's post is dedicated to the 2012 Summer Olympics!

For me, watching these men and women from around the world (all the top athletes in their sport!) compete against each other is inspiring.  It's taken these athletes years of intense training, blood, sweat, and tears to get to this one moment... this one opportunity to shine, to be the best they can be.  I will be watching in awe and admiration over the two weeks...

Dictionary.com defines an athlete as "a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill."

Remember, there is an athlete is all of us!!  It's up to us to 'Go For The Gold' on a daily basis.  Like the Olympic athletes have shown us, hard work and determination pay off... Set Goals. Train Hard. Never Give Up.

GO TEAM USA!!!!!!!!!!!!

London 2012 Olympics - Team

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tomatoes... Tomatoes... and more Tomatoes

The tomato plants in my parents garden are going crazy! My parents have more tomatoes then they know what to do with. Over the last couple weeks, my mom (a culinary genuis and my food hero and mentor) has been busy putting up the tomatoes... making tomato sauce, barbque sauce, salsa... but she still can't keep up with the never-ending supply!


Today, I stopped by my parents house and took a bag full of red, ripe, beautiful tomatoes off their hands. Since I had the day off, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for my first attempt at homemade tomato sauce in the slow cooker. 


Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
Based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

2 onions, chopped           1 tbsp. dried basil                    handful of fresh basil
2 tsp. crushed garlic         1 tbsp. dried oregano              handful of fresh oregano
2 tbsp. olive oil                3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
20 chopped tomatoes      1 1/2 tbsp. salt

1.  Place tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker.
2.  Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is transparent.
3.  Add cooked onion to slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours. Stir frequently.
4.  Towards end of cooking process, add a handful of fresh basil and fresh oregano (torn or chopped).
5.  Let sauce cool.

*** I could not possibly consume all this tomato sauce at once, so I poured the sauce into a few freezer containers and I'm storing them for later! I might mix in a bit of tomato paste to thicken up the sauce when re-heating, depending on what I'm using it for. There are sure to be recipe posts in the near future that use this slow cooker tomato sauce! Maybe a spinach lasgna..... hummmm

Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal

Breakfast that tastes like a cookie?!... now that's my kind of breakfast! I was out of my normal cereal this morning, so I opted for a bowl of oatmeal instead.

Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal
1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup applesauce
2/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar - or more if you like it sweeter!
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
splash of milk or soymilk (optional)

Measure a 1/3 cup of oatmeal into a large bowl. Add the applesauce, cinnamon and water. Stir. Microwave for four minutes.

Take the oatmeal out of the microwave... be careful it's HOT! Stir again and add raisins and brown sugar.

If you like your cookies with milk, add a splash of milk or soy milk (I use light vanilla soy milk). Stir and enjoy!


Based on recipe via ehow.com

1 serving (based on recipe)
Calories - 230, Fat - 1.6g, Carbs - 51.5g, Dietary Fiber - 4.6g, Sugar - 31.1g, Protein - 5g


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sandwich Tricks!

Good morning!  While making my daily sandwich for work (turkey, cheese, avocado, and greens), it occurred to me I use some pretty interesting tricks to keep my sandwich ingredients fresh longer. Thought I would share...

For the avocado: Cut off the side of the avocado at 3/4 the way up. Keep the top. Cut out/scrape out the amount of avocado you need.


 Put the top back on.


Secure top to bottom with a rubber band to make sure the least amount of air gets in. Put in a plastic resealable bag and put back in fridge. Fruit will stay fresh/green for a week!


For the greens (today it was baby spinach): 


Once the tub/bag of greens is open, put a paper towel in. Close the tub/bag of greens and put back in the fridge. The paper towel will suck up the excess moisture and greens will stay fresh longer!


 Nothing like fresh ingredients for a delicious sandwich!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My First Post! And it's a yummy one....

My first post on my blog! YEAY!! I'm still getting the hang of this whole blogging thing so please bear with me...

Today, I needed to use some eggs and applesauce that had been lingering in the fridge. Bread is my weakness... especially sweet bread, so I found a delicious-looking recipe for an Applesauce/Oatmeal bread on Pinterest.com.  Basically all of the alterations I make to recipes have to do with what ingredients I have on hand, in the refrigerator, or about to go-off and needs to be used... I really don't like to waste. I also try to keep on hand and use ingredients that will make the recipes HEALTHIER.

I made some changes to the original recipe (using mini loaf pans, using only White Whole Wheat Flour, adding raisins, omitting a few ingredients I didn't have) and it turned out amazing!  Here is my own adapation of the recipe:


Applesauce-Oatmeal Bread
Yield: 1 loaf (or 2 mini loafs)
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 45 min (35-40 for mini loafs)

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil - I would reduce this amount to 1/3 cup next time or use yogurt instead
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole grain oats
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup raisins (optional) - I like them!

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan (or 2 mini loaf pans).

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices, and add them to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Mix in the oats, applesauce and raisins (if using).

3. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 40 to 50 minutes for 1 loaf pan (or 35-40 mini for mini loafs) until a toothpick comes out clean when you test the bread. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Recipegirl.com via King Aurthur Flour



Now if I can just keep myself from eating both loaves today.... ;)