Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash + Holiday Amazingness

Mind-readers scare me.

 

No, I didn’t go to a psychic to find out of the world would really end.

My friend a bi-weekly guest blogger (Kat), sent me her post last night and it appears we have been miles apart but on the same wavelength.

In the past, Kat has blogged about yoga, running + nutrition, and even homemade peppermint mochas!  I really excited that today she’s sharing her first entree recipe.  This girls loves food just as much as I do.

I’m at the gym working off my cookies, complete with a new top thanks to my mom Santa

 

Top by Lucy

 

…and with a new toy!  A fitbit one to replace my old ultra:

 

 

I hope you enjoy Kat’s first recipe today – while I haven’t had the pleasure of eating this dish (yet), I can tell from the pics and ingredient list that it’s a great, clean way to bring us into the New Year!

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Who relaxes during the holidays?!?!

Yeah, I didn’t either.  I think I raced through the holidays!

Recap.  I flew into Orlando for a party on Friday (my mom had an end of the world party – she is such a hippie), worked all day Saturday, traveled over an hour to Dad’s on Sunday, Dad’s parents Monday night (for the first time in almost a decade), Tuesday with Mom and then later to her mom’s, and later to my sister’s boyfriend’s family.  Talk about a holiday marathon (many of you know the drill)… but I have so much to be grateful for and it really felt like Christmas for me this year.  Nevertheless, glad to be home!

 

This had my whole family laughing…even my dad.

This had my whole family laughing…even my dad.

 

It can be hard to keep up, but it’s also nice to catch up with family, have some sister love, and enjoy the holiday spirit with old and new friends.  I managed to keep up my runs, and get plenty of quality time.

Honestly, none of the time would have been quality because I would have been completely mentally unbalanced without my runs.  It just gets my head in the right place.  Man, Laura and I have a similar philosophy… she recently wrote about having no excuses NOT to work out recently!  (Editor’s note: You can click here to check that out).  I even got to run through my old neighborhood – yeah, the one I grew up in.  It’s crazy that what felt like a long run when I was 15 (about 3 miles) felt like such a short run to me today!

 

Holiday Run Time – Getting your head in order! No excuses!

Holiday Run Time – Getting your head in order! No excuses!

 

Keeping with Laura’s theme from her past few blogs about cleaning up your kitchen and the winter weigh in about letting yourself indulge in your favorites (without going overboard), I managed to keep a pretty healthy diet too!

It’s totally okay to let your family and friends know what you do and do not eat.  (Editor’s note: Yes! And you’d be surprised how often they feel the same way!)  My mom, sister, and I told my Grammy we wanted to eat light and healthy, and that’s exactly what she did for Christmas lunch/brunch!  She put up a wonderful spread of super healthy food.  I also made it through without any dreaded gluten mistakes!

 

ChristmasBrunchAtGrams

Christmas Brunch at Grammy’s

 

Needless to say, I have also been having meals at home that feel like winter indulgences but are also SUPER healthy!  My first – real – recipe to share.  Firstly, I LOVE squash, all squash, so it was hard to decide which “recipe” to share.  But, I have been into stuffing my squashes lately, and acorn squash is a great size for stuffing – with almost anything, I would argue!

 

I always think of quinoa as a summer-y light and healthy meal, but made the right way, it can be comforting and winter-y too!  I made this for a friend last week, and it was satisfying and comforting, but keeping with the kitchen workout. (Editor’s note: Where’s MY quinoa?!)

 

RoastingAcornSquash

 

Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 1 medium acorn squash
  • ½ cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of water or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup of mushrooms
  • ¼ red onion
  • ¼ cup frozen peas
  • Some chopped kale and/or arugula
  • Touch of cayenne
  • Maybes: thyme, basil, rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan to top, and your pasta sauce of choice (I like Whole Foods’ 365 brand)

 

Disclaimer: I don’t actually measure anything when I cook so please take all of these as amazingly close guestimates as to what actually happens in the kitchen

 

There are two ways to roast the squash, depending on how you want to present.  You can either chop the top off, scoop out the seeds, put the top back on and throw it in the oven… or just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and throw it in the oven at about 375 (prettier presentation for two people).

Roast the squash first, and roast the squash about 20-30 minutes.  While this is happening, cook your quinoa (boil water, add quinoa, 10 minutes pass, turn of the stove, leave the lid on until totally absorbed – basically follow the instructions on the box), and then sauté your onions, then add your mushrooms and frozen peas (and any other fresh veggies you have in your fridge), as well as your kale/arugula. 

Combine all of your quinoa with the veggies, and add your spices and potentially herbs (I like thyme and rosemary for this one).  Mix.

Remove the squash form the oven, stuff the mixture into the squash, top with a ton of Parmesan cheese and put it back in the oven at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese browns.  

Remove and top with warm pasta sauce. 

 

QuinoaStuffedSquash

 

This is delicious, packed with protein from the quinoa, but low calorie and super filling!

 

I need to work on taking pictures of my food, and writing recipes (so feedback please!!!).  But, I guarantee this will be a great way to switch up what you’re eating while bringing in some healthy New Year’s habits!

***
Don’t forget tomorrow’s 3rd #strangebutgood link up!  Click here for the details, and grab the image below to share in your post:
Sprint 2 the Table

Did you make a point tell anyone what you needed to eat/not eat for the holidays?

What is your favorite squash?

 

I Feel Scrambled + WIAW

I feel scrambled.

 

It’s our busy season at work and I’ve been traveling, working, and not doing much sleeping.  There are so many things I’ve fallen behind on.  I’m seriously behind on blog reading, returning emails, and blogging topics.

I totally neglected to share an awesome offer from my friend Calee with you all.  She’s offered a 15% discount when you use code “sprint2thediscount” in her Etsy shop.  I first saw her goods at the Blend Retreat last year and fell in love.

A couple of my current favorite designs: 

 

I’m going to stop feeling sorry and move on to some positive news.  Last week I talked about the threat of a bacon shortage.  Apparently there will be no baconpocalypse.

It wouldn’t be Wednesday if I didn’t blog about bacon, right?

I was almost too grossed out by this pic to post it…

 

According to a Mother Jones article, the swine shortage will “shave just a pound per capita off of US bacon production in 2013.” that means there are still 45 pounds of bacon per person for the year.  Is that enough for you?

The real scare is fish.  Climate change will sharply reduce the productivity of the oceans, meaning less seafood.  the most affected ares are in the South, so those of us in the US and Europe probably won’t feel the bite.

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It’s a new month (can you believe it’s already October?!), which means a new  What I Ate Wednesday theme.  Jenn just got even cooler in my eyes for going PINK this month for Breast Cancer Awareness.  we’ll be sharing out Halloween-themed treats… as if bloggers needs any more reasons to eat pumpkin. ;)

 Check out my sometimes spooky, sometimes pink eats below, and then click here to head over to Jenn Peas and Crayons to get to see how everyone else is getting their Halloween on this month!

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Meal 1:

Like every morning, I enjoyed my morning cocktail: a mix of Apple Cider Vinegar, Glutamine, and Fitmixer Aminos.  I ran out of my favorite Fruit Punch Aminos… I was forced to use a sample pack.  It’s grape flavored.  Not my favorite… to be fair, I don’t like grape flavored anything.  I was desperate.

 

After a quick 2 mile walk, I enjoyed a new scrambled egg-creation.  Egg whites, sweet potato, and a spiced maple-peanut sauce.  PB & Speggs?

Served with a side of pear sprinkled with cinnamon.

 

This combo was the highlight of my day.  Peanut butter and sweet potatoes were made for each other and you guys know I love my PB & Jeggs creations.  The addition of some maple extract and a little nutritional yeast further blurred the sweet-savory line, creating a breakfast I’ll be repeating ad nauseam.

Recipe at bottom.

 

Meal 2:

Spooky Green Frozen Custard at 11am?  Why not?

Vega was nice enough to send me their Vega One French Vanilla protein powder to sample.  Obviously, I couldn’t just eat it plain… so I made a frozen custard and topped it with a crumbled Endurance Cracker from Angela.

It had a wonderful flavor!  I tried a little plain to test it out first, and I think it would be still be good without the flavor additions.  My only complaint is that I’d like to see another 5g of protein (it only has 15g) and fewer carbs (11g).  I fixed the protein problem by adding tofu, which made this a creamy custard-like frozen treat.

French Chai Pear Frozen Custard

  • 1 serving French Vanilla Vega
  • 3 oz tofu
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • Pinch cloves
  • 1/3-1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 5-6 drops liquid Stevia
  • Ice, to taste
  • Guar gum (optional, but will thicken and add creaminess)

Meal 3:

My lunch went pink!  I’ve been all over prepared salmon burgers found at Whole Foods.  They are frozen, but not bad!  This one is the Lemon Dill flavor.  I topped it with my Sweet-Potato Chipotle Spread and served it with a side of chopped red cabbage and asparagus tossed in a lemon-rosemary white bean dip.

 

Meal 4:

I posted this brown meal on Instagram and a commenter informed me brown food is the most appealing to humans, and that blue is the least.  Weird, huh?

This was certainly appealing post-workout:

 

Tempeh and cauliflower roasted in a sauce of nutritional yeast, sriracha, and lime juice, along with a fried egg. #yolkporn

Normally I don’t roast veggies mid-day.  It seems like to much trouble to heat up the oven.  Well, my own was already hot from giving the butternut below a thorough roast while I was at the gym…

Meal 5:

I was going to have another cauliflower crust pizza.  After taking too long in Whole Foods I decided to spare you make a quick stir fry.

Rarely do I eat chicken.  Tonight I was running really late and picked some up at Whole Paycheck Foods.  It was pre-grilled.  I knew it would be dry.  I bought it anyway.  It was dry.  Note to self: Don’t shop hangry.

In the Mix:

  • Dry Chicken
  • Eggplant
  • Brussels
  • Asparagus
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic
  • Marinara
  • Ricotta

 

Meal 6:

Another late night working.  Another #strangebutgood candidate.

This is sort of like my Mexican Hot Chocolate Protein Ice Cream, except this one adds a cheese cake component.  I know it sounds strange… but I blended in some cottage cheese.  It added just the right amount of cheesecake tang.  It’s also less green in color because I used zucchini as my veggie rather than spinach.  Topped with cinnamon. 

Meal 7:

Have you tried Heather’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cake yet?  You should make it ASAP.  I’m on my 4th.

 

The perfectly moist and delicious microwave cake was incredible.  Again.  This time I subbed 1T ricotta + an additional 1 T almond milk for the pumpkin (another WF #fail – they were out of pumpkin) and topped it with a scoop of Chocolate-Peanut Butter Arctic Zero.

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Sweet Potato Scramble with Spiced Maple-Peanut Sauce

  •  1/2 C egg whites
  • 1 tsp flax
  • 1/2 C sweet potato, pre-cooked and lightly mashed
  • 1 T peanut flour
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 T water (or other liquid)
  • 1/4 tsp maple extract
  • 2 drops liquid stevia
  • Pinch of cloves

 

Scramble egg whites and flax over medium heat until almost done.  Add in sweet potato and toss to combine.  Cook 1 min more, just until the potato is warm.

In a small bowl mix together remaining ingredients to make the sauce.  Pour over the scramble and enjoy!

Serves 1.

***

The protein count for the day: 164.1g.  A little low… this work/workout schedule craziness is killin’ me, Smalls!

What is the last thing you forgot in the oven?  Anything?

It seems like everyone is stressing lately – are you entering the busy season full-force too?

 

Liquid Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie + WIAW

Deck the halls with tubs of frosting.

 

Last Wednesday I mentioned that holiday baking had begun.  If it began then, it has EXPLODED now.  There are 3 different containers of icing in my fridge right now.  It’s a little ridiculous.

P.S. Does any one have tips for freezing icing?  How about making room in the freezer to store said icing?

 

It’s Hump Day!  Time for another installment of Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday.  As always, check out Peas and Crayons to see the ever-growing collection of what everyone else dined on.

 

Pre-Breakfast:

This morning began with a 4 mile run.  Normally I don’t run after eating (I get bad cramps), but I woke up starving.  Balls.

 

 

Lisa @ Healthful Sense recently posted a this recipe for Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls and I had 2 left in my freezer.  Perfect pre-run stick-to-your-ribs snack.

I followed her recipe except I left out the Stevia (my banana was sweet enough), added almond extract, and subbed cacao nibs for the chips.

Apparently it worked – 4 miles at an average pace of 7:20.  Fastest time yet!

 

 

Breakfast:

It was a 65 degree muggy morning, so I was hot and sweaty from my run.  Perfect time for a Sweet Potato Pie shake!  (Recipe at the end… yes, its green. :) )

 

Pre-Mix

 

If you haven’t tried almond extract before, I highly recommend it.  It gives smoothies an almost cookie-esque flavor that I crave.

 

Lunch:

I’ve been inspired by a lot of bloggers lately – today I used this this Vegan Pumpkin Mac ‘N Cheeze sauce from Angela @ Oh She Glows to coat my barley.

 

Pumpkin Barley ‘n Cheeze

 

My modifications: halved the recipe, subbed olive oil for butter, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence, and sauteed 1/2 a fresh red bell pepper.

It was fantastic – I loved having the bell pepper to chew on and the addition of red pepper flakes gave it a pleasant heat.

 

 

Dinner:

Last night I worked late and then baked for the office potluck today (just wait until you see what I made – OMG).  Dinner was a hodge podge I cooked.

 

 

Sparkling Squash, roasted tomato, white asparagus (which oddly doesn’t make your pee smell like the green stuff), toast with this Pumpkin Basil Cheese Spread by none other than our WIAW host (Jenn @ Peas and Crayons)… and stuff I was baking…

 

I know, I know… another teaser… I promise it’s all coming soon!

 

The Sweet Dumpling Squash was surprisingly good.  It was a new (to me) variety – I had Prosecco left over from a certain baking endeavor (which may or may not be pictured above).  People cook with wine all the time… why not the bubbly?  In it went!  Add in some red bell pepper, scallions, spices, and vegetable broth and you have a lovely (mashed) Sparkling Squash!

 

Snacks:

I had a new flavor of the Think Thin bar – Cookies and Cream.  Better than the Chocoalte Toffee after the recipe change… still not my fav.

 

Snack #2 was Kombucha and jerky.  Vegan, gluten-free jerky.  Hickory Smoked VEGAN Jerky.

 

Jerky + Kombucha

 

The awesome people at Primal sent me a whole box of flavors to sample and I couldn’t be more happy.  It’s made from soy protein and is 100% vegan.  So far I love the Mesquite Lime and the Hickory the most… Hot and Spicy tomorrow though!

 

One of my favorite thing about Primal’s jerky is that they are just under 100 calories and contain 10g of protein.  That protein is key to a satisfying snack!

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Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

  • 1 C spinach (optional)
  • 1/2 large sweet potato (baked)
  • 1/2 C Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Guar gum
  • Shake of salt
  • Stevia drops, to taste
  • Water + ice, to taste

 

Place everything in your blender of choice and mix until smooth.  Bottoms up!

Note: It’s a long ingredient list, but the spices are super-easy.  I don’t even measure anymore, so it takes all of 30 seconds to make this smoothie.

***

Thank you to everyone who “Buzzed” my Fig and Feta Shortbread Cookies – check it out: I made the FoodBuzz Top 9 today!!!

Do you like vegan versions of traditional meat products?

 What is the best thing you’ve been inspired by another blogger to make? 

 

Slow Food and Curried Butternut Squash Dip

Remembering hurts sometimes.

Morning view from our B&B

 

Maybe I’m being a little dramatic… but I fell in love in the Piedmont region of Italy.  Specifically in Alba.

 

Our first day in the region was spent bumming around the small town of Alba.  Two important things to note about Alba:

  1. Ferrero (the company that makes Nutella) is based there
  2. It is most famous for its magnificent white truffles (tartufi bianco), which are in season from October-December

 

Therefore, the city smells of chocolate and truffles.  How could I not fall in love?

 

We took our time at the B&B sleeping in and getting ready for the day.  All of the train travel, 55 lb bag carrying, and late night arrivals were taking a toll!  We arrived in the city center just in time for lunch at one of the original Slow Food restaurants – Osteria dell’Arco.

 

Not familiar with the Slow Food movment?  Briefly, from their website:

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment.

 

To say that it was a religious experience would be an understatement.

 

To begin, I was THRILLED with my massive salad topped with perfect late-season tomatos, carrots, and yellow peppers.  The glass of Nebbiolo was pretty tasty too.

Insalada Mista

 

We ordered a Primi to share, followed by two Secondi.

The primi was so good it almost made me cry – gnocchi with shaved black truffles.  That was the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi that I have ever put in my mouth (and we ate quite a bit on this trip).  The sauce was perfectly creamy with a touch of salt – just enough to complement the earthy, rich truffles.

 

The following dishes were also excellent: Brasato di vitello al barolo (braised veal in Barolo wine) and an eggplant dish with red peppers and creamy lemony ricotta.

Check out the Slow Food plate!

 

Post-lunch explorations took us all over the city, admiring truffles, pastas, and various meats.

 

We wandered into one particular truffle shop and were admiring the jars truffle-laced goodies when I did something embarrassing.  I knocked a 25 Euro jar of anchovies with white truffles off the shelf.  It shattered onto the floor and the store filled with the aroma of truffles… which gave way to the less pleasant smell of anchovies.  Call me Grace.

I apologized profusely to the man working and mentally prepared myself to have to shell out the money for the merch.  much to my surprise, the man insisted I not worry about it and – since I wouldn’t stop apologizing – he gave me a piece of truffled chocolate!

 

To this day I’m not sure how the next part of this story came to be.  The man – Tomi – ended up talking to us for a bit.  We told him how much we wanted to have some good white truffles, which are hard to find on menus early in the season.  It turns out it isn’t uncommon for people to buy truffles to bring to a restaurant for dinner (BYOT), and he knew of a shop where we could buy them (with his 50% off discount!!!).  The really mind-blowing part is that Tomi offered to drive us to his friend’s restaurant in the neighboring town of Teriso for dinner!

How does this stuff happen to us?!

 

We decided to take our chances that he wouldn’t be a mass murderer (he wasn’t – he was a very nice Japanese-transplant to Italia) and accepted his generous offer.  Off to the store to buy truffles!

Clockwise: local hazelnuts, black truffles, white truffles, samples of various truffle spreads

You lick it, you bought it!

Our very own 0.26 ounces of white truffles

 

.26 oz of white truffles would normally cost about 100 euro.  We got it for 50.  That’s cheap compared to what you find in the States – I just heard that a local Atlanta restaurant is offering a white truffle pasta dish for $60.  Thanks Tomi!

 

Profumo di Vino has the coolest menu design I've ever seen!

 

Profumo di Vino’s chef/owner, Memo, offered a delicious tasting menu… all of which i can no longer name, but I’ll do my best!  ‘Scuse the nighttime low-quality shots.

2008 Elio Grasso Barbera d'Alba

Pumpkin mousse

Encrusted poached egg (post-cut) over a potato puree

Memo shaving our truffles over his olive-oil coated tajarin

Eggs, white truffles, and a phenomenal Hilberg Barbera d'Alba.

This was incredibly tender and moist... I think he said it was quail but it seems too big?!

Molten chocolate cake. Served with a side of jalapeno gelato.

 

Normal people might go home after all that.  We aren’t normal.

The whole kitchen came out to talk to us and we shared drinks with a staff from the following countries: Mexico, America, Sweden, and Japan.  There may have been a push-up contest involved.  Only in Italy.

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Who needs a dose of health food after that smorgasbord?  Are you seeing why I need to cleanse?  LOL!  :)

 

I had a little bit of butternut squash left over and wanted to eat it in a new way.  Remembering the Butternut Rosemary Hummus I made last spring, I decided on a dip.  Curried Butternut Squash Dip.

The curry and ginger flavors with the sweetness of the squash was delicious.  I ate the whole thing with carrot sticks, red pepper strips, and celery.  Then I cleaned the bowl with my fingers.

 

The garnish is simply roasted butternut squash seeds.  They are just like pumpkin seeds and super easy to make:

  1. Pick them out of the “guts” and give them a good rinse
  2. Spread them out and allow to dry overnight 
  3. Coat with a bit of coconut oil and cinnamon (careful not to get them too moist)
  4. Roast them in the oven on 325 for ~30 mins, stirring once or twice
  5. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container

 

They make a great grab and go snack!

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Curried Butternut Squash Dip

  • 1/2 C butternut squash, roasted
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Juice from a wedge of lemon
  • S+P, to taste

 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Adjust spices and add more oil (or water) as needed.  

Use as a dip for your favorite veggies and chips or as a spread on sandwiches or wraps.  Or simply eat with a spoon while standing over the blender.

***

I think the Piedmont recaps have been hard for me to begin because I’m still sad I had to leave.

Have you ever had white truffles?

What’s your favorite way to eat butternut squash?

 

Kicking and Screaming

I came back to America.

 

That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it though!  Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like it’s where you were meant to be?

That was Alba, Italy for me.

 

Over the next few days I’ll recap the many adventures we had over 14 days.  For now I’ll just say it was the trip of a lifetime.

We were lucky in so many ways – from navigating train stations to getting private tours of wine cellars to making friends with winemakers.

 

Let’s start at the beginning: overnight AirFrance flight to Verona (via Paris).

We were well-prepared with out neck supports, magazines, iPods, eReaders, etc.  First hint we over-packed: the neck thingys were the only travel items used.

Dinner time!

First wine of the trip

Our airplane feast

Ummmm… let’s just say it’s a little cruel to begin a food and wine trip with such foul food and wine. ;)

Packing snacks was a brilliant idea

The view of the Alps was incredible!

Finally, in the promised land of food and wine.

Most people would take a nap after all that travel.  We aren’t most people.

3 quick showers and a chat with the Bed & Breakfast owner.  Now we’re on our way to the Verona city center for drinks and an appetizer at recommended stop #1:

Antica Bottega del Vino

One of each, please!

I have died and gone to cheese heaven

 

My first glass of wine was an Amarone Masi.  It was incredible – deep raisin taste, thick, and layered with flavor.

This place proved to be key because we met a new friend – Tim.  Tim was there on business, but his family is from the area.  Lucky us – he offered to meet up and guide us later!

We also learned the historic Bottega opened a location in NYC.  I smell a trip in our future. :)

 

Dinner was at Antico Verona.  It apparently had changed names, so we had a fun walk trying to FIND it (at least we burned off the first drink).

Our reward to locating this place:

Valpolicella Superiore is less expensive Amarone – same grapes, different process.  It is lighter and the raisin taste is less prevalent.  Still delicious – it’s a good “drinking” wine.

 

Dinner was okay – not the best meal we’d have, but not bad.

Steak, sauteed veggies, pasta with black truffles

 

Never a dull moment, the old electrical system meant the lights went out in the restaurant periodically.  I wish I spoke Italian because every time they went out, the table next to us would sing a song I couldn’t understand.  It added to the adventure – especially when the lights went out while in the bathroom.

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HUGE thanks to the fabulous guest posters who helped me out while I was gone.  In case you missed any, here is a listing:

 

Advice for those of you going on extend trips abroad: beg for recruit guest bloggers.  I had very good intentions of blogging while away, but Internet and time is far too unpredictable.

Please check out these rockin’ ladies – you may discover your new favorite blog! :)

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In other news, this weekend was Atlanta Pride.  It is the first year I’ve brought a green beverage to the park.

Butternut Squash-Banana Smoothie

  • 1/2 C butternut squash
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 handful spinach
  •  Ice + milk/water, to taste

 

 

As usual, the people watching was rich.

Rawr

 

I NEED these shoes!

 

 

Happy Pride, ATL!

***

I’m shoveling fresh fruits and veggies in my mouth by the handful – they were SO hard to find in Northern Italy.

Did you enjoy the guest posters?  Did you discover anyone new?  

Have you ever traveled somewhere and felt such a strong connection to it you almost stayed? 

 

Spinach Squash Soup and WIAW

Thanks for all the well-wishes about my Achilles!

 

I’m taking it easy. *le sigh*

It still hurts, but the pain isn’t as sharp anymore.  Well, it wasn’t so bad until I tried for a new max set of push-ups (are you doing yours?!).  And then I did this tricep workout (minus the sprints).  I suppose those activities use the Achilles for stability purposes… lame.

 

Back to resting… and entertaining myself by making soup!  I could hardly wait for WIAW to share it. :)

Happy #21 to WIAW!

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Breakfast

I  had to do a repeat!  It’s rare, but the oh-so-good Zucchini Oatmeal lured me in 2x in as many days. :)

I was a little sad when the bowl ended

 

 

Lunch

Did you know one sweet potato packs more fiber than a serving of oatmeal?!

 

Brussels, sweet potato with my homemade spiced almond butter, and coconut curry tempeh.

I <3 pretty food

 

Aren’t those brussels pretty like flowers?!  #bigdork

There was also going to be a pile of kale chips… but I burned the you-know-what out of them.  Whoops.

 

Snacks

Avocado Protein Shake with chocolate protein powder (don’t knock it til you try it!)

That’s my chocolate cookie sinking in the middle

The last bit of the orange blob deliciousness – i.e. Butternut Rosemary Hummus:

Still just as good – eaten with spelt pretzels, cherry tomatoes, and celery

Dinner

Have you ever heard of a Delicata Squash?  I had not until a recent trip to the farmer’s market.

 

Further research revealed that it is an heirloom squash.  It is, indeed, delicate.  Small-ish and probably less and 1/2 a pound in weight.  I’d compare it to a butternut squash, as it is on the sweeter side of the squash family.

Like other winter squash, it contains a ton of Vitamin A, carotenoids, and can act as an anti-inflammatory.

I read that you can eat the skin (it’s much more thin that that of a butternut), but I opted to peel mine since it was being used for a soup.

Did you think I’d repeat the entire day?  *Gasp*

 

I made a Spinach Squash Soup!  It was filled with all sorts of vitamins, a little heat, and some fantastic flavors like…

Roasted garlic. The other day I posted about roasted garlic and the secret to always having it on-hand (I roast several heads at once and freeze it).  Today was a perfect example of that idea paying off.  Regular garlic would certainly work here (though I’d cut back to 2-3 cloves), but the depth roasted garlic adds was a perfect accent in this soup.

Served with more socca.  I’m an addict.

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Spinach Squash Soup

(Inspired by this recipe from 101 Cookbooks)

  • 1 T habanero-infused extra virgin olive oil (I use Sweetwater Growers’ version)
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 Delicata squash (~1.5 C), cut into 1 in cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini (~ 1C), roughly chopped
  • 1 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2.5 C fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • Juice of 1/3 lemon
  • S+P, to taste

 

In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions and saute 1-2 mins, just until soft.  Add in both squash, stock, and water.  Stir to combine, also adding salt, cumin, and coriander.  Bring to a simmer and cook ~15 mins until squash are soft.

Stir in the spinach, allowing it to just begin to wilt.  Stir in the fresh lemon juice.  Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender until smooth.  Taste, adjusting seasonings as desired.  Ladle into bowls, top as desired (I used tomatoes, pepper, and nutritional yeast), and serve.

Note:  If you don’t have habanero olive oil, don’t skip the heat – this soup would definitely be too bland without it.  Add a couple of diced jalapenos (or pepper of your choosing) when you toss in the onion and garlic.

Makes 2.5 cups.  (I wish I’d doubled it to make 5!)

***

What are you eating for WIAW?

Are you a good “patient” when it comes to resting after an injury?

 

Butternut Squash Drop Biscuits

For such a “blah” weather week, it sure is flying by!  I can’t believe it is Wednesday already!

I even have things to look forward to: much-needed massage tonight (thank you, Half-Off Depot), a rare 2 evenings free of plans (nevermind that I’m going to have to work), a nectar of the gods wine tasting Friday, and an awesome road-trip Saturday. :)

Do you find that the week tends to drag when you have fun plans?

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Like many items I’ve made lately, these biscuits were borne out of the need to use some ingredients in my fridge.

I made butternut squash a few days ago and needed to use the remainder along with my last big sprig of rosemary.  It seems everyone has been making sweet potato biscuits lately.  So I said to myself, “Self, why not make a butternut squash version?”

Enter: Butternut Squash-Rosemary Drop Biscuits


Added bonus: these are VEGAN if you use Earth Balance in place of the butter!

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Butternut-Squash Rosemary Drop Biscuits

  • 1 C white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1/4 C pastry flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 T salted butter, chilled
  • 1 C mashed roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 C applesauce
  • 1/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 T fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

Preheat oven to 450F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flours, baking powder and salt into a medium mixing bowl.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or your hands until you have a crumbly mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together butternut squash, applesauce, almond milk, maple syrup and coriander until smooth.  Fold in the dry ingredients until just mixed.

Drop the dough onto baking sheet by the spoonful (~2 T), leaving about an inch between the biscuits.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 mins, or until lightly golden.

Makes 14 medium-sized biscuits.

Approx. Nutritional Info: 81 calories, 3.6 g fat, 11.7 g carbohydrates, 1.7 g fiber, 1.7 g sugar, 1.6 g protein.

These are also loaded with Vitamin A!

***

Almost massage time!

What’s your favorite “treat” to look forward to?

 

Spice Up Your Dessert

I don’t want to run.

 

At all.  This frigid, icy weather has taken a toll on my workout motivation.  Yet I did.

 

Want to know the secret steps to success when you’re held captive by the weather?

  1. Make a plan – mine was a incline interval run
  2. Write it on a piece of paper
  3. Get dressed in workout gear (it helps you commit to going!)
  4. Get on the “dreadmill” WITH the written plan in front of you
  5. Promise yourself that if you go 10 mins and still feel terrible, you can stop
  6. Promise yourself a giant spaghetti squash dinner and a glass of wine
  7. Wait for about the 8 min mark
  8. Motivation/resolve sets in. At this point you realize you will go the full time and survive.

 

I have no idea how I got through that one, but I did.

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Then I ate this:

Thank god for the cleanse and my discovery of Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti.

 

My derby teammates, the Sake Tuyas, are having a sleepover this weekend.  Everyone is bring a dish and the theme is Mexican.  Because I am crazy, as I was laying in bed last night I was contemplating the possibilities (doesn’t everyone lull their self to sleep thinking about food?).  Then it hit me.

When I made these Black Bean Brownies, I thought I had hit the jackpot.  But… no. There’s something better out there.

 

Black beans are in (I think) every taco at Moe’s (clearly an authentic Mexican specimen).

This alone qualifies them for the potluck.  But why stop there?

 

Amp it up and add some spicy-goodness!  The addition of cinnamon and spice and everything nice adds a depth of flavor that is not to be missed.

Protein-rich, fudgy brownie with ~150 calories per serving (less than the original since I reduced the sugar and egg). Does it get any better?

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Mexican Black Bean Fudgy Brownies

  • 3/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 15 oz canned black beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 C walnuts (chopped)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T instant coffee
  • 1 1/4 tsp roasted ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • Shake of kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C light agave nectar


1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Prepare an 11 x 7 in pyrex dish by lining with parchment paper or lightly oiling with Baker’s Joy/Pam/butter/etc.

2. In large bowl, mix together melted butter, applesauce, and  cocoa powder until combined.

3. Place the beans, 1/2 C of walnuts, vanilla extract, and 3-4 spoonfuls of the cocoa mixture into a food processor.  Blend until smooth (~ 1 min).  It will be very thick.  Set aside.

4. Add to the cocoa mixture the remaining 1/2 C walnuts, instant coffee, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, and salt.  Mix well and set aside.

5. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs with a mixer until light and creamy (~ 1-2 min).  Add agave nectar and beat well.  Set aside.

6. Add bean mixture to cocoa mixture, manually stirring until blended well.

7. Then add the egg mixture (reserving 1/8 C to drizzle over top if desired), and hand mix until just combined.

8. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

9. Bake for ~45 mins, until the brownies are set.  Cool completely in the pan before cutting. You may need to refrigerate first – these are extremely soft.

Optional: Sprinkle top with a mixture of cinnamon, chili powder, and powdered sugar.

***

Now to do a quick core workout before bed.  If I can just get started…

What are your secrets to motivation for a bad-weather workout?