Whole Life Challenge: What's for Dinner? Sunday 09/23

Sunday, September 23, 2012

For Sunday's dinner I decided to do another round of "use it up".  I'd bought a few portobello mushroom caps for our tailgate, which we didn't use, and I'd gotten (another!) bag of spinach from our CSA on Wednesday that needed to be used.  Thus was borne a dinner that was cheeseless portobello "pizzas" and Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon.

I added some turmeric to the chickpea recipe, and I didn't have a lemon so I used lemon juice from the bottle instead.  I followed the serving suggestion of putting it over a sweet potato, which was quite tasty.

 For the portobello "pizzas," I marinated the caps in some balsamic vinegar & olive oil, sprinkled with garlic powder.  I sauteed some onions in butter and added the last of some sliced baby bellas that I'd chopped up (needed to use those up also).  A bit of diced fresh garlic finalized the main filling ingredient.  John took over while I was in the heat of finishing the chickpea mix, and told him the basic concept and gave him creative license.  He finished them with tomato paste, basil leaves and slices of tomato from our garden.  All in all, pretty cheap, tasty, and not too hard to make!

Catchin up on 'What's for Dinner?' Whole Life Challenge Edition(s)

On Tuesday I got home pretty late from work , and John and I were both pretty grouchy and hungry.  I thought he was probably missing carbs and I was just plain starving, so I offered to make sweet potatoes for us.  They were a quick meal in the microwave, served with butter and salt, and perfect.  We had some carrot and turnip slaw with them, which wound up being a very orange meal...

On Wednesdays John has darts, so I was fending for myself.  On either Monday or Tuesday I'd made quinoa to take along with my lunches (cooked red quinoa, avocado, tomato, olive oil & lime juice = amazing cold salad with great protein), and had a bit of quinoa left over.  I also had a big bag of spinach from my CSA share with Glade Road Growing that needed to be used. 

I sauteed up the spinach along with some baby bellas (grocery store), red pepper (CSA), green banana pepper (my garden) and garlic (my garden), and threw in the already-cooked quinoa at the end just to heat it up.  Awesome, quick, fresh and easy meal.

Thursday night we took the easy route and ate the soup that was left over from earlier in the week.

Friday was a fun one.  I got home a bit late from work, after having stopped off at Eats to pick up a few things (I went looking for, and found, coconut aminos, but also picked up some WLC compliant olives and vegetable juices). 

I knew that on Saturday morning we'd be tailgating.  There is a saying - "when you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  I wanted to plan ahead for the tailgate to be sure we would have the "approved" foods to take.  It's also a good "dry run" for the big Duke game where we'll have a bunch of guests visiting, and will be tailgating all day long with people who may not care so much what our diet is!

I'd tried earlier in the week to make homemade mayo.... A massive failure.  I really wanted to make slaw (which, as it turns out, the slaw recipe I chose didn't need the mayo), and also deviled eggs (which did).   We were out of eggs, so I ran out to the store and picked up two 18-packs (we've been going through eggs like crazy on this diet!).

While I made dinner, John tried his hand at mayo-making and had great success using grapeseed oil.  He whisked the whole time by hand, and it looked so beautiful and perfect in texture...   And then it had a horrible stale taste.  Which, we figured out, was probably because our grapeseed oil expired in 2005 (!).   Whoops.  And... Eww.

We threw that out, and he tried again with some (non-EV) olive oil and the KitchenAid.  That seemed to work...

Except, a 1/2 hour later when I pulled it out of the fridge to make the deviled eggs, it had separated into a not-very-good-eats looking oil slick on top of the thicker mayo-like layer.  :(  I spooned some out to use in the deviled eggs anyway.

On Friday night we needed another quick go-to meal, after all the grocery store running and late start.  While John worked on the mayo, I worked on making our meal.  I defrosted some tilapia filets and marinated them in sesame oil, diced garlic and dried Italian spice mix (oregano, rosemary, basil, marjoram, thyme) while the oven preheated.

I topped them with red bell pepper and banana pepper, and cooked them 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Meanwhile I steamed some broccoli with a pat of butter and a couple of teaspoons of water and some diced garlic.  Done!

For the game I made Asian Broccoli Slaw.  I was running low on broccoli (after using some for our meal above), so I supplemented it with some shredded green cabbage.  I'd cheated and bought pre-shredded red cabbage to use.

I think coconut aminos may be one of my new best friends...  John used them to marinate some steak that he brought for the tailgate, and declared himself a fan.

Other than the slaw noted above, I also made some deviled eggs. We've been eating hard boiled eggs all week, so I just grabbed a few of those.  The egg yolks and "mayo" were combined with compliant mustard, celery, paprika, salt, pepper and dried dill, and a dash of vinegar, to make the filling for the deviled eggs.  I missed the dill taste of the pickle relish I normally include, but that was just how it was going to be since I didn't have any compliant pickles.  I used celery (for the crunch), dried dill and vinegar (for the taste) in an attempt to close the gap.  They were close, but not *quite* as good as my normal version.  Sigh.  I knew I should've bought the Bubbies Dills at Eats.

Still... Overall?  Good eats.

It's Sunday - big cooking day again to get ready for the coming week!  I have to think carefully about what I'm going to do next week, since I head back out of town to TX on Saturday morning through October 5...!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I love the way
September sunlight stretches, creating

long shadows
twinkling blue skies
brisk days
cotton clouds
brightened colors

heralding a beginning
and an end

WLC - what's for dinner? Sunday & Monday

Monday, September 17, 2012

I wanted to do a catch-up post showing what we had for dinner for the last two nights. I have to say, I'm very lucky to be married to a man that likes to cook!

Here is the meal we enjoyed on Sunday evening.  John made a version of this on Friday night, and it was so good we both agreed that an encore was in order!

This meal is pretty simple and inexpensive, and helps solve a problem we had, which is using up the last of our harvested tomatoes (which we had a ton of).  Ingredients:

- 3 - 4 yellow & red tomatoes
- 1/2 onion
- 1 sweet red pepper
- 1 can Great Northern beans
- 1 can red beans
- Carrots
- Garlic
- Celery
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder

We combined the leftovers from Friday night, which he'd used black beans in (instead of red), so you see a few of those also.  YUM!

On Sunday I made some roasted chickpeas to have around for snacking.  John said he "wasn't crazy about them," but also noted that he "kept going back for more."  :)

And tonight, John had seen a recipe for poached eggs over asparagus that he wanted to try.  I had just picked up sliced baby portobello mushrooms at the store and suggested we add them as a side (it seemed like the meal needed something earthy with it), and it was a perfect match.  The only disappointment was the end of the meal, when a plate full of egg yolk went to waste...  :(

I suggested using it as salad dressing, which would probably have been good, but since we were at the end of the meal I guess it wouldn't have kept too well for another meal on another day.

The dogs were very happy to get their "lickins," though!  :)

John mentioned that while he still feels hungry all day long, he feels pretty good.  For me, I don't feel much different at all; this is sort of how I eat 80%+ of the time anyway, so it wasn't a huge shift.  It was tough going back in the office where there is a break room full of off-limits food, and a bunch of leftovers from the Startup Weekend we hosted, and half-and-half for coffee...  But I drank two cups of totally plain black coffee today, and it wasn't too bad.  And snuck a bag of salted almonds from the break room late in the day which meet "the rules" but still felt like an indulgence compared to the raw ones I normally nosh on!

We went to the box this morning, and did our stretching together this evening.  The dogs seem to think that when we are on the floor it is all about them, and much hilarity ensued, but we managed to get our stretches in, in between.

It's fun rallying together for the Challenge!

Slowcooker Mung Dhal Vegetable Soup

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I made Slowcooker Mung Dhal Vegetable Soup today, too, planning to take it for lunches in the coming week.  I added the spinach (which is optional in the recipe) to give it a bit more body.  Haven't tasted it yet, but it smells amazing.

Remind me to tell you about my utter homemade mayo FAIL sometime...

Whole Life Challenge Evening Meal # 1

I'm interested to see how creative everyone can get with the food guidelines on the Whole Life Challenge.  As John and I make our meals I will try to take & post pics, if for nothing else than my own future reference.

Today's meal was actually very similar to one of our "standard" meals.  I think the fact that I am a pescetarian lends itself nicely to the challenge; we've already been thinking creatively for many years, finding different ways to make vegetables and beans into new and fulfilling creations.

I only eat fish about 1-2 times a week and I don't plan to change that during the challenge. Since I am a "hybrid" vegetarian, I plan to follow a hybrid version of the rules.  I want to compete in a fair way, and not "take a pass" on anything, but I also think that as someone who is living on primarily vegetables, I may need additional nutrition items occasionally.  As such, on days that I am eating only vegetarian foods, I will follow the Challenge's vegetarian guidelines and allow the option of the "additional items for vegetarians" of quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and wild rice.  On days that I am eating fish, I will not.  I noticed that they recently added tempeh, miso, and natto as allowed items for vegetarians (note to self, what the hell is natto?  research later) but I almost never eat those normally, so probably won't on the challenge either.

Anyway, onward!  Here's "what's for dinner" on the Whole Life Challenge for night 1.  Sorry the pic of John's meal is a bit blurry - I was in a hurry to get the shot and get out of his way... He was hungry! :)

My meal - a tuna steak, grilled veggies and carrot and turnip slaw:

John's meal - a ribeye and the same sides:

Here's a pic of the carrot and turnip slaw - I'm posting it so that I can put the image in on the recipe in my Pinterest WLC board - right now it just has the very boring picture of a napkin and silverware from the recipe page.


This weekend is probably going to involve a lot of cooking and kitchen time to get ready to handle our first week of the Whole Life Challenge.

John made Hummus today, using a recipe from Vegetarian Times Low-Fat & Fast.  It is soooo tasty!



Two 15-oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive or sesame oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.  If a thinner dip is desired, add more water.  Serve with raw vegetables.

Makes 2 1/2 cups; 10 servings

Per serving:
116 calories, 4g protein; 4g fat, 20g carbohydrates; 0 cholestorol; 252mg sodium, 4g fiber

Whole Life Challenge

The Whole Life Challenge started today - John and I are both participating.  We had our first trial workout this morning (we'll do another on November 11th to compare the results).  We had our measurements taken, and the competition begins!

I've spent a lot of time in the past week getting ready - selecting items that meet the "food rules" at the grocery store, thinking of recipes and getting our fridge and pantry ready to support the program.

Here are pics of the pantry, frige and counter:

I'm excited about the challenge.  I'm interested to see what kind of results are possible by devoting 2 months to "clean living," being active, and working on mobility/stretching. 

We took some "before" pictures this morning, but you won't get to see them unless there is a remarkable "after" to compare them to in November...!

Zucchini Fettuccine Puttanesca

Thursday, September 13, 2012

(image from Minnesota Locavore)

Here's another great recipe from Carb-Conscious Vegetarian by Robin Robertson:

Zucchini Fettuccine Puttanesca

4-6 Zucchini, cut into long, thin strips
1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups finely diced fresh or canned Tomatoes
3/4 cup kalamata or gaeta olives, pitted and halved
2 tbsp capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil (or 1-2 tsp fresh)

1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam the zucchini strips until tender, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn it, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, capers, basil, red-pepper flakes (if using) parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the reserved zucchini and cook until heated though, tossing gently to coat the zucchini with the sauce.

Serves 4
Per serving:  68 calories, 5g fat, 1g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 0mg cholestorol, 282mg sodium

Out with the old, in with the new

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cleaned out the summer vegetables from the garden today.  Pulled out zucchini and tomato plants and put out a bunch of seeds - lettuces, carrots, radishes, leeks, turnips, spinach, brussels sprouts.

There are still a few things left to be harvested sometime soon - sweet potatoes, sweet banana peppers (which keep on giving and giving!), and a few potatoes which re-sprouted after we thought we'd pulled and harvested them all about a month or so ago.

WLC Recipe: Fennel and Artichoke Gratin with Three-Herb White Bean Pesto

This recipe is courtesy of the awesome book Carb-Conscious Vegetarian, by Robin Robertson.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 package (9 oz) frozen artichoke hearts, cooked and sliced
3/4 cup cooked white beans
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon or savory
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tomato, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup finely chopped pine nuts
Grated soy Parmesan Cheese (optional)*

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the leek, bell pepper, garlic, fennel, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Lightly oil a 2-quart gratin dish or coat it with cooking spray.  Spread half of the fennel mixture in the bottom of the prepared dish.  Top with half of the artichoke slices and season with salt and pepper.  Top with the remaining fennel mixture, the remaining artichoke slices, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a blender or food processor, blend the beans, basil, parsley, and tarragon or savory until finely chopped.  Add the stock and blend until smooth.  Pour over the gratin.  Arrange the tomato slices around the outer edge of the gratin.  Sprinkle the gratin with the pine nuts and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until the vegetables are tender, the top is golden brown, and the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour.  Serve directly from the gratin dish, sprinkled with Parmesan.*

Serves 4
Per serving:  136 calories, 4g fat, 6g protein, 23g carbs, 9g fiber, 0mg cholestoral, 290 mg sodium.

* Leave out the Parmesan for the WLC.

Whole Life Challenge

John and I signed up to participate in the Whole Life Challenge at Crossfit Blacksburg.  We've been doing Crossfit for several months now and love it.  The challenge is to do 2 months of clean eating, exercise and stretching, and compare performance and other stats beginning and end.

As a pescetarian (I don't eat meat other than seafood), I've been wondering how this is going to go, and looking for creative recipes.  I have a ton of great cookbooks to help me out, and I'll be listing recipes here as I find them so that I can link to them and easily refer back to them as needed.

I also have a board on Pinterest for recipes (note that most have 1 or 2 ingredients that you'll need to alter to be strictly WFC compliant).

The challenge starts on September 15th; I'm pretty psyched to get started, but I also know that you have to plan for your "what-if" situations, so that you have the right foods on hand to deal with them.  What if I don't get home from work until 8pm (which happens quite a bit)?  What happens if I'm starving and I want to grab something to eat quickly?  What happens if John and I are too tired to cook?  What happens if I get a sudden sweet food craving?

I'm trying to think through all of these in advance; that's how you can best set yourself up for success.  Wish us luck!

Gardening sources

Thursday, September 6, 2012

As I was perusing my catalog from Wood Prairie Farm like a girl looking at a Christmas catalog, I realized that I should share my favorite places with everyone.  I'll tell you mine if you'll tell me yours!

So, without further ado, here is a list of my favorite places to buy non-GMO no-Monsanto gardening goodies:

Wood Prairie Farm - I tried their King Harry potatoes and loved them.  A lot.  They sell all kinds of potatoes and a mix of other seeds.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - almost all of my seeds come from here.  With their seeds I've grown lettuce, chard, carrots, beans, tomatoes, oh my... The list is neverending.  And I can't even look at their site without being tempted to buy more.  And I do. not. need. any. more. seeds.  (squeezes eyes shut while copy/pasting the link)

Green Mountain Garlic - So, I ordered three or four varieties last year.  Each variety came with 3-5 bulbs that you then split into cloves, and plant individually.  I now have more home grown, delightful, amazing, bountiful, garlic than I will be able to consume in the next five or so years.  And I love garlic.

So, those are my "top 3" for now, I'll add more as I may think of them.  Enjoy!

My Humble Domicile - by Templates para novo blogger