Category Archives: recipes

Salad Towers: Salmon, Squash, Seeds & Sesame Toppers

My brain and your eyes could probably take a break from all this incessant MCM talk. Today’s a mind-taper day, and a reminder that there’s another big aspect of training – well, life, in general – that has gone mostly unmentioned here. THE EATS.

Working from home allows for more flexibility with meals. If I were in the office, you’d still see a lot of pumped-up salads, they just wouldn’t be plated quite so nicely. And they wouldn’t be consumed in the backyard sunshine – my way of supplementing lunch with some Vitamin D. I choose a salad for lunch because it ensures a huge vegetable serving, is completely versatile for flavors and toppers, and gives me a high volume of healthy foods.

WIN, Win.

Let’s walk through a basic salad construction….

I don’t consume meat or poultry, but protein is always part of the salad equation here. I opt for one or more of the following: fish (usually leftover from the night before – baked/grilled), pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts, hard-boiled egg and/or avocado.

You don’t have to have “greens” to make it a salad, but I usually do. I buy the organic mixed greens from Trader Joe’s and may mix in some raw kale, arugula and/or spinach for extra nutrients. Then I pile on the rainbow! My goal is to have at least 3 colors in my salad, which may come from peppers, onion, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, dried/fresh fruits, avocado and/or leftover roasted veggies from last night’s dinner.

At the end, I go for a little flavor with a “dressing” of sorts. I never do a store-bought dressing, nor do I take the time to mix anything together. I keep it simple: fresh lemon squeeze, drizzle of EVOO or a drizzle of Sesame oil.

Here are a few salad towers I’ve created lately:

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The season hasn’t changed much here in California, but the display at Trader Joe’s suggests it may officially be fall. And therefore we have squash.

Tower toppers: leftover roasted salmon (seasoned with chili powder), roasted kabocha squash (seasoned with cumin, salt/pepper), chopped cucumbers, red peppers and carrots, sunflower seeds. Dressing: sesame oil.

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If there’s only one thing you takeaway from this post: you cannot have too much avocado on your salad.

Toppers: tomatoes (still farm-fresh at the farmer’s market!), cucumbers, avocado, red pepper and sunflower seeds. Dressing: lemon squeeze, salt & pepper.

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I like to have my salads with a side of brain-puzzle, too.

Toppers: baked Mahi Mahi (seasoned with dried green chile powder), chopped carrots, cucumber and pistachios. Dressing: drizzle of EVOO.

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What are some of your go-to weekday lunches?

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Filed under health, Nutrition, recipes, training, what to eat

{Paleo} Vegan Eggplant Pizzas

In my continued quest to befriend the eggplant, we went down a road that never fails a single taste-bud test: the pizza. We don’t cook according to any labels, but this recipe happens to be gluten-free, vegan- and Paleo-friendly.

Yes, even a  bacon-loving, 1/4-a-cow-in-the-freezer* dude eats “vegan” meals every once in a while. Veggies hold a high power in this house!

The trick with using an eggplant “crust” is this vegetable’s affinity for moisture. To avoid total mush, start by slicing your eggplant, placing the rounds (~1 inch thick) on a paper towel and salting. Let this sit for about 20-30 minutes. If you’re impatient and cook on a time budget like me, even 10-15 minutes will help.

Then, turn your oven on and hop to it!

Vegan Eggplant Pizzas

1 medium eggplant, sliced (1-inch thick rounds)
~3 Tbsp olive oil

Toppings:
Vegetables of choice!
We went with sautéed yellow squash and red onions.

Sauce:
1 15 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I usually go with Muir Glen)
Salt/Pepper, Thyme, Oregano – to taste
2 leaves fresh basil
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375*. Drizzle olive oil over the eggplant slices; roast for 15 minutes. During this time, prep and/or sauté your vegetables (if you like them cooked first – skip this step if you want them crispy). Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor, or high-power blender, and blend/pulse until smooth.

Remove the eggplant slices and top with sauce + veggies. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. 

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As you can see, we got a bit distracted by the guac-master’s other creation of the night. So, that also happened.

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As with any pizza, the options are endless and totally up to the season’s harvest, your taste and/or dietary preferences. But as mentioned above, this was a meat-free dinner for the meat-lover in our house, and I heard no complaints! You could even cut these into fourths and make them a party-pleasing appetizer. Either way, the eggplant wins, yet again.

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Filed under dinners, gluten free, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian

One-Dish Meal: Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant Recipe

If there’s one thing I’m confident with in the kitchen, it’s a one-dish meal. I’m all for efficiency, simplicity and easy clean-up! While I love home-cooked meals, and don’t mind cooking them myself, I steer clear of complicating things.

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Here’s the deal: I do not love eggplant. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, it can be very tough on the jaw, and it dries out very quickly.

But every vegetable deserves a fair chance in this world! I DO love ordering the eggplant dish at Thai restaurants, and that just flat-out baffles me. How do they do it?! It’s always soft, and edible, and flavorful (read: spicy!), and delicious. I order it without reserve; I know they’ll nail it and I’ll want another plateful for leftovers (because no, there are no leftovers).

I’m growing basil plant #5 in the backyard and it was begging for an excuse to be harvested. I picked up an eggplant at Trader Joe’s and thought, “Okay, let’s do-si-do one more time…”

Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant
Makes ~4 servings, or 2 big ones

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Basil, to taste (~3/4 cup fresh leaves, chopped)
1 can(15 oz)  fire-roasted tomatoes
2-3 cups fresh greens: arugula, spinach OR kale (optional)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Red pepper flakes, to taste (if you really like that spice!)
Optional: top with sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a large sauté pan (or wok). Add garlic, stirring for 1 minute. Add red onions; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, sesame oil and seasonings (cayenne). Continue cooking this mix until the eggplant softens (8-10 minutes); add 1/8 – 1/4 cup water if it looks dry. Stir in the basil and greens; cook until softened.

Top with seeds for extra crunch, flavor and healthy fats!

2014-08-10 19.07.22Suggested summer pairing: Water + Watermelon Ale (not mixed together), to quench the spice and your thirst.

Eggplant, you’ve redeemed yourself! I think you have basil, spices and tomato juice to thank. But we’ll take it.

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What’s your favorite one-dish meal?

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Lunch’n Vegan: Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

This recipe post is brought to you courtesy of Instagram and the attention that a lunch bowl can garner while people are hungrily browsing social media! All I did was calculate the leftovers in the fridge into amount of time I wanted to dedicate to lunch-packing after the Superbowl. I’m no chef, and “easy but healthy” could describe most, if not all, combinations posted in this space!

This came together easily, in approximately 5 minutes (thanks to Friday night’s dinner menu), and pleasantly surprised the taste-buds. And as it turns out, it’s ringing “healthy” bells:

pom   pumpkin seed lunch

Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup Sautéed kale
1 cup Roasted Brussels sprouts

Salt/pepper to taste. On the side: guac.

The measurements are estimates, since I rarely measure things but rather toss them in and give it a good look and think “Yep, that fills the Pyrex bowl”.

On the side you see some leftover guacamole from our game-watching party contribution (if you could call that a game?), which added a nice spice to the mix! It’s not intentionally vegan and gluten-free, but it is.

The Perks:

Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels! Feisty little things. They can also be a good source of vitamins C and B5.

Pumpkin seeds make frequent appearances in my lunch, as they’re a complete protein and great source of manganese and magnesium, and an excellent source of zinc and iron. All good things in general, but especially for the veg-heads!

The seed-powered salad takes the win, here.

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On the Menu: Spiced Peanut Pumpkin Soup & a Hat Trick

The Runner’s World Festival week is here! Registration is still open and the discount codes are still up for grabs.

For the first time this season the soup-pot was busted out and the Veg Life Pinterest board was assessed for options. Currently working without a blender or functioning food processer means a little creativity is in order. Recently accepting that it’s no longer iced-coffee season and pumpkin is taking its reign worked out well for this dinner.

Thanks to MindBodyGreen’s Spicy West African Peanut soup, we had some inspiration to work with. This soup is a mixture of seasonal, spicy and dietary-restriction-friendly! Vegan (dairy-free) and gluten-free, but not missing a thing.

spicy peanut pumpkin soup

Spiced Peanut Pumpkin Soup

1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
1 Tbsp grated ginger (or dried to taste)
2 tsp minced garlic (or dried to taste)
1 Tbsp oil (EVOO or of choice)
Hot sauce to taste
Seasonings: cayenne, paprika, salt

1 can organic pureed pumpkin
2 cups Trader Joe’s Bloody Mary mix
3 cups water
1/4 cup peanut butter (natural, creamy)

Toppings: roasted kale, green onions & roasted pepitas

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium. Sauté the celery, onion, garlic and ginger until softened. Add seasonings & hot sauce, continue stirring until cooked through. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, stirring thoroughly until well-mixed. Bring to a boil; simmer for 10-20 minutes until ready to serve (stir frequently). If you prefer a smooth soup, use an immersion blender to puree the sautéed vegetables.

Top with whatever your taste-buds want! We had kale ‘chips’ (i.e. roasted kale), sliced green onions and roasted pumpkin seeds (i.e. pepitas). It ‘twas delicious.

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There’s one other big item on the menu this week: a hat-trick!

On Saturday, I’ll be running two of three races (5k, 10k), and Sunday will round it out (half-marathon). Thursday I hit the road with Erika to join a host of other bloggers, Runners World team members and elite runners!

RW Festival_home

Come join a party  {festival} only RW could host!

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Filed under dinners, Meatless Monday, Races, recipes, running, vegetarian