Category Archives: what to eat

Spaghetti Squash & Hummus Lunches

Winner of the LOVE Grown Foods Hot Oats Giveaway: Sassy (Lauren)!
(Picked by Random.ORG number generator.)

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One thing I learned about the spaghetti squash recently is that its volume shouldn’t be underestimated! I offered to cook dinner for some friends, and picked up two of said vegetable to feed three people. The recipe du jour was P&TY’s spaghetti squash pad thai (three thumbs up!); we were left with no more pad thai (that goes quickly), but an entire spaghetti squash’s worth of “noodles” unused.

Hello, lunch:

Spaghetti squash salad lunch

That whole squash was enough for two of us to make lunches for most of the week – file that under quality Sunday-night meal prep!

My preferred combinations (staples) :

1-1.5 cup spaghetti squash
Kale
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 carrot, grated
2-3 tbsp Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil hummus
Seasoned with: salt, thyme

1-1.5 cups spaghetti squash
Kale
1/2 orange/red pepper, chopped
1-2 tbsp. yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. raw pepitas
1 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Cilantro Jalapeno hummus
1/4 – 1/2 cup black beans
Optional: squeeze of lime juice

1-1.5 cup spaghetti squash
Kale
1/4 cucumber, sliced/chopped
1/2 roasted red pepper, sliced
1 tbsp raw pepitas
1/4 avocado, sliced
2 tbsp salsa OR roasted red pepper hummus
Optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup chickpeas or black beans.

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Do you dine on squash for lunch? What flavor combo would you add in there?

The versatile “noodles” can wear many hats – the week of lunch experiments proved tastefully successful.

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Filed under lunches, Meatless Monday, recipes, vegetarian, what to eat

The Picky Athlete’s Pocket

When an endurance athlete reduces/eliminates gluten and dairy from the diet, there are a lot of things out the window! There are the obvious good-byes – bowls of whole-wheat pasta, peanut-butter & banana sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, most cereals, etc – and then there are the “THAT has gluten/dairy, too?!” moments. The breakups that follow include most* energy bars, gels, sometimes-worth-the-splurge candy, etc. It’s a tough wake-up call, but well worth turning over those bars to glance at an ingredient list or two.

CLIF Dietary options

Exhibit A: the CLIF site makes it very easy to see which products fit into your dietary-needs pocket. But click “Gluten Free” & “No Dairy” and your options are instantly diminished. (Kudos for the user-friendly way to find this out, though. Scrolling through an FAQ section isn’t as fun.)

When did fueling on-the-go get so complicated? Wasn’t there a day when these didn’t exist, and people still crossed finish lines riding/running strong?

YES. Yes, those days did exist.

*Being selectively picky might have been quite the chore as few as 5-10 years ago – aside from homemade options and loaves of frozen gluten-free bread, you might have been grazing the sport store aisles & internet pages without much luck. Last Spring, taking on the “Sherpa” role with D’s cycling, I quickly realized that my marathon-fueling tactics didn’t extrapolate to a 100-mile ride, followed by an 80-mile jaunt the next day! (Let’s not get into how they physically do this, in the first place. My lower half aches at the suggestion of that weekend agenda.)

Enter: the Feedzone Cookbook, Picky Bars & Vega protein.

Feedzone cookbookPicky bars
picky bar science
Vega logo Vega slogan
Vega package instagramPicky Bar ski day

Photo source: Feedzone cookbook.

Sure, we could make our own bars all the time and get really creative with flavors & textures and combinations. When I feel the urge to do so, I’m all for it. We also can, and do, make trail mixes, simply grab hand-fruits, etc. when the kitchen is stocked.  But for the quick-fix, somebody-else-has-figured-this-out option?

ALL of these are gold to the picky athlete’s pocket!

The Feedzone cookbook (written by Allen Lim, who has worked with endurance cyclists for years) has recipes for rice-based bars; Picky bars are made by professional endurance athletes (Stephanie Rothstein, Jesse Thomas & Lauren Fleshman) as is Vega (Brendan Brazier). They get it. 

If you’re among the “picky” athletes looking for alterative options, these are all waiting for you. If you make your own bars, there are plenty of recipes out there to test out & enjoy! If you’re just looking to clean things up a little bit on-the-run or ride, these products are worth your investment.

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What’s lining your pockets when you’re on-the-go?
Do you have any easy go-to recipes for bars, snacks, drinks, etc?

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Filed under bike rides, cycling, food, gluten free, learning, Nutrition, running, what to eat

National Nut Day! Celebrate the Nutritional Craziness

In the health world, national nut day celebrates the plant-based source of our favorite fatty acids, nutrients and protein. These small, nutrient-dense powerhouses are not to be left alone! On a side note, I was infamously known around the college apartment for saying things were “nuts” (i.e. crazy).

Is that unique to the Southwest? Me? My personal jargon?

Not a clue. But, what’s totally nuts is that in a phase of life, my only dose of nut-nutrition was via the peanut butter jar (not even the “natural” kind – gasp). I did empty that jar pretty quickly, but even so, my matured and acquired taste-buds are sad for the time we missed!

Now, they are a go-to snack, oatmeal topper and trail-mix must have (what’s trail mix without the nuts?! We’re not going there.)

Here are my favorite ways to enjoy nuts:

Mixed with fresh fruit for a snack – yes, they go with anything. I’ve paired pecans + cantaloupe, walnuts + apples, pears and bananas, almonds + everything. It all works.

Topping a lunch salad or quinoa mix.

Creamed into a “butter” and, well, we know where that’s going… (fruit, oatmeal, dessert, snacking….).

Sprinkled on top of a smoothie for some extra texture and flavor.

Thrown into a pasta to make things interesting (see: Basil Cashew Pasta Salad).

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Ready for something new? The Almond Board of California is riding high on a wave of new information that suggests almonds may be lower in calorie than originally thought.

I’m not suggesting we read too much into the numbers (see above: nutrient-dense powerhouse), but it’s an interesting update. Nuts get slammed by calorie counters because of their “high” value, but this food is bargain. Enjoy it, practice some portion control and you’re doing yourself a favor by choosing these over that “100 calorie snack pack”.

Here’s their idea for a creative homemade snack and/or dessert:

Almonds Mochaalmonds mocha

6 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. instant coffee granules
1 egg white
2 cups whole natural almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In container of electric blender, combine all ingredients except egg white and almonds. Blend 30 seconds, pulsing on and off; set aside. In large bowl, whisk egg white until opaque and frothy. Add almonds; toss to coat. Add sugar mixture; toss gently to coat evenly. Oil, or coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Arrange almonds on baking sheet in single layer. Bake in center of oven 15 minutes. Gently toss almonds and arrange again in single layer. Continue to bake 15 minutes longer; toss gently. Turn off oven. Leave almonds in oven with door ajar 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Store in airtight container up to two weeks.

Photo and Recipe courtesy of Almond Board of California.

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Other ideas? Do tell…

Happy Nut Day!

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Filed under Dietitians, food, Nutrition, what to eat

Finally Reading: In Defense of Food

I may be four years behind the game here, but my nightstand is finally holding the pages of Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

That it is. I’ve never read any of his books cover-to-cover, but have been in support of his message since my own diet philosophy started evolving in early 2010 (see: DOTR’s first post). “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.” Yes, that!

in-defense-of-food-cover

I’m only just starting Chapter 9 (Bad Science), and wondering how and why it took me so long to pick up this book. It’s a quick read, easy to digest and giving us facts from a variety of angles (unlike many of my old nutrition textbooks). It’s an insight into the history of the United States’ “food rules” (aka Dietary Guidelines) and an invitation to think outside the cereal box, grocery store or (old) pyramid scheme.

I can’t wait to get Sections II & III, looking more into the modern rise of diseases, the “Industrialization of Eating” and “Getting Over Nutritionism” – i.e. our new fangled eating habits that seem to be doing most people no good.

More insight to come…

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So, have you read this yet? Is it on your bookshelf (virtual, wish-list or otherwise)? Thoughts??

And…go!

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Filed under Dietitians, food, in the News, what to eat

Packed Lunches: Starting With K&Q

Once infamously known as the gal who would eat a turkey sandwich every single day for lunch, my habits (or lack thereof) now would probably shock those who knew me when (hopefully in a good way)*. I cannot imagine eating the same exact thing for lunch every day, and can’t remember the last time I did. There are the occasional leftovers days, and days when things probably look very similar to a lunch last week or last month, but those are few and far between.

Rather, I love the variety of what’s possible thanks to the contents of our fridge and pantry combined with a cutting board and/or quick-cooking method. Sometimes there is a theme for the week – e.g. we cook a lot of quinoa, rice or brown-rice pasta and make small dents in the batch every day – but for the most part, there’s just one goal; eat plants, add flavor.

Simple? Always. Tasty? You know it.

*There are multiple other reasons this reputation is outdated. The first hint would be “turkey”.

In this edition of packed lunches, I bring you Kale & Quinoa (K&Q).

kale quinioa & kidney bean lunch kale quinoa & peppers

1) K&Q – White Beans, Hummus & Peppers (Left)

Raw kale leaves
1/2 cup white kidney beans
1/4 – 1/2 each – red pepper, green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
2 Tbsp-ish hummus (flavor of your choice! I went with Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus)
Pepper to taste

2) K&Q – Chickpeas, Mixed Veggies & Sesame Oil (Right)

Raw kale leaves
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 red tomato, chopped
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
Drizzle of sesame oil
Salt/pepper to taste

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This week’s lunch “dessert” has been the sweetest of sweet yellow watermelons from the Good Life Farm. Yellow is the new ruby-red; this melon is astounding my taste-buds, confused as they might be.

And yes, sometimes lunch dessert is a piece of dark chocolate. Bittersweet perfection.

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What’s packed in your lunchbox today? What staples do you start with?

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Filed under food, lunches, recipes, things I Love, what to eat