Tag Archives: Recipe

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

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

We’re in full-on screening season here at WCS! It’s a whirlwind of biometric data, health education and health fairs. These are the busiest months of our year by far, and we’re soaking in up.

Wednesday morning took me onsite to one of the local Discovery offices to promote healthy snacking (among many other things), and called for a little bit of creativity. Sure, people know fruits & veggies are healthy. We could chop a few things up and the samples would be gone quickly. But let’s branch out. Let’s make-your-own something!

Trail mix is easily portable, and almost a treat in disguise. A random Trader Joe’s-inspired mix pleased all palates, and shocked a few new-comers. Yep, healthy (fats, lean protein and fruit) tastes great:

HC Trail Mix_1HC trail mix cups

Pepita Coconut Trail Mix

Dried Blueberies
Almonds (unsalted)
Walnuts (unsalted)
Pepitas, roasted & salted
Dried Banana Chips
Roasted Coconut Chips

Proportions are up to you – just dump & mix!

The biggest surprise here, with most taste-testers, was the blueberries. Since most people expect dried cranberries or raisins, they commented on the tartness of the blueberries in contrast with the salty pepitas, nutty crunch and sweet bananas. Blueberries are also higher in antioxidants (even when dried)!

The coconut chips add a lighter crunch and mild flavor, along with their plant-based saturated fat.

Almonds and walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 (unsaturated) fats and manganese (an antioxidant , helpful for bone health, inflammation and blood sugar control) – among many other things.

Pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) are a good source of protein! I add this powerhouse (usually unsalted) to salads and soups all the time, but their unique soft crunch and flavor are also trail-mix friendly.

I added in the banana chips for sweetness, fiber, potassium (much less than the fresh version, though) and bulk. (Yes, these guys are high in sugar, so shake them in lightly.)

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If you’re a dark-chocolate lover like myself, you could certainly add in a few shavings/pieces of uber-dark chocolate for a bitter balance and another dose of antioxidants and yum.

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What’s your favorite nut-fruit-seed combination?

Any other DIY-mixers out there?

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Filed under food, health, Nutrition, on the job, recipes

Salads Made Easy: Tricks of my Trade (Lemon Rosemary Edition)

It all started because I really just wanted my sliced avocado to stay nice and green until lunchtime! Staring into a packed-lunch salad full of scattered brown chunks seemed extremely unappetizing at 7 a.m. (In previous attempts to preserve the prized avocado I’ve simply packed it separately and done the peeling and chopping at the office.). The key is citrus, yes?


Image source.

According to guacamole recipes everywhere, YES. I sliced a lime in half, squeezed it all over the salad, snapped on the lid and gave it a good shake. Voila! Stay GREEN, little avocados!

It works. As do lemons. And all of a sudden I realized that making homemade salad “dressings” just got even easier.

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There’s no magic secret here, and I’m not blowing any minds by sharing these two tricks, but because it took me a good while to figure out I thought they just might change someone else’s salad-making world. You never know!

1) Every salad I make at home is now dressed with a drizzle of olive oil & a squeeze of lemon OR lime (you can go crazy and combine them if that’s your thing). That’s it. Salad game-changer: discovered.

Of course you could go the traditional route & drizzle some balsamic vinegar in there, too. You can do whatever your taste-buds want. The point being that there’s no need for bottled anything, or shaking different vinegars or being fancy. There’s no need for 5+ ingredients or any knowledge of how to pair this, that and the other thing.

Salad dressings should be simple – let the toppings (veggies, nuts, seeds, greens, etc.) do the talking!

2) Add in fresh herbs! You’ll never look back.  Rosemary & basil happen to be my favorite, and mint is next on the list.

kitchen herbs
Lemon Rosemary Salad

Above: the newest addition to the kitchen, a pot growing fresh oregano, rosemary & basil. Below: the latest lunch-salad creation that benefited from the above-mentioned “tricks”.

Lemon Rosemary Salad

2 cups mixed organic salad greens (spinach, arugula, etc.)
1/2 orange pepper, sliced
2 tbsp red onion, chopped
1/4 cup baby white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 avocado, chopped
1 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
Drizzle olive oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients, shake well & grab a fork!

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Are you a frequent salad-maker?

Any tricks of your trade you’d like to share?

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Filed under food, lunches, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian

Strawberry Spring Salad

A week ago I was running with ear warmers, gloves & my fleece-lined lululemon pants (i.e. the best piece of running gear I’ve ever purchased. Hands down.). This morning, Kate & I headed out at 6 am in shorts & tees, taking pictures like this:

Cherry Blossoms Jefferson 1

Swoon.

Spring has arrived! This means a lot of things – my favorite season is finally here, for one – and the grocery store shelves are reflecting the shift. Thanks to our CSA last year, I know all too well that strawberries must be purchased in season or not at all. Once you taste them fresh off the vine, first thing in the morning at the office, you’ll never go back.

Before this week’s 90* days hit, I hoped I could passive aggressively force spring into action by taking advantage of a fruit sale at TJ’s. On sale? Organic? In April?! PLEASE TASTE GOOD & bring warm weather with you.

Spring strawberry salad 1

If you bring a tasty salad to the menu, too, that’d be great.

Strawberry Spring Salad
Makes 2 servings

5 medium strawberries, sliced & chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, halved & sliced
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
2-4 cups organic mixed greens
Optional: chickpeas (or lean protein of choice ), squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Grab a fork, sit on a deck/porch, in a park or right near a window as the sun shines in, and enjoy!

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Filed under DC, lunches, recipes, vegetarian