Tomorrow? I’m ready.

Tomorrow, I’ll be attempting my weekly long run of 12.5 miles.  The longest I have ever—ever!—run.  (Please note: “attempting” is the key word here.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be wearing heels.  I mean.  High, high heels.  I never wear heels.  (Pray for me, please.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be up until well past 10.  (FYI, this never happens.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be dancing, eating prime rib, laughing, chatting with family, and indulging my love of frosting and cake at my cousin’s wedding.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going, going, going.  And then going (and going) some more.

And so, tonight I stopped.

Tonight, I ate grilled, wild caught salmon on a bed of garlicky swiss chard.  I ate slow.

Tonight, I visited and chatted with Pepere.

Tonight, I went to Whole Foods, bought some mixed nuts, drank a kombucha, and laughed with some friends.

Tonight, I took a bubble bath.  I read a magazine.  And then I plan on reading some more.

And so, tomorrow?  I’m ready.

Garlicky Swiss Chard

Swiss chard reminds me of kale.  But it also reminds me of spinach.  I happen to think that it has the delightful best of both personalities.  The leaves are soft and tender.  They will wilt and shrivel with embarrassment in just a few moments.  Of course, my favorite component of swiss chard is the flavor.  Where kale is strong and boisterous, swiss chard has a much more mild manner.  It’s slightly withdrawn, so to speak.  Which makes it perfect for showcasing your favorite choice of protein, be it grilled tofu, chicken breast, or–in my case–salmon.

Round out the meal with some form of starch.  I opted for potatoes, as that’s what I happen to have a lot of in my basement right now.  I think quinoa or brown rice or even a hunk of favorite, whole grain bread would pair nicely as well.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 medium bunch of rainbow swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a medium pot.
  2. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until garlic begins to smell fragrant.
  3. Add swiss chard.  Cook until leaves are beginning to wilt.  Add vinegar, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until leaves are tender and wilted.  Taste to be sure that salt and pepper are to liking.  Plate and enjoy! 😀
QUESTION: What are YOU doing tomorrow?

fire up the grill.

Sometimes, it’s important to encourage summer along.  Coax it out of hibernation. Give it a little pep talk…a little one-on-one.

And since cookouts scream summer to me—especially when they involve burgers—dinner became an obvious choice.

The sun was out all weekend long, well into today.  It reached 75.  Seventy-five! That is shorts and t-shirt weather at its finest.  And I like to think that I played my part by firing up the grill.

Yes.  I fired up the grill.

Well.  Dad did all of the cooking, after I initially pushed that little green button.  But still.  This must count for something.  Right?

My Pepere, my parents and I didn’t talk much during dinner.

I think this had something to do with the juicy grass fed burgers, the warm weather and the sunshine.  Lovely.

Summer Squash and Zucchini Saute; on the grill

For health and wellness reasons, it’s a good idea to strive for at least 1-2 vegetarian meals a week.  However, don’t stop there!  And don’t feel that you need to exclude meat in order to reap all of those colorful benefits.  Try including more vegetables with each meal, regardless of whether meat is being served or not.  And then have fun sampling your way through all different kinds, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips, spaghetti squash, kohlrabi, tomatoes, etc.   What you end up loving may surprise you! 😀

This is a simple way to include some extra veggies whenever you fire up the grill.  Cook up some extra, then layer it on top of your favorite pizza for the following night.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 1 whole, medium summer squash, cut or sliced
  • 1 whole, medium zucchini, cut or sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb blend…OR…garlic powder and sea salt…OR…italian seasoning
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Place squash, zucchini and onion on a large, doubled sheet of foil.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with seasonings.  Stir gently.
  3. Fold edges of foil in and tightly seal the bundle.  Place on grill over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until soft and tender, about 15 minutes.  Enjoy! 😀

QUESTION: What foods “scream” summer to you?

 

a series of serious questions

I was in an especially thoughtful kind of mood today, spending some time chewing over those very important, real-life kinds of issues.

Things like, why can’t I sleep past 6 o’clock on a Saturday? Or, why do cold oats never keep me as full as warm? And, why am I still using St. Patrick’s Day napkins on April 2?

Because, you know, these are all very important, current, real-life issues that must be mulled over every now and then.

The real question, however, was this: Why do I feel the need to run?

Some would argue the point that runners run because they can.  Plain and simple.

But that answer just doesn’t work for me.  Because theoretically, I could go bungee jumping…”because I can.” But I don’t.  I could eat an entire cake in one sitting…”because I can.” But I don’t.  I could walk up to a tall, dark and handsome stranger, give him my number, and tell him to call me…“because I can.” Theoretically.  But I don’t.

So what is it about running that lures me in?  Why do I run?  Why do you run?

This is what I came up with…

When I run, I pray. Sometimes I pray just to keep me focused.   Sometimes I do it just because it feels good to finally be alone and talking to God.  And sometime do it just to get my mind off of the way that my legs are starting to feel like dead weights hanging from my body.  😉

When I run, life feels more simple. My schedule suddenly makes sense.  My days don’t seem so crazy.  I feel focused and ready to embrace all that life brings.

When I run, I am strong.

When I run, I feel free. No phones, gadgets, internet connections (even worse, lack of) or demands.  I am alone.  I am content.  I am blissfully free.

Yes, bungee jumping is something that I could, theoretically, do.  But it wouldn’t really make life seem more simple.  It wouldn’t make me feel free in a good way.  And while I would be talking to God, I wouldn’t necessarily be praying.  More like begging and pleading for my life.

And so, take it or leave it, this is why I run.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Grilled Salmon

This salmon is simple enough to make for a busy weeknight, but delicious enough to serve when company comes over.  It also makes the perfect post-running fuel, as its chock full of omega 3 fatty acids which may help to reduce inflammation.

Serve with your favorite veggies and some mashed sweet potatoes, rice, or a baked potato.  Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. wild caught salmon
  • 1 tsp lite soy sauce
  • garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh or dried parsley
  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Drizzle salmon with soy sauce and sprinkle with garlic powder, pepper and parsley.  Cook skin side down on grill for about 5 minutes.  Flip.  Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, depending on desired doneness.  Fish will flake easily with a fork when finished.  Avoid overcooking.  ENJOY! 😀

QUESTION: What is your exercise of choice?  What makes this your favorite?

embracing spring

In all honesty, I almost didn’t make it to the computer today.  I almost lost myself with spring and sunshine and having nothing really to do but to go for a nature walk.  It was really, really lovely.

Everything looked just as it should on the first day of spring.  Exciting.  Fresh.  Rich and clean.  With promises of warmer weather to come.

In order to fully embrace spring—and all of the brilliant excitement that comes along with—the few green, plastic chairs sitting inside our shed were pulled out from hibernation, and the charcoal grill was fired up.  A fun, spring inspired meal was planned.  The deck was turned into our own private cafe.

Spring deserves such a bright, cheery welcoming, wouldn’t you say?

And then I overcame one of my most ultimate fears (aside from public speaking and roller coasters, of course) which was dunking my hands into a bowl of cold, raw turkey meat, squishing and squeezing the burger mixture together into one cohesive mess.  Shudder.

It didn’t kill me.  I didn’t grimace or groan or make (too) many faces.

But I certainly didn’t enjoy it half as much as hand-stirring a batch of vegan cookies, in which I can wholeheartedly lick my fingers afterwards.  Just being honest.

Dad took over as soon as the patties hit the grill, which is when I finished up with the sweet potato fries and threw together a warm kale salad.

The kale could not have been simpler:  Chop an onion.  Throw it in about 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot.  Heat over medium until browned; add 1 bunch of chopped kale, 1 can of diced tomatoes, garlic powder and lemon juice. It’s as delicious as it is simple and goes well with most anything.

The burgers were spectacular.  Well worth the occasion of having to hand stir (wow, I am such a wimp when it comes to raw meat!)

They’re moist and juicy, thanks to the red bell pepper, and they’re spiked with rich flavor throughout.  I sandwiched mine in between a whole wheat hamburger bun, topping it all off with swiss cheese, chopped garden cress, tomato and ketchup.

The main highlight was that, despite the 40 degree temperatures, we ate outside on the deck for the first time this year.  It felt like the right thing to do.  It was as if we were welcoming spring home, after its been gone away somewhere for a long, long while.

Really, I love each new season for its own unique reason.  But I tend to think that spring is one of the most delicious.

Ultimate Turkey Burgers—as seen in Clean Eating Magazine, with slight modifications

This is such a delightful recipe.  Don’t let its simplicity fool you!  The bell peppers lend the burgers a moist, rich flavor, and the garlic offers just enough pizazz to really excite things.  Serve with your favorite garnishes and sides for a fun, spring-inspired meal. 😀

  • 1 lb. ground lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley, finely minced
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Divide into four balls and place each in between wax paper, flattening to about 1/2 inch thick.  Chill in freezer for 30 minutes before grilling time.
  2. Place patties carefully on grill over medium-high heat.  Grill 3-4 minutes and flip.  Grill for another 3-4 minutes or until burgers are golden brown and firm in the middle.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is a warm weather activity that you’re most looking forward to this year?

a very simple salmon

 Bulb by bulb, candy cane by candy cane.  The Christmas tree was deconstructed and taken down today.

I very easily become attached to things.  Mr. Jingles, my beta fish for 4 years.  Frenchie, my car. 

Carol, the Christmas tree.  I think I would keep it (her?) up all year if I had the choice. 

To avoid getting the Christmas time blues, I threw on my apron and set out to make a bright, flavorful lunch for the family.  Which, by the way, started with two very simple ingredients: Soy sauce and brown sugar.

And two pieces of wild caught salmon.

 Fast Forward 10 minutes.

Simple and perfect.  And that, my friends, is just one of the things that I love so much about salmon.  It doesn’t like to be messed around with too, too much, making things easier on the busy cook.

I still don’t like saying goodbye to things.  Dogs, fish, cars, or Christmas trees. 

I will say, however, that it’s kind of nice not crashing into Carol every time I do a downward dog or a sun salutation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sweet ‘n’ Salty Grilled Salmon
Serves about 3

Although this recipe calls for the salmon to be grilled, you could easily cook it in your oven.  I normally use a temperature around 350 to cook my fish, testing so often to make sure that I don’t overcook it.  The fish is ready when it flakes easily. 😀

To keep the sides simple and easy, I roasted a few potatoes with garlic and olive oil; the broccoli was also roasted with a bit of olive oil.

  • 1 lb. wild caught salmon fillets
  • 1/2 T. lite soy sauce
  • 1/2 T. brown sugar
  • lemon pepper
  • garlic powder
  1. Preheat grill.
  2. Sprinkle salmon fillets with lemon pepper and garlic powder.  In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar and soy sauce.  Spoon over salmon fillets.
  3. When grill is ready, place salmon skin side down and cook for 4-6 minutes.  Flip.  Continue cooking for another 4-6 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Serve and ENJOY! 😀

Question: Have you taken down the holiday decorations yet?

a piece of salmon

Salmon has always been my favorite fish.  Haddock is nice.  Cod is lovely.  A trout from the lake is almost incomparable. 

But when all is said and done, my heart belongs to a piece of wild caught salmon.

Some people are off-putted by salmon’s strong flavors.  Where haddock is subtle and shy, salmon is loud and confident.  But the secret to working with its vivid personality, is to either (a) showcase it with simplicity or (b) find a marinade or rub that works well with the stronger flavors, thereby masking any “fishiness” that some find to be overwhelming.  That being said, a good piece of salmon should never taste “fishy.”  Strong.  Loud.  Sweet but lively.  Yes.  But never “fishy.”

Most of the time, a sprinkle of sea salt and a dash of fresh pepper are the only extras that find their way on my plate.  But once in a while, on some rare occasions, I find the need to try something new. 

I prepared a simple rub, taken from Cooking Light’s website.  I was a little skeptical of the ingredients (chili powder?  cumin?) but decided to just roll with it.

On the side, we grilled up some asparagus…

…and roasted some butternut squash (425 degree oven, 20-25 minutes, flipped halfway through.)

One important thing to keep in mind when cooking salmon is to please, please, puh-lease avoid overcooking!  Nothing will ruin a beautiful piece of wild caught salmon like letting it sit a few minutes too long on the grill.  Salmon should flake when it’s ready.  And it should melt on your tongue as you take your first bite. 

In other words, if you are chewing your salmon like you chew your chicken, you know there’s something wrong. 😉

Dad is the grill master in our family, and so this highly pressured job was left in his hands.  As always, it came out perfect. 😀

Grilled Asparagus with a Spritz of Fresh Lemon

Roasted Butternut Squash

Brown Rice

Maple Glazed Salmon

Maple Glazed Salmon—courtesy of Cooking Light

This recipe is quick and easy to prepare.  You can even make the rub the night before, sparing you any of the preparation duties for the following day.  This is especially nice during a busy week. 😀 

Any leftovers are fabulous served as a sandwich, in a stir fry, or simply as a salad topper for your lunch. 😀

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chile powder (or, you could use an extra tsp of regular chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 (6-oz) salmon fillets, preferrably wild caught
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  1. Prepare grill, heating to medium.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients.  Sprinkle fish with salt, rub with paprika mixture.
  3. Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes.  Drizzle fish with syrup; grill1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
  4. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you regularly eat fish?  What is your favorite kind and how do you prepare it?

(a) (b) (c)

I didn’t realize until after making breakfast, that all my toppings and mix-ins were of the same color.  (a) oatmeal = brown, (b) peanut butter = brown, (c) pumpkin = brown/orange.  Oh well.  At least the flavors were far from boring. 😉

  • 1/2 c. raw oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 small mac apple, diced
  • 6-oz. plain, nonfat dannon yogurt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and clove + splash of vanilla
  • topping: 1 T. Teddy’s chunky peanut butter and 1 T. Galaxy Granola (“very vanilla” flavor)

Super creamy! 😀

Pre-walk snack: orange and a handful of salted, dry roasted peanuts.

I forgot how much I love peanuts in a shell.  They’re (a) filled with filling protein, (b) fun to crack open and (b) make for a tasty snack. 😀

Yesterday I double batched the Black Bean Soup which means I basically have enough to either (a) feed an army, (b) feed the entire family lunches for the week, or (c) freeze for future use.  I don’t think the family would appreciate (b), and I’m really hoping that the soup freezes well because it sure would make for a quick lunch option next week. 

(p.s. I double most soups, especially when they’re some of the more time-intensive ones to make.  It makes life easy when you need it to be. 😉 )   

I cut up some more of the cornbread which I served on the side.

I’ve been eyeballing Voskos Greek Yogurt on other blogs for a while now, so when Allison from Voskos volunteered to send me some to sample and review, I was more then excited.   I normally use Dannon as my yogurt of choice because it’s (a) cheap (as in “40 cents cheap”!!) (b) pretty creamy for nonfat, plain yogurt and (c) free of gunky additives.  But—at heart—I will always be a greek yogurt kinda girl.  😉

There are five flavors (aside from plain) to be sampled, and the first one that instantly leaped out at me was the Exotic Fig.  This was wonderful!!  Not quite as creamy as other greek yogurts I’ve tried in the past, but the flavor was unique and delicious.  It reminded me of a fig newton (it even had little fig seeds that gave a fun little crunch :mrgreen: ).  I topped mine with walnuts and chopped dates. 

So yes, definitely recommend this flavor.  Can’t wait to try the other flave-ahs; thanks Voskos! 😀

In a desparate attempt to finish off some meat from the freezer, I defrosted some already grilled burgers and reheated them in a pan with sauteed onions (with a bit of EVOO.)  Talk about easy.  And I do love eating a good burger now and then.

Stepping aside from the traditional hamburger bun, however, I used a slice of toasted whole wheat sourdough bread which I loved.  I could eat this bread with everything.  Not even kidding.

On the side, I made a larger-than-life salad complete with black olives, broccoli, feta cheese, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and orange.

Off to spend the night with the fam!!  😀  We have a campfire planned since it’s too gorgeous outside not to have one. 

HAPPY THURSDAY!

Question: What is your yogurt of choice?  (a) Plain, non-fat Dannon for when I need a daily yogurt fix (b) fage 2% when I can make the extra monetary splurge 😉 and (c) chobani pineapple when I can make the monetary splurge and when I want it to be flavored.