Category Archives: Good Eats

Good Eats: Lemon Couscous, Raisin Bran Muffins and Thug Kitchen

Finishing interview season has been a bit like coming up for air after trying to swim the length of a pool. It took me a week to figure out how to live at home again but once I did, I was right back to menu planning and recipe experimentation.

The first thing that has been rocking my world is the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook. If you haven’t heard about Thug Kitchen yet, it’s this awesome vegan cookbook (no, I’m not vegan but I like vegetables) with expletives throughout. Totally entertaining way to cook. Anyway, Joe got this for Will for Christmas and in the style of TK, we have been cooking the **** out of it. At $12 on Amazon, get it and be open minded. Goodness knows we could all eat more veggies…Things we’ve loved so far:

  • French Crushed Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Salad
  • Sun-dried Tomato Carbonara
  • Creamy Squash Mac and Cheese with Hot Sauce Bread Crumbs (feeds an army, just FYI)
  • Red Curry Noodes (our first recipe and omg…I was in love and I don’t even LIKE curry)
  • Quinoa Taco Mix (fed this to teenagers and grown men who only eat meat with no complaints)

The next recipe I made was a Lemon Couscous Cucumber Salad to accompany Chicken Picatta. Since we are 100% moving in May, we have started the extremely painful process of trying to clean out our house which includes our cabinets, fridges and freezers. As such, I came across a jar of capers and a bag of Israeli couscous and voila. For the chicken, I had chicken cutlets in the freezer already and didn’t bother with buying full breasts and butterflying; if you’re averse to that kind of prep like I am, I can attest that cutlets were equally delicious and cooked in about 2 minutes.

Finally, I made the boys two dozen Raisin Bran muffins with some stale cereal that’s been haunting the cupboards for months. I made mine with almond milk instead of buttermilk (lactose hurts at least half the house) and added in a half cup of dried cranberries to up the fruit content. Mostly because I didn’t pre-read the instructions and the over was already preheated, I skipped the 45 minutes to let the cereal soften. No one seems to be complaining and there are only 8 muffins left less than 24 hours after they came out of the over.

Book Review: The Endurance Diet AND Giveaway

One benefiit of “frequent” airline travel is that I’ve had the opportunity to read more books in the past few weeks than I’ve read in all of medical school. A few weeks ago, a publisher reached out to me to see if I was interested in reading an advanced copy of Matt Fitzgerald’s new book The Endurance Diet. As I talked about in my post on nutrition recently, I’ve been looking for ways to improve my diet even with my hectic schedule so I said I would be happy to.

In full disclosure, I was skeptical before I started reading. I vehemently disagreed with Fitzgerald’s prior book on nutrition (Racing Weight) where he advocated that runners all have an optimum racing weight and provided a calculation that for most regular people, would leave them hungry and thin. I’m glad I gave him another chance, however, because he hits it out of the park with The Endurance Diet.

Based on interviews with elite endurance athletes across the world, Fitzgerald essentially reviewed their diet logs during training and looked for trends in general approach to diet and the balance of macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins are your macros). His initial hypothesis was that there would be differences depending on sport and region of the world but what he found was that there was extraordinary similarity between all top level endurance athletes AND that when an athlete had experienced a performance breakthrough, a shift in diet towards the endurance diet had preceeded the change.

From this, Fitzgerald deduces five key habits:

  1. Eat everything.
  2. Eat quality
  3. Eat carb-centered
  4. Eat enough
  5. Eat individually

None of this is revolutionary, of course, but Fitzgerald takes it a step farther with his Diet Quality Score and associated app (available on iPhone and Android). Basically, you get positive points for quality foods and negative points for less quality foods. Your goal is to get to +20 quality points a day. The catch? All foods can be both, so for example, your first glass of wine for the day is a +1 because of the known benefits of wine  and beer for health. The second (and third and fourth) areall -1. Similarly, the first few servings of fruits and veggies are +2 but after a few, they become zeroes and then negative. The whole idea is to eat a range of healthy foods in moderation. What a concept!

My own performance has been mixed. My first day was a +4, in part because I had just gotten home from a trip and we didn’t have much in the way of food. I had a granola bar for breakfast (-1 for refined grains, -2 for sweets because of its sugar content). The next day, however, I had 19 points after a grocery store run and a big, green salad and fresh fruit. Days when I’m home, my quality score is near 20. When I’m traveling or on an interview day, I’m lucky to break 5. What this has led me to conclude is that I need to have two goals; 20 for normal days and 10 for interview days since I don’t have control over what is served. Example of how my behavior has started to shift? I’m sitting in the airport writing this and instead of getting a dressing soaked salad, I had raw veggies, an apple, two hard boiled eggs and almonds (+8 if you were curious…) Although I don’t know what I’ll have for dinner tonight, I am confident I can find a cup of green tea, a glass of wine and another piece of fruit during my journeys.

The only major drawback that I can see is that Fitzgerald isn’t prescriptive about serving sizes and even says that his are variable; for example, when he makes a sandwich, he counts the two slices of bread as one serving of whole grain because who makes a sandwich with one slice of bread…Although this flexibility and individuality are nice, it could set some people up to be too permissive with serving sizes and be counterproductive.

All in all, I highly recommend all endurance athletes of all levels give this book some attention. It is a reasonable, accessibly approach to nutrition which is something most of us real people could sorely use.

I do have a copy of Fitzgerald’s book to giveaway to one entrant.** There are four ways to enter and you can do one or all of them to up your chances!

a) Comment on this blog post: What diet approaches have you used in your running in the past?

b) Follow me on Instagram (@runswatrun) between now and December 20th and shoot me a message on that platform to let me know you’re entering.

c) Follow me on Twitter (@runswatrun) between now and December 20th and send me a DM letting me know you’re entering.

d) Share this post on your own social media accounts and tag me as you do!

**The book is released on December 27th, 2016 so I will get the copy to the winner after the first of the year.

 

Good Eats: Fall Favorites

I think it’s virtually impossible to live in New England and not have a moderate obsession with all things Fall. From incredible foliage (this year was spectacular) to the crisp air, as the nights get cooler, I am all about fall flavors and recipes. Here’s what I tried from Pinterest this week.

Apple Gouda Stuffed Chicken: This was a slightly fancier chicken dish that I did a trial run of thinking that it would make a good dinner party option. It tastes great but the presentation isn’t that pretty, so if I were to make it again, I’d try to come up with something to make it fancier. On the list is a complimentary rub or poultry string to hold it together and give it a dinner party appropriate look.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger: Ah, the hunt for the perfect homemade veggie burger continues. I love veggie burgers and am always looking for one to make at home that is healthy AND holds together. These were delicious but unfortunately, they just didn’t hang together as well as I wanted with pan cooking. When I make them again, I’ll do an initial bake in the oven to warm everything then do a flash pan fry in canola oil to make the outsides crispy and keep the burgers together.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Quinoa Salad: Nom, nom, nom. In terms of fall flavors and powerhouse ingredients, it doesn’t get much better than this. I couldn’t find (and don’t particularly like) pumpkin seeds, so I substituted raw sunflower seeds instead and it was equally crunchy and delicious.

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad: The absolute hit of the week. I am OBSESSED with this salad and want to make it every day. I cooked up some chicken breast and added it in for a complete meal. Since I had sunflower seeds leftover from above, I substituted those for pistachios and of course used maple syrup instead of honey for the dressing. I thought this salad was perfection as it was but Joe thought it was a little sweet for his taste so on my next rendition, I may add in just a touch of rice vinegar to cut the sweetness for my picky testers. Seriously, make this salad ASAP. It is life changing.

Good Eats: The Garden Overrunneth

I’ve traveled a lot over the past few months and although I love adventures in new places, I missed my kitchen terribly. Apparently my garden missed me too because I am overrun with produce, especially of the zucchini variety. I also have a metric ton of ridiculously hot jalapenos that I’ve yet to come up with a good use for. Anyway, since getting home from North Carolina, I’ve made a few great dishes to celebrate being back in my beautiful kitchen. The joke in our house has now become, did Sarah hide zucchini in this? And the answer is yes, I probably did. 

Zucchini Rice: This first dish is a DELICIOUS side dish or perfect vegan/gluten free filling for burritos. I did coconut oil instead of butter (to keep it vegan**) and otherwise made it as listed on Damn Delicious. Like other dishes of its sort, you could swap out the kind of bean and corn to change the flavors. For example, kidney beans or navy beans plus italian dressing could make a delicious Mediterranean style dish while garbanzo beans plus curry powder and coriander could take it in a Middle Eastern direction.

Zucchini Chickpea Quinoa Salad: Another vegan, gluten free option that uses up zucchini and is delicious. I made this for a team dinner and quadrupled the recipe which made mixing the ingredients a bit difficult. If I were to do it again, I would do it in two bowls and then combine so that it was easier to stir. The other thing I did was cook the zucchini; I’m not sure why, but raw zucchini doesn’t appeal to me at all. It probably added a little liquid to the salad but it was delicious.

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken: Perfect for serving with the zucchini rice as above! I changed this recipe quite a bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients and am trying to work through some stockpiled supplies but I’m sure her version is totally delicious too. I did fresh jalepenos from my garden (2, cut with gloves on…) instead of the green chiles and left out the liquid smoke. I also used chicken thighs; they have a higher fat content and I think they make a better shredded meat than chicken breast. They are also significantly cheaper, a must for me with crockpot cooking.

Caprese Calzones: I love homemade pizza and any combination of cheese and basil rocks my world, but what I liked most about these was that I could make them before practice and then just throw them in the oven when I got home. I used tomatoes and basil from my garden and they were delicious! I highly recommend splitting a portion of pizza dough into 4 so you can make roll size calzones. It created a much better stuffing to crust ratio!

Finally, the best for last: Homemade Falafel. Holy s&*$. I love falafel but it’s hard to find good falafel around these parts so I often just wait until I’m in a city to have some. I’ve made falafel at home once before and it was a bit of a disaster, so I was anxious about how this would turn out. However, this recipe is AMAZING and I can’t wait to make it again. I did add more flour than she called for which paid off when I started to fry them because they stayed together beautifully. For the frying, I put 4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet on 6/10 heat until it was warm and then started frying. I found that about 2 minutes per side was just perfect. I didn’t make the tahini sauce and instead served them with just fresh tomatoes and lettuce and they were perfection.

** I have a number of athletes who are vegan (much to my chagrin but I pick my battles) and friends who have Celiac, so I’m always on the hunt for recipes that they can enjoy that are healthy and hearty.

I do lots of recipe discovery on Pinterest; want to see what I’m planning next? Follow me here.

Good Eats: Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash and Berry Bundt Cake

One of the hardest parts of being in Norwalk was that we didn’t really have a functional kitchen. UVM puts us up in very nice apartments but as anyone who cooks knows, it takes a long time to build a great kitchen and these kitchens lack the knives, pans and other accessories to really pull off a big meal. I made simple things every night but missed pulling off elaborate meals or trying new recipes.

The only new one I tried while I was there was spaghetti squash with bacon, goat cheese and spinach. This recipe tasted delicious but the presentation was not as pretty as pictured and it took a fair amount of time to prep. The best part of the recipe was the new-to-me suggestion of how to cook spaghetti squash. In the past, I’ve either split the squash in half long ways and baked it or boiled it in half, neither of which are particularly easy to work with afterwards. Slicing the squash into rings and baking it was BRILLIANT. Still, for a gluten free meal, this is a delicious one that most people are likely to enjoy.

For Mother’s Day, I wanted to make a special meal for my mom and went with rubbed pork chops on the grill, butternut squash bread pudding, roasted Brussel sprouts with maple syrup and berry bundt cake.

The butternut squash bread pudding was unique and delicious but made enough for an army. Cutting this recipe in half would still yield plenty to feed four people so unless you’re having a large dinner party, I would suggest that. I used muenster cheese instead of gruyere and it was delicious. The only thing I added was rosemary and oregano in addition to the sage and it gave it a stuffing like taste that went perfectly with pork.

The cake was also a success, if only because it slid easily out of the pan instead of clinging on as bundt cakes usually do. I used frozen, bagged berries from the grocery store and made the mistake of the mix containing strawberries, which created big craters when baked so would avoid that in the future. Otherwise, frozen berries worked well. I also made my own buttermilk (3/4 cup of whole milk + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice –> sit for 10 minutes until clabbered) instead of using Kefir or purchasing buttermilk. I did attempt to make the icing but unlike the icing in the picture, mine looked thin and running and I opted to leave the cake “naked” instead, which turned out to be a great idea because it was plenty sweet on its own AND served as Will’s muffins for the week.

What have you cooked lately? Any great late Spring recipes to share?

Good Eats: Vegan Chickpea Curry Stew

Vegan Chickpea Curry Stew

Tis the season for hearty stews. The beautiful part about this stew is that it packs a ton of healthy ingredients into a gluten free, dairy free, vegan stew that (almost) anyone will love.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic (or 2 cloves freshly chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 sweet potatoes chopped
  • 2 cups of cooked, pureed squash
  • 2 cans of chickpeas drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of fresh spinach
  • sea salt
  • crushed black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Directions

Saute the onions, garlic and coconut oil until onions are translucent. Turn down the heat and add sweet potatoes and squash and stir until combined. Add salt, pepper, curry, bay leaves, cumin and red pepper flakes and stir in. Add chickpeas and diced tomatoes. Simmer for 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft. Add spinach and serve once wilted into the mix.

For Added Protein

Add in one box of silken tofu, crumbled into small pieces

For Added Carbs

Serve over rice or quinoa

Nutrition Facts (easy to do for any recipe: just enter ingredients here)

Recipe as above serves 6

Recipe as above serves 6

Good Eats: Beef Carnitas and All of the Side Salads

For whatever reason, I decided that starting my surgery clerkship was also a great time to start “New Recipe Monday” as it is called on my weekly meal planner on the fridge. That questionable decision aside, I have been working my way through my Pinterest boards in an attempt to mix up our normal nightly meals. I somehow misplaced the absolute winner of the bunch but am fervently working to find it on the internet again so I can make sure everyone tries it.

Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos: These were delicious! The rub made for some seriously flavorful beef and the peppers added plenty of liquid for all-day cooking. The only adjustment I made was to use pot roast beef instead of flank steak. When I went to the grocery store, the flank steak looked pathetic and expensive. No complaints from my house on the substitution!

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs: Also delicious! I marinated my legs (well, not my legs) overnight because I was prepping all my food on Sunday and I didn’t bother to skin them and they still turned out really well. I served these with the Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Salad, earning me a double thumbs up from my taste kitchen (Will and Joe).

Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potato Salad: I would eat this every day for lunch if I had the energy to make enough of it. It has an amazing balance of flavor without being weird and packs a serious nutritional punch. I just used whatever hot sauce was rolling around the fridge and chose apple cider vinegar instead of lime juice. The only thing I would do differently the next time would be to cool the sweet potatoes longer; I had hungry boys but it ended up more like a mash than a salad.

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad: This was the only salad with a mixed review in our house. I LOVED it; Joe liked it but hated the smell. I will admit that bringing it to the hospital with me for lunch the next day was akin to heating up fish in the work microwave but I still want to make this salad for every dinner party from now until forever. I made it with feta because we were making Greek Chicken (total blah recipe not shared here), but I imagine it would be good with the goat cheese. I don’t think the blue cheese would help the smell factor, however…

If you’re ever curious about the recipes I’ve made within the month that I make them rather than when I get around to writing about them, I move all my successful finds to my Keeper Recipes board. 

What have you made recently that you loved? Any great fails?

Good Eats: Halloween Chex Mix

I made this delicious chex mix for the team today and got lots of requests to share, so here goes. I’d post a picture but it didn’t survive two passes around our stretching circle. Warning, it’s REALLY sweet and also quite delicious, so you’ll want someone around to share it with.

1 bag white chocolate chips

1 bag traditional candy corn

1 bag candy corn M&Ms

2 cups of salted mini pretzels

3 cups of corn chex

3 cups of rice chex

Orange and black sugar crystals

Prep is easy; melt the white chocolate chips on low in a stock pot on the stove, stirring constantly. Once fully melted, stir in the remaining ingredients except the sugar crystals while still over the low heat so that the chocolate doesn’t harden. It takes some patience to fold in everything but with a wooden spoon, everything should be coated in white chocolate before you call yourself done. Remove from the heat and dump the mixture out onto parchment paper or a torn open brown paper bag to cool. Sprinkle the sugar crystals over the top as it cools. You can then break up by hand or cut into chunks like you would serve candy bark.

Contains dairy and gluten, although if you use brand name Chex and gluten free pretzels, you can make a tasty gluten free option.

Good Eats: 11C Chicken

(An original recipe! Can you tell I’m not running 80 miles a week right now?)

This chicken is named for the large number of “c” items it contains, for the crockpot it cooks in and because it’s cheap!

20 minutes of prep, 5 to 6 hours of cooking = dinner and freezable leftovers!

20 minutes of prep, 5 to 6 hours of cooking = dinner and freezable leftovers!

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs

3 white potatoes

3 sweet potatoes

Can of Chickpeas

Can of Coconut Milk

4 large carrots

1 yellow onion

1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro

Coriander

Cumin

Cardamon

Cracked Black Pepper

Sea Salt

Chop everything into cubes, throw into the crock pot and season with the spices. If you are gone all day, 8 hours on low will do. If you put this together at noon, 5 hours on high works too. When it’s gone, give a good stir and serve as is or with a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt on top.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free (without garnish), Egg Free.

Good Eats: A Southern Sunday

One of my favorite things in the world is to have a house full of people to feed. Second to that is to cook up a ton of Southern food and sit around with those people. Medical school makes it difficult to host a lot of dinner parties so when we have a free weekend, my first thought is making up for months of quick, boring dinners. Tonight’s menu is full of classic southern items and some reinvented dishes.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: I follow this pretty much exactly but use Frank’s for my hot sauce. Mix the sugar and Frank’s together first then add to the water and vinegar mixture. If there’s extra liquid left, throw it in a bottle and save it for those who like a little more spice.

Creamy Style Coleslaw: This is a new recipe for me. I love vinegar based coleslaw but with East Carolina style pulled pork, double vinegar can get to be too much for most people. I use maple syrup as the sweetener instead of honey and add a dash of Frank’s.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad: I’m so excited for this dish. Pulled pork, coleslaw and banana pudding are delicious but it’s always nice to have something a little healthier to add to your plate.

Banana Pudding: An absolute classic. I do make some small substitutions on this to make it slightly healthier, including 2% milk, 1/3 fat cream cheese and lite whipped topping.

What’s your favorite menu for a large group?