Stuffed Eggplant & Meatballs

When I was younger, I worked at Morgan Stanley in midtown Manhattan.  I had just graduated high school and had been working there part time my last year in school.  I was offered and decided to take the job, as they had a program that would pay for me to get my undergraduate degree.  I remember telling my parents that I’d be moving out at the end of the month.  Both were shocked, as I was only 18 years old and had just graduated high school.  I remember my mom freaking out that I was leaving the house at such a young age.  I remember my aunt asking me how I could possibly do this to my parents.  Truly, my only initial supporter in this move was my grandmother.  She reminded me how proud she was of me that I was so independent.  She reminded me that being a strong, independent woman who could take care of herself was a good thing.  I wonder now if she saw some of herself in me.  I wonder now if she wished her life had turned out differently, as she had married at the age of 16 and had two children by the age of 18.  Maybe she wished she’d been just that much more independent in her time.

During my years at Morgan Stanley, I reconnected with running.  I had a group of friends at work that liked to run after work in Central Park.   When we signed up for some races, I knew I’d have to be more consistent with my training.  I grew up across from a beautiful park in Middle Village, NY – Juniper Valley Park.  When I was running at Juniper Park, I much preferred running on the track.  It was soft and flat and I had no trouble guessing how far I’d run.  Remember, those were the days before technology kept track of your distance.   Since there was really no place to run, that I felt comfortable running alone, near my new apartment I drove back to Juniper Park to run.

Every year on Memorial Day there was a fun run in our neighborhood.  My dad and I would run this race together, though he was always much faster than me. He still tells the story of how some friends of mine came upon him out on the course and asked if I had left him behind.  Nope, he had left me behind likely in the first mile.  I’m now the age he was then and gone are the days of running together.  Memories of those runs linger with me still.  Each Memorial Day as I stand at the starting line, I feel his presence and chuckle at his much told story of being that much faster than me.img_1255

Four years ago, we started a Biggest Loser competition at my school and I decided to start running again.  When I saw a Memorial Day fun run in the neighborhood, I signed up immediately.  I posted on my school’s communication board that I was running the race and hoped someone would join me.  A few teachers did sign up and we had a great day.  We still run this race together each year to kick off the running season.  Through the years people have come and gone, but there’s still a core group of us that show up each year.  The course is flat and fast, but we don’t really care.  We just really go to honor those who have given their lives to ensure our safety.  We run to spend time together as a team.  We run to kick off the summer season with a great after race party.

 

 

 

 

 

Today, as we prepare for the holiday, it rained all day.  I went early this morning to a yoga class to begin my day.  Then I went to the market to pick up some fresh vegetables for meals this week.  They had some beautiful eggplants out, so I picked one up to cook today.  My husband really wanted Sunday sauce, but I really wanted to keep it light if possible.   I decided to cut back on the cheese and avoid breading, or frying the eggplant.  I only used two slices of mozzarella in the entire recipe.  I decided to skip the eggplant parmesan and make stuffed eggplant instead.  This would enable my husband to have sauce and meatballs and me to avoid the extras I didn’t want.  It was a delicious and filling meal.  We split one half of the eggplant and have another left over for another meal during the week.  We chose not to have any pasta and plated the eggplant with a nice arugula salad.  The recipe for my sauce can be found here – Sunday Gravy

Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • Chopped sirloin (1/2 pound – use the other 1/2 for meatballs)
  • small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Tomato sauce (Sunday Sauce, or marinara)
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella (2 slices)

Directions:

  1. Cut the top off the eggplant and then slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Scoop out the eggplant leaving enough meat to hold the shape when baked.FEBFD2C1-4CA9-41D9-A782-FA85AF1CB565
  3. Cut up the inside of the eggplant you scooped out into small pieces.
  4. Boil the cut up eggplant meat in water for 10 minutes.
  5. Brown the onion in olive oil in skillet. (4 minutes)
  6. Add the garlic and saute. (1-2 minutes)
  7. Add chopmeat to the pan and brown until cooked through.
  8. Add the drained, cooked eggplant meat
  9. Add scoop of Sunday sauce, or marinara sauce and stir.00EEE540-66C4-4CF1-80CD-F65209AB6FFD.jpeg
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Add 1/4 c breadcrumbs and one egg and stir to combine all
  12. Scoop meat mixture into the insides of the two eggplant halves
  13. Cook on baking sheet for 50 minutes at 350 degrees

We ate our meal without pasta, but you can certainly serve this over rice or pasta.  We had a meatball on the side and some arugula salad and topped all with some parmesan cheese.   This picture is one half of the eggplant, which you can see is large enough for two.CE34CAAE-34DC-48CE-A8FD-718E48C9944E.jpeg

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

My parents got married on May 16, 1954 in Ridgewood, NY.  I have no idea what the weather was that day, or who was in my mother’s bridal party beside her twin brother Walter and my father’s only sister Catherine.  I do know that my mother’s gown was in the style of Princess Grace and borrowed from her girlfriend.  I do know that they were both very much in love that day and that’s never changed.  I also know her parents, especially her mother, didn’t approve of my father because he was an Irish Catholic.  My grandparents had hoped my mother would marry someone better, but what they didn’t realize was that she married one of the best men ever.  If they only knew how he cares for her now, as he did their entire marriage, they’d surely change their thinking.18A6340E-D300-4DBA-B749-7201A859A55C.jpeg

Sixty four years later my mom lives in a full time care center, not by choice but by necessity.  My mom has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that robs one of their memories and ability to function.  For ten years my dad lovingly cared for mom at home, including feeding and diapering her himself.  It wasn’t until there was no other option, that he agreed to place her in the care center.  Even though she has no idea, he goes and sits there with her every single day.  He still feeds her, even though there are people there who can do so.  He brings nice outfits for the aides to dress her in and makes sure her hair is done.   Though many have criticized him for sitting there each day, there is truly no place he’d rather be.  If you’ve ever read the Notebook, you know how the story goes.  It’s heartbreaking, yet so inspiring at the same time.62F3421B-2D38-4C2C-8B27-BC97E5BF133D.jpeg

I see so many sad people when I visit the care center.  One gentlemen never married and has no family to care for him.  He placed himself in the center to live out his remaining years.  Another, after eight years in the care center, still talks about how he is getting better and will be going home soon.  He has no idea that his wife will never be taking him home again.   Not too many people come to visit these long term patients, only the rehab patients seem to have visitors.  Believe me it is extremely hard for me to go there and visit.  I dread it and some weeks it takes me a few days to not feel depressed.  When we visit we always bring Sonny along because the people there love seeing him.  We always seem to end up with other patients sitting with us when we visit, but we really don’t mind.  Like my dad, I know that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

 

Today, after so many days of dreary gray skies and rain, the sun made a comeback.  When I went outside this morning, I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was.  Yesterday, we had heat on in the house and today we need air conditioning.  Cooking is very therapeutic for my after my visit to the care center.  Music, wine and cooking are the best medicine to get me out of my funk.  Today, I decided to make my husband’s favorite dish today, Chicken Parmesan.  I decided to try to lighten it up though and make a somewhat healthier version.  I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts and baked them instead of frying.  The tenderloins were just the right portion to eat 4-6 ounces of chicken, which is all you really need.  We both felt the chicken was super tender and delicious and it cooked a lot faster too.  Swapping out the pasta for zoodles also helped to lighten up the meal.

I made a pot of Sunday Sauce this morning to use in this recipe.  I did not make meatballs as we were eating the chicken today.  I did put some hot sausage, removed from casing, into the sauce for flavor.  Recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found by clicking here – Sunday Gravy

I made the zoodles about two hours before we ate them.  I cut them in half today (after spiralizing) to make them easier to eat, as they come out very long.   Zoodles really are awesome and honestly make me feel like I don’t miss spaghetti.  The consistency of them raw works best for me.  Recipe for zoodles can be found by clicking here – Mother’s Day

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Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloin (1 lb. package was enough for two with leftovers)
  • Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh mozzarella sliced into strips

Directions:

  1. Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray
  2. Mix two eggs in flat bowl dish
  3. Place panko in second flat bowl dish
  4. Dip chicken in eggs, then panko and place on oiled tray
  5. Spray all chicken lightly with olive oil spray
  6. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place in cooking tray with sauce in bottom
  8. Top with mozzarella strips and cover with aluminum foil
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes covered.
  10. Serve immediately over zoodles and add sauce as needed.9F17D2BF-6920-45A3-BA91-3347DC9A42E5.jpeg

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Mother’s Day

I come from a long line of strong women.  My grandmothers Maria and Catherine were both strong, determined women who faced hardship in their lives.  They both modeled for me how to persevere and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  My mother was also a strong woman.  She was married in the 1950s at a time when most women did not work outside the home.  She was a stay at home mother to my two brothers and I and fully embraced her role as our caregiver.  Our house was always spotless and our life was pretty much stress free.  Mom found her true love when she was quite young and that has lasted over 60 years, in sickness and health.  She loved my dad more than anything and put him and us kids first every day of her life.

My brothers and I grew up loved and cared for even though we didn’t always have a lot.  We did always have dinner on our table and clothes on our backs.  We also always had unconditional love, as my mother put us first always.  Becoming a grandmother was the happiest time in my mother’s life.  I believe that is because my mother was a born nurturer.  She had endless patience with my children, probably more than she had with my brothers and I.  As long as they were able, my mom and dad made the trip out to my house every Sunday without fail to spend time with us and eat Sunday dinner.

Unfortunately, those days are gone now.  My mom suffers from Alzheimers and doesn’t know her own family anymore.  That is so hard for most people to even imagine or understand.  Many tell me that deep down she knows who I am.  I tell them she does not.  They tell me a mother’s heart could never forget.  I tell them it can.  At this point, she does not even know my dad, her husband of over 60 years, who sits with her every single day without fail.  I can’t think of a worse fate for my mother, who so loved her family, to suffer than this.  So, on this Mother’s Day I look back on the many wonderful memories of Mother’s Days gone by.  I can still see my mother and aunt cooking Roast Pork and potato balls in the kitchen, their tables perfectly set with china and crystal and  the house filled with kids and laughter.  These are the memories I hold tightly to these days.12A65D94-C375-4989-9400-F327E1F805D0

These days it’s just my family coming over for this holiday.  I know I’m supposed to celebrate and enjoy the day, but it is a hard day for me so we keep it simple and relaxing.  Today’s rainy weather was just perfect for this kind of low key day.  My daughter made it home first showing up before 8:00 this morning.  We went to an early yoga class together to prepare for our day.  Following that we came home and had a nice breakfast.  As we began to prepare for our Sunday sauce, my son arrived.  My other son was not able to come home this weekend and we missed him a lot.  We spoke with him on the phone and I’ll be going down by his house in a few weeks.  With the sauce simmering on the stove we all settled in to play some board games.  Today’s game choice was Scrabble since the rain kept us inside the house.

Today, we decided to have our traditional Sunday sauce (recipe can be found here Sunday Gravy).   Since I’m doing mostly plant based recipes these days, I decided to forgo the spaghetti for my plate.  I had two beautiful zucchinis that I purchased yesterday and pulled out my spiralizer and made some zoodles.  My daughter made a pot of spaghetti for anyone who wanted, but many ate the zoodles too.  They were delicious and worked perfectly with the sauce and meatballs.  I ate the zoodles raw, but you can certainly boil for a quick minute if you want them warmed.  I found the sauce warmed them up just enough for me.  Topped with parmesan, this was the perfect Mother’s Day meal.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zoodles & Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green zucchini (washed, not peeled)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Cut ends off washed zucchini
  2. Place into the spiralizer and spiralize
  3. Catch zoodles in salad basket and place over sink to drain
  4. Sprinkle zoodles with salt and let sit for approximately 20 minutes.
  5. Store zoodles in the refrigerator in a covered container lined with paper towels. The zoodles will release additional moisture as they sit in the container in your fridge.  The paper towel will absorb the moisture.
  6. Let zoodles come to room temperature before serving, or boil for one minute.

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This is the spiralizer I use – Paderno World Cuisine.  (Click photo to view)

Turkey London Broil

This weekend was opening day for my running group.  Our first meeting of the season and our first run together in my favorite place – Central Park.  I have such a long history of going to Central Park and whenever I return after an absence, it feels as if I’ve come home.  I wandered those rocks, tunnels and paths as a child and teenager.  I spent countless days discussing life on those rocks, as we sunned ourselves and laughed the day away.  When I was 13, my friends Stacey, Michele and I used to ride the train from school to the park and hang out.  We spent so many days just wandering around and I remember how grown up I felt to be there.  We spent a lot of time at the zoo and just enjoying being in the city.  There’s really not a better park in New York City that I know of and none that holds so many of my memories.  Forty years later, as I run past those rocks, I find myself glancing up hoping to catch a glimpse of my younger self as we were back then.  Oh, if only for a day…

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Will look for photos from our middle school Central Park days. This is Stacey, front and center, circa 1979 in Central Park.

This weekend, my running group met at the YMCA on 63rd Street and proceeded to walk over to the park together.  We did our loop of the park and then returned to the YMCA for a breakfast meeting with Olympian, Jeff Galloway.   This run was my first run since that fateful injury in late October, just two short weeks before the NYC marathon.  I must admit I was slightly nervous, but knew I had worked hard on my functional strength over the long winter.  I’m not at my running weight yet, but my legs are strong and ready to begin again.  Thankfully, the first run is just one quick loop around the park.  Anyone who actually enjoys running knows what I mean when I say how good it felt to be able to run again.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and I had my friend Helen by my side.  My husband and dog were hanging out in the park, waiting for me at the finish.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

This is the group entering the park at Columbus Circle.  You can’t see me, but I see Helen’s blue shirt.  We are in the middle front, behind the woman in the pink jacket.

Today, I am happy to say my glutes felt like they were used on the run.  I woke with slight muscle soreness and was so excited that it wasn’t in my quads, or feet, where it normally lands.  The training is working and I will continue to strengthen my core and glutes. This morning, I went for a 90 minute yoga class which ended up being a beautiful mix of flow and stretch, ending in a wonderful restorative resting pose.  It was exactly what my body and mind needed.  When I got home, my husband showed me a beautiful Turkey London Broil he had purchased.  I’ll admit I wasn’t as excited as he was, but quickly set out to prepare for our Sunday meal.

As I stared at the beautiful turkey meat, I dreamed of making a rolled and stuffed turkey meal.  Oh how great would mushroom bread stuffing be on this cloudy day.  I also thought about making a lovely mushroom pan gravy to eat over the meat.  Then, I remembered that I’ve got a goal ahead of me and my husband really wanted it grilled.  I mixed up a quick marinade and put the turkey in to sit for about 3-4 hours, turning once midway through.  I then spent the day relaxing, what a difference from the endless meal prepping I used to do on Sunday’s.  I love cooking, but not cooking all my meals for the week opens up the day to do anything I wish.  Plant based meals are generally super easy to prepare and can be cooked in 30 minutes.  This allows me time to make a quick, fresh and delicious meal when I get home from work.

Ironically, my husband has lost a ton of weight eating what I’m eating.  He didn’t even need to lose any weight, as he was already at a very healthy weight.  Isn’t it the way?  Of course he would lose more weight than me and fast too.  He’s so excited about it too and keeps telling me how good he feels.  Me, I’ve lost 10 pounds so far and have more to go to get back to a comfortable running weight.  The next phase of my online course will reintroduce foods that were eliminated to see how my body responds to them.  This will be done slowly, over the course of the next 3 weeks.  I’m truly not craving anything and eating intuitively has allowed me to eat what I need.  I haven’t been stress eating and mostly eat my meals and no snacks.  It’s been a great learning experience and I’ve decided to continue with the plant based meals, as I feel they are fueling me better and I just plain feel better.  I’m going to cycle through the online course again as it was a lot to process the first time through.

Turkey London Broil & Chopped Salad

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp organic raw honey
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinade Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together to combine.
  3. Place Turkey London Broil into the marinade and turn over to coat both sides.
  4. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, turning once.5150C680-BD2A-4453-AF25-86CD7B62F4B3.jpeg

Turkey Cooking Directions:

  1. Take turkey out of marinade and discard the marinade.
  2. Salt turkey on both sides lightly
  3. Place on hot grill and cook about 8 minutes on each side.  (I use a T-fal grill so no need to turn.  This grill has a sensor and tells you when the food is ready.  It comes completely apart when cooled and goes right in the dishwasher.  I’ve had it for years now and it was the best investment ever!)
  4. Let turkey rest for about 5 minutes before carving.
  5. Slice to desired thickness.

Leftovers can be used in salads or sandwiches all week.  It was a delicious, light meal which we plated with a hearty chopped kale, broccoli slaw salad.

This is the grill I use. Click on the picture to see further information.

Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

They say the third time is a charm.  I sure hope that’s true as I’m starting my marathon training for a third time next Saturday.  I hope that this time I can make it to the starting and finish lines.  I’ve been working hard on my functional strength training to avoid injury and on my nutrition.  I am full of optimism but won’t lie that my nerves are getting the best of me most days.  I’ve lost ten pounds to date, but need to lose a bit more to be back at my comfortable running weight.  I’ve been taking an online nutrition course and have been learning a lot about how my body responds to certain foods.  These past two weeks of eating plant based meals, with one to two animal based protein choices, has been interesting to say the least.  The one thing I’ve enjoyed most is learning how to cook new meals and the fact that the plant based versions take far less time to prepare than my normal fare.

Today is Sunday and generally we eat Sunday Sauce in one of its many versions.  Since I haven’t had any animal based protein today, I decided to have a shrimp dish I found on a paleo recipe site.  I’m super excited that I have all the ingredients and am ready to cook without a trip to the market.  Today’s Sunday dinner is just for my husband and I, as we saw the family yesterday at my future daughter in law’s birthday party.  Gracie and my son Stephen have known each other since they were freshmen in high school.  When he first brought her home back then, I knew she was the perfect girl for him.  She has those qualities our family looks for – funny, kind, down to earth and honest.  She’s also a great match for my son Stephen. We are more than thrilled that they were engaged at Christmas and are looking forward to a May 2019 wedding.A3ECB322-39C1-4651-83DB-7170B9B8DA5F.jpeg

I found several keto and paleo recipe websites and I’ve been selecting things that I want to cook.  Today’s recipe is a paleo based recipe I found at paleonewbie.com, but I modified it to fit the ingredients I had on hand in my home as tomorrow is my shopping day.  It had a great flavor and one of the spices is a favorite – Old Bay.   In under 30 minutes I had dinner on the table.  That is so far removed from the hours I generally spend on Sunday gravy. Most meals so far have been so easy and quick, that I don’t need to spend my Sundays meal prepping.  Maybe we will go for a nice walk outside today with the time saved.  (Disclaimer here – I still love my Sunday sauce recipe found here – Sunday Gravy )  I’ve just learned that I can eat a variety of other foods that may better fuel my training right now.

Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of medium or large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 6 oz of Hot Italian turkey sausage, sliced
  • 2 sliced red bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Olive oil or unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil or unsalted butter
  2. Season shrimp with Old Bay SeasoningC1EABF88-31F8-4959-8C94-CF215439F957.jpeg
  3. Cook shrimp about 3-4 minutes until opaque – remove and set aside
  4. Cook onions and bell peppers in skillet with 2 Tbsp of olive oil or unsalted butter for about 4 minutes418C087F-4295-42B3-82F0-160592401093.jpeg
  5. Add sausage and zucchini to the skillet, cook another 5 minutes
  6. Put cooked shrimp back into skillet along with the garlic, and cook everything for about 5 minutes
  7. Pour chicken stock into pan and mix through
  8. Add salt, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  9. Serve immediately

We ate ours plain, but you could serve this over salad, or zucchini squash.  It has a beautiful flavor and I bet will taste delicious tomorrow for lunch.67F21806-9752-42ED-AD56-4FD29BE52F43.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

Cream of Broccoli Soup

This week I finished Day 80 of my 80 day functional strength training program.  Over the course of 80 days, I completed some pretty tough workouts.  As I went through the three phases, I could feel my strength improving.  One thing I did not do, was follow the nutritional component that came with the program.  Unfortunately, I found it complicated and totally unrealistic.  Seriously, if you make it too complicated, nobody will stick to it.  That’s one of the main reasons people grab fast food, to keep it simple.  While I lost 10 pounds during this 80 day program, I know I still need to work on my nutrition as I plan to start running soon.  I’m slated to begin my running training on May 2nd, but don’t intend to do so until I lose a few more pounds.  There is no way I am going to stress my hip again and suffer another fracture.

Enter the online nutrition class I signed up for.  As part of this program, I receive lessons each week to read and listen to with suggested changes I can try.  I’ve learned a lot about macronutrients and how my body responds to different types of foods.  This current cycle’s focus is on intuitive eating with mostly plant based meals.  I’ve reduced my intake of animal protein during this phase to no more than 1 serving a day.  I actually do think I have been sleeping slightly better and I seriously have no cravings for sweet or salty foods.  I honestly have not even been craving a glass of wine when I cook.

It hasn’t been easy making all these changes.  The first phase was easy as I was really just tracking and observing how I felt.  Week two of plant based eating was more challenging for me than week one.  It’s not that I’m missing any specific food, it’s that I’m missing the variety of cooking options.  Currently, I don’t have an arsenal of plant based recipes in my cooking toolkit.  In the past, I would have already been reaching for pasta dishes and calling them plant based, but I know better than that now.  I also am not a huge fan of beans other than lentils which limits my choices as well.

One way I made my life easier this week was by purchasing pre-chopped salad.  This is something I never do, but if has offered me the opportunity to try out many different vegetable based salads without investing in large amounts of vegetables.  Sometimes, when I purchase fresh vegetables for recipes, I end up wasting them.  Either I can’t keep up with weeknight cooking, or they go bad.  These pre-chopped, bagged salads allowed me to try out different mixtures of raw vegetables to see which ones I prefer.  Now, I’ll be able to purchase ingredients for future meals without waste.

Trader Joe’s has some really nice versions of bagged, complete salad kits.  I don’t use the dressing included, but everything else included is good to go into my salad.  I’ve truly enjoyed the broccoli and kale slaw and the cruciferous salad kits.  They are perfect stand alone meals, or on days I’m adding in animal proteins make great sides.  This week, I even ate them for breakfast along with my eggs.  I added roasted sweet potato, mini cucumbers  and pomegranate seeds. This is something I never would have considered eating for breakfast in the past and it truly was delicious.68676FF0-D266-429D-A286-E9CBFAB1352A.jpeg

Dinner has been a bit harder to come up with ideas for protein sources without some form of animal protein, so I’ve got some work to do.  I am not a fan of legumes, so I’ve been adding nuts.  Tonight’s salad had pistachios and I added some chia seeds.  I’m continuing to search for interesting plant recipes to make for dinner.  Two that I enjoyed this week were Black Bean Burgers and Cream of Broccoli Soup.  Both were super easy to make and ready within 30 minutes, including prep.  This made them a great choices for after work cooking.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 small head broccoli, chopped, stems removed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and toss in the onion and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 4 minutes, then add in the garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Add the broccoli and stir for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and broth and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cashews and simmer for 5 minutes. Cashews will be nicely softened and make for a creamy soup once blended.
  4. Carefully pour into a large blender, or Vitamix. Add the spinach, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Be sure to hold the cover or it will explode when you turn it on.  Blend until smooth. (If you have immersion blender use that.)
  5. If you need a bit more protein, consider topping your soup with an additional tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.608A3A92-CA94-4DE6-8BA4-7C743431494D

*This recipe was shared by Chalene Johnson, 131

This soup was so delicious and creamy.  The coconut milk added a boost of healthy fats and flavor.  I added red pepper flakes to give it a nice bit of heat as well.  I planned to sip this soup at work all week, but it was so good there was nothing leftover.  Next time I’ll have to make a larger pot!  It was a lovely shade of green, which my phone just doesn’t capture well.

What are your favorite plant based sites and recipes?  Please do share below as I am on the lookout for new ideas.

 

 

Revised Recipe – Sausage & Peppers

This week, I was reminded of just how fleeting life can be.  One decision can alter the course of another person’s life in the blink of an eye.  We never really know what’s ahead and we have no control over some of it.  What we do have control over is the way we respond to these tragic life experiences.   This weekend, I’ve said many prayers for a young boy and his family.  I hope that in time they come to find solace in knowing there are many people here to support them.

Thankfully, this weekend my brother came up from North Carolina so I got to spend time with my entire family.  My two brothers and I haven’t been together since November and it’s not often we are all in the same place at the same time.  The weather was amazing on Saturday and it really was just what I needed.  This coming weekend, my children will all be home for my birthday so I’m excited for that as well.  There’s nothing like time with family, including of course good food, to soothe the soul in trying times.

Last month, I signed up for and started taking an online nutrition course.  Those who have been reading my blog for the past two years know that I’ve been to quite a few nutritionists.  While I have learned something from each of them, often I found they were trying to sell me something.  I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and take some courses to become more self sufficient.  I don’t want to live on pills and powders, as I love food way too much.  I spent the first four weeks of the course, tracking my eating and taking notes on how my body responds to certain foods.  I used an online tracking app – Lose It – to identify trends in my eating.  Specifically, I was looking at my macronutrient balance.  This experience was eye opening for me and coupled with the content I was reading and viewing, I had a better understanding of some personal issues.

These next three weeks, I am cutting back on animal based proteins, including eggs and dairy.  This week, I will not eat more than 3 meals in which my protein source is animal based.  The goal is to spend some time on a plant based diet and see how my body responds.  This is just one cycle I will go through to track and observe, nothing permanent.  Yet, this work doesn’t excite me as much as the prior cycle as I often use eggs and chicken as my protein source.  In planning my menu for the week, I must admit I wasn’t too excited about my options.  I’ve got some work to do to ensure I get enough protein, but I feel like I have a plan.  I’ve recently discovered that I love cruciferous foods, especially as a base for my salads.  I discovered that I can also chop up many other vegetables to look like a slaw and they suddenly taste so much better.FA6FF1BB-45C2-4D77-A684-3B02D9058CC8.jpeg

Today, my last day in the current cycle, I reflected on how much I’ve changed my eating habits when watching my macronutrient balance.  I was shooting for 15% carbs, 15% protein and 70% healthy fats these past few weeks.  I have noticed a change in my energy levels, cravings and sleep.

For Sunday sauce, my husband brought home some beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers and some hot Italian turkey sausage.  This simple substitution of turkey sausage cuts back significantly on the fat content of this staple meal.  Let’s face it, sausage is not exactly in the healthy fat category.  Honestly, if I didn’t know it was turkey I likely wouldn’t have noticed.  It was delicious.  Since I’ve discovered how much I like salads that are chopped fine, I’ve not missed my pasta or rice.  This type of salad makes a wonderful base for sauces and protein options.  Today’s version consisted of chopped cabbage – red and green, kale, broccoli, jicama and carrots.  Today’s salad was packaged and purchased at the store, but I am confident I can recreate this quite easily going forward.

Turkey Sausage & Peppers

Recipe used is identical to the one I’ve shared before, except I substituted the pork sausage for hot Italian turkey sausage.  Here is the link to that recipe – Sausage & Peppers

If making this salad fresh you’d need to chop all vegetables finely like you would for coleslaw.  I didn’t use any dressing as I had sauce to top it with.  I think the self proclaimed vegetable hater may come over to the dark side after this three week nutritional cycle.  Let’s see how it goes, I’ll definitely keep you posted and share my updated recipes.