Archive for the ‘ Nutrition ’ Category

Acorn Squash Risotto

  I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.

Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.

Acorn Squash Farro Risotto

1 cup farro (I use risotto)

4 cups water, divided

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)

2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)

2. Preheat the oven to 400º. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! 😀

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

Another amazing weekend! Not only did I get to go to my favorite trail for my long run, but I also went to NYC to watch the half marathon. Members of the American Olympic running team, Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher, participated as well as other amazing runners from around the world.

We got front row spots right along the finishing chute and were able to see the runners sprint (SPRINT!) past us then run back within touching distance with the flag of their countries draped across their shoulders in a victory jog. Incredible. I felt a runner’s high just from watching. 😀

I have to admit, I’ve been too distracted by bright and shiny cookbooks to finish any of the novels I posted last week. I love cooking and I wanted to integrate more seasonal ingredients into my dishes and find more fun vegetarian recipes to try. Here are some of the books I picked up this week:

  Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon – First, this cookbook might sound a little gassy, but it is chock filled with dips and stews and salads that are filled with healthy goodness that look and sound delicious! Second, how can you not read a book by someone named Crescent Dragonwagon? I mean, really.

  Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons – A perfect start to more seasonal cooking, this cookbook offers a wide selection of dishes that make use of the freshest ingredients in every season. While this book offers a selection of meat based meals, it also has recipes like Roasted Baby Spring Vegetables and Banana-Rum-Coconut Cookies. Yum!

Farmstead Chef by John Ivanko & Lisa Kivirist – Highlighting foods that can be homegrown or farm fresh, the authors are the owners of the Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and want to bring their passion for eco-friendly foods to people everywhere. This cookbook has recipes from pancakes to breads to pizza, pasta and sandwiches.

  Welcome to Claire’s by Claire Criscuolo – A collection of favorite recipes from Claire’s Corner Copia, a vegetarian restaurant in New Haven, CT. Some of the 350 recipes include: Spicy Thai Sunflower Noodles, Summer Tomato and Basil Quiche, and Grilled Cheese Florentine. I may need to run to the grocery store soon!

Despite all the healthy, fresh ingredients found in the pages above, all this food makes me happy I run regularly! 🙂

Happy reading!

Homemade Saltines

One of my goals this year is to cut back on processed foods. This means some of my favs like saltines, graham crackers, pretzels and granola bars need to be removed from my grocery list. Problem is – I love snacking on these foods! Solution? Learn how to make them from scratch myself. 🙂

I’ve been doing some research online to try and find recipes that are not only unprocessed but healthy, easier said than done! Many of the recipes that I’ve found include gobs of butter or shortening or something akin. While I understand that eating foods like butter rather than margarine are better because while they are higher in fat they are not made purely of chemicals and thus are healthier food choices, I still didn’t want to make my favorite snacks with super high fat content either. Dilemma!

But after searching high and low, I have found a recipe that seems to meet my criteria for a healthier snack food. I will continue posting recipes as I find/try them. If you have any favorites, I’d love to hear about them! Enjoy! 🙂

This recipe comes from Just Eat It, a blog dedicated to yummy recipes.

Homemade Saltines

  • Olive oil for brushing pan and dough
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup very cold water
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Brush 2 large baking sheets generously with oil.

Toast 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper in a dry small skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool pepper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt in a bowl (or pulse in a food processor). Add shortening and blend into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips (or pulse in processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size lumps. Drizzle evenly with 1/2 cup ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again.

Divide dough into 2 portions and flatten each into a 3-inch square.

Roll out each square on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 20- by 8-inch rectangle. Trim edges and sprinkle each sheet with teaspoon toasted pepper. Run rolling pin lightly over dough to embed pepper in pastry. Brush each sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

Cut sheets crosswise with a small sharp knife into 1-inch-wide strips (straight or wavy). Arrange strips evenly spaced in 1 layer on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, 16 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.

Vegetarian Autumn Stew

Some of my favorite things about cooler temps are all the wonderful recipes out there for delicious soups and stews. I’m vegetarian because I believe it’s a healthier and more humane way to live, thus I’m constantly on the hunt for tasty recipes that suit both my palate and my diet. One of the tricky things about vegetarian recipes is finding something that is not only healthy but full of flavor. I have tried many dishes that are simply lacking in the taste department, but this recipe is filled with hearty goodness. 🙂

Here is a recipe I just made that is absolutely delicious! I found it through an online search and will definitely be making it a lot this fall/winter. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my needs and put those changes in blue. I also made my Homemade Wheat Bread to go along with the meal. It was the perfect rainy fall day food. 🙂

Vegetarian Autumn Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound seitan, chopped (*see note at bottom)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 3 carrots, diced (I added 4 large carrots sliced)
  • 3 potatoes, chopped (red potatoes, cubed)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (3 stalks, sliced)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 tbsp water until smooth
  • 1 cup brown rice

Preparation:

Place all the ingredients except rice in a crock pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. (Or on high for 4-5 hours). Add one cup of rice to mixture 1 hour before it’s set to be finished. Since every cooker is different I would sample a potato (they usually take the longest time to cook) to make sure it’s fully cooked.

Sautee the seitan in a little bit of olive oil first, if you’d like. If you’re pressed for time, you don’t need to, but it will give the seitan a bit of extra flavor if you do.

*Note: Seitan is basically wheat protein that has the consistency of meat. It will absorb the flavor of whatever you cook it with. You can make homemade seitan in the slow cooker or buy it packaged. It’s usually found in the organic refrigerated section of your grocery store.

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Fitness Friday!

I have to say that one of my favorite things about being a runner is getting to eat carbs without feeling guilty. 🙂 It’s important to have a healthy diet to that balances your workouts. You need to find foods that provide elements like vitamins, carbs, healthy fats, and proteins. I’m constantly reading Runner’s World and scouring vegetarian and healthy cookbooks for great recipes and foods that will give me energy and strength I need to be fit. It’s a big topic and one I’ll revisit since there’s just too much info to cram into one blog. And I’m always learning something new that I try to fit into my diet.

Most recently it’s been my desire to move away from processed foods. Not easy. I realize this will be a long road of little changes along the way, but as long as I’m moving in that direction I feel it will lead to healthier eating habits.

I’ve started making little things like granola and protein smoothies and have gradually added more baking to my repertoire, most notably – bread! Mmmm…Homemade bread is perfect for any number of tasty meals – french toast, any number of sandwiches and paninis or just as a side for a steaming bowl of soup, salad or pasta. Yum! My most recent bread was a whole wheat bread, but I’ve made the classic white and a yummy cinnamon raisin.

I’ve included links to my favorite bread recipes below:

Homemade White Bread/Homemade Wheat Bread – I use the same recipe for both and just substitute wheat flour for white flour as it is such a great recipe!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I also was reading the October issue of Runner’s World and came across a series of wonderful (and more importantly simple) recipes for homemade pasta sauces and dishes. Click HERE for a link to the article and for a link to the recipes click HERE.

Now all I need is a pasta machine and a bigger kitchen and I’m golden! 🙂

Do you have a favorite healthy homemade recipe?