Salads

Ice cream for breakfast and other delights



I can't say I am clever enough to come up with a way of eating ice cream for breakfast without actually eating ice cream for breakfast. But thankfully, I read a blog of someone who is. Of the few food bloggers I read, Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter, consistently comes up with (really) healthy versions of less than healthy treats. In fact, I would argue she completely turns them on their head and reduces things from treat to staple. One of the things I had been hankering to try was her protein ice cream. As a fan of smoothies for breakfast, I liked the idea of making a smoothie a bit thicker, like ice cream and still being able to enjoy it for breakfast. Her version includes stevia (I used agave or whatever was on hand) and I also traded in the ice cubes for frozen banana because we don't usually have ice in the house and when we do, its usually for ice baths, not smoothies. I topped the wholesome deliciousness with fresh plums, strawberries as well as a scoop of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Justin's Peanut Butter. Makes for a solid breakfast meal with a lovely nod to dessert. I find that I often would like something that is apropos of a sweet dessert or treat without actually having any diminishment of health value. This breakfast fits that bill perfectly.

Sometimes, however, you just really want to have a nice indulgence for breakfast. Last week after dropping out of WS after 55 miles, my body had cravings all over the map. It wanted food and lots of it. I resolved that I needed to rest and relax and eat up, even if it meant that I felt like I was just sitting around getting fat. Sometimes that is just what your body needs to feel like. I have a hard time grasping that sometimes, but then I make gluten free cinnamon rolls topped with julia child's confectioners cream and I completely forget about my hesitations.




The reality is, in our household, where 70 miles of running in a week is considered a light week, cinnamon rolls are never really undeserved. These particular cinnamon rolls come from The Gluten Free Girl's blog. I have been wanting to make them and we happened to have a jar of confectioner's cream that the baker made which I deduced would be perfect over the cinnamon rolls since a cream cheese frosting was not an option for me. These cinnamon rolls were outstanding. I wanted to eat them all, in one sitting. But I refrained. It was much more fun to savor them over the course of a few days with warm cups of coffee and delicious fresh fruit on the side.



I actually am usually too geeked out about amazing seasonal produce to even want to bother with making things that I could have any old time. The sweetness of a muffin will never compare to a perfectly ripe peach to me. So, even though the cinnamon rolls or protein ice cream made me swoon, I do get equally, if not more so, excited over seasonal produce and the things I can do with it.



One of my favorite things about summer other than the mind blowing fruits and vegetables is my birthday. And it's not because I am big into birthdays, but instead because, when I was growing up, it meant I got to pick a very special meal that my mom would make at my request. 9/10 it was either twice baked potatoes or a huge vat of my mom's marinara sauce. So in honor that tradition, I made a huge batch of her marinara sauce this week and oohhhh wheeee it is so good. Best part about it is, this recipe makes enough for about 6 months (kept frozen)! I served it up with some Southern Italian Ratatouille from the Tra Vigne Cookbook.


And I haven't just been craving comforting, heavy, sweet things. In fact, I have been craving really light fresh things too. And this Kale Carrot Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing that I invented a while back has been my lunch for a few days straight. It is so flavorful and healthy and complex. In other words, perfection. 


Big bowl of nutrition



I eat healthy, nutritious, real food. Even my indulgences (like a certain muffin obsession) are healthy and can be consumed on a regular basis without question. I think back to my diet when I was a high school and college basketball player and shudder, it was pretty opposite to what I eat now, though I have always been a fan of fruits and vegetables (thanks mom!). Despite being a super healthy eater, someone who eats a salad every day for lunch and a green drink every day with breakfast, sometimes I still crave a dish that take nutrition to the next level. Something akin to nutrition squared. It may sound weird, but sometimes all I want is a plate of brussel sprouts or a steamed head of broccoli.

Before I headed off to France for Advanced Week, I was seriously craving some nutrition squared, especially since I had no idea what kind of food would be in store for me upon arrival in Bedoin (thank goodness there was lots of salad and they made me separate gluten free dishes! Found most of the fare to have pretty light and healthy options).

To tame the raging craving beast, I came up with this fruit, tofu and green salad. I have to say, sometimes when you think something is going to just taste "healthy" you can be blindsided with outrageously great flavor. The fruits were not overly sweet, but perfectly ripe. There was a great playfulness in the levels of crispness and crunch of the apples and the smoothness of the mango and papaya. This salad could make an appearance at breakfast, lunch or dinner and no one would blink an eye. Not only was it nutritious, it was easy and of course delicious. It kinda made me want to break into what my dad calls my "I'm so good" dance. Oh yeah. I'm so good. Now, I need to come up with another muffin recipe to bring the nutrition ratio back to just plain nutritious, not nutritious squared.



Chia Seed Fruit Salad


Ingredients:
  • ½ mango, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • ½ cup papaya, diced
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 serving baked tofu, diced
  • 5 medium strawberries, sliced
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon flax oil
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Real Sea Salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, place mixed baby greens. Toss together fruit, tofu and avocado and put over greens. Drizzle with apple cider vinegar and then flax oil. Sprinkle chia seeds and nutritional yeast. Salt to taste Enjoy!

Not reinventing the wheel



Beef Bourguignon, the perfect way to end a weekend

This weekend was an absolutely wonderful and blissful weekend. In food, running, life.  It was Valentine's Day Weekend which has never meant a thing to me one way or another. Like most holidays, I don't get swept up in the commercialism and hype. I do my own thing. This weekend was no different, but it is the first time in the history of my life that I have ever received flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day, and I have to admit it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy. And then I tasted the chocolates from Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building as my last bites for the weekend I am about to describe, which pretty much cemented it as one kick ass weekend.

Beautiful flowers from the Ferry Building Saturday Market

The weekend started with a fabulous Friday night of food. I decided to indulge in a non-gluten free friendly meal and it was decidedly worth the risk. In fact, other than a bit of asthma symptoms on Saturday, I was pretty non-reactive to it. We went to Little Star in the Mission and had a deep dish Classic, which has sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper. I had been seriously craving pizza for a long long time (I haven't had a slice since November at Delfina) and this definitely satisfied that craving.

This weekend seemed like it was created straight out of my imagination, it contained all of the things that combine to make me insanely happy and content. Saturday kicked off by getting up early and, for the first time in a while, instead of going on a long run, we headed down to the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for our planned Sunday dinner as well as our other weekend meals. I wish I had had my camera. We met Brett and Larissa down there, sipped on some Blue Bottle and wandered around gathering more and more ingredients, as well as snacks with each lap around the market.

Our dinner plan for Valentine's Day was simple. After watching Julie and Julia last week, we couldn't help but think about Julia Child's beef bourguignon and since I had never ever had beef bourguignon, it was an easy pick for a Sunday at home on a special occasion. We grabbed our beef from Prather Ranch Meat Company as well as a half chicken for Saturday. We picked up Batch 21 Cheese and Crescenza cheese from Cow Girl Creamery. We shared a box of potatoes from Roli Roti. I drank an outstanding smoothie from one of the purveyors, we snacked on dates and filled our bags with greens, tiny potatoes, beautiful King Oyster mushrooms, spring garlic, beautiful sprouts and pickled veggies from Happy Girl Kitchen. It was a blast. By 10am though, the market gets crazy busy and we were ready to go. Brett and Larissa headed off to Tomales Bay for the weekend and we headed back to my house with all the goodies. We changed, went for a nice long run on the Miwok 100k course from near Rock Springs to the turn around point of the course at the bottom of Randall trail and back. 24 miles worked up our appetites, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods post run for a few ingredients and ice and we headed back to dive head first into our farmer's market goodies.

First there was salad to temporary satisfy the ravenous beasts we were quickly becoming. I tossed a beautiful mix of Greens with Sprouts and topped with avocado, sauerkraut and mild pickled peppers from Happy Girl. The huge ramen bowls were empty in less than five minutes. We put our half chicken into the oven and cooked it "brick chicken" style, using my cast iron grill press. While it cooked, ice baths were taken, beer/cider was opened, veggies were chopped. When the chicken was done, we made fajitas with handmade tortillas from Primavera (also from the farmer's market), bell pepper, jalepenos, onion. We kept the seasoning light and the flavors clean, a bit of avocado, crescenza and lime were all that was needed. Absolutely delicious. The evening was finished off with Coconut Bliss and some gluten free graham crackers which I made on Friday.

We had decided that we wanted to be done running and heading home by 11:30am. We also had planned to run really really hard for a long way, so that meant we didn't have to get up too early. In fact, we each managed to run 19 miles in just around 2:40 and that is on the climby-est part of the Miwok course. Very nice. We were back at the car and heading back into the City by 10:45, which was a vast difference than Saturday when we hadn't even left for our run yet! Lunch was a redux of the previous days salad. And I am thinking that I may be making it for myself every day as long as the ingredients are still available to me. My favorite part was the crunch from the "Market mix", which is a blend of sprouted beans. Wow good.

The beef bourguignon takes a while, so got to work on it pretty quickly. While easy, tasty meals are awesome, there is something really fun and validating about working on small little details and ingredients and spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Sunday afternoons in the kitchen are one of my more favorite thing. It's fun just to create and then be able to eat the reward at the end.

I have not done much cooking out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and unlike most recipes, this one we really tried to follow. There would be no reinventing of the wheel on this one, there is a reason that Julia Child's compendium is in 40-somethingth edition and could become a best seller, again, 49 years after its release. I really liked working through each step, each little detail to create the final product. From individually cooking the bacon, browning the meal, cooking the vegetables before cooking them all together for 3 hours with lots of wine to sauteing the mushrooms in butter (don't crowd the mushrooms!), it was a blast. It reminds me how complex it can be to make amazing simple food. And it was amazing. The beef bourguignon had so much depth of flavor, you felt like you were watching a perfectly executed symphony, but instead of listening, you were trying your best not to submerge your whole face in the still hot dutch oven. We paired the rich stew with a very simple playmate: boiled potatoes. And they played well together. Meat and potatoes to something like an exponent of 10. Meat and potatoes at their best. It was damn good and when followed by the chocolates mentioned above, pretty much capped off the kind of weekend you remember for a long time and enjoyed completely from end to end.

Taming the Green Monster

I know I am a strange person. That is not news to anyone who knows me.

Yesterday I was reminded again that the things I eat and the foods I crave are also not normal. I was doing an interview for DailyMile and we were discussing food and I mentioned craving salads and vegetables which produced a quizzical look. Later on that day, when I was talking to Scott my massage therapist at Psoas, he said "I never crave fruits and vegetables, just fatty food or sugar, etc". Never? Really?!

I thought about it for a while since honest to goodness I don't have sugar cravings, in fact I wouldn't really say I have cravings at all. Usually on my long runs I start thinking about the food I will refuel with and get particularly fixated on something but it's not a true craving and even if it were, well, I usually have earned it. On my 34.5 mile run this Sunday I got fixated on the idea of having roast chicken and salad for dinner and ultimately that is what we had. Rotisserie chicken from Limon and a big leaf salad. Really hit the spot.

After all the talk of food cravings or not, last night all I could think about was a big green salad. Not your restaurant style green salad which is usually just beautiful greens plus a delicious dressing. I am talking greens, green vegetables and even a herb-y dressing. Yes, I was craving it. I needed to tame that green monster.



And wow was it good. I actually ate WAY slower than I usually do so I could savor each and every bite. The only things that weren't green in this salad were the baked tofu and the sauerkraut. I felt like a superhero after eating this salad. I felt invigorated and satisfied. It is definitely one that I will be making again and again. Salad may not be rocket science, but that doesn't mean it can't be profound on occasion.

Greener than Green Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup broccoli, lightly steamed (to make it less gas producing)

2 stalks of kale, cut into ribbons

4-6 cups of greens including arugula, spinach

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 cup sauerkraut

1 package baked tofu

1/2 avocado

1 cup rice vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger

2-3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs

1/2 cup+ peanut oil

Directions:

Mix vinegar, garlic, herbs, sesame oil, ginger in a blender. With the motor running, add in peanut oil until dressing emulsifies.

In a large bowl, put the cut kale into the bowl and add 2 tbsps dressing. With clean bare hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds until the leaves slightly soften. Add in greens, spinach, arugula, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to coat with dressing adding more to taste. Top with steamed broccoli, avocado, tofu and sauerkraut. Enjoy. This salad is definitely a meal, split it into two and have it as a side.

Speaking of weird cravings, last week I was seriously jonesing for chickpeas. I mean really, I couldn't get it out of my head. I decided for Wednesday dinner that I would call on my inner Greek and make some recipes from Vefa's Kitchen which I had gotten over the weekend. I made Vegetable and Garbanzo Bean Casserole as well as Chicken Souvlaki. Both were delicious and I am super keen to try more recipes from the cookbook. It is a good one, a classic and a compendium of Greek Food (it's been called the bible of traditional Greek Food). I won't share the recipes, but I will share a few photos of the delicious final product!



California Winter Wonderland

I am so happy. I love where I live. California rocks. Seriously.


View of the Pacific Ocean from Point Lobos


Over the weekend, I headed down the coast for a super secret mission that involved a trip to the Monterey Aquarium, wine tasting, and all sorts of adventures from San Francisco down to Monterey. There was Whale Spotting from Point Lobos Wildlife Reserve, Porchetta Sandwiches from Roli Roti and a Saturday night picnic of fresh greens, pickled vegetables (Happy Girl Kitchen), and roast chicken & potatoes (also Roli Roti) from the San Francisco Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Lunch in Santa Cruz at Walnut Ave Cafe of tofu scrambles and potatoes. There was a perfect run up the Skyline-to-Sea trail and watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. I am sure I am missing a fresh from the market persimmon and loads of Jer's Chocolate Peanut Butter in there too. It was fantastic. It was the kind of weekend where at the end you sigh and say, "wow, we live in an amazing place". I ate good food, ran in amazing places, slept in the biggest bed ever, and pulled off the birthday surprise of the century. Ok, well maybe not the century, but I kept a secret for like a month and that is a big deal. While the weekend sounds packed, it was actually the most fun relaxed weekend I have had in a long long time. After the stress of the holidays, we all need a little vacation right?


Looking up and forward to the new year.


After the weekends activities, actually for about a week before and even now, I have been seriously hankering for hearty, pickled vegetable laden salads. Probably post-holiday balancing after eating a few things my body doesn't like (gluten). I ate really healthy and light for most of the holiday season, but ate my mom's Stollen that she makes every year and a super secret sugar cookie or two as well. As we were driving back, salad was on our minds and I suggested a salad I had been playing with over the course of the week. Fresh greens, arugula, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roast onion and a very bright herb dressing. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided that the additions of a nice soft cheese and avocado would take it to the next level. It was awesome.


This salad balances the light crisp flavors of the greens, dressing, sauerkraut and arugula with the hearthy, warm winter vegetables of sweet potato and roast onion. Profoundly good for being profoundly simple. This salad is a keeper.

Sauerkraut, Sweet Potato and Roast Onion Salad

5 cups salad greens
3 cups arugula
2 sweet potato
2 small red onion, sliced
2 cups sauerkraut
2 small avocado, chopped
½ cup soft cheese, crumbled
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Baked Sweet Potatoes until tender. With about 10 minutes left before the sweet potatoes are done, roast red onions on a baking sheet with parchment paper until tender.

Compose salad in large bowls. Toss greens and arugula with red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients to taste.