Watermelon Feta Salad with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar

Yesterday I spent the day at the beach playing wiffle ball, throwing the football, and jumping into the freezing North Atlantic water. I had bought some watermelon to bring with me and had a bunch left over so I started looking for food pics on Instagram for inspiration. Sometimes I just like to look at food pics and form my own dish from there. It’s a great place for easy inspiration and I don’t feel pressure to follow any recipe so it’s more fun for me. Here’s the dish I made for lunch today.

Ingredients:

  • Cup of chopped watermelonProcessed with VSCOcam
  • A few ounces of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • A few leaves of fresh basil

Method (super easy):

  • Throw the watermelon in a bowl
  • Sprinkle feta crumbles around the melon
  • Chiffonade the basil, and distribute on top
  • Drizzle the balsamic vinegar across the salad

I wasn’t sure if I would like the combination of flavors but somehow it works perfectly! It was so refreshing and I had two servings after coming in from washing the car this afternoon. I have a feeling I’ll be making this many times this summer.

 

What I’m cooking this week 6/24/14

Recently we’ve had a great warm stretch of weather and although I’ve taken a few weeks off to rest my foot (which I’m starting to think is just tendinitis) I’ve still been able to soak up some sun and even do a little outdoor yoga. The only downside is I hate having to turn on the oven to cook. This week I’m making some cooler dishes, and already pre-roasted some tomatoes for the first sandwich so I hopefully won’t need to do very much real cooking this week.  Here’s what I’m making…

  • Blender Gazpacho
    • Nothing is better than cold soup on a hot day, and putting it in mason jars for work make them great portable lunches
  • Bean Salad
    • I just threw together some leftover black beans, corn, green beans, and edamame. Then tossed them with some salt, pepper, and olive oil.Processed with VSCOcam

 

Maple Water Review

IMG_20140618_162800Did anyone else know that maple water existed, how could this be a real thing and I not know about it!?! As it turns out it is real and it is fabulous (Seinfeld anyone?). I first heard about Maple on twitter and my interest was obviously peaked. As someone who loves all things Vermonty and all things maple I was instantly dying to get my hands on some. This brand of maple water, called Maple, is based out of Concord Mass and I believe the sap comes from Canada (but don’t quote me on that). As it turns out the folks at Maple were nice enough to provide me with a sample for me to fall in love with and review. (please note that even though this sample was complimentary these thoughts/opinions are mine alone and I try to provide an unbiased review)

 

So what is it? Well the closest thing I can compare it to is coconut water, and the idea behind drinking it is similar. It’s a low calorie, low sugar option for hydration; however it also provides 46 nutrients including vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, prebiotics, electrolytes, amino acids, antioxidants, and more manganese than a cup of kale. The 8.45 oz Maple that I tried contained 20 calories, 4g of sugar, and 5g of carbs. Similar size coconut waters usually have around 11g of sugar and 11g of carbs. Where does it come from? It’s just the sap that is tapped during the maple syrup making process. Usually it is boiled down into syrup but before that process it’s a clear sap that is only slightly sweet.

 

What did I think of it? I LOVED it! I had my first one after doing an intense core circuit at my work’s poorly ventilated gym. After sweating profusely for 45 minutes the Maple was the refreshing hydration that my body needed. I liked that it didn’t taste overly sweet or sugary like some sports drinks, and the fact that it contains so many good nutrients in addition to the hydration is a big bonus. I just wished I had a bigger bottle. Kate from Maple actually found the store closest to me that was going to start carrying their product, starting today actually, so I stopped there after work and bought three more bottles. They only had 8.45 oz bottles, but I hope they start carrying larger ones (I don’t know if Maple makes them larger yet though).

 

Smoothie Time

Smoothie Time

When I got home I decided I wanted a post workout smoothie and figured this was a great chance to try the maple in place of where I sometimes use coconut water. I took 1 bottle of maple, 2/3 cup of mixed berries, a handful of spinach, 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt, and a handful of ice cubes and threw it all in the blender. I then added some fresh mint from our yard and garnished the glass with mint as well.  Processed with VSCOcamThe mint really played well with the subtle sweetness of the Maple water, and made my smoothie even more satisfying. I would definitely recommend this product to a friend. I like that it’s a low calorie option for hydration, but that it also has so many nutrients, minerals, polyphenols and more. Maple says, “Mother Nature is the best chemist” and I couldn’t agree more. I love that their product is simple and natural. I may be even more of a maple addict now that I know it comes in water form.

 

If you want to know more here’s the link for the Maple website, and a link to their online store where they sell Maple water, and apparel. I’m in the market for a new running hat for summer so I’m probably going to buy theirs since I think they have a cool logo, and I like supporting small businesses that make great products.

 

Turning a setback into an opportunity-Yoga

I’ve been saying for MONTHS that I want to start doing yoga. I’ve heard from lots of other runners and fitness friends that it has helped them with flexibility, core strength, and relaxation. I have been putting it off saying I’d start next week, or at the beginning of next month etc. Really though I have been putting it off because I was a little nervous to try it at a real class since I’ve never done that before.

Well this week I found the motivation to get off my butt and try it out! My foot was feeling a little weird after my last two runs so just as a precaution I told myself I wouldn’t run for a week or two. I’m probably just a little over paranoid after my stress fracture, but I don’t wanna push it. I did do a higher milage week last week because I’ve been feeling so well, however I guess I need to reel the miles in and start a little slower than I thought for my marathon training.  Anyways I decided to turn this little setback into a positive opportunity by finally making it to a yoga class, because sitting around the house hasn’t been doing my mental health any good.

This Tuesday I decided to try the Yin Yoga class at Jeca Yoga. The Yin class was described as targeting the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and lower spine. This sounded like an ideal class for a tense inflexible runner since stretching/strengthening these areas will only help my running endurance and form. I called the studio beforehand to ask a few questions and Jessica the owner and the instructor for that class was super nice and gave me great information. When I showed up she remembered my name and went over the basics with me since I was a newbie. The studio was relaxing in itself with large windows, high ceilings, and lots of natural light. The poses we did were not too challenging and you could modify some of the moves to your experience level. All in all I had a great time. I left feeling relaxed, loose, and honestly instantly felt tension released from both my mind and body. Jessica was a very welcoming and knowledgeable instructor so I signed up immediately for the Wednesday night Yin this week, which my friend John will attend as well. One thing I really liked about the studio is that they offer one weekly class a month that only costs $5! For a budget conscious 20 something like myself this is a great option, especially for beginners. If you’re looking for Yoga in the Manchester, NH area I’d check out Jeca Yoga.

I’m hoping that by going to yoga at least once a week I’ll also be motivated to start practicing a few poses at home. I am already feeling the benefits just the day after which I honestly wasn’t expecting. I was surprised that my core felt a little sore as well when I woke up today. We didn’t do what I would call difficult poses, but I guess just using my body in an unfamiliar way activated muscles I don’t usually use. We all live in a go go go atmosphere and even though running helps me blow off steam it usually doesn’t give me such a purposeful sense of relaxation that I found during yoga. I can’t wait to try different classes and really get some good cross training.

 

What I’m cooking this week 6/15/14

I know, I skipped last weeks recipe list. This is because I didn’t go grocery shopping and was set on saving money by using up whatever I could find in the kitchen. I ended up eating leftover tortillas as quesadillas, Amy’s Organic Soup with leftover baguette, a few PB+J sandwiches, and cereal to name a few meals.

This week while I was driving home from Vermont I got some inspiration from a radio show on VPR called “The Splendid Table”. They were talking about pickling and that’s where I got the inspiration for the first dish. Along with some bbq tofu I had at my friend Meredith’s this weekend I came up with this first dish.

BBQ baked tofu with quick pickled veggies

-I also have left over farro so I plan on making a simple salad with…

  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • dressing of olive oil/lemon juice/crushed black pepper

Red quinoa and black bean burgers…With three days of 80º weather and sun I am itching to grill something

 

BBQ Sriracha Baked Tofu and Quick Pickled Veggies

BBQ Sriracha baked tofu with quick pickled veggies

The pickled veggies:

  • Thinly slice some carrot and cucumber
  • In a baking dish mix together a few tablespoons of miso paste, crushed garlic, and splash of sake (or gin or sherry)
  • Submerge the veggies in the miso-mix and soak for about 30 min
  • [courtesy of my listening to The Splendid Table]

The Tofu:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400º F
  • Take one package of extra firm tofu and press out the moisture w/some paper towels
  • Slice tofu into 1/4” pieces
  • In a bowl mix together some bbq sauce of your choice, some sriracha, a clove of crushed garlic, and some sesame oil (I don’t like to measure if you can’t tell)
  • Place the tofu on a baking sheet w/parchment paper and brush with sauce
  • Bake for 20 min, then flip and brush the other side with more sauce, bake another 20 min
  • Remove from oven and enjoy!

I plan on serving this dish with some brown rice and steamed edamame, after I make it this week I’ll add pics to the post since I have two days off mid-week. Gotta love time for long runs and semi-complicated meals!

Wicked Easy Plantain Chips!

I’ll never forget my first time having plantain chips. I was in Colombia to visit my girlfriend who was doing World Teach at the time, and we went to a park in Medellín to have lunch. First we went to a Colombian grocery store and I could have spent days exploring and trying out new foods, but I grabbed some chips, a weird liquid oatmeal thing, and some fresh avocado. I’ve never been much of a potato chip person, but for some reason I absolutely love plantain chips! Anyway I digress…

Starchy Crunchy Goodness

Starchy Crunchy Goodness

One of my favorite online cooking resources besides Foodgawker is Kevin from Fit Men Cook. If you haven’t checked him out, you need to. I found him through a friend and started following him on Instagram. He posts super quick and easy recipes that can usually be made just from looking at his instagram videos/comments. Last week he had a post for homemade plantain chips and I had to try it!

  • I thinly sliced two plantains (Kevin used a mandolin, but I was fine using a sharp knife)
  • Then I tossed them in a bowl with some oil, cumin, salt, and a dash of garlic powder
  • I placed them on a baking sheet with parchment paper and baked them for about 25-30min at 400 degrees (Kevin said 350, but I think my oven is weak so I went hotter)

They turned out awesome and I served them alongside my homemade vegetarian enchiladas.  I will definitely be making these again since plantains are so cheap and it keeps me from eating an entire package of the store bought ones (which I’m sure are not as healthy as making them at home). This may be my new favorite snack, I can picture myself snacking on these during movie nights snuggled up with KB and our pup Greta.

Enchilada w/ home-made plantain chips

Enchilada w/ home-made plantain chips