Mixed Vegetable and Quinoa Stew aka “Fridge Cleanout Stew”

0092 300x225Hi everyone!  We are giving you a little change of pace today, another voice in the blog.  My name is Erin; I’m Matt’s wife.  I too am an avid runner and new pescetarian.  And I’ve also recently gotten into road biking.  I typically get to reap the benefits of Matt’s delicious cooking, but truth be told, a lot of our meal planning and cooking as of late have been done together.  This past Saturday though, I was left alone in the kitchen to make something out of what I presumed was nothing!  We were desperate to find something to eat for lunch because it was pouring outside and neither Matt nor I wanted to venture out into the monsoon.  On cold and rainy days, soups seem to be appealing so I challenged myself to create a soup or stew (it ended up being more like a stew because I let the liquid reduce to a less than soup-like consistency) out of the random ingredients that I had in my kitchen.  On top of this I chose to cook with an ingredient that was new to me– quinoa!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with quinoa (like me), it is a grain that has great nutritional value!  (UPDATE- It turns out that quinoa is not actually a grain; it’s a grain-like “pseudocereal” because it’s not a type of grass.) Not only is it high in protein, but it’s a complete protein source because it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids.  There are many different ways to prepare quinoa; it can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in baking.  We had picked it up previously at the health food store and I decided that this meal was worth testing it out on!  After all, I was determined to use as much of my random leftover ingredients as I could.

I have to be honest; I much prefer to follow a strict recipe, and I am not the best at coming up with my own creations.  I, like many people out there, don’t always know what spices or ingredients to combine to create the perfect taste sensation.  I was very happy to learn, though, that rather than throwing the random leftover veggies into the compost, I could, without much work, create a tasty stew for us to enjoy.  It was pretty quick and easy and was very pleasing to our palates.  And the biggest accomplishment was that we were able to stay inside and avoid the monsoon!  So for all of you at home, I would suggest trying this recipe when you are left with a variety of fresh veggies.  Don’t let them go to waste; be creative!  For example, you could substitute celery for the chinese cabbage, fresh tomatoes for canned,  or rice for the quinoa.  As I was making it, I thought that it might even be good with some chipotles in adobo!  Sometimes a little kick is nice (for me though, moderation is best).  Try serving it with a nice whole-wheat bread to soak up some of the juices!  It’s yummy.  It was great as leftovers too!

Quinoa and Vegetable Stew Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 8 canned whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 4  tablespoons tomato sauce (from the can with the tomatoes)
  • 1-1/2 cups chinese cabbage, sliced
  • 8 basil leaves, torn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 shakes of Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley, for garnish

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Stir in the quinoa, carrot, onion, bell pepper, cauliflower, and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Pour in the stock, water, tomatoes and sauce, cabbage, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, basil, and spinach.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the quinoa and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with parsley before serving.  Also don’t forget to remove the bay leaves!

Serves 5-6.

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Product Reviews: La Brea Bread and Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style

A little change of pace for this Sunday afternoon, and something that I hope to do more of since we’re trying so many different products as part of this new lifestyle.  One is good, the other not so good (notice I didn’t say “not so much,” because people need to stop saying that).  I’ll start with the good.

La Brea Whole Grain Bread

wheatloaf ful Ever since I read In Defense of Food, I’ve been very conscious about the number of ingredients in everyday foods which I took for granted to be natural and healthy.  In his book, Michael Pollan recommends avoiding foods with more than five ingredients (the book, by the way, has all kinds of simple, memorable rules like this).  Certainly this rule doesn’t apply to food you make at home, since you know exactly what’s going into it, but it’s a very quick way of determining what food at the grocery store is “real.”

Following the five-ingredient rule isn’t too difficult when you’re conscious of it, but one food which astounded me with the length of its ingredient list is bread.  Even the whole-grain, whole-wheat breads are generally loaded with preservatives and lots of other ingredients that are hard to pronounce (another dead giveaway for fake foods).  The best solution is probably to get your bread fresh from a baker, but the bakery near me doesn’t even make whole-wheat bread, so that’s not an option.  But today I found La Brea Whole Grain bread in the supermarket.  It’s sold near the fresh-baked bread, not the packaged loaves, so that’s the first sign that it’s decent.  The list of ingredients is much longer than five, but almost all of it is whole or cracked grains and seeds, with just a few of the hard-to-pronounce things at the end.  Just some of the grains, seeds, and other good stuff: Cracked wheat, dark rye, millet, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, barley, oats, corn, soybeans, and brown rice.  And it tastes as good as any other whole-grain loaf I’ve found.  It’s definitely not a perfect solution to my bread-hunting woes since the first ingredient is unbleached flour rather than 100% whole -wheat flour, but it’s the best I’ve yet found.  I haven’t looked too hard in the natural foods store yet, because I am not overly excited about spending five dollars for a loaf of bread.  But I’m interested in learning more about the “sprouted” wheat bread that they sell there.  Anyone know about this?

Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style

gimmeleanbeef1 To sum this one up in the immortal words of American Idol’s Randy Jackson, “It wasn’t good for me, dog.”  Gimme Lean is a line of substitute products for meat, designed to mimic the flavor and texture.  This one even came in a tube like ground beef sometimes comes in.  It’s made primarily from water and textured soy protein, and to its credit, it contains very few unnatural-sounding ingredients.  We bought it not because we miss burgers so much, but because we miss tacos so much.  Our at-home taco operation took a small hit when we started substituting ground turkey for ground beef, but since we went pescetarian we’ve been sin tacos altogether.  That’s Spanish by the way; I don’t believe the Church has yet established an official stance on tacos.

So we used Gimme Lean for tacos, and the only thing I could say was “Gimme something different to eat.”  I’d sooner eat no tacos than eat these again.  The meat-substitute was slimy, weird tasting, and I won’t even start on what Erin thought it resembled in the pan.  So Gimme Lean didn’t do it for us, and we won’t buy it again.  In fact, I’ll probably stay away from anything masquerading as meat and just stick to black beans for vegetarian tacos and burgers.

As I’m finishing up this post, I’m smelling the seasoned plum tomatoes with garlic and oil that are roasting in the oven for tonight’s dinner.  It’s a new pasta recipe that we made up by combining two others.  I think it will make a really hearty vegetarian meal.  Check back tomorrow to see how it went and how you can make it this week!

UPDATE:  Instead of roasted tomato pasta tomorrow, there will be a surprise post!  But not to worry, pasta will be up on Tuesday.

19 Comments

 

How I Plan to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

I mentioned in an earlier post that my goal, for as long as I’ve been running marathons, has been to qualify for Boston.  For my age group, this requires a time of 3:10:59 or better in an approved marathon.  That’s 7:17 per mile, for 26.2 miles.  My personal best so far is 3:20:30, at the Disney Marathon this last January.  So the difference is roughly 22 seconds per mile.

matt running 200x300No question about it; that’s a huge amount of time to knock off.  But here’s why I think it can happen in my next marathon.  My five marathon times to date, from longest ago to most recent, are as follows:  4:53, 3:50, 3:36, 3:24, 3:20.  Big improvement each time.  Diminishing returns, to be sure, but returns nonetheless.

So what am I going to do that will give me a ten-minute improvement, when my last improvement was only four minutes?  First of all, I’ve chosen to run the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York, on October 4th of this year.  This is a really fast marathon.  I don’t really know what kind of difference a fast course makes, but I’m told that it’s significant.  The second, more important reason that I believe I’m going to do it this time is that I have almost six months to train.  And I’m starting with a decent mileage base, having trained for and run two marathons in the past six months.

So that’s why I have a lot of confidence that it’s going to happen this year.  Experienced runners, please don’t tell me that this goal is too big and I’ll end up being disappointed.  Boston has been my goal in every marathon I’ve run, and even though I haven’t come close yet, I feel proud every time I cross that finish line.  So don’t worry about my tender psyche.

Marathon Training Program

Here’s how I plan to do it.  I have a 16-week training program (called FIRST, from the book Run Less, Run Faster) that I was making huge improvements with before my knee started hurting about six weeks ago (it’s better now).  This leaves me nine weeks before the training program begins.  I’ll continue strength training during this time, doing front squats, deadlifts, leg curls, and some moderate upper body work, as I’ve been doing for the past few months.  In addition to getting stronger, I’ll build up mileage and make sure that my knee is completely healed.  I’ll do this with running and core workouts from the Core Performance Endurance program, essentially hill and interval workouts that last about 45 minutes.  This is the program I’ve used to train for my past two marathons.  And I’ll start my long runs next weekend at about eight miles, building up to 20 miles or so by the time the FIRST program begins.  At this point I should be doing 30-35 miles per week.

matt running copy 225x300The FIRST program entails three running workouts per week.  One track workout, one tempo run, and one long run.  The track workout involves fast quarter-mile to mile runs with some rest time between, to total five to seven miles.  The tempo run is about 45 minutes of “moderately uncomfortable” running, usually at a pace 10-25 seconds faster than my target marathon pace.  And the long runs are to be run at paces only 15-30 seconds slower than target marathon pace, very different from other programs I’ve done, where usually the instructions for long runs are to run one to two minutes slower per mile than marathon pace.

In between running workouts, the FIRST program recommends cross training rather than slow running.  The aim of this is to avoid injury by giving your joints and running muscles a rest.  So I’ll swim on some of these days, since triathlons are another goal of mine.  But I’m not going to completely avoid easy running.  I really feel that running lightly in between intense workouts allows my running muscles to recover in a way that swimming doesn’t achieve, and I think the lack of these runs is part of the reason I got hurt a few weeks ago.

So that’s the plan.  If it works out and I qualify for Boston in October, then having declared this goal to so many readers and sharing my progress with you will make it all the more rewarding.  And if it doesn’t happen, then you can write all kinds of disparaging comments and tell me that you knew all along that I couldn’t do it.  I would enjoy that.

Finally, I’d love to get input from the more experienced runners who read this blog.  Is my training plan sound?  Have you heard anything about the FIRST program?  What about cross training versus easy runs on off days?  Should I shave my already sparse body hair?  Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

This post is part of 10-part series on qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Check out the rest!

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Classic Margherita Pizza

meals 0291 300x225Okay, so maybe “classic” isn’t the right word.  I’m still trying to perfect this one, but hey, it’s pizza!  If the many recent tofu and tempeh recipes I’ve tried have had you rolling your eyes, saying “See, that’s why I could never be vegetarian; all they eat is that tasteless fake crap,” then roll those eyes no more.  Nothing about this pizza is fake; in fact it’s much more real than whatever flavor-enhanced pie Papa John’s brings to your door.  When you make the dough and sauce yourself, you know exactly what goes in, and it’s all good stuff.

Now before the healthy eaters object, complaining “Sure it’s vegetarian, but pizza is terrible for you,” let me say that it absolutely doesn’t have to be.  I don’t see what’s unhealthy about whole-wheat flour, olive oil, basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  Whole grains are great for you, especially when you need to replace the mega-calories burned up by endurance training. And mozzarella has one of the highest protein-to-fat ratios among cheeses.  If you must go healthier, then use shredded low-fat or vegan cheese instead.

meals 0181 225x300I will make one admission, and that is that yesterday I didn’t make fresh dough, instead grabbing some frozen that we had made earlier, using white flour.  But I almost always use whole wheat flour, and I can tell you that it tastes just as good as the refined white version.

For those who don’t know, margherita pizza is from Naples, Italy, where there are legal standards for what constitutes pizza.  In order to call pizza Neapolitan, it must be made with 100% white flour, never rolled with a pin, and cooked in a wood-burning oven, in addition to satisfying many other restrictions.  So that’s why “classic” isn’t really the right word to describe mine.  I’m still working on making the crust ultra-thin (as you can see from the pictures, it’s certainly not that, even with the aid of a rolling pin).  And since, shockingly, my townhome was sold to me without a 2000-degree wood burning oven, I’ve gotten my best results from using a pizza stone on a grill that gets to about 600 degrees.

If any pizza aficionados are reading this, I’d love to hear your advice on how to make this pizza more authentic, given that I want it to have a whole-wheat crust.  I believe that making the effort to acquire fresh yeast instead of using dried might help.

One thing that doesn’t need any adjustment here is the sauce.  It’s called salsa semplice, Italian for “simple sauce,” and it’s just that.  Tomatoes and sea salt, nothing more.  And it’s perfect that way.  If you decide that making your own dough just isn’t in the cards, at least try the sauce (which takes five minutes to make).  I’ve specified San Marzano tomatoes; if you can’t get those then use the best organic Italian tomatoes you can find.

meals 0221 225x300Finally, if you want to make your own dough but just don’t have 10 hours to wait for it to rise, then use rapid-rise yeast and let it rise, covered with a damp cloth, in a barely-warm oven.  It will rise in an hour or two.  But look up more specific instructions if you want to go this route.

Margherita Pizza Recipe

Ingredients (for the dough):

  • 1 package active dry yeast (Make sure you get active dry, not rapid rise)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or blend half whole wheat, half white)

Ingredients (for the sauce):

  • 2  28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Ingredients (to top the pizza):

  • 2  8-oz balls fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves, torn

To make the dough:  Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water and set aside.  In a bowl, combine ice-cold water, sugar, salt, and olive oil.  Place 5 and 1/4 cups flour in mixing bowl of stand mixer with dough hook.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can adapt these instructions and do it by hand.  Add yeast mixture and cold-water mixture; mix on low for about 5 minutes until dough forms a ball.  Let rest for 2 minutes, then mix until dough is smooth.  This should take another 5 minutes or so.  Kneed by hand on a dusted wooden surface for a few more minutes to make dough even smoother.  Cut the dough in half and place each half into large zip-lock bags, because the dough will expand a lot.  If you want to get fancy here, you can look up the best way to shape the dough balls before placing them in the bags.  Refrigerate at least 10 hours, remove 1 hour before cooking.

To make the sauce:  Strain the tomatoes in a colander to eliminate liquid.  Break them gently with your hands to remove more liquid.  Transfer tomatoes to a large bowl; mash with hands or a potato masher to desired smoothness.  Add salt to taste.

To make the pizza:  Preheat a grill or oven as hot as possible, with pizza stone if using.  Toss the pizza then thinly roll out on a floured wooden surface.  You’ll find many more details about this step if you’re interested.  Top with sauce and sliced mozzarella.  Drizzle mozzarella with oil and place pizza in oven.  It only takes about 2 minutes on my grill, so watch carefully to avoid burning the crust.  If the toppings are not hot enough, transfer to a broiler for a few minutes, again watching carefully.  Remove pizza and top with basil.

meals 024 300x225Like I said, this recipe is a work in progress.  I’m still experimenting with different yeasts, rising times, and cooking methods (oven vs. grill, pizza stone vs. direct contact).  For that reason, I’m not going to give this recipe a rating.  On the days when it turns out well, it’s nothing short of 5 cows out of 5.  Today it was probably a “3.”  The crust was just too thick to crisp up nicely.  But as I said earlier, it’s still pizza, and it’s hard to screw it up too much.  Try this yourself and let me and the other readers know how it works out for you.  And buon appetito!

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I Can’t Quit You, Coffee

It’s time to come clean.  As you know if you’ve been with this blog since the beginning, I didn’t drink an ounce of coffee for ten straight days a few weeks back.  After the headaches stopped on the second day, I didn’t even miss it.  As far as I was concerned, coffee was no longer part of my routine.  I’ll even confess that when I saw others drinking it, just as I had been doing for months (years?) previously, I judged them a bit.  Can’t you see you’re a slave to that green and white cup?  Get out of that warm, fuzzy, caffeinated pseudo-reality and enjoy how it feels to just be natural. I even told the story on this blog about when I did reward myself at the end of the ten days with a single small (tall) coffee from Starbucks, and subsequently felt uncomfortably jittery and dizzy.  How could I have been drinking this crap every single day, when it causes that sort of reaction now that I’m not used to it?

But even that ten-day experience wasn’t enough for me to stop, because as I write this post I’m drinking another nice cup of joe.  And it’s not my allotted one or two per week.  This is the third consecutive day.  And let me tell you, it still feels great.

I am very hesitant to call this an addiction.  Spoken like a true addict though, isn’t it?  The reason I won’t call it the a-word is that I don’t think I need coffee.  I wouldn’t have had a headache if I didn’t drink it today.  And I didn’t drink it because I was tired and needed a jolt to start the day.  I drank it because I love drinking it, because I love the mood it puts me in.  To further support my case, let me explain that I never drink coffee if I wake up tired or on the wrong side of the bed, or even if I have a busy day of not-so-exciting math classes ahead of me.  I just don’t want it then.  But when I have a light schedule, some time with myself to read, think, or now write, then coffee just makes a good time that much better.

Then again, this isn’t completely innocent.  I’m not drinking coffee solely for the taste; if that were the case then decaf would probably do.  I’m drinking it for its ability to make my happy moments even happier.  And in this way, I’m using it for what it really is, a mood-altering drug.  Yes, drug.

I do know that if I believed coffee were terrible for me and could not possibly be part of a healthy lifestyle, then I wouldn’t drink it.  I value health more than whatever it is that coffee gives me.  Problem is, I’m not convinced that the net effect is bad.  I hear about so many studies showing a reduced risk of cancer, Alzheimers, and heart disease from as many as three to five cups of coffee per day, an amount that I don’t consider moderate.  Of course, plenty of negative effects have been shown too.  My point is that if coffee’s net effect is bad, then it’s not at all clear to me yet.

I like this picture of Starbucks signs and all the paradoxical staircases.  Its point, of course, is that Starbucks is infiltrating our lives by popping up on every street corner, turning lots of us into mindless drones whose sole quest is to remain caffeinated.  But for me it has more meaning.  The picture references the well-known M.C. Escher drawing Relativity.  And when I talk about getting blissfully lost in a book with a cup of coffee, the book that comes to mind is Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter.  The book’s central theme is self-reference of the type used by Escher, as it appears not just in art, but also in music, mathematics, computer science, biology, and most profoundly, consciousness.  Of course that has nothing to do with coffee (though caffeine addiction is the subject of J.S. Bach’s famous Coffee Cantata).  But to realize that I was caffeinated during most of the time that I spent enjoying my favorite book in the world saddens me a little, and this picture reminds me of that fact in an amusing way.

So that’s where I am with coffee– not sure if it’s good or bad, and not sure how not to love it so much.  I hope to hear if there are any others with the same dilemma, and to get some convincing feedback from you diet-conscious readers about whether you think health and coffee are mutually exclusive.

And don’t worry; Erin and I didn’t go hungry last night!  I just thought something other than a recipe today would provide a nice change of pace.  Recipes will be back tomorrow!

(UPDATE: A few weeks after this post, I decided to drastically reduce my caffeine intake.  See Giving Up Coffee, and Other Nonrandom Sunday Thoughts.)

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Szechuan Tempeh with Sweet-Spicy Peanut Sauce

008 300x225After reading my lament on the sponginess of tofu, my sister, who bakes in a vegetarian restaurant and knows much more about vegetarian food than I do, suggested that I try tempeh.  As she put it, “People who don’t like tofu like tempeh.”  This made me a prime candidate (though to be fair, I have had a few decent tofu meals of late).  Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it’s made from soybeans, but it often contains rice or other grains.  The result is a much firmer, tastier product than the flavorless marshmallow-cube that is tofu.  Not only that, but tempeh has more “protein, fiber, and vitamins” than tofu (according to Wikipedia), making it even better for the many vegetarian endurance athletes who are presumably reading this blog!

So Erin and I decided to give tempeh a try, with very high expectations.  And we were not disappointed.  It seems tempeh, when cooked, takes on a flavor and texture not entirely unlike chicken!  Granted, it’s not a Chick-Fil-A 12-pack of nuggets, but it’s the closest vegetarian food has come for me.  This got the hamster wheel spinning in the old noggin-head, and I started excitedly daydreaming about ways to imitate buffalo-style chicken, my favorite food in the whole world, with tempeh.  I may have even drooled a bit.

But lest I get ahead of myself, I’ll just let the buffalo tempeh idea simmer for now.  Today’s meal is called Szechuan Tempeh with Sweet-Spicy Peanut Sauce, my hot-served adaptation of a cold-served Chinese dish I found in a vegetarian cookbook.  You’ll notice that in my recipe I’m suggesting you serve it over brown rice; we used rice noodles and I wasn’t a fan.

Tempeh with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Ingredients (for the tempeh):

  • 8 ounces tempeh, diced into half-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used tamari)
  • 4 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup brown rice (alternatively, 1 package rice noodles)
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Ingredients (for the peanut sauce):

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste or curry paste

Mix the tempeh, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a medium bowl and let stand for 15 minutes or more.  Cook the brown rice however you like, my favorite is simmering in 2 cups of water with 1/2 tsp salt for 20-30 minutes.  If using rice noodles instead, soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a bowl until smooth; set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh and cook until lightly browned, stirring often for 3-5 minutes, then keep warm in a bowl covered with foil.  Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp canola oil in the skillet, add the cucumbers, half the red bell pepper, and half the scallions.  Season with just a pinch of salt and cook the vegetables until barely tender, maybe 2 minutes.

Serve the tempeh and vegetables on top of the rice or noodles, drizzle with sauce, and garnish with remaining (uncooked) bell pepper, scallions, and peanuts.

Makes 4 small servings. (Update: The servings aren’t as small as I thought when I first published this.  I just ate my share of the leftovers and I’m completely full.)

0061 300x225We decide to give this meal a strong 3 cows out of 5, but I think using brown rice instead of rice noodles would have elevated it in terms of both taste and nutrition (I haven’t seen brown rice noodles, so if you want rice noodles you’re stuck with the white version).  I think rice noodles would probably taste better with the cleaner flavors of the chilled, raw-vegetable version of the dish.  Make no mistake though, our rating of “3″ is no knock on tempeh.  The tempeh was the shining star of this meal for me, and my mind is still racing about possibilities for using tempeh in place of chicken in my favorite chicken dishes.  You can expect to see lots of those in the days ahead.

Yes, buffalo fans, it’s coming.

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Orange-Glazed Salmon Fillets with Rosemary

meals 0022 300x225Just a quick one today; I spent way too much time getting the new site up and running.  This salmon recipe is inspired by one from Cooking Light.  Not a magazine we subscribe to, just something that Erin picked up at the store to try.  I say “inspired by” because I made my own version of it.  The biggest difference is that I grilled it instead of pan-frying it, for a nicer flavor without quite so many calories.  I guess this weather kind of has me in grill-mode.

Orange-Glazed Salmon Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets, with or without skin
  • 1 small minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 or 2 oranges)
  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat a grill to high, with a seafood basket if you have it.

Rinse the salmon fillets, pat them dry with paper towels, rub lightly with canola oil, season with salt and pepper.  Place the salmon on the grill or basket, skin side up; grill for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom is nicely browned.  Flip and continue to grill until the fish is flaky, with the center still barely translucent.  Remove from grill.

While the salmon is grilling (or after, but keep the fish warm in foil once it’s done grilling), heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Saute shallot for 30 seconds, add wine and rosemary and cook for a minute or so until slightly reduced.  Add orange juice and syrup; let it boil and thicken for a few minutes.  Add salmon to pan, skin side up; cook until the center is no longer translucent (it shouldn’t take more than about 2 minutes).

Serve the salmon topped with the glaze from the pan.

I didn’t feel like paying $2.5o for a pack of fresh rosemary so I just used dried.  If you do this, be sure to use only about a third of the amount called for.  This is a good rule of thumb when substituting dried herbs for fresh.  Rosemary, in particular, can easily overpower a dish if too much is used.

The magazine recommends haricot verts (the snobby French-cooking term for green beans) with the salmon, but we just made some asparagus.  If you think asparagus grows in a can, you really need to try it fresh.  To prepare it, break the bottoms off the asparagus stalks where they naturally break; it should be about two or three inches up.  Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill or roast in an oven at about 400 degrees, turning once, for about 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Pretty tasty, but be ready for a surprise when it’s time go “number one”.

We were both surprised at how good this salmon was.  Sometimes these half-page magazine recipes just don’t hold up, as if the editor just invented the recipe to fill space, without even testing it.  But the glaze added a really nice sweetness to the salmon.  As a matter of principle, I’m not going to give a “4″ to a fifth consecutive recipe, or however many it is now.  I know this is like the ridiculous Hall-of-Fame voters who won’t vote in anyone unanimously since the Babe didn’t get in unanimously, but I’m still not doing it.  3.9 cows out of 5.

Last thing for today is a product recommendation.  Bear Naked granola, “fruit and nut” version.  Really good, and we only paid five dollars for a 12-ounce package, which seems like it will last a while since it’s hard to eat too much in one sitting.  I bet their other flavors are good too.  If you’ve tried any others, let me know what you think.

Keep that new-site feedback coming!

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No Meat Athlete Grows Up!

Well, I’ve been maintaining this blog for just over two weeks.  Up until now, the blog has been hosted at WordPress.com, where anyone can literally set up and start writing a blog in ten minutes (which I highly recommend if that seems fun to you).  Though there’s not much flexibility at WordPress.com, I initially thought it would be fine for my purposes of sharing a few vegetarian recipes and training tips.  But the number of visitors to the page and amount of positive feedback have been overwhelming, for which I am endlessly thankful.  I’ve decided that in the interest of growing the blog and moving toward the idea of a community, the time is right to move to self-hosting.  So No-Meat Athlete is no longer part of WordPress.com.

What does this mean for you, the reader?  Not all that much yet.  Of course the site looks a little different, and it will probably change a few more times as I try out different themes.  Also, you might have noticed that even if you were typing “www.NoMeatAthlete.com” to get to the blog, your browser was being automatically redirected to “NoMeatAthlete.wordpress.com.”  Not so anymore; now your address bar should say simply “www.NoMeatAthlete.com.”  But most importantly, there are a lot of new features and widgets that I can now add to the sidebar and elsewhere to create a better experience for everyone.

It will take some time for me to get comfortable with the programming required to take advantage of the new customization potential, so hang in there!  If, for example, I have trouble uploading a picture or video, a post might be delayed by a day or two.  But don’t give up on me; keep checking back!  I can promise that within a few days, the improved appearance and functionality of the blog will be worth whatever growing pains there are.

Finally, if you thought I was pushing for comments before, you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Now is when I really need your feedback.  Let me know what you love, like, and hate about the new format.  Make suggestions that you’ve seen on other blogs or are envisioning in your head.  Virtually anything can be changed: text sizes, fonts, colors, backgrounds, photos, layout, sidebars, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  I’m really excited about what this blog can become, and it whatever that is will be so much better with your help!

And before you get mad that today’s post is just this techno-babble, relax.  I’ll be posting last night’s meal, Orange-Glazed Salmon Fillets with Rosemary, later today.

-Matt

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