Shallots and parsnips and tomatoes, ohhhhh my!

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Visiting a local farmers market is one of my favorite parts of the weekend. My shopping list is memorized: tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers and peppers are a must… garlic, onions, fennel and radishes often make it in the bag. There are, however, two items I always look at but have not picked up: Shallots and Parsnips.

Shallots are a small bulbs resembling an onion, but are not as strong and have a garlic undertone. Looking for shallots that are shiny and firm indicates they are fresh. Parsnips are root vegetables related to carrots and parsley. The caloric and carb count for parsnips is almost identical to potatoes – many chefs today will serve a parsnip puree instead of a mashed potato.  Both vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked.

Laying out my vegetables on my counter, I was hungry and feeling slightly impatient. With a pan warming on the stove-top, I began to look for a recipe, but decided instead just to saute these two new flavors together and see what might happen. With a touch of olive oil and a half tablespoon of butter in my heated pan, I started to let the peeled and sliced parsnips cook over medium heat. Turning my attention to the scallion, I peeled and diced it, and added it to the parsnips. Turning the heat to medium-low I let them slowly cook until the parsnips were fork tender.

I cut up one of the heirloom tomatoes and placed it in a bowl, and then poured the warm parsnip/scallion mixture on top. Some fresh cracked pepper – and that is all. So simple, and so amazing. Turns out I loved this so much I prepared the rest of my parsnips the same way in the next few days…. I guess I will need to make another trip to the farmers market this weekend so I can explore roasting them and making a puree!

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#feedthemachine: Cracking the Egg

Like most things athletes do for their training, there is intention behind every choice. The need to “feed the machine” requires selecting the right foods at the right times. However this quest for nutrition does not need to come at the sacrifice of taste.

While social media is littered with the reward and recovery meals, often accompanied by hashtags such as #whywerun… a nod to the balance of life enjoyed by many distance athletes, most meals need to be carefully selected to improve the training or event performance.

Knowing why foods fuel us is key to selecting the right foods at the right time.

One staple for many athletes is the egg.20140610-111118-40278146.jpg

About 2/3 of the egg is egg white, and 1/3 is egg yolk. The yolk holds all of the fat in the egg, but before you throw it out, there are a few more things to consider.

1. THE WHITE: The egg white itself is mostly water, about 90%, only 10% protein; requiring the consumption of A LOT of egg whites for high protein consumption. The white is made up of a thick and thin white, and as the egg ages, the think white thins out; this is the cause of a greater spread of an older egg when cracked into a pan, and will be less “foamy” when beaten. The egg white also has very little flavor.

2. THE YOLK: The yolk is only about 50% moisture; the other 50% is primarily protein and fats. Compared to the larger white, the dense yolk is 17% protein. With age, the yolk pulls moisture from the white, causing it to thin out and flatten. The yolk also contains carotenoids, which is what gives it its yellow/orange color. These carotenoids, specifically lutein, help with vision. The yolk also contains vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty acids, along with L-arginine and leucine which help to maintain blood sugar levels and produce growth hormones.

Keeping just ONE whole egg with the addition of several egg whites (I prefer adding two egg whites for every whole egg) will increase health benefits, assist in the processing of the proteins in the egg white, and add a whole lot of flavor!

As I add my favorite egg dishes in the coming weeks and months I will include links to them here. I hope you enjoy!

Ham and Neufchatel Omelet

 

 

References: Figoni, P. (2011) How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. Hoboken, NJ. Wiley Publishers.

http://www.jillianmichaels.com/fit/lose-weight/myth-eggs

The Athlete’s Plate: Ham and Neufchatel Omelet

 

Eggs dishes, especially omelets, are one of my favorite breakfasts, for both their nutritional value and taste. Creativity in the fillings and sides dishes not only add to taste but to the performance impact of the meal as well.

Today I enjoyed a ham and cheese omelet with fresh fruit.

I whisked together one whole extra-large egg with two additional egg whites, adding some Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy seasoning (which has tons of flavor with no added sodium). – 116 calories

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A large pan, preheated on medium heat allows the egg to spread and cook through quickly.

Two oz. of Boars Head Tavern ham, diced, is added immediately – 60 calories – along with One oz. Neufchatel Cheese (low fat cream cheese) – 40 calories – which not only gives great flavor and added protein, but adds an amazing creaminess to the omelet, giving it a pleasurable  mouthfeel.

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Folded quickly and plated with freshly diced tomatoes and red onion – 11 calories – and pared with one cup of watermelon – 45 calories –  this protein packed, flavor bursting breakfast has 272 total calories with 27 grams of protein, 18 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of fat. In addition, the watermelon aids in hydration, a bonus to athletes – as well as anyone focusing on their daily water consumption!

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My almost paleo life: Cauliflower "bread" with chicken sausage

It all started when I saw this bag of Cauliflower Florets in my fridge. I would be going out of town so I needed to eat it, and while I love roasted cauliflower…. I just wasn’t in the mood. I have made Cauliflower mashed potatoes before, but that didn’t feel right, and then I remembered a recipe I had seen for mock “bread” sticks.
 
So out came the cutting board and my good chefs knife. While my oven heated to 450 degrees I chopped the florets into a fine consistency, patted it dry, and put it in the food processor until it showed a mashed potato like consistency. 
I did not remember the exact seasonings the original recipe called for – but seasonings are a matter of taste. What I did know is I needed 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and two beaten eggs. 
 
I chose to use 1/4 cup Cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan…. and also 2 cloves of minced garlic, some cracked black pepper, a pinch of salt, and a generous teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I realized now I was mimicking the flavors I enjoy in focaccia bread! 
The “dough” was then mixed into a ball, and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The thickness of the dough will impact tenderness of the “bread” after baking. 
 

I should note here that you could just spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray – but my time in culinary school made me partial to always cooking with parchment paper. 

The formed dough went into the fully heated oven for 17 minutes, until the top was golden brown. 

I cut the bread with a pizza cutter into slice and while it was cooling just slightly, heated a fajita seasoned chicken sausage. 

Paired together this was a delicious combination, a small arugula salad would be a wonderful addition as well. The “bread” was gone before my sausage and I decided to get another slice. The best part is I could do this guilt free because the whole pie has only 420 calories… 

This is one I will make again, and would be wonderful for a girls luncheon. I will play with the spices and seasonings, as well as the cheeses I use. I know the dairy keeps this from being true paleo… however it is a great alternative than bread! 

Feel free to let me know how this turns out if you decide to make it in your own kitchen, and what masterpieces your medications produce! 

Here is to another day of happy healthy eating, and remembering to always #postthepositive parts of our lives! 

 
***** dinner time update!!!! You might wonder “but how will it reheat????” I just threw on a touch more cheese, some mini turkey pepperoni… And put it under the broiler for a few minutes and my “paleo pizza” was to die for!