Sweet and Savory Brussels Sprouts

5 Nov

My Aunt and Uncle introduced Jacob and I to brussels sprouts a few years back and ever since then it’s been a favorite veggie of ours.  Brussels sprouts are part of the Brassica family, along with broccoli and cabbage.  They provide a superior amount of vitamin K and C, and make a great addition to any high energy meal.

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My preparation no where compares to how delicious their brussels sprouts are.  They just have the magic touch, but I think I’ve come up with a tasty and quick dish that would even work great along a Thanksgiving meal.

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I incorporated pomegranates into this dish for a touch of sweetness.  If you aren’t sure how to open and de-seed a pomegranate easily, check out my how-to.

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Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Bacon

makes 3-4 side dish servings

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups brussels sprouts (about 1.5 lb), cleaned and quartered
  • 2 slices bacon (either maple or pepper works well), cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt and pepper depending on preference

Directions

1.  Begin by cooking the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

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2.  Once the bacon is almost all browned add the brussels sprouts.  Cook and stir at least once a minute.  When most of the brussels sprouts have browned a little bit and are softened (about 5-7 minutes), pour in to pomegranates and pecans.  Add salt and pepper then as well.

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3.  Cook the entire mixture for another 2-3 minutes.  Taste a brussels sprout to make sure it is done, then plate up.

I served this side along with Cranberry Pulled Pork in Sweet Squash Boats.  It was like eating an early Thanksgiving and that was a-okay with me.

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Coming up: another 10 minute interval workout – major upper body burner.

Check out the core-focused 10 minute interval workout for a quick workout right now.

The Best Waffles

4 Nov

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  When I wake up in the morning I’m usually already hungry and look forward to a warm, comforting breakfast.  I really enjoy oatmeal, quinoa, pancakes, french toast and eggs for breakfast, but for some reason thought waffles just took to much time.

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Not sure where that thought came from because it seems to take less time than pancakes.  The nice thing about making waffles is that once you pour the batter into the waffle maker it does the work for you.  I don’t have to keep a close eye on it and once the light changes it’s cooked perfectly.

This recipe for whole grain cottage cheese waffles is similar to my butternut squash cottage cheese pancakes, but a more basic recipe.  It’s a good base to start with if you want to add in variations.

Jacob has even said these are the best waffles he’s ever had!  I’ve made them at least once or twice a week for the past 3 weeks.  The extra waffles hold up well in the fridge.  It’s nice making a big batch and having waffles ready in the fridge.

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The Best Whole Grain Cottage Cheese Waffles

makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/4 cup whole wheat pasty flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • optional: 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Turn your waffle iron on and begin to heat it up while you make the batter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a blender combine the eggs, cottage cheese, milk and vanilla (plus optional maple syrup).  Blend until smooth and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Once the waffle iron is ready,coat it generously with olive oil spray.  Pour the batter into iron (about 1 cup batter) and cook until your waffle iron lights up as done.  Repeat with remaining batter for 4 waffles.

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I had my waffles with some quick homemade cinnamon applesauce and almond butter, but you can top them with whatever you enjoy.

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Quick Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce 

makes 1-2 waffle topping servings , depending on the side of your apple

Ingredients

  • 1  apple, finely chopped with the skin left on
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp water
  • optional: honey or sweetener

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except the sweetener in a microwave safe bowl. 
  2. Cook on high for 60-90 seconds, or until the apples are completely soft.
  3. Mash with a fork or potato masher until it reaches you desired consistency.  Taste and add sweetener if you’d like.

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Pomegranate and Peanut Smoothie

3 Nov

Did you join in on this week’s mini-challenge: kitchen lifts?  It takes less than a minute of your time each time you go into the kitchen so come on – join in!

After discovering how easy it is to de-seed a pomegranate, I’ve been having fun using the seeds in many recipes.  I’ve also enjoyed just eating them on their own too.  I had fun with this refreshing pomegranate filled afternoon pick up me and loved how simple, quick and pretty it was too.

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I finally made the trip to Trader Joes to pick up some peanut flour.  I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else and really wanted to give it a try.  It’s lower in fat and higher in protein than regular peanuts, plus it gives that peanut butter-y taste to my smoothie that I love.

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Pomegranate and Peanut Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup peanut flour
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, diced
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • optional: extra pomegranate seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Pour the milk, peanut flour and pomegranate seeds into a blender.  Blend until smooth and combined.
  2. Add the frozen banana and ice cubes.  Blend for 1-2 more minutes until fluffy and frothy.  Pour into a glass or mug and top with extra seeds.

Wednesday’s Weekly Workout Mini-Challenge: Kitchen Lifts

3 Nov

I am 2 days in and half marathon training is going well.  Today I have sprints on the agenda and I’ll also be doing a quick 10 upper body interval workout this morning.  Should be a tough one I hope.

Did you follow along with last week’s squat challenge?  I hope so.  I had much better success with that, then during the prior week’s pull up challenge.

We’re going to move on and away from the bathroom too.  Instead of doing the mini-challenge each time I go into the bathroom, it’s going to be in the kitchen.  Since I cook a lot and mindlessly wander around in the kitchen I’ll be doing a lot of lifts I hope.

This week’s mini-challenge: kitchen lifts

I put a note on my fridge to do 10 kitchen lifts.  Anywhere I go in my kitchen I’ll see it.  I could only do the lifts when I open the fridge, but I choose to do them anytime I go into the kitchen.

Basically it’s a calf raise, but we’re calling it kitchen lifts today. 

You start standing flat on your feet.

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Contract your calf muscles and lift up onto your tippy toes.  If you want to make it even more challenging keep a weight near by and hold onto it while you do your lifts.

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I hope you join me in this week’s workout mini-challenge! 

I’m even going to try to do them at my work’s kitchen.  Every little bit helps me move more each day.

Cranberry Pulled Pork in Sweet Squash Boats

2 Nov

What’s better than coming home to a meal that has been simmering away all day?  Especially one that took about 3 minutes to throw together in the morning.

…..

Nothing right? 

Right.

When I saw the recipe for Cranberry Pork Roast I knew I had to make it.  I have a thing for pulled pork recipes.  It’s one of my favorite meats to have as left overs too.  Pulled pork is versatile, always delicious and oh so tender when made in a crockpot.

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Cranberry Pulled Pork adapted from PreventionRD

about 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb pork loin, fat trimmed off
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup  raisins
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a large plastic zipper bag, put dry spices and cornstarch and add meat. Shake to coat. Put contents into your slow cooker.
  2. Mix together cranberries, sucanat, raisins, water and lemon juice.  Pour on top of the pork.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for about 4. The longer you cook the meat, the more tender it will be.  Shred the pork with 2 fork in the slow cooker once done.

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Sweet Squash Boats

for 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 delicata squash
  • olive oil spray
  • sea salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice squash length wise and remove all seeds and strings.  Place on a baking sheet, flesh side up.  Coat with olive oil and sprinkle on sea salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 40-50 minutes, or until flesh is extremely tender.

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Top your sweet squash boat with cranberry pulled pork and a side of delicious sweet and savory Brussels sprouts (recipe coming soon) and you’ve got a filling, comforting fall meal.

Become a Pomegranate Pro

1 Nov

Pomegranate season is upon us and this year I’m taking full advantage of it.

Last year I got enough nerve to buy and open up my own pomegranate.  It wasn’t fun and it definitely wasn’t pretty.  This year I was determined to change that because pomegranates seeds (arils) are delicious and along with my produce delivery I received 2 pomegranates and I am not one to waste good healthy foods.

I decided I wanted to learn how to open a pomegranate the right way which would also be the easy and less messy way.  I searched the internet and watched many videos, all demonstrating varying ways to de-seed a pomegranate.  I took a chance on a method of choice.

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How to de-seed a pomegranate

1. Take a knife and slice off the top near the stem, about a 1/4 inch deep.

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2. Slice into segments (like an orange).  For a small pomegranate I sliced it into 4 segments, but for a large you’ll want to slice into about 6-7 segments.  You should see where the membrane separates the segments, so follow those lines if you can.

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3. Fill a large bowl with cold water.  Place a segment in the bowl.

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4. Begin to break off the seed from the while membrane.  The seeds will fall to the bottom while the membrane floats at the to of the water.  Repeat until you’ve done this with all of the segments.

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5. Once you’ve de-seeded all the segments, remove as much of the floating membrane as possible.

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6. Pour into a strainer.

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7. Dish up.  Now you’re ready to eat them up!

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This method is so much better than my original way of prying the seeds out with my fingers after cutting the pomegranate in half.  Look at the small mess I had – not bad.

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I’ve enjoyed munching on these seeds on their own, in smoothies, with veggies and also in a simple fruit salad.

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Oh and you can’t forget about on op of custard oatmeal.

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How do you like to eat pomegranates?  Any de-seeding tips you’d like to share?  Please do!

Registered and Running

1 Nov

It’s been decided.  I’m now registered for the January 23, 2011 Vancouver Lake half marathon.

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I was worried about committing to it knowing that I’d be running it alone this year, but I won’t be alone.  Thanks to those that said they’d be cheering me along during my training. 

I’ve very excited actually.  Training starts today and I’ll be going for a short run during my lunch break. 

I came up with a basic training plan, but will be getting something much better.  In my Fitness Testing class one of my fellow classmates offered to build me a training plan.  He’s a biking and running coach, so I’m stoked to have a specialized plan to work with. 

My main 2 goals for this half marathons are to:

1.  Not get injured – I’ve got to keep my Achilles issues under control this time.
2. Improve my time.  My best half marathon time is 2 hours 3 minutes and some change.  I want to be under 2 hours this time.

With the speed training I’ll be including I hope to accomplish this.  Fun training in the rain begins today!

Come back later today and become a pomegranate pro: how to easily de-seed a pomegranate.

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