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Celebrating Saintyday the Jewish Way March 17, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food, Running.
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Normally, I poo-poo holidays named after saints. They’re not my holidays, after all. Was St. Patrick a Jew? I think not.

But this year, instead of closing the drapes, hiding in my living room, and watching the Science Channel all day, I signed up to do the St. Pat’s Dash. Not because I want to dress in sparkly green clothes or drink beer, but because my company is a sponsor and I wanted to show some support. Plus, I won a free registration.

I was not excited about the Dash when I woke up today. I paddled yesterday for the first time in weeks (I’m such a dope) and woke up with a very sore back. Also, it was cold, and when I looked up the weather it said it would be in the upper 30s and raining all morning. And I don’t like crowds. When they say 15,000 people sign up for this thing, they aren’t kidding. And anyway, it’s not even my holiday!

But I dragged my sore and scroogey ass over to Seattle Center anyway, and the universe rewarded me for the effort. The sun came out, and it turned out to be a pretty good run. I liked it better than the Magnuson series and the Seattle Marathon 5Ks. Oh, and people dress up in some wild costumes which is quite entertaining. I only saw one Pope,though. I suppose it would be pretty awkward to run in that hat, although the guys dressed as cans of Guinness didn’t seem to have a problem.

I finished ahead of the 6 pack of Guinness, by the way, so even though I wogged it, I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

Directions for a successful wog:

  1. Load up your trusty Nano with your favorite running songs.
  2. Run for a song.
  3. Walk for a song.
  4. Rinse and repeat for almost four miles.
  5. Go home and ice your knees.

Meh. I guess I still poo-poo the saintydays, but I figure since I Dashed in the morning, I might as well dine appropriately in the evening, all in the spirit and whatnot. But I can’t do most of the traditional foods and beverages one would expect on this day. Guinness, whiskey, corned beef – all migraine triggers.

Never mind the corned beef. I’m taking it back. Yes, I’m taking back March 17 for the Jews (and migraine sufferers). I made green kugel.

Green Lokshen Kugel

Servings: 9 (makes 18 kugels)

1 12 oz package Tinkyada Spinach Spaghetti style brown rice pasta
2 cups baby kale (packed, about 1/2 of a 5 oz package)
1.5 cups chopped red grapes
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Dash of fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins with a generous application of non-stick spray.

Break dry spaghetti into thirds and cook pasta according to package directions. Add kale for last few minutes of cooking. Drain. Do not rinse, but allow to cool (I am impatient and spread the pasta/kale mixture on a cookie sheet and stuck it in the fridge for about 10 minutes).

Beat eggs, add spices, grapes, pasta and kale. Fill muffin tins evenly. Spray tops with non-stick spray, and sprinkle with some additional kosher salt, if desired (I did).

Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool only as much as you have to before devouring.

Figuring two kugels per serving, that’s a mere 5 Weight Watcher’s PPV. Yenta go braugh!

Looking kinda Christmasy with the green pasta and the red grapes. Dammit!

Looking kinda Christmasy with the green pasta and the red grapes. Dammit!

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Chicken Mustardos March 10, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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3/16 Update – This makes a huge amount of food and could easily feed 6. Also, my husband reported that it needed more curry (What? There’s 2.5 tbsp in there already!) and could use some lemon. The sauce was thicker than I anticipated. Next time I’m going to try leaving out or reducing the amount of potato, which was really intended to be a thickener, and give him a lemon wedge on the side that he can sprinkle over the top. StEx

Many years ago, my husband introduced me to his favorite (maybe only?) family recipe, Chicken Mustard. Family lore tells of a happy accident where his mother messed up a recipe for Chicken Divan, apparently by forgetting the cheese and adding a whole jar of curry powder. Oops, it slipped.

If you’re familiar at all with Chicken Divan (or my mother-in-law), then you can probably guess most of the ingredients in Chicken Mustard: chicken, broccoli, disgusting amounts of mayo, several cans of cream of mushroom soup, and a jar of curry powder, all baked up in a casserole and served over white minute rice.

It should be noted that unless there’s mustard powder in the curry, there’s no actual mustard in Chicken Mustard. It just looks like mustard. My husband comes from a very visual family.

It should also be noted that Chicken Mustard is DELICIOUS. It is sick and wrong and one of the tastiest meals on the planet.  Unfortunately (or fortunately for our waistlines and general well-being), I discovered that mayo and cream of mushroom soup are both headache triggers, and so we haven’t had Chicken Mustard in years. (It’s probably just coincidence that I’ve lost 50 lbs since the last time I made Chicken Mustard. Really.)

Well, bitches, I’ve been pondering a way to make Chicken Mustard headache-safe. All the usual healthy substitutions for the mayo and creamy soup are still migraine triggers. Coconut milk? Can’t do it. Yogurt? Migraine city.

This will not come as a surprise to any of you, but once again I find myself reminded that I am in fact a genius. Yes, it’s true. I have figured out how to make a delicious, healthy, headache free Chicken Mustard. Below is my version of Chicken Mustard, which is really a version of Chicken Divan. Actually, the version of Chicken Divan my MIL was attempting was a quick version, utilizing canned soup and jarred mayo. So this is really a bastardization of a bastardization of a bastardization of Chicken Divan. Enjoy.

I give you: Chicken Mustardos.

Servings: 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes
1- 2 head(s) broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower
1 medium sweet potato
2.5 tbsp curry powder (make sure you get a blend that doesn’t include msg or any migraine triggers like dehydrated onion)

Preheat oven to 350.

Place cauliflower in covered microwave safe dish with 1/4 cup water and nuke til soft. Remove from microwave and nuke sweet potato til soft.

Saute chicken in batches, if necessary, in non-stick pan with a little dash of canola oil. The chicken should be a bit brown, but doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. 

Gently steam the broccoli for about three minutes. Place the broccoli and chicken in a 9×13 casserole.

Put cauliflower and it’s cooking water, the sweet potato (no skin), and the curry powder in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Mix puree into casserole with broccoli and chicken.

Bake, covered with foil, for about 30 – 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve as-is or over rice.

Calories 268.3
Total Fat 4.6 g
Cholesterol 73.1 mg
Sodium 153.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.6 g
Dietary Fiber 10.4 g
Protein 35.2 g

WWPP: 6

This Soup Stinks Good January 19, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in MIgraine, Recipes and Food, Uncategorized.
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I love fish sauce. It has this awesome funk to it that is so funky…it’s actually fonnnnn-kaaaay. Anyhoo, I like fish sauce a lot, but it’s a migraine trigger on oh-so-many delicious levels. It’s fermented. It may contain gluten (some do). It’s tasty. Ok, ok, flavor isn’t necessarily a migraine trigger. I’m just feeling sorry for myself.

Not all triggers are created equal. I can tolerate some foods in small quantities, like bananas and citrus. Too much, though, and wham! Headache. There are some foods, though, that I can’t eat any of and fish sauce is one of them. Or, maybe there is a safe amount, I just love it too much to restrict the amount I consume. Whatever, the result is a headache, so why split rabbits?

I do pretty well, food-wise, and although my long no-no list inspires sympathy every where I go, I generally don’t feel deprived. There are so many great foods I can eat, I see the restrictions more as a logistical challenge to be solved.

There are a few things, though, that I miss terribly. One of them is pho, which is rife with fish sauce. I even used to make my own pho (it’s EASY, by the way). I love it enough that when I first went on the elimination diet, I tried making fish sauce-less pho.

WRONG.

Pho really needs that stinky/sour/salty taste, otherwise it’s just soup.

Well, I’m tired of doing without. It’s taken about five years of hard thinking (or maybe I just needed five years to forget what real pho tastes like), but I finally came up with an acceptable alternative. While I was at it, I decided to skinny up the recipe by replacing the traditional rice noodles with shirataki noodles.

Disclaimer: don’t expect this to taste just like pho. You’ll be disappointed. It is delicious, but it’s a pho-alternative, not a pho-replacement. Also, I’m missing some garnishes: bean sprouts, fresh jalapeno and basil would all be traditional, and delicious. But I don’t have any of those today. And the right sauces would be sriracha (rooster), hoisin, and fish sauce, which I have but I can’t eat, so they’re not listed in the ingredients. But by all means, if you have the access and inclination, dress up your soup with all sorts of accessories.

Quick Faux Pho

Servings: 4

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
3 dried star anise
3 large cloves garlic, halved
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup unfiltered sake (do not use sweet cooking sake, you want the strongest, sourest sake you can find)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb total)
2 14 oz packages of Shirataki noodles (I use the yam variety, but the tofu ones are easier to find and are therefore more convenient if you can have soy)
lots of salt, to taste
1 cup shredded carrot (for garnish)
fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Preheat broiler. Toast ginger, cinnamon, anise, and garlic under broiler for one or two minutes, or longer if needed. Check frequently. Anise in particularly can go from zero to crispy very quickly.

Bring stock up to a simmer. Place ginger, cinnamon, and anise in a large coffee filter (contents should be loose), and tie off with one end of a long piece of kitchen twine. Tie the other end of the twine to one of the handles on your pot. Drop the garlic straight into the soup. Bring back up to a simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken breasts, sake, and lemon juice, and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Add salt and taste it to make sure it’s salty enough.

Meanwhile, break open those shirataki noodles. Drain them in a colander, rinse them well, and dry em off as best you can. You may need to cut them, sometimes shirataki noodles are really just one long noodle wound around itself a million times (sort of like every necklace in my jewelry box). Divide the noodles equally between four bowls.

Salt the soup, and when it tastes right, remove the chicken breast and garlic. Chop and divide between four bowls. Garnish with carrot and cilantro. Ladle the broth into each bowl, enough to cover the contents.

Stinks pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

Calories 338.4
Total Fat 6.1 g
Cholesterol 80.2 mg
Sodium 1,200 mg
Total Carbohydrate 16.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.3 g
Protein 33.9 g

Weight Watcher’s PPV: 6

Barney’s Pupik in the Pot September 16, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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Soup is a wonderful thing. It’s figure friendly, and convenient if treated right. I like to make a pot of soup on Sundays, portion out the soup in individual containers, and freeze them. I can then grab one each morning to bring for lunch. For a long time, my go-to soup was escarole with white kidney (canellini) beans and potato. Deeeelicious. Variety is the spice of life, however, and just as I’ve accepted the fact that my hair will never look the same two days in a row, so will two batches of soup never be identical. I still make a soup on many Sundays, but they are never the same twice.

Sometimes, I start with just a water and vegetable base. Sometimes, I have a chicken or turkey carcass in the freezer I can use as a base. You never can tell with me. I’m a crazy soup lady.

This week, I had some elderly vegetables left over from last week’s CSA box, so I decided to clean out the fridge. I found some slightly wrinkly Anaheim peppers, purple cabbage, red and gold potatoes, zucchinis, and two very geriatric ears of corn. I also scrounged a chicken back and wings from the freezer (when I see those free-range, organic whole chickens in the manager’s special section, I’ll buy em, butcher em up myself, freeze the pupik and the wings to use later, and roast the rest).

I almost didn’t include the cabbage, because I knew it would turn the soup purple and I thought that might be a bit off-putting. But then I thought “antioxidants” and put it in anyway. Yeah boy howdy, that sure is purple soup. It’s not lavender, people, it’s purple. It’s Barney the Dinosaur purple. It should come with a warning label recommending “dress entirely in black for consumption of this soup.”

Purple Pupik Soup

Servings: 8

Chicken back and wings
Small head of purple cabbage
Two ears of corn
1 lb red and/or gold potatoes
3 zucchinis
3 -4 Anaheim chilis
A few garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken in a pot (I threw it in still frozen) and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce and simmer for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 375. Cut cabbage into quarters, peel zucchini and cut in half length-wise, cut chilis length-wise and remove seeds, clean and quarter potatoes, remove husk and silk from corn, and peel garlic. Lay out everything on a couple of baking sheets prepared with non-stick spray, and roast for 45 minutes, flipping over once partway through.

Cut up roasted veggies into bite size pieces. Cut corn off of cob. Dump it all in the soup. Pick any chicken meat off the bones and throw the meat back in. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The longer you continue to simmer after putting the veggies in, the more purple it will be. If you ever wished a bad end for Barney the Dinosaur, this soup is the stuff of daydreams.

Calories 220.6
Total Fat 4.3 g
Fat 1.1 g
Carbohydrate 31.7 g
Fiber 3.9 g
Protein 14.8 g

I’m an Evil Genius June 30, 2012

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For over a year, I’ve been having low back issues.  Last year, I thought my back pain was a side effect of a migraine medication that I was taking.  I quit taking that med, did some PT, and it got better.  I was able to run again, and worked my way up to longer distances, peaking at 5 miles.  Then this past winter it became a problem once more.   Back to the doctor I went, and this time she ordered x-rays.

The x-ray didn’t reveal much, other than some minimal lumbar spondylosis (aka spinal osteoarthritis).  Yes, it’s minimal.  Very, very minimal.  Also, 20 years early.  But minimal.

When I whined about it to anyone who would listen, a friend of mine told me her father’s story.  He was diagnosed (at a much older age than me, just saying) with spinal osteoarthritis, and started taking gelatin.  Every morning he stirred a spoonful of plain gelatin powder into cold juice, and drank it down real quick.  Next time he went in for tests, they found that his condition had been reversed.

I’m so into gelatin now.

The problem is, it’s revolting.  Trying to stir it into cold liquid is impossible; it never dissolves, and just swirls around in the glass.  Between the time you stop stirring and start chugging, it’s already all fallen to the bottom, no matter how fast you move, and at the end you get a mouthful of gooey ground up cow hoof. Lovely.  The whole thing is just gross and I’d rather eat sea urchin.

But I’m an Evil Genius.  (I’m reminded of this by the button I wear on my jean jacket, a gift from my honey about 15 years ago.) Accordingly, I experimented with several concoctions until I found one that made the gelatin drinkable. It covers up the taste and texture completely.  And, when I calculated the nutritional info, I was surprised to find that it’s actually kind of healthy.

This drink even makes a good snack.  It’s surprisingly high in protein (thanks to the gelatin), and keeps me feeling full for a while.  Plus, gelatin is supposed to make the hair and nails stronger.

Mwah-hah-hah Mocha

Servings: One

1-2 heaping tsp instant coffee powder (I use an espresso powder, you may need more if it’s regular coffee)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp xylitol
1 tbsp unflavored beef gelatin
cinnamon, salt, vanilla to taste
1 cup hot water

The key to making this a nice drink instead of  a lumpy disgusting mess is to mix the dry ingredients together in a mug.  Nuke a cup of hot water and then slowly add the hot water to the dry ingredients 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly until you have a nice smooth slurry.  Add the vanilla, the rest of the water, stir and enjoy.  Try not to think about the fact that it’s the powdered bovine foot that makes it creamy instead of the more traditional bovine additive of milk.  See?  Evil.

Calories 65.3
Total Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 7.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
Protein 11.1 g

Note: I didn’t use salt in mine, so didn’t include that in the nutritional info.

I Don’t Have a Green Thumb…I Have a Green Middle Finger May 13, 2012

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I’m a conflicted girl this time of year. I long to eat fresh vegetables grown in my very own garden, but I’m much, much, much too lazy to do anything about it. Heck, these days I’m too lazy to even go to the store, I have a CSA deliver most of my groceries to my front porch.

I wasn’t raised this way.  My grandmother was an amazing gardener. The hours my brother and I spent helping her in the garden are some of my best childhood memories.  Then I grew up, and eventually had a house of my own, with a lawn and landscaping that needed maintenance.  That’s when I discovered that it wasn’t the gardening I loved, it was spending time with my grandmother.  Grandmom was awesome.  Gardening and yard work can suck it.  I sure enjoy the results, but I don’t want to do the work.

So, I had mixed feelings when I received a pretty little potted plant as a favor at a baby shower a couple of weeks ago.  I was assured by the gardeners in attendance that all I needed to do was transplant it into full sun in the yard or a bigger pot (because the tiny pot it came in was cute but too small), and it would grow like a weed and flower all summer.

I had the best of intentions.  Unfortunately, after two weeks of sitting in the same pot on my very dark kitchen windowsill, the plant wasn’t looking so pretty.  Seeing as how it was almost dead, I figured I had better do something about it, and since I was going to the garden store anyway, I decided to get a really big pot and some thyme, basil, cilantro, peppermint, tarragon, and dill to grow with my baby shower prize, in case the original plant didn’t make it. Ya gotta have a Plan B, right?  Between the trip to the store, the planting, the second trip to the store because I didn’t have enough potting soil, and the watering, the whole thing must have taken at least an hour. If you add on the time I spent thinking about it, that’s like, two weeks and one hour.  This is an awfully big investment of time for one puny plant.

I have since been informed that thyme is a bully, and cilantro has a tendency to bolt (which I think sounds pretty, but apparently ruins the flavor).  I’m also told it’s a perfectly legitimate strategy to stuff these herbs in the same container and wish them luck.  It’s not quite as dangerous as putting the wrong fish together in the same tank, but there might be a bit more tending than I had anticipated. So today, I took another three minutes out of my life to transplant the thyme into its own pot and cut back some of the cilantro.  Damn gardening is taking over my life.

Since I now have some stupid herbs growing (or more likely, dying) on my back deck, I may as well make use of them.  Here’s a tasty thing to do with cilantro, before the damn stuff bolts:

This Turkey Doesn’t Suck

Servings: I dunno

1 boneless, skinless turkey breast
1 cup water
2 tsp curry powder
.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp turmeric
.25 tsp cayenne pepper
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp  ginger powder
.25 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 – 5 garlic cloves, sliced

Spray inside of crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.  Place turkey breast inside and add water. Mix the spices together and sprinkle over the turkey breast.  Throw the cilantro and garlic in the crock pot, cover, and cook on high for four hours or low for 6 hours. I served this with steamed broccoli and brown rice, with the juices from the pot spooned over the whole thing.   My husband and I both agreed, it didn’t suck.

Since every turkey breast is a different size, I don’t know how many it serves.  And, since I’m too tired from all that gardening to research it, I have no idea what the nutritional information may be.  But, I do know that one 3 oz portion of plain skinless, boneless turkey breast is low calorie, low fat and high protein.  And with cilantro, how can you go wrong?

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