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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!


Chicken Mustardos March 10, 2013

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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


Eat Like a Canadian January 26, 2013

Posted by starshipexercise in MIgraine, Recipes and Food.
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When I went to Victoria, BC with my dragon boat team over the summer for the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, I bought a bag of oatmeal for the hotel suite. I am an obsessive label-reader from way back, so of course I noticed that the recommended serving size was 1/3 cup uncooked oats.

Wait, what?

It was a popular brand of oats, the same brand I buy at home, and I’ve been using 1/2 cup for my serving size all this time. Did the American oats call for a bigger portion size, or had I been eating too much oatmeal due to user error?

When I got home, I rushed to the kitchen to check, and sure enough, my US-purchased oats recommended 1/2 cup portion size. I did some quick guesstimation (I don’t really do math) and concluded that the actual nutritional info for the US oats and the Canada oats are similar. Canadians just have a smaller portion size. Why? WHY, bitches?

This has been troubling me for months. We already have major issues with portion distortion, why are we, in the US, encouraged to start with a larger portion size to begin with?(Click here for some handy ways to judge portion size visually.)

And what’s the result? Are Canadians skinnier than Americans?

Why yes, yes they are. Obesity is an epidemic across the developed world, and Canada is no exception. However, current statistics (as of Q4 2012) show that while the US tops the list of obesity rates in first-world countries, Canada is at #6.

I decided to run an experiment. For one week, I ate a slightly smaller portion of oatmeal every morning. Instead of measuring out 1/2 cup, I only took 1/3 cup. You will never believe what happened: absolutely nothing. Not only did I not starve to a slow, horrendous death, I didn’t even feel more hungry than usual.

I started my oatmeal experiment about two weeks before the holidays. Coincidentally, we had a huge yoga class that morning. We did a very basic sun salutation series set to some very lovely (but generic) background music. Going into savasana, we reflected on the crowded room, the quieter than normal music, the less complex vinyasa flow; yet we could still claim our space on our mats and feel the sweat on our skin.  Our teacher’s exact words were “Notice how little you actually need.” That’s good advice, especially when we’re surrounded by spectacle and excess.

I have also recently discovered PB2. If you’ve never had it, look it up. You used to only be able to get it online, but I’ve been seeing it in stores lately. It’s powdered peanut butter, and they’ve removed a ton of the fat and calories as part of the process, but you still get a nice hit of protein. There’s a chocolate flavor, but it’s not super chocolately or super peanut buttery. I didn’t love the chocolate. My advice is to stick with the regular PB2. And of course, if peanuts are a migraine trigger for you, skip it entirely. I find I can have it once or twice a week, especially if I stick to a half portion (and avoiding any other potential triggers, and assuming the weather holds, it’s not that time of the month, I’ve gotten plenty of sleep and fluids, and well, you know the drill), without any repercussions.

PB2 Cherry Oatmeal

Servings: 1

1/3 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp PB2 powder (that’s 1/2 serving)
1/3 cup frozen dark, pitted, unsweetened cherries
dash of cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 cap full of vanilla extract (optional)
2/3 cup water, plus more if needed

Combine ingredients in large bowl. Nuke for three minutes. Stir, add more water if needed. Enjoy.

I’m Full of Beans! July 21, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food, Running.
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We have a saying in our house. When one of the cats goes bat-doo-doo crazy, we say “he’s full of beans.” If you’re a cat person, you know the manic behavior I’m talking about. Running sideways down the hall. Attacking everything in sight.

This morning, sometime after “oh my GOD WHAT TIME IS IT?” o’clock, Loomis Simmons tried to kill our feet. Never mind they were under the covers, and not even moving, he was gonna get ’em. Later, the beans continued in the front yard while he hassled me as I was trying to leave for dragon boat practice (he wanted to come, too!) and then again in the kitchen as I unpacked the groceries and he repeatedly jumped up on the counter RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME as if we do that all the time in our house. I finally threw a paper bag in the dining room with instructions to “KILL IT” and that got him off my case.

He was full of beans.

Now, when I say I’m full of beans, I don’t mean I’m on the manic side of a bi-polar mood swing, like Loomis Simmons. I don’t even mean I’m full of just any old beans. Actually, I’m full of lentils.

See, all legumes are potential migraine triggers. It’s a shame, too, because I love beans. I recently tried some canned cannelini beans to see if I could tolerate them, but no dice. Then at work this week, one of my coworkers mentioned that she also gets migraines, and that beans are a trigger, but she has found that if she starts with dried beans, just cooks a single portion at a time, and never uses canned beans, she’s fine.

Well, I just hopped my little tushy over to the bulk food aisle and got me some red lentils. I even found a recipe online for cooking them in the microwave (because I want my lentils RIGHT NOW) although they seem to come out dry so I’m still messing with the amount of water to use. Still, it’s pretty awesome. Lunch on Friday was .5 cup of lentils with cinnamon and turmeric (made from .25 cup dried lentils), a red new potato, and about a cup of sauteed beet greens. Mmmm. Jewish hippie shit, as my dear husband would say. Whatever. I know what’s good.

So, that was the first good thing that happened this week. I had lentils a couple of times, no headache. I’m gonna try black beans next, because they are almost as awesome as lentils.

The second good thing was I did three miles on Thursday and discovered my new favorite running song, We Will Rock You by Queen. Damn right, we will.

The third good thing was I found a recipe online for baked oatmeal squares. The original recipe is little more high-calorie than I would like, and there are a couple of potential migraine triggers, but I made a some modifications. Instead of milk, I used water. Rather than add .5 cup of sugar, I just sprinkled a packed tablespoon of brown sugar over the top before putting it in the oven. Instead of 1 cup of dried fruit, I added 2 cups of fresh.  And, I cut down the portion size.

I tried a piece this afternoon as a snack, and I have to declare this recipe delightful. It is so delightful, in fact, that I was forced to immediately stash the remaining servings in the freezer and run screaming from the house til they froze solid so I wouldn’t just keep eating til it was all gone.

I can live with being full of beans, but not 9 servings of baked oatmeal.  I think I might pop.

So, have freezer bags ready, or make this at your own risk.  You’ve been warned.

Really Effing Good Baked Oatmeal

Servings: 9

3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp ground cinnamon
.5 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites
1 cup water
.25 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tsp brown sugar, packed

Mix up dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another. Add dry ingredients to wet, and then fold in berries. Sprinkle brown sugar on top, and spread into a 9×9 baking pan, liberally coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. The blueberries will explode with delight, and the brown sugar will make a subtly sweet crust.

Enjoy, but not all at once. 🙂

Calories 139.4
Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 201.8 mg
Carbohydrates 43.0 g
Dietary Fiber 6.6 g
Protein 5.4 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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