Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Funday=PASTA!!!

I have to say, I love Sundays even if they signify the end of the weekend and the beginning of another workweek.  Today's weather was absolutely perfect for a mid-morning run.  I took out to the streets of Hoboken and completed a 10 mile run in under an hour and a half.  My run was quite the scenic run being I ran along the Hudson River as well as many of Hoboken's tree lined streets.  This is my farthest run to date and I was thrilled to have completed such a run, though my feet are paying for it now!  The next recipe I want to share with you is tonights dinner.  Being Italian, I love pasta, cheese, bread... okay, I love food PERIOD.  Sundays have always been reserved for "pasta night" in my family and since I could never go with pasta, I had to come up with a healthy option so I could "have my pasta and eat it too!"  This dish is low in fat, high in protein and packed with whole grains.  It's also relatively simple to prepare and cook, which is always a plus especially when time is of the essence.  

  • Fresh Basil (Chopped)
  • Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
  • Jumbo Shrimp (Preferably cleaned & tails off) (Fresh or frozen both work fine)
  • Fresh Sea Scallops
  • 1 Box - Multigrain Pasta (Any shape/size is fine.  I love using Ezekiel Brand Whole Sprouted Grain Pastas, but they aren't as readily available in some super markets.  Today I used Ronzini Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Rotini )  
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 Gloves Chopped fresh garlic
  • 3 Pints Grape tomatoes 
  • Oil Olive

  1. What I like to do first is to halve the cherry tomatoes and put them in an oven safe tin or glass tray.  Add the parsley, basil, some salt and pepper and fresh garlic to the tomatoes.  Drizzle the tray with some olive oil and stir to combine all the ingredients.
  2. Place tomatoes and herbs in oven on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
  3. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  4. Next, grill the shrimp & scallops.  For this step, I used a standard outdoor BBQ grill, but you can always use an indoor electric grill or stovetop grill pan, or even simply sauté the seafood.  In my case, I set the grill on HIGH, sprayed the grates with Pam Nonstick Cooking Spray, and grilled the scallops and shrimp about 3-4 minutes on each side, until they each have visible grill marks, the shrimp appear "reddish/orange" and the scallops are no longer translucent in appearance.
  5. At this point, your water should have a rapid boil and it's time to throw your pasta in.  Season the pasta by adding a few teaspoons of salt to the water. Be mindful of the cooking time since each and every pasta varies.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the roasted tomatoes and grilled seafood.
  7. Once the pasta is finished cooking and drained, place some pasta on your plate and top with the tomato and seafood mixture.
  8. As depicted, once plated, I add a little fresh basil and some shredded Parmesan Romano cheese.  

As you can hopefully see, this recipe calls for a very small amount of oil and the pasta is balanced with the light grilled seafood to make a wholesome, hearty meal that is full of essential vitamins and protein that the body needs after a long run (or even after a lazy Sunday on the couch).  This recipe lends itself to many variations and is simple enough to make for dinner parties or even a romantic evening with the beau.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pump & Run 2012 Hoboken, NJ!

Since I want to incorporate both healthy eating and exercise in this blog, my next post is dedicated to my first 5k which I completed this past weekend.  I signed up for Hoboken's "Pump and Run".  This entails a bench press competition mixed with a standard 5k run.  The bench press challenge was to do as many repetitions as possible without stopping of a given weight.  The men's bench press weight was 145lbs and the women's was 65lbs.  For every rep, 20 seconds would taken off your 5k run time to get your "overall" time.  I had in mind to do a few practice bench presses in the week or two before the competition, but wasn't able to get around to it, though I was able to do a few practice runs both indoors and out.  Waiting in line to do the bench press, I saw many young women doing quite a few reps which intimidated me.  My boyfriend was there to give me a pep talk and assured me I would do fine!  I finally arrived at the bench, palms sweaty, heart racing, and gripped the bar.  To my surprise, I was able to complete 10 repetitions.  Sure it wasn't the 20 or 30 reps some of the other women did, but for me, at that moment, that was my best and I was happy to have gotten 10 done!  We had some time before the run was to begin, so we walked up to the pier and waited in the 50 degree rainy weather.  I was anxious to start to the race and growing cold waiting.   Finally, around 11:30am we were off!  My hands were freezing and I struggled to keep moving scared to fall behind.  I passed a few people here and there but told myself to hold off until the final stretch so I could end with a nice long sprint.  After passing the halfway mark my confidence was up knowing I was halfway there.  Once I saw the finish line in view, I began to pick up the pace.  I saw my boyfriend cross the finish line and there I was, 6 seconds behind him with a finishing time of 21:24.  This was another shocker to me since when I practiced on my own, I was running the 5k in 25+ minutes.  It was really a good day for me because despite my hesitation and nerves, I was able to put up a commendable performance and impress even myself.  The best was after the race, a fellow runner came up to me and told me she was trying to pass me up, but I had her beat.  I love making progress in all aspects of life and completing my first 5k will be a memorable experience for me.  Being out there in the rain, with 130+ other participants, my endorphins were high and the adrenaline was surging throughout my body.  I love competition, but at the end of the day you're only competing against yourself.  There's no sense in attempting to measure up to anyone or anything other than yourself.  You know your limits, set your own goals and strive to achieve them by any means possible.  "The race is long, and in the end it's only with yourself."   

Turkey & Veggie Burgers

The first recipe I'm going to share with you is my recipe for turkey burgers.  In the past I enjoyed 100% beef burgers like most kids and adults still do today.  As I got older and began to shy away from consuming large amounts of red meat and other less lean meats, I began to experiment with making ground turkey burgers.  My experimentation eventually evolved into what are now ground turkey, ground chicken breast* and veggie burgers.  These burgers take a decent amount of prep time (about 30 minutes) but are figure friendly and definitely worth all the chopping!  I'm not big on measuring ingredients while I cook, so the measurements I present you with are always a rough estimate.   Feel free to add or subtract ingredients based on your own taste buds and nutritional needs or limitations.  My goal in sharing these recipes with you is not to have you making things exactly as I do, but rather have you explore the many options available to you to cook and create scrumptious, figure-friendly meals!  So here it is, my first post, my first recipe! I hope you find time to make this and please share your comments to help me make this recipe and blog as a whole, the best it can be! 

  • 1 Pkg Ground Turkey (I use 99% Fat Free) *If your making A LOT like I usually do, I use 1 Pkg Ground Turkey and also 1 Pkg Ground Chicken Breast
  • 1 Yellow Onion Diced
  • 3 Large Portobello Mushroom Caps diced small 
  • 1 Medium-Large Green Squash Peeled and grated using a standard cheese grater
  • Small amount fresh chopped garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 Bag Fresh Baby Spinach cleaned & dried
  • 1/4 c. Ground Flax Seeds (This is used in place of bread crumbs)
  • 1 Large Egg beaten (Preferably brown/organic)
  •  Salt & Pepper
  • Few tablespoons olive oil to coat frying pan
  • 1/4 c. water/low sodium chicken stock
  1. Combine ALL ingredients except olive oil in large bowl.   Mix with hands until well combined and mixture begins sticking together.  (Mixture will be slightly sticky, but we don't want to add too much flax seeds/bread crumbs to keep the already lean meat from becoming too dry after cooking)
  2. Wash hands and place oil in large frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Once oil is hot, form "burgers" by hand and place them into the pan.  I try not to make mine to big or too think so that they cook rather uniformly.  I put about 4 in a pan at a time.
  4. Let the burger cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes until it had a nice brown sear, then flip and repeat for about 4-5 minutes.  
  5. After that I like to lower the heat a little and cover them and cook for another 2-3 minutes to ensure the inside is fully cooked.
  6.  After this, remove the cover and place the burgers on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil that may be present.
  7. Repeat this until no mixture remains.
I enjoy mine with ketchup and occasionally a piece of light Jarlsberg Swiss Cheese! The picture shown is with a simple salad and a honey Dijon vinaigrette. 

Keep in mind rather than frying, you may bake the burgers on a greased cookie sheet for about 20-25 mins.  You can attempt making them on a standard BBQ grill, but be careful they may easily fall apart on the grill!