WIAW #6: Yogurt and Peanut Butter and Ice Cream, Oh My!

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to another round of WIAW! I’m really getting into this habit and look forward to seeing what everyone over at Peas and Crayons is featuring for their eats. This morning’s November Project workout temporarily distracted me. I was loving the shout-out from Christopher MacDougall in the NY Times today…and then he showed up at our workout! Now that I’m home and showered and cozying up to a plate of pancakes, I have some major food photo drooling to do before I head to school. Without further ado, here’s a snapshot of my yesterday’s eats…

 

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast: Coffee, yogurt, a Braeburn apple, and an egg and goat cheese wrap inside a Food for Life brown rice tortilla. I received a package courtesy of Food for Life, and I’m happy to report that they’re a great new discovery. I love the Trader Joe’s kind, but the nearest TJ’s is one block south of my apartment – and about 1.5 miles to the west! Sometimes I buy groceries there and walk across Central Park, but in future I can find these at the natural foods store around the corner. The trick is to warm one for a minute in a pan before wrapping around your favorite filling. Then they’re nice and chewy and don’t break like a lot of gluten-free wraps!

 

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March Recap + Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower Recipe

First things first – happy last day of March! I woke up to the sun shining and birds singing, and though rain is predicted later today, I’m just soaking up these rays of spring as long as they last.

 

IMG_0597

 

I can’t believe March has come to an end. Literally up until yesterday, I thought this month was going to have arrived and be leaving like a lion, but it might just be a welcome lamb! And in between the bouts of wacky weather, my March seemed to slink by while I wasn’t looking. I celebrated the first anniversary of my first half marathon with a second stab at the New York City Half Marathon, Which also meant my second anniversary of running!

 

At the finish line - it's not sweat I'm covered in, it's pixie dust!

At the finish line – it’s not sweat I’m covered in, it’s pixie dust!

 

I conquered another challenge (much smaller in scope) without really noticing by making good on my February promise not to buy any new clothes, and doubled the time – it’s been about 9 weeks, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the funny thing is I’ve been tempted very little (except that suddenly I’m noticing all these holes in my admittedly well-worn running gear that seem to be telling me I should splurge on a pair of Wunder Unders…)

 

Seriously scrumptious side

Just one scrumptious dish

 

I got to share my feelings on food and its place in our culture, and with those a plethora of recipes that I have created and cooked in my journey to enjoying food as fuel for life. Some are old standbys and some new experiments. In the mood for a sweet and filling breakfast or snack? Try one of my oatmeal cakes, in flavors like Pumpkin Spice or Blueberry Muffin. Want a savory vegetarian main dish? Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu is here to help, unless you’re in the mood for a Savory Goat Cheese & Vegetable Tart. Want a more classic brunch? Go for Smoked Salmon & Quinoa Quiche. Need some more vegetable inspiration? Just keep reading for my last recipe of March, and keep on cooking!

 

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Meatless Monday: Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu

Tofu. If you’re an omnivore (and even if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian) you might love it, but you also might fear telling that to other people, because the tofu they see at the salad bar or in the package is white, watery, and tasteless. I first started eating tofu when I began to rely on Amy’s Kitchen meals to heat up for dinner during my crazy first year of law school. The meals were good, but not big enough for a proper dinner, and lacking in the amount of protein I craved. Bathed in tamale or enchilada sauce, the tofu was fine, and since it’s so much cheaper than the chicken or fish I would otherwise cook, it was perfect for a law student budget.

Since then, I’ve carved out time in my life to cook proper meals (though Amy’s are great for those nights when I’m hungry and in a hurry!) and discovered that tofu can, in fact, be appealing all on its own when made properly. My favorite way to eat tofu is when it’s baked or grilled and tossed with complementary foods for a hearty and delicious bowl. This is my first baked tofu recipe, a classic I return to time after time. I’ll pair it with quinoa, mushrooms, mirepoix, and Parmesan cheese for a satisfying dinner.

 

Baked Tofu with Parmesan Garlic Quinoa, Mushrooms + Mirepoix

Baked Tofu with Parmesan Garlic Quinoa, Mushrooms + Mirepoix

 

 

Ingredients:

14 oz extra-firm tofu

2 tbsp brown rice vinegar

3 tbsp gluten-free tamari (soy sauce)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp paprika

Olive oil (sprayable form preferable)

 

Instructions:

1. Slice tofu into 1″ thick slices and use dish towels to remove most of the moisture. Lie a towel flat on a plate, then arrange the tofu slices and place another towel on top, and press down. Repeat several times. (If you’re enough of a tofu aficionado that you own a tofu press to do this, then use that and I’m jealous of you.)

2. Cube the tofu slices into 1″ squares.

3. In a small bowl, combine the brown rice vinegar, tamari, and apple cider vinegar, along with 1 tsp each of the garlic and thyme.

4. Arrange tofu cubes in a plastic or glass container. Pour the marinade over the cubes and sprinkle remaining garlic and thyme on top. Cover the container, making sure it is well sealed, and shake a few times.

5. Place the container in the refrigerator and let sit for at least an hour, flipping it upside down halfway through the marinating process. Feel free to stretch out this step over several hours, or even overnight – it just needs at least an hour!

6. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ nonstick pan with olive oil. Place cubes evenly in the pan, ensuring that they aren’t on top of each other (squeezing the cubes in tightly is fine, they all just need to be touching the bottom of the pan).

7. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven, but let the dish sit in the oven for another 15-20 minutes to keep firm and warm. If you want to bake mushrooms with the tofu so they’re crispy, simply brush them with olive oil and put them on the tray when the tofu has 10 minutes left to bake.

8. Serve immediately on removing from the oven. Enjoy!

Serves 2-4 (for me, it’s two servings, but I like a protein-packed meal)

 

Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu with Mushrooms

Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu with Mushrooms

 

 

Do you try eating meatless every once in awhile, even if you’re an omnivore? What’s your favorite way to convince people that tofu is tasty?

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Dinner with My Dad at Luc’s Cafe

Fairy lights make everything magical

Fairy lights make everything magical

 

One of the best parts of spring break was getting to spend quality time with my dog Sasha. Another was enjoying leisurely dinners with my dad (he would agree with this order – she’s got the whole family trained!) We share a love of art and history, and I probably got so interested in both because I grew up tagging along to galleries with him by day and watching documentaries on TV together late at night. One night, we decided to head over to Luc’s Cafe, a French brasserie close to Main Street that’s always bustling. The outdoor area is really pretty, with twinkly lights all around.

 

 

 

 

Bistro accoutrements

Bistro accoutrements

 

Inside there are photos all around of classic French scenes, and there’s a large map of France on the back wall. I like the decorations here because they blend in with the atmosphere, and aren’t too garish. Just enough to be quaint!

 

 

 

 

 

Mussels + frites

Mussels + frites

As the snow melts and hope springs eternal that winter is falling away, my dad figured it was his last chance to get a steaming mug of French onion soup and a toasty croque monsieur. I’m always happy to have mussels marinière. It combines one of my favorite seafoods, mussels, with a delicious white wine and garlic sauce – and a little butter, because everything tastes better with a little butter! My portion came with frites, of course, which were cut shoestring-style. Everything was quite tasty – I couldn’t partake in his dishes, of course, but he helped me polish off that giant vat of mussels!

 

 

Dark chocolate is heavenly

Dark chocolate is heavenly

 

We were a little full for dessert, but after heading home and taking an evening stroll in the neighborhood with Sasha, we each found room for a delectable piece of dark chocolate from Bridgewater Chocolates, another Connecticut institution. I went for a square of dark chocolate filled with sea salt and caramel. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, it was a delicious meal and some great daddy-daughter time. What’s your favorite memory with you and your dad?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

WIAW #2

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to take two of What I Ate Wednesday! I’ll definitely be posting these the first Wednesday of every month, but since I’m blogging more and getting into the habit of photographing things (even the ones so delicious I don’t want to wait to taste them) I’ll do an extra round of WIAW every now and then. It’s so much fun to see what everyone else linking up at Peas and Crayons and Clean Eats Fast Feets is enjoying for their eats! This WIAW was prompted by a few things. First, the day documented here is the Tuesday after the NYC Half Marathon (even though it was Sunday, I was still in ‘eat all the food’ mode). Second, it was also the day that one of my very best friends in the world was scheduled to have her first child – and since she and her husband live on another continent, I spent a few hours waiting by Skype for some good news and snacking all the time! And third, it was during my law school spring break week so I had even more extra time to sit around and snack. (Also, this is officially my last spring break ever! Crazy.)

 

Greek yogurt with peanut butter, blueberry jam, a crumbled Peanut Butter Cuppin, and extra peanut butter!

A PB&J Crispy Cup!

Breakfast: I had the luxury of sleeping until 8:30 am (I’m on break, but I’m an early-to-bed and early-to-rise type. Anything past 9am is shocking these days!) I began my day with a mug of decaf Cake Boss Dulce de Leche coffee. Then I had a cherry Dannon Light n’ Fit Greek yogurt, with Barbara’s Brown Rice Crispies, fresh blueberries, and a little peanut butter mixed in. Basically, it was a peanut butter and jelly crispy cup of yogurt. I don’t typically go for the Greek yogurt that has fruit in it, as I prefer to mix in my own fresh fruit, but since I’m in Connecticut at my parents’ house, I get the benefit of a fridge full of Costco finds courtesy of my dad – like 24-packs of Dannon Greek fruit yogurts. I’m not complaining!

 

 

Today I took some fresh bananas and whipped up a new twist on my Banana-Maple-Oat Muffins, using one whole banana and a pouch of Gerber's pureed banana - they turned out so creamy and delicious!

A few little bites of heaven – this morning and this afternoon!

Mid-morning snack: For a few days after running a race, I never want to sit down to a huge meal. But I do want to eat little things constantly. I wasn’t in the mood for regular oatmeal (maybe it’s the vaguely springlike weather) so I decided to whip up a batch of muffins. We had a stash of Gerber’s squeezable banana packs because my mom and I thought they might make good on-the-go running snacks, but I don’t really like the taste. However, I thought they might work in muffins, so I used one whole banana and one pack of pureed banana in a twist on my Banana-Maple-Oat Muffins. They turned out creamy and delicious! I had two right from the pan.

 

 

A simple salad with fresh ingredients

My own twist on a Greek salad – the Frankly Fresh grape leaves are a great GF + vegan find!

Lunch: A bowl of romaine, carrots, and red cabbage, with Annie’s raspberry vinaigrette, feta cheese, a grape leaf, and grilled chicken. Both lunch and dinner today are totally courtesy of Costco ingredients. Some people might disparage big box stores (and they have for decades, considering how Tom Hanks talks about them in You’ve Got Mail) but it’s so much more cost-effective than a regular grocery store, ESPECIALLY for healthy whole foods. When I compare prices on, say, apples or lettuce, to those in a grocery store in NYC rather than in Connecticut, I cry a little inside. For example, a 3-lb (48 oz) bag of this Dole salad blend is $2.99 at Costco, whereas a 12 oz bag is $3.49 at an NYC Food Emporium or D’Agostino. Sigh. Moving on!

 

 

My pre-run snack smiled back at my today!

My snack smiled back at my today!

 

Afternoon snack: A couple more of those marvelous muffins, with fresh blueberries and a cup of decaf coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My own delicious and nutritious "spaghetti and meatballs"

GF “spaghetti and meatballs”

Dinner: For my main course, I had a bowl of gluten-free, high-protein ‘spaghetti and meatballs’ made with this black bean spaghetti we found at Costco. It packs a wallop of protein and complex carbs and tastes great with sauce and cheese – definitely not like typical pasta, so don’t expect that, but if you like black beans, I’d recommend giving it a try! I tossed in some mirepoix (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans) and garlic and mozzarella chicken meatballs, and topped the whole thing with Parmesan cheese. Filling and delicious!

 

 

Sweet and snappy

Sweet and snappy

 

Dessert: I kept it simple with a bowl of Angie’s sweet and salty kettle corn and a Pink Lady apple (you must know I’d squeeze one in somewhere!) A sweet treat to end the day.

 

 

 

 

 

What was your favorite meal today? Are you a snacker or do you stick to three square meals a day?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Vivacious Vegetables: Roasted Butternut Squash & Asparagus

Silver-white winter as it turns into spring…means it’s the perfect time of year to combine hearty winter root vegetables with the first sweet snaps of spring shoots. I love butternut squash and asparagus separately, but they’re even better together. So here’s a simple recipe to bring out the best flavors in both!

Perfectly oven-roasted

Perfectly oven-roasted

 

Ingredients:

2 cups butternut squash, cubed

12-15 asparagus shoots

1 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

 

 

 

A broiled salmon burger with roasted squash and asparagus...the entree is served!

A broiled salmon burger with roasted squash and asparagus…the entree is served!

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Arrange butternut squash on a sheet of tinfoil in a pan, or on a cookie sheet.

3. Brush olive oil over the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Bake squash for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. While it’s cooking, chop the asparagus.

5. Remove squash from oven and add asparagus around the cubes. Brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and return the pan to the oven. Set to broil and cook for 15 minutes more.

6. Serve while warm. Enjoy!

 

What’s your favorite veggie combination? Do you try to eat seasonally?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.