Holy, holy guacamole

We have been on a humongous avocado kick lately. In smoothies.

I. Can't. Stop.

I. Can’t. Stop.

Eggs. Salads. Buying Chipotle with guacamole…I mean, making it homemade. Yes, we had some burrito bowls this week, but we DID make homemade guacamole. I know what you’re thinking. Making your own seems like a lot of work…lots of chopping. Well, the way we do it here at COTR, delicious guacamole will be in your belly in 10 minutes.

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I. Know. The great thing about making your own guacamole is you can make it on Sunday and use it during the week. Mine doesn’t usually last that long, but you could give it a try! 🙂 Use a dollop on a salad. Have guac with eggs and salsa for breakfast. Eat it as a snack with some blue corn tortilla chips. Or just stuff your face with plain old guac. It’s so versatile.

If you are able to control your inner guac-beast and have leftovers, simply pack the container with saran wrap tightly against the guacamole, pushing out any air bubbles and stick it in the fridge. This will prevent that green beauty from turning brown and grossing you out.

10 – Minute Homemade Guacamole

3 avocados, cored and scooped into a bowl
3/4 red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, pressed finely or minced
Juice of 3 limes
Kosher salt, to taste

Mash the avocado, onion and garlic in a bowl until well combined.

Mashing hazard. Note to self: aggressive excitement  does not make more guacamole.

Mashing hazard. Note to self: aggressive excitement does not make more guacamole.

Add the lime juice and continue mashing. Now, it’s time to taste test. If needed, add additional lime juice and/or salt to your taste preference. A bit of salt does bring out all the flavors. And that’s it! Bring to a party or selfishly hold that bowl with love and a mouthful of guac. Not that I know from experience or anything…

#drool

#drool

Find your strong

In two weeks, Brett will run 50 miles. 50 MILES. It’s amazing how quickly time passes once you sign up for a big race. It’s a physical challenge, but as all runners know, the real challenge is an uphill mental battle. He’s been one tired guy lately and though he’ll tell you differently, I think he’s a little nervous. I would be, too. So, this morning we had a chat.

Brett and I always wear two bracelets on our right hands.

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we never take these off

After attending an inspiring Saucony event a few years ago, we wear one colored bracelet that reads “Find your strong.” We were going through a rough patch at the time and made a promise to one another. Whenever we felt as though we were struggling, we would look to each other. As corny as it sounds, Brett is “my strong” when I’m going through a tough time and vice versa. The other bracelet is for Homes for our Troops – to remind us that we’re a part of a bigger cause – building seriously injured veterans new homes. This morning, I reminded Brett of our promise. “I’m your strong and I’ll be right there on the sidelines waiting for you. You can do it. I believe in you.” I never saw a bigger smile 🙂

Sometimes we all need that reminder from someone we love.

To top off the day, I made him a brand new smoothie. It combined some of his favorites: Blueberries, avocado and unfiltered apple juice. Great for some post workout sustenance!

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

1 bunch spinach

1 cup unfiltered apple juice

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 frozen banana

Half of an avocado

1 cup frozen blueberries

A few Tbs unsweetened coconut 

Add water if needed

Blend the spinach, juice and chia seeds for at least two minutes until completely smooth.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until fully combined. If the smoothie is too thick for you, just add some water and continue blending. Brett “likes to be able to drink his smoothie.” I, on the other hand, like a thicker smoothie. It reminds me of a frozen dessert. So sue me. Enjoy your preference!

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zipping the wallet, eating the beans

Well, I’ve been dreading this moment for a long time. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off, listening to my good shoulder angel side. Needless to say, I gave in. We’re now the proud (and anxiety-ridden *cough* me) owners of a 2014 Subaru Forester.

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I think I’m going to call her Samantha. Classy and sleek. I can always shorten it to SAS for Samantha the Subaru. She is quite sassy. Brett wanted to call her Bertha. I’m trying to forget that came out of his mouth. Anyway, I’m open to other (reasonable) suggestions.

With buying a new car comes a lot of financial responsibility. That means we’ll be zipping up our wallets wherever we can to lessen the blow to our bank accounts. I don’t care what other people say. You CAN eat well on a budget. Brett and I will be posting tips here and there as to how we’re cutting back without negatively impacting our nutrition.

So, here we go. Numero Uno: BEANS

Beans are a protein-rich source filled with fiber and antioxidants. They’ve been shown to help aid in weight loss on a healthful diet. Can’t afford to pick up a grass-fed steak on your grocery trip? Buy a can of beans…89 cents. If you do buy canned, be sure to rinse the beans thoroughly before using. You can buy dry beans in bulk as well. Brett’s been using our slow cooker to cook them and it’s working great! On a plant-based diet, we’ve been incorporating beans quite a bit. Beans are delicious for soup, chili, salad, and can be easily incorporated into breakfast. That’s right, breakfast. My friend Jon passed along this delicious recipe as a breakfast staple he makes frequently.

Jon’s Bean and Avocado Breakfast

  • 1/2 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh (not canned) diced tomatoes. 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1 whole avocado, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, diced (or more if you’re spicy)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp lemon juice. Or lime juice.
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Optional
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced (As Jon mentioned to me, he favors this breakfast on the weekend so he doesn’t scare people away with his breath)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of fresh mozzarella

I have yet to try Jon’s version, but it sounds delicious. I made a variant for lunch that I pretty much attacked face first. I’m serious. It was that good.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad with Jalapeño Lemon Dressing (Serves1)

A bowl full of mixed greens (Don’t be shy, stuff that bowl full!)

6-10 halved cherry tomatoes

Half of an avocado, diced (Easiest way to do this is: 1) Half the avocado, 2) Slice the half both ways to form cubes, 3) scoop out with a spoon)

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slice and scoop!

1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed thoroughly

Dressing:

1 small jalapeño, minced

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 Tbs EVOO

1 tsp dijon mustard

sea salt and pepper

Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

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Combine the salad ingredients in a serving bowl and add the dressing to your liking.

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Thanks, Jon!

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Dive in 🙂

 

When should you eat?

This morning marked my return to running. I didn’t go for very long, but I ran without knee problems. My discussion with Brett afterwards confirmed that running needs to be a part of my life. So, we talked. Well, to be more accurate I was talking at him while on a runner’s high:

Brett: “Thank GOD you ran today.”

Me: “What does that mean?”

Brett: “You have been one CRANKY biddy.”

Me: *ignores statement* *resumes talking*

There is something to be said about the rush that comes from post-run endorphins. If you’re new to running, I would highly recommend waking up a little early on a weekday to go for a run. I guarantee you’ll feel more productive during your work day.

During my miles, I was thinking about my meal plan for the day. One of my co-workers asked me yesterday: “I wish someone would just tell me what and when to eat, ya know? When should I eat?”

Well, as Brett and I always like to say, you should eat foods that make you feel good about your body and energize you. As for when? In order to keep your metabolism stimulated throughout the day, you should be eating every 2 to 3 hours. If I eat breakfast at 7:30am, I usually set my phone alarm for 10:30/11am to have a small meal like an apple with 1 Tbs cashew butter. For lunch around 1pm, I do the same thing. Sometimes work can be overwhelming, so my phone reminds me. You can also go by how your body feels. If it’s been longer than 3 hours, I usually start feeling like I have less energy. Aim to eat 5-6 meals a day – I have two smaller meals (mid-morning, late afternoon) and B, L and D. At first it may feel as though you’re eating a LOT, but once your body adjusts, you’ll begin to feel added energy throughout the day.

Since Friday night would just be Fred and me, I decided to make one of my new favorite meals, courtesy of our new subscription (thanks, Mrs. D!) to Vegetarian Times.

 Red Quinoa Bowl with Avocado, Sweet Potato and Chimichurri (Serves 4)

2 large sweet potatoes, skin-on, finely diced (1 ½–2 lb.)

1 tsp olive oil

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 small avocados, peeled and sliced

Chimichurri:

¼ cup olive oil

3 cups loosely packed Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped

3 Tbs lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced 

½ tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat your oven to 425. Toss the sweet potatoes with oil on a large baking sheet, and spread in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper and roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Be sure to stir/flip them half way through otherwise they will not be crisp!

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I made larger chunks by accident, whoops! Still delicious though

Remember for quinoa – 1 cup quinoa : 1 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. I sometimes add a bit of lemon juice/veggie stock to the water for added flavor. Red quinoa (along with black and white quinoa) is a protein superhero! In Brett’s Alton Brown voice:

“Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids. You need a healthy supply of amino acids in your diet in order to repair your muscles.”

In Dana language, quinoa is a GREAT post workout meal 🙂

For the chimichurri: Mix together oil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Brett and I  just finely chop the parsley and mince the garlic, but if you prefer everything to be blended, simply use a food processor.

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…our way is better :p

Divide the sweet potatoes and quinoa among two bowls (for dinner if eating for two) and put the other servings in tupperware containers for lunch the following day. Top with 3 Tbs chimichurri and a few slices avocado.

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and a little wine won’t hurt

Goodbye avocado, hello roots

Dogs can be monster jerks sometimes. If you’re a dog owner, you know exactly what I mean. One moment is cuddles and happiness, you leave the house, then come back to a hurricane mess in your house.

Well, Fred Astaire decided to use his dancing skills to reach all the way in the back of our kitchen counter to get to one of Brett’s favorite foods: avocados. How many did he eat? THREE. He left me the cores and some nice green stains on our white carpet.

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Like I said, a monster jerk

Telling Brett will be quite the scene. You can imagine all the four letter words that might come out of his mouth. Our dog is the KING of dog shaming. He’s currently upstairs on his bed ignoring me for ruining his fun.

After cleaning up, I was excited to get to making a root soup. Soup is the word this week. What can I say? I’m on a kick. I was going to use rutabaga (a root vegetable that’s a cross between a turnip and cabbage) and parsnips with a cool recipe I found. Little did I know that rutabagas are not quite in season. When I found this out at Whole Foods this past weekend, I shrugged and said “eh, I’ll figure it out when I get to that day of the week.” Uhhh…I forgot, heh.

I’m usually a girl that goes by recipes and makes variations based off of recipes. I’ll use base ingredients and make the rest up on my own. Brett is really good at making dishes from scratch. Whelp. I’m gonna take a shot and see how it goes…

Carrot and Parsnip Soup (Serves 4)

1 lb carrots, peeling and chopped

1/2lb parsnips, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock, 1 cup water (usually you can squeeze 4 cups out of a box of stock. If you’d like to open another one, to add a 5th cup, go for it. Otherwise, just use water.)

2 cups onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp turmeric 

A dash of cayenne

1 tsp fresh thyme

sea salt and pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs miso mixed with 1 Tbs warm water

On medium heat in a pot, cook the onions until translucent, then add the garlic. Stir for another few minutes and add the seasonings. Stir to coat. Add the carrots and parsnips and sauté for a few additional minutes until soft. Add the lentils, veggie broth and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover to cook for 30-40 minutes.

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hello, roots!

With an immersion blender, break up the ingredients until smooth. Add the miso, stir and serve.

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here we go…

Once I was half way through (umm…yum, by the way!), I thought about adding pepitas to the top for some crunch. I would highly recommend pepitas or pistachios as a finishing touch. Delicious!

pita, pita, pita

For anyone that went to Syracuse University, I’m sure you became very familiar with Pita Pit on Marshall Street. If you didn’t, shame on you and your taste buds! If I overdid it on anything in college, it was…

eating pitas.

When I say the words “Pita Pit” around Brett, he cringes. Most of our “let’s eat out tonight” conversations went like this:

After dance rehearsal…

Brett: “You must be hungry. Want to go eat?”

Me: “Pita Pit?”

After class…

Brett: “I’m hungry.”

Me: “…when are you not hungry? Want a pita?”

On a Friday night…

Brett: “I don’t feel like cooking. Wanna order?”

Me: “…pita?”

Obviously, I had a bit of a problem. After moving away, pitas became a distant memory…until this weekend.

You ever have one of those out of nowhere cravings? The kind that consumes your thoughts and you have to have it? When we were planning our menu this week, it hit me like a freight train.

Me: “Let’s…make…..PITAAAAAS!”

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Brett making fun of my craving excitement/crying out for rice – Asian, much? heh

The Addict’s Veggie Pita (Serves 4)

2 red bell peppers, washed

1 can chickpeas, washed thoroughly

1 avocado, diced into chunks

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Mixed greens (enough to stuff 4 pitas)

Dressing:

1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs EVOO

 lemon juice, to taste

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

4 or 5 basil leaves, chopped finely

Salt and pepper, to taste

In our house, we like to roast our own peppers. Believe me, it’s worth the extra time. Put your oven on broil. Place the 2 bell peppers on a baking sheet. Keep a careful eye on them.

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Rotate with tongs so all the sides are blistered

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…not done yet

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Make sure all sides are blistered and bubbly when touched with tongs

Remove from the oven and drop in a brown paper bag for roughly 5 minutes. This is a neat trick that makes it easier to strip the skin from the peppers. When they’re cool enough to touch, get to work.

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Removing the skin gets messy

Cut open the peppers and remove the guts. Slice into thin strips and set aside.

Prepare the dressing in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

0-3Cut the pita in half (you can use kitchen scissors) and start stuffing. Pour a small amount of dressing in each pita half or use a small bowl for dipping. For leftovers, simply put the ingredients in a container as you would a salad and put some dressing in a small glass jar. Either make the pita at work or if you’d rather not get messy, eat the ingredients as a salad and have the pita on the side.

All cravings aside, this dish is healthy and tasty. Enjoy!

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PITA!

Can you get that? I can’t move.

There is something to be said about how amazing it is to feel sore after a tough workout. 23 miles is no joke. Most people might think that we’re crazy. In fact, many of my co-workers at last night’s 4th of July cookout looked at  me like I had a third eye when we shared our long distance trail adventure. Some might think we’re weird. I love feeling the physical aftermath of an intense run.  “You enjoy feeling like you got hit by a truck? What’s wrong with you?”

My response: “You don’t? What’s wrong with YOU?”

Since Brett is built like a long distance Kenyan runner, he barely feels any impact from yesterday’s activities. He’s freakish like that. You better believe I played up “my pain.”

Some of this morning’s utterances:

“Babe, would you mind getting the Ibuprofen? It hurts to tackle the stairs.”

On going for a recovery jog: “I’m just gonna stay here on the couch. You go.”

“Wanna make brown rice flour banana pancakes?”

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Man, I’m pretty lucky

I am not setting a very good example of proper recovery in today’s activities. Normally, I’d be all over the foam roller and out on an easy, recovery jog like the best of them. Today, though, I’m taking the opportunity to bask in my sore haze.

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…so is Fred

Yesterday, I ran the farthest I have ever run and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my best friend at my side. Brett has always been my biggest fan and motivational support. He knew I was “milking” my soreness for all it was worth this morning (and he also knows I love feeling sore), but he still took care of me and couldn’t stop telling me how proud he is of what I accomplished yesterday. That, my friends, is the sign of someone who loves you unconditionally. My aching muskulls (yes, muscles are pronounced muskulls around here) and I are feeling truly blessed.

Since Brett is off working until later this evening, I’m whipping up one of our favorite summer dishes to thank him for his unwavering support and his stellar running yesterday, too! I’m sure you will love it as much as we do.

Loaded Quinoa Bowl

2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 15oz can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed (make sure to rinse well in a strainer if using canned beans), can use chickpeas too

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup fresh cilantro (adjust to your taste)

2 avocados, pitted and peeled

Fresh lemon juice, to prevent avocado from browning

Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Dressing:

Juice from 2 limes

Zest 1 lime

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup brown rice vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare quinoa – 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water. Sometimes, we substitute some veggie broth or additional lemon juice to cook the quinoa – it gives it a richer flavor. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. It usually takes roughly 15 minutes.The liquid should be mostly absorbed.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, combine beans, tomatoes and cilantro. Dice the avocado and add some lemon juice to keep from browning. Set aside until the end.

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Tip: Slice the avocado into chunks before removing from skin. Use a spoon to scoop out.

Add all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy. Add quinoa to the bean mixture and top with the sliced avocado.

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mmm avocado

Drizzle with dressing, mix and serve. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Delicious and filling – Enjoy!