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Friday, April 18, 2014

Kale Salad

I might just as well call this Crack Salad because I think that's probably how addicting it is. My Saturday morning routine looks like this:  get up and have a cup of coffee, go to the gym and teach my Spin class, come home and make my kale salad. This makes enough for me to bring to work every day for lunch, and the occasional serving for dinner on rushed nights when there isn't time to make something else. My coworkers have threatened an intervention if I don't find another side for lunch, but I just can't stop! There are worse things to be addicted to than kale, right?

1 10 oz. bag of shredded brussels sprouts (pictured)
1 10 oz. bag of kale (pictured)
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 shallot, minced (see directions below)
1 t bottled, minced garlic
2 T Dijon mustard
1/3 C almonds (see directions below)
1 C finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by gently processing the bagged kale in a food processor until shredded, but not completely ground up, maybe 3-5 seconds; you might have to do 1/2 the bag at a time. When done, toss into a large bowl with shredded brussels sprouts. If you can't find shredded sprouts, shred them yourself in the food processor. Next, pulse almonds in food processor to chop up, just a second or so.

To make the dressing, I have cut down on work time by doing it in a magic bullet blender. If you don't have one, try a regular blender. If that doesn't work, chop shallots separately and add to the salad. Put shallot, oil, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into the blender and process until dressing becomes smooth.

Toss greens with dressing, nuts, and cheese. The sturdiness of the greens will hold up under this dressing for days, but if you like things a little crisper, feel free to add the dressing as you eat the salad. Store covered in the fridge.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Veggie Burritos

I am obsessed with this recipe! A friend recently made me these burritos that were full of veggies and had this flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on... I asked her how she made them and she said she just threw them together without a recipe. Upon further prompting, I discovered the magic ingredient was cinnamon! I tried my best to recreate what she made, and I think I did a darn good job! These are easy, portable, freezable, and very filling. I use a tortilla that my mom actually sends me from Minnesota because I can't find them anywhere here (pictured below). Try to find one with minimal ingredients that is low carb, low calorie, and high in fiber.

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 T Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
12 ounce container salsa (I used a mild one with onions and cilantro, pictured)
2 avocados, peeled and cubed
2 C brown rice
1 t cinnamon
1 C shredded mozzarella
10-12 tortillas (see picture)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Roast on a cookie sheet until tender, 20-30 minutes. Check and stir every 10 minutes to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, toss remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potatoes once slightly cooled. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Once everything is mixed (see picture - oooooo, colorful!) distribute about 1/2 C of mixture into one tortilla, roll and place seam-side down in baking dish. Repeat until gone (my batch made 11 burritos this time, I've gotten 12 before). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. I like to wrap these individually in foil and freeze. I grab one in the morning for my lunch and just reheat for 2 minutes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Banana Makeovers

Looking for something healthy to do with those ugly, brown bananas sitting on the counter? Make a yummy, portable snack that offers some protein and fiber! These muffins are free of unhealthy fats, but full of deliciousness. This recipe is also versatile. Want to sweeten them up? Add some chocolate chips. Want a little extra healthy fat and texture? Toss in some walnuts. Craving a big juicy steak? I can't help you there...

1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
2 eggs
1/3 C apple sauce
1/8 t pure stevia powder, undilluted (or 1 C sugar if morally opposed to stevia)
4 t fiber supplement, unflavored with no sugar or additives
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
4 bananas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray them with oil (I used coconut oil spray). 

In a large bowl, mix the oil, yogurt, baking soda, salt, eggs, apple sauce, fiber, and sweetener of your choice. Next, add 1/2 C of the flour and 1 banana. Mix again. Alternate flour and bananas, mixing each time until batter is creamy. Fill 12 muffin tins with the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one muffin comes out clean. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tangy Cucumber Salad

Let me start by saying that I've never been a huge fan of cucumbers... until I perfected this recipe. The health benefits of this superfood cannot be ignored, which prompted me to keep experimenting until I found a way to eat them. This recipe for cucumber salad is easy, tangy, refreshing, and absolutely delicious! Not convinced to work them into your diet? Read below for some reasons why you should make these a part of your balanced diet...

1. A great pick-me-up when you're feeling sluggish. Cucumbers contain B vitamins which can give you energy. Instead of a sugary beverage or vending machine Frankenfood, pick up a slice!

2. Cucumbers are 95% water, keeping you hydrated and feeling full. They also contain most of the vitamins the body needs on a daily basis. Just make sure to keep the skin on for the vitamin C.

3. Cucumbers have enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replace important nutrients lost from too much partying. Yes, that's right - cucumbers can cure your lingering St. Patrick's Day hangover!

4. With high water content, cucumbers are great for losing weight and staying hydrated. The dietary fiber in cucumbers helps rid the body of toxins and aids in digestion.

Throw together the recipe below in about 5 minutes for a healthy dose of this miracle vegetable! And, weighing in at about 100 calories per 1 cup serving, you can go back for seconds.

Tangy Cucumber Salad
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (try to get organic - cucumbers are heavily treated with pesticides)
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
3 T yogurt (I've used low fat and full fat varieties)
1 T vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slice cucumbers and onion very thin; I used a mandolin slicer. Cut tomatoes in half. Add cucumbers, onion, and tomatoes to the yogurt sauce and mix until the sauce is evenly distributed. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Where have you been?

Boy, is that a loaded question. The short answer is "To hell and back." The long answer is....

About a year ago, my husband and I embarked on a very long, very emotional, and ultimately devastating journey of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). I became pregnant last July after the successful transfer of the only embryo that was created in the process. After a few weeks of ignorant bliss, I got knocked down with hyperemesis gravidarum, which I think translates in English to "really crappy luck." I couldn't even keep ice chips down, and ended up hospitalized a few times. I was sure that I would lose the baby because he wasn't getting what he needed. But, strong like his parents, he pulled through it. Things progressed normally, my belly swelled and I felt him moving; I was certain he was doing some kickboxing in there.

On Thanksgiving morning, excited to spend the day with family and reveal our little guy's gender with cupcakes filled with blue frosting, I woke up very sick. We went to the hospital where we learned that our son's heart had stopped beating. Stunned and devastated doesn't even begin to describe the feelings we had, and still do today. I was admitted to labor and delivery and began the long induction process that would ultimately end in the still birth of a beautiful baby boy. We held him, kissed him, and told him how much we wanted him. Our parents had the privilege of doing the same. And finally, we all said goodbye. He was buried with my husband's grandmother, fondly known as "Grandma Bach." She herself could never have children of her own and made her family through adoption. She was an amazing woman, and I know she will care for him, wherever they are.

You might be asking yourself, "Why is she telling us all of this? I just want to find a good recipe for kale and a new exercise to strengthen my core..." And the truth has two answers. First, because I'm tired of feeling ashamed. Infertility is not something that you choose; it chooses you. It chews you up, and then it spits you out. Second, because being labeled "infertile" can make you feel totally and completely isolated. The fact that so many people are afraid to talk about it contributes to this isolation and shame. To lose a baby is heartbreaking on its own; to know that you can't just "try again" is another level of despair. There is no shame in having to resort to IVF, or any other method of starting a family. The people who should be ashamed and embarrassed are the ones who have children they never even wanted, and then don't take care of them. The other people who should reframe their thoughts are the ones who look at couples without kids and think, "They must be really selfish or not like children." If you know us personally, you'll never know anyone who wants them more.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start using this blog as a platform for infertility; this is the only post you'll ever read about it from me. But, I'm in a place where I'm ready to start writing again, and I have a strong desire to shed some light on a very dark subject. Maybe you think I should get a gold medal in the Oversharing Olympics, and I respect your opinion. But, if this post can help make even one person feel less alone, then my journey has had even more purpose.

Through this experience, writing about healthy eating and exercise felt like a lie. I couldn't stand the foods I was used to eating, and even though I exercised daily, I was so limited I could barely work up a sweat. I had to eat packaged garbage because the smell of any food cooking was enough to send me into dry heaves. I gained 20 pounds (15 pounds of water and 5 pounds of cheese) and couldn't even wear my wedding rings anymore. I wasn't telling many people because I was in the land of "this is too good to be true." So, I just looked like I'd let myself go. That was a part of pregnancy I wasn't prepared for. I was fit and strong from the gates, and I was going to be that pregnant lady others hated - cute bump in my spandex at the gym hearing things like, "You just look like there's a basketball under your shirt!" I was prepared to give birth at the gym, joking that there's even an OB who takes my Spin class. A lot of those feelings changed when my body started hoarding water and the only food I could tolerate was cheese.

In my recovery, I have turned to exercise for the kind of therapy no amount of money can buy. I have cried through runs and left blood and tears on punching bags. Every time has proven to show me that I am strong and my body is capable of doing anything. I think I feel a post coming on about the mental and emotional impact exercise can have on the body...

I don't know where this journey will take me, but I know that taking care of myself is what is getting me through it. Something I like to say to motivate people to work out feels really applicable to the rest of my life right now: don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done. And I'm not done yet.

In Good Health,
Gym Junkie Katie

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lean, Mean, and Green

One of the best ways to get a few servings of fruits and vegetables in one sitting is by making a smoothie. When I started experimenting with adding spinach and other greens to smoothies, I was a little nervous. A green smoothie? How will I get past the color to actually drink it? Won't it taste like....dirt?

Well, I've actually found the opposite! With the right amount of leafy greens, you can have a beautiful, sweet smoothie that gives you energy and tons of nutrients, without tasting like feet. And, this one is perfectly refreshing for hot summer days!

Lean, Mean and Green Smoothie
8 ounces coconut water
2 C greens (kale, spinach, collard or turnip greens, or a blend of them all)
1 banana
1/2 C fresh pineapple
1 scoop favorite protein powder (I use Sun Warrior Plant-Based protein:
Handful of ice cubes

Blend all in a blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy right away.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Granola Bar Muffins

I love experimenting with homemade granola bars! This is one of my favorite foods to try new things with. Granola bars are so versatile and easy to customize to suit your favorite flavors. And, they are the perfect portable snack for on-the-go nutrition. The recipe below has become a staple of mine. I've been making these in a muffin tin to have perfect portion control. And, this particular recipe produces a treat that stays together and resists crumbling!

Muffin Granola Bars
2 C gluten free oats
1 C gluten free oats
1/4 C almonds, chopped
1/4 C flax meal (ground flax seeds)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 C shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 C maple syrup
1 T coconut oil
1/4 C honey
1/4 C milk
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C egg whites
1/4 raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin tin with olive or coconut oil. 

Blend 2 cups oats in a blender or food processor until ground to flour consistency. Pour into mixing bowl with 1 cup oats (unground). Add flax meal. Put almonds in blender or food processor and use chop feature until you have small pieces. Add this to oats, oat flour and flax meal. Add cinnamon and coconut. Combine syrup, oil, honey in small saucepan and melt on stove until runny (this can also be done in microwave). Add runny mixture to dry ingredients. Add milk and egg whites. Stir all to combine. Add raisins and mix well. Fill muffin tin with mixture; it should fill 12. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. These can also be frozen to last longer.