Sunday, April 27, 2014

Guest Post: Mark's Cheatin' Pizza

I am excited to welcome someone very special to the wonderful world of recipe blogging.  He has been a steady reader since my blog's inception over four years ago, and has recreated several of my recipes.  He grew up on hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese, but he has always loved experimenting in the kitchen - from his famous "gut busters" (Fritos with chili and cheese), to his "perfect" Bisquick pancakes, he makes everything his own. 

Please welcome the greatest soccer coach, bike ride partner, math homework helper, and my biggest dad :)

Guest Post by Mark Burns: Mark's Cheatin' Pizza

This is a derivative of Lindsay’s Pita Pizza.  We made her concoction once, and loved it so much, we decided to try it again using some standard pizza combinations.  We made six pita pizzas – four were Canadian bacon with pineapple, and two were chicken and garlic.   I wanted to go with pepperoni and olives as well, but my sous chef / personal assistant / wife squashed that idea.
·       6-pack of pita bread of your choice
·       24 oz jar of Marinara Sauce (we’re in our 50s, so we used Ragu Old Country)
·       4 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (Lindsay suggests fresh cheese, but I don’t know what that is.  We bought some packaged “low moisture – part skim” cheese)
·       A package of 30 slices of Canadian Bacon.  Or, if you’re from Canada, 30 slices of “back bacon.” 
·       8 oz of grilled chicken strips.  Now, it would probably ideal to grill some chicken and cut it into strips or small chunks, but this is, after all, “cheatin’ pizza”
·       1 garlic
·       Approximately one cup of cubed pineapple.  You know, the stuff at the grocery store in the roundish plastic containers.  We considered a real, whole pineapple, but that would be too much work, and too much pineapple, for this small endeavor.   As it is, you’re going to have some leftover pineapple

Prepare the Toppings
It is best to do all of this preparation first, because it can take up to 20 minutes.

·       Cut the chicken strips into small chunks of your choosing, perhaps ½ - ¾ inch wide and long.
·       Cut the pineapple into a similar size.  You won’t need that much, so don’t overdo it
·       Chop the garlic into similar sizes as well.  You’ll probably only need one clove per pita pizza, so consider how many chicken and garlic you are making.  The smaller the chunks the better, since large pieces of garlic can really wallop the palate.  Now, I know there is a particular method for dealing with garlic, but don’t ask me what it is.  I basically tore into them with my fingers until I got to the cloves, and ripped off the skin, if that’s what you call it, and then cut them into the appropriate sized pieces.  My sous chef / personal assistant / wife said she had a tool for addressing this task, but I pressed on with my caveman method. 

Preheat Oven
Every oven is different, but a good rule of thumb is to select a fairly hot temperature, say, 425, and then add 25 to 50 degrees.

Build Your Pizza
Lightly spray two large baking sheets with the cooking oil of your choice.  Place the pita bread on the pans.  We were able to get 3 pieces on each pan.  Not sure if this really matters, but we put the bread bottom side up – which, from Lindsay’s photos, is how she did it as well.  Actually, I don’t know if pita bread has a top or bottom.  But the “matte” looking side was up when we did it.

Spoon or pour the marinara on the bread.  As a guide, you should use approximately ¾ of the 24 oz jar to cover the 6 pieces of bread.  But use more or less at your discretion.  To be frank, we probably used a tad too much.  The finished product was a bit messy.

Spread the mozzarella cheese equally on top of the sauce (sorry, no photo).  Depending on how much cheese you like, you might use almost the entire 4 cups of cheese, but we recommend going a little lighter than that.  Now, flip each pita into the air, allowing it to rotate approximately 720 degrees before you catch it on the way down.  No, don’t really do that.  You’re sous chef / personal assistant / wife will kill you.

For the Canadian (back) bacon and pineapple pizza: we put 5 bacon medallions on each pita – five on the outside, and one in the middle.  However, we should have used more.  Ever go to a pizza parlor and get a slice of pizza with one piece of pepperoni on it?  That’s what happened to us.  So throw about 7 or 8 medallions on each pita if you want to avoid this.  Then, sprinkle the pineapple chunks however you desire.  In my opinion, the pineapple is what makes the finished product special, so don’t hold back.

For the chicken and garlic, it’s pretty much the same story.  Sprinkle the chicken and garlic chunks as you desire.  We prefer about a 3-2 coverage ratio of chicken to garlic.

Now comes the easy part.  Put them in the oven for about 8 minutes.  You’ll know if they are ready.  If they aren’t, just check on them every two minutes.  Leaving them in an extra minute or two will result in a slightly more crispy crust, as you might expect.

YUM!  They look delicious, thanks Daddio.  Didn't know you liked to drink marinara sauce - learning more of your quirks every day ;)  Can't wait to see you in just a few more weeks!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Preworkout (or whenever) Banana Applesauce Muffins

Not many of my recipes come out this fantastic.  Especially since my baking experiments rarely consist of me measuring anything...which apparently is really bad for someone who loves to bake.  I just like to experiment and add my own "flare" to recipes.  It usually doesn't work - I typically end up with dense muffins, or cake-like cookies.  But after experimenting over the past six months with a variety of muffin recipe combinations, I think I have perfected my morning muffins.  I take these on the metro with me to the gym.  And yes, I eat my muffin on the metro despite the many signs exclaiming that eating will result in fines!   But I don't believe that anyone should ever be punished for eating.  What if everyone riding public transit gets too hungry?  They will push and shove and yell at each could be really bad you guys.  I would much rather people eat on the metro than be hangry...anyway, I digress.

Check out my recipe for super healthy banana applesauce muffins.  The perfect nutritious snack to get me through my workout and keep me going until my real breakfast.

Banana Applesauce Muffins
1 medium overripe banana, mashed
1 egg
2/3 cup of almond milk (I used vanilla unsweetened)
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp of agave*
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
1 cup of quick cooking oats
1 tsp of cinamon
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the banana and the wet ingredients (through the agave), with a fork.  Mix the dry ingredients separately.  Combine the wet mixture into the dry, but as with most muffin recipes, don't over-mix, just fold the mixtures together gently.  Pour about 2/3 of the way full into greased muffin tins.  Cook for 16-18 minutes.  Makes about 10 muffins.

*If you don't have any agave on hand, not a huge deal, I just like my muffins a little extra sweet.  You could also try maple syrup! Yum!

Does anyone else ever stray from recipes when baking?  Sometimes I miss, but a lot of times I discover a new amazing recipe.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Getting Healthy for Spring

What’s up peeps?!

Spring is in the air, that means we are all showing a little bit more skin.  We are emerging from our winter hibernation pale and slightly bloated.  Here are my strategies for getting healthy this Spring...

1) Build muscle:  Having more muscle revs up your metabolism.  Running for hours is fine if that is what you enjoy, but lifting heavy weights just 2-3 times per week has tons of benefits.  Strength training helps burn calories more efficiently, increases bone density, and reduces the risk of injury. 

Check me out about to pump some iron in the basement gym of our DC apartment (this is my first gym selfie and probably my last...something about it just feels weird.)

2) Exercise intuitively:  Listening to my body has helped improve my relationship with exercise.  It shouldn’t be a chore.  Rest days are important and even just 10 minutes of strength training has benefits.  Love this post on the topic from Robyn @ The Real Life RD.

3) Get more nutrients:  Being healthy isn’t about eating a low calorie, low fat diet. When I don’t get the essential nutrients I need I end up feeling weak, tired, and moody.  One strategy I’ve had is adding fruits, veggies and nuts to my favorite meals.  Like these “bananafied oats.”

Just mash up a ripe banana into your oats before or during cooking.

Including egg yolks in my diet instead of egg whites is another way I have been adding in nutrients.  Did you know that the slew of nutrients in an egg yolk offer more benefits than taking a multivitamin?!  My only problem is that I often end up with yolk on my face hours after breakfast - luckily I have a loyal boyfriend who "yolk-checks" me regularly.

4) Get out of my comfort zone: Taking more trips, trying new exercise classes, experimenting with new foods.  Changing things up is shown to increase overall happiness.  And now that the weather is nice, I am taking advantage of seeing and doing all the things – even if it messes with my routine.

Happy Spring!

What makes you feel most healthy and confident?

Are you as paste-y as I am?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Body Acceptance

This morning at the gym…

“Hey Lindsay, come over here a sec.  Do you have news?”

Looks down.

“Anything special to announce?”

Reaches toward me

“Are you expecting?”

Yes everyone, this happened to me today.  At the gym. 

I was frozen.  I was shocked and thought it was a joke, then realized that it wasn't.  I do look different than I did months ago.  I was scrawny, I was unhappy, I was unhealthy.

I have come so far and I am happy with where I am.  My body is gaining weight because I had restricted it from the calories it needed and my metabolism slowed down.  Now that I am eating a healthier amount of food, I am being patient as my body gets stronger and my metabolism wakes back up.  I know this is a process and I am trying to trust in it.

I am accepting this new version of myself – but other people just remember the mini version of me and assume that was the real “me.”  It wasn’t me, I was a fraud, I am finally becoming the person I really am, and I am so much the better for it.  Damn right I am apple shaped, and my boobs are huge and I love them!

This morning’s egg sandwich with extra cheese reminds me why it is worth it to let go of worries about calories and guilt.  Did you know you can microwave eggs and they actually come out super fluffy?  Just nuke ‘em for about 1 minute!

Off to NYC this weekend, and looking forward to eating for two despite the fact that it’s just me ;)

Check out these inspiring posts around the same topic:
Clare @fitting it all in
Carly @Snack Therapy
Sam @Better with Sprinkles

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Exercise: How much is too much?

Those close to me know I love to work out.  I love to sweat and push my body to the limit.  But when does it all become too much?  Can too much exercise be detrimental to your health?  The answer is yes.  There are a lot of health risks associated with overt-training ranging from decreased metabolism, bone loss, muscle tissue damage, and heart and respiratory problems.  Our society tells us that exercise is always a good thing - between all of the "fitspo" images and diet-talk.  But sometimes "pushing to your limit" is not always a good thing.

Then there are also the internal thoughts that can also be detrimental to your health.  I knew I had to re-evaluate my relationship with exercise when I really thought about my intentions and why I was doing so much cardio.  It was becoming less of a fun escape, and mainly a way to burn more calories than I consumed, to "make up" for any "excess" snacks I had the day before, and to "punish myself" for drinking or eating something I wasn't supposed to.

I am working hard to change my relationship with exercise.  When I exercised for the reasons above it made me feel constantly unfulfilled, like I could always "do more", and left me deep in a mental math equation to which I could never be sure I had the right answer.   I cringe when I hear people say "I can eat this pizza, I will just run an extra couple miles this week."  That kind of thinking is what lead me to that dark place of being stuck in a math problem I wasn't sure I had right.

Now I exercise to be healthy, because it feels good, to be strong.  This doesn't mean my addiction is gone.  I still have trouble taking rest days and I still over-think my exercise regiment rather than rolling with whatever feels good that day.  But I no longer force myself to do spin "x" number of times per week, and I no longer insist on bring my running shoes on vacation (unless it's a long one ;)).  Here are some other strategies that are working for me...

1) Listening to my body.  If I go out for a run and my legs don't feel like running, I walk.
2) Try changing it up.  I have been exploring less cardio-heavy classes like yoga and bodyweight training.
3) Get lost in the music or the scenery.  Appreciate the moment and take it all in.
4) Stretch more.  I used to avoid stretching because it was a waste of time. But treating your body to a good stretch makes it feel loved :)
5) Set a time limit.  On the weekends, I used to think it was good to spend as much time at the gym as possible.  But now, I limit myself by planning something right afterward.
6) Think about how amazing our bodies are.  They do so much for us, they get us where we need to go, they process energy like machines, they hug, they explore....they deserve to be treated with care.
7) Avoid races, calorie counters, and pedometers.  I don't need these things to tell me I am reaching my goals.  I let my body decide what is good enough for me. 

Does anyone else use exercise to deal with guilt or measure self-worth?

Or if are someone who hates and refuses to workout... does this post seem ridiculous to you? I envy you...the grass is always greener, right? ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's Been a While!

Took over a week off from blogging.  Been getting my much needed fill of Spring…so here is what I’ve been up to.

Finally got fresh herbs for my windowsill – soon to be featured in recipes to come.  The herbs, not the windowsill :/

Enjoying my favorite breakfast with REAL San Francisco sourdough toast, which is hard to come by in DC.

Made some homemade falafel with this recipe.

And drinking lots of springtime cocktails…

Too many perhaps…

Or not ;)

And this one is embarrassing...but in my defense, there was ONE cold day last week and I had a ton of energy so I had to take to the treadmill.  My legs were dead for about 3 days following this.

How have you been enjoying Spring?  Or are you one of those California people who has no idea what that means?