After a wonderful July 4th weekend (finally a few beautiful days here in NYC!), I came home very tired and in need of something easy and healthy after a weekend of picnic food.
I rounded up a bunch of leftovers for this one. Earlier this week I had sauteed some summer squash and zucchini in garlic and olive oil. I also found some whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods (really cheap and versatile – good to have on hand). I rolled out the whole wheat dough on cornmeal so it wouldn’t stick. I greased a casserole dish and placed the dough in the bottom. I layered the zucchini/summer squash on top, then chopped up some red peppers (I had one floating in the fridge). To round out the meal, I beat 4 eggs in a bowl and poured them on top and added sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.
I baked the dish at 350 for about 20 minutes, then added some shredded parmesan cheese and put it back in for ten more minutes. With a nice salad and some vino, this turned out to be great meal. Even better, the leftovers were delicious cold for lunch.
On a long run, I looooove thinking about what big meal I’m going to have when I finish. (At around mile 22 of this year’s NY Marathon, I began to set my sights on a burger and a nice cold beer).
Recently, the NY Times blog Well (one of my faves), featured an article and video with Mark Bittman and Deena Kastor. Mark Bittman, of whom I’m a HUGE fan, is a NYTimes foodie. Apparently, he’s also a runner who is training for this year’s marathon. Deena Kastor is a super US marathoner. The two paired up for a run, and for some cooking.
Check out the article and the video here.
Happy Fourth of July!
In my effort to incorporate more nuts and nut butters into my diet, I decided to branch out from my usual almond butter/peanut butter rotation. I had some hazelnuts on-hand, and when I think of hazelnuts, I think of the wondrous Nutella. Nutella is this super-delish spread of hazelnuts and chocolate (and sugar and milk, of course). It’s one of those things that I can’t keep in the house. I’d eat it with a spoon.
Anyhow, feeling a little adventurous, I thought I’d try to make my own natural sugar-free version of Nutella. Here goes:
- First, I toasted the hazelnuts. (To toast nuts, just put them in a dry heated saute pan. I kept my on low-medium heat. Shake ‘em around a little and they are done in less than 5 minutes — you can usually smell it.)
- Next, I put the toasted hazelnuts in a dish towel and rubbed it together. This was to remove most of the papery shells.
- I tossed them into my Magic Bullet (a regular food processor probably would have worked better), and poured a little canola oil in. I just eye-balled the amount.
- Give it a spin.
- I noticed it was really chunky – not buttery. I added a little more oil and gave it another spin.
- Keep doing this until you get the desired consistency. Note: mine never got to be “buttery.” It’s still sorta spread-able, definitely soft, and delicious
- I then added a little honey to sweeten and 1tbsp pure cocoa powder. Combine with spoon.
It came out really delicious. I am just storing mine in an old jar in the cabinet. I don’t see any need to refrigerate since it may harden.
As I experiment with more nut butters, etc. I’ll try to post some pics/vid. This one was spur-of-the-moment.
Again, Nutella-lovers, you’re welcome!
I’ve been very interested in sugar dependency (namely because I struggle with it). As such, I’ve been reading as much as I can about it, and trying new/different ways to combat cravings. Yesterday on the train back to New York, I was reading my mom’s Woman’s Day, when I found an article about sugar addiction.
In short, the article (“The Sugar Effect” from Volume 72, Issue 9) discussed how sugar dependency has exhibited some similar effects as drug dependency. It also shares some information about why we do (or don’t!) need certain sugars and how our body processes them. Some highlights:
- The US Dietary Guidelines allow 32 grams of sugar per 2,000 calorie/day diet. This is about the equivalent amount of sugar in 1c of sweetened cereal! This really makes me think… especially since my daily caloric intake is closer to 12-1400!
- About sugar being a legitimate addiction: “…research on rats shows that they had withdrawal symptoms, including shaking and teeth chattering, when the effects of the sugar water they’d had for nine days had been blocked.”
- Sugar, or having a sweet-tooth, may be linked to evolution: “Humans likely gravitated away from bitter foods, which might have been poisonous, toward sweet ones, which were probably safe.”
Just some food for thought… My own efforts to drop my sugar dependency have been going quite well recently… I’ll keep you updated!
It seems that every day there’s a new health claim either coming out, or an old one being refuted. What’s a person to believe? Who defines what health is? How does one measure health?
Well, there’s not really one easy answer to these questions. But certainly, as with most things, knowledge is power and the more you know about health (and your own body) the better off you are.
One’s health is determined by a number of factors including, but not limited to: diet, exercise, stress levels, family history, environmental conditions, etc. Many of these we have control over (diet, exercise, stress) and some we don’t (family history, environment).
The USDA has a newer food pyramid that is slightly more personalized than the one most of us remember from middle school health class. Although, to me, getting roughly 4.5-5 servings of fruits and veggies (recommended for me) does not seem to be a high enough recommendation. Granted, I assume that the USDA bases their recommendations on extensive research, whereas I base mine only on personal opinion, ha.
Curious, I explored food “pyramids” from other parts of the world. As our obesity rates continue to rise, I have to think something is wrong with our diet in American culture. As food for thought (sorry, pun intended), here are a few from around the world. I see a few major differences. What do you see?
Mediterranean Food Pyramid
Okay, this is not actually day six. I completely fell off the wagon about, uh, four days ago. Here’s my sad – but true – account of how it all went down (and by down, I mean down a slippery slope at break-neck speeds).
Day one was great. Really. Day two wasn’t so bad either. I had a slight twinge of craving here and there, but nothing major really. Then, I tossed it all down the tubes. Baked cookies. Ate lots of dough, then fresh cookies. Baked more cookies… and on and on…. And of course once this happened, I figured, well why even bother? I threw caution to the wind and probably consumed more sugar than I ever normally would.
So what next?
I’m trying again. Tomorrow. I will start much smaller. Small goals, big progress (hopefully). This week one (do-over), I will:
- Eat plain yogurt; add honey.
- Drink vanilla tea or suck on a cinnamon stick when cravings strike. Drink some water, reassess “hunger” for sugar.
- Not go home right after work. I will come at dinner time (most of my binges/cravings occur during that window of time between work and dinner. I’ll come home at dinner time).
So, again, I’ll keep you posted on my progress on these three mini-goals. I’ll let you know which goals worked, and which I’m looking at for week two.
I’ve been trying to kick my terrible sugar habits for some time now. I get crazy sugar cravings and can binge on a batch of cookies like a ravenous lion descending upon a wounded gazelle (ha, sorry, but true). I’ve tried a number of things to kick the habit. Clearly, none have truly worked since I’m attempting to go cold turkey again.
According to this study from Princeton, sugar dependency does exist. Studies in rats have shown symptoms common to addiction, such as withdrawal, when sugar is removed from their diet. So, at least I know I’m not crazy. This article does a great job of explaining what sugar dependency is, and what happens to our body during cravings, binges, etc.
My path to defeating sugar cravings begins getting rid of processed foods (there are soooo many – check your ingredients it’s eye-opening). I started by reading ingredients in products I eat and giving them away if they have sugar of any sugar derivatives in them. In addition, I’ll be cutting white flour and other white carbohydrates. I’ll be using natural sweeteners when needed. For example, I sweeten my plain yogurt with either fruit or wildflower honey. The idea is that I am the one who determines the amount/type of sweetener I consume.
I’ll check in next week on my progress, and I’ll start to introduce new natural sweeteners like agave nectar… In the meantime, to check for hidden sugars in your foods, you’ll find a list of alternate sugar names here.