Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mango Marinated Pork and Mango Salsa

This pork and salsa is one of our favorite meals!  We first made it on Easter last year.  The full menu was mango marinated pork, mango salsa, grilled sweet potato fries, grilled asparagus, and spinach.  Yum!  The pork is incredibly tender and sweet from the mango marinade, and the mango salsa is the perfect accompaniment to the meat.  As good as it is the first day, it is just as delicious as leftovers.  My favorite way to eat the leftovers is to make a salad with spinach, mango salsa, and cold mango pork cut into bite-sized pieces. 

Here's a great video on how to cut a mango, and another video on how to remove pork silverskin and extra fat.

Mango Marinated Pork

Marinade originally from Weber’s Big Book of Grilling, pg. 52

2-1 lb pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat
¼ c rice vinegar
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp sriracha
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.  Put pork loins in a large, sealable bag and pour the marinade on them.  Refrigerate for 6-24 hours. 
To cook pork, preheat grill.  Get the grates nice and hot, then turn to indirect medium heat (turn off the middle burner).  Put meat over middle burner that is turned off.  Cook over indirect medium heat for 25-30 minutes, turning once half way through.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut as desired.  The pork should be ever so slightly pink and very tender. 

Mango Salsa

Originally from Ellie Krieger

2 mangos, peeled and diced into small pieces
½ seedless cucumber, diced into coins then quartered
½ small red onion, diced
2 T lime juice
2/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and mix together.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (It takes a while to chop up all of the ingredients, so it’s best to prepare this ahead of time.) 

What is your favorite meal to make at home?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chinese Five Spice Veggies and Noodles

On our honeymoon in Mexico two years ago, we went to a Japanese restaurant at our resort and had an amazing dish with shrimp and five spice soba noodles.  We liked it so much that I decided when we got home I needed to start cooking with five spice powder.  (This delicious spice is a combination of Szechuan pepper, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel, and can be found in most grocery stores in the spice aisle.)  I quickly found this recipe on Serious Eats and we have made it many times since then! 

In the past, I made it with soba noodles or whole wheat spaghetti noodles, but since eating gluten free, I like to use Tinkyada brown rice fettucini style noodles.  We like a higher ratio of veggies to noodles in this dish, so I’ve adapted the original accordingly.  I also reduced the oil drastically from the original recipe because I don’t find it adds anything except unnecessary fat and calories.  Some of the ingredients in this recipe might not be ones you normally stock in your pantry, but they are all easy to find at the grocery store.  I buy my pasta, sesame oil, sriracha, ginger (the Gourmet Garden kind in the tube), and Chinese five spice powder at Meijer, but I think Giant Eagle and Kroger carry all of these items as well.  Also, this is very quick to prepare if you buy precut broccoli, bagged shredded carrots, and bagged shredded green cabbage. 

We like to serve this with chicken or shrimp sautéed in a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It is a perfect, quick meal and tastes every bit as delicious as any Chinese take-out you will order, but is MUCH healthier!  It is also delicious as leftovers.  But then again, we love everything as leftovers! 

Chinese Five Spice Veggies and Noodles

Adapted from Serious Eats

4 oz. brown rice pasta 
1 T sesame oil
1 T sriracha
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced OR Gourmet Garden Ginger 
1 T Chinese five spice powder
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 large bunches of broccoli, stems removed and chopped
2 c shredded carrots
2 c shredded green cabbage
1 ½ c vegetable broth
6 scallions, chopped

First, cut up your onion, garlic, broccoli, and scallions and have them ready.  Mix up the sauce by combining sesame oil, sriracha, garlic, ginger, and five spice powder in a small bowl.  Then start boiling the water for the noodles.  Next, heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  (You will want to use the biggest pan you have because you’ll be adding a lot of veggies to it!  If you don’t have a large skillet or wok, consider halving the recipe).  Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown.  Then add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  (Meanwhile, keep an eye on the pot of water and add the noodles once it starts to boil.  Cook noodles according to package directions and drain when done).  Next, add broccoli, carrots, green cabbage, broth, and sauce (in that order).  Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is soft.  Once the broccoli is soft, add the cooked noodles and scallions to the broccoli mixture.  Stir everything together and heat for 2-3 minutes more. 
Makes 4-6 servings. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Has a restaurant dish ever inspired you to cook something similar at home?  What did you have at the restaurant, and what did you make at home?  (Respond by posting a comment!)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Banana Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are a product of my quest to find a delicious, gluten free, sugar free, easy, inexpensive muffin.  I found this recipe on The Paleo Gourmet (a great site!) and it was exactly what I was looking for!  I use almond meal and olive oil instead of almond flour and butter (I prefer olive oil to butter and was able to find almond meal cheaper than almond flour).  Since finding the recipe 3 months ago, I have baked these babies 4 times!  Rem says these are now his favorite thing I bake! 

One thing I’ve learned about baking these muffins is to USE MUFFINS LINERS.  If you don’t, you will spend an hour picking muffin bits off the pan and soaking it multiple times to try to clean it.  Muffins liners = easy clean up!  Also, I recommend using Trader Joe’s “Just Almond Meal” because it is the least expensive brand I’ve found.  You can find it in the aisle with the nuts, and it’s only $3.99 for a 16 oz. bag.  So that I can make these muffins whenever I feel like it, I always keep ripe bananas in the freezer.  Most grocery stores occasionally have discounted bags of ripe bananas, so I grab those whenever I see them. Keeping the peel ON the bananas, put them in a Ziploc freezer bag, and freeze until ready to use.   About an hour before baking, take the bananas out of the bag and defrost them at room temperature.  Then, when you’re ready to bake, just squeeze the bananas out of their peels and into your mixing bowl.  You can always use regular, unfrozen ripe bananas for this recipe instead.  Just don’t use bananas that have ANY green on them.  The riper (ie. the more brown spots they have) the bananas, the sweeter your muffins will be!

Another note on bananas: if you have ripe bananas on your counter, or buy ripe bananas at the store, and don’t want to freeze them for baking but don’t want to throw them away, freeze them in a Ziploc freezer bag with the peel OFF.  Then you can make smoothies OR this yummy banana soft serve.  Ok, that’s enough about bananas...

These muffins have a different texture than ones made with regular flour- they are springy and moist, not dense.  They are just sweet enough from the ripe bananas, which give them a nice banana bread-like flavor.  You just have to try them to find out how good they are!

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Originally from The Paleo Gourmet 

3 c almond meal
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 T olive oil
4 eggs
5-6 mashed, very ripe bananas (5 large or 6 small)
1 c frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 18 muffin liners into muffin tins.  In a large bowl, combine almond meal, salt, and baking soda.  In small bowl, whisk eggs and olive oil.  Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.   Add mashed bananas and mix to incorporate.  Stir in blueberries.  Spoon into muffin cups.  (I like to use a ¼ cup cookie/ice cream scoop).  Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and spring back to the touch.  Cool completely in the pan.  Once cool, remove to container and store in the fridge.  They can also be frozen and then thawed in the fridge to eat.  Makes 18 muffins.

Macronutrient Breakdown
Full Recipe: 3360 calories, 241 g carbohydrates, 92 g protein, 230 g fat
Per muffin (18 muffins): 187 calories, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 13 g fat

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Food Perspective

I haven’t always eaten the way I do now, and one of my favorite parts of other blogs is reading about their food “history,” so here’s some background about me and my diet.  

As a kid I hated vegetables.  My favorite foods were chicken, bread, and mashed potatoes.  I was chubby and I loved to eat (not that I don’t still love to eat, but I REALLY loved to eat… probably a bit too much).

In high school, I restricted my diet severely.  I counted calories like crazy and lost too much weight.  I gained the weight back, but didn’t feel good about myself because I gained it so fast.

In college, my friends who ate very healthy helped introduce me to different nutritious foods, and the dining hall helped me branch out by having so many choices.  I became very interested in nutrition, health, and fitness.  Despite my interest in health and nutrition, I loved to bake treats that were not typically very healthy.  The summer after my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Greece and developed a love for fresh fruits and vegetables.  During my senior year of college, I had an apartment and was able to cook my own meals!  I cooked a lot of healthier meals with lean meats, fruits and vegetables, but still included foods like multigrain cheerios, sugar free syrup, store-bought bread, processed cheese slices, and Tyson buffalo chicken breast strips (“healthy” processed foods) in my diet.  These foods definitely aren’t at the far end of the “unhealthy” spectrum, but I’ve since come to learn that they’re not as healthy as I previously thought, so I now choose to exclude them from my diet.

Open-air Market near my apartment in Athens, Greece. (June 2007)
When I got married in 2010, I started cooking more.  My husband enjoys cooking and had been cooking for himself for several years living on his own.  We cooked a lot together, and he helped me develop more confidence in the kitchen.  For the first year or so of our marriage we made a lot of family favorites that our parents had made but also experimented with new recipes.  We always tried to make recipes as healthy as possible or put whole grain, low fat twists on them.  (I’ve since learned that “whole grain” and “low fat” do not always equate to “healthy.”)

Our wedding! (July 2010)
Our first Christmas with Mason. (December 2011)
In January, due to some digestive problems I was experiencing, I started experimenting with cutting gluten out of my diet, and then later tried an elimination diet that cut out nearly everything except chicken, fish, most fruits, and vegetables.  During this time, I did a lot of research on how foods containing gluten, dairy, and sugar affect the digestive system and overall health.  I gradually transitioned to a gluten and sugar free diet, which helped reduce my digestive issues significantly.  My husband and I also recently joined a Crossfit gym and discovered the paleo diet.  We experimented with that for a bit and incorporated some paleo principles into how we think about food, but we ultimately decided not to follow the diet in the strictest sense.

If I had to characterize our current diet, I would say that we focus on eating unprocessed, nutrient dense, whole foods.   My diet (and the food I cook) consists of mainly: meat (we are currently trying to find farms/sellers where we can buy organic and grass fed as much as possible), fish, eggs, all vegetables, all fruits, nuts, nut butters, and seeds (like ground flaxseed and chia seeds), olive and coconut oil, fresh and dried herbs and spices, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almond milk, gluten free oats (soaked overnight), sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, and sometimes brown rice.  When we can, we buy organic and local produce.  When I bake I use almond flour, coconut flour, almond milk, coconut milk, honey, unsweetened cocoa and a variety of fruits and nuts in many of my recipes.  The foods I choose to avoid (most of the time) are corn, potatoes, hard cheeses, foods with gluten, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and partially hydrogenated oils.  I largely avoid these foods for a variety of reasons, mostly related to digestion, their impact on my energy levels, and research that shows their negative impact on health.  Rem eats mostly the same diet but is a little more relaxed about it since he doesn’t have digestive issues.  For instance, he often eats regular old-fashioned oats and regular peanut butter, but we largely eat the same food.  The way I cook and eat has evolved so much in my life, and it may change more as I continue to learn and research more, but the foods I eat now fuel my workouts, help me recover, help me feel my best, and have proven health benefits.  I love cooking now more than ever and have learned that simple recipes are often the best!

I am not perfect, but I try to make strides every day toward a healthier lifestyle that helps maintain the quality of life I desire.  Eating whole, nutrient dense, healthy food makes me feel good and gives me energy to teach kids all day, do Crossfit, run, walk my dog, and be very active! 
Rem and I watching the Crossfit Central East Regionals in Columbus, Ohio. (May 2012)
Crossfit Future in Blacklick, Ohio. (May 2012)
I hope this gives you a little insight into where I’m coming from- my “food perspective,” I guess you could say. 

I hope you enjoy this site!  Please let me know if there are any recipes you’ve seen me eat or make that I should post!  I love looking at other food blogs, so many of my recipes are adaptations or recreations of recipes from other blogs, so make sure to check out the links for those recipes, because there are INCREDIBLE recipes on those blogs! 

NOTE: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, trainer, or expert in exercise or nutrition.  The information, recipes, and tips on this site are my opinions, gleaned from personal research in health and nutrition, as well as personal experiences!

For more information on the topics in this post, follow these links:
Clean eating
Our Crossfit gym
Farm Markets in Ohio

Monday, June 18, 2012


I am very excited to be writing my first blog post!  I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a long time, and I finally decided to take the plunge now that school has ended for the summer.

A few things to note as you read: 
1. When I say “we,” I mean my husband, Rem, and I.  He will be helping me with the design for the blog and the “tech” things I currently know very little about.
2. Many recipes I will share are ones we cooked together.  And any grilled recipe?  Cooked by Rem (for now- until I learn how to grill)!  
3. I love to look at other food blogs and recipes on the internet (see “My Favorite Blogs”), so many of my recipes will be adaptations from recipes I’ve found, or ones inspired by something I saw online!  I will note for each recipe whether it is an original or an adaptation.  

My first several posts will be recipes we make all the time.  If you know me, you might have guessed what I would post about first: hummus!  This recipe is adapted from a family friend who gave us her hummus recipe many years ago.  It requires very little prep time and takes minutes to blend in the food processor!  We eat it mainly with fresh veggies.  I also love to mix it with salsa to make a thick salad dressing. 

Adapted from Janel 

2 -15 oz.cans drained and rinsed organic garbanzo beans
½ c extra virgin olive oil
¼ c lemon juice
1/8 c water
2 T tahini
4 cloves garlic, whole
Salt and cumin to taste

Put garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, water, tahini, and garlic in food processor.  Puree until smooth!  This should take anywhere from 2-6 minutes.   Once it has reached the consistency you want, add the salt and cumin and puree 30 seconds longer.  Recently we have been making roasted red pepper hummus simply by adding ½ jar (about 2 whole peppers) of roasted red peppers to the mix.  So good!