Archive for the ‘Food Finds’ Category

“Salad Jar Daze”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

You know it’s important to eat your veggies – a 3rd grader could tell you that.

Yet when most people think about adding more veggies to their day, bags of plain (boring) baby carrots and plates of (over) steamed broccoli often come to mind, squashing even the best of intentions. Even a devoted veggie lover like me can’t get excited about that.

If one of your goals is to “put more plants on your plate”, packing a salad (along with the dressing) in glass canning jars is a fun, creative, efficient way to make that happen.

Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, but the wide-mouth pint or quart sizes work well for this purpose. A pint jar holds two cups, perfect for a lunch or side salad, while a quart jar holds four cups – good for crowd or dinner size salads.

Simply pour salad dressing (1-4 tablespoons) into the bottom of the jar, then layer the veggies, starting with heavy, non-absorbent varieties like carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage, and ending with the lighter ingredients like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc. on top.

Press down the veggies, screw on the lid, and that’s it! “Salad jars” keep will in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (yes!), making it super easy to have a ready-to-eat salad available at any time. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing, or simply pour the contents into a bowl and toss a bit with your fork.

IMG_1590

Have fun mixing and matching ingredients and dressings, and congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

“SNACK SMACK”

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

You know how sometimes your perception of what you see isn’t exactly what was INTENDED for you to see (or think. or believe.)? I find this to be particularly true in food marketing, where labelling language in the form of subtle wording slights, omissions or assumptions often purports an item to be “a healthier choice”, when in reality, it simply isn’t . Either that, or the actual food item is a far cry from what was insinuated on the packaging.

Case in point.

My nutrition clients are busy. They’re travelling, on the go, and don’t have much extra time, so we often brainstorm ideas for nutritious, delicious, energy-sustaining, pack-along snacks.

Recently, a client recounted a variety of snack choices consumed during a weekend of travelling, and one particular choice repeatedly popped up; “SkinnyPop”. SkinnyPop

I’ve had a number of clients rave about this popcorn treat, how it’s “healthy”, and a “better-choice snack”. They find the term “skinny” particularly appealing, and more than a few have mentioned that it’s “addictive, like crack”.

I had to learn exactly what about this treat was so darn “skinny”, and why it seemed to have such a hold on my clients.

After reading the “SkinnyPop”website, I literally sat shaking my head in wonder. The “skinny” in “SkinnyPop”? NOTHING to do with calories or fat, and EVERYTHING to do with ingredients.

From the website:

What makes SkinnyPop “skinny”? Do you remember old-fashioned, buttered popcorn? Like the popcorn you can still get at movie theatres? We do. In fact, we used to make it. It was heavy on buttery topping and other artificial flavors. Our fans asked us for something with less topping, but with that same great taste, and we came up with SkinnyPop – skinny on ingredients!

That’s it?? Fewer ingredients?

If I conducted a random poll on what comes to mind if I said “SkinnyPop”, I think LESS CALORIES | LESS FAT | NON-FATTENING | EAT WITH RECKLESS ABANDON is what most people would think, not “fewer ingredients”.

And the skinny ingredients in “SkinnyPop”? Popcorn, sunflower oil, salt.

Nothing special. Nothing surprising. Nothing you don’t have in your own kitchen.

Nutritional breakdown?

  • 1 cup “SkinnyPop” Original Flavor – 40 calories | 2.6 g fat | .8 g fiber
  • 1 cup popcorn popped in oil – 55 calories | 3 g fat | 1.1 g fiber

In terms of calories and fat, there is essentially no difference. “SkinnyPop” comes in 4 flavors; original, black pepper, white cheddar and naturally sweet. Serving size for original and black pepper is 3.75 cups, but 3.5 cups for white cheddar and naturally sweet. A smaller serving size yields a lower calorie and fat amount closer to the original/plain version – even with the addition of ingredients that bump up calories and fat.

Sneaky.

Personally, I’m a HUGE fan of popcorn. I like to pop my own on the stove top, in a combination of olive and coconut oils or plain canola oil, then sprinkle with sea salt, and if I’ve a taste for it, nutritional yeast.

Popcorn is a whole grain, naturally low in calories and fat, and high in fiber. There is one piece of literature that received quite a bit of press a number of years ago, suggesting that popcorn is high in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2012/march/popcorn-the-snack-with-even-higher-antioxidants-levels-than-fruits-and-vegetables.html, yet a literature search in reliable, credible PubMed turned up no other such research.

Regardless, popcorn does have an overall healthy profile, and I definitely recommend it as a filling, nutritious snack; just remember to pay attention to the amount of butter, cheese, or caramel you douse it in – completely changes the landscape, if you know what I mean. And if you have diabetes, 3 cups of popcorn equals 1 carbohydrate serving (whether it’s “SkinnyPop” or not!).

If you choose to skip the oil, this looks like an interesting way to air-pop popcorn https://www.vat19.com/item/catamount-microwave-popcorn-popper. I advise you avoid microwave popcorn completely – neither the ingredients nor the packaging are good for your health.

The take-away? When it comes to food manufacturing and marketing, it pays to dig a little deeper to learn the true meaning behind the hype. And as for “addictive, like crack”? I’ve never tasted it, so I welcome your comments and experiences!

 

 

Plant Protein and Snacking – FNCE Trends.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

As I trolled the FNCE expo floor at the recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of consistent themes.

One major disappointment, my camera wasn’t working, so I was unable to capture photos of the food items I discuss. Regardless, keep your eyes open for these categories at your local grocery store – they’re popping up everywhere!

Plant-Protein

From beans (legumes) to soy to nuts to hemp, plant-based protein was HUGE!

Plant-based protein simply refers to “non-meat” protein options. When we look at foods that fill that category, beans, soy and nuts/seeds take center stage.

Legumes were ground into flour and used as the base for everything from chips to burgers. Legumes were left whole and combined with other ingredients to create delicious veggie burgers and meatballs. Legumes were folded into brownies, and baked to create a crunchy, delicious snack.

I tasted a brand of chips called “Beanitos”, tortilla chips made from beans. I’m a tortilla chip fan, so having a more nutritious option is a trend I can get on board with.

Snacks

People LOVE to snack. That’s a trend I have difficulty relating to, mainly because I’m not a snacker. But for those of you who are – snacks that taste great and are relatively nutritious is something that I spotted in every aisle.

Interesting dried fruit and nut combinations, baked crackers made with bean flours, and snack/meal replacement bars that were more than glorified candy bars were showcased.

My Take

Many of the food companies behind the truly healthier options were small and independent. To me, it seemed as if most of the large food manufacturers were simply trying to “healthy up” existing products, many of which weren’t that nutritious in the first place. I suppose I can give them credit for trying. In the end, consumers vote with their wallet – so I encourage you to support those small, independent companies doing amazing things with truly healthy ingredients!

Feed Me Friday!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

I am a huge fan of cooking on the weekend for the week ahead. It saves time, money, energy and YOUR SANITY!

That said, I know how easy it can be to get into a cooking rut, making the same dish over and over and over; many of my clients struggle with this. Because my mission is to provide nutrition solutions to my client’s nutrition dilemmas, I thought a “Feed Me Friday” theme, featuring a new plant-based recipe each week could help.

I don’t have an actual pic of my dish, simply didn’t get it done, so I’m using “other” photos. I’ll be better in future – promise!

The photo below is one I took while dining at a Persian restaurant in San Diego. My dish is similar in appearance, so this gives you an idea of the finished product.

Here’s my inaugural post, I hope you enjoy the delicious results.

Curry-Kissed Lentil Millet Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon curry powder

3 tablespoons black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 can pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 can tomato paste

8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup green lentils

1/3 cup millet

1. In a large stock pot, saute onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons water until soft (add more water as needed to prevent sticking).

2. Add turmeric, curry powder, black mustard seeds and kosher salt, mix well with the onion and garlic. Cover the pot; the mustard seeds will begin to pop and jump and you don’t want them to escape. When the popping stops, remove the cover and stir the spices again, adding a bit of water as needed to prevent sticking. Cook the spices and vegetables ~ 5 minutes.

3. Stir pumpkin and tomato paste into the spice/veggie mixture, blend well and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add broth, lentils and millet, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down so the soup simmers gently. Partially cover the  pot and let cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

NutriTIPS

* Add more water if you like “soupier” soup.

* Find millet in grocery stores sporting a bulk section that includes a variety of grains, dried beans, etc. Whole Foods, of course, but also check co-ops and other nutrition-forward locations. If you can’t find (or don’t want to search for) millet, don’t let it stop you from making this soup; it’s delicious even without it. However, this small yellow grain is a good source of fiber and protein, vitamins and minerals. It also contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, beneficial in promoting eye health. Learn about millet.

millet-raw

Raw Millet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* This particular collection of spices is common in Indian cooking. As a whole, this combination adds a rich, satisfying layer of flavor; individually these spices contribute important vitamins, minerals and strong antioxidant properties.  About this link: I haven’t used this particular company to purchase spices, but the founder is a fellow Chicagoan (solidarity!). I ran across her work one day and was smitten, partially because I love Indian food, but also because I found her story fascinating! Indian Spice Selection.

Indian Spice Collection

Indian Spice Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hair-Raisingly Different Dietitian Perspective On Halloween

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Halloween Candy

 At our house, my husband typically purchases the Halloween candy. On Halloween. Here’s what he came home with today; not bad (except for those Nerds and other “kid candies” – no thanks).

I rarely think about it until the week of the big day, then on the ACTUAL day I’m at work, there’s no candy, and goblins are on their way. So husband goes to the store that morning, with a little guidance from me. But NOT the type of guidance you would expect, me being a dietitian and all.

My guidance is simply, “Just don’t buy too much”. He tends to buy LOTS, and inevitably by the end of the evening we’re shoveling it into the bags of the stragglers – or the following day giving it to the kids next door.

My personal (and professional) philosophy on Halloween is just that – it’s Halloween. It’s one day. Granted, the candy lingers for several, but most kids tire of it quickly. If they go candy-crazy when they come home with their spoils, that’s just part of the fun – and who of us didn’t do that ourselves, back in the day?

The idea of me handing out pencils, or organic, naturally-sweetened, real-fruit leather, or any number of sustainable, organic, “green” candy brands to kids who could care less feels like I’d have the same impact on their health and the obesity epidemic as if I were spitting into the ocean. They most likely wouldn’t even eat “unfamiliar” candy – they want Nerds for heavens sake.

And honestly, if I’m going to cough up $$$$ for the good stuff, you can be sure it will be me eating it, not random little goblins.

Happy Halloween everyone!

 

Get Well Dishes

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Early in 2013, my father-in-law was diagnosed with bladder cancer. If that wasn’t startling enough, tests to determine whether the cancer had spread revealed lung cancer; different from the bladder cancer. Which turned out to be a good thing, in the hierarchy of cancer goodness that is.

Needless to say, it’s been a long, bumpy ride. As we head into fall, I’m visiting my in-laws to help as best I can with recovery from a radical surgery (fingers crossed, the final major medical hurdle in his journey back to health), one that hopefully has kicked this unwelcome visitor to the curb.

We’ve got a recovery team in place, with each of us playing to our strength. As the dietitian/nutritionist/chef/personal trainer, I’m in charge of meals and walks. I confess, the opportunity to cook up nutrient-rich, plant-powered and delicious meals each day has me giddy.

A long-time follower of a vegetarian/vegan diet (with fish rotating through on occasion), I’m a huge advocate of plant-based meals for preventing and managing disease. Not that my cooking will be the ultimate cure, but it certainly can’t hurt. For the last 90 days or so, I’ve been experimenting with a 100% vegan diet, so I’ve packed those principles along for this trip.

Several days into my stay, we’re raving about the taste and the EFFECT of my cooking. My father-in-law is gaining strength daily, experiencing a perkier appetite, has color returning to his cheeks, and a small but perceptable pep to his step on our daily stroll. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not running a marathon any time soon – but by his own account and what we’re observing, he’ll be tough to hold back!

John Enchilada

I’m featuring one of my “get well dishes” here; vegan enchiladas. I made a huge batch, which with leftovers makes it easy to simply reheat and eat (they’re just as delicious the next day)!

EnchiladasVeggie Enchiladas

1 medium red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 red bell peppers, diced

1, 6 ounce bag organic baby spinach

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

8 ounces extra-firm, water-packed tofu, drained and crumbled (I used sprouted tofu)

2 cups cooked pinto beans (I cooked my own, but you can use 1, 16 oz. can, rinsed and drained)

1 cup cooked quinoa

12 whole wheat tortillas

2, 12 ounce jars low-sodium salsa

1. In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons water (add more water to prevent sticking/burning). Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until onion is soft.

2. While onion is cooking, place the sweet potato and 3 tablespoons water into a glass bowl; microwave 8-10 minutes, or until soft. Mash with a fork or potato masher, set aside.

3. Add bell peppers to the pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the sweet potato, mix well. Tear the baby spinach leaves in two, toss them into the pan with the other vegetables. Stir and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove the cooked vegetables from the heat.

4. In a large bowl, mash the tofu and beans together (it’s ok to leave some of the beans whole). Stir in the quinoa.

5. Combine the vegetables with the bean/tofu/quinoa mixture; mix well.

6. In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish (larger if you have one), spread enough salsa to cover the bottom of the dish (save some for topping). Place ~ 1/4 cup filling on the long side of a tortilla, then roll tortilla around filling and place in the pan (I used an additional smaller dish, 12 enchiladas won’t fit into a 9 x 12 pan).

7. Spread remaining salsa over top of filled tortillas. Cover pans tightly with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

8. Serve topped with chopped green onions, fresh cilantro, and sliced avocado, or if you’re feeling ambitious, the following avocado “cream”.

Avocado Cream

In a food processor combine 2 large avocados, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 cup packed fresh cilantro, 1/8 cup water. Blend until creamy, adding additional water as needed to thin into a pourable consistency (from “Oh She Glows” food blog).

Enchilada Avocado Cream

 

Eating Well While Eating Out. . .A Chicago Loop “Gem”

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I love Chicago. Although I moved here years ago, rarely do I pass up an opportunity to spend time simply reveling in the energy and urban vibe of the city. My passion for the city is one of the reasons I established a Chicago office; it’s a perfectly fine justification for escaping the ‘burbs and heading back to my beloved city streets.

Also, need I mention, the dining options in the city are (duh) just so darn more plentiful, varied and inventive! With one of my professional mantras being “Eat In”, you can probably imagine that I’m a bit particular when I choose to “Eat Out”.

This past weekend brought family in from out of town. Another fine excuse, er, justification for ambling the city streets; SOMEONE has to play tour guide. As I hurried to the weekend visitor hotel headquarters, I inadvertently found myself in front of Native Foods Café, a dining establishment mentioned to me months ago by one of my clients (you know who you are, and I sincerely thank you), yet mysteriously missing from my memory. Somehow, I’d completely forgotten her recommendation.

20130822_155206[1]I tugged my husband toward the menu posted in the window, excitedly explaining how I’d learned of this place. Scanning the menu, our taste buds began whispering “when, for the love of God, is lunch?” Fortunately, we’d arrived at the right time (the fam, wholly uninterested in “weird food” was lunching around the corner at a ubiquitous chain, which shall remain anonymous). Unfortunately (for us), Native Foods was hopping, and we were on a be-there-in-time-for-the-first-pitch Cubs/Cards time schedule. Sadly, we had to skip it. Vehemently, we vowed to return.

Native Foods Café is a vegan restaurant, and the loop location I’d stumbled upon is one of three in Chicago. 20130818_153409[1]What makes this especially astonishing to me is that years ago, when I began eating a vegetarian diet, finding a restaurant like this in the meat and potatoes Midwest was similar to moving heaven and earth – essentially impossible. I am giddy about the many vegan/vegetarian/plant-based restaurants popping up in and around Chicago. It makes “Eating Well While Eating Out” so much easier.

As it turns out, I returned to Native Foods Café at the close of the whirlwind weekend, albeit sans husband (long story). But I took plenty of food pics, shared my (very positive) experience with him, and promised we’d go back to try other options, together. On a closing note, I must mention that not everything on the menu is uber-healthy. Native Foods serves fries, battered “chicken” (a combo of soy, wheat and pea protein), island jack fritters (code for FRIED), and plenty of desserts. Remember, vegan or not, calories are still calories!

"Saigon Roll"

“Saigon Roll”

"Bangkok Curry Bowl"

“Bangkok Curry Bowl”

Cooking My Way Through “Forks Over Knives” – Better Late Than Never

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Though “The How-To Companion” to the feature documentary “Forks Over Knives” has been out for a couple of years, I’ve only recently picked up a copy. The reasons for only now getting to this small but mighty book are many, but primarily, I didn’t know it existed.

Yum Yum!

Yum Yum!

I did, however, know about the documentary, and this past weekend I actually viewed it. What can I say? It’s a “must-see”, even if like me you’re a little late to the party. As a nutrition professional, my radar is always up for the latest on the health and nutrition frontlines, but it can be a struggle to keep up with it all. I mean, even though I LOVE my field, there are times I want to simply absorb a great foreign film and give my professional brain a (temporary) break.

That said, I highly recommend both the documentary and the book (you can check out both from your local library to sample, then purchase your own copy). The great thing about the book is that parts 1 and 2 illustrate the connection between a plant-based diet and health (in a reader-friendly way), and highlight some of the folks featured/profiled/starring in the film, while part 3 is all about the recipes. The bonus? Part 3 is bigger than parts 1 and 2 combined! Why is that so exciting? Because the recipes offer so much in the way of variety that I can’t imagine my taste buds ever getting bored. Oh, and every, single recipe that I’ve prepared has been surprisingly DELICIOUS.

It’s not that the actual deliciousness of plant-based recipes surprises me. On the contrary. I’m a longtime vegetarian/vegan constantly on the prowl for new plant-based recipes and ideas. The surprise comes from discovering such a strong consistency of deliciousness. Sometimes cookbooks have a handful of stellar recipes while the remainder merely fill pages. I’m five recipes into this cookbook and haven’t found that to be the case – so for me, it’s a winner.

I’m including a soup recipe here, along with the changes I made. Unfortunately there’s no photo – we ate it before I snapped a pic! Even though summer is in full swing here in the Chicago area, my husband and I love soup. Any time of year, really. It’s easy to tote to work, quick to re-heat for lunch, and is typically a meal-in-one-bowl. Love soup’s simplicity and utter satisfaction, especially this one.

 Yellow Split Pea and Leek Soup

2 cups yellow split peas

6 cups water

2 carrots, cut into small dice (I had no carrots, so I used a large sweet potato, peeled and diced)

1 red onion, cut into small dice

3 leeks, white and light green parts, cut into small dice

4 celery stalks, cut into small dice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari

1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and add the peas. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the peas are soft (start checking them 45 minutes into the cooking time; it will vary).

2. When the peas are soft, add the carrots, onion, leeks and celery. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add salt and tamari, stir to blend well.

** I used an immersion blender to produce a smooth, creamy textured soup. I also added a cube of vegetarian bouillon (can’t remember the brand) along with the vegetables. Although I used water as the base, a good vegetable stock would also work nicely.

 

 

 

Shedding “The Shoulds”

Friday, June 28th, 2013

This past week I sort of felt like I was in a nutrition therapy session loop (nothing to do with my Chicago loop office, just a rather continuous conversational loop).

Repeatedly my clients used the word “should”, like this: “I SHOULD not have ordered that sandwich, but I did anyway”. “I thought I SHOULD have eaten less of that, but it tasted so good”. “It was my birthday/anniversary/golf outing, so even though I didn’t think I SHOULD eat X, I told myself it was ok”.

See what I mean? Over and over and over. The theme of “should”.

There’s nothing wrong with “shoulds” when they’re used to keep you safe, healthy or happy, or make things convenient. For example, you should brush, floss, and shower daily (healthy, happy – you and others). You should keep gas in your car’s tank (safe), and extra toilet paper under the bathroom sink (convenience). Outside of that, where else does “should” serve you, or serve the process of eating intuitively and mindfully?

That’s the thing about “shoulds”. They don’t allow you to intuitively listen to, nor honor, the subtle signals that your body constantly sends you.

Your body will tell you what you’re in the mood for (maybe you actually DO want a sandwich). It will tell you how much to eat (maybe the amount you ate was adequate, instead of too much). And, your body will tell you when you’ve had enough (we all eat “celebratory” foods at celebratory occasions – your body will signal you to stop).

You can’t out-think, out-analyze, out-rationalize, or outsmart your body’s wisdom. . .don’t even try. Yet when my clients employ “shoulds” based on outside information (plate size, occasion, menu items), that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.

Speaking of “shoulds”, I frequently remind my clients that exposing themselves to foods they feel they should avoid lessens the power of that particular food. The food becomes less scary, and they’re less frequently confronted with, “I should not have eaten that entire batch of cookies”.

To that end, I’m sharing one of my favorite oatmeal cookie recipes; cookies regularly top the “should not eat” list.

I respectfully disagree.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES (Vegan)

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1/3 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh is best)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together the soy milk and flax seeds. Add in the sugar and oil and mix until it resembles caramel, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, spices, and salt, mixing the dry ingredients as they are being added. Fold in the oatmeal and raisins.

3. Drop dough in generous tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheets. Flatten the tops a bit (use a spoon dipped in warm water) since they don’t spread much. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container.

From “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

 

 

Countdown to 1/2 Marathon – Day 3

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

48 hours from now, I will have completed my half marathon. I can’t believe it’s so close!

Essentially, I’m finished training – completely. At this point, there’s nothing else physically that I can do to get stronger, faster, or fitter. I follow a religious foot, Achilles, and calf stretching and strengthening routine that I’ll do tonight and tomorrow; can’t really ever overdo that, and it’s helpful, even in this final hour.

Today I walked 1/2 mile to warm up, then ran an easy two miles. By easy, I’m referring to intensity. I followed that up with a yoga class – it felt really good to fit in some extended total-body stretching. The instructor’s emphasis for today’s class was on stretching and opening the sides of the body; loved it! Yoga is a wonderful antidote to running and strength training, and I try to fit it in as often as I can – unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting it because my training has taken precedence. It’s ironic that we offer Vinyasa yoga for beginners here at the NutriFit studio http://www.eatwellgetstrong.com/yoga.html, but since I’m working when class is in session, I never get to reap the benefits. Too bad. . .it’s an awesome class!

A couple of days ago I was kicking around the idea of bringing food along so that once we check into our hotel we’re not held captive by over-priced, underwhelming restaurant food. It’s rare that food bothers my digestive system, but now would be a ridiculously horrible time for it to be one of those rare times. . .bringing my own food just makes more sense, especially since we’re driving. My brother likes the idea as well, so that sealed the deal and I decided to go for it.

In advance, I’ll cook up a big pot of whole wheat pasta (extremely difficult to find at a restaurant), saute’ veggies and vegan meatballs for me, and bring shrimp or chicken for my brother, nephew and husband. I’ll toss a huge salad of spinach, mushrooms, and strawberries, mix up my special olive oil-based dressing, and bring fruit and dark chocolate for dessert. When it’s time to eat, I’ll simply plug in the wok, heat the pasta and toppings, and serve up the rest. Cheap, delicious, nutritious, and smart. Well, except for the dish washing; bathtub? Nah. . .just kidding.

I’ll take pics and let you know how it works out in my post-run follow-up blog.

For now, here’s the recipe for the salad dressing – it’s divine!

VERSATILE VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small garlic clove, smashed

½ teaspoon ground, black pepper

In a small glass jar, combine orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic and black pepper. Put the lid on the jar; shake contents vigorously until thoroughly mixed.

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!

This salad is actually tossed with this dressing. Yum!