Sunday, June 26, 2011


Some times it's three strikes you're out. In this case, it's third times a charm. You see, I've been attempting to bake a clean, or reasonably so, pie since I saw the recent issue of Clean Eating magazine.

First attempt was the cover recipe: banana chocolate freezer pie. Meh. Not successful, in that I don't like eating shards of ice in my pie. Might as well just stick to my breakfast smoothie for those flavors.

Second attempt was a variation on their strawberry lime pie. I didn't want to use tofu in my pie (ask me about the tofu "cheesecake" my sister used to bring home from the hippie bakery in the 70s some time), so I used greek yogurt instead. It didn't set up, plus, I couldn't find no salt cottage cheese, so the flavors were off.

Third attempt was a variation of a no-bake berry cheesecake recipe. Eureeka. The pie set, it tastes good, and it's actually full of healthy, low fat, whole grain ingredients. In fact, with ingredients like fruit, oats, almonds, whole wheat, low fat cream cheese and fat free greek yogurt, I just had a slice for breakfast. ;)

Strawberry Cheesecake Pie


1/2 c oat flour
1/2 c almond flour
1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/4 c rice flour
1/4 c cocoa roast almonds, finely ground (I couldn't dig out my regular almonds from the freezer, and I had these in the pantry. Feel free to use regular almonds)
3 T butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t sea salt
1 1/2 t splenda (you could use 2 T agave or brown rice syrup in place of splenda)

Mix flours and other dry ingredients together in bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. With processor running, add in the cold butter and process until it has the appearance of large crumbs. Slowly add in the water until the dough combines into a ball. If you need to add more flour because it's too sticky, now would be the time. (I originally started with 1/4 c white wheat flour, but needed a little more, which is why I put 1/2 c in the ingredients list) BTW, the reason I'm using white wheat flour and rice flour is because I don't have whole wheat pastry flour, plus I was trying to make this a lower gluten crust.)

Remove the dough from the processor bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375.

After your dough has chilled and the oven has heated, press the dough into your pie pan. You'll note that this is what could be termed a "short" crust. It acts more like shortbread than a stretchy dough that you'd roll out. Bake the crust for 20 minutes at 375. Allow to cool completely before you fill the crust.

The filling:

1 1/2 lbs strawberries, hulled and quartered. (1 pound goes into the pie, the 1/2 pound you'll cook down as a topping)
1/4 cup water
2 packets of unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 packages of low fat Neufchatel cheese (aka low fat cream cheese. I don't know why they just don't call it cream cheese... whatever...)
1 6 oz container Chobani fat free vanilla greek yogurt (this stuff is like crack, I tell you)
1/2 c. splenda (you can use real sugar if you want to)
2 packets of True Lemon lemon crystals or 1 T fresh lemon juice

Pour the 1/4 cup of water into a small sauce pan. Sprinkle the 2 packets of gelatin over the water and let it soften for about 15 minutes. Stir with a spoon, and over low heat, make sure that the gelatin has all dissolved and that you don't have clumps.

Put the cream cheese, greek yogurt, splenda and about 3-4 cups of the quartered strawberries in the bowl of the food processor. Process until well combined. You'll need to stop a few times and scrape the mixture off the sides of the bowl. When it's thoroughly mixed and you don't see streaks of cream cheese or yogurt in the pink mixture, while processor is going, slowly add the gelatin mixture in through the feed tube of the processor. Pour into cool pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 t splenda (again, you can use regular sugar or even agave syrup if you like)
splash of orange juice (if you have, it's not necessary)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook down the strawberries until they start to break down.

Here's the pie just after I took it out of the refrigerator this morning and removed the plastic wrap. As you can see, the plastic leaves marks in the top of the pie. It'll still taste great though, and you're going to drizzle strawberry topping on the pie anyway... ;)

And here, my friends, is the final product, mere seconds before I dug my fork into the pie. So, yogurt, fruit, almonds, oats... sounds like breakfast pie to me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Burst Into Summer - week 1

The Shrinking Jeans Burst Into Summer bootcamp challenge is in full force this week. We started last week with a mini-challenge: hydration. It's been so stinking hot in Texas that hydration is super important. This week's mini-challenge is to make sure we eat breakfast every day this week. Also super important.

I don't know about you, but I find that I really have to condition myself to make changes if I want to continue to treat myself properly. Maybe it's a helpful reminder to go fill up your water bottle. Or maybe it's a mini-challenge issued to make sure you grab something, a yogurt, a Larabar, just something, for breakfast. (No, just a cup of coffee doesn't count as breakfast). Since I started working out with my trainer, I find that I really need to eat every couple of hours. Sunday, I made the mistake, after doing 6 miles in the morning) of not having enough to eat and hit a wall when The Aussie and I were at Cabela's (the doggies gave him a gift card for Doggy Daddy Day). Luckily, they have a food area and I was able to get a salad that had smoked turkey and hard boiled egg. I was a wreck.

Another thing I've discovered about myself is that I really need to track what I'm eating. Some times I'll log the food into my BodyMedia account, but at the very least, I'm tracking what I'm eating and drinking in an excel spreadsheet. It's helping me see where I could fit in a few more vegetables with my lunch, or perhaps a piece of fruit along with some protein for a snack. And I've also discovered that my idea of breakfast is very flexible. Some days, like today for instance, a greek yogurt with a half a cup of granola is what I feel like eating. Other days, I feel like having leftovers from dinner, or a sandwich made with a bagel thin or sandwich thin, some smoked turkey and a Laughing Cow wedge.

Today is W1D2 of the bootcamp portion of the challenge. We're doing the kind of exercises that boost your metabolism and work your core. It's been a while since I've done sprint intervals, and I have to tell you, I forgot how much they kick my butt. In a good way. And the side plank dips and one arm tricep extensions are good and challenging.

I've needed to be challenged. I've needed to get out of my slump. I've needed to push myself off of the plateau I've been on for a very long time. I'm headed in the right direction: today's weigh in was 170.6. Definitely the right direction, and I'm going to keep moving forward. Go Team 10!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Burst Into Summer

I have to admit it. I need challenges to keep me motivated. Maybe I'll be successfull at them, maybe I won't be (Marathon Week), but I'll at least try. Last week I signed up for the latest challenge hosted by the kick ass ladies over at Shrinking Jeans. Good thing I did. I knew the birthday present weight of 169.2 was too good to last. (Thank you Benihana chef Buddy for all of the soy sauce saturated goodness that was my birthday dinner celebrated on Monday night) This morning's weigh in was 172.8. I totally forgot that today was weigh in day, so I'd already eaten breakfast (1 cup Fiber One cereal with 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze and a large cup of coffee with 2 ounces of 2% milk).

Burst Into Summer Challenge

Let's rock this challenge, Team 10!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me :)

Well this is a nice birthday present to me. I haven't seen anything below 170 in quite a while. Now if only my husband hadn't thought my birthday was tomorrow... ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I really wanted to like it...

I really did. By "it," I mean the cover recipe in a healthy eating magazine. It's a banana chocolate freezer pie. What's not to like, it's like your morning smoothie. It was easy to make, I had the ingredients on hand, and I had my own wheat free crust that I wanted to try out. Maybe it was my freezer, I don't know, but the texture of frozen pie was not pleasing. It was like little shards of ice imbedded in the pie. It tasted good, but it wasn't fun to eat. This won't deter me though. They have a berry pie recipe that looks good too, so that's up next! The strawberries are waiting!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eat Your Greens

This is the first year I've grown swiss chard in my garden, and to say it's done well would be an understatement. Sauteing anything with garlic and olive oil is going to be great, but you can get tired of it if you have a LOT of swiss chard to use. I recently picked up a copy of Fine Cooking's Cook Fresh magazine. There was a recipe for escarole with pine nuts, raisins and capers that sounded interesting. I didn't have any escarole, but I had lots of swiss chard!

Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts, Raisins and Capers

1 large bunch of swiss chard
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 T olive oil, use 1 T w/greens, 1/2 t w/garlic
2 T pine nuts, toasted
handful of raisins
1-2 T capers
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t balsamic vinegar
squeeze of lemon or dash of True Lemon

Tear your swiss chard into pieces and rinse really, really well. This is the bowl from my salad spinner. After I remove the pieces of chard to the spinning basket I use the water, which has turned light green, to water my houseplants.

I recently wrote about the folks over at True Lemon sending me a True Citrus test kit to try out. While I actually did have a lemon in the fridge, I wanted to try the True Lemon crystals in this recipe.

Heat up a large pan to medium high heat, I've used my wok, and add 1 t of olive oil. Swirl it around the bottom to coat, and then add your greens. Be careful of splatters when the greens, which will still have a little water on them, hit the hot pan. It will look like a lot, but it really cooks down.

In a separate pan, toast the pine nuts over medium high heat. When they're golden brown, remove from the pan.

I use tongs to turn the greens so that they cook evenly. After about 5 minutes, cover, reduce to medium heat, and let the greens cook down for about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan you toasted the pine nuts in. Add in the garlic and lightly brown, making sure you don't burn the garlic. Add in a handful of raisins along with the capers. I used a little of the brine from the capers to help plump up the raisins.

When the swiss chard is done, remove the cover and add in the raisin mixture and the pine nuts. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Finish it off with either a squeeze of lemon or a few dashes of True Lemon. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Friday Night Recap: Runs With Garden Tools, Plays In Dirt...

When I was younger, my Dad had a huge vegetable garden. I love most vegetables, but wasn't a big fan of gardening. Weeding and picking beans. Ooh. Fun. Funny how things turn out, actually.

Fast forward 30 or so years, and you'll find me playing in the dirt in my plots at our community garden. Aside from the fact that I am part of the group that got this garden off the ground, I'm proud of all we've accomplished in the last two years. This is our second season, and we're already off to an amazing start. Just yesterday, we donated 50 pounds of fresh, organic vegetables to a local foodbank.

This is my first plot. It's our second year together. Digging up potatoes. Fresh potatoes are amazing.

Here's some of my haul. This next is my second plot. It's our first year together.

One of the few vegetables I'm not a fan of: eggplant. I'm growing them for the foodbank. Aren't they pretty?

A zucchini is hiding in here. But I found it! Ooh, pretty. Nothing like digging in the dirt to ruin your hands. I had been wearing gloves, but it was easier to find the potatoes without them.

Heading home. 99 degrees and it's 7pm. Here's the haul of 7 pounds of potatoes! A bunch of these guys will head back to the garden on Saturday morning for harvest and delivery to the foodbank.

Anyone need some herbs? My sage and oregano are taking over the courtyard bed, and my rosemary is taking over the front bed. And yes, that rosemary does span the entire field of this picture. The inner part had to be cut out a year ago after the first bad freeze killed that section of the plant. This rosemary was a birthday present from my sister 5 years ago. It came in a 1 gallon sized container. I'd say rosemary does quite well in North Texas, wouldn't you!?

Now it's time to relax on the patio with a shandy, my kindle and get the grill fired up for dinner. Here's Puppygirl and The Boy in picture 1 and Featherbutt (in the cage), ShortStuff (behind the chair) and Puppygirl in picture 2.

Can I Get A Few Do-Overs, please?

Warning: Grumpy too early in the morning rant coming up....

I just want to go back to sleep and start this day over again. Because I needed to beat the Texas heat (we're in for another 100 degree day) I was up at 5:30 to get dressed to go running. Not fun, in the first place. I'm dressed, water bottle filled, I go get my iPod and my Garmin. I strap on my Garmin and hit the power button. Then I hit play on the iPod. Hmm. The iPod isn't working. I thought I had put it on charge for long enough, but I guess not. Okay, I'll go without tunes - it won't be the first time. So I grab my water bottle and head out the door. At the bottom of the driveway I hit Start Timer on the Garmin, and off I go. A block and a half away, I realize that the Garmin isn't showing distance or pace. Just peachy. I stand there for 10 minutes trying to get a satellite lock, and it just.won' By this time, the sun is coming up, and there are few things I dislike more than running in the sun when it's this warm out. I'll go without one of the two, but no iPod and no Garmin? It's a total first world problem, I know, but if I'm not going to run with no tunes and no tracking, I might as well be on the treadmill at the gym, where it's air conditioned. Two strikes against me. Sorry. Do Over #1.

I should note at this point that my trainer, Barbie's Evil Twin, would ask me if I wanted a straw so I could suck it up.

Back home I go. I let The Boy out of his crate, and all three dogs are circling me like furry land sharks. The Boy stands on his hind legs and puts his paws up to greet me. Very sweet. But then Puppygirl decides to give me an "up" too, resulting in me getting raked on my arm by her toenails. Ouch. Do Over #2.

I let the dogs out in the yard to do their business. I sit down on one of the patio chairs to hang out while they're busy. ShortStuff comes over and hops up on my lap to snuggle and give kisses. (I have to say, having a stronger core is good when a 35 pound dog hops up on your lap). We have a nice snuggle, but she starts squirming, so I lift her down. All her wriggling causes me to smack the top of my hand into the corner of the next patio chair. The heavy, metal patio chair. I really hope there were no neighbors in their backyards, 'cause a choice word came out of my mouth then. Loudly. Do Over #3.

Since I'm not going for a run, I have to at least take the doggies for their morning walk. Usually I take all 3 together. Let me tell you, that's an exercise in patience, core and arm strength. Puppygirl and The Boy are each around 68 pounds, and ShortStuff is 35 - I'm halfway to a sled team. This morning I decided to take Puppygirl first and then the other two. We've walked about a block when she needs to do her business. Afterwards, I'm bending down to pick up after her, when she starts in with the "kicking the grass behind her" thing. Just my luck to get a big clump of wet grass in the face. I am glad it was just grass, though. Do Over #4.

All this fun by 6:30 in the morning. I wanna go back to bed. Harumph.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Citrusy Goodness!

Now that the weather is heating up, I have been looking for ways to lighten up my recipes and cook with really fresh ingredients. I'm also trying to eat cleaner, and one way to brighten up the flavors in dishes with with citrus. A great company that I've tweeted with a number of times recently asked if I'd like to sample their product, True Lemon. Would I? I would love to, I replied. I absolutely love citrus, but I always end up buying too many lemons or limes and end up having to toss them out when they go bad. Or I'm making something and think that a squeeze of lime would be fantastic in it, but I've run out of limes, or the only one left is shrunken and dried and is hiding on the bottom of the veggie drawer. With True Lemon, problem solved!

I was so excited to open up the box to see what goodies were inside. Boy, was I surprised at the variety! There was lemon and lime, orange, raspberry lemonade...What I really love is that these products are all natural. They're made from 100% real fruit. The lemonades are sweetened with stevia, so they're low calorie too.

These are the cooking products. There's lemon, lime and orange packets, as well as lemon and lime shakers. I'm looking forward to cooking with the citrus packets. I have a few summery pies in mind, and as soon as I've worked out the recipes I'll be posting them to share with you. Key lime pie anyone?? :)

These are the drink mixes. So far I've had the original lemonade, the raspberry lemonade and the orange. I really try to stay on top of my hydration, especially since we've already had a few 100 degree days here in North Texas. These drink mixes have been fantastic. They aren't overly sweet, which I really appreciate. The flavors of the fruit really come through.

These little guys are my new favorite kitchen products. Last night I made a southwestern chicken salad. It was fairly simple: mixed greens, chicken breast from the rotisserie chook we had the night before, cherry tomatoes, black beans, pine nuts, cilantro and light ranch dressing with chili powder. What made it really zing was the True Lime I sprinkled on it. It, no pun intended, truely did taste like fresh lime juice was squeezed on my salad. No more spoiled limes, yay!

I am really looking forward to cooking more with all of these products. I'll keep you posted!