Dinner

4 Ingredient Tempeh Taco Filling

Since moving to DC almost 11 (!!) years ago, I have become a TOTAL weakling when it comes to cold weather. When it’s below 40 degrees outside, all I want to do is put on my flannel PJs, curl up under the covers, and have someone bring me something warm and delicious to eat. Let’s pretend that has more to do with being in DC and less to do with the fact that no matter what I do, I keep getting further and further from 22…

Anyway, since I don’t have someone to actually bring me food in bed, the next best thing is throwing together a super simple and delicious meal that requires minimal effort and is ready in 20 minutes (or less). And last night’s dinner did just that. Though I can’t promise I didn’t write this from under the covers in my PJs…

Tempeh Taco Filling

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Entire recipe yields 3 servings.
  • Each serving is a generous cup

Ingredients:

Ingredients

    • 1 onion
    • 1 package Organic 3 Grain Tempeh (8 oz.)
    • 1 package frozen mixed pepper strips
    • 1 packet reduced sodium fajita seasoning mix

Directions:

First, chop up the onion and crumble up the tempeh.

Chop Onion and Crumble Tempeh

I crumbled the tempeh by chopping it into small cubes and then crumbling it with my hands.

Next up, heat a pan over medium heat and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Cook Onion

Once the onion is starting to look clear, add in the crumbled tempeh and mix it together with a spoon.

Add Tempeh

Cook for another 5 minutes until tempeh is starting to brown.

Last, add in your frozen bell peppers and fajita seasoning, and stir it until combined.

Add Peppers and Seasoning

Because I used frozen peppers, I didn’t need to add any water to the dish since they give off enough on their own.  If you use fresh peppers you’ll want to add a little water so it doesn’t get too dry. Cook for a total of 10 more minutes until the peppers are heated through.

Finished

Do ANYTHING you can think of with this filling. My dinner of choice last night was to have it stuffed in a pita with light shredded mozzarella, and it was deliiiiiicious.

Indulgent

It seriously felt so indulgent to be eating that, almost like a cheesesteak! As pictured, that was 9 PointsPlus (6 for the filling, 2 for the pita, 1 for the cheese) and it was sooo satisfying.

For lunch today, I’m eating it as a taco salad over spinach with cheese and salsa. Can’t wait!

What’s your favorite meal to make in 20 minutes or less?

Restaurant Week at Sushi Taro

I have always steered very clear of Restaurant Week (RW) in DC in the past for many reasons. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, RW happens twice a year – once in January and once in August – and many restaurants offer 3 course lunches for $20.12 or 3 course dinners for $35.12 for the entire week. A lot of big cities around the country do restaurant week, and it’s supposed to be a good opportunity to try out restaurants you might not be able to afford otherwise, or just ones you’ve wanted to try and haven’t gotten around to.

When I go out to eat, I don’t normally order 3 courses for myself, so that’s a big part of the reason I avoid it. Also, having worked in the restaurant business myself, RW was always so chaotic that the service offered was never up to par with regular standards, and the food was never as good. On top of all that, I never planned for it in advance, so by the time I even contemplated checking somewhere out, all the good places have been taken.

This time around for some reason, as soon as the email went out announcing restaurant week a month or two ago, I made a reservation at several fancy schmancy places I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t gotten around to. I wasn’t even sure if I’d make it out to any of the places but figured reservations couldn’t hurt in case I did want to go when the time came. After that, I sort of forgot about my inclination to make so many reservations, until I got a reminder from OpenTable of all my reservations coming up.

The one that made the cut was Sushi Taro, an upscale, authentic Japanese restaurant located in the Dupont Circle area.

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I’d heard great things about the restaurant and had been wanting to try it for some time,  but it’s quite expensive so definitely would be more of a special occasion place than a don’t feel like cooking sort of night out. After doing some browsing about DC restaurant week on the web, I read a lot about it being a good value for RW, so at that point I was sold.

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My date for the night was my good friend Elena, and we had gone back and forth pouring over the menu all week leading up to our reservation since we found it on their facebook page.

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The deal for restaurant week there is that you get four courses for the $35.12. The tasting menu that you get normally costs $80, and doesn’t include the dessert, so it was certainly a good deal. We also ended up both getting the pairings, which brought the cost up to $50 per person, but was totally worth it in my opinion.

The first course was a box tasting plate that had three items that you didn’t get to choose.

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It came with a 5 oz. pour of Kirin Ichiban beer, which was a nice accompaniment.

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Starting from the right, there was a soba noodle dish with tempura pieces, nori, and fried scallion in a light soy dressing. This had such a nice blend of textures and flavors and really tasted wonderful. My only complaint is that there wasn’t a little more!

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The middle had four small pieces of sashimi – two salmon and two yellowfin tuna. The fish was as fresh as could be and literally melted in my mouth – absolutely delicious.

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The left side had the weirdest thing of the evening.

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Jelly coated crab in a creamy corn sauce, garnished with a slice of okra.

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Now I normally consider myself a VERY adventurous eater, but I just could not get down with this. I tried it, but the jelly coating was flavorless gelatin and just didn’t do it for me at all. The other two parts of this tasting box were so awesome though that it made up for this part of the dish for sure.

The second course was the only hot course and one where we had a choice. In addition to what we both ordered, there was a 10 hour braised black pork belly with sweetened soy sauce or a tempura fried softshell crab with vegetables. We were both trying to be healthy, but after seeing the softshell crab come out for other tables, I would definitely give that one a try if you need a little tempura in your life.

The dish we both went with was a black cod marinated in a sweet soy sauce, which was also awesome.

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It came with a piece of eggplant and a sweet pepper, and was very buttery and delicious. It was cooked with the skin on so the fish was very flavorful, yet mild, and was just the right size.

This warm course came with two small pours of sake, one filtered and one unfiltered.

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The sake on the left that was filtered was dry and very refreshing. The one on the right that looks a little milky was the unfiltered one, and it was a little on the sweet side but also delicious.

The third course was a sushi sampling with three choices. With my little research on the dinner there, I found out that the 7 piece course was also known as the amateur, so I went with the 5 piece option, though there was also a 4 piece option known as the sushi foodie. The sushi also came with your choice of half a california or spicy tuna roll, but we both opted for the spicy tuna.

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The fish was as fresh as could be and a really nice assortment as far as sushi options go. From the left, there was tuna, snapper, mackerel, octopus, and raw sweet shrimp. The only one that was new-to-me was the raw shrimp, and it was a little weird to be eating raw shrimp, though I’m sure that was 98.5% mental. When I go out to sushi, I normally order SO MUCH more than what is pictured above, but just having that amount really made me savor every bite. I loved it.

This course came with one final glass of sake, another filtered, dry sake that was perfect with the sushi.

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The last course was a very small scoop of ice cream – your choice of mango or green tea. We both got the green tea ice cream – which is hands down my favorite kind of ice cream in the world.

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It was about half a scoop, which was the perfect size to end the meal with.

This meal overall was out of this world. I was really impressed with the attentive and friendly service, descriptions given on each item put down before us, and the quality of the food. Our server did not seem at all rushed and made sure to check in on us frequently throughout the meal. I also was happy because I left the restaurant feeling great – like I had a good, solid meal, but not at all overly stuffed like can happen with 3-4 courses. I would hands down recommend Sushi Taro for restaurant week and plan to make a reservation there each time the week comes around!

Do you have restaurant week where you live? What’s your approach – try new-to-you restaurants, fancy places you don’t frequent, or avoid it all together?

Lentil Bolognese Sauce

When I was a kid, pasta with Bolognese sauce was always a favorite of mine and one of my go-to’s at any Italian restaurant. The thick, hearty sauce felt like a meal in itself, so when ordered with pasta, it was like getting two for one in my mind. It felt like such a step up from regular sauce and I could not understand why anyone would conceivably choose plain old marinara when they could have Bolognese.

That said, I haven’t had Bolognese sauce in a long time.  When I was toying with what to make for dinner last night, I went through the protein options I had on hand – tofu, tempeh, quinoa… and then I spotted the lentils.

I absolutely love lentils. They are delicious, hearty, and cheap, plus are the only dried bean that not only requires no soaking, but also cooks in 15-20 minutes. Lentils make an awesome substitute for ground meat (see my Lentil Loaf and Spiced Lentil Mushroom Tacos) because the texture and satisfaction is there and you can barely tell the difference from the “real thing”. After toying with a few ideas in my head, I decided exactly what I would make for dinner.

Lentil Bolognese Sauce

This sauce is delicious and satisfying, plus much healthier than its counterpart. A cup of regular Bolognese sauce clocks in at 13 pts+, whereas my version has just 3 pts+ per generous one cup serving. This would be a great recipe to make for a crowd because it will please the meatiest of eaters – and you don’t even have to tell them it’s vegan. It freezes well, and can be used anywhere you’d use regular Bolognese sauce – on pasta, in lasagna, with gnocchi, or as pictured below with polenta.

Yields 8, 1 cup servings. 3 pts+ each.

Here’s what you need for success:

  • 1 cup dried lentils (any variety)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

Plus…

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup veggie stock (or chicken)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

First, cook your lentils. Rinse them and then add them to a pot with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. (You can chop your veggies up while the lentils are cooking if you haven’t done so already.)

Heat up the oil in a pot or dutch oven and then add in your onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Once that’s soft, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Next, add in your celery and carrots.

And cook until all veggies are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Now, add in the rest of your ingredients – the mushrooms, canned tomatoes (with their juice), cooked lentils, and stock.

Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.

Cover and then turn down the heat and let cook for 20-25 minutes.

Finally, using a stick blender or a regular blender (but be careful and do it in small batches since the sauce is very hot if you use a regular blender!), blend until desired consistency.

I blended mine until the consistency was uniform, and eerily like meat sauce!

Season with salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!

I froze one quart of the sauce, and kept the other quart out to use.

I wasn’t really in the mood for pasta, so when I spotted this tube of polenta from Trader Joe’s in my cupboard I grabbed it.

The entire thing has 9 pts+, so I divided it into 3, and cooked 2 of the servings in a pan with nonstick spray (one for dinner, one for lunch).

Once that was done, I topped half with a generous serving of the Lentil Bolognese sauce and to un-veganize it, added 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.

The sauce was so thick and delicious and stood up to my fork!

It really packs a punch since its so hearty with the lentils, but I had trouble stopping at just one serving because its so delicious! I see vegetarian lasagna in my near future!

Do you ever make your own sauce or mostly use canned/jarred sauces? What’s your favorite kind of pasta sauce? I love Bolognese (obviously) but vodka sauce is a close second! I usually use jarred sauce, but spice it up by adding my own veggies/spices. This was super easy and delicious though, so I imagine you’ll be seeing this again on here!

Ingredient Spotlight: Lotus Root

One advantage to dating a chef, besides the obvious fact that it’s nice to have a man who can cook, is that exotic ingredients sometimes make their way into my kitchen unannounced. Like the other night when he walked in with these.

They basically look like skinned potatoes with the ends cut off – nothing special.

But then when you glance a little closer…

You can see something special is going on with these things.

Never in my life had I seen or even heard of anything like it before. I had no clue what it was, and after looking at it, all I could tell was that it was pretty.

When Wil told me it was Lotus Root, I immediately googled it and here’s what I found out:

  • Lotus root is popular in southern and eastern Asia
  • It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and lots of other vitamins and nutrients
  • It has a crisp, slightly crunchy texture, like a water chestnut
  • It’s a starchy root veggie, similar to a potato
  • They brown pretty quickly just like a potato after being exposed to air, so soak it in water with lemon juice or vinegar until you’re ready to cook it
  • They are 0 pts+ on Weight Watchers (score!)
  • You can get them at most Asian grocery stores, or if you score a chef for a boyfriend (or girlfriend!) 😉
  • You probably shouldn’t eat it raw

It’s kind of sad how excited I was all day yesterday to go home and experiment with the lotus root. I use the term “kind of” loosely to mean extremely.

I ended up slicing up one of the roots thinly. I seriously could not get over how gorgeous it was.

I prepared the lotus root in the simplest way – by sauteing it in 2 tsp canola oil.

They soaked the oil up right away and I flipped them when they were barely browned and cooked them evenly on the other side.

Then I set them aside off the heat while I chopped up some Asian-esuqe things to go with the lotus root that I had on hand to make a stir fry.

Tofu, carrot, green onion, garlic, and ginger. I cooked that all together plus a little nonstick spray and some soy sauce.

Once that mixture was cooked through, I tossed the lotus root back into the mix, and served the stir fry over some coconut rice (recipe coming soon).

This was seriously the best dinner I’ve made at home in a long, long time (and I’ve made some pretty incredible dinners recently!). The texture of the lotus root was perfect – a little softer than a water chestnut, but still slightly crisp. From cooking them the oil, they took on a caramelized flavor and were edging on sweet. And the coconut rice I served them with? We won’t even go there. Heaven.

I seriously cannot wait for lunch so I can eat the leftovers. Let’s see how long I can make it.

Have you ever heard of or seen lotus root before? What’s the most exotic ingredient you’ve ever experimented with at home or been served at a restaurant?

PS: This is my 500th post!!! Crazy.

Apartment Gym Tour

Woohoo it’s finally Friday! Three big reasons I’m happy today:

  1. I have no major plans this weekend besides an 8 mile run and some much needed relaxation.
  2. I got an email yesterday and it looks like things are going to work out with me working for Weight Watchers!! I still need to figure out a schedule and make sure there’s a meeting I can “own” and commit to every week, but assuming my availability works out with the open meetings, I got the job!! Exciting stuff.
  3. I ordered Beth’s Journey business cards! My friend Sydney designed them for me, and you can see them here. It makes me feel legit!

Good stuff!

Last night, I was having a lot trouble getting motivated to go to the gym. It was one of those nights where I just wasn’t feeling it. Since I skipped Wednesday night’s workout, I really needed to get a 4 mile run in so I’d be in good shape for running 8 this weekend. My main strategy in getting myself ready to workout even if I don’t feel like it is to change into my gym clothes immediately when I get home so I have less of an excuse.

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Then I remembered I’ve been wanting to give you guys a tour of my apartment gym since I work out in there almost every time I work out lately, and that was the final push to get me out the door.

I’m lucky that my apartment gym is pretty nice. There are three separate areas – one side with the cardio and weight machines, one side with free weights and a weight station, and a separate room with some spinning bikes and a good amount of room to stretch in and do ab work.

For cardio, there are 3 treadmills which have been recently been replaced so they’re in really good shape (and they sync with my Polar HRM so I can see my heart rate the whole time!)

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There are also 2 ellipticals and 4 bikes, so 9 cardio machines in total.

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On the opposite side of the same room, there are six weighed machines. Lat pulldown, row, shoulder press, chest press, one for your calves (can’t recall the name!) and one for your quads.

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On the other side of this room, there’s an area with more weights.

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I like this part a lot because there’s a mirror I can stand in front of when I’m doing free weights, plus its pretty open so you don’t feel as crowded as you do in the area with weight machines.

The last part of the gym I got a really crappy picture of because people were in there and I didn’t want to skeeve them out.

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This is a separate room with these 3 spin bikes, a few ab machines, and the other side of the room that you can’t see is just open space with some mats and stability balls for stretching/floor work.

The best part about the gym besides the fact that it has a lot of equipment to choose from, is that its on the penthouse level of my building, overlooking the airport. The treadmills face directly out the window towards the airport, so when I’m running I can watch planes take off and land. I love that.

I left the gym feeling a lot better than I felt before I went…

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Creepy, yes, but also happy I got in a good workout. Smile

I pounded out 4 miles in 38:36, and felt really good once I got past the first 2 miles. I ended up running the last 2 miles at a 9:22 pace (6.4mph) and it felt surprisingly good. I really think the speed work is starting to pay off!

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I finished the active part of my night with an awesome bowl of rice and beans.

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With black beans that will change your life, cilantro rice, some oven roasted tomatoes that Wil brought home, 1/4 of an avocado, plus some chopped cilantro. So fresh and so delicious.

What’s something making you happy today? Where do you do most of your workouts? How far do you have to travel from your house to get there? I’m really lucky that I only have to go up a few floors in an elevator, or else just outside if the weather is nicer and I’m going out for a run or bike ride.

The Real Housewife of Ellicott City

Happy Monday! Catching up from the weekend? Make sure you check out:

I’m actually using a comp day today because I get some time off since I worked through the weekend while in San Diego last weekend, so my weekend is not quite over. And I’m so excited to be using today to head up to Philly to see my nephew Harper! I cannot wait to see him in his home for the first time, after 129 long days in the ICN. He’s almost 7 pounds now and looking so good and chubby… Plus, I get to hold him today!! So exciting. I promise to share some pics tomorrow.

One of the most fun parts of this weekend for me was a dinner party on Saturday. My friend Rachel (who’s wedding I was in this past August) lives about 45 minutes outside of DC, so my girlfriends and I don’t get a chance to venture up there too much. When we got an invite from “The Real Housewife of Ellicott City” to come over for dinner, it was the perfect opportunity to head up there.

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In college, we had a group of six of us that were best friends, and after we graduated four of us stayed in DC, one moved to NYC, and one moved home to Boston. I’m glad to be in the group of 4 that stayed because its so nice having my best friends so accessible. And, even though we all live so close, it had been way too long since the four of us had been together!

Rachel (the host), me, Lianne, and Jess (plus wine obviously)

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Rachel set up the table so cute!

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Then the table got more full once the salad was served too.

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My plate…

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Roasted broccoli and red potatoes, plus salmon baked in foil with a walnut pesto sauce. The pesto was SO delicious – its so simple but somehow I always forget about it and how great it can be for all types of meat (or veggies). She used that same pesto to make chicken for everyone else (not everyone is a fish fan otherwise she would have made salmon for all), and it was totally delicious.

As the night went on and the wine flowed freely, it got harder to have everyone on the same page about when to take a picture.

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But then we all decided to get in the same awkward pose in sync with each other, so I guess that works?

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Smile

Then we broke out the cupcakes from Whole Foods…

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There was caramel something, chocolate raspberry, vanilla with buttercream frosting, and double chocolate. My job was to try to cut them into pieces, and I was pretty impressed with my work.

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Plus a huge pile of brownies that Rachel made. I ate way too much of this plate but it was delicious and totally worth it. Such a fun night!

Where have you met most of your friends that you hang out with? College, high school, work, other ways? My best friends are mostly from college, but I’ve made some really close friends from work, too.

Back At It

Thank you guys so much for all your comments and support on yesterday’s post! It seems like a lot of you can relate to feeling like you barely know your old self anymore. When you lose a significant amount of weight and/or make drastic changes to move towards a healthy lifestyle, a lot more changes than just the way you look to others. For those of you just starting or thinking about starting on your journey, realize that it’s much more important to focus on the day at hand and making smart, healthy decisions for yourself right now, rather than looking too far ahead and getting discouraged. I promise you that those little choices you make will eventually add up to huge strides in your own healthiness journey and before long, you’ll have a similar story to share.

Moving along – though I desperately miss the perfection that is San Diego, I have to admit it does feel pretty good to get back into my normal routine and be sleeping in my own bed (though the beds at the Westin ARE heavenly). Because of the severe weather alerts that actually did come true, I got let out of work at 3pm yesterday in hopes of beating the storm home. While I did get home before the storm, I immediately went out to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I could have made due with frozen veggies, grains, and the tofu and tempeh in my fridge, but I really wanted to get some fresh fruit and veggies and stock up the kitchen. So I did. And the drive was kind of intense with slush/snow, but the supermarket was shockingly not busy at all and I was able to zip around the store and be done in less than 30 minutes. Luckily, too, because as I was pulling back into my garage afterwards, the weather was getting worse and worse and let’s just say I was glad not to be driving anymore.

After the grocery store, I ended up doing a 35 minute tempo run, and it felt wonderful. I was trying to figure out why I felt so good during the run, and I’m pretty sure I was experiencing runners high, for the second time ever. It’s crazy how runs can be so hit or miss, and this one just felt so good that I was almost disappointed when it was over.

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Man I love my Polar. I honestly don’t know if I can go back to the Garmin, even when I start running outside again… You’d be proud of me though – I stretched for 8 minutes after my run. I think that’s a record for me.

After a quick shower, I whipped up a quick and healthy dinner with Wil, and it felt so good to be back in my own kitchen. I picked up a few parsnips at the store, and I just love them.

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This might be obvious to some, but I only learned it within the last several months. If you cut a parsnip in half before you start chopping it, it makes it way easier to handle.

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Same story with carrots. You slice those ones in half again, and then chop them to your desired size, trying to get them all about the same.

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I used to always try to cut them in half lengthwise while they were still intact, and they would always come out so uneven. Doing them this way helps a lot.

Anyways, I ended up roasting two large parsnips and four carrots in a little evoo, salt, and pepper, making some red quinoa (1/2 cup dried, rinsed, added to 1 cup of water, boiled, then brought to a simmer until the water was all gone – about 15 minutes total), and steaming just under a pound of shrimp for Wil and I for dinner (plus lunch for me today).

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Plus a little cilantro for some green and extra flavor. Super simple and clean, but totally delicious. I love steaming my own shrimp – just a touch of salt and they are sweet and flavorful on their own without much seasoning. Plus, they only take 3 or so minutes to cook this way. (This is the steamer I use, which works really well for veggies, too. Best $17 I ever spent.)

What’s the thing you miss most about being home after you’ve been away (even if you are really enjoying yourself!)? For me, it’s definitely cooking my own meals.

Homemade Caramelized Red Onion Mini Calzones

Hiya! I have a really awesome recipe to share with you today – mini calzones! I looooove calzones, but they are usually quite heavy and so loaded with fat and calories that  I shy away from them. Making them at home is the perfect solution because you can stuff them with whatever you want, control the amount of cheese and dough, and make them however small or large you want to, and they are still totally delicious and take just an hour from start to finish.

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I made the dough for these from scratch, but you could easily use store bought whole wheat pizza dough. Keep in mind that would change the PointsPlus values (and cut down the prep time drastically!). As they are now, these are just 7 pts+ each and so totally worth it. Feel free to experiment with different veggies, chicken and/or whatever else you can dream up to stuff these with, and let me know how they turn out!

Also – I’ve decided to start making my recipes printable (thank you Kara!). It’s going to take me a while to convert all my recipes so bear with me, but so far I did the Quinoa Burgers, and these Caramelized Red Onion Mini Calzones and will continue to add new recipes to there, and old ones as I find the time. I hope that makes it easier for you if you’re trying any of the recipes you find here!

So here were go…

Homemade Caramelized Red Onion Mini Calzones

Serves 4. 7 Pts+ each. Printable recipe here.

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 tbsp active dry-yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 small red onion, chopped (or 1/2 large)

To start, combine the first four ingredients – yeast, sugar, warm water, and olive oil – and stir them up. The water should be lukewarm – not hot, just nice and warm. Let it sit until the mixture starts bubbling – about 5-10 minutes. Here is everything combined:

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And here’s what it will look like after the yeast is activated:

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It almost looks creamy, but those are all just tiny little bubbles on top. If yeast scares you – don’t let it. I still have a mini panic attack every time I use it, but just let it do its thing and it’ll work. I promise.

While the yeast is activating, add your dry ingredients to a large bowl – whole wheat flour, white flour, and salt.

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Whisk them together, and then pour in the wet mixture once the yeast is activated.

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Stir to combine until dough forms.

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Now he comes the physical labor portion of the program – dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface (ie your kitchen countertop) and knead for 10 minutes.

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Look at the clock to be sure. I kept thinking 10 minutes had passed every 30 seconds or so because this is hard work!

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While you are kneading the dough, add more all purpose flour as needed. I had to sprinkle an additional 1-2 tablespoons into the dough, but you may not need any. The general rule of thumb here is to add a little bit of flour if it’s a little sticking to your hands.

Once those 10 minutes are up, you’ll have a nice little smooth ball of dough.

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Place it in a bowl.

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Cover it with a wet towel (or paper towel) and leave it at room temp for about 10 minutes to rise, while you prep the filling.

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Here’s where you start if you’re using store-bought dough (no shame in it!).

Take 1 small chopped red onion (or 1/2 large) and cook it in a pan with nonstick spray until the onion gets soft and caramelized – about 5 minutes.

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Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down.

Meanwhile, add your shredded mozzarella, ricotta, and garlic power to a bowl, and then the onions once they’ve cooled a bit.

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Stir to combine, and your filling is complete. Easy peasy.

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Now, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Your dough should have risen by now, and will look larger in the bowl and be a little puffy to the touch.

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Divide it into 4 equal pieces, and then roll them out into circles with a rolling pin on the same counter you kneaded the dough on.

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Clearly, they do not have to be perfectly round.

Now comes the fun part – assembling the calzones. Add 1/4 of the filling to the middle of each of the circles of dough.

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Dip your finger in water and wet half of the perimeter around the calzone, and then pull the dry side down over the filling. The sides probably won’t line up perfectly – don’t worry.

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Using your fingers, pinch together the edges of the dough to form a seal – similar to how you would with a pie crust. (You can also use a fork for this but it’s more fun with your hands).

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Keep going all the way around the outside…

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Until its fully sealed.

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They will look pretty rustic – but that’s encouraged. Repeat for all four calzones.

Your oven should be preheated by now, and if you are using a pizza stone make sure you leave it in the oven while it preheats, and then use a little cornmeal on the surface to keep them from sticking.

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If you’re using a baking sheet, grease it with spray or oil and a little corn meal. Now transfer the assembled calzone onto your baking vehicle of choice.

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Put them in the oven for ~15 minutes, until the tops are browned, and then take them out.

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Now comes the really challenging part – don’t touch for 10 minutes. Rough, I know.

Once 10 minutes have passed and they have cooled, they are ready to be devoured.

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I served mine with some marinara sauce for dipping.

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And could.not.wait. to cut it open and see the cheese ooze out.

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SO good. Seriously.

At this point, you can let them cool and freeze them if you want to save some for a rainy day. I froze half of mine and had one for dinner last night and one for lunch today, both with a salad on the side. While these are definitely a bit more labor intensive than my normal recipes, it only took 1 hour from start to finish and was actually quite fun – besides the kneading part. That was actually kind of hard, and I may have even broken a slight sweat. But, it was worth it for these babies.

I cannot wait for lunch.

What is your favorite calzone stuffing/pizza topping combination if you could pick anything? I loooooove fried eggplant on pizza, and really love calzones with just mozzarella, riccotta, and roasted garlic.

Incredible Lentil Loaf Recipe

Boy do I have an awesome recipe to share with you today! On New Year’s Day, I saw the Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf on Angela’s blog, and I was totally intrigued. I had to have it. I did a little google search for “Lentil Loaf” and looked at a ton of different recipes before coming up with my own version, which is not vegan and doesn’t have walnuts, but is amazingly moist and delicious. Lentils are a great starting point if you’re trying to make a vegetarian dish to win over a meat lover in your life, because they are so satisfying and delicious, and really do a good job imparting that heartiness into traditionally meat based dishes, like my spiced lentil mushroom tacos and now this incredible lentil loaf. It’s also extremely Weight Watchers friendly, which is always a great thing. This has a few more steps than my usual recipes, but I promise you it’s all worth it. The printable recipe is here.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 slices bread (I used Ezekial 4:9 Sprouted Sesame)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried sage (or thyme)
  • black pepper

To start, boil 2 cups of water and add in your rinsed lentils. Bring it back to a boil, then down to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes. (If all the water goes away add a little more – I had to add about 1/3 of a cup extra) Also cook your rice if you’re not using already prepped brown rice. The instant rice I used cooks in 5 minutes – perfect.

While your lentils and rice are cooking, prep your veggies.

Chop the onion and garlic, and peel and grate your carrot.

Also, toast the bread and then pulse it in your processor to make breadcrumbs.

You can also use already prepped breadcrumbs – about a cup.

Now preheat your oven to 350º.

Next up – cooking the veggies. Heat up a pan with some nonstick spray, and then add in the chopped onion.

Once that gets soft (about 2 minutes), add in the garlic and let it go for another minute. Then add in the carrot and let it go another minute or two until all the veggies are soft/heated through.

Last, add in the raisins and cook for one more minute.

By now, your lentils should be cooked and all the liquid absorbed. Taste one to make sure they are tender, then transfer them to a large bowl.

You want to mash up at least half of the lentils, and a stick blender works perfectly for this. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can use a potato masher, a ricer, or a food processor. Or a fork. But that will take a long time.

Now you are ready to combine everything and then bake the loaf! Add into the bowl the veggie mixture, the bread crumbs, the beaten egg, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, the dried sage, and black pepper.

Mix to combine until its a uniform consistency.

Now spray your loaf pan.

Then press the mixture down into the pan with your hands so it is packed in there.

Make sure it’s really packed down, and admire your hard work til this point. 🙂

Pop it in the oven for 35 minutes, and when it comes out, the top will be a bit crispy.

If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can make this in any baking dish really, but just keep in mind that the baking time will vary based on the loaf’s thickness.

Finished!

The entire loaf has 28 points+, so if you divide it into 8 servings, it’s 4 pts a piece. If you’re like me and like to eat a lot, you can divide it into 4 large hunks that are 7 pts+ a pop.

This is AWESOME. It is really moist and flavorful, and the raisins in there add a subtle and very welcome sweetness in each bite.

I served my hunk with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes and carrots from last night.

10 pts+ for the whole plate. And, it was seriously delicious. The texture on it is perfect, and the flavors from all of the ingredients work so well together that you will gobble down every last bite. If you’re trying to convert a carnivore to enjoying a delicious vegetarian meal – this is it. Or, if you’re normally a meat eater and would like to explore some healthy veggie options – try it! Make it with some mashed potatoes and gravy if you like and it’ll be a healthified and delicious version of a traditional plate of meatloaf. Or, if you’re just hungry and like to eat – do it! 🙂 I seriously cannot WAIT for leftovers for lunch!

Enjoy!

PS – I lost .8 at weigh in last night, making my total 8 pounds down in 3 weeks! Woohoo!

Are you a vegetarian, carnivore, or something in between? How often do you eat meat? I’ve been going back and forth about whether I want to stay vegetarian or introduce some lean meat back into my life. I don’t really have a good reason for having gone vegetarian in the first place, but now that it’s been almost a year, I’m just rethinking whether I want to stick with it or have a little meat every once in a while.

Nats!

Guess where I went last night?

That’s right, the Nationals Park! Wil got free tickets from a vendor at work, so we got some pretty good seats in the “Stars and Stripes Club.” It sounded pretty glorious but all it involved was walking up many many ramps and then having similar seats to the other areas of the stadium. Wil didn’t think I looked supportive enough of our team, so he bought me a Nats hat.

And then we went in! We only stayed for a few innings because we were losing 8-1 and it was the 4th inning, so we ended up going in search of some food. I was nervous about finding healthy options at the ballpark because most of the stands have hotdogs, hamburgers, sausages, funnelcakes, pizza, ice cream, candy, etc. I did find a place that had a Grilled Veggie Sandwich, and it came with portabello mushrooms, zucchini, onions, lettuce and tomato. It also had “goat cheese” but it looked and tasted a lot like ranch to me…

I only ate half the bun and all the veggies, so it wasn’t so bad. The sandwich itself tasted good, but I still feel a little skeptical of that “goat cheese.” I also got a ceasar salad with no dressing at a little restaurant in the park, which was surprisngly delicious. The romaine was crisp and there was the perfect amount of cheese and just a few croutons.

On our way out of the stadium, I spotted the racing presidents, which are the National’s mascots who do a race e every game. I forget who won the race last night, but I still wanted to get a picture with them!

Abe Lincoln, Wil, Thomas Jefferson, Me, and Teddy Roosevelt. Exciting stuff.

This morning was an special day… CSA day! Here’s the goods from this week:

  • 5 eggplants
  • 2 mystery herbs
  • 2 boxes of baby tomatoes
  • 1 regular tomato
  • 2 yellow scallop squash
  • peaches
  • nectarines
  • 1 cucumber

This week my friend who I split the share with is on vacation, so I get to keep the whole thing! I am especially excited about the eggplant, scallop squash, and baby tomatoes! I’ve never had yellow scallop squash before so it’s going to be fun to come up with something to do with it!

Breakfast today was a simple bowl of (as Caitlin puts it) unovernight oats.

In the mix:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats (1.5 pts)
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (1 pt)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (.5 pts)
  • 1/2 cup light soy milk (.5 pts)
  • 2 tbsp HempPlus Granola (.5 pts)

Simple, quick and delish. Yum.

Do you go to professional sporting events? Whats your favorite sport? Ever had your picture taken with the mascot?

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