Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cabbage Bonanza!

I am in love with Sunflower Market. Going there makes me want to buy all the vegetables that are on sale (which happens to be all of the vegetables they have). But I refrained today, because I had already planned on (red) cabbage for this week.

Also, this morning, I learned about sunbutter from Namaste Gurl and coincidentally, while I was shopping today, I found none other than SUNBUTTER!!! Obviously, I had to buy it. (If you're wondering what sunbutter is, it's made out of sunflower seeds).

I think I might even like it more than almond butter. SB&J sandwiches for lunch, here I come! I don't think I'm EVER going back to eating veggie burgers. Ever. In my life. These seed/nut butters are way too tasty/filling/healthy in comparison to those ol' veggie burgers. Or maybe I'm just going through a phase.

I had a breakthrough in my 4 pack yesterday. It was visible for about half the day. (I am really thinking that the zumba class yesterday morning did it!) But I threw it all away by eating some really fatty foods last night. I feel pretty horrible about it.

Moving on to cabbage week!

Because I feel so horrible about last night's junk consumption, I decided that today is a salad day.

Red Cabbage Salad

I chopped some cabbage, one tomato, and some fresh parsley. I also added frozen corn.

For the dressing, I added red wine vinegar, lemon juice (I really like my salads sour!), salt, and pepper.

Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Baking Extravaganza--Part I

I don't even feel bad for already eating four pieces of these delectable Healthy Pumpkin Bars.

Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 1/2 a cup instead...I was unable to see that much sugar potentially entering my body)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
I mixed the wet ingredients together in a bowl, and the dry ingredients together in another bowl.

I had to transfer this into another bowl. I had no idea how much this would make!

Then I slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet, and transferred it into a (non-stick sprayed) large baking dish.

That went into the oven (350 degrees) for 25-30 minutes.

I didn't even wait for it to cool. I cut myself a slice and drizzled a small amount of honey on top.

Then I proceeded to eat three more. It's okay, it's Halloween weekend--better than eating sat fat-loaded Milky Ways/Twix/Reese's! (Sorry if I disappointed anyone with that not so fun fact. I was pretty disappointed myself).

Breakfast for dinner? Yes please.

Today, I went grocery shopping whilst hungry, and also before my 90 minute work out. Bad idea. However, I did get all sorts of ingredients for this weekend's (healthy) dessert extravaganza! In other words, that means I got two HUGE cans of pumpkin puree.

If you think you're sick of my asparagus recipes, just wait. You'll be even more sick of my pumpkin recipes. And hey, whaddya know?! Today's dinner features both!

Asparagus and Spinach Frittata
Pumpkin Quinoa Parfait

Both of these are super easy to make. Trust me, after boot camp class today, (which was KILLER-- Selene is absolutely a beast!) I did not have the patience to make some elaborate meal. All I really wanted was something filling and tasty. Eggs usually do a good job of being filling, and, well...I have been craving that pumpkin quinoa parfait (inspired by We Are Not Martha) for quite awhile now. So I made the two simultaneously, but for the sake of clarity and not confusing anyone, I will focus on one at a time.

Let's start with the frittata.

I started by heating some vegetable oil in a skillet. I added asparagus and fresh chopped spinach.

After a few minutes of sauteing, I added enough egg whites to cover the veggies.

I covered this, and let it sit on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

After uncovering it, I ended up with this:

I added some shredded cheese, covered it for a few more minutes, and it was done!

Served with a side of spicy salsa, of course.

Before prepping the frittata, I prepared 1/8 cup of quinoa. While the frittata and quinoa were sitting on the stove, I prepared the pumpkin yogurt! I mixed a few heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin puree with even more than a few heaping spoonfuls of nonfat plain yogurt.

After mixing evenly, I added a generous amount of cinnamon.

This pumpkin yogurt was good enough to eat on its own!

After the quinoa was ready, I let it cool and added some cinnamon to it.

I put this in the fridge for just a few minutes to let it cool further. Then I began the layering process! I decided the parfait needed a little crunch. So, for the first layer, I added a small amount of my whole grain granola with dried berries (but took out any berries before putting it in the cup!)

Then the yogurt, quinoa, more yogurt, and more quinoa.

Then more yogurt, and finally, topped with chopped pecans and a little more cinnamon.

I had high hopes for this parfait, but it definitely exceeded those. And I am definitely making this again. Frequently.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When in doubt, don't pout!

Just use your oven!

Please excuse the cheese. I just wanted a good segue into an anecdote I've been wanting to tell. Today, myself and one of my fellow INDV101 TAs, Spencer, were chatting before class started. All of a sudden, he said, "Any sentence that rhymes is true. No matter what." He was completely serious. I, of course, was cracking up, thinking he was joking. He wasn't.

For those of you who are U of A students, I hope you know about the Pac-10 Fitness Challenge. Basically, you register and you record the amount of minutes you've worked out each day from October 25-29. We're competing with several other schools! Prizes are awarded and such, plus it's a good way to support our school. :)  I only found out about it on Tuesday, which is unfortunate because Tuesday is the one day of the week on which I don't work out. And usually on Wednesdays I work out for two hours, but yesterday was too insane of a day, so I only got in less than an hour of work out time! However, I decided I'd make up for that today. I ran for 30 minutes around the track and then did a yoga/Pilates class.

I haven't done Pilates in YEARS. Literally. I forgot how cool Pilates is. This yoga/Pilates combo class was pretty interesting. It had the stretching and strength (lots of planks!) portions of yoga combined with the intense core work of Pilates. Funnily enough, a lot of the core work was exactly what is involved in the P90X "Ab Ripper X" work out. I am quite familiar with "Ab Ripper X" because I did it three times a week this summer. Unfortunately, I don't have as much time and as much ambition as I did this summer in terms of my (soon to be) 6 pack.

Before I start showing food pictures, let me explain the title. Today, I had little time, lots of asparagus, and last night's left-overs for dinner. I was planning on doing something drastic with the asparagus I had, but that would have taken too much time. So I did some typical Tulika cooking, otherwise known as throwing stuff together quickly in hopes that it comes out nicely.

Assorted Roasted Vegetables

I had a lot of asparagus, a few mushrooms, and two tomatoes that needed to be used up.

I was going to add the chopped asparagus into this bowl, but they didn't fit.

I drizzled some olive oil and red wine vinegar into this bowl. Then I added salt, oregano, and fresh chopped parsley. I mixed this around, and arranged it onto a baking sheet.

I repeated these steps with the asparagus.

There wasn't enough room. Out came another baking dish.

I put these in the oven (at 425 degrees) for about 25 minutes. The best thing about this is that you don't even have to do anything to it while it sits in the oven!

Then I flipped each one of these around, and put the dishes back in the oven. If you weren't already aware, you will be now: I like things to be even and/or symmetrical. Especially when cooking.

After 5 minutes, I took them out once and for all.

The asparagus came out so crispy, and the tomatoes and mushrooms so juicy. I can't wait to eat these for lunch tomorrow, topped with some light feta cheese!

//Edit: These tasted even better than I expected, especially with some slightly melted feta atop the roasted veggies. I think I'm going to have to start roasting tomatoes more often.//

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Asparagus ahoy!

Buying produce is a huge problem. When I go grocery shopping, I have to get the exact amount of veggies that I think will suffice for one week of cooking almost everyday just for myself. This time I might actually have overestimated and bought too much asparagus because it was on sale. (Somehow, when I go to Sunflower market, they seem to have the veggie I'm featuring that week on sale. It's almost as if they know!) Anyway, I may have to do something drastic tomorrow to solve this asparagus problem. We'll see.

For dinner today, I decided to make an asparagus Asian-themed stir fry. I realized that since I've started blogging, I haven't made any sort of Asian food, which is strange, because when I first started cooking and making really simple dishes, I always made stir fry. Why? All you need is soy sauce, and it tastes great.

But I've grown as a chef (heh) since then, so this stir fry involves a bit more (ingredient-wise as well as taste-wise!).

First I scrambled two eggs.

Then I prepared another skillet with a few teaspoons of coconut oil, garlic, and green chilies.

I threw in lots of asparagus, red bell pepper, and mushrooms.

Look familiar? Hint: Grilled Vegetable Medley!

Then I added some frozen peas and fresh spinach. And then the egg.

Here comes the fun part--spicing it up! (As usual, all of this is completely arbitrary in terms of amounts). First I added rice vinegar. Then, because I just happened to have a can of it, I added some coconut milk. Since it has such a strong flavor, I added only a few tablespoons. Then I added (low sodium) soy sauce and black pepper. I stirred it around, and then covered it for about 2 minutes while on medium heat. When I uncovered it, I seriously thought I smelled Thai food. YUM!!!

This with a side of my spiciest chili paste made a nice complete meal!

I could have eaten it with some brown rice, but I wasn't feeling it. Plus it was delicious on its own!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A (much better) sneak peek at Tulika's kickboxing class!

...And a mid-morning delicious, easy, hearty, and healthy (second) breakfast. Yes, I ate two breakfasts today. And lunch, and a snack, and dinner, and dessert.

Enough about my (ridiculously huge) appetite. I was really, really craving a pumpkin quinoa parfait that Alyssa showed me last week. Unfortunately, I don't have any canned pumpkin. So, I improvised a little, and made a much more elaborate parfait.

First, I mixed a small bowl of nonfat plain yogurt and half a scoop of vanilla flavored protein powder.

I decided to use some TJ's granola that I bought awhile ago and use only on rare occasions such as this.

Mmm...dried berries and whole grains!

The parfait layers:
  • yogurt concoction
  • granola
  • chia seeds
  • slightly thawed frozen peaches
  • homemade coconut butter
  • repeat.

But it seemed incomplete. Ah, yes. It needed something to top it off.

Date syrup to the rescue!

Needless to say, that parfait was gone in ~3 minutes.

Moving on!

I had lovely, awesome Liana record the turbo section of my class once again. I was determined to get a much better quality video this time. Thanks to Nirantha who let me borrow her cam! This video should not cause headaches like the last one did...

And again, if you are unable to view it here, check it out here via youtube!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reunions of a Fitness Gourmet.

Title stolen from my (hilarious and clever) friend Omar. If only I could say I made that one up myself.

This weekend was homecoming weekend, and hence it was full of reunions. (And hence the lack of blog updating on my part). Despite the weekend's long and exhausting festivities, I found the time today to make up for the lack of cooking and blogging by:

1. Cooking up a huge feast for dinner.
2. Featuring guest blog #2: Akshay!

My assistant chef, Akshay, who came to visit Tucson for the weekend!!!

I decided Akshay had to make time to cook with me this weekend, considering he is (almost) as fancy with his cooking as I am. We made it happen, and we cooked a huge Mediterranean themed dinner. It consisted of four items:

Spinach and Artichoke Hummus
Baba Ganoush
Grilled Vegetable Medley
Parmesan-Crusted Whole Wheat Pitas

Can I say YUM?! 

The secret ingredient to this meal was Tahini.

It tastes like peanut butter. It's kind of weird. But definitely a necessity for the dips.

First we started on the baba ganoush. The eggplant had to be baked in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then, the eggplant had to be scooped out of the peel.

Into the food processor went the eggplant, some parsley, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Well, that was easy.

While I worked on perfecting the salt/pepper/olive oil ratio, Akshay worked on the grilled veggies, which consisted of zucchini, red bell pepper, mushroom, and asparagus (which happens to be this week's featured veggie!)

He added olive oil, red wine vinegar, parmesan, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic salt.

And of course, some crumbled light feta on top!

After finishing the baba ganoush, I started the hummus.

  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons tahini 
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichokes
  • salt/pepper

I had no idea how much hummus this actually made, until I transferred it into this container.

Who needs to buy hummus when you can make it in five minutes?!

To finish off the meal, Akshay prepared the pitas. He mixed together olive oil, parmesan, and one chopped garlic clove in a bowl. (Parmesan Aioli, if you will).

This was lightly glazed on the pitas. These were then put into the oven (350 degrees) until the parmesan concoction was a crispy golden brown atop the pitas. 

The meal was complete!