All hail kale

Way back in November, I blogged about making my first recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter,” her delicious kale chips.

It feels like a million years ago – how much I’ve changed since then! I can’t get over how I am no longer the frightened cook, I’m a vixen in the kitchen!

I’m someone who actually experiments in the kitchen now, adding my own spin on recipes I see on blogs, in magazines, etc. and so forth, making up my very own concoctions and just enjoying the whole process of Making Something.

Finally made my second recipe from “My Father’s Daughter.”

Tonight, I had some leftover kale I needed to use up that I had bought last week to make those kale chips again (which, by the way, are nothing short of heavenly). But I didn’t want to make the chips again, so I scoured around for something to do with it, but nothing jumped out, until I revisited the original source of my eating kale in the first place: Gwyneth, if I may be so bold as to be so informal to call her such.

Jackpot! I found her sautéed greens with onions and soy sauce and knew it would be an easy dinner to make after my slow-as-molasses deadline day today.
Note: As a staunch onion hater, I omitted them and used just a dash of dried onion from my spice rack.

Just a quick saute, and the brilliant emerald green of the kale came through and was hearty, yet light, and so very delicious. I’m really becoming a fan of kale, and think it’s about to go head to head with my longtime standby green, spinach.

The only thing I would change:
This recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce, which I found way too much for my taste (and I am a big fan of salt). Maybe I just didn’t use enough kale to counter the amount, but I’ll definitely use a lighter hand next time.

Note to self: Put kale on the shopping list!

What’s your favorite green, and how do you prepare it?

Nikki

40 days and 40 nights

Let’s just get this out of the way for background purposes: I’m a non-practicing Catholic.
Aside from that opening statement, I pretty much keep my spirituality and the things I do practice within it to myself.

Though I haven’t been a churchgoer in years, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always – always – followed the fasting that came with the Lenten season, the season that follows Mardi Gras, the season that kicked off today and ends on Easter Sunday, 40 days from now.
By fasting, I mean abstaining from meat on Fridays (which I sometimes forget about) and giving up something(s) that I love for the duration of the season.

There's no way in hell I'd be able to give some of these up!


Every year, I’ve given up French fries and chocolate – two of my favorite things. I can’t say that I did it entirely for the religious aspect, mostly just to see if I could actually do it. Year after year, I surprised myself.
And gorged myself silly on Cadbury Creme Eggs come Easter morning.

It’s just something that I’ve always done because I went to a Catholic grade school and the abstaining is just pre-programmed, I guess. And frankly, I feel it’s the least I could do.
And that’s as religious as I’ll get – ever. Promise.

This year, what with my newly adopted mostly vegetarian diet you may have been reading about here on Run, Nikki, Run, I’ve decided to go whole hog-less for Lent: No meat for the next 40 days.
I’m also going to brazenly state that I’m giving up fries and chips as well. As I typed that statement, I realized my new obsession, zucchini fries, falls under that category. Shazbot.

Though I’ve really embraced my new eating habits, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t enjoy the near-weekly chicken-wing dates the fella and I have, so I will say that I’ll miss them. But I look forward to looking at the other parts of our favorite restaurant’s menu and seeing what I can find as a replacement.

It’ll be interesting and challenging, but I’m up for it.
Besides, if I could give up chocolate, which is really what I think flows through my veins instead of blood, all those years in a row, this ought to be cake!

What is one food you’d never be able to give up?

Nikki

(Photo from faithandhealthconnection.org)

The prodigal exerciser returns – to the gym

I have a confession to make: I haven’t been to the gym since Aug. 31.

My gym may be a "judgement free zone," but I can't help but judge myself for not going since August.

Let me break that bit of info down for you.
– That means it’s been nearly six months since I walked through the doors of my Planet Fitness.
– That means I’ve pissed away $60 of my hard-earned money to not walk through the doors of my Planet Fitness.
– That means that I could have/should have been far more on track … how much better shape would I be in if I wasn’t lazy/too busy/forgot completely about my damn membership/(insert any other viable excuse I’ve used here)?
Answer: A lot. I could have been my goal weight by now!

Now that the self-beating has been inflicted, it felt good hopping on the treadmill and losing myself, ironically, in a show on the Travel Channel about the best steaks in America. Really good. I just zoned out what had been a slightly crappy day, focused on putting one foot in front of the other at a brisk pace, upped the speed and incline a few times and before I knew it, 35 minutes had passed.

Returning to the gym had been one of my resolutions this year, and I’m glad I finally made good on that almost three-month-old list. I think it’ll be the start (or restart) of something beautiful for myself.

Nikki

Success!

Got on the scale this morning (as I do every Friday and Monday morning), and I’m down six pounds since I started working out regularly again, using My Fitness Pal and watching what I’m eating last month.

I do have to say that I think a lot of that success is going vegetarian most days – I’ve been trying to stick to not eating meat Sundays-Thursdays – and getting away from the processed bullshit I’ve always fallen victim to, and I think the proof is in the pudding, err, scale, rather.

Nikki

Soyboy oh boy

I have become slightly obsessed with not eating meat, and in turn, have become seriously obsessed with making good food for myself.
Though it is a little disheartening that good food = more expensive food, but x = feeling better about myself so it all adds up, I s’pose.

Joining the Tofurkey pepperoni pizza that I’ve discovered thanks to my vegan coworker, I’m currently daft for Soyboy baked tofu. Having tofu stir fry in my cooking repertoire for years, it’s such a refreshing change not to have to drain and go through a zillion paper towels drying out a block of tofu!

While I’ve had the smoked and Caribbean varieties in my fridge for the past two weeks, it was the Italian one that caught my eye Sunday night as I wandered through the local Wegmans. I knew I had to make that one for myself first.

Last night’s dinner – and today’s lunch.

So last night, I baked the already-cooked tofu for about 20 minutes in a 250-degree oven as my rotini cooked. When the pasta was done, I added a healthy splash of lemon juice, a little olive oil, a heap of parmesan, some salt and pepper and finished it with the tofu, which had a lovely coating of seasoning. Yummy!

Learn more about this fantastic little product by clicking here, and if you do end up trying it, I’d love to know what you make!

Nikki

So not down with the sickness.

It started while I was watching the Super Bowl.

Not even The Captain could fight this cold out of me.

Scratchy throat.
Runny nose.

Four days later, I feel run down, my nose looks like it has a rash from blowing so much and the thought of exercising is even more exhausting than the actual act of working my demanding job through this whole shebang.

I don’t know what it is, but every single time I finally get on track, an illness comes along and throws a wrench onto the rails.

I managed to do 15 minutes on the Air Climber Monday, but it didn’t pan out good, my chest wheezed and hurt, I felt wobbly and afterward, instead of feeling invigorated as I always do, I just wanted to crawl back in bed.

I’ve been wary to do anything because my chest hurt so bad, and of course now I’m riddled with guilt because I feel like a failure for letting a stupid cold get the best of me.

Need support and suggestions please … and maybe a new box of tissues while we’re at it.  

Nikki

Resolution check: January

I think it’s safe to say January was a success.

According to my trusty Exercise Log Book, I exercised 18 of the month’s 31 days – and made the decision to go vegetarian at least four days a week, something that I’ve done nearly two weeks. And, in doing so, I’ve found myself becoming quite the vixen of my kitchen, cooking more for myself and, in turn, experimenting with different recipes.

Mixing eating more veggies and exercising often, I feel better, both inside and out, and I look forward to making February even more healthy for myself.

Who’s with me??

Nikki

Day seven vegetarian, or Best. Dinner. Ever.

Well, I behaved as much as I could this weekend, but did partake of a glorious chicken sandwich at one of our regular haunts Friday and a turkey burger on Saturday, but aside from those, I was a very, very good girl diet wise.
Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps!

And on Sunday I got right back on the vegetarian kick, making a delightful recipe from my Rival Crock-Pot cookbook (sweet potato black bean stew), but tonight, oh, tonight, was seriously the best vegetarian dinner ever.
Ever.
Or at least the best one I’ve had so far.

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Baked Parmesan Tomatoes, which I found on Eating Well‘s website via a new blog I’m following, Here’s Looking at Me Kid.

I have never tasted tomatoes so damn good as I did tonight, and I’ve had tomatoes that I’ve plucked from right from the vine with my own bare hands in the height of tomato season.

Topped with shredded parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, oregano (I did not use fresh as the recipe called for) and a drizzle of EVOO on top, the tomatoes were roasted at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
It seems every recipe I’m making/craving/seeing these days is roasted in a high-temp oven!

Seemingly within seconds, the kitchen smelled delicious, like I had a freshly made pizza baking, thanks to the oregano. I could even hear the cheese sizzling (the burnt shreds that fell on the cookie sheet were a tasty topper to the tomato, by the way)!

Upon first bite, the flavor of the tomato mixed with the browned and burnt-in-some-spots topping was incredible; it almost seemed as if the tomato was just exploding in flavor.

After looking at the picture again on Eating Well, I know I didn’t put enough cheese on my tomatoes, but there’s always next time … which will be sooner than later. Like later this week.

Nikki