Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saag Paneer with Tofu

Hi all,

I made my Saag Paneer tonight. I didn't take pictures because my kitchen at night is a black hole and let's be honest...Saag Paneer is not pretty anyway. It's an Indian spinach dish with yogurt, and typically made with cheese. I chose to make it with tofu. This is a pretty simple dish to make, it only took me about 20 minutes. However, it takes a food processor and I used two it kind of makes a mess. But once you get the hang of it, it's really easy.

1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 TBSP butter
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp curry powder (I used freshly pounded curry mix from my farmer's market)
1 package tofu cut into large chunks (I am really liking Trader Joe's organic sprouted tofu)
1-2 pounds fresh greens (I used 2 bags of Trader Joe's fresh baby spinach and 1 bunch of beet greens. You can use any non-bitter greens that you like. I bet chard would be great. Last time I made this, I used 2 bunches of spinach from the farmer's market and that was the right amount. Tonight I think I had a bit too much, but it still worked. You want about 3-4 cups of processed greens.)
1 cup Fage 2% plain yogurt.

If you want this dish to be vegan, substitute the butter with EVOO and the yogurt with soy yogurt.

Saute the onion, ginger, garlic and curry powder until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute or roast your tofu until it has a crisp outer layer. Set aside.
Now, at the same time, comes the annoying part. You have to puree the greens in the food processor. Do it in batches, pushing the greens down all the while. Once the spinach is very finely processed (think pesto), then add it to the onion mixture. Some recipes said to pre-blanch the greens, but I found it unnecessary and found the water from the raw greens helped to deglaze my pan. I am sure that I retained more of the nutrients this way as well.
Once the greens are cooked down and the water evaporates, add salt, and stir in the yogurt off the heat. Add the tofu at the last minute and stir in. Voila! This is SO tasty, I really encourage you to make it.

This made three entree servings. I served it with whole wheat naan for dipping. You definitely want something to dip into the smooth and creamy spinach! If you are having this in addition to other dishes as traditional Indian food is served, it would serve 6. I bet it would taste great over rice too. You could even add in some veggies...just nothing too acidic as to curdle the yogurt.

I hope everyone's week is going great!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cleanse Updates and Mount Woodson

Hello Friendies! I hope you all had a glorious weekend and are settling comfortably into your work week. I was on top of my work out plans last week and surpassed my goals.

My workout goals were:

  • Yoga 5-7 times a week
  • Run 2-3 times a week
  • Swim 2x a week
  • Bike 2x a week
  • Walk Peroni for 45 minutes 5 times a week
In actuality, I did:
  • Yoga 8 times!!!! This is a new record for me!
  • Ran 2x
  • Swam (in open water!) 2x
  • Biked 2x (one 15 mile ride and one 20 mile ride!)
  • Walked Peroni 6 times 
  • AND I did a killer 3 and half hour hike up Mount Woodson. It's been two days and my legs are STILL sore! Holy cow...what a hike! More on that in a minute.
As far as my food was concerned, I was good except for two small slip ups: 
  • I ate a popsicle from Trader Joe's. It was lime. It was tasty. I kind of forgot it had sugar in it. Oops!
  • I wanted to make vegan Saag Paneer but could not find soy yogurt, so I used real yogurt. I have to tell you, this dish turned out so amazingly good, I can't wait to make it again. It's essentially finely chopped spinach with yogurt and seasoning mixed in. It's typically made with big chunks of cheese, but I used pan fried tofu. I will post a recipe the next time I make it. 
Overall, I am so happy I did the cleanse. It's great to give your body a break from sugar, wheat, dairy and alcohol. I feel refreshed and got so much done around the house. I highly recommend a cleanse for anyone but it's especially good if you have been feeling sluggish or you have been getting behind on's just great for the soul. 

Now back to Mount Woodson! I have done a fair amount of hiking in San Diego but had never been to Mount Woodson. It's a 7 mile round trip hike, going straight up the side of this mountain and then turning around and coming back down. It took about 3 and 1/2 hours with a couple of water and snack breaks. It was an awesome workout and the views were lovely. I highly encourage you San Diegans to do this...just bring LOTS of water and  sunscreen.

 Taking a break from the heat....
 Peroni loves hiking....

 My friends Kim and Ondre....can you believe them? I would not climb on that looks way too unstable to me!
 Kim, Amanda and Michelle....

 This was a moment before a huge crow swooped down with claws out and tried grabbing at the dogs!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cleanse Updates


Is everyone's Monday off to a good start? Due to my cleanse...I am having a pretty good Monday so far.

Here is my update of how things went the first week:

Food (I have been cooking quite a bit of recipes out of "Clean Food"...a must have cookbook for clean eating and cleansing!)

Sweets/ Sugar: One of the reasons I wanted to cleanse is that I have had an undeniable sweet tooth lately! I find that the more sugar I eat, the more I want. It is addicting, after all. So, when I cleanse and cut it out, over time my cravings go away...or if they are still there they are satisfied by some fresh fruit or a small bit of dark chocolate. So far, I have been pretty good with sweets:

  • Last Monday I ate a small piece of dark chocolate. I have not slipped up on sweets since then. 
  • I baked some healthy "treats" (if you can call them that) of nut cherry bars adaptedfrom "Clean Food". They have no sugar, are made with brown rice flower, and have very little fat. I would hardly call them sweet, but they are tasty and keep me on the clean eating while allowing a little treat in my day. 
  • I also made some poached fruit from "Clean Food"...again, with no sugar and really not bad for you. I used fresh apples and figs with dried cherries, spices, fresh oj and orange zest. Yum. But, after dinner when I have a sweet craving, this fruit does the trick.
Dairy: As much as I love cheese and Greek yogurt, I really feel so much better when I avoid dairy. (I don't eat any other dairy...I use alternative milks and haven't had regular milk in YEARS. It's gross). My stomach feels flatter, my skin is better, my digestion works better, I don't feel sluggish, etc, etc, etc. There are SO many reasons NOT to eat dairy, but honestly, I am addicted to cheese and don't think I could give it up completely. What is more glorious than a delicious glass of wine shared with friends on a patio over a nice cheese board? For a while I was eating non-dairy cheese, but now it just grosses me out. It just seems so fake...real, organic, non-hormone, cruelty free cheese is probably better for me in the end. Of course, dairy is really hard on your digestive system...our bodies are not made to break down other animals' milk. So, even if you can't go fully vegan...give your body a break from dairy once in a while. 
  • I had a little cream cheese and Greek Yogurt left in the fridge on Monday and did not want it to go to waste, so I used it. I have not had any dairy since Monday and honestly...I don't really miss it.
Processed White Carbs: So I don't really eat processed foods but I do love me some fresh French Bread and pasta. Since I have been working out so much, I haven't been feeling guilty about eating these naughty foods lately. But again, the point of this cleanse is to give my body a break, so I am trying to lay off. I don't really consider my two items "slip-ups"...They were well thought out decisions to eat carbs...that happened to be white. In both instances, the things I ate were organic, handmade, without preservatives, and served with balanced, healthful meals. I do not feel guilty one bit about either one. I am not going to eat any more this week. 
  • I was invited to a soft opening at an awesome new restaurant in my neighborhood: Urban Plates.  This is a farm to table restaurant and they use all local, sustainable, organic products. It was fantastic...and free! They offered dessert which I easily turned down...but on my lovely plate of grilled ahi, raw kale salad and roasted potatoes, I was offered a toasty peice of ciabatta bread. Ummm...I ate it. And loved it. 
  • Last night I made fresh made egg pasta with raw tomatoes, garlic, and basil. It was grand.
Green Juice / Green Smoothies: I have been drinking at least one 12 oz glass of veggie juice a day. It gives you so much energy. (I am not talking V-8! I mean freshly made juice of kale, cucumber, carrots, spinach, herbs, etc.) Every morning I make some kind of green smoothie: some combo of frozen bananas, fresh spinach, green powder, and some other kind of fruit...and sometimes flax, chia seeds, etc. I blend it all with rice milk, almond milk, etc. These drinks give you so much energy...I highly recommend them! I don't have a juicer, so I go to juice bars to get my veggie juice. It's fairly pricey, but when you consider all the pounds of organic veggies that it takes to make juice...and how expensive juicers are, it seems worth it to me. 

Snacks: I have been snacking on raw nuts and fruit. This seems to be doing the trick.

Meals: My meals have been tasty! I have been making salads, soups, roasted veggies and tofu, grains like quinoa with flavorful mixins, and things like that. This week I am going to try a vegan Saag Panneer with tofu rather than cheese. I am also starting to crave fall foods like roasted root veggies and squash. My meals aren't that different than usual...with the absence of cheese. I still am eating free range organic local eggs, and have had wild caught sustainable salmon once too. I feel perfectly satisfied.

One note about food: So much of my job is schmoozing....going to happy hours, lunches, breakfasts, meetings, etc. All of these things = wine and food! I feel very proud of the fact that although I went to about 6 of these types of events last week, I did not have any slip ups! If there were appetizers, I stuck to eating raw veggies and hummus, and fruit. If there was breakfast, I avoided it. I did have a lunch at a Thai restaurant, but I stuck to veggies and brown rice. Still tasty, and in line with my cleanse. 

Wine / Beer: I haven't really missed alcohol. Without it I find my sleep patterns are much better and my sleep is much deeper. I have only thought about it twice: once last night with that fresh know some chardonnay would have been great with it. And, on Saturday when I got to try Urban Plates...that lunch would have tasted great with a beer. But other than that, my herbal tea, water and green juice has been quite enough for me. 

Workout updates: So, I did pretty well with my workout goals last week...surpassing some goals and only falling short on one.

My workout goals were:

  • Yoga 5-7 times a week
  • Run 2-3 times a week
  • Swim 2x a week
  • Bike 2x a week
  • Walk Peroni for 45 minutes 5 times a week

In actuality, I did:
  • Yoga 6 times
  • Run 2 times
  • Swim 2 times
  • Biked 1 time
  • Walked Peroni 6 times, 4 were 45 minute walks, one was 30 minutes, and one was 90 minutes
I am pretty happy with my first week of the cleanse. It's going so well, I might decide to keep at it longer than just two weeks!

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cleansing = Crossing off the "to-do" list

Hi Friends,

I have had a glorious and productive weekend, tackling my to do list and having some fun too!

Listen to everything I did:

  • Yoga Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Walk Pdog Friday, Saturday (along Coast Highway in Encinitas) and Sunday
  • Biked to Yoga Saturday (and my legs are still sore)
  • Cleaned my entire house
  • Did about 10 loads of laundry
  • Cooked a healthy "desert"...Nut Raisin Bars from "Clean Food"
  • Went to the farmer's market in Del Mar on Saturday, and in Leucadia on Sunday. 
  • Dropped off pants to be altered
  • Groomed Pdog
  • Took Pdog to the groomer to clip his toe nails (which is always an absolutely horrid experience! Pdog freaks out like nothing I have ever seen. He is 16 pounds of unbridled strength!)
  • Cooked Coconut Lentil Soup Friday
  • Took some returns to H &M (why oh why did one of these have to open so close to my house? TROUBLE.)
  • Took some returns to Anthropologie
  • Got my Japanese Knife Sharpened
  • Restocked my dry goods (beans, lentils, grains, etc) at Sprout's bulk sale
  • Cleared out a pile of magazines
  • Picked up dry cleaning
  • Planned my meals for the week.
  • Started reading a new book.
  • Watched some trashy tv and a few good movies.
Phew!!! I need a break from my weekend :). I am SO productive whenever I cleanse. I love, love, love it. I feel like I have so much energy and just love crossing things of my to do list. I tend to let domestic projects pile up, so it's great to get so much of this stuff done.

I still have a pretty big list I want to tackle over the next week:
  • Purge Guestroom / Office (I have tons of clothes that are too big for me and I need to figure out if I am selling them, donating, etc.)
  • Organize and purge dressers (I have recently done this with my closet and love it. I had to get rid of all the clothes that were too big, and reorganize and make space for my new smaller attire! My closet feels like my own personal store. I love it.)
  • Organize my photo albums (this has been on my to-do list for YEARS. AGH! Enough.)
  • Put together an emergency kit (this became an important item after last week's major blackout)
  • Organize recipes. (I have piles of magazine clippings, recipes printed from the web, etc. I am actually hoping to start tackling this tonight)
  • Organize garage
  • Organize balcony closet
And my fun to dos:
  • Make jewelry (I have tons of beads, etc., and should take advantage!)
  • Do some Asian Brush Painting (I purchased all the equipment in May of 2010 and have yet to paint once!)
It's actually just nice to organize these thoughts. Like I have said before: cleansing clears your body of toxins and opens you up to new ideas. When you cleanse your body, it's only natural that you start cleansing other parts of your life too!

I hope you all had a great weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back on the running train!

Happy Friday Friends!

What do you have planned this weekend? I have so much I want to get done: My to do list is a mile long and includes things like house cleaning, dog grooming, organizing, cooking, yoga, farmer's market, etc. I hope I get through it all and find some time for gratitude, reading and relaxing as well. :)

My running efforts have suffered a bit over the past few months...due to lack of time given all the other activities I work on. In January, February and March of this year, I was running three times a week, typically a 3 mile, 4 mile, and 6 mile run. But then I started training for the triathlons and didn't have time, energy, blah, blah, blah....excuses, excuses. While I find running really hard, I actually feel so strong when I do it...and it makes me realize my big thighs are strong and good for something! I feel so accomplished when I am done with a run...and really most of the time it's a rush. I also LOVE how much weight I lose when I run. So I really would like to work my way back up to that 6 mile weekly run (and who knows? maybe longer?). My runs over the past 6 months have been 3 more. I just keep thinking that 3 miles is the distance of my races, so that is what I need just to keep up with training. Well... I think this is plain lazy and lame!

So today I decided to try a 5 mile run, giving myself permission to walk as much as I needed, knowing that jumping up by 40% in distance would not be easy (or advised by any training experts, by the way)...but I had it in my head and off I went. The first 3.75 miles were AWESOME! I felt like I was moving the earth under my feet. I was also averaging about 9 minutes a mile! Holy smokes! This is really fast for me! I haven't been watching my time this summer...just going out for leisurely 3 mile runs. But, I guess I have been gaining speed! This is SO encouraging. I really thought after mile 3 today I would hit a wall...and I really didn't. At the end of mile 3 and 4 there are hills that I ended up walking up (hills suck). So I finished 5.10 miles in 55 minutes, and I am guessing I walked for at least 7 minutes. Not too shabby at all! The next time I run I am going to try the same route and see if I  can run for more of the time.

In any case, I am so glad I forced myself out of bed this morning, laced up my running shoes, and ran. I feel strong and ready to start my day...and it certainly helps to start your day by burning over 530 calories in the morning!

Yahoo! Happy Friday to you all. Here is to hoping I get all my "to-dos" done!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Back to School" Cleanse

Hi Friends,

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted. I hope everyone has had a lovely and exciting summer. My summer has been an absolute whirlwind. After going to Maui for a week, I traveled to NYC for a week to visit my sister, took two trips to San Francisco, went camping twice, had 3 weekend visitors, did another triathlon and have spent much time with friends going to the Del Mar Horse races, going to the pool, the beach, shopping, eating out and generally having a blast. I have been continuing with my healthy eating and cooking (as much as possible with all the traveling and eating out). What I haven't had is much time or inspiration for blogging.

While most of my summer has been joyous, there has been some pain two. My family lost two very close friends...both of their lives were taken too soon. One was like an aunt and the other was like an uncle to me, so that has been very sad, particularly for my parents that were so close with these people. I have also had several friendships go sour, which I find heartbreaking. I think that when you lose a friendship, a little piece of you dies. In most of these cases I am not sure what went wrong, but all I can do is try to learn from these situations and try and be a better friend going forwards. I cherish my friends and pour a lot into my friendships, so I find it really sad when things don't work out, especially with friends I have known for decades. I have to tell you that this has definitely taken a lot out of me. Between all the fun, there has been sadness, and hence I think a reluctance to blog. I have just been trying to enjoy life, work and continue to keep up with work, yoga, strength training and triathlon training....all the while being thankful for those that are in my life.

I have my third triathlon in October and want to get back on the healthy bandwagon, so I have decided to do a "back to school" cleanse. I am not going back to school, but fall has always seemed like a time for new beginnings with all of the excitement of school starting.

Today I am starting a two week cleanse to re-jump start my healthy ways and refocus my energy on triathlon training and my own mental well being. Cleanses are so good for giving your body a break from all the things we put into ourselves, but I also find that my mind clears, I get lots of projects done, I read more, and just generally refocus.

I will be doing the following (which isn't far off from what I normally do, but it's good to put into writing):

  • Yoga 5-7 times a week
  • Run 2-3 times a week
  • Swim 2x a week
  • Bike 2x a week
  • Walk Peroni for 45 minutes 5 times a week
  • No alcohol
  • No sugar
  • No dairy
  • No processed food
  • Avoid white carbs (I have been obsessed with making fresh dinners with pasta lately)
  • I am taking Trader Joe's "two week cleanse formula" which is full of cleansing herbs for the internal organs and digestive organs. 
  • Although I hate it, I will also be drinking straight cranberry juice... it does wonders for cleansing your organs even if it tastes awful!
  • I will eat as many fruits and veggies as possible and focus on clean, homemade foods.
  • I will drink lots of smoothies with spinach and get vegetable juices whenever I can. 

I usually do a cleanse like this in January and also like to do another one at some other point in the year as well. I feel fantastic when I cleanse and know that this will start my fall off right.

I hope you all have a fall and consider a cleanse to kick it off before we get deep into holiday overeating!