Vegetable Quinoa Egg Bites

Vegetable Quinoa Egg Bites are one of my favorite fast and healthy recipes for breakfast. Make them the night before then pop them in the microwave or toast them in the oven in the morning for a nutritious breakfast on the go. Throw a few in a plastic bag and you’ll have a yummy post morning workout snack on the way to work. Merry Brandybuck and Hungry Athletes alike might also enjoy this as a second breakfast.

Resembling a mini quiche, they can be filled with your favorite vegetables. I like to fill mine with a combination of either spinach and red peppers or broccoli and red peppers. Cayenne pepper and nutmeg adds a nice flavor but be careful, a little of both goes a long way. I also recommend using freshly grated nutmeg. Nutmeg seeds last up to four years longer than powdered nutmeg.

Did you know that nutmeg and mace come from the same tree? Nutmeg is the seed while mace is the covering or aril of the seed.  Here’s some more interesting tidbits about nutmeg: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03474/Cooking-With-Spices-Nutmeg.html

Serving size: 16 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli or 1/2 cup of frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • canola or vegetable oil to brush muffin pan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook quinoa according to the package instructions. Make sure you rinse the quinoa thoroughly if the package indicates it has not been previously rinsed. Rinsing will remove the quinoa’s natural coating called saponin, which can have a bitter or soapy flavor.

Whisk together the eggs, salt, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Then mix in the quinoa, vegetables and cheddar cheese.

Brush the inside and top of a mini muffin pan liberally with oil. Fill the muffin pan all the way to the top will the quinoa and egg mixture. Sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

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Green Chili Turkey Burgers

While training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, I had the pleasure of being coached by Jeff Pearson, one of the best open water swim coaches, Jeff Pearson, a professional swimming coach with 20 years experience, which includes, the USA National Team.  As a swimmer, Jeff was also a member of the USA Swimming National Team and won the USA Swimming National Championship in the 10K open water.  Jeff still holds the United States Masters Swimming 2 mile cable swim National record.

Information about Jeff’s swim clinic and my interview with Jeff can be found here:

https://thehungryathlete.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/training-for-ironman-lake-tahoe-and-racing-at-6000-ft-altitude-swimming/

Jeff and his wife Kristy shared one of their favorite healthy recipes which they borrowed from:  www.elanaspantry.com

Green Chili Turkey Burgers

  • 2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chili
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix diced chili with turkey, cilantro, onion, cumin, chili powder and salt
  2. Form into burgers and grill

I modified this recipe to create a burger with a sweet and spicy flavor.  I  replaced 1 (4 oz) can of diced chili with ½ cup of finely diced apple (1 medium apple).

Quinoa with Turmeric, Peppers, Onions and Broccoli

My Quinoa with Turmeric, Peppers, Onions and Broccoli is a quick and easy meal to prepare and eat post workout, or anytime.

After a race or intense workout, I do 2 things to help my body recover : 1) restore glycogen and 2) reduce the inflammation.  I do this by eating protein with carbohydrates and taking an ice bath.  I sometimes have difficulty eating right after an intense workout either because my appetite is suppressed or the food/protein drinks available are unappealing.  I also don’t look forward to sitting in an ice bath, although appreciate how much better I feel after.

And then I learned from my coach and a doctor friend that turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Turmeric, a relative of ginger, is a major ingredient in Indian curries and makes American mustard yellow. This spice is also a disease-preventive agent and powerful antioxidant. Check out this WebMD article about turmeric:

http://blogs.webmd.com/food-and-nutrition/2012/10/turmeric.html

Add turmeric to protein, such as quinoa, and you have an ideal post work-out “recovery”meal.  While turmeric may not replace my ice baths, it could potentially help in my recovery.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely medium onion chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon corriander
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt to taste
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add peppers and quinoa.  Saute until quinoa is lightly toasted.  Add vegetable broth, cumin, coriander, white pepper, turmeric and kosher salt.  Stir together, then add broccoli and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for about 12-15 minutes until broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender.  Turn off heat and allow to sit for an additional 15 minutes covered.  Fluff up quinoa and add lime juice and pine nuts.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh and nutritious ingredients makes this a healthy meal.
Fresh and nutritious ingredients makes this a healthy meal.
Chop broccoli into small pieces.
Chop broccoli into small pieces.
Toast pine nuts over medium heat.  Toss frequently and don't leave them alone.  They burn very easily.
Toast pine nuts over medium heat. Toss frequently and don’t leave them alone. They burn very easily.

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Hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder

This is a hearty soup full of flavor, both spicy and sweet with surprises of saltiness from the bits of bacon.   The chowder is a meal in itself, however this spicy broth pairs nicely with my refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.  This recipe yields a generous 8-10 servings.  I freeze half of the soup in individual serving size containers for a fast, nutritious and satisfying meal anytime.

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon, cut into small squares
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (green or red bell peppers can be used; I like the color contrast of yellow bell peppers)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 – 15 oz clam stock*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (this will definitely add a spicy kick to the soup which I love; try ¼ tsp to start if you don’t like your soup too spicy)
  • 3 cans 6.5 ounce minced clams
  • 2 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes*, chopped and juices reserved
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 4 turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Directions

In a large heavy pot add bacon and render until golden and crispy.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper and carrots and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, until vegetables are softened.  Add garlic and cook for additional 2 minutes.  Add potatoes, clam broth, bay leaves, dried oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes and continue to cook for 15 additional minutes.  Add clams (for less cloudy and clammy taste, drain clams but I sometimes add the whole can, juice and all).  Add parsley and season with pepper and salt.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley when serving.

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Red or green bell peppers can be used however, I prefer the color contrast of yellow bell peppers.
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Cook the vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
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Remove the thyme leaves from the stem and chop roughly.
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Mince 4 large garlic cloves.
This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.
This spicy and hearty Manhattan Clam Chowder pairs nicely with my sweet and refreshing Beet & Watermelon Salad.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Chicken vegetable soup, on its own, or with egg noodles and rice, is one of my favorite, satisfying and fast, “go to” meals.  It’s easy to bring to work for lunch or heat up after an evening workout for dinner.  When I’m carbo-loading, I often add cooked rice and eat it on several days during the week prior to a race.  Chicken vegetable and rice soup was part of my 3:30 am breakfast on the morning of my first Ironman.  Unfortunately, that soup came out of a can since I was away from home.  Here is the homemade version that I’ve been making and enjoying for years.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups or ½ of large white onion (chopped)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 – 32 ounce chicken broth*
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 chicken breast with bone and skin on
  • 10 carrots (peeled and sliced about ½ inch thick; I prefer a soup hearty with vegetables so slice the carrots to your thickness preference)
  • 8 celery stocks; slice stalks lengthwise into 3rds or 4ths then dice
  • celery leaves
  • 3 parsley stems with leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 turns of pepper mill (season to taste)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cooked egg noodle*s or cooked rice (optional)

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Equipment:

  • 12 quart stock pot
  • Cheesecloth

Directions:

Rinse chicken breast and set aside.  In stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until softened (about 10 minutes).  Add broth, water and chicken breast to onions.  Place lid on pot an bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, make a “mirepoix” by placing the celery leaves, parsley stems, thyme and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

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A mirepoix can be a combination of celery, onions, and carrots. There are many mirepoix variations, which can sometimes be just one of these ingredients, or include additional spices. You can add whole peppercorns to this mirepoix.

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Add the mirepoix, carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Continue to simmer for at least 1 more hour however the longer you simmer the more the flavor will develop.

After an hour or more, remove the chicken.  Remove and discard the chicken skin.  Pull apart meat with a fork and place a few pieces into individual bowls.  Ladle soup with vegetables into individual bowls.  You can add your favorite cooked egg noodles (I like the no-yolk egg noodles) or cooked rice.  If you don’t want the carbs, leave the noodles and rice out.

If you have time to make the soup in advance, chill it in the refrigerator before serving.  The fat will rise to the top and solidify making it easy to spoon off and discard.  Store the cooked chicken separately from the broth and vegetables.  The broth and vegetables freezes well.  You can boil a fresh chicken breast when you are ready to defrost and eat the frozen soup.

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Saute the onions until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Do not allow it to brown.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.  You can even add parsnips, a root vegetable related to the carrot.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.
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The leaves inside the celery stalk (top left) adds a lot of flavor to the soup. Use it for your “mirepoix”. The celery stalks can be cut up to any size. I prefer smaller bites of celery with each spoonful of soup.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

I was about 10 years old when I cooked my first meal.  I was inspired after watching Julia Child who mesmerized me with her casual presence.  The pitch of her voice jumped around all over the place while she educated me on the fine art of French cuisine.  At first I thought I was only lured by the anticipation of the tasty end product.  Then I realized that I enjoyed the entire process.  Whether learning about the ingredients, understanding the techniques or experimenting with flavors, I was captivated by it all.

After watching Julia prepare the perfect French omelet, I gathered up a couple eggs., salt and pepper.  Unfortunately, that would be all of the proper ingredients that were available in our house.  I was a determined and resourceful 10 year old and knew milk and butter should make a nice replacement.  I remember climbing onto the counter and found green sugar sprinkles used for decorating Christmas cookies.  It wasn’t exactly parsley, but I had to have something green to sprinkle onto to omelet, just like Julia had done.  Ok, it was actually scrambled eggs with green sugar but I proudly placed my plate at the dining table.  My mom looked at my dad and asked, “Is that going to make her sick?”  Dad, a pediatrician, assured my mother that I’d survive my meal.   I honestly don’t remember what it tasted like, but it boosted my confidence in the kitchen.  I cooked my first meal!

What I learned from the experience is that it’s ok to take a short cut as long as you enjoy the end result.  Here’s my slightly healthier and easier to prepare Boeuf Bourguignon that can be easily frozen for a fast and delicious meal during the week.  My apologies to Julia and French food enthusiasts if I’ve offended you, but this turned out pretty tasty and with a lot less fuss.

NOTE:  There are 3 different recipes here so make sure you read it all to get the complete ingredient shopping list.

Ingredients:

  • 6 strips of bacon (get over it, it’s only a small amount of bacon in a big pot)
  • 9-10 in enamel casserole pot
  • olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups of Chianti
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 cups of beef stock
  • 3 cloves mashed garlic
  • ½ teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 18-24 oignons glaces a bruns (braised small white onions – see recipe below for ingredients)
  • 1 pound champignons sauté san beurre (quartered sautéed mushrooms – see recipe below for ingredients)
  • parsley springs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat over 450F.  Cut bacon into small cubes and cook in enamel pot until a little crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and place on top of a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.  Discard excess fat.  Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the casserole and heat.  In small batches, brown meat on all 4 sides in hot oil, being careful not to crowd the meat as it will steam instead of sear. Remove browned meat and set aside.  Add sliced carrots and onion to casserole and brown.

Sprinkle flour over meat and toss.  Meat should be evenly coated with flour.  Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Return the meat to the casserole and place uncovered in oven for 4 minutes.  Toss the meat and return to over for 4 additional minutes.  The purpose of this step is to brown the flour and cover the meat with a light crust.  Remove pot and turn oven down to 325F.

In a measuring cup or bowl, add wine, tomato paste, garlic and herbs.  Stir to dilute the paste then add to meat in casserole.  Add enough beef stock to just barely cover the meat.  Stir in the bacon.  Bring to stew to a simmer on top of the stove.  Then cover the casserole and return to oven for 2.5 -3 hours.  The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Skim off any excess fat.  This is easier to do after refrigerating the stew.  The fat will rise to the top and solidify.

Just before serving, add the mushrooms and onions prepared separately.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley.  I like to serve this with roasted fingerling potatoes , parsnips and butternut squash.

Beouf bourgignon freezes nicely and heats up well on the stove top or microwave.

CHAMPIGNONS SAUTE SANS BEURRE (mushrooms sautéed without butter)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms sliced or quartered
  • salt & pepper

Heat up oil and add mushrooms, tossing until brown about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.

OIGNONS GLACES A BRUN (brown braised onions )

Ingredients:

  • 18-24 frozen peeled small white onions, or fresh peeled (TIP:  drop fresh unpeeled onions in a pot of boiling hot water for a couple seconds to make removing the skin easier)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Remaining chiati from bottle and add enough beef stock for a total of ½ cup of liquid
  • salt & pepper

I have a hard time finding fresh small white onions.  When I do, I find it’s very time consuming to peal each onion.  Dropping the onions for a minute in boiling hot water helps the peal to come off easily, but I find that frozen, peeled small onions works well too.

Add oil to pan and heat.  Once the oil is hot, drop the onions into pan and brown.  Turn carefully so you don’t break the skin . Try to get them evenly browned but this will be difficult to attain.

After the onion has browned, pour in wine and beef stock.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes.  The onions should be tender but retain their shape and the liquid should be evaporated.

Browning the meat
Browning the meat
Browning the onion and carrots
Browning the onion and carrots
Add broth until meat is just covered
Add broth until meat is just covered
I like to serve with roasted potatoes, parsnips and carrots.  Can also be served with noodles and mashed potatoes.
I like to serve with roasted potatoes, parsnips and carrots. Can also be served with noodles and mashed potatoes.

Baked eggs with spinach and ham

Early morning workouts are a part of my Ironman training schedule.  I typically swim in the mornings however the past 2 weeks have been extremely challenging.  We have been experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures here in Northern California.  I woke up to a balmy 36F.  After a swim, I am cold and starved.  I typically enjoy steel cut oatmeal with almonds and blueberries but today I was craving something more comforting.  Baked eggs with spinach and ham was a satisfying post swim breakfast that warmed my belly up quite nicely.

I avoided eggs for many years due to a family history of high blood pressure and cholesterol. Fortunately it was determined that I had high levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.  Still I try to maintain a low cholesterol, low fat diet.  I typically use Eggland’s Best Eggs which boasts less fat and cholesterol and more nutrients than regular eggs.  These “engineered” eggs are created by controlling the chicken’s diet.  For more on eggs, here’s a good article:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/eggs-friend-or-foe.

The latest science seems to suggest that eggs are not as bad for you as once thought.  I’m happy to be reunited with eggs again.  I’m fond of everything made with eggs.

Serving size: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon grated Gruyere and Swiss cheese (cheddar or parmesan works well too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cooked ham (I had frozen ham left over from a dinner party)
  • 2 tablespoon thawed frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375F.  Coat a medium ramekin (the size you’d use for creme brulee) with olive oil.  Sprinkle even coating of cheese to the bottom of the ramekin.  Crack both eggs into ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk.  Sprinkle ham, spinach and parsley around the yolk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes depending on how well you like your yolks done.

In case you are interested in seeing the episode of Julia Child’s show that inspired me to cook, here it is: