Fish with Citrusy Tomatoes

By Katie, 2:04 pm

The giant bag of tilapia fillets in my freezer is almost gone! I think I’ve only got two more fillets – or one more dinner -  to go. From the ginger-glazed tilapia to the tilapia with dill-yogurt sauce to the pecan coconut fish, I’ve definitely found some new and interesting ways to cook with this versatile seafood. Today’s installment features Fish with Citrusy Tomatoes.

I apologize upfront because for some reason I just couldn’t get a good photo of this dish. So you’ll just have to trust me that it tastes good, since it doesn’t look all that amazing!

This recipe couldn’t be easier because you basically just cook your citrusy-tomato sauce, then cook your fish fillets, and then serve them together. You get a good combination of flavors from the sweetness of the tomatoes, the acid from the orange juice, and the saltiness of the capers.

Fish with Citrusy Tomatoes
Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 fish fillets, 4-6 oz each (any mild white fish will work, such as tilapia or halibut)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 tablespoons capers (depending on how salty you want the dish to be)
sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the tomatoes, orange juice, capers, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add parsley during the last minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat the remaining 1 tsp oil over medium high heat. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, then place in the skillet and cook until opaque throughout (about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fillets).

3. Spoon tomato mixture over fish and serve.

Do you like fish? Do you cook with it often? I find that a lot of people love fish and always order it in restaurants but rarely make it for themselves at home!

Work Wellness Challenge

By Katie, 2:20 pm

Dave was a bit rushed getting to work this morning, and on the way out the door he grabbed a random can of pasta-based soup for lunch. As he kissed me goodbye he said, “Next week I’m going to have to try harder to eat some vegetables with my lunch.”

Why next week? Because next week he begins a 4 week Wellness Challenge at his workplace. Fun, right?

I admit when he first told me he was participating in the program I was a bit wary. Not because I’m against a little competition or get-healthy incentives, but because sometimes such programs just turn into weight loss contests, which aren’t always physically or mentally healthy.

So last night I examined the booklet where Dave will be recording his points, and I have to say, I am extremely impressed with his work’s Wellness Challenge. I really think they hit the nail on the head, and here’s why.

1. Framing Activities in the Positive

I was worried that the point system for the challenge would be all about “don’t do this” or “don’t eat that.” Being encouraged not to let a single gram of sugar pass your lips is not my idea of a fun health challenge (and it certainly doesn’t support long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes). But Dave will be receiving points almost entirely for what he does do, rather than what he doesn’t, such as trying a new kind of exercise, eating enough fruits and veggies, and trying a new healthy recipe (PIECE OF CAKE in our household! ;-) ).

2. Whole Self Health

Dave’s Wellness Challenge booklet reads like a handbook for the “Health for the Whole Self” philosophy! Attention is paid to all types of health and well-being, rather than just the physical. Here are some of non-physical health activities for which participants can earn points:

  • Spending quality time with friends and family
  • Enjoying the outdoors
  • Attending a cultural activity
  • Relaxing, meditating, or spending time on a hobby
  • Donating blood
  • Planting flowers, a vegetable, or a tree

There are many more too! I really appreciate that the focus is on taking care of the whole self, recognizing that health is as much about our minds and our spirits as it is about our bodies.

3. Teamwork

Participants in the Wellness Challenge do not compete individually; rather, they are organized into teams. I love this idea because it provides an opportunity to motivate and encourage others, in addition to creating a system of accountability. (You can even earn points for encouraging your fellow team members!) Sure, it might sound a little cheesy, but study after study has shown that healthy habits are far more challenging to maintain when the people around you aren’t on board. It will also make the challenge that much more fun; I’m imagining Dave and his co-workers inspecting one another’s lunches (in a playful way!) to see who has the most veggies! :lol:

(Source)

4. Providing Information

There is nothing I hate more than when people are told they need to “get healthy” and then are sent on their merry way. A little more information would be nice, don’t you think?  :-? I feel like I know a lot about health and fitness, but that’s only because I read lots of health-related books, magazines, research articles, and blogs. The average person who isn’t engaged in the healthy living community doesn’t automatically have the tools and the resources needed to “get healthy.”

That’s why I was so happy to see that the Wellness Challenge booklet includes some useful information. It offers strategies for improving bone health, information on My Pyramid, tips for creating a family fitness plan, and suggestions for ways to manage stress. You can also earn points for reading a health-related book or article.

Overall I am really excited for Dave to participate in this challenge! (I am going to try not to be too annoying in asking him how he’s doing! ;-) )

Have you ever participated in a health/wellness challenge, through work, school, or some other organization? What did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are your thoughts on how such challenges should be structured? I participated in a health challenge over the winter holidays, and overall I thought it was great motivation! I did, however, find tallying my points every day to be a bit cumbersome.

The Old and the New

By Katie, 4:23 pm

I feel like I go through eating phases, alternating between periods of novelty and downright ruts. I’ll have weeks where every dinner is a new recipe, every snack some clever concoction. And then suddenly I’ll grow tired of the effort and start eating the same thing day in and day out.

Lately, however, I’ve had more success with striking a balance, with enjoying old favorites while also sprinkling in some newbies. Here is the visual proof. ;-)

The New

Broccoli topped with Heather’s Marinutta Sauce (pasta sauce mixed with peanut butter and ground flax).

After this and the nut butter crusted parsnip fries, I’m starting to think there is nothing that doesn’t go with peanut/almond butter!

KABOCHA SQUASH!!! I’ve loved butternut, buttercup, and acorn squash for quite some time, but had never tried the elusive kachocha…until now!

Sliced and roasted with some agave nectar, it did not disappoint! ;-)

Fruition ProBar in Cran-Raspberry. This was yummy!  The texture/consistency was similar to that of a LARABAR, except with more ingredients and fewer calories. I’d purchase again!

And a new (to me) cereal!

I purchased a few new cereals in the hopes of finding one that is simultaneously tasty, filling, and as natural as possible. I’d say that Kashi Autumn Wheat pretty much fits the bill. The ingredients are just wholegrain wheat, evaporated cane juice, and natural flavors, and there are only 7 grams of sugar per serving (which is actually quite low for a cold cereal!).

I ate it from a pretty bowl with banana, strawberries, and almond milk.

The Old

After a brief hiatus, I’ve brought cottage cheese back into my life.

Plopped atop strawberries and mango chunks.

I’ve also reunited with the beloved Breakfast Cookie!

In the evening I mixed together 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp almond butter, a small splash of almond milk, lots of cinnamon, and a couple of dried cherries. Spread it out on the plate, popped it in the fridge, and ate it up the next morning!

Next time I’ll chop up the dried cherries…they’re so good but so darn big! 8-O

Classic snack: dried fruit (cherries again) with roasted almonds.

And a tried-and-true dessert: a chocolate VitaTop with a splash of milk and banana slices. SOOOOOO GOOD!

And finally, a lovely combination of old and new: the kitties in their NEW cat beds! :-D

Do you go through eating phases? Ever find yourself in a food rut? What’s something new you’ve tried recently? Or something new you’re excited to try?

Handling Health Disadvantages

By Katie, 7:46 pm

**I absolutely loved reading about your superpowers and your favorite superheroes! Such fun and interesting comments! Thanks to all of you for sharing!**

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have some kind of interest in healthy living. (Or you’re just one of my very supportive family members or friends, thank you!) You are probably making a conscious effort to take better care of yourself; you probably have a “take charge” attitude toward your health.

But what about those aspects of our health over which we have zero control? How do we deal with our personal “health disadvantages”?

One of my biggest health disadvantages is my body’s natural build. In fruit terms, I’m definitely more of an “apple” than a “pear,” meaning that when I gain weight, I carry it around my chest and waist. Pear shapes, on the other hand, carry their weight mostly in their hips and thighs.

(Source)

Some research has shown that being an “apple” is more dangerous health-wise; because I carry more fat around my vital organs, I’m at greater risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. So I need to be extra diligent when it comes to having excess fat, because no amount of exercise or healthy eating is going to change my body’s natural shape. It’s just something I have to deal with.

Some other “health disadvantages” include a family history of certain cancers or other diseases. Or you could be disadvantaged by an unhealthy habit you had in the past (smoking, tanning, etc.); even though you may have altered that habit now, there’s no way to go back in time and change the choices you made years ago.

I’m starting to sound a bit like a Debbie Downer, now aren’t I? :-?

But the point of this post is not doom and gloom. I think it is important for each of us to recognize that there are some aspects of our health that are completely outside of our control. There’s simply nothing we can do about them. And yet we are not powerless. When we recognize where our particular disadvantages lie, we have the power and control to take steps to mitigate their effects.

In other words, acknowledging that over which we have no control can actually be a powerful act; it gives us the knowledge and motivation to do all that we can to counteract the disadvantages and live our healthiest lives.

In the end, there are many aspects of life that are simply out of our control, and our health is no exception. Once we accept that fact we can move forward, taking charge of our well-being in the areas that we can.

Do you have a “health disadvantage”? Are you taking steps to try to counteract that disadvantage?

If you’re interested, here is some more reading on the health advantages/disadvantages of “apple” and “pear” shapes.

These Fries Almost Changed My Life

By Katie, 11:03 am

If you’re into the world of healthy living blogging, you most definitely saw Angela’s recent post entitled “These Fries Will Change Your Life.“  The fries to which she is referring are Nut Butter Crusted Parsnip Fries.

I admit that when I first read the post I was a bit taken aback. Almond butter and peanut butter as a fry coating? Really??? 8-O

But since I do love traditional parsnip fries very much, I decided to give it a go. I mean, I love nut butter, so how bad could they possibly be??? ;-)

I followed Angela’s recipe exactly, peeling and cutting my parsnips, then coating them with almond butter, crunchy peanut butter, olive oil, and sea salt.

Into the oven!

The result was really delicious! I really liked the nut butter coating; it was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before…in a good way! I say that these fries almost changed my life, however, because next time I make them I will make a few small adjustments. Perhaps I should have titled the post “These Fries WILL Change My Life” – future tense – when I make them properly!

Next time I will…

1. Use a tad less salt.

2. Not crowd my baking dish so much. (I have a small oven and only one baking dish that fits inside of it, so I just crammed all my fries on there. Not so wise.)

3. Be more careful not to burn the bottoms. (Usually I like a little burnt-ness, but here it wasn’t so good.)

Once I make those little adjustments, there’s no doubt in my mind I will be a changed woman. ;-)

Have you tried parsnip fries yet – either the standard version or nut butter crusted? Think you will?

What’s Your Superpower?

By Katie, 4:48 pm

Chances are you don’t look like a superhero. You probably don’t own a sword or body armor or – most importantly – a cape. And I’m guessing that most days you don’t feel like a superhero either. But I’m here to tell you that that is exactly what you are.

In the May issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Lisa Kogan – a witty, inspirational writer you should definitely check out – writes, “We all have superpowers, and we all forget them from time to time.” I think she’s absolutely right.

(Source)

Now I’m not talking about your overarching talents, skills, or abilities. I’m not talking about the things you make a living doing. Because even though I may be a good writer and you may be a good singer, there are lots of other good writers and singers out there. No, your superpower is something that is unique to you; it’s a very specific aptitude that only you possess.

And while your superpowers may not seem particularly heroic in any given moment, I assure you that they are. :-)

Here are three of mine.

My Superpowers

1. I have this incredible knack for randomly breaking out into the silliest, goofiest dancing you’ve ever seen. Sometimes music is involved, but other times it’s sparked merely by the music in my head. ;-) Why do I consider this a superpower? Because my crazy moves have the ability to instantaneously make any moment a little bit lighter and brighter, which is often exactly what a moment needs.

2. While my mom will always be my mom – she will forever be teaching me things and scolding me when necessary – we’ve also reached this incredible place where we’re friends. When my mom just needs to VENT, she picks up the phone and calls me. Knowing that I can provide my mom with a listening, supportive, understanding ear – the way she has done for me countless times before – makes me feel a tiny bit like a hero.

3. I got my cat Domino before I married Dave, when she was just a few weeks old. For some time it was just Domino and me shacking up together. And now that little kitty is convinced I am her mommy. She swoons over me, literally. So in her little niche of the world, it’s obvious that I am #1 and no one else will do.

Are these superpowers a little bit silly? Sure. Or perhaps minor and inconsequential? Some of the time, yes. And yet I think it’s really important to remember that there are things each of us can offer the world that absolutely no one else can. :-)

What’s one of your superpowers? Perhaps you have a look that drives your significant other mad, or a silly catch phrase that is guaranteed to make your best friend smile. The point is that it is something that you and you alone can do.

Or, if you can’t think of one off the top of your head…

Did you have a favorite superhero when you were a kid? I happened to love She-Ra (Princess of Power, brother to He-Man. ;-) )

(Source)

Asparagus Quiche

By Katie, 10:02 am

Is anyone else very excited about local asparagus???

I debated posting this recipe for Asparagus Quiche because I’m not quite sure it turned out properly. But it tasted quite good, and I figured that if I shared the original recipe and how I modified it, some other cooks out there might be able to explain where I went astray.

This Asparagus Quiche was the joint venture of mother and daughter. I love that I took up an interest in cooking because it allows us to have some fun together in the kitchen. Wearing cute aprons, no less! ;-)

The problem, however, was that this was the first time either of us worked with puff pastry. The recipe said to roll out one sheet of puff pastry dough and fit it into a large pan without stretching it. We got the dough as thin as we could, but there was no way it was spanning the pan. So we ended up using two puff pastry sheets, overlapping them a bit, which seemed like a fine solution until we took our first bites and realized the bottom of the quiche was still a bit doughy. :-(

So I guess my question is, when using puff pastry sheets, are you supposed to roll them out until they are really really thin?

Besides that, though, the quiche was delicious!

This would be a fun recipe for a brunch get-together!

Asparagus Quiche
From USA Weekend (with my changes in italics)
Serves 8 as a side, 6 as a main dish

Ingredients
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-in pieces
5 green onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (we used two)
3 eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream (we used plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1.5 cups grated Swiss cheese (you could cut this back if you wanted)

1. Preheat oven to 400º.

2. Toss asparagus and green onions with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

3. Roll pastry on a lightly floured surface into an 11-x-16 inch rectangle (we couldn’t get it this thin; I was too afraid it would just rip!). Fit into a 10-x-15 inch jellyroll pan, making sure the pastry is not stretched.

4. Evenly distribute asparagus/onion mixture over pastry. Bake on lowest oven rack 12-15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, sour cream or Greek yogurt, tarragon, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.

6. Remove pastry from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300º. Pour egg mixture evenly over asparagus. Sprinkle with cheese.

7. Put quiche back into the oven on the upper-middle rack. Bake until filling is just set, 20-25 minutes.

8. Turn on broiler; broil until cheese bubbles, about 2 minutes. (We skipped this step; it seemed unnecessary.)

9. Remove quiche from oven and let rest a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Have you worked with puff pastry before? Do you know what we did wrong?

AND

Do you like asparagus? What’s your favorite way to eat it? I absolutely love it, despite the fact that it gives my pee a distinct smell. (Sorry if that was “too much information,” but if you’ve ever eaten asparagus you know what I’m talking about! ;-) )

You Never Regret a Run

By Katie, 3:27 pm

Have you ever had that feeling where you really wanted to do something, and yet simultaneously didn’t want to do it at all? That’s exactly how I felt at 6:30 this morning, when the buzz of my alarm alerted me that it was time to get up and RACE.

I love races. I find the whole atmosphere very exhilarating, and I knew the Port to Fort 6K would not disappoint, considering there were 2,400 runners signed up. And yet when I looked out my window and saw nothing but clouds, rain drops, and all-around dreariness, the temptation to stay huddled under the covers was intense.

Checked the weather forecast for the day and saw a little of this: and a little of this: But the race website clearly said RAIN OR SHINE, so I knew the event was on.

Dave and I stayed in bed until the last possible minute, until this thought finally got me up and ready: You never regret a run, but you do regret skipping one.

(Non-runners can replace “run” with “workout” – it’s still a great mantra!)

So despite the dreariness, Dave and I ran in the Port to Fort 6K this morning. Here I am trying to look eager. :roll:

I ended up being pretty glad we went, because the rain held off throughout the whole race. I would have felt pretty silly if we had skipped it due to rain that never fell! :oops:

I ran the 6K (3.7 miles) in 28:50 (my watch time, still waiting for the official time). I’m really happy with my time (it’s pretty darn fast by my standards), but not totally thrilled with how I actually raced. I went way too fast at some parts, experienced some major lactic acid action, and was too spent to sprint at the finish. Which is fine, except that I like to be able to finish strong, you know? But Dave reminded me that if there’s any time to push yourself to your lactic threshold, it’s during a race.

So overall not the best race ever, but not too shabby either! And I have to say, I do not regret running this morning. But would I have regretted it had we flaked out and stayed in bed? Maybe. Well, probably. No, DEFINITELY! ;-)

If you run in races or compete in some kind of athletics, have you ever skipped a race/competition? Did you regret it?

AND

Do you know the lactic acid feeling I’m talking about? (For me it manifests itself in the form of a pesky queasiness in my lower stomach.) If/when you feel it, do you push through it? Or take it as a sign to back off a little bit? This morning it definitely forced me to back off a little bit. I remember thinking to myself, “Too hard, Katie, you’re pushing just a bit too hard.” :-?

Four Reasons

By Katie, 10:21 am

There are four main reasons I had an absolutely wonderful day yesterday…

Reason #1: The Mister

I got to spend the entire day with this handsome fellow, who had the day off from work.

(Yes, I did just steal his work head shot and publish it on my blog!)

Reason #2: New Lunch Spot

Dave and I checked out a new (to us) cafe for lunch. Zia’s in Towson is a hip little spot featuring sandwiches, fresh juices and smoothies, and lots of vegan and raw options.

I built my own sandwich with grilled marinated veggies, sprouts, lettuce, and goat cheese on sunflower bread. Forgot how much I love goat cheese!

And Dave and I shared a Spiced Peach smoothie: peaches, organic yogurt, milk, agave nectar, cinnamon and all-spice. SO STINKIN’ GOOD!

Reason #3: WAFFLES!

Well, no actual waffles YET, but we purchased a waffle iron!

Cannot wait to use it!

Reason #4: Fro-Yo

A little trip to Mr. Yogato in Fells Point.

Tart fro-yo with raspberries.

After we ordered we saw this neat little sign featuring Mr. Yogato’s “Rules.”

You probably can’t read it because of the glare, but some of the “rules” are pretty clever!

-  Try your luck with a trivia question. Get it right for 10% off, but get it wrong and 10% is added.

-  If you will wear a yogato stamp on your head, you get 10% off.

- Order a yogurt for 30 consecutive days and we’ll name a flavor after you…and host you a party!

- If a customer suggests a topping or flavor which is then adopted, that customer receives a 5% discount for life.

We were so sad we didn’t see this ahead of time; we would have loved to try our luck with the trivia question! Guess we’ll have to go back… ;-)

Hope your weekend is off to a lovely start as well!

What’s your favorite fro-yo flavor and/or topping? Help me think of some clever ideas so I can get a 5% discount for life! (And treat you to some fro-yo, of course!)

AND

Do you have a waffle iron? If so, how often do you use it?

Get Married, Get Healthy?

By Katie, 3:42 pm

My marriage definitely has its perks – tax benefits, insurance coverage, LOVE, living longer. Wait, living longer??? 8-O

According to this recent New York Times article, scientists have long known that, on average, married people tend to be healthier and live longer than unmarried people. They call it the “marriage advantage.” Studies have shown that, among other things, married people are less likely to get pneumonia, have surgery, develop cancer, or have heart attacks.

The article emphasizes that this correlation between marriage and health isn’t about the institution of marriage; rather, it’s about the relationship that marriage encourages. In other words, you only get these health benefits if you have a happy, stable marriage. Stressful marriages, on the other hand, can be extremely detrimental to your health.

The article got me thinking about how my marriage has affected my health. Granted, I’ve only been married for about two years, so I’ve still got a long way to go. (Perhaps longer than I would have if I were single. ;-) ) Dave and I discussed the topic over dinner last night, and here’s what we concluded.

Physical Health

We both agreed that we are physically healthier today than we were prior to marriage, although not all of it can be attributed to our marriage itself. In terms of our diets, both of us eat healthier than we did pre-vow-exchange. When I was living on my own, I ate a frozen entree for dinner literally every night…ugh! (Worst part is that I thought I was being healthy! :roll: ) Dave estimates that if he were single he would probably cook for himself once, maybe twice, per week.

In terms of fitness, I’m about the same. I first joined a gym in high school, so exercise has been a regular part of my life for quite some time. Dave exercises significantly less than he did in high school and college, when he was involved in sports and pick-up games. However, the little bit of formal exercise he does engage in today is mostly because of my prompting. ;-)

Emotional Health

Dave and I will be the first ones to tell you that a happy marriage is directly connected to emotional health. You just can’t beat the love, stability, and support that a committed relationship brings. In addition, I’ve found that constantly having someone in my life with whom I can share my fears and frustrations - someone who isn’t afraid to see my raw emotions in all of their glory – has worked wonders in terms of helping me get in touch with those emotions.

Spiritual Health

I’m a firm believer in the importance of sharing your deepest beliefs and values with your lifelong partner. Dave and I have always “clicked” in terms of our faith; we share the same vision for how we want to live our lives. This is great because when one of us begins to falter – losing touch with what matters the most – the other is there to encourage, motivate, and uplift. And, at the risk of sounding totally mushy and lovey-dovey, my belief in a loving God is only strengthened by my relationship with Dave; I feel so grateful for the blessing that our marriage is. (Love ya, babe!)

So all-in-all, I didn’t do this for the health benefits. They’re just the icing on the (three-tiered) cake. ;-)

If you’re married or in a committed relationship, do you think your relationship has improved your health? How so? If you’re not married, do you think the correlation between marriage and health makes sense? Or is it just a bunch of baloney?

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