Protein Muffin V2

I went back to the protein muffins tonight. I should say, I started the protein muffins over from scratch. I pulled out a baking book and found a muffin recipe that I thought I could modify. Then I went online to do a little research for butter replacement and egg yolk replacement in baked goods.

There were a few mistakes I made with the last recipe that I should have noticed. First, that other recipe had no leavener. There also was no mixing order. And there were too many things going on. There are several different egg and butter replacement options, like applesauce, pumpkin, yogurt, and bananas. The previous recipe used all of them. So using a blueberry muffin recipe, I'm starting Protein Muffins V2

1 1/2 c oat bran
1/4 c ground flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c Greek yogurt (blueberry or vanilla flavored)
1 tsp olive oil
2 egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. In a food processor, blend flax seed and oat bran until fine (optional if you like more texture). Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Combine egg whites, yogurt, and lemon juice in a large bowl until well blended. Fold in dry until mostly combined. Fold in blueberries. Do not over mix.

Place in muffin tins and bake for 18-20 min, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Before baking:

After baking:
Now these turned out good! Much better than the last batch. Moist, with good flavor. John still didn't like the texture but any bran muffin is going to have more texture than a normal muffin. I probably will try once more version, but I haven't quite figured out how I can get any more protein in these muffins. I did a rough calorie estimate based on the raw ingredients. Here's my breakdown per muffin:
  • 84 calories
  • 2.6 g fat
  • 6 g protein
  • 2.5 g fiber

The actual values will vary depending on the yogurt you use. Be careful to measure out the yogurt since I noticed the serving sizes can vary. If you want to use plain yogurt, you will probably need to add some honey. There is enough sugar in the flavored yogurt that the recipe doesn't need additional sugar.

I haven't quite figured out how the previous recipe had the calories and protein it said. Unless they were jumbo sized muffins. I'd like to try to get the protein up to 10g per muffin, but if I add any more volume to the recipe, it will increase the number of muffins in the batch so it won't be a complete gain. I could add whey protein, but I'd prefer that these stay as natural as possible. Hmm, sounds like a challenge. I'll be coming back to protein muffins again.


Run Less, Run Faster book review

I recently read Run Less, Run Faster while travelling and I thought I'd share. It was written by a couple of guys at FIRST - the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Technology.

The guys who wrote the book got the idea when they started training for triathlons and noticed their running times improved even though they were running less. Obviously this sounded like something I'd like to try. The whole idea is 3 days of running and 2-3 days of cross-training. The authors highly recommended biking and swimming (duh) but any cross training could be used. They also talked about nutrition and stretching, basically saying what we all know. At the end they had a Boston-qualifying section.

The main principal behind the run 3 days, cross train 2, is that each workout has a specific purpose. I can't say that I learned anything new: the three runs were speed work, tempo run, and long run. In between is high intensity, low impact cross training to work the cardio system and give the legs a break from impact. But I did like how they laid out all the information.

With my current work schedule and studying, I thought this would be a good mentality for my "non-training." I've only been working out 3-4 days a week, so I need to be more focused and make sure when I do work out, the intensity is high.

The other thing I found interesting was some of the tables in the book. One in particular predicts your marathon time based on your PR in a 5k, 10k, or half marathon. The half is supposed to be the best predictor. Based on my half marathon time of 1:44:28 "predicts" a marathon time of 3:40. 3:40? Really? Not that I put a lot of stock in predicted times, but it was enough to make me think I should try this marathon thing and see what the hype is all about. I'll turn 30 in a little over a year, so I thought a marathon before 30 sounded like a good goal.

I plan on using the Run Less, Run Faster plan for a marathon to be determined this fall. KM and I were talking about it, and the goal for my first one will be to finish. But if that goes well, we may try to qualify for Boston together in a year. Never thought I'd say that...


Protein Muffin V1

I know, I know, I'm a little late on this one. I made these yesterday but didn't have time to put up the recipe.

This recipe I got from Triathlete magazine but I didn't make the recipe exactly as specified. It called for pumpkin, yogurt, cinnamon applesauce, bananas, peanut butter, blueberries and honey. Optional was walnuts, crasins, and coconut. That was way too many conflicting flavors in one recipe for me.

And I somehow managed to lose the recipe, but here's what I remember:
1 1/2 c oat bran
1/2 c Greek yogurt
1/2 c pumpkin
1/2 c unsweetened cinnamon applesauce
1 T PB
1 c egg whites
1 banana, sliced
1 c blueberries

I added 1/2 c ground flax seed and 1 T chia seed. I eliminated the blueberries and applesauce and doubled the pumpkin, yogurt, and peanut butter. I also added a tsp of baking powder to try to get them to rise.

They turned out pretty good, but I think I can do better. For all the ingredients, they didn't have a ton of flavor. I'm going to make them again, but I think I'm going to mix all the dry ingredients in a food processor so it has a finer texture. I'm also going to try beating the egg whites and then folding them in, so lighten the texture. I think they could use another banana and possibly a little more peanut butter. I also wouldn't mix the chia seed it, instead I might sprinkle the tops before they go in the oven. Chia seed in any amount of moisture turns...gelatinous. I probably shouldn't have added them in.


Snow Shoeing at Prairie Center

John and I took our snow shoes out this weekend for the first time. I should preface this by saying that we both got sick. Again. This time it was a chest congestion, fever, runny nose, and wicked headache we brought back from San Diego. We're both feeling better now, but I still have a little bit of a cough left.

So long story short, I wasn't feeling up for more than one loop around Prairie Center. It was a lot of fun, but I was huffing and puffing and my heart rate was through the roof for an easy effort. Oy vey. Feels like starting from scratch.

I'm hoping the snow sticks around a little bit long so I can go out again. It was an awesome break from running this time of year. Maybe next year I'll look for a snow shoe race...


Poor Man's Fra Diavolo

This last week, while trying to unfreeze our hot water pipes, I was rummaging through the kitchen for dinner. We didn't have much food in the house, but between the pantry and freezers, we had the makings for one of my favorite dishes - Fra Diavolo. Typically it's made with shrimp, but I've also made it with chicken. Since I didn't have shrimp or chicken on hand, I used tilapia, which we had several fillets frozen.

1 lb shrimp (or chicken or fish, cubed)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3 T fresh Italian parsley, chopped
3 T fresh basil leaves, chopped

Toss meat in a bowl with salt and red pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Saute meat until just cooked through, set aside. Saute onion until translucent. Add tomato (with juices), wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 min. Return meat to pan, cook about another minute. Stir in parsley and basil. Serve over pasta.

I like this recipe since it's not a cream-based sauce. I used canned tomatoes and dried basil from our garden, in the summer I'll also use some fresh tomatoes for the texture and flavor. Homegrown food tastes so much better. I also added a package of frozen chopped spinach to increase the veggies. I also tossed the whole wheat pasta in the sauce pan at the end.

Everything simmering together:

Pasta tossed in:

Man, I love this dish. And this recipe is so good, I hardly ever order this out any more because I can make it better at home!
We keep track of our garden on our house blog, but for those that don't read it, here's a picture of our garden last summer. We have 5 raised beds and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, herbs, and wildflowers, among other things. John started canning and we dried herbs, so we're still eating out of the garden in January. We have even bigger plans for the 2011 garden!


Ginger Pork

Since we are out of town this weekend, I decided to cook tonight and take a few pictures. John had stuff going on (and is still out somewhere having a beer while I write this) so KM came over to help me test out the recipe.

Tonight I made ginger pork with winter roasted vegetables. The pork recipe I found in a magazine, the veggies were spur of the moment.

I chopped 2 leeks, 3 sweet potatoes, and 4 parsnips and tossed them in olive oil, coarse sea salt, and dried basil (from our garden this summer). I put them in the oven at 450 for 30 min, then turned them down to 300 while I finished the pork, tossing once so the top didn't get overdone.

Ginger Pork Rolls
3 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c chopped red onion
1 lb pork loin, thinly sliced
whole grain buns or bread
1/2 to 1 c thinly sliced cucumber
fresh cilantro

In a large skillet, combine 1 cup water, soy sauce, ginger, and onions. Cover and bring to simmer over medium-high heat 5-6 min until onions are tender. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add 1/4 tsp. black pepper to onions.

Add pork to cooking liquid in pan. Simmer uncovered 7-8 min, until pork is cooked through, turning once. Remove from liquid.

Serve pork over bread or buns with cucumber slices, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno (if desired).

I couldn't find whole or multi grains buns, so I used regular bread but I think the buns would have been better. The veggies turned out awesome. I've had parsnips once but I never cooked with them. They have a really nice, mellow flavor that worked well with the leeks and sweet potatoes.


Back on the Wagon

While driving into work this morning I realized: I was a little sore. And it felt good.

This morning I ran 4.8 miles with KM, last night I went to spin at Cycle City, Sunday I ran 6 miles with MO, Saturday was off and Friday I ran 11 miles with KM and Meeka. Man does it feel good to be working out consistently again!


Happy New Year!

It's 2011 and a fresh start! I'm not one for resolutions, but I have decided that this year I am going to do one food-related post each week. John and I are making it a point to cook more and eat out less. We don't stick to any type of diet, but we are trying to follow a "whole food" diet with little to no pre-packaged food or highly refined foods. My goal is to post mainly healthy foods for fuel and recovery, with the occasional indulgence.

To start the year off on the right foot, I'm going to make my first food post. I'm going to try to post pictures with the recipes, and any suggestions. Obviously, I'm only going to post recipes I've made and tried (and would suggest to others). But if I get any recommendations or requests, I'll try find a recipe to make and post.

I thought since it's winter, stew would be a good place to start. We hosted a Wisconsin-themed cocktail party recently and for the party I made a venison stew. This could easily be made with beef, but the venison was awesome. To give proper credit, I found this recipe on the Food Network website. It's from Emeril but I did tweak it just a bit, mainly added more veggies and cutting out salt. And the venison I was given from a friend, so I'm not exactly sure where you would buy it commerically.

Venison Stew:
3 T olive oil
2 lb venison stew meat, cubed
1/4 c flour
1 1/4 T paprika
1/2 T salt
1 T garlic powder
1/2 T black pepper
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 T cayenne powder
1/2 T dried oregano
1/2 T dried thyme
2 c chopped onions (about 2 small or 1 large onion)
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped carrots
1 T chopped garlic
1 T fresh basil
1 T fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
4 cups stock
2-4 c potatoes
8 oz mushrooms

In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat. In a bowl, mix flour and highlighted seasonings. Toss venison in flour mixture. Sear the meat in the pot for 2-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2 min. Add the celery and carrots, saute for for 2 min. Add wine and stock, deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the fresh herbs and bay leaves. Simmer for 1 hour or put in a slow cooker on high for 6-8 hours.

Here's a shot of the meat and veggies prepped before I started.

I used Idaho golds and Baby Red potatoes. I also didn't used any dried thyme since we didn't have any. I'm not a hug fan of thyme anyway.

The original recipe called for simmering for 45min- 1hr. Venison can be tricky. I didn't know how old the deer was or where the cuts came from, so I wanted to simmer it all day to make sure the meat was completely tender. The house smelled awesome. As it turned out, the quality of meat was fantastic. I made the recipe a second time and simmered it for 1 hour and the meat was perfect. Thank you JP!
A few other notes:
1) If you want the original recipe, you can find it here. But here's a quick rundown of the changes I made:
  • I omitted 1 cup chopped tomatoes.
  • I added the mushrooms and potatoes and I doubled the amount of carrots. For me, a good stew requires potatoes, carrots and mushrooms.
  • I added the garlic earlier and deglazed with the wine and stock. I needed more liquid to deglaze the pan than just 1 cup of wine.
  • I cut the salt in the seasoning blend in half. I eliminated the "season with salt and pepper" the recipes directs at several points. There is enough flavor I don't think any additional salt is necessary.
2) If you don't like a spicy hot food, you may want to reduce the amount of cayenne.
3) You can substitute smoked paprika for all or part of the paprika. I like about half and half.
4) I found a "no salt added" beef stock that is really nice. It had about 150 mg sodium per serving compared to 600-700 mg per serving for typical stock and 300-400 mg per serving for reduced sodium stock.
5) You can put it all in the slow cooker and just cook it all day. But I think searing the meat and sauteeing the veggies and garlic with the seasoned meat makes a big difference.
This recipe turned out really nice. And you can see from the ingredients that there is no fat other than the olive oil. and you can increase the veggies and reduce the meat if you want. You can change the proportions of the veggies pretty easy, too. I don't actually measure anything, I just eyeball it. We liked it so much, I made a second batch the next day so we had leftovers to eat that week and plenty to freeze for the future. If you try it out, let me know what you think!