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Since it’s taking me so long to write the final part of my marathon post, I figured I’d provide you with something to satisfy your sweet tooth while you wait…a recipe for Pumpkin Pecan Crumb Cake.  I made two desserts this holiday, and sampled plenty of others, and this was by far my favorite.  I used a vegan recipe because I was going to a kosher Thanksgiving dinner (in other words, I had to avoid dairy since meat was being served).  While I personally do not keep kosher, I jumped at the opportunity to create a vegan dessert, since they tend to use healthier ingredients anyway.  This recipe is no exception.  Instead of eggs and butter, this recipe uses canned pumpkin and canola oil to hold it together.  I also substituted some whole wheat flour for the white flour to up the nutrients.

So if you’re like me and you stocked up on more cans of pumpkin than you know what to do with, make this today.  And then tell me what you think :)

Pumpkin Pecan Crumb Cake
(adapted from Veganomicon’s Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel)

Crumb Topping:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Cake:

  • 1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
  • ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used Almond Breeze, which I believe can be found in any grocery store these days)
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves

Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Make the topping:

Combine all ingredients and mix with your fingers.

Bake the cake:

First combine the pumpkin, almond milk, canola oil, molasses and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Then add the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and spices and mix until it’s an even consistency.  Add the remaining flour and gently mix with a whisk or a fork.  (At this point, feel free to lick the whisk like you did as a child :). Since this is vegan, there are no raw eggs to give you food poisoning!)

Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a fork through the center comes out clean.

ENJOY!

What was your favorite holiday dessert this Thanksgiving?

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Marathon Prep

With the marathon just two days away, my focus right now is on rest, nutrition, and carbo-loading.  The rest portion I have down:  bed by 9:30 – sleep by 10.  The nutrition and carbo-loading are where my mind races.  I’ve successfully completed two 20 milers and one 22 miler in training with my normal diet, yet I’ve become consumed with reading article after article after article about preparation the week before the race.  They offer advice on everything from specific foods to eat, to how to breath properly to fall asleep.  The truth is, I know what works for me and that’s what I’m sticking to.  Here is my preparation for race day:

  • Drink a lot of water – I do this already so this is no problem
  • Increase carbohydrate intake – I’ve heard and read many people talk about “carbo-loading” before a race.  There are specific ratios offered, but basically it means replace proteins/fats with carbs, without increasing total calories.  There is no need to eat a bowl of pasta for dessert after your normal meal.  Simply replace some of the protein/fat in your meal with carbs in the days leading up to the race. (For example, instead of having yogurt for breakfast, I’m having pumpkin banana oatmeal (recipe below).)

  • Carbs can come in many forms – Fruit, vegetables, whole grains and starches (potatoes) are all carbs.  Eat a well balanced (yet easy to digest!) diet, but do not try anything new!The soup I made the other day is perfect for this and I’ve eaten it everyday this week.
  • Prepare race clothing as soon as possible - I’ve already laid out all of my gear and it’ll probably stay on the floor until it’s on my body :)  I may be a little over-the-top with that, but I’ve done it for every race I’ve run and it calms me.  I’ll review what’s there in my next post.

  • Plan your race day morning – You can never be too obsessive here.  Before the end of the day today, I will have an extremely specific plan (that will probably even include details like “brush teeth.”  Who knows where my mind will be that morning?!)
  • Charge all of your electronics! – Obviously life will go on without music…and the miles will still be miles if my Garmin dies.  But why risk it?  And don’t forget the camera battery!
  • Study the map and plan where you expect to see your fans – I printed out the race day map and have been casually looking at it all week.  I always plan out my routes, so this is nothing new for me.  I also marked where I should expect to see my friends and family (although I know there is always a chance I will miss them, and I need to be prepared for that, as well).

  • And finally – RELAX – Surprisingly, I’ve been very relaxed (and excited!) this entire week, but I’m not entirely sure what the weekend will bring.  Today I’m heading to the expo with some of my fellow Philly bloggers – Lauren who is running the half this weekend and Leslie who ran both Chicago and NYC in the past month!  I’m counting on some words of wisdom from Leslie and preparation talks with Lauren to keep me relaxed :)  I’m hoping Sabrina can join us, as well!

That’s all for now!  Off to run my final 3 miles before 26.2.  I cannot believe the marathon is in two days.

Pumpkin Banana Oatmeal

1/3 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup skim milk
1/3 cup water
1 small banana
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin butter (I love Trader Joe’s)
pinch of salt

Combine milk, banana, salt and oatmeal on the stove and stir over medium heat until creamy.  Add the canned pumpkin towards the end.  Pour into a bowl and add the pumpkin butter.  Enjoy!

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Kale Sweet Potato Bean Soup

With the marathon just five short days away, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • I am craving a long run and was recently caught running in place by a friend
  • I have a hard time talking about anything but the marathon (and am therefore nervous I’ve become boring and won’t have anything to talk about after the marathon)
  • I am very thankful I have amazing friends and family who put up with my one track mind :)
  • The hypochondriac in me has come out…every small ache in my legs might as well be a fracture (these are called “phantom pains” and are totally normal, but knowing that doesn’t make them feel any less intense)
  • I am much slightly more emotional than usual (I’ve teared up during every run in the past two weeks thinking about the race)
  • And finally…I’ve become consumed with eating nutrient dense foods – as shown in this Kale Sweet Potato Bean soup I prepared today…

To sum up a pretty intricate term, “nutrient dense” foods are foods that are rich in nutrients and low in calories.  (Side note – I’m not sure I completely agree with how nutrient density is used because I believe healthy fats – which are high in calories – deserve more positive attention, but I do believe it’s a great system to incorporate into one’s diet).

So I’ve been filling my plate with tons of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  To have some fun this week, I decided to see how many nutrient dense foods I could fit into one meal (totally normal for an R.D.-to-be, right? :) )

I came across a recipe on FitSugar.com for Kale Potato Bean Soup.  The kale was the star of the soup.

Kale is a nutrient powerhouse (even more so than spinach!).  It contains calcium, iron, Vitamin A, C and K and endless antioxidant properties.

I decided to swap the recipe’s suggested white potato with a sweet potato for its high fiber and potassium content.  I also doubled the suggested amount of carrots and celery, and grabbed the black beans and garlic.

(Almost forgot the onion!)

I then gathered all of the remaining ingredients.

And followed the directions until I had a huge pot of nutrients.

The final product was better than any canned soup I’ve ever had.

Kale Sweet Potato Bean Soup
Modified from FitSugar’s recipe
Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium peeled sweet potato
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups organic vegetable broth
1 large bunch of chopped kale, stems removed
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Heat a large pot oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan.
2. Add garlic, onion, carrot, potato, and celery and sauté for 7 minutes or until tender.
3. Toss in salt and pepper and cook 1 minute.
4. Stir in 4 cups vegetable broth and kale. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
5. Place drained black beans into the pot. Bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
6. Stir in vinegar. Serve up in a bowl and add a bit of shaved Parmesan cheese on top!

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…you make homemade pumpkin fettuccine with sage and brown sugar!

My best friend just posed a question to me tonight that I’ve been getting a lot recently.  She said “The marathon is so soon!  Are you eating pasta all day everyday??”  The answer, unfortunately, is no.  (Although some people do!  I just watched my boyfriend cross the finish line in the NY Marathon in 3:20 on an all pasta diet…but he is a boy, and therefore another story).  I, on the other hand, cannot eat pasta to my heart’s content, no matter how many 20 milers I run.

However, my friend Sabrina recently gave me a pasta maker that she never used (thank you Sabrina!).  So when someone gives you a traditional Italian pasta maker…well, you make pasta.  And if you happened to have run 20 miles that morning…you take seconds :)

I’ve been a longtime reader of the blog Smitten Kitchen and every one of her recipes I’ve tried has been incredible.  So after inheriting the pasta maker, I came across her recipe for homemade pasta dough.  In this post, she describes how she overcame her fear of the pasta nest.

A fear of mixing flour and eggs together and rolling them into a ball?  How hard could it be??

Let me tell you – it’s hard.

And messy.

And at times you might want to throw your egg and flour covered hands up in the air and give up.

But in the end, it’s worth it (although I now understand the fear).  See, the goal of the pasta nest is to combine the eggs with the flour very very slowly – without breaking the nest – to avoid causing clumps to form in the dough.

Somehow, after about thirty minutes of delicately twirling the yolk into the flour, a homemade ball of pasta dough was formed…

We continued to follow the recipe and kneaded the dough for a full 20 minutes before splitting it in two and running it through the pasta maker.  The pasta maker was actually the simplest part.  First you roll the pasta through a few times to create a flat sheet of pasta, as shown in the picture below.  Next, you choose which type of pasta you’d like to make (fettuccine for us), and roll the pasta sheets through that.  The final product?

…a huge bowl of fettuccine that not only looked exactly like the backup store-bought pasta we had in the refrigerator, but it tasted a thousand times better.

You’d think that after laboring over this pasta for an hour, we’d just pour store-bought tomato sauce over it and call it a day.  But homemade pasta deserves only the best.  And the best is my neighbor’s Pumpkin Fettuccine recipe, based on Mercato’s recipe of the same name.  Natasha (my new neighbor) recreated this recipe on a casual Sunday night without original measurements or knowing every ingredient, yet somehow it turned out to be the best bowl of pasta I’ve ever had.

And so I was determined to recreate it.

I bought leeks for the first time in my life…

and fresh sage leaves…

and broke out the brown sugar…and chopped up some pancetta…

and coated butternut squash with cinnamon, nutmeg and olive oil and roasted it in the oven for 40 minutes…

and eventually combined all ingredients to create the most amazing bowl of pasta I’ve ever had.

There’s nothing like a romantic dinner with a laptop on the table, wine in regular glasses and flour under your nails, right?  :)

Pumpkin Fettuccine

Created by my neighbor Natasha
Based on Mercato’s recipe

1 leek (halved then finely chopped)
3 bunches of arugula (very rough chop)
1 butternut squash (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1/4 lb of pancetta (diced) – Natasha used 1/2 in her original recipe
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
Brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Peel squash and cut into 1″ cubes, then coat with olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet until soft on the inside and caramelized on the outside (about 40 minutes on 350°F) – might need to flip squash halfway through.

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into separate pan and add pancetta and sage.  Cook on medium until pancetta is a little brown.  Add leeks and cook until leeks are tender and pancetta is slightly crispy.  Add a little brown sugar, salt and pepper and continue to cook on low.

Remove squash from oven when soft and add to pasta mixture.  Finally, add the fresh arugula and mix until arugula is wilted.  Check seasonings before serving and adjust as necessary.

(Any store-bought pasta will work for this recipe, but Natasha used pappardelle in the original version and it was incredible.)

Clearly we liked it.  And in case you were wondering, red wine, pumpkin beer and pumpkin pasta go very well together…

Oh and….THE MARATHON IS IN 9 DAYS!  Off to complete my last “long” run (only 8 miles!).  After today, I only have 11 miles – in the form of two 3 milers and one 5 miler – before 26.2.  Wow.

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During my latest trip to Headhouse’s Sunday market, I felt the presence of all four seasons around me.  Spring was in the air on this 70 degree morning…

Summer was still holding on through some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes…

Winter even made an early appearance in the form of chestnuts…

But, alas, Fall stole the show.  There were bright orange pumpkins…

and baskets of peppers…

cartons of apples…

and homemade apple butter (my favorite!)

boxes of pears filled with varieties I’ve never seen before (this Asian pear is now my new obsession)…

and containers of heirloom lima beans…

Despite all of the delicious foods above, I zeroed in on this gorgeous Sicilian eggplant.  I recently tried this variety for the first time and found out that, unlike regular eggplant, the Sicilian type does not need to be salted before cooking (a step that once led to me wasting three perfect eggplants and has kept me from attempting any eggplant recipe since).  The Japanese variety does not need to be salted either, but they’re often too small to create the traditional eggplant recipes, like lasagna, rollatini or parmesan.  So once I spotted these, my squash fixation subsided for a moment and I began picturing Italian comfort food.  (Fun fact – Eggplant is actually a fruit, specifically a berry.  Who knew??)

I decided right there in the middle of the market that it was about time I attempted to make a lasagna, something I’ve never made before because I’ve always equated with being heavy and unhealthy.  I did a quick search and came across this recipe.  Whole wheat pasta?  Part-skim ricotta?  Layers of tomatoes, basil and eggplant?  Done and done :)  I added the tomatoes and basil leaves to my bag from the market, and stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up the remaining ingredients.

Here is sliced eggplant, before roasting.  Instead of using a grill, I simply roasted the eggplant on the stove – about 3 minutes on each side until it softened and browned a bit.

Layering was the best part, although I had to refer to the recipe more times than I’d like to admit to remember the order – one layer of sauce on the bottom, then pasta, sauce, cheese, basil, tomatoes, eggplant.  Anddd repeat.  Easy enough, right?  Clearly my first lasagna made me nervous :)

Here it is, mid-layer #1…

I also made an easy caprese salad with some of those colorful heirloom tomatoes pictured above, and some store bought pesto and mozzarella cheese.

And finally, the lasagna!  Unfortunately I made an amateur cooking mistake and failed to convert the 180 degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit.  My Chem I teacher is frowning at me somewhere and my perfectly timed plan of going for a run and coming back to a house smelling of basil, cheese and tomatoes was ruined.  After an extremely slow 45 minutes at 35o degrees Fahrenheit, it was finally (finally!) finished.  It is not a good idea to delay dinner for a girl in her 8th week of marathon training.  Lesson learned.

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I’m now 90% convinced pull-back weeks in marathon training are necessary.  The other 10% will come if I can successfully complete 16 miles on Friday.  My confidence in the pull-back week comes from the fact that my past three runs have been some of my fastest yet.  Here’s the recap:

Friday, 5 miles:  9:20 pace
Sunday, 6 miles:  9:02 pace

And as for Tuesday’s 6 mile tempo, I averaged 8:34 for the 4 tempo miles -

Mile 1:  warm-up
Mile 2:  8:35
Mile 3:  8:30
Mile 4:  8:36
Mile 5:  8:35
Mile 6:  cool-down

Other than an 8k I did last spring where I paced 8:25, I haven’t run that fast for 4 miles straight…ever.  Hence my newfound love for the pull-back week :)  Clearly my legs needed some time to recover after 14 miles.  Now that I’ve gotten my speedwork in for the week, and I haven’t had a long run in over 10 days, I’m itching for a long and relaxing 16 miles on Friday.  Now I just need to come up with a game plan on how to fuel for this one!

For 14, I simply took in 2 gels since that’s what’s always worked for me for my halfs – although I remember wishing I had some sort of electrolyte replacement (which is probably completely mental, but isn’t almost everything about running??).  Right now I am planning on bringing 3 gels and two Nuun tablets to try in my water.  I’ve never tried these before, but I’ve read about them in a few different places and the guy at the running store raved about them (selling through enthusiasm gets me every time).  Nuun tablets are simply an electrolyte replacement (as opposed to a sports drink like Gatorade which has sugar/carbs).  They dissolve easily in water, which is perfect for my run on Friday since I’ll be carrying my water bottle and have access to fountains every few miles.  If these work, they might even be my solution for race day.  According to the website, one Nuun tablet has:

active ingredients level (mg)
Sodium (carbonates) 360.0
Potassium (bicarbonate) 100.0
Calcium (carbonate) 12.5
Magnesium (sulfate) 25.0
Vitamin C 37.5
Vitamin B2 500mcg

Pretty good stats!  It’s hard to believe I’m at 16 miles already.  I have no time goal in mind for this run.  If I feel strong during my last few miles, I’ll be happy.

Now onto some eats :)  When I was in Philly today, I made a quick stop at the Schuylkill River farmers’ market.  I didn’t have my camera on me, but you can see a recap of that market here.  Due to limited cash funds on me, I couldn’t go crazy buying everything I saw (probably a good thing!), so I kept it simple and bought some berries and fresh figs (!!)

I believe the first time I was introduced to fresh figs was at a restaurant out in California’s wine country.  I fell in love instantly.  I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to try them in a recipe on my own!  Aren’t they gorgeous?

I decided to roast another acorn squash and create a “lazy girl’s fig and squash pizza.”  After realizing I had about 10 minutes to cook before heading to class, I threw a handful of spinach, a few slices of roasted squash and two spoonfuls of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese onto a whole wheat wrap and baked it in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

And then I topped it with sliced fresh figs.  This pizza had only five ingredients and was delicious.  The salty cheese complimented the sweet squash and figs perfectly.  Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate the leftover figs into my breakfast!

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Ever wonder how you can turn two of these…

…into this???

No?  Me either.  That is, until I was left with two lone zucchini, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a block of ‘I-need-to-be-used-asap’ Parmesan cheese.  Let me explain.  I knew I was heading to the beach for the weekend, so I never re-stocked my refrigerator for the week.  So my options were 1) have a bowl of cereal and call it a night or 2) get creative.  I chose the latter :)

I did a quick Google search and saw this recipe from the NYTimes.  I was too hungry to read it…I simply saw the picture, glanced at the ingredients, and got to work.

To begin, I heated two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and added two garlic cloves and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  While this was all heating together, I turned to the zucchini.  First, I used a vegetable peeler to remove and discard all of the skin.  Then I continued peeling each zucchini until I reached the seeds.  My method was to peel one side, then the opposite side, then peel what was left (simple, I know, but looking back I think rotating the zucchini might be easier).  What I got was a bright green pile of raw zucchini ‘linguine.’

Next I added the ‘linguine’ to the pan with a little bit of sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes (to taste).  I tossed everything together for about five minutes – until the zucchini looked cooked and slightly brown in some areas.

Finally, I plated the pasta and grated some Parmesan on top.  This was honestly amazing.  I wasn’t even sure I was going to share it on the blog until I took my first bite.  I’m not going to be so bold to say that it tasted like real pasta.  Let’s be honest – nothing will ever hold a candle to real pasta, but this is definitely one of the best guilt-free pastas I’ve ever had.  I can’t wait to try this again with other sauces! 

Have you ever used a vegetable in a creative way for a recipe?  I’ve made my fair share of spaghetti squash (and can’t wait for fall when it’s available again!), but I would love some new ideas!

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The Good:

  • getting my 8 mile ‘long run’ out of the way before the weekend
  • running with a friend in Philly along the river (I’ll join you any other time before 9am!)
  • leaving time for an hour of tennis tomorrow morning due to doing my long run today :)
  • finally learning that running in the summer heat does not work (see ‘bad’ below)

The Bad:

  • running the day after weight lifting for the first time in months
  • 1pm, 95 degree temperatures, humidity and no clouds
  • having to stop and walk multiple times due to heat
  • realizing this probably shouldn’t count as my long run for the week due to the walking
  • deciding that a 6 mile run will make up for that this weekend

The Delicious:

  • Goat Cheese and Beet “Caprese” Salad

  • Summer Veggie Pasta Primavera

This was such an easy dinner to throw together!  Here’s how you can do it, too:

Beet and Goat Cheese “Caprese” Salad

- heat the oven to 400
- place the beets on tin foil and drizzle a TBSP of olive oil on top, them wrap them up in the foil tightly (all together)
- heat them in the oven for about 45 mins (this depends on size – check halfway through to see where they are – but be sure to wrap the foil tightly after)
- for the “caprese” look, I used sliced goat cheese that I bought from Trader Joe’s and then cut out circles using the rim of a champagne glass (any type of goat cheese will work, though!)
- for the dressing, I combine 2T balsamic vinegar, 2T olive oil and 1T honey and drizzled it on top

As for the Summer Veggie Pasta Primavera, I looked to Giada for guidance.  I followed her recipe here, but used some of my recent summer veggie buys, including yellow squash and corn.  I also used fusilli instead of farfalle pasta.  I didn’t have any carrots on hand, but I’m sure they only only would have added to it.

What’s your favorite pasta dinner to throw together during the week?

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While training for my half in May, I fell completely off the wagon with strength training.  Plans were to jump back on over the summer, but a demanding Anatomy and Physiology class got in the way.  And then there was vacation.  And then post-vacation blues.  And now?  No more excuses. It’s marathon training season and I need to get back on track.

In all honesty – I really don’t enjoy strength training.  I’d rather run for 2 hours than spend 30 minutes lifting weights.  But not only is it a necessary cross training component during marathon training, but it’s necessary in life to keep bones strong, avoid injuries and prevent problems related to aging like osteoporosis (I know – strange to think about in your 20′s – but better to develop these habits now, right?).  Running.com has a great article about the reasons to strength train.  In short, it says that with strength training you’ll…

  • become a more efficient runner,
  • burn more calories,
  • increase your endurance and reduce fatigue,
  • reduce your risk for injuries, and
  • run faster.

With all of those amazing reasons, I knew it had to be part of my training schedule.  So tonight I took Body Pump at my gym.  It’s a 60-minute circuit class that covers all the weight lifting basics (squats, lunges, presses, curls, etc…).  Let’s just say I have a lot of room for improvement.  It’ll be interesting to see how I feel after a 4 month routine of taking this 1-2 times a week!

Post-gym I came home to create a protein rich dinner…Vegetarian Tacos!  I went out for a Mexican dinner in Philly last night for a not-so-healthy-but-totally-amazing dinner at Lolita…but that only left me wanting more.   With local tomatoes and leftover corn from my farmers market trip last week on hand, I knew I had the start to a delicious and healthy meal.

I used this recipe from Epicurious as a guide but changed the ingredients a bit.  For my tacos, I used the following:

2 T olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic

1 container mushrooms, chopped
2 chopped red bell peppers
1.5 cups roasted corn
1 can kidney beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1 T oregano
two handfuls of spinach
soft corn tortillas
sea salt to taste

Items for toppings included:

1 large chopped avocado
1 large chopped tomato
0% Greek Yogurt (as a sub for sour cream)
Hot salsa :)

This was enough for 3 people, plus leftovers.  They were delicious!

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Before I leave for Israel, I want to share a gorgeous meal my Mom recently cooked (a major benefit of living at home while in school).  My Dad picked up 10 mangoes at a farmers’ market near his work.  I’m not sure how these mangoes ended up at a local New Jersey farmers’ market from Mexico, but I don’t ask questions when my Dad comes home with fresh fruit.  So the challenge was what to do with 10 ripe mangoes.  After a quick Google search, I came up with this Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa recipe.  It’s light and uses minimal ingredients – most of which we had on hand.

For a side dish, I referenced my new Clean Food cookbook (I love this book) and found a Black Bean Salad recipe in the ‘Summer’ section.  It’s similar to this one, but without the cayenne.  The ingredients list matched the mango salsa recipe – including fresh cilantro, red onions, ground cumin and lime – so I knew they’d be a perfect match.  (Note – Mangoes are tricky to cut.  And can be very messy.  For instructions on how to cut a mango, watch this video.)

The result was delicious and filling.  While I’m home, I’m trying to introduce new meals to my family.  My Mom is a great cook, but she definitely thinks of a “square meal” in a very traditional way.  As in, carbs come from bread, protein comes from meat, and vegetables come from salad.  While this is all true, there are so many other ways to incorporate these macromolecules (I’m immersed in sciences classes right now – go with it :) ) into your meals.

For instance, in this meal we have carbs from the black beans and vegetables from the tomatoes, corn and red peppers

Protein from the tilapia (and the black beans)…

And fresh fruit from the mangoes

All together to create a new take on the traditional “square meal.”

Question:  Has your idea of a “square meal” changed since you were a child? I definitely look at my meals differently now.  I stopped eating meat a few years ago (but have since brought it back to an extent).  In eliminating the type of protein I was raised eating, I had to discover new ways to incorporate it into my diet.  I now think its fun to play with my food and mix and match ingredients to create my version of a square meal.

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