A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beat the Heat Right! Morning, Noon, and Night!

It’s mid-June, and here in Texas that means the mercury is rising! How’s the temperature where you live? If you’re dreading the next gas or electric bill because of heavy A/C use, I’m sure it’s hot enough.
I find spending some time away from the stove and oven is a great way keep cool and still be creative in the kitchen. Make one day a “cool day” during the week where each meal requires no heating and is a delight to the taste buds. If you work in a typical office setting, it can be annoying waiting to use a microwave for your meal. It’s even more aggravating when there’s food splatter all over the inside! Let me help you avoid the heat-box and escape the wait at work with some non-cook recipes.

Gazpacho (chilled soup) – 6 Servings

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I use the no salt added variety)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 (14.5) ounce can of no-salt added Garbanzo beans; drained
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons sherry, red wine, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh (dried if you must) parsley, basil or cilantro
1/2 tablespoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco sauce; or Just Add Cayenne

Blend 1 can of tomatoes with the stock and oil in a blender or food processor until pureed. Transfer to a medium bowl along with remaining ingredients; season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve; this can be made several hours before serving.
You can leave the garbanzo beans out if desired, but I like to have some protein in my meals, and these beans add great texture. I will even add no salt added canned tuna for a great protein punch! Try creating your own version by adding or taking away some ingredients. Celery will give a nice crunch, use chopped chives instead of an onion, and summer squash will help change things up a bit. Either way, this is a delight for the eyes and mouth; it’s healthy too!
Black Bean Avocado Salad

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 cups chopped peeled avocado
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I use the no salt added variety)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions / chives
1/2 cup peeled and diced jicama
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

This is good for 8 side dish servings or 4 – 5 main meal servings. Same as the gazpacho recipe, add or remove ingredients as you like and make it your own! You will be smiling the whole time just thinking of how you can grab your lunch right from the fridge at work and avoid the dreaded microwave lunch line.
Peanut Overnight Protein Oats - “Proats”

1/4 cup peanut flour – I sometimes use natural vanilla or chocolate whey protein instead
1/3 – 1/2 cup dry rolled oats
1/4 cup almond milk
3 tablespoons natural applesauce
Dashes of cinnamon to taste
sweetener to taste; I use liquid stevia, but a little honey would be good too

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Place the mixture in an airtight container and chill overnight or at least 1 hour. Once the oats soak up the liquid, you should be left with a pretty thick and tasty breakfast or dessert. Toss in some fresh or frozen fruit (banana or blueberries work best here) along with some plain non-fat yogurt for a filling meal or treat.   Add canned or fresh pumpkin puree with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg for a pumpkin pie flavor. I love having this at night for a very soothing meal alone; great after a long day.

All of these recipes offer the option of customizing to your liking. If you only try one of the above, the overnight oats is a great no-cook breakfast that will be ready when you wakeup or treat when you get home. Trust me, it’s something to look forward to either way. Be creative, get the family involved, and enjoy the healthy benefits physically and mentally. It will feel good to be in control of your food, and your body will feel good as a result. Let me know how you like these recipes and what, if anything, you changed.

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