Over-Easy Egg Nest: Zucchini Noodle Breakfast with Sweet Potato Hash and Over-Easy Egg

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Digging in to a hot bowl of zucchini noodles, sweet potato hash, over-easy egg and parmesan.

My friend Elise and I used her new spiralizer to make this veggie-based breakfast treat: zucchini noodles, sweet potato hash and an over-easy egg.  I got my first spiralizer this year from my good friend and nutrition coach Georgie Fear of One-By-One Nutrition, a habit-based nutrition course.  Georgie encouraged me to add vegetables to every meal, and the spiralizer helped me take on that challenge!

I usually make eggs with green onion and plenty of kale for breakfast, but when I do not have eggs in the morning, I often crave them by dinner-time.  You can try this Easter-inspired egg nest recipe for any time of the day.  This recipe idea came to me while I was enjoying dinner with my husband, Alex, on Easter Sunday.  The following Monday, Elise and I got together for a quick dinner.  We added sweet potato to give this meal more staying power.  Sweet potato has about three times as many carbohydrates per serving as zucchini, and almost twice as many carbs as a 2 oz serving of pasta.  Pesto sauce is very rich and satisfying, and complements the nutty, sweet flavor of the potato.  We used store-bought pesto to save time after rowing practice, but if you have the time, try making your own pesto using the KitchenAid Classic Pesto recipe.

Recipe

Over-Easy Egg Nest – serves 2

If you do not have a spiralizer, you can make noodles by peeling the skin off of the zucchini, and then continuing to peel until you reach the seed center. With the peeler, you will get pappardelle-like noodles.  We also successfully spiralized a sweet potato, but for this dish I like the contrasting textures of spirals and shredded pieces.

You will need:

  1. 6 medium zucchini IMG_0807
  2. 1 sweet potato
  3. 1 T olive oil
  4. salt and pepper to taste
  5. 1 T pesto (homemade or jarred), plus more to taste
  6. 3 eggs
  7. parmesan cheese
  8. 1 1/2 t hot red pepper flakes

Steps:

  1. Wash zucchini and chop off ends. Halve the zucchinis to make it easier to spiralize them.  Spiralize zucchinis according to your device instructions.
  2. Peel sweet potato and chop in half.  Shred both halves using a cheese grater, set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium and add half of the olive oil.  Add your pile of zucchini noodles, with salt and pepper to taste.  Add ½ cup water and cover to steam the zucchini, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small pan over medium heat and add remaining oil.  Toss in your shredded sweet potato with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir constantly to keep potato from sticking, until shredded potato pieces begin to soften and brown.
  5. Check on your zucchini noodles after about 5 minutes, they should be turning translucent and softening.
  6. Remove sweet potato hash from heat and set aside.
  7. Prepare your egg in the sweet potato pan.  We used just one egg per serving and cooked it for just 2-3 minutes per side so that the yolk would still run.
  8. Add 1 T pesto to zucchini noodles and stir.
  9. Remove zucchini noodles from heat and transfer about ¼ of the noodles to a serving dish.  Add another small dollop of pesto and then top with one third of your shredded sweet potatoes.  Add your egg to the top of the pile, and sprinkle with shredded parmesan and about 1/3 of your hot red pepper flakes per serving.

 

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Persian Feast for Nowruz, the New Year!

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Persian Jeweled Rice.  Photographer: Alli Whitaker

Recently, my training partner Jess and I traveled to Austin, Texas, to race in the Heart of Texas regatta.  While there, we were graciously hosted by Allen and Massey Wallace, parents of my dear friend Sara from Williams College.  Massey prepared a meal for us on our first night in Austin, featuring several Persian dishes.  We feasted on tender, spiced chicken that roasted for hours in the oven and fell right off the bone.  Our salad had fresh strawberries and our eggplant dish was mixed with kashk, a drained yogurt.  The Persian rice that Massey prepared was light, fluffy and flavorful; the rice cooking method changed everything about the texture, and then tiny bayberries lent just a little bite to the dish.  On our last day, when I asked about her recipes, Massey walked me through the process for each dish, encouraged me to call with questions about making the rice and sent me home with bright zarchobeh spices from Iran.

Two weeks after I returned from Austin, I attempted to recreate Massey’s dishes at my friends Alli and Alex’s apartment.  We met early in the afternoon so I could carve out time to prepare each dish while the chicken roasted slowly.  I consulted my friend Sara day-of to ask how to make her mother’s rice: she divulged that each time she either called Massey or consulted the Internet.  Then she wished me a happy Persian New Year, which seemed like a fateful coincidence!  Having just checked in with Massey the day before to confirm the eggplant and chicken recipes, I elected to find a Persian rice recipe online.  Alli and I were nearly stumped by the lengthy recipe we found, but we took our time reading the recipe aloud to fully comprehend all of the steps, and the results were worth the effort.  I will share an abbreviated version of the recipe we used.  For our rice recipe, we were encouraged to soak the dried rice for 2 to 24 hours.  The total rice preparation time took about an hour, including the steps for each rice topping.  For planning purposes, this meal goes most smoothly if you soak your rice first, then get the chicken prepped and into the oven.  You will have plenty of time while the chicken roasts to prepare your rice and then the eggplant dish consecutively.

Alli is a brilliant photographer, with her BA in photography and extensive freelance experience; I have noted which photographs were taken by her.  For more of Alli’s photography, visit her website here.

 

Recipe

Persian Chicken– serves 6

I used Massey’s zarchobeh spice, but you can substitute turmeric for a similar flavor. I also used lemon pepper and salt in place of dried lemon and salt and pepper; if you have access to a spice shop, the dried lemon is worth checking out!

You will need: IMG_2953

  1. 2 pounds chicken drumsticks – about 5 drumsticks
  2. 2 pounds chicken thighs – about 4 thighs
  3. 2 T zarchobeh or turmeric
  4. ½ T dried lemon
  5. ½ t salt and 1 t pepper

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread a layer of foil over a baking sheet. Tear another section of foil to cover chicken while cooking.
  3. Blend all spices.
  4. Pat chicken pieces dry and cover in spice blend on both sides.
  5. Cover with foil and roast for two hours. Remove foil and roast for another 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a crisp skin.

 

Recipe

Persian Jeweled Rice– serves 6

This recipe is a simplified version of a recipe I found on a website called “the kitchn” [sic]. I included that source below. Alli and I chose the shorter steps and less expensive ingredients to make our rice dish (no saffron) and were happy with the results.

You will need: IMG_2958

  1. 3 C basmati rice
  2. 2 T salt
  3. 1 C dried cranberries
  4. 2 oranges
  5. 2 T olive oil
  6. ½ C sliced almonds
  7. ½ C shelled pistachios
  8. ½ C golden raisins
  9. 2 carrots
  10. 1 cinnamon stick
  11. 2 T sugar
  12. ½ t turmeric
  13. 2 t cardamom

Steps:

  1. Rinse rice with cold water over a strainer until water runs clear. Soak rice in cold water for 2 to 24 hours with salt mixed in.
  2. Chop dried cranberries into tiny pieces and set aside.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Peel the rinds off of your oranges and slice rind sections into matchsticks. Drop orange slices into boiling water and cook for about a minute. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  4. Toast almonds and pistachios together in a large skillet with olive oil for about a minute, or until fragrant, taking care to move the nuts constantly because they brown easily and can become bitter. Add the golden raisins and heat for another minute. Set aside.
  5. Heat 2 T water, turmeric, 1 T sugar and 1 T oil over medium heat in your large skillet. Add carrots and orange peel and sauté until pieces just begin to bend. Add remaining sugar, cardamom and a cinnamon stick and sauté for another minute. Next, add 1 cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced to thicker syrup. Drain carrots and oranges over a mesh sieve and retain the liquid.
  6. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Drain your soaking rice and add to boiling water with 2 T salt. After about 8 minutes, your rice will start to boil up to the surface. You are par-boiling your rice. Next, drain rice and rinse with cold water.
  7. Mix rice with the syrup from your carrot and orange mixture.
  8. Add rice to your large pot again, shaping the rice into a pyramid. Cover pot with a lid and wrap with a dishtowel to keep steam from escaping. Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.
  9. Serve rice caramelized carrot and orange pieces above rice, and nuts and cranberry pieces at the very top. 

Recipe

Mashed Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt – serves 4

You will need: IMG_2940

  1. 2 purple eggplants
  2. 2 T olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 3 T Greek yogurt or kashk
  5. about 2 T fresh mint

Steps:

  1. Peel eggplant and slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Brush the inside surface of each eggplant half with olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast eggplant on a baking sheet for about an hour, at 350 degrees alongside your chicken.
  5. After eggplant has softened, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before scooping out the soft eggplant insides. Mix soft eggplant with yogurt and fresh mint.

Serve with warmed pita and a fresh green salad of your choice!

Source: Gillingham, Sara Kate. “Recipe: Iranian Jeweled Rice – Recipes from The Kitchn.” The Kitchn. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

Fish Tacos from San Diego

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Robin and Maria’s beautiful backyard was the perfect setting for our San Diego family dinner

Tradition holds that when we visit Robin and Maria, our uncle and aunt on Alex’s side, we are treated to their fish taco special.  On my most recent visit to San Diego, Robin and Maria invited over my sister, her husband, his brother, and my training partner and her boyfriend.  We had quite the crew! We were lucky to have perfect San Diego February weather, and dined al fresco under the stars, palm trees and strings of lights, with a fire going to keep us warm.  Because I miss my San Diego family, I decided to recreate Maria’s recipe for Alex and me to enjoy in Chicago, and to share with all of you.

The staples of this recipe are the fish, rice and beans, but you can add any of your favorite vegetables as a side.  Alex and I enjoyed our tacos with roasted asparagus, and cucumber and tomato salad or a colorful cauliflower medley would pair with these tacos well.

Recipe

Fish tacos with rice and beans– serves 6

I like to use tilapia with this recipe because it is a light fish that takes on the full flavor of a marinade. Any white fish will do – the flakier the better! Dried beans work best with this recipe, if you have the time to prepare them. Maria cooks her beans all day in a slow cooker, at low heat. When I attempted to use the slow cooker, I plugged it into a faulty outlet, effectively just soaking my beans all day. I found out that soaking the beans works well too! So if you do not have a slow cooker, soak your beans all day in just enough water to cover their surface. Drain that water and bring beans to a boil in fresh water, covering beans with about an inch of water above their surface. When your beans reach a boil, simmer on low heat for at least an hour. Alternatively, this recipe will be just fine with canned beans, but using dried beans has many benefits, as outlined in an article from “the kitchn” (sic) called “How to Cook Beans on the Stove” that I saved for you below.  If you cook beans on the stove, you can reserve your nutritious bean water for later use.

Special note: this recipe has two steps, which are worth starting the night before or morning of your fish taco dinner. If you are short on time, you can use canned beans and shorten your marinating time, but plan to allow fish to marinate for at least one hour.

You will need:

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  1. 1 ½ pounds white fish like tilapia
  2. 1-2 C Italian dressing
  3. 16 oz bag dried pinto beans
  4. ½ yellow onion
  5. 1 ½ C brown rice (or about ¼ C dry brown rice per person)
  6. 3 T salsa
  7. 1/2 T olive oil
  8. 12 small corn tortillas

Serve with sliced cabbage, Greek yogurt, salsa, and avocado slices or guacamole

Steps:

  1. Transfer fish to a large Tupperware container to marinade.  Cover fish in a layer of Italian dressing, sloshing gently to coat.  Refrigerate and marinate your fish overnight/all day, or for as long as you can.
  2. Combine beans with water to soak overnight/all day.
  3. When you are ready to prepare your fish taco meal, start by draining the beans that have been soaking.  Cover beans in fresh water, with about an inch of water above the bean surface.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for at least an hour.
  4. Next, combine water and rice in a 2-1 ratio.  Add salsa before bringing rice to a boil.  Simmer for at least twenty simmer, or as directed on rice package.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your taco toppings.  Chop cabbage and slice avocado and set aside.
  6. When your rice has about 10 minutes left to cook, heat a large pan on medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When oil begins to shimmer or smoke faintly, add fish filets in a single layer, without overlapping.  Let your fish cook for 4 to 5 minutes without nudging the filets at all.  You should start to see the edges of the filets become less translucent as the fish cooks.  Flip fish, and finish on the second side for 2 to 3 minutes (longer for thick filets).
  7. When your rice has absorbed all of the water, remove from heat, fluff and cover again for about 5 minutes.  Doing so will give your rice a chance to steam and will help you avoid sticky clumps of rice.
  8. Serve fish with two small corn tortillas per taco.  Top with Greek yogurt, salsa, cabbage and guacamole or fresh avocado slices.

 

Source: Christensen, Emma. “How To Cook Beans on the Stove – Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn.” The Kitchn. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

 

Beet Burgers with Mint Yogurt Topping

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Beet burger topped with mint yogurt

I made beet burgers for the first time about a year ago, when I found the recipe on a MyFitnessPal newsletter. I have been on a beet kick lately, so I thought I would try out a new version of that recipe, and a variation on the garlic aioli sauce that they recommend. My friend Danielle, who also rows for Lincoln Park Boat Club, and I got together yesterday to trade recipes and share feedback. She agreed to teach me a recipe for muffins if I came over to cook lunch. Danielle is a brilliant baker who earned her chops at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and worked as a pastry cook at the University Club in Chicago. I would share her muffin recipe, but she has a blog of her own to start! For now, I have included a photograph of said muffin to whet your appetite.

 

Recipe

Beet burgers with mint yogurt topping– serves 6

I like to use pretzel rolls with these burgers because they mold easily to your patty, and help to hold the burger together. You can use whatever buns you prefer. Pair this recipe with lentil salad or black beans for extra protein. I paired my beet burgers with a Greek yogurt-based topping instead of mayonnaise because I wanted to add extra protein to this dish, and I prefer the thicker consistency of Greek yogurt. For that reason, I am calling my mint yogurt a topping, rather than a sauce.

You will need:

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  1. 2 large beets
  2. 1 medium sweet potato
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 cup walnut topping, or chopped walnuts
  5. 1 t apple cider vinegar
  6. 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  7. 3 garlic cloves, or about 1.5 T chopped garlic
  8. ½ C onion, chopped
  9. 1 t paprika

For your topping:

  1. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  2. 3 T chopped fresh mint
  3. juice of half of one lemon
  4. salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. First, chop garlic and onion and set aside.
  3. Peel your beets and sweet potato and shred with microplane or grater.
  4. Combine all burger ingredients.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Divide beet mixture into six equal parts, and form six patties by hand, squeezing out most of the excess juice between your palms.
  6. Place burgers on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients.

Serve with avocado slices and pretzel rolls.

Source: Davis, Deborah, MS, RD. “Beet Burgers with Garlic Sriracha Aioli – Hello Healthy.” Hello Healthy. My Fitness Pal, 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Warm Farro and Beet Salad

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Concentric circles on a cross section of roasted red beet

Alex and I joined my teammate Sarah Cornish and her fiancé Justin Cash for dinner and the Oscars on Sunday.  We cooked under the watchful eye of their adorable French bulldog, Igor.  I have been wanting to cook warm salad with farro for some time now, and thought the Oscars were the perfect occasion to add golden beets to the mix!  We had steamed beets on hand from Trader Joe’s, and enjoyed those with the golden beets when those cooled.  I made more roasted red beets a few days later to enjoy on other salads at work.

Farro has even more protein than quinoa, at 7 grams per serving, according to an online article from Endurance Buzz.  Farro also offers more carbs and calcium per serving than quinoa or brown rice.  Learn more from Clemson University’s “Ingredient of the Month” feature.  Farro is especially satisfying when served warm, and makes a great substitute for rice in any dish!  Farro tastes great on its own, but I coated it in vinaigrette as a way of dressing our salad.

Perfect meal for a meatless Monday!

 

Recipe

Warm Farro and Beet Salad – serves 4-6

We used golden beets in addition to red beets, in honor of the Oscars.  Both golden and red beets take about 45 minutes to cook, and can be roasted together.  If your beets come with greens attached, you can wash and cut the greens to serve with your salad greens, or save them to sauté later!  We loved starting dinner with a fresh baguette from La Fournette bakery in Old Town, dipped in our balsamic vinaigrette or topped with extra goat cheese and beets.

You will need:

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  1. 4 or 5 medium beets, red and/or golden
  2. 1 C farro, uncooked
  3. 2 T olive oil
  4. 2 T balsamic vinegar
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 4.5 oz salad greens
  7. 3 T goat cheese
  8. fresh baguette

 

Steps:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrub beets and wrap individually in foil.  Arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 45 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, combine water and farro in a 3-1 ratio in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  One cup of uncooked farro should yield plenty for four people.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30′, stirring occasionally.
  4. Combine equal parts olive oil and balsamic with salt and pepper, to taste.  This will be the vinaigrette to dress your salad.
  5. When all the water has been absorbed or evaporated from your farro, remove from heat and dress with vinaigrette.
  6. Combine beet greens (optional) with salad greens.
  7. When beets are ready, let cool in their foil packets.  This will make it easier to remove their skins.  When cool, peel beets with fingers or the back of a knife.  The skin should slide off easily.  Cut beet into slices or chunks to top the salad.
  8. In a large bowl, combine salad greens and top with warm, dressed farro.  Add beet slices or chunks and crumble goat cheese over top.
  9. Serve with fresh bread and extra vinaigrette dressing.

 

Sources: “Farro: Ingredient of the Month.” Clemson.edu. ACFEF Chef & Child Foundation and Clemson University. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Hanenburg, David. “Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein.” Farro – A Low-Gluten Grain Packed With Protein. Endurance Buzz. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.