Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I had a great climbing day today. I met Ryann at the wall and learned how to hang, do hanging crunches, and even a pull up (something I haven't done since 1984 when Mr. Trollinger, my junior high gym teacher, insisted I do so). Then I worked on traversing for awhile before getting back tot that Dolly Parton Project. On my first attempt, I fell. I didn't notice my fear so much as I felt my frustration. On my third and final effort, I made it three full moves farther than I had last time, including one that required some moxie on my part. When I arrived at the wall today, I was grumpy and tired. When I left, I was grinning and absolutely thrilled with my three-move improvement. I can see the top in my future ... not much longer now before I'll celebrate my successful completion of my first-ever route.
The big news, though, is from my kitchen. Today, I began my culinary adventure into the unknown. My small kitchen is now, officially, the "P'UP Culinary Testing Center." I might even buy a lab coat and goggles, just to make it fun. Today's adventure:
Pictured: Sweet Savory Couscous, Italian Cucumber and Tomato Salad, and Garlic Olives with Pickled Vegetables. Hummus with Pita Wedges
Looks good, don't it?
This was my lunch today and will be all week. Borrowing the Japanese tradition of "three bowl eating" - I decided I needed recipes I could cook once and eat for lunch for several days. Having prepared options in the fridge helps me to keep focused on Project Up. I thought it would be fun to explore healthy eating as culinary adventure instead of healthy eating as a punitive diet, you know, that crap you eat to make your butt smaller. I highly recommend the couscous. It was filling, satisfying, and the hint of sweetness from the raisins offset the savory spices and vegetables perfectly. I think a person could add ceyene pepper if they wanted to turn up the heat.
SWEET SAVORY COUSCOUS (Serve cold)
Place in a large bowl:
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped green onion, including tops
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
15 ounce can of garbanzo or white navy beans, drained and rinsed
Set bowl aside. Stir together in a 2 qt. saucepan:
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely diced fresh ginger root
1/2 cup raisins
Bring mixture to a boil. Immediately take off the heat and add:
2 cups couscous
Cover with a lid and let stand for five minutes. Meanwhile, make the "dressing":
3 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil (the grape seed oil has a nutty flavor - it's awesome)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Uncover couscous and use a fork to fluff it and eliminate lumps. Toss the couscous mixture into the large bowl of vegetables. Toss to combine all the yummy goodness, then pour over the dressing and toss again. This is better cooked the day before and served cold. The flavors need a chance to meld. It'll keep in the fridge for several days.
ITALIAN CUCUMBER AND TOMATO SALAD
Peel (or not - your choice) a cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Take four or five Roma tomatoes, cut them in half, take out the seeds and center membrane. Slice both the cucumber and the tomato into 1/4 inch wide slices. Thinly slice half of a small purple onion. Toss the onion, tomato and cucumber with 4 tablespoons of "Newman's Own Low-Fat Balsamic Vinegrette." Scooping out the seeds and membrane will allow this salad to keep several days longer than it would if you did not. Serve room temperature or cold, depending on your preference.
GARLIC OLIVES AND PICKLED VEGETABLES
One jar "California Hot Mix" by Menzetti's, a picked concoction of cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions, and peppers. Drain.
One can of black olives, drained
One small jar of stuffed green olives, drained
One can of artichoke hearts, drained
Three cloves of garlic, minced or three teaspoons of pre-diced, jarred garlic
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
Place all of the drained, canned ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk together the garlic, seasoning and oil, then pour over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Place this mixture into the fridge. It gets more and more flavorful as the days pass, by the way. Important note: Olive oil partially congeals when refrigerated, vegetable oil does not. I prefer the flavor of the olive oil, so when I want to serve or eat this dish, I need to let it come to room temperature again. This usually isn't a problem since I'm packing my lunch to work.