Friendly Food – Getting Sauced!

There is what seems to be a war against pasta and bread, it has infiltrated my daily food choices but there will always be a place in my heart and mouth for an amazing bowl of pasta.

My friends Matt and Jenny invited me over to their house to get saucy (I can’t help myself). They regularly make three different sauces and freeze them for future use. I have always been the Prego sort of girl so this was a great opportunity to learn how to make real sauce using real ingredients.

On our chopping block this evening were the ingredients for Pesto, Red Sauce and a Puttanesca.

I was tasked with rinsing/removing the seeds from the canned tomatoes for one of the recipes. This seemed like a pretty safe job to give me, I grabbed the tomatoes out of the colander in the sink, rinsed them, seeded them and then placed them in the bowl. I moved quickly and when I was done I cleaned up my work area, it wasn’t until moments later when Jenny was looking for the tomato juice that I realized I dumped out the entire pot containing the juice in my attempt to clean up after myself. As Jenny was walking around the kitchen looking for the missing pot I had to take ownership of my mistake. Hey guys, invite me over to learn and cook dinner with you, but be prepared as I am going to randomly throw out ingredients that we need.

They were good humored about it and another can was opened and the process repeated itself, with better end results.

It was obvious while working among Matt and Jenny and their two boys Liam and Zander that this wasn’t their first time cooking together. The kitchen was buzzing with the energy and love of a family spending time together. I am thankful that they invited me to join them.

One of the greatest things about my Friendly Food series is getting to learn new recipes AND to sit down with my friends and their family after our kitchen time to a delicious meal, which nourishes both my body and my heart.

Thank you so much Jenny and Matt for such a lovely evening!

It took me a bit of time to write this post, I am spending the Fall in NYC and got caught up in fun activities such as joining Matt for a Snoop Dog show.

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Caught up with Matt and Snoop Dog in NYC!

Caught up with Matt and Snoop Dog in NYC!

Pantry Friendly Tomato Sauce by Alton Brown

Ingredients
2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 ounces olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup white wine
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Strain the tomatoes of their juice into the sauce pot. Add the sherry vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil to the tomato juice. Stir and cook over high heat. Once bubbles begin to form on the surface, reduce to a simmer. Allow liquid to reduce by 1/2 or until liquid has thickened to a loose syrup consistency.
Squeeze each tomato thoroughly to ensure most seeds are removed. Set the tomatoes aside.
Cut carrot, onion, and celery into uniform sizes and combine with olive oil and garlic in a non-reactive roasting pan over low heat. Sweat the mirepoix until the carrots are tender and the onion becomes translucent, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and capers to the roasting pan.

Place roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and broil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Tomatoes should start to brown slightly on edges with light caramelization. Remove the pan from the broiler. Place the pan over 2 burners on the stove. Add the white wine to the tomatoes and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes over medium heat.

Put the tomatoes into a deep pot or bowl and add the reduced tomato liquid to the tomatoes. Blend to desired consistency and adjust seasoning.

Pesto

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
7/8 ounce pine nuts
1/4 pound fresh basil leaves
20 grams garlic, chopped
35 grams parmesan cheese, grated
3/8 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 tablespoon peppercorns, crushed

Directions: Place one-third of the olive oil in a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Add the remaining olive oil and blend.

Yield: 1 cup

Puttanesca
Ingredients:
100 grams garlic
8oz anchovy filet
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
600g sundried tomato
112 ounces crushed tomato
600 grams kalamata olives
150 grams capers
30 leaves basil
1 tsp sugar
14 oz tomato paste

Directions: (ingredients were hand written on a piece of paper, I took directions from Emeril Lagasse)
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 40 minutes.

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Friendly Food – Let me see that Sushi Roll!

sushi 4Today’s Friendly Food is brought to you by my good friends Sara & Jesse Arthur. I had the privilege of living next door to them for several months, those poor souls had no choice when it came to this project of mine, they were hosting whether they liked it or not, luckily they pretended they liked it.

I had never considered rolling my own sushi, I mean I didn’t think I could ever better my “Mr. Perfect” roll at Seattle’s Umi Sake House, my mouth is salivating as I speak.

When I arrived I was immediately put to work stirring the rice, and cleaning and cutting the various ingredients, all a safe choice, very hard for me to mess that up! It turns out that it is very hard to mess up any part of this meal, everything was shockingly easy!

When all the items were prepped and laid out in front of us, like a painter with various colors and tools, we started creating our edible art! It was so easy and fun to grab the various items, throw it on the rice and then roll! It reminded me a bit of rolling a sleeping bag, being careful that nothing poked out the ends, making sure it was tight. It was so much fun to do various combos, getting better at my rolling technique and whipping out roll after roll!

IMG_1033aThe only thing that brought me greater joy than rolling the sushi was eating the sushi! Sara had pre-made an amazing Yokisoba salad as it had to sit for several hours before serving, the recipe is below.

I can’t wait until I have an opportunity to wow people with my new sushi skills! A huge thank you to my hosts Sara & Jesse!

Sushi Rolls
Cooked Sushi Rice (one batch with Kirin Wine, one batch with coconut milk)
Nori, Smoked Halibut, Smoked Salmon, Papaya, Mango, Green Onion, Cucumber
Cream Cheese, Cilantro, Avocado, Kiwi

Bamboo Sushi Mat

Spicy Yakisoba Noodle Salad
3 packages Yakisoba noodles (rinse in lukewarm water to separate)
1 large red pepper chopped finely
4 cloves pressed fresh garlic
4 sprigs green onion finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
3 carrots peeled and grated
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbp Sriracha sauce™
Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
Toss the ingredients together and chill for 2-3 hours.

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Friendly Food – Ginger Chicken and Broccoli

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I am embarrassed, it has taken me as long to write this blog post as it would have to wash the dishes from this meal when I was in college. I really let things marinate.

I invited myself over to my friend Patti’s house to cook up some “Friendly Food”, I knew I would be in good hands as she has always provided me with healthy eats. It was great catching up with Patti who is a Board Member at The Woodland Park Zoo and is the Executive Co-Chair and responsible for gathering a crew of amazing ladies to aid her in launching this year’s Jungle Party “Show Your Stripes”. Saving Tiger’s is what this lady is all about.

On the menu this night was Ginger Chicken and Broccoli from Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker. I had never heard of Danielle Walker so I hopped on her website and was truly inspired by her story, a self taught chef who used food to heal herself after a diagnosis with an autoimmune disease.

Danielle wanted to still enjoy the food she had prior to getting ill so she recreated her favorites while eliminating grains, gluten and dairy.

The meal was easy to prepare and cook and even easier to eat! If this is what Paleo, grain free eating tastes like I am sold!

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Ginger Chicken and Broccoli

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons expeller- pressed coconut oil or ghee, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
6 scallions, white parts only, chopped
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cubed
1 cup coconut aminos
2 tablespoons toasted (or dark) sesame oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large egg yolks

Directions:
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir constantly for 30 seconds.
3. Add the broccoli florets and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green.
4. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and return the pan to the burner with the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
5. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the plate with the broccoli and return the pan and juices to the burner. If there is less than ¼ cup of liquid in the pan, add water or chicken broth to make ¼ cup.
7. Pour in the coconut aminos, sesame oil, and salt. Bring to a simmer.
8. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Temper the yolks by slowly pouring in ½ cup of the hot sauce while whisking constantly.
9. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot pan, then stir constantly for 3 minutes to thicken.
10. Add the chicken and vegetables back into the pan and stir to coat. Cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, until the chicken and broccoli are fully cooked.
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Me and Reiki

Saturday night, dimmed lights, relaxing music and lit candles…..and me laying on a massage table in the middle of my friend Jenny’s living room.

Jenny recently completed her certification in Reiki and invited me over for a session. Typically, the two of us get in a room and its all puns and giggles but this time there was business to be done. I settled in to the bed and immediately relaxed, closing my eyes to let her do her magic. She started first by placing her hands on my stomach and ensuring me that she would not be touching me in any inappropriate places, phew, that was a concern!

I first encountered Reiki about six years ago and really enjoyed the experience but with a limited budget didn’t make it a part of my regular routine. I did take away the practice of “grounding” myself though and have used it countless times in the years since.  When I was in New York I met with a nutrition counselor and the subject of meditation and grounding came up and when I told her how I had learned to ground myself in a Reiki session years ago she told me that my whole demeanor changed, that my face lit up when describing the practice. It made me realize that I need to spend more energy on things that effect my energy.

Back to the scene, Jenny is moving through my chakras and asked if I wanted to hear what entered her mind while working on me. Penny for your thoughts…or in this case Jenny for your thoughts! She asked me if I had seen the movie or read the book “Wild“. I indicated I was in the middle of the book, she told me that while she was up at my throat chakra she couldn’t stop thinking about “Wild”, she tried to clear her mind and it kept creeping back into her thoughts. Throughout my journey I had several people tell me that my story reminds them a bit of the book and now the movie. I haven’t finished the book to know but I believe the similarities lie in having lost a mother and going on a journey to focus on one’s personal health and growth. I have thought throughout the past year about writing a book and it is still on my list of things to do (really though, don’t we all think we have a book in us?). When I shared this with Jenny she told me that the throat chakra (Vishuddha) represented my voice which immediately initiated chills and since our appointment I have heard from no less than three people that my story reminds them of “Wild”.

On my list of things to do, finish reading “Wild” and write a book. No problem!

Jenny is working towards opening her own practice, until then I hope to be on her table as often as she will have me. Once she is up and running I will let you all know where you can find her.Jenny O

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I love this lady!

 

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Image taken from yogaloftblog.wordpress.com

 

 

And she’s back!

I know, I know you haven’t heard from me in quite awhile, for that I apologize. My trip officially ended when I drove into Seattle at the end of June. I was a mix of emotions; nervous, anxious, ecstatic, scared, happy, sad, excited…the list could go on.

The drive across the pass into Seattle highlighted the end of an amazing year, the completion of a huge goal.  I had found success in so many ways; navigated my way across the US, stretched my trip from the original six month plan to a full year, lost weight, met new and old friends, saw parts of the country I had never seen and yet there was still a small cloud of disappointment that it was all over.

When I left for this trip I had very distinct dreams of what this trip was going to mean to me and how it was going to end. I was going to come back refreshed, with a clear idea of who I was and what it was I wanted in life, oh and I was also going to be 80 pounds skinner and tan.

The reality was that my year on the road allowed me to step out of my daily routine, give some time and attention to the emotions I had surrounding the loss of my Mom and the resulting changes to my family. It allowed me to connect with amazing people, revisiting important relationships, moving them beyond the superficial occasional text and Facebook updates to a deeper connection.

I didn’t come back to town knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up but I did come back with the knowledge that what I do for work is just a small part of who I am, it is a tool which provides me a means to the end goal…living.

And since this blog is called “Losing Weight Off the Interstate” I should report that I lost 45 pounds, not the 80 I had dreamed of but 45 stubborn, difficult to lose pounds.  I am maintaining this loss and working towards losing more but for now I am going to stop apologizing that I only lost “45 pounds” and be proud for the huge accomplishment of this past year. Oh and if you were wondering, no, I am not tan either. I guess the next round of “Losing Weight off the Interstate” will be in warmer climates.

Until then, I will update my blog with more frequent posts about life and loss and most importantly…Living.

Up next: A trip back to NYC! (I type this as I am sitting in “my” apartment in Chelsea)

XOXO

 

My trip to the Barre

In my last post I told you about all the fun I have been having and how I haven’t been my best when it comes to exercise, so I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed this post was about me actually drinking in a bar. It turns out fun can be had with multiple bars/barres, enter Barre3 in Seattle.

I was home for a quick visit and my good friend Sara asked me to join her at her fitness class, Barre3, a combination of ballet barre, yoga and Pilates. I knew when I accepted the invitation that it was going to be fun, working out with friends typically is, but I didn’t fully know what to expect of the class.

The instructor, Amy Masterson, was very friendly and attentive, aware that it was my first class. We started by doing some warm up stretches which gave me some confidence, I can stretch almost as well as the next person.

The tough part began right after the stretching, let’s say four minutes in to an hour long class. I made the mistake of looking at the clock after what seemed like twenty minutes of calf burning to see that really only a few minutes had passed. In the past I believed that calf strengthening exercises were a piece of cake, this class proved me wrong. I had always had a lot of respect for the pose and strength of ballerinas but this reminded me of their true athleticism.

We moved from standing to the floor to do the pilates and yoga. I have come to realize that I don’t like the “downward dog” pose in yoga. I feel intense pressure in my wrists, the blood rushes to my face threatening to make me pass out and my palms become so sweaty I slide all over my mat. What I do love about yoga is when instructors allow for adaptations to poses for those who struggle like myself. I held the position as long as I could before coming down to my knees with the support and approval of Amy.

The class was great, the company was amazing and I had fun at the barre, though I would be lying if I said it was more fun than the bar. This barre however, worked out my body and soul while the other bar just works out my tolerance and wallet. I think I made the correct choice in bars/barres, plus it was only 10:00 in the morning.

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My instructor: Amy Masterson

 

 

 

An Extended Trip Home

I had the pleasure of spending the holidays with my family in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho followed by what was meant to be a week and a half in Seattle. My days in Seattle were spent reconnecting with friends and before I realized it my week turned into a month.

I was a bit nervous to be back home in Seattle. I left on this amazing journey to blog under “Losing Weight Off the Interstate” and what if no one saw my accomplishments? What if they thought it should be more? You have all read this in past blogs, it was a true concern of mine. It was silly of me to be nervous, regardless of my body size and my weight accomplishments I have done something pretty amazing for myself and I am proud of where I have been and what I have done. I am sorry I doubted myself and my friends. I really should give us all more credit. Every single person who I encountered was loving and supportive.

While the trip home was good for my soul it was not good for my weight loss journey. I carried my workout clothes around with me and pushed them aside to find clothes to meet my friends out for coffee, lunches, happy hours and dinners. My heart and stomach were full the entire time, my workout log was quite empty. I was without a car so I did continue my new NYC habit of walking a lot which helped some.

I have zero regrets for having extended my trip, I was able to reconnect with my city, my friends and even got to be a part of the amazing 12th Man by going to a Playoff game and celebrating the victory of winning the NFC Championship in the streets of Seattle.

I took a lot of “selfies” on this leg of my journey, sadly I didn’t capture a lot of my friends but here are a handful.

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