My Little Strawberry Plant

Yesterday, I ate the first strawberry from our little strawberry plant… and it was good! I know this might seem like no big deal for you green thumbs out there. But I kill all plants. Many a basil plant has come to our home with my best intentions and each one (except the current one) has died. (There was one exception where I kept a basil plant growing and healthy all summer, I made basil from it, and I even tried to bring it to So Cal with me because I was so afraid to leave it behind!). When we bought our house it was all set up with irrigation, so I haven’t really killed any plants (although we’re not the best at keeping them trimmed and weed free). The previous homeowner also left behind a strawberry pot, so a few months ago I decided to plant some strawberries. And it lived! And is making fruit! I even picked two more strawberries this morning. It’s the little things in life :)

And because I’m a dork and was amazed that my plant grew and actually produced fruit, I documented it! So for your viewing pleasure… the life of my little strawberry.

The plant, isn't it cute?

The plant, isn’t it cute?

The first noticeable berry! (and its progression below)

The first noticeable berry! (and its progression below)

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A little color!

A little color!

Surprise! Another berry was ready to pick first!

Surprise! Another berry was ready to pick first!

Two more strawberries. They're small but tasty!

Two more strawberries. They’re small but tasty!

Do you have a green thumb or would you also consider this a miracle? What’s your favorite fruit/veggie to grow? (What should I try next!?)

Fit Friday: Eating Fit

One thing I think that can be hard about being fit isn’t just finding time to work out (or getting motivated to do so) but also eating right – especially as we move to the holiday of candy, followed by all the Thanksgiving/Christmas reading. I personally believe in the “everything in moderation” philosophy. I partake in desserts when available and I enjoy a good glass of wine. But I try to compensate by eating healthy the rest of the time.

Many people believe that eating healthy can be time-consuming and expensive. It can be but I think you can make it work. I have the added challenge that the only meat I eat is fish, and well fish can be pricey so I have lots of no-meat days. Typically I start my days out with a filling but not-to-big breakfast (either some Greek yogurt and homemade granola) or a piece of toast with an egg. I try to eat a filling lunch and an easy, but good dinner.

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And to help you make a quick, easy, and healthy dinner, here is one of my favorite salad recipes (I don’t really measure so good luck with that).

Kale Salad Mix (I like the Harvest Sensations Brand, includes carrots, cabbage, and kale)
Red Onion diced
Heirloom Tomato (or your favorite kind of tomato) diced
Slivered Almonds
Canned Tuna (drained)
Avocado (1/4-1/2, cut up)
Crumbled Feta
Olive Oil
Basalmic Vinegar

Mix together everything except the olive oil and vinegar. (When I’m in a rush, I just throw all the ingredients into a plastic bag and shake!) and then drizzle with a little olive oil and Balsalmic vinegar as a dressing. I like to add a little pepper too. It’s delicious and filling.

Yum!

Yum!

What’s your favorite quick & easy healthy meal?

Easter Baking

Sometimes people ask me why I run so much. And yes, I run because I like to challenge myself and see what new goals I can meet. But I also run because I really love to bake and eat delicious food. We had a pretty low key Easter Sunday, but I did make some carrot cupcakes (recipe from Smitten Kitchen). Here are some photos of the process and the yummy outcome!



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Happy Easter!!!

Make Your Own Power Bars!

Recently, I joined a running club, Santa Cruz Endurance, to help me become a faster, stronger runner. This has been one of the best decisions I have made recently, not just because of all the running I have been doing but also because of the fab people I have met. One of these is an amazing woman, Shoshanah, who not only is a fast little runner and triathlete but also has great recipes to share. One of these were the delicious power bars that I’m sharing with you here. And you can modify to make them the way you want!

To make these tasty little treats that make a great snack or post run treat, you will need the following:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
3 cups raw oats
1/2 cup ground flax meal (or hempseed)
1/2 cup chopped nut (I mixed peanuts and walnuts)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or your favorite dried fruit, I used raisins this time)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini are best)
Mixer (stirring all this is hard stuff, see my video below)

Directions: Mix well and then press in a pan. Put in fridge for one hour before eating. That’s it! How easy, right? I put the dry ingredients in first and it worked great. I was even a little short on honey but they still turned out great.

Here’s the photo documentation of the process:

Ingredients

Pre Mixing

Ready to go in the fridge!

yum!

Try making these and let me know how they turn out. What nuts and dried fruit will you use?

A Little Pasta, A Little Pesto…

Today was a very productive day. I edited two weeks worth of lecture notes and their corresponding power point presentations. The syllabus is almost complete, just waiting on the new edition of the book to make sure the assigned chapters are still correct. And Paul (our visitor for a few weeks) ran 8.75 miles with me. (On a side note, having a running buddy for the past few weeks has been so awesome! We’ve run four or five runs together and having someone with you makes the miles and the time fly by!) Oh and we took the pups to the beach. Gus LOVES the beach! So as a reward to a productive day, homemade pasta & pesto was on tonight’s menu!

I love homemade pesto! I love it more when it comes from my basil plant. To whip up this tasty pasta sauce, I used the following recipe. No pine nuts this time, saved a little cash and the pesto tastes almost as yummy without!

Basil Pesto (modified from Food Network recipe)
2 cups fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic (mine was from Gilroy, yay for local!)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (not to be confused with the just plain old virgin stuff!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Put the basil and garlic in the food processor. Once all chopped up add the olive oil. I also just mix the cheese right in there but feel free to add it in by stirring by hand. On a special note, I used the salad spinner and food processor I got as shower gifts in this preparation (thanks Sarah & Susan!).

Well, I had to have something to put the pesto on, right? Oh yeah! So of course I opted for fresh, homemade pasta. I really don’t know if I can go back to the box stuff, so spoiled :) Here’s the recipe I used.

Egg Pasta (modified from Kitchen Aid recipe)
3 1/2 cups flour (you should sift, but I find it doesn’t make that much of a difference)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon water
a pinch of salt
several pinches of dried Italian herbs (for a little extra something, something)
Mix all the ingredients (I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer). Then use a kneading hook in your stand mixer for 2 minutes on speed 2. Hand knead for a few minutes and let sit for 20-25 minutes. Separate into four sections and flatten. Then use your handy-dandy pasta cutter to flatten out and then cut into your preferred pasta style (I chose traditional spaghetti). If you don’t dry your pasta, it takes about 2-3 minutes to completely cook. Another special note, I used my new 5.5 quart Le Creuset French oven from the wedding registry to boil up the pasta  (thanks mom!).

I save some of the boiling water to mix with the pasta and pesto sauce (thanks Barefoot Contessa for the tip!). Then I serve with some freshly grated Parmesan.

I drank a glass of Yellowtail Merlot and found the meal to be a perfect end to the day. The boys chose to pair beer with their pasta feast, to each their own.

And now for an episode of the Misfits (if you don’t know about this show, you should!) Perfect day!