Pesto Quinoa Stack

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Sometimes I wish the vegan husband and I lived somewhere over the rainbow… where trouble melts like lemon drops.
About 60% (and climbing) of the residents in the United States of America arise every morning wondering what sea of crazy they’ll be sailing in for the day. To cope with the stress resulting from a certain walking-talking-poke-in-the-eye, you know to whom I am referring; some people have resorted to eating.

Some like sheet cake.

I prefer pizza.

But not just any kind of pizza. Two of my favorite pizzas come from establishments near our home – 2 Ovens (bruschetta) and The Boynton (artichoke heart and roasted pepper).  I like the pesto and balsamic vinegar on the bruschetta and the artichokes and peppers on the Boynton slices.

As you know I am a whole-food, plant-based vegan kind of chick so pizza is generally off the table. With the exception of pizza night with my Dad and the vegan husband (which started after my Mom passed), the only other pizza I indulge in is Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza. It’s vegan and tree nut, soy and lactose free. While Amy’s hits the spot on most occasions, the ingredients list contains a few items I would normally avoid.  That means frozen pizza nights are few and far between.

So, what’s a herbivore to do?  Deconstruct, of course! The recipe below is a result of an idea to incorporate my favorite pizza ingredients in the form of a stack. It’s similar to one that I indulged in at the Horseshoe Pub.

The results were delectable!

This is a dish served cold which means that all the components can be prepared a day or two ahead of time.
Reducing balsamic vinegar creates a thicker sauce and more intense flavor. I used an aged balsamic vinegar which, because of its quality (or so I was led to believe), I did not want to reduce.  But, it did not hold up as much as I would have liked. The next time I make this dish, I will purchase a less expensive vinegar and reduce it. Updated pictures will follow!
Lastly, ordering your favorite pizza sans cheese is an option!

Enjoy!
Serves 4

QUINOA
2 c quinoa
1 c water
pesto
4 tbsp lemon aioli

ARTICHOKES
12 oz artichokes, frozen
lemon aioli
balsamic vinegar

ROASTED RED PEPPER
2 roasted red peppers, sliced to fit ring mold

ONIONS
1-2 onions, sliced and caramelized

LEMON AIOLI
1 c raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 lemon and its zest
2 cloves garlic
½ c water
sea salt, to taste

PESTO
2 c basil, packed (about 50 oz)
4 tbsp pine nuts, soaked overnight
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juice from
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp water

DIRECTIONS:
Pesto:
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Adjust water as needed. Set aside.

Lemon Aioli:
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Set aside.

Onions:
Heat skillet on high. Add onions and reduce to medium-low heat. Add water when necessary to keep from burning. Set aside until cool.

Roasted Red Pepper:
Set oven to 500°. Place peppers on a sheet pan and cook for 30-40 minutes until the skins have charred. Remove from oven and place in covered bowl.  Once cool, remove skin and seeds. Set aside until cool.

Artichokes:
Let artichokes thaw in a colander.  Once thawed, place artichokes on parchment lined sheet pan.  Set oven to 350°. Brush artichokes with the lemon aioli and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the artichokes begin to brown. Once browned, brush balsamic vinegar on artichokes and heat for an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool.

Quinoa:
Bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and add pesto and lemon aioli. Set aside until cool.

Stacking:
Once all ingredients have been cooled, place a ring mold, a size to your liking, on a plate.  Stack quinoa, caramelized onion, artichokes, roasted red pepper and a smaller portion of quinoa.  Remove ring mold.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar around stack.

Optional:
Top with a little lemon aioli and pea sprouts.

 

 

Using stainless steal plating ring molds can turn an ordinary dish into an extraordinary meal.

 Kuchenprofi Prep/Plating/ Forming Rings, Set of 4

 

What is your favorite kind of pizza?   Please leave a comment…

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Help with Hurricane Harvey Recovery

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As I watched my Mom die from brain cancer, I came to the realization that not much matters in life.

It matters not the size of your house, the make of your car, awards received, the day’s stock performance, a celebrity’s reality, all the material goods you’ve collected over the years, whether you work as a CEO or a stock clerk, making it into the Ivy’s, the ability to excel at sports or academia…or whether you are a herbivore or carnivore (I had to get that in there!). The list could go on and on, but you get the point.

My Mom’s suffering, during those long and painful days, taught me life’s most important lesson. It is not what we have that measures our greatness but how we treat one another.

It would be remiss of me to send out a post regarding the benefits of a healthy diet or the importance of exercise while so many people are suffering from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. While I believe that diet and exercise are important factors to maintaining one’s well being, it pales in comparison to what really matters – helping those in need.

Here are a few ways to help:

You can send a $10 donation to the Red Cross by texting the word “HARVEY” to 90999 or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Donations can also be made online through these organizations:

It is not what we have that measures our greatness but how we treat one another. If you don’t have the means to give financially, that’s okay. You can give by performing an act of kindness. It makes the world a better place…

Training Journal #2

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POSTED BY THE VEGAN HUSBAND

 

August 13, 2017

Sometimes life gets in the way of training.

A couple of months ago, the vegan spouse went for a long overdue eye exam. Mostly, she wanted an upgrade of her ten-year-old spectacles so she could actually see out of them.  A novelty, to be sure.

She didn’t plan on leaving the exam with a diagnosis of closed angle glaucoma in both eyes.  Essentially it’s fluid in the eye that should escape on its own, but it doesn’t.  If you don’t address it, you could go blind.  If you want to fix it, you have to cut a hole in your iris with a laser.  There’s a choice to be made, but it’s not like choosing between vanilla and chocolate.

So, on consecutive Fridays, the doctor cut a hole in one eye so that the fluid, trapped between the iris and cornea, could escape.  The first eye surgery went just like they write it up in the textbooks.  A quick procedure followed by a reduction in eye pressure and you’re on your way.

The second surgery went as bad as the first one was good.  The doctor nicked a blood vessel.  The bleeding didn’t want to stop so the doctor had to apply undue pressure to the eye and the protective contact lens which was on the eye.  When the bleeding finally stopped, getting the lens out was, in the words of the vegan spouse, “like ripping a bandage off your eyeball.”

Ouch.

But the vegan spouse is nothing if not fearless so our training suffered hardly at all. The day after the first surgery, we thought we might not walk, but we did.  And we walked our normal three hours.  The day after the second surgery, we said we’d play it by ear, but we walked, and only dialed it back a fraction.

It wasn’t until two weekends after the second surgery that we finally deviated from our routine.  Rain was forecast for Friday night into Saturday morning with little likelihood for interruption.  We set the alarm for 5 AM because when it comes to weather, you never know.

At 5:00, it was raining, but not much heavier than a mist.  The hour-by-hour forecast showed rain continuing at 6:00, and then clearing the rest of the morning. And here’s where the mental part of walking comes into play.  We anticipated rain the night before.  We planned on not walking.  We thought 6:00 could be a deluge. I went back to bed.  The rain stopped.

For the first time we walked on Sunday instead of Saturday.  Ironically, Saturday was drier even with the rain.  Sunday was close to seventy degrees and humid.  My glasses fogged up multiple times.  My shirt was soaked.  We equaled our longest walk so far which is still less than fourteen miles.

The biggest change we’ve noticed so far is our speed.  We are getting really fast. When I was asked on the first walk if we were going too fast, I answered “Yes”.  I was practically running to keep up.  But now I am able to answer yes to the question, “Is this pace okay for you?”

Sunday walks may become more frequent as we gear up to sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty miles.  It’s too dark in the morning and we have too many Saturday chores to do.  I might take a vacation day to do a long walk during the week.

And we will allow for life to get in the way of training, but hope that it does not involve surgery or anyone getting too close to our eyeballs.

 

What are your “life gets in the way” training stories?  Please leave a comment…

 

Taking care of your feet during long walks or running can be the difference between a quick recovery or a painful and lengthy one.  One way to keep feet issues at bay is to wear appropriate socks while training. Although a bit pricey, we wear Smartwool PH D socks available on Amazon. These socks are one of the highest rated socks among athletes, durable, moisture wicking, light weight and padded in all the right areas.

SMARTWOOL PHD ULTRA LIGHT RUNNING SOCKS

 

 

 

Hip Flexion Stretches and Exercises

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Working one set of muscles while not the opposite can create muscle imbalances that over time lead to joint dysfunction, pain and injury. Our hips, glutes and hamstrings are often tight as a result of improper training (leading to muscle imbalance) or a sedentary lifestyle.

 

 

The dynamic stretches listed below are usually performed as warm-ups to loosen these muscles. I encourage you to perform these before beginning any workout.

It is easy to turn these stretches into exercises once you address any issues with the hip, glute and hamstring muscles. These variations are also described below.

I often include these exercise variations towards the end of my weight training sessions (What’s in a workout?) to provide a little variety and to give myself a bit of a break from the use of heavy weights.

WALKING HIGH KICKS

Walking High Kicks
Stand tall with arms and hands by your side.
Like a tin soldier, keep your knee straight and raise your right leg to meet your  raised left arm while walking forward.  You can also perform this exercise while staying stationary.
Repeat with other side, left leg and right arm.
Remain tall (avoid leaning) throughout movement. Keep shoulders retracted and depressed (pulled back and down).
In addition to loosening the hips, glutes and hamstrings this stretch also works your core and improves hip mobility and balance.
Exercise Variation: In a slow and controlled manner and slightly flexed knee, raise right leg and then left leg up and over a chair or a vertical standing foam roller. Perform as many reps as possible.

FORWARD AND BACK LEG SWINGS

Forward and Back Leg Swings
Stand tall while holding onto a stationary bar (ballet barre), sturdy chair or any sturdy object.
With abs contracted and with right knee slightly flexed, swing right leg up as far as possible. Swing right leg back as far as possible. Do as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance. With abs contracted and with right knee slightly flexed, bring right leg up, in a slow and controlled movement, as far as possible. Bring right leg back as far as possible in a slow and controlled movement.  Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
To work on your balance, perform this exercise without holding onto an object.

SIDE TO SIDE LEG SWINGS


Side to Side Leg Swings
Stand tall with hands holding onto and facing a stationary bar (ballet barre), sturdy chair or any sturdy object.
With abs contracted and with right knee straight, swing your right leg out to the side as far as possible. Bring right leg back and cross just over left foot. Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on other side.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance. With abs contracted and with right knee straight bring right leg out to side as far as possible in a slow and controlled movement.  Bring right leg back to the left foot ankle.  Perform as many reps as possible.
Repeat on the other side.
This primarily works the hip adductors.
To work on your balance, perform this exercise without holding onto an object.

PRONE HIP INTERNAL ROTATION

Prone Hip Internal Rotation
This was one of my favorite stretches to perform when I had physical therapy relating to a discectomy.  This stretch targets the deep hip muscles.
Lie face down on the floor with knees together forming a 90° angle with flexed feet.
Keeping hips on floor and knees together, lower feet out to the sides as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to original position. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Exercise Variation: Place a loop band around ankles to add some resistance.  Lie face down on the floor with knees together forming a 90° angle with flexed feet.  Keeping hips on floor and knees together,  lower feet out to the sides as far as possible. Hold for 2-3 seconds and return to original position.  Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Want more information on hip stretches or exercises?  Please leave a comment…