Friday, May 30, 2014

Advocare Max Phase Mid-Point Update and a Recipe! Applesauce Chicken

So I'm currently in the middle of the Advocare 24-Day Challenge, more specifically in the Max Phase.

I don't want to update every day because not only would that get tedious for me and I like actually doing things besides sitting on my ass in front of my computer.  There really isn't anything super new to report.  I would literally be stating the same things over and over again.  And as much as some of you might like broken records, it's gets a bit old after a while and no one wants to read 86 entries in a row of me talking about how much energy I have.

So I've been on the Max Phase for about a week now.  I have to say I'm liking it, but I am starting to wonder "what's next"?  I've got a week to go, and I want something to challenge me after the 24 days.  I'm going to need to talk to my Super-Ultra-Fabulous Advocare Coach and see what she recommends.  I still want to keep losing weight and eating healthy. I just need another program to embark on or I know everything will go to hell in a handbasket.

I'm a damn child.  If I don't have supervision, I'll just be over in the corner eating glue and picking my nose.

So far things are going well in this phase.  I have to say I have learned that I hate taking pills.  And some of the pills in this phase are damn huge and if you leave them in your mouth for too long before swallowing, they're a little on the gross side.

I'm looking at you, 3 green pills.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were gelcaps, but they're compacted herbs or something they aren't my most favorite thing.

Other than that, I seriously have an insane amount of energy now that I'm on the tail end of the chest cold.  I want to go and do.

In fact, I decided to motivate myself by signing up for a 5k.  I've never run a 1k let alone a 5k.  (Damnit runners, I know it's not a real thing. Calm down)

I just don't run.  I spaz out, flopping around on the tredmill doing something that one could almost think is running.  But I just don't run. Unless it's to a bar. In the rain. Or someone is giving away puppies at the finish line.

I did figure that if I signed up for a race, I'd almost have to train for it, right?  And if I post about it on Facebook and write about it here, well then damn I'm just a big ole jackass if I don't finish.

And since I hate large crowds, and would probably be the slowest person ever, I decided to do a Virtual 5k.

A Virtual 5k is basically where you run a 5k solo.  I'm still supporting a charity I like, and I'll get a super cool medal, but I can pick the time and place I want to run.  I can run on a tredmill if I want, by the lake, or around my park.  Hell, I could Prancercise if I feet fancy.

I have a week in June to run my 5k run and then I can log it with the group putting it on.  Not too bad and since I can run solo and not in a large group of people, I don't have to worry about keeping up with people, getting in anyone's way, or bumping into those around me.

Of course this means I should probably start training and you know...running.

That's about it for me.  I've noticed small changes in my appearance already.  A pair of pants that don't fit as well, a dress I haven't worn in a while fits better, I'm not as hungry, I don't crave junk as much.   All good things.

But I'm not going to lie.  I would still murder your grandmother for some Crab Rangoon.

So last night I tried a new Chicken recipe.  I find myself totally fine coming up with ways to cook protein that fits with my new lifestyle, but I'm riding the struggle bus when it comes to way to prepare veggies.  So my go-to has been roasted veggies with a little olive oil and Mrs. Dash.

Boring boring boring.

However, the Applesauce Chicken recipe I made was actually pretty tasty.  And it went with my roasted sweet potatoes and green beans deliciously well.  (I tried roasting broccoli along with it, but there is something about broccoli that makes me want to smash a plate and curl into a ball. Damn tree-like vegetables)

So.  Without further adieus...because I hate adieus, here's the recipe for das Chicken.

Applesauce Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 small onion, diced
2 T. garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
Mrs. Dash seasoning of your choice (or mix together some sage, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper)
1 c. no sugar added applesauce
1/2 c. water
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium.  Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally and sauteing until translucent.

2. Season Chicken breasts with the Mrs. Dash or seasoning blend, increase heat to medium-high, add chicken to the pan, browning both sides.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and allow mixture to come to a simmer.   Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.

4. To serve, plate chicken and spoon over sauce.

Voila!  All finished.  I will try to update sometime next week and then once again once the challenge is over.  Since there are friends coming into town next weekend, an entry might not happen until late next Sunday or Monday.  

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Advocare Challenge Day 10: Part 1 Over.... On to Part 2 and my First Recipe Fail

So I've done it.  I managed to complete Part 1 of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge.  The Cleanse Phase has come to an end and now I'm on to the "Max Phase".    Don't ask me why they call it that, all I know is that I'm taking more pills than I ever through possible and carrying around the little packets makes me feel a little like Charlie Sheen.  Minus the booze. I'm still trying to go easy on that.

I will spare you with daily blogs highlighting what I'm eating while embarking on the Max Phase; however, I'll post some good recipes that I try along the way and share with you successes as well as pitfalls.  Then, when it's all over, I'll do some before-and-after and let you know how many total inches or pounds I've managed to drop.

So!  As with the previous days, a quick recap of what I ate on Day 10 and then on to a weekend recap/first thoughts of "The Max Phase"

Friday, Day 10 Recap...

Breakfast:  A MRS on my way to work. I wasn't hungry when I woke up today so I've been begrudgingly drinking it at work.  It still tastes really good, I'm just not that hungry but I know I haven't eaten anything since dinner last night and I need to get something in my stomach.  I ended up only being able to drink half of it before my body said No Mas.  Oh well, I'm glad I brought some good snacks.

Mid-Morning Snack: Apple with peanut butter

Lunch: Leftover Salisbury Steaks from last night

Afternoon Snack: Apple

Dinner: Grilled pork chops and a small salad

After-Dinner Snack: Watermelon

How I'm Feeling:  Still struggling with the chest congestion so anyone within earshot got to hear the super sexy hacking from my cube.  You're welcome, fellow co-workers. My hacking has also turned into a wonderful headache/sore throat. I'm pretty sure based on the fact that I'm not really hungry, I'm exhausted, and my throat feels scratchy that it's not the allergies I originally thought. It figures that the minute I have a fun weekend away planned is when I get sick.

I also couldn't sleep last night (Thursday). I don't know if it was the fact that I knew I had a lot to do at work on Friday in a short period of time, or what...but I kept tossing and turning and then finally called it quits around 4:30 and woke up.  Not so good considering Friday was a super long day working, packing and then traveling to Michigan with Chris for the weekend.

My Thoughts About the Cleanse Phase:  Writing this at Day 14, I miss the cleanse.  As much as I bitched and moaned about the fiber drink, I felt that it really filled me up.  I was honestly concerned that the fiber drink was synonymous with "you're going to spend every waking moment in the bathroom, homegirl"  but it wasn't true at all.  Sure since I was drinking half of my body weight in ounces of water so I was peeing more than I thought possible, but other business?  Not too much.

So results?  Well I've lost 8 pounds in the first 10 days.

Not too shabby since I have no idea what I was expecting. Hopefully with increased workouts and continuing the change in diet I will be able to keep it up.

I just hope with the second phase I'll increase my workouts and get some weight lifting/strength training added.

So... onto part 2 of the challenge, shall we?

Honestly, planning ahead and heading to the grocery store to ensure I had food that I could eat was the most helpful part of the weekend.  I was a little nervous about starting this phase while going away for the weekend since I didn't really know what food would be available, and I was going to be hanging out with people who could give me a run for my money when boozing, but by planning out what I was going to eat (grabbing some extra MRS for meals and healthy snacks), it really wasn't that big of a deal.

I carried around my blender bottle of water and dutifully avoided pasta salad, a pan of brownies, what I could assume as delicious crab dip, grilled bread, and rhubarb cheesecake.    Instead, I feasted on fruit, salad, and grilled chicken.  All in all, I can't really complain when I was around some very fun and very friendly people, but I would be a lying bastard if I didn't tell you I was about 4.8 seconds away from stealing the plate of brownies and running away with them.

I surprised myself with my willpower.  Sure I would have loved to dive into the pasta salad (it had sundried tomatoes and feta cheese in it - yum!), but since I am not working out on the regular, I didn't feel comfortable abandoning what I'm trying to set myself up for.

After the challenge I figure I'll follow an 80/20 rule as long as I'm continuing to work out.   80% of the time I'll eat clean and stick to what I need to do.  The other 20% of the time, I'll give in to my indulgences.

So I stuck to the healthy stuff and took so many trips up and down the sandy-hill to get to the lake/beach that I feel like I should have the best glutes in Illinois right now.  The only unfortunate thing is that since I'm sick and struggling with a chest cold, as I was hoofing it in the sand on the beach or back up the arduous hill to the house, I felt like my lungs were filled with gunk and by the time I got to the house I was winded.  Hello embarrassed.

Which also bums me out because I was looking forward to working out today but since I can't go 30 minutes without coughing (I'm sure my coworkers were beyond pleased that I came to work), doing anything that would involve intense exercise or quick movements is out.   At least I can attempt yoga and if moving from down dog to plank to leg high is too much, I'll work on stretching it out.

So after getting back from the weekend, I discovered that in true "I love you so let me share things with you" fashion, I managed to get Chris sick.    Dealing with two sick people in one house wasn't too much fun, and I didn't have a lot of energy yesterday, so rather than grill out for Memorial Day, I spent a good part of the morning sipping on an orange spark and meal planning for the week, then managed to drag my ass off the couch to go to the store.  I snagged some stuff to grill out, but since we were too exhausted to even drag out charcoal and light a grill, we ended up ordering delivery.

In the past I probably would have just headed for a go-to comfort food:  Sweet and Sour Chicken and Crab Rangoons.

Instead, I scoured Grub Hub looking for any delivery places that matched the terms "Healthy" or "Gluten Free" that would also be able to have food that Chris could eat.

A break before I move on:   I understand that I'm eating a bit differently now.  I also understand that my diet is not reflective of the choices that anyone else is making or should make.  Ya'll can eat what you want.  If you want to drive head-first into a vat of ice cream, a giant pizza, or a cheeseburger the size of Alaska?  Enjoy.  I'm not going to judge, lecture, or sneer at you.  In fact, chances are I won't even bat an eye if you ask me if I'd like to join.  It's your life and it's your decisions.

I don't ever want to force someone to follow what I'm eating.  They're my choices.  So I really try to be mindful when I'm visiting someone, I'm out with people, or I'm planning on cooking for people other than myself, that people have different tastes and needs than I do.

End rant.

Enter Chicago's Pizza.  They had what Chris requested, and I was able to find an option that didn't leave me frustrated or depressed (I had a mini-meltdown on Chris the day before after realizing that I was hungry and didn't have anything in the fridge).

Another great thing about the program so far?  I'm finding that I'm eating way smaller portions.  I would have gladly devoured the entire portion of chicken a few months prior (seriously - it was delicious).  Now, I ate the salad and part of the chicken, saving the rest of the portion for my lunch tomorrow. Good decisions.

Also, I want to apologize for not including a recipe with this update.   Before leaving for the lake on Friday, I attempted to make a dessert that was Advocare/Paleo friendly since I absolutely hate going anywhere empty handed (if you invite me into your home expect me to bring dinner, dessert, or at least a bottle of wine).   Enter Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

As the cake was baking, the apartment was filled with the smell of deliciousness.  It was amazing. I peeked at the cake to rotate it around the oven and everything was baking perfectly.

When the time was up, I peeked at the cake, tested it with the point of a knife and everything was all good. I let the cake cool, flipped it over onto the sheet and when I removed the cake pan saw a spongey grey mess.


So thinking that I could save it, I popped it in the oven to try to brown the top and let the cake finish.  While cooking, I tasted some of the crumbs from the pan and realized that my new recipe was quite possibly the absolute worst thing I've ever made.

Back to the oven I went, took the damn cake out and threw that entire SOB in the trash.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Advocare Challenge Days 8 & 9: Two Updates for the Price of One.

Double wrap-up/update time.

Since Day 8 was just leftovers, I didn't feel like I should come up with an entry since I'm feeling pretty much the same as I did yesterday...and the day before.

I guess the only thing that's really different is that for today (day 8) and the next two days, I'm back to drinking sawdust.

It's really not my favorite thing in the world.  I mean, I get why I'm drinking it and I've had way worse in my mouth (ba-zing), but if I could forgo it, I would.  Anyway, enough of being a sissy.

Breakfast: Chocolate MRS.  I just realized I'm going to need to order more pretty soon.

Mid-Morning Snack: Peach with a handful of nuts

Lunch: Leftover BBQ Chicken and Roasted Sweet Potatoes from last night

Afternoon Snack: Small salad and an apple

Dinner: Leftovers!  I've still got some rotisserie chicken as well as a salmon burger in my fridge. Plus my veggie drawer is stuffed to the brim

Evening Snack: Banana

How I'm Feeling: Hydrated and healthy.  And it might be wishful thinking but when I peeked at myself in the mirror while getting ready this morning I thought, "are my ankles less kankle-y?"  The pants I bought a month and a half ago feel a little looser, too.  Again. It might be wishful thinking or just less bloat from eating salt and junk food, but damn.  Me gusta.

I also found a gym that is a little closer to my work and should be more convenient for me to head to. I've been avoiding going to the gym since it's so far out of my way and by the time I get out of work and then sit in traffic, I don't feel like going an extra 15 minutes out of my way to the gym.  I'm already frustrated and all I want to do is go home and eat a bowl of salami. Or potato chips.  Or chocolate. Or a stick of butter.

So I'm going to bring my gear to work with me, change, and then head to the gym near work.  It's only about a 10-15 minute drive depending on traffic and I can try out the new gym without having to officially switch my home gym.  Winner winner workout dinner.

Annnnnd Day 9.  So close to finishing the cleanse and I have to say that I think I'm going to miss this phase.  I know I have 14 more days after this and then I get to figure out what my next steps are, but I'm liking what I am doing so far.  And the fiber-drink isn't so bad.  Really.

Breakfast: Since I was working from home today, I actually had time to make breakfast.  So I had an egg white scramble with peppers, onions and leftover BBQ grilled chicken

Mid-Morning Snack: Mango and Strawberries

Lunch: Salad with hardboiled egg whites and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Afternoon Snack: Edemame

Dinner: Salisbury Steaks - no, really.  The recipe follows. I also made some green beans which I blanched and then sauteed in tiny bit of olive oil with a little red pepper flakes for some heat.

Evening Snack: Nada. The steaks were quite filling.

How I'm Feeling:  Not sure if I'm getting sick or allergies are just kicking my ass but I feel like I have a good deal of chest congestion.  Doing yoga and trying to "open my chest" during twisting and stretching was tough. I'm coughing and hacking like a 64-year-old 2-pack-a-day smoker.  Super sexy.

Also, I managed to deep-clean my apartment today. It desperately needed it, so getting on my hands and knees to scrub my tub and then scouring the top of my stove was great for getting in a workout today.

Salisbury Steak
Chris loves Salisbury steak something fierce.  I've actually made this for him before, but it was back when I would make comfort food and give close to zero fucks about what was in it.  Since starting the challenge, I've been a lot more conscientious about meal planning for the week and making sure the stuff I'm eating is not only flavorful but is good for me, too.  If you'd like the previous recipe, point yourself over to this link.

And one of my absolute favorite things to do is to take requests from people and either see how I can put my own spin on it or - now - see how I can make it "Advo-friendly".

Enter New-And-Improved Salisbury steak.   On a drive last week running errands, I asked Chris if there was anything I haven't made in a while that he might want me to try to make.  He suggested an old favorite and I've been chomping at the bit to make it something he requested that I could eat and not feel guilty about.

I wouldn't say that this is exactly like your typical Salisbury steak, but it is reminiscent of the flavor.  Honestly, they're more like Salisbury steak-burgers.   But the flavor is still incredible.    I used a little more than 1/2 of an onion for my gravy because I am a big fan of onions, so you'll notice the gravy is a little more chunky than your traditional Salisbury steak gravy.

Ingredients (makes 4 large or 5 medium sized steaks)
(Salisbury Steaks)
1.5-2 pounds grass fed lean (no less than 93%) ground beef or bison
1 egg
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp thyme

2 tsp. fat (olive oil, grapeseed oil, bacon fat, etc.)
3/4 c. beef broth
3 oz. coconut or almond milk
1/2 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder

1. Fire up your grill or heat a grill/saute pan over medium-high heat.

2. Add all of your steak ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.

3. Form meat into circular patties, being mindful of portion size.
4. Cook your patties on the grill or on the stove, 3-5 minutes each side.  Go a little less or a little more depending on your "doneness" preference.
Roux has a permanent spot on the steps when we grill out

5. While the meat is cooking, make the gravy.  Add oil, onions and garlic to a saute pan over medium heat.  Let cook until the onions are translucent.

6. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and turn the heat down to low, stirring occasionally until the sauce is reduced to your liking.

7. Once the patties are done, top with the gravy and enjoy!

As I mentioned above, I made these with some green beans I blanched and quickly sauteed with a little bit of olive oil and some red pepper flakes.  I really like green beans.  I eat so many of them I might be turning into one big green bean.

I probably won't post Day 10 until Sunday or Monday.  I'll be off celebrating the Memorial Day weekend and might not have time to post an update.  So I'll do a cleanse-update of weight and inches lost as well as a recap about the weekend on Sunday or Monday when I am able.  Until then, I'll be sticking to the 24-Day Challenge and enjoying the weekend.

Happy Memorial Day, ya'll!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Advocare Challenge Day 7: BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Wedges that Will Make You Forget the Word "Diet"

Day 7.  Done. Kicking ass and taking names.

After the "Blender Fiasco of 2014" yesterday, I wanted something a little more simple.  And since it was 80 degrees out today and the smell of a charcoal grill makes me happy, I fired up the grill to make a spicy BBQ Chicken.  I also roasted off some sweet potato wedges to have with the red pepper and asparagus from yesterday.

And before you ask - yes, this BBQ Chicken is diet/cleanse friendly.  And yes there is a recipe with hipster-like photos for you to enjoy. Because what pseudo-food blog would be a pseudo-food blog without photos? Like every other one out there.

Before I get to all of that, here's a summary of what I ate.  Not sure why I'm feeling the need to share that with you.  Probably because I've done it for 6 days now, and also probably because I want to show you that with what I'm doing, you can eat real food on a cleanse.

Suck it cayenne pepper, lemon, maple syrup, and water Master Cleanse.  Suck it hard.

Breakfast:  What else? A MRS on my way to work.  In my half-asleep state, I also managed to mix 24-ounces of water with Spark instead of my normal 8-ounces.  So I was even more hydrated than normal today.

Mid-Morning Snack: Small peach with a handful of mixed nuts.

Lunch:  Leftover salmon burger from last night, and the sweet potatoes and green beans from Sunday's dinner.

Afternoon Snack: Banana

Dinner:  Spicy BBQ Chicken and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with last night's veggies.

Evening Snack: Nada. I ended up eating super late and wasn't particularly hungry for a snack.

How I'm Feeling: Still have crazy energy.  Unfortunately my knee was bugging me today so I didn't get out for a jog.  Instead, Roux and I went for our normal afternoon walk and then I decided to do some yoga at home with the lick-happy Roux.  Bummer, too, since it's so nice out and I was looking forward to running (read: flailing around) with her.

Just like the last few days, nothing new to report so I'll keep this short and sweet.  On to the recipes!

Spicy BBQ Chicken
Any time I can use my grill, I am all for it.  It means less dishes to wash, and I get to spend some time outside enjoying the weather and (usually) listening to music.

This BBQ Sauce isn't exactly like your typical BBQ sauces.  It's spicy and a little more on the "chunky" side (appetizing, right?).  Since there is minced shallot, garlic, and a little pineapple, while the flavor absorbs with the spices and liquids in the sauce, you can see the the bits in the sauce.  Also, the way I made it (below) gives a lot of heat on the back end, but if you're not all for heat, scale back on the horseradish and cayenne pepper.

You can actually use any protein that you'd like.  I managed to snag a great deal on a package of chicken breasts, so we used that; however, if you'd like to slather this on pork or beef, be my guest.  Plus, the remaining chicken in the package will be used for another meal later in the week.

1 c. beef stock
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 c. shallots, minced
1 T. Dijon Mustard
3 cloves minced garlic
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 c. fresh crushed pineapple

1. Mix beef stock, tomato paste, shallot, Dijon Mustard, Garlic, white wine vinegar, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, horseradish, red pepper flakes, and pineapple in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Baste your chicken (or the protein of your choice) with the sauce 3/4 of the way through the cook time and once more when serving. (Since it decided to start storming as I was about to start basting my chicken on the grill, I had to move the operation inside and finish off the cooking in my oven)

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
I'm a classic meat and potatoes kind of girl.  It's the midwest in me.  And I love sweet potatoes.  I first discovered them when I made the short-lived switch to Paleo a few years back.  Since then, when I go out to eat and sweet potatoes are on the menu, I will hands-down select them over regular spuds. Curious about the nutritional differences?  The Cleveland Clinic has a pretty good breakdown here.

Potatoes do have nutrition, but just like everything, you need to watch portion sizes and the fat you're using to cook your veggies.  Instead of slathering the potatoes with honey, cinnamon and brown sugar, baking them in a mound of vegetable oil or deep frying to crispy deliciousness, I went a lighter route and roasted them in the oven with a tiny bit of sea salt (let the natural flavor come through, yo) and some thyme.

2-3 uncooked sweet potatoes, peeled, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt-free seasoning blend of your choice
1 tsp. dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Cut each potato into 8 lengthwise wedges and place on a nonstick baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with the seasoning blend and dried thyme.

2. Roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven to toss and flip your wedges.

3. Continue to roast the wedges until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes more (mine took a little longer since my oven is about as old as Moses).  If you're a "burnt potato" kind of person and you like yours a little more done, pop them under the broiler for a few minutes to get crispy.

Here's a photo of the whole shebang all finished.  It's not the prettiest plate at the prom, but it's good and it absolutely satisfies the "I need to grill out and eat potatoes" craving without leaving you feeling guilty and depressed.

That's all to report for now.  I'm really excited about taking food I'd normally have and figuring out a way to make it a little more healthy without compromising flavor.  Sure I haven't had butter since I began this whole thing, and my salt intake is way down, but by adding other spices, using olive oil (sparingly), and experimenting with ways to cook stuff, has been super fun.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Advocare Challenge Day 6 Update: Bun-less Salmon Burgers, Asparagus, and A Hot Mess in the Kitchen

Day 6... I really have nothing new to report.  I have ridiculous and obnoxious amounts energy for a Monday, I feel lighter, I didn't have to drink the Fiber Drink...all good things.

I enjoyed my last day of not having to chug sawdust.  Well, I guess there are only a few days left of the cleanse. Again...need to stop being a sissy.

Breakfast: Chocolate MRS on my way to work.  Is it weird that I was looking forward to having this all weekend? Yes?  No?  Ok then.

Mid-Morning Snack: Bananananananana

Lunch: Leftover roast chicken and veggies.

Afternoon Snack: An apple and some all natural peanut butter

Dinner: (Bun-less) Salmon Burgers (with quinoa) topped with avocado and Strawberry-Mango Salsa and asparagus with red peppers and onions.

Evening Snack: Does water count as a snack?

How I'm Feeling:  Got home from work still revved up with tons of energy.  Which is good because today also starts a Fit for Life challenge at work.  And since was actually pretty decent out, when I got home from work I decided to attempt another run/jog with Roux.

The thing about running with a dog or one that isn't used to running with a person is that she doesn't really know to keep pace.  Plus, Roux is still in training and we haven't quite let her out of heel yet.   So as I'm jogging, she's bumping into me, throwing her weight into my legs so I'm stumbling around looking like I may be having a seizure.  Or she's trying to bolt ahead, so then I'm playing "correct the dog" while huffing and puffing and looking like a total spaz. Awesome.

But other than that, nothing new to report.  I'll save you from going on and on about what I've written before and just move on to the main event.

So here it is... the recipe I was so geeked up about from yesterday: Salmon Bun-less Burgers with avocado and strawberry-mango salsa.  I also made grilled asparagus with a red pepper sauce to accompany the salmon.   And yes...there are recipes.

But first.... since my plate incorporated all of the recipes below, here's a shot of the final product.  Get your bibs's droolin' time.

Salmon Burgers (makes 5-6 burgers)
I'm going to admit it. I don't like salmon.  Salmon and tuna are probably the only two types of seafood I don't particularly care for.  Ok.  I also am not a big fan of oysters or clams, but that has to do with the texture.  But Salmon, it's the flavor.   But I figured, make it into burger form, combine it with some other deliciousness and then throw it on the grill, why not?

To top it off, the slices of avocado and the strawberry-mango salsa really bring it all together and brighten up the burger, turning something I wouldn't normally eat, into something I'm excited to have leftovers for.

So fun story time.  As I was blending/chopping up my salmon, my blender said "screw it" and the motor decided to burn up.  Oh well... plan B.  Mush all of the salmon burger mixture together with my hands and call it a day.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds wild salmon (try to avoid farm-raised if you can)
3-4 green onions, ends trimmed
1 handful of fresh cilantro
1-2 tsp. lemon or lime zest
1 tsp herbamare (or make your own using this recipe. I just left out the kelp)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup, cooked quinoa

1. Using a food processor, chop up the green onions, cilantro, lemon zest, herbamare, and black pepper until finely minced.  If you're like me and you don't have a food processor (seriously - that and a dehydrator are the two things I don't have in my kitchen.  Ridiculousness), just finely mince your herbs and ingredients by hand and toss in a medium bowl, or try throwing it all in a blender.

2. Skin and de-bone your salmon.  A sharp filet knife will make your life so much easier here.  I also cut the salmon into  cubes since I was going to blend it all together in my blender (*cough*wishfulthinking*cough*)

3. Add the salmon and quinoa, and process again to the desired consistency (leave the salmon with a few "bigger" chunks).  Again, if you don't have a food processor, use the pulse option on a blender or chop your salmon by hand and then toss in a bowl with the other ingredients and quinoa. Or if your blender decides to be a dick and stop working mid-blend...just smush everything together with your hands.

4. Form the burgers into patties and place on a plate. Feel free to make your burgers ahead of time and let them rest, relax, and listen to smooth jazz in your fridge.  .

5. Heat a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray or fire up your grill and grease thoroughly. Place your burgers on the skillet or on your grill, being sure not to overcrowd.  Depending on how hot your pan or your grill is, the burgers should take approximately 2-3 minutes per side to cook.  Make sure your pan/grill is hot and greased!  If not, your burgers may stick a little. (Whomp whomp whomp)

Strawberry Mango Salsa
Honestly, give me a spoon and I could just eat this all day.  If you're not doing the healthy eating thing, these would also be great on pie-dough cookies.  You know, when you make a pie and you have some scraps left over? Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake those bad boys off then top with this fruit-salsa (maybe leave off the jalapeno if you're doing this though). Yum!

3/4 c. strawberries, small dice
3/4 c. mango, small dice
1/4 c. red onion, finely chopped
3 T. cilantro, rough chopped
1 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste (be careful!  You don't want to add too much salt here.
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1. Prepare yo ingredients!

2. Combine all of the ingredients and allow to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, covered.

Asparagus with Red Peppers, Onions, and Whatever the Hell Else I can Throw in there Since My Blender Went to the Small Appliance Superstore in the Sky
For someone who went to culinary school, has worked in kitchens, and loves veggies, I sure am a picky bitch when it comes to what I eat.   I'm iffy when it comes to asparagus.  Unless I chop it up, blanch and blend it and then toss it in a seared scallop risotto, I get kinda weirded out by the green veg.   For me it comes off as being a little too woody or slimy.

And what was going to be grilled asparagus with a red pepper sauce turned into the following recipe when my blender decided to deep-6 itself.  Honestly, I can't be that upset when it has lasted 5 years and the blender biting the dust leaves me with one less dish to do.

Hey. I'm practical.

So what do you do when your kitchen appliances revolt and you've got a pan of sauteed peppers?  You improvise.  And sometimes (like this time) it turns out pretty good.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and rough chopped
1/2 yellow onion, large dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. lime juice
1 1/2 T. basil (or if you're like me and your grocery store is mysteriously out of basil when you go to make this recipe, just use 1 T. of the dried)

1. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add chopped red bell peppers.  Cook and stir over until peppers are soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove red peppers from your pan and let cool slightly.

2. Add in diced yellow onions to the pan (don't add any more oil - this is more than enough) and allow to become soft.  Add the peppers back in and allow to warm together.

3. Blanch the asparagus, drain and add to the saute pan with the onions and peppers.
probably I should have gotten a picture of the asparagus in the pan..
4. Stir, allowing the flavors to incorporate.  Squeeze in lime juice and sprinkle basil.  Stir and allow to cook, 2 additional minutes.  Serve hot.

Seriously, sometimes when you have a clusterfuck in the kitchen, great things can come of it.  I don't usually care for salmon.  And I'm not the biggest fan of asparagus, but this meal worked for me.  I really liked it. Just goes to show you that a little experimentation never hurt anyone.

Even the kind in college.

Where you're just finding yourself.

Or.  Um.   I'm going to go now.