Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Egg Bowl and an RKC training update

All my life I was under the impression that I didn't like egg yolks. I would toss the yolk and make scrambled egg whites or get rid of the hard cooked yolk and just eat the white. Just recently however, in the wake of a deviled egg craze, I decided to try the yolk again, but this time, using local, farm fresh eggs from pastured hens. To my surprise, I liked the yolk! I was excited and disappointed at the same time  - what had I been missing all these years??? I quickly came up with this recipe for South Western Deviled Eggs and went about enjoying eating hard cooked eggs.

Most of you know that I have been training for my RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge), which is Sept 28-30. In January, I adopted a more "Paleo/Primal" style diet, cutting out grains and legumes in favor of lean, grass-fed and pastured meats, wild fish, eggs, healthy fats like coconut and avocado, fruits and veggies. I did this because I felt at that point, I wasn't progressing in my training. This move was a good move for me. I started to get stronger and my training took off. Food for me is fuel and something I fuel up with is what I've dubbed the Egg Bowl.

The Egg Bowl is made up of hard cooked eggs, avocado and your swing ingredients. The swing ingredients are whatever else you want to add: bacon, other meats or fish, and/or other veggies. I always add hot sauce as well. These egg bowls are delicious, filling and packed with nutrients. Let's review nutrition facts for 1 cup of hard cooked eggs: 211 cal, 14g fat (4g sat, 6g mono, 2g poly), 1.5g carb, 17g protein, a bunch of Vitamins/Minerals including Vit A, Riboflavin, Vit B12, Folate, Selenium and Phosphorus, to name a few. Also included are Sterols, but before you get all nuts about the cholesterol, understand that reports lead to the fact that egg consumption does not raise blood cholesterol levels - read more about that here: Eggs. I usually have 3-4 hard cooked eggs a day, and I feel good about it!

I LOVE my Egg Bowls! Here are a few that I have enjoyed:
Grass fed burgers, hard cooked egg, avocado, arugula, hot sauce, sea salt

 Smoked trout, hard cooked egg, avocado, hot sauce, sea salt
 Crumbled pastured bacon, hard cooked egg, avocado, hot sauce, sea salt

So, the possibilities are really endless....I usually have 2 hard cooked eggs, 1/2 med avocado and add the other ingredients to them....I'm addicted!!!

So back to RKC training. It's coming along! And I'm down to just about 2 months to go until the training. One thing I have been doing is an 80 count snatch test. I've talked about the snatch test before: it's 100 snatches in 5 minutes, w.your testing bell - for me, it should be the 12kg (~25lbs). 
I've done 3 rounds so far and here are my times: 
06/30/12: 80 snatches in 3:38
07/07/12: 80 snatches in 3:50
07/18/12: 80 snatches in 3:38
I'm feeling pretty good about those times. I will repeat again this week, but will push it out to 100 and see what the time is.
In the mean time, I've been working hard on my hip snap in my cleans, one arm swings and snatches - using the 14kg and 16kg so that the 12kg will feel manageable.
Good stuff!.
Give the egg bowl a try and let me know what you put in it!
Enjoy :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Awww yeah...Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate!

In my early adult years I was a total coffee snob and I didn't even try to pretend I wasn't. I stayed current on all the fancy brewing methods and designer beans that Starbucks would sell; my staple drink was a 4 shot wet cappuccino. When I traveled, I schlepped along my french press and beans to ensure I had suitable coffee to drink. You get the idea..... It wasn't that I lost my passion for the diesel...but when it became time to try to get pregnant, I realized that 4 shots of espresso each morning probably wasn't going to help. So, I gradually got off the brown stuff...I stepped down the number of shots to 2....then went 1/2 decaf....then went all decaf....and I never really went back to full caff.

Coffee just didn't appear so sexy to me anymore. The ritual of drinking it each morning still remained important to me but in a much more scaled back way. These days, I use Starbucks Via, their instant coffee. It's actually very tasty. There is a decaf Italian Roast which is dark and smokey.

It was just recently however, that Starbucks began selling a blend called Tribute, and for some reason it was appealing to me. It's a blend of an Aged Sumatra from Ethiopia, with beans from both Papua New Guinea and from Colombia. It's luscious. I tried it, and it was delicious! And caffeinated!! I reserved it for special days when I felt a bit of caffeine was in order.
When the July issue of Bon Appetit came in and featured an article on cold brewing coffee concentrate for iced coffee, I knew I had to try it, and use the Tribute blend beans.
When I went in to get the beans, low and behold, Starbucks was sold out and was not going to get any more in. The barista there made a custom blend for me, using a similar mix of beans to that in the Tribute blend. I was set to make my coffee concentrate....

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2012
Makes ~5 cups coffee concentrate, that lasts for up to 2 weeks in fridge
12 oz coarsely ground, fresh beans
8 cups water
Also needed: cheese cloth, fine mesh sieve and coffee filters

1. Place coarse ground beans in a container big enough to hold 8 cups water
 2. Pour 8 cups water (I used filtered water) over the grounds and stir them, ensuring that all of the grounds have been moistened
 3. Cover the container with cheesecloth and allow to sit for at least 15 hrs at room temperature - mine actually sat for 19 hrs
 4. After the steeping time is up, line a fine mesh sieve with the cheesecloth
 5. Carefully pour the steeped grounds over the cheesecloth and drain the coffee concentrate into another container - I had enough cheesecloth so I could pick up the grounds and squeeze out residual liquid; then compost or spread the grounds in your garden :)
 Here is the coffee concentrate before running it though a coffee filter:
 6. Take a coffee filter and pour the concentrate through it - there are fine coffee particles in the liquid that get filtered out - Filtration can take ~30 - 45 minutes - I had to complete this stepwise, as I only had small coffee filters, and it only held so much of the concentrate
 Check out the bottom of the filter- Like Mud!!
You're left with an amazingly dense, but not muddy, coffee concentrate that can be used to make iced coffee - Liquid gold!
Try out a ratio of concentrate/water that works for you. Here is an iced coffee with 4oz concentrate, 4oz water and 1oz half-half:
I'm totally hooked. It's a bit of work with the cheesecloth and filters etc, but it's totally worth it. What you won't get is a weak cup of iced coffee or an acidic cuppa w.a bitter finish....what you will get is a smooth, strong yet soft cup of iced coffee. Definitely worth giving it a go.

Quick Garden Tally

How's your garden growing?
Ours is really full tilt! We've been harvesting the Sun Gold tomatoes, every day picking over 1/2 pint each time!! Have you ever tried a Sun Gold??? It's a little yellow-orange tomato that bursts with sweetness when you bit into it...yummmmm! We are patiently waiting for the heirloom Green Zebra tomatoes to ripen up. We also have another heirloom variety, called My Girl, and those also are on the vine, but not yet ripe.

 The decorative gourds have started to grow.

Our first eggplants are coming in, as well as another round of Rainbow Chard, green beans and strawberries.

The peppers are really growing well now, both sweet and hot (jalapenos and poblanos).

We harvested our first few red onions - they are very little, but very tasty, and more will be ready quite soon (as well as the yellow onions).    

The cabbage is growing, but no head is forming...not sure why....maybe it will form in the near future?

Unfortunately, we continue to be taxed by critters that eat the Sun golds, as well as our blueberries. I think we've only gotten 10 or 15 blueberries off our 3 bushes!

Totals as of this morning:
Broccoli 27.3 oz
Radishes 3.2 oz
Basil 5.7 oz
Beets/Greens 42.2 oz
Golden Beets/Greens 6.5 oz
Blueberries 1.1 oz
Lettuce 1.4 oz
Fennel 0.1 oz
Rainbow chard 7.1 oz
Sun Golds 42.1 oz
Onions 2.0 oz
Green Beans  10.9 oz
Strawberries 1.3 oz
Eggplant 1.8 oz
Grand Total: 152.7 oz, 9.54 lbs of produce :)

Hope your garden is giving you a big bounty!
Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seared Scallops with an Asian Cucumber Salad

Living in the Boston area, I'm surrounded by fresh, local meats, eggs, fruits, veggies and seafood. Every Wednesday, a local fishhouse, Jordan Brother's Seafood, sets up at Allandale Farm and sells fish and shellfish that was caught just hours earlier. This past week, I got a pound of local sea scallops, caught in Provincetown, Ma, for 20$. That is a fair, competitive price considering 1) how fresh the scallops were and 2) how little the scallops had to travel from sea to plate. I am quite lucky to live where I do!
It's also smack dab in the middle of CSA season and the pick up each week is getting bigger and bigger. I got some great looking pickling cukes from Stillman's Farm, so I decided to make an Asian cucumber salad to accompany the scallops.
To prepare the scallops, first off, clean them by removing the little muscle off the side of the scallop. It will pull right off. You don't have to remove the muscle, but it's extremely chewy and not appetizing. Make sure your scallops are dry, season with salt and pepper and then sear off over medium-high heat in your fat of choice (I used coconut oil). Do not crowd the pan!! If there are too many scallops in the pan at one time, the temperature of the pan will drop and the scallops will not sear off, but will end up steaming. Flip scallops after a few minutes of cooking; they should be golden brown.
Repeat the cooking process until all of the scallops are done and reserve until ready to serve.

Typical Asian cucumber salad is usually loaded with sugar and rice vinegar. I went a different route, keeping it Paleo and used lemon and lime juice and a small bit of coconut nectar to sweeten. To flavor the salad, I used shallots, Red Boat Fish sauce, coconut aminos and cilantro. The key to the salad is to slice both the cukes and shallots nice and thin.
The acid of the lemon and lime juice will "cook" the cucumbers and shallots, softening them up and infusing them with flavor. The salad is best prepared a few hours prior to serving and is best served chilled.

Asian Cucumber Salad
3 pickling cucumbers, sliced thin
1 small shallot, sliced thin
3 TBS cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup mixed fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 TBS fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
1 TBS coconut nectar (if you don't have coconut nectar, use honey or agave syrup)
1 tsp coconut aminos

1. In a medium bowl, mix the juices, water, fish sauce, coconut nectar and coconut aminos until well combined.
2. Add in cucumbers, shallots and cilantro; mix to combine and allow to sit for a couple hours before serving, stirring occasionally.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Garden Update and RKC training

The garden is in full swing now.
We've cleared out all of the beets and broccoli and replaced them with cabbage, cauliflower, more beets and carrots.
Everything is coming in nicely.

Unfortunately we've encountered some pests, specifically, cabbage moths, that lay eggs on the leaves of the Brussels sprouts plants. Tiny little yellow-green worms hatch on the underside of the enormous leaves and eat them. So we have an all out bounty on both the moths and worms - $5 per moth that is caught and $1 per worm...but seriously, they are rampant. We inspect the leaves daily and pick off the worms.
Here you can see the leaves, some eaten up almost entirely, and others with holes in them.

However, despite all that, tiny Brussels sprouts are forming and growing!

We also have chipmunks that like to take our tomatoes, eat one bite and leave them for us in our driveway.
The birds ate most of our ripe blueberries and we have 2 more bushes that are ripening up. I hope to enjoy a bit more of them once they ripen, as we only got to have about an ounce from the first bush (which was only ~10-12 berries).

Pests aside, the garden is doing great. We have a variety of hot and sweet peppers coming in now, as well as eggplant, which are flowering.

We have some strawberries that are ready to ripen up.

The tomatoes, carrots, leeks, onions, rainbow chard and marigolds are all growing away. Look at the beautiful colors in this box!!

The heirloom beans have flowered and are forming as well.
We've also planted some decorative gourds in a separate area that are just about ready to begin to flower.
Harvest totals
My last post had us at 3.19lbs of produce. The totals now are:
Broccoli 27.3 oz
Radishes 3.2 oz
Basil 3.2 oz
Beets/Greens 42.2 oz
Golden Beets/Greens 6.5 oz
Blueberries 1.0 oz
Lettuce 1.4 oz
Fennel 0.1 oz
Rainbow chard 1.9 oz
Sun Golds 1.1 oz
Total: 87.9 oz = 5.49 lbs of produce! Wow! Pretty good for only the 2nd week of July.

RKC is less than 3 months away and my training is going great. I met coach, Mike Perry from Skill of Strength 2 weeks ago and got my new program, which I've been following. It includes the snatch test, once a week, which Mike had me do as a 3 min test, and then each time I do it, I'm to add on 15 seconds.

For those who don't know, the snatch is a one arm kettlebell move that is dynamic, powerful and graceful all at the same time.
Here, RKC Tracy Reifkind leads her class through an intense snatch workout: Snatch Tracy is so powerful and really is an inspiration.
One of the requirements for RKC is to do 100 snatches in 5 minutes time. For women, what size bell is used is based on body weight - under 123.5 lbs and the 12kg (25lbs) can be used; over 123.5 and the 16kg (35lbs) has to be used. Using the 16kg is significantly harder- that jump from 12kg to 16kg is a big one.
I am currently under 123.5lbs and keeping a close eye on that. So, when I did the 3 min test, I used the 12kg bell.
At 3 min, I had 68 snatches. I continued on to make sure I was even on both arms and at 3:30, had 80, and that is good news. My hands felt good. My forearms were definitely on fire :) but that is to be expected. I stopped at 80 but definitely felt I could have gone on to 100. I will test again tomorrow and we'll see where I'm at.
I'll continue to train snatches with both the 14kg and 16kg to keep my strength and stamina up!!

Other things I'm working on are my cleans, presses and paying extra special attention to my roll to elbow on my TGUs.

Stay tuned for more garden tales, recipes and RKC training updates...