Nutritional information, with apple, without walnuts, add that into your journal individually: 8 servings, 152 calories per serving, 4.7 gm fat, 67.9 mg sodium, 24.9 gm cho (5.6 gm fiber, 3.4 gm sugar), 4.4 gm protein.
It’s time to start sharing recipes!
I love to cook. Always have. I am by no means a gourmet cook, most definitely not, but the other day I came to the realization that I am really enjoying this process again.
You may be wondering what process I’m talking about The process of exploring different ways to prepare foods, blending different spices together and seeing how they work together, blending different foods together and seeing how well they compliment each other, or don’t. This process got kicked to the curb when I became a competitive bodybuilder, business owner and single parent.
Before I started my competitive bodybuilding career, in my mid 20′s, I loved trying new recipes, experimenting with different ethnic foods, going to the coop and bringing home interesting looking things to make meals with. Then, in 1989, I did my first bodybuilding show. Now that was a long time ago and my memory is fairly poor, but I’d say that was pretty much the end of my fun times experimenting with new foods. I was creative with diet foods and have several recipes that I created to try and bring some sort of sanity into my diet. Let’s be honest though, competitive bodybuilding diets are boring. BORING. Boring! That’s part of the game. Food is not for pleasure in the mind of a true champion, it is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. You train your mind to not think about it and the longer I competed the easier this became. Did I ever dream of making other foods….are you kidding? I would collect piles of recipes, mostly while browsing through magazines during cardio sessions. They hardly ever got looked at twice except when attempting to reduce clutter!
Now, don’t get me wrong, eating like this is not a bad thing, I do know that my daughter gained a good knowledge of nutrition and what a balanced meal is all about during this time. She also has grown up with an appreciation for cooking, poor child, she taste tested a whole lot of recipes that I “changed” to make healthier. Many that I thought were wonderful, but her thoughts…well, let’s say we didn’t always agree! Oh how the deprived have a different sense of taste than the undeprived. Is that even a word?
So anyway, where is this leading to? Well, I have again, ten years after my last competitive adventure, gotten back into food experimentation. I contribute this to a couple things. The Farmer’s Market, I loved it this past summer! It became a Saturday morning ritual, I’d wake up, go for my run, come home, drink my coffee and eat my breakfast while catching up on my weekly blog reading, waiting for someone else in the house to wake up. When that lucky someone woke up I would con them into hopping on a bike and riding with me to the market and riding home with my backpack filled with fresh foods to plan my week’s meals around. Oh how I miss those days already!
The other credit I hand out is to my daughter who moved back in after graduating from college. I feel more inclined to make meals when someone is home to eat them, with a husband who works evenings I would often just skip cooking, and I enjoy cooking with someone else helping and sharing ideas. I’m very excited about this rekindled love, no more boring meals!
So, where I’m at right now, I’m thinking that this will be a wonderful thing for all! Me making wonderful, exciting new foods in a normal frame of mind….well, by normal I mean non-starved frame of mind! And sharing them with you, the starved mind! You don’t have to think about how to make exciting foods that you can eat while dieting, I’ll think of them for you. I’ll even break down the nutrient information so you can easily log your food. Let’s see where this takes us! I will include some recipes that many won’t be able to eat while dieting, that’s ok, I really feel that variety is important and these recipes you can use in the off season. Some of the recipes I will include contest prep versions and break downs.
Just so we have this straight, I will NOT be converting wonderful whole food recipes to diet versions that are full of artificial sweeteners and crazy engineered foods. Not that I don’t use those yellow packets of fake sweetener, I just prefer my foods to be made with whole ingredients.
I’m going to start with a beautifully easy and wonderfully delicious side salad I made the other night. I have learned to love seasonal cooking and I was searching for a side dish to go with crab cakes I had planned to make. This recipe uses butternut squash, which I can’t seem to get enough of this time of year, I credit this recipe to The Poor Girl Gourmet and look forward to trying more of her recipes, she even breaks down the cost of the dish, love it! The orange text is directly from the Poor Girl’s blog.
Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Black Bean Salad with Toasted Walnuts
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about 3-4 cups
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
vegetable broth, for cooking the quinoa (rather than water)
1 cup quinoa (uncooked), cooked according to the manufacturer’s directions (yep. using that vegetable broth with the parenthetical “rather than water” mention)
(1) 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes if whole, 6-8 minutes if pieces
optional: honey for drizzling
“Yeah. It’s just that easy. I read the ingredients, and thought, “um, why am I explaining this?” But I love this dish, and so explain I will.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Throw the squash in a jelly roll pan and bake until the squash is softened and is beginning to brown, 35-40 minutes.
Now, you can certainly cut out the olive oil to save a whopping 31.5 cal per serving and those calories are from the whopping 3.5 gms of fat per serving….but WHY? Olive oil is good for you and it will make your butternut squash brown and carmely, well, if that were a word!
Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa, rinse those beans, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Once the squash is done, add it on in. Stir well, season with salt and pepper if you so desire, then spoon it out onto your plate. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the toasted walnuts over each serving, drizzle with honey if you so desire, and viola! Gluten-free, protein-rich autumn magic.”
Ok, so I did not use the honey on mine though I’m certain it’s wonderful, Jeff confirmed it was. I did use the walnuts and it adds a lot of flavor. Yes, you can omit it and save 27 calories, 2.7 gms fat, .5 gms carbs and .7 gms pro! Really though, walnuts are so good for you!
(I have also added oven-dried apples and pears to this dish – you can’t go wrong with those extras, believe you me.)
I cut up one apple into small pieces and stirred it on in, yummy fall salad!
Estimated cost for 4 main servings (or 6-8 side servings) of quinoa salad: $7.62. The butternut squash costs 79-cents per pound. To account for waste from peeling and seeding, we’ll round up and call it two bucks. The olive oil costs 24-cents. The manufacturer’s directions I followed called for 2 cups of veggie broth, and that cost $1.20. The quinoa was $5.99 for 16 ounces, at a cost of $2.40 for 1 cup. The black beans cost a whopping 99-cents per can. The walnuts cost $8.69 for a bag containing 4 cups, we used 1/4 cup, so that’s 54-cents. A drizzle of local honey shouldn’t cost you more than a quarter, and if you buy an apple or pear to add to the mix, let’s figure a dollar more at the most. At the very, very most. That would up our tally to $8.62, but without the oven-dried fruit, it’s a mere $1.90 per serving. Add an on-sale yogurt and a local apple or pear, and lunch is still running us less than 4 bucks ($1.00 for fancy-yet-on-sale yogurt and 50-cents or so for the fruit).