Sunday, August 1, 2010

Food as Fuel

Somewhere after the invention of, perhaps, the sugared donut, people forgot that food is fuel. We need it to provide calories for our bodies to burn for energy, nutrients to help our bodies perform the way they were intended to perform, and keep our systems working properly. Instead, food has become a treat, a reward for the stressful lives we live, a comfort for down times, a vehicle to slow the rumbles. Instead, everything we put in our mouths, somehow, has to be the best thing we've ever eaten. Flavor has outranked content and convenience has become the CEO of our menus.

Before you think, "hello, soapbox!," let me be the first to admit that I love food. Not for its nutritional properties either, I love (LOVE) to eat! I eat the wrong things and I eat too much of everything. But I'm trying. I'm trying to see food as fuel. I'm trying to look at a food before I put it in my mouth and think, "how will this help me?" Beyond the obvious eye roll of satisfaction or curbage of cravings, that is. I'm trying to read labels before I even bring the food home. Especially now, with my triathlon two weeks away, I've got to become more considerate of what I'm asking my body to do, and how my food choices will help it do that.

Here's to a healthy, or at least healthier, week, everyone!

Sunday: Lasagna, spinach salad, whole wheat french bread

My favorite lasagna recipe uses regular (whole wheat) noodles but does not require they be boiled first. I use a combination of ground turkey and extra lean ground beef, and light ricotta. It's a little effort that goes a long way. One recipe feeds our family multiple times.

12 (1 box) whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 jar marinara sauce
1 lb meat (1/2 lb lean ground beef, 1/2 lb ground turkey)

15 oz light ricotta cheese
1.5 cups mozzarella (light if you can find it) cheese
1/4 C. shredded fresh parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, or 2 T. dried parsley
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

.5 cups mozzarella
2 T. parmesan

Brown and drain meat. Combine meat and marinara. Set aside.

Combine ricotta and next 6 ingredients. Set aside.

Coat a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Spread 1 c. meat sauce in bottom of pan. Arrange 3 uncooked noodles on top of sauce. Top with 1 c. sauce, 1/4 cheese mixture. Repeat layers (noodles, sauce, cheese) until all is used up. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Coat one side of aluminum foil with cooking spray, place foil, oil side down, on lasagna. Bake at 350 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 15 more minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Monday: Shrimp Fried Rice

Tuesday: Double Bean Burritos, tex-mex salad
it's so hard to find side dishes for mexican dishes, other than the obvious refried beans and mexican rice. This Tex Mex Salad is easy and delicious, and provides the perfect balance to burritos.

Wednesday: (Birthday Dinner!) Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans

This is my all-time favorite meal. It's simple, but it's delicious, and with the color combination from the black grill marks to the bright oranges and greens, it's absolutely gorgeous on the plate!
I eat my YAMS plain, because they have enough natural sugar for my taste, but my husband and kids enjoy them with a sprinkling of brown sugar. Nothing on the steaks but salt and pepper (or if you must marinade, marinade in light bottled italian or balsamic vinaigrette)

Thursday: Chipotle Salmon Burgers, home fries, Grilled Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette

I found the most delicious grape tomatoes at the farmers' market last week! They were huge, almost the size of romas. So tasty that we all enjoyed them plain as a dip, no nothing. Just pop, mmm, heaven. I will see if the same farmer is there this week, and if so, I'll be grillin' me up some fun.

I omit the mayo on the burgers and they're still good!

For the fries:
Oven to 400. Cut several white potatoes (I use 6 for our family of 4) into french fries or wedges. Toss cut taters with 1/3 cup oil, 1 t. kosher salt and 1 t. black pepper either in a mixing bowl or in a ziploc bag. Arrange coated fries onto a baking sheet, assuring single layered-ness. Bake at 400 for 45-60 min, or until golden brown and cooked through, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent sticking.

Friday: Apple Puffed Pancake, fresh fruit
After my lecture about food as fuel, I'll throw in this oh-so-unhealthy gem. Actually, it's not that bad!

Saturday: Pizza night!
Okay, okay, I promised you healthy:
Pizza Margherita

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