You Can Get Fit!

Posts Tagged ‘party food

Hi, all.

I’ve been gone for a while… between mentally decompressing, and dealing with an overuse problem in my right hand/thumb (from too much typing, piano playing, cooking, cleaning… I’m trying to get myself to slow down and just read, but it just ain’t happening often enough). I asked my acupuncturist yesterday to give me a few needles for my thumb, which I’d overworked to the point of losing motor control, and he said… well, just don’t use your hand for a while… (Duh, right? I was hoping for the magic bullet. Don’t we all?)

But I can’t be gone for too long, and I just (literally just) made a fantastic culinary discovery that I had to share! I have to thank Indian cookbook author Monica Bhide for inspiring me to try this… because it was amazing, and it worked so well!

Have you ever had those crispy wafers (pappads) at the beginning of a meal at an Indian restaurant? You’ve probably had a bright green, spicy dipping sauce that goes with it–this is coriander (or, cilantro) mint chutney. I made some recently… and had a lot left over after cooking up my pappads that I bought from the Indian market.

First, I used some in a frittata. (that was good.)

And just a moment ago, I took Monica’s suggestion to put some on toast. Eh, why don’t I just give you a few recipes…..

Coriander-Mint Chutney
from various

1 c fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
1-2 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp white sugar (to taste)
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until a thin paste. You may need to add water to achieve the proper texture. I had to scrape down the sides a lot.

**So, once you’ve made the chutney, feel free to use it in a frittata with spinach and onions (that was good, too), or use it on toast…

Coriander Mint Chutney on Toast
adapted from The Spice Is Right (Monica Bhide)

2 slices whole grain bread
butter or butter substitute (salted)
1-2 tbsp coriander mint chutney

1. Toast bread.

2. Spread bread with thin layer of butter. (Allowing it to melt works best.)

3. Spread buttered toast with 1-2 tsp chutney per slice (depending on your taste and/or size of bread). Serves 1-2 — up to you!

This would also be fun cut into smaller pieces as a party appetizer!

I’m thinking this might feature in my Indian Thanksgiving menu. Yeah, I’m cooking a bunch of Indian dishes this year–it’s just the two of us, and we’re not huge turkey fans, so why not experiment? It’ll be good!

Well, I’d better get back to the doctor’s orders, but if you have anything really out of the ordinary going on for Thanksgiving, I’d love to hear about it! Happy weekend!

Hey, gang!

Fall is falling! We’ve been really lucky to not have many rainy days and far more sun than we usually have during this time of year. That means we’ve been able to enjoy the autumn leaves while they’re still on the trees, rather than after the wind has violently blown them off.

Also means that I have had a lot of nice outdoor runs! (Chilly, but lots of sun!) I think I just might try to extend my half-hour of running this weekend. Where will it get me? It’s always great to have this romantic notion of running longer distances, and it sounds great on paper, but then actually going out and doing the run… not always easy. I’m still in the process of building back my base from a long injury hiatus, and I hope to be really comfortable hanging out with my friend Running soon!

Link theme of the day? Holidays… and this will be an ongoing theme for the weeks to come. Some food, some exercise, some crafts… all having to do with holidays.

1. A month from today, I’m hopping on a plane to here, which is where I will spend Christmas this year!

2. A simple felt napkin ring for your Thanksgiving dinner. Spruce up your table decor quickly, and free up more time to spend with friends and family.

3. It’s too late to start this Couch to 5K program for your local Thanksgiving Day turkey trot, but many cities hold 5Ks during the month of December, or especially New Year’s Resolution 5Ks. Set a goal to start running (or walking), and use this program to get there! It’s only 3.1 miles…

4. and after you burn the calories, you can eat this Santa party mix. Looks like a bit of work covering the Bugles with red coating to make Santa hats… but it’s really cute!

5. Give someone edible coal in their stocking!

Well–I hope this starts you off with a few fun holiday ideas! There will be more to come in the next few weeks.

Start putting on your thinking caps: what are your favorite holiday recipes? Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas… whatever you celebrate, we all like eating good food at this time of year! Pass ’em on! 🙂

OK, peeps, it’s October. That means I can officially share some fun Halloween things and not feel like the retail industry… you know, where they start Easter right after they pack away the Happy New Year goodies? I figure if it’s the same month as the holiday, it’s fair game. And Halloween’s a fun one, so why not think of fun times? 🙂

But before we get there: it’s getting colder (at least here), so I’m bundling up more. Less motivation to show some skin, which for some of us means less motivation to work out. How do you keep yourself going as the weather starts cooling down? For me, it’s actually more comfortable to run in slightly (I said slightly) cooler temps, so until mid-November or so, it still feels great to be outside. And the weather inside the gym is the same, no matter what. As for the deeper motivation–my joints and orthopedic problems won’t stay happy unless I treat ’em well every day, and working out is their treat. If I slack off, they let me know. I do it for my joint and bone health!

Speaking of bones and skeletons (what a great segue!)…

1. Anyone out there expecting? Here’s a great pregnancy Halloween shirt.

2. Look out for skeletons climbing on the outside of your house! (They’d get washed away here, sadly)

3. Some ghoulish ways to do Halloween veggie platters

4. Is that a spiderweb in your soup?? 😮

5. What a great way to serve your guac at a party!

So, does that give you ideas for your Halloween party? Get those brains going now….. ’til then, stay safe and healthy!

I just read the following quote:

Someday, everything will all make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.

Yesterday, I spent some time at a clinic specializing in voice disorders, since I’ve spent the past 2 1/2 months unable to speak. These folks are the first to come up with a workable solution, as it’s already started to solve my problem. Apparently between a bad June illness in which I experienced heavy bouts of coughing plus intubation from my February surgery, the musculature in my throat got out of whack… and pulled my larynx out of alignment. Just a minor adjustment made it so that I could produce some (quiet, hoarse) sound. Still isn’t much, but it’s promising! And I’m hoping for more progress soon.

So, what does this have to do with the quote? Prior to this voice problem, I’d been out with a hip surgery… and a second hip surgery to correct what went wrong in the first one. Between the two, I relied heavily on my Pilates and anatomy background to get myself back on my feet again. While it didn’t prove 100% successful the first round–I still had plenty inside the joint that needed fixing–I’m doing great after the second surgery. I’m doing so well, in fact, that I’ve leveraged it into a few jobs doing rehabilitative Pilates work!

Sure, the whole time I studied Pilates, my focus was more rehab. But having spent so much time on my own body, I’m very passionate about using movement to make people feel more comfortable in their daily activities. So, while the two surgeries weren’t the best experience in the world… look what came out of it! (And just think… five years ago, I was teaching rinky-dink Pilates classes at the gym.)

I’m still trying to figure out the “reason” for all of my voice problems (other than forcing me to tap into my creativity a lot more, and appreciating life, and truly learning who and what are the most important to me)–until then, here are some interesting links of the day:

1. Who doesn’t go out now and then to show off their fit body? This is a great tutorial on an easy, casual up-do. I’m wondering if it would work with my almost-shoulder-length hair. I already have the waves, naturally…

2. Fun! Make a bell pepper octopus to put in your veggie dip.

3. If you can still find a few peaches or nectarines where you live, this recipe for cinnamon roasted peaches with yogurt sounds delightfully healthy!

4. Yes, I know. This is a Thanksgiving link. But I think I’d have to start now to set up this Thanksgiving veggie display (you have to scroll down a bit).

5. I’ve got your back!

Have a great week, everyone! We still have a few days of sun left… I’m going to go outside in a bit and appreciate it!

Hi!

It RAINED here yesterday. What, do I live in Seattle? (ahem. OK, so I do.) Lots of rain.

But you know what? It had actually been sunny for a few weeks. (Alert the media! The Great Wet Northwest was sunny! Wait, it had been alerted. It was in the news.) And to me, the few days’ break in the sun is nice.

In life, we learn to find the joy in the sunny days as well as in the rainy days.

This past weekend, I attended Pilates On Tour, a continuing education conference for Pilates instructors (and practitioners) put on by Balanced Body Pilates. This was my first time at this type of event, and I was impressed! If you’re as much of a geek as I am about kinesiology, movement, and Pilates, you can get a small taste of what it was like to take courses from the gurus by watching podcasts at the Balanced Body website. I’m looking forward to the next Pilates On Tour!

And now, a few interesting and informative links for your entertainment (while I still have a network connection):

1. These chocolate bowls look easy to make, and would be great filled with ice cream (sinful) or sliced fresh fruit (better)!

2. Periodic table of heavy metal artists.

3. Fantastic idea: spiff up your ordinary cork board/message center with some vintage frames.

4. Here’s something I could definitely use: a vegetable cooking cheat sheet. Tells you how long to boil, steam, or saute a variety of different vegetables!

5. Have I mentioned Katie’s Snickerdoodle Pancakes before? If I haven’t, they’re amazing. Make them NOW. I’m going to try them in my mini Belgian waffler next. So tasty, you don’t need butter or syrup.

And with that… we’re having utility work done in our neighborhood in a matter of minutes, so I’m signing off while I still have a network connection! See you soon…

Hi hi!

Good to see you guys again! Last week, I mentioned that it was time for my monthly swimsuit shot post, with my weight loss progress. Well…. (here come the excuses) I didn’t post last week, since my right leg was covered with nasty bruises from a household renovation project. (I guess I could’ve just shown you my left side.) Now that the bruises have started to fade, I’m looking puffier from a round of prednisone that I had to take, for the month-long bout of laryngitis. (Which is still continuing. Back to the doctor today. Think good thoughts. And loud thoughts. This is too long to be nonfunctional.)

In any case, I have a bruised right side and a thick midsection, even though I’m now working out more, and harder, than the Initial Plan outlined in the first note. Siiiiigh. What to do but keep pressing on, and have faith that things will all work out in the end, right?

Right. So, for now, here are a few fun things to keep you entertained this fine Tuesday!

1. Poor Cookie Monster.

2. A comic on the importance of exercise.

3. Very cute! Decorate your food with vegetable flowers.

4. Make some glow stick lanterns for your end of summer outdoor parties!

5. This looks tasty and easy (and good finger food for gatherings): Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzels

6. Very pretty apples with cream cheese dip!

That’s it for the day, y’all–happy August, and I hope you have fun plans for the month! Friday is my birthday, and we’re still putting together some interesting shenanigans. I’ll try to squeeze in a recipe before the end of the week–maybe homemade mustard!

Happy dyed eggs and bunny ears!

Time for the twice-monthly list of interesting posts and articles I’ve found on the web… all helping YOU get fit physically and mentally!

Fellow Pilates instructor Karin Singleton talks about maintaining a strong foundation in your body even if you’re working out other parts of your body. One of my favorite Pilates metaphors: if the trunk isn’t strong, the branches cannot be supported!

A great post from Melinda’s Fitness Blog on overcoming 10 common workout distractions. We can do it!

I read Janetha’s blog all the time, and this (garbanzo bean turkey bake) is going to be one of the next things I make. It looks so yummy! 🙂

OK, this one isn’t fitness-related, but it’s good for the soul (and the dessert is bite-sized, therefore portion-controlled… kind of…) Have you tried cake balls? They’re like truffles, but with cake inside! Easy to make, too! I made my batch with homemade cake and frosting (because that’s my style) but store-bought works just as well. Great party food! (For spring, you could do a yellow cake with colored white chocolate, flavored with peppermint oil… now I want some!!)

Hope all of you are having a joyous holiday!

I’ve left you guys in the lurch all weekend, without even a Recipe Friday! I’ll make amends soon, promise!

This weekend was Mr. You Can Get Fit’s (Bruce’s) birthday. It wasn’t a big birthday, but I believe that every year–every day–is a reason to celebrate. (And apparently Chris had the same thoughts I did today!)

Friday, I made a yellow layer cake with chocolate buttercream–all from scratch–and we had a few friends over to share cake and some Black Adder episodes. Cake recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen, and I gotta say, the cake was a bit dry. However, the frosting was fantastic, containing both cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Yummmm.

Saturday, we got his free birthday scoop from our favorite local frozen custard place, sat in a park for a bit, had Thai food, and watched a favorite movie of his. Then, on Sunday, we finished the weekend having dinner with our neighbors and sharing a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit.

Even if it isn’t your birthday, or a special occasion… take the time out and enjoy! Every year, day, minute… is special.

What are you going to do to make today a special day? (Even if it’s a little thing. I’m not asking for the world! Maybe relax with your favorite tea, or book a manicure for the end of the week, or have dinner with a friend…)

Well, Hello There!

It’s been a while. No excuses, I just lost the inspiration. I am back with full-force blogging a few times a week, friends, considering that food is now a bigger part of my life: I now have one personal chef client, and I’m researching how I can expand that, going forward! (As for the immediate moment, I’m recovering from a major hip surgery four days ago. All is well.)

Before I get to my recipe of the week, a reminder to emphasize whole, unprocessed foods. Not that I don’t have chips every now and then, but they’re not dinner every night. I know I’m not alone when I say that when I’ve switched my diet towards less processed foods, I haven’t had to worry about my weight so much. Yes, this means that you may have to put in some more effort on the weekends to put together meals to freeze and eat on weeknights, but your overall health is worth it!

I’ve talked with a number of people recently who’ve been on-again-off-again dieting, and I don’t even consider the word “diet” when I emphasize fruits/vegetables/grains. It’s so much less mental effort to just grab a piece of fruit for a snack than to have to calculate how many carbs, or calories, or points you can have…. If you don’t know where to start, I have some great recipes on this site! (And if you live in the Seattle area, I’m happy to cook for you, and/or provide you with cooking advice and advice on preparing and freezing ahead of time. Your body and health are worth the education!)

The recipe that I chose is something I use as a unique hors d’oeuvre. Of course, it can be used in place of any chutney or sauce (on a sandwich or burger), but I really enjoy it spread over a block of soft cheese (light cream cheese) as a dip or spread for wheat crackers.

Banana-Ginger Chutney
from Vegetarian Planet

1/2 c lime juice (from about 4 limes)
1 c minced onion
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ripe bananas, cut into 1 inch chunks
2/3 c sugar (equivalent agave may work here, too)
1/3 c chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (I’m thinking of trying pecans next time)
2 tbsp chopped mint (optional)

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the ingredients except the walnuts and mint, Let the chutney simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the walnuts and mint. Transfer the chutney to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and let the chutney cool uncovered. When it is cool, cover and refrigerate it. It will keep well in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

I’d love to try adding a minced jalapeno to this, too! That would work especially well in combination with the soft cheese, since the creaminess would offset the heat.

What’s your favorite way to use chutney or relish?

Richly red-colored spread, and bright, tangy flavors! This is fantastic stuff to spread on top of baguette slices (toasted or not), or toasted pita. The peppers are roasted first to really bring out their sweetness. You can choose to add hot chiles—as many as you want—if you want a spicier spread. I definitely suggest letting this spread sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving, to let the flavors blend.

Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread

from Everybody’s San Francisco Cookbook

6 red bell peppers
2 Fresno chiles (optional; can substitute habanero if you like a lot of heat)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds (optional)
1 c walnuts
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Place bell peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven (covering the baking sheet with foil makes cleaning up easier). Turn the peppers as necessary to char evenly on all sides. Depending on your oven, roasting may take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. The chiles will roast more quickly than the peppers, so if you’re using them, toss them in toward the end.

3. Once the peppers and chiles are blackened, place them in a paper or plastic bag and seal tightly. The steam created by the peppers will cause the skins to loosen. Leave sealed for 20 minutes. Open the bag and peel away the skins from the meat of the bell peppers and chiles. Discard the stems, inner membranes, and all the seeds. Place the flesh of the peppers and chiles in a small bowl and set aside.

4. In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds and the black cumin seeds, if using, over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the walnuts and then add the roasted cumin. Pulse a few times and wipe down the bowl sides with a spatula. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and honey. Pulse a few more times and then wipe down the sides again. Add the bell peppers and chiles, if used, and run the processor until the peppers have been absorbed into the spread. Add the olive oil with the processor still running, until fully incorporated. Transfer to a serving bowl.


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