Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cuban Black Bean Soup

I LOVE my crockpot!!  I try to use it at least once a week.  It just makes breakfasts/lunches/dinners so easy, especially when dealing with a busy schedule.  Since the warmer weather is upon us, and I know soon I will have to stop making soups, I am trying to get my favorites in now.  I have already made this once this winter, but was craving it again.  This is a soup that I make on the stove if I have time, but on days I just don't have the time to spend in the kitchen, the crockpot does the job very nicely.


2 lbs dried black beans
6 cups water
1 Tbsp dried oregano
3 bay leaves
6 sage leaves
2 tsp salt
2 yellow onions
2 chopped jalapeno peppers
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
7 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tbs chili powder
2-3 Tbs pureed chipotle in adobo
1 1/2 Tbs cumin
1/2 c orange juice
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced


Thouroughly rince the beans and pick out any bad ones.

Add beans to crockpot and cover with water and at least 1 more inch above the beans.

Let soak overnight.

The next morning, drain and RINSE the beans.  Rinsing the beans at this stage reduces the 'magic fruit' quality of beans. 

Add everything except the orange juice, vinegar, and lime to the crockpot, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Taste for spice and add more cumin or chipotle if needed.  Add orange juice and vinegar and let cook for about 30 minutes more. 

Use an emersion blender to puree to desired consistency.  I like mine to still have some chunks of beans, so I just pulse my emersion multiple times until just right.  If you don't have an emersion blender you can either use a potato masher or transfer a bit of the soup over to a regular blender.

Add lime right before serving.

Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, cheese or any other of your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Amanda's Notes:
If you don't have rice wine vinegar you can substitue another vinegar.  Be careful because some vinegars are more acidic than others.  Red wine vinegar is more acidic than rice wine vinegar so I would start by adding half the amount and then tasting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Italian Polenta & Eggplant Casserole

This is another meal I treated myself to when Raymond was in San Fran for the weekend getting another coaches certification.  To my surprise when he got back he helped me finish it, stating that he actually enjoyed it.  This really surprised me because Raymond isn't a huge fan of polenta, kale, or mushrooms...basically the main ingredients in this dish!  Please don't let the long recipe deter you from making this dish.  It is really quite easy and once you get going doesn't take too long to make.  This makes great leftovers for work lunches, although you may end up torturing your co-workers with how amazing this smells and tastes.


2 16-ounce package prepared polenta
3/4 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups mushrooms, cut into 1/4" pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, rib removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil
2.5 cups marinara sauce
1 eggplant, chopped into 1/2" - 3/4" pieces
Alfredo Sauce (Recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste


Chop eggplant and place in colander.  Sprinkle liberally with coarse grained salt and let sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees-Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray.

Make Alfredo sauce, set aside.

Rinse eggplant well, place on the foil-lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until done.

Saute the onions and mushrooms in a skillet until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have browned.  Add the garlic and saute for two minutes.

Add the kale, basil, and 1/4 cup water.  Saute until the water has evaporated and the kale is tender and wilted.  Add the Alfredo sauce and stir, cooking until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Mix the eggplant with the marinara sauce.

Cut the polenta into thin slices.

Spread about 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of your large baking dish.

Cover with half of the polenta slices. 

Spread the half cheese sauce on top of the polenta.

Top with half of the remaining marinara sauce.  Repeat layers once more: polenta, Alfredo, marinara.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Alfredo Sauce


1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low fat milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


In a separate saucepan, stir together milk, chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper over low heat until smooth and thick.

In a separate saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant. 

Add milk and broth mixture and continue to cook over medium low heat until thick, stirring frequently. 

Stir in Parmesan cheese and remove from heat.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

This was my first meal after the was Fantastic!

I have been wanting to do something like this for a while now, but just hadn't found the right time to make it.  It is a healthy twist on a classic recipe.  We had this for dinner, and though the nutritional information below is written for the entire sweet potato, I was full after one half.


2 Sweet Potatoes
2 cups Broccoli, chopped
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1 chicken breast
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cheese, optional


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut sweet potatoes in half, lay cut side down on a sprayed baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile cook and shred your chicken breast and steam your broccoli.
Slowly caramelize your onion until golden brown.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Scoop out as much of the sweet potatoes as you can without breaking the skin.

Mash the sweet potatoes well and mix with the shredded chicken, broccoli, barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and Greek yogurt.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff mixture back into the potato, snack on any that wouldn't fit, sprinkle on cheddar cheese if desired, and place the stuffed sweet potato back in the oven for 15 minutes.  We both decided that unless we were short on our fat intake for the day we would skip the cheese the next time because we didn't think it added anything to the mix.

This is such an easy dinner that doesn't require many ingredients.  Raymond stated that he was "digging it", so I'd imagine this will show up on our dinner table multiple times in the future.

Makes 2 Servings.  Calories - 304g, Fat - 2.5g, Sodium - 412mg, Potassium - 1,265mg, Total Carbohydrate - 35.6g, Dietary Fiber - 7.3g, Sugars - 13.2g, Protein - 35.5g

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fruit & Veggie Seasons

Once a year, I go on a raw foods detox.  It all started when I started getting really sick to my stomach during my races.  I couldn't figure it out.  I ended up going to all kinds of doctors and had all kinds of test run and then more tests to clear up false diagnoses...long story short no one could figure it out.  While working with my nutritionist, she recommended I do a raw food detox.  That year I was able to convince 6 of my close friends do the detox with me...this year it is down to 2 counting Raymond.  It wasn't easy, but we all felt better by the end, we slept better, woke more rested, had more energy throughout the day, and were a bit lighter.  Most of all it was a huge statement to bad we eat on a regular basis...even when trying to be good.  That racing year my stomach problems were kept more at bay, which I contribute to this detox and my new nutrition that my then coach, now husband, came up with.

The trickiest part of this detox is timing.  The detox consists of two protein shakes a day and then all the raw fruits and veggies you want for the rest of the day.  The problem is, I usually do the detox in the beginning of the year, right before I up my training for the season.  The problem with the beginning of the year always seems to be finding fruits and vegetables in season.  This year I did research and found several tables and combined them to figure out what months were best for which foods.  The tables have proved to be handy for me, so I thought I would post them.  The dark blue indicates high season for that fruit or vegetable. Seasons may vary some depending on where you live. 



Currently I am on day 5 of the detox and feel like I have passed the hump.  It gets easier every time.  The first couple of days as your body adjusts to eating real food and no processed or sugary foods you may experience fatigue and headaches (I always do), but after you pass the hump, you really start feeling the benefits of eating the raw foods.  The biggest challenge with this is time and variety.  You want to do the detox when you aren't busy with other things.  It's no fun to go to dinner with friends and watch them eat good food, believe me, I've done it before.  The other biggest challenge to me is coming up with good food combinations when nothing can be seasoned or cooked.  Every year I have done this (on year 3 now) I have come up with a new combination that I like that gets me through the detox.  If you're interested in doing a raw foods detox and want more information, just let me know.  I hope you find these season tables useful.