Busy Busy Bee

Even though I got things wrapped up for my spring coursework at the end of April, May has been a busy whirlwind for me!  I’m already leaping ahead trying to make sure I’m prepared for my summer capstone and independent study, so I haven’t really felt like there has been much of a breather between semesters.  On top of that, lots of traveling in a week’s time and I’m still a little spun around.  When I’m busy and I’m not in my own environment, eating well and making any attempting to sticking to the FODMAP diet are pretty tough!  The conference I went to had some pretty limited food options; for example, breakfast consisted only of muffins/baked goods or a horrific looking “egg”-croissant sandwich!  Ew..  Luckily I had thrown in some bananas at the last minute and of course had my trail mix handy, so that was my breakfast both mornings.  Lunch the one day was also a little rough: choice of chicken, beef, or veggie burrito!  Come on people, where are the GF options here??  I was thankful that avoiding gluten is simply a choice for me and not a requirement since I did not have time to go hunt down a better option.  Definitely nothing low FODMAP about these burritos (wheat, beans, onions, garlic, etc??).  Luckily dinner had some more options and then the second lunch was open choice of restaurants in town.  But yes, my GI system was not feeling so hot all day Saturday!

The one meal I made between trips was inspired by sage I bought a little while ago because I thought I had tons of recipes that I could use it for, but then really didn’t have time to hunt down said recipes.  Plus the sweet potato fries appetizer from the prior trip really got me digging sage! I used this ravioli recipe as inspiration, but made quite a few tweaks.  Here’s my recipe:

Brown Butter Pasta with Chicken, Walnuts & Sage

4 chicken breasts (only needed two for the pasta, so two were leftover)
Rubbed with a mixture of smoked paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.
4ish servings of pasta (I did two servings of GF pasta and two of regular spaghetti for the hubby)
1/2 cup walnuts
4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
1 thick slice of smoked gouda, chopped into small chunks
2 tbsp (ish) of grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub herb mixture over both sides of the chicken.  Heat a skillet sprayed with garlic olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook for two more minutes. Transfer chicken to oven-safe dish and continue cooking  in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Boil and drain the pasta according the to package directions.

Place the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat and toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and chop. Wipe the skillet clean, and melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the same skillet over medium heat. When the butter just starts to turn brown, add the sage and stir constantly for one minute. Immediately add the pasta and stir to combine. Add the chicken, chopped walnuts, smoked gouda, and parmesan and stir. 

GF pasta with chicken & sage

GF pasta with chicken & sage

Ended up very tasty- I asked the hubby if this was a repeater and he said yes!  Again, the smoked gouda may have played a role… 🙂

Otherwise, we have been nibbling on leftovers or going out to eat or just having salads this week so far!  I’m hoping to make up some burgers tonight for something different!  I did make up another batch of coconut milk yogurt with a slightly different formula.  4 cups Aroy-D coconut milk, 4 cups of homemade coconut-oat milk, 1 heaping tsp of agar and 3 tbsp tapioca starch (with half a container of SO Coconut yogurt as starter).  I wanted to see a) if using half “real” coconut milk and half homemade would still work and b) if having less agar would still make it fairly thick.  I just felt like the last few batches I could see little pockets of agar (like a small clear ball of gelatin), so I thought perhaps it didn’t need as much.  It seems to have turned out just fine, perhaps slightly less “firm” but I always felt like it wouldn’t hurt for it to be a little more runny!

My other project has been trying to get my granola to clump, without having to add more sweetener!  I think I have had success, though I still want to experiment a bit!  Still using the oats & amaranth granola recipe as a base, I again replaced the amaranth with sesame seeds as well as some sunflower seeds, did 1/2 cup hazelnuts and 1/2 cup pecans, and still used the egg white.  Oh and I also added some cardamom and smoked salt for slightly different flavor.  The big differences I made were I lined my pan with parchment paper (most recipes say to do this but I was lazy before) and I left it out overnight to cool.  When I went to break it up: tada!

granola clumps!!

granola clumps!!

So much easier and yummier for snacking!!  I will say, it tastes just a touch stale, so my next batch I’m going to just use the parchment paper, but not let it sit out overnight and see if that still yields clumps but keeps the crunchy-ness.  I also found a granola recipe that uses homemade milk pulp, so I might give that a try since I have a full gallon ziploc in the freezer full of coconut-oat pulp!

I really gotta get back to meal planning, that was so nice!!  The summer is going to be hectic, so it would be nice to have some meals already planned out to reduce brain-strain.. 🙂

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Racing, Traveling, and Picky Stomachs

Eating while traveling is always tough when there’s a picky stomach involved, but adding to that the challenge of running a race while traveling, and wow!  I had a really rough time figuring out what to pack and what to plan to eat, etc.  I was almost frozen with indecision and even though it was a short four hour drive, I decided not to pack anything for dinner.  At the last minute, I threw in a big container of homemade coconut yogurt with some strawberries and granola to eat for lunch.  It felt pretty sad pulling that out to eat at the Mall of America, sitting in front of Johnny Rockets!

this is totally normal to eat at the mall of america, right?

this is totally normal to eat at the mall of america, right?

The rest of the day, basically I ate pecans, walnuts, and raisins.  I ate so many nuts that day that I’m surprised I didn’t turn in to one!  But I was so fearful to eat just about anything else..  For dinner, I had decided I would go somewhere that I could make my own salad, like Subway, so that’s where I went.  Problem: I accidentally ordered balsamic vinegarette, thinking I was ordering JUST balsamic vinegar.  Plus, she of course poured way too much on, and so by the time I got my salad, it was the saddest, limpest looking spinach, tomato, tiny slices of cucumber, and black olive salad I had ever seen.  I tried to eat as much as I could, but the vinegarette was overpowering and I kept thinking about how it surely had a bunch of crap that I shouldn’t eat.  I threw most of it away and went to my car, where, horrifically, I decided to straight shot warm apple cider vinegar in an attempt to fend off any potential ill effects from the vinegarette.  I tell you, I love vinegar more than any normal person should, but straight shotting warm apple cider vinegar might be the grossest thing I’ve ever done.  This is why having a picky stomach and being a runner makes me a little insane.   I know that I have to fuel properly the day before a half marathon in order to have energy, but if 90% of what I eat causes stomach problems, it’s a really tough battle!!

For my pre-race “breakfast” (hardly qualifies), I had dry brown rice crispies and two clementines.  Luckily, those seemed to be enough so that I wasn’t starving but also not too full.  The race went decently, though I still got a side cramp despite all of my best efforts!  It’s hard to tell if side cramps are caused by upset stomach or not, I sure get them a lot but they feel much different than a usual upset stomach.

The rest of the weekend I just decided to eat what sounded good, since with the race behind me I didn’t have to worry quite so much about an upset stomach holding me back.  I munched on a banana, trail mix, and a bag of potato chips post race, and then after a nice nap, I ventured out to find something for lunch.  My first try at a salad shop turned up empty, so I went in hunt of something like Au Bon Pain or Panera and found Cosi.  I had a yummy salad with chicken, bacon, and gorgonzola that hit the spot!  Dinner was a bit more of a problem, I searched yelp for something but nothing was sounding good.  I finally found a place and went out to find it, and again came up empty!  So I wandered aimlessly, also waiting to see if the hubby would be able to join, and let my hunger get away from me and got to that scary place that is beyond hunger.  It is the spacey, I need to eat but everything sounds horrible phase that usually ends with me crying and/or getting very angry.  Hangry, as it were.  Luckily, my hubby came to the rescue and we found somewhere quickly that had some good options.  I scarfed down almost the entire plate of sweet potato fries that were smothered in turkey gravy, cheese curds, sage, and cherries.  I know it sounds weird, but it was SOO tasty!  We also got dessert, chocolate torte, which was yummy!  I didn’t feel that great going to bed, but woke up feeling fine.  In fact, for brunch, I decided to try out an egg white omelette (with quinoa, spinach, tomato, and goat cheese) and I have felt fine all day, surprisingly!!

Only new food I have to share was something I whipped up before we left because I was afraid my coconut milk was going to go bad.  It was Coconut Milk Panna Cotta and it was very yummy!!  I didn’t have any cardamom (which I remedied today), but otherwise I followed the recipe.  I would say it makes four servings, I put it in to two bowls, but it was very filling and I only ate half.

coconut milk panna cotta

coconut milk panna cotta

More travels are ahead of me and I plan to bring at least lunch for the first day.  Some of the meals are included, so while that doesn’t always mean there will be something that I can/want to eat, I also don’t feel like trying to pack three days of food with me.  So I will just have to try my best and make sure I have trail mix handy at all times to avoid turning in to Hangry. 🙂

Pizza!! Cheese!!

This week I never got around to doing a meal plan.. le sigh..  Luckily, that’s what Pinterest is for!  I found this pretty easy sounding GF pizza crust using quinoa, so I thought I would give it a try.  I soaked the quinoa overnight; I decided to make two because I always figure if you’re going to make a mess, might as well make double the mess!  I omitted the garlic and seasoned it with dried rosemary and some tumeric.  To give it a little more flavor, I used garlic olive oil to cook it in instead of just regular.  I cooked it on the stove in a full size cast iron skillet and thought it worked great!

quinoa pizza crust

quinoa pizza crust

double the yum!

double the yum!

I froze one and let the other one sit out, awaiting toppings for dinner.  For the sauce, I mashed up half of an avocado with some lime juice, garlic olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Then I topped it with tomatoes, black olives, spinach, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, and some dried rosemary.  It was awesome!!  It is pretty filling crust, so even though it was only about 9 inches, I still was very satisfied just having half for dinner and saving the other half for the next day.

GF pizza!!

GF pizza!!

I also made tacos this week, which really weren’t any different than I always made them: with no taco seasoning.  I’ve never liked taco seasoning, so several years ago I just started making my meat separate from the hubby’s and that works fine.  I added smoked paprika, tumeric, some garlic olive oil spray, and salt and pepper.  I used corn tortillas from Trader Joe’s and just warmed them up on the stove.

Tonight I made Gouda & Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops- they turned out great!  I found the recipe in a random magazine and made some adjustments based on what I had on hand and my dietary needs.  The recipe called for thick pork chops and we only had small, thin ones, so instead of trying to stuff anything into them, I decided to just stack them!  This worked out very well, though eating “one” was really too much since it was really two pork chops, so we each just ate a half.  Here’s my recipe:

6 thin pork chops
3 slices smoked Gouda
3 handfuls of torn, fresh spinach
1-2 tbsp dijon mustard (Hy-Vee brand actually is low FODMAP safe)
1/2 cup or so of almond meal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a glass dish.  I spread a small squirt of mustard on each pork chop then dipped it in the almond meal.  I placed one pork chop, almond meal down, in the dish then put a slice of smoked Gouda and then piled on a handful of spinach.  Then I stacked another pork chop, almond meal up, on top.  Cooked for 35 minutes.  Husband approved!!  Though I do have to admit, I think anything you put that smoked Gouda on is going to taste good 🙂

gouda & spinach stuffed pork chops

gouda & spinach stuffed pork chops

I’m doing some travelling over the next week and so eating will be an interesting task.  I’m mostly worried about this weekend and what to eat on the road the day before my half marathon.  I think for my pre-race breakfast my plan is just to have some Erewhon brown rice crisps and a small clementine, but I know that the entire day before I’ll need to be careful too.  Might just be eating some carefully selected salads!!  I did just make up another batch of granola, so I’ll have that on hand for snacking at least.  This round I followed the oats & amaranth granola recipe that I used before except instead of amaranth I used sesame seeds.  I also decided to experiment by adding some almond butter, yes I know I said that it may be giving me problems, but I just can’t live 100% without it and I figured having only about 4 tbsp throughout the whole granola shouldn’t bother me too much.  The reason I decided to add it was that I really want this granola to have some good chunks in it!  It has been successfully crunchy ever since adding the egg white, but it has been crumbly and therefore hard to snack on.  Good for cereal and on yogurt, but not so good for trying to just eat out of the bag 🙂  It is cooling now, so we’ll see if adding the almond butter was successful or not!