Jul 27, 2008

She: Tamale Sauce

This isn't really tamale sauce. Its more like an overall tex-mex sauce that has all my favorites: some mole, some tomato, not spicy but tangy, nice and thick...I put the kitchen sink in this. Mark brought home tamales one night for dinner, but no sauce, and I was bound and determined to make something tasty. In retrospect, the only thing I would have done differently is to add a bay leaf to the stock for some more depth, which I went ahead and added to the instructions. So check out my madness:

Part One: Take one can of tomato paste and put in the pan, and stir while cooking on low til color changes. Then add one can of chicken broth, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp cumin, pinch of cinnamon, 1 tb ancho powder, 1/2 tsp garlic salt, 2 tb smoked cherry peppers, 1/4 tsp oregano. Bring slowly to a boil, whisking to mix spices (don't skip this!), and let boil 1-2 mts.

Part Two: bring down to a simmer, and add 1 tb dark chocolate, 1 1/2 tb honey. Stir/whisk. While its simmering, grab a bowl and add 5 tb of cold water, and mix in 5 tb of flour, one at a time to make a lump-free paste. Kick the temp back to a boil and add this bit by bit.

The flour thickens the sauce, so if you don't use the sauce immediately it'll create a skin. I just added a little water when it got too thick. The only thing that might be hard to find is the smoked cherry peppers. I found them at a spice shop in Seattle, but I'm pretty sure you can get something like it from Penzy's, too. They were a great addition, and I'm hoarding the rest from Mark. Snicker.

Jul 25, 2008

She: Cous-Cous Method

When my mom told me she was buying cous-cous for meals, I promised to add this post. Mark showed me a great way to make cous-cous very fast and simply, and even better, virtually mess-free...my favorite! This method just steams the cous-cous in a ziplock baggy, which you can then chuck into the fridge inbetween meals. Get: 1 cup cous-cous, 2tsp olive oil, 1.5 cup boiling water, 1 small cucumber, 1/2 onion, small handful of mint (or basil), 1/2 tsp cyanne, 1/2 tsp salt, and fresh pepper.

Thats the most basic list of ingredients. Everything than can be cut/diced, including the mint, should be. Put the cous-cous and the oil in the baggie first. Then add all the veggies and the salt/peppers. Pour in the boiling water and seal the bag. Let it sit for a few minutes, and voila! I personally add some apple and/or roma tomato (but add those after it steams), but dried cranberries or raisins are also nice, especially with mint! This is very healthy as a side dish, and a nice alternative to something mayo-heavy like coleslaw. Best of all, besides the knife and cutting board, there's nothing else to wash. :)

Jul 9, 2008

She: Powder mixes

So, this post will be a bit different from others we've had, but it is something we've both done a lot of research on as well: protein powders. If anyone finds it handy, I'll add one on energy bars, too. As it is, I'm up to a 4 mile run 3 times a week with some more cardio/weights mixed in other days, and Mark is biking long distances to work each day as well as his own cario/weights. A few years ago I started running, and diet became more important, and like a trooper Mark jumped on the bandwagon as well, to be my support buddy in it all. Of course, for a while it was really me huffing and puffing more than running, but I digress.

One of the things we read about was the "body for life" diet. They had meal shakes and all sorts of stuff. Of course, there were a TON of carbs and some sugar in the mix too, and when I did the math found out the calories from that one shake were more than erasing the calories I burned on my best workout. I needed about 20-30 grams of protein and didn't need the added carbs or other calories, as I was still eating "normal". To check out your calorie intake, try a site like WeightLossforAll Most exercise diets are geared towards men, who need more protein and whose bodies can handle a lot more carbs without storing it as fat. We started trying protein powders, looking for high protein instead of carbs or sugars, and one other important ingredient: taste.

Now, this might not be crucial for many others, but I have the gag reflexes of a five year old choking down canned lima beans. In short, if it doesn't taste good, I just don't do it. Silly, maybe, but true. It did cut the list down to a few: Beverly's Ultimate Muscle Protein, Cytosport's EvoPro lite, and BSN's Syntha-6. Now, before I go any further, something to look at is the source of the protein: is it whey, soy, egg, or casein? Different kinds of protein get stored/burned in your body differently. Since I was running and not body building, I was looking for a blend with casein and another source: I needed a quick restore plus something that would promote muscle regrowth for longer periods of time. Bodybuilding.com has a good description of each. Also, I found a TON of information specifically for women as well as links at a great fitness blog: Causic Musings. Make sure to look in her "fitness and health and her "fitness on a budget" subcategories. Some of her diets are scary, but the girl is buff and knows what she's doing! I also must add that most of these I mix with soy milk instead of regular milk or water, too, for the quick burst of carbs soy has. SOOO, back to taste.

All three of these taste well enough for me to chug, unlike some others where you can taste the sugar or a chalkiness to them. I always get vanilla, because just about any other flavor is very artificial tasting. Once Mark accidentally picked up a cookies/cream and I had a veeeery hard time with that stuff! Beverly tastes good and has a lot of good stuff in it, except it was more difficult to mix--it didn't want to blend at all and was harder to swallow because of it. EvoPro mixed better, and was my choice for a really long time, but Syntha6 is my new favorite. It mixes very easily, and though its sweet, it isn't sugary, but more like vanilla pudding. Nice. None of these are especially cheap. But I know a lot of new vegans who wonder why they bruise easily and lose muscle tone--you still need protein! You can get a lot of it thru nuts and such, but see if a soy, whey, or other protein can help you out. If wasn't exercising, I wouldn't need the superprotein stuff, but even then, check out the actual amount of protein on the carton--about 20g in a shake is normal, and in a bar, any less than 10g a serving isn't doing you much.