My Fit Foodie Favorite Things in Springfield, MO

 

Fitness Favorite Things

Have you ever been a tourist in you own hometown? With all the travel that Brian and I do it’s easy to forget how much beauty we have in the Ozarks. It’s easy to overlook  great food since we don’t dine out a lot when we’re not on the road. Our lives get so busy that we don’t make time for things like the First Friday Art Walk, something we used to do every month. We hike like crazy in Hawaii but neglect all the trails just an hour or so away from home. My love of tea and being forced to walk not run due to an injury inspired me to take a fresh look at 417-land. This month, I am loving my hometown and the unique things it has to offer.

Chabom Tea + Spices

The anticipation of this shop is what inspired me to get curious about what’s new (or new to me) in Springfield. Brought to you by the owners of Café Cusco, Chabom offers has a huge variety of loose teas and spices plus tea ware, gifts and treats. I’ve been looking forward to their opening for months. (I might have been a bit overzealous with my Facebook posts, declaring my excitement.) I feel like I may have ambushed them with my excitement at their soft opening during the C-Street Stroll. I could tell it was really a soft opening for them, so I waited to really explore when I came back a couple weeks later. The fully stocked store was everything I had hoped it would be! Joe and his staff are amazingly friendly, patiently answering all my questions about what  pu-erh tea they can order and who makes their delicious selection of gluten free and vegan baked goods. Buying loose tea by the ounce is a great way to learn about new teas. Plus they’ll brew you a cup of anything on the shelf! Stop buy for a cup of Chinese jasmine and a rose spiced cookie if you want a real treat! Tell them I sent you.

The Date Lady

Born in Springfield but available in over 500 stores in the US, Date Lady products are amazing! I’ve always loved dates but The Date Lady has made my affection soar to a whole new level. We were lucky enough to have the owner and Chef Date Aficionado, Colleen Sundlie, to ourselves for a bit at the C-Street Stroll open house. Her story deserves a blog post of it’s own! She is passionate about her product, loading up the car to travel all over the US to spread her date love! I can guarantee most people have never had the quality of date she sells. Soft and caramel like, they almost melt in your mouth. I replaced honey on the baked pears I have been making with balsamic vinegar date syrup blend with delicious results. I am also absolutely in love with the date syrup! I made The Date Lady gluten free coconut macaroons and I followed her suggestion to put the date syrup on my protein pancakes. I am very inspired to work on some date recipes of my own! Even if you don’t live in SGF, you can still enjoy her treats by visiting The Date Lady online.

Legacy Bagelry

Never underestimate the power of Instagram. I’ve been following Legacy Bagelry for a while but I wasn’t inspired to actually visit their store until I saw their protein bars. These house made gems are peanut butter based, vegan and gluten free. While they didn’t have specific nutrition facts available, they didn’t taste overly sweet. I know they are sweetened with date syrup (from The Date Lady!) and come in a chocolate peanut or trail mix varieties. The staff was super helpful when I asked a million questions about the bars’ ingredients. I love their mission, which they call call their Doctrinology:
Simple. Wholesome. Fresh.
Next time I may grab a coconut chai latte to go with my bar or a bagel to share with Brian.

I have another local favorite that I plan on visiting…once my ankle heels. I ran a 5K a few weeks back and somehow injured my ankle. I was fine during the race but the next day not so much. As soon as I can run again, I am going to my local Ultra Max Sports store to get a new pair of running shoes. I have a feeling part of my problem came from running in the wrong shoe. Ultra Max fits you for the right show and, according to one of my clients, will take them back if they turn out to be the wrong shoe for you! I may end spending a little more than I might if I ordered from Amazon but to be able to return a used shoe is well worth it. In them mean time, I can walk and hike! So I am open to running shoe suggests. I’ve got flat feet with a bit of a wide toe box. I open to our suggestions as well. What running shoes do you love? What spot am I missing in SGF? Where would you take me in your hometown?

Farmers Market Finds for June: Zoodles and Berries!

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Here is my best piece of farmers market advice.

Go EARLY!

Farmer's Market Zucchini

There is a big difference in the crowds at 8 am, when Farmers Market of the Ozarks officially opens, and 10:30 am. On a particularly rainy Saturday, when I arrived much later than usual, we were elbow to elbow under the pavilion. It’s harder to browse, harder to get the farmers attention to make a purchase and certainly harder to get a parking spot. If early mornings aren’t your thing you can go to Farmer Market of the Ozarks on Thursday nights but you won’t have nearly the selection. Plus you have to dodge people and their cocktails who are there more for happy hour than to pick out zucchini.

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Speaking of zucchini – it’s everywhere! I’ve been enjoying my zoodles both raw and cooked. I have a new raw salad combo that I can’t get enough of featuring zoodles and a Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing from Clean Eating magazine. I add shredded carrots to my zoodles along with fresh cilantro and basil. Then I top with a tablespoon of the dressing. I could eat it every day! I have also found zoodles to be a great way to bulk up regular pasta thanks to the Healthy Pasta cookbook. I recently made a linguine with zucchini noodles and peas from the book. I omitted the pancetta and learned a vegan cooking hack for replacing smoky meats – smoked sea salt! It helped give the base the flavor it needed and then I added a few vegetarian “bacon bits” on top.

Farmer's Market Blue Berries

Fruit lovers can also rejoice in June! Blueberries and peaches are here! I had my first peach of the season a couple of weeks ago. It had gorgeous orange and red flesh and was so juicy I had to hold the napkin under my mouth the entire time. Peaches will be around for a while as the different varieties hit their peak but blueberry season is very short. Get plenty and freeze them for use in smoothies or chia jam later in the year.

This month I also want to give a big shout out to Echigo Farm. I’ve raved about my favorite delicacy, the an-pan, in past. Now I have to let you in on my newest find – fermented chickpea hummus. Fermented foods provide a host of health benefits with their probiotic qualities but most people don’t eat them often enough. This hummus is a delicious solution to that problem. Plus the fermentation process helps the fresh made hummus last longer (if you can resist eating it all in a single weekend). Try it to liven up your veggie wrap or to dip your baby carrots and cucumber in. I also picked up another fermented food for Kimchi Fried Rice (another Clean Eating Magazine find). I love that Echigo Farms makes so many varieties of kimchi. There is bound to be something to please any palate. (Personally I go with the Vegetarian Kimchi because most traditional kimchi contains fish sauce.)

I find kimchi is either a love it or hate it kind of food. Which camp do you fall into? What’s your favorite way to eat your zoodles?

Roasted Broccoli Tofu Scramble Recipe

Roasted-Broccoli-Tofu-Scramble

Ever since discovering the deliciousness of roasted Brussels sprouts I want to roast everything! I love the taste of the roasted mushrooms and onions in the Millet and Mushroom Bowls. Roasted asparagus is almost better than grilled! When fresh broccoli started making it’s appearance at the farmers market I knew it would be the next veggie on my roasting pan.

If you’ve never roasted broccoli before it is quite easy. Simply toss with olive oil and a little salt and pepper, then put in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You can eat it just like that or add it to salad, pasta or your omelet.

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Instead of eggs, I thought I would offer up my version of a tofu scramble. This quick dish makes a hearty single serving or can be shared with some fruit or whole grain toast on the side to balance out our plate.

Roasted Broccoli Tofu Scramble

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 12 oz of silken tofu, firm
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
  • pinch of black salt.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the broccoli with 2 tsp of EVOO and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the broccoli is roasting heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp of EVOO and heat. Add tofu, mashing it in the skillet until well crumbled. Season with turmeric and black salt and let it cook about 5 minutes (longer if you want your “eggs” less runny).
  3. Add basil and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 Scramble
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Serving: 1 Scramble

Per Serving: Calories 336; Total Fat 19g (Sat Fat 2g, Poly Fat 10g, Mono Fat 2g, Trans 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 482mg; Total Carbohydrates 23g (Fiber 6g; Sugars 6g); Protein 26g

Farmers Market Finds: Cooking with Fresh Herbs and Pea Shoots

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I must confess a cooking sin. It is something that has plagued me for many years, something that I am only now learning how to address.

I have been using dried herbs when it says fresh in a recipe.

I never understood the error of my ways until I started buying fresh herbs at the farmers market.

It started slowly enough, a year two ago, with basil. Basil makes great pasta dishes and pesto. It’s an economical purchase because you can put it in a vase with water and it continues to grow. I can get weeks worth of basil from a single $1 purchase. I love how it makes my kitchen smell. It’s a great multi-tasker, completely non-threatening and economical.

farmers-market-finds-cooking-with-fresh-herbs-and-pea-shoots-1Then last summer I branched out with mint, but just for tea. Fresh mint (especially chocolate mint) makes amazing tea. No artificial flavors, just the pure simple taste of mint ( or with a hint of chocolate) makes a perfect tea for after meals or relaxing with a good book.

This summer I’ve gotten bolder. Maybe it’s the inspiration of the simple and fresh recipes from GatheredTable. Maybe it’s the beauty of all the different herbs. Maybe it’s the fact that I want the few meals that I do get to share with Brian to feel special, like dining out on a date night. No matter what the cause, the effect has been amazing. Here are the herbs that are plentiful at the farmers market this spring and how I’ve been using them.

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Mint

I’ve gone beyond tea. It started with an NPR story, as many of my adventures lately seem to do. On Here And Now a few weeks ago there was a story on salads with spring produce. Chef Kathy Gunst let me in on a little secret: add a little mint to your greens to make an ordinary salad “pop”. The next Saturday a bought fresh mint, a bag of spring mix and made avocado egg salad for lunch. I added some mint in the mix along with a little extra spinach and had my egg salad on top of a bed of greens. I used the same mix of greens to stuff Brian’s pita and he asked me what I had done differently. He noticed the extra layer of flavor with his egg salad sandwich, as did I on my salad. Who knew that mint was the secret ingredient to make greens extraordinary?

Thyme

It started with the mushrooms. I grabbed a bundle of fresh thyme to make the Millet and Mushroom Bowls last month. It was used both for roasting the mushrooms and in the dressing, making it the signature flavor in this dish. In it’s fresh state it’s woody but not overwhelming like the dried version can be. It also brought life to the Mostaccioli with Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms from the Healthy Pasta cookbook.

Sage

If you think sage is only for stuffing, think again. Sage was paired with the thyme in the Mostaccioli with Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms to create flavorful pasta sans sauce and cheese. Sage pairs well with thyme in eggs as well. I decided to freestyle bit with an asparagus frittata recipe I had, subbing thyme and sage for tarragon.

Chives

I use dried chives all the time but the Linguine with Spinach and Lemon may be my first fresh chive experiment. Brian didn’t even know what I was chopping when I was cooking dinner! Shame on me for not going fresh with this herb sooner. Fresh chives are also great in dips and salads. With the bounty of fresh lettuce and radishes at the market right now I am dying to try this Butter Lettuce Salad with Radishes, Chives and Toasted Hazelnuts.

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Basil is just starting to make its appearance at the market, so I see some pesto in my future. I also see a lot more of a “new to me” green that I saw for the first time at the market this month: pea shoots. Pea shoots are a micro green common in Asian cuisine that are quick to grow and easy to cook. Akin to watercress, you can add it to salads and soups with ease. My adventurous spirit bought a bunch and stir-fried it with some garlic, salt and sesame oil. It was a perfect simple side that Brian gave a big thumbs up!

I will still keep a cupboard of dried herbs. They do have their place. If it says fresh, I know now it says so for a reason. That fresh herb may be the key to taking dinner from good to great!

What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs? Anyone else love pea shoots?

How to Make Pasta Healthy Again

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I will never tell you that zoodles actually taste like pasta. Zoodles taste good but you have to accept them for what they are and judge them as such. Sometimes they will hit the spot. Sometimes nothing will do but the real thing.

Yes, you can have pasta. Yes, it can be healthy. Even if it is gluten free it can taste good.

Carbs like pasta are all about timing and portion. If fat loss is your goal, try to keep the pasta (and other starchier carbs like bread and rice) after exercise or physical activity. Your body is better able to use them. It also needs to be a reasonable portion. A two ounce serving (the common serving size on a box of pasta) is probably much smaller than the portion most people serve themselves or you see on a restaurant plate. The pasta should be “bulked up” with vegetables and accented with protein to create a balanced plate.

These are the same ideas about making pasta healthy that I heard on a recent NPR interview with Joe Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali about their book entitled Healthy Pasta. The son and daughter of Lidia Bastianich, the Italian chef and much loved host of Lidia’s Kitchen, should know a thing or two about pasta. Combining their proud heritage and their extensive knowledge, the have put together a book of over 100 pasta recipes that are under 500 calories. Here is a brief description from their publisher’s web site:

Do not be fooled: this is not a diet book. There are no tricks and no punishing regimens—it is just a simple guide to enjoying more of the food you love in ways that are good for you.  Using ingredients and cooking methods that maximize taste but minimize fat content, Joe and Tanya will teach you what different grains mean to your diet, how to pair particular grains with sauces, why better-quality pasta is healthier for you, the health benefits of cooking pasta al dente, and how to reduce fat and calories in your sauces.

Always happy to try out new recipes, and excited by the tips in the interview, I ordered a copy of the book. I don’t cook pasta often much to the dismay of my Italian cuisine loving husband. Most of the pasta dishes we used to make are either loaded with cheese or lack protein and vegetables. (Baked Ziti with Chickpeas from Vegetarian Times and Mushroom Bolognese from Clean Eating Magazine are two notable vegan exceptions.) The book gave me the perfect reason to try to bring pasta back into our regular rotation and take advantage of the fresh crop of mushrooms, asparagus and herbs at the farmers market.

In addition to ordering the book, I also looked up the gluten free pasta they mentioned by name in the interview, Banza. Banza is a chickpea flour pasta boasting 14 g of protein and 8 g of fiber per serving! That makes it a smarter choice for everyone, in my opinion. Protein and fiber help slow down digestion, which helps slow down the release of the carbs (as glucose) into the body and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Banza isn’t available in my area so I contacted the company and they graciously sent me a few sample boxes (I was not paid or asked to write a review, the options in this article are all mine). The pasta and the book arrived within days of each other and I settled in one night to read the book and pick my selections.

Don’t skip the introduction to Healthy Pasta. There is a lot of information in the first few pages on how to make any pasta recipe a little bit better for you. In addition to the addition of vegetables and portion control, they talk about how to use the pasta water for sauce and substitutions for heavy cream and cheese. There is also a great discussion of different types of gluten free pastas, including a recipe to make your own at home.

I wasn’t going to be that adventurous, but I may have spent a little more time on a recipe or two than I might normally allow. It was worth it. Here are the three recipes I’ve whipped up so far.

Mostaccioli with Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms (pg 28)

Mostaccioli with Asparagus and Roasted Mushrooms

I substituted the Banza penne for the mostaccioli and made a half batch since I was home alone. I am often guilty of subbing dried herbs for fresh but I am learning how much of a flavor difference it makes. Fresh sage and thyme made this dish delicious! The Banza pasta was amazing cooked al dente and made the dish very filling . While Brian said he could taste the difference (he had the leftovers), it tasted very much like whole wheat pasta to me. Huge thumbs up for Banza!

Penne with Asparagus and Goat Cheese (pg 44)

Penne with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Brian said this was “like spring exploded my mouth”. It was bright, light and flavorful. I took down the amount of goat cheese and left out the Grana Padano cheese and, to me, it made it no less amazing. If I am going to splurge, I also go with the best quality cheese I can get. In this case it was Terrell Creek Farms Chevre from the farmers market. So creamy and smooth, it melted in my mouth. It reminded me of the chevre we had in Paris.

Linguine with Spinach and Lemon (pg 36)

Linguine with Spinach and Lemon

So simple and so full of flavor. The crushed red pepper brings a spicy zing to this dish, making it Brian’s favorite (and perhaps mine too) of the three recipes I’ve tried so far.  This recipe shows you how to finish the dish with a cheese alternative instead of Parmesan,  making it an easy vegan meal. I used gluten free bread and Aztec Quinoa Corn Linguine to also make this dish gluten free.

I love how this book helps you learn re-frame pasta as an accent, rather than the main event. I helps reinforces that a healthy lifestyle is not about living without your favorite foods. Pasta can be part of a healthy diet no matter what our goals are. I am just getting started with the new pasta possibilities for my own menu. I think Brian is really glad to hear that.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancake Muffin Recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancake Muffins

Eating breakfast while driving is a messy (and perhaps dangerous) fact of life. The need for extra sleep butting up against carpool duty, commuting to work or an early appointment with the gym, makes sitting down at a table for breakfast a luxury for most women.

Some breakfasts work better than others for eating on the go. Smoothies are perfect but you may be not always leave ou satisfied. I used to eat dry Kashi Go Lean on my way to my morning workout but my car suffered the consequences. I have had more than one client come in for their morning session with a Greek yogurt spill, either on herself or the car, to clean up.

What about pancakes?

I love a good protein pancake and peanut butter sandwich but even a sandwich requires some prep and skill. If we made the pancake to fit the palm of your hand, muffin size let say, that might work a little better.

My Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancake Muffins are the perfect grab and go breakfast. Inspired by local favorite Granolove, these muffins are low in sugar and gluten free. Make a batch on Sunday afternoon so breakfast is the least of your concerns on a hectic Monday morning.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancake Muffins

  • 1 1/3 cup King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake Mix
  • 1 egg
  • 2 scoops True Athlete Natural Whey Protein Chocolate
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup Peanut Butter Chocolate Granolove granola
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nine parchment or silicon baking cups and spray with olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. Mix pancake mix with egg and coconut oil per the directions on the box.
  3. Add whey protein powder and almond milk to reach a pourable consistency.
  4. Pour equally into each of the nine baking cups.
  5. Top with granola.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 3 minutes at 425. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 12-15 minutes. (The higher heat to begin with is what creates the perfect puffed up muffin top!)
  7. Cool on wire rack. Store in the refrigerator once cooled for up to 7 days.

Yield: 9 Muffins
Prep Time: 7 Minutes
Cook Time: 18 Minutes
Serving: 1 Muffin

Per Serving: Calories 146; Total Fat 5g; (Sat Fat 3g, Trans 0g, Poly Fat 0g, Mono Fat 1g); Protein 4g; Carb 20g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 3g; Cholesterol 28mg; Sodium 239mg

Farmers Market Finds: Mushrooms, Greens and A Cup of Tea

Farmers Market Finds: Mushrooms, Greens and A Cup of Tea

It’s April in the Ozarks and flowers aren’t the only things in bloom. The Farmers Market of the Ozarks continues to grow every week. The market has already shifted to summer hours: Saturdays 8 am to 1 pm and Thursdays 4 – 8 pm. The warmer temperatures and growing number of vendors has spread the market out from under the heated pavilion and into the parking lot and courtyard.

I’ll admit the vegetable selection is still small. You’ll find various shades of green and red in the form of lettuce, kale, asparagus and rhubarb. I have no idea what to do with rhubarb but I have no problem with asparagus. Grill it, sauté it or put it in a frittata. You really can’t go wrong. It even tastes good raw. Wrap a thin slice of swiss or provolone cheese around it (and some turkey if you’re a meat eater) for a quick and balanced snack.

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I am not normally a big salad eater but when the greens are this gorgeous it’s hard to resist. I didn’t have Caesar salad planned for Saturday dinner but that’s part of the beauty of shopping fresh and eating with the seasons. Sometimes you just need to let the market decide the menu. I bought a mixed bunch of red and green romaine for $2.50 knowing I had everything else I needed at home to make the vegan dressing that goes along with it. The dressing is a simple recipe from Clean Eating Magazine (the March 2011 issue if you’re interested in the salad recipe).

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  • ½ cup light firm silken tofu
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

I put all the ingredients in my Ninja to mix them to a cream consistency. Then I pour over the chopped romaine and diced cucumber, toss and serve.

I was on a mission for one ingredient specific ingredient on my last visit: mushrooms.

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Mushrooms are an often forgotten but amazing vegetarian source of protein. Not only are they a good source of protein but also they are also naturally gluten free and high in vitamin D. If you need to add a meaty texture to a dish without using soy or “faux meat” products mushroom will do the trick. The also happen be very plentiful at the farmers market right now.

As I have mentioned before, I am not a mushroom expert. I would never dare try to gather my own. If they are unlabeled I often have to ask what variety is which. Even with a clearly marked display I managed to buy the wrong kind of mushrooms. Excited by a sale on shiitake mushrooms, I bought a pound of them despite the fact I had written down oyster mushrooms. There are two important lessons to be learned here: if you have a list, look at it and don’t be afraid to improvise.

The Millet and Mushroom Bowls turned out to be delicious with the shiitake (instead of oyster) mushrooms roasted with onions and a dressing made with some fresh thyme.

If the mushrooms are still plentiful on my next visit I may do portabella burgers or try a vegan “scallops” recipe using king oyster mushrooms (this time I’ll triple check the list). If you’re a mushroom lover you might also try this Mushroom Minestrone recipe from my friend Kira.

Have I mentioned another tea vendor has appeared at the market? Keen Bean Coffee Roasters is serving up organic blends by the cup or to take home. I’ve been enjoying a cup of their English Breakfast tea as I stroll the market but I fully intend on giving their jasmine green a try.

Coffee or tea as you shop the market? What’s your favorite way to eat a mushroom? What do you do with rhubarb?