Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quinoa salad, vegan pesto, and getting my behind back in the weight room.

 So...last night for dinner I made a quinoa salad.  Oh it was good.  My only thing with grain and bean salads is that they're usually so dense calorically. Maybe it's not fashionable to state that you care about calories but I do --not gonna' lie, that's my main weight management tool.  On the plus side, these were all quality calories.  The worst part of cutting calories is if you're not careful, you can trick yourself into eating sugar free syrup and 100 calorie packs all day and starve your body of the nutrients it needs, not to mention wanting to GNAW YOUR ARM OFF from hunger by 4:00.  This is not that kind of calorie dense.  Very filling.  When I ate it for dinner though I threw it on top of a big bed of greens so it would take longer to eat, get a boost nutritionally, and fill me up even more with the calorically cheap food.  Here's the recipe I followed with a few tweaks: I didn't have avocados that were ripe, so I added a few chopped toasted walnuts to mine, and the kids added a little cheese.  I also didn't have the red quinoa, just the blond.  Still yummy.
 Vegan pesto.  I  grow a ton of basil every year.  That's not usually the plan, I just miss fresh basil so much by summer, that invariably I raise too many plants.  By the end of summer they're bushes as tall as my waist but even bigger around.  The best way I've found to preserve all of that bounty is pesto.  Pesto is easy --you just throw everything into a food processor, package it up, and throw it in the freezer if you're not going to use it right away.  I used to use the standard Better homes and Gardens recipe, which calls for Parmesan, but wanted a veganified version because my kids literally use this stuff  every day.  Even if you don't believe the China Study claims, walnut or olive fat is much better for your heart than dairy fat.  When I make it in the fall I have 50-75 of these little half cup containers when I'm done. 


Now, you'll see recipes out there that use all basil as the base ingredient.  I tried that once or twice when I was first married, thinking the more basil essential oil you have the tastier it will be. However basil turns black when it oxidizes, which makes for a black pesto and nothing kills the appetite like black food. I use part spinach now to help keep the bright green color.  The secret ingredient for veganization of pesto? (My spell checker is going crazy with all of my made up vegan words!)  Balsamic vinegar.  Here's what you throw in your processor:

2 cups basil leaves --packed
1 cup spinach leaves -packed
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I usually use walnuts for cheapness --they're fine)
2 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 T. water (depending on what you need to make the food processor keep going)
1/2 T. balsamic vinegar

You throw it in the processor and whirl away.  I think it makes about 2 cups, which means 4 of those little 1/2 cup containers.  Talk about calorically dense! But when you need a sandwich spread, this is better for you than mayo or ranch.  When you need a little "oomph" for your pasta, or something to dip carrots in, this is magic stuff.

OK on to the gym.  I skipped some workouts to rest up for that race on Saturday.  That makes sense right?  But my self confidence starts to go quickly and  I really doubted I could pull the same weight I did last week.  So I brought the camera into the weight room as extra motivation.  Yep.  Still got my 175 lb. deadlift.  My form really sucks towards the end (I didn't know I was rolling my chest back that high!), but I got in the 5 reps I was hoping for.  Stupid wrist straps slipped at 3 --don't ever start the wrist strap thing.  I wish I hadn't.  They're a pain, and a crutch I wish I didn't use. 
115 lb. squats.  I got my little block there to touch down on so I know I went below parallel.  I sure wish I could say I squat my bodyweight...but no, this isn't it. :)
You've got to forgive my lame music too.  Any suggestions for great motivating songs?  I'm running dry lately.


april said...

Your doing awesome!! Loved the videos. The little blocks are a great idea!

Kelli said...

haha. love it. Balsamic Vinegar is my new best friend. I slip it into my bag whenever we go eat at Rick's moms. oops. I'm totally going to grow more basil this year. And fewer tomatillos. Promise.
And, I would have to squat twice that amount to get to my body weight. well, almost.
You're awesome.
Maybe I have some new music choices for you. Rick is always downloading random stuff. I'll check.

belann said...

Gotta try the quinoa salad. Looks like my kind of salad, and wow you are strong. Makes my workout look kind of like I'm an old lady or something...

Terry Earley said...

Thanks for posting the pesto recipe. Even we could do that one.

Deja said...

I've been doing lots of salads like that one and loving them (just sent you an email with one ...). I'm not into lettuce, I've decided, just lots of toppings. My acupuncture people said lettuce is bad for me? Anyway, you are incredible, and that freezer shelf of pesto makes me happy. I gotta get me a basil plant. I still think you gotta try that lemon-cashew one from Dreena Burton. Sam likes that one better than what he had in Italy ...