Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Good ole pasta salad. Here in the South you will find it at every church function and funeral. Trust me, I grew up  in the funeral business and attended enough church functions to realize you will always find pasta salad  tucked right in next to the white dinner rolls, barbecue,  mac n’ cheese,and Bible verse handouts.

Though it often comes from a box on which the directions  say ” add  mayonnaise or add vegetable oil”  , there is also the vinegar-based variety and the Miracle Whip variety. Yummy, quick, and cheap, what’s not to love??

(Pause here for  a brief interlude of Jaws Theme Song)

EXCEPT  the white , nutrition-void pasta  ,  the gobs of fatty mayonnaise or vegetable oil,and  the  list of incomprehensible ingredients?!I won’t list them here because   I certainly do not to want to scare you away from my new blog today. I only list ingredients to people I  know have no choice but to listen: a.k.a my fiance, who I have officially scared into never eating a piece of bologna again.

 

I digress.

You need a healthy pasta salad recipe up your sleeve. Everyone does!

This recipe has fresh ingredients, hidden whole grains,with the added flavor explosion of a  homemade Basil Vinaigrette. Did I mention acorn-fed bratwurst?I bought this   garlic  bratwurst at the Forsyth Farmer’s Market. My dog, Harley, was  hoping to snag a crumb.

Acorn-fed bratwurst is equivalent to grass-fed beef in that these piggies are not fed genetically modified grain, and the animal is eating   what it loves and was meant  to eat. Cows love grass. Pigs  loves acorns and seeds, which is what they forage for in the wild.

Give it a try! The bratwurst, not the foraging of course.

Serve this over fresh greens such as chopped romaine ,so you consume less pasta, but  feel satiated. It’s a secret I have been using for a while with pasta.

 

 

Pasta Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 4
Prep time 45 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes
Allergy Wheat
This light, healthy, and farmer's-market-fresh pasta salad is a perfect summertime meal.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 medium-sized cucumber
  • cup cherry tomatoes
  • red bell pepper
  • 1/3 C fresh green onions
  • 16oz rotini Pasta (50% whole grain )

Salad (Optional)

  • 1lb fresh bratwurst
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce

Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 C olive oil
  • 1 C fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • fresh juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 small garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon dijon mustard
  • salt and cracked pepper (to taste)

Note

Serve this meal at room temperature or chill for a few hours before serving. You could leave out the fresh bratwurst for a vegetarian-friendly option and replace it with rinsed chickpeas.

Directions

Step 1
Make Basil Vinaigrette. In a food processor, combine garlic, basil, mustard,vinegar, and lemon juice. Pulse until the basil is chopped. Add the oil slowly and season with salt and pepper to taste
Salad
Step 2
Meanwhile, brown the bratwurst on all sides on high heat. Then, cook the Bratwurst on the stove in a covered skillet with a half inch inch of water on medium-high heat until the water evaporates and the sausage is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Step 3
Chop the Bratwurst into bite-sized pieces.
Step 4
Toss the pasta, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green onions, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl with the pasta.
Step 5
Toss pasta salad with 3/4 of the vinaigrette.
Step 6
Add the bratwurst and toss.
Step 7
Serve the pasta salad over greens with remaining vinaigrette drizzled over the greens.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Am Loving Lately

Can we just pretend it is April 1st again, please? Because somehow the entire month has passed by so quickly that I have yet to post about Easter eats, my birthday eats, the actual Boston Marathon, and all that other stuff that has happened in between. Somehow in all that hoopla I forgot my best friend’s birthday, made a batch of  cookies that never rose, then made a batch of super-flat muffins, and had a few nice runs. It all balances out I guess, the good and the bad.

This is a “What I am Loving Lately Post” because there is  a great deal to love about April, namely..

1) Working in the garden and planting veggies before it becomes too ding-dang hot. It is  incredible to watch a seedling transform into a monster tomato plant in just 6 weeks. I eagerly watch them everyday, how they change and grow, and those things literally grew an inch a day for while. Is this how raising a human baby feels, with less crying and poo?

We grow everything organically and currently grow 4 types of tomatoes, 4 types of squash, onions, shallots, eggplant, bellpeppers, lemons, key limes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, and a host of herbs. Marigolds planted around the perimeter keep off pests!

 

 

2) This adorable reusable bag to adorn yourself with at  the farmer’s market . This is waaaay cooler than anything you have seen. Promise! Inside the front pocket you will find 2 re-usable, matching grocery bags.

 

Then, look inside and , BAM, you have a whole other galaxy, the cooler. But that’s not all. ANOTHER adorable clip-on fabric wallet that holds…you guessed it…another re-usable bag. This is starting to sound like an infomercial.

 

Now, you won’t ever be  the dodo that forgets your reusable bag at the farmer’s market, has to endure hippies staring at you in disbelief as you grab yet another plastic bag and sheepishly carry them all to your car hoping no one notices..oh and then one breaks and you have to frantically collect rogue tomatoes rolling between people’s feet..not that that happened to me or anything.

3) This cookbook from Back in The Day Bakery.

It is FAR from healthy, so very far, sigh,  ….but I plan on tweaking the recipes so you can enjoy them without concern that you just gained a pound from that cookie. Sweets are not healthy, but you CAN include nutritious ingredients rather than eat a nutritionally-empty calorie bomb as an occasional treat.

I ran home to make the lemon loaf from the book, and mine below turned out pretty incredible. So. good. people.

 

 

4) Local Strawberries, used in this cake I made for Easter.  Yes, friends,  two cakes in one post, because there has been more cake eating than usual this  month! Back to local strawberries, which  are tiny, super-sweet, and bear little resemblance to those gargantuan ones at the grocery store. Give them a try! You can use them in so many healthy ways, such as smoothies, yogurt parfaits, just for snacking, and of course for baking!

I used Southern Living’s Strawberry Mousse Cake recipe, but changed the outside frosting recipe to include lemon zest and juice.

5)  New running kicks, Asics GelNeo 33. In case you did not know, I work in the running business, so , I will most likely have some shoe reviews here. I will tell you the honest truth ,too if I do not like them.

 

I have to say I love these. I have only ever run in the Asics Kayanos, but lately those have felt heavy. These feel lighter, and they are grey, which means they will show less dirt.  I need a bit of support for my feet, so these work perfectly and they are pretty eye-catching.

 

Just so you know, I was not paid to review anything in this post. These are just some of my faves from April that I felt I should share.

Coming up tomorrow, a healthy and filling farmer’s market -fresh pasta salad.

How to Travel & Eat Healthy

One of the most common complaints I receive from clients is “I gained 5 pounds on vacation!”

I  understand why this happens.  Healthy food in airports is like sweet tea in New England :IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND!  And who wants to order a water and pathetic salad at a restaurant known for something delicious but unhealthy? I get it. I love to eat, too.

If I do not plan when I travel, I automatically grab for convenient foods in the airport, not healthy ones. Plane and airport food is highly processed and low quality, so rather than depend on finding an acceptable salad at the airport or eating the mystery meat on the plane , I plan ahead.

Here is what I do when I travel for both cost reasons and health reasons:

Pack homemade protein/granola bars or Lara bars.

These are perfect for eating on the plane when they start passing out meals. Opt out of the meal, and enjoy your snack. I always pack enough so I have  1-2 bars per day.

Pack a protein source that does not have to be refrigerated.

Nuts are the perfect option here. Small bags of almonds , walnuts or packets of Barney butter are great.

As soon as you arrive in your destination, stop at a grocery store to stock up on fruit and healthy drinks.

I grab waters, juice or green tea.

Eat in for breakfast.I eat a banana smeared with peanut butter or a bar and piece of fruit for breakfast. This is a huge money saver and helps you avoid eating out 3 times per day. When I was in Argentina, I typically skipped the buttery medialunas(similar to  a croissant) to eat a filling and nutritious breakfast. I also sometimes made peanut butter banana sandwiches for lunch if I ate breakfast out.

Indulge at a restaurant if you are in a place know for the food.

If you know you are going to a delicious, local restaurant, go ahead and order that world-famous calamari or cheeseburger. Try new things at places  you may never visit again. Just share the dish with a friend and order a side salad. If you visit a not-so-stellar restaurant or a chain restaurant, go for the healthier options.  If I am  going to Chili’s, I have a salad. I remind myself I can have Chili’s any day, but a world famous hot dog loaded with toppings in Boston is worth it!

Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks per day. Avoid dessert everyday.

A glass or two of wine with dinner is great, but coupled with a rich dessert and multiplied by the number of nights you have eaten out while traveling, you are adding 200-1000 calories per meal per night. Eat out like this for just 5 nights and you have consumed a surplus of  anywhere from 5000-8000 calories. Wow, two pounds.

I prefer to limit my alcohol consumption so I can have my dessert one or two nights.

Just remember it is all about calories in and out. If you eat indulgently at every meal, drink  every meal, and enjoy dessert every night too, you will most likely put on weight. If you indulge SMARTLY you can easily avoid weight gain.

Exercise while traveling.

This  will help you immensely in staving off extra pounds. Walk, go to the hotel gym, run,  and just  MOVE, and you will feel so much better about eating that dessert! The biggest mistake my clients make is putting exercise on hold while traveling.  Not to mention you lose fitness in just a week or two of doing absolutely nothing.

Remember that on vacation or trips, exercise is not all or nothing.

Doing even one set of of a regular exercise or a very short cardio session will keep you in shape. Studies show that doing your regular exercise for a shorter amount of time is beneficial.  So go ahead and pump  out a set of pushups in 5 minutes when you wake up or run a mile because it actually will keep you from losing strength and endurance.

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Hotel Bodyweight Workout

Warmup for 5 minutes with jumping jacks or marching in place. Do some dynamic stretching in arms and legs.

Do as many squats as you can in 2 minutes.

Rest 90 seconds

Do as many pushups as you can in 2 minutes.

Rest 90 seconds.

Hold a plank as long as you can.

There you go. A  simple 10  minute in-room workout that will challenge you in just one set.

 

 

 

 

Happy Dance

I am doing my happy dance right now. It is probably a good thing you cannot see this. I am alone,  new clothes strewn about, doing a small fashion show to the sound of sirens and horns 30 floors below me. It’ s not what you think.

Let me give you a hint about where I am:

Clam Chowder, Hopkinton, Elite Runners, Baseball……………

 

I can check off the beautiful Boston, Massachusetts to my ever-growing travel bucket list and the Boston Marathon, no less. I am in a hotel room at the Marriott Copley Place in downtown Boston for the next 5 days.

My boss asked me to go to Boston to “work”  for a day with Adidas to roll out a new running program, and Adidas  just so happens to sponsor this incredible event, this little thing called the Boston Marathon. It is tough leaving the dogs and chickens and man alone for 5 days . Tough for him, that is. I hope he comes out of it alive. He is probably eating quesadillas and beer and camping on Little Tybee right now with the dogs, barefoot, dirty, and in heaven, so I am not too worried.

 

I don’t receive the royal treatment often, so when I arrived at my hotel and shortly after received a welcome package, I was completely blown away by what Adidas provided to me to wear for the next 5 days.

Check out the booty!

 

 

 

I was speechless when I realized just how many things they so graciously provided to me. I did  not need to pack any clothes. That is certain. I probably should have flown naked to account for the extra clothes I will be carrying home.

You will see me wearing these Boston Athletic Association Jackets proudly in 90 degree weather when I set foot in Savannah again. Why not? It is an unseasonably warm spring, but I will wear them nonetheless!

Actually, while that package was a highlight of my day, the meal we ate for lunch came in close second.

We strolled over to Stephanie’s on Newbury for some grub.

The clam chowder was excellent, as was the calamari and Thai chicken salad. Yes, I had all three things. Why do you ask?  This girl can EAT.

                                                                                       (please excuse the terrible restaurant lighting)

 

Back to the clams and squid. HOW do people afford to live in this city or New York for that matter? A normal lunch here is double what it is in Savannah. My boss picked up the tab and I am grateful for that, but dang, city life is expensive. And loud.

I can see the infamous Boston traffic now from the 30th floor and hear it. Bostonians are not afraid of their horns.

 

I will report back as soon as I hear a real Boston accent, stuff my face with more fresh seafood, and galavant around town in 3-4 items of clothing that all say Boston Athletic Association on them. You can’t miss me.

I may throw a workout in there at some point, but my  main concern right now is just wearing the new clothes, not working out in them. Wait, what?  Who am I?

 

An Extra-UN-ordinary Morning

I had the most virtuous intentions when concocting this recipe. Healthy breakfast  foods on my mind.

Organic spinach, fresh local tomatoes, fresh chives and thyme from the garden, whole wheat flour. You get my drift? HEALTHY, PEOPLE.

Then, it happened.

I smelled bacon. Glorious, thick cut bacon the man had made this morning. All the virtuous qualities of the recipe forming in my head went out the window. I hid a half slice of bacon under the tomato. No harm done.

You will thank me later, if you aren’t a vegetarian. If you are, well, that sucks for you. Just kidding! Leave the bacon out or better yet, replace with Tof-acon. Do they make that? If not, I am inventing it. stat.

 

 

 

 

 

This breakfast was inspired by a run & breakfast post-run  at Clary’s Restaurant. This was not any run, mind you.

I went on a run through scenic downtown Savannah with a few friends AND a  writer from Runner’s World: Ted Spiker.

No big deal.

He was in town to do a story on running & post-run food:my two favorite things. Duh!

 

Containing my excitement was excruciatingly painful, so I simply wore bunny ears.

I had to welcome him to Savannah in true funky-and-slightly weird Savannah style. We are not Charleston you know. Thanks, VTB, running-costume extraordinaire from Victoria Runs for letting me borrow the tutu and the bunny ears from another runner,Jean. Easter is next weekend, so wearing bunny ears through downtown Savannah on a Friday at 8 a.m. is totally acceptable. I wish I had a photo, but in all the excitement, I forgot to take any. I  must get better at this blogging thing. Sorry, friends.

Here is the recipe already. After that grease -bomb of a breakfast at Clary’s I needed to inject some whole foods into my day somewhere. Let it be known I do not eat bacon or butter often, but, wow, I was in need of both after a hard week of workouts. More on that to come!

 

Herbed Biscuit BLT’s

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 T baking powder

2 T Dijon mustard

5 T butter

1/2 C light sour cream

1 C cheddar cheese

1/4 C chopped chives or green onions

2 T chopped, fresh thyme

 

Servings: Makes 9, 2 inch by 2 inch square bisuits.

 

Combine the  flour, salt, and baking powder, and whisk until combined.

Cut In Your Butter

Chop up very cold butter into cubes or slices and using a pastry cutter, cut into the flour mixture. Alternatively you can use a fork or very cold hands to break it up into pea-sized pieces. They key is to keep it cold.

In another bowl, combine  the eggs, sour cream, Dijon mustard, and cheese.

Pour into the dry  ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Add chopped chives, thyme and grated cheese. Mix until it forms a crumbly wet mixture.

Crumbly, Cheesy Dough

Shape the mixture into a rectangle on floured wax paper  approx 3/4inch thick.  Work quickly and keep it cold! Slice into squares or any shape you like.

Bake to golden perfection 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees on parchment paper or greased pan until edges start to brown.

By the way, the Runner’s World article does not come out until the Fall, but , by golly you will know about it when it does.

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Lydia’s Outdoor Workout

Cardio of your choice nice and easy 30 minutes minimum today.

If you did not do cardio, then warmup with 3 min of jumping jacks & dynamic stretching for shoulders . If you have an interval timer set it to 5 rounds of 1 minute of work, 20 secs rest However, watching the clock is fine too!

DURATION:15-20 MINUTES

plank 1 min

20 s rest

right side plank 1 min

20 s rest

left side plank 1 min

20 s rest

situps1  min

20 s rest

reverse crunches 1 min

2-3 minutes Rest Interval (RI)

Repeat again.

 

I must rest up for Saturday’s long run! If you do long runs on Saturday, are you able to work legs Fridays?  I find the most effective way to prevent being too sore on run days  is to do legs after my runs.

 

 

And so it begins…

We live in a nice sized lot in a town called Thunderbolt. Yes, you read that correctly.  What exactly is a “Bolt” of Thunder ?Isn’t it lightning bolt?

“When the thunder rolls, and the lightning strikes”….not “when the thunder bolts, and the lightning rolls…” Who named this place anyway?

I digress. The point is, we have the space and yard to let chickens roam freely and two neighbors that barely venture outside, much less care about their yards. Perfect chicken-keeping conditions! Here is the story of why I have them & love them…

Growing up,I took that career test a few times. You know, the test that tells you what you are supposed to do with  your life, the one you take in school at age 5, as if things aren’t going to change. I wanted to be a giraffe rehabilitator at age 5. Well, I took this test  maybe at age 10, then again in college. Friends, prepare yourselves for my career choice, which I tested for both times.     Drumroll please!

 

FARMER.

 

Yep, much to my father’s chagrin, each time I took the test, I found myself in the little pie slice that said “farming” and very very far away from doctor, lawyer, and engineer . What a letdown for a parent.

It made sense though, because I do love animals, and always meandered over to the dog, chicken, or whatever other furry creature might be around rather than a person when I had the choice.

Sadly, I am not a true farmer yet, but I decided as soon as I could have my own house and my own money and my own life, I would have chickens.

That dream came true in 2011 when my animal-crazy fiance and I brought home 4 fluffy  Ameracauna chicks in a box.

 

Love at first sight:-)

We had a very sad  sad day when transferring the chicks. I don’t want to go into gory,  R-rated details, but one got away right into the jaws of a friend’s dog that we did not realize was nearby. One down, three left.

 

What no one told me is that you have to wait 4-6 months for those little chicks to lay. Talk about a long wait…

 

We lost another to a fox in the night, 2 down, 2 to go…..

 

 

The ladies finally  started laying, and low and behold,a BLUE EGG popped out! How cool is that? We had blue eggs.

 

 

 

2 blue eggs a day.