Mediterranean Pilaf Recipe

Did you know May is Mediterranean Diet Month?  The Mediterranean Diet associated with many health benefits, including lengthening your life, preventing certain cancers and improving brain function!  Characteristics of this diet include:

  1. Eating lots of vegetables, including at least one plant-based meal per week
  2. Serving smaller portions of meat overall and having at least 2 servings of seafood per week
  3. Sticking to good fats, such as high quality extra virgin olive oil
Do you think this is a program you could get on board with?  For a great visual of the plan, check out the Mediterranean Food Pyramid from the sponsor of this event, Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance.

The goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  The Oldways website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes.  I’ve been having a blast testing them out and tweaking them so I can continue my efforts to Eat Like a Champ.  Here is one that has become a new favorite in my house:

Mediterranean Pilaf

MediterraneanPilaf

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable of broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions:
  1. Bring 1 cup water and the veggie broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat
  2. Add the rice, cover, and simmer over medium / low heat for about 30 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed
  3. While rice is cooking, place lentils in a different saucepan with 1.5 cups of water over medium heat and cover
  4. Let the lentils simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Drain lentils and allow them to cool
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice and lentils.
  7. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl
  8. Pour the dressing over the lentils and rice in the big bowl
  9. Add the green onions and cherry tomatoes
  10. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours
  11. Just before serving, add the arugula and crumbled feta cheese and gently stir it all together

This pilaf is hearty enough as a vegetarian main dish or can be served with grilled chicken.  The zesty homemade dressing will make this a healthy addition to upcoming summer BBQs.

Question for you:  What is your favorite Mediterranean meal?  Please share in the comments – I’d love to get your recipe and include it on the blog!

Eating Like A Champ in New York City & Mediteranean Diet in May

I’m back from New York!  I had a wonderful trip and was lucky to meet so many amazing colleagues and new friends.  It was an honor to participate in the Whole Foods event with the Self Health Movement’s authors and then walk across the stage in Jazz at Lincoln Center with my fellow Launch Your Dream Book authors. 

 ReniandCynthia

ReniandAbby

OnStage

In addition to the events promoting my new book Eat Like A Champ, I was able to have a little fun!

Matt and I walked all over Central Park:

    CentralPark

Walked the full length of the High Line:

HighLine

Ran in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park:

MatandReniRun

Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge:

BrooklynBridge

We also enjoyed a ball game at Yankee Stadium and watched the Yankees win against the Mets: 

YankeeStadium

All that walking and running around made me HUNGRY so we also ate a lot of great food!  Here are my three favorite restaurants:

1)   IdeyaLatin Caribbean.  Sitting outside in the sunshine after our run was a great way to enjoy this brunch in Brooklyn.  We started with a Picante Maria (think spicy bloody Mary with tequila) and then I had the Pan Con Huevos, and egg sandwich with chorizo and a mixed green salad.

IdeyaBrunch

2)  Estiatorio Milos – Greek.  This Midtown restaurant boasts fresh food and I believe it since  the catch of the day was on display, and some of it was still moving.  Their 3 course lunch menu featured fresh, simple food at a reasonable price.  The server cut fresh oregano from a plant into olive oil to dip the fresh-bread (that was still warm when brought to our table) in.  I started with a delicious tomato and feta salad, my main was grilled salmon with broccoli, and for dessert I enjoyed yogurt with honey.

MilosLunch

3)   Foragers City Market Chelsea – Local.  Featuring food from local area farms, this small neighborhood restaurant in Chelsea was a treat.  We shared a charcuterie with “pan con tomate” – bread with tomatoes – to start.  Then we enjoyed curried cauliflower soup and white asparagus appetizers.  For a main dish, I enjoyed a grass-fed New York strip steak (I had to – I was in New York!) with potato souffle and Matt had roasted duck breast with polenta and seasonal vegetables.   

ForagersDinner

Now that I am home, my travels have inspired me to explore some new recipes from the comfort of my own kitchen.  I really enjoyed the Mediterranean fare at Estiaorio Milos so much I starting researching recipes I could cook myself and during my exploring, I learned that May is Mediterranean Diet month.  Sponsored by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the goal of this event is to generate awareness of the delicious foods and wide-ranging health benefits associated with the Mediterranean Diet and its vibrant lifestyle.  Their website provides great resources about the Mediterranean Diet, including recipes so I’ll be testing them out and sharing my favorites on the blog throughout the month of May.

Question for you:  Do you have a favorite Mediterranean dish or recipe?  Please share in the comments section on the blog!

Cheers³

Reni

Eat Like a Champ in the Big Apple!

I’m sooo excited to announce that I will be in New York City to talk about my book, Eat Like a Champ:  Basic Healthy Eating Habits for the Everyday Athlete.

Eat Like a Champ Photo

If you will be near Midtown Manhattan on Friday morning, April 24th, come on over to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods.  I will be with a group of wellness authors as part of the New Self-Health Movement with over 50 health professionals in attendance, each with specific areas of expertise. Each holistic health coach brings unique knowledge and insight to a specific area of expertise. The range of work they bring goes across the spectrum with books discussing everything from healthy eating to stress management to lifestyle enhancement and much more. This free public event in New York City gives health seekers a chance to expand their knowledge on nutrition and holistic wellness

I have all the details for the event posted on my Facebook page here.  If you mention you read about the event on Cheers³, I will give you a free, signed copy of my book!

If you won’t be in New York this week, I’m offering an exclusive bonus to my blog readers: a FREE excerpt of my book.  The Eat Like a Champ Playbook is yours when you sign up for my eNewletter here You will receive food and fitness tips, recipes, and more plus you will receive your bonus eBook excerpt sent directly to your inbox.

In the meantime, I’m looking for restaurant recommendation so I can Eat Like a Champ in the Big Apple…

Question for you:  What is your favorite restaurant in NYC?

Cheers³

Reni

Vegetarian Dinner Challenge + Mushroom & Lentil Soup

Happy Meatless Monday! I recently just finished a 5-Day Vegetarian Dinner Challenge program with on-line coaching and recipe support. The goal of the program wasn’t to convert everyone to vegetarianism, but to learn about the benefits of adding more plant-based meals to your diet. I provided the grocery shopping lists and recipes and the participants cooked and learned about plant-based diets. I’ll be sharing some of the most popular recipes in the upcoming weeks, hopefully inspiring more people to adopt Meatless Mondays and learn how to cook more meals without meat.

For today, if you are looking for a quick and easy, plant-based meal, this recipe is for you. Here are 3 highlights for this soup:

  1. Mushrooms – A great substitute for meat in most recipes, mushrooms are lower in calories to help with weight management. They also block tumor growth and have anti-estrogenic activity; regular consumption of mushrooms (as little as one mushroom per day) has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk by up to 60-70% – wow!
  2. Lentils – As a plant-based protein powerhouse, 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein and is an excellent source of cholesterol lowering source of fiber.
  3. Kid friendly – This recipe got rave reviews from my nephews! One in particular had 3 bowls for dinner and then wanted to bring it in his thermos for lunch the next day at school!

MushroomLentilSoup_ReniHealthCoach

Mushroom & Lentil Soup: Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup of green lentils
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley – optional
  • Salt & pepper – to taste
  • Baguette – optional

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils in cold water
  2. Bring broth to boil with lentils with 2 cups of broth, reduce to medium heat and cook until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender and remove from heat
  3. Add olive oil to a pan and heat, cook garlic and onions over high heat for about 2 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add mushrooms, salt and pepper, let cook while stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes
  5. Move mushroom and onion mix to pot with the lentils
  6. Add 2 cups of broth, bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat to low and serve
  8. Top with fresh chopped parsley – optional
  9. Tastes great with a slice of crusty, fresh bread – like a baguette

Question for you: Would you like to learn more about plant-based diets and get simple recipes to try? Join me for my next Challenge!

Cheers³

Reni

Spring is in the Air + Colorful Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Spring has arrived in Portland! It has been so exciting to see blooming flowers and hear birds singing.  Here are three healthy ways to celebrate spring:

  1. Go outside for fresh air and a walk
  2. Make a meal with some seasonal spring veggies
  3. Stop, breathe and smell the roses (or tulips or daffodils)

SpringFlowers

I know there are many areas still thawing out from winter, but spring is coming, and boy is it great when it arrives!  If you are unable to enjoy some spring sunshine outside, perhaps you can try this Colorful Veggie Stir Fry recipe to tide you over until the snow melts.

Colorful Veggie Stir Fry – Serves 2

ColorfulVeggieStirFry

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of kale, chopped
  • 4 cups of purple cabbage, chopped
  • 3 carrots (I used heirloom carrots for an extra pop of color!), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop all veggies
  2. Heat oils in large skillet over medium high heat
  3. Add onion and garlic, stir for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add cabbage and kale, stir 2-3 minutes
  5. Add carrots, stir 1-2 minutes
  6. Add red bell pepper, stir 3 minutes
  7. Mix in brown rice
  8. Divide into 2 bowls, top with Liquid Aminos and green onions if desired, and enjoy!

Question for you:  What are you looking forward to most this spring?

Cheers³

Reni

An Update on 2015 Goals + Book Cover Reveal

Do you set goals?  Many people commit to New Years Resolutions at the start of each year and end up losing steam for various reasons after a few weeks.  One reason people struggle in achieving their goals is that they don’t have an accountability system in place to keep them moving forward. One way I hold myself accountable is to document my goals on my blog each year.  Sometimes my goals are personal, sometimes fitness related – take a look at my 2015 goals listed here.  By putting my intentions out there I am more motivated to stick to them, and by putting them on my blog I hope I can motivate and connect with others who have similar goals.

My top goal for 2015 is to write a book.  As an English major in college, this has always been a dream of mine, but I thought it was unrealistic seeing as my career has not necessarily taken me down the path to be a professional writer.  Then at the end of last year I had the opportunity to enroll in the “Launch Your Dream Book” course at Integrative Nutrition, the school where I completed my Health Coach Training.  The book class offered education in the art of self-publishing and an accountability system with a schedule that would lead to a published book by the end of the 6 month program.

My progress:  I’m just over halfway done with the class, and I’m well on my way to having my book launch on Amazon.com by the end of April!

A big surprises from this experience is that the actual writing of the book is only the start of the journey.  There is a number of steps once you finish writing the book that need to happen after to publish a book including:

  • Editing
  • Formatting
  • Cover Design

I’m happy to share my Book Cover design, hot off the presses today – what do you think?

Eat Like A Champ  - Book Cover Design

 

I’ll continue to share news about my book as we get closer to the launch date.

Question for you:  Do you have a big goal for 2015?  Put it out there and commit to taking action!

Cheers³

Reni

21 Day Detox Results + a Roasted Beet Recipe

During the month of January, Matt and I decided to start the new year off with a 21 Day Detox.  We took on the challenge to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, animal protein, dairy and eventually even grains.  We followed a detailed menu plan consisting of whole foods, primarily fruits and vegetables and adhered to a specific supplement plan.  We enjoyed some new recipes, like Zucchini Cashew Soup and Roasted Beets (see below).  We also tried some new ingredients, like Kombucha Squash and Tempeh.

As a happy side note, Matt lost 23 and I lost 11 pounds!  I am feeling amazing, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with these results;  I wasn’t expecting anything this dramatic since this program does not include a fitness component.  This just proves that nutrition is probably more important than exercise when it comes to health and wellness overall.  I’ll go into more specifics after this recipe, which is a new favorite, courtesy of the Ultimate Reset 21 Day Detox Menu Plan:

Roasted Beets – 2 servings (as main meal) or 4 servings (as a side item)

RoastedBeets-ReniHealthCoach

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of beets – peeled and cubed
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Himalayan salt – to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Arrange beets in large glass baking dish
  3. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil, mix well
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through
  5. Let cool for 20 minutes
  6. Add parsley and lemon juice and gently stir
  7. Serve warm or cold

 

Back to the 21 Day Detox Program.  It’s divided into 3 phases, each one lasting 1 week.

The first week as tougher than I thought it would be.  I’ve completed and enjoyed 3 day cleanses in the past, but this was much more intense.  I was cooking a lot more than usual and using all new recipes.  I was jumping back into work after an extended holiday break.  And I wasn’t able to workout, since part of the process was to allow my body to rest and recover – this was tough for me as I was used to daily exercise routine.  Although I was warned, I was still surprised at day 3 when I was having major headaches and feeling very emotional!  Once a day we needed to drink an alkalinity green beverage to help balance our systems, and as a result I noticed my skin and hair was more oily than usual.  Apparently this is all part of the process…  out with the bad, in with the good.  The good news was that I was NEVER hungry!  The meals were very filling, and I had increased my water in-take which helped curb my appetite.

By week 2 we had eliminated all animal products and had moved past the emotional roller coast from week 1.  I was feeling great!  There was still a lot of cooking, but I found my groove with prepping ingredients in advance and had mastered a few of the recipes we were using frequently, like the microgreen salad for lunch.  The supplement protocol during week 2 included a detox drink 3 times a day, which did not taste great, but helped further cleanse our systems.  I also noticed I was sleeping more soundly and feeling more energized.

Week 3 was a little harder since we eliminated whole grains – I missed my quinoa!  But the vegan meals continued to be very filling, and thanks to all the work we’d done to balance and cleanse our systems, our bodies were processing fuel more efficiently and it was taking less food to feel full.  Throughout the program we were allowed to have one snack a day, but until this last week, I didn’t need one.

It has been over a week since the program officially ended, but here are a few healthy habits we picked up:

  1. Super Hydration:  I’m pretty mindful of my water in-take, but during the cleanse I increased it even more.  I was probably drinking of 100 ounces of water a day!  I’m continuing to have a big glass of water before every meal.
  2. Vegan Recipes:  While I’ve added whole grains and legumes back to my diet, I still haven’t had any meat or dairy since January 7th!  I’m not sure if this will be permanent lifestyle change, especially as I introduce fitness and running back to my routine, but I’m open to see where this will take me.  Matt hasn’t been as strict with this, but he continues to stick to vegetarian meals most days, and even packs a healthy lunch the night before to take to work with him.
  3. Reduced Cravings:  Interestingly, I thought I’d be craving meat or cheese (thanks to my hardy mid-western roots!), but I really haven’t noticed this.  I also haven’t missed my nightly glass of red wine with a side of dark chocolate.  I’ll admit I did have both this weekend (so apparently wine trumps cheese), but overall my consumption of these goodies have been reduced.

I really enjoyed the 21 Day Detox journey.  I feel like I’ve started off the year in a very healthy way and have adopted several new nutrition habits that will serve me well in the months ahead.  I have a clean slate to being training for my 2015 races and will start building my plan after a few weeks of PiYo to get back into a fitness schedule.  I will take on this challenge again in the future.  If the 21 Day Detox sounds like a good fit for you to build some healthy habits and clean up your nutrition, leave a comment to this post and I can answer any questions you might have.

Questions for you:  Have you ever considered a vegan diet?  Why or why not?

Cheers³

Reni