Big City Life · Easy recipe · Summer · Tasty Sides · Tex-Mex Recipe · Vegetarian · Veggies!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Welcome to today’s edition of “Only in New York”. Ok, so it’s not a series yet, I just made it up, but I think it should be a regular thing because I see crazy crap around here all the time. We’re going to kick this series off with the Justice Truck, a mobile legal consultation truck. My first reaction was, “WTF??? This looks like a ploy to lure unsuspecting people in and kidnap them.” Perhaps I’ve watched a few too many true crime dramas. After a little thought, though, it actually makes sense in cities where people can’t always get to the attorney’s office. Either way, the graphics on the truck are pretty ridiculous, so I had to share. I’m having visions of Jim Adler, “The Texas Hammer” driving this truck. If you’re not from Texas, I encourage you to watch one of his commercials on YouTube. I laugh every time I see one.

Justice Truck
Forget about food trucks, lawyer trucks are the wave of the mobile business future.

In other news, this holiday weekend marks the end of summer for many of us. Never fear, though, the official end of summer isn’t until September 22, so we still have a little time to take advantage of those delicious summer fruits and vegetables…hopefully while enjoying more moderate temperatures outside. I mentioned this mango & corn salsa in my last post and you must make it. It’s actually my BF’s recipe, but I’m stealing it from him. Don’t judge. It is sweet and tangy and spicy all at once, and it’s so beautifully colorful that you can’t help but smile (or at least I can’t), so you will be grateful for my act of theft.

MangoCornSalsa2

This recipe calls for roasted corn. Grilled corn has the same sweet flavor. You can just throw a few ears on the grill until you get a nice char then cut the kernels from the cob. Or, if you’re like me and don’t have a grill readily available or simply want a quicker option, Trader Joe’s has an amazing frozen sweet roasted corn that I use for pretty much everything involving corn around here. You can adjust the spice level of this dish by using more or less jalapeno, or leaving the seeds in the jalapeno will kick up the spice a bit as well. Fun fact – technically it’s not the seeds that hold most of the spice, it’s the white ribs that connect the seeds to the outer part of the pepper, but if you don’t remove the seeds you don’t remove the ribs either and you get the added fiber from the seeds. Yay fiber!!

MangoCornSalsa1

Mango & Corn Salsa
Servings: 12
Serving Nutrition: 100 calories, 2.8 g protein, 1 g fat, 196 mg sodium, 3.6 g fiber, 22 g carbohydrates
Ingredients
2 mangoes, cored and cubed
2 bell peppers (any color…I do 2 different colors for variety), diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
5 cups roasted corn kernels
1 medium jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well.
2. Taste & add salt/pepper as needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big City Life · Cheese, cheese, and more cheese · Chicken Recipe · Easy recipe · Mid-Life Career Change · Snacks · Summer · Tasty Sides

Sunset Picnic, Take 2

Last weekend, my cousin and her boyfriend came down from Vermont to visit. This cousin and I grew up thousands of miles apart so we didn’t really know each other well as kids, but as adults we connected and realized we have a lot in common and we became great friends. I don’t get to see her nearly enough, so I was ecstatic to see her and finally meet the man in her life. We had an awesome weekend – we went to a concert in Queens, checked out the World Trade Center memorial, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, imbibed at a couple of breweries, and just enjoyed catching up. On Saturday, after walking around all day, we had the grand plan of making some salads and a meat & cheese plate to take down to the waterfront and have ourselves a nice little relaxing sunset picnic. We went all out. We made this potato salad, a simple green salad with strawberries and balsamic, and a curried chicken salad. After getting everything ready and packed up, we went outside to find that it was raining…pretty hard. I don’t know how we failed to notice that before leaving the apartment. I guess we were just having too much fun catching up. We are a bunch of talkers, after all. Anyway, we hiked back upstairs, put pillows on the floor, and had our picnic around the coffee table. (We ate everything too quickly to get pics…sorry!) My BF and I had really talked up the sunset views on our waterfront, so I’m sad that our guests didn’t have the beautiful backdrop of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty while they ate, but we had a blast chatting and playing ’80s and ’90s trivia. I kicked all of their butts. No regrets.

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Yep, this is basically our backyard. We’re pretty lucky. Lady Liberty is covered up by the ship on the left, but she’s over there.

Today, I start classes for the Fall semester, so last night I wanted to do something fun with my BF before the craziness begins. We decided to try the whole waterfront picnic again, and this time the weather gods cooperated. We took some meat, cheese, crackers, and grapes and made another green salad, a yummy mango & corn salsa (recipe coming in the next post), and more curried chicken salad. The chicken salad was at the request of my BF, and he proceeded to eat it straight out of the bowl. I guess he liked it. When I originally made it for the first picnic, I just kind of threw together things that I thought would taste good and didn’t really have high expectations, but it was really tasty so I will share it with you. Enjoy!

 

CurriedChickenSalad_edited

Curried Chicken Salad
Servings: 4
Serving Nutrition: 97 calories, 12.6g protein, 3.9g fat, 1.4 g fiber, 2.7g carbohydrates
Ingredients
1 cup finely chopped cooked skinless chicken breast
¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 celery stalks, diced
¼ cup shredded carrots
½ avocado, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 handful roughly chopped cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix until curry powder is fully integrated.
2. Taste & add more curry powder or salt/pepper if needed.
3. Eat with crackers, over greens, in a wrap, or straight from the bowl.

Easy recipe · Lamb recipe · Summer · Veggies!

Texas Cuisine to Brooklyn Greens

I just got back from a weekend trip down to Texas to visit the family. Visiting Texas in the summer is always a dreaded endeavor for me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love spending time with my family, but the heat is a bit overwhelming. When my brother texted me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that it was 110 degrees, the fear immediately set in. But, by some amazing stroke of luck, we had cooler weather in Dallas this past weekend. They got a little of the rain that was pounding the East coast and it cooled everything down to the point that I found myself actually wearing a light sweater a couple of times. It was awesome.

Whenever we visit Texas, we have our list of things that we absolutely must do. As you can imagine, most of them are food related. We must have Tex-Mex at least once. That one is pretty self-explanatory if you’ve ever had Tex-Mex. If you haven’t, I just have one word: queso. It’s hard to find good Tex-Mex queso in New York, so we eat as much as we can when we’re visiting Texas. We also must eat at Ballard Street Cafe, which is this little diner-style cafe in downtown Wylie, TX. Downtown Wylie is your typical small-town Texas downtown. It spans about 3 blocks on one street that is lined with a variety of shops. It even has an opry house, which we have yet to check out, but it definitely adds character to the town. Ballard Street Cafe serves your standard home-style Texas food. Their menu includes chicken fried steak or chicken, biscuits and gravy, burgers, and even tamales, just to name a few. You know, health food. We always walk away feeling a little sick from overeating, but we still do it every single time we’re in town. Finally, we must always have a BBQ. My brother has a big backyard with a nice grill and, since we don’t have that at our fingertips here in Brooklyn without throwing some elbows at the public grills down by the waterfront, we like to take advantage of that luxury when we’re visiting the fam.

While we eat really tasty food in Texas, it is very meat and cheese heavy and I always come back to NY craving every vegetable I can get my hands on. I’m currently craving this amazing lamb flatbread drizzled with tzatziki sauce. It is really light and refreshing, but it’s packed with flavor, and it is so easy to make and comes together pretty quickly once you get the lamb trimmed. As a bonus, you will have plenty of leftover lamb and tzatziki to make more flatbreads or a salad.

LambFlatbread

Lamb Flatbread with Tzatziki Sauce
Servings: 2
Serving Nutrition (without tzatziki): 418 calories, 33.2 g protein, 21.6 g fat, 25 g carbohydrates, 502 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber
Ingredients
For Lamb
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless leg of lamb (fat trimmed)
1/2 small red onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Flatbread Toppings
2 whole wheat flatbreads (I used lavash)
1/2 cup loosely packed spinach, chiffonade or roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 medium cucumber, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, torn
Tzatziki Sauce (see below)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Once you’ve trimmed the fat from the leg of lamb, cut lamb into bite sized cubes.
3. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Once hot, add minced onions and saute until translucent.
4. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
5. Add lamb, lemon zest, and all spices and cook, stirring often, until lamb is browned. I like my lamb a nice dark pink on the inside, so I stopped cooking when it was all browned on the outside. If you like your meat well done, keep going a few more minutes until it is cooked through. You may need to cut a chunk in half to check for doneness.
6. While lamb cooks, place flatbreads on a baking sheet and place in oven for about 5 minutes.
7. Place each warm flatbread on a large plate and evenly top with spinach, onion, lamb, then tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and mint.
8. Generously drizzle tzatziki over everything.

Tzatziki
Nutrition per tablespoon: 9 calories, 1.1 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 0.6 g carbohydrates, 40 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, shredded
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Use a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture from cucumber.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
3. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as needed.

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Yum!
Chicken Recipe · Summer · Veggies!

No Soggy Lettuce Here

Salads have come a long way over the years. I can’t pinpoint when exactly I noticed the shift, but over time restaurant menus have offered more and more tasty, unique salads that could easily be the main course for a meal. That said, the mere mention of a salad still conjures up visions of sad, soggy lettuce with many people. At work, we do salad events from time-to-time where we offer a spread of a lot of different ingredients, along with sample recipes, and let attendees assemble their own lunch salads. We still sometimes get comments like, “this is rabbit food”, but by and large the attendees to these events leave excited to make more creative salads at home. If you include plenty of protein and make sure the flavors complement each other with some sort of flavor profile, a salad can be a truly satisfying meal…especially in hot weather. And nothing says summer like peaches and basil! Never had them together? You’re in for a treat!

A couple of weeks ago, I had some peaches at home and wanted to whip up a quick lunch, so I threw together a salad that ended up being one of my all-time favorites. I used pre-cooked chicken breast strips from Trader Joe’s to cut down on cooking time, but any cooked chicken you have would work well. For this particular meal, I wanted a light lunch so I stuck to fruit, veggies, and protein, but if I were to make this for dinner I would probably toss in a little quinoa or brown rice to get some whole grains. You really have to make this while peaches are still in season. The sweetness of the peaches and balsamic combined with the salty parmesan is great, and the basil gives it an unexpected pop of flavor. The picture here doesn’t do it justice at all…it is so simple and tasty!

BalsamicPeachBasilSalad

Balsamic Peach & Basil Salad
Servings: 2
Ingredients
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
6 ounces cooked chicken
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade or roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions
1. In skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil until translucent
2. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add peaches, chicken, and balsamic vinegar and cook until peaches soften.
4. Mix 1/4 cup of basil into peach mixture and remove from heat.
5. In large bowl, toss spinach, remaining basil, carrots, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and remaining olive oil.
6. Divide spinach mixture between two bowls or plates and top each with half of peach mixture.

Enjoy!

Batch Recipes · Pasta · Shrimp Recipe · Summer · Veggies!

Who are you calling shrimp??

I may be short, but big things sometimes come in small packages, right?!?!? Much like the little crustaceans we so love to use as a derogatory reference for people of small stature. One 3-ounce portion of shrimp packs about 15 grams of protein! That’s more than a quarter of the daily protein needs of your average 150 pound person. Shrimp contain omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, which are important for cardiovascular health. They also contain the antioxidants selenium and astaxanthin (the pigment that gives shrimp a pink color when cooked). Additionally, shrimp is low in saturated fat.

I don’t know about you, but I crave light, citrusy seafood dishes during the summer. I had a craving several weeks ago for shrimp scampi. Typically a very buttery dish, I used a fraction of the butter called for in most recipes and really amped up the lemon flavor. It has become a favorite around here and I’ve made it at least 3 times since the summer began. This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and we eat the leftovers for a couple of days. I think it’s just as good eaten as leftovers…so good that I only got one photo before we devoured it. Oops!shrimpscampi1_li.jpg

Lightened Up Shrimp Scampi
Servings: 6
Ingredients
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot (or 2 small), minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 – 1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined, tails off
2 medium lemons – zest & juice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much spice you like)
1 box (13-16 oz) whole wheat pasta (spaghetti, angel hair pasta, or linguine work well)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup baby spinach, chopped

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of cooking water.
2. In large skillet over medium heat, sauté shallots in butter and olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for about a minute.
3. Add white wine and shrimp, cooking shrimp for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until just pink.
4. Add lemon zest and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and add salt & pepper to taste.
5. Add pasta to skillet with shrimp, then add parsley, spinach, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the pasta water, and toss all ingredients together until well combined. Remove from heat. If pasta still seems dry, add more pasta water until sauce distributes easily. Salt & pepper to taste.
6. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

 

Chicken Recipe · International Cooking · Summer · Tasty Sides · Veggies!

It’s Like a Heat Wave!!

Anyone else have a constant jukebox running in their head? No? Just me? Alrighty then! For some reason, the song in the title of this post popped into my head today. Oh, I know why…it’s freaking hot outside! We are definitely in the midst of a heat wave here in New York and it is not so fun. Rather than going on another rant about how much I hate the heat, though, I’m going to tell you how I’m making this bearable. First of all, I’m trying to acclimate by going for a run three days a week. It’s way too hot to run for a really long time, but 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there has made me a little less of a sweaty mess when not running and it’s making my waistline a little less doughy. Win, win! I have also been known to take a cold pack from the freezer and put it behind my knees or neck. It works. Most importantly, we’re not cooking around here. Actually, I should say that we are doing the absolute minimal amount of cooking possible and under absolutely no circumstances are we turning the oven on. That would be grounds for getting banished from the apartment indefinitely.

In our quest to eat well without use of the oven and minimal use of the stove, we have had to get creative. We’ve come up with some really great meals that I think are worth sharing. I have big plans to go for a run then sprawl out in front of the fan for the rest of the day, though, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet and get right to the food.

Back when I was living and working in Dallas, my friend, Jessica, introduced me to a delicious Vietnamese spot and we would grab lunch there at least once a month. My favorite thing on the menu was a rice noodle salad that I only knew as bun…I couldn’t remember the rest of the name. Clearly my Vietnamese language skills are lacking. Anyway, I had a craving the other day so I went on a hunt for the noodles I remember so fondly and came across a recipe for bun with lemongrass chicken (bun ga nuong) from Nagi at RecipeTinEats (find it here). As with all recipes, I made some modifications. I don’t follow directions well. Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it. You can swap out the vegetables with whatever you like. Some recipes call for bean sprouts, some call for shredded lettuce, some don’t use mint. This really is adaptable and so incredibly refreshing for a hot summer dinner. Or, you can toss everything together for a nice side salad…it’s just so diverse!

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Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong)
Servings: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer peeled so you only use white part, bruised by pounding with side of knife, & cut into big pieces

Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
1 cup hot water
½ cup white sugar
½ cup lime juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 Thai chili or serrano chili, finely minced (I had serranos on hand and they worked well)

Noodles
1 7-8 oz package rice vermicelli noodles
1 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
5-6 green onions, sliced

Directions
1. Combine chicken and marinade ingredients and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2. For sauce, whisk hot water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, add all other sauce ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
3. For noodles, boil enough water to cover the noodles. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat and place noodles in water to soak until al dente (3-7 minutes). When noodles are al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.
4. In large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until cooked through and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Shake off any lemongrass bits and slice chicken.
5. In large bowl, toss noodles, cilantro, carrots, and about half of sauce until thoroughly combined.
6. To serve, portion noodles into bowls and top with vegetables and chicken. Garnish with lime wedges and side of additional sauce.

Enjoy, and stay cool!!!

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So many veggies you can’t even see the noodles!

 

Big City Life · Chicken Recipe · Summer · Tex-Mex Recipe

It’s Summer!!

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with summer these days. As a kid growing up in Texas, summer meant a lot of time spent in the swimming pool and lounging around without a care in the world. These days, I practically melt in the heat and humidity of New York City. People tend to get agitated in this heat and take their frustrations out on whoever is nearby, even perfect strangers. In fact, the other day I was walking across the street and had to pass behind a car that was sitting in the intersection. Other people were crossing the street coming the opposite direction, so I stayed to the right. One girl who was walking the opposite direction wanted to walk where I was. I couldn’t move because I had the car directly to my right and other people coming toward me on the left. She was clearly unhappy to have to go around me and elbowed me in the ribs as she passed. No joke. Things like this happen all the time in a packed city like this, but it happens much more often when we have to endure sweltering heat and humidity.

I do realize that I come from a state where the summer heat can only be described as Hell-like, and it has been pointed out to me more than once that I should be used to this heat. I respond to that by explaining that we do not just walk around and hang out in the summer heat in Texas. People there have cars with A/C, houses and workplaces with central A/C that is usually set to arctic temperatures, and swimming pools and/or clean lakes and springs are not hard to come by.  By contrast, in New York we walk and ride subways where the platforms are saunas and the subway cars themselves may or may not be air conditioned but it doesn’t matter anyway because most of the time you’re packed in so tightly that it’s still hot and you’ve got no less than 2 people (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) pressing against you, sweat and all. Now let’s talk about the window units they call A/C. The majority of us city dwellers live in old buildings and central A/C didn’t exist when the buildings were constructed. So, we buy heavy boxes we call “window units” and precariously prop them in a partially opened window with the majority of the unit hanging outside of the window. The only things holding the units in are the window pulled down over the top of it and a couple of flimsy accordion-looking extensions on the sides that may or may not be screwed into the window sill. I’m truly surprised these things don’t fall out of windows and hurt passersby all the time. I’m not an engineer, though, so I just go with it. Anyhow, window units don’t have much power at all. You get a really hot day, and these rinky-dinky A/Cs barely put a dent in the temperature of your apartment. And the swimming situation…the only free options are the crowded public pools, where the water is at least 50% urine, or the Hudson or East Rivers, where you run the risk of developing gills or a third eye after swimming in them. Nice, private swimming pools are hard to come by, so they charge an arm and a leg for you to use the facility for one day and they’re sometimes just as crowded as the public pools. Basically, summer in New York means sweating for 3 months straight.

OK, rant over. I actually do love certain things about summer, and NY. I love the longer days, the hordes of puppies being walked at any given time, the smell of flowers when I pass the community garden down the block from me, and having a nice cold glass of white wine or rose on a patio while people watching is one of my favorite summer activities. People watching doesn’t get much better than New York in the summer. Most of all, though, I love the food (you probably saw that coming). When it’s hot out, I crave light, citrusy dishes, lots of seafood and summer vegetables and herbs…mmmmm.

ChkFritters2

On that note, I developed this recipe for National Nutrition Month back in March. It was intended to go on my company’s internal blog, but they ran out of space and didn’t post it. I hate to waste a good recipe, though, so here you go! Using whatever chicken leftovers you might have – grilled, baked, rotisserie – you can make these chicken fritters and eat them on a salad, make a sandwich or wrap with them, or just eat them alone as a hearty snack.  They are loaded with summer veggies, both canned and fresh, that can be swapped out for what you have in your fridge or pantry. I’ve also included the recipe for a tangy chimichurri that is a perfect complement to the fritters…and really everything. These don’t last long in my house, so hopefully you enjoy them too!

chkfritters4.jpg
Southwest Chicken Fritters
Yields: about 8 fritters, each = 151 cal, 10g protein, 6g fat, 15g carbs, 3g fiber
Ingredients
1 ½ cups shredded chicken
½ cup canned low sodium black beans
½ cup red bell peppers, diced
½ cup shredded zucchini
½ cup corn kernels
½ avocado
Juice and zest from ½ lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or 2 tsp dried cilantro)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or 3 slices of toasted bread chopped in food processor)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Directions
  1. With a fork, mash up the beans and avocado.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes (while you make the rest of your meal and/or the chimichurri sauce below).
  4. Form mixture into patties about the size of a small burger patty.
  5. Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray or olive oil.
  6. Cook patties over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
Chkfritters1
Chimichurri Ingredients
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp minced onion
4 cloves garlic
Juice from ½ lemon
½ cup olive oil
½ jalapeno
Salt & pepper to taste
Directions
Either toss all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, or finely chop all dry ingredients then stir in remaining ingredients.

 

Running · Summer

Ode to Summer Running

While this isn’t necessarily a running blog, running is one of my hobbies, so I’ll talk about it here now and again.  I found myself injured a couple of years ago and unable to run.  It was at that time that I realized how much I rely on running to keep me sane.  Despite that fact, I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the act of running.  I always feel better once the run is over, but I sometimes dread every moment before and during the run.  That seems particularly true this summer.  I don’t know about y’all, but the weather this year is killing me!  Summer is always tough for me, but this year the heat and humidity is never-ending and I am so over it.  Not only are my paces and energy suffering, but {warning: TMI here} I’ve had awful GI issues as well.

It’s a well-known fact that performance is going to suffer in the heat and humidity, but I’ve always felt like I was on an island when it comes to the GI issues…until recently.  I’ve spoken with some other runners that have dealt with that issue as well.  While we seem to be a minority (at least those of us who admit to it are a minority), it is a real issue and I’ve done a bit of research to back it up.  When you run, the body diverts blood flow away from your digestive system to the muscles and skin, as they need it more during exercise.  Additionally, a study by N.J. Rehrer and colleagues at the University of Limburg in the Netherlands found that, when dehydrated and running in the heat, your stomach empties significantly more slowly.  In the heat and humidity, your body must sweat more to control body temperature.  The lack of blood flow and excretion of water through sweat, combined with the excess contents in the stomach, seems to create a perfect storm for GI issues.  The solution seems simple enough: hydration.  In practice it can be tough, though, especially when you seem to sweat all day in this never-ending summer heat.  I haven’t yet reached the level of water intake needed to prevent my problem, but I’m vowing here and now to try.  This year more than ever, it has put a hamper on my training by sidelining me for many workouts.

In my delirious state the other day while trying to slog through yet another torturous run, I began singing to myself.  As we all are suffering, I am sharing the song I made up with you.  Please enjoy to the tune of “Summer Nights” from Grease.

Summer runnin’ is kicking my ass / Summer runnin’, ain’t nowhere near fast / my nemesis is humidity / air so thick I can barely breathe / Summer days driftin’ away, but oh how the Fall will be nice…

If you’re struggling through this heat and humidity (which is hopefully almost over), please be careful and HYDRATE!

sweat

BBQ Recipes · Big City Life · Summer · Tasty Sides

Summer BBQ-ing

To me, nothing says summer like putting some burgers and hot dogs on the grill and having a few beers or rose wine. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, which is very landlocked, so rather than spending the summer at the beach, the good old fashioned BBQ is just what we did.  Now that I live in New York, it’s a little more challenging to throw a BBQ. We live in tiny apartments that rarely have access to outdoor space, with the exception of our small fire escapes. While people have been known to try and grill on fire escapes, it is dangerous and illegal. I recently moved to an area with public grills nearby. They are first-come, first-served, so we have to get there early to stake out a spot with a grill and then be willing to throw elbows to defend our spot, but I’m excited just to have the opportunity to do a little BBQ-ing this summer.

For the 4th of July, we made our way down to the grills early only to find that the city was not allowing their use on that day. I completely understand why they wouldn’t want that liability…the grills are located along the East River where the Macy’s fireworks were taking place, so a big crowd was a sure thing. We were a bit bummed, though. Luckily, all we needed to grill were the turkey burgers, so we just ran up and cooked them on my stove and brought them back down where everyone was already snacking on guacamole and sides.

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I’m going to be honest, the stars of any BBQ for me are the sides, but they can be pretty unhealthy. My personal favorite is potato salad, complete with loads of mayo. For our 4th of July gathering, we were planning to be out in the heat all day, so I tried my hand at a mayo-free version and I can honestly say that I might just like it better. It was delicious, healthier, and you don’t have to worry about it spoiling after sitting out for a couple of hours.

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I also make turkey burgers that are tasty and juicy. My major complaint with lean turkey burgers is that they tend to be dry…not the case with these babies. As noted above, they can easily be cooked in a skillet on the stovetop if you don’t have access to a grill, too.  Recipes for both are below. Enjoy!

Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground lean turkey

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced

1/2 jalapeño, minced (optional)

A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Combine everything in a bowl until well mixed. I find it’s easiest just to use your hands. Form patties and cook on stove or grill until cooked all the way through. On average, 5 minutes per side on the stove over medium heat or on the grill is good, but it depends on the thickness of your patties, so just make sure there’s no pink in the middle. If you have a thermometer, the center of the patty should be 165*.

Potato Salad

2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 slices lean center cut bacon

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp honey

Salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until fork-tender but not mushy. Drain water from potatoes in a strainer then rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Cook bacon until desired level of crispness, then place on paper towel. Sauté onion in same pan until translucent. Chop bacon into small pieces and combine with potatoes and onion in large bowl. In separate bowl, combine mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and honey and whisk together. Pour mustard mixture over potatoes and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve or chill in fridge.