January 14, 2013

Fabulous Farro

Are you ready for another yummy grain recipe? How about a soup that gives you a big nutritious hug as you slurp it down?

Say 'helllllo beautiful' to White Bean and Kale Farro Soup!

At Costco the other day I came across a large bag of Organic Italian Pearled Farro.

Did you know that Farro is the original grain from which all others derive? Farro fed the Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations for thousands of years. Somewhat more recently, Farro was the standard ration of the Roman Legions that expanded throughout the western world.If it is good enough for those men in 300 - it should be able to get me through a Strong class! :)

One serving of Farro packs in 34g of complex carbohydrates, 6g of protein, 5g of dietary fiber and is rich in antioxidants. It is also a very anti-inflammatory food.
The best news is that it is delicious and was worked into the soup very easily. The hardest part of making this soup was trudging through the snow to harvest some very hardy kale.

I spy with my little eye...

Get in ma belly- you amazing little green super food!

White Bean and Kale Farro Soup
Makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, minced
Braggs Amino Acid, 4-5 sprays
1 sweet onion, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
 salt, to taste
1 cup white beans, rinsed (I used canned chickpeas)
8 cups of water
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cup farro, rinsed under cool water
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and ripped into chunks
½ to ¾teaspoon red pepper flakes
Black pepper in a mill
Directions: Saute onions and garlic in OO until onions are translucent. Pour onions and garlic into large slow cooker (crock pot). Saute mushrooms in onions juice and Braggs Amino Acid for 5 minutes. Add to slow cooker.
Add all other ingredients to crock pot, cover and cook on medium for 4 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Before serving season to taste with salt, pepper or more red pepper flakes and remove the Bay leaf.
Hour 0

Hour 2.5 on High

Are slow cookers not magical?

In other news, I was lucky enough to go snowshoeing for the first time! While the short cold days do wear me out sometimes (I am writing this blog post to procrastinate going outside and shoveling yet again), the beauty of the area I live in still takes my breath away.
 Let me leave you with a couple of pictures from my North Idaho adventure. 
If you live in the area and ever want to hike, run, cross  country ski or snowshoe, please leave a comment and lets make a date!

January 8, 2013

Eggplant Bulgar Pilaf and Winter Hikes

Obviously my new years resolution was not to blog more consistently.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and were able to enjoy some time with family and friends.

Now its back to reality! No more washing several ginger cookies down with a glass of So Delicious Egg Nog (don't look at me, I would never do that). No more messy house with glitter and tinsel in the strangest of places. No more crying while running on the treadmill because you just love that Christmas song your listening to that much.

The gym is busier than it has been since October and people all around are jumping back on the healthy bandwagon. It can certainly make things a littler easier for those of us who try to live a healthy lifestyle year round. I have been meeting with a lot of new people at the gym lately and part of that initial meeting is to talk about nutrition. One pattern that I see ALL the time, is well intentioned people trying to eat healthier and loose weight by restricting carbohydrates. Unfortunately, it seems that 20 years ago Dr Atkins instilled a fear of carbohydrates in us that would last far too long. I don't want to turn this into a crazy big blog on the different types of carbohydrates and why good complex carbohydrates are essential to your health- so let me cut right to the chase. The more complete, unprocessed and whole you can get your carbohydrate the better- and about 60% of your calories should be coming from these carbohydrates!

When I talk about whole grain carbohydrates I don't necessarily mean whole grain breads and pastas. While these foods are not evil and certainly better than their white counterparts, I am trying to get even grainier! Think oats before they have been turned into oatmeal bread, think qunioa, barley, millet, farro, rice, bulgar, wheat berries, and kasha. These grains are nutrient powerhouses filled with great complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and depending on the grain, a whole slue of other nutrients.

While most of us do not have a millet recipe right at the top of our heads, many of these grains are easier to incorporate and cook with than you would imagine. My goal is to spend my next few blog posts sharing recipes incorporating one of these grainular powerhouses.

Eggplant and Bulgar Pilaf
(Makes 6 servings)
This pilaf is great served warm but also makes a yummy cold pilaf salad the next day. Feel free to add in vegetables that you prefer or have on hand and season to your taste- next time I'm going to add mushrooms.


1 cup bulgur (see Note)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound eggplant (see Tip), diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning mix
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable stock (optional- I did not need)
1/2 - 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro


1. Place bulgur in a large deep bowl, add enough warm water to cover by 2 inches, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain; set aside.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant. Do not stir for the first minute; then cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Push the eggplant to the sides, making a well in the middle for the other ingredients.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the middle of the pan. Add onion, carrot and garlic. Do not stir for 2 minutes; then mix all the ingredients, including the eggplant, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Make a well in the ingredients again and add tomato paste to the middle. Do not stir for 30 seconds; then turn the tomato paste over and cook for another 15 seconds. Add the drained bulgur, tomato, oregano, salt and pepper; stir well to combine. Heat through. If the eggplant is not completely tender, stir in broth, cover the pan and simmer until the eggplant reaches your desired tenderness. Remove from the heat; stir in parsley (or cilantro).

Tips & Notes

Note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. Bulgur just needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains. I get mine from The Flour Mill Natural Foods in Hayden.

Tip: If you’re using large, common globe eggplant, which can be more bitter than other varieties, salting beforehand can reduce bitterness. To salt: Place prepped eggplant in a large colander and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using. Rinse well with cold water.

Nutrition Per serving: 214 calories; 10 g fat ( 1 g sat , 7 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 9 g fiber; 357 mg sodium; 533 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (64% daily value), Vitamin C (62% dv), Magnesium (17% dv), Potassium (15% dv)

I find that I get a little more sedentary in these colder months. In the summer I am gardening, running, riding my bike and generally just moving more. I try to remember that all types of weather can be enjoyable to get outdoors in - some of the funnest runs I have been on have been in the pouring rain. That being said I am not a fan of running on ice - however, a snowy hike is right up my alley. I finally forced enticed Thor into going on a winter hike with me - we ended up having a great time and I took a couple of photos to share with you!

What are your favourite ways to get outdoors in the winter months?