Weekend Dinner: Balsamic Roast Beef, Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets

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This was a lovely dinner. Simple roasted vegetables. Hearty grain. Melt in your mouth beef.

Balsamic Roast Beef
Adapted from Add a Pinch

Ingredients
1 3-4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)
1 cup beef (or chicken or veg) broth
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs honey
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, chopped

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Instructions
Place roast beef into the insert of your slow cooker. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef, cover with lid, and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Once roast beef has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs onto a cutting board. Break apart lightly with two forks, put into a serving dish and then ladle about 1/2 cup of cooking juices from the slow cooker over roast beef.

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BONUS! Onion Butternut Beef Soup
With all the remaining glorious cooking liquid remaining in the slow cooker, make an onion soup! Add in a chopped, caramelized onion, a couple cups of water, and 2 cups chopped winter squash. Cook on low again in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours. There will be a lot of fat in the broth from the beef, so I let the soup cook completely in the fridge and them remove the solidified layer of fat from the top before reheating and serving. Makes great lunch.

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Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad
Adapted from Bon Appétit, March 2013

Ingredients
1/2 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15-ounce can white or butter beans, rinsed (or I used 1.5 cups cooked lentils)
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, divided (or 2 Tbs dried parsley)

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Instructions
Place barley in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2″. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 30-40 minutes. Drain; run under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and oil in a medium bowl until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper; set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower; cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 10-12 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl; add beans, parsley, reserved barley, and the dressing. Toss to coat and serve warm.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets – same ol’ simple way

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All together now! Lovely dinner. Great leftovers.

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Muffins

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I haven’t made muffins in far too long. I sent these off to school with Aurelia and the kids raved about them. I had one, too and have to agree. Just sweet enough. Not dry at all. Just what a muffin should be. Nice to know I still have a knack for them. Upgrading to 22-24% cocoa, like Pernigotti, makes an awesome difference.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil 16 muffin cups (or a 9×5 inch loaf pan). Stir the milk and lemon juice together in a glass measuring cup; let stand until curdled, about 5 minutes. Into a medium bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. Beat the eggs, coconut oil, and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in the mashed bananas, the milk mixture, and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture just until all ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into the prepared pan or muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes for muffins (or 50-60 minutes for a loaf). Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

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Summer Catch

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Darlings, it’s summer already! I am two months into a new (big, wow, hard) job and I’ve found my free time sponged up by the gym and dates with Aurelia.

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I’m in training for the Smuttynose Rockfest marathon, thanks to my bestest best Betsy and her powers of persuasion. Part of my training includes a half marathon next weekend and a 30 k Payette Lake Run in McCall September 1st. Thrilling! I am not an extraordinary runner, but pace is really relative and part of what makes running so awesome is that your competition is really only yourself and the hardest part isn’t in your legs, but in your mind. I am loving the solace I find through a great run, even on the treadmill. I added a Daily Mile widget to the right side bar with a link to my profile where I track my mileage. I enjoy the design of the site and recommend it if you want an easy way to keep track of your workouts (running, cycling, swimming, mostly). I’m still going to CrossFit 3-4 times a week and love it more than ever, but I don’t track those WODS.

I don’t have any new wonderful recipes to share because I’ve been eating very routine, calorie-and-macro-tracked, portable meals. I’m skipping breakfast 2x a week to train fasted with BCAA’s and eat eggs and meat or bulletproof coffee the other days. I pack a big lunch of starchy veg and/or greens + meat + cut veggies + fresh or dried fruit to work every day. My primadonna tummy has been annoyingly particular for a couple months, so I eliminated all added sugar, grains, legumes, and (most) dairy in June and besides 2 cheat meals, I stuck to it and noticed …. no difference. I’m trying to slowly whittle off 2-4% body fat without losing lean muscle so I can run easier/faster/lighter and even while cutting out my much missed oatmeal, chocolate, and fro yo, my weight has still maintained the same +/- 5 pounds. My point is that my food is very predictable and a little bit boring these days. We all go through phases of creativity and experimentation countered with phases of survival and maintenance.

I bought two sets of the pyrex snap ware dishes from Costco and fill 6-10 up twice a week for all my lunches and more dinners than I should admit. Aurelia doesn’t seem to mind and it’s actually pretty easy feeding a toddler with so many pre-cut/cooked/portioned meals. She noshes on cucumber, salmon, chicken, hard boiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. And I have sausages, popcorn, whole grain bread, cheese, gallons of raw milk, and dried fruit just for her and it’s convenient enough. It’s so impossibly hot right now (108F today) that it’s been a relief to pull a protein packed meal out of the fridge and not have to heat up the oven or stove each night.

Here’s a few pictures from a recent multiple meal prep:

Sweet potatoes and parsnips tossed with sea salt, herbes de provence, pepper, and coconut oil. Ready to be tossed and put on a baking sheet to be roasted at 400F for 30-40 minutes, stirring a few times.

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Before grilling chicken breasts, put them one by one into a large ziplock and pound with a rolling pin until the thickest part of the breast is about 1/2 – 3/4″, about the same as the thinner part of the breast. This will ensure even cooking time. No one likes dry chicken. Marinate for 2-24 hours in salt and spices, then cook on a grill that’s been preheated to 375-400F. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side and use a meat thermometer to check each breast. Done when the internal temperature reaches 165F. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

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Mid prep – pumpkin puree, spinach for salads, cut veg and strawberries, cooked chicken, cauliflower read to be riced.

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Assembly – chicken cut and paired with pumpkin, greens alone for canned tuna, cauliflower riced and paired next to remaining cut chicken, bowls of roasted sweet potato and parsnips. Not pictured: sausage spiced ground turkey for the roasted veg.

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Not really dinner party worthy, but practical and healthy enough. I’m going to be adding in some rice, quinoa, and oats over the next few weeks to help fuel my longer runs and see how I digest them with some encouraging thoughts.

I’m rambling. It’s definitely time to wrap the catch up, but I promised my wonderful friend M that I would share my best running mix. It’s full of fast, positive, workout-specific music that has kept me going the last two months. I have 3 more months to go, so send me your suggestions for other songs I should add!

In alphabetical order:

  • Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
  • Between Two Lungs – Florence + The Machine
  • Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
  • California Gurls – Katy Perry
  • Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Collide (Afrojack Remix) – Leona Lewis/Avicii
  • Cosmic Love – Florence + The Machine
  • Dead Sea – The Lumineers
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine
  • Drumming Song – Florence + The Machine
  • Easy (Extended Remix) – Mat Zo & Porter Robinson
  • The Edge of Glory – Lady GaGa
  • Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
  • Feel Again – OneRepublic
  • Feel So Close (Radio Edit) – Calvin Harris
  • Feel The Love – Rudimental & John Newman
  • Firework – Katy Perry
  • Flowers in Your Hair – The Lumineers
  • Forever My Friend – Ray LaMontagne
  • Free My Mind – Katie Herzig
  • Girl With One Eye – Florence + The Machine
  • Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
  • Heads Carolina, Tails California – Jo Dee Messina
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  • Howl – Florence + The Machine
  • I Love It – Icona Pop
  • I’m Not Calling You a Liar – Florence + The Machine
  • It’s Time (Kat Krazy Remix) – Imagine Dragons
  • Last Friday Night – Katy Perry
  • Lights (Fear of Tigers Remix) – Ellie Goulding
  • Little Lovin’ – Lissie
  • A Little Party Never Killed Nobody – Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock
  • Live It Up – Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull
  • Next to Me – Emeli Sande
  • The Other Side – Jason Derulo
  • People Like Us – Kelly Clarkson
  • Play Hard (Albert Neve Remix) – David Guetta
  • Pursuit of Happiness – Lissie
  • Put the Gun Down – ZZ Ward
  • Rabbit Heart – Florence + The Machine
  • Radioactive – Kings of Leon
  • Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
  • Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine
  • Storm Warning – Hunter Hayes
  • Submarines – The Lumineers
  • Teenage Dream – Katy Perry
  • Tonight I’m Getting Over You (Remix) – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker
  • We Found Love – Rihanna & Calvin Harris
  • Wonder – Emeli Sande & Naughty Boy
  • You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne
  • You’ve Got the Love – Florence + The Machine

Unless I have a secret audience interested in “Train Low, Race High” methodology, 30/30/40 macro splitting, crossfit and endurance, and how to carb load like a lion without sugar, I’ll probably say hello again in August!

Be well, buttercups.

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