Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recipe: Turkish Salad

I'm posting today's recipe for a student in "Luscious," who's looking for salad ideas that are both fast and easy, and high in protein. (To up the protein content still further, you can use rinsed, drained canned soybeans instead of fava beans.) Turkish Salad is definitely a change of pace from the usual lettuce-and-veggies salad, but I sometimes serve it on a bed of spinach or romaine to make it a light meal. I adapted this recipe from Almost Turkish, a fellow blogspot that's well worth a surf. If you'd like to check out the original recipe, you can find it here.

Turkish Salad


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 - 3 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 (14-ounce) can fava beans, drained (see Cook's Notes)
2 cups frozen peas, thawed


Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint, parsley, and dill weed in a small bowl. Combine fava beans and peas in medium bowl. Drizzle beans and peas with dressing, and add feta. Stir gently to combine.

For best results, refrigerate at least 2 hours, until chilled.

Cook's Notes:

Look for canned fava beans in Mediterranean, Indian, or Middle Eastern markets. If you can't find them, replace them with your favorite bean. I like using large butter beans, but any firm-textured bean will work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recipe: Shrimp Pasta Primavera

Spring has sprung, and that means one thing: It's time to take full advantage of the fresh fruits and veggies showing up at the grocery store and farmer's markets! The word primavera literally means "first spring," and once you've tried it, it's easy to see where it got its name -- it's based on vegetables that are in their prime in late spring and early summer. In this take on the recipe, I add in shrimp for an easy one-dish meal that's perfect for a light supper. Frozen precooked shrimp also makes this recipe lightning-quick to prepare.

Shrimp Pasta Primavera

1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 cup bottled roasted red bell pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced on an angle into 1” sections
1 zucchini, sliced into quarters
1 yellow squash, sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon white Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound frozen shrimp, thawed, rinsed, and well-drained


Prepare spaghetti according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook olive oil, garlic, red bell pepper, and asparagus in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is fragrant, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash; cook until just tender. Add Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes and shrimp; stir well to combine.

Add spaghetti and stir well to combine. Heat until shrimp and spaghetti are hot; serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Let's Talk (Test) About Intervals

Have you hit a weight loss plateau? Weight loss plateaus often happen when your body adjusts to the physical activity you're doing. If you've been doing the same-old same-old activities for a few months, it might be time to amp things up a bit.

If you're just beginning with physical activity, increasing duration (the length of time you're active) is often the place to start. If you're engaging in cardiorespiratory exercise for less than an hour (or if you're logging fewer than 10,000 steps on your pedometer), consider increasing your exercise time by an extra 10 or 15 minutes, until you reach an hour (or 10,000 steps).

But what if you're already doing cardio for an hour, or what if you just don't have that much time in a day to squeeze in your cardio? A great way to amp up your workouts is to experiment with interval training.

In interval training, you increase intensity, rather than duration. Intervals serve a variety of purposes. They increase the number of calories you burn during your workout. Intervals also seem to encourage your body to keep burning calories long after your workout is over, too. Intervals are a terrific way to build cardiorespiratory endurance, which improves your physical health. Intervals make it easier to create an endorphin rush while you're working out, too.

Are you ready to work in a few intervals? Let's do it! Before you begin interval training, become aware of your rate of perceived exertion (the intensity at which you're exercising), and use it to manage your intervals. If you're aiming for cardiorespiratory exercise that will burn fat, your rate of perceived exertion shouldn't get too high when you're not engaging in intervals (that is, for most of your workout). You should be able to talk reasonably comfortably -- not as you would when you're inactive, but you should be able to say a few sentences without too much trouble.

When you're ready to work in an interval, you'll want to increase your intensity a little (not a lot!), until you reach the point where you can still talk, but it's not comfortable. Each interval doesn't need to be very long -- anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute is good. After the interval, go back to your previous intensity.

One easy (and fun) way to do this is to use your favorite workout music as a timer. During the chorus of a song, use that time to build up to your interval pace. Then, when the chorus ends, go back to your previous intensity.

Whether you work out to music or not, remember that the majority of your workout should be at a pace where you can talk reasonably comfortably. That way, you're burning fat as you're working out. When you first begin experimenting with intervals, a good rule of thumb is to start with about 25% of your workout at a higher intensity. From there, you can gradually increase the amount of time of each interval, or increase the number of intervals.

If you decide to experiment with intervals, don't forget to come back and let us know what you try, and how it goes! :)