Have a Mexican Fiesta! (part 2)

Happy Saturday!

I went and checked out a new gym with Carla and another friend (her name is Jennifer, too – clearly she’s awesome!) this morning. We got a great workout in! It was a team workout that involved running, cleans, front and back squats, and thrusters or push jerks. 20 minute AMRAP. Phew! It was pretty awesome. Then, we went to breakfast.


Om nom nom! Egg white veggie omelet with asparagus, bell peppers, roasted garlic and goat cheese. So delicious! If you have an “Another Broken Egg cafe” in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend them. 🙂

Then, on the way home, the traffic billboard spoke to me.


Pretty apropos with marathon training starting on Monday, don’t you think? Yeah, I thought so, too. 🙂


Part 2 of the Mexican Fiesta in your dining room – salad, guacamole and salsa! There’s nothing quite like homemade guacamole and salsa. You can totally control how spicy or tomato-y (in the case of the salsa) that you want it. Also, you know darn well what went in to the dishes and that you’re not getting some weird stuff that you can’t pronounce. If you don’t feel like taking the time to do this, it’s okay; there are things you can buy at the store that are quite delicious and very healthy. First step, guacamole. Never, ever, ever buy anything that is called “guacamole dip” – if you look closely at the packaging, it usually says something like 10% avocado. Really? Only 10% Um, ew. Guacamole should be 100% avocado with some added stuff in it. Look for Wholly Guacamole. You can find it usually in the produce cooler section of your grocery store – I find mine right next door to the lettuces and salad kits. And, interestingly enough, that’s where I find salsa, as well. Don’t buy salsa in a jar. You only find those in the regular section of the grocery store which means stuff has been added to the salsa to help keep it shelf-stable. You want fresh, real ingredients and you’ll only find that sort of stuff in a cooler-type environment. Sometimes, you can find fresh salsa in with the refrigerated Mexican tortillas, cheeses, etc but most often, you’ll find it in the produce section (it is produce, after all!) and it will usually be in a plastic container. Trust me, if you don’t want to make your own, that is what you should buy. As for the cactus salad, I got nothing. Sorry. Never had it and didn’t make it. But, I’ll provide you the recipe and, if you make it, you can tell me how it turned out! 🙂


1 pound (2 medium-large round or 6 to 8 plum) ripe tomatoes
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 serrano or 1 jalapeno), stemmed
1/2 finely chopped white onion
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime

Chop the tomatoes into small (1/8-inch) dice and scoop into a bowl. Finely chop the chiles, seeds and all, and scrape in with the tomatoes. Scoop the chopped onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water; shake off the excess moisture and add to the bowl. Stir in the garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon. Scoop 2/3 of the mixture into a salsa dish; leave the rest in the bowl. Cover both and refrigerate.

Cactus Salad
8 medium (about 1 pound total) cactus paddles
Oil, for grilling
Reserved salsa
A few nice looking lettuce leaves, for serving

1. One by one, clean the cactus paddles: Holding each paddle gingerly between the nodes of the prickly spines, trim off the edge that outlines the paddle, including the blunt end where the paddle was severed from the plan, then slice or scrape off the spiny nodes from both sides. Set aside until you’re ready to grill.

2. Brush or spray the cactus paddles on both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay on the grill grate, cover the grill and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned in places. Flip the paddles over, cover and grill until they’re browned on the other side, darkened to an olive green color and softened enough to look limp when picked up with a pair of tongs (this indicates they are cooked through). Lay out the cactus in a single layer on a rack and cool completely.

3. When it is cool, cut the cactus into squares a little smaller than 1/2-inch. Mix with the reserved salsa that’s in the mixing bowl. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Line a serving bowl with lettuce leaves, scoop in the cactus salad and set on the table.

4 large, ripe avocados
4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Halve and pit the avocados, then scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Add the garlic, lime juice and cilantro. Using the back of a large spoon or an old-fashioned potato masher, coarsely mash the avocados, mixing in the flavorings. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 1/4 teaspoons. Scrape into a serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the guacamole and refrigerate.

Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetables

Thing 1 and I made dinner last night. We don’t often cook together but we really should. It gives us a chance to talk, she gets to learn about cooking and I don’t have to do everything, especially after a long day. 🙂  You don’t always have to take your kids places and spend money to have quality time. Cooking meals, coloring pictures, walking the dogs, or whatever – all these things are great ways to hang out with your family. Just don’t forget to open your mouth and talk! 🙂

I found a recipe for a baked ziti dish low on fat and calories and chock full of delicious veggies. You know, when you throw loads of veggies into your pasta dishes, that tends to take up the space for a whole bunch of extra cheese. Now, don’t get me wrong, cheese is great. Especially Brie. I. Love. Brie. But, too much can certainly take a dish from healthy to not in an extremely short amount of time. And, I’m a runner – runners love pasta but we don’t often appreciate all that fat making us feel sluggish out on the road. This dish won’t make you feel that way, I promise! And, it’s guaranteed to make your sailor (and maybe even your kids) ask for any leftovers to be put in a lunch container for the next day. Hearty yet light, the summer veggies add fabulous and delicious pops of color to this ziti. What are you waiting for? Grab a family member or even a friend and get to cooking!


Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetables
Makes 4 servings
Recipe from Cooking Light

4 ounces uncooked ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
Cooking Spray

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini,  and onion; saute 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella,  herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. (Okay, fine, I used an oval stoneware dish. Worked out petfectly!) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Per serving:
Calories 301; Fat 12.1g (sat 5.3g, mono 5g, poly 0.9g); Protein 16.5g; Carbs 32.8g; Fiber 4.1g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 640mg; Calcium 291mg


Pinto Bean Jambalaya

It’s vegetarian week! Today, tomorrow, and Thursday are meat-free dinners. I’ve gotten a little scepticism from the fam but they’re game.  🙂  Tonight’s meatless selection? Pinto Bean Jambalaya!  I know, I know…how can you have jambalaya without shrimp and sausage? Trust me! This dish is packed with flavor and you’ll never notice there isn’t any meat. Add some cornbread and sweet tea for a truly Southern meal or just serve it up with a green salad or some mixed vegetables. Either way, enjoy!


Pinto Bean Jambalaya
Serves 4

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup salsa (heat up to you!)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup bulgur
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 can (19 ounce) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup drained canned corn (I used frozen)

1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, celery, green peppers, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just tender.


2. Stir in the salsa, tomato sauce, bulgur, thyme, red pepper, and 1/4 cup of the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.



3. Stir in the beans, corn and the remaining 1/4 cup stock. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer, or until bulgur is cooked.



Calories 320; Fat 6.2g; Fiber 12.9g; Sodium 596mg