Upcycling + Food Inspiration

I have a habit of grabbing coffee at Whole Foods when I go in to buy groceries, but somehow despite my frequent drop ins I had perpetually missed some very important facts that they have posted on the wall.

fuel sweat grow: whole foods upcycling

I love Whole Foods for their foundation work, and knew that they were leaders in renewable energy and upcycling materials, but they actually used the bleacher seating from UHall (the old University of Virginia basketball arena) for their cafe table tops?  That’s awesome.  This method of recyling (and upcycling, if you will) was a serious inspiration for helping to minimize my time spent cooking this week, and maximize the meals created.

I was craving two of Ralph (my dad)’s old clutch meals, tweaked to be clean and balanced fuel meals.  The first half of the inspiration was a meal  I replicated a few months back with (gluten free) spinach fettuccine, an avocado/greek yogurt blend dressing and veggies.  The other half was inspired by his pasta primavera, my childhood favorite which was always rich with vegetables and popping color.

The base of this meal was a mix of sautéd zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and red peppers.  It was all cooked with coconut oil and seasoned with Trader Joe’s everyday seasoning and ground kosher sea salt.

fuel sweat grow - sautéd veggies

My goal with these types of meals is to over produce the most fundamental parts of the recipe so that there are leftovers in the fridge to make future meals much faster.

To stay true to my inspiration for this first version of the meal, I cooked more of the gluten free spinach fettuccine.

fuel sweat grow: gluten free spinach fettuccine

Once the pasta was nice and al dente (yes, I like it a tad firm.  I’m italian.) it was mixed up with the greek yogurt and avocado (2 whole avocados and 12 oz of chobani greek yogurt) and seasoned even more with ground sea salt and ground peppercorn.

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine

Add on the veggies, and voila!

fuel sweat grow: spinach fettuccine primavera

So, here we have our carbs for the meal (probably more than would be ‘suggested’), with our good fats in the yogurt/avocado sauce, and just need our added protein.  Per my favorite grilling trends, the other side of the plate was filled with steak.

fuel sweat grow: fettuccine primavera and steak

This was by far my favorite meal of the week, which was a pretty safe bet since it was a blend of my two old favorites and a little bit of a comfort food ‘treat’ with the pasta and yogurt add ons to my typically dairy + grain free eating.  So here’s where it gets fun: primavera veggies, day 2.

First I should say that these exact leftovers, with slices of avocado for some additional good fats, did weasel it’s way into my lunch the next day.

fuel sweat grow: primavera leftovers

But the veggies didn’t stop there.  They went on to fulfill their meal destiny two nights later when I hastily roasted spaghetti squash and turned it into a yogurt-less meal of squash overload that was amazing.

fuel sweat grow: spaghetti squash primavera

Of course, to accompany the squash primavera was grilled chicken and an amazing fruit and nut salad, but there will be more on that coming later this week in a full post on some of the amazing salad combinations that have been happening recently.  I can’t explain it scientifically, but there’s something about the warm weather that invites creativity and frequency of amazing salads as the summer meal anchor, and this one was no exception.

fuel sweat grow: chicken and salad sides

With less kitchen time required this week, and a little too much time on (or wine in?) my hands, I even tried to upcycle two of Bug’s toys, covering up the chicken that she feels both active aggression and paralyzing fear towards with her old favorite buddy Cat R. Pillar.  bug says: upcycled babies

Since we don’t allow Bug to drink wine (if we can help it) she found this stunt less than amusing, and is likely working on her emancipation letter as we speak.

fuel sweat grow: freaky chickenHope you’re all enjoying the start of the weekend!

Sunday Night Dinner + Gluten-Free Options

Last night at about 6:35, when the first of the Sunday night couch club arrived at the front door, I realized that I had spent zero time planning for dinner.  So, in the spirit of throwing something together, and honoring the Sunday Night Dinner tradition, I grabbed a few staple ingredients and got creative with the rest.

Step 1: chicken breasts from the organic butcher went on the George Foreman.

Step 2: I threw vegetables in a pan to simmer with coconut oil, and put a pot of water on for the awesome new gluten free spinach fettuccine that I have been dying to try.  It’s made by a company called RP and is carried in most Whole Foods – even if you’re not gluten free, I highly recommend this brand.

fuel sweat grow - food blog
the usual suspects: onion, zucchini + yellow squash

My dad used to make a spinach fettuccine when I was little that he would toss with sour cream, salt, pepper, and parmesan.  I absolutely LOVED it, but now that I avoid gluten rich pastas and sour cream I’ve really been missing it.  Since I finally got my paws on some gluten free spinach fettuccine, the goal was to recreate the sour cream with a little twist.

I’ve done a good bit of experimenting with greek yogurt so I was pretty sure that this would turn out, at least reasonably well.

1 avacado + 1 cup greek yogurt (blended).
1 avacado + 1 cup greek yogurt
blended in the ever loving VitaMix
blended in the ever loving VitaMix
RP gluten free spinach fettuccine w/avacado yogurt 'sauce'
RP gluten free spinach fettuccine w/avacado yogurt ‘sauce’
i like to mix the spices in first to evenly distribute

 Once the pasta was done I mixed in the avocado + yogurt sauce with salt, pepper, and the sautéd vegetables together and topped it with the grilled chicken.

c'est complete.
c’est complete.

Judge rules: It was amazing.  I realize that I’m a tad partial since A) I made it, and B) I love the combination of the spinach flavor of the pasta and tartness of the greek yogurt, but I had 3 other impartial victims judges that loved it as well.  I also gave one review +5 bonus points since it came from a McDonalds drive through VIP.

I should also disclose that I had grand plans for my favorite roasted (broiled) brussel sprouts with olive oil, lemon, salt + pepper.  I even chopped them up beautifully during the vegetable chopping phase of the night.

beautiful brussel sprouts.
beautiful brussel sprouts.

Unfortunately, in the excitement of the sauce experiment, I completely forgot about the brussels, and 10 minutes after everything else was consumed I pulled the partially burned sprouts out of the oven.   I’m not ruling it a fail yet because they were surprisingly good (despite likely being somewhat carcinogenic…), crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  I actually saved them and am going to throw them into a cauliflower mash I’m planning for later this week.  Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know how that turns out.

After dinner Kristin came over to trial run a modified + gluten free version of her favorite cherry chip birthday cupcakes.  It was a more than successful experiment, so  get excited for the full account and recipe that will be posted soon.

happy birthday Kristin!
happy birthday Kristin!