DerbyGirlsEat – PhDiesel Edition

Wow, it’s been a hot minute since I posted here! I won’t lie; I skated in my last bout a few months ago. I say the term “last” loosely, since there is still a huge chunk of me that won’t fully accept the fact that I might never strap on my skates for a derby practice ever again. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this blog and where it’s going to go. Who wants to read a blog called “derby girl eats” that’s written by a girl who is not even a skater anymore?   sad_face

Well turns out people do, and friends have convinced me to continue endeavors. Once a derby girl, always a derby girl they say. It’s a good feeling!

Aside from a crazy busy schedule at work that initially took me off my skates, I was dealt a hearty blow with the passing of my mom on November 1. In short it has sucked the life out of me and although it was 6 weeks ago I’m still not 100% all here. For the first 2 weeks after that, I was a hermit. I lived in the same sweatpants and hoodie for a solid 4 days at one point during my week off of work for bereavement and my beloved boyfriend would pick up take out when I finally had an appetite and would remind to do things like brush my teeth.

My beacon of light was getting out to see State Wars in Daytona Beach. I finally felt OK to leave the safety of my couch and Netflix and see so many of my friends and watch the sport that had dominated my life for the past 4 years. If you didn’t make it out to State Wars, you missed some of the finest derby this state has seen since Franky Panky back in the summer. It makes me so happy that we pack so much great derby in this state. Between housing D1 powerhouses like Jacksonville and Tampa and D2 teams like Gold Coast and Ft. Meyers we have some damn fine talent. With Gold Coast’s Beach Brawl, Tampa’s Franky Panky and now State Wars we have a slew of world-class tournaments right here in our own backyard that you can access easily in 3 hours or less.

But aside from the amazing track action, derby peeps are just fun to be around. We’re a festive bunch! Between hearing Quadzilla and the boys from Team Texas giving side-splitting trackside commentary to seeing my all-time derby crush Tracy Akers showing up everyone with her twerking skills, I couldn’t help but have a good time. who weird al

The best part, though, was cheering on my friends and extended derby family on Team Florida as they played some amazing derby. Team Florida vs Team Denver (or Denocky as we stared calling it) was a real treat to watch, although every game was fantastic.excited 2

Though Team Florida had a robust and deep jammer rotation with the likes of Jamsterella and Little A (both former Team USA skaters), I was really looking forward to seeing PhDiesel do some work. Affectionately known as Diddy for short, PhDiesel is solid lean muscle that allows her to plow through walls and propel herself around the track. Why, yes, she does hold her doctorate in Kinesiology and is currently an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She teaches in the Physical Education program and just published a book that focuses on sociocultural issues in physical education with the goal of helping teachers become more aware of teaching and connecting with their students that might not share the same cultural background. No big deal.

Aside from landing a spot on Team Florida, she is a key jammer for Tampa Ro10476073_687716924596799_3400169225970794745_oller Derby on the track and helps develop their off skates training program. I was fortunate enough to train with Tampa for a short while before work took over my life, and once you’ve experienced their off skates training it’s easy to see how they’ve earned spots in Division 1 playoffs for years. Although 2013 wasn’t as strong of a showing as the team would have liked, 2014 told a different story. They defeated hometown favorites Santa Cruz, hungry and determined Blue Ridge and Terminal City who put up quite a fight in a nail-biting back-and-forth game. They played a very physical Minnesota and lost in what Diddy describes as one of the toughest game of their season. After coming in as the 7 seed, they left D1 Playoffs in Sacramento in the 5th spot. Again, no big deal.

Name: PhDiesel

Number: 2

League: Tampa Roller Derby

Tell me about yourself! When did you start derby?
I’ve always enjoyed being physically active – I ran track competitively in high school and college, and trained for half marathons and triathlons after grad school. I took a job at the University of South Florida in 2010. While out for drinks with a friend that was moving away one Saturday night, we ran into some derby girls and I asked some questions. Their next “meet and greet” was the following Monday. My friend convinced me that her “going away present” to her could be attending that meeting. That was July of 2011, and I think I’ve spent more time at our rink than in my office since that day!!!

What cool things have you done with your derby career? Where has it taken you?
I could never have imagined the cool people I’ve met and the amazing experiences I’ve had as a result of playing roller derby. I’ve visited some very cool cities with my travel team, competed against some LEGENDS of the sport, pushed myself to achieve things I didn’t think were possible, and experienced tremendous personal growth as well. It sounds extremely cheesy, but it’s absolutely true!!! Derby will change your life!

How has derby changed the way you feel about food?
I can definitely tell a difference when I’m eating “clean” and when I’m not – powering through a tough practice or driving a blocker out of play is a lot easier when I’ve had lean meats and veggies for dinner instead of something super processed, greasy, or fried. I definitely appreciate the “cheat” foods much more, and know what I can and can’t get away with if I want to perform at my best.10669263_577254685739943_4231087171482205089_o

What healthy foods can you not live without?
When I’m heavy into training, my fridge is stocked with raw veggies, hummus, cottage cheese, and greek yogurt. Steel cut oatmeal and sweet potatoes are must-haves in my pantry!

What is your guilty pleasure?
SWEETS! All of them! Ice cream, brownies, and peanut M&M’s especially. Although I’ve never met a french fry I didn’t like, either. Wheat beers. Red wine. Oh geez, I didn’t realize I had so many “guilty pleasures.” I’ll stop…

How do you cross-train off the track?
I like to do interval workouts that include exercises for strength, agility, and speed. I was a sprinter in high school and college, so I love the challenge of stair repeats, hill runs, or “suicides.” I’ve really scaled back on the amount of distance running I do during the season, because it feels counterproductive. I once made the mistake of training for a half marathon near the end of a derby season, and my body was NOT happy with me. My brain knew what I needed my legs to do, but my poor legs just couldn’t do that much when I was logging 10365316_946019882091767_638582284770806615_o40 miles a week. Lesson learned.

Any special pre-bout meal that you swear by?
I’m a creature of habit, so I’ve figured out an “eating routine” and what my body responds well to before a game. For breakfast, it’s oatmeal with almonds or dried fruit and brown sugar, a banana, and coffee (half-caff if our game is early). Even if we’re travelling, I can usually find that either at a grocery store or a coffee shop. For lunch, I usually stick to something that won’t weigh me down, like a turkey or chicken sandwich, which seems to have enough protein and carbs to fuel me. I usually have a coconut water about an hour before the first whistle (I know the research says that coconut water isn’t any more hydrating than regular water, but it makes me feel more hydrated, so I’ve stuck with this ritual!). If our game is later at night, I’ll have a Clif Bar to hold me over. My teammates tease me because I have a little insulated lunch bag that I bring with me to the bench with my water bottle, a gatorade, energy chews, and a banana (for halftime, of course). But I can throw my skate tool and chapstick in there, too. And now that I wear a faceshield on my helmet, I carry a small towel in there, in case I need to wipe off fingerprints or sweat. (I think they’re just jealous of my snacks!)

Tell me all about D1 in Sacramento… What are some things that you did to prepare, and what did you take away from Playoffs?
For our playoffs in Sacramento, I knew there was a chance that we wo10631296_946019342091821_4684561371912955622_ould face the #2 seed, and I’d need to be on top of my game to get through their blockers. I was really disciplined about my diet and training for the 6 weeks leading up to playoffs. I planned meals and snacks carefully throughout the day to make sure my body was getting the energy it needed for all of the extra training we were doing. I cut out alcohol altogether, which was tough, but not impossible. My sweet tooth is insatiable, so I had small portions when I did indulge so I didn’t go on any crazy binges. Besides, there’s calcium in ice cream, right??? Weekly grocery shopping and meal prep became a priority so that I wasn’t forced to eat any of my meals “on the go” and be faced with limited (or unhealthy) options. Our whole team had a training calendar to keep ourselves accountable and motivated, so I knew that there were 15 other skaters doing the same things I was doing.

We went in to playoffs as the number 7 seed, and ended up in 5th place at the end of the weekend. It was a great way to top off a really challenging season. We were so ecstatic! All of the “food sacrifices” that I felt like I made were really worth it, because I felt fantastic. Maybe it was all the adrenaline, but I know that eating well really contributed. Finishing the season the way we did only makes us more motivated for next year.

What is a go-to recipe that you’d like to share?
I’m not great about cooking nightly, so I really like crockpot recipes that I can eat throughout the week. One of my favorite recipes is a pesto lasagna with spinach and mushrooms! Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen, chopped spinach
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (I think I used baby Portabellos)
½ cup commercial pesto
¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
¾ cup shredded provolone cheese
1 15-oz. carton fat free ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (25.5 oz) bottle tomato basil pasta sauce
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
Cooking spray
1 (8 oz) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)

Combine spinach (thawed/defrosted and drained), mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

Spray 6-quart oval crockpot with cooking spray.

Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture.

Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan.

Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.

DerbyGirlsEat – I.M. Pain Edition

This year has been nothing but top-notch derby in the state of Florida. We’ve got skaters on Team USA, multiple teams going to playoffs and we’ve been bringing in more out-of-area teams than you can shake a skate at. Tournaments seem to be the big draw this year, and the ladies of Gold Coast Derby Grrls took things in one giant step forward by hosting Beach Brawl 2014 back in May. This was a great event that not only boasted some amazing line ups, but also gave several international teams a chance to get some serious bout experience against a slew of teams stateside. Overall, 6 countries and 24 teams were represented and we got a preview of Team USA.

Tampa Roller Derby did it again this year with Franky Panky, named in honor of mascot Frank the Flamingo. This derby tradition on our west coast has been going strong since 2010 and has brought Florida spectators bouts such as Jacksonville v Atlanta (2012) and my personal favorite Tampa v Philly (2013). 2014 was not a year to sk1270840_819884428041993_5245423649863925130_oip out with Tampa, Jacksonville and Charm City among others slated to play. Charm City has been a team I had admired from afar via WFTDA.tv and I couldn’t wait to see Nuckin’ Futz’s fancy footwork in person.

Another person I really wanted to see was CCRG All Stars Captain I.M. Pain. She really lives up to her name and bursts through packs with power, fueled on speed. She’s a very physical skater as most of her pictures show; she’s either in the air, throwing hits or flying around opposing skaters. Here she shares with us a little bit of her speed skating background, what its like to move from a local-level team to a WFTDA league and a tasty recipe.

 

Name: Kacey “I.M. Pain” Cappallo

Number: 1618 (Actually, it’s 1.618, but I had to give up the decimal point a while ago!)

League: Charm City Roller Girls

When did you start derby?
I went to my first practice in the Spring of 2009 with New River Valley, but then I had to take a short break to concentrate on the end of the semester (I was in grad school at Virginia Tech at the time) and a summer study abroad to Istanbul. So I didn’t really get going until the end of the Summer in 2009. I tried out for Charm City at the end of May 2010, after I graduated and moved to the Baltimore/DC area.

Like many skaters currently playing for Division 1 teams, Charm City is not your first league. What were some of the big changes that you encountered when you switched to CCRG from New River Valley?
NRV was a really small league when I started skating with them. They’re still on the small side, but back then we were lucky to fill a 10535695_821848804512222_7781574792322101276_oroster. That was a great way for me to start though. I had the skating background, but knew nothing about derby, other than that a few of my friends from speed were doing it. I hadn’t been on quads in a long time. I actually skated my first few practices on rentals. Moving to Charm, there was a huge difference. More practices, about 4 times the skaters, more than two officials, more responsibilities, and a much higher level of play. Skating in a smaller league (before they were even WFTDA apprentice!), I was able to get away with a bit more. I don’t mean that in a legality sense. I mean that I don’t think I really knew how to play derby before I came to Charm. I could rely much more on my skating ability. So, moving to Charm, it was an awakening. I’m pretty sure I just about died the first time Dolly Rocket hit me! I still obviously rely on my skating ability, but at some point, I actually had to learn how to play derby!10293756_777263025637467_7110165414662916901_o

You’ve been a speed skater for longer than some derby skaters have been alive. What drew you to the sports of speed skating and then roller derby?
I can hardly remember a time before I skated. I started competed in speed skating in 1988, when it was on quads. My dad’s parents met at a roller rink, so that’s why I think he started taking me so young. He grew up skating too. If you would have asked me 6 years ago, I never would have guessed that I’d be playing roller derby now. I was at speed nationals in 2008, chatting with Racer McChaseher from Detroit. She was telling us all about this new movie that she got to be an extra in (Whip It!). It was pretty exciting. After Nationals that year is when I found out I’d been accepted into grad school. I tried to keep speed skating, but the closest team was just outside of Roanoke, which was about an hour away from Virginia Tech. I couldn’t balance that drive, with the hours required for speed training with Grad School. My degree obviously had to take priority. I decided to just check and see if there were any local roller derby leagues, since Racer made it seem like a lot of fun. Turns out NRV was only 5 miles away. I didn’t actually contact them immediately, though. I ran into them out at a bar in Blacksburg, and they convinced me that night to join the team. So, I always joke that the way I got into roller derby is that I got picked up at a karaoke bar!

As we see more speed skaters crossing over to the world of derby, what are some words of advice that you can share?
Advice for the speed skaters joining derby? Don’t be afraid to hit back! Learn how to take the hit and keep going. Speed modulation! Advice for the non-speed skaters already in derby on how to deal with speed skaters joining derby? Take away their speed!

What are some of your favorite moments of your derby career so far?
I would say my favorite moment was making it to Champs (in 2010) my first season with Charm. That was also the first time Charm had made it to Champs. And then, skating at Champs that year in Chicago. My mom lives there, so she was able to come and watch us win our game the first day, against Minnesota. I was also very proud of the fight we put up against Rocky Mountain in the second day. That was the year they went on to win, so I was very proud of our team for doing so well against the would-be 2010 WFTDA Champs!

One of my newest favorite moments was skating at RollerCon in the East vs West All Star game. That was a lot of fun! It was such an honor to get to skate with and against some of the best in the world, and it didn’t hurt that the East won!

Do you even bother with additional cross-training anymore?

YES!! Always cross train! You can’t ever take it easy. The minute you rest, or think you’re good enough, that’s when someone passes you by! You have to keep raising the bar for yourself. Especially since derby is still evolving, there is always room to grow.

What are some key foods that you rely on to keep your energy up for practices and competition?
I eat a lot of hummus with vegetables, bananas, almonds, peanut butter, grapes. Really, anything that is easy to pack and stays good for long periods of time without refrigeration Bout days are always long, so I try to keep things that like on hand. At Champs in Chicago though, we always got back to the hotel so late that the only thing usually open was the Dunkin Donuts across the street. I ate a lot of bacon egg and cheese bagels that weekend! Since I had a pretty good showing, my husband and I joke now about that being my super food! 10387144_777264535637316_4249877214107703467_o

Any guilty pleasures we should know about? Can someone wave a chocolate chip cookie on turn 3 and hope that you’re distracted mid-jam?
I’m pretty focused during the game, so it’d have to be a pretty big chocolate chip cookie to get my attention! I’ll definitely take it after the game though! HA. I would say my biggest guilty pleasure for food is beef jerky!

 

 

Is there a favorite recipe that you’d like to share with readers?
Yes! This is one my husband and I found a few years ago that is pretty healthy, easy to make and super cheap!

Greek Pasta with Tomatoes and White Beans

2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 ounces fresh spinach, washed and chopped
8 ounces penne pasta (we switch up the shapes – lately we’ve been using Cellentani for this recipe)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (though we often use Parmesan because we have it on hand)

We add garlic, basil, oregano, black pepper, and whatever other spice we’re feeling at the moment. I would also add mushrooms in, if my husband didn’t hate them!

Sometimes we add tomato paste to the recipe as well – if so, we also pour in some red wine.

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large non-stick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Add spinach to the sauce; cook for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly.

4. Serve sauce over pasta, and sprinkle with feta.

Lemon Lentil Salad

If anyone can give me the secret to getting rid of sea legs, I will give you a high five. I’ve been back on land for over 24 hours, but I still can’t shake the inevitable feeling that I’m rocking back and forth on waves not suitable for vacationing on a cruise ship. Luckily I’ve tamed the acid reflux from too much food and even more Mai Tais with vodka floaters. Pro Tip: Don’t even bother getting drunk on a cruise ship. You’ll blow through your budget and your stash of smuggled booze faster than you can make your way from one end of the dinner buffet to the other. There just isn’t enough real estate in your stomach, and your liver is too busy processing the plate of bacon you had for breakfast and the plate of roast beef you had for lunch to even bother with that $8 pina colada you just bought.

Speaking of $8 pina coladas, let me recap a few things that happened to annoy the shit out of me on my long weekend!

1. If a drink is described in great detail on a menu, please serve it to me that way. I knew better than to get caught up in drinking cruise ship beverages. But when I bellied up to one of the bars with a stunning view of the ocean just as we had set sail, I took a gander at the bar menu and saw a lovely sounding beverage. Why not kick off the trip with a little something besides bootlegged vodka mixed with the lemonade from the soda machine? There was a Hendrick’s gin rickey of sorts that boasted fresh limes muddled together with fresh raspberries and simple syrup. The price seemed reasonable so I went for it. I was handed back a glass filled with Mr. Boston’s well gin and syrupy margarita and raspberry frozen drink mixes. Oh, and a lemon garnish. For $8.XX (because gratuity is already added).

bsi

I did remind the bartender that I ordered the ultimate gin rickey… You know, the one with Hendrick’s in it and the fresh ingredients. The boyfriend offered to drink the first one, and I watched the bartender make the ‘correct’ one. Sadly, the correct one still came to me made with the syrupy junk from the carton. With a lemon. And I still got charged $8.XX. Later that night I tried ordering another lime-based drink and was informed that the entire ship was out of limes. Good thing I had listened to NPR a few days ago when they ran a story about the international lime market and how global demand for the fruit has jacket up the street value and made them hard to find. I still wish someone would have told me when I placed my drink order that there were no limes.

On the third day of the cruise I treated myself to the festive Mai Tai. Again I ordered the fancy one off the bar menu, because why not. It had Disaronno and some Pyrat special rum that the boyfriend said was particularly good. I’m watching the bartender make the drink. In goes the Disaronno. Then he tops the whole glass off with fruity juice from a big jug and hands it to me. I politely say, “Oh, I’m sorry… Did you add the rum?” He chuckles back and says the rum is already mixed in the juice, and suggests I try it because I can taste it. Sure enough, I do taste it. But deep down I’m furious that I’m again being charged for top-shelf liquor and being served the opposite. I take my drink, enjoy half of it, and then try to justify the situation by pouring some of my smuggled vodka into it.

2. When a pool is designated as the grown ups’ pool, please keep your goddamned kids out of it. The adults need a place to chill out sans kids too. When you’ve finally dropped the babies off at the nursery for the afternoon, or you’ve snagged one of the last chaises by the pool and you’re about to crack open a good book, or you’re just a lone traveler trying to enjoy a little ‘you’ time, do you want to deal with five year olds doing cannonballs? Having the whirlpool tub overrun by unsupervised preschoolers? No! I want to read Chuck Palahniuk and listen to this symphony cover of Celine Dion and enjoy my third lox and bagel from the breakfast buffet.

Those unexpected days at sea are the worst. We were unable to tender in to the cruiseline’s private island (our second and last stop of the trip), so we were left to fend for ourselves on board. Needless to say the pool deck was packed. It was the only afternoon where there was sun, so there was not a chair in sight. Getting into the pool was not a possibility; the kids had abandoned the children’s pool and opted for the family pool and there was a swarm of about 20 kids bobbing around in snorkel gear or diving in on top of each other. The boy and I checked in the grown up’s pool. Not ideal since it’s a solarium-style and I wasn’t sure how much sun we’d end up getting, but beggars can’t be choosers. Sadly, everything was taken. There could have been more seating, but some families decided it would be great if they could just tote their kids along. Eventually the boy and I found 2 chairs that another couple had just abandoned on the public deck and were able to get sunburned and listed to the reggae band play covers in between asking the kids not to do handstands into the pool.

3. Put some damn clothes on your kids. There have been a few times where I’ve stopped, cocked my head to the side and have wondered what in the hell some parents are thinking when they let their kids leave the house. But when a kid is under the age of 5, odds are pretty good that you dressed your kid yourself. This is not a matter of your 13 year old unzipping their hoodie to reveal a tube top. This is a 4 year old running around in micro-bikini and you put her in it. Seriously, I don’t even think that one of the triangles would have covered one of my nips. It was downright disturbing, and the thought that all one pervert had to do was snap a picture on their cell phone was too much.

I'm all like

I’m all like

dafoe

Creepers be all like

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from coordinating what time to hit the dinner buffet before our sit down dinner, the boyfriend and I talked about what we will and won’t allow our kids to wear for the better part of that afternoon. Glad to know he and I are on the same page.

4. Don’t make me pay three times what I’d pay on dry land and then give me a sales pitch. Another thing I knew better was not to spend money in the spa. I wound up spending over $100 on a ‘manager’s special’ treatment that was a scalp massage, foot massage, and a hot stone back massage. I could have gotten a Groupon! And if the price tag wasn’t unsettling enough, try relaxing when the spa is directly located under the weight room of the gym. All of the bro’s on the ship (and trust me, the boy and I counted at least 20 bro’s) were all working out at the same time, slamming their weights down on the thin floor above me. But the real cherry on top was the sales pitch. Talk about bursting what little bubble of relaxation I had. I had a feeling it was coming… I had sailed once on this cruise line a few years back and had the same thing happen to me. As soon as you’re handed your cup of water and still nekkid on the massage table, your therapist explains in her heavy accent about the types of oils she just rubbed you down with. Then she tells you how to use them at home. Then she says, “So which ones will you be purchasing today?” I’m sorry? I just overpaid you for the least relaxing massage I’ve ever had and you’re asking me to purchase these ‘exclusive’ beauty products?

no-effin-way

So that’s my rant.IMG_0579

At least now I’m home and slowly working good things into my body, like water. I’m already feeling some of the bloat going away, and last night when I finally found my appetite again all I wanted was something light but flavorful, and preferably with ingredients I already had in the fridge. There is a lemony lentil salad that I really like, and its great for lunch or as a side with dinner. It would also be good for taking on picnics because it doesn’t contain mayo and is great hot or cold.

 

Eat this and feel good!

1 ½ cups of green lentils
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from ½ a lemon
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
3 Tbs quality extra virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup diced red onion (optional)
1 clove of garlic minced or grated on a micro plane
Salt to taste

1. Boil your lentils in water for about 15 minutes, then drain.
2. In a mixing bowl, add all of the other ingredients except the salt.
3. Add in your lentils and toss together until everything is coated evenly.
4. Salt the salad to taste. Sometimes Dijon can add a little saltiness, so you always want to salt after.
5. Enjoy either warm or cold!

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Veggie Breakfast Frittata

I was in one of my Kitchen MacGuyver moods one Sunday morn. I had a 1/3 of a bag of wilting spinach, half a container of little cherry tomatoes that were staring to shrivel and my last 6 eggs in the fridge. If anything will make me feel like an Iron Chef, it’s one of those situations. I’ve become very fond of making frittatas because they are so versatile. They are a great vessel for those little bits of leftovers, cooked or uncooked, that you need to use up in the fridge. You can also save leftover slices and have a tasty breakfast ready to be warmed up throughout the week in a matter of seconds. If you’re feeling particularly swanky, pair a slice with a salad for what the fancy people like to call a light lunch. Or if you’re strapped for cash (like myself), you can call it not-tuna-salad-again-because-I-get-paid-in-two-more-days lunch.

One thing I have been sneaking into my cooking lately is this crazy blend of spices called Berbere. It’s a north African blend of spices that is really robust and give a complex and distinct flavor. It has lots of cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and a few other things. I picked up some at Penzy’s, but any specialty market might have it. If you can’t find it, a good pinch of cayenne pepper and turmeric might do the trick.

Side note: Remember to use a pot holder when removing your pan out of the oven and after. Maybe you all are smarter than me, but I can’t stop burning myself because I keep forgetting that the pan came out of a 375 degree oven and I just grab it as if I were making an omelet or something.

Veggie Breakfast Frittata

Veggie Breakfast Frittata

1 cup spinach
½ cup cheery tomatoes, halved
3 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1 tsp Berbere spice blend
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat your garlic and oil in an oven-safe pan over medium-high heat.

3. Just as the garlic starts to get a bit of brown, add your tomatoes and spinach. Sprinkle in the Berbere spice and toss to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes.

4. Whisk together your eggs and egg whites. Add them to the pan.

5. Gently stir the bottom of the pan with a spatula to move the veggies around in a uniform layer.

6. After the eggs cook for about 4 minutes on the stovetop, place the ovenproof pan in the oven to cook the eggs longer. Bake for 10 minutes, until the eggs have set.

7. Remove the pan from the oven and slide out the frittata on to a cutting board for cutting.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cups

I’m trying to work those ‘good’ grains back into my diet these day. I know I need to watch the carbs, but you can’t deny the goodness of putting whole grains into your body. In addition to all of the fiber you’ll get to keep you full, they are little nuggets of goodness to get you through a derby practice. Nothing is worse than running out of steam and you still have to keep skating another hour.

I like this recipe because it allows me to use all of those overripe bananas that I throw in the back of my freezer. Store in an airtight container for a few days in the fridge or pop them in the freezer for much later. These are awesome on-the-go when you overslept before your morning practice or only have a few minutes to get to derby after work.

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Makes 12 cups
2 cups of rolled oats
1 Tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (you can sub any unsweetened milk of choice, I just like almond)
1 egg
2 medium bananas
1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith) cored and cut into small chunks

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray, or use tin foil liners. The paper ones may be harder to get off (they were for me).

3. Mash your bananas and add your egg and milk. Mix together thoroughly.

4. Add your dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Once blended together, fold in the apple.

5. Fill your muffin tins to about the top. Bake for 25 minutes.

Vanilla Chia Smoothie

I’m trying to clean up my eating again. Like everyone else, I fall off the bandwagon during the holidays. I work in an industry full of food vendors. They are sending us droves of goodie baskets, as if the continual supply of food for testing throughout the year wasn’t havoc enough on my hips. Usually I wouldn’t mind, since I don’t beat myself up if I slip a cookie here and there because I know I’ve got at least 4 hours on my skates every week. However, my derby league is on holiday break like everyone else. Hopefully when I do start skating again back in January, the chocolate-covered pretzels, French truffles, Christmas cookies, and caramel popcorn won’t slow me down too much.

For me, getting back on the bandwagon is all about shortcuts. Just something to make the act of saying, “No, you don’t need to pull into T-Flats for Taco Tuesday because you have something equally delicious at home,” a little easier; like ripping off a Band Aid. My big problem this past month has been not eating a balanced breakfast. Lunch is easy for me if I don’t have time to pack it. I walk over to Panera for a fresh salad, or drive to one of many sushi places around and grab a fairly healthy meal. I’ve come to love Jimmy John’s not only for their freaky fast delivery to my office, but their Un-Wich as well. But when it comes to breakfast, I’m screwed if I don’t plan ahead. A bagel is out of the question, and though I like the hidden menu steak and egg bowl at Panera I don’t like paying more than $6 for it.

Enter chia smoothie goodness. I can whip this up in less than 5 minutes while I’m making dinner. Really no mess (especially if you heat the milk in the jar in the microwave) and after it sits in the fridge overnight, all you have to do is grab and go. I drink mine right out of the jar once I get to work and have been pairing it with eggs cups (recipe here) for a protein-packed breakfast that will help keep me going all morning.

Vanilla Chia Smoothie
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or soy, coconut or cow’s milk)
3 Tbs chia seeds
1 Tbs honey
1 Tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat your milk of choice either in the microwave or on the stovetop. Be careful not to scald it; stand by the stove and wait for it to warm. You want it warm so when you add your honey it will dissolve.

2. Add the honey and stir through, making sure it has dissolved into the milk.

3. Add your sweetened milk to a container with a lid (I prefer a mason jar or something from my collection of reused pasta sauce, pickles, mustard, and olive jars).

4. Add the vanilla extract and chia seeds.

5. Seal the lid and shake vigorously (over the sink!) until everything is incorporated. Let this is in the fridge for about half an hour and give it another good shake. Put it back in the fridge for at least 3 hours before shaking up and enjoying!

Paleo Brownies

It’s the holidays! There is one thing I splurge on… EGGNOG. I happen to have 2 half-gallons in my fridge at this very moment, right next to the eggnog coffee creamer. Aside from the eggnog splurge, there’s always the other treats with the holidays. Now that I’m not living with Mom and Dad anymore, the threat of the bounty of Christmas cookies is long gone. That doesn’t mean I don’t still want to eat something sweet and decadent. I like making these brownies because they are not only rich and chocolaty, but they are a cinch to make in your food processor.

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
15 large medjool dates, pits removed
1 medium ripe banana
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 Tbs honey
¼ cup dried cranberries

1. Except for the dried cranberries, combine all ingredients in your food processor until mixed thoroughly.
2. Stir in your cranberries.
3. Press into a greased baking dish and pop in the freezer until set (about 1 hour). Cut into squares and enjoy!