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.

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Beach Picnics Part 1 – Chicken Salad Sandwiches

The last couple of weekends I’ve been lucky enough to have Tim free on Sundays. Since we sometimes work opposite schedules, it’s a real treat when we both have a day off. We had been making a routine of hitting up brunch at The Hammered Lamb over on Ivanhoe Row. It’s the only place that has been able to break me of my standard eggs benedict and mimosa meal. Now I always order a BLT and their bloody mary bar. I’m definitely one of those classless assholes that tops their bloody mary with four pieces of bacon, two skewers of blue cheese stuffed olives, a few artichoke hearts and a stick of string cheese. I tried their BLT on a whim, since I’ve had a very strict policy ever since I was a toddler that bread and vegetables like raw tomato and lettuce should never meet. Sometimes food just beckons you, I suppose.

There is also a very distinct flavor in their BLT. They use an herbed mayo that is rife with thyme. I love herbs on my eggs, and its not uncommon for me to sprinkle herbes des Provence on eggs when cooking breakfast at home. I feel like you usually find thyme in much more rich and savory dishes, like French onion soup or anything else where beef is simmered for hours. But thyme also has a wonderful flavor that works well with lighter dishes, like eggs and chicken.

The Florida summer has really had me yearning for the beach, however. I usually never go because I got in the habit of only going for 2 or 3 hours and then heading home. When I was growing up in New Smyrna Beach, that was fine. Now that I live in Orlando and it’s easily an hour before I can even put a foot in the sand, I’d rather make a day of it. Tim and I took our brunch money and invested in all the tools necessary to make us look like every other Orlando resident that I grew up annoyed by yet thankful for; my beach umbrella, cooler and chairs a reminder of my time working at Mon Delice where I’d make sub sandwiches and box pastries up for the tourists.

I had been wanting to hit up Playalinda in Titusville. To keep us on the beach, I decided I’d pack the cooler with a great picnic spread. First, I’d make big chicken salad sandwiches on wheat buns. I chopped up some cucumber slices and celery sticks to go with hummus. For dessert, I made rosemary lemon shortbread cookies. Those actually turned out to be quite the Pinterest Fail, and I’ll be sure to post all about that so you can enjoy. For good measure I grabbed the vodka and a bottle of bloody mary mix.

Chicken salad is one of those recipes that I always forget how much I like. Although it can be labor-intensive, I enjoy how few ingredients it takes. Its also pretty cheap to make because I take bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and roast them in the oven. Not only are they half the cost of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they have so much more flavor and moisture when you cook them.

The labor-intensive part is standing in the kitchen pulling the meat from the bone and shredding it by hand. Not only will you be able to make sure you separate the little bones and bits of cartilage, but I think the long shreds hold the sauce nicely and give a different texture. I also have made this recipe with salmon I’ve cooked. Salmon goes wonderfully with either herb, but especially with dill. Again, you’ll want to flake the salmon apart by hand; that will keep the thick flaky texture instead of mushy like bad tuna fish salad.

There are other ingredient swaps you can use in this recipe. For the mustard, I have Dijon listed. I’m also a big fan of stone ground mustard or even deli-style mustard with chicken in particular. I like to use a combination of half mayo – half low fat Greek yogurt to lighten it up. I’ve also made this with just Greek yogurt, but we like the extra richness the mayo gives. Play around with the proportions that you like, or even try with a vegan or paleo mayonnaise. Get funky.

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2 Chicken breasts with the bone in and skin on, or about 3 cups of cooked shredded chicken
1 Cup celery, diced
½ Cup Mayo
½ Cup Greek Yogurt
¼ Cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Thyme or Dill
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. If you’re starting with uncooked chicken, bake the chicken breasts skin-side up in an open pan at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Let them cool until they are cool enough to handle with your hands.

2. Discard the chicken skin… Or snack on it like I do while I make this! Its like chicken bacon.

3. Shred the chicken using your hands.

4. Combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

5. Check the mixture for seasoning. Some mustards have different flavors, so get a feel for where your flavors are at before adding additional salt and pepper. I usually will add about 1 teaspoon of salt at this point.

6. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour before making your sandwiches.

Paleo Zucchini Bread

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I suck at baking. Like really, really suck at baking. I never can seem to get things right. I blame it on the fact that baking is all about being precise. It’s a chemical reaction, and I think I got a C+ at best in chemistry. The best part of being a business major in college was that I could get away with geology as my required science class. The only thing I took away from my professor was his love of ‘A Land Remembered’ by Patrick D. Smith, which is now one of my favorite books. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Florida history.

Luckily paleo baking seems to be something I’m far better at. It’s still not the ‘pinch of this, dash of that’ freedom that cooking gives me, but it seems less hard for me to totally screw things up. I also enjoy paleo baking because it means I can eat baked goods without all of the extra sugar and processed carbs. I’m one of those people who needs to watch my carbs and processed junk I put into my body because it seems to enjoy settling on my stomach. I by no means am trying to ‘eat like a caveman’, and I do still put some lower-fat cream cheese on my paleo zucchini bread because that’s the way God (and my mom) intended zucchini bread to be eaten. As far as my lower-carb-higher-protein lifestyle goes, this just seems to fit right in.

In the two times I’ve made this recipe, I’ve found that using thawed zucchini that you’ve nearly crushed with your bare hands works the best. This is particularly helpful when it’s near the end of summer, and your fridge is overflowing with all of the zucchini that you bought on sale because it was in season and you got tired of grilling, sautéing, and making baked zucchini fries (recipe here). Just run it through the food processor’s grater (or shred by hand with a box grater), bag it up in portions, and toss it in the freezer (next to your stockpile of bananas that you also bought in bulk) till you’re ready to make a bounty of zucchini bread, which to me is a fall treat with summer’s leftovers. Let it thaw, then squeeze as much liquid as you can out to make sure your bread doesn’t come out too wet.

1 ½ c almond flour
1 cup zucchini, shredded and drained of excess water
3 eggs
1 banana, mashed
1 ½ tsp baking soda
3 Tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3. In another bowl, add your eggs, honey, banana, and coconut oil and whisk together thoroughly.

4. Add your squeezed zucchini to the wet mixture. Seriously… Squeeze the shit out of it.

5. Fold in the dry ingredients until everything is smooth.

6. Grease a loaf pan and pour the batter in. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

7. Allow the bread to cool before removing from the pan. Enjoy!

Breakfast: Egg Cups

Breakfast is unfortunately is the most overlooked meal of the day. The problem for me is 1. I L-O-V-E breakfast foods and 2. I’m like everyone else and I have no time to make myself something worthy of being considered breakfast. I’m sorry, but a bowl of sugary cold cereal at 7am just hits my stomach like a rock, and swinging into the DD on my way to the office most always makes me late.

Through my experimentation with different ways of eating, I’ve noticed that a high-protein breakfast not only keeps me going through lunchtime, but it’s pretty effective at helping me keep my weight in check. Also as a skater, my body needs all the protein it can get. While looking through some clean eating sites, I came across something called an ‘egg cup’. Basically they are mini egg quiches but without the crust, and by far the best thing that I’ve incorporated into my morning routine since the snooze button.  Do these Sunday while you’re making dinner, and you’ll be ready to go in the morning!

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You’ll need:

A muffin tin

8 eggs (whole, or any combo of white and yolks)

Shredded cheese (optional)

1 leak

2 strips of cooked bacon

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the rough top of the leak off and discard, about 1” from the end. Thinly slice the leak all the way to the bottom. Rinse under warm water thoroughly to remove any sand (leaks are notoriously sandy).
  3. Sautee the leaks in a pan in your favorite fat or cooking spray of choice on medium heat until they are soft.
  4. Mince the bacon and add to the leaks.
  5. Spoon the leak and bacon mixture into the muffin tin.

Resist the urge to season the ingredients! Adding salt to eggs while they are cooking can make them tough, and the bacon you are using may have enough sodium already. Do feel free to use herbs, like rosemary, or pepper.

  1. Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk together.
  2. Pour enough egg into the muffin tins to reach about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the side. They will puff up!
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they have risen and look firm on top.
  4. Remove and sprinkle a pinch or two of shredded cheese on top. The heat from the eggs will melt it while they rest.
  5. While they are still warm (but not hot), gently lift the egg cups out with a fork and place into a container.

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To reheat in the morning, pop them into the microwave for 30-50 seconds and you have a delicious way to power up in the morning!

There are a million ways you can tweak this recipe. It lends itself as a way to use up any leftovers you might have, like the veggies that you didn’t finish at dinner mixed with some extra sausage you made for breakfast over the weekend. Try any combination of grilled or sautéed vegetables, but make sure that your ingredients do not contain much water. If you’re using spinach, be sure it’s relatively dry before you add it to your muffin pan- spinach and mushrooms hold a lot of water, which will compromise the texture of your eggs. I’m a fan of zucchini, asparagus, and onions. Play around with different cheese to top your egg cups with. I think hard or semi-soft cheeses would work best. Sharp cheddar and parmesan are my two favorites, especially because they add a lot of flavor without having to use much.