Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Muffin Mania: Parmesan + herb zucchini muffins

Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? That is one easy plant to grow! I laugh at tales of small towns where the folks only lock their cars during zucchini season to prevent zucchini "donations" (aka ambushs). Here is a savory recipe that I adapted to increase the whole grain.

Muffin tip 1: don't over mix! Stirring too much develops a lot of gluten and can turn a tender muffin into a hockey puck.

Muffin tip 2: if you want muffins that are exactly the same size, use a disher!

Parmesan + Herb Zucchini Muffins 
Makes 12 - easy to double and freeze the extras
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh, minced)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (flour through parsley) in a bowl; stir until blended. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients (zucchini through eggs) and whisk until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
  4. Divide batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups and bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack or clean tea towel.
Recipe adapted from Muffins A to Z by Marie Simmons. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Your questions answered: What is BMI?

If you've been to a health screening lately or had an annual physical with your doctor, you may have heard the term "BMI". What is it exactly, and what should yours be?

BMI stand for Body Mass Index and is one tool to assess your health. It is a measure of how much body weight you have relative to your height. Healthy range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.  It is simple to do and is great for looking at large groups of people, like scientists do for research projects. It isn't perfect though.

You can calculate your BMI here.

One problem is that BMI doesn't look at type of tissue - there is no distinction between fat or muscle. For this reason, your average athlete with a high amount of muscle tissue may register falsely as "overweight" according to their BMI. Similarly, a pregnant woman will also likely be "overweight". However, BMI is pretty accurate for most.

What about kids? You can also assess their weight for their height using BMI, but the guidelines are dependent on their age and gender. The CDC has a BMI calculator for kids.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scrumptious Soups: Asparagus

I love soups! They are so versitle, compliment almost any meal and are easy to cram full of delicious veggies.

I have really gotten on board with pureed soups. The tool you need? An immersion blender. This little kitchen workhorse quickly turns your pot of tender veggies into smooth, velvety soup - no need to transfer to a tabletop blender.Of course, you can use the table top blender, but if you're as big of a fan of soups as I am, you'll get your money's worth out of this investment.

Kitchen tip: if you blend hot soup in a table top blender, remove that little cap from the rubber top and cover the hole with a kitchen towel. This will allow some steam to escape while keeping the soup off of your kitchen ceiling.

This is more of a method than a formal recipe. Feel free to try it with any seasonal veggie - just try to pick similar colored veggies for beautiful soup.

A few ideas:
  • Celery + spinach + peas
  • Carrots + ginger
  • Roasted carrots + roasted parsnips + garlic
  • Red pepper + tomato
  • Butternut squash + pear 

Scrumptious Soups: Asparagus
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 potato, diced (no need to peel)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2-3 quarts of low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 pound of asparagus, woody ends removed and chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup milk, half-and-half, or plant-based milk
  • Salt + pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, saute the onion, potato and garlic in the vegetable oil until tender - about 5 -10 minutes.
  2. Add asparagus and saute for another minute or two. 
  3. Add enough stock to just barely cover all of the vegetables. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the veggies are tender (but not mushy).
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree your soup until velvety and smooth. Stir in your milk and check the seasoning - add salt + pepper, if you wish. 
Pureed soups freeze well - try glass mason jars or 1-quart freezer bags. You can stack the plastic bags and store a lot of soup without using much freezer space. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why I Bike: Tom

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?

I learned to bike when I was six years old, my eight year old sister was my coach. Needless to say I suffered a few scrapes and bruises before I got the hang of it! 

In what city and state do you live?

I currently live in South Bend, IN but I hail from the Emerald Isle. I lived in Ireland all my life before moving to South Bend last August to do a one year Masters in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Commercialization at the University of Notre Dame.  

What is the biking culture like there?

Ireland is a great country for biking. The larger cities such as Dublin and Cork are very bike friendly with most streets having bike lanes. In addition, the recent implementation of a biking rental scheme has made cycling even more accessible to both commuters and tourists. However, biking in the countryside is the main attraction. Ireland’s best sights such as the Ring of Kerry are best seen whilst biking the through the breath-taking landscape.  

What kind of bike do you have? 

My biking style is a bit reckless to say the least, so I’ve always had a mountain bike. 

How often do you ride your bike?

I ride my bike every day. 

Do you have a bike story?

I was in Paris in 2008 and I had just met the love of my life. We agreed to meet again outside Montmartre Metro Station at 10am. Surprise surprise, there was a strike and the metro wasn’t operating that morning. It was 9:45am, and I was 3 miles from Montmartre. I rented a bike at a nearby bike shop and made it just in time! We had not exchanged contact information (this was before facebook was all powerful), so if it wasn’t for that bike we may never have met again!

I wish drivers

would give cyclists right of way at an intersection crossing!!

I would ride my bike even more if...

I had a comfortable bike saddle.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?

YES!! Myself and my five Irish comrades nicknamed the Cycling Irish biked right through the winter.
Do you own a car?

No, not yet.
My favorite thing about riding my bike.... 


The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike…. 

Bike tour of Munich, Germany. Great city, lovely parks and very bike friendly.

The bike trip I’m dying to do…

Tour de France


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