Smoothie Style Chilled Strawberry Soup

I am not a fan of chilled soups so when I found out that this month’s Kosher Connection  Link-Up theme was chilled soup I was slighlty intimidated.  After enlisting my creative juices I came to the decision that if I like smoothies I should like a soup that somewhat resembles a smoothie – and I was right!  This strawberry soup is quite refreshing, mildly sweet, creamy and delicious. I was inspired by this recipe that I found on the blog deliciousshot.blogspot.com. It’s also super simple to make.

Strawberry Soup Ingredients: 

  •  2 tbsp coconut sugar – you can read about the benefits of coconut sugar here
  •  1 lb strawberries – rinsed and sliced
  • 1.5 cup low fat coconut milk (the canned version)
  • Juice from half lime
  •  Zest half lime – for garnishing
  • Creme fraiche – for garnish
  • Black pepper – to taste
  • Fresh Mint

Strawberry Soup Instructions:

Step 1: Place strawberries in a small bowl and add lime juice, a few sprigs of fresh mint and coconut sugar.  Cover with saran-wrap and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill and so the flavors can marinate.

Step 2: Once marinated, remove mint leaves and toss the strawberries with the juice and coconut milk in a blender.  Process until smooth.

Step 3: Pour into small serving glasses and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkle of lime zest and black pepper.

Step 4: Eat in a sunny spot.

Creme fraiche is such a nice and decadent addition to this soup.  It  can resemble sour cream in texture but with a slighly nutty flavor and a little bit of tang.  It also goes well with the tartness and bite of the limes.  Plus the white color just looks so pretty against the pink.

Health Points: Mint not only adds a cooling freshness to this dish but it also comes with many health benefits.  One of it’s benefits is that it promotes digestion by activating the saliva glands in our mouth and the glands which secrete digestive enzymes.  So soup up! We enjoyed the soup on our rooftop after a day of running, softball, and biking.

xxxx TeamZ

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Chilled Soup” recipes.

Put Some Tape On It!

photo

A few weeks have now passed since making my defiant declaration – that it was officially time to get off my rear end and start gearing up for this triathlon business. And in these few weeks, all of the old spots that have been giving me trouble over the years – shoulders, low back, glutes, knees, and ankles – have been reminding me that I can’t just wake up one day and swim for an hour, run 6 miles, or bike another 25 just because the moment strikes. This only leads me to one conclusion – and I’m sure the rest of you TeamZ-er’s can attest – that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Jimmy Connors once said that, and he played professional tennis, beating men half his age, until his retirement at age 42. A true hero to all lefties like me.

In the context of triathlon training though, I should amend this notion by saying, use it efficiently and properly, or lose it … or less dramatically, experience some painful joints after a workout. Case in point: After our first group Saturday swim workout at the Asphalt Green Aqua Center – a sweet perk which comes with being linked to the triathlon through our Alzheimer’s Association charity group – my left shoulder was feeling like a container of Jell-o that had an arm attached to it. Mind you, I was able to hang tough for the first half of the class, but once we started practicing our overhead stroke technique, pain started to set in with nearly every sweep underneath the water. The post-swim sauna and/or steam in another 90 minutes couldn’t come sooner!

But what do pain and discomfort have to do with efficiency or proper mobility? An important lesson I’ve taken from my chiropractic education is that when certain muscles – be they stabilizers, prime movers, or antagonists – fail to do their job properly, other muscles can spring into action to help compensate for the others’ lack of activity while performing the necessary function of the joint, or joints in question.

Knowing my own shoulder and past injury history – or lack thereof – this wasn’t an internal joint derangement or degeneration process causing my pain. I had full and painless range of motion, both passive and active, in all major directions. However, pain was felt upon resisted range of motion, which is indicative of something happening at the muscular-tendon junction. With me, I was feeling pain at the along the rounded side and front edges of the shoulder – basically where the rotator cuff muscles attach. While these muscles act to perform abduction, internal rotation, and external rotation of the shoulder, their chief concern is enforcing stability by keeping the head of the humerus (arm bone) centered within the shoulder socket, also known as the glenoid cavity. Tight pectoral muscles, which is what I have, can cause the shoulder and scapula (the shoulder blade) to roll forward during activity and rest, putting extra pressure on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons while they’re doing their job. Coupled with the tight pect’s in the front, I also have weak, or inactive scapular stabilizing rhomboid and latissimus dorsi muscles – especially on the left – which are also contributing to the cuff insertion pain.
image004 tp-pec

So aside from just chopping my arm off and calling it a day, what was I to do about this pain? After all, I had a softball game to play the next day and I’m the pitcher! Granted, I pitch underhand, so the mechanics are somewhat different than the overhead motions of swimming, but the principles discussed in the past few paragraphs still remain the same: I need my shoulder complex to be in the right position, with all structures acting the way they’re supposed to. Apart from the ice applied in 20 minute intervals after the swim, as well as stretching out my pect’s, I incorporated a method of rehabilitative care which has been gaining lots of traction and attention in recent years: Kinesiology Tape.

If you’re an avid Olympics watcher like me, you’ve no doubt seen the duo of Kerri Walsh/Misty May Treanor spike their way to consecutive beach volleyball gold medals while wearing this type of tape on their shoulders. Novak Djokovic won a US Open wearing kinesio tape too.
kinesio_Keri_Walsh Screen_shot_2011-08-31_at_10.35.45

Kinesiology tape serves many functions and possesses several benefits in its application:

-sensory stimulation of muscle activity via nerve receptors on the skin
-improved fluid dynamics by gently lifting the skin off the connective tissue covering muscles
-helps to normalize muscle tone and activation for proper movement
-postural correction
-pain relief
-you look pretty bad ass in competition

Lucky for me, I had just taken a course in getting certified in the application of one tape in particular called Rock Tape, so I had the basic idea down of what to do.

DISCLAIMER: It is very hard to tape yourself 100% perfectly – as evidenced by the makeshift job you see on my shoulder above – so make sure you have a buddy nearby to tape you. It is also critical that you follow the specific directions, like with pre-positioning a joint prior to taping, or with taping from either muscular insertion to origin, or origin to insertion. The direction in which you tape could lead to muscular activation (O-I) like I needed with my rhomboids and lat’s, or muscular inhibition (I-O) like I needed with my pect’s.

END RESULT: A personal best 7 strikeouts en route to our team’s first win of the softball season.

MORE END RESULTS: Enhanced self awareness of postural incorrectness, activation of some sleepy shoulder blade muscles, loosened pect’s, and (relatively) pain-free workouts and pitching outings – both with and without tape.

Definitely check out the Rock Tape website: they’ve got loads of instructional videos, where you can buy the tape, and even where to find certified “Rock Doc’s” near your home or office. Also, if you’re a swimmer, or someone who engages in athletic activities where your shoulder is needed, you should check out this video I found on Youtube yesterday made by the good people at FINA – the international governing body of ALL that is aquatic sports. This video covers some basic core exercises – as the core is where one draws a lot of their upper extremity strength and mobility from – as well as rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing exercises that are easy to perform, yet so effective.

Check your posture. Check your range of motion. Listen to your body. Rock On!

-Matt Z – Certified “Rock Doc”

Easy Baked Tomatoes

DISCLOSURE: Because of its simplicity, and sometimes taste-specificity, I can’t provide exact measurements for this dish.  Making this dish is one of those instances where you can get away with saying, “oh, i just threw this together. no big deal.” You don’t need to muck up any measuring cups, and within in 20 minutes you have a perfect and healthy side dish, snack, or topping for a sandwich.

ADDED DISCLOSURE: It’s really my mother’s recipe so I can’t take credit.

Happy lycopening!

Baked Tomatoes Ingredients:

  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Plum Tomatoes
  • Olive oil for Drizzling
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning (25% less sodium)- if you do not have use garlic, salt, and pepper.
  • Mozerella Cheese for Sprinkling
  • Parlsey for Garnishing

Baked Tomatoes Instructions:

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350.

Step 2: Half grape tomatoes and slice plum tomatoes- place on baking sheet.

Plum tomatoes are sweet but yet carry some tang as well. They are the go-to tomato for sauces and obviously for this dish.  Baking them truly brings out their richness.  Grape tomatoes are one of my favorite snacks- they pop in your mouth and our bursting with flavor.

Step 3: Drizzle with olive oil.

Step 4: Sprinkle with steak seasoning (garlic, salt, and pepper).  We love this bold spice in the TeamZ home. It is a mixture of salt, garlic, onion, black and red pepper.

Step 5: Place In oven for about 15 minutes- until tomatoes are tender.

Step 6:  Remove and sprinkle with shredded mozerella. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Step 7: Garnish with chopped parsley to add some clean freshness.

Health Points: Although cooking tomatoes reduces some of the vitamin content- cooking with the skin on maintains the fiber. Another bonus of cooking the tomatoes is that it boosts the phytochemical Lycopene – a helpful antioxidant. It also gives tomatoes its vibrantly deep-red color. You may also end up popping some of the raw grape tomatoes in your mouth as you cook and give your body the Vitamin A, C, and K it deserves.

xoxx Tomato Happy TeamZ

Garlic Crouton Kale (Yeah) Salad

For this month’s link up the theme was croutons.  I happen to love the crunch of croutons in salads, soups, or even as a plain snack.  While there are several ways to make croutons,  I prefer mine pan-fried because this creates a crouton thats is crispy on the outside but moist on the inside.  However, if you prefer a crouton that is crunchy throughout, then use an oven to make and bake your croutons.  I like to use pumpernickel bread for my croutons because I love the texture and flavor of this hearty and bold bread.

These garlic-infused croutons are packed with flavor and super delicious.  They paired perfectly with my kale salad. I like the dressing I created for this salad, but if you are a Caesar dressing fan – which I am not – I think that would actually be a great dressing for this salad.  Matt and I first started eating Kale several years ago when we joined a CSA.  We got an exorbitant amount of kale on a bi-weekly basis, which truly tested our creativity: kale chips, kale salad, kale soups … kale ice cream. Just kidding..  This is when Matt developed his saying “Kale Yeah”.  He still thinks it’s funny years later.

Garlic Crouton Ingredients

  • 2-3 slices of day old pumpernickel bread
  • 2 tablespoons high oleic safflower oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

Garlic Crouton Instructions

Step 1: Stack the bread slices on cutting board and remove crusts from each side. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Step 2: Heat safflower oil in skillet over medium heat with garlic slices. Tip: Safflower oil has a high smoke point (not easily damaged by heat) and is an ideal oil to use when cooking over medium to medium high heat.

Step 3: Add in bread.  It will need approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.

Step 4: Remove bread and garlic slices and transfer to a  paper towel lined plate to drain. Season with salt and sprinkle with parsley while still hot.

Kale Crouton Salad Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale- washed and dried and tough stems removed. 
  • Shaved parmesean cheese (said in an Italian accent)
  • Homemade garlic croutons and fried garlic slices from above
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Kale Crouton Salad Instructions:

Step 1:  Place olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice, dijon mustard, apple cider, and honey in a jar.  Whisk together and set aside.

Step 2:  Here is the #1 tip when making a kale salad.  Are you ready?

The kale needs some TLC – place kale in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.  Then massage the kale mixture for 3-4 minutes.  You will notice that the kale begins to soften and will reduce by approximately half.  The kale should look a little shiny and the green a little brighter.

See pic for before and after:

Step 3: Toss in parmesan cheese to your liking and drizzle salad with dressing.  The nutty tone of the parmeasean and the mildly bitter tone of the kale= great combo.

Step 4: Top with croutons, fried garlic slices, and dig in.

Health points: Kale is high in vitamin A and C. Safflower oil is high in monounsaturated fat which helps keep HDL cholesterol (the good one) high.

xoxx Team Kale Yeah

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “Crouton” recipes.

The Time Is Now

                     

I know what you’re thinking – “where’s this week’s healthy recipe with accompanying pictures?!” …”Who gave this strange-looking dude permission to post something?!”

To answer said queries, first allow myself to introduce … myself. My name is Matthew Zimmerman – the ghost editor-in-chief of this blog and the other half to TeamZ. Some would say the better, more handsome half, but don’t tell Vicki that’s what the people on the street are saying.

Even though I am quite handy in the kitchen, and even more adept at holding Vicki’s various food items in the perfect position for the right picture, I will not be posting fun food recipes and pictures for your viewing pleasure. I will, however, utilize: 1) my knowledge of the human body – how it works, what makes it hurt, and how to make it un-hurt; 2) past experience in training for a 5-day, 250 mile off-road bike in Israel, the 2011 NYC Triathlon, 2011 Tough Mudder, and the 2012 NYC Marathon; and 3) current literature and expert opinion on how to “maintain” while gearing up for athletic feats, ranging from a 5k to our triathlon … all in an effort to educate and inspire you fine people, and maybe engender a few laughs along the way – at my expense of course.

So as indicated in the title above, it’s time: Time I got off the couch and hit the training circuit; Time I started to speak on the subjects listed in the previous paragraph; and Time I started to opine on what’s happening throughout this training process. The picture above was taken 3 weeks ago in the elevator ride down to our building’s gym to partake in the first of many of these workouts – initially drawn up by my chiropractic classmate, and personal trainer friend, Joe Van Wagner, when I was getting ready for the Tough Mudder 2 years ago.

This workout hurts, plain and simple. It is not for the faint of heart and takes a good 30-45 minutes to get through. But when all is said and done, you’re left feeling like you can break through walls and climb mountains – that is until the next morning when you can’t get out of bed because everything hurts, including muscles you didn’t even know existed: Serratus? …  Quadratus? … Obliqus?? .. Who are you and who invited you to this gym session?! This program is not meant for everyday usage, especially if you’re gearing up for something like a triathlon where there’s plenty of other disciplines to worry about (hint: if you ever imagined a world where being in a pool is the anti-fun, then this is it). But it’s good for those days during the workout training week where focusing on strength – shoulders/arms, core, glutes (yes, there’s more than one kind of glute), hammies and quads – is the key to making sure that you can get through the daunting swim-bike-run combo, or any endurance challenge for that matter, in one piece.

I went ahead and did this workout – felt like crap the next 4 days of course – but since its  incorporation into my weekly training schedule, the after effects are barely noticeable with next-day recovery achieved.

Stay hydrated, don’t forget to stretch the right way both before and after a workout, and pour yourself a nice tall glass of chocolate milk after your workout: “Sweet for Sweat” as I like to say.

Next time, I’ll talk about the first swim training session, my ailing shoulder, and benefits of taping.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your workout!

-Matt Z.
 

Beluga Lentil, Tomato, & Asparagus Salad

When I was shopping at the local health food store the other day, I noticed a package of black beluga lentils and was quite intrigued. I am not a huge fan of lentils, but I just thought they were so cute and would look pretty when plated with some colorful veggies. They are easy to prepare, have a mild flavor and are packed with vitamin B and protein. For the dressing, I used Shiri Zimmerman’s tomato salad dressing recipe with some minor changes (she’s my sister-in-law and fellow lentil lover). The salad turned out to be a huge hit when we served it at her home in Deal, NJ, and is something  that will definitely make multiple appearances over the spring and summer.

Tomato Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 tsp coconut palm sugar (lower glycemic index then white refined sugar- basically it doesn’t cause the sugar highs and lows that refined sugar is guilty of doing. It provides a slower release of energy. Measure it just like sugar 1:1 ratio.)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 pint yellow and red grape tomatoes halved

Instructions

  • In a small jar whisk all ingredients together (except tomatoes).
  • Place tomatoes in dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad- this allows it to absorb all the delicious flavors of the dressing.

Asparagus Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus rinsed
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Asparagus Instructions:

  • Place water and salt in a pot and bring to boil
  • Trim off the tough end of the asparagus (Tip: Take 1 asparagus stalk and snap off the tough end where it naturally breaks.  Place all asparagus together and use the broken asparagus as a guide for where to cut the rest). Discard the tough white end.
  • Place Asparagus in boiling water and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until tender.
  • Once tender remove immediately plunge into bowl of ice water

Black Beluga Lentils Ingredients & Recipe:

I just followed the package instructions for this…

  • Sort and rinse 1 cup lentils. Place in pot. Add 3 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Garnish with Parsley (as always I need my fresh herb fix) and plate to your liking.  The first time I served this I placed the beluga lentils on a plate. Topped neatly with asparagus and then with tomatoes soaked in dressing.  I then drizzled the remainder of the dressing over the dish (as pictured below).  The second time I made this dish I cut the asparagus into about 1 inch pieces and mixed all ingredients in a bowl and served as a salad for lunch at Shiri’s house (as pictured above). It was a big hit!

Health points: Beluga lentils are packed with fiber and protein. Asparagus is loaded with folate, vitamins A,C,E,K, and antioxidants.

xoxo almost caviar lovers

ABC (Avocado+Banana+Coconut) Vegan Ice Cream

OK I have to admit I belong in Ice Cream Addicts Anonymous. I can seriously eat ice cream every day – snow or sunshine.  In an effort to limit all of the preservatives I consume with store bought ice cream, I decided to make my own unprocessed version.  Sorry Edy’s slow churned – I know you will be losing a lot of business.

What was the inspiration behind the ingredients? Simply, things I had around the apartment.  Here is a tip: buy a bunch of bananas, peel, and freeze.  I almost always have bananas at hand to throw into smoothies or other banana-related items.  As for the avocado, I watch a lot of Iron Chef America (best show ever) and they always seem to be putting things you wouldn’t expect in the ice cream maker. So why not avocado? let’s start adding some healthy fats to our ice cream!

Kitchen Gadgets: Here at the TeamZ Ponderosa, we seem to be collecting kitchen gadgets by the minute.  We may need to leave NYC because we will soon outgrow our kitchen.  I guess that is why we have space under the bed right?! So I made this recipe 2x once with an ice cream maker and once without.  It came out awesome even without the ice cream maker- I promise. I had it taste tested by cousin Andrew and BFF Atara (and of course the hubby- but he likes everything I make..or at least that’s what he’s contractually obligated to say).  Without the ice cream maker it has more of an ices texture, while the ice cream maker creates a more lasting creamy feel and appearance.

Ok enough talk. Here is the recipe.  As you can tell I am super passionate when it comes to my ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado- pit removed
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Place all ingredients in blender (except for chocolate chips)
  • Once blended transfer to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions
  • Mix in chocolate chips
  • Transfer to air tight container and place in freezer

If you do not have an ice cream maker – after blending transfer to air tight container and place in freezer.  Remove from freezer about every 30-45 minutes and stir with spatula or whisk.  Keep checking and stirring periodically until frozen. The pictures were taken of the non-icecream maker version.

xoxo Ice Cream Addicts