Monday, January 31, 2011

January results and a Sunday-night feast.

So the end of January is upon us, and with it, Sir and my fitness/healthy lifestyle/total makeover kickoff month. And what a month it was!

We re-jiggered our diets to shift emphasis away from carbs and sugar, adding lots of protein and veggies and keeping track of caloric intake and expenditures. Minus a day or so here or there, we abstained from alcohol. I spent a total of 15 hours on the spin bike, my latest love affair, and (finally) started incorporating some weight and resistance training into my workouts. And Sir shaved his (lovely) beard and 'stache. Bonus!

So how did we do?

Surprisingly, we did pretty well. Together, we've lost 25 lbs, high five! It's nice to know that hard work and practicing restraint can pay off, seeing as they're not always super fun. I'm hoping that we can keep it up as we ease into the All Things in Moderation / Now Make It a Habit phase of the revamp (February through eternity).

As a celebration, and mostly because we like to cook, we whipped up a small (healthy) feast for Sunday dinner. I've been wanting to do a fresh pasta again since we bought the pasta machine - yum. We threw together a modified bolognese and a spread of roasted vegetables to go with.

Sir, dinner prep.
Sir was in charge of the bolognese. We used ground turkey to keep it lean. We weren't following an actual recipe, but here's how it went down:

One-pan Turkey Bolognese
1lb ground turkey (or substitute ground beef, veal, sausage, whatever you want)
1 large onion
1 carrot
5 cloves of garlic, smashed (we like a lot of garlic; use less, if you don't)
Fennel seed
Dried oregano
Red chile flakes
1 slice pancetta, prosciutto or bacon
28 oz can of crushed tomato
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
Tomato paste
Bay leaf
Olive oil

We started by browning the ground turkey in a screaming-hot saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil. We often use sausage to make meat-sauce, but since we were using turkey instead, we added a bit of fat (prosciutto) and spices (fennel, oregano, chile) for flavor. Sir chopped the dried spices using the hand-cupped-over-the-knife technique to avoid spices flying everywhere (note to self: purchase spice grinder). He cut the proscuitto into ribbons and added it to the pan, stirring and mashing with a wooden spoon for about 10-15 minutes (or until the turkey starts to turn golden brown). Next, remove the turkey from the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the red wine. Make sure to scrape around the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to make sure you incorporate all the good brown bits.

Once the wine had reduced by half, we poured it over the reserved turkey and put chopped onion, carrot, and garlic into the pan to soften, stirring occasionally for another 10-15 minutes. Once translucent, we added the turkey back into the mix, along with the tomatoes, stock, a good spoonful of tomato paste, bay leaf and plenty of salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, on low until heated through.

Turkey, browned.
Red wine reducing.
Boom! Bolognese. And, minus the cream... healthier! That can sit on the stove for on long as you like. I am of the belief that pasta sauce improves with age. Just remember to stir it every once in a while.

As a side, we chopped up a bunch of vegetables for roasting. YUM.

Someone had asked me for some insight into vegetable roasting, so here you go. I cannot stress enough how easy this is, and how incredibly tasty vegetables are once roasted. Are you capable of looking into an oven to see if something is golden brown? Then you're ready to roast vegetables.

Roasted Vegetables
Any vegetable(s)
Olive oil

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Chop any vegetable into equal-sized chunks, not too small. We used broccoli rabe, fennel, zucchini and brussels sprouts, but you can seriously do this with pretty much anything: carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, squash, whatever you want. If the pieces are of about equal size, things should cook evenly. Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil (don't need to drench) and hit with salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven and keep an eye on them. In about 15-20 minutes, they should be turning golden-brown and smelling like heaven.

We put some sprigs of fresh rosemary in there for fun, but honestly, you don't need it. 

Seriously, roasted vegetables. If there's a vegetable you don't like (brussels sprouts, for me) try roasting - I promise, the change is incredible.

And for the grand finale, fresh gluten-free pasta. I used the Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef's recipe, available for purchase here.

Weighing flours for pasta.
Corn flour, sifting.
Add eggs and mix! Yay stand mixer!
To the pasta machine, for rolling and cutting.
Finished linguine!

And there you have it - a fabulous, filling and healthy dinner, perfect for toasting the rest of the year.

Just (try to) go easy on the pasta.

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