Labor Day Special: Summer Peach Gazpacho

Though summer is officially over as of today, I’m still basking in the beauty of its fresh, seasonal produce thanks to my weekly deliveries from From the Farmer. For most, soup and summer aren’t exactly two peas in a pod. There is, however, one exception to this dissonance–gazpacho. Gazpacho is technically any cold soup using raw vegetables and thus technically, as you’ll see, mine is not a purist’s gazpacho.

Last summer, I made another gazpacho on the blog that was a little more hearty and classic in its preparation and flavor profiles. This time around I wanted to usher in fall by adding a little more warmth and depth to this otherwise light and refreshing soup–don’t worry, it still delivers on those fronts too. By grilling the peaches and roasting the vegetables you bring out the natural sweetness of the produce and infuse the finished dish with a little je ne sais quoi.

Grilled Peaches via www.moar-fit.com | Amy Rizzotto

This gazpacho, much like my last, is still loaded with heart-healthy tomatoes. Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, folate, potassium and, perhaps most significantly, the antioxidant compound lycopene. Lycopene has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer.

Peach Gazpacho via www.moar-fit.com | Amy Rizzotto

Summer Peach Gazpacho

{makes 8 servings}

what you’ll need.

  • 2 large ripe peaches
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 ripe tomatoes (roma, plum or small/medium round ones will do)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 cups of water (depending on your preferred consistency)
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: add 1-3 tsp cumin for a smoky flavor

how to make it.

  1. Preheat oven to 500 F.
  2. While oven is preheating, cut peaches in half and remove pit. Rub the cut side with a little olive oil. On a grill pan (or grill if you have one), grill peaches (cut side down) for 2-3 minutes over high heat.
  3. Toss jalapenos, garlic and tomatoes in 2 Tbs of olive oil and a little salt and pepper, and roast for about 10 minutes. This will vary depending on your oven, but look for the jalapenos to start to brown and the skin on them and the tomatoes should start to crack and possibly blister. Set aside to cool.
  4. While roasting veggies/letting them cool you can…(1) Prep your onion. Chop it in half. Set one half aside and dice the other into small pieces for garnish. (2) Wash and dry your cilantro. Set one cup (or a hearty handful) aside, stems and all. Chop another 1/2 cup for garnish, stems removed. (3) Zest one lemon, then juice it and one more (do this directly into your blender to save on clean-up). (4) Leave one half of your bell pepper whole, seeds removed. Dice the other half into small pieces for garnish. (5) Halve, pit and dice your avocado for garnish.
  5. When jalapenos are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and slice them lengthwise so you can get all the seeds out.
  6. Combine all ingredients (except those designated “garnish”) in a blender with 2-3 cups of water depending on your preferred consistency.

Note: this gets better the longer it sits in the fridge. It will store well for up to a week.

Second note: I like mine spicy so I usually leave about half the seeds from ONE jalapeno in. Any more than that and you should probably have some milk and cornbread on hand!

On Love.

While working on some new recipes and new posts, I thought I’d share some thoughts on a subject near and dear to my heart – literally – love. Before I go on, let me say that love comes in many forms. For me, a big part of how I share and receive love is through food. Cooking is a soulful, heartfelt endeavor and one that’s a big component of my own self-care regimen as well as my most authentic love language. Now back to that crazy little thing called…

Love is at the core of who we are and how we relate to the world. It is our foundation, our resting state, our home base.

Often, however, we can’t feel it – for ourselves or for others. It can come and go, clouded by stress, pain or whenever we’re feeling threatened and vulnerable.

Sometimes all it takes is one critical comment from a friend, partner or colleague to be driven from this home base.

MOARfit Love Heart

Each time we run, we harden – or at least that’s often the case. We shield ourselves from future hurt. We fear what love can do.

Scary as it may be, we need to come home to love. All of us. We need to recognize and have confidence in our own hearts. This will ground us, uplift us and protect us.

If you’re finding it hard to come home to love, think of someone you care for wholeheartedly. It’s as easy as breathing to love them.

Then, allow yourself to love you with just as much ease and, more importantly, joy. Breath in, I feel loved. Breath out, I am loving.

DIY All-Natural Beauty: Age-Defying Coffee Sugar Scrub

Do you eat right? Exercise? Take moments to pause, breathe and reduce stress? If so, you’re doing just about everything right to lead a healthy lifestyle. A well-balanced diet full of fruits and veggies and low on junk food combined with movement and meditation are all key components to overall wellness.

One area that most of us neglect, however, are the products we put on our skin. Like our stomach, intestines and liver, our skin is an organ and it too can benefit from a little detox every now and again. The best part about detoxing your beauty regimen is you’ll save a lot of money—makeup and spa products are expensive!

Today, you’ll learn how easy it is to make an all-natural, age-defying spa treatment at home using ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen or pantry.

MOARfit DIY Age Defying Coffee Scrub via www.moar-fit.com

This DIY remedy’s active ingredient is coffee. Coffee is not only loaded with free radical-fighting antioxidants—those are the pests that lead to drooping skin and age-related disease—but the caffeine in it acts as an anti-inflammatory and may even lessen the appearance of cellulite. Three cheers for that!

MOARfit DIY Age Defying Coffee Scrub via www.moar-fit.com

It’s so simple to make your own age-dying coffee scrub at home, and here’s how to do it:

MOARfit DIY: Age-Defying Coffee Sugar Scrub

What You’ll Need:

  • A mason jar-or any other air-tight container
  • 1/2 cup coffee grounds
  • 1/4 cup granulated raw cane sugar
  • 2 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened—you can also use sweet almond oil

How to Make It:

Combine all ingredients in your mason jar, stir well and close the lid until you’re ready to use it.

MOARfit DIY Age Defying Coffee Scrub via www.moar-fit.com

To Use:

Scoop out a small amount and rub it onto your skin, massaging the area thoroughly to increase circulation. Let it sit for a few minutes then hop in the shower to rinse off. You can do this daily on the body, and once or twice a week on the face.

Have another favorite DIY beauty remedy? I’d love to learn about it. Start a conversation on Twitter @MOARfit or find me on Facebook.

{originally published on The DC Ladies blog, August 12, 2014}

How to Make Pickles

Everyone loves pickles. And if you are one of the few who don’t you’re really missing out. Pickles help fight disease (see below) and are shockingly easy to make. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on the homemade pickle bandwagon. Read on for how to make refrigerator pickles in a snap at home.

Homemade Pickles

Pickling has become all the rage these days, as has canning, but both of these fads are methods of food preservation that go way back. In fact, pickles played an important role in Colombus’s discovery of America in 1492. You may recall that scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, used to be a mighty big problem for sailors. Luckily, Colombus’s ship stocker had plenty of vitamin C-rich pickles on board to help prevent scurvy outbreaks on the historic voyage across the Atlantic. How’s that for a fun pickle fact?

Homemade Pickles

There are hundreds of recipes you could follow, but here are some basic guidelines to get you started:

  • Use fresh produce, avoiding waxy produce found in many supermarkets.
  • Select the most uniform, unbruised produce for prettier pickles.
  • Scrub well and trim about 1/4 inch down from the blossom end of fresh cucumbers. Blossoms contain an enzyme that causes limp pickles–nobody likes a limp pickle.
  • Use salt with no additives. Iodized salt makes the brine cloudy and may change the color and texture of the vegetables.
  • Use white distilled or apple cider vinegars.
  • For crisper pickles, put the vegetables (whole or sliced) into a wide bowl and spread a layer of pickling salt on top. Cover and let sit overnight in a cool place. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the vegetables before pickling or canning as usual. This is the same idea behind prepping your eggplant before cooking.
  • For refridgerator pickles (like the ones in this post) wait at least 3 days before crunching. For canned pickles (using sterilized jars, a hot water bath, etc) wait at least 3 weeks before using to allow pickles to mellow.

Adapted from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Homemade Pickles

 

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

{Makes 2 pint jars}

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs baby cucumbers (about 8-10 of the small guys)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs kosher or pickling salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 fresh sprig of dill for each jar
  • 1 Tbs mustard seed, whole
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed

Equipment:

  • Chefs knife
  • Cutting board
  • 2 wide-mouth pint jars with lids
  • Funnel
  • Large lidded pot

How to Make Them:

  1. Wash and dry the cucumbers. Trim away the blossom end of the cucumber, which contains enzymes that can lead to limp pickles. Leave the pickles whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins.
  2. Divide spices and herbs (dill, mustard seed, garlic, turmeric and red pepper flakes) evenly between both jars.
  3. Pack the pickles into the jars. Trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
  4. Combine the vinegar, water, lemon juice, salt and sugar in a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar until 1/2-inch from the top.
  5. Gently tap the jars against the counter to settle their contents and remove all air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if need be.
  6. Tightly close your jars with their lids.
  7. Wait at least one, but ideally 3 days before eating. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

For long-term storage, follow the hot water bath canning method.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles Label

Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto

I don’t know about you but I hate wasting food. I’ll eat the same thing day in and day out just to avoid tossing anything in the trash. According to NPR, Americans waste 33 million tons of food each year. Worse yet, a new study from Harvard Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council, found that 22 percent of food waste comes from fruit and vegetables—often the most nutrient-dense and expensive components of our daily diets. Of the fruit and vegetables we buy, we discard 52 percent of them and only consume 48 percent. Yikes!

Understandably, not everyone wants to be a human garbage disposal in the name of saving food from the dumpster. We can, however, all learn to cook in a way that minimizes food waste and helps you get the most out of your vegetables. Deemed “compost cooking” by some, root-to-stalk cooking might just save you money, diversify your nutrient intake and draw out your culinary creativity.

My creativity was recently challenged when I received  a few fennel bulbs in my weekly From the Farmer delivery with a head of fronds that looked like a chia pet on miracle grow. Dedicated to using every ounce of seasonal, local food I receive each week I developed this yummy recipe for Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto. Give it a try and you’ll quickly see how easy and rewarding it is to make use of the parts of vegetables that typically get thrown away. Hopefully this will inspire you to give those dark and dreamy beet greens and silky broccoli and cauliflower leaves a second look before ditching them in the disposal.

 Basil and Fennel Frond Pesto 2

Fennel Frond and Basil Pesto

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups firmly packed fennel fronds
  • 2 cups firmly packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup manchego cheese, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 oz pine nuts, toasted*
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  1. To toast pine nuts, lay them out in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in a 350 F oven for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients—adding the oil and lemon first—and blend until smooth.
  3. Adjust for seasoning and serve over fresh pasta or sautéed Portobello mushrooms baked chicken if you’re avoiding gluten.

 

Basil and Fennel Frond Pesto

Tasty Tidbit: If you’re not a huge fan of the spiciness (or stinkiness) of raw garlic, you can roast the cloves or lightly sauté them prior to blending.

 

{This post originally appeared on The DC Ladies Blog, July 30, 2014}

And We’re Brunching!

Week two of my stint on TLC Sunday Brunch kicks off today at 12:00pm EST. I’ll have two 2-minute segments airing between 12:00-1:00pm (likely one per half hour like last week). Rumor has it videos from last week will soon be online, so if you missed it you can catch up. Four of my MOARfit recipes are on TLC.com, as are some semi-embarrassing behind-the-scenes photos–and I’m sure there are more of those to come!

I took some of my own on-set shots to remember this cool and unique experience…

Behind-the-Brunch.

Ashley On Set

Ashley, our kind and talented Director, was all over the staging and set up. She made my food look amazing–I can’t wait to see those aerial shots!

Kid-Friendly Healthy Pizzas

The food looked just as yummy this week as last. Look at these adorable pizzas! Ereka and I got a little creative and decided to make our on air version look like a happy face with “luscious lips.” Tune in to see that work of art.

Director's View

It’s amazing how much goes into filming these short segments. We had such a fun and hard-working crew. They made the hours fly by!

Hair and Makeup.

Amy and Darryl

Darrell did an amazing job on my hair for weeks 2,3 and 4. I absolutely loved the Farrah-esque waves. Hello, Charlie!

Ereka in Hair Makeup

Ereka had Loretta, Darrell and Pascale’s expert hands helping her get shoot-ready. What’s the saying? It takes a village! Her hair, makeup and wardrobe were gorgeous for weeks 2, 3 and 4. Speaking of wardrobe…

Wardrobe Highlights.

Jazzy Leggings

For our B-roll yoga shoot, I wore the cutest Glyder Jazzy Leggings–which everyone on set was coveting–and Glyder’s comfy Sweat It Out Tank. Both fit perfectly and made me feel totally confident as I struck yoga poses for national TV.

Nina Necklace

I also rocked my gorgeous beads made by my beautiful and talented friend Nina. If you’re interested in buying one of these babies, shoot me an email.

And since I love pretty things…

Flowers.

Purple Bouquet

The props team was putting together STUNNING floral arrangements for another segment. I saw these and immediately started imagining my gypsy/Cirque du Soleil dream wedding.

Sunrise Boquet

I had to muster all my inner morality not to swipe one of these beauties on the way out. It was really, really hard.

Keep check back here and on TLC.com/SundayBrunch for more updates, photos and fun recipes.

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 3

For the past two weeks, I’ve been talking about how to fuel your body for optimal athletic performance. If you’re following along, I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for this final installment: post-workout/race nutrition. So far we’ve covered pre-race nutrition and what to eat to keep you going during a long training workout or endurance event. It’s time we talk recovery. For post-workout/race nutrition it’s not as important to experiment beforehand. What’s most important is giving your body the calories and nutrients (macro and micro) it needs, while giving your soul a well-deserved but not over-the-top reward for all your hard work.photo 2

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 3 – What to eat post-workout/endurance event

(Adapted from The Thrive Diet, by Brendan Frazier)

1.  Respect the fuel window. In the 15-60 minutes immediately following a workout or endurance event, your muscles are primed and ready to receive fuel to start the repair process.  Eat (or drink) your recovery meal right away, ideally within the first half hour after the workout is complete. If you’re not hungry, opt for something liquid as it’ll be easier to gulp down. Even the classic chocolate milk will do in a pinch.

2.  Make it easy to digest. Your muscles need blood to deliver nutrients to them.  The more of that blood that’s tied up in digesting, the less that gets to your muscles.  Ideally, you should get your immediate post-workout fix in liquid form.

3. Consume .75 g of carbohydrate per pound of body weight and include at least 10 g of protein. Your carbohydrates should include high-glycemic index carbs, like glucose (dates are a good way to get it), and some slower-release, fibrous, carbs as well – think whole grains, fruits and veggies.  Include about half as many grams of healthy fat as you do protein.  Try avocado, or flaxseed or coconut oils.

4. Get out of the acid state with greens or other vegetables and fruits. Intense exercise creates an acidic environment in your body. Bitter greens (kale, chard, mustard, etc), vegetables, and certain fruits like lemons and limes have a neutralizing effect on your body.  Animal protein is acid-forming, as are heavily-processed protein powders. This is one of several reasons I suggest using minimally-processed hemp protein powder.

5.  Drink 2 cups of water per pound of body weight lost during exercise and replace lost electrolytes. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, the little conductors that transmit electrical impulses throughout your body.  Some good sources of electrolytes are fruit or a few pinches of sea salt. You can also proactively replace electrolytes during an endurance event with S!Caps or another capsule that provides sodium, potassium and other minerals. These can be taken every 45 min in hot weather, or 60 min in temperate weather (depending on your rate of sweat), Just tape them to your race bib (on the outside) and you’ll be good to go!

Check back next week for what to eat during a long training workout or endurance event.

 

Seasonal 10 Day Detox

Summer’s now in full swing and so is my seasonal 10-Day Detox with 10 brave and awesome Wellness Warriors! My guided system reset isn’t a starve yourself detox that makes food the enemy, it’s a program to help people redefine their relationship with food. Over the course of 10 days participants learn to listen to their body, strip away the junk and walk away revitalized and more in control of their cravings. It’s a healthy dose of empowerment!

Blueberry Beet Detox Smoothie

Interested in a future detox? Whether you live nearby in D.C. or across the ocean, shoot me an email at moarfit@gmail.com for more information.

Lights, Camera…TLC Sunday Brunch!

A few weeks ago, producers for a new TLC show (TLC Sunday Brunch) approached me to be their on air “Health Expert,” sharing several of my MOARfit recipes with viewers alongside the lovely and talented Ereka Vetrini. I could barely contain my excitement despite my best efforts to play it cool. I must say it was kind of a dream come true.

Way back in middle school me and one of my best friends, Jenna, used to do cooking shows for our families or whoever else would stomach our babbling and “creations.” My culinary skills weren’t exactly expert at the time, but both Jenna and I have grown up to work with food and feeding people in our own various ways. Never in a a million years did I imagine, however, that I’d be on TV telling people about my recipes and spreading the good word about how easy, affordable and fun healthy cooking can be.

My brief segments will air today, Sunday, July 27th and next Sunday, August 3rd between 12:00-1:00pm. Get your DVR ready to go! And I just might be filming a few more segments around yoga and mind/body wellness so stay tuned for more info on that!

Here are some photos from my very very cool day:

photo 5

Lights, camera, ACTION. We got to work in my dream kitchen – a HUGE island with tons of counter space and a light, airy vibe.

Amy Rizzotto_TLC Sunday Brunch_Makeup

I got the full treatment with a hair stylist, Daryl, and makeup artist – her name is escaping me but she was so gorgeous and practices yoga and meditation so she’s my kind of chick! I can’t thank them enough for making me look purdy!

P.S. I had those curlers in for nearly 4 hours and was walking around like Betty Draper in my apron and full makeup.

TLC Sunday Brunch_Makeup

I had serious makeup arsenal envy after getting dolled up. A trip to Sephora might be in my near future.

Amy Rizzotto_TLC Sunday Brunch_Headshot

The finished product! They did good, no? If only my hair could look that good every day…

TLC Sunday Brunch_Branded Apron

I even got to rock one of their cute TLC Sunday Brunch aprons. Thank goodness for stylist, Pascale’s handiwork in tweaking it to fit my petite frame!

TLC Sunday Brunch_MOARfit Strawberry Balsamic Tart

Speaking of stylists, my food even had a stylist. Actually, make that two! My Strawberry Balsamic Tart never looked so good.

TLC Sunday Brunch_Crew

A great big THANK YOU to the cast and crew who included me in this wonderful experience and made me feel so welcome and comfortable for my first TV appearance. I don’t know how they do it but they’re amazing!

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 2

Last week, we kicked off my three part series on how to fuel your body for optimal athletic performance by discussing pre-race nutrition. This week we’ll talk about the ever-confusing subject of what to eat during a long training workout or endurance event. Experiment with different options before running your marathon, cycling your century, or attempting a triathlon to find what foods work best with your body chemistry. Again, remember that fuel should be a balance of nutrients, energy (calories), taste, digestion, budget and convenience.

Nutrition for Athletes Workshop with Amy Rizzotto of MOARfit

How to FUEL your body for optimal athletic performance: Part 2 – What to eat during your training workout or endurance event

(Adapted from The Thrive Diet, by Brendan Frazier)

1. Consume mostly liquid or easy-to-digest foods like gels. Solid food takes more energy and blood to digest than liquid, leaving you with less fire for movement and power. Solid food is also more likely to cause intestinal distress, which can ruin a race. Except for ultra-endurance events, skip the solids. Natural, homemade options to try are:

  • 10 oz of coconut water blended with 1 small banana (hello electrolytes!).
  • 10 oz of water, 2 Tbs maple syrup or honey, and 1 Tbs chia seeds,
  • 2 dates squished up with 1 Tbs of your favorite natural nut butter.

2. For all workouts, take in 4-6 oz of water every 10-20 min. Your goal is to replace most of what you lose in weight, so if you want to get precise, you can figure out what you lose during a standard workout and drink the exact amount you need to replace it. This is a good rule of thumb if you don’t want to go through the trouble. Tip: taking big gulps helps water clear the stomach faster, so if you don’t like that sloshing feeling, chug. Also, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Stay ahead of dehydration by taking every opportunity to ingest water, even if it’s just a little bit here and there.

3. Get 500 milligrams of sodium with every 16 oz you drink. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, and that puts you at risk for hyponatremia if you hydrate without replacing them. For those of you making your own drinks and gels, 500 milligrams is a little less than the amount in a quarter teaspoon of salt.

4. For workouts and races lasting over an hour (and up to 4 or 5 hours), you need 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. You can find where you fit in that range by dividing your body weight in pounds by 4 to get a minimum hourly carbohydrate requirement, in grams. You can give your body what it needs with a sports drink or a combination of energy gel and water. A little bit of protein, in a 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio, may help minimize muscle damage during endurance events.

5. For anything lasting much more than 5 hours, the nutrition focus shifts to fat, with a smaller amount of carbohydrate. 

Check back next week for what to eat after a long training workout or endurance event.