This page has been moved to a new address. Redirecting.... Fit Girl Fare: February 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015


I really enjoy Middle Eastern foods. The combination of spices that they use is probably my favorite. Last year, I went on a kick where all I was ever hungry for was Middle Eastern food. When we lived in Arlington, we had access to several delicious kabob houses and ordered take out way too often. Since moving to Reston, the kabob take out choices are slim. Luckily, I have learned how to make most of my favorite dishes! In keeping with my new rule to eat vegetarian once a week, this week I made Falafel.  Made with just chickpeas, this recipe is not only vegetarian, it's also vegan and gluten free. However, the best way to eat falafel is in a pita, lathered with tatziki sauce - no longer vegan or gluten free. Still a healthy, vegetarian meal though!

Fit Girl Falafel

I read a lot of recipes for falafel and some called for flour, some called for an egg, some called for both. It seemed to be the consensus that in order to make a good falafel you needed to start with dried beans that you soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

When I've had falafel at a restaurant it is usually a small ball that has been fried. For these, I decided that a thicker patty would be much more conducive to putting in a pita. I also skipped the frying and baked my falafel patties instead. I didn't feel that I was missing out on much by baking instead of frying - other than the mess in my kitchen.

Prep time: 8hrs, 10 minutes (includes 8 hour soak time for the beans)
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Makes about 8 medium patties

1lb dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Put all of the ingredients into a blender or a food processor. Blend until it is all pureed, making sure there are no large chunks of beans remaining. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and rub with olive oil. Form the puree into medium sized patties and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping the patties about half way through (they should get a little bit brown on the top).

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pita Bread

I don't buy a lot of bread anymore. Once in a while if I haven't had time to make bread and we're eating a meal that requires a good, crusty bread, I will buy a loaf. But I find that we generally don't eat it fast enough and then it goes bad. I also usually feel better about eating bread when I know it's homemade. Homemade pita bread has become somewhat of a staple in our house. I probably make some at least every couple of weeks. It is good for dipping, it is great for sandwiches, and it can even be turned into a delicious "chip." It is also surprisingly easy to make. Once you make it at home, you will never buy pita at the store again.


The pocket on this batch was perfect. They don't always turn out so perfectly. Sometimes they don't split at all. When that happens I just use it like a wrap - it's still delicious! A couple of weeks ago I made some pita and turkey burgers and used the pita instead of a bun - SO TASTY.

The best pita is right after it comes out of the oven. I don't even need to eat anything with it to enjoy it. Once you bake the pitas they will keep for a few days (and make a great vehicle for chicken salad!) but after it rises the dough can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days and pulled out and baked when needed. Don't get discouraged if your pitas don't puff up the way mine did below. Even if they don't, you might still get a pocket.

Pita Bread
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2.5 hours, includes rising and cooking time

2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water (about 105 degrees)
3 cups flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and the water in a large mixing bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until has started to foam. Add the oil and salt then gradually mix in the flour. If you are using an electric stand mixer, use the dough hook and set the speed to low. Mix for about 10 minutes until the dough has come together to form a ball. If you don't have an electric stand mixer, stir until combine then turn out onto a large, floured surface. Knead until the dough comes together and is soft but still slightly sticky. Place the dough into a bowl that has been lightly oiled and set in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour. it should double in size. At this point you can put it in the fridge or continue to make the pitas.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can use a regular baking sheet.

Place the dough on a floured surface and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll out the pieces into circles that are about 6 inches in diameter. Bake the pitas for 3-4 minutes. There is no need to flip the pitas partway through the baking and they shouldn't really get brown. I find that I can bake 3 pitas on my baking stone, but don't over crowd your stone - you can bake them in multiple batches. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spinach Pie

In my effort to be healthier, I decided that I was going to eat vegetarian one day a week. By default, this means that my fiance will be subjected to one meatless meal a week. In order to keep him on board with this plan, I need to be creative and cook meals where he won't even think about the fact that there is no meat (although, he told me he will just make sure he has a meaty lunch on vegetarian day). While this recipe may not win a gold star for being healthy, it's vegetarian and it's easy.

Fit Girl Spinach Pie

My mom used to make this meal when I was growing up so it has become somewhat of a comfort food for me. One thing that I have changed from my mom's recipe is that I like to use fresh spinach. My mom always used frozen spinach because then she would always have the ingredients on hand whenever she needed a quick, easy meal.

I also make a point to buy the part skim ricotta cheese. It cuts the calories without sacrificing any taste. I have also made this using cheeses other than Cheddar. Swiss or Gruyere is delicious and so is Feta. My personal favorite however is a combination of Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan.

Fit Girl Spinach Pie

Sometimes I do cheat a little bit and use a pre-made pie crust. In my opinion the Pillsbury refrigerated crust is almost as good as homemade. 

Spinach Pie
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (includes cooling time and cooking time)
Serves 4-6

1 pie crust
1 16oz package of fresh Spinach
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 eggs
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
3 tbsp flour
1 cup cheddar cheese (or a different cheese if you would prefer)

Wash the spinach and then give it a rough chop. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Saute until almost translucent. Add the fresh spinach and saute another 10 minutes until the spinach is completely cooked down. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta, eggs, flour, and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl. When the spinach mixture has cool add it to the cheese and eggs. Mix until well combined. Line a pie plate with the pie crust and pour the filling into the crust. Put it into the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes until it is just starting to get brown on top. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fit Girl Fizz

By now everyone has seen the article that says that drinking one glass of red wine is the equivalent to going to the gym. If only it actually worked like that! Generally, alcohol and being healthy don't mix. That's not to say a glass of wine or a cocktail a few times of week is going to derail your fitness goals - you just need to have balance! Grapefruit is the quintessential diet food. There have been studies proving that people who are trying to lose weight should eat more grapefruit. I have also read that agave is good for you. In addition to boosting your immune system and increasing your energy level, agave has been linked to weight loss. What's the next best thing to agave? Tequila! Isn't it made from the agave plant?

Fit Girl Fizz

Tequila. Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Fresh squeezed lime juice, This is a healthy cocktail, right?

At first I thought I was going to need a little bit of sweetness to balance the bitterness of the grapefruit and the acid from all the citrus. Amazingly, the grapefruit I had was delicious and required nothing additional. If you do need some sweetness, I would use just a dash of Agave Syrup. A tiny little bit goes a very long way and its better than just plain old simple syrup. I chilled the glass a little bit with ice water, rubbed a lime wedge along the rim, and dusted the rim with a little bit of kosher salt. Garnished with a lime and it was perfect!

Fit Girl Fizz
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
3 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1.5 oz silver tequila (I'm partial to Patron)
.5 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Splash of seltzer water
Lime wedge for garnish
Kosher salt to line the rim of the glass
Ice for the shaker

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, and tequila in a cocktail shaker over ice. Prepare a martini glass by rubbing a lime wedge along the rim of the glass, pour some kosher salt onto a small plate, and roll the rim of the glass in the salt to lightly dust the rim. Pour the drink into the martini glass and top off with a splash of seltzer. Garnish with a lime and enjoy!

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rustic White Bread

It was abnormally cold in NOVA last week. Schools were closed on Friday because it was too cold for kids to wait for the bus. For some reason, cold weather always gets me in the mood for a good grilled cheese. In order to make a good grilled cheese, you need good bread. The best bread is homemade bread. My mom used to make homemade sandwich bread when I was growing up. Until we were old enough to appreciate it, my siblings and I would complain because we wanted Wonder Bread just like the other kids. To make matters worse, the slices of bread were too big and my mom would have to cut our sandwiches in half and pack each half in it's own sandwich bag so it looked like we were eating two sandwiches - it was so embarrassing. But now I long for the homemade bread. The way it made her house smell, the warm slices with peanut butter when it was fresh from the oven, and the bologna and cheese sandwiches (even if it comes in 2 bags).

Fit Girl Fare Rustic White Bread

The recipe itself is not complicated, but there is some time involved because it has to rise twice before you can bake it. It's important to let it rise fully both times because otherwise the bread will be super dense. I've found that the best way to encourage a good rise is to preheat my oven to 350 degrees for a minute or two to get warm and then put the bowl of dough into the oven. Don't let the oven actually get all the way up to 350 before you turn it off, just turn it on for a couple of minutes then turn it off so that when you put the bread in there it is nice and warm but not hot.

The loaf is on the smaller side, but it's perfect for two people and makes for great grilled cheese!

Rustic White Bread
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes total, including 1.5 hours of rising time
1 cup warm water, about 105 degrees, not hotter than 110 degrees
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a large mixing bowl mix water, yeast, and sugar. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to proof the yeast. It should be foamy on the top when it is ready to use. Add in the rest of the ingredients. If you are using an electric stand mixer, use the dough hook and set to low speed for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft but not sticky. If you don't have an electric stand mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until combined, pour out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough comes together and is soft but not sticky. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, and leave some place warm to rise for an hour. It should double in size. After it has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a large surface. Shape into a round loaf that is smooth on the top. Let it rise again, this time for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the over to 375 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the over to preheat. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can use a regular baking sheet. Bake the bread for 35 minutes until it's starting to turn brown on the outside. Take it out of the oven and put on a wire cooling rack. Rub the top of loaf with some butter. Let it cool before slicing - if you have enough self control!

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Saturday, February 21, 2015


Hummus has always been one of my favorite snacks. It's easy to eat, healthy, and goes with just about anything. You can spread it on a sandwich, use it as a dip for veggies, or eat it with pita chips or fresh pita bread. It's a great alternative to sour cream or cream cheese based dips because even if you stuff your face it won't leave you feeling guilty. Hummus also happens to be very easy to make. All you need are a few ingredients and a blender.

I always have the ingredients to make hummus on hand. Canned chickpeas, salt, pepper, half a lemon, a garlic clove or two, olive oil, and tahini. Tahini is a sesame paste that is used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. You should be able to find it in your local grocery store. I bought this bottle at Harris Teeter. It's delicious in salad dressings and other dips in addition to hummus. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way!

After trying a lot of different hummus recipes, I discovered that if you peel the chickpeas before you blend them the hummus is much, much creamier. After you drain and rinse the chickpeas simply squeeze one in between your thumb and pointer finger and the bean will pop out of the peel. They should come out pretty easily and you will get a bowl of peeled chick peas in about 15 minutes. It's by no means necessary to peel the beans, but its quick and easy and you will be surprised by the difference in the texture.

Fit Girl Fare Hummus

I like to serve it with cucumbers, carrots, celery, and orange peppers. Cucumbers are by far the superior dipping veggie, but use anything you like!

Hummus Recipe
1 can chick peas, rinsed and peeled
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspon salt
1/4 teaspon pepper
1 clove garlic
1-2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper (optional)
Paprika, for serving

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If the hummus is too think you can add a tablespoon or two of water to thin it out. I personally like it thick, but not everyone does. Once it has reached the desired consistency, place it in a bowl for serving. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve with veggies, pita chips, or pita bread.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Turkey Meatball Soup

My belief about food is simple: Homemade is better. Usually homemade is better for you and tastes better. It is also better in that you know what is in it and you can customize it to your own tastes. When I find recipes that I like I often tailor them to meet my requirements. I usually have an idea in my mind of what I want to eat and take some time to read recipes to get an idea of the flavors and ingredients that are typical of the dish. Frequently, however, I wind up straying from the recipe or combining a few recipes and doing what works for me. This recipe is no different. One of my fiance's favorite soups is Italian Wedding soup. Until recently, my only experience with Italian Wedding Soup had been out of a can and I was not impressed. Nonetheless, about a year ago I agreed to try to make Italian Wedding Soup, knowing that regardless of the outcome it had to taste better than what I had from the can. Since then, the recipe has morphed into what I call Turkey Meatball Soup. One thing I like about this soup is that it is so versatile. No kale at the grocery store? Use spinach! Is escarole your favorite green? Go ahead, use that! You don't like beans? No need to add them. Everything can be adjusted to your liking.

Fit Girl Fare Turkey Meatball Soup

 I like to use all white meat ground turkey for the meatballs. I would guess you can use ground pork or ground beef if you are inclined, but all white meat ground turkey is the healthiest option. Plus, with all of the spices and the simmering they are bound to be tasty regardless of the meat you use.

I typically make smaller meatballs, closer to 40-50, but I was pressed for time so I made larger meatballs this time. I also bake my meatballs. You can brown them in a pan if you would like. I find that I can bake all of my meatballs at once while if I try to brown them in a pan, it takes a few cycles. Also, baking means less oil and makes it healthier!

I also like to saute my onions, carrots, celery, garlic and spices before adding the broth. I like the way it makes my house smell and I think it deepens some of the flavors. This is especially true if you don't have time to simmer the soup for a long time. The veggies will still be soft and flavorful with shorter cooking time.

Top it with some grated Parmesan cheese and serve with some nice crusty bread!

Turkey Meatball Soup
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Prep time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6, freezes well, makes great lunch leftovers

Turkey Meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
2 eggs
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh, minced Parsley
2 teaspoons of dried Oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less depending on your taste for heat)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and rub a little bit of oil on the tin foil. While the oven is preheating, mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Once it is properly  mixed, form meatballs and place on the oiled, tin foil wrapped pan. When the oven is preheated, put the meatballs in the oven for 4 minutes or until browned a little bit on the bottom. Turn the meatballs over and return to the oven for a few more minutes. You don't need to worry about cooking them through, they will cook more in the soup. Take them out and set them on a paper towel lined plate until you are ready to add them to the soup.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 cups of chicken broth
1 15.5 oz can of Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 10 oz package of fresh Kale, washed and chopped
1 cup of small pasta such as, Ditalini or Stars

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, oregano and salt. Cook 7-8 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are starting to get soft. Add the beans and the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Sitr in the cooked meatballs and the kale. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add in the pasta and cook for another 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Beginning

Hi There!

Welcome to Fit Girl Fare, a blog to share my experiences as I strive to maintain a balance of good food and fitness in my life.

I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to have the probably-more-than-occasional Netflix binge. I also like it when my clothes fit and I can look in the mirror without being disgusted. About 6 months ago I decide that I needed to lose 25 pounds so that on my wedding day (which is only about 7 weeks away now!!) I would feel good in my dress. Since then, my attitude towards weight, food, and fitness has changed. I have lost weight - 15 pounds or so depending on the day - but I have gained better knowledge about what my body needs and what I need to feel healthy

I am your average girl. I have obligations during the day and I am usually busy at night. I don't have time for extensive exercise programs, diets, or the latest fitness fad. Instead I try to keep everything balanced. I pay attention to what I eat and fit in exercise when I can. I haven't joined a gym because I would rather be at home and there is plenty of stuff that you can do with little or no exercise equipment.

For about a year now I have wanted to start a food blog. Mostly because I tend to make things up and then forget to write the recipe down so I can never make the meal again. Also, if I have a recipe from my mom or want some kind of comfort food, I generally try to make the healthiest possible version without sacrificing on taste. I intend to write mostly about food (let's be honest, that's the best part) but I will balance it with a few fitness tips here and there (maybe more when I pass the ACE exam).

I look forward to sharing my passion with my readers and creating a community that encourages a lot of good eats, some fitness, and plenty of balance!

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