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Close Up Kale

I am stretched out on the couch as I write this, and I may not be able to get up when I am done. Not only do my muscles ache from head to toe, they are so tired I find it hard to do routine things like take out the kitchen trash. The last five mornings have found me using my muscles, my body, my mind in a way I have not had an opportunity to do in years, and it all starts before the sun rises.

I am a far cry from a fitness buff. I am only regularly active, in an exercise and/or yoga kind of way, in cycles. And, I can go long cycles with no regular exercise. But, when it is all said and done, I really do like it. Mamacita Fitness boot camp, led by two great women, allows me to get my workout done before I start my day. The hard work is done before I can anticipate it too much or think of a reason not to go. While my muscles may be sore and tired, I am energized.

What I see when I look up from my mat.

What I see when I look up from my mat.

I exercise not to achieve the vision of an “ideal” body I am told countless times a day I am supposed to have to be attractive. I exercise, in part, for strength, flexibility, endurance, and the overall health it brings. But, mostly I come to it because the physical activity and challenge connects me to my body, engages my mind, and allows me to re-imagine what is possible for myself.

I find that when I am engaged in regular physical activity I also redouble my efforts to eat healthy foods. I believe that I and my family already eat a pretty good diet, but as of late, I am adding even more fruits and vegetables to our plates. Being good to yourself comes from so many different directions. So, in this effort, I find that I am preparing not one, but two or three vegetables to go along with our dinners. I am throwing more spinach and Swiss chard into the eggs in the morning and piling on the fruit at lunch time. So in the spirit of eating lots more vegetables and enjoying the last of the winter crops, I will share some recipes, old and new, that are helping us do this.

Garden Fresh Peas

Carrot “Hash Browns”

This one is super simple. All you need is a bunch of carrots (preferably fresh from the garden or farmers’ market), some olive oil, and a few dashes of salt. Wash and peel carrots (if necessary). Grate carrots. Using a food processor with the grater attachment makes this quick. Coat a skillet generously with olive oil and heat. Add the carrots with a few dashes of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until done, about 10 minutes.

These are really tasty on their own. They also makes a great addition to green salad (cool the carrots first). I used the left overs from the day before to spice up my salad and was pleasantly surprised.

Pasta with Braised Kale

We tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it is wonderful. Braising the kale really brings out its flavor. Adding the lemon juice and parmesan cheese just balances everything out. We used penne pasta instead of spaghetti. I think a whole wheat pasta would work well too. Simply delicious.

Handful of Chard

Chard Wraps

I wrote about this family favorite here. Not to be missed!

Tofu Spinach/Chard Quiche

This is another family favorite. You can see it here. The Quiche can also be made with broccoli.

I have been going to bed shortly after my children are asleep to ensure enough hours of rest before the next morning’s wake up and work out. This, of course, cuts deeply into whatever “me” time I can glean in the evenings. I have replaced end-of-the-day blog reading with a super early jump-start in the morning. I hope to catch up on the reading this weekend as I linger in bed and savor a cup of coffee. I’ll be at it again next week. Wish me luck and please share any simple, tasty vegetable recipes you enjoy.