So Good! Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.comSo good, so good, you see! These slow-roasted balsamic tomatoes transform a simple salad, piece of crusty bread or unadorned eggs into a masterpiece of epic, mouthwatering proportions. You can also use them on pizzas, blend into sauce, serve on an anti-pasta platter or just pluck them right off the pan. Lust-worthy, luscious and loaded with flavor, these tomatoes are super easy to make — however, don’t rush the job, you’ll need at least an hour. The result of this patience is an intensified breadth and depth of flavor that is to die for. The other thing I love about this recipe is that nearly every type of tomato works beautifully, from Cherubs to Campari to Romas. Make a big batch, they keep well in the freezer!

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Use them on a salad!

Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com

Use them on a steak!

Are you a tomato-phile or a tomato-phobe? Do you like little grape tomatoes or big beefsteak? Ever tried them slow-roasted?

Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe
Print Recipe
This easy recipe is worth the wait -- roasting in the oven deepens the sweet, rich flavor of tomatoes.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes - TheFitFork.com
Slow-Roasted Balsamic Tomato Recipe
Print Recipe
This easy recipe is worth the wait -- roasting in the oven deepens the sweet, rich flavor of tomatoes.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise and gently squeeze out seeds or scoop them with a spoon --leave as much as the flesh as possible.
  2. Lay the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with the thyme. Roast tomatoes on center rack for 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to roast tomatoes about 20 minutes more, or until caramelized.
  3. Let tomatoes rest until reaching room temperature. The tomatoes will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Recipe Notes


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Tomato Strawberry Smoothie & 2014 CrossFit Games Open Recap (Finally)

Yesterday while I was knocking out some burpees, my mind started to wander and I realized that I never gave an “official” update on my experience doing the CrossFit Games Open 2014. But, first let me give you the quick backstory. I’ve been a fairly competitive runner for a long time and my first real experience with CrossFit was back in January 2011, when my good friend Valerie Hunt, a running coach and owner of BVM CrossFit, drug my scrawny runner’s rear up to California to a CrossFit Endurance (CFE) camp being put on by Brain McKenzie.

On top of the world & running from mountain lions at CrossFit Endurance Camp in CA.

On top of the world & running from mountain lions at CrossFit Endurance Camp in CA.

Brian’s CFE program follows the CrossFit model while adding precise training protocols for endurance. It is fair to say I was skeptical of the claims that weaving CrossFit into my fitness routine would make me a better runner. It is also fair to say that despite my high level of cardiovascular fitness, I was pretty darn out of shape. I could only do one pull-up and after running a marathon, the sorest part of my body would be my lower abs and back as I had the core strength of a flea.

Jennifer Valerie deadlift

Valerie and I working on deadlifts for 14.3 – it’s a little easier to lift with a friend!

I took what I learned from camp and with Valerie’s encouragement and advice turned my wimpy self into a much all-around fitter person, if I dare say so myself!  The one measly pull-up turned into 25 unbroken “kipping” style pull-ups and I overcame (most) of my fear of Olympic style lifting – all this “old dog trying new tricks” translated into some great Master’s running PRs. Despite all the improvements, I do need to get over my tendency to just do the parts of a WOD that I like – which tends to be the body weight and endurance stuff. My weaknesses became readily apparent when obligated to perform the CrossFit Games Open 2014 workouts exactly as prescribed – for it to count, there could be no scaling back the weights, substituting or skipping over a move!

Scenes from my experience in CrossFit Games Open 2014.

Scenes from my experience in CrossFit Games Open 2014.

14.1 WOD Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of jump rope double-unders (30 reps) and 55-lb. power snatches (15 reps). Started off the whole Open with a skill I have never done (why jump rope when you can run had been my mindset)! I felt like an uncoordinated kid, but wasn’t going to let it all start and end with first hop. I reminded myself that you have to believe you can do something to actually do it, so I kept my confidence up and at one point actually strung along about 7 rotations.

14.2 WOD Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete: From 0:00-3:00 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats and 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 3:00-6:00  2 rounds of 12 overhead squats and 12 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 6:00-9:00 2 rounds of 14 overhead squats and 14 chest-to-bar pull-ups.  I was SO looking forward to doing the chest-to-bar pull ups; this is one of my stronger skills. The only thing standing in my way was the overhead squats with a 65 lb. bar.  Overhead squats are one of the lifting moves that I had always ignored; rationalizing this un-love with the excuse my tight runner’s hips don’t work like that. I practiced all weekend and was having trouble even finishing one with an un-weighted ladies’ 35 lb bar. Well, by some miracle, I made it through the 10 reps (not pretty) and was able to knock out the chest-to-bar  pull-ups with ease. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get one more squat with quite a bit of time remaining on the clock, so no more pull-ups for me. Sniff.

14.3 WOD Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of: 95-lb. deadlifts (10 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 135-lb. deadlifts (15 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 155-lb. deadlifts (20 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 185-lb. deadlifts (25 reps) and 15 20” box jumps through 205-lb and 225-lb deadlifts same pattern. So this is one of the WODs I was most proud of because I always scale back my deadlifts “to save my legs for running.” So, knowing that I had only lifted 135-lbs for a few reps here and there, I totally surprised myself to get all the way through the 20 reps of 155-lbs! I had about 35 seconds left to go for some 185-lbs, but decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of injury considering I had just run a half marathon the day before!

14.4 WOD Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of: 60-calorie row, 50 toes-to-bars, 40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target, 30 cleans with 135 lb. 20 muscle-ups. The rowing was totally tolerable, especially when reflecting on the time I thought it would be a good idea to row 13.1 miles at one sitting.  I had raced a 5k the day before and my glutes were screaming during the wall-ball shots – I never made it to the muscle ups, but definitely some day!

14.5 WOD 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of 65-lb. thrusters and burpees. No surprise to me that the easiest workout for my athletic abilities and also ranked me the highest on the leaderboard – despite having run the Dallas Half Marathon and winning my age division the morning before!

Recovering after a CrossFit WOD with Sun-Rype and Spaulding,

Recovering after a CrossFit WOD with Sun-Rype and Spaulding,

What I learned:

1)      Always start a WOD with an “I can do this” attitude. When I start to self-doubt, I’m not focused on the task at hand, only failure.  Case in point, the double-unders and the overhead squats — decided I “could” do them, and I did!

2)       Road racing and the Open mixed better than I thought. I really wanted to do the CrossFit Open, but also had two half-marathons and a 5k scheduled on three of the five Sundays during the Open – I went for it ALL anyway!  With the WODs being announced on late Thursday night, my hand was forced to compete on Mondays, the last day scores would be accepted. This meant no significant practice prior and often competing with delayed onset muscle fatigue.However, recovering proper after my races with a lot of quality protein (BEEF) helped significantly as did a lot of warming up before the start timer went off.

3)      Pay more attention to my weaknesses and actually put in the work to improve them.  In CrossFit you have to be ready for anything at any time – constantly varied, functional fitness and all that! Until they come up with a “Jennifer WOD,” doing only what I “like” isn’t going to make me very adaptable or competitive.

4)      I didn’t get bulk up like a beast and lose my streamlined runner’s shape doing Crossfit. Many women have the misconception that this type of exercise is going to make them huge and man-like. Your body is genetically programmed to have a certain shape, more or less. So, unless you are from Amazonian stock, you are just going to look like a fitter, leaner, slightly more muscle-y version of normal yourself.

5)      Winning isn’t everything. In running,  I compete to win overall, master’s or AG depending on the race. If I don’t, I can be very hard on myself  However, the CrossFit Open reminded me that showing up and getting it done is something to be proud of. I put in a lot of work, even though I didn’t get any sort of golden ticket. So, how DID I do 0 that IS the burning question, right? Well, according to the online results,  worldwide I ranked 1078 and in the South East region I ranked 70th, I’m assuming this is my age group or the entire Master’s division; I’m having trouble interpreting the leaderboard.  I think there were around 125,000+ competitors in the whole event, so I’m actually quite happy and surprised. I felt like I would be at the bottom when I compare myself to the strength and talents of many others I know.

And, now onto the refueling smoothie of the day! It sounds sort of strange, but tomatoes and strawberries make a really interesting, yummy combo for a fruit smoothie! I mean, a tomato is a fruit — right?! Check out my recipe for a Strawberry Tomato Smoothie.

tomato teaser smoothie

Blend 10 ounces almond milk with 6 frozen grape tomatoes, 6 frozen strawberries and Stevia to taste. Add ice to achieve desired consistency, if needed. Top with chia seeds.

Edible Bowls! Chickpea, Cucumber & Kale in Tomatoes

garbanzo bean and tomato salad

 

“The chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea. Discuss.”  Remember when Mike Myers chatted about this the “Coffee Talk” comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live?

The chickpea, also known as a garbanzo bean, is actually a legume that has been around for more than 7,500 years. A popular choice for man Mediterranean and Indian dishes, the little chickpea is packed with big nutrition – an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6 for vegetarians. Vitamin b6 helps to stabilize blood sugar, metabolize foods and make antibodies to ward off disease.

garbanzo beans tomatoes

I came up with this lovely dish for Litehouse Foods and just knew I had to share it here  – it’s perfect for a lunch or light dinner. The cool and crisp salad is dressed with flavors favored along parts of Greece and Italy and packed into a tomato serving as an edible bowl. Did you know the healthy, long-living people of the Mediterranean region eat, on average, nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day? This chickpea salad will get you well on your way to meeting this daily goal.

chickpea salad in tomatoes

Chickpea, Cucumber & Kale Tomato Cups with Feta Dill Dressing

  •  1 ½ cups packed kale or baby kale leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ red onion cut in chunks
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 medium cucumber chopped coarsely
  • 1 (15-oz) can rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 2 large tomatoes (like Beefsteak variety)
  • ½ cup Litehouse Food’s OPA Feta Dill Greek Yogurt Dressing (plus additional for garnish)
  • 2 grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 ounces baby spring lettuce mix

Directions

  1. In work bowl of food processor, add kale, cilantro, onion chunks, lime juice and garlic. Pulse for approximately 1 minute or until ingredients are finely chopped like pesto. Set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, add chopped cucumber, rinsed chick peas and mixture from food processor. Add ½ cup dressing  and mix everything together until thoroughly coated.
  3. Cut large tomatoes in half crosswise and scoop out seeds and pulp with spoon (reserve for another purpose, if desired). Fill tomato cups with chickpea mixture and top with a dollop of dressing and grape tomato half. Serve on top of baby spring lettuce mix. Serves 4.

popsugar nature box hand heart

I have another yummy mention – POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by Nature Box. I received a box full of these nutritious nom-noms in the mail and have been enjoying mixing up my normal afternoon snacking. Being stuck inside working on the computer (and nursing my sprained ribs) is much more tolerable with five bags of healthy snacks like Blueberry Almond Bliss and Lemon Pucker Pistachios.

Check it out for yourself. For a limited time, the POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by NatureBox will be 50% off!

MHNatureBox_550x550 popsugar

Disclosure: POPSUGAR and NatureBox provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by NatureBox box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own, and POPSUGAR and NatureBox did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

“Jar” Going to Love Lunch! Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad Recipe

Genius, pure genius in a jar! I’ve been seeing these healthy-eating, eco-friendly salads splashed across the pages of my favorite food magazines, so it was only a matter of time before I had to create my own version – Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad in a Jar. The concept is simple, layer ingredients in a 2 cup capacity glass canning jar from the bottom up, starting with the most “sturdy” ingredients that won’t turn limp spitting in a bit of salad dressing and finishing with the most delicate items up top.

Perfect for lunch on the go; and that’s whether you’re stuck behind a desk or lucky enough to be picnicking after a run. While you do your thing in the morning, the salad waits patiently in the fridge or a lunch cooler. The various flavors are deliciously mingling, waiting for that final “shake up” of salad dressing just before you are ready to dig in. Eat this salad right out of the jar or spoon over a plate of baby greens if you’re feeling fancy. Not only will you be saving money by not eating out, you’ll be saving the world from the number of wasteful throwaway containers that end up in landfills.  After you’re done, just take your jar home, wash it out and start over again!

Ancho-Chile Chopped Chicken Salad in a Jar Recipe

  •  2 ounces fresh lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
  • ½ cup shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup corn kernels, roasted
  • 1/3 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon shredded fresh cilantro

In a small lidded bottle (or with a bowl and whisk), make the dressing by adding the lime juice, olive oil, ancho chili powder, cumin and honey. Put lid on bottle and shake vigorously for about 1 minute to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

In 16-ounce canning jar, add the black beans. Pour 2 tablespoons of dressing over the beans. Next layer the remaining ingredients (leave about ½ to 1-inch of headroom at the top of jar. Reserve additional dressing for use on another day. Put lid on jar and refrigerate salad until ready to eat, even overnight. To serve, gently shake jar until ingredients are coated with dressing and somewhat “mixed” up.  Eat straight from jar or any other way you see fit!

Serves 1

Nutrition Information