On Training

I ran my first marathon severely undertrained.  I was still in college, and I really wanted to call myself a marathoner.  I didn’t, however, want to stop going to the bars on Saturday nights (okay, and several other nights) and I also didn’t particularly enjoy heading out for 2+ hours running by myself (the other people I knew running marathons at that point were MUCH faster than I was).  So I ran 16 miles the weekend before the race, showed up for the 2005 Nike Women’s Marathon, and jog-walked my way to a 4:41 marathon.

I was excited to be able to call myself a marathon finisher, but I knew I could have done much better if I’d actually put in the time and effort to train properly.  I was a year older and wiser for my second marathon, trained a lot smarter, and dropped 27 minutes.  I started running more miles, doing more speedwork, and finally managed to qualify for Boston at my fifth marathon.  It was a lot more satisfying to run a hard race knowing I’d put in the work to get there.

When I signed up for Wildflower, I knew I wanted to try and train hard for it.  We’ve had to make some sacrifices (especially Mike, who ends up hanging out with Ellie a lot when I’m at the pool or on my bike), but I didn’t want to repeat my last 70.3 training regimen, which lasted about two months and definitely did not contain nearly enough mileage. The whole point for that race, just like my first marathon, was to be able to say that I had completed a half Ironman.

bikeride

Whereas triathlon training used to be something I had to squeeze in around my social life and school work, now it’s something I prioritize and genuinely enjoy doing.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother signing up for triathlons.  I love the feeling of finishing up 54 miles on the bike with a good friend, nailing my 15th 100 m repeat in the pool, squeezing in a 7 mile run between the time I leave work and when I have to pick up Ellie from daycare, and hopping off my trainer after an hour long sweatfest at 5 AM.   I still have bad workouts, obviously, but the process of training and the routine I’ve gotten into feels amazing.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of chasing new distances and fast times without thinking about what’s involved or whether you really even want to do it.  I know, for instance, that I’ll probably never have the desire to train for 100 mile trail races even though I think crossing the finish line of one would feel completely awesome.  With the limited amount of time I have, I need to make sure that I’m spending it doing what I love, not just trying to have new finishes to brag about.  At the end of the day, nobody really cares what you’ve run or what your PRs are.  If you’re doing it because it’s something you think you should, you’re wasting your time.

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This morning I took Ellie out in the stroller for a 6 mile run on a path I run all the time.  There was nothing out of the ordinary, and my pace wasn’t anything special, but it’s workouts just like this that remind me how much I love to run.  My legs didn’t feel particularly fresh, but I was so grateful to be able to be out running, listening to Ellie point out dogs and squirrels and enjoy a calm morning outside. In the end, it’s not just about crushing PRs and chasing new distance records, it’s about finding the joy in training.

Spreadsheets are fun: our food budget

One of the things we’ve had to get real about since having Ellie is our food. I wish I were more of a budget person because I’d love to know where the heck all the money was going before we had to pay for daycare, because MAN it is expensive.  We’ve never really tracked our spending that carefully, just paying bills when they came up and moving money into savings whenever there were chunks leftover (I know, we are financial GENIUSES).

We decided to start tracking all our food purchases at the beginning of January.  We didn’t have a target number in mind, it was more just a loose plan to collect receipts, enter them into a spreadsheet, and see if there was anything we could cut back on.
food list

Mike was awesome about setting up the spreadsheet in nice little categories (price, food type, store) so when I say “we’re tracking our food spending” I pretty much mean he’s doing all the dirty work.

A few things jump out at you when it’s all laid out like that.  One, we really like our cheese and butter.  Two, AVOID the “make your own six pack” shelf at Whole Foods ($21 dollar six pack? oopsie).  Three, We spend a TON on produce.  A TON.  I’ve definitely started noticing that some things are cheaper at Whole Foods while others are a better deal at the Farmers Market.  We try to buy only organic produce (and local as much as we can) but it is not cheap!

Now, how can we cut costs?

– I’ve cut way back on tofu and processed soy in our meals and haven’t really used any in the last couple weeks.  We still have a bunch of big jars of dried beans that I’ve been working through, and that definitely means less money spent.

– We stopped buying dairy milk.  The kind we bought came in glass and you return the bottle to be refilled (no waste except for the tiny top, yay) which is awesome, but we realized that Ellie doesn’t drink milk and we don’t really use it.  We started making our own almond milk instead because it’s SUPER quick and seems to be pretty cost effective, plus that cuts back on packaging a lot.

– I started baking our bread.  It’s really not that time-intensive to bake two loaves of whole wheat bread on Sunday afternoon, and it costs a fraction of the cost of buying it, plus no plastic is involved!

– Mike is now brewing our beer.  Still not sure whether this is going to end up saving us money, but it’s a hobby he loves and so far, the results have been fantastic.  The start-up costs weren’t exactly zero, but our alcohol spending has gone way down now that we have a whole bunch of home brew ready to drink.

– I’m being way more careful about using up all our produce.  I go a little crazy buying greens sometimes, and they don’t always get eaten.  But at $2.49 for a bunch of organic chard, I’m making sure to put extra greens in my morning smoothies when they start to look a little limp.

– We’re prepping WAY more food.  It’s amazing how much more likely we are to use produce when it’s already washed.  I’m trying to get in the habit of washing everything as soon as it comes in the door, before going into the fridge.  I’ve also started making big batches of dried beans and freezing them so I can use them more quickly than having to wait for them to soak and cook (plus dried beans are cheaper and have lest waste than cans!)

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Tonight I made a batch of these bean burgers to put in the freezer, so now we have those and tamales in case we need last minute dinners (why didn’t I do any of this when I was pregnant with Ellie? Who starts stocking the freezer when they have a one year old?)

– I’ve cut back on baking.  I don’t NEED to have cookies lying around, and when I bake cookies, I eat way more dough than I should.  Plus, buying all that chocolate adds up.  I do still have all that butter in the freezer though…

One of the things I’m not willing to do is switch to non-organics or buy things that have more packaging.  I’m trying to keep our food spending in check, but I’m also really concerned about waste.  The less plastic that comes into this house, the better, so I’m doing everything I can to make sure that what I buy doesn’t come with any.

And now for the obligatory end of the post question: Do you keep a spreadsheet of your groceries? Any food budget tips?

 

Kale, Pinto and Mushroom Tacos with Guajillo Salsa

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This three day weekend was awesome.  Except for the test I took on Saturday morning, the whole weekend was fun: coffee, walks around town, a great swim, and the ZOO!  We finally took Ellie to the Oakland zoo and she loved it.  Especially the petting area.

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The squirrel monkeys were also a big hit.  We liked it so much we became members, and I have a feeling we’ll be spending a LOT of time there over the next year.

Afterwards, since we were in Oakland anyway, we went to Subrosa.  Not quite as good as the coffee in SF, but close!  Ellie and Mike had a heart to heart over lattes (or water, in Ellie’s case) in the parklet.

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Going back to work on Tuesday was surprisingly not painful. I’ve gotten way better about leaving work at work, and planning farther in advance (three years of teaching and I think I might FINALLY be starting to figure some of this stuff out) so after not thinking about school for three days it was fun to get back to the kids.

Not sure how to segue from that to tacos, so here we go: These are sort of similar to some other kale and guajillo tacos I made, but I think these are a lot better.   They’re more filling, and they’re really cheap to make, especially if you have dried beans lying around.  I used collards instead of tortillas just because they needed to be used up, and NO I will never go paleo or low carb or any of that, swearsies.  I ate PLENTY of carbs for dessert right afterwards anyway.

I think the best thing about these is the beans.  They’re braised in broth with sauteed onions, so they’re full of flavor. Canned beans just wouldn’t be the same.  It takes some planning ahead, but it’s definitely worth it.

Kale, Pinto and Mushroom Tacos with Guajillo Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups pinto beans
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch curly kale, chopped
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, miced
  • 1 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • corn tortillas (or collard leaves)

Instructions

  1. Cover the beans with a few inches of water and soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and vegetable broth and simmer, partially covered until the beans are tender. Check on them periodically and add more liquid if the pot goes dry.
  3. Salt to taste.
  4. While the beans are cooking, make the salsa.
  5. Heat a dry frying pan over medium and add the guajillos, cooking 20 seconds on each side. Transfer to a blender and add the hot water. Let stand for 20 minutes so the chiles can soften. Add the garlic and blend until smooth. Add the lime juice and salt and adjust to taste.
  6. Heat one tablespoon of oil in the skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside.
  7. In the same pan, cook the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chopped kale and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
  8. When the beans are done, transfer them by slotted spoon into a large bowl. Stir in the kale and mushrooms.
  9. Assemble tacos with a scoop of beans and vegetables, and top with some of the salsa.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/01/kale-pinto-and-mushroom-tacos-with-guajillo-salsa/

(salsa adapted from Hungry Cravings)

Lentil “meat”balls

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When I decided to stop eating meat 2+ years ago, I thought I was making the best environmental choice.  I still think that beef is pretty much environmentally disastrous, but I was completely disheartened to read this article about one of my favorite foods (quinoa).  Long story short: a lot of vegetarian staple foods are actually pretty horrible for increasing poverty and destroying rain forest in South America.   I definitely need to evaluate some of my dietary choices a little more carefully from now on.

In less depressing news, I’ve been mixing up my workouts a lot lately, and Ellie’s all about it.  Today she was helping me with situps. (I did this workout and it was great!) I still am not swimming as much as I should, but next week, I’m determined to go to the pool twice.  I’ll let you know if that actually happens.

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I’ve also been broadening my podcast horizons.  I’m still obsessed with the Joy the Baker Podcast and I download This American Life religiously, but I now love the Rich Roll Podcast too.  I read his book Finding Ultra and it was incredibly inspiring.  Basically he went from an out of shape alcoholic to a vegan super-endurance (multiple Ironman) athlete.

Cooking has been a little lackluster around here lately, or at least not blog-worthy.  So much kale, in so many forms.

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This was celery root and potatoes, cooked in milk until just tender, then tossed with kale which I’d sauteed in butter.  I mixed them together and topped with a little bit of grated Irish cheddar cheese.  Not completely healthy, but it’s been super cold (OK, Bay Area cold, which means barely below freezing every night) so I wanted comfort food.

Also, kale salads as usual.

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Horrible photo, delicious salad: curly kale, lemon juice, tahini, Braggs aminos, and hemp seeds.  Hippie food at its best.

I’ve made meatless meatballs before but these are a little different.  They are from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook and I put them on a bed of sauteed chard and cauliflower.  They’re a little bit dry, so next time I’ll put them in sauce, but I highly recommend them!  The fennel seeds are the best part – they totally remind me of the sausages my mom used to get at our local grocery store, but these don’t have all that grease.

Lentil “meat”balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oi
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the lentils. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. Put the lentils in a large bowl and mash slightly with a fork.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  6. Roll the lentil mixtures into balls 1 to 1 1/2" in diameter and place them on the baking sheet.
  7. Brush with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/01/lentil-meatballs/

Espresso Macarons with Vanilla Bean filling

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On Saturday morning, I went to a local tri club’s group bike ride.  I was really intimidated and almost decided not to go.  I showed up and felt like a total joke on my little 10 year old aluminum frame road bike with rusty screws and a squeaky chain (I have to grease it regularly? who knew?)

The first ten miles were quite enjoyable, but that was just the warm up.  Then the real ride began, and I was promptly dropped.  Fortunately two older guys had planned to do a shorter, easier ride, so I stuck with them.  We ended up doing 52 miles, averaging almost 16 miles an hour, and pretty much the whole time I kept thinking “I LOVE riding my bike!” I have a loooong way to go between now and May 4th, but I cannot wait to spend more time out on the roads.  Running is still my first love, but I forgot how fun and satisfying long rides can be. And thank the lord I bought toe covers.  It was nice to finish a ride and still have feeling in my feet!

In the end, this was a pretty good week of training for me:

training

I know, I know, I need to swim more

While we’re on the topic of “things that are intimidating but end up being better than expected,” I would like to talk about French macarons.  I’ve eaten a few, think they’re all right but nothing special, and never really had any desire to make them.  But over Winter Break, Mike mentioned that he wanted to try them and I decided that the challenge would be fun.

I found this recipe, which is different from every other macaron recipe I’ve seen, but decided to give it a shot.  It worked perfectly!  I was kind of shocked, since I know these are finicky little beasts.  I checked on them pretty much every minute they were in the oven (through the door), and was overjoyed to see they had feet (even if the feet stuck out a little bit).

macarons

Then I filled them with vanilla bean frosting, ate way too many, and felt grossly sugar-hungover the next day. Standard.

Espresso Macarons with Vanilla Bean filling

Ingredients

    Cookies:
  • 300 grams ground almonds or almond flour
  • 300 grams confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 110 grams egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 15 grams water
  • 300 grams granulated sugar
  • 75 grams water
  • 110 grams egg whites, room temperature
  • Filling
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Note: It's recommended that you plan ahead and let your egg whites sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours.
  2. You will need a food scale; converting to volume measurements may yield inconsistent results
  3. To prepare cookies, preheat oven to 330 degrees F and line several baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons instant espresso with 15 grams of water and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, confectioners sugar, 110 grams of egg whites, and the instant espresso mixture. Mix until homogeneous.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour in remaining egg whites, but do not starting mixing yet.
  7. In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  8. Use a candy thermometer to track the temperature, and turn the mixer on to whip the egg whites once the temperature of the sugar and water reaches 110 C.
  9. Once the sugar-water mixture reaches 118 degrees C, remove the saucepan from heat and slowly pour into beating egg whites while the mixer is still running.
  10. Continue whisking till the volume has almost tripled in size and you have a shiny, smooth, white meringue that holds stiff peaks.
  11. Fold the meringue into the almond flour mixture in small amounts, folding gently just until white streaks disappear. Be sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
  12. Fit a pastry bag with a 10mm tip and fill with macaron batter. Pipe small (about 1-inch diameter), even circles of batter on prepared pans, about one inch apart.
  13. Once each pan is filled with circles, let them rest on the counter for 20-30 minutes.
  14. Bake each pan for 13-17 minutes. They will be done when you touch the top of a cookie and it moves slightly without slipping off the bottom.
  15. Let cookies cool on sheet completely, then remove gently with a metal spatula.
  16. Match the cookies into pairs of similar size.
  17. To make the filling, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the frosting, and add the vanilla extract. Add the milk gradually (adding more if needed) and beat until smooth.
  18. Fill the cookies with frosting.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/01/espresso-macarons-with-vanilla-bean-filling/

(adapted from Squirrel Bakes)

Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

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I was all ready to do a “Best 0f 2012″ post, but then I went back through my archives and realized I didn’t make very much at all this year, and THEN I looked at one or two of those types of posts in Google reader, marked all as read, and decided it wasn’t worth the time.  But just in case anyone cares, the number one post this year (thank you, Pinterest!) is these caramel pretzel brownies.

Mike went back to work today after a whole week off and it bummed me out a little bit, but on the plus side, I think I’m now ready (or almost ready) to go back to work too.  It’s been a really productive break around here: tons of good workouts, made a batch of sauerkraut,

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(I discovered it takes an ETERNITY to thinly slice four heads of cabbage and that by day three it smells incredibly gross), made a batch of kimchi, did some purging of crap and re-organizing around the house, and of course had a ton of fun with Ellie and Mike.

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She is getting so much personality, and I love it.  Her current fixations include cheese, shoes/boots, board books, sweeping our front porch, and blocks.

It’s not often I miss eating meat, but I always loved carnitas and when I saw this recipe (using canned jackfruit…so random!), I was thrilled.  The  texture isn’t exactly the same, obviously, but the flavor is spot on.  I think simmering in pineapple juice is the key.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (I don’t have liquid smoke and didn’t feel like putting in bay leaves) and by the time they were ready I was so stoked to try them that I skipped the sauteeing step that caramelizes them.  They were still completely awesome.  Spicy, sweet, smoky, and perfect in tacos with some cilantro, pickled red onion, and avocado.  Ellie liked them too!

Note on canned jackfruit: I found some at an Asian grocery store in San Francisco.  Make sure it’s in brine, not syrup! I used Chaokoh brand, which comes in green cans that are 20 oz (the label says “20 oz, 10 oz drained”). You could also order it from Amazon.

Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

Ingredients

    Carnitas
  • 2 20-oz (10 oz drained) cans jackfruit in brine, drained
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • Tacos
  • 10-12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • pickled red onion (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. To make the carnitas:
  2. Make sure the jackfruit is rinsed well, and drained. Shred between your fingers.
  3. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with chile powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, and salt.
  4. Rub the spices into the jackfruit and set aside.
  5. Place the pineapple juice and water in a large saucepan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and then add the jackfruit.
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, for about 50 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  7. If you are going to saute the finished jackfruit (recommended in the original recipe), heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium and add 1 cup of jackfruit with sauce, sauteeing until most of the liquid is gone and the edges are browned. Repeat with remaining fruit if desired.
  8. Assemble tacos, topping with cilantro, avocado, and pickled onions.
  9. To make quick pickled red onions: Peel and thinly slice one red onion. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and add the onion for 45 seconds. Drain and place in a small bowl. Add 3 tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 tsp salt and let stand for about 20 minutes.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/01/jackfruit-carnitas-tacos/

(from Vegan Eats World)

Coconut-marinated Kale Salad

I ate a LOT of sugar over Christmas.  It was honestly kind of gross.  But today’s a new day, ripe with possibility and marinated kale.

This is not a kick-start-your-2013 weight loss recipe, because it’s not low fat in any way (hello almond butter AND coconut milk), but it’s a great change of pace after ingesting far too many cookies the past couple days.  The list of ingredients might look a little random, but it blends up to a balanced, creamy, piquant sauce.

Speaking of Christmas, I hope yours was great!  I woke up, ran 4 miles, then spent the day relaxing with family and cooking.  Unfortunately I got sick right afterwards so my grand plans of ramping up my training like crazy over this break didn’t really work out. Womp womp.

Ellie got a chair that she’s obsessed with, and definitely got pretty into the whole unwrapping idea.

I got this cookbook and I cannot wait to cook pretty much everything in it!

This salad isn’t from this book, but it’s from another vegan favorite.  You could add all sorts of stuff to this – carrots, cherry tomatoes, sauteed tofu, chopped nuts…

Coconut-marinated Kale Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large head tuscan kale, stems removed and sliced very thinly
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tsp white miso
  • large pinch cayenne

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients except the kale until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  2. Place kale in a large bowl and add dressing to taste. Massage with your hands, then let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2012/12/coconut-marinated-kale-salad/

(adapted from I am Grateful)

2012 Recap and 2013 Goals

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote this sentence in my goals for 2012:

I am going to run a sub-20 5K or die trying.

Well, I didn’t do either of those things this year, but the year was not a total loss.

I ran two marathons (Big Sur in 3:49 and CIM in a monsoon in 3:43).

I brought my half marathon PR down to 1:38:40, my 10K PR down to 44:30 (official) or 44:00 (training run), and my 5K PR down to 20:52. Can’t complain about any of that!

2013 is going to be a little different, though.  As of right now, there is only ONE race on the calendar.

I don’t have a time goal for the Long Course (70.3) at Wildflower.   The bike course is slightly terrifying, and the run course is 60% trails.

Other than finishing that, my only goals for this year are:

1. Do at least two non-running workouts a week.  During tri training, this will obviously be happening a lot.  But while I was training for CIM, I pretty much didn’t do anything but run, and I think I got a little burned out.  I’m still totally in love with ZWOW workouts and am kind of tempted to try a few of these.

2. Do at least 3 trail races.  Because trails are so freaking fun.

3. Track my mileage all year.   This year I ran somewhere around 1500 miles, but I forgot to log a few of my runs.  I’m over Daily Mile so I’m looking for something new.  I like Training Peaks, but I feel like it’s mostly geared toward time and I can’t really figure out how to tally total mileage (but maybe that’s a good thing?)

As far as the direction this blog is headed…I’m not really sure.  I’ve definitely slowed way down on posting, and I talk almost as much about running as I do about food now.  I definitely don’t intend to quit blogging altogether, but I’m probably going to post only when I have a really good recipe or a race recap or an obscenely cute picture of my child.  I’m grateful to everyone who still reads, comments, and emails, and I love having this place to vent about crappy workouts, celebrate good races, and share delicious things I’ve made (when I remember to take pictures of them).

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Masala Red Lentils with Chard

Our house is filled with Christmas cookies right now.  I could banish them and insist on eating only healthy stuff, but honestly, it’s a couple weeks of my life and I LOVE this time of year and all the sugary goodness that comes with it.

Ellie has gotten it in her head that if she points at something sweet and nods vigorously, we’ll give it to her.  I’m not sure where she got this idea.

Oh wait, this might have something to do with it.

 

This is not a normal occurrence, really.  She usually eats bananas and sweet potatoes and plain yogurt and pears.

I ended my week of laziness with a slooow 22 mile bike ride yesterday.  I was loving life and wondering why I stopped cycling…and then around mile 7 my rear end reminded me that it was ridiculous to think I could just go out and breeze through a ride like this. OW. My plan for 70.3 training is to just do what I want as long as I’m running, swimming, and cycling at least twice a week.  Today I ran a fairly uncomfortable 4.4 miles after work.  Weird that beer and cookies and being lazy for a week doesn’t make you feel light on your feet.

But I listened to a podcast and someone decorated a tree along the path so it wasn’t a completely miserable experience.

This is totally NOT one of those back on track healthy recipes. It’s pretty rich, but the flavor is complex and warm and I made a giant batch of it just so I can eat it for lunch all week.  This is a scaled up recipe from the original and I used chard instead of spinach.  I made saffron rice to serve alongside it and it was a satisfying, delicious meal.

Masala Red Lentils with Chard

Ingredients

    Masala Paste:
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • Lentils:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • masala paste (from above)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups chopped rainbow chard

Instructions

  1. To make the masala paste, toast cumin and coriander seeds in dry skillet until fragrant. Use a mortar and pestle (or a spice grinder) to grind spices.
  2. In a small food processor, combine the spices, salt, and ginger pulse a few times. Then add the oil, tomato paste, and cilantro leaves. Pulse until paste forms and everything is well incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers and add the diced onion, cooking until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Stir in masala paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil.
  5. Add thelentils and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, covered, stirring often, until lentils are nearly tender, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the chard and a cup of water if the lentils look a little dry and cook for another 10 minutes.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2012/12/masala-red-lentils-with-chard/

(slightly adapted from Naturally Ella)

Cranberry Bliss Bars

I made a promise to myself I’d take this entire week off running. I woke up this morning and wanted nothing more than to go for a run, but since I’m about to start half Ironman training, I’m sticking with my original plan.  I know my legs will appreciate the time to repair themselves, and I would like to avoid burnout if possible.

I’m still doing abs though, just to balance out my beer consumption.

I’ve found it kind of awesome how much more time I get to spend with this little person when I don’t have to run all the time.

However, if I were to give up working out I would quickly go insane, and nobody wants that, so I’m just going to have to find a way to balance everything…my full time job, GRE studying, triathlon training, mom-ing, cooking, blogging…

I made some of these bliss bars a few weeks ago for Mike to take to work; his co-worker loves the Starbucks version.  She said these were even better than the real thing!  And my mom the white chocolate hater loved them too.  I think they definitely deserve a spot on your Christmas baking list!

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Ingredients

    Bars
  • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
  • Frosting
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment, and spray the bottom and sides with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the bars, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the brown sugar.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate chips.
  6. Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate and beat until smooth.
  9. Frost the bars, then sprinkle with cranberries.
  10. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate.
  11. Cut into triangles, and keep in the refirgerator
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2012/12/cranberry-bliss-bars/

(adapted from Taste of Home)

 

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