Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Already

I've been gone a long time, but I've been inspired to return. The past two months have been really busy, so having a couple of weeks off for the holidays has been fabulous.

Two major events are about to occur in my life: buying our first home and getting married. Stupidly, we are taking on both of these little projects at about the same time: we hope to close on a house by the end of June, and then are planning a 2011 wedding (thank you, stimulus money!). We are embarking on both adventures more abnormally than our peers, I believe, which has made things interesting.

First, the house. Since we live in the Seattle area, the cost of living is high. Any house in our budget will inevitably need quite a bit of updating, but we're excited about that. We're both totally nerdy in that we fantasize about all of the awesome home projects we get to embark on once we are home owners. Hello, sweat equity!

Secondly, the wedding. I'm not a typical bride at all. Just the idea of wedding planning kind of makes me want to barf a little. And I want to keep our budget to $15K while having an open bar. Luckily, we have found a few promising venues that may allow us to achieve that.

So, I'll be deviating from running and cooking for awhile most likely. Just a heads up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Half marathon 2.0 training

I haven't posted about running in forever, but I've totally kept up with it (at least over the past two months), amazingly.

After the Seattle Rock N' Roll half marathon at the end of June, I pretty much stopped running for two months. It was a nice break, but not recommended. It's not like I was planning to stop, it's just that my rest week turned into a rest month, and whenever you stop running for more than two weeks, you are pretty much screwing yourself. Valuable lesson: don't totally stop running if you ever plan to do it again! Just run a few miles two times a week, that's all it takes! The idea is just to keep yourself reasonably fit and maintain your running endurance.

So, after a painful few weeks of getting the ol' gears turning again, the long runs commenced with five miles on Oct. 3rd. We just did seven this past weekend, and freakishly all three long runs so far have gone pretty well! I remember in the spring every long run felt never-ending and occasionally tortuous. Maybe I retained some of my endurance? One can only hope.

During the week I'm doing 2-3 short runs, at a minimum of three miles in length, at my goal race pace. I'm working my way up to four mile short runs, and right now I'm around 3.4. Ultimately, I'd like every short run for the three final weeks to be four miles in length.
For this upcoming race, I'm using this training time to tweak some things I missed last time. The biggest is my water consumption: I just don't really like drinking it when I'm running, and that's why I got dehydrated at the end of the race in June. Now, I'm trying to make my long runs simulate the race better, and forcing myself to drink more. That means I need a bigger water belt, because currently I can only carry 8oz. Oh, damn, have to go shopping.

I'm also going to experiment replace Clif Shot Blocks with Nerds, because it seems like those will pretty much achieve the same thing and I'll be much more enthusiastic about consuming them. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan Table: reviewed

My latest cookbook acquisition is The Vegan Table, procured during our weekend jaunt to Portland. I've already cooked two recipes from it (the tofu-spinach lasagna pictured and butternut squash risotto with toasted sage), and am pumped to try out some more!

I've been a fan of Colleen's podcasts for about two years now; she's got a ton of great cooking and general lifestyle tips. This book is pretty unique in that the recipes are organized based on gathering type, and then further subdivided into seasonal menus. It's really nice to have pairing suggestions for recipes, just in case I don't feel like thinking about it, and I'm told what works well for big groups.

The butternut squash risotto was my first foray into risotto cookery, and I was fairly successful. Risotto is very time-consuming, so I don't think I'll be making it that often. After all, 25 minutes of constant stirring isn't really my idea of fun. However, I was very pleased with the final result (though I couldn't resist tweaking it a bit by adding caramelized onion). The lasagna turned out great and was super simple - it is now my go-to lasagna recipe, since it's really easy to modify. I LOVE that to make her tofu ricotta you just throw everything in a blender! And it's mixed with enough spinach that it's not really tofu-y.

Overall: great buy, and I'm excited to see what other treasures this book contains!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Queso-less Quesadillas

So I made these as a quick weeknight dinner and they turned out brilliantly! Mashed sweet potato (bake first for an hour in a 350F oven, wrapped in foil) provided a creamy binder and replaced the customary cheese. I sauteed some pepper and onions for few minutes, then added some pinto beans and cumin to round out the filling.

Now, the pièce de résistance was the fresh pineapple salsa to accompany the quesadillas. It was just diced pineapple, diced fresh tomato, a little bit of onion, and cilantro (I used the Dorat frozen cubes, from Trader Joe's, this time). Allow to mellow in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and you're good to go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Breakfasting in autumn

I adore owning a waffle maker! Here is a pretty picture of the Vegan Brunch corn waffles I made a few weeks ago. Good, but not great. I think I need to play around with the temperature settings on our new waffle maker, and maybe slightly increase the flour/corn meal ratio. However, I really liked the addition of corn meal into the waffle batter, especially with the organic blueberry compote I made! Basically I just dumped a pint of blueberries in a saucepan with some sugar and cornstarch and stirred continuously, for about five minutes after it started getting hot and bubbly. Mmmmmm....... I wish tomorrow was the weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wayward Cafe - Seattle

Since I found myself in the U-District on Friday, I decided to try the Wayward Cafe, a reputable Seattle vegan restaurant. I'm so glad I did, because it was magical.
They automatically get props, just for the selection alone. Even in Seattle it's often difficult to be a vegetarian at alot of restaurants, so having an entire menu that is not only vegan, but also sounds GOOD is impressive. I got a half order of the biscuits and gravy (one biscuit) with sausage, plus a side of homefries, because I completed a six-mile long run an hour before and was famished. Well, I'm really glad I got a half order because it was HUGE! Basically a CD-sized herb biscuit split in half, with a sausage patty on either side smothered in mushroom gravy. Everything was fresh and delicious, exactly how you would want it to taste.It's a really laid-back vibe, which I like alot - not too much hipster presence. There of course were a bunch of UW students in their perfectly thick trendy glasses, skinny jeans, and plaid shirts, but they weren't too annoying and I'm willing to deal with them if it means I get to eat Wayward's awesome food.
AND it's not over-priced! My food was less than $8 before I left them $2 for tip. If you find yourself in that part of Seattle, hit up Wayward!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Word of the Day: Bake!

As in, "bake sale" and "bake-un."

Currently my oven is preheating to a cozy 350F (oh it just beeped!) so I can throw in some chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow I'll be zipping up to the U-District to drop off my little creations at Sidecar for Pigs Peace for a bake sale they will be throwing Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm. All proceeds from the sale will benefit Pigs Peace Sanctuary, which as you may guess, owns the store and everything you buy there helps the sanctuary as well! So, if you live in the Seattle area, stop by this weekend to get a cookie and do a little grocery shopping for vegetarian essentials - it's for a good cause so you practically HAVE to!

Secondly, awhile back my mom gave me a shaker of Bacon Bacon, from Tastefully Simple. Basically it's a food company that does parties in people's houses to sell stuff, in the manner of Tupperware, Party Lite, and Pure Romance. My mom bought this because she felt like she HAD to buy something, and it turned out these are the best bac'un bits EVER! They're $8.99/bottle, so they'd better be. Seriously, if you have the opportunity get your paws on these! You won't believe it's vegetarian, and I guarantee you could fool meat-eaters!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tropical Explosion Tuesday

I loathe Tuesdays. I have ever since middle school, when I figured out that they usually fall when you are already ready for the weekend, yet it feels the the work/school week will go on forever. The fresh motivation of Monday is long gone. Fridays are obviously always great, because you've already checked out by noon, and Thursdays have that great energy of getting lots done to wrap up your week and the anticipation of the weekend. Tuesdays are the red-headed stepchild of the work week. Plus, crappy things tend to happen. Today was no exception - I left my gym clothes at home on accident, so my lunch break was spent driving back and forth - 40 minutes round trip. BUT there was a little nugget of goodness in my day: the amazing dinner I had the forethought to make on Sunday!

You see, Sunday I kind of went into domestic-goddess-on-crack mode, which I do from time to time. I made enough food for about five meals, much of which we are consuming over the course of this week. This was one of the dishes I crafted. It was modified from a recipe in this book, my collegiate cooking staple. I served it with quinoa and grilled pineapple, and it was purely orgasmic. And, as a pleasant surprise - really really healthy!

Lindsay's Jamaican Black Bean Pot

-2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or rehydrated equivalent)
-2 T. olive oil
-1 c. onion, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, chopped
-2 t. mustard powder
-1.5 T. molasses (use 1 T. if you use blackstrap)
-3 T. brown sugar
-2 t. dried thyme
-1 t. dried chili flakes
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 big-ass sweet potato, diced
-1/2 c. veggie broth or water
-S & P

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over med-low heat and add the onion and garlic. Sautee for five minutes, until softened - no browning/burning!
3. Add the spices, molasses, and sugar. Cook for one minute, stirring to thoroughly combine everything. Stir in the black beans until combined, then dump everything in a nice casserole dish (ideally with a lid).
3. Stir in the pepper and sweet potato and mix well. Add the veggie broth, cover with lid or foil, and cook for 45 minutes.

Serve with a tasty grain (I highly recommend quinoa, or brown rice) and grilled pineapple or peaches.

Here's how I grilled my pineapple: slice yourself some fresh pineapple rings about 1" thick, then cut those in half. Brush both sides of each slice with some oil. Place on a pre-heated grill (about medium heat), arranged for optimal grill marks. It's key to make sure the grill isn't on full-blast, because you kind of want to slow cook the fruit to allow the sugars to caramelize. Leave alone for about five minutes, then come back and turn. After another five minutes, you're done!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn = Awesome Soup-Making Time!

Yesterday I decided to dig through my lesser-used cookbooks and find some new recipes to jazz up this week's meals. I happened upon my old college favorite, my B&N vegetarian baragin bin cookbook. There's not too many earth-shattering recipes in here, but everything is really solid and there are loads of full-color photos, which is always fun.

Since it's autumn, and that means squash season, I went with a roasted root vegetable soup featuring the always tasty butternut squash. I tweaked the book's recipe a bit, so here's a general breakdown of how I created my masterpiece.

Cube, toss in olive oil, and roast the following in a 400 degree oven for about an hour, turning a few times to ensure even cooking:
-(1) butternut squash
-(2) turnips
-(1) parsnip
-(1) onion
-1 c. baby carrots

To make the flavors really pop, tuck in some sprigs of rosemary and thyme before baking. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Also, make sure everything is spread out in a single layer and not too crowded - I had to use two baking sheets to achieve this.

Right before the veggies are done, bring about 6 cups of veggie or chik'n broth to a boil. Add veggies, and lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes. THEN the best part! Blend everything with your trusty immersion blender. You might have to add a little more broth/water to get the consistency you like. Afterward, I added about 1/2 c. soy creamer for added creaminess. I also had to add about 1-2 t. of salt, but I understand not everyone is a salt fiend like me, so adjust to your preference.

Yummmm. Is it really possible to take an appetizing picture of soup that looks like this? Oh well, use your imagination. Considering there was a thin layer of ice on my windshield this morning, this will be a delicious Monday lunch!

Southern cooking theme night

Here's a random dinner that came together surprisingly well, given that I didn't really have anything planned in advance. We had red chard and green beens that needed to get used, plus a pot of white beans that had just completed cooking. I turned all of that into Southern theme night! Themes are the best. Plus, we're from Michigan and now live in Seattle, so we don't even have to pretend that we know what real Southern food looks and tastes like. Add a little hot sauce, serve with cornbread, and you're good to go!

I ended up making Vegan Brunch's chorizo sausages as the centerpiece of the meal for the first time, and was really impressed. I've made Julie Hasson's seitan sausages before, but I must say the addition of mashed beans plus the perfect spice combo made this batch the best homemade sausage I've ever had (I used the aforementioned white beans instead of pinto - pretty sure it doesn't matter). Luckily I doubled the recipe so we have a bunch in the freezer now! After steaming, I browned them in a pan for a few minutes. Right before I took them off the heat, I stirred in a sauce comprised of about .5 c water, .25 c BBQ sauce, and .25 c hot wing sauce. That was just enough to give the "meat" a nice, saucy quality....

....which was what I was going for because when you make CORNBREAD you need something to sop up! I love cornbread. And Veganomicon's recipe is my favorite, because it tastes great and is too freakin' easy.

And I'm sorry all my pictures are kind of crappy....I've had my camera for about seven years and I refuse to get a new one as long as it is still alive. Plus, it gets dark way too early this time of year!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First MoFo post, and it's about tea

Alright, so I need to get back on track with blogging, and Vegan MoFo sounds like the perfect time to do so! I'm going to try my best to post something every weekday for the month of October.

Today's post, since I'm consuming it right now: tea! I've always liked it, and am trying to get back into it more. While I may not drink it every single day, when I do I am a total tea snob - NEVER from a bag (there's actually a good reason to avoid bags), and generally it's not something boring like Earl Grey. It's really about the same price as buying tea bags (well, tea bags of reasonable quality - Lipton will always be the cheapest but who uses that outside of iced tea?), plus the tea is fresher and you often have many more flavor options. Like right now, for instance: I love Republic of Tea's Pomegranate Green tea, but it's super fruity so I cut it with Tea Haus's China Lung Ching, or "Dragon Well." I'm trying to drink mostly green tea because 1) it contains a decent amount of caffeine 2) it has tons of antioxidants and magical powers and 3) I like its taste and can drink alot of it.

What healthy benefits does tea have exactly, you ask? Ask and you shall recieve:

Anti-cancer properties
Increases metabolic rate
Possible anti-diabetes effect
Boosts mental alertness
Boosts immune system
Lowers chances of cognitive impairment
Lowers stress hormone levels
Therapy for HIV patients
Reduce inflammation for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Inhibits growth of bacteria that cause bad breath
Helps stop excess iron damage for those with iron overload disorders
Benefits associated with caffeine
Effects on obstructive sleep apnea-related brain deficits
Helpful in treating bacterial and fungal infections
Anti-venom effects (!!!!) - can help treat snake bites!
Reduces the risk of stroke
Improves Cardiovascular health
Treatment for Anogenital warts (ew)

Now, if you drink loose tea you need to invest in a few pieces of equipment. When at home, I use my trusty Bodum Assam pot. I love it! While it may seem pricey, these thing hold up super well and do a really good job - and you can just toss everything in the dishwasher when it needs to get cleaned.

Work is a little trickier. Sometimes I bring my Bodum pot into work, if I really want alot of tea - like four cups worth. But usually, I use my fun little lollipop-like infuser and a cute vessel - like right now I have 12 oz. tumbler featuring ghosts and other Halloween ghouls. Luckily, we possess a tap that instantly produces near-boiling water, so I'm all set in that regard. Other alternatives include microwaving or getting an electric kettle, which are neat little items.

And one of the biggest benefits for me is that I save a ton of money not running through the Starbucks drive-thru!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

World Spice (not to be confused with Spice World)

This weekend brought me an amazing and unexpected gift: World Spice just underneath Pike Place market. I'd heard about it from a Seattle-area PPKer, but never really pursued it. We happened upon it by chance and I am so glad we did!

It's a supercute, totally packed spice shop where they really encourage you to smell and taste everything. Buying spices in bulk is 100% the way to go than buying them in the grocery store, because your spices are fresher and, more importantly, much cheaper. World Spice has a pretty cool setup where they display 1oz jars of each kind of spice. This is good, because they sell their spices and blends in 1oz increments - this allows you to see how much you are buying. It really illuminates how much you pay for packaging when you buy spices pre-packaged.

Even if you don't live in the Seattle area, they do sell online. Not sure how the prices and shipping rates compare to Penzey's, but I can assure you they have excellent service. Also, they carry a wide range of salts, which is so cool, including the famed black salt included in Vegan Brunch's omelet recipe. Basically, it makes tofu tastes just like eggs, which is creepy yet neat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New toys!

Boy, oh boy, am I going to have fun in the kitchen this weekend! Not only do we have NOTHING planned Sat/Sun (and it's staying that way!), but I also have a plethora of kitchen items arriving this week, and some that I recently accquired. Best part: they all cost me about $10 total, because I had a ton of gift cards!

From Williams-Sonoma: pizza stone, pizza peel (wooden cutting board-looking thing you use to get pizzas in/out of the oven), pizza chopper (totally badass, as you can see at right), new spatula, and a waffle maker.
From Amazon: IMMERSION BLENDER (I have dreamed of this day for so long!), and copies of Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and Vegan Brunch.
From random used bookstores in the San Juan Islands (visited this past weekend w/ the parents): Millenium Cookbook, Vegetarian PacNW (probably somewhat outdate but I'm ok with that), and American Vegetarian Cookbook. Yaaaay!!!!

Tentative menu plan:
Saturday - cornbread waffles w/ blueberry sauce from VB, pizza of course!, tomato basil soup, and maybe slow-cooked seitan just to see how that works
Sunday - chocolate beer waffles from VB, tomato rosemary scones from VB (on the pizza stone), possibly slow cooker pot pie of some sort

And tonight I already prepped my first slow-cooked meal from FFVSC: a peanuty, apricoty South African stew. I am so excited to get home from work tomorrow! More excited than usual, in fact.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I want this book

Spencer, take note. My birthday IS coming up.

Not only does this look like a really cool cookbook, it's written by the founder and former editor of Bitch magazine! Plus, I think it's all vegetarian and vegan, which is even better!

Basically, she takes the local/organic food concept and makes it both easy and accessible for us mortals. Let's face it, we all don't live off of farmer's market produce and eggs harvested from our coop out back. However, everyone could benefit from eating food grown closer to home that is in season, because it tastes better and is much better for the planet.

And this book is only $8. Go buy it from Powell's if you don't want to support a giant (but Seattle-area!) corporation; it's $10 there, still a bargain for a solid cookbook.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Yes, I suck, haven't blogged in two months. Tons has been happening that is very blog-worthy, but I've been lazy. I think my goal is going to be short burst sort of posts, a few a week. That way, I can put something useful out into the world that isn't work intensive. Set the bar low so you can always come out way over it, right????

Today: Odwalla bar product review.

I love these things. They have great stats for breakfast - I'm not hungry first thing in the morning, so I end up eating my breakfast after I've arrived at work. These are great because they require zero prep, don't smell, and don't make alot of noise when you are eating them (can you tell I work in a cube?!).

Specifically, the chocolate chip peanut flavor is EXQUISITE. I'm on board for anything that tastes like a candy bar for breakfast. The stats are perfect for a meal - 230 cals, and a decent amount of fiber and protein. With a banana as my mid-morning snack around 930 or 10, its a perfect morning, food-wise.

The downside is that they are crazy expensive, so I usually buy them on sale and stock up. The best price I usually find is $1/ea. Seems high still, but when you figure that's the cost for a meal it's not too bad.

BONUS: go to and use code HGirl20 until 9/15. It's for 20% off, which puts them at exactly $1/ea. Plus they have lots of other good stuff on the site so the discount allows you to stock up on other tasty items!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Avocados are awesome. I just really started to appreciate their fabulousness about three years ago, and now I love them. They are full of healthy fats, nutrients, and are an excellent way to feel satisfied without eating junk food. Some fun facts:

-The Aztec word for avocado was ahuacatl, which means "testicle tree"
-Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit.
-Rudolph Hass, a postman, patented the Hass avocado tree in 1935. The first Hass avocado tree is still alive and producing fruit
-Avocados contain more potassium than bananas

Now, the major drawback to this wrinkly green fruit is the fat and accompanying calorie content. If you normally eat a lowfat diet, its not a big deal, but we can all identify with wanting to trim calories here or there. This recipe is a great way to do that - it combines asparagus and avocado to create a delicious version of guacamole. Awesome with chips or crackers, this is also tasty as a sandwich spread. I found the original version in the Moosewood cookbook, and tweaked it a little for my purposes.


-1/2 lb asaparagus, with tough ends trimmed off and cut in 1" pieces
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1-2 T lemon juice
-1/4 c. onion
-1/2-3/4 ripe avocado
-1/2 c. fire roasted tomatoes, drained (you can use regular, fresh or canned, if you prefer)
-Cayenne pepper + hot sauce

1. Steam the asparagus for 10 minutes, until very tender
2. Let the asparagus cool a bit, then pulse in a food processor with the lemon juice, onion, and garlic.
3. Add the avocado, tomatoes, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and some hot sauce to taste (I used about a teaspoon). Blend to desire consistency, and you're all done!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Drinking and running....combined!

I've been lazy with blogging (specifically taking interesting pictures of things and writing about them), but I figured I'd throw out a few niblets for your enjoyment.

While somewhat disappointing in respect to my post-work and weekend activities, I found this NY Times article about the health benefits of alcohol interesting. Basically it questions all of the studies linking moderate drinking to health benefits. Jury's still out.

In a similar vein, here is a good Runner's World article about alcohol consumption and running.

Lastly, in order to get enough miles to bump me up to Elite status on Northwest I was thinking about doing the Las Vegas Rock n' Roll half marathon. That is, assuming I don't die running the Seattle one in a WEEK AND A HALF. Oh god, that's coming up really damn fast! Well, I did over a ten-miler this weekend, and one two weeks before that, so I should be good to go. But I'm still slightly terrified.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our very own garden patch!

A few weeks ago we finally planted all of our newly acquired seedlings in our garden out back. I'm so excited! I've never grown my own vegetables, so this is a new experience for me. We planted a few different tomato plants; red, green, and a few kinds of hot peppers; lettuce; snow peas; zucchini, yellow, and acorn squash; an herb garden; and garlic. I also planted a few rows of "fancy" lettuce that is miraculously sprouting. So basically in two months we are going to be FLUSH with produce and it shall be fabulous. I may even have to explore the world of pickling and canning!

We've even already started to pick up some good gardening tips and tricks during our short time horticulturing. First of all, Washington has some crazy-ass slugs. They are especially bad in the spring, when it's cool and damp. They are EVERYWHERE in the morning, at night, or when it's rainy out. If you didn't know, slugs really like to eat plants, specifically baby plants. Now, I know the old world slug remedy is to bury a bowl of beer flush with the ground and they will drown..... but I wasn't sure of efficacy of that so I went ahead and purchased good ol' Slug Death. It's a pesticide you sprinkle on the ground - and it WORKS! Not a slug in sight after I applied it. However, out of guilt I may try the beer trick. I'll keep you updated.

Additionally, there are a few neighborhood cats 'round these parts, and apparently they decided our garden would make an excellent play area/litter box. I respect their natural desires, however digging up my precious plants is NOT permitted. So I set up a few deterrents where they liked to dig, which seem to be effective. First, I shoved a bunch of sticks into the ground, about 6" tall and 6" apart. The reasoning behind this is it discourages them from digging and/or sitting down in that area. Furthermore, I sprinkled a bunch of homemade chili powder over all of the soil, since I guess they don't like the smell. Cats won't intentionally dig up plants, just the dirt around them, but if you have seeds or bulbs in the ground it could obviously become a problem.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Long runs for beginning runners!

I don't know how many beginning runners there are out there working on half or full marathons, but there certainly doesn't seem to be a wealth of information for us out there. Sure, there are training plans for "beginning" runners, if by that you mean you can already run at least 12 miles a week and run 9 or 10 minute miles. As you can imagine, that's a little intimidating for some of us.

My recommendation for those setting your sights on a longer race (which ANYONE can do, seriously) is to first commit to a 5K. There are a ton of training options available for free online. I'd say three months is a reasonable amount of time for someone to go from not running at all to running a 5K. Not RUNNING, per se, but a nice jog. We're talk between 10 and 12 minute miles, maybe longer, nothing totally insane. When I say running, I mean just being able to keep going without walking. Once you can comfortably run three miles, its much easier to get settled in a long-term training plan.

Now, let's say you're like me, and want to do a 10K, and then move on to a half marathon. My method has kind of been a three-month rule: allow yourself three months of training every time you double your goal distance. So, once you can run a 5K, give yourself three months to train for a 10K. Same thing going from a 10K to half marathon. Sure, you could definitely do it faster - but for those of us that aren't naturally talented or lifetime runners, that allows for a week or so of recovery after a race and some tapering, then building back up for the next race. This also helps keep me from getting burnt out - I only run three days per week.

I'm currently a month and a half away from my first half marathon, with my goal time of 2:30 (5.25mph pace basically). Here is my tentative running schedule up to the race, starting on Mondays and keeping in mind a few day will get swapped around:
Week of May 11: run 3 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 3.67mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 8 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of May 18: run 3 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 3.67 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 9 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of May 25: run 3.5 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 3.75 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 10 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of June 1: run 3.5 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 3.75 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 10 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of June 8: run 3.75 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 4 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 11 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of June 15: run 4 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 4 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, spin class, 8 mi long run @ 5mph-ish, rest
Week of June 22: run 4 mi @ 5.4mph, 1 hr strength training, run 3.75 mi @5.3mph, 1 hr strength training, rest, RACE DAY, rest!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Bizzarrely Happy Monday!

I've been productive at work and the day has just flown by - why can't every Monday be like this?!?!

It was probably helped along by my f'ing awesome lunch - Jerk Seitan from Vegan With a Vengeance! The batch of seitan I made Saturday turned out REALLY good; usually I slack on the kneading and/or don't start with ice cold broth, so my seitan is too soft. This time it was perfectly firm and fabulous. Furthermore, Jerk Seitan is probably on my top 5 list of VWAV recipes. This is an old picture of a dinner I made with it last year, but that's better than my lame plastic container of it that I lunched on.

Additionally, this weekend we finally began our garden out back, and now I am pumped for our vegetables to come in! I planted some lettuce and zucchini seeds, and we'll be purchasing tomato and pepper plants in a few weeks. In about 20 minutes my friend and I are bustin' out of work to hit a local greenhouse, too! I plan to get my paws on some fresh herbs. Yum yum yum!

3.5 mile "fast" (equal to or slightly faster than my half marathon goal pace) fun tonight! I did Jillian's 30 Day Shred level 1 yesterday just to DO something the day after that monster run, and I'm still a little sore today :( We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

7 mile long run, omg

Yesterday my fellow fat kid Alissa (she's running the Rock n' Roll half with me) and I set off on our long run for the week - seven miles. I thought the Lake Youngs Trail, near my house, sounded like a good run. Of course, I did not look at a topo map before we went. It was constant rolling hills, the entire way. And they were not small hills. We were both DYING at the end - we probably only did about 6.5 miles running, but I'm pretty sure a flat 7 would have been WAY easier so I'm happy. It was a good, but painful, training experience. I'm sure consuming a few of these last weekend (and ALOT of other stuff) and not running didn't help:

Yes, that is a pitcher of Long Island with a straw....because I drank it myself. Then had 1.5 more. At $6.75 each, it's pretty hard to pass up. Behind it you can see Houghton's famous lift bridge.

Next week I'll be in Michigan for a friend's wedding, so the plan is to do a flat 7 there and then the next week Alissa and I will hit up Green Lake for a solid 8 mile run. Less than two months to go!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 milestones, onward! And almonds.

Great news - I am officially a Project Management Professional! So far in 2009 I have ran my first 10k and became a certified PMP - awesome! My next scheduled accomplishment? Running the Seattle Rock N' Roll Half Marathon! Which, by the way, is now sold out, so I feel even cooler. Yes, I took the plunge and am currently training for it. This weekend I have a seven mile long run slated, and have resumed personal training twice weekly to stregthen my muscles.

To celebrate passing my PMP exam, and much to the detriment of half marathon training, I spent this past weekend in Houghton, MI at my alma matter, Michigan Tech. Since it's in the middle of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, it is very small town with little to do, and everything is SUPER cheap. This sets the stage for a pretty crazy drunkfest when you plop a college down. Even crazier when you return as alumni that is not broke and doesn't have the responsibility of school to worry about. We, along with numerous other alumni, visited for the annual Senior Walk, basically a school-wide bar crawl. I'll just say we packed alot of fun into the weekend, and I am glad to be back in WA as a functioning adult.

Mmmm I just finished my afternoon snack. Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds are pretty much the best thing ever. I'm normally not a dark chocolate person, but these are super addictive. Weirdly they remind me of chocolate Teddy Grahams. Best of all, they have the same basic stats as plain almonds - 150 cals for a quarter cup, since they're essentially just roasted almonds tossed with cocoa powder. I lovelovelove sweet stuff, and these help satisfy that craving.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back with some tasty recent creations

Last weekend I really had a hankering for something bad for me (mac and cheese), so I decided to try a new vegan mac recipe I had been hearing about for awhile. We also happened to have all the ingredients in the house, so that helped alot. Vegan Guinea Pig posted this super-easy recipe that does NOT include nutritional yeast, which many people don't enjoy. In a million years I would have never thought raw cashews, potatoes, onions, carrots, and a few spices could create a convincing cheese sauce, but I was WRONG! This was freakin' amazing. Even better than Veganomicon's Mac Daddy. I must admit, I did add about a quarter cup of nutritional yeast flakes because I was worried the sauce would lack flavor. In summary: yum yum yum! Make this, especially because it is not horrible for you.

The veggie mac got me in my cooking groove, so early this week I decided I really wanted to make some Kung Pao tofu. If definitely turned into an experiment with many variables, but a tasty experiment in the end. First off, I decided to pop my frozen tofu cherry. I'd had some Trader Joe's super firm tofu chillin' in our freezer for a few months. The stuff is great normally, and freezing definitely took the texture to a whole new level. After thawing, I thought I'd bake it for awhile, to save some of the calories associated with frying. I whipped up a quick marinade and baked the tofu strips for 15 minutes on each side at 350F.

My Marinade:
(all measurements extremely approximate)
-1/4 c. sweet chili sauce
-1/4 c. BBQ sauce
-2 T. soy sauce
-2 T. rice vinegar
-1 t. toasted sesame oil
-1 t. Sriracha chili sauce

After baking and cutting into cubes, I fried the tofu briefly to give it a nice crunchy exterior. I then stir fried some veggies with a tiny bit of oil, and added the tofu when they were done. My Kung Pao sauce closely mirrored my marinade, with just about half the amount of BBQ sauce. Basically, I was supposed to use hoisin sauce instead of BBQ, but we didn't have any. I thought this would be an acceptable substitute, and it worked pretty well. I sprinkled the final product with peanuts and it was good.

Life is pretty busy in general right now until I take the PMP exam on the 21st. I am pumped to be done with that and get my fat raise!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Kashi Tuscan Veggie Bake: reviewed

This (and all other Kashi entrees) was on sale at our local (and AMAZING!) Target for about $3 so I decided to give it a go. Kashi entrees go for $4-5 at other grocery stores I've noticed, so that's a pretty good deal. Yes, still kind of expensive, but when the alternative is me being lazy and going out for lunch, it is quite cheap.

It was worth it! This was sooooo tasty. It also has some very impressive nutritional stats. Pretty filling, too, for a frozen meal. Kashi's black bean mango meal is totally tiny, so I was glad this didn't have that problem. Basically it is a slice of veggie lasagna. It also had a sort of creaminess to it, which is interesting considering it is vegan. Overall, very flavorful, exactly the right amount of sauce, and is all natural - none of the chemical crap that's normally in this kind of stuff. Still, I would recommend bringing along some fruit or vegetable as a side at the very least; maybe two sides. I work 10-hr days so I can't have small lunches! I will definitely buy this again if the price is right!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Asiana Pasta

This is what a weeknight dinner looks like when I have a bunch of leftover stuff and zero desire to create a culinary masterpiece. In this case, it was half a bag of frozen mixed veggies and some seitan strips. Since my theory is that everything tastes awesome covered in peanut sauce, I give you......Asiana Pasta!

I cooked up some whole wheat spaghetti noodles, added the frozen veggies and seitan, then tossed everything with the easiest peanut sauce EVER. A touch of grated carrots gave the dish a nice fresh crunch and burst of color.

Lindsay's Weeknight Peanut Sauce
Serves 2-4, depending on how fat kid/hungry you are
-1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
-2 T. soy sauce
-2 T. rice vinegar
-1/4-1/2 c. water, depending on how thick you like your sauce
-1/2 t. of all the following: garlic powder, ground ginger, crushed red pepper flakes

Mix it all together and pop in the microwave for about a minute, maybe two. Stir well before serving. That's it! Adjust all of these measurements to taste; it's a pretty forgiving recipe.

Sorry I've sucked at posting lately. Work has picked up quite a bit, and I'm busy studying for the PMP (Project Management Professional) Exam on April 21st. I have not forgotten my blog, though, fear not! I shall be back with a vengeance soon enough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First 10K complete!!!

Sunday I finished my first ever 10K! I chose to do the one associated with the Mercer Island Half Marathon, for a few reasons: 1) it is conveniently three months away from my first half marathon (Seattle Rock N' Roll) and therefore serves as a good benchmark 2) there aren't alot of 10Ks around here, so I didn't have many options.

The course was SUPER hilly. Like, crazy hilly - check it out if you don't believe me. I don't think I ran more than a quarter mile on flat ground. It also started raining halfway through the race. Totally awesome, I know. I also puked as I got to the finish line (at the top of yet another HILL). That's why I don't have any victory shots - my friend only got pics of me pre-, mid-, or post-boot. So, lots of sucky circumstances, but I finished in 1:15:56, which was my goal (1:15)! I'm very pleased with myself.

I definitely will be more careful with my long runs for the half marathon, though. I want to be consistently running close to the race distance (so, 10-11 miles) for at least three to four long runs before the race. For the 10K, I hit five miles the week before the race, which is what most programs recommend, but I still don't really feel like I was ready for the distance. Who knows, maybe I was but the hills just sucked the life out of me :P

In summary, here are my lessons learned:
-Don't eat ANYTHING less than two hours before the beginning of the race. And you don't have to grab water at every stop on the course. I had a breakfast smoothie about an hour before the race started - only about 8-12 oz. But I puked pink - def was still too full. Unless you have like 5% body fat, you really don't need that much fuel before or during the race - that's what fat is for! You need a little something basically if you plan on running an hour or more.
-Make sure you have your ipod loaded with enough music for the entire race - keep it pretty close to your goal time so you can pace yourself
-Be able to run about 85% of your race distance a few times in the weeks before the race, not just once

Next up, I think this race might be fun. 5Ks are definitely easy for me now, so I think it will be fun to do a race where there's no pressure except improving my time. It would be totally crazy if I could get less than 30 minutes, which is doable if I put some effort into speed training. Plus, Alki Beach has a beautiful view of Seattle so it will be a really scenic race.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Winter comfort dinner and Portland exploration

This meal was consumed two months ago, but it was so awesome I saved it so I could share it with the world. It's actually all from Veganomicon (basically), except the "cooking greens," which were just braised in some tomato sauce, water, and a bit of olive oil. Made some corn bread, chickpea cutlets (dipped in breadcrumbs and baked), bastardized fast red wine sauce, and FUCKING AMAZING baked beans. Seriously, I'd never made homemade baked beans before, and now I understand. I have converted. They're ridiculously easy to make, too. Overall, this was definitely a four star dinner. Would have been five if I had not been lazy and made a better sauce.

I haven't posted in the past week because my friend Emily was visiting from Ann Arbor. We did many, many awesome things, one of which was visit Portland Sunday night. More pictures and blurbs will come later, but I wanted to touch on one significant element of our Portland visit: Powell's. I'd never been there before, and now I understand why it has so much hype surrounding it. It is the ultimate destination for a bibliophile: it's like the biggest bookstore you can imagine, like maybe double the average B&N, but the vast majority of the books it contains are USED! It was heaven. We were there for quite some time. I bought five books I'm really excited about - first I am reading The Undercover Economist. So far, so great. Kind of like Freakanomics but with more content and makes you feel smarter. It's like an interesting textbook.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gearing up

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" - Peter Maher, Canadian marathon runner

Yes, Peter, that is an excellent question. Every day when I get home from work, that is what it boils down to. Running on the weekend is no problem - I can log my long run and usually another short run without too many problems. But on the four days I work (10 hrs/day), 90% of the time the last thing I want to do is work out. That's why I love doing personal training - it forces me to work out twice a week. I've realized that training for any sort of race is hell for a procrastinator like me - I kick my own ass the few weeks before I have a race, but four months out its SO hard. When I get home kickin' back on my couch, crafting a delicious meal, or doing something else fun are so much more appealing that running 2 or 3 miles. Because it's only 2 or 3 miles, right? I mean, how much of a difference can that make? Answer: ALOT when you slack off for a few weeks.

I'm pretty sure the only solution to this problem, at least for me, is to sign up frequently for races. That's why I'm running the Mercer Island 10K March 22 - that will keep me right on track to finish the half marathon at the end of June.

And interesting randomness for today:

This shit is crazy. I'm all for having healthy, active kids, but this is not cool.

Very insightful Top Chef chart ranking all of the contestents and showing who REALLY is the best. If you don't watch this show, you lose.

Morbidly obese but afraid of weight loss surgery? Well now you can have the procedure done through one of your "natural orifices!" Does this creep anyone else out as much as it does me?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Impressed by Rachel Ray?

So don't ask me why, but awhile ago I ened up watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals during my post-work zone out time. It was a vegetarian episode, so I was curious enough to sit through her twittering. She made two dishes, one of which was an underwhelming orzo salad. Mixing together orzo, feta, spinach, and sundried tomato - holy shit, what a revelation! Let's pay you millions of dollars to write books and go on TV! Luckily she made up for that creative failure with the main dish: eggplant steaks. These exceeded every expectation I had of them. They will definitely get made again at our house. You can search for the original recipe if you'd like on the Food Network site, but I modified it a little and my version is as follows:

Mediterranean Eggplant Cutlets (sounds way better than "Eggplant Steak" - EW)
-1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into four thick slices lengthwise. Slice off the rounded end on the two slices so that all pieces are uniform thickness.
-2 red peppers, cut in half and seeded
-olive oil
-S&P (sea and freshly ground, respectively)
-spinach - 4 c. fresh or 1/2 package frozen (if it's frozen thaw and drain it first)
-14 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (can sub some sundried if you'd like, or omit)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-tub o' hummus
-bread crumbs (I used Italian for extra flavor, and bc that's what we had!)

Fire up the grill (or cast iron grill pan) and preheat the oven to 400F. Once the grill is hot, brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil, S&P, and throw on the grill for 3-4 minutes a side. Put the red peppers on now, too, skin side down. They will need a solid 10 minutes or so to get nice and roasty.

Meanwhile (or after the grilling is done, depending on your multitasking abilities) heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the garlic for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the well-drained tomatoes and roasted red peppers and sautee for another three minutes or so. Add the spinach and heat through.

Line up the grilled eggplant slices on a baking sheet. Top evenly with veggie mixture. Next, spread with hummus. You want to use up the entire tub. I know, I know, it sounds really weird, but just do it. Lastly, top with an even layer of bread crumbs atop the hummus. Pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread crumbs begin to brown.

I served mine with some freshly cooked millet and it was v. tasty. Any other hot grain would do, as well as pasta, potato dish, fresh bread, etc., etc. Oh, and if you like things saucy marinara pairs nicely with this. Serves 4 with a side, 2 if you're really hungry or want lunch leftovers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back With Good News!

I've been a horrible blogger the past few weeks, sorry about that. A ton of stuff has actually happened, but now things seem to have returned to normal, pretty much.

In summary: after six months of worrying pretty much constantly, I got confirmation Friday that I will definitely NOT be losing my job! It is SUCH a relief! The past month especially has been really stressful. In the next few weeks I find out if I will be transferred to a different site, though, which actually could end up being a good thing. Also, we moved towards the end of January, and though I'm totally psyched with our new house and location, moving is never all that fun.
So, January = suck, but February looks to = awesome! I'm keeping my job, just had a great weekend away with the BF on the Olympic Peninsula (enjoy the pretty pics I took!), are having a Valentine extravaganza weekend coming up with lots of social activities, AND now we're going to Vegas with some friends at the end of the month!

The past three weeks I've been HORRIBLE with my running....probably running 2-3 miles, twice a week. Bad, bad, bad. Need to get back into it. I love it when I'm consistent, but as soon as I start slacking off I spiral down this vortex of hating the idea of exercise. Oh, I also haven't cooked all that much (at least, haven't cooked creatively...)

But that's enough of me! I'm back to super awesome posts about food, running, and random other stuff you should find interesting!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mom's Cabbage Soup

....Since obviously anything Mom makes is always the best. In this case, that is 100% true. With cabbage, tomatoes in various forms, and caraway seeds (the stuff that gives rye bread it's rye-ness) this is not only tasty, but crazy healthy. If you want something that is incredibly filling but low-cal, this is the soup for you. Waaay better than your standard vegetable soup. You also have to be really kitchen-stupid to not be able to make this; it pretty much doesn't get any easier. The recipe makes like 12 or 14 cups or something ridiculous like that, so either make this for a crowd or plan on freezing some; it is extremely freezer-friendly. Also, as if there wasn't enough to love already, it's dirt cheap.

Ah, my priceless Dutch oven that I use for everything....further proof that vintage cookware is the best.

Mom's Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup
-2 T. margarine (I use Earth Balance)
-2 T. oil, whatever you've got
-2 med. onions, minced
-1 med. head o' cabbage, finely shredded
-3-4 shredded carrots
-2 cloves crushed garlic
-1/4 c. white sugar
-1/2 c. brown sugar (I usually do 1/2 c. Splenda and 1/4 c. brown sugar to cut calories, but 3/4 c. sugar in this recipe doesn't make a big difference calorie-wise because this makes a MASSIVE amount of soup)
-10 c. water (when I make it I don't usually use this much, though...usually 8-9 or however much your pot can hold)
-28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes w/ liquid OR the equivalent in pureed fresh if you have them
-10 oz. can tomato soup
-1/4 c. organic tomato paste (it's only a $.30 difference! Just do it!)
-1 T. + 1 t. caraway seed, crushed with knife
-1 T. salt
-1 T. black pepper
-1/2 c. lemon juice (optional)

1. In large pot, melt butter over med. heat, add oil, and sautee onions 1 min.
2. Add carrots, cabbage, garlic, and sugars. Sautee until softened and light golden in color (takes a solid 5-10 minutes for me, and I usually have to add the cabbage gradually, since it cooks down so much).
3. Add remaining ingredients.
4. Simmer, covered, on med. heat 2-2.5 hrs - stir occasionally. Adjust S & P to taste. Like most soups, tastes better the next day.

Serve with sour cream and black Russian bread if desired.

Loose tea rocks my world!

I'd like to devote this post to the greatness that is loose tea. I really try to avoid drinking coffee, for a few reasons: 1) I don't need to get addicted to caffeine 2) if I do need caffeine, I want just a little to be effective! While green and black teas do contain caffeine, its about a quarter that of coffee, so not nearly enough to get addicted to. Well, I guess you could get addicted if you drank like three pots a day, but that's a little insane 3) I'm vain and don't want to stain my teeth. Yeah, tea stains too, but not nearly as bad. A nice cup of tea in the morning perks me up, or is a great alternative to drinking plain water all day. Plus, I don't need to tell you about all the health benefits tea has been found to possess.

Why loose tea over the standard stuff that comes in bags? I've always chosen it because it is better-tasting and it just makes me feel cool. More details can be provided here and here. It also is a great value compared to bagged teas, especially as "craft" teas become more and more prevalent. If I'm spending $5 on tea, it's not going to be for 10 bags of the shit they sell at Starbucks, that's for sure. That is way too expensive for dried leaves!

Now, the problem many of people have with loose tea is the convenience factor. I think that's a crock, because there's barely a difference. Once you spring for the brewing supplies, the process is exactly the same. I really recommend Bodum teapots - it's what I use and it rocks! There are also a ton of other options out there, like individual mugs w/ mesh cups inside for the tea, tea spoons and balls you drop into a mug, etc.

Remember that your water should be just under boiling when you add your leaves to it. Follow the instructions for seeping (generally about 3 min. for green or herbal, 5 min. for black) and make sure it doesn't seep too long - this can lead to a bitter flavor.

One easy way to be frugal with your tea, loose or otherwise, is to seep it twice. I generally reuse my leaves once, essentially doubling the amount I can make. I'm not a crazy tea snob, so I can't tell a difference between the two batches.

Happy sipping!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

11 Best Foods

I love it when the greatness of the vegetarian way of life is confirmed! This article appears on the NY Times blog, and is titled "The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating." Only one isn't vegetarian, and it's sardines. Ew. I don't think those that eat meat want to eat them anyway. Otherwise, I consume most of these foods pretty regularly, and there are numerous tastey dishes that utilize them.

Here are the foods, and some of the ways you can incorporate them into your diet!

1. Beets: To be honest, I don't really eat these. We have some on our counter, and I swear I've been meaning to try them, but I haven't yet. I've heard they're great raw, shredded in a salad or on a sandwich.
2. Cabbage: Especially awesome because it's dirt cheap! Only until you shred a head of cabbage and see the vast quantity you've just unleashed do you truly understand what a great value this stuff is. My all-time favorite preparation method is my mom's cabbage soup (recipe to come soon), but steamed/sauteed cabbage and potatoes are really good. It's a little bland, but sometimes bland is good. Mmm Irish comfort food. Add some sliced veggie sausage to make it a meal.
3. Swiss Chard: Sauteed greens! Yummmmm. Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, etc. can all be prepared basically the same. My favorite method is braising: you sautee your greens for a few minutes then steam them. I use a little olive oil and garlic, sautee for a few minutes, then add a little bit of both water and tomato sauce, then cover and steam for about 5-10 minutes.
4. Cinnamon: Sprinkle on your oatmeal. Also, it's really good with peanut butter. I'd suggest a pb, banana, and cinnamon sandwich. Cinnamon in coffee is also tasty. And if you want to be a fat kid there's always spice cake :)
5. Pomegranate juice: I haven't jumped on the exotic juice bandwagon, but I can see the benefits to drinking this regularly. However, right now I'm an invincible 23-year-old and don't want to shell out the cash it takes to drink this stuff regularly. But Pama, pomegranate liquor, makes delicious martinis!
6. Dried plums: Aka prunes. These actually work really well as a fat replacer in darker baked goods, specifically chocolate things. Just blend or food-process with a bit of water. They're also supposed to be good on their own, but I honestly haven't worked up the courage to try that yet.
7. Pumpkin seeds: Also known as "pepitas," these are tasty. Unfortunately, I'm lazy, so I never buy pumpkins and do the whole scooping, rinsing, and baking thing. If you're like me, you can buy these in the bulk section of your local natural grocery store!
8. Sardines: Yuck. Yeah, they have omega-3's and lots of vitamins, but so do flax seeds and other nuts. Eating little fishies is gross. Plus, commercial fishing is killing our oceans.
9. Turmeric: One word: Indian. Turmeric is a staple spice in Indian cooking, and it is so damn tasty. Apparently it's a "superstar spice" that makes you fly and live forever. Not really, but pretty close. Turmeric is also great in tofu scramble!
10. Blueberries: Many people don't buy blueberries alot because they're really expensive. That's why I do one of two things: buy a bunch when they're cheap during the summer and freeze them or just buy frozen. It is important to try and buy organic berries, since they are one of the foods where the toxins from pesticides can stick around.
11. Canned pumpkin: I never realized how awesome canned pumpkin is until I started reading Hungry Girl. She has a ton of great healthy recipes incorporating this stuff. My personal favorite: subbing pumpkin for the fat and liquid in cake and brownie recipes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

4.5 miles!

Today's long run was 4.5 miles - and I did it!

I've been doing some thinking about that whole "runner's high" thing...I would think that by now I would hit it, but apparently haven't. I always heard that once you hit it, you can just keep running forever. Riiiiight. Well, I kind of think I've experienced that now, both during last week's long run (4 miles), and today. I wouldn't exactly call it a "high," but kind of a plateau where the run stops getting increasingly difficult.

It's not this euphoric, pain-free state. When I first started running, at the end of each run I was DYING. I felt that way even at the end of my first 5K two months ago. It's very different now. I'd say the first 2 miles are the worst part of my run, but then I just hit a point where I can power forward. It still is a uncomfortable, since y'know, you're running a shitload, but not nearly as painful as my runs used to be and I don't feel like my heart is about to beat out of my chest. In fact, these past two long runs I felt like I could have kept going at least another half mile. The distance hits me about an hour or two later, when I get tired and can really feel that I just burned like 700 calories!

Now I'm excited to run a 10K in two months, because I'm already so close!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Roasting Brussel Sprouts

My favorite veggie of the moment is most definitely brussel sprouts. No question. Now, I'm not talking about the soggy gross brussel sprouts that emerge from the microwave - no, no, those are still as nasty as they were when I was eight. Roasting brussel sprouts, however, produces an entirely different result that seriously will make you excited about eating your veggies! It's really weird how many people don't know about this technique, actually, because it's super fast, easy, and addictive. Just try it. Even if you suck at cooking you can do this, and then you'll feel like King (or Queen) of the Kitchen after you do.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
-Sprouts (however many you want!)
-Olive oil
-Salt (I prefer sea salt, but you don't have to be as snobby)
-Pepper (fresh ground is so much better! Get a pepper mill already if you don't have one!)
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the brussel sprouts: rinse in a colander, then peel off any yucky looking leaves or cut out any bad spots. Using a paring knife, cut all sprouts in half. Once they've all been halved, toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and arrange on a baking sheet cut side down. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over them, then pop in the oven for 20 min. Remove when they have started to brown. After that you're ready to enjoy some fantastic brussel action!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pasty Time!

Today the BF and I had quality time, cooking pasties (pronounced PASS-ties, different from PASTE-ies). We went to school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where they are a staple food. Pasties are to the UP what burritos are basically anywhere else in the country. They are originally Cornish, but were eaten by Finnish miners in the UP as an easy and portable lunch that was hearty enough to fuel their days in the mines. Traditionally they are eaten with ketchup or gravy. They also usually have a gross assortment of leftover beef/pork bits, but I obviously left that out. I like them best hot, but if you pack one for lunch you could definitely eat it at room temperature.

Michigan Pasties

For the dough:
-3 c. flour (I used 2 c. white + 1 c. whole wheat pastry to be healthy....if you use any whole wheat make sure it's pastry, because the normal kind will make the crust too rough/hard)
-.5 T salt

-.75 c. combination of margarine and Crisco....I used an equal combination of the two but you can use one or the other if you want
-6 T. ice water

1. Combine the flour and salt, then cut the fat in with two knives.
2. Use your fingers to crumble the fat into the flour to combine it. You'll be done crumbling when it kind of looks like corn flakes and is evenly distributed.
3. Then add the water a tablespoon at a time. Firmly knead it all together a few times to make sure it's all mixed together well. Wrap it up and throw it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Alternatively, if you really suck at making pie crust (which is essentially what this recipe is), you can buy store-bought crust. But that's not nearly as fun.

Classic filling (all veggies are diced into 1/2 inch pieces):
-1 rutabaga
-2-3 potatoes, depending how big they are
-3 carrots

-1 small onion
-salt and pepper

For our filling, we used a few unconventional ingredients. For my veggie pasties, I used potato, rutabaga, yuca, and a little bit of celery, carrot, and onion. Seasoned with just salt and pepper, of course. You can basically throw any tuber in there. Sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, are limited only by your imagination!

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it
into six even dough balls. Roll one out to about 10" diameter.
3. Put some of the filling in the middle and fold one side over, make sure to seal the edges up. Poke a few holes in the top with a knife to let
the pasties breathe
4. Pop 'er in the oven for 60-70 minutes and you're done! Serve with ketchup and some margarine for an authentic midwest taste.

These also freeze REALLY well.

My UP cookie cutter was put to official UP pasty!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Official 2009 Running Goal

Alright, I've decided to committ to running the Seattle Rock N' Roll Half Marathon at the end of June. By proclaiming it here, on my Facebook, and to anyone who asks, I'm committting myself that much more. Frankly, I need the risk of semi-public embarassment if I don't complete this to motivate me, because it's going to be difficult. I can run a decent distance now, but I am not fast, nor do I absolutely adore running like some freaks out there. Well, maybe after this I will. Anyway, I really just want to see what's it like to basically be in peak physical shape: see what I look like, see what I feel like, etc. If I lose some weight, sweet, if I stay exactly the same, well that obviously proves I was meant to be a size 14. And then if a doctor/trainer/whatever ever critizes my weight I can have the satisfaction of saying "well, this fat ass of mine can run a half marathon, so fuck off!" This lovely piece in Newsweek echoes my sentiments nicely, and this woman is my hero.

Here is my training schedule (my weeks will be Sat.-Fri.)
Jan. 3-9: 2, 3, 3, 2 Total: 10
Jan. 10-16: 4, 2.5, 3, 1.5 Total: 11
Jan. 17-23: 4.5, 2.5, 3, 2 Total: 12
Jan. 24-30: 5, 2.5, 3, 2.5 Total: 13
Jan. 31 - Feb. 6: 5.5, 2.5, 3, 3 Total: 14

And so on and so forth....basically I am doing one long run a week, increasing that mileage by half a mile each time. Then, I only want to increase my total mileage by 1 mi/wk just to make sure I am totally comfortable with the distance and so my body doesn't crap out on me. On the shorter runs (specifically like 2.5 miles or less), I'm trying to run at least .2-.3 mph faster than my latest 5K time, so I can gradually speed up.

It should be an interesting experience, to say the least!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Best Stuffed Acorn Squash

Well, I'm sure it's not The Best, but it is definitely the best you can do if you want it ready in less than a half hour. It's vegan, low fat, and has tons of fiber and protein. Basically the perfect winter meal.

Have fun with it. All you really need is the squash, a fabulous grain, and a legume of some sort; quinoa and black beans just happen to be particularly delicious. And then some assorted veggies, of course.

Easy Stuffed Acorn Squash
-1 acorn squash
-1/2 c. dry quinoa (or: millet, couscous, bulgar, brown rice. Those are listed in order of my preference for this recipe. Do not fear quinoa, though – it is the only grain that is a complete protein and it’s crazy easy to make!)
-1 c. black beans
-1 c. broccoli florets, steamed, and chopped up a bit
-1 c. steamed kale (sub spinach if you’d like, or just leave out the greens, but kale is tasty and good for you – available in the fall/winter)

1. Start by getting the quinoa ready. I just throw mine in my $20 Target rice cooker with double the amount of water (1 cup) – if you don’t have a rice cooker you really need to get on that. Luckily, the conventional preparation method is really easy. Put the quinoa in a saucepan with double the water and bring to a boil. Cover, and simmer on low for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the quinoa’s translucent cover is visible.
2. To prepare the acorn squash, prick a bunch of holes in it with a knife or fork and microwave it for 10 minutes. You could do it in the oven, too, but that takes forever; if you really want to do that, Google directions. Once the squash is done, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and guts.
3. Mix the cooked quinoa and all the other ingredients together and fill the squash with it (it will overflow, that’s ok.)
4. For seasoning, I like to whisk together a quick maple balsamic drizzle. Mix together some maple syrup, brown sugar, splash of balsamic vinegar, a little oil, and some water, then nuke it for about 30 seconds to warm it up so you can dissolve the sugar. The sweet, tangy taste compliments the ingredients nicely. Sometimes I add some mustard to that, sometimes a little BBQ sauce. Any store-bought dressing would work, too, like a sesame ginger or sweet lemon poppy seed. You get the idea.

Pictured here is the stuffed squash (though I didn't add any broccoli this time) along with some BBQ tempeh. Tasty!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Red Hot - Tacoma, WA

On Tuesday the BF and I decided to a little bit of a date night out, so we headed over to The Red Hot in Tacoma. We actually read a review about it in a NW beer magazine, so it had to be good, right?

It was AWESOME! It's basically the most perfect bar ever. The only food they serve is an extensive hot dog menu, nachos, Fritos/chips, and moon pies. They also have many great microbrews on tap. The best part of all of this is that it is CHEAP! The hot dogs (they have veggie dogs, too) are all around $3.75, their wine is always $3.50/glass, and I'm pretty sure the beer is just as cheap. Since we went on a Tuesday, there was a tap (bartender's choice) that was $2/pint. On Tuesday it just happened to be Left Hand Milk Stout, so we both stuck to that and it was tasty. I had a Chicago-style veggie dog, with a sesame seed bun, mustard, relish, tomato, onion, pickle, peppers, and celery salt. YUM!

The vibe of the place is perfect, too. It's pretty small, and definitely not high-end or trendy, but it doesn't feel like a dive bar, either. You can tell there are alot of regulars, which is always a good sign.

Overall, I'd say it's a 10. Good food with ample vegetarian/vegan options, stellar beer selection, good prices, laid-back atmosphere, and great specials. If you're down in the South Sound definitely make it a priority!