Eat With Your Eyes Week: Tahini gets dressed up

You’ve heard how we “eat with our eyes?” If not, then a quick tour of Pinterest – which is saturated with food porn – will support the idea that we love us some good-looking food. Why, then, is that my jumping off point for tahini, a plain beige paste with just about zero visual zing?

Quite possibly the worst photo I've taken of food.

Quite possibly the worst photo I’ve taken of food.

Well, tahini is sort of the plain white shirt of food. On its own, not much to look at. But it is can be dressed up and used in seemingly endless combinations that, when you catch a glance, are sure to whet the appetite.

Beet tahini salad

These roasted beets with orange-tahini dressing are what first caught my eye, thanks to the far-better photographs included in the original Roasted Root post. And then I found all sorts of other attractive tahini recipes, like a rainbow slaw with sweet tahini dressing, a Mediterranean-style pizza with minted tahini, and even chocolate tahini shortbread (hellooooo, gorgeous).

Lest I go too far down the road of objectification, let’s point out here that tahini is also beautiful on the inside – like, inside your body, where it delivers omega-3 and -6 fats, a reasonable amount of protein, and a good dose of copper and manganese. And it has an undeniably earthy smell and nut-like flavor that adds some depth and interest to a lot of vegetarian foods, in particular.

But if your food needs to pass your eyes before it gets anywhere near your mouth, go check out this week’s worth of recipes and the photos of good-looking tahini therein:

  • Roasted beets with orange-tahini dressing from The Roasted Root (here)
  • Rainbow slaw with sweet tahini dressing from Lunch Box Bunch (here)
  • Roasted butternut squash with tahini & bulgur from Foolproof Living (here)
  • Chickpea-stuffed eggplant with tahini sauce & couscous from Dishing up the Dirt (here)
  • Sweet potato veggie burgers from Love and Lemons (here)
  • Middle eastern pizza with minted tahini sauce & spelt crust from Just Eat Love (here)
  • Chocolate tahini shortbread bars from Spabettie (here)


Running: Or, how to be a runner without running

So, a funny thing happened on the way to the Flying Pig marathon. And by funny, I mean painful.

By Mikael Häggström via wikipedia, and used under Creative Commons license

I had just wrapped up the 5th week of training with a pretty good 12-miler, and was feeling good about nipping some nascent foot pain in the bud. But on my recovery run the following day, my back and upper pelvis on the left side started screaming at me. Long boring I-went-to-physical-therapy story short, my sacroiliac (SI) joint – where the spine meets the pelvis on either side – was inflamed and HAVING NONE OF IT WITH THIS RUNNING, thank you. The prescription was to stop running & start a boatload of core strength work, to let the inflammation cool and built some support for the cranky joint.

So how does a runner run to get ready for running, when she can’t run?

Run even though the PT told me not to.

In general, I’m a compliant patient. But we’d already booked a trip where I was planning to run the Race for Preservation 10k in Savannah, soooooo… I didn’t completely comply with my PT’s no-running orders.

I was hobbling in pain for two days afterward, but it was worth it – I set a 4-minute 10k PR in that race and ticked off another state from my Race in 50 States list!

Ok, seriously, don’t run.

After Savannah, the look on my PT’s face when she asked, “So, what other races do you think you’re going to run?” meant, “Don’t even think about running other races near-term.” So I quickly went from mid-30s-mile weeks to 0-mile weeks, and awaited a full mental breakdown to ensue. But thankfully, two new tools have kept me sane, moving, and much less homicidal than expected.

Defy gravity.

I’ve very lucky (and a few bucks poorer) because my PT’s office has an AlterG, the anti-gravity treadmill that uses a big inflatable bubble to counteract your bodyweight and reduce stress on joints.

I’ve been doing 2 workouts per week—my LR plus whatever else fits the schedule—in the AlterG and it’s been fantastic. I started out needing assistance equivalent to half my bodyweight, but now I can handle it with only 15% of my bodyweight cancelled out.

Something clever here about elliptical training.

Yeah, there’s nothing really interesting about using an elliptical, but they do provide a cardio workout that is comparable to running, minus all the joint-jarring and fresh air. So I’m logging a lot of miles on those suckers (blue on the graph below) at the gym I recently joined.


Go from no running to a little less running than planned.

My PT gave me the ok to try some road running in very short increments, with the caveat that I AM NOT ALLOWED to do any more than I can do without noise from my back. And she also cleared me to run races, but only “if they’re really important” and with the understanding that I’m likely going to flare up with some pain afterward.

So, there’s no way I can be ready for the Flying Pig marathon in early May, or the Mustang 50th HM in Vegas in a few weeks. But I feel good about running the Mustang 50th 5k, and the half at Flying Pig. I’m now in week 5 of a (rehab-modified) training plan for the FP HM, and doing ALL THE CORE WORKS from PT along with it.

And hopefully by late spring or early summer, I can get back to being a runner who runs.

Recipe ReDux: Stacking patties

March is well-known for its green-themed, leprechaun-y, gold & clovers holiday, so for this month’s Recipe ReDux I’m bringing you the luck o’ the Indians!

Wait, what?


Our task this month was to play off St. Patty’s with a healthy stackable patty recipe, but while we started in Ireland, I looked around on the other side of the globe for my stackspiration (wow, that’s bad, even for me). Garam masala - a spice mix originating from Northern India – is one of my all-time favorite flavorings, so I worked up a breakfast? lunch? recipe that combines it and curry powder with stacks of quinoa, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and eggs.

How do those nutritional powerhouses stack up? Here’s the recipe so you can see/taste for yourself:

Curried quinoa, sweet potato, egg and spinach stacks

(6 servings)

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp curry powder

Stacking layers:
4 hard-boiled eggs
½ red onion, chopped
Olive oil for sauté

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the patty ingredients – quinoa, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, and spices – in a food processor, and process until the large pieces are well-chopped and combined.

Lightly oil a baking sheet, or spray it with cooking spray. Dust your hands with some flour, and form the processed mixture into 12 patties, each a little smaller than your palm. Those of you playing along at home will note I just un-gluten-freed this recipe; but if you want to avoid the flour, a little oil or water on your hands will help keep them from sticking, too.

Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet, and put them in the oven for 15-17 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the hardboiled eggs into slices. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and sauté the spinach and remaining onion until just cooked.

When the patties are ready, carefully lift them off the baking sheet (sticky little buggers), then build each stack with a patty, egg slices, another patty, sautéed veggies and a few cashews on top. Grate some fresh black pepper over top, and then demolish that tower you just built.


If you want to play more patty-cake, my fellow Recipe ReDuxers have a bunch more recipes for you:

 Loading InLinkz ...

Months of the Week: Last in the series – December posts

Woot! We made it to the end of my 12-day series featuring favorite ETW posts from each month over the years. December is a big month, food- and festivity-wise, so let’s see what I was up to.


Last December, I indulged in a lot of cookies a lot of year-end round-ups, like this post recapping the most important nutrition news in 2013.

And since I spent a lot of time pounding the pavement in 2013, I also recapped my year in running which saw my highest-mileage weeks ever, a couple subpar races, and lots of new states checked off my Race in 50 States List.


Anticipating the annual onslaught of “lose weight in the New Year!” BS, I wrote one of my favorite ETW posts about saying yes rather than no in the New Year. One of those things I thought you should say yes to more often? Magnesium, which I featured in a Missing Week post with a tasty little salad recipe.

Running-related posts were all over the place that December. I’ll blame delirium from reaching the half-way mark in training for the 2013 ATX marathon.


In December 2011, I did a recap of my favorite ETW posts from that year, and it seems ridiculous to recap a recap here. So instead, I’ll point to Trojan Horse week, wherein I used chocolate to sneak some veggies in through the gate.

So there we have it – the last of 12 days featuring each month’s best ETW posts! Now I suppose I should go write some posts to be included in the next recap….

Weeks of the Month: Favorite posts from Novembers

Here we go – second to last month I’m featuring in a 12-day series recapping the best of ETW. I’m not sure how I managed to avoid talking turkey during any of these Novembers, but I had plenty of other stuff to say.


I wasn’t talking running in November last year, but there were several food posts on ETW, including a break from the rigid weekly theme structure to feature pasta with roasted zucchini and goat-cheese sauce.


In November, I tried out some new cheese from Cabot in a pepperjack and veggie strata.

Running-wise, I was getting going with training for the 2013 ATX marathon, and ran my first 5k carrying a 6-year-old on my back. But probably my favorite running post from that November featured my… unorthodox… foam-rolling technique.


Apparently I went vegetarian in November 2011, but my favorite post was a hilarious structural failure for that month’s Recipe ReDux.

Weeks of the Month: Favorite posts from Octobers

Man, that summer went fast, huh? It’s already leaf-peeping and pumpkin-eating time in my 12-day series featuring the best of ETW from each month, because we’re up to October.


Oh hey, look, I was blogging in October last year! I came back from my impromptu break to talk a whole lot about running: a 10k in Minnesota, a 5K in Maine, and the Lynch-Banana family race in Cambridge.

I did set aside the Sauconys a few times, though, to talk about things like the slowcooker Recipe ReDux where I made some chipotle avocado cornbread (who knew? you can do that in a slowcooker).


Another successful October, Recipe ReDux-wise, because I came up with what is still one of my favorite recipes for the Orange You Glad It’s Fall theme – roasted butternut squash stuffed with cinnamon-infused barley, apricots & carrots.

Less successful: my attempt at the inaugural Runner’s World half marathon. That marked the first time I had a not-sub-2:00 finish, which would have crushed my soul if not for the fact that it checked another state off my Race in 50 States list.


In October 2011, we went headlong into the fall seasonal theme and featured pumpkin recipes (including my pumpkin yogurt dip for waffle sticks) in Recipe ReDux.

That month made me 2 for 3 on successful running Octobers (2012 was bunk; 2011 was prolific), because I ran the Newport half marathon & improved on my previous PR by roughly 4 minutes.

Months of the Week: Favorite September posts

Whoops, guess we were too busy learning about maple sugaring yesterday for me to post the 9th in my 12-day series featuring the best of ETW from each month. But let’s jump back on the horse here with my favorite posts from Septembers.


Aaaaand still nothing. This past September is when we finally moved into our new house, Miles started at a new school, and food bloggery was still far from the front of my mind.


For September 2012 Recipe ReDux, we were talking bugs – beneficial probiotics in fermented foods, that is. I featured a recipe for sweet potatoes with eggs, salsa, and fermented jalapenos.

That month was also a good one for running – I wrote about the running-pancake connection (a post that gets a lot of traffic searching for Ryan Hall’s recipe), and I ticked off another state on my Race in 50 States list when I hustled with the lemons in Connecticut.


One of my all-time favorite recipes – a simple kale smoothie – was featuring in Kale Week during September 2011. That smoothie is still one of my favorite ways to sneak leafy greens into a certain someone’s diet.

In response to a lot of traffic searching for “what to eat before/during a half marathon,” I threw together a quick summary of how I have fueled before the 13.1 on several occasions. Because science, and running.

Months of the Week: Favorite August posts

What I wouldn’t give for a hit of August’s swelter – we’ve got approximately 400 billion pounds of snow on the ground still, and high temps just barely above freezing are “warm.” So let’s pretend it’s summer for a minute & look at the best August posts I could find in the archives, as part of my 12-day series.


Well, nope. I was busy not-blogging in August last year, so this turns up another goose egg.


If you can keep up with the watering during summer’s hottest month, August is often a time of rewards from your garden investments; so in 2012, I was looking for recipes to use up our home-garden bounty. August was also a month wherein I was thinking alot about feeding my kid at the bar, and then trying to figure out what the grownups would have for lunch.

Team Flail sent off one of our own the only way runners know how – by making everyone run a 10k.


No running posts on ETW during August 2011 – apparently I was too busy doing product-review posts. But in the food-related archive, I found another one of my favorite Missing Week posts that featured a raft of fiber-ful recipes and me inside a colon.

Months of the Week: Favorite posts from July

Fireworks, free time, and food bloggery – it’s July’s turn in my 12-day series featuring the best ETW posts from each month.


Goose egg! Last July was the start of a dry spell here on ETW, and I didn’t manage to post a darn thing that month.


So we have to go back another year to find some July foodery. This post about Shortcut Recipes reminds me that I have a problem with half-assing things, insofar as I stubbornly avoid the easy way even when it would be in my best interest. Type A much?

More July-based self-discovery, as a running-related post has made me realize that summer is just not my thing, running-wise. In 2012, as in other years, I struggled on most every July run thanks to post-marathon de-conditioning and a failure to pull back on marathon-level fueling.


The year prior in July, I wasn’t yammering about running. Just several food-related posts wherein I said hello to some strangers and mixed up nice & naughty versions of a summer drink for Recipe ReDux.

Looking at that photo now, however, I’m wondering if I expected folks to chew their drink, what with that absurd amount of melon crammed in.

Months of the Week: June – made it halfway

Half a year gone by in just 6 days! Must be some kind of record. Here’s a recap of the best ETW posts from Junes gone by, as part of a 12-day series I’m writing.


Maybe not my most engaging writing (the Red Fruit District? really?), but still a solid recipe that I posted for June 2013′s Recipe ReDux using not one but two kinds of seeds in a breakfast pudding recipe.

Possibly more amusing from that month: my advice on de-improving your half marathon times after the Covered Bridges Half Marathon did not go as well as I’d hoped.


Wow, June 2012 was the month of All Things BlogSocial, apparently. I did my first Foodie PenPals swap, was invited to join Cooking Light’s Blogger Connection, and celebrated Recipe ReDux’s successful first year. Outside the blogosphere, I was mostly thinking about camp lunches for ETW Jr.

Thankfully, perhaps, for those of you who are the “only when a bear is chasing me” types, I mostly shut up about running because I had to cool it after having some sinus surgery.


June several years ago was a busy one on ETW, with posts including the inaugural Recipe ReDux and some ideas on what the heck to do with all that zucchini. But the post that rises to the top for me is Nut Butters week, wherein I demonstrated how that crazy whirling gremlin in the food processor eventually can be tamed into something smooth and edible.