Archive for July 2012

Foodie Penpals: Treats from California

It’s the end of July, and that means Foodie Penpals reveal day:

This month I was paired with Tina from Moms Crazy Cooking, who lives in California. Before mailing me the box of goodies, she emailed me a little “survey” to help her get to know me, including questions like:

  • What is your favorite color? Green
  • Favorite food? I don’t have any one true favorite food, but I could happily put salsa and guacamole on just about anything. I eat greek yogurt every day, as well as green salads of some sort. I’m also a big fan of smoothies.
  • Have you ever been to California? Disneyland? I’ve been to California a few times, mostly San Diego and San Fran. I’ve been to Disney World, but not Disneyland.
  • Is there anything you are craving, missing or desire? My cravings are rarely healthy, so I won’t go into those. But I love healthy, plant-based snacks (dried fruit, nuts, etc) and interesting, non-cola, low-calorie drinks.

Tina sent me several cute trinkets including a cupcake-shaped card holder and “Sip Back and Relax” coasters. The edible items included:

  • Homemade gluten-free banana bread
  • Snapea Crisps
  • Chocolate chewy granola bars

And the ones you don’t see in the group photo, because they were devoured barely 3 seconds after opening the box – red velvet cake balls.

Thanks for everything, Tina!

Interested in participating in Foodie Penpals? Head past the jump for details.

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Recipe ReDux: No-cook meals

It’s definitely July. Seems like we’ve been at the beach more days than we’ve been at work…

Moon snail we found at Crane Beach

…and the weather just keeps getting steamier.

Now while that weather sure makes me hungry for some low- or no-heat meals, all the time slapping on sunscreen has meant less time to try out new recipes. But don’t turn on the oven just yet – the foodie RDs of Recipe ReDux have rescued us once again with July’s recipe challenge. The group has not-cooked up more than 40 recipes using the best of the season – fresh herb, flavorful veggies, sweet fruits – in their pure forms.

Follow the links below to creative and cool dishes like cucumber avocado soup with spiced chick peas, tuna salad with citrus vinaigrette, Asian-style chicken coleslaw, blueberry soup with mint, and many more!


Shortcut Week: Do as I say, not as I cook

Do you know people who just can’t seem to take the shortcut? They’re never going to use a gift bag, insisting on hand-stamping some wrapping paper they made from pulp. Four hours to hand-wash and detail their car is totally reasonable. Hanging out for half a day making chicken soup from scratch? Of course.

Well, it turns out I may be among the afflicted. I had every intention of slapping this post together in 7.4 minutes, predicated on shortcut recipes and minimal time in the kitchen. I almost made it, too – there’s only one recipe this week that I actually bothered to cook.

Shortcut empanada, from Real Simple’s recipe

But instead of picking up some ready-made pizza dough at the store, like the empanada recipe directed, I just had to make it from scratch, thereby obliterating the one-hour advantage of the shortcut. Why did I do this? Like everyone else, I’m long on to-dos and short on time pretty much chronically. But does that mean I’d trust anyone else to undertake the highly technical feat of mixing yeast and flour? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

So even if I won’t take my own advice, I bet many of you have more sense in your heads. I’ve found several less-time versions of tasty recipes for this week’s list, so please do not go and make your own crepes, pesto or pizza dough. Just veer onto the shortcut and don’t look back; I’ll still be here, staring at rising dough for another 55 minutes:

  • Cranberry scones from Sweet T Makes Three (here)If the whole cutting-in-butter thing is going to trip you up, I’d suggest just getting in there with your fingers instead. That’s the technique I use, and it’s much quicker.
  • Chicken corn crepes from Taste.com (here)There are frozen pre-made crepes? How did I not know about these?
  • Empanadas from Real Simple (here)
  • Green pesto pasta spirals from Lunchbox Bunch (here)Pesto isn’t really time-consuming to make; it’s just that keeping fresh basil around can be a real pain. Pre-made does the job in this recipe.
  • Inside out lasagna from Eating Well (here)Lasagna always falls over, all sloppy on your plate, no matter how meticulously you layer it in the pan. So why bother?
  • Mediterranean barley with chickpeas and arugula from Cooking Light (here)Barley, in my opinion, isn’t really a shortcut grain – it needs a good 40+ minutes to cook. But if you’ve got it pre-cooked, this would be quick to throw together.
  • Tacos al pastor from Serious Eats (here)I’ve never long-versioned or short-cutted these, but apparently they’re drool-on-your-TV awesome.

 

When every run is hard

Once upon a time, “little” runs of 5-8 miles seem like nothing. Heck, I once wrapped up a halfathon distance in marathon training and easily felt ready for more. That’s one of the weird side benefits of marathon training – after slogging through double-digit-mile long runs week after week, any less-than-ten-mile runs are cake.

But fast forward a couple months, and it’s a whole different story. Now, every run is hard. It’s a lot of work to get myself psyched up for a plain 4-miler, and I spend the majority of every run making little deals with myself just to keep my feet moving (“Just get to that next intersection and maybe we’ll walk for a minute”). There are no fun runs anymore; each one is a struggle.

Flailmate Adam and I were commiserating about this experience – the loss of marathon conditioning, the endless bartering with self-devils on the road. Without another long-distance race close on the horizon, there’s been an inevitable pullback in mileage that certainly is one major contributor to my current state. But for me, there’s another factor at play: you can’t outrun a bad diet.

I’ve found it challenging to balance energy in and energy out during long-distance race training, halfathons and marathon alike. The peaks and valleys of energy expenditure from the weekly training schedule, insane carb cravings, mid-run fueling, getting lazy about strength training to maintain lean body mass – it all added up to weight gain by the time I reached each start line. And during the marathon training, my diet really caught up with me. It now has a solid 8-mile (pound) lead on me, and I haven’t found my wheels to get ahead of it again.

It’s not all doom and donuts, however. During an 8-miler yesterday, the song that started my marathon playlist came on and I was suddenly grinning like a moron, thinking about how cool that whole thing was. Even when I hate running, I love running.

So I’ll keep going, and keep in mind that junk for fuel is going to mean feeling like junk on runs, so I can enjoy running in the second half of 2012 and cruise into the start of the Austin (TX) half marathon in February in racing shape.