Archive for August 2012

Junior Week: Take your family to the bar

If you build it, they will come. But if you plate it, they may not eat it.

Anyone who has fed a young kid knows the dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) plate can be a battlefield. I’ve certainly tried many tips and tricks during my nearly-6-year-old’s History of Eating Things to defuse the power struggles and food refusals. But I’ve had a hard time putting one such techniques in play: letting a child serve themselves instead of “plating” their food (selecting and presenting all the food for them).

I was convinced he’d never eat a vegetable again.

That shot of green is kale

Surely, there was no way he could figure out measuring ingredients or portions for himself.

And the odds of him enjoying what amounts to being made to do work? Slim to none.

See the grin behind his arm?

Well, experiences like the make-your-own-smoothie bar we recently did are making me change my tune. Head past the jump to read why.

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Foodie Penpals: A box of nuttiness

For this month’s Foodie Penpals, I was paired with Amy from California who sent me a box full of nutty goodies.

Included in this month’s box were:

Now I will admit that in previous months, I haven’t always been that good about sharing the stuff I received via Foodie Penpals. But Miles asked to try the crackers this time, so I happily handed some over.

The response was a touch over-dramatic.

However, the nut butters were a big hit with him (and me). Miles has been giving me the hard press ever since to buy some more of the maple-flavored almond butter, in particular. I enjoyed everything Amy sent (including those crackers); thanks for the package!

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

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RWHalf training: Aaaaand she’s back

I just wrapped up week 4 of training for the Runner’s World half marathon. This week’s workouts were an easy 3.5-oops-guess-that’s-4+ miler, a progressive 35-minute tempo that didn’t go very well, a couple easy 3 milers, and a 7-mile long run.

There were also a couple basic strength workouts, but writing about squatting seems a lot weirder than writing about running.

That 7-miler was pretty unremarkable, which was remarkable in & of itself. I’ve spent most of this summer struggling to regain the conditioning I let slide after the marathon. So when I pulled up the house yesterday after an hour and eight minutes of running without stopping, crying or barfing, I was pretty psyched. (For the record, I’ve haven’t yet cried or barfed on a run. If I do one, though, I would most assuredly do the other right afterward)

It was also awesome that I shook off the run easily – no laying around on the couch, whining about my hamstrings. That’s a good thing, because later in the day I had to ride herd on 15+ riled-up 1st graders at a bday party for this guy:

So I finally feel like I’m back, like I’m a runner without an asterisk, and like I’ll be ready for those hills in PA come October.

Recipe ReDux: Vacationing with cheesy baked fries a la poutine

Have you ever tried to pack a funnel cake in your luggage? That may seem like the best way to bring home a tasty vacation food experience, but you’re going to set yourself up for a laundry disaster. So in this month’s Recipe ReDux, we took on the challenge of recreating the best eats from vacation with a healthier twist and without the use of a bucket of Oxyclean.

I decided to take on a beast of a food: the curious Quebecoise treat called poutine. It’s basically French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, clocking in at easily 700+ calories a pop and nearly a full day’s allotment of fat, with barely enough fiber to keep a bug regular. Tim and I first encountered this French Canadian artery enemy on a Valentine’s trip over a decade ago, and again on our honeymoon, both in lovely Montreal. As the newly minted Mrs. Lynch, I ate some poutine in the Olympic stadium watching the second-to-last Expos game ever.

As the current-day Mrs Lynch, I’m more interested in sat fat than batting stats, so I made a few changes to the conventional poutine recipe. First: oven-baked fries, a no-brainer for this kind of recipe redo.

Then I cooked up a cheddar cheese sauce cut with a generous portion of butternut squash, which gives it a slightly chunky texture without the cheese-curd globs. No gravy in this, but since you’re getting saucy cheese, I figure that makes up the difference.

Ready for l’expérience grand fromage? Here you go:

ReDuxed Poutine

6 servings, 185 calories each

4 medium red potatoes (approx. 1 ¼ lb of potatoes)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 egg white

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small (1”) cubes

¾ cup skim milk

½ broth (chicken or vegetable)

Ground black pepper

¼ cup grated Parmesan

1 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

A pinch each of nutmeg and cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash and slice potatoes into fry-size sticks or small wedges, and put them in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix egg white with olive oil until frothy.  Pour into the bowl with potatoes, and toss until potatoes are coated.

Mix together onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin and salt. Add to the bowl and mix well until evenly coated.

Place potatoes in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 35-50 minutes (depending on how thick you cut your fries and how reliable your oven’s heat is).

Add the squash, milk and broth to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 20 minutes. When the squash is thoroughly cooked, remove from heat, add the pepper, nutmeg and cayenne, and mash until well mixed.

Return the saucepan to medium heat and mix in the cheeses. You should only need a minute or two to get the cheese melted and well distributed. Remove from heat.

Divide the oven fries into six portions, and top with approximately ½ cup of the squash cheese mix. Bon appétit!

If you’ve got enough vacation days left for another tasty jaunt, have a look at what my fellow ReDuxers cooked up:


RWHalf training: 16 laps and I’m done for good

In week 3 of training for the Runner’s World half marathon, I tackled something I’ve never done before. I’ve raced 5k, 13.1 and 26.2 already; winded myself in speed workouts; hurled myself up and down hills; run roads and trails; huffed along solo and with a pack, at the crack of dawn, midday, in the dead of winter, and in summer’s humid heat. But in the several years since I started running regularly, I’ve never run laps at the local high school track.

So when week 3 called for a 5k race instead of a Sunday long run, I figured the track was the way to go – it would be a much more precise way to measure out the distance, without hills or traffic with which to contend. I lined myself up this morning in lane 3 (that’s the one where I think exactly 12 laps equals 5,000 meters), hit start on Runkeeper, and bolted.

My delusion of besting my 5k PR, maybe loudly singing the Chariots of Fire theme song as I breezed into the end of the twelfth lap, was tossed aside a mere mile into this thing, because it turns out I hate running laps on a track. It sounds ridiculous, since we’re talking about a uniform and precisely measured route, but I couldn’t get a bead on my pace at all. I blew through the first 1600 way too fast, and was hating running in the face by the middle of the fifth lap. The 2nd or 3rd time I passed something green on the track I was bemused to see it was a leaf and not goose poop; by the 8th time, I had murderous thoughts about that leaf and a flamethrower.

I had to pull up to a trot a couple more times, and crossed the finish two seconds worse than my slowest 5k time.

So I didn’t make friends with the track this week, but I had some otherwise solid workouts. I even ran several of the 6 x 400-meter intervals (ironically, aiming for 5K pace) a little faster than I meant to. In the upcoming week 4, I’m going to stick to the streets, with all the hills, curbs, traffic and wildlife they can throw at me, and just cruise right past the track every time.

 

Lunch Week: The kids are alright, now what about you?

Many people, in these waning days of summer, are worrying about the return of the lunch box routine. But after you’ve cut up the carrot sticks, bagged up the Pirate Booty, and tightened the Thermos lid, what the heck are you going to eat?

Please don’t tell me you’re just going to coast on all the planning you did for the kids. People, do not let me catch you calling the last string cheese and a peanut-free crispy rice bar a Grown-Up Lunch. You can get away with that when you’re 6, and again for a brief time as an undergraduate, but not anymore.

And there’s no reason you’d have to. Every food-and-nutrition entity this side of Teh Internets has some sort of 10/21/25/50/Bazillion AwesomeHealthyTastyCheapEasy Lunches list that offers a seemingly endless supply of ideas and directions. You’ll find a bunch on Pinterest. There are plenty from food and health sites like these here, here, and here, or the 57.6 million other hits I pulled up on Google.

So rather than shovel the last of my son’s trail mix into my face, I gave a few recipes from Cooking Light’s 22 Healthy Lunch Ideas a whirl. I swapped in some blue cheese instead of gorgonzola in the beef and orange-slice sandwich (pictured earlier) and fed it to my husband, who liked it despite it being a little dry (possibly the result of letting a vegetarian try to cook steak). We both sampled the Asian green bean salad, doubling up the servings to eat it as a main dish. That’s one big bowlful of veggies and sesame-oil flavor, my friends, and easy to make up a batch for lunch-time leftovers.

Want to satisfy the Big Kid palate with some quick-prep, nutrient-dense and calorie-light lunches? Here’s a week’s worth from the CL list that I thought looked especially good:

  • Beef, gorgonzola and orange sandwich (here)
  • Asian green bean salad (here)
  • Mr. Stripey tomato, arugula and pancetta sandwich (here)
  • Curried chicken salad with apples and raisins (here)
  • Southwestern chicken pasta salad (here)
  • Brunswick stew (here)Fun fact: the original version of this calls for squirrel meat. So, there’s that.
  • Spelt salad with white beans and artichokes (here)

If you just can’t break out of back-to-school mode, I’ll at least allow you to write a note on your napkin, congratulating yourself for placing second in the all-district spelling bee with “syzygy.” Just promise me you won’t pair any of these with a juice box.

 

RunningPalooza

Ru*nning*Pa*loo*za. Noun: A jumbled bunch of semi-related thoughts loosely organized around the theme of running.

The Great 10Flail

Normal people send off their friends with dinner, a beer, balloons, or cake, but runners (especially the kind that willingly traipse around a 26.2-mile course) aren’t normal.

So when one of the original Flailers, Adam, headed to the Land of 10,000 (Actually 11,842) Lakes, we all got together as an expanded Team Flail to hoof our way around a send-off 10k. We’re all a bit sad to see the Websters go, but it sounds like Adam is seriously considering joining me in Austin in February. Speaking of which…

Wherein I might run another marathon

I know, I know, I swore it was One and Done with the marathoning. But after a summer of low mileage…

 

… and even lower motivation, I’ve realized that the plan to stick to casual 5 and 10Ks wasn’t going to cut it. Running around without a purpose (or 20-milers to brag about) leaves me pretty disinterested in the whole thing. I love long-distance running, and maybe even more than that, I love the long-term, structured schedule of training for half and full marathons.

So now this all comes back to Austin in February. Even though I’m registered for the half, when I applied to be one of the Livestrong Austin Marathon “heroes” featured during training, I said I’d switch to the full if I ended up getting picked (which we find out tomorrow). And frankly, even if I’m running this without the fame and glory, I am 95% sure I’m going to plunk down the money to switch to the full when that option opens in December. But coming back to the halfathon thing…

Running with Runners World

I’m sticking to 13.1 in October, when I’m running the first Runner’s World half marathon in Pennsylvania. This time around, I decided to give one of Hal Higdon’s training plans a try, and I’m now in Week 3. Although I kind of miss hill-repeat workouts from previous plans (LYING), there are a lot of things I like so far – the gradual-increase tempo runs, two dedicated strength workout days, and the consistent mileage build up right until the race (no taper; I hate tapers). If I can get my act together, I might just return to weekly running posts, updating my progress on the way to PA.

Non-running foodies in the audience, your collective eye roll was perceptible from all the way over here.

Garden Week: Eating from the Lynch Farm

It’s that time of year: the temps are ever hotter, it’s juuuuust noticeable that daylight hours are getting shorter, and Lynch Farm is starting to yield a few edible crops.

Last year, every chipmunk and squirrel within a 75-mile radius seemed to have heard about our vegetable garden, and they were merciless about eating seeds, sprouts, and anything that wasn’t nailed down. But (I think) thanks to a milder winter that left more wild food sources for the critters, the fava beans, chard, tomatoes and more are all ours for the picking in 2012.

Maybe these “guards” did the trick?

Leaving us to wonder – what the heck are we going to do with the bazillion heirloom tomatoes, piles of brussel sprouts, waves of rainbow chard, and an army of fresh mint? Well, the earliest edibles (fava beans) made for a simple dinner with zucchini and pasta in a recipe I’ve posted previously. Then the big lumpy “black” tomato that came off the vine first went into gazpacho (without bread, as my husband has a fearsome wet-bread phobia). When the next ones are red and ready, this “evolution tomato salad” with beans, basil and tuna from Jamie Oliver sounds like a tasty use for them.

For more garden-centric recipes, head past the jump.

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