Archive for November 2012

Foodie Penpals: Time to run for my breakfast!

It’s the end of the month, and that means: Foodie Penpal reveal day!

For November, I sent a box to Anna of Be Healthy, Well & Inspired and received a box from Rona of BerryMorins Bit & Tips. I wonder if Rona read my Run For Your Breakfast post about runners loving pancakes, because she sent me a box full of flapjack-y goodness that I will gladly snarf down after the many long runs coming up in marathon training.

In this month’s box I got a batch of pancake mix and some sweet squishy blueberry jam to put on top, all from Stonewall Kitchens. Thanks, Rona!

Here is the part where I’d usually give you the details and directions for joining next month’s Foodie Penpals, but we’re doing things a little differently in December. Lindsay has asked that instead of buying treats for another Penpal, that we plow that $15-25 into relief efforts still ongoing after Hurricane Sandy.

So next month, I’ll be donating to our designated charity, New York Cares. From their website:

New York Cares is on the frontlines of disaster relief, working around the clock to bring post-Hurricane Sandy aid where it is needed most. In the weeks following the storm, we have deployed thousands of volunteers to the hardest hit neighborhoods, distributing hot meals and warm coats, helping local social service agencies get back up and running, and mucking out homes that were ravaged by the storm.

But our work didn’t start when the waters rose, and it won’t stop when the headlines have faded…. Now, for as long as it takes, we bring hurricane relief and restoration to our suffering neighbors.”

You can join but contributing through Lindsay’s website, starting on Monday. If you’d like to If you’d like to participate in January, go to The Lean Green Bean and sign up after December 18th.

ATX Training: Week 4 was full of races

Week four of training for the ATX marathon was race-tastic. Like more than 1,000 other runners, my family lined up at the North Reading Turkey Trot on a cold but sunny Thanksgiving morning.

It was – by a margin of 22 MINUTES – my worst ever 5K time, but it was also my PR for running a 5K carrying a 6-year-old on my back for roughly a mile. But the real point is that this was Miles’s first 5K finish, and the first time my husband has run a race with me. Maybe there’s hope yet that I’ll drag Tim through the 26.2 (I will not, however, be as generous with the piggybacks).

Then we were off to Orlando for a weekend at LegoLand Florida. Somewhere between swapping minifigs with park staff and rolling along the Hilton’s lazy river in innertubes, I ticked Florida off my races-in-50-states list by running the Hot for the Holidays virtual halfathon.

It is ridiculously challenging to find roads around the Greater DisneyTainmentPlex Area that a) aren’t 50+ mph, b) have sidewalks, and c) have more than a 1-foot shoulder next to that bristle brush nonsense they call grass down there. But I found a loop around the hotels and golf course that got me to 12ish miles, and then decided to count the extra 1 I’d accidentally done the prior day to make it 13 (I was on vacation, after all).

Those races, plus a few other workouts, made for a 32-mile week, which I’m going to do all over again here in week 5 (minus the paranoid scanning for alligators during my long run).

Recipe ReDux: Vintage Side Dishes Made New

Let’s be real: Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes.

Everyone gets their tailfeathers in a twist, fussing over how to prepare the perfect centerpiece turkey. But you and I and our closest internet friends all know it’s the green bean casserole, the sweet potatoes, and some version of cranberries (tube-form, chutneyed, etc) that bring people to the table.

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme cuts to the chase, bypassing the bird and going straight for the sides. The group was asked to reinvent a classic family side dish, keeping the flavor but maybe adding in some more healthy attributes.

Even though I’m on the side of side dishes, I wasn’t able to pull something off in time to post my own recipe. Maybe I’m just too invested in our low-fuss tradition of doing Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant to think about cooking myself.

Our first non-traditional traditional Thanksgiving, 4 years ago

But there are nearly 50 bloggers who brought a side dish to the Recipe ReDux table this November, many of which span beyond the boundaries of typical American Thanksgiving. You should go check out their creations via the links below!

ATX Training: Week 3 – Those jokers behind me

My legs are some kind of comedians. How else could I explain muscles named ham causing problems for a vegetarian training for a marathon?

Ok, granted, my painful right hamstring probably has more to do with overuse and wonky hip biomechanics than with any nascent comedy career. So I spent a good deal of week 3 working on ways to keep the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris from derailing things in the upcoming 13 weeks before the Austin 26.2.

I ran a little less. I had 29 miles planned this week, but I took an extra rest day and ended up with 25 miles.

I iced down after every run. A couple bags of ice cubes, 5-10 minutes, and things calmed down pretty quickly. Maybe the counterbalancing dachshund compress contributed, too.

I dusted off my foam roller. I run hot & cold on the foam roller: I’ll use it occasionally when I already feel tight or sore, but tend to forget about it when nothing’s really bothering me. So I’m trying to use it at least 5 days a week to see if it helps stimulate some hamstring healing and maybe prevent anything new from cropping up. I’m still not convinced that I’ve got the technique down pat, though.

I added more strength training into the schedule. More clamshells, walking bridges, slow-mo defense side shuffles, and all sorts of ways to get friendly with Therabands – they all got added in to try (again) to strengthen my Greater Hip Area (technical term).

Time will tell if these jokers on the back of my legs quiet down. In the meantime, I’m heading into a 31-mile week that includes a virtual halfathon to tick Florida off my 50-states list when we’re there for a quick Thanksgiving-weekend family trip.

Giveaway: America’s Favorite Food cookbook

If you’re one of those people (ok, *I’m* one of those people) who can’t put down their phone long enough to read a book, then this giveaway is for you! – sister site to Cooking Light and several other food magazines – recently published their America’s Favorite Food cookbook, featuring 200 of the top-rated recipes from the site and embedded with Scan-It/Cook-It features that bring you enhanced content through your smart phone. To quote the blurb Cooking Light sent me:

“New SCAN-IT/COOK-IT™ technology allows readers to scan more than 130 vibrant, full-color photographs, with the Digimarc Discover app (free to download; available on iTunes and Google Play) to access features including: How-To Videos, Expert Answers, Weeknight Meal Planners, Collections of Similar Recipes, Shopping Lists, and more.”

I gave it a try and found all sorts of additional content linked to – for example, I scanned a photo of quinoa-stuffed chiles and the app pulled up 13 more suggested recipes using quinoa. My anti-quinoa husband would be thrilled. And if you’re more into paper than pixels, the nearly 300-page cookbook is still full of recipes and information to keep you busy.

The folks at Cooking Light have sent me 1 copy of MyRecipes America’s Favorite Food to give away to one lucky ETW reader. Want to put your name in the proverbial hat and get cooking? Head past the jump for details!

Read more

Multi-Layered Week: Pepper Jack and veggie strata

I recently submitted a short piece to be included in an upcoming cookbook, waxing poetic about our new-ish tradition of hosting New Year’s Day brunch that centers around soft, sometimes savory, often sweet stratas.

Sure, the brunch menu always include scones and fruit salad, coffee and juice, but everyone’s really there for the strata (our friend Annie, for example, has moved over the years from “Soooo, what are you making?” to “Seriously, make the strata.”). I’m all too happy to oblige, because they are a cinch to serve at brunch – I pop it into the oven before my traditional New Year’s Day run, and a few miles and a shower later, my family and our friends are gathered around the good stuff.

When the folks at Cabot sent me their reduced fat cheeses to show off their recent package re-design, it was a no-brainer to use the pepper Jack in a vegetable strata I knew would bring people running (in my case, literally). The cheese gives it just enough kick to keep things interesting alongside the sweet bell peppers, tomatoes and savory mushrooms.

Photo courtesy of Cabot Coop

The recipe for my pepper Jack and veggie strata follows below, and if you want to round out the week with stratas every morning, here are six more recipes I found around Teh Internets. Where some of these (the Martha Stewart and Oprah recipes, for example) use whole milk and a bazillion whole eggs, you can save a few calories by using lower fat dairy and using roughly 1.5 egg whites instead of each whole egg:

  • Pear gruyere cinnamon swirl strata from Cooking Light (here)
  • Savory bread pudding with kale and mushrooms from New York Times (here)
  • Tomato spinach dinner strata from Eating Well (here)
  • Portabello asparagus goat cheese strata from Whole Foods Recipes (here)
  • Sausage and swiss chard strata from Martha Stewart (here)
  • Raspberry goat cheese strata from Oprah (here)

Pepper Jack and veggie strata

I don’t actually measure how much bread goes into this, but it’s probably about 5 cups of bread cubes.

(8 servings, approx. 270 calories each)

½ Tbs olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
4-5 oz sliced mushrooms (~1/2 a box from the grocery store)
1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat Pepper Jack cheese like Cabot Pepper Jack Light
1 baguette, roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups 1% milk
5 egg whites and 4 whole eggs
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼-1/2  tsp ground black pepper
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salsa to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once it gets shimmery, add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released most of their water. Remove the pan from heat.

Spray the inside of an 8×11-ish casserole dish with cooking spray. Inside the dish, layer ½ of the bread cubes, ½ of the vegetable mixture, and ½ of the shredded cheese. Follow that with a layer of the remaining bread cubes and then the remaining vegetable mixture. Arrange the tomato slices to cover the top, and then layer on the remaining cheese.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the milk, egg whites, whole eggs, cumin, chili powder, oregano and black pepper. Whisk together and pour over the contents of the baking dish. Press down gently on the top with a spatula, to compress the layers and allow the liquid to soak into all the ingredients.

Cover with foil and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes but ideally overnight in the fridge.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350. Bake the strata at 350 with the foil on for 25 minutes; then remove the foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve with salsa of your choice!

ATX Training: Make up your mind!

For an impatient, decisive, Type A personality, I sure have trouble making up my mind.

All during training for the PVD marathon this spring, I swore that would be the only one. That lasted about a month, then some Crazy Switch got flipped in my brain and I decided another go at running the 26.2 was a great idea.

So I planned on using one of Hal Higdon’s 18-week training plans, but then I joined Run Your BQ and switched to a higher mileage, strength-intensive 16-week plan. And then I won a custom training plan from Jason Fitzgerald, which is a lot like the RYBQ plan but has me flailing up & down hills and back & forth with strides a lot more often.

But now I’ve got weeks 1 and 2 of training under my (fuel) belt, so there’s no point waffling about whether to fish or cut bait.


Boring details aside, I’ve had a lot of really good workouts in the last two weeks – good long runs, quick fartleks, not-yet-mind-numbing strength workouts. Granted, there’s also been some ridiculous running thanks to the weather: I had to fight to stay upright in Sandy’s early winds, then slip-slid around in our first snow.

So I’m locked in, ready to roll, heading for 30+ mile weeks from here on out. That is, as long as my hamstrings have made up their minds to accompany me. But that’s a story for another recap…

Don’t Snow on my Chili Week

I didn’t really need any prodding to try out Cooking Light’s roundup of their 30+ best chili recipes. I’ve been anticipating the inevitable late autumn cool-down that would sweep aside “enh, I don’t need a jacket” and replace it with “a hot bowl of something sure would warm my blue-tinged fingers right about now.” And chili can be a pretty nutritious hot bowl when you’re packing it with lean meats and/or powerhouse beans plus several different types of veggies.

So I bookmarked the list, and got to work mixing up hearty ingredients with complex spice mixes for the smoky slowcooker chili (which I then fed to omnivore Tim, who liked it).

I also served up a Moroccan vegetarian version of chili which, despite not including any actual conventional chili powder, had plenty of tangy, cumin-infused, flavor mixed into the pleasing mix of just-crunchy-enough vegetables and soft cooked chickpeas.

But juuuuust to make sure I appreciated the impetus behind this chili exploration, Mother Nature showed up just today with a timely reminder that “bowl of warm stuff” weather wasn’t impending – it was here.

Yes, ok, got it! Sheesh, couldn’t even let me finish cleaning up after Halloween, huh?

Well, no matter, because I feel pretty well-prepared, chili-wise, thanks to the CL roundup. If you want to have a look at the week’s worth of recipes that especially caught my eye, don’t wait too long because the snow’s already upon us!

  • Moroccan chickpea chili (here)
  • Smoky slow cooker chili (here)
  • Three-bean vegetarian chili (here)
  • Chipotle chocolate chili (here)
  • Chicken green chili with white beans (here)
  • Black bean and chorizo chili (here)
  • Quinoa and roasted pepper chili (here)