Archive for March 2013

Foodie PenPals: I’d flunk sharing if I were in preschool

For the March Foodie Penpal pairing, I sent a box to Bethany from All of My Words and received a box from fellow Massachusettsian (sure, why not) Natalia. She prepared a very thoughtful box of treats, each labeled with suggested recipients (Miles, Tim, me, or all of us). But was I as thoughtful, sharing the goodies as directed? Well, let’s go down the list…

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  • Homemade chocolate granola, for Tim – nope.
  • Homemade chocolate chunk cookies, for the family – not a one.
  • Funky Monkey snacks – I let Miles have one & I bogarted the other.

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  • Seasoned tortilla chips – finally, I played well with others & we had nachos for dinner one night using these.
  • Salsa – to be determined, as it’s still in the pantry. Odds are slim – I usually empty a jar of salsa too quickly for anyone else to get some.

Thankfully, Natalia included the recipes for the granola and cookies in her hand-written note that accompanied the box, so at least I could recreate them for Miles and Tim. Although, who says I’ll necessarily share those batches, either?

Are you better than I am at sharing and interested in participating in Foodie Penpals? It’s open to bloggers and non-bloggers alike! Head past the jump for details.

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CBHM Training Week 2: Following 0% of the ten-percent rule

No more than 10% – that’s the conventional wisdom about how much runners should increase their mileage from one week to the next during a training cycle. But do all runners adhere to this idea? No. Do we even know where this rule originated? Not really. Did I play it conservative when I started back into the first 2 weeks of training for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon? If you’re good with pattern recognition, this won’t be much of a surprise:

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Weeks 1 (11 Mar) and 2 (16 Mar)

I wish I could claim this was a deliberate decision, supported by evidence that a runner who was recently running 30-40 mile weeks (thanks, marathon training) can handle 25% weekly increases in mileage without spontaneous muscle combustion. But it’s only retroactive justification, because I just went for it with the proverbial crossed fingers.

The week 2 long run wasn’t the big contributor (I actually cut it back to 6 miles after 7 in week 1); it was the addition of a 5th running day. Weeks 3 & 4 will bring a 19% & 13% mileage increases, respectively, but thereafter things stabilize in the mid-30s without major oscillation for the following month. After all that jumping up, it may be nice to just go in a straight line for awhile…

As a reminder, I’ve pledged to raise at least $500 for Health Connections of the Upper Valley so I can run CBHM with their team. Any level of contribution you could make via my donation page would be greatly appreciated!

Liebster Blog Award

ETW liebsterI hope I don’t trip over my dress on the way to the podium, because Portia of Run, Portia, Run has kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award.

There seem to be multiple iterations of this award and an unclear origin story, but the gist is to recognize “up-and-coming” blogs with small-ish followings. Another blogger tracked down a German blog (Liebster is auf Deutsch, meaning “Dearest”) that may or may not be the source of this award, and uses slightly different parameters (small = <3,000 followers).

I have to do the following to accept the Liebster:

  • Post 11 random facts about myself.
  • Answer the questions that Portia asked in her post.
  • Pass the Liebster Award on by nominating up to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers (which I know how? Not sure), and giving them 11 questions to answer.

Head past the jump if you want to see the facts, answers, nominees & questions.

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Recipe ReDux: Down to the wire for herb parmesan scones

I had a good 20 days to create, make and test a recipe for this month’s Recipe ReDux, whose theme is “green with herb envy.” That’s roughly 3 weeks to make use of fresh, green herbs in a nonconventional way; plenty of time… dare I say, a luxurious amount of time.

So what did I do? Well, I waited until 7 am this morning to get started. Procrastinate much?

In my defense, I’m not the only one taking my sweet time. The calendar says spring, but the weather clearly isn’t ready to get the ball rolling – the bright white background in this photo is the foot of snow we just got two days ago.

Parsley, oregano, and Mother Nature’s annoying sense of humor

And I did sketch out my recipe idea several weeks ago, going with a savory scone that would depart from the usual sweets-and-dried-stuff motif. I just didn’t bother to open up the flour sack until today. Sadly, the first attempt was a big last-minute fail: the cheese topping burned, the scone was dry, and the whole thing tasted strongly like baking powder.

These are not the scones you’re looking for

Being optimistic – ok, pressed for time and out of butter – I staged that herb-y photo of the first batch and thought I’d just write about how I probably would make these XYZ changes next time. But piling lazy on top of procrastinate-y (sure, that’s a word) seemed like the wrong way to go, so I picked up another pound of butter and got to work. This time, I cut back the baking powder & baking soda, left out the capers, added a teeny bit more milk, and mixed the parmesan into the dough.

The result? An herb parmesan scone that was well worth the wait (and the frantic trip to the grocery store).

My favorite part about these scones is how green the herbs stay, even after baking. And the flavors get even better when you dip these bad boys into some olive oil. So don’t delay – try this recipe out:

Fresh herb scones

(8 scones, approx. 250 calories each)

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
2/3 cup buttermilk, generously measured (nearly ¾ cup, basically)
2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use your fingers to squish the butter into small pieces & drop them into the dry mix. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry mix until it resembles wet sand and the butter is evenly distributed.

Add herbs, tomatoes and cheese. Pour in the buttermilk and blend with your hands until they just come together. Divide the dough into eight balls, and press gently on the tops to flatten them a little.

Transfer the scones to the baking sheet, then pop them in the oven for 18-19 minutes. When done, let them cool for a few minutes on a rack before serving with olive oil for dipping.

You’ve got plenty of time to check out the herb-ful recipes created by my fellow ReDuxers, but don’t wait until the last minute. Do as I say, not as I do, and check these links out:


CBHM Training Week 1: Running for public health

After ticking Texas off my race-in-50-states list, the rest of 2013 is about the low-hanging fruit – namely, remaining Northeast states. I’ve signed up for several races through early summer that mean the area bound by New Brunswick, New Jersey and the eastern-most Great Lakes will be covered my me & my Sauconys:

And just to keep things lively, I’m also running a 10k the day before the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.

The Cherry Blossom 5k is first, but I’m focusing on CBHM and treating the 5k as a mid-cycle cutback from otherwise LR-filled weekends. This time around, I’d like to cut a few minutes of my HM PR and finish in 1:50 (sound familiar? Same goal I had for the Runners World HM where the hills damn near killed me). I’m following a training plan from Brad Hudson’s Run Faster, which I modified from the original 16-week version to a 12-week plan with more strength training included. Last week was the first in the training cycle, and the first time in a long time that I did hill sprints and a more-than-5-mile run.

An equally important goal for this race is to raise at least $500 for Health Connections of the Upper Valley.

CBHM is a popular race but organizers cap registration at 2,300 runners; if you don’t get one of the general spots within roughly 15 minutes of registration opening, runners can sign on to support a charity team. Choosing to run for Health Connections was a no-brainer for a public-health wonk and nutrition nerd like me – they are a health-education organization focused on “the two most significant causes of preventable death and chronic disease: tobacco use and obesity.”

I’ll admit, I’m not 100% confident about pulling off a HM PR, but I know we can blow past the fundraising minimum in record style. I’d love any level of contribution you could make via my donation page. Thanks in advance for your support of Health Connections in VT!

Broiler Week: Close-Up Heat for a Mango-Banana Treat

The broiler has always confounded me. I didn’t really get why it was any different from just flipping on the oven. But I’ve since learned that “upside-down grilling” is a smart way to get flavorful food fast, from seafood to veggies to… a cold dessert?

Ok, so I’m taking some dramatic license here, because my broiled mango, banana and lime dessert doesn’t entirely come from under here:

The banana is frozen and turned into “soft serve” with a quick whirl in the food processor, but the broiler works some high-heat magic on mango slices, browning them and giving them a hint of the flavor of well-cooked marshmallows over a camp fire.

Sprinkle the whole affair with some lime juice, and you’ve got one seriously tasty reason to finally solve the mystery that is the broiler.

And if you’ll need a few more reasons, I’ve rounded up a week’s worth of ways to get up close and flavorful with the broiler:

  • Broiled mango, banana and lime dessert (recipe follows below)
  • Crispy topped brussel sprouts cauliflower gratin from Cooking Light (here)
  • Broiled scallops with sweet lime sauce from Mayo Clinic (here)
  • Balsamic broiled asparagus from Taste of Home (here)
  • Broiled blueberry dessert from Dine & Dish (here)
  • Garlic lemon broiled mushrooms from Food.com (here)
  • Broiled curried salmon from Cooking Light (here)

Broiled mango, banana and lime dessert

(4 servings, approx. 150 calories each)

Ingredients:
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
1 mango, peeled and sliced into spears
1 lime, quartered
Cooking spray

Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray it lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the cooking spears on the sheet, and put them under the broiler for 4-5 minutes. Flip the mango then broil for another 4-5 minutes. Remove and let the mango cool for a few minutes.

Add the frozen banana slices to a food processor and process until smooth, like soft-serve ice cream. (This may take a little while, as the frozen banana tends to clump up and bang around in a big lump before it finally smoothes out)

Divide the banana among four bowls, and stick 4-6 mango spears in each. Squeeze the juice from a lime quarter over each dessert, and serve.

Running: Hobbling, Relaxing & Getting Back at It – the marathon recovery recipe

In the three weeks since I completed the Austin marathon, despite a noncompliant foot, I’ve been slow-cooking a recovery melange. Here’s a breakdown of ingredients by week:

Week 1: Ibuprofen; three straight rest days (the first stretch that long since… July, maybe?); wincing and hobbling. This video – via Jason Fitzgerald – pretty much sums things up.

Week 2: Several slow, low-mileage runs; a few strength-training sessions; and sleeping in long enough to be woken up by these two.

Week 3: Higher-mileage runs; a brief twinge from the left foot (the only one so far after the marathon nonsense); and a snowstorm that made me glad to be off an intense, run-every-day training plan.

I nearly got used to this leisurely lifestyle, but then I mapped out a 12-week training plan for my next half marathon and realized, whoa, this starts now. So I hit the hills for some sprints this morning, and got reacquainted with the foam roller. Time to cook up the next batch of running insanity.

A Week Past Its Prime: Recipes for Overripe Bananas

It’s time to turn that brown banana frown upside down, my friends.

Earlier this week, I saw that Huffpost Taste was featuring a set of recipes that use overripe bananas (and when I briefly suspected they had broken into my kitchen).

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I did, in fact, have a way-past-spotty banana languishing in the fruit bowl, but didn’t have any brilliant ideas for using it. Thankfully, Huffpost came to the rescue and I found in their collection a link to these great “breakfast cookies.” Extra-ripe bananas are especially sweet, strongly flavored, and easy to mash – all of which lent to their use in these hearty peanut butter, oatmeal and raisin morning treats.

But what if you’ve got a whole troop of aging tropical beauties on your counter? There are only so many breakfast cookies we can eat, so I dug up several more ways to use them.

Like everyone else under the sun who has ever written about using overripe bananas, I focused on Things That Are Not Banana Bread. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against those nutty sweet loaves; but Teh Internets abound with so many creative ways to put brown bananas to work, that I’d be remiss if I didn’t list some of them:

  • Oatmeal breakfast cookies from Dine and Dish (here)The ones I made today were actually from this similar recipe.
  • Banana black bean empanadas from Epicurious (here)
  • Banana oatmeal bread from Cooking Light (here)
  • Banana scrambled eggs from Food.com            (here)This never would have occurred to me, but sounds like a great idea
  • Secret banana smoothie from Real Mom Kitchen (here)
  • Avocado banana pudding from Vibrant Vegan (here)I’m telling you, vegans know their way around some of the tastiest, simplest puddings I’ve found.
  • Breakfast mango guacamole from Green Lemonade (here)Her original recipe doesn’t call for them, but in a later post she said ½-1 overripe banana tossed in adds a nice flavor.

Let me know with a comment if you give any of these recipes a go – unlike some other sites, I’m not going to creep into your kitchen to check up.