Recipe ReDux: Pre-run vanilla, pear & black tea smoothie

Each month, those of us participating in Recipe ReDux follow a theme to devise healthy, tasty recipes. The idea is to showcase good-for-you food that also does right by your tastebuds. So this month—where we’re giving a nod to the World Tea Expo with tea-inspired dishes—I’m bringing you a recipe that is deliberately high in sugar, low in fiber, and contains really only one major food group.

Wait, what?

pear tea smoothie1

See, when I think tea, I think running. In the mornings before my longer runs, I need some caffeine delivered via something less strong and gut-pummeling as coffee. So a cup of black tea is the typical accompaniment to my pre-run fuel.

The second component of that pre-run meal is one of the few times that conventional dietary guidance goes out the window, because I’m actually trying to eat high-carb, low-fiber, quick-hit-of-sugar foods. Those are generally the best way to quickly give your body the energy it needs to run without provoking your GI tract too much with fiber and fats.

So I figured, why keep the tea and carbs separate? The result is a pre-run vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie that will help put a few more miles on your Sauconys (or Hokas, or Mizunos, or those weird monkey feet Vibram things).

Runner’s vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie

(1 serving, approx. 180 calories)

1 (or more, see below) black tea bag
½ cup water
1 cup canned pears (or peeled fresh pear)
½ banana
¼ tsp vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes
Honey, to taste

Heat the water either over the stove until boiling, or in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, and chill in the freezer while assembling other ingredients.

Another option would be to make a larger batch of the strong-brewed tea, and leave it in the fridge for future use—that way, you’ll also have a longer time to get it nice and cold. Just use the ratio of ½ cup water to each tea bag when brewing, and measure out ½ cup of the brewed tea for use in the smoothie.

Combine all the ingredients—brewed tea, pears, banana, vanilla, ice cubes and honey—in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour, drink, and enjoy, leaving yourself ~30-60 minutes before heading out for that run.

pear tea smoothie2

If there’s no 20-miler on your training schedule today, maybe you’d like to try some of the other tea-ful recipes devised by my fellow ReDuxer? Just follow the links below:

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Running: Pigs Fly and states #15 & #16 are checked off

A few weeks ago, Team Flail flew to Cincinnati to take on the Flying Pig marathon (Andrew) and half marathon (Adam & me). I’ve applied the same speed in getting to this recap that I did in the HM, which is to say I was slow in both!

Thanks to some cranky joints, Adam & I both went for the 13.1 instead of the planned 26.2 But while Adam said he felt over-trained for the HM, I got about 4 miles in and knew I was waaaaay on the other end of that spectrum. Two+ months of being unable to run, except occasionally on the AlterG treadmill, left me walking up hills and finishing in over 2 hours (2:05).

Flying Pig HM Kat Adam

BUT, I was frankly happy just to be able to finish, given all the work I’d done rehabbing my SI joint. And the HM course still allowed me a two-fer in my Race in 50 States quest, because we started in Ohio, crossed the river to Kentucky, then came back to finish in Ohio again. So that means states #15 and #16 are crossed off the list – BOOM.

Race in 50 States map

And that’s all well & good, but I still think Drew’s feat at the Pig was far more impressive – for the second time in a row, he shaved several minutes off his marathon PR. This despite his feet going into revolt before he even hit the 20-mile mark, and having to walk several times. He’s fast, and annoying ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bru in the last 0.2

Bru (white shirt) in the last 0.2

Having covered GA, AZ, NV, OH and KY this year, I’m already at the annual average number of races I figured I need to do by 2025 (my goal deadline to run races in all 50 states). So next up for me, running-wise, is to take on a couple PRs closer to home. I’m running the Level Renner 10K in August to see what I can do at that distance without an injured back, and will likely run the BAA HM in October to chase down the PR I set nearly 3 years ago.

Grill Unity Week: When a Veg Head shows up to MeatFest 2014

Ahhh, grilling season. You’ve taken the cover off the grill, cleaned up the grates, seasoned the meat and sent invites to your friends. But then…. a VEGETARIAN rsvps, and suddenly you’re panicking, trying to figure out whether it’s easier to just throw your grill into a ravine and pretend this was never happening than to make MeatFest 2014 amenable to a plant eater.

Look, most vegetarians are totally reasonable people who don’t expect you to reverse engineer your entire menu or else they’ll pull a Lisa Simpson at your barbeque.

So what, then, can be done to make a place for everyone at the picnic table? As a member of the No Meat Tribe myself, I offer a few general rules of thumb:

Don’t bother with Processed Industrifood Fake Meats. Just, no. Does that weirdly textured, grayish huck look appealing to you? Yeah, it doesn’t to me either.

Do get double duty from your vegetarian grilled dishes. No one likes cooking a different main dish for every person at a meal (see also: dinner with my 7-year-old and my carnivore husband). So try out grilled recipes that can be a main for the veg head and a side to someone’s burger (like my grilled stuffed Portobello mushrooms), or that can be easily adapted as a main for both (like the grilled tofu tacos from Love & Lemons, where you could easily swap some grilled meats in place of the tofu).

Grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms

When all else fails, go off-grill for a vegetarian entrée. I, personally, am not picky about my food being prepared on a meated-up grill. But if your guests are—or if you’re just running out of room next to the burgers and dawgs—just head into the kitchen to make something like vegetarian chili or a beans & rice combo that everyone can enjoy.

See? Nothing to panic about here; just a week’s worth of recipes that should help you achieve unity around the grill:

  • Grilled eggplant parmesan sandwich from Delish (here)in smaller sizes, these would be a good side or appetizer for everyone.
  • Grilled beet & hummus pitas from Naturally Ella (here)add some grilled meat into one batch to feed the carnivores
  • Grilled tofu tacos with avocado cream from Love & Lemons (here)
  • Grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms from Eating the Week (here)
  • Black bean and butternut squash chili from Epicurious (here)
  • Tandoori grilled broccoli cauliflower kebabs from Veggie Belly (here)make some skewers with chicken or other meat, and you’ve satisfied everyone!
  • Grilled corn salad with black beans & rice from Eating Well (here)

Foodie Pen Pals: April – Alabama treats

While putting together my recent Months of the Week series, I came across all the Foodie Pen Pal posts I’d previously done and thought, hey, I should get back into that!

In my first month back, I’ve found that FPPs now swap in pairs (give to & receive from the same person), and I was matched up with Kellie from Alabama. She sent me a box full of goodies from her home state and farther afield, carefully padded with a rainbow’s worth of tissue paper ๐Ÿ˜‰

FPP April

In her note, Kellie told me several of the items were from her neck of the woods, including crackers from her family’s favorite place to eat out (Jason’s Deli), and a selection from Fayette’s local hot sauce & salsa company (I can never get enough salsa!).

FPP April2

Kellie even consulted with her son to decide on what to include for our son, and I can confirm that the fruit leather met with rave reviews from the 7-yo food critic in our house. I’m saving the tea for pre-long-run caffeinating, but I bet those sweet potato & cinnamon crackers aren’t long for this world ๐Ÿ˜‰

FPP April3

Thanks, Kellie, for the great FPP box! It’s a nice way to get back into the swing of this thing; and if you’d like to join us for next month, click the image below.

Running: Desert racing

After our week-long vacation in the southwest – stopping in Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas – our family is a little less pale and a little more relaxed. And my Race in 50 States List is a little closer to completion after I ticked off states 13 (AZ) and 14 (NV) with two 5ks during the trip.

In Arizona, our mid-week stop meant that I couldn’t find a scheduled race to run, so instead I chose a virtual 5k from US Road Running. The Hilton where we stayed backed right up to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, so I hit the trails for a scenic (albeit slow) 5k. Bonus: only tripped twice, and didn’t see nor get bitten by a rattlesnake.

Looking back toward the hotel & trailhead

Looking back toward the hotel & trailhead

Gooooood morning, Phoenix

Gooooood morning, Phoenix

RK AZ 5k

Next up was Las Vegas, where I registered for the 5k at the Mustang Half & 5k celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ford’s famous pony. My original plan had been to run the HM, but Cranky McBack took that out of the realm of possibility for now. And after experiencing the heat of a Mojave desert morning, and seeing how frankly boring it would have been to cover 13.1 miles around a race track (both courses circled the Las Vegas Motor Speedway), I’m pretty happy to have been relegated to the 5k.

Runners heading into the track

Runners heading into the track

Start of the HM

Start of the HM

Pace car and lead HM runner around mile 11.5

Pace car and lead HM runner around mile 11.5

Now, I haven’t been running much in the last couple months, and I certainly haven’t been training to run a fast 5k. So I wasn’t surprised to have a not-my-best, not-my-worst time in this race (25:21). I was surprised to see that I took 2nd/39 in my age group, 10th/327 for all females, and 32nd/553 overall. I mean, WHA? Must have been a lot of walkers, is my guess.

Mustang HM results

I’ve got a couple desert states under my belt now, and it’s on to Ohio where there are more pigs and hopefully fewer gila monsters.

Gila monster

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:

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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.