Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Fighting a Cold

Have you ever been fighting a cold, you have the sniffles, the scratchy throat, but you don't want to admit that you may be sick because that would be giving into the cold?  And if you have a cold, that might mean that all of your healthy habits don't give you super human strength?

From mid November until mid January at least one person in my house (excluding yours truly) was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Me - I remained healthy and assumed the role of family nurse and chauffeur to the doctor's office.  And now out of no where I have the runny nose and sore throat - I do not have a cough - thankfully.

So after a dinner highlighting the wonderful tastes of raw garlic and an intense yoga class to try to sweat it out, I am now soothing my throat with my favourite homemade tea.

Lemon Ginger Tea with Honey - this is such a simple tea, but it makes everything feel better.  The taste reminds me a lot of NeoCitran but doesn't make me groggy.  Its as easy as it sounds to make...

Lemon Ginger Tea

1/2 lemon cut into slices
1 thumb size piece of ginger peeled & cut into strips
boiling water

Place the ginger slices in a tea pot and crush with the flat end of the handle on a knife.  This releases the juices in the ginger and keeps it in the tea pot.  Add the lemon slices.  Pour boiling water over lemon and ginger.  Let steep for at least 5 minutes.  Pour into your favourite mug and sweeten with honey.

I have been told by many people this is basically a Hot Toddy - so if you want the loopy side effects of NeoCitran add rum or whatever alcohol is added to a Hot Toddy.  Sweet dreams.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Apple Crisp for Breakfast & the Miami Half Marathon

No - I didn't run the Miami Half Marathon - this girl did.  I want to send out a congratulations to my friend Gina! She ran the Miami half marathon yesterday and rocked it.  She ran this race on 3 hours sleep in 2:12!

Look at her, she doesn't even look like she ran let alone for 2 hours starting at 6am!

Gorgeous and look at how well coordinated she is, her shirt matches her bib and medal - wow!

All kidding aside - I am inspired and motivated to pick a race and write up a schedule.  Enough of these gym workouts - I need a goal race!

Now back to breakfast....

I've seen a ton of recipes on line about baked oatmeal.  I was intrigued, but then I started thinking about Apple Crisp and couldn't stop.  So I figured... Apple Crisp has oatmeal in it...right?  Apple Crisp has apples - duh - so it was to be a bit healthy.  And sometimes I put brown sugar on my oatmeal..  What if I just make it a bit healthier? 

Could Apple Crisp could qualify as breakfast?  If I added some ground flax seed, hemp hearts, and walnuts - sure.  Served over Greek yogurt... sounds like a healthy breakfast to me!

Apple Crisp Healthified!

5-6 apples peeled,cored and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 butter or margarine melted
1/4 olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 tablespoons hemp hearts
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place apples in a 8 inch glass or metal baking dish. Toss with first amounts of cinnamon and sugar.

Mix remaining ingredients in bowl until crumbly.  Spread over apples.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until oatmeal mixture is slightly browned and crispy.  Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Celebration Dinner at Mill Street Bakery & Bistro

This weekend I completed one of my requirements for my Personal Trainer certification. I took my First Aid and CPR course.  I would be lying if I said this course was exciting.  But this course also gave me a new found respect for all of the St. John Ambulance volunteers I see at the races.  They have to sit through many more hours of these courses and actually apply what they've learned.  And they are doing it all for free.

In addition to completing this course, I also found out that I passed my theory exam for my PT certification.  I didn't realize until I received the email Saturday morning telling me I passed exactly how much waiting for my results had been weighing on my mind.  So I did it.. I passed with a 93%!  Ya me!!!  Now all I have to do is complete the practical part.  But I won't think about that for now.

Tonight we went out and celebrated at a local restaurant that opened in 2011 called Mill Street Bakery & Bistro. http://www.millstreetbakerybistro.com/index.html I've purchased cupcakes from the bakery portion of this restaurant but never eaten in the restaurant.  Scenery-wise the best time of year to eat here would be the summer or anytime you could be on the patio.  That wasn't an option for us tonight.  The decor inside is ok although there is nice local artwork on display.

The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful regarding the menu.  From a vegetarian perspective, the menu choices are quite limited - with only two entire selections.  I'm sure if I had asked modifications could have been made to the menu. 

It didn't matter as I chose to have their Fire pot which was a curried vegetable and bean mixture topped with fruit and served with a side (read super thick slice of fresh homemade bread).  This dish was very good.  My husband even enjoyed it the curry.  The portions was generous as well - I had enough to take home for my lunch tomorrow.

Dan order the Wild West burger with fries.  He also enjoyed his meal.  As you can see, the burger is hand made.  The fries were amazing.  If I ever have a craving for fries that I can't shake this is exactly where I'll be headed.

When we paid, we standing in front of the bakery counter and couldn't leave empty handed.  Dan took a butter tart that he ate before I could get a picture and I left with this...

Its called Mary's Mistake.  The story behind this dessert is they (I'm assuming Mary) accidentally used shortbread dough as tart crusts.  The dough didn't stay together and they didn't want to throw it out so they created these squares.  Basically these squares have a chocolate cake crumb base, butter tart filling with shortbread pieces and chocolate chips mixed through and topped with more chocolate chips.  Sweet mother... this is amazing but beyond rich.  Invite 6 people over to eat this.

As for me for the rest of the evening - I'll be on the elliptical to work off this dessert and missing my run yesterday.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Surprise Snow Day and all its benefits

I know I've mentioned quite a few times, how winter hasn't quite happened they way it normally does in Southern Ontario this year.  But... last night after an entire day of warnings from Environment Canada and all of the local radio stations we had freezing rain which was followed by a bit of a snowfall.  This has meant one thing in our house - the buses are cancelled and we are home.  I'm very fortunate in my job that I work from home if the weather is bad or I have a sick child. 

And for whatever reason this morning, my body decided it was time to wake up a 4:30 am.  So I've been up for a while and I've been working for a while.  It has left a lot of time for other things... like a big breakfast that is typically reserved for Sunday mornings.

I also went out running in the snow that had fallen.  It was a slow, messy run but I went out with one purpose....the view.

Well.... maybe also to burn off my breakfast which was this....

I've decided to call this Almost Eggs Florentine.  When I think of eggs Florentine  I think of a creamy buttery sauce covering poached eggs sitting on spinach and English muffins.  For my recipe, I cook fresh spinach in a little bit of water, add red peppers and top with brie cheese and chopped parsley.  Oh my this is good, but wow is it rich and a far cry from my usual oatmeal I have for breakfast during the week.  But my taste buds were happy.

Almost Eggs Florentine

2 cups of fresh spinach
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 red pepper seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic peeled and minced
1 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 English muffin toasted
2 thin slices brie cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Steam spinach in a small amount of water until wilted.  Remove from heat, let cool slightly and squeeze excess water, set aside.  Saute red pepper in olive oil until tender crisp.  Add salt pepper and garlic cooking until garlic has browned slightly, but is not burned. 

Using a wide shallow pan, filled about 3/4 full with water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, bring to a simmer.  (The vinegar helps prevent the eggs from spreading out in the water and is not detectable when you eat the eggs.) Crack eggs one at a time into a small dish and carefully pour into simmering water.   Once the eggs have set on the underside, about 2 minutes, carefully flip them over in the water to cook the top.  Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the English muffins on a plate, layer the cooked spinach and top with the red peppers.  Using a slotted spoon remove the eggs one at a time from the water, allowing as much water to drain as possible.  Gently set on top of the red peppers.  Top with the brie cheese.  Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the cheese and season with freshly ground pepper.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness?  I occasionally do nice things for the people around me, but typically its related to a birthday or to return a favour. I don't expect anything in return either.  I usually get a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling when I've made someone's day.

But when the tables are turned and someone does something thoughtful and kind just for you - especially first thing in the morning it can be a game changer.  I was having a usual Wednesday morning... I accidentally cut someone off on the way into work.  I do emphasize the word accidentally.  But other than that, it was the usual mid week routine.  Until I arrived at my desk as saw this.......

My co-worker Deb who is an awesome cook discovered Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips and made the recipe on the back of the bag.  She brought a lot of the cookies just me!  I did share these with a few people in the department - including the two guys I ran 8k with at lunch.  Ok - I bribed then with the promise of cookies if we picked up the pace a bit.  I also shared with my kids... geez this sounds like the magic porridge pot of cookies.

Nonetheless the fact that she would bring these cookies in a share them with me totally made my day.  They were amazing too.  Here is the link to the recipe. http://www.hersheycanada.com/en/recipes/recipes-by-type/6/Cookies.aspx?ICID=CH1434 The next time I'm out and about I'm picking up a bag of these.  I think this recipe would make a great valentine's treat for the kids or maybe just me.

Monday, 23 January 2012

More New Shoes & Turnip Fries

Let's just focus on the first part of that title for now.....

New shoes... friends for these ones  - wild things also named Elixir 8 by Mizuno... they should have asked me about the name first... Wild Thing is way more fun.

So here are the new shoes - Mizuno Inspire 7 but I'd like to give them a different name... let's call them Older Sister to Wild Thing.  The aren't quite as fun looking - but they have a great personality.

I took these shoes for a test drive on the treadmill today... guess what my 5k time was almost a minute faster in the Big Sister shoes.  Ok, I did ramp up the speed but I really couldn't tell the difference between the two shoes.  Maybe the next time I'll shake things up a bit and wear one of each... just kidding that would be ridiculous.

Ridiculous like thinking you could make fries out of turnips.  Ok I know you can make fries out of pretty much any vegetable, but making fries out of turnips and having your husband who used to think it was normal to drink a can of Pepsi before 8 am get excited when you make them is impressive.

These fries are a bit of work to cut up and take a little longer to cook than if you were roasting potatoes for oven fries. Roasting the turnip caramelizes it a bit giving the fries an slight sweetness you don't taste when you boil the vegetable.  I like to serve these fries with a spicy sauce on the side.  Feel free to make the dip or enjoy the fries on their own.

Turnip Fries

1 turnip peeled and cut into strips like french fries
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons of your favourite seasoning salt (I used herbamare)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Toss turnip in olive oil and seasonings.  Spread onto a parchment lined or non stick cookie sheet.  Roast in an oven at 375 for 50 minutes or until the fries are done to your liking.  Stir and flip fries over 20 minutes or so to ensure even cooking.

Spicy Dip

1/4 cup sour cream or unflavoured yogurt
1/4 mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic minced (cooked if you want a milder flavour)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon sea salt & pepper

Stir all ingredients in a bowl.  Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes to allow flavours to blend.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Lunch at The Works

Today at lunch I skipped my planned metabolic workout to have a eating workout at The Works. http://www.worksburger.com/ Which has newly opened in downtown Guelph.  Because this restaurant is new - its pretty busy especially at lunch. 

Our server was pretty good.  The menu is quite complex.  Basically burgers, but also salads, poutine, drinks and desserts.  With the burger selection though there is a page and a half of topping selections along with your choice of burger type and sides.

I went to lunch with my friends Katherine and Carey.  I had previewed the menu first so I had a good idea what I wanted but if I hadn't I would have taken a long time to decide.

Katherine and I started with milkshakes.  I ordered a chocolate shake with double fudge.  It was awesome.  The double fudge was an extra chocolate burst every now and then.  I love the fact that the drinks come in a measuring cup.

I ordered the veggie pesto pizazz burger with sweet potato fries.  The veggie burger is a typical soy veggie burger, but the toppings were great.  My burger came with pesto, sun dried tomatoes, black olives and brie cheese.  I love this combination.  The sweet potato fries were standard.  I also had the beach sauce to dip my fries in.  The only way I can describe the sauce as was weird.  It tasted like a strange salad dressing.  I wished I'd just ordered a side salad and not wasted the extra calories on fries.

Katherine ordered the Groovy Gryphon. It came with avocado, bacon and Gouda cheese She said it needed mayo or a sauce or something.  She had the same opinion about the sweet potato fries that I did.  But all of the toppings were fresh and the presentation looked nice.

Carey ordered the Olive Oyl.  It came with black olives, spinach, tomatoes, garlic sauce, and feta cheese.  She said it was ok as well.  The last time she ate there she ordered the pesto pizazz and would order that burger again.  Carey ordered the spicy die cut chips as a side which are like potato chips but made to order.  She really liked these and would order them again.

I would go back - and maybe try the onion rings and a different burger.  I usually have a two visit rule for restaurants.  I also found the staff very helpful.  I think its pretty clear that staffing is a priority for the restaurant which always makes for a good dining experience.  The decor of the restaurant is fun - it looks like a factory sort of with chain link fencing.

All in all I would return to this restaurant again if I was in the mood for a burger and I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun burger and fries type dining experience.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Another Cold Run & Recovery Hot Chocolate

Sooooo another cold run...  I know its winter.... get over it...  but tonight's run was -20 C with the wind chill.  I dressed for the weather...

Safety first.... with the vest.

Besides the temperature there was a build up of snow that added an extra challenging element to the run.  And running at night added an additional sensory challenge.  It made for a good workout.

So after this run... guess what... I was cold - surprise!

Usually after my harder runs I have a recovery drink.  I typically add protein powder and ice cubes... but tonight ice cubes just weren't happening.  I was in the mood for hot chocolate.

Remember this hot chocolate?

This wasn't happening - come on people its Thursday night.

I decided to make a warm proteinish drink to warm me up and recover from my run.

So I took these ingredients...

With my favourite chocolate protein powder. 

This blends so easily with milk or water.  In the summer I typically add 1 cup of almond milk with 3-4 ice cubes and 2 tbsp of this powder and it almost tastes like a milkshake.

and made this...

Hot Chocolate Protein Smoothie

1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (sifted)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 tablespoons chocolate protein powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk ingredients together over medium heat until warmed through.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Smooth and Creamy Oatmeal

The thermometer has been on a roller coaster in Southern Ontario this winter.  In the past week we have gone from temperatures well below 0, above 0 - with rain and back down again.

Its made it difficult to settle into winter, brace yourself for the cold and acclimatize.  Its strange though - my cravings for warm comforting food has not diminished.  

During the winter, I have oatmeal almost everyday.  I know there are all kinds of recipes all over the Internet to make oatmeal and  I know its oatmeal - big deal. But it can be almost like a dessert if you make it right.  I have had a few mornings I've had to pack my breakfast and eat it in the office (professional - I know).  But I've also had co-workers ask me what I'm eating because it smells so good.

The secret to great oatmeal is the method its cooked.  If you cook it in milk whether its cows milk, almond or soy, the oatmeal takes on a smooth creamy texture and cooking it in milk boosts the nutritional content.

Oatmeal is also a great recovery meal to have after an early morning run.  You have your primary base of carbs, plus protein and antioxidants from the nuts and berries if you add those to the mix like I have.  The cinnamon and vanilla add a dessert like flavor to this that eliminates the need for extra sugar... although a splash of maple syrup is nice on pretty much anything.

My Favourite Oatmeal

1 cup milk (your choice cow, almond soy)
1/3 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Add the milk and oats to a pan and heat until the mixture comes to a low boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

Pour into a bowl and top with cranberries and walnuts.

Monday, 16 January 2012

World's Best Vegetarian Loaf

The name of this recipe is a big claim... I know.  But I've made my share a variations of this recipie.  Some successful and some complete failures.  This is my tried and true recipe.  I might change up the beans, but as long as you use smaller beans like lentils or aduki beans and not big ones like kidney beans or chick peas, the combination works.  You can also vary the grains you use, but I prefer rice.

I'm also trying to make this recipe sound more appealing.  I really am - but basically this is a variation on lentil loaf and was created completely my accident.  I mistakenly cooked mung beans instead of lentils.  Pre-cooked, they looked quite a bit like the jar of green lentils I have in my cupboard.  I could have called this mung bean and brown rice loaf, but then you might be like my husband who immediately said - "Sounds delicious". (eyes rolling)

I will tell you - it is.  I make legume based loafs all of the time - usually on Sundays.  I am the only one in my family who eats them, so the leftovers are packaged up individually and frozen.  That way I have a protein dinner "thing" that is ready in 2 minutes leaving me more time to cook something for the meat eaters.  It is something quick to grab for lunch and tastes great in a wrap or crumbled over salad as well.  I also like the fact that I have a non soy-based quick cooking protein.

Someday I will get my family to eat this rather than chicken, but until that time comes... I get the entire loaf to myself.

World's Best Vegetarian Loaf


1 1/2 cups cooked mung beans (or small legumes such as lentils)
1 cup cooked brown rice
3/4 cup oatmeal processed in blender or food processor until fine powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 6 tablespoons warm water (or 2 eggs)
3/4 cups roasted shelled pumpkin seeds roughly chopped
1 small onion chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
2 cloves garlic mixed
2 tsp olive oil
1 carrot peeled and grated
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp your favorite seasoning powder

1/4 cup ketchup or your favourite bar-b-que sauce
( used 2 tbsp ketchup & 2 tbsp VH garlic teriyaki sauce)


Saute onions until transparent.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  In a bowl mix together all ingredients except for eggs if using.  Taste loaf mixture and adjust seasonings if needed.  Its important to make sure the mixture tastes good before you bake it or it won't taste good after it bakes.  Add eggs if using and stir well.

Pour loaf mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Form into a loaf like shape.  Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and pour ketchup or sauce over loaf and bake for another 10-15 minutes until sauce forms a glaze.

Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.  Leftovers freeze well.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Warming up with Old School Mac & Cheese

Despite the fact that it has not been a usual winter in Southern Ontario this year; this weekend has been frigid.  I think that the drop in temperature feels much more extreme because we went from relatively mild in the middle of the week to freeeeeezing by the weekend.

The past two years I have been training for Around the Bay, but this year I am running it as a relay so I've been sticking to 10k for my long Saturday morning run.  Over those training programs in the past 2 winters I have ran 20+k runs in -20 Celsius and felt relatively fine after.  But this year - and especially yesterday that 10k run in -15 degrees gave me frosty hair, numb legs and a chill that I just couldn't shake all day.  Maybe its the shorter distances or lack of a training schedule that are making me soft.

After my run I changed out of my clothes within 10 minutes of returning and had a coffee but for whatever reason I was cold for the rest of the day.  I tried hot showers, my ugliest polar fleece comfy pants, competing with the dog for a spot in front of the fire place nothing worked.  Finally I decided to make some comfort food... good old Mac & Cheese - super creamy, super cheesy and super fattening.

It did help quite a bit... but it wasn't until I woke up this morning that my body temperature felt back to normal.  I ran outside today and it was much better... and no creepy chills after my run.  But the next time you have a cold feeling that you just can't shake... try this.  Its like a warm hug for your insides.

Macaroni and Cheese - Old School

1/2 package of elbow noodles (macaroni)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded old cheddar
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Strain, but do not rinse.

For the sauce:  Have all ingredients ready.  Melt butter or margarine over medium heat.  Once melted whisk in flour stirring until combined (mixture will be very thick).   Pour milk into pot, whisking continually until mixture is uniform.  Continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken.  Once the sauce is the desired thickness, remove from heat.  Stir in mustard powder, salt and cheese.  Continue stirring until cheese is melted.  Adjust amount of cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Wild Thing....

I felt a bit like a kid on Christmas eve last night... only to be let down with the gift that wasn't quite what I wanted.  You see I really needed new running shoes - I mean really.  I ordered shoes at Grand River Running, but because it was the order time between spring and fall lines, I had to wait until the shoes came in from where ever they are made.

So after weeks of waiting - my new shoes finally arrived.  I was so excited I almost skipped my run to just try them on.  But I didn't.  When I returned to the store after the run and opened the box the new shoes were in; well let's just say it wasn't what I expected.

What to do.... shoes I've been waiting weeks for... and they were a bit... LOUD.  Not that I've ever shied away from living loud... parts of me can live loud... like my earrings, or maybe a red pair of Maryjane's, but balanced with a neutral (read all black) outfit. 

These shoes are literally one of a kind and I've been assured that I am the only person in southern Ontario with a pair. (I think it may remain that way for a while).  I've slept on my disappointment and decided to embrace it...

My new shoes scream I AM FAST!  Which is a good thing for me. I`m not sure the name MIzuno gave them, but I`m calling them `Wild Thing`

So in celebration of my new shoes I will also post pictures of me doing the Wild Thing Yoga pose which is tied with the Dancer pose as my favourite all time pose.

Start with a downward facing dog....

Turn it into a three legged-dog....

Flip over and unleash your wild thing.... (I think it feels crazier than it looks)

Oh.... right.... the shoes.... you tell me - Wild Thing?

I will be getting another pair of shoes to offset my wild thing shoes... they will not be so wild... a little boring to balance out the crazy.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sunny Days & Roasted Squash & Wild Rice Soup

Today is a beautiful sunny day... the perfect day for running outside.  Its the kind of day that makes you think spring is right around the corner despite the fact that its January 11th.  Today I did not run outside; I worked out inside.  I ran outside yesterday when it was overcast but the temperature is still warm.

I guess today I'm a bit backwards.. I'm going to have this soup again for dinner.  This recipe is better suited to snowy or rainy overcast days, but its still good to have on days when the thermometer is below 5 degrees - Celsius.  Today will be cutting it close.

When I make squash soup, I usually peel and chop it and throw it in with the stock to cook.  I decided to try roasting the squash first, then adding it to the stock.  Roasting the squash first caramelized the squash a bit and added an extra sweetness came through in the soup.  If time is an issue, skip the roasting part and add an extra 20 minutes or so to the soup cooking part.  

Roasted Squash & Wild Rice Soup

1 large butternut squash peeled & diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp sea salt & pepper

1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 tsp olive oil
3 cups of vegetable soup stock

1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup vegetable soup stock or water
1/2 onion chopped
1/3 cup chopped almonds or pecans
2 tsp herbamare or your favourite seasoning salt

Roasting the squash:

Toss the peeled and chopped squash in the olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast in a for about 45 minutes in at 375 or until cooked through and slightly carmalized.

For the rice:

Cook rice according to package directions using stock.   While the rice is cooking toast the nuts in a dry saute pan over medium high heat.  Watching carefully.  Once the almonds or pecans are fragrant remove from heat and set aside.

Saute the onions in the olive oil.  When the onions are translucent, add the rice and seasoning salt.  Stir in the nuts and set aside.

For the soup:

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and heat until fragrant.  Add the soup stock and roasted squash.  The stock should cover the squash by at least two inches.  You may need to add more or less depending on the size of your pot and how thick you like your soup.  Once the stock is heated through, remove pot from heat and puree either using a hand blender.  Add more water or stock if needed to thin the soup.  Stir in the rice mixture.  Garnish with salt and lots of fresh ground pepper.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Dark & Smokey Vegetarian Chili

Today was a bright and sunny morning.  I ran 10k with my group and kept a good pace until right near the end when I sounded a bit like an elephant running.  But I kept my pace steady and didn't give into to the little voice in my head telling me to wimp out.

This afternoon I had some mommy and me time with my youngest daughter.  We headed downtown to a store my kids love - Jammed Lovely.  While we were there I ended up with a new pair of boots...

They were $30!  I couldn't say no.  My daughter did get some craft stuff so we will have a project for tomorrow.

On our way home, the sun disappeared and light sleety rain and snow started to fall.  I decided to make something to warm us for dinner.. chili.  This chili is a bit unconventional, there are many layers of flavours that I love to make a full bodied chili.  The smokey flavour of this chili comes from smoked paprika. There isn't a lot of heat in this chili if you like some spice, add as much as you when the rest of the spices are added.  This recipe uses three different types of beans - use your favourites or what ever you have on hard.  Feel free to make this a mild or spicy as you would like.

Dark & Smokey Vegetarian Chili

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion
3/4 cup of cremini mushrooms chopped
2 gloves garlic minced
1 yellow or orange pepper chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and chopped
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 can red kidney beans rinsed
1 can chick peas rinsed
1/2 cup dried green lentils picked through and rinsed
1 can of tomatoes
3 tablespoons of chili seasoning
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 cup coffee
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Saute onion until transparent.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add peppers and cook until softened.  Add garlic and sweet potatoes.  Sauteing until garlic is fragrant.  Add soup stock, beans, lentils and tomatoes.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, at that time stir in spices, coffee, cocoa, maple syrup to allow flavours to combine.  Continue cooking until lentils are soft and tomatoes are broken up.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream and grated cheese if desired.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Goals for 2012

I've settled into the first two days back to work and wow - I'm feeling tired.  Its not quite 8 pm and I could go to bed.  I'm sure I'll be fine... by March.

I've had time to think about what I want and reflect on how things went on a fitness and personal level last year.  I've come up with 12 goals related to my health and fitness that I would like to achieve this year.  (Note: These goals are subject to change without notification.)

  1. Run a 5k personal best.  This means beating my time of 23:39 at the Guelph Lake 5k in 2010.
  2. Run a sub 50 minute 10k.  This goal scares me a bit.  There is something overwhelming at the thought of this.  To produce a time like this, I need to run a sub 5 minute per km pace for 10k - duh!  But knowing it and actually doing it are two very different things.  These first two goals go hand in hand actually.  I need to focus on speed and speed alone - not distance.
  3. Continue with my yoga practise. I started doing yoga regularly a year ago and have gradually increased my practise from one to three times a week.  I really enjoy the mental and physical benefits of practising yoga.  I have also noticed an improvement in my running which I feel is related to yoga.
  4. Complete my certification for a personal trainer and get my group fitness instructor training.  I completed the in class portion of my personal trainer course before Christmas and have my theory exam booked.  I want to complete that process and go on the get my fitness instructor specialization.... and then do something with those certifications.
  5. Get strong - the one thing I have learned from taking my personal trainer course is that my upper body strength is non-existent.  I want to improve in that area and be able to do 30 full push ups!
  6. Chill out - or maybe more appropriately develop patience with others and myself.  Sometimes things take time whether its your child getting ready for bed, the guy driving to work in front of you or your ability to finish a training run.  I want to cut everyone a break and not stress myself out because my daughter, the traffic or my physical progress isn't where I think it should be that day. 
  7. Run a 5k race with my kids.  I don't care how long it takes as long as we all have fun!
  8. Go somewhere brand new.  I do realize I just got back from Greece a couple of months ago, but I love to travel.  It doesn't have to be in another country or I don't need to get there in a plane, but I want to see something new... an of course I'll run there.  This year's somewhere new could even be camping in a different part of the province.  For the past three years we have camped in Killarney and Mac Gregor Point and as much as I love those campgrounds, its time for something new.
  9. Improve my blog.  There are some great blogs out there which have inspired me to change the layout of mine.  I am going to learn as much as I can about improving the search capabilities of my recipes and my picture quality which should make the Crazy Mother Runner page look a little more polished.
  10. Take care of my body.  I love going for massages and feel that regular visits have helped my body recover faster from my distance training.  This year I also started seeing a naturopath to give me advice about nutrition.  Recently I visited an osteopath as well to help with an ongoing issue I've had related to running.  (I'll post about this visit later).  I've learned its important to pay attention to the aches that last a little longer than muscle soreness and treat them before they turn into something major that ends up sidelining us as runners for weeks.  I am going to do my best to listen to my body.
  11. As a follow up to the above goal - stretch regularly.  I have a terrible habit of getting back from a run and standing around talking to my friends while they stretch and not doing it myself.  Then a few days later saying "Wow - do my calves ever feel tight.  I better go for a massage."  I'm sure my massage therapist loves it.  Or she could also wonder why I'm not listening to her when she tells be about the benefits of stretching.  Therefore I am going to remember to stretch for at least 3 minutes after every workout.
  12. Lastly - eat vegan twice a week.  I often eat vegan meals, but I love cheese, eggs and butter... oh and cappuccinos made with milk not soy milk.  Before I became vegetarian, I would eat vegetarian for a few weeks at a time and then have the odd meal with meat in it.  I'm not committing to changing my diet completely vegan, but I think committing to two days a week is achievable.

I know 12 goals or resolutions seems like a lot or maybe not, but I don't think any of these goals are major habits to break and a lot of them are related to each other.  I'll review them as the year progresses and see how my attitude and path changes.  Last year I wrote out my resolutions - when I looked back, one of them was to run a destination race.  I completely forgot about writing that out until I was reviewing my list on New Year day this year.  Who knows where this will lead me this year..

"Sow a thought and you reap an action;
sow an act and you reap a habit;
sow a habit and you reap a character;
sow a character and you reap a destiny"


Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year's Day dinner - one day late

I'm not ready for the holidays to be over.  I just can't do it.  The thought of going back to work tomorrow is too much.  Where did the holidays go?  Everything around me is telling me its time to go back... the calendar for instance.  But my brain says no.

I am going through the motions... the Christmas tree is down and the decorations are put away.  I have my lunch stuff ready, my gym clothes packed and I'm cooking steel cut oats for tomorrow's breakfast.  Its going to happen - tomorrow that is. 

Truthfully, my job really isn't something to dread going to.  Its the routine of work, the kids in school and all of their activities, but once I get into the swing of it I'll be fine.  I still have one more week of not making lunches.  So I`ll ease into it.

But tonight I extended the holidays just one meal further.  I mentioned yesterday that I was way to full from the meal at my mother's house to even think about food yesterday evening so I made our New Year's Day dinner on January 2nd.  I made an appetiser, main meal and dessert and served it all on the good china then dined in my sweats.  I couldn't quite muster the effort to go upstairs and change after cooking for a couple of hours.  Nobody at the table seemed to mind.

For our appetiser I made brie bites from Joy the Baker  - mine do not look as pretty as hers, but they tasted great.  I made some with plain cheddar cheese for the girls as I know they don't like brie.

For the main course I made Grilled Portobella Mushrooms with Chestnut Stuffing (I was going to include the recipe, but I wasn't thrilled with it), roasted butternut squash, steamed green beans and Creamy Black Eyed Peas.  The recipe for Black Eyed Peas follows.  This recipe turned out way better than I expected and eating black eyed peas is supposed to bring you luck if you eat them on New Years Day. Note: the Black Eyed Peas are the bottom left of the plate.

Creamy Black Eyed Peas

1/2 cup black eyed peas (soaked overnight) and cooked
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tomato chopped
2 cups baby spinach chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp dried dill
1/4 cup goat cheese
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Over medium high heat, melt butter and olive oil together.  Add onion and mushroom cooking until onion is transparent.  Add minced garlic heating until fragrant.  Add beans, stock and tomato.  Bring to a simmer and cook until almost all the the liquid has evaporated.  Add the spinach, dill and cheese stirring until the greens are wilted and the cheese has melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For dessert, I made Vegan Chocolate Mousse from Vegetarian Times and served it with strawberries. Part way through eating this I realised it would be really good with Bailey`s poured over top.. it was! I adapted this recipe slightly as shown below.

Chocolate Mousse

  • 3 Haas avocados (2 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
Add the above ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

I barely made it to watch the ball drop last night.  It was sad... I'm old... I had three naps before midnight... but I did it.  I stayed up and rang in the New Year.  It was only Dan and I, but it was exactly what I wanted to do.

Earlier in the evening I made Chinese food (way, way to much food for a family of four) which we ate by candle light.  I also drank some of the commemorative wine from my Athens marathon.  The girls rang in the New Year at 9pm and we called their grandparents and wished them a Happy New Year.

Today was another wet and yucky day out but I stuck to my guns and ran.  I turned my run into a tempo run using hydro poles as markers.  I ran all out for one hydro pole and took it easy for two working a few hills into the mix.  It was a much better run than yesterday.

My parents had my sisters and our families over in the afternoon and we all ate way too much food again.  I had planned to have a big dinner tonight with portobello mushrooms and chestnut stuffing and black eyed peas but I'm rescheduling it until tomorrow night because I'm still not hungry from this afternoon.  You know your body is telling you something when you crave raw vegetables.

I had also planned to write out my New Year's resolutions and goals for the next year, but I've decided this is something I just don't want to rush into.  I think last year I set the bar too high.  Its not that I think there is anything wrong with reaching high... I believe in all of that motivational stuff about achieving the unachievable.  I know that the biggest limitation in life is our own belief that we can't do something.  But last May I set some pretty specific goals for myself.


Crazy Mother's Running Goals for 2011:

1. Run a total of 2,500 k during 2011.
2. Run a sub 4 hour marathon.
3. Run a sub 50 minute 10k.
4. Run a sub 23 minute 5k.

Guess what??? I didn't reach any of them. That was a post on coping with failure.  I could look at the positive.

1. No I didn't run 2,500k this year but I did run 1,994k.  500k off is a lot.  I thought running 2 marathons is a year would be a way to get this mileage.  I ran over 2,100k in 2010 and only trained for one marathon so I thought this was an achievable distance training for two.

2. Run a sub 4 hour marathon.  Didn't happen, in fact if you go by time alone, my times increased. However, my recovery and overall enjoyment of the marathon increased with each one.  Considering running is a leisure activity for me, intended to bring me happiness my times should not matter as much as my sense of accomplishment.

3. Run a sub 50 minute 10k.  Not even close.  I did set a 10k pb this year though.

4. Run a sub 23 min 5k.  Nope and I'm approaching that 2 year mark of setting that pb.  I only ran one 5k this year and I wasn't training for 5k speed at any point this year.  What did happen in the 5k I ran in was my daughter ran in the finish with me and cheered my on the whole way.

I don't feel like a running failure because I didn't achieve these goals.  1,994k is a far distance to drive let alone run.  Running two full marathons, two half marathons, Around the Bay, 2 10k races and one 5k is a lot.

What I think I need to do is take a step back, reflect on my accomplishments, narrow my focus and decide where I really want my running to take me.  I'll be posting about my new goals soon... promise...