Sunday, 22 April 2012

Racing in NYC - Run for the Parks

Right now I'm settled into my comfy clothes, suitcases unpacked and clothes in the drier.  I'm home!  But this morning I was up bright and early ready to race...

If you've followed my blog you'll know that I have a habit of sometimes being late for races.  That happened today as well.  I wasn't alone though.  There were several people on the same train I was on this morning headed to the race.  We all tried our best to slip into our corrals. 

But this race was big - maybe not by New York standards - but by mine it was huge.  There were 5,000 people signed up for this race.  Here's a picture of the start. 

It took me 10 minutes to get to the start line. I knew going into this race that it was going to be busy, so I settled in and enjoyed the run.  I didn't try to set a p.b. I took some race shots.

The race never thinned out - here is a shot of the 3 mile marker. 

The finish line.

After the race, I was stopped by a woman who had ran Around the Bay this year.  She recognized my shirt and stopped to tell me how much she enjoyed the race.  She had friends from Guelph!  Let's hear it.... "Its a Small World After all".

Here is me by the Columbus Circle post race.

The race t-shirt.

This race was so much fun, I'm so glad I ran it.  I'm also happy that I ran in Central Park - it was beautiful and today was the perfect racing temperature. 

All in all this was the best birthday ever!  I couldn't have asked for a better weekend, in a better location or better weather. 

Saturday in New York

We decided to sleep in Saturday - something I feel like I haven't done in ages.  I woke up around 9 am - can you believe that - I'm in the city that never sleeps and I sleep in.  Oh well, I still managed to squeeze a ton of fun into a day.

We ended up hitting the subway by 10, grabbing coffee, apples and energy bars to tide us over until lunch.  We were heading to pick up my race kit for this race.  Dan found a 4 mile race in Central Park on Sunday so I signed up!  My dreams of Central Park were going to happen!

After I grabbed my kit, we cut through Central Park.  The day was absolutely gorgeous - with temperatures of 73.  We were thrilled because all week the forecast was predicting cool and heavy rain.  As you can see... didn't happen!

We had lunch at Jose's - I ordered a veggie burger and a salad.  It was pretty good, but I've had better veggie burgers.  The service was exceptional though - my water was constantly filled.

After lunch we headed to Loehmann's and Century 21 on the Lower West Side for a bit more shopping.  I grabbed a macchiato from Starbucks which was a perfect pick me up. 

After dropping our bags in the hotel, we headed back out and took the subway to Brooklyn and walked back on the promenade on the Brooklyn Bridge.  It was packed with people biking, walking and running but the view was amazing.

We had a quick change in the hotel room and headed out for dinner.  Saturday night's dinner was at Pure Food & Wine - New York's Number 2 rated vegan restaurant.  We ate on the Patio - it was beautiful!  We ordered the Chef's tasting menu.  This was five courses of food prepared at the chef's discretion.  It was the best way to experience the menu. 

It was too dark to get any really good photos, but I enjoyed almost everything.  We started with white asparagus in a cream sauce, both Dan and I enjoyed this.  The next course was salad. I had a salad with a pecan brittle and maple dressing which was fresh and delicious.  The next course was an asparagus soup, because it is raw it was served at a temperature colder than I am used to eating soup at.  I didn't like this as much.  This course was followed by a Philly roll - I was actually served cauliflower couscous, but Dan and I swapped.

I expected dessert after this, but we were served another entree.  I had a sunchoke timball which was also really good.  Dan had pear ravioli - which he enjoyed, but I was thankful I wasn't served.  Then came dessert - I had apple crisp with maple ice cream and Dan was served a strawberry tart with basil ice cream.  We swapped desserts halfway though - I loved the ice cream.

Although this sounds like a ton of food, the portions were perfect.  I was feeling pretty full - but not turkey dinner stuffed.  The food was also presented in a beautiful manner and the staff explained each course. This was a fantastic way to sample the menu. Dan did a lot of research to find vegan restaurants.  We ate at the number 1 rated vegan restaurant - Candle 79 and the number 2 vegan restaurant while we were here.  The food at Candle 79 was delicious as well, but the option to have the tasting menu and the atmosphere at Pure  made for a more enjoyable dining experience.

You would think that a day like that would be enough - but no - we're in NYC.  We had tickets to see Wayne Brady at the Gothem Comedy Club.  Dan and & I were seated with a bachelorette party - so it was a table full of fun!  The show was hilarious.  I've never been to a comedy club before but this was really funny.

After the show we called it in... but not before setting the alarm for 6:30.

Friday, 20 April 2012

A Birthday in NYC!!!!

Although its officially over, I'm still celebrating a little bit...  yesterday was my birthday. 

My day began with a 6am spin class.  Then I put the kids on the bus and Dan and I took off to the airport...

and flew into New York City!

This is my third time in New York and I feel like we are seasoned.  This time we are staying at the Downtown Marriott - close to Wall St.  In fact we can see the World Trade Centre Site from our hotel room.  Here's a picture from the ground...

We arrived at our hotel around 4pm, freshened up a bit and headed out for some serious shopping.  We hit Loehmann's (they offer a 15% discount on your birthday) and Century 21.  Usually I have great luck at Century - but not so much this time.  I did find a lot of clothes at Loehmann's if you were worried that my shopping wasn't successful.

After some whirlwind shopping, we headed out for dinner at Candle79  a great vegan restaurant that Dan found and picked out especially for my birthday.

I ordered the steamed spring rolls to start - these were filled with seitan and cashews and topped with bok choy and sesame seeds and a garlic ginger sauce.  I really enjoyed these and would have been content with this as my main course... but no I also ordered the evening special..

Pecan crusted seitan with brussell sprouts and celeriac mash topped with fennel salad - super good as well.  The seitan reminded my of veal, which was a strange texture for me to eat since it has been so long since I've eaten meat.  But the meal was still really good.

We were also served complementary appetizers which were white beans mixed with avocado on homemade tortillas

There was no room for dessert, maybe tomorrow I'll find a nice little bakery and get a treat.  For now... this old lady is going to bed.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Happy One Year Blogging Anniversary

This is my 140th post all within 365 - actually 366 days since it's a leap year.  So much has happened in that year..

This marathon - Ottawa!

A trip to Greece and this marathon!

A few other races

Tons of new recipes - check out my recipage

Loads of fun pictures

And I think the best thing is all of the people I have met through the blogging world... there are so many inspiring people out there with such wonderful ideas
I'm so happy to have discovered bloggers like Jenn at Peas & Crayons for organizing What I At Wednesday's as a way to share and discover other bloggers.  Also Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean for organizing Foodie Pen Pals another really fun way to meet bloggers closer home.  Last month I was lucky enough to be paired up with Meghan at A Dash of Meg who is a ball of the most positive energy I have ever encountered.  There are so many amazing bloggers that inspire me constantly.

Thanks to everyone who has shared my journey with me.... I can't wait for what the next year will bring!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Weekend Update

Today was a wet and rainy Sunday... the perfect day to curl up and stay inside... but we didn't.

The girls had yoga and art class this morning... so Dan and I went for a hike through the gorge while they were in class.  It was great - we had the entire park to ourselves.

How amazing is it that I have this in my back yard!  Alright - not literally my back yard... I do have to walk for about 15 minutes to get here.

After we picked up the girls, we decided to take them to see the Lorax which was playing in our little theatre downtown.  They loved it and it was a cute movie with a good message for everyone - not just kids.

To wrap the weekend up, I had my second birthday party in my month long birthday celebration.  My mom cooked a great dinner... vegetarian lasagna, broccoli salad, Caesar salad, garlic bread all eaten before any pictures could be taken.  I did get a picture of my cake after I had eaten half..

An amazing meal as always - thanks mom!

And of course any family gathering wouldn't be complete without pictures... me and by sisters!

And of course when we're sick of looking all pretty... we act like fools...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Trying New Things... Cauliflower Crust Pizza and New Play lists

It's funny how trying something new or even the thought of trying something new can either end up making your day super awesome and pick up your spirits or scare the crap out of you. 

I was having a blahish day today.  I didn't sleep well last night - my mind would not sit still all night and a was zonked this morning.  And to make matters worse, my Early Morning Yoga class which usually makes me feel blissful felt way too hard this morning - it wasn't.  My body just felt like lead.

Work had unexpected issues that threw a wrench in my to-do list.  But there comes a point in the day like today that you need to either give in and climb into your comfy clothes and flake out on the couch or face it like a warrior. 

Me - I did the latter of the two....and music helped me through.  Recently I got my spin instructor certification and have been teaching a few classes.  In addition to they day I had, I was also scheduled to teach tonight at 8 pm.  I decided to create a play list with songs I loved - not that other people loved.  The result - the best DAMN Spin Class I have ever taught... and the nerve to try a new recipe.

I've seen this recipe on pintrest recently and was curious.  But come on cauliflower as a pizza crust... hmmmm... I was skeptical.  What if it didn't turn out and then I had wasted half a head of cauliflower and  I had to make something else for dinner. 

But motivated by my new play list... I gave it a shot.  The result... pretty darn good.  Its not like traditional pizza, but it was good.  There was no cauliflower taste.  Be warned though when you microwave the cauliflower pre-crust making there is a cauliflower smell.  But this recipe is worth it!

Veggie Cauliflower Pizza

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: bake entree vegetarian
(serves 4)


For the Crust
  • 1/2 head cauliflower - shredder (using cheese grater)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup finely Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the Toppings
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/2 grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 red onion peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 feta cheese
For the Crust
Shred the cauliflower into small crumbles using a cheese grater. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and microwave for 8 minutes - do not add water. Allow to cool. Mix the cauliflower crumbles with the remaining crust ingredients. Pat the crust into a parchment paper lined pizza pan.
For the Toppings
Heat oil in a pan over medium. Sauté onions until slightly transparent. Add mushrooms, cook for another two minutes. Add pepper cooking until heated through.
Putting it all Together
Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over pizza crust. Sprinkle a light layer of shredded cheese, spread toppings evening over cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375. Sprinkle with feta cheese and return to oven for another 5 minutes until edges of the crust are golden.
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The play list if any of you are interested was:

Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
Born for This - Panamore
Paralyzer - Finger Eleven
So What'cha Want - Beastie Boys
She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult
Sober - Pink
Best of You - Foo Fighters
Revolution - The Beatles
Holiday - Green Day
No More I Love You's - Annie Lennox

Monday, 9 April 2012

Loaded Sweet Potato Fries and some changes on the homefront

Isn't is strange how the thought of change can be completely overwhelming... but when we give in or accept the change we are fearing, the most amazing things can happen?  But its getting ourselves and our minds to accepting the change - whatever said change may be that is the scary part.

I will be the first to admit - I do not like change and don't usually give into it - I am an Aries-Taurus cusp - so I'm fiery and stubborn - change is not my thing.  Recently my husband and I decided that we needed to make some dietary changes.  Namely eating better, less processed food and take out - more fruits and veggies along with whole grains.  Not that much of a departure from my normal diet - but removing the little extras I had gotten in the habit of having daily.

I love cooking healthy and am happy to have company for this venture.  If I could convince him to eat vegetarian it would make my meal prep much easier... but that change may come slowly :-)  I know we will both feel better in the long run for choosing to eat healthy.

Creatively on the cooking side, this dietary change has opened a new door for me.  I'm experimenting with stevia and low glycemic load foods.  It has been challenging, but fun.  Last night was the biggest reward... I created a meal that I am still thinking about the day after.

I had been struggling with perfecting sweet potato fries.  They had been coming out burnt and soggy and really not appealing at all.  I read on pinterest a recipe on this blog about coating the sweet potatoes with corn starch before baking... worked like a charm.  Also this recipe was on foodbuzz by Jenn at Peas and Crayons about crispy baked chick pea tacos.  I mixed up some of my super simple guacamole, plain Greek yogurt and salsa layered the whole mess together and voila - there you have my loaded sweet potato fries.  Kind of like poutine only wayyyyy healthier and much better tasting.  Below is my spin on the recipes from the blogs I used and my guacamole recipe - I don't think its very authentic, but I love this super easy and simplified version.

Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

by Denise Boyd Dunlop
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Keywords: bake entree vegetarian
Ingredients (serves 4)
    For the Sweet Potato Fries
    • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and slice thinly into long strips
    • 2 tablespoons corn starch
    • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    For the Chick Peas
    • 1 can chick peas drained and rinsed
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garlic shake
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    For the Guacamole
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic minces
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    For the toppings
    • Greek yogurt
    • Your favourite salsa
    For the Sweet Potato Fries
    Toss the sweet potatoes in the first amount of oil. Mix the corn starch and spices together in a clear plastic bag large enough to hold the sweet potato. Shake the sweet potato slices in the spice mixture coating evenly. Spread in a single layer on a parchment line cookie sheet - using two cookie sheets if necessary. Sprinkle second amount of oil over fries and toss lightly.
    Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 45-50 minutes until crispy and lightly browned. Flip regularly to ensure even cooking.
    For the Chick Peas
    Toss the chick peas together with oil and spices in a bowl until coated evenly. Spread in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
    Bake at 350 stirring regularly until chick peas are browned and crunchy. About 45 minutes.
    I baked the sweet potatoes and chick peas together rotating the pans in the oven to ensure even cooking.
    For the Guacamole
    Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop out the green fleshy middle. In a bowl mash the avocado together with other ingredients. Let sit while the rest of the meal is cooking to allow the flavours to blend.
    Putting it all together
    Divide the fries evenly among four plates. Top with plain Greek yogurt, then the Guacamole, chick peas and salsa. Feel free to add or omit any topping that you may enjoy!
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    Sunday, 8 April 2012

    Happy Easter! - Spring Berry Cinnamon Buns!

    I hope everyone has had as wonderful of an Easter as I have.  My weekend was spent visiting with family and eating.. isn't that what most holidays are.

    I had planned on racing in the Good Friday Races in Burlington, but my week just ended up being too busy and we weren't able to go.  I will be racing next Saturday in Marden - 5k for Team Wellington!

    Today - being Easter Sunday was much more relaxed than Friday and Saturday.  We ended up staying put.... of course the Easter Bunny made a visit to our house over night so the girls had an Easter egg hunt.  Mid-morning Dan and the girls set out in one direction on a trail loop close by our house for a run and the girls on their bikes.  I set off from the opposite end of the trail running toward them.  They ran/biked for about 1 &1/2 km while I ran about 6 km to meet them.  Then we headed to the car together.  It was a great way for all of us to exercise together and I was still able to get a decent run in.

    I also attempted to make a healthier version of my cinnamon buns.  I have been substituting stevia in some of my recipes.  While it is a great natural sugar free substitute, I find the sweetness too sweet or just strange to my taste buds.  I'll still keep trying, but maybe the best option would be to ween myself off sugar all together.  The other substitutions I made to this recipe was to switch up half the white flour for whole spelt flour and get rid of brown sugar butter mixture all together adding berries for sweetness.

    How was it?  Not bad - I think maple syrup - even just a smidgy bit would add a rich sweetness that would make a big difference... maybe I'll try it tomorrow morning.

    Spring Berry Cinnamon Buns

    by Denise Boyd Dunlop

    Prep Time: 2 1/2 hours

    Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

    Keywords: bake bread breakfast dessert vegetarian

    Ingredients (12-16 buns)

      For the dough
      • 1/2 cup warm water
      • 1/2 cup warm milk (I used almond milk)
      • 1/4 olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons white sugar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 2 eggs, beaten
      • 2 cups all purpose flour
      • 2 cups all purpose flour
      • 1 tablespoons yeast (quick rise or for a bread machine)
      For the Filling
      • 1 cup berries (I used chopped strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
      • 2 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons for mixing with corn starch
      • 2 teaspoons corn starch
      • sweetener to taste
      • 2 tablespoons margarine or softened butter
      • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
      For the toppings
      • 1/4 cup cream cheese softened
      • sweetener to taste (I used stevia)
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind


      For the dough

      Layer the ingredients in your bread machine in the order given above. Set to dough cycle.

      For the filling

      Place the berries in a sauce pan, add the first amount of water. Bring to a gentle boil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the corn starch into the second amount of water. Wisk into the berry mixture stirring continually until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add sweetener to taste.

      For the topping

      Mix lemon zest, vanilla and sweetener into cream cheese. Store in refrigerator until the buns are ready.

      Putting it together

      When the dough is finished in the bread machine, roll out on a floured counter top forming a 18x14 in rectangle. Spread butter or margarine on the rectangle. Leave a 1 in boarder around the rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon. Spoon the berry sauce over the dough, spreading a thin layer, you will have sauce left over. Beginning at the long side, roll the dough tightly. Pinch the seam to seal. Cover and let rise for 1/2 hour.

      Grease of a large 14x18 in pan. Using a serrated knife, cut the rolled up dough into 15-20 pieces and place cut side up in pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degree for about 30 minutes. The buns will sound hollow when tapped. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes then invert onto a serving platter.

      Once the cinnamon buns are cool to the touch, spread cream cheese on top just prior to serving. Alternately, you can serve with extra filling.

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      Monday, 2 April 2012

      Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Baked Oatmeal & a New Goal for April

      Can you believe it's April already!?  Holy smokes - where has the time gone?  I have just finished a weekend that flew by and I'm back at work already. 

      I've had that feeling lately that things around me are on fast forward and this month will be no exception.  There are a ton of things on my radar... I have a lot of new classes to teach, including figuring out what to do about my next boot camp session, a number of races, my 1 year blogging anniversary... and a little thing called my BIRTHDAY!!!!

      So in the hopes of tackling everything coming up I am setting a goal for myself... to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  I started this month's goal on a positive note because I had intended to write this post last night but I went to bed instead!

      In addition to the extra sleep I also made a few recipes from other blogs and added my own spin to them.  A week or so ago this recipe was posted by Laura at Sprint 2 the Table.  I thought the idea of making baked oatmeal in muffin liners was genius and I loved the idea of having oatmeal with raspberries baked in it... so here is my spin on her recipe using festive Christmas muffin liners... just in time for Easter!

      Baked Oatmeal

      by Denise Boyd Dunlop
      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 20 minutes
      Keywords: bake breakfast snack vegan
      Ingredients (10-12 muffins)
      • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
      • 1 cup frozen raspberries
      • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons warm water - mix & let sit for 5 min)
      • 2/3 cup almond milk
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
      • 2 cups oatmeal
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia or other sweetener to taste
      •   Chopped dark chocolate 
      •   Walnuts
        Mix wet ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients adding more milk if mixture is too dry or oatmeal if mixture is too wet. Spoon equal amounts into lined muffin tins. Sprinkle toppings and press into oatmeal mixture.
        Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool and store in sealed container in fridge or freezer.
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