Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Of Flowy Dresses and Windy Days

As I rounded the corner out of my garage this morning, a concern came to my mind. My dress was too short flowy for biking.



I definitely checked the weather this morning; the temperature seemed appropriate for my fashion choice (dress and boots). However, it didn't occur to me to look at the wind factor. As it turns out, it was a windy morning.



And so I biked (mostly) one-handedly: my left hand on the steering wheel and my right hand holding down my dress.



You'd think I no longer care about showing underwear on my ride to school. Actually, a while ago I decided only very short dresses/skirts were inappropriate. I'm not willing to limit my wardrobe choices simply because I'd rather bike than drive/walk/bus to school; if people want to stare at my underwear they can do so at their own expense. That said, a brief undie showing as a result of a short dress is different than the full on flashing that was bound to occur this morning.



Unfortunately, I didn't think to check the full weather report this morning; fortunately, the bike ride is over and I managed to get home without (consciously) flashing anybody.



Now here's my most recent dinner. (I'm back to the spaghetti squash train.) Enjoy!



Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Spaghetti Squash Casserole (adapted from Joy of Kosher)
Makes 5-6 servings.
Active time: 35 mins; total time: 140 mins.

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup white or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato (I used a spicy Morita chile salsa; pick your favorite)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white, whisked


  1. Preheat oven to 400F and grease 8X8 casserole dish (or line with parchment paper)
  2. Carefully slice spaghetti squash lengthwise; using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds. Spray squash with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Place face down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until skin is tender. 
  3. While squash is cooking, heat coconut oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, lower heat slightly and add onion, shallot, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to coat well. Continue to cook until vinegar is evaporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to pick up the browned bits. 
  4. Remove squash from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes (you can try to scoop it out immediately, but it'll be very hot!). Scoop out the squash flesh and place it in the prepared casserole dish. Stir in the caramelized vegetable mix and salsa; mix well. Add whisked egg mix and mix until eggs are fully incorporated. 
  5. Cook uncovered for 60 minutes or until the top is crusty and browned around the edges. Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

BQ

I'm happy to report that I ran a BQ (Boston Qualifier) marathon on Sunday (!!!!!!!!). In case you didn't know, qualifying for the Boston Marathon is one of my dreams. I can't really pinpoint when exactly it became a dream; however, I know that it was sometime in 2010 after I first experienced the greatness of Marathon Monday.



Why do I want to run it so bad you ask?

First of all, qualifying for the Boston Marathon represents an impressive achievement for runners in general. It not only means you're tough enough to withstand long training sessions, painful workouts, or the vicious mind-game that starts somewhere after mile 15--a toughness all marathon runners have in common. It also means you went the extra mile (pun intended) to become physically faster and mentally more powerful. It means you are in the slim category of runners that meet the stringent qualification times set out by the BAA.

And for me it means more.



No, I wasn't born in Boston; I wasn't even born in the U.S. However, I did live in Boston for four and half years. I also watched the marathon five times, each time thinking to myself, "how awesome would it be to be one of those runners who we're all out here cheering for?"



Then 2013 came along. I want to keep this post a joyous one, so I'll just say that it was in April 2013 when I finally decided to go for it. I would run a marathon and qualify for Boston.

And so I ran my first marathon in July 2014. Even though I enjoyed the experience immensely, I didn't manage to run fast enough. I was 12 minutes short of my age-group cutoff. I decided I would take a long break. I would qualify for Boston some day.



Well that day came faster than expected! I'm still experiencing the bliss that results from months of training and honestly I hope it lasts until I cross the finish line on Beacon St.

Anyways, moving onto food, here's a quick recipe for a delicious chickpea salad spread. It goes great with toast or naan; I'm sure it also pairs well with crudités or crackers. Enjoy!



Chickpea Salad Spread (adapted from Food & Wine)
Makes about 4 servings.
Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 20 minutes.

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • One 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons Tofutti
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 avocado, sliced (optional topping) 
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat coconut oil over a medium-high heat until just melted. Add onion and cook until fully cooked and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly so as not to burn. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, mash chickpeas using a fork. Add cooked onion and remaining ingredients and mix very well. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper; add more lemon juice or mustard as desired. Serve with toast, naan, or crackers. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Carbs carbs carbs

I never thought I'd say (or write) this, but carbo-loading is difficult. Or at least doing it properly is.



It seems my perpetual fear of gaining weight while abroad--a fear that started when I was 15 and moved to France--has caused me to always seek out the low-carb option. As unhealthy ridiculous as this may sound, it has become my reality.



And so, when I began my carbo-loading this week--I have a marathon coming up--I didn't realize I would have to constantly remind myself to skimp on fats and protein and go for carbs, carbs, and more carbs. But not just any carbs. Proper carbo-loading requires some thought: easily digestible carbs, even if refined, over fiber-heavy ones; naturally sweetened or homemade snacks (fruit-based, etc.) over candy (which may actually come in handy during the race).



Anyways, to make it easier, I decided to bake goodies from my favorite running cookbook (Racing Weight Cookbook) so as to have carb-heavy snacks up for grabs. So far so good.



Apple-Craisin Bars (adapted from Racing Weight Cookbook)
Active time: 20 minutes; total time: 40 minutes.
Makes 8-12 bars. 
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (4 egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 1/2 quick oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 servings vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chia
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, egg whites, water, and vanilla. Set aside; let rest at room temperature. 
  3. Chop apple into fine pieces. In a small bowl combine apple pieces and craisins. 
  4. In a separate large bowl combine oats, flour, protein powder, sugar, chia, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; stir to mix well. 
  5. Add melted coconut oil to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in apple pieces and craisins. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until uniformly moistened. 
  6. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until center is just solid. Cool completely, about 20 minutes, before cutting into 8-12 bars.