Friday, December 28, 2007

Wisdom Teeth

I had my wisdom teeth out on the 26th and despite the fact that I have been mostly pain free and seem to be healing well, I still have to wait on consuming normal foods. I am sticking to smoothies, soups, rice yogurt, hummus and avocados. I am very excited to get back to being able to eat regularly again especially because I received this awesome cookbook called Veganomicon for Christmas and pretty much every single recipe is one that I am dying to make! I am also looking forward to being able to eat more of the delicious vegan gluten free Christmas Bread (a German Stollen) that we made so that I could continue our family tradition. My mother has made this Christmas Bread since her mother handed down the recipe to her many years ago. We aren't allowed to eat any until Christmas and so I was able to enjoy a few slices on Christmas day, but none since! I am just happy that I am not suffering too much and am hoping that I will be back to cooking, eating, running and blogging by Sunday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A day in the life of a recovering off seasoner

Today was a busy day, getting ready for Christmas Eve. I started out the day attempting to try out another of the area's vegetarian/vegan restaurants, The Globe. I picked up Tara and we headed over the vegan breakfast joint. We walked in and the customers seemed really, really quiet and looked, i dunno, scared. I came to find out why very quickly. Apparently the owner (?) had come in two hours early, and the kitchen staff had been an hour late and the owner was not happy about it. While we stood at the counter examining the menu he got in a yelling match with one of the kitchen staff and he told us it would be an hour at least for anything on the menu. 'Nuff said and Tara and I headed out the door with a serious quickness. We instead headed down to one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in the area Cafe Flora, which is renowned for its brunch, which I had never tried before. We got settled in and ordered up some delicious herb tea. We decided on sharing the Winter Hash made vegan/gf and the Hoppin John Fritters made vegan/gf. It was absolutely delcious. The Winter Hash was a bunch of small diced purple potatoes, yams, parsnips, onions, etc and the "eggs" were a curried tofu scramble which had layers of flavor and texture. The Hoppin John were crunchy patties of black beans topped with vegan spicy aioli. Instead of the traditional side that comes with it, cheesy grits, they provided us with a side of roast potatoes, my favorite a balance of crisp and tender. There was also a side of amazing collard greens and mushrooms. The flavors were just great. It was a great way to start the day.

After dropping Tara off, I headed over to Flying Apron bakery to pick up a loaf of gluten free bread to serve with dinner on Christmas Eve. It was still warm and smelled delicious. I also picked up a small Honey Saffron Shortbread cookie and small pumpkin cookie (both gf/vegan) for later indulgence.

It was our Christmas Eve shopping day, so my mom and I headed up to QFC to pick up the food and prep for the big day. Whilst we were at the store we came upon some exciting things in the gluten free section. My mom spotted it first: Bob's Red Mill Certified Gluten Free Oats. Gluten Free oats in a grocery store!! I was so excited! I hadn't found any up until now and we grabbed a package of the Certified Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats. They are completely segregated from the field to the processing to the packaging. I am excited to try them and hope for the best. My baking will definitely be taking off if that is the case. We also found a gluten free vegan mac and cheese in a box. I am not one for processed food at all, but a quick view of the ingredients revealed that it was nothing more than brown rice pasta, brown rice flour, nutritional yeast and spices. I figured I would try a box. I have several recipes for homemade gf/vegan mac and cheese which I will have to try and compare. I grabbed some Marys Gone Crackers for my post-surgery (getting my wisdom teeth out on the 26th) enjoyment (i.e. to ease my stomach from the meds). After leaving my mom's I headed to PCC to pick up millet, brown jasmine rice and quinoa, as well as some ricerna yogurt (again post surgery food)and gluten free sugar cookies mix (traditional Christmas Eve dessert).

All stocked up, I headed home and unloaded it all. I decided that I wanted to go running. I was vacillating but knowing I won't be able to run for at least 3 days next week got me out the door. I headed out and down to Greenlake at an easy pace. Well, it felt super easy because I am well rested. I made it around the lake, but felt a bit of stomach upset from drinking a Kombucha a bit too close to running. I was going to just do one loop (just over 5 miles) but then said, eh, what the heck, and went around for another loop in the dark. The second lap (3.2 miles) took me 25 minutes. I ran back to the house and I felt great the whole way, which bodes well for the season. I did just about 8.5 miles, at a decent pace (about 8 min/miles). Yeah! Tomorrow morning I will be getting out in the morning with my sister and then monday I am going out with some of my friends to do some trail running.

Superconscious and biofeedback

Last night I had the most interesting experience. A friend of mine Jerry and his girlfriend Michelle came to town to visit Jerry's family for the holiday. I was spending time with them last night before his sister could get to town to pick them up. We walked around downtown and went to dinner at Flying Fish. We discussed a bunch about nutrition (as Michelle is a nutritionist and personal trainer) and training etc. When we got back to my house, Michelle decided to give me a test using a new bio feedback machine she was training in. She wanted to use me as a test subject, so I nervously and happily agreed. It works with the superconscious and in quantum physics. I have a deep interest in quantum physics and all the questions explored therein, so I figured I had nothing to lose. She set up the program and we went through a series of questions and she told me that the program would tell me things that I didn't know about my health, mind, etc (#1) and things that are very true and known (thus confirming that it is reading accurately (#2). This kind of process is definitely not for a closed mind. It goes into the more spiritual, metaphysical aspects that lose alot of people when it comes to quantum physics. I figured that the reading would be interesting given that I had recently drank more coffee in a week than I had in the previous 3 monts (4 whole cups!) and I was feeling dehydrated. On top of that, my stress level has been up (its cool, in the set up you rate each aspect of your stress) and my mind not as at peace as I would like! Nonetheless, off we went. She left me in the room as the machine worked away. I didn't touch the machine, it simply worked and tuned in on me and my energies. In the setup I had put in my gluten intolerance and my bothersome hip as my symptoms. It wasn't my imagination, I could suddenly feel my energy focus on those areas (as well as areas I didn't know we troublesome) and go to work. Interesting and creepy!

Michelle came back in the room and ran the report. Of note (#1), it said I am in need of more EFA (essential fatty acids). A light bulb went on. It's right, I had run out of Flax Seed Oil a few weeks ago and have forget to get more. It said I was dehydrated. It said I needed more Vitamin E and that I had issues with my Kidneys. It said I was having issues with my adrenals,which I am not surprised by being an ultrarunner.Wow. (#2) Among all of the things that it read this is what sold me... it read that I had a shorter leg, which I do! That registered as significant. It picked up on the caffeine. She went into the program and went to work fixing somethings in me. She worked on my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervouse system. I am definitely going to pick up my EFAs and Vitamin E today. It really blew me away. We didn't get to spend that much more time discussing the results because they had to get going, but I am looking forward to learning more and finding out more about my report.

Tree decorating and Enchiladas, kind of

On Thursday, I got my very first Christmas tree. No not ever, but for my own house. I am hosting Christmas Eve this year and so I have my house all decorated and got the tree Thursday. In the evening my mom came over to help decorate and put up all her birds. She has a large collection of bird ornaments, a collection her mother started her on many years ago. For the occasion I decided to try a recipe that was forwarded to me by my lovely and dear friend Leslie, a fellow vegan and all around rocking lady! Recipe below.

I got some sprouted corn tortillas and was looking forward to some delicious enchiladas! I put together the sauce and filling as directed and went to assemble. Problem. Corn tortillas like the ones I have are not that rollable. The first one flipped open, and then cracked a bit. Hmmmm. So instead of making a mess, I decided to change construction. I switched to more of a lasagna model. I layered the filling, spinach, tortillas and sauce until the pan was full. Put it in the oven and turned my attention to making the guacamole. Guacamole is one of my specialities! I pulled the enchilladas out of the oven and served them up with a bit of Tofutti sour cream and a side of roast root vegetables. The meal was quite tasty and I was mostly pleased with the recipe. Due to the change in construction, I would recommend covering with foil at the beginning and cooking for 10 minutes, then uncovering and cooking for an additional 25 minutes.

Unfortunately this meal also made me realize that as I had suspected, my body reacts to soy & corn like it does to gluten. I had discussed this at length with someone at Flying Apron that asked if I had reactions to soy and at the time I suspected I was, but I thought it was the non traditional soy products (like soy milk) that would cause it. Since the only product that is non traditional soy that I consume is soy milk, I figured I could avoid it. However, I still noticed that traditional soy was not being gentle on my system at all. It is a bit tough since soy is an easy way to get protein as a vegan, so it just means that I have to work that much harder at getting it. I am not worried since getting adequate protein is not THAT hard, contrary to popular belief. Most people eat way too much....

Paul McCartney’s Vegan Enchiladas - Recipe

Adapted from The PETA Celebrity Cookbook (Lantern Books, 2002), edited by Ingrid E. Newkirk.
"When I see bacon, I see a pig, I see a little friend, and that’s why I can’t eat it. Simple as that."
--Paul McCartney

SIMPLE SOLUTION: Try these fabulous dairy and meat-f/ree enchiladas and don’t be surprised when your family asks for more. These light and healthy--but completely satisfying--treats are the perfect antidote to heavy holiday eating, but they have plenty of protein and taste!

We include a recipe for make-your-own vegan sour cream that will surprise and please you, too.

INGREDIENTS

Sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water

Filling
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and mashed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cups picante sauce
3 cups steamed spinach
12 tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the sauce ingredients, except for the cornstarch, in a small pot and cook over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and cook until the sauce thickens.

2. In the meantime, prepare the filling: Mix the tofu, onion, chili powder, cumin, garlic, pepper, and picante sauce. Put some of the spinach in the middle of each tortilla, then add 3 to 4 heaping teaspoons of the tofu mixture, and roll up the tortillas. Top with vegan sour cream (or make your own, see below). Lay the enchiladas in a baking dish, cover with sauce, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 enchiladas.

Source: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/paul-mccartney-vegetable-enchiladas.html#

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Year, New Blog

Blog restructuring
I have decided to restructure this blog to more accurately account for all the randomness that goes on in my life, head and blogsphere. I feel that there is a strong connection between what I do as a runner and what I do as a chef, especially since I not only cook in a holistic natural way but because I am gluten intolerant and vegan. That means that I have to be very creative and have found that a good resource is other gluten free blogs. Just as I love to read and share training tips, experiences, etc for running, I want to do the same for my nutrition and eating. I will be sharing recipes, my current obsessions and all things food related. I have a secret desire to be a food writer and a cookbook author, so I might as well use my blog as my outlet for this. Here goes nothing!

Off season updates

I went on my first run today after a whopping 17 days off. It was nice, though it was chilly and very windy. My body felt great and rested, though some of my joints were creaking and groaning from not being used. I did a short loop around Greenlake (5.5 miles approx.) and called it a day. I mostly wanted to start trying to get myself ready to begin my "on season" in the new year, when I heal from having my wisdom teeth pulled; a fantastic event which happens the day after Christmas. I want to take it slow back into the season, so for the next 13 or so days, I am going to kind of reverse taper, so that I can hit the ground running ahahaha... the rest has been really good to me. I feel healthy, rested and renewed. I am very excited about the upcoming year!

What I am eating now
I think one of the things that I really want to do with my blog is talk about an ingredient, a seasonal favorite, a technique etc that I am using right now.

Current obsession #1? Brussel Sprouts! Up until this year, I had never eaten them. I know they are a dreaded food by many, but I have no idea why! They are nutrient packed and extremely tasty. I think most people overcook them and therefor make them taste poorly and have a bad experience. The key to good Brussel Sprouts is to only cook them until just tender. My favorite way of preparing them is to parboil them first, until barely tender (2-3 minutes) and then halve them. I then take the halves and put them in a heated skillet with a bit of olive oil and let them brown. I turn them once to get the other side some golden crispyness. Once they are golden I sprinkle some good sea salt and sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice and devour!




Current obsession #2? Persimmon. I first discovered Persimmons last winter and have been hooked ever since. I tend to just eat them by themselves, washed, skin on. I prefer the fuyu persimmons over the other ones, which I think taste a bit like dirt. I did however this week try a spicy persimmon salsa recipe from Cooking Light magazine and boy was it delicious! If you can get your hands on some Persimmons, do it! They are incredibly tasty with just the right amount of sweetness.


Current obsession #3 Living Harvest Vanilla Hemp Milk. Hemp milk is an excellent alternative to soy and rice milks and is incredibly tasty. Sometimes I fancy a warm up of non-milk and Living Harvest's Vanilla Hemp Milk is just the treat. It is rich and creamy with a bit of sweet and no off flavor that sometimes happens when working with non-dairy milks. Plus it doesn't have the ill side effect that soy does on me (which is exactly like a gluten reaction unfortunately). I love to make a mug on a cold winter night and snuggle under a blanket on the couch.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Off Season

Here I am 6 days into my off season and I couldn't be happier. Well, I could be happier. I could feel better, but I don't. I have had a weird semi cold all week, with a persistent headache, random stomach issues and random fevers and lots and lots of tired. After last weekends DNF, I can only think how much better off I am now than if I had continued. That would have been dumb. I have enjoyed my off season so far, I haven't done anything. It is funny when I think about it, but I hadn't taken an off season since I started marathoning 2.5 years ago. That tickles me a bit still to think that 2.5 years ago was the first time I ever raced! That means only 3 years ago I wasn't even in training for a marathon. Oh how things change. It is wonderful to see how things have unfolded. This time off thus far has given me the opportunity to really take a step back and reflect on everything that has transpired this year. It has been an amazing, exciting, blessed year for me. I think alot of what I have accomplished in my first year of ultrarunning hasn't and probably won't sink in. I don't know if there is a mental capacity to absorb the experience of racing against the world in the Netherlands or coming in first on a trail race at altitude. I think that the mind in some ways immediately blocks out the experiences (mental and physical) that we have will ultrarunning in a lot of ways to tempt us again. I have had some of the most beautiful meditative experiences on the trail, as well as some of the hardest, most dire. Each have taught me something, but the experience itself is left out there. I love that. I love ultrarunning. I had been feeling very tired and unmotivated near the end of this season, as I had up'd my racing and training so significantly from the year before, I am not surprised. But slowly but surely, I am getting my motivation back, well, I am getting it back big time. My body is definitely not ready yet and I won't jump back in too early, but it is nice to know that this time off is going to accomplish what I had hoped! Yeah for rest!

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