Thursday, January 31, 2008

The tipping point, new shoes and playing crossing guard

I have been completely vegan now for 6 months, and mostly vegan for an additional 2-3 months before that. Before becoming a vegetarian and subsequently vegan, I discovered my gluten intolerance and more recently a mild to moderate soy intolerance (tempeh is ok...). I have happily and energetically taken on the task of trying to make sure I get enough vital nutrients and felt like I was doing a decent job. But as I blogged about before, I realized that I was not as on top of my protein intake as I should be. If I were not a long distance runner, perhaps in the long run I could continue to be gluten free, soy free and vegan. All I would have to do would quit my job and spend all of my time working on getting enough nutrients (hahaha). But the runner body requires more. I truly believe a vegan diet works for ultrarunners, of that there is no doubt in my mind. It is the other factors that are limiting. You take away whole grains (those with gluten) and soy and you take away the next highest protein sources available.

For the past three weeks I have been battling some weird gut issue and through my research discovered it could be a few things, most of which are not too worrisome. The one that caught me most though was that my symptoms could be related to a protein deficiency. I will not know until the dr comes back with the test but the thought alone made me do some thinking. I am not a moral vegan, I chose to become vegan because of all the benefits to me as a runner. Meat and dairy are not the right fuel for my body as a runner, my body doesn't want it, it doesn't thrive on it. So eliminating meat and dairy was not a hard decision or much of a decision at all in fact I just woke up one day and realized I wasn't eating it, desiring it at all, nor generally okay with it on any level. It would have been harder to continue to make myself eat it. I don't think that that will change. I always tell people when I discuss the way I eat that if my body ever tells me (and yes, I am in tune enough with my body to know what it wants and needs) that it wants things I don't currently consume that I would eat them (especially since I have broken all of my food addictions aka coffee, similar a long time ago). And my body has indicated it needs more protein, specifically eggs and fish (very limited amounts). It has been a big back in forth in my mind this week about whether or not this is the right decision for me. But I know it is. And whats more, is it not a sign that I would a carton of farm fresh eggs from my race on Saturday?!?

It has been a thought through decision which was surprisingly difficult to make. But the tipping point had definitely come. My health, my running and the nutrition it takes to do that are what are my focus, always have been. I once had a moral vegan classmate, who when I told him I was trying to go vegan, said that even he would not choose to be vegan if he was gluten intolerant because it is too hard to get the right nutrition. I have given it a try and for the most part felt great and energetic, but that is due to the elimination of dairy and meat....fish and eggs were more of an active choice and honestly, with fish & eggs and without it, my energy is the same. My protein (and therefore health in the long run) is just better with. To me that says, Yes fish and eggs, No dairy and meat. And that mental choice mirrors what my body desires. And so, this morning I made myself some hard boiled eggs and they were delicious. I am not rushing back into eating a huge quantity of fish (especially because of high mercury levels) and no more than the EPA recommended 2x per week of low mercury fish, but I am making it available to myself as an option. Especially when traveling and having to eat out on a regular basis, it is a good protein option. I am going to try it for a while and see how I feel. Hopefully this will take care of managing my protein and help me become even a stronger runner.

Speaking of the body telling me what it wants, I can tell that the end of the current seasonal vegetables is coming, as I have started to desire less and less of my favorites, brussel sprouts and potatoes. And its not because I have consumed them to death but more because it is time for something new! Its interesting that I have felt this way/desire since I also noticed at the grocery that these same items are less available. I am excited to be inspired by new produce and will hopefully have some great new items to explore and obsess about.

I broke in a pair of new shoes today. I always forget how good shoes are suppose to feel after I have been pounding the pavement in the same pair for so many miles. What a comfy ride. I was out running this morning and turning back along Ravenna to come home when I saw an elderly woman standing on the corner where there was a crosswalk waiting to cross. As I ran up, I watched 4 cars (all of which had stop signs), not stop for the woman. I was going to cross any ways, and can easily dash between cars, but I decided instead to use the crosswalk to give her an opportunity to cross. I slowed to a walk and entered the crosswalk and a car literally drove into the intersection and was going to go right on through on my heels, but I stopped in his way, turned back to the woman and said, "did you need to cross?" She smiled, said yes and proceeded into the crosswalk. As she walked by me she said, "I use to be a runner". She was a lovely woman. It felt good to do that. The brief unexpected human connection moments are what makes life sweet. Yes it was a good deed I guess, but I didn't do it for that reason or even for a thank you. I did it because it was the right thing to do and that is good for the universe. She got across the street and I ran away with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Run. Eat. Sleep. Write.

When I grow up....
I have been musing about what I want to with my career and time a lot lately and I have come to the realization that what I would like most would be to combine my interests in a creative and active way. The more involved I get in blogging and cooking, the more I want to turn those things into my work instead of my hobby. I would love to write to a food or running magazine, write cookbooks for runners or vegans, or both! Host a cooking show, be a nutritional consultant to athletes, open a cafe where athletes can congregate post workout to have a nutritious and delicious meal. The possibilities are endless, but I am hoping that in time my career will move in that direction. I would love to Run, Eat, Write, Sleep, rinse repeat. I am all about working hard for the money, but I think that in those things (ok, not the sleep part....) there is definite career potential. Who knows exactly, but the it is in the forefront of my mind right now.

Mondays with Mom
On Mondays, whenever I can, I have dinner with my mom. I take it as an opportunity not only to enjoy her great company, but also to branch out and try new things. I usually try to incorporate ingredients and techniques that she isn't using on a regular basis or something new completely. Last night was the evening of the interesting root vegetable.

Sunchokes, Fresh Horseradish and Parsnips
The Menu:
Plantain and Pinto Stew with Parsnip Chips (
adapted from Veganomicon)
Sunchoke Salad with Alfalfa, Carrots and Tarragon (
adapted from Farmer John's Cookbook)

Salad:

Ingredients:
1 cup thinly peeled and sliced sunchoke (about 3 medium)
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups organic mixed greens
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp finely chopped scallions
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbsp freshly ground horseradish root
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Place the sunchokes in a bowl; add the lemon juice and enough water to cover.

Toss the greens, carrots and sprouts in a large bowl and set aside.

Whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the sunchokes and add them to the other vegetables; toss. Pour the dressing over the top and toss until everything is well combined.

Enjoy this delicious and refreshing salad!


Stew & Chips:

Ingredients:
1 recipe parsnip chips (1 pound parsnips, sliced thin (like chips or fries, your call), tossed with 2 teaspoons or so of peanut oil and baked in a single layer at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, flipped and cooked for another 15 minutes until desired crispness is achieved)
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 large red onion, chopped finely
1 yellow pepper, chopped finely
2 large jalapenos, seeded and chopped finely (less if you prefer a more sissy, I mean gentle version)
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cups or so mushroom broth
salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15 oz can) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a soup pot or large saute pan over medium heat, saute the onions, peppers, jalapenos and garlic in the oil for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup broth, salt and cumin. Cover and bring to a simmer; let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked and broken down. Add broth as needed to prevent scorching.

Add the pinto beans and plantains. Cover and simmer with remaining broth for 20-25 minutes until the plantains are soft and sweet. Add the cilantro and mix in so that it wilts.

Ladle into bowls and top with parsnips chips and sprig of cilantro.


Sweet Treats
Alison came to the house last night to stay over while she works in the city. I had previously made her some delicious Pamela's Chocolate Chunk with Almond Butter cookies and so last night I decided to have some mix on hand so we could make some together. We whipped up a batch in no time. Since it is a mix it is easy, delicious and barely any work. I make the vegan version of the Peanut Butter option, using Almond butter as a substitute. Within 20 minutes we had delicious warm, gooey cookies to enjoy with our cups of tea. Perfect for an evening with an impending storm.


When the storm doesn't come
Thankfully for Alison and I, the storm that was suppose to roll in last night never came. Instead we woke to a relatively dry morning and headed out at 6:30am to get in our planned run on Cougar Mtn. We arrived before 7am and the trails were perfectly blanketed in snow that glowed in the darkness to show us the way. We ran 10 miles in the "reverse direction" and enjoyed the beauty of the snow covered forest, the fun trail and a great run.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Pigtails 50k

Pigtails 50k Race Report
Saturday morning I awoke early, 5am, to make sure that I had plenty of time to eat and digest before running the Pigtails 50k at Lake Young in Renton at 7:30. I didn't want a repeat of last week and since my abdomen had been bothering me for about 2 weeks, I wasn't trying to ask to much of it. Especially since running this 50k was a leap in mileage for this season. The longest I have gone since being back from the off season was 17 miles and that was the previous week. Nonetheless, I wasn't worried about it particularly.

I packed up my stuff and headed out. My car registered the temperature at 26 at my house and dropped as I drove south. By the time I arrived at the start line, it was registering between 22-23. I sat in my car and considered if it had been well advised to wear only 3/4 tights and a long sleeve shirt, hat and gloves. I sat in the nice warm car for a while and then deciding one swing past the bathroom would be good, I braced myself and opened the door. It was cold, yes, but not as bad as I expected. I guess my time running in Madison last year stuck with me, so all other cold is judged by how cold I was then.

I saw Alison and we made a quick drop of her coat in my coat and I grabbed my Clif Shot Bloks and a Larabar, and put them into Alison drop container, as the race is 3 loops of 9.6 miles and then a 2.2 out and back at the end. There were apparently over 100 runners for the day, and we all gathered around to get instructions from marathon maniac and race director, Van Phan. And we were off. I had decided not to race it, in the sense that I had no sense that I wanted to or was ready to go out and push the pace. Alison and I decided to run together and after hitting the course, I was even more happy to have the company since the loops are incredibly uninteresting. You basically run along a rolling dirt trail along the outside of the fence that surrounds the lake. I am definitely a looper, that is, I do like loops because you get to carry less and the looping helps to pull you along. That said a 9.6 mile loop is a lot tougher. It is just a bit to long to feel like you are nearly there no matter where you are.

Alison set a good pace out of the gate and we settled in, watching James and some others disappear in front of us. We chatted up a storm and the first lap passed with relative ease. In the back of my mind I had been thinking about the problem with my abdomen and worrying what it could possibly be. I put it out of my mind and kept going. It wasn't something that was impeding my running, but more just worrying me a bit. I resolved to talk to a dr later in the day and carried on. One of my favorite things about being in Seattle is being around the ultra community. There is a lot of madness in doing ultra's and trying to do it on your own is a path wrought with potential pitfalls, from nutrition to training mileage, to blister prevention and hydration. Being in Seattle has meant that for the first time since I started running ultras, that I get to spend a lot time around ultrarunners and see how they live, eat and run. It is amazingly influential and positive for me, since it gives me a standard of "normal" (at least ultrarunning normal) for me instead of only having marathoners and nonrunners as my guidelines. Ultrarunning is different and talking to Alison while running, once again gave me perspective and insight that is hugely valuable to me.

One of the things that I have realized is that running with others really works for me. Yes there is a time and place to go out and run your own race, etc but when it is not an "A" priority race getting together with others who can run a pace that works is great. Alison had told me that at anytime I could feel free to take off and while I left the door open to that if I felt good on the final lap, it wasn't really in my plan. The thing about running with others is that you can push and pull each other along, especially when there is an unspoken commitment to staying together. Alison and I maintained a good pace and the first two laps passed pretty easily. We ran a 1:14 for the first lap and a 1:17 for the second lap. I ate some Clif Shot Bloks at the aid station each time which would remind me of my ab worries as they sat weird in my stomach. I drank plenty of Nuun each lap which kept me hydrated and moving. At some point, I gave Alison an S!Cap I was carrying because she needed the salt. The Nuun was keeping me balanced so I was happy to share with her.

I had left it open in my head to just doing two laps, but as we came into the start/finish area after lap 2, I decided, eh why not. Once begun, better finish. Plus, Alison told me at one point on the second loop that if we kept up our pace she was have a significant PR for the day and so I took that on as my objective for the final loop and out and back, get Alison her PR! As I said earlier, running with someone else can help drag you along when you feel that you can't go on. I am pretty positive Alison would have PR'd just fine without me, but putting it in my own head the externalized goal helped me to think, I can go on not for me, but for her. So in a way taking on the idea of helping her to a goal is a way of getting my own self across the finish line. We lapsed into silence for the last lap. Reduced to the long stretches along the fence and counting right had turns as we worked our way back to the start/finish. Our pace was still incredibly strong and despite the lap feeling hard and long, it also was moved through the knowledge that we didn't have to do it again. We finally came to the stretch where we were almost back to the start/finish and there was a patch of ice in one of the corners which I eyed carefully as I went into the turn. Obviously not carefully enough and I slammed into the ground at full force, landing on my forearm and hand. It really really hurt, but I jumped up and shook it off. I ran with my arm tucked on my side for the rest of the loop which was less than 1/4. We zoomed into the start/finish and dropped our waterbottles on the tarp and I grabbed another Clif Shot Bloks and headed out. James (Varner, Orcas 50k RD & Alison BF) was at the start/finish in his cozy downjacket and hat and we thought he was done, but he stood up and started running with us saying he had bonked on the 3rd lap and run nearly 30 minutes slower than the previous two laps. He ran along behind us for maybe an 1/8th of a mile, but Alison and I were feeling good and we kept pushing the pace. He mentioned to her that Alexa would be very happy, as we pulled away and Alison explained that her friend Alexa wanted Alison to beat James in a race. Looked like today would be Alison's day to achieve two goals in one shot! We pushed out to the turn around point and excitedly turned around and headed for home. There was a giant hill just before the end which up until this point we only had to run down, so Alison and I power walked up the hill, turned towards the finish and pushed it in, speeding across the finish line in 4:18. This was Alison PR by over 30 minutes I believe and it was great to share the win with her.

Me and Alison after the race with our winnings, farm fresh eggs.

Alison and warmed ourselves with some vegan gluten free squash soup and collected our winnings, farm fresh eggs from Van Phan's chickens. Though I won't eat them myself, I took them for my mother who does, especially since they are from local, organic, happy chickens! I changed my clothing and headed out pretty quickly, as it had started to rain and I wanted to get warmed and fed. I headed back to the city, chatted with the oncall dr. who helped to alleviate my worries and went to PCC & Flying Apron. I grabbed a smoothie from PCC and some meal ingredients and the a delicious gf vegan scone from Flying Apron.

Post Run Meal & Why I like Potatoes (and brussel sprouts)

I really wanted something Italian for dinner and decided to make a gluten free vegan calzone that had become a fan favorite. However plans quickly changed when I realized that I didn't want to wait for the dough to rise and there is no alternative I can shortcut with since I was already using the only shortcut I know for quick gluten free vegan crust which is Pamela's Wheat Free Bread mix. I decided that what I really wanted was the veggie goodness and sauce and so I instead opted to make Inside Out Calzones, and put the contents over potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 1-2, ok...1 after a 50k!):
1/2 portobello mushroom, cleaned and medium dice
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, medium dice
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 onion, small dice
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, whole
1-2 cup fresh spinach
3-4 artichoke hearts, packed in water
1/4-1/2 cup medium ripe black olives, packed in water
olive oil
italian herbs and spices, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes

1 cup vegan marinara, warmed
5-6 small red potatoes, boiled, drained and mashed with favorite oil/vegan butter alternative

Directions:
Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and sautee until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sautee for another 1-2 minutes, add spices. Add red bell pepper and broccoli, cook for 7-8 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach, cook until spinach is wilted.

Plating: On the bottom of the plate, scoop the desired amount of mashed potatoes and spread across. Spoon desired amount of marinara over the top of the potatoes, then scoop vegetable sautee over the top, sprinkle salt, pepper and red pepper flakes over top. Enjoy!



I definitely am not being exact in these recipes, especially when it comes to spices because at least for me, when I cook (especially something like a sautee) that often I take the ingredients and the general idea and build on my own from there. So I recommend balancing the spicing and amounts for yourself. Someday when I write a cookbook, I will be more exact :)

Potatoes and brussel sprouts are making the rounds on in my recipes a lot and there are two great reasons why. Yes I do love my potatoes and brussel sprouts, but right now they are locally in season. So therefore, not only is it what is right for eating locally, organically, it is also what my body wants. The bodies desire for certain foods changes with the seasons and I am just listening to what my body wants. A lot of people don't listen to their bodies or are so out of tune they don't get the right signals, but I have learned over the past year with the changing of my nutrition and diet to be able to hear loud and clear what my body wants. Thus, when brussel sprouts go out of season, like persimmons have, I will no longer have them at every meal. The second reason I eat a lot of potatoes in particular is tied to being gluten intolerant and vegan. If you think about it most meals for the non gluten intolerant or non vegan have some bulkier item on the plate, a piece of meat or some heavier grain dish. Thus, for me, potatoes are the grounding of my dish alot of times, that or an alternative grain such as quinoa, rice or millet. And since potatoes & sweet potatoes are around right now in huge variety I go with them. They help fill me up and power me up for my training and racing!


The day after, a runner's power salad

I made a delicious salad yesterday for lunch, to feed the monster which is a hungry tummy the day after a race. My abdominal problem figured out and starting resolve meant even more appetite. I incorporated the left over uncooked ingredients from sat nights post race meal. This hearty salad is a filling meal that won't disappoint!

Ingredients:
1 1/2-2 cup organic mixed greens
6-7 cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1/4 portobello mushroom
1/4 red bell pepper
2-3 artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup medium ripe black olives, halved
2 small green onions, diced
3-4 tablespoons hummus
1 1/2 tbsp nice olive oil (like a fine wine, we are not talking about the store brand here....)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
Toss greens through onions in a bowl, incorporating together. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic over top and spice according to taste. Plate and then spoon hummus on the top of the salad. Enjoy.




Thats a wrap
In the end, this was a great, great weekend which capped off a good (running) week. I ran a total of 85 miles, sneaking in a 5 mile run late last night under the stars in the crisp air. I woke to snow this morning but it has all melted already. Today might be a rest day, though the jury is still out.....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chick'en

Today was not the most ideal day. I woke up to the pouring rain and it did not let up all day. The only highlight was getting to go home and even that was an experience. It had been a stressful trip and a stressful morning. We were finally on our way to the airport and hydroplaning our way to Oakland, when we get slowed up just after getting into Oakland. I see three cars pulled over to the side of the road, an apparent fender-bender. As we pass, I see the guy in the front car get out and then the guy in the second car get out and then launch at each other in a mad all out brawl. It was scary, especially since the guy from the front car pulled a knife out of his pocket. Thankfully, the police arrived on the scene shortly. The adventures didn't end there. My plane was a little late and when we finally get in the air, about 30 minutes in to the flight, the flight attendants call over the intercom to ask if there is a doctor on the plane. A man was having a stroke! Thankfully there were two doctors on the plane and they managed to save him from having a massive stroke. By the time I got home all I wanted to do was go for a run.

Recovery Run
It was quite cold by the time I headed out, but apparently warmer than it has been. I headed out to my favorite new loop to Fremont nice and easy as the sun was fading over the Olympics. I made it all the way up Fremont Ave, despite having done pretty much all uphill in the last few days! I ran down along by the zoo and saw a runner ahead of me as I turned alongside the soccer fields that are adjacent to Greenlake. Without kicking it up, I passed the guy and dashed across the street to run along the outside path of Greenlake. I guess the guy (who appeared decently young and fit) didn't like me chick'en him, because as I ran past the golf course at Greenlake, I notice a shadow bouncing along near my feet. The guy had sped up to try and pass me back. But I decided to give him a run for his money, literally. I picked it up a bit and watched his shadow fade away. I didn't let up though. He tried to come charging back, probably thinking that I would slow up. But I didn't. I picked it up a bit more (though I was still running well under marathon pace) and watched him fade again. Without waiting for him to surge again, I took off and put about 30-45 yards between us before I turned off the path and headed down Ravenna towards home. It was a nice run and I was ready for my pre-race meal when I got home.

Pre-race Meal
I never eat pasta the night before long runs, I prefer potatoes, particularly sweet potatoes. I like to couple the potatoes with some veggies, something with some fat as well as some protein. There is a limit to how much carbs you can load in your muscles, especially in ultras, eventually you will need to call upon your fat stores.

I came up with the idea last week after having the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes on Wednesday. I have been wanting some Mexican food, so I decided to take the concept of the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes and the Latin flavors and make Fajita Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Chili and avocado, and a side of roast brussel sprouts.




Ingredients:
3 small Russet potatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
1 small onion, chopped small
1 small red bell pepper, chopped small
5 small Crimini mushrooms, chopped small
olive oil
spices: cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper, dried oregano

1 can Amy's Organic Vegetable Chili
1 small avocado

2 cups Brussel Sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

Directions:

First,preheat the oven to 400. Then, clean and poke the potatoes (so they don't burst in the oven). Bake the potatoes for 1 hour. While the potatoes are baking, wash the brussel sprouts and remove the bottoms, then half them. Place the brussel sprouts in a 9x9 baking pan and drizzle olive oil over the top. When there are 20 minutes remaining in the baked potato cook time, place the brussel sprouts in the oven to roast. You can heat the chili at any time, pretty much.

In a medium-large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions and garlic, until the onions are tender. Add spices and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped red bell pepper and mushroom and saute for 2-3 minutes. Once the potatoes are baked, remove them from the oven and when they are cool enough to handle, slice them in half and scoop out the inside. Put the potato shells on a bake sheet and the insides straight into the skillet. Work the fajita mixture and potatoes together until incorporated. Scoop the mixture back into the shells and bake for another 10-15 minutes (depending on how crispy you want them). A good addition if you are into that kind of thing, would be some Soy or Rice Cheddar Shreds or if you are non-vegan, real cheese. I am not doing Soy right now because I think that like many gluten-intolerant people, I am also soy intolerant. So I am taking a break to see if that is so. I shouldn't eat alot of soy anyways because it is a phyto-estrogen.

You should pull the the brussel sprouts out when they are tender but crisp! To plate, place potatoes on the plate, spoon the warm chili over top and place sliced avocado on the top (with a drizzle of salsa if you want). I serve up my brussel sprouts with some salt in their own separate bowl. Delicious, nutritious and relatively easy. Hopefully it will give me a nice start for the morning!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fake Tales of San Francisco

I was promised warmth, sunshine, a respite from the cold, rainy-ness of Seattle. I was not bothered a bit on Monday when it was in the 20s and I left my house in Seattle for the airport because I knew I was heading to San Francisco where it had been warm all weekend. I got on the plane, settled back in for nap and in no time flat I was landing in rainy, cold San Francisco. Hey wait a minute, did we turn around. The weather had turned to Seattle like weather; mid 40s and pouring rain. And here I was without tights, hat, gloves or rain coat to run in. I usually can wear just a long sleeve and shorts, but gloves and hat are usually accompanying it. I told myself, at least its not 20 degrees out... but then I remember I would prefer 20 and sunny like it is in Seattle, than 40 & pouring!!

Monday Run & Meal
Sarah and I headed out in the pouring rain to do a hour + run. It was not pretty. We ran from Sausalito up the hill to the Golden Gate Bridge, across the bridge and down into the Presidio for a loop, then back across the bridge. The wind and rain on the bridge was ridiculous. I was soaked to the bone and by the time we got home in just under 1:10, I could barely use my hands. When I warmed up in the shower, my wrists burned as the blood came back to them...not pretty, nor nice.

After the run, I got all ready to go into the city to have dinner with my friend (and crew chief extraordinaire!) Hollis at my favorite vegan restaurant, Millennium which never ceases to delight the palate and introduce me to new and interesting flavors. Hollis and I opted for the tasting menu which provides you with small portions of an appetizer, a salad, two entrees and a shared dessert. They are a great restaurant and its nice to know that for the most part, I can eat everything. I simply let them know I am gluten tolerant before dinner and they selected items accordingly, as well as when they brought the plates (each of us received different selections for each course), which ones I could try and which ones to stay away from They selected for me:

Sesame Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Mushrooms

Avocado & Endive Salad Boats

Banana Leaf Wrapped Risotto with beans and lots of other goodness

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Dessert was a shared platter of small bites. It was indicated that there were about 2-3 I could try, so I tried a bite of the ones I was able to, but was pretty satisfied! I love this restaurant and never cease to be impressed.

Tuesday Run, Meals, and my favorite Buddhist

I got out for two decent runs on tuesday. In the AM, I did a 5.5 out and back on the flat in Sausalito, doing fartleks along the main road. It was nice to get some speed up. I felt strong and speedy, though I have had a really bad blister on my right heel for a few days which is still healing and that caused some discomfort. Had a similar issue on my left heal last week, so I am use to it by now.

Afterwards, I came back to the house and dove into what has been my go to breakfast this year in a pinch (that is when I can find a gluten free cereal I like):

Gluten Free Cereal (in this case Nutty Rice Cereal) 3/4 cup
Almond Milk 1/2 cup
Banana, sliced
Berries, 1 cup
Almond Butter, 2 tablespoons

It might seem odd to throw some almond butter on the top of a bowl of cereal but I know that a healthy fat is going to make this meal actually stick with me. Cereal and fruit will not do that alone, at all. Plus, I need the fat and furthermore it is absolutely delicious.

We had a meeting during the day and then I returned home and headed out for run #2, after giving my dad a list of groceries to get while I was out. I headed up to SCA trail, then connected to Alta, down morning sun and then down the demotivator (the name we gave the hill the winds through Sausalito). It was just under 6 miles, but was quite enough for the day.

Upon arriving home I threw together some food for my dad, sister and self. I make a bunch of roast veggies including brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, red bell pepper, spiced with Cayenne and Sage. I also made my mashed potatoes from Saturday. My dad had gotten a roast chicken from Whole Foods as well as some salad for them to have. I ate the potatoes and veggies and headed into the city to see my favorite Buddhist and wonderful massage therapist, Scott.

I love my girl Alison who is officially now "my massage therapist", but seeing Scott is about more than a massage. He is a good friend and we have a blast catching up, philosophizing, etc. I can't miss an opportunity to see him and have him do some work when I am in town. He did a lot of work on my back which I really needed. He has a combination of amazing exciting energy and calm presence that makes absolutely sense to me.

Wednesday (these are a few of my favorite things)

I got up not too early and headed to the city with my dad to go the gym. We hit the weights for about an hour and I worked on my single leg stuff. I had a good deal of muscle wasting last year when I lost weight and over time, I lost a decent amount of strength. This year, I have been trying to build up my leg strength so that I will be able to power up the hills and withstand WS100 brutalization... I have already noticed the difference on the uphills.

Before Lunch, my dad wanted to go up in the Headlands because he hadn't been up there in years. We drove up the treacherous road to the top of Hawk Hill and enjoyed the view. I enjoyed it more than my dad because he is afraid of height and wouldn't get near the edge. The view is absolutely amazing!
View from the top


I am perfectly comfy on the edge, I thought about jumping on the rail, but decided not to give my dad a heart attack.


This is as close as my dad would get.



For lunch, we headed to another of my all-time favorites and must visits, Cafe Gratitude. I took my dad to the one in Marin. It was his first experience with real raw foodism and Cafe Gratitude is quite an experience. He was not only blown away by the food, but by everything they are about. I had some of my favorites (their menu items are positive affirmations and that is how you order them):

I am eternally blessed: cold pressed coffee, almond milk milkshake
I am satisfied: small cafe salad with almond hummus

And for dessert:
I am cozy: fresh ginger, lemon and honey tea
I am super: raw cacao nugget with maca

Absolutely delicious. Perfect pre-run meal. We went back to the house to do more work and then about 3:30 my sister told me that her car was boxed in and she wouldn't be able to go on the 13 mile run in Ross on Mt. Tam I had planned. At that point, I figured it was too late anyways to do that loop, so I decided to do some similar distance in the Headlands. I got dressed, got my headlamp (since I figured it would get dark in an hour +) and prepared to head out. But not before my dad told me that my legs look like they have grown 1 1/2 inches (in diameter) each since the last time he saw me. Now, I tried my best not to let this hurt my feeling since I know that my body is changing shape from lifting weights, but I was also at the time having a bad body image day, so that is definitely not what I wanted/needed to hear.

I headed up the hill towards the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped onto the SCA trail. Climbing the .8 miles to the top (on top of the climb up from Sausalito just to get to SCA), get you nice and warm really quickly. I always get to the top and think that I should have brought my camera. It is so beautiful. You can see the bridge and city on one side and the Headlands stretching out on the other. I made a quick right at the top and continued climbing up Coastal. I kept on Coastal until it reached the road. I hopped over the road onto Rodeo Valley Trail, which took me down and around to Kronkite beach, where I saw a few surfers in the beautiful afternoon light. Then I started climbing back up Coastal heading towards Wolfback Ridge. The uphills felt easy and I cruised along, trying my best to dart between cold gusts of wind. Luckily it wasn't raining and the sun was partially peaking out from behind the high clouds giving a fantastic beautiful sunset display. At long last, I made it to the top and headed down Wolfback Ridge to Miwok. If I wanted to do 11-12 miles, I could have simply headed up Miwok and looped back towards home, but I was feeling good and motivated, and despite not having brought food or water, decided to take my first left and head down Old Mill Road towards Tennessee Valley horse stables. The sunlight was streaming through the clouds in what someone I know, but can't remember who, dubbed "God light". The sunlight streams through the clouds, partially veiled but the beams are visible as they reach towards the ground. The sun disappeared behind the Headlands as I reached the bottom and turned to head back up the other side in a 1.2 mile climb to the top to Miwok. I switched on my headlamp and powered up. When I reached the top, I was finally getting a sense of home, but knew I had about 5 miles left, but mostly flat or downhill. I dashed down Bobcat, then jumped onto Alta finally reaching SCA in the total darkness. I slowed as I went down SCA because I was heading down the trail so I didn't fall and kill myself. I finally reached the road and shifted my headlamp to the blinking position, took it off my head and put it around my waist (light in the back), so that speeding cars coming along the road in Sausalito could see me. I whizzed down the hill and came in with a time of 2:37.

Distance: 16 miles (if not more)
Time: 2:37
Elevation Gain: a ton
Pace: 9:38
Weather: Cold

I felt great after the run and am looking forward to running on Saturday at the Pigtails 50k. My run today should be run, my sister and I are going to down Lyon Street Stairs and Lovers Lane repeats.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Last week, before this week becomes last week....Jan 18-20

Ah how time gets away from me! I had a really awesome last end to my week and great weekend and haven't had a chance to blog about it! Shame shame.... I am traveling now and got busy with work so the pics I took will have to be updated later...but nonetheless, onward to review....

Running, week 3
In only my third week back training I made it to 71 miles this past week, which is pretty excited. I did a "gradual" rebuilding of mileage, starting out week one with 58, then 68, now 71. I am pretty pleased with it, especially since I had such great variety over the week including freezing snow and rain on Monday on what would have been a really nice 12 miler, SRC club run on Tuesday running with Alan, SRC tempo run on Thursday, Capitol Peaks Fatass on Saturday and a follow "long"run the next day.

Capitol Peaks, a brief review and more importantly, dinner...
On friday afternoon, I hopped in my car and headed south after getting my haircut for the first time in over 6 months. I have this tendency to forget these things until they randomly pop into my head and I decide, well I should probably do something about that... So I got my hair cut at Rudy's Barbershop by a awesome guy with a handlebar mustache....Got to love Rudy's Barbershop, $26 bucks for a great cut and no wait! I then go in the car about 2:45 and headed towards Olympia for the night to stay with Alison and James before the Capitol Peaks Mega Fatass. The hour drive took me two hours as a lot of people seemed to be heading out of town for the long weekend. I got to their house around 5 and Alison and I decided to hit up the local co-op to get some ingredients to make Potato-Kale Enchiladas from a recipe Alison had photocopied out of my Veganomicon. I sous-cheffed for Alison, roasting the chilis for the sauce.... These enchiladas put the other enchiladas I had made to shame. A crying crying shame. I am throughly enamored with Veganomicon and feel like I should make every single recipe in the book just to see if there is a single bad one. Well, the only "bad ones" for me will be the ones containing wheat, gluten or soy, so those might not make the list. I have been having bad problems with soy, so am taking a month off from it... I put the recipe in the next section. They were amazing fabulous and delicious. I was blown away by Alison's masterful cooking ;), we then went for a ride to see Alison's new massage studio (cool!), the other co-op and some other errands.

The next morning we woke, relatively on-time/late and made a swifty exit from the house and headed out in the rain to the race start. We arrived a few minutes before 8 after driving down some dodgey pothole ridden rodes in the rain and cold. It was not shaping up to be a nice day and Alison and I quickly abandoned our plans to even think about doing the full 34 miles. It was gross out and I was glad to have a rain coat. We gathered at the start, a bit damp and cold, but not too cold. There would be snow at the top of the course but what does one expect after a 1200 foot climb? We mingled at the start with the other 100 + runners. I saw Matt H, Justin A (among the brave souls who did the full 34), Piper (who was full of energy as usual), Van Phan. It was nice. And we were off, Alison lead me out quickly to get in front of the mob as it quickly becomes single track. We headed up up up through some clear cutting and around on the Lost Loop. I had eaten some gluten free quinoa bread and almond butter in the car ride over and had not had enough time to digest. It instead flopped around in my stomach and threatened to come speeding out at either end at any moment (eww, I know, but its the truth). Alison paced along well, despite feeling not quite right between body pains and the hinting of a cold coming on. We mucked along much like the previous weekend at Bridal Trails (though this time not horse poop...). Finally, I couldn't take it any more and had to jump off the trail and dive behind a huge tree to use the bathroom. Much relieved I got back on the trail and we (Alison, James and I) ran the remaining mile +/- back to the start/finish area. Alison and James opted out at this point and I stood there for a good 5 minutes trying to decide if my stomach had settled enough to go on. What the hell I thought, and off I went. They told me that the second part of the course was uphill to the top of the mountain and back down the other side, so I figured that I just had to gut out the first half of the loop and then ease on it.

I headed out and immediately realized that my bathroom break had rendered me without any energy stores and I hadn't brought anything along. I battled with some lightheadedness and feelings of low blood sugar as I made my way up up and up. After crossing the road and heading into a field of clear cutting, I saw behind me two people coming up the trail to pass me, one was a man and the other a woman. Despite feeling bad and not thinking I am a competitive person, I had the sudden feeling of, "oh heck no, I am not getting beat by a(nother) girl". I let them pass me but knew if I could get it together that I would use my downhilling skills to pull them back in. I knew I was getting to the top when the snow started to fall, and then found myself in a strange combination of deep snow, mud and frozen snow. I made it full and went blazing down the trail. The feeling of passing out had passed, so I started moving. Within 3 minutes I had caught everyone who had passed me at the aid station, on course, etc. I sped down the mountain, through crazy combinations of mud and terrain, finally flying into the finish with a time of 2:55, considering the bathroom break and the time in aid station, that put me running at about 2:46-2:47 which is not a bad outing at all. I was the first woman and despite this not being a true race, I liked the sound of that.

Food, nutrition and eating....

After the race, I enjoyed an amazing and perfect post-race meal. Menu included:
1) roast vegetables: brussel sprouts, broccoli, onion (roast with some evoo at 400 degrees)
2) mashed blue potatoes: blue potatoes boiled in mushroom stomach and mashed with some of the mushroom stock (ummm....yummy!)
3) vegetarian baked beans
4) small avocado

Here's a picture:


Another great throw together I had last week was an Asian Stir Fry with Tempeh:


And here is the recipe for the Enchiladas:










Here is the recipe for the Potato Kale Enchiladas as reprinted on http://theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=2062




































Potato Kale Enchiladas With Roasted Chili Sauce
prep time: | cooking time: 1 hour | makes 4-6 servings
Just like tamales are to sandwiches, enchiladas are a gift from Mexican cooking that requires just a little extra work than most casseroles do. Enchiladas taste even better the next day and even your kitchen-fearing domestic partner or kids could reheat without having to call 911.
In this alternative to traditional fillings, mashed potatoes and tender braised kale are spiked with lime, chile, and toasted pepitas, all wrapped in corn tortillas and a flavorful chile sauce. Accompany individual servings with a dollop of guacamole.

Tip: There’s a dozen different ways to assemble enchiladas, but we prefer intersecting two lightly toasted, sauce-soaked tortillas like a spicy red Venn diagram to form one big tortilla so that we can get as much filling as possible into each enchilada.

Tip: If you can’t find any fresh green chiles, a 4-ounce can of green roasted chiles will do in a pinch.

Equipment:Ingredients
For the Enchilada Chile Sauce:
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
1 onion, cut into small dice
3 large green chiles (such as Anaheim or even Italian-style long green peppers), roasted, seeded, peeled (see page XX), and chopped coarsely


2–3 teaspoons chile powder, preferably ancho
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon marjoram or Mexican oregano (epazote)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (roasted preferred)
1 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2–2 teaspoons salt

For the Potato and Kale Filling:
1 pound waxy potatoes (Yukon gold or red)
1/2 pound kale, washed, trimmed, and chopped finely
3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds, page XX), chopped coarsely, plus additional for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

12–14 corn tortillas

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F and have ready a shallow casserole dish, at least 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches.

Prepare the enchilada sauce first: In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions is oil for 4 to 7 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer, and remove from the heat. When the mixture has cooled enough, taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Puree with an immersion or regular blender until the mixture is smooth and even.

Prepare the filling: Peel and diced the potatoes, then boil them until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cook the grapeseed oil and minced garlic in a saucepot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is sizzling and slightly browned (be careful not to let it burn). Add the kale, sprinkle with a little salt, and raise the heat to medium, stirring constantly to cover the kale with the oil and garlic. Partially cover the pot to steam the kale until it has wilted, 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove the lid and mix in the potatoes, vegetable stock, lime juice, pumpkin seeds, and salt. Use the back of a wooden spoon to mash some of the potatoes. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until the stock is absorbed. Add more salt or lime juice to taste.

Create an enchilada assembly line: Have ready a pie plate filled with about 3⁄4 cup of enchilada sauce, a casserole dish, a stack of corn tortillas, a lightly greased, heated griddle or cast-iron pan (for softening the tortillas), and the potato and kale filling.

Ladle a little bit of the enchilada sauce onto the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it around. Take a corn tortilla, place it on the heated griddle for 30 seconds, then flip it over and heat until the tortilla has become soft and pliable. Drop the softened tortilla into the pie plate filled with sauce; allow it to get completely covered in sauce, flip it over, and coat the other side.

Now, place the tortilla either in the casserole dish (the easiest way) or on an additional plate. Layer it with another heated, sauce-covered tortilla or just use one per enchilada; either way, run the potato filling down the middle and roll it up. Continue with rest of tortillas, tightly packing enchiladas next to each other.
Pour about a cup of sauce over the top (reserving some for later), cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until edges of the tortillas poking out of sauce look just a little browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top individual servings with any remaining enchilada sauce, warmed slightly.




On Sunday evening, I got together with my mom (because I hadn't seen her in 2 weeks!!) and I cooked for her. I again made a great menu from Veganomicon:

Parsnip & Beet salad with a pineapple vinaigrette
Messy Rice
Creole Stuffed Bell Peppers

This was one of the those occasions where I was kicking myself throughly for forgetting my camera! It was not only delicious but beautiful too!

Monday, January 21, 2008

tagged!

i have been watching an interesting game of trail blogger "tag" and was starting to feel a little left out, when I finally followed the game long enough to see that I had been tagged by the wonderful Justin so needlesstosay, here goes nothing.

1. 2007's most memorable moment on the trail...
Tahoe Rim Trail was memorable from start to finish, the day was perfect, I felt great and ran well. I caught up to my friend, Scott Dunlap who was running the 100 miler and it was just the boost I needed as we were heading up to the highest point on the course at mile 43. It was nice to share a laugh, some encouragement and the climb up to the aid station. He let me know what the next 7 miles had in store for me and I stormed off to victory!

2. Best new trail I discovered in 2007...
2007 was my first year trail/ultrarunning, so pretty much every new trail was the best new trail to discover. My favorite though probably is a combination of the Headlands and Miwok course.


3. My best performance of the year...
that is a toughy. I had some good performances this year but I think that either WC100k or Tahoe.

4. I don't know how I previously survived without...
crystallized ginger! Anytime I ran into trouble or stomach unsettling on a race or run, I just ate a bit of crystallized ginger and it saved the day. I would have been in it in a bad way at Tahoe without it, as I suffered from altitude sickness.


5. The person I would most like to meet on the trail in 2008...
Jamie Anderson, the Lundblads

and passing along the love.... tag, you are it... Jamie, Scott D, Sarah, Dane
updates from a great last week and weekend are forthcoming....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Feeling like a runner, among other things

This week has been characterized by a week in which I began to feel like a lot of things. I felt like a foodie, I felt like a Seattlelite, I felt like a runner, I felt like the new year had brought me over the crest of a hill that I thought would never end. To some, it might seem like an odd idea to not feel like a runner when you are one, or like a foodie when you are one or to feel unconnected from a place in which you live and are from. The fall was a rough time for me, the culmination of a year of alot of change, transition and personal work. It all came together in the fall to test me once again and during the off season the inner space outlook was bleak. But the new year brought respite, it brought perspective, it was like I had been running up a steep section of trail for so long and was about to give in and the top arrived just in time. Everything just started to click and started to fall into place, plant seeds for positive growth. It is funny how that works, just like when one thing seems to be wrong, other things seem to follow, so it is with good.

Feeling like a runner
I went for a run yesterday in the afternoon, the air was crisp and cool. I headed out on my favorite loop at a near Tempo pace which felt easy! I got on the flats near UW and was flying. For the first time in a long time, I had this feeling come over me that felt like a runner. As I said, its ironic to say that, because I am a runner. But the feeling is more a sense of, this is what I imagine a runner SHOULD feel like. That is fluid, strong, and the entire body working together in a way that makes running feel effortless, even at fast speeds. Too often there is something that feels just a bit off, not pain or anything but just not the click, click, click. It is a hard thing to admit, but a lot of the time I don't feel like a runner, but instead just as someone who is running. When I see other fast runners gliding along, I imagine I imagine they feel something different than I do. I wonder if they feel like every cell and fiber in their body is conspiring together as one to make that motion. I felt that yesterday and even after I had gone to the gym and was running home, legs tired and worked from my circuit, I was powering up Fremont Ave and flying by the zoo. This feeling is one of the nicest surprises of the young new year, especially amongst how things have unfolding in other areas.

Bridal Trails pair relay and weekend
This past weekend was awesome, probably the best weekend I have had in a good long time. On Saturday, I got to sleep in, lounge about and try to figure out a prerace ritual for a race that starts at 3pm! I ate a fabulous prerun meal of gluten free Flying Apron bread with Avocado, cherry tomatoes and Spicy Hummus. Since I was going to be not running until about 5pm (since I was doing the second half of the relay), I needed something that would stay with me for a while. It was delicious and kept me full!
I picked up Alison whom I was partnering with for the race and the Jurek's at Seattle Running Company and we headed out to Bridal Trails on the Eastside. It was an interesting experiment fitting 4 people in the mini, 3 of which are 5'10 or taller and all our gear!

I am thoroughly in love with the Seattle Ultra scene. There are a ton of amazing people, the community is so strong and the events are a blast! This was no different. There were even more people at this race because there was a 5 mile and 10 mile option. The course is 5 mile loops on (what turned out to be ) muddy horse trail. After quick chats with various folks I know from SRC and other events around, and the 5 mile & 10 mile folks being sent off, it was finally time for the 50k people to start, including relays, pairs and solos. Alison lined up for our dynamic duo and took off at the front of the pack. Atta girl!

She ran amazing, coming in under 40 in her first lap and not slowing down much in her other two! I waited patiently, trying to keep warm and talked to 2 of 3 members one of the relays, Eric Bone and Glen of Team Dart Nuun. At last, I got my shoes on and got ready. Alison came flying into the aid station and we made the tag. I was off, running along on what felt like two blocks of ice. It took a good 20 minutes before I could feel my feet.By the time I started it was pitch dark and I had two headlamps to guide me but it took me time to find an adjustment that fit. The path was completely torn up and the mud and manure was shoe sucking. I ran a conservative pace to get to know the course and reading the path in the darkness. While I felt like I was running decently fast, the mud inevitably slows any effort. I stumbled my way to a 42 minute lap and headed out a bit more confident in the second one. About 3/4 of a mile I caught up to Scott and Leah who were both running the solo 50k and decided to back off my pace to run with Scott. It was nice to have the company (and more light) and we cruised in for a casual 43 min lap. I got another headlamp from Alison for the final lap and tore off. I blazed as fast as I could, feeling great. I flew as fast as I could and ran my best lap. We finished in 4:12 and were the first woman pair,as well as third pair overall. Go team!

Alison and I piled into the car after I changed carefully and put my disgusting horse crap covered shoes in the trunk. My car was pretty much covered in mud from the inside out, which was hilarious! We drove back to the city and went to Araya were we ate some delicious. Then we went to Whole Foods to get some dessert. Alison stayed with me since she recently moved to Olympia and needed some place to crash while in Seattle from work and such.

Sunday continued the best weekend in a long time. We got up and walked to Whole Foods for some breakfast. Then we spent the rest of the morning in Ballard doing a little shopping, music finding and farmer market wandering. The sun was out and it was a brilliant day. We had Pho for lunch and then went for a 8+ mile run up to REI, Feathered Friends, etc and down along the water in Eastlake. We arrived back at my house in enough time to go (again!) to Whole Foods to grab some items for the potluck at games night with a bunch of ultrarunners. Games night was so much fun. Not only did we enjoy some amazing delicious food but enjoyed playing Taboo (girls rule!), Speed Scrabble and Jenga! All around it was a great weekend, I got to do what I love to run, eat and spend time with friends. It was relaxing, exciting and helped me feel even more connected and at home here in Seattle.

Building Flavor

When it comes to being gluten intolerant and vegan, alot of people think "what do you eat?" it must be bland, must be boring but in fact it is not at all. I think the key for people to understand that the reason why a lot of vegetarian meals are commonly meat dishes with the meat removed, that means you are taking away from primary flavor component and not replacing it with anything and so it is bland. The key to good vegetarian/vegan cooking is being aware that you must work harder to build the flavor, because fat carries the flavor and therefore meat is often the component that does that. However, I think once you are aware of that, it become so much easier to create fabulous dishes.

This week has been awesome for cooking. On Monday, I went for a nice 12 mile loop including a stop at the gym. It had been raining the whole time, but when I came out of the gym (having had to put all my wet clothing back on) the temp had dropped and it was freezing rain that turned into snow about 10 minutes into my run. I was suppose to meet my friend Tara for dinner and quickly got ready. When I emerged from my bedroom and looked outside, the ground was covered in snow! I decided to go get Tara anyways but the roads were treacherous (as Seattle people are completely unprepared for snow) and we called off our dinner plans and I took her home. I swung by Whole Foods for some ingredients on the way home. I decided to make grilled veggies with brussel sprouts, black beans with cilantro and diced green chilis,quinoa with chili and nutritional yeast, and homemade guacamole.



This was a very easy meal to prepare:
1) Grilled Veggies: I short cut on this one, purchasing some of Whole Foods grilled veggies and then cooking up the brussel sprouts over medium high heat, cut side down in some olive oil. Once the brussel sprouts were golden, I added the grilled veg in to warm it.

2) Black beans: Again, short cutting on this, I used a can of organic black beans and added some diced green chilis and a handful of fresh organic cilantro, warming them over medium heat.

3) Quinoa with chili powder and nutritional yeast: After my success with "not mac, nor cheese", I decided to try it again but make it more Latin to work with the rest of the meal. I cooked 1/2 cup quinoa in a cup of water (cook like rice) until all the water was absorbed, fluffed it with a fork and added a 1/2-1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.

4) Guacamole: 1 avocado, 5 cherry tomatoes chopped small, 1 green onion chopped small, 2 tablespoons prepared medium salsa, salt, pepper. Mash it all together and you are good to go!

This meal was incredibly tasty, warming and satisfying. When Alison came back to the house a few hours later, she was greeted by the pleasant smell of the cooking that still hung in the air (it is always gratifying when someone exclaims, "it smells so delicious in here!")

Last night I got together with my Uncle and his girlfriend to kick off what will now be a regular cooking session. I had emailed my Uncle an ingredient list for the evening and I headed over to his place to have some fun in the kitchen. It is one of my favorite things to get in the kitchen with others a prepare a nice meal. I was the head chef and he was my very helpful sous chef. I had decided to try out a few recipes from the cookbook I got for Christmas, Veganomicon.

Our menu:
Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing
Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

It was so incredibly tasty. Here are the recipes (Veganomicon by Isa Moskowitz & Terry Romero, 2007 Marlowe & Company, New York)

Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing
Dressing:
1/4 cup prepared spicy, smooth mustard
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (we used olive oil)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salad:
8 cups mixed organic greens
1 avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced thinly
1 small red oinion, slice thinly (I also soaked the slices in ice cold water to remove some bite)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 recipe Roasted Portobello mushrooms sliced thin
(roast portobello- marinate mushrooms in 1/2 cup cooking wine, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp balsamic, 2 cloves garlic for 20 min. Then bake in a baking dish at 400 degrees, covering with alumnium foil for 30 minutes. Take foil off, flip mushrooms and cook for 10 more minutes).

Toss all ingredients together! Enjoy!

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes

4 large Russet potatoes, scrubbed, baked and cooled (bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for 1 hour, giving it a perfectly crisp skin and creamy inside
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk or vegetable broth
3 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 small yellow onion, small dice
1 medium carrot, small dice
2 cloved garlic, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen peas, rinsed
juice of 1/2 lemon
extra oil for brushing

Slice the cooled potatoes in half and scoop out the inside. Mash the potatoes with the soy milk or broth (I used broth) and set aide the skins. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mustard and coriander seeds. The mustard seeds should begin to pop, if they don't after 1-2 minutes turn up the heat. Let the seeds pop for a minute (put a lid on them so they don't splatter you), add the onion and carrots, saute for 7-10 minutes, until the onion begin to brown.

Add the garlic and ginger, saute for a minute more. Add the cumin, turmeric and salt with a splash of water, stir well and add the potatoes, mixing everything well. Add a little extra water if it looks too dry. Cook until the potatoes are heated through, then add the peas and cook until those are heated through. Add the lemon juice to taste and stir to incorporate.

Brush the inside to the potato skins with a bit of oil. Then scoop the filling into the skin, pressing gently to hold the filling in place. Line the potato halves on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

This recipe could definitely have the spices up-ed if you like a stronger Indian flavor. It is an amazing dish and reminds me of the samosas I use to eat in South Africa, but without the pesky wrapper. The crisp potato skin was a satisfying alternative.


Overall, I am very pleased with how this year has begun... It makes me excited and curious about what is to come and how things will unfold!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Daily ummm, weekly wrapup

I had and have full intentions of being a much more devoted blogger, but this week it just hasn't shaped up that way. While I would love to run, eat, blog, repeat, unfortunately my life is currently not so. That said, a few things worth noting that are swirling around in my head.

Tuesday vs. Friday, my new fav city loop
I have a new favorite city loop from my house. Having already become bored with endless Greenlake loops, I have set out to find more loops and courses around the area. Now that I am more settled in to my life in Seattle, I feel better about exploring with just my watch, running shoes (and various layers of clothing)... I am from here after all, its not like I can get that lost. My new favorite loop incorporates the path to Fremont then a nasty climb up Wallingford Ave (which I absolutely never allow myself to stop on), round the zoo, down around the lake and home. I have been suffering all week from all manner of "took an off season" ills such as plantar fasicitis pain and blisters, including a real bugger on my heal. Not to mention some calf pain where Allison tried to work out some deep seeded issue (that never bothers me unless deeply massaged haha) through massage. Needlesstosay, my runs haven't felt great this week. But today I set out and did my new fav loop (9 total miles) again and finally (yes!) feel like my legs are coming back and my speed/endurance is finally waking up from its winter nap. I felt light and fit on my run and even knocked more than a minute and a half from my tuesday time of the same course.

Protein
I had my cousin over for dinner on Wednesday and she and I got talking about protein. She is a former raw foodist/vegan/etc at one time or another. I haven't seen her much this side of the millennium and it was very exciting to me to finally reconnect. She is an amazing woman and it it is great to reconnect with family especially one who seems to share alot of the same nutritional struggles, views, practices etc. We got to talking about being vegan, gluten intolerant and she urged me to really stay on top of my protein. Now, what vegan has not heard the "but where are you going to get your protein" argument but talking to her and discussing her own experience with malnutrition because of not enough protein, I took a harder look at my protein consumption. Most vegans get the majority of their protein from tofu and from grains. Well, unfermented tofu (regular tofu, edamame, soy milk, soy products, etc) and gluten are things that I am intolerant to. Meaning, I get the majority of my calories from veggies, fruit and healthy fats. Protein comes in smaller doses through nuts, seeds, and alternative grains. But when I am honest with myself, I don't really eat that many grains. I am not a big grain person. Having this discussion made me realize that I really really need to be more conscious about incorporating protein into my diet. I don't have to super dose myself because most americans get way too much, but I need to be getting more than I am. Especially now that I am back to running, I have to be more careful. She made some suggestions and I thought about some of my own. The main thing she suggested was tempeh, even though its soy, it is fermented and doesn't cause either of us problems. Yesterday I went out and bought a bunch and have been including it in a modified version of the lunch she makes. Thanks for the tips cousin!

Dinner, Lunch and Protein related ideas
The fact is that I love veggies and don't have intention of decreasing my consumption of them. However, I need a way to get my protein in. Simple solutions include adding a 1/2 cup of a bean or legume, and 1/2 cup of a grain; rice, quinoa (complete amino acid profile), millet or amaranth (highest protein grain). Adding a scoop of hemp, rice or pea protein to smoothies. Add 1/2 package of tempeh to a veggie stir-fry or salad. Hummus, need I say more. And actually one of my favorite realizations is that my favorite "treats" aka anything from Flying Apron is actually a protein powerhouse. The muffins I adore in the mornings or the occasional cookies should actually be incorporated more since 1) they are made with a combination of brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour 2) they don't use any refined ingredients 3) I don't even know if they can be considered "junk food" because they have so many health benefits....even when I am bad, I am good....

For dinner for my cousin, I broke out the indoor grill and made some veggie (mushroom, pepper, red onion, zucchini) kabobs sprinkled with chili powder, salt and pepper and roasted on the grill with a bit of olive oil. I made a chimchurri sauce with poblano & serrano peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, limes for topping the veggies. I also made a side of mashed sweet potatoes and another of black beans. Decent protein, but pretty well rounded, easy to make meal.

My cousin said that she too is obsessed with brussel sprouts and eats them daily with tempeh for lunch. So for the last two days for lunch I have made a green-packed stir fry with tempeh. I parcook the brussel sprouts and steam the tempeh. Then cook the brussel sprouts like I like them (golden crusty!) in some olive oil. When they are getting close, I add broccoli, onion, garlic, sugar snap peas and the tempeh which I chopped into pieces. Add chili powder (my current spice of obsession), salt, pepper and Italian herbs. Cook over medium heat until the veggies are cooked. Serve! Delicious. I make a huge bowls worth and it really hits the spot. The tempeh not only helps with the protein but it makes me fuller, longer.

I am hoping that this will help me stay on top of my protein, which will in turn help all of my hard work in the gym (lifting) and on the roads and trails, pay off even bigger dividends!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bring your own coffee cup?

I just stumbled across this great article at the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment,
it talks about the lifecycle energy cost of disposable versus renewable coffee cups. This quantifies the energy needed to produce, use and reuse the products.... The website also has other great assessments. I am still going to continue to carry my reusable mug, but am going to make sure that I get its true worth!

Addendum (r.e. andrews comment): I am not in any way saying that we should use disposable cups or anything. One of the most interesting things I find about this article is how it separates out one aspect of the environmental impact of a product. There is no question that it does not take into account the environmental impact of billions of cups going into a landfill...but it does beg the question, if we could make a disposable cup that was 100% compostable (and actually was disposed of correctly) would then that tip the environmental impact towards pro disposable. I think mostly I posted this because like The Story of Stuff, it makes you think about the true cost and holistic view of an items environmental impact.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Weekend Ramblings

Four things in no particular order about the weekend

Fatass on Tiger Mountain, January 5
It was my first trail outing of the season and headed out for a hard 25k loop on Tiger Mtn, which actually turned out to be the same loop that I ended my season with (unbeknowst to me). Allison had told me about it and we decided to run the loop together. The weather was crazy, from cold and extremely windy to raining and then snow and mud, we had it all. I felt ok though the hills really did me in. About what I expected for my 6th day of the season! I look forward to doing that loop again. My favorite part of the loop is the long, 3+ miles of downhill at the end!

Miles: 15
Time: 2:52
Elevation: a bunch

New Food Favorites:
Neither Mac Nor Cheese
(this recipe is definitely in development but the first permutation was delicious!)
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
3-4 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
sea salt, pepper

garnish: tomato, cilantro

Bring quinoa and water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. When the grains are cooked, but still moist stir in nutritional yeast, mustard, salt and pepper. Garnish with tomato and cilantro. Enjoy.

Notes: I use to love mac and cheese and so it is one of those things that really goes out the window! So being able to at least somewhat create the flavor profile and texture is great! I am going to continue to work on this, as well as other "cheesy" recipes and post developments.

Breakfast is back!
Breakfast is one of the hardest things for me to keep interesting as an athlete who is gf & vegan. But recently I have been thinking outside the box and moving away from my simple smoothies (which I still do pre-workout), fruit salads with nuts, rice bread with almond butter and the occasional Flying Apron gluten free vegan baked goods (their muffins are sooo good). As I mentioned previously, I got my hands on some gluten free oats and have been enjoying them cooked in almond milk! But this morning I branched out a bit and made gluten free bagels! I used the Pamela's Wheat Free bread mix. After boiling and baking them, I sliced one in half still warm and topped with almond butter and boysenberry preserves. Simple, but tasty!

Dating is hard
No one reminds you how hard dating is! This week I have gone on a few interesting dates, mostly all good. For me though it seems to bring out the worst side of me: the blabbering, inarticulate, "i am such a freak" self. Maybe that is what happens to everyone, but it is just such a weird thing. I haven't really dated much in the past year part because of just being too darn busy and part because who doesn't lose confidence after someone spazs out on you...and I guess I get a false sense of how easy dating is because most people I know either are in relationships or find it really easy to get in relationships. But I guess I am just out of practice, who knows. I am just going to keep on being me and know that that is enough....for what, who knows....

Friday, January 4, 2008

Solid food is nice

After a bit more than a week of soft foods and careful eating, I am pretty much back up to being able to tolerate most things. I haven't tried anything truly crisp like crackers or anything, but my mouth seems to be healing nicely. While not able to eat normally, I had to work really hard to get enough calories in so that I could help my body heal and sustain. I developed some good standbys that could come in handy during the season.

Smashed blue potatoes
I have loved the flavor of blue potatoes since I first had them last year in my prerace meal when in Madison for Mad City 100k. Simple prep for these is to boil them or roast (if you are not a toothless wonder like me), and smash them up with a high quality olive oil and Real sea salt. A dash of chili powder goes a long way.

Hummus and avocado
I love hummus and I love avocados. Combine and you have a serious love affair. For some reason I had never thought to combine the two directly before surgery. I just put a scoop of hummus into each half of the avocado and enjoy. Gives me a good dose of the healthy fats and a bit of protein. I choose hummus that doesn't have alot of extra oils added and sometimes additional flavors like spicy or fire roasted red bell pepper.

Grape Kombucha
I have been brewing my own Kombucha for over a year now and really enjoy having it in my diet on a daily basis. I have been meaning to mix my brew with straight fruit juice for a while to flavor it like GT's Kombucha. While recovering I really craved grape juice, so after buying a few bottles of GTs, I decided to try and combine my own. I bought some straight Concord grape juice and mixed about 1/4 cup in with a glass of kombucha. Amazing!

What I am excited about now (that I can eat it!):

Bob's Red Mill Certified Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats
Finally a Certified Gluten Free Oat that I don't have to go through hell and high water to find. Regular oats are usually tainted with Gluten even though they are not glutenous themself. And some so called Gluten Free Oats are just segregated in processing, while Bob's Red Mill is processed from growing, through harvest and processing. My mom and I stumbled upon this at QFC before Christmas and I haven't been able to eat it until today for free of the grains working their way into my tooth voids (yummy). This morning I made my first bowl of oatmeal in years. I took 1/2 cup oats and combined with 1 cup almond milk and cooked for about 15-20 mins. This is definitely the way to go. The almond milk made the flavor amazing, the texture was great and there is nothing like a warm bowl of oatmeal (with fresh mango on the side) on a cold rainy winter morning!

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