Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bootie Bustin', Aussies and Another Fall Soup

Today marks the start of Amanda's Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge and I am psyched! Nothing like a little challenge to keep ya from totally piggin' out (and spreadin' out) during the holidays. She has over 300 participants and you can still sign up until the end of today, so head on over. I think its going to be great meeting a lot of active folks and there are some great prizes too! I believe Miss Shelly was the big winner last year. I can't imagine why, I mean it's not like she's dedicated or anything.

Here's another fascinating and active lady I found through Q.  I've always wanted to visit Australia, now I can live vicariously through  Miss Barbie (as in, put another shrimp on the). She's an amazing wife,  mom, triathlete and is uber cool! She is hosting a seriously aussome giveaway over at her blog. Checkity check her out.

After one gorgeous week of warmth, sunshine and salad, last week me hit me again with its darkness, wind and rain. But I kicked it in its sad blue a** with some Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. I love Ina Garten and have made this soup every November for the last five years. I halve the recipe, add a bit more curry to fire it up and leave it a little on the chunky side 'cause I'm not a big fan of pureed soups. All that was required to make it vegan was a switch from butter to Earth Balance. Yum! Hot and sweet, just the way I like it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Year End Race Report

All work and no play makes me grumpy. I've been working on some on-line training this week for my job and some other work that also involves sitting. So much sitting that my bum is sore and my legs are stiff. Not cool. I have managed to get in most of my workouts this week which has helped. I do miss all my bloggy friends. I'll try to catch up with everyone next week.

The Nick Caldwell Memorial 5K was last Saturday. I mentioned before that I slacked off on my training plan and went my own way and even no way for a couple weeks since my last race, so I was nervous this time around. My last few runs before the race weren't great, my heart rate was high and I couldn't get my breathing under control.

It was chilly the morning of the race and I don't exactly have my cold weather wardrobe sorted out yet, so I wore a long sleeve top and a pair of teal "running tights" that are actually Victoria's Secret yoga pants. During the race, a couple dudes were poking fun at my choice of apparel, but I didn't mind. Whatever works.

The course was flat except for one hill close to the second mile and one tiny hill at the finish. I made the first mile at right around nine minutes and I felt pretty good except for my breathing. I'm a heavy breather and always feel a little self-conscious about it, but this time there was some guy behind me that was even louder than me, so I tried to stay ahead of him so he'd drown out all my huffing.

There was a water station right past the first mile and I grabbed a cup and gulped it down. Huge mistake. I guess it was Gatorade, but it tasted so sickeningly sweet, like kool aid with too much sugar. I spit, threw my cup then huffed and puffed up my way up the first hill and headed down the street. Right about mile two is when things started to go bad. That foul liquid kept threatening to come back up. I kept telling myself to keep running while simultaneously looking for some bushes for cover. I kept everything down, but the last mile was a combination run/walk. It wasn't JUST the sick feeling either, my heart rate was through the roof.

When I came up the last little hill toward the finish line, I saw Knucklehead waiting for me. This made me so happy and gave me that little extra push that I so needed. The clock read 30:38 when I crossed what I thought was the finish line. I was excited because I thought I had totally blown it, I didn't even see anyone else behind me. Suddenly I found I had shaved over a minute off my last 5K time. Not.

See the white mark in the pic? Apparently, that was NOT the finish because when I received my official time, it was 31:24. I'm okay with that, because that is still a tiny bit faster than my last time.

This is my last race for this year.  I'm going to spend the winter conditioning my body to run better. I'll race again when three miles feels good, not like I'm going to die.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Bars Revisited

Success! After thinking about what I really wanted in a pumpkin bar, I came up with a new recipe and it was a hit not only with my fam, but I tried it on one of my friends and she liked it too!  It tastes more like pumpkin pie but without the crust.  I only wish I had taken a picture, but by the time they were cool enough to cut, we were packing up to go for a hike and then they were history.

Super Pumpkin Bars  
(these are Vegan, Gluten Free*, Sugar Free and Healthy so if any of these words frighten you, step away)

8-10 dates
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 (15oz) can white cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
3T. ground flax seed
2T. coconut oil or Earth Balance melted
1c. pumpkin puree
2t. cinnamon
1t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. allspice
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. oat flour**
 1/2 c. shredded coconut
1c. dried cranberries (optional, I didn't use these this time around, but they would be good)
note: if beans contain no salt, you may add 1/4 t. salt to mixture.

Preheat oven to 350º and grease an 8x8 or 9x13 glass baking dish.

Pit the dates and toss them into food processor along with the maple syrup and ground flaxseed and process until dates are broken up and evenly dispersed. Add the beans and oil and pulse. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cranberries if using. Process until thoroughly mixed. Stir in cranberries if using.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 -40 minutes. Here's were it got a little tricky. The toothpick test really doesn't apply here, because hot beans are going to stick to whatever you poke in there. I ended up baking this batch 35 minutes. The top had formed a bit of a golden crust (think brownie) and it felt firm to the touch.

Let them cool completely then cut into squares, or if you are in a hurry, cut them all crazy while they are still warm and make everyone "guess" at what shape they got.

*gluten free if you are using oats from a gluten free facility yo
** you may just whir old fashioned oats in the food processor until they look like flour

Today's Workout:  Yoga Meltdown- I haven't done this DVD for a while and I was happy to find my balance is much better on warrior 3 and the rolling T's felt almost easy. Holding them for 15 seconds? That's nothing after all the 30 second side bridges. That means my core IS getting stronger!!!  Thanks Jamoosh!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The vegan thing is going pretty well, I did have a minor set back over the weekend that involved much oohing and ahhhing over a friend's hot artichoke dip which made me have to try it. My family loved it, so I'm going to see if I can create a vegan version for the holidays. I will say that last week I felt kind of BLAH but I'm 98% sure that it had more to do with the weather than my diet. I've also avoided the scale because I'm off sugar again (no Halloween candy since Oct, 31!), so I'm not counting calories or watching portions while I'm doing the vegan experiment.

This morning I was checking out some Vegan MoFo around the web and came across this ineresting pumpkin bar recipe. I had leftover beans and pumpkin that needed to be used, so it seemed like the perfect thing for after school snacks.
Knucklehead thought it was pb fudge. Boy was he surprised!
The bars were very soft, I had to bake them an extra five minutes and even then, they remained quite soft inside. When I first tasted them, the banana was overpowering, but they were also hot out of the oven. After letting them cool completely, I could detect some bean, but no one else in the family suspected, so it may just have been because I knew what was hiding in there. I would have really liked for the bars to taste more pumpkiny.

Overall, the whole verdict was...strange. Everyone ate them, but everyone said they were "different" which is the word my family uses to tell me that they really didn't like something but they are either afraid they will hurt my feelings or there is nothing else available to snack on. I have a feeling this was the latter because I declared today a candy-free day.

In Happy Herbivore's defense I did make some modifications to her recipe. I eliminated the sugar completely, adding a touch more maple syrup and I didn't really measure, I just dumped in the pumpkin and beans that were in my fridge. I also used up the rest of my oat flour instead of the instant oats called for. So basically, I didn't follow her recipe at all. Sorry HH, that's just the way I roll. All of these modifications could have affected the taste and I'm sure this is the reason they were so sticky inside.

I like the idea of vegan pumpkin bars, and the use of beans to get that chewy texture (and protein!), but I'm more interested in eliminating refined sugar than doing away with fat, so I'm going to play around with the recipe some more. I want to have some vegan goodies for my dad to try at Thanksgiving and I think this one will be a winner.

Today's Workout:
Run 3.1  Ran the course I will be running on Saturday. Man, I'm a mess...way too much walking! I have to get back to regular running STAT!!!!  Legs feel fine, just my heart rate is through the roof! I need some advice (I probably won't use it, but I do need it).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

It's tough explaining to Tucker why I refuse to go out running in this weather so I just let him out to see for himself. He came right back inside. He doesn't mind the cold, but I think we're on the same page about the rain.
He pouted about it all day.

It was a great day for soup though and for dinner I made one of my favorites: Pasta Bean Soup. I've always served it without the bacon, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken, but this time I added a few drops of Liquid Smoke to give it a little more depth. Delicious! A little almond butter on toast to accompany...perfect.

No workout today. Boo! I got a new Runner's World today that has a plan that's supposed to help keep me motivated. I think the fact that I'm excited to go to bed so I can read about getting motivated says a lot about my current state.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Ever Cheesless Pizza

 I love pizza and all its cheesy goodness, so I seriously doubted that this would ever work out.  I usually start with a yummy homemade crust, load mine up with tons of veggies and lots of ooey gooey cheese. Everyone gets to choose their own toppings; Smiley likes banana peppers, black olives and extra cheese, Knucklehead likes the same but with pepperoni  and Mr. Run likes everything but the kitchen sink on a thin crust. But everyone loves the cheese.

After digging through the veggie bin, I came up a little short for my portion- just a half a portabella mushroom, a red onion and big bunch of basil from the garden. Seemed like that would be a little dry on a pizza with nothing to stick it all together so I made a quick pesto.

Basil and Walnut Pesto     
1 c. packed basil leaves
1/4 c. walnuts, shelled
2 garlic cloves                        
1/8 to 1/4 c. olive oil
sea salt to taste

Whir the basil, walnuts and garlic in the food processor until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the oil a little at a time until it is a good consistency. Stir in sea salt.

Yes, I know it looks kind of weird, but I promise it's not. It's yummy. I started with a layer of pizza sauce, then added the mushroom and onion, then spread the pesto on with a fork. I had to thin the pesto a bit with water to make it spread and hindsight tells me a spoon might have worked better for spreading and for photographic purposes, but dang, I was hungry.

Pesto doesn't melt and glue everything together the way cheese does, but it does pack a flavorful punch. I'll be experimenting more with pizza toppings as it is one our favorite meals and I'm pretty much over salad since the temperature dipped below 60º.

 I would love to hear your favorite pizza toppings (vegan or not) and any recommendations you may have for making vegan pizza.

Today's workout : 2.5 mile warm up
Lower body: squats, lunges,wall sit, step ups, plie squats, stiff leg deadlifts , leg lifts (two sets of 12)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Banana Ginger Pancakes

In case I haven't said it before, we're pretty big on pancakes around here. Sunday mornings consist of everyone sitting around our tiny table with their favorite section of the Sunday paper and chomping on some 'cakes. We definitely have our favorites including cranberry orange and buckwheat, but lately I've been trying some new flavor combos. The most recent was Banana Ginger. These are vegan and the recipe was (heavily) adapted from Get Healthy, Go Vegan.

Banana Ginger Pancakes

3/4 c. oat flour
3/4 cup. 50/50 flour (this is just half whole wheat and half white flour)
1/2 cup oats
2 t. baking powder
2 t. ground ginger
1/4 salt
1 1/4 c. soy milk
3T. apple butter
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed banana

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix rest of ingredients together in a medium bowl. Mix wet into dry and mix until combined. Add more soy milk if needed to get a pourable batter. Pour about 1/2 cup onto a hot griddle that's been lubed with vegetable oil (I like Earth Balance or coconut oil). Flip when bubbles form and serve hot with 100% pure maple syrup. Yum!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Its a New Day!

October went out with a candy-fueled bang, but no more. I'm so over that. I ended the month having ran  46 miles, four miles off my target, but I'll take it. My weight stayed the same and I never did get back a good strength training groove. Try, try again.

 I did sip some good beers though. We had some Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Beck's Octoberfest, and Shiner Oktoberfest and I have to say I enjoyed the pumpkin ale the most. You can taste the cloves, not too much, perfectly spicy.

Big November goals:

Run - 4x per week with a distance goal of at least 50 miles.
I'm having a harder time getting out there. I'm a complete wuss when it comes to the cold. My runs the last two weeks have been late in the morning or in the afternoon when the sun has been shining long enough to knock some of the chill off the air.

Lift  3x per week
With a focus on glutes at least twice per week - I noticed while trying on jeans recently that my derriere seems to have gone south for the winter. So not cool! I worked so hard last year to get everything where it belongs and then let it go! I guess where I don't see it all the time, I kind of forgot. Nothing like a giant three way mirror to remind you!
Work on flexibility - more yoga and stretching. Flexibility is great until I start lifting, then my hamstrings get soooo tight. There's got to be a cure.

Eat -Vegan for the month 
I eat a lot of vegan meals, but I'm no vegan. I became rather obsessed with vegan baking a few winters ago, mostly because I doubted it possible that great baked goods could be made without butter and eggs and partly because I love a challenge. Some things worked, some had the texture of upholstery foam (yes, I have ingested some, don't ask).

Since I have admired Vegan MoFo from afar for the past two years I decided to go vegan for the month and join in all the fun (if they will let me since I am indeed a poser). This will be somewhat of a challenge because as the days become shorter and colder I like hot, comforting meals that generally involve cheese and/or cream. I'm so not into any of that fake stuff either. I love a challenge, especially if it involves food.
So for the next month, this blog will have a heavy leaning towards vegan meals, recipes and how all this veganization  makes me feel, look etc.

Non-fitness related goal:
November is Home month here at casa de loco. I have several projects  that are (and have been for years months) in various states of completion and my goal is to complete them and maybe start a new one. Smiley and Knucklehead are both ready for a change in decor, so I would like to at least get one of their rooms painted a shiny new color before the new year.

Oh and this month I vow to actually look back at my goals and try to stay a little more focused.  Pinky swear.