Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Back in the Loop!


Due to my minor knee injury, I had taken few weeks off of Crossfit workouts. I also had to ease up on biking because that was also a bit painful. No one enjoys taking a break from something they love, but I just had to remind my self that it's still winter and it's okay to "fall off the wagon" a little bit. I met up with Molly, one of the owners and coaches at Crossfit Instinct, on Friday to work on some mobility. I got to learn a lot of new stretches and felt really good afterward. I stayed for an AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout of pull ups, pushups, and knees to elbows, and avoided any squat type movements. Sunday I went in for another workout. I finally feel like I'm "back in the loop". I had missed the people, the atmosphere, and the quick and intense little workouts.
Back in the Crossfit "loop"! Yay!!
There was a Paleo Potluck being held after Sunday's workout at Crossfit Instinct. Naturally, if food is involved then I'm so in. I decided to roast some veggies and ended up going with a few of my favorite things: beets, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts. I know beets seem like one of those weirdo vegetables.... but seriously... give beets a chance. Besides everyone loved them. 


                           Rosemary Roasted Veggies



Wait, you want a closer look? I knew you would....


Sweet Potato, Beets, and some cute little brussel sprouts. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed*
  • 2 large or 3 medium beets, cubed*
  • 16 oz brussel sprouts*
  • 3tbs coconut oil*
  • 3 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbs dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the beets, sweet potatoes, and sprouts in a large bowl. 
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat until melted. Stir in the vinegar and dried rosemary.
  3. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the beets, potatoes, and sprouts. Using your hands, stir everything up until all the vegetables are evenly coated. 
  4. Spread the vegetables out onto a large baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes (or until the vegetables are cooked all the way through and crispy on the outside). Make sure to stir the vegetables once after about 15 minutes. Serve them warm or cold.
*If you'd rather not give beets a chance, or sweet potatoes, or brussel sprouts.... then try your own favorite things! Just remember the cooking time may be more or less for some veggies. 
* You could sub olive oil for coconut oil and skip step 2. But just remember what I told you about cooking with oils at high heat in my last entry!

Molly has dabbled with lots of vegan/ paleo recipes since I have known her. I was glad to see she brought some vegan dishes to the potluck! I told her I would be posting them on my blog :) Have a look:


Molly's Paleo Summer Squash Soup 

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 pounds cooked summer squash, chopped
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg*
  • 1tsp cinnamon*
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger*

Method:
  1. In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic and leeks until they are tender. 
  2. Stir in 1 cup of the vegetable broth. 
  3. Transfer the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. 
  4. Pour the mixture back into the pot an slowly add the remaining ingredients. 

*The measurements for the seasonings is what I would start with. Molly did not specify the amounts so adjust them to your preference! :)

Molly's Paleo "Crack" Bars



Take a long look at that crack because it wont last long.
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 8 tbs coconut oil
  • 6-8 tbs agave nectar*
Method:
  1. In a medium saucepan heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Once the coconut oil has liquefied stir in the agave nectar.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. 
  3. Pour the coconut/agave mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until everything is evenly mixed together.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Scoop out the crack and flatten it onto the wax paper using your hands.
  5. Place your crack in the freezer for 10 minutes before consumption. Store your crack bars in the refrigerator (because you don't want anyone to find that shit).
*Molly used organic local honey in her recipe (I personally don't have a problem with a little local honey every now and then), BUT the agave nectar makes this 100% vegan AND paleo :)

Have a good week you cute little Paleo Vegans :)
-Em


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Acorn Squash and Training Update

I've been splitting my long runs up by doing 5 miles in the morning with Patty, Kari, and Garrett and the rest after work. I really like it because it breaks up the monotony of the miles. Now that the days are getting longer it's also nice because some of my running is done in daylight! On Thursday I was able to get an easy 10 miles in- 5 with my morning crew and 5 with Emily Z, yes my Valentine's Day din date! Because Em and I just chat the whole time I really felt like I did no running at all.. just felt like I got to hang out with my friend. It was great. I plan to continue training this way for the marathon. Has anyone else trained for marathon this way?? Also-- my knee pain seems so be completely gone. Yippee! Praying that I can stay injury free until at least October!! 

After all that running what would be better than red wine and cooking?? hmm? I know...Not much. 

This was a very "Autumn" recipe... in February. It's all good. 
I love cooking with squash! You may have noticed that I've already posted two recipes with spaghetti squash, one being the Crazy Sesame Noodles. Butternut squash is another favorite of mine, but I had never tried acorn squash before, so I decided to buy a couple little guys. One thing I love about squash is that it will doesn't go bad within a week like most produce. This gave me some time to think about what on earth to do with the acorn squash.
Check out the Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe I came across on All Recipes. 

My friend Lindsay and her cousin, Madelyn, came over for dinner. I didn't know Madelyne was a vegetarian, but obviously that worked out nicely for me! We  enjoyed the wine Lindsay brought over and chatted about life, relationships, and you know... other girl things. As I was cooking, Madelyn had lots of questions about going vegan. I was happy to answer them! :)



The cutest little stuffed acorn squash I ever have seen.

Madelyn the vegetarian gives acorn squash a thumbs up :)




Sweet and Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash 
from AllRecipes.com (modified to be made vegan and slightly healthier)

This recipe will easily serve 4!

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tbs coconut oil*
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped*
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large apple, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs agave nectar
  • 1/2 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegan cheese

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees . Place the squash halves, cut-side up into a small baking dish, and bake for about 35-40 minutes. You want the squash tender, but not too soft.
  2. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  3. While the quinoa is simmering, heat 2 tbs coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper, jalapeno pepper and celery. Saute the veggies for about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the apple, and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more. Add the ginger, vinegar, agave nectar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Stir in the quinoa.
  4. When the squash is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minuted. Carefully scoop out the acorn squash from the skin, slice, and add to the stir-fry mixture. Spoon the mixture back into the squash skins, and sprinkle with Daiya cheese. Return to the oven, and bake until the cheese has melted, about 5-10 additional minutes. (yes-- Daiya melts like "real" cheese!)
* I only used 1 jalapeno pepper and it was pretty mild. Next time I will probably add another jalapeno pepper.

Have you ever wondered why I am cooking with coconut oil as opposed to other cooking oils? Read for yourself in this article!

Madelyn said she is going to start cooking more vegan food and that's just fabulous! A great source for vegan recipes is VegWeb. I post all my own recipes to that website!

Happy Weekend :)
-Em

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carrot Cake Everything..... Except Cake.

It's going to be pretty obvious from this post that I. Love. Carrot. Cake. Since the flavors of a carrot cake are so distinct I figured it wouldn't be hard to make some healthier, non-cake foods, that taste just like a classic carrot cake. I had lots of fun inventing these three recipes with the main ingredients being Cinnamon and Carrots. Miki had a blast too considering carrots are his absolute favorite!!  
Oh.... and just a side note... I'm saving my favorite recipe 'til the end!
Miki, the vegetable monster.

Recipe #1: 
Carrot Cake Smoothie

This first recipe is a variation of the protein smoothie I typically have for breakfast. This smoothie recipe is great because it serves as a good recovery food and it is packed with protein...so it keeps me full all morning!! I run at 5am and don't have lunch until after noon. That's a long morning!! If I don't have my protein smoothie I'm usually starving WAY before lunch... and then I do this :(






Ingredients:
  1. 1 banana (I use frozen)
  2. 1 cup almond milk or other milk alternative
  3. 1 cup shredded carrots
  4. 2-3 pitted dates (I soak mine in water)
  5. 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  6. 1tsp nutmeg
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  9. 2 tbs raw pecans
  10. 1tbs ground flax seeds*
  11. 1tbs hemp protein or other vegan protein powder* 
 *If you omit the flax seeds and the protein powder this will still taste just like carrot cake. It just may not keep you as full for as long!

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. TA-DA.

Recipe #2
Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake Smoothie didn't impress you? Well how about some pancakes. Seriously, what's better than cake for breakfast? I actually made such a large batch of these pancakes that I had to have my dad come over and help me eat them! This recipe is half of what I made so you should get 6-8 smaller pancakes!


Don't they look awesome???

Well, they were.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 tbs ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1cup almond milk or other milk substitute*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 tbs canola oil
  • 3/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1 1.5 oz box raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
toppings:
  • vegan cream cheese*
  • additional pecans
  • maple syrup
Method: 

  1. Combine the flours, oats, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Stir in the almond milk, applesauce, vanilla, and oil and mix well.
  3. Add the carrots, pecans, and raisins last and mix until they are all evenly distributed throughout the batter!
  4. Cook on an oiled (or sprayed) pan, on medium, flipping each pancake once.
  5. Top with a small spoonful of vegan cream cheese, more pecans, and of course... maple syrup!

*For vegan cream cheese I use Follow Your Heart vegan gourmet cream cheese. 
* This made a very thick batter. If you want the batter a little thinner you may want to add an additional 1/4 cup almond milk.





Recipe #3
Carrot Cake Bites


This last recipe turned out to be my favorite! The idea was inspired by these German Chocolate Fudge Bites from Katie's vegan desert blog. These cute little Carrot Cake Bites would make a great post workout or after school snack (Yes... I still have an after school snack). This recipe will make 5-6 Carrot Cake Bites




They almost didn't last long enough for the pictures!

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup raw pecans
  • 2/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Topping:
  • vegan cream cheese*
Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend together well. 
  2. Roll the "dough" into balls and gently  press your thumb into each "dough" ball.
  3. Place a teaspoon of vegan cream cheese on top of each Carrot Cake Bite.

*For vegan cream cheese I use Follow Your Heart vegan gourmet cream cheese. 

If you try any of these recipes I would love some feedback. Sometimes I wonder if I'm such a fat kid that everything just tastes good to me!? I just love food. Have a great weekend and happy vegan cooking!!:)
-Em

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time

Four day weekend for Chatham!? Whohoo! I'm not sure why we had today off, BUT I'm not asking any questions. Thanks to the extra time I was able to get some quality run and swim time in. On Friday I swam with a new friend,  Brett, at the fit club pool, masters Sunday, and solo at Eisenhower today.
My swim workout today. Yes, I made the 1:10 interval!
  I don't like swimming alone, but if I must, I prefer someone at least tell me what to do. I could write my own workouts...  I just get bored so easily in the water. Good thing I have my own personal swim coach at my fingertips. Like I've always said, just text and you will receive. :)

Okay.. that might not work for most things.


I also did quite a bit of cooking this weekend! I experimented and made up a few new recipes and am planning to share them with you later in the week. Very excited about them by the way! Aside from my own creations,  I get the majority of my recipes from cookbooks, VegWeb, and fellow bloggers. One blogger who I would like to mention is Lexi. She is an excellent cook in Chicago, IL, who regularly posts recipes to her blog. Check out her blog: Vegan Miss. I've tried a few of her creations and loved them.  Lexi's Tuscan Kale is one of my new favorite recipes to make because I typically have all the ingredients on hand. Yesterday I stopped in at food fantasies (obsessed with that place) and picked up some organic Kale and made this:
Lexi's Tuscan Kale recipe + carrots!
I followed Lexie's instructions exactly, only added some leftover carrots. It turned out to be perfection. Thanks again, Lexie:)
Have a great week everyone! Mine will only be 3 days long :)
-Em

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Frozen Run and....Frozen Desserts :)

After having some unseasonably warm temps we were once again hit with a bitter cold in the Midwest. I knew those 60 degree days were too good to last! I wasn't at all thrilled to run last weekend in the well below freezing temps, but I did it. And somehow managed to get an 11 mile run in?? At least the sun was shining and that helped keep me going! I've started logging my miles back into the daily mile. Click on the link if you would like to follow my training and start logging your own workouts!
Bundled up in a zero degree windchill! Eeek!

Last Sunday was my baby brother Christopher's 18th birthday! We had a small get-together for him at my parent's house. I love making food for people so I decided to bring a cake of some sort to share with the family. I've been following this girl's dessert blog that I came across one day. She is a vegan **yes!** and strives to create "healthy" dessert recipes. I don't think I would go so far as to label all of her desserts as healthy, BUT they sure aren't unhealthy. I've tried a couple of her recipes and they are really pretty fantastic. Check out this cookie cake I made for Christopher! I topped it off with some homemade coconut ice cream. It was a hit among my family, Christopher, and his friends! You should also note that Christopher is one of those guys who says things like "I don't want to eat it if it's vegan." So yes, pretty remarkable that he tried the cake and ice-cream, and even admitted to enjoying it.

My brother Daniel and I are serving up some cake and ice cream!

Cookie Cake à la mode....You heard me! Now try it!
Cinnamon Coconut Ice cream 

Ingredients:
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbs cinnamon*
  • 2 tbs agave nectar or other sweetener*

Method:
  1. Empty the can of coconut milk into a dish. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (I did this overnight). 
  2. Spoon out the clear coconut water that has separated from the coconut. (You can discard or use for another recipe).
  3. Using a hand mixer, whip the coconut slowly adding the vanilla, agave, and cinnamon.
  4. Freeze for 3-4 hours and... TA-DA! Homemade ice cream :)

*I like a lot of cinnamon and used a whole tablespoon. You may want to start with the 1/2 and possibly add more. If you don't like cinnamon try adding something else to your ice-cream, like 1/4 cup of berries or 2-3 tbs chocolate chips! I use the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips. They are vegan! Let me know how you like that if you try it.

*If you use regular sugar you may want to use more than 2 tablespoons, as sugar is not as sweet. 




Enjoy your weekend! I get Monday and Tuesday off of work 0:)
-Em

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Valentine's Day Din


Well the boy and I broke it off. It's all good, we wanted different things and are very different people. And maybe both pretty stubborn about it. Who me?? :P

 I've always thought Valentines Day was a pretty silly holiday, BUT I was a little bummed to become single only days before it. Thank God I have friends. My Valentine, Emily Z, came over for the evening. She brought over wine and flowers (Thanks again, Em!) while I did the cooking. We often have dinner like this during the week, but since it was Valentine's day and everything I tried to make things special. I know a lot of people really love this holiday, so this is for all the lovers out there:






Okay yes, I'm the über nerd here who thought it would be fantastic to make the tofu meatballs into little hearts. 


I had been wanting to try a meatball recipe for a while now and after browsing multiple recipes I came up with this one. It's vegan and gluten free (bonus)!! 
Italian Spaghetti Squash and Tofu Meatballs

Ingredients:

Pasta:
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash

Sauce:
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste 
  • 1 tbs coconut oil (you could substitute olive oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tbs dried basil
  • 1 tbs oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs agave nectar, or other sweetener

tofu meat balls:
  • 1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup corn flake crumbs (you can substitute quick oats)
  • 2 tbs Bragg's Amino Acids (You can substitute soy sauce)
  • 1 tbs parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbs coconut oil, or other frying oil

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Roast the halves face-down on a greased baking pan or sheet for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh of the squash is tender.
  2.  For Sauce: While the squash cooks, heat 1 tbs coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic  and onion and cook for about a minute. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir in the spices, and salt, pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Stir in agave nectar and red pepper flakes and cover.
  3. For Tofu Meatballs: Combine the tofu, walnuts, cornflakes, Braggs, parsley, and garlic salt. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly and shape into balls, or hearts, or whatever shape you want :). Mix together the corn starch and nutritional yeast on a large plate. Roll the tofu shapes into the mixture. 
  4. Heat 2 tbs coconut oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Saute the tofu shapes until all sides are brown (about 10-15 minutes depending on size).
  5. When the squash is done, remove from oven and let it sit for five minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle. Using a fork, scrape the squash flesh out of its skin into a bowl, separating the strands as you go. Top with sauce and tofu shapes. 
When you're a teacher you get LOTS of Valentines.
This was one of my favorites this year. 

Did you celebrate Valentines Day? With who and what did you do? One of my 4th grade students said she ate lots of red jello & strawberry ice-cream for dessert. I about puked in my mouth, but to each their own!
Whatever you did, I hope it was great.
-Em

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweet Potato and Kale Curry

Ah. cooking with Miki, wine in hand. There aren't many things I would rather do on a random week night....

In fact, I think you should try it. Because... just look at what happens when you do: 
Umm... can I get a "YUM". :)

This is a super easy, yummy, and light week night meal. 

Sweet Potato and Kale Curry

Ingredients:
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 7 cups fresh kale leaves (a lot goes a little way, ya know)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk substitute (if you want a thicker creamy curry use 1 can of full-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 2- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2tbs curry powder
  • 1/2tbs curry paste (I used green curry paste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Method 
  1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan. Add the garlic, onion powder, ginger, curry, salt, and pepper. Fry for a couple minutes until the spices are softened and fragrant. Slowly add the milk and the sweet potato cubes. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are soft, but not mushy!
  2. Add the bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes, or until the peppers have softened. If you need to, add more milk.
  3. Reduce heat. Add the Kale leaves and cover until the leaves have wilted. Uncover and stir, mixing the kale into the potatoes and pepper. 
  4. Serve over jasmine rice or just as is....and TA-DA! You are now a Thai chef...sorta :)
Stay tuned this week for more training updates and some desserts!! My knee is feeling so much better, yippee!
-Em

Thursday, February 9, 2012

About this girl :)

received a "get to know you" blog award from an old swimming buddy Amy. She has been blogging about running and getting back into shape as well as motivating others to do the same. Maybe she will pick up racing in the future!

So with this blog award I am supposed to tell you 7 random facts about me. I will try to keep it interesting since most of you who follow me know the basics already :)

 Seven Random Facts About Me. 

1.  I have been a coffee drinker since the age of 11. Maybe that's why I'm short.

2.   I used to cry as a little girl when my brothers would smash lightening bugs so see the pavement glow. I respect all living things, and always have.

3. Sometimes I feel like my dog is the only person in the world who loves me for ME. Everything about me, he's cool with it all. I really don't know what I would do without my dog!
Me and Miki, the day we met.


4.  I've been a swimmer for almost 20 years..... crazy. It seems like yesterday I just started running, but I've been doing it for 6 years now. I am going into my 3rd year of triathlons/ cycling and caught that bug the minute I tried one. 



5.  My longest race to date is a 1/2 IronMan (70.3 miles). I am doing another one this summer. Hoping for a full IronMan (140.6) in 2013.



6. I have been a vegan since Thanksgiving Day 2010. I was vegetarian in high school but fell off the wagon in college. I finally stopped listening to everyone who told me "you can't be an athlete and a vegetarian," when I joined the Michelob Ultra running team. A lot of my teammates are vegetarians or vegans. They are all in crazy good shape and some of them run a marathon every month!! You definitely can and Should be a vegan if you are athlete. Best decision I have ever made regarding my lifestyle. 


7. I like to live by these words:
Remember, You can't take any "thing" to the grave.

Hope you learned something about me you didn't know :) More recipes and training updates coming soon!
-Em

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Coco-nuts.... Ha!

Giving my knee another day of rest.... seriously what a pain. Decided to use my time to satisfy my craving for....






Straight up chocolate. And coconut. And peanut butter.
And yes, they are balls.


 I used **no sugar or sweetener** in this recipe, score.


Ingredients
1c unsweetened vegan chocolate chips
3tbs nut butter (I used peanut butter)
1/4c oats
1/4c milk substitute (I used almond milk)
1/2 banana, mashed
1c shredded unsweetened coconut


Method
  1. Melt the all the ingredients except the coconut in a small pot over medium heat for 5-7 minutes stirring every minute or so.
  2. cover a large plate with parchment paper and use a 1/2 tablespoon to scoop out the mixture in separate "blobs" onto the plate (you will end up with 12-14) Let the chocolate "blobs" cool for 10 minutes. 
  3. Fill a bowl with 1 cup shredded coconut.
  4.  Place the chocolates one by one into the coconut (they should still be fairly soft). Roll into a ball and repeat until the ball seems pretty solid. Place back on the plate to cool. Do this with all the chocolate "blobs". 
Pretty easy huh?!? 




Here is to rest days (I often forget those are part of training too) and a little bit of chocolate once in a while :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Twice-Baked Eggplant Rolls

One of my favorite things about being an Italian..... the food! I experimented with this dish over the weekend and it turned out awesome. It reminded me a lot of traditional baked manicotti.  If you are on the Paleo diet, or a soy-free diet you could replace the tofu "ricotta cheese" with this chive ricotta nut cheese. If you try that version, please let me know how you like it! 



Baked Eggplant Rolls


Finished Product
Ingredients:
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 26oz vegan pasta sauce
  • 1tbs Cooking oil (I use coconut oil)
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I use Daiya
  • 14oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tsp dried oregeno
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 1tsp dried onion powder
  • 2tbs olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1tbs red pepper flakes (optional)
Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices length ways. Grease two cooking sheets with coconut oil and arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes.
  2. While the eggplant is in the oven you can make your tofu "ricotta cheese". Drain and press the moisture out of the tofu. Place the tofu in a medium sized bowl and mash the tofu  with a fork (or just your hands like me) until it has the consistency of ricotta cheese. Combine 1/4 c up the Daiya cheese and the olive oil to the tofu and mix evenly. Combine the garlic, basil, onion powder, olive oil, salt & pepper, and spinach to the tofu mixture. TA-DA! You have vegan "ricotta cheese". The doors to the vegan Italian world just opened a lot wider for you and :)
  3. Pour 3/4 cup pasta sauce into a glass baking dish. the one I used is 9 x13in. Place 1 (heaping) spoonful of the tofu mixture onto each eggplant slice. Roll them up and place them seam side down into the baking dish.
  4. Top the eggplant rolls with the remaining sauce, and Daiya. If you like a little kick you for sure need to add the red pepper flakes!
  5. Pop those puppies back into the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until Daiya melts. TA-DA!

There was enough food for 2 (very hungry and active) people. We even had a little bit leftover, so I am assuming it could easily serve up to 4 people. I think Jason told me I "hit the nail on the head with this one". Come one Jas, I always do that. Happy vegan cooking friends!



Minor Setback

60 degrees, YES! Decided to throw on 
the CEP's to spare everyone's eyes.



Was able to get another long (11mile) run in on Thursday. Split it up by doing the first 5 in the morning with Patty, Kari, and Garrett and ended it with a solo 6 in the park after work... in shorts and a t-shirt (Ah-mazing). I had planned on going longer, but I was experiencing a slight pain in my left knee. I decided enough was enough and went home to RICE it. 


Friday I began to feel under the weather and actually had to leave work early because of it! Still somehow made it to Chicago, but seriously did nothing other than sleeping and (at least) eating. We ventured out to go to the Chicago Diner and REI (a sporting goods store Jason likes) but that was about the extent of my willingness to move a muscle. Miki slept on my lap the whole way back to Springfield and once we got here, he cuddled up with me for another nap. I love my dog and how in-tune he is with his surroundings. He really knows how to be there when I need him.


The Chicago Diner- My favorite place to eat in Chicago.
Miki, the living heating pad.


 Hopefully that was enough rest for me and my knee!! I'm also getting a massage tomorrow as long as I am feeling better! Have a good week! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Year of the Marathons

My running history:
My first encounter with running was in 2002 (my junior year in high school). I remember heading out the door one morning in some crappy old sneakers (probably Nike shocks... ha!) because I felt guilty for skipping out on a swim workout. I think I made it about 1/2 mile before I turned around and literally said "fuck this". I was used to water and running involved this foreign thing called gravity- which kinda hurt! I didn't hit the pavement again for 4 years, when my Millikin swimming buddy, Jessie, convinced me to run a 5 k with her. I didn't train and had no idea what the hell I was doing, BUT had fun nonetheless. After my swimming career officialy ended the following year I decided to train for a half marathon. My first was the Lincoln Memorial half marathon in 2007 (with another MU swimming buddy Kara). I have done countless half marathons and 2 marathons since then. I love to run!! =)

All signed up!! Woot Woot!

Running in the Daylight!? What is that???

It was great to get out for a long run this weekend in the DAY time and some unseasonably warm temps. I think I'm going to start splitting my longer runs up beginning tomorrow with a 5 miler in the morning and a 6-7 miler in the evening. I am planning on racing the Illinois Marathon in April with Kara. I Haven't signed up yet, but don't have any reason to believe that it would fill up. I was going to just focus on that Marathon and the Racine 70.3 for my big races this year, but then Jason had to go and sign up for the Chicago Marathon today. I am not good at being a spectator so decided to sign up on a whim. I figure 2 marathons plus a 1/2 IronMan will make up for the fact that I'm not doing a full IronMan this year. I'm pumped for race season, and these warm temps are only getting me more in the mood!! This is what my lineup looks like so far:

April

Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon

 Pioneer Sprint Triathlon

Illinois Marathon 

June
Tri-Shark Sprint Triathlon

July
Decatur Lakeside Triathlon
Ironman Racine 70.3
Iron Abe Triathlon (olympic) 

August
Railsplitter Triathlon

September
 Big Shoulders 5k Swim

October
Chicago Marathon

I'm assuming there will be another 1/2 marathon somewhere in the fall to get ready for Chicago.

Happy training friends!!
-Em