Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Should Be Fat....

Sweet potato chips I made a couple weeks ago. So yummy with ketchup...
But I know... I need to get rid of that ketchup.
Paleo/vegan meal new friend Tony made for me at Cafe Andiamo.
He is also a fan of sweet potato chips! :)
Black bean brownies I made for my students last week. I liked them a lot.
Vegetarian/vegan Buffet at the Holy Land Diner (facebook page).
My new Nike-pro running shorts that have nothing to do with me being a fat kid.
My bike trainer/iPad set up that has everything to do with me having ADD.

Those sweet potato chips were SO easy to make and delicious. The ones Tony made in the photo above had a little cinnamon on them. They were so good I didn't want to put ketchup on them! Next time I will try adding a touch of cinnamon to mine. Here is the recipe:



Ingredients:
·         2 medium sweet potatoes
·         ½ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp course pepper
·         ½ tbs coconut oil, melted

Directions:
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Thinly slice sweet potatoes. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato slices with the coconut oil, salt, and pepper.
  2.  On two baking sheets, arrange sweet potatoes in a single layer. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes have browned. Transfer to a wire rack; chips will crisp up as they cool.




The black bean brownie recipe came from Happy Herbivore. I followed the recipe exactly and did not use the raw sugar. I learned that you have to train your pallet to love low-sugar foods. I loved to brownies... but I rarely eat sugar. My students on the other hand.... well they loved the chocolate soy milk I brought in to accompany the brownies :) Some of them did like the brownies too! It's good to expose them to new things.


Rainy weather is here and I'm guessing that means riding the bike trainer. Hopefully not too much or I will go insane. Or just go to CrossFit instead. Have a fab week my friends!
-Em

Monday, April 23, 2012

Petersburg Sprint Triathlon and Brrrrr!!!

The anniversary of the day I became a "triathlete" was on Saturday. It was a pretty cold morning for the Pioneer Sprint Triathlon in Petersburg, IL. I was honestly more nervous about freezing my ass off than I was about racing! Luckily it warmed up to a tolerable temp (still had to throw on a jacket for the bike), and I managed to get 2nd place again this year. You better believe I was happy with that. Of course... here I go comparing myself to last year. It just makes me feel better just to know I am improving in this sport! Biking is clearly my weakness. My dad feels pretty strongly that I need to work the most on my transitions! Haha.... love him.

Year
300 Swim

100 Pace
T1
Bike
13 mile
mph
T2
Run
5k
Mile Pace
Finish Time
‘11
4:26.6
1:29
1:08
39.06
19.9
48.9
24.34
7:55
01:10:05
‘12
4:07.2
1:22
54.5
38.30
20.3
48.1
21.19
6:53
01:05:39

Some pics from the race. I know... I know it looks warm out there but don't be deceived.
The first 2 pictures were taken from the  Hardy Breed site... thanks guys! :)
Running was my favorite part of this triathlon. Probably my fastest 5K ever.

Group of us who were cooling down together

Nicole and I were 1st and 2nd!
The group above followed this race up with celebratory beers at a hole in the wall in Salisbury! What fun! The next day I was able to get a 5000 yd swim in and a 42-ish mile ride in with Patty. It was still pretty cold out there....


 Because of all the cooler temps this weekend my school was so cold today. I could not get warm all day!! All I could think about was going home and cooking up some really HOT soup! And that I did... It actually turned out to be really good!! 

An old USAT magazine makes for a decent place-mat. 

                                          HOT and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup!
Serves 2-3
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or another nut butter)
Method:
  1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic with the coconut oil in a large saucepan for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the sweet potato, pepper, and tomato to the pot. Stir in the cumin, ginger, salt, pepper, and nut butter. 
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. Ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. This would taste good garnished with cilantro... but I sure didn't have that on-hand. Next time...
This was a thin soup- but very good. If you want it thicker I would try using 2 sweet potatoes. I hope you enjoy the recipe and enjoy your week! I hope we get the warmer temps back :) 
-Em

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eggplant & Almond Pizza (crust)

For my Dad's birthday he, my mom, and my baby brother came over for dinner. I wanted to make something good and healthy for my dad :) I had the idea to make mini pizza's on eggplant slices (which I will probably still do sometime), but of course I goggled "eggplant pizza" and found out that everyone and their uncle has already had that idea....and some even better ones. This recipe was modified from Stuff I Make My Husband.

Eggplant & Almond Pizza




Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

Crust:
  • 2 large eggplants, shredded
  • Egg replacer for 2 eggs ( I used Ener-G-Egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese (I use Daiya)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp dried basil
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tbs coconut oil
Toppings: 
  • tomato sauce
  • 1tbs coconut oil
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup vegan cheese (I used Daiya)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. In a large bowl toss the eggplant shreds with the salt while you prepare the other ingredients. This will help draw out some moisture.
  3. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the eggplant by pressing into a bowl and carefully draining into the sink. 
  4. Combine the drained eggplant shreds with the egg replacer, almond flour, cheese, flax seeds, basil, baking powder, and coconut oil.
  5. Grease a baking pan and press the eggplant mixture so it lines the entire pan or until it is about 1/4" thick. *
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bottom has begun to  brown.
  7. While the crust is baking, saute the toppings In a large frying pan. First melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion and green pepper for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and tomato and continue to saute until all the ingredients are softened, but not entirely cooked. 
  8. After the crust is cooked, add the sauce, toppings, and the vegan cheese. Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. 
  9. And... DONE :)
*when I cooked this crust it did stick to the pan a little. You may want to use parchment paper to avoid that problem... or just make that pan extra greasy. 

I will have to make this again! My family... a bunch of non-vegans loved this pizza! Even my brother, Chris, who I refer to as the "vegan hater" inhaled a couple pieces.



Hope you all had a fab weekend! Yesterday was the Petersburg spring triathlon! I will have an update soon, but it went better than expected! :) I think I'm still high on endorphins.... love that. 
-Em

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ummm.....Bonus!

I decided to go vegan about 18 months ago for ethical and environmental reasons. Since I never liked eating meat anyway, to be honest I wasn't thinking about my own health AT ALL (that's the typical old me). Clearly my way of thinking about nutrition and being vegan has changed. I now would consider myself a vegan for my own health... as well as for ethical and environmental reasons :) I think it's safe to say that these days I am a borderline health nut. I have eliminated most processed foods, refined sugars, and gluten from my diet. I sure can't give up everything though! Things I will most likely never live without are coffee, beer, and wine. If that makes me a weak person, then so be it :)

I thought I would share with you some things I have noticed since becoming vegan. Keep in mind I was only hoping to do something "selfless" when I made this drastic change.
In the past 18 months:

  • I have had tons of energy. I don't feel the afternoon "crash" anymore even though I get up much earlier than I ever did before.
  • I don't feel hungry as often.
  • I used to have a skin disease on my arms. It was nothing freaky just some little bumps... I forget what it's called. Anyway, ALL GONE! :) No more bumps!
  • I also have clearer skin in general. I rarely ever get a pimple
  • I haven't gotten sick... once! Not even a cold. My first 2 years of teaching I had a sniffy/runny nose most of the year.
  • I have more tummy aches!! I am not kidding you... I used to get a stomach ache after almost every meal. My parents (being the doctors they are never took me to the doctor) determined I had a lot of food allergies. My youngest brother deals with the same thing. Now I eat whatever I want and no tummy aches :)
Is this all just a coincidence I wondered? Well, I Googled (duh!) and discovered similar stories from other recently turned vegans! Read here at Gentle World. Anyone else out there who is vegan notice any positive changes like mine?

Just curious :) 
Alright. First triathlon of the year tomorrow. Wish me luck!
-Em

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicago Time

Miki and I decided to head up to Chicago this past weekend! Here are some pictures...

My friend Abe came along and snapped a pic of  Miki at the wheel!

Beautiful Church right by my friend Justin's apartment. We finally went inside.
It reminded me of Sistine Chapel.
Dinner at Northdown Cafe & Tap. We were able to cram 10 people in here without a reservation! They had some vegan options and several craft beers on tap. I had the Vegan Pork slaw for dinner. 
 Lexi from Vegan Miss ordered a quinoa dish. It was great to hang with her again :)
Me and Lexi and our mutual friend Clayton.
Can't forget Justin! <3
Brunch at the Pick-Me-Up cafe- Veggie Pita and Fries.
As you might recall I was feeling pretty stressed last week. There is just so much to wrap up at school in the next 6 weeks! It was GREAT to get out of town and take a little break... even from training. 

Relaxing

 Next Saturday is the first triathlon of the season out in Petersburg, IL. It's a very non-competitive and fun sprint triathlon. It will be good to see lots of familiar faces out again! Have a good week friends!
-Em

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stress

What a day. We all deal with stress differently. Some of us go shopping, some overeat, some call our mommies, and some completely lose it. 


I usually workout.


And then I do this: 


Yes... wine in the shower.



Oh.. and I also eat vegan food :)
Avocado Quinoa Salad




I like making quinoa salads because they are super easy and always store well.... if there is anything left to store. I modified a recipe I found at The Diva Dish. The only thing I really changed was adding a 1/2 cup of black olives and omitting the chickpeas (I just didn't have any). This recipe is great because it is high in protein and good fats. 


What do you do to relive stress? I hope you run, ride your bike, swim, or just...do a WOD. 
-Em

Monday, April 9, 2012

PR in the Prairie

This Saturday was the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon in Springfield. I have a little history with this race. I first ran it with Kara in 2008, and it was my first ever half marathon. I have done it every year since with the exception of last year, as I was recovering from an injury. This course has some major hills... and I love hills! I realize that is just not normal. The Lincoln Memorial Half is by far my favorite half marathon course. 


It's always good to look back on past races and remind yourself how far you have come! Here are some numbers from my past LM 1/2 marathons:


  Year        Date        Pace      Finish Time
2012
4/7/12
7:33
1:38:49
2010
4/3/10
8:11
1:47:14
2009
4/4/09
8:28
1:51:07
2008
4/5/08
8:58
1:57:29


Kara and I headed out to the race together in a chilling 37 degrees. Yes... the perfect temp for a race! I ran with a pace group (which I have actually never done before) led by a super nice guy,  Carl. We started out much faster than what I am used to, but I knew once I was able to hold 7:30's for the first 6 miles there was no turning back. I ended up surprising myself, getting a PR by more than 7 minutes. My official finishing time was a 1:38:49. I was incredibly happy with my time. I would like to give a shout out to a few people who helped me achieve this PR. Thank you so much to:


1. Patty and Kari- for training with me daily through the dead of winter
2. Molly and Tim at CFI- for helping with with strength and interval training
3. Emily Z-- for going for random long runs like it was no big deal (and it wasn't)
3. Carl- for keeping me on pace during the race
4. Kara- for doing this race every year with me :)




My friend Emily Z got 1st place for the women and Joe also took first for the men. They are too cute! 


Kara also got engaged last week so I got to hear about it all Saturday morning on the way to the race. It was great to hang out with her again so soon. Here are some pics from the race. 


This was around Mile 3- Running with Carl's pace group
Race finish... Attractive, I know.
Kara, me, and Emily Z at the finish. 

After the race I was definitely in the mood for beers, and it just seemed appropriate to grill out as well. Jeff came over and I grilled some portobello "steaks" for us. I served them with sauteed onions and sweet potato fries. So yummy! This is a pretty self explanatory meal, but here is my recipe for sweet potato fries.


Food Porn


Back to work tomorrow- About 7 more weeks for kids and then I can focus on other things for a while. :) Can't wait! Have a great week. 
-Em

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Veggs

Earlier this week someone asked me what my favorite Easter candy was. Well I didn't really know what to say other than it used to be those darn Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Afterwards I was unable to stop thinking about the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter in the form of an egg. What's a vegan girl to do?? Make her own... duh!


Although I made this recipe up, I did come across a couple similar recipes when I was trying to figure out what I was doing! Here is one from Elena's Pantry and one from Chocolate Covered Katie.
Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs---Vegan knock offs
They even got a thumbs up from the vegan hater.... 


Chocolate Peanut Butter Veggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
2 tbs ground flax seeds
2 tbs oats
1/4 cup almond flour
1 12oz bag of vegan chocolate chips (I use the Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips).

Method:

1. Combine the first 4 ingredients into a peanut butter "dough". Try not to eat it.... Form the dough into little egg shapes and place them in the freezer for about an hour. 
2. While the peanut butter eggs are freezing, melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over LOW heat. Keep the saucepan covered. It will take a while for everything to melt. 
3. Once the peanut butter eggs have frozen, use a tooth pick to pick them up one at a time (leave the rest in the freezer) and dip them in the chocolate. Place them on a plate covered in parchment paper and store in the refrigerator... and done! 

Now just cause these eggs are vegan (and lower in sugar) than the traditional Reese's Egg, it doesnt mean you should eat the whole batch at once.  You will get the same tummy ache! Just ask my mom... haha :)

I hope you all had a good Easter weekend. Miki and I went over to my mom and dad's for dinner today. My mom is so cute because she made vegan pasta. Us Italians.... we know nothing else. While I was over there Miki decided to be a punk and run away. Chasing him down the lane didn't feel so great... I am SORE from the race yesterday. 

Speaking of.... race update from the Lincoln Presidential 1/2 marathon to come sometime tomorrow :) I also have the day off, yippee!
-Em

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Training This Week

I've been back to work and things are getting very busy but I haven't let up too much on training. 8 more weeks... I can do this!


Patty and I at Lake Sanchris during our Sunday morning ride.

Some Swim/ Bike/ Run Numbers for the week
0- number of days I rested this week... or in a real long time for that matter. Need to get better at that. 
31- miles I ran (every day but today)
9,700- yards I swam (3 days)
67-miles on the bike (2 days)

Okay enough bragging, but not bad for working two jobs and being a single mom!

What, you don't think he counts?? :)


More Random numbers
2- number of times I made it to crossfit this week- yay!
1:30- PM time I woke up yesterday... and in a slight panic. What happens when I don't set an alarm. 
87- High temp for today- Hottest day yet.
120- number of box jumps I did Friday at CFI... ouch
120- Number of overhead squats I did on the same day. Double ouch.
3- The number of times I went out to eat this week. Lazy. 
6- Days until my next race, the Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon
1:45:01- My PR in a 1/2 marathon. That's the time to beat!


 I recently discovered I could do T2B (toe-to-bar) on a floating bar... cake!


I need to convince myself to do some sort of taper this week. Brother Daniel comes home this weekend and so does Kara! Have a good week!
-Em