Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Running on Full

As promised, I'm trying to add in a few extra miles this week to make up for some of my weekend indulgences. Also, I was planning on running a couple half marathons this fall (before I broke my elbow), and now that I'm back to running, I need to log some more miles to get into racing shape. This morning I got up a little early to fit in a 6 mile run before work. A few reasons I prefer to run in the morning:
-Its a great start to the day
-Boosts your energy and your metabolism
-I like to get it done, so I know that work or other distractions won't prevent me from getting out there later

I also like to run in the morning because its fun to watch the city wake up and people start their days.

Bridge on Main Street - 6am

I finished my first 6 mile run since before I broke my elbow! Not quite as fast as I'd like, but I feel good!!

After cooling down and stretching I immediately drank a big glass of water and ate some cantaloupe and a hard-boiled egg white. Your body benefits most if you refuel within the first 30 minutes after a workout, and its best to have a mix of protein, carbs and fat. If I can't eat a good meal right away, I always try to have a snack to keep myself going.

For my real breakfast, about 40 minutes later, I had one of my favorites: oatmeal! I don't know why, but the more I eat it, the more I crave it. I use organic rolled oats (not the oatmeal packets with lots of sugar and preservatives) and add my own flavors with fun mix-ins (usually I add something that will make it crunchy, salty, and sweet!). This morning I mixed in crushed walnuts and dried cranberries.

Cranberries make it nice and sweet and the walnuts give it a great crunch (nothing grosser than mushy oatmeal). I typically add either walnuts or almonds, which are two of the best nuts. Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various micronutrients, and they're also the nuts with the highest overall antioxidant activity! Oatmeal and walnuts are both said to lower cholesterol, which is also a good thing!

I try to eat something every 3 to 4 hours during the day to keep my metabolism going and my stomach from growling. My late morning snack was another favorite...Greek yogurt with mix-ins (are you noticing a mix-in theme today?)

This is Vanilla Greek Yogurt with 1/2 a cup of Fiber One Cereal (Original) and 1/3 cup of blueberries mixed in. There's calcium and lots of protein in the yogurt, fiber in the cereal, and lots of antioxidants in the blueberries (said to be the berries with the highest antioxidant activity)! And its delish!

Aaand for lunch (gosh I feel like I ate a lot already and there's still dinner and dessert later haha) I had salad and a leftover turkey burger from last night:

My salad consisted of organic mixed greens, mushrooms, cucumbers avocado, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and strawberries. I usually make salads with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and as little lettuce as possible (because I think its pretty boring). I apologize for how red my salad is today, usually its much more colorful, but that's what I found in my fridge!

My burger was delicious! I topped it with more avocado, tomatoes, and dipped bites into Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.

I made the burgers last night. I started with extra-lean ground turkey and added the following:
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Green Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper
  • A Shake of Bread Crumbs
After mixing it all together Pat formed it into 4 patties (I like to avoid handling raw meat when there's someone else around that will do it for me!)...thanks Pat!

Then grill on medium for about 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway (make sure there's no pink in the center before taking off the grill).
Check out those grill marks! :) The burger was just as good leftover today as it was for dinner last night. Next time I may go a little heavier on the red pepper flakes and green chili powder for more of a kick!

Monday, August 30, 2010

San Francisco and Sonoma Valley

My weekend was full of delicious food, ever-flowing wine, sightseeing, quality family time, and a wedding! The original reason for the trip out west was for my cousin Luke's wedding to Amanda in Sonoma. I wanted to go out there for the whole week to maximize my wine-tasting potential, but silly things like work got in the way, so I settled for early Thursday - Sunday. Sadly, upon arriving in San Francisco, I realized that my camera wouldn't work (it only displayed a black screen with a shadow across the center) so I wasn't able to take nearly as many pictures as I'd hoped. So my only pictures were taken on my Blackberry.

All of us were starving after our 6 hour flight from Boston, and my sister had spent even more time traveling from Charlottesville, VA. I don't like most airport food, and the snacks I'd packed for the journey didn't last long. Once we checked into our hotel in San Francisco, our first priority was food. My dad wanted a burger, and the concierge suggested The Burger Bar, which was just a block away.

I got the Chef's Veggie Burger - caramelized onions, button mushrooms, lentils, green peas, brown and white rice, pumpkin puree, potato, bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. This was seriously the best veggie burger I've ever had, and I ate a lot of veggie burgers in my vegetarian days. I originally ordered it because it had pumpkin in it (I obsess over pumpkin) but all of the flavors came together to make a delicious burger. I ate it plain (without the bun or condiments) because I didn't want to mask any of the tastes! I'm going to try to make this at home. Everyone else got hamburgers, which I tried, and they were also delicious!

I was also impressed by another item on the menu...something that I'd had just the night before. Beer Floats! I didn't order one, but I'm hoping that beer floats start to catch on.

After refueling at The Burger Bar, we took the trolley around the city and spent some time at Ghirardelli Square where we stocked up on chocolate bars and drank hot chocolates to warm up (it was 60 degrees and so windy! Way colder than back home).

The next morning I went for a run with my brother and sister. We explored Union Square and the surrounding area, as well as Chinatown. I think running is my favorite way to explore a new city. We even challenged each other to running up the steepest hill we found, and I decided that Heartbreak Hill has nothing on the crazy hills in San Fran!

We got breakfast at a little French place that we'd passed on our run:

I got a breakfast sandwich on multi-grain toast with scrambled egg, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cheddar cheese and a side of fresh fruit. Amazing!

After breakfast we packed up and headed out toward Sonoma Valley Wine Country. Of course we first stopped to be typical tourists at the Golden Gate Bridge.

We stopped at two vineyards on the way to our hotel in Sonoma. I wanted to stop at ten, but we had to make it to the rehearsal dinner on time, and preferably without slurring our words. The first vineyard was Viansa, which was absolutely beautiful, and also had a cafe and lots of cheeses, oils, and spreads to try and buy.

They had a really good Truffled Artichoke Tapenade, but I spent my money on wine instead.

For $5 you can taste 4 different wines, and if you buy a bottle of wine, the tasting is free. So of course we bought the wine (I bought 2 bottles, my dad bought 2 bottles and my sister bought 1 bottle).

After Viansa, we went to B.R. COHN for another wine tasting. I preferred these wines to Viansa, even the less expensive bottles. So I bought another two!

Today's Lesson: I was a little bit unsure about the difference between a winery and a vineyard, so when I got home I looked it up. Here's the basics (from A Taste of Wine website):
Vineyard: A vineyard is, as the word suggests, a "yard" where vines are grown — specifically, vines for grapes used to produce wine. A vineyard may be small with just a few acres or it might be huge with hundreds of acres.Technically speaking, a vineyard is not necessarily a place where wines are also produced — the grapes may be grown for the purpose of creating wines, but the people in charge of growing and tending the grape vines aren't necessarily the same ones responsible for actually creating the wines. In practice, though, if someone is going to put "vineyard" on their bottle of wine, they are likely responsible for both growing the grapes and producing the wine you're drinking.
Winery: A winery is a place where wine is produced: it's where the grapes are processed, stems and leaves removed, and fruit crushed. The grape juice is fermented and aged for a set period of time then bottled before being shipped out for distribution. A winery is basically where every part of the process of creating wines takes place once the grapes have finished growing and have been harvested.
*It's very common for vineyards and wineries to be at the same location and managed by the same people, but there are many cases where they are separated.

The rehearsal dinner was held at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma. The appetizers, main course, and dessert were all fantastic. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures. Once seated, we started with the Mixed Greens Salad (pickled strawberries, laura chenel cabecou goat cheese, champagne vinaigrette). I had a chicken entree which I don't remember the specifics of, perhaps because my glass of Pinot Noir seemed to refill itself every time I took a sip. I also gave Pat half of my dinner because he was still hungry and I was more focused on my wine and anticipation of dessert. I chose the S’mores Tart (graham cracker crust, guittard chocolate ganache, fluffy italian meringue, vanilla ice cream). Wow.

The wedding on Saturday was one of the most beautiful I've been to. It was held at Beltrane Ranch and the weather was perfect (mid-70s), the sun was shining and the flowers were in perfect season. The entire place was breathtaking. Before the ceremony was a short reception while the guests arrived, and Arnold Palmers were served (sweet tea flavored vodka with lemonade), which happens to be one of my favorite drinks in the summer. After the ceremony was more drinks, again with an emphasis on local wines and also with a keg of Moose Drool Brown Ale (made at Big Sky Brewing Co - Luke's family has a vacation house in Big Sky, Montana, which I stayed at last summer and now want to move out there and open my own brewery - but that's a story for another day!). During the "cocktail hour" there were several appetizers passed around. I was most excited about these guys:

Little cones with pulled pork sliders and shoestring french fries! I don't think I've ever seen a cuter sandwich in my life. They tasted great, too!

The dinner food was southern-themed, and was served family style, with big plates on each table that everyone helped themselves to. The first course was unbelievable:

  • Asparagus and arugula with Parmesan cheese 
  • Many varieties of heirloom tomatoes with corn and balsamic vinegar
  • I don't know what the third thing is, other than I cannot describe how amazing it was. It had lots of cheese, corn, and was crispy on the top and like pudding in the middle.
The meat was also good, though I couldn't eat it all because I ate every bite of the first course:

  • Fried chicken with a kick (tasted like Tabasco or red pepper was in the batter)
  • Flank Steak
Usually I'm so distracted at weddings (catching up with friends, dancing, enjoying a cocktail or 5) that I don't eat very much of my meal. This wedding was certainly an exception because the food was too good to resist! Cake with fresh strawberries followed dinner, and later in the night there were cones (like used for the sliders) of donut holes to munch on!

The beautiful couple:

All in all, this was a wonderful trip! I certainly did the EAT.DRINK part well, and managed to find time for the RUN, although I think a few extra miles will be needed this week to balance out the weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beer Floats

Today was a shorter day at work, I took my "lunch" (went for a run) at 3:15 and left the office at 4 to go home and pack for my upcoming trip. My after-run snack was delicious, if a little unconventional:

Cold leftover corn on the cob! Perfect snack for a runner on the run! :)

After sitting in lots of traffic and then quickly packing up for San Francisco and my cousin's wedding in Sonoma, Pat and I hit the road down to Concord to have Chang An take-out (yumm) with my family. After dinner came the most noteworthy part: ROOTBEER FLOATS!

I have been saying forever that I thought beer floats would be really good...if you paired a nice dark beer with good vanilla ice cream. Everyone has always looked at me like I'm crazy, but who wouldn't want to combine beer with dessert?! Two amazing things that could only be better if put together! So after years of skepticism from others, my brother and I randomly came upon the topic last weekend, and he said that he'd made them before. Now I had to try them! So after dinner tonight he made beer floats for everyone...and EVERYONE loved them! I can honestly say that these were way better than I even imagined them being. We used McSorley's Irish Black Lager (but you could use any dark beer, I bet Guinness would be great, too) and Breyer's Vanilla ice cream. Next time I'll eat less dinner and save room for more floats!

Please try these and let me know what you think!

Goodnight, its off to San Fran in the morning!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stuffed Tomatoes, Broccoli, Beets, and Tilapia

Well I may have missed the rain yesterday, but I certainly didn't today. It poured all day long, and by the end of my 5 mile run, I was sufficiently soaked through:

The run itself was great, it was the long car ride home in wet clothes and wet shoes that wasn't so much fun. When I got home I immediately jumped in a hot shower to warm myself up.

Well, not quite immediately. I was starving, so I wanted to get dinner started. For anyone else who makes this recipe, I'd recommend cooking the orzo before or after a shower, not during. I came back to the kitchen to find my pot of orzo boiling over:

And once strained, the pot was a sticky mess. This won't be fun to clean - luckily dishes aren't one of my chores ;)!

Tomorrow night we're sleeping at my mom's house because we're flying out of Logan Airport very early on Thursday morning for San Fransisco. I wanted to use up all of the fresh food before it went bad.

To make the Stuffed Tomatoes:


  • 1 cup cooked orzo, cooled (after cooking, pour into a strainer and run cold water over the orzo for a couple minutes until cool)

  • 2/3 cup finely chopped bell peppers (multi-color will look best - I chose green and yellow)

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles

  • Grated lemon rind from 1/2 a lemon

  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tomatoes

  • Salt and pepper to taste
Two nice big tomatoes that came from one of Patrick's client's gardens:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except for tomatoes.

Core the tomatoes and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and inner membranes.

Stuff the tomatoes with the orzo mixture.

Meanwhile, Patrick had the exciting job of peeling the beets and putting them on to boil. I love beets, but I don't love peeling them. Its a pain to peel each small beet, and everything you touch turns purple in the process. If you're willing to sacrifice your hands for this task, fresh beets are delicious.

Thanks Pat!!

Once peeled, slice any larger beets in half, so all are about the same size (so they have the same cooking time). Put them in a pot of boiling water, and cook on medium for about a half hour, until a fork can easily be inserted. Fresh beets are great served hot with some salt and pepper.

We also steamed some broccoli, and sauteed tilapia filets (previously frozen) in the juice from 1 1/2 lemons, fresh ground pepper and chopped tomatoes. Frozen tilapia is inexpensive, thaws quickly (place wrapped frozen filets in a bowl of cold water for 5ish minutes) and has about 100 calories, no fat, and 21 grams of protein!

The finished meal:

Despite starting off with messy orzo, everything came out great! We used up all of the fresh veggies from the farmer's market and had a well balanced meal.

I'd definitely make the stuffed tomatoes again. Pat was surprised by them and loved the taste, he said that the hint of lemon was great without overpowering the other flavors. Next time I might even try making hot stuffed tomatoes - I'll saute peppers and onions, mix with hot orzo, and add feta (maybe even some mozzerella) and lemon - stuff the tomatoes, wrap in toil foil and bake.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Treats

About halfway through the afternoon my head was pounding from staring at my computer screen at work. Outside, the rain was pounding just as hard on the ground. Summer rain storms are great for running because its warm enough to be refreshing. I suited up and headed out for a run around Jamaica Pond, a mile away from work.

By the time I was outside, the rain had slowed to a drizzle.

It was still quite windy, though, as you can see from the trees:

I ran 3.5 miles this afternoon. I've only been back to running for about 2 weeks since breaking my elbow earlier this summer and taking a 6 week running hiatus. I broke my elbow while running...I know, I know...pretty sad. But now I'm back on the road and so happy to be doing something with myself again. I'm running slower than I was before, but I'm hoping that I can get back on track relatively soon.

On my ride home from work I thought about a good post-run snack to make - something with carbs, protein, and some fat. I admit that I snacked a bit on my way home:

These chips are semi-addictive, and I blame my friend Callie for bringing them to the beach last week and forcing me to eat them (okay, she offered and I dug in).

At home I made a loaded sweet potato with: Turkey Bacon and Honey flavored Greek Yogurt (instead of sour cream - more protein and less fat). I also threw on a few dried cranberries for good measure.

Trader Joe's has great greek yogurt!

Poke the potato with a fork a couple times and put in the microwave for 3 minutes on high, then wrap in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

I took a quick shower while my potato baked, and then threw it all together after:

Very quick and easy, and satisfying, too!

Also of note: today I came across an article about a 9 year study of female's chocolate consumption in comparison to their risk of heart failure:

I figured I should go ahead and get started, so I bought some dark chocolate and did my best to eat in moderation.

I chased my chocolate with some fresh peach from the farmer's market that ripened beautifully on my windowsill:

Though full of fun treats, I'm glad Monday is coming to an end! Goodnight!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rainy Sunday Dish - Shell Beans, Tomatoes and Pasta

One of my favorite things about Nashua in the summer is the Farmer's Market every Sunday on Main Street. Its a small market, with between 7-10 stands each week. I love the fresh fruits and vegetables, and always come across something new I'd never had before. This morning was no exception. The first farm stand I stopped at had interesting looking multi-colored beans. I asked what they were and was told that they are called Shell Beans, and are similar to edamame and lima beans. I love both, so I bought a bag. At the next stand I saw similar beans, but they were bigger and mostly dark pink, instead of multi-colored. I asked the farm owner, who is always a great source of produce information and cooking tips, and he told me that his beans are the same type I'd bought, his were just fresher (picked that morning) than the others (at least a few days old he guessed). I decided to buy his also and see if there was a taste difference. Here's what he told me about Shell Beans: they're also called Cranberry Beans (because of their color) and can be eaten raw, steamed, or added to soups and chilies. You can preserve the beans by shelling them and drying them (until hard like you find in the store) or by shelling them and freezing them.

I left the farmer's market with two bags of shell beans, some fresh peaches, a bunch of beets, and my favorite little cherry tomatoes (Candy Orange variety):

When I got home I inspected my shell beans:

The beans on the right are the first ones I bought, and you can see that the beans on the left look a lot nicer and fresher. Once shelled, they look about the same, except the beans on the left are bigger:

I decided to make a variation of a recipe I found online from The New York Times. My mom visited yesterday and brought lots of great tomatoes she bought at a Corn and Tomato festival in our hometown, but some of them were so large that they split. I wanted to use them today so they didn’t go bad, and they fit in perfectly with my Shell Beans, Tomato and Pasta Dish.

Side Note: Wonder why tomatoes get those cracks at the top? It happens when there is a lot of rain in a short period of time and the tomatoes grow too fast, so the skin cracks. Kind of like stretch marks for tomatoes!

Shell Beans
1 Bay Leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
Parmesan Cheese rind and fresh Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Simmer Beans
In a large skillet, add the following:
-Shelled Shell Beans (haha)
-Bay Leaf
-Thyme and Rosemary, to taste (fresh sprigs are best, or use dried herbs)
-Piece of Parmesan Cheese rind
-1-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Sprinkle of Salt

Cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. Simmer about 40 minutes (until beans are tender).

Tomato Sauce
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Put tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water and put in a bowl of ice water for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes from ice water.

Core and peel the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into sections. You’ll be able to pick up the sections and remove the seeds (hold over a sink or the trash) – the seeds will basically fall out since you blanched the tomatoes in the boiling water. Tear the tomatoes into small pieces and set aside in a bowl. This will get messy!

In a large pot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium, then add 1 clove of garlic, minced. Sauté garlic until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil (again fresh basil is best, but dried basil works too) and a sprinkle of sugar (to offset the acidity of the tomatoes). My dad always taught me to add a carrot to any tomato-based sauce while you cook it, because the carrot absorbs a lot of the acidity. I didn’t have large carrots, so instead I used 2 baby carrots.

Stir the sauce frequently until the tomatoes have cooked down to a thick sauce. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

Start your pasta when there is less than 10 minutes left on the sauce. I think this recipe would be best with shells, ziti, or spirals, but when I looked in my cupboard the only whole wheat pasta I had was spaghetti, so I used that.

At this point your beans should be close to done. When they are, drain in a colander over a bowl (to save the bean broth). They don’t look quite as pretty after being cooked. Instead of being dark pink and purple, they’re more of a grayish-brown:

Stir in about ¼ cup bean broth into the tomato sauce, then add beans. I decided to add some of the Candy Orange tomatoes to give some more color and sweetness to the dish.

Drain pasta, add tomato and bean sauce, and grate some Parmesan cheese on top.

This dish was good for a cold, rainy night. I’m glad I added the Candy Orange tomatoes, because the sweetness offset the garlic and seasonings nicely.

Let's Get This Started

I’ve been meaning to start this blog all summer. But as they usually do, this summer has completely gotten away from me and I realize that the end of August is quickly closing in. Here’s a little bit about myself, and I hope you enjoy!

I love to eat, drink, and run. More specifically, I enjoy fresh, interesting food. From middle school through my sophomore year in college, I was a vegetarian. In high school I waitressed at an ice cream shop/restaurant and also worked at an organic farm. I now live with my boyfriend who believes meat and potatoes to be as important as air and water for survival. We tried eating paleo, which is restricted to what cavemen would have eaten (lean meats, fruits and vegetables). What I've found is that I'm most comfortable somewhere in the middle - lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, tofu, and meat. And dessert, of course.

My beer experience began with lukewarm PBR at college frat houses and whatever my roommates and I could afford (usually Keystone Light) in college. Now I won't say I'm above these beers now, but I've certainly come to appreciate a good beer. I love trying new types, especially after touring the brewery where they're made. I always thought I hated IPA, but after a tour through Cape Code Brewery (in Hyannis, MA) and speaking to the brewer, I began to love it. I've dabbled in some homebrewing and hope to continue to learn more, brew more, and drink more! The same goes for wines, which I love to sample and pair with different foods.

In between all of the eating and drinking, I've also managed to fit in some running. Actually, I strive for it to be a balance - eat good, nourishing (and yummy) foods to fuel a strong, healthy body. I love to run, its a great way to relieve stress, think through a problem, or bond with friends. Over the past few years, I've run two marathons, four 1/2 marathons, and several shorter distances (12k, 10k, 5k, etc). Races are awesome for a few reasons - they take you to fun places, you get a cool new t-shirt, you're surrounded by people who also enjoy to run, and there's usually a post-race party with beer and good food (if not, make your own). A cold beer and a delicious meal never taste better than after a hard run!

My philosophy is be good to your body and it will be good to you!