Monday, October 27, 2014

Kale Salad!

Hitting up the Farmer's Market these last few weeks I really hit it big!  The Clemson Farmer's Market is SOOOO much better than it has been.  True, many farms come for one year and then head the Greenville, but it is a lot better then the craft heavy market then it started out.  The last official date of the market was a week and a half ago and I cleaned up the last couple of weeks.  My new favorite farm, 3 Oaks Farm, had green beans for $1 a pound.  And cause I have a JOB, I can't get there until after 5 so they always give me some sort of a discount.  This farm also had the most beautiful kale for $2.50 a pound.  A pound is a lot of kale, but with this kale, that's ok!!  The first week I bought some, I made a shredded kale salad, some kale chips, then washed the rest and well, see, I got this new fridge and sometimes it freezes my food.  Including my kale, which is a major bummer, but luckily there one more week left to the season.  Just went back and bought more of everything.  I made more kale chips, and the same shredded salad.  And you have to try this salad!  It is from Oh She Glows.  By chopping the kale into ribbons, I think that helps to keep the kale salad from being too tough.  Plus you add Craisens and what, what, what?  A Vegan Parm Cheese?  And it actually kind of taste like Parm Cheese.  LOVED IT.  Put it on everything for about a week.

The Best Shredded Kale Salad with Pecan Parmesan and Cranberries

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free
5 from 8 reviews
print icon   The Best Shredded Kale Salad
Inspired by a kale salad my mom enjoyed at True Food Kitchen, I knew I had to make my own vegan version as soon as I was back in my kitchen. The key to this salad is finely chopping (or shredding) the kale. The lemon garlic dressing will coat each and every tiny piece of kale, working its magical softening powers and infusing it with so much flavour. Instead of cheese, I topped the salad with my homemade toasted pecan "Parmesan" topping and a handful of dried sweetened cranberries. The result is one of the BEST ever kale salads I've tried to date. No joke. Two bunches of dinosaur kale might seem like a lot, but once it's shredded, it only makes about 8 cups and then it further reduces in volume as it marinates by almost half. If you are making this salad for more than 4 people, I suggest doubling it. I felt like I could've had half of the lot just on my own...



  • 2 medium bunches destemmed Lacinato/dinosaur kale, finely chopped (8 cups chopped)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (just eyeball it)
  • 1-2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pinches fine grain sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and discard (you can save for smoothies if you are hard core!). Finely chop the kale leaves (the smaller, the better!).
  3. Wash the kale and spin dry. Place dried kale into a large bowl.
  4. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the kale and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons. Keep mixing for about 1 minute to ensure everything is coated perfectly.
  5. For the pecan parm: Rinse out the mini processor and pat dry. Add the pecans into the processor and process until the pecans are the size of peas or a bit larger. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it's a coarse crumb. Be sure not to over-process - we still want a nice crunchy texture here, not powder.
  6. Sprinkle the pecan Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on a handful or two of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to soften. I tried letting this salad sit overnight in the fridge and I greatly preferred the flavour of the salad served the day of, so I don't recommend making this salad the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.
Note: 1) Instead of a mini processor, you can chop/whisk the dressing and pecan "parmesan" by hand. 2) For a nut-free version, try using breadcrumbs instead of pecans.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rice Cooker Rice and Peas

When I first started to eat meatless dished, one of my favorite times to eat this way was after trips.  The reason for this was two fold:  one, I probably had been eating crap for a couple of days and needed to "cleanse" and two, it was usually pretty easy to throw together a vegetarian dinner from usual pantry items.  I made Rice Cooker Rice and Peas after a recent trip to the mountains.  The original was from a blog that I try to follow, but like a lot of blogs (cough, this one, cough) the posting has dwindled down.  But, it is still a good site for easy vegan/vegetarian meals.  At any rate, this recipe only calls for things you probably already have in your kitchen.  I don't usually make jasmine rice, but I loved the combo of the light rice with the coconut oil.  I topped my rice with toasted almonds and served it with roasted chickpeas.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Its the fall - my favorite time of year.  I love the cool weather, football and the anticipation of the holidays ahead.  Its easy to go nuts on all the sugary - spicy baked goods around at this time of year too.   I wish they were healthy for us.   I'd pig out without restraint.  But my waistline won't allow that - even for a second.

So I have found a way to indulge without the junk.  Pumpkin Oatmeal.  I found two versions that are very similar, and both can be made vegan or with dairy - whatever your preference.  The two below were made with full fat coconut milk (the canned kind).

If you have the time - like 30 minutes - to cook breakfast, steel cut oats are a great choice. They are very hearty and will carry you through you work morning or a good mid-distance run.  One of my favorite blogs is The Greatist and the photo above is the one I found on their site.  

For a creamier version of Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, I'd recommend my own creation below.  I was inspired to create this recipe from one I found on all that was not vegan and used methods I don't have good luck with. 

I always cook my oats on the stovetop.  Whenever I use the microwave I usually have an explosion of oats to clean up.  It takes a few minutes longer, but I like the results better. 

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (serves 1-2)

1 C old fashioned oats
3/4  - 1 C milk (I used coconut milk)
1/2 C canned pumpkin
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves, ginger
dash nutmeg
1 t brown sugar

Combine the oats, milk and pumpkin in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine and stir frequently until thickened. Add more milk to adjust consistency as desired. Add the spices and sugar. Garnish with muesli, nuts, raisins and sweeten with a little maple syrup. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

I did it!

I'm so proud. I just ran my first marathon!

after the race

My brother took this picture somewhat early in the race. 

This is probably the most exciting personal achievement I've ever had.  Overall it was great experience.  I'd do it again.

Enter a teasing eye-roll from my husband.
"Why run 26 miles when you can drive?!"
"Because its fun" I say.
"You know what happened to the first guy that ran a marathon, right? He died!" he responds.
"Maybe he had a heart condition" I say.
"It's a good thing it's only 26.2 miles. Because 26.3 would be insanity."

I know he supports me and he is proud of me.  I like the way he gives me a hard time.  It's almost like he's challenging me. I love it.

If he didn't support me, he wouldn't have surprised me after the race with this really awesome charm for my necklace. I love it and its my most special momento.  My sister-in-law bought me the 13.1 charm for Christmas last year, so now I can wear them together.  I think he gets husband-of-the-year award.

It was freezing at the start. I don't know the exact temp, but somewhere in the mid-high 30's.  At least it wasn't windy.  I bought myself a pair of arm sleeves to wear on the race and boy am I glad that I did. I wore them almost the whole way.

Me and my brother in the corral waiting to get started

For those of us who are wondering what the heck they are, its basically just the sleeve of a shirt. They come in several price points (most around $25) and different fabric technologies. Mine were $10 from Louva (I found them at the Health and Fitness Expo when I picked up my race packet).  These were pretty inexpensive. I figured I would try them and if they sucked I could just toss them and not feel like I lost anything.  But they were actually pretty great.  I chose to wear arm sleeves instead of a long sleeve shirt because:

1) I wanted the flexibility to take them off if I got too hot (I never did)
2) My core gets hot when I run, and I hate being hot.  I planned to wear my Captain America tech shirt and I knew a double layer would be too much.  Although these may look corny, they were the perfect solution. I love them and they were a smart purchase.
3) The brand I bought are by a local company called Louva. These are knitted and I was concerned they would either be too hot or not stop the wind from reaching my skin. Neither of these issues were a problem for the race.  They extend to the palms of my hands and had the thumb holes- a very cool feature.  AND THEY STAYED UP!  Not once did they fall down around my elbows, which would have been super annoying. One of the cardinal rules of running is never try anything new on race day, but I got lucky and they didn't bother me at all.  I'd recommend them to anyone.

It was a fair amount of work to get here. And I remember getting sick of my training plan and starting to think that it wasn't worth it. I was struggling in my runs and beating myself up mentally.  But then magically it all turned around about 4 weeks out and the rest of the training seemed to be smooth sailing.

Tapering was a learning experience for me. I started paying attention to my food intake too late in the game according to what I learned in my clinic (just a few days out, as opposed to a week), but honestly I was getting so nervous and uncomfortable that it wouldn't have mattered. I couldn't eat. Food just didn't have flavor and the thought of eating anything made me nauseous.

But this is how I get when I'm nervous. I have an appetite, but I just feel sick all the time. There's not a whole lot of give and take in the department though. Bodies need fuel, especially if you're going to run a marathon.  You have to eat. A lot. Its a delicate line to walk when the food you eat makes you sick.  I manage this the best I can.  I eat super small portions of foods that are gentle on my stomach (bread, rice, bananas, smoothies).

Then on race day I planned to eat my usual pre-race power breakfast of Overnight Oats and I just couldn't eat it.  I picked at it until it was time to enter the corral and just tossed it out.  Not the best start to my run.  So naturally I'm hungry by mile 4.  WAY earlier than in my training runs (usually not ready to eat until mile 8 or 10).  So I scarfed down one of my Vega Sport bars.

On Summit Avenue, only a few miles from the finish. I hit my stride and finally felt like I was running at my potential (sub-10 minute miles).

I've eaten these bars so many times on training runs before with no incident whatsoever. It never occurred to me what would happen next.  My stomach hurt for the next 22 miles.  I wanted to puke the entire way.  I needed to use the bathroom. Aside from nerves, there was nothing different about the race than usual.  I grabbed a half banana at one of the refueling stops and held onto it for the next 2 miles.  That banana and water were the only things I ate for the rest of the race.

I'm sure this is why my time was dismal. I wanted to hit around a 4:30 finish.  Instead I finished at 4:54:30.  Still not too bad for my first one. I'm not going to allow myself to be mad about my time. After reviewing my experience in my head, I don't know what I could have done differently. When you're sick, your'e sick. You just have to manage.

I felt rotten the rest of the day. My knees were actually okay.  I felt tired, but not really too bad. My stomach is what hurt the worst.  I still couldn't eat. I tried to eat the bagels, bananas, broth and milk at the finish line, but I just couldn't.

It was great that Mom had supper ready for us when we got home.  I really wanted it, but all I could do was nibble.  I had been up since 445 and just wanted to take a nap. Now its 3AM and I woke up hungry, went downstairs, ate a bowl of cereal and started to write.  I feel pretty good.

No recipe today.  Just my story.  I'll write again soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Taper Time Goulasch

Its taper- time.  The last two weeks before the big one. 


I'm in new territory here. I've run half marathons before.  But I don't recall feeling like I needed to pay special attention to my diet during taper time then. But then again, you read my blog, so you know how I eat. 

But I'm discovering that training for a marathon is a whole new ball game. As my mileage increases to 18 - 20 miles during training, throw out the old rules and muddle your way through this new domain. 

I compare training for your first marathon like going from 2 kids to 3.  All of a sudden everything is completely different. The way you did things before doesn't and can't apply and you have to find a new way. 

My brother sent me a good quote: 

"The race always hurts. Expect it to hurt. You don't train so that it doesn't hurt. You train so you can tolerate it." - Coach Mark Rowland.

Hmm. I don't think I like that. Not very inspiring. I'm kind of a sissy.  But what he says has truth to it.  Running a marathon isn't easy.  If it were, everyone would do it.  I am hoping I am the exception to the rule and I can just run it and feel great at the end.  But I expect my knees will hurt, my legs will feel like Jell-O and I'll just be wiped out.  

So to give myself an edge this week, I'm going to listen to my body, follow my taper plan and eat carefully.  My running group had a nutrition talk last night.  One of the gents who leads the 10 mile group and has considerable racing experience shared what he knows about eating while tapering.  

Rule #1: Drink water. Lots of it.  Okay, I can do that. 

Rule #2: Its not enough to carb load the night before. We should be eating the right balance of carbs and proteins throughout the entire week (news to me!).  This will help our muscles increase glycogen stores that we can use during the race. 

Ok, Its 1 Oct. The race is Sunday. I have some catching up to do. 

Tim was gracious enough to share a recipe that he uses for preparing for his races.  Its totally flexible and you can tailor it to your tastes.

Taper Time Goulasch
Tim Floyd
1. Whole grain mix (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa.  Buy them mixed, whatever you can find. If you only like one type of grain, just use that, just make sure it's whole grain.
2. Chicken breast, cooked and diced (to make it vegan, I'm using firm tofu)
3. Whatever vegetables you like.  Carrots, broccoli, edemame, celery, sugar snap peas, etc
4. White beans or black beans or whatever you like, for added protein
5. Ro-tel, 1 or 2 cans
Tim likes to add hot sauce too. It is a little spicy either way with the Ro-tel.

Combine it all together.  Eat small portions though out the days leading up to the marathon.  Make as much as you'd like and freeze some.  Eat it cold or hot.

I made mine with a South of the Border flair and wrapped it in a 100% whole wheat burrito shell (Mission makes them and they are very good).

I also served it like a burrito bowl with a few crushed tortilla chips on top for added crunch.

Here is what I did for my goulash. My measurements are approximate.  When I put it together I just put it what I had in the fridge and what I thought would be delicious.  It was!

South of the Border Goulasch

2 C cooked brown rice 
1/2 C firm tofu cubes, sautéed in olive oil until lightly brown on the edges
1/2 C black beans
1/4 C coarsely chopped cilantro
1/8 C coarsely chopped red and green onion
1/2 small can of sliced black olives
1/2 each red and green peppers, coarsely chopped
1 can Original Ro-tel with green chilis (drained. FYI I don't like chunks of soft tomatoes so I ran mine through the food processor to make them smaller)
a dash each of chili powder and cumin

Stir it all together. Store in the fridge until you are ready to use it up.  Serve in a burrito shell or bowl and garnish with tortilla chips, avocado slices, fresh tomatoes.... whatever you can think of.

I'm also inspired by the fall colors and flavors to create something more seasonal.  I hope to have it ready in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Acai Berry Bowl

Jamba Juice is catching on to the newest craze.  Smoothie Bowls.  They call them Energy Bowls.

Jamba Juice Acai Bliss Energy Bowl

I get the Jamba Juice promotions via email.  Last week I had a coupon for 50% off an Energy Bowl.  They retail for $5 (yikes!) so I was happy to give it a try at 50% off.  It was good. Not like my previous experience with smoothie bowls.

A few months ago I tried to make one at home, inspired by this cool food blog Green Kitchen Stories.  Eh..... I didn't see what the fuss was about. Its basically a thick smoothie in a bowl.  It seemed weird to consume a "smoothie" like cold soup when I'm accustomed to drinking it out of a cup with a straw (here's where my husband give me a figurative wrist slap for polluting the planet by using straws).

But now smoothie bowls are picking up steam and I think its time to revisit this.

Acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) is a berry found in South American Rainforests and, according to what I've read, is packed full of anti-oxidants and other healthy stuff.  We can't just get a carton of it as if they were blueberries. A company called Sambazon (SAM-ba-zon) purees it and sells it in frozen, unsweetened packs or as part of pre-made smoothies and other products.   The smoothie packs aren't cheap. $6 for a pack of 4 - 4.5 oz packs.  Find them in freezer section at your local health food store, co-op or Whole Foods.

Yesterday I was starving. I needed a snack.  So I thought I'd give the smoothie bowl another try.

My Acai Bliss Smoothie Bowl

Oh man, it was good. I felt spoiled.  Like I was back in California or Europe.  The added chunks of fruit and muesli make the difference. Without them it would still be just a plain old smoothie in a bowl.  No big whup. Here's what I did.

Acai Smoothie Bowl (makes 2)

1 pack of Sambazon Acai Berry (unsweetened)
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 C- 3/4 C frozen mixed berries
1/4 C (approx) organic apple juice

Combine the ingredients above in a blender until smooth. Pour into bowls.  Top with sliced bananas, blueberries, strawberries, muesli, nuts and a sprinkle of hemp seed.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Product Review: Energy Bars

As my miles have increased during my training program, I needed to find mid-run fuel.  Running 14 miles is pretty challenging for most of us, and our bodies need calories to burn so we can complete the run.

Its not easy to eat and run at the same time.  Its learned.  Small bites.  Something that is easy on the stomach.  But it has to be something that can sustain you.

I REALLY don't like energy gels.  Too sweet.  I just can't swallow them.  Shot Blocks are too soft.  Honey Stingers are okay, but a few of those only sustain me for 2 miles at a time.   At least they are organic, so they have that going for them.

But my bigger issue with food for runners is that its not real food.  I want the good stuff. I'm running to make my body healthy, but feeding it lab-created "ingredients" with 13 syllables is not helping my mission of caring for and rewarding the body I have.

Earlier this spring, when I was preparing for my marathon clinic I bumped into Vega Sport.  A socially responsible, environmentally and animal-friendly company from Canada.   This company creates foods for athletes that are vegan, gluten-free and free of junk.

They got my attention when I first saw the bars at the food co-op in Stillwater.  I ordered their trial pack and was excited to get a bunch of different stuff.  Some of it I liked, some of it I didn't.

My favorite and probably the most effective product from that trial pack was the endurance bars.   They are part of their "Sustain" line of products. Vega Sport products have 3 parts "Prepare" "Sustain" and "Recover".  I've tried them all, but I will talk about the Endurance bars here since they are the ones I rely on the most.

This product bar far has been the most effective fuel I've tried on my long runs.  Each bar basically gives me about 8 miles of running fuel. I predict I will need to carry 3 of these on my marathon to get me through.  The chocolate ones do get a little soft and melty when they are warm, but they are not gooey and unmanageable to eat out of the wrapper.   I've found these easy for my stomach to tolerate while running. I've never felt like puking after eating one.  Even after eating these all summer on long runs I still get a little bit of weird sensation in my tummy when I first swallow a bite, but it goes away fast.

I don't feel an immediate spike or burst in energy when eating these, but more of a sustained energy release. Which for me is great. I don't want to pop sugar to keep my energy up.  I want my body to process its food like it should and convert it to energy over the long haul.   I feel better during my runs and I don't feel hungry.

Find these bars at Whole Foods, local food co-ops or health food grocers. I buy them by the case from

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Buckwheat Porridge

I've been running for about 20 years now and until recently (the last year or two), I've really only run as far as a 10k.  I love running. Its a great sport.  I don't mean I like it because I can be "free" when I run. Thats all just mumbo-jumbo to me.  I run because I enjoy the challenge of it: going farther, increasing my speed, making it up the hill. I enjoy observing the changes to my abilities the longer I practice.

Runners (and all athletes for that matter) need to carefully monitor their diets to ensure they are getting appropriate amounts of carbs and protein to fuel and recover from their run.

Ask any random person on the street and they will tell you to get your protein from meat.  But meat isn't the only source out there.  It bothers me that most people think meat is the only source of protein out there.  I want to change that.  Yes dairy has some protein as well, but plants are so underrated as protein sources.  Yes, thats right.  Plain old, sustainable, easy to digest and low calorie plants. And many are complete proteins, which means they have all the essential amino acids required for your body to convert the protein into something it can use.

I try to make breakfast my biggest meal of the day, which I know goes against what we are all taught throughout our lives, when dinner is supposed to be the biggest meal of the day. But after fasting for 8-9 hours (yes I sleep that much per night), my body needs food.  This, admittedly is a struggle for me and I'm not a morning person by nature, so I stumble around for a good 30 minutes after waking up and I'm not ready to eat right away.  But I run in the morning too, so I want to make sure my body has calories to burn on my run.  Training myself to eat early in the morning has been difficult.  Night-owls and morning people are hard wired differently and trying to alter a routine to something my body does not want takes a lot of practice and time.

So I usually eat foods for breakfast that are light on my stomach. But a bowl of cheerios isn't going to cut it when I head out for a 14 mile run.  Its just not enough to sustain me.

My all time favorite breakfast fuel for runs is the Overnight Oats.  But I do shake things up every now and again with some Buckwheat Porridge.  The recipe below is a product of some trial and error. I wanted a simple recipe that I could whip up fast, dirtying as little equipment as possible and will keep several days in the fridge.  I found several recipes online and tried them and experimented until I came up with this one.

Buckwheat is one of the complete plant proteins I mentioned earlier.  Make sure you use buckwheat groats for this recipe and start it the night before (find it at Whole Foods or the food co-op in the bulk section).  Kasha is a type of buckwheat, but it has been toasted and is not the same product as groats.

Buckwheat Porridge

1/2 C Buckwheat Groats, soaked overnight in water
1/4 C Rice Milk
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 C currants, raisins or other dried fruits
walnuts, almonds, pecans for garnish

Soak groats overnight in 1 C water.  The morning of your run, rinse the groats thoroughly in cold water. They will be slimy initially - this is normal. Just rinse them until they are not slimy anymore - just about a minute.

Combine groats, milk and cinnamon in a food processor and process until combined - a minute  or so. It won't be perfectly smooth, but should be the consistency of oatmeal.  Stir in dried fruits and nuts or garnish with muesli.  Eat it cold or warm.

Just a note - if you are not vegan, and would like to try this you can certainly use dairy milk or whatever milk you prefer.  I have not tried it with dairy milk, but I see no reason it wouldn't work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spicy Guacamame!!!

Just a quick product review. I have heard of hummus made with edamame instead of chick peas, but it didn't sound all that great, so I kinda poo-poo'd the idea.

Then I was in Trader Joes with the boys and they were sampling it. They call theirs Guacamame. Much better marketing I think.

It was awesome!  My eldest said he liked it when he tried it in the store, but even though I didn't think it was too spicy, if may have been too spicy for his taste.

But fair warning: If you like guacamole like I do, it's not the same. But the big benefit is two-fold. One, It keeps much longer in the fridge and doesn't turn brown.  Two, its low-fat, low-cal and contains plenty of soy protein.

Always trying to find ways to make at home, what I can find in the store, I went on the hunt for a recipe and I found one on the Running on Real Food blog. But she called hers "hummus" and it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  I couldn't get over the name, so I was inspired by her recipe to create what I wanted: My own version of the Trader Joe's Guacamame:


2 C edamame, cooked and shelled (just get a package of frozen edamame and thaw it)
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 C red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C chopped red onion

Combine all ingredients except onion.  Process until smooth, then stir in onion.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chia Jam from Oh She Glows

One of the recipes that jumped out at me when I checked out the Oh She Glows cookbook was a Chia Jam.  A jam that doesn't include a ton of sugar and pectin which just makes it slippery and slimy.  Interesting... I'm not a huge jam/jelly fan anyways.  Really, it is just too sweet.  But I bought a big batch of strawberries and at the end of the week they were looking like of sad.  It was the perfect thing to take 3 cups of them and make this jam.  And it was so easy.  SO EASY.  And the results, delicious.  Really, the perfect amount of sweetness.  I just made it again with some leftover blackberries and frozen raspberries.  Can't wait to try it tomorrow on some cold overnight oatmeal!

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Yield: ~ 1 cup
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium-sized non-stick pot, bring the blueberries and 3 tbsp of maple syrup to a low boil. Stir frequently, and reduce heat to low-medium to simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the blueberries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some for texture.
2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook the mixture down until it thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot.
3. Once the jam is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more maple syrup to taste if desired. Enjoy on toast, English muffins, oatmeal, vegan overnight oats, oat bars, tarts, cookies, banana soft serve, smoothies, and more. The jam should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Pasta Primavera from the Crock Pot

Its been a while since I made this and I've been waiting for a good time to post it.  Since its been rather crummy out the past couple of days it just seemed like a crock pot weather.

This one is from one of my all time favorite recipe creators - American's Test Kitchen. Unfortunately they don't make a lot of vegan food, but there are a few recipes that I can use. Most of the vegan ones they make are in their newest book "Slow Cooker Revolution".   Now, I'm not a huge fan of all their slow cooker recipes. And I admit that when I first started trying their slow cooker recipes I had to adjust my perspective of what slow cooking actually was.  Its not just dump-it-all-in-the-pot-and-turn-it-on-for-eight-hours kind of cooking.  There is usually some prep-work that requires dirtying a sauté - pan or two.

After trying many of their recipes I do feel like the little extra work is worth it. The work I'm referring to is usually chopping and sautéing the vegetables in advance or adding something mid-way through the cooking process.

This Pasta Primavera sauce recipe of theirs is pretty good. It wasn't love at first bite, but it nourished my body.  My husband actually saw it in the pot when he got home from work and thought it was vegetable soup and ate it without the pasta. 

I will probably have this on the menu at my pre-race pasta party for those of us who want our veggies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aspire to be Better than Gatorade

I love to buy locally made products. I think its important to support the community we live in.  In fact, I would go so far to say its our responsibility.  Any money spent on products that are produced/sold by our neighbors goes directly back into the community in which we live, thereby improving our local economy.

Gatorade has had the corner on the sports drink market for what seems like forever. I remember drinking it when I was a kid, back when it only came in Lemon-Lime or Orange flavors.  But its not really all that.  Sure it does the job: Hydrates you after and during a workout, replaces electrolytes potassium and sodium lost during endurance training.   Have you read the ingredients list?  Sugar and artificial flavor and color.

Ugh.  I wanted something healthier.  MY STOMACH IS NOT A WASTEBASKET!  Why is this crap on the market?

Oh, and as a side note, did you know that the recommended daily allowance for sugar in the average female is 26 grams of sugar (for men its 32 grams)?  A medium sized apple has 15 grams of sugar and a teaspoon of granulated sugar has 4 grams of sugar.  But more on that later.

Enter the new guy on the block.  Aspire is made in here in Minnesota by two dads who started the company because they didn't want to fill their active kids with the laboratory produced junk that is in Gatorade or Powerade.


Its reaching out to other parts of the country too. I believe they've started selling at Whole Foods now. 
The downside?  Ah yes, there is always a downside. Its not cheap. $2 for one 12 oz bottle. 

But I recommend trying it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chick pea burgers

I have a new favorite blog:  So far I'm 2 for 2 on her recipes. These chick pea burgers were easy to make and were delicious. One of the best parts is that stayed together on the grill! Now that's exciting.

I am totally making these again. I hand a hankering for buffalo sauce the other day so I took enough for 2 patties and added 1-1 1/2 T (I can't remember exactly how much) Franks Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce to the 'meat'  in lieu of the sriracha sauce.

For the remaining patties I didn't have the sriracha sauce the recipe called for so I used the Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce by the Ginger people.

I was skeptical about putting them on the grill, but Deryn, the recipe creator said it was fine, so we gave it a go. They stayed together perfectly and I got the awesome grill marks that everyone wants on their burgers.

Both variations were very good. I was afraid I wasn't going to like the Asian flavored one, but it was excellent. And the buffalo variation was good, but could use improvement. It had an infused buffalo flavor instead of dripping with sauce like a real buffalo chicken sandwich.

Try them.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wheat Grass Smoothies

My husband is making fun of me because I bought some wheat grass.  It was only $3.50 for a container of it at Kowalski (our local gourmet grocer).

I googled recipes for Wheat grass. The most obvious ones are smoothies, so I found this one and went to work.

My husband was kind of grossed out I think.

"You are going to eat it?" he exclaimed
"Yes, why do you think I bought it?" I replied
" I thought you bought it so the kids could see the roots grow" he said.

Wheat Grass is supposed to have many virtues. I forget what they are. It's supposed to be pretty rich in nutrients like iron and calcium, but more holistically it's supposed to boost immunity and aid with digestion. I don't know about all that. Evidently there is no solid medical evidence supporting that and I didn't buy it for the holistic benefits.  I just wanted to try it.

I kept it alive for a few weeks in out little table top greenhouse I got from Ikea. To harvest it, just grab a small handful and snip it off close to the base.  And toss in the blender with your other ingredients.

Blend it up and voila! 

It actually tasted good. I couldn't taste the grass at all. My kids liked it too until they realized they were drinking something green, then they refused it.  I think combining it with strong flavored like orange juice and pineapple disguised it. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It was a Rough Day

 My husband was having a rough day. Nothing was going his way.

I had pulled together a pretty nice dinner. I brought out a nice bottle of wine that we had downstairs. 

I called my experiences in France (from my college days) and pulled out the Lentil Walnut Pate and I made a few days ago, served with some crackers.  Just that with some wine brought me back to the days of lunches by the river, with my baguette, some cheese or duck liver pate, a bottle of wine and my friends.  Those were the days.  

This pate. Please don't judge a book by its cover.  The pictures on the Bojon Gourmet Blog are much better.  This pate has the consistency of hummus.  Despite the long list of ingredients, some of which are unusual I kind of liked this.  I don't know if I'd make it often, but it has a sophisticated flavor that was really special.  For the average bear I would say its probably an acquired taste.  But special nonetheless. 

And it wasn't the cheapest either. Umeboshi Paste was $12!  I almost gave in when I saw the price. Plus I wasn't sure what else I would use umeboshi paste for.  But I found it this recipe months ago and I've been hanging onto it waiting for the right time to try it. 

I love this time of year.  Fresh peaches a plenty.  They remind me of our time living in the south. 
Lucky Black Eye Pea Salad is one of my husband's favorite summertime salads.  I think I wrote about this salad a few years ago, but its worth mentioning again. 

The wine complemented the peaches terrifically. I'm not a riesling person, but the guy at the store recommended it and I was in the mood to try something different. Boy, it was spot on.  A little dry, not too fruity or sweet.  I don't normally drink, but I think this was a nice treat. 

Dinner?  Check. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hemp seed bars

A while back my husband and I were having a discussion on vegetarian protein sources.  My daughter refuses to eat meat, which I am okay with as long as she gets her protein from plants.  And for the most part she does eat plant based protein sources.  Sometimes she needs a little coaxing, sometimes we have a stand off over it.

But since she is so picky and eats like a bird, she needs more variety to keep her interested in her food and I need more creative options to provide for her and keep her healthy. 

So I found an awesome entry on The Greatist blog about 12 vegetarian protein sources.  This was an exciting eye-opener for me. 

Some of the usual suspects are included on the list.  I already knew quinoa is a great source of protein and we eat it often in our home.  My daughter doesn't really care for it.  I'm not sure why. I tried telling her its rice but she didn't buy it.  Chia seeds are black, so she won't eat them.   Ezekiel Bread?  She gave it a good try.  We are still working on that one.  Beans are definitely a winner as is peanut butter and hummus. 

There are few new options that I find exciting: Buckwheat?  Hemp Seeds?  Spirulina? And I've never heard of Quorn before. 

I like trying food with unusual ingredients, so I wanted to try hemp seeds right away (insert hemp jokes from my husband here).   If its protein source I can feed my daughter, then I totally want to try it.  And I found a winner.  Its from a great blog called Running on Real Food.  

These are called 5 Ingredient Paleo Bars.  I took a recommendation from one of the reviewers to add some cocoa powder (photo on right). And they were good. One caveat though: I would use less coconut oil the next time I try them. I think 1/4 C coconut oil was too much.  It was kinda like biting into some paraffin wax, if you know what I mean. But it was still good, I think it just needs a little less coconut oil. If you try them, use just enough to hold them together and tell me how it goes. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Vegan Pizza - No Fake Stuff

There's a relatively new place in town called Punch Neapolitan Pizza and we got take out.  Whenever we get pizza, I know I'm not eating vegan that night.  I always look for a vegan or vegetarian option whenever possible. But I was pleasantly surprised when they had a vegan pizza - with no fake cheese!

I hate the fake stuff.  It never tastes like what its supposed to be replacing.  Fake cheese does not taste like cheese.  I'd rather eat the real thing than suffer through something that is not up to snuff.

Enter the Gigi.  A tomato basil pizza.  It was fabulous.

I KNOW I can make this at home.  I'm lucky that I have a terrific bread book.  Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer.  If you like bread - good bread, the real stuff you'd pay $6 for at the bakery, then this is the book for you.  She has a fabulous recipe for pizza dough.  I use it all the time.  But making this pizza dough isn't for the faint of heart. Its takes a fair amount of planning, and about 6 hours.  But in my opinion its totally worth it.

Most of us aren't going to go through this kind of effort, so I won't waste your time (if you are interested, go buy the book, you won't regret it).

This is what I did:

Use your favorite pizza dough recipe or get a crust from the store.
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or crushed
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh garlic, sliced
Olive Oil (If you have garlic infused EVOO - even better!)

Place the tomatoes, basil and sliced garlic on the dough in places where you will to taste all the flavors in one bite. Drizzle the pie with olive oil and bake until the crust is done.

Very good.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Adzuki Brownies

Back in the day I would buy those protein/energy bars. And they were okay. Kinda pricey, but I guess they did the job. But I started to cut out processed foods, then took it a step further went vegan (the first time) after that.  I found I felt better every day just by improving my diet in these two ways. But then I bumped up the intensity of my workouts. Now I was faced with the problem of how to get the protein my body needs to support my exercise regimen-without dairy or meat.

I found a product called Vega Sport. Bought their sample pack of products. Some of the products were ok. The chocolate saviseed bar was good, but the replenish beverages were chalky, thick, bitter and hard to swallow.  And I didn't really feel rejuvenated by the food I was eating. And the protein powder had a funny taste that didn't appeal to me.

I prefer to eat real food instead of processed energy bars.  I feel so much better.  The downside is that I'm cooking ALOT, and when I'm not cooking, I'm thinking about cooking. Ugh. Will I ever be unshackled from the kitchen?

Then I found Adzuki Bars.

This recipe was quickly launched into one of my all-time favorites.  You can find the recipe in Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run.  They only require the use of the food processor, so clean up is easy. They freeze well and are portable. I grab two of these to chow down on after workouts and I feel better than if I eaten a protein bar. I make up a batch, bag them up and freeze them.  Then grab a bag before heading to the gym or out for a run.

Good thing for me is that only my daughter and I both like them-no one else does. So they last a while.  They are not too sweet. Made with Adzuki Beans (which I had never heard of before I tried this), so it has protein.  Very low sugar, which I like.

They call for rice and barley flour. So went to out local food coop to see if they have it. I met a nice lady there (another customer) who said she doesn't buy the ready made flours, she just makes her own.

Really?  Isn't that a lot of work?

Not really.  All you need is the product you want to turn into flour, in this case rice and barley, and a coffee grinder. And it's soooo much cheaper.

So I thought I'd try it. I'm all for saving money.  I already have a pretty nice coffee grinder that I never use.

I don't need that much for his recipe so I gave it a whirl. And as luck would have it I had rice and pearled barley in the pantry.

After just a minute, maybe less, I had flour.

Get the book and try them. If you don't like them, send them my way. I'll eat them. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tea time with Coconut Scones

We have been having difficulty exercising good table manners at home lately. Forget about going to a restaurant - that is completely out of the question.

So we've been coming down pretty hard. Forcing the issue. The kids are old enough to have enough discipline at the table to use polite manners. And I want to have a nice meal.

So my solution? We started having daily tea after school.  At least that is one component of the solution.

This is not a pretend tea party. A real after school snack where we all sit at the table together. I get out the fancy-but-not-too-fancy dinnerware and bake a plate of scones or put together little sandwiches or some fresh fruit.  The kids don't drink tea (we are careful not to let them have caffeine), but they will usually have milk or water.

It seems to be working. They have something to eat that they like. They are hungry. And it's a short duration-maybe 10 minutes. They tell us about their day. It's fun!

One unintended benefit (to my surprise) is that dinner is pushed back to 6:30-7. Much later than we used to eat (used to eat at 5 or 530).  Since they are older and going to bed later now, there is plenty of time for bath and stories after dinner. A later dinner hour also gives me more time to cook dinner and I don't feel so rushed. I love it.

By the time dinner rolls around they are hungry again. Then its much easier to enjoy dinner because it seems they are able to retain some of what we practiced at tea.

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Coconut scones

Baking anything without butter or egg and getting the same result as a dairy baked good is very difficult. No - its impossible.  I guess when you decide to go vegan you have to accept that your baked goods are just not going to be the same.  But I thought these coconut scones were pretty good. Not the same, but still really good. Pretty dense. And the coconut flavor was not too intense. Thats either a plus or minus depending on your affinity for coconut.

With only 2 tablespoons of sugar, they are not to sweet either.  I like that.

Serve them with a little pineapple jelly or whipped coconut cream (for directions on how to make whipped coconut cream, see my blog entry on Strawberry Shortcakes).  I like my tea served with light vanilla soy milk and maybe some honey for added sweetness if I'm in the mood.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Overnight Chia Pudding

I've tried some chia puddings before.  I think I have mainly done the chocolate variety to be eaten as an after dinner snack.  It was ok.  The calories were still pretty high and I would rather have the real thing.  However, after the Cooper River Bridge run they were passing out samples of a commercial chia pudding and it was SOOO good.  Not like I would ever find anything like that around here, but then I read this post and said, hey, I can do that myself!  So I did.

One major change between the recipe posted and mine...I hate bananas, so I used raspberries.  Yum.  I also didn't use the pre-portion amounts from Trader Joe's, but measured everything out from what I had.  My results were.. ok.  I ate it for breakfast for a couple of mornings.  I kind of lost interested and ended up with a lot leftover.  It was a nice little experiment, but next time I will make individual servings.  I was kind of hoping that James would get in on this, but he didn't.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ezekial 4:9 Bread

My go to lunch is one of two things that keep well in my fridge:  Quinoa Crunch Salad that Kerri found or this sandwich - Cucumbers, Roasted Red Peppers and Hummus on bread.  They are both super easy and fast. I don't often have a lot of time to sit down and eat (who does these days?), so this is a great option.

I think I actually posted this sandwich a few years ago, but since then, I've discovered Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

Now, I don't eat this bread every day. I probably should. Sprouted breads are supposed to contain more nutrients that processed white or wheat breads.   The theory is that they grains are harvest right when they sprout thereby introducing the proteins and carbs that are excellent for athlete's bodies. But this bread is very dry and crumbly and I although I like the flavor of the bread, I can't say I like the crumbs it produces.  The texture itself is ok, its just kind of messy (in my opinion).  I could deal with the crumbliness of the bread if it weren't for the price. Its expensive.  $5 for a 24 oz the loaf at Trader Joe's.  

There are some other brands, but they are in the same price range - maybe a buck less.   Silver Hills Bakery is a Canadian company that makes a good sprouted grain bread (and bagels) we get here in the upper midwest.  I think Trader Joe's carries another sprouted grain bread that is around $4. 

Here is Minnesota I can find Silver Hills Bakery Bread in 4 versions at Super Target in the bakery section.  The bonus for me is that my daughter likes this bread, and if you've been following my blogs  for a while, you know how hard it is to get protein in that child.  The Silver Hills Bakery bread is not as crumbly and dry as the Ezekiel 4:9 bread, but not soft like a whole wheat bread you'd find in the bread aisle. It also has a very good shelf life. Its seems to last in my pantry about a week (if its not eaten up long before then) before it seems to go stale. 

I have tried making my own sprouted bread at home too.   I wasn't too impressed with my first attempt - it was supposed to be a  "life-changing" bread recipe. Well it was, just not in the way the author thought. I didn't like it. The dog wouldn't even eat it. 

I haven't given up on making my own sprouted bread. There are tons of recipes out there.  I'll keep trying.  But in the meantime I'm happy to keep buying Silver Hills Bakery Bread.  Its a winner in my house. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Peas and Thank You Chocolate Pie

This one was from the first Peas and Thank You cookbook.  My goal is to not be as lazy with my desserts so when I brought something to Shannon's for after dinner, well, I wanted it to be a little special.  This pie came together pretty quickly and it was VERY good.  I topped it with some coconut cream.  That was my first time trying it and it works pretty well.  It didm' grow like real whipped cream, but wow, still good.  YUM!