Sunday, March 30, 2014

Getting Back in the Game & Asian Lettuce Wraps

I love to run.  I've been running since joining the army in 1996 at age 22. Before that I had never run. Except maybe in gym class.  And the softball diamond.  Running a mile, let alone the two miles required to pass a PT test seemed impossible for me. I didn't know how I would run THAT far.  But you do what you gotta do. Especially when there is a Drill Sargent yelling at you to pick your sorry ass up and fall back in line.

I've been running ever since. Took some time off to have babies, but now I'm back in the game.

I just read Scott Jurek's book Eat & Run.  He is one amazing guy and an incredible athlete.  He has inspired me to improve my own running and purify my eating. I started back on the vegan bandwagon just before reading his book, but since reading his story I have come accept that it is really is possible to achieve incredible athletism on a vegan diet.  Might I be allowed to join this select group of people?

Now I'm not a super star athlete like Mr. Jurek.  It takes a certain physiology to achieve what he has achieved.  And realistically, at 40, I am just getting ramped up.  But I certainly have athletic goals that are suitable for me and that, I believe, is good enough. Not everybody will be a professional athlete.  There is room enough for all abilities.

I've never really run anything farther than a 10k until last year when I ran my first half marathon. I hope to add to my accomplishments considerably this year.  I got hurt pretty badly last summer while on a 14 mile training run.  That took me out of the remaining races I had planned for the summer.  A severe blow to my bucket list. But what doesn't kill makes you stronger, right?

After physical therapy and 6 months off I started back in January.  My first time back was three miles on the treadmill.  It went smoothly and I've been keeping it going. I hope this season turn out better than the last.


Asian Lettuce Wraps
Amy Holmes

This is my vegan adaptation of a recipe I found on  Its one of Nick's favorites. I like the Sweet Ginger Sauce by the Ginger People, but it can be hard to find - Whole Foods is the only place I've seen it. Thai Kitchen makes one that is good and its easier to find.

1 C cooked lentils
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 C hoisin sauce
1 T rice vinegar
2 t sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
2 t fresh ginger, shaved

Boston Bibb Lettuce
Green onions, chopped
water chestnuts
sugar snap peas
shredded cabbage
Asian Chili Pepper Sauce (Optional)

To prepare the filling, heat the oil of medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until onions are soft and translucent. Add lentils, hoisin sauce and remaining ingredients and heat through- just a few minutes.

Assemble your lettuce wrap like a taco. In the photo above I used Romaine lettuce because I couldn't find Boston Bibb.  Spoon a portion of the lentil filling into the lettuce and top with the toppings you prefer.

Lentils will keep well for several days in the fridge.

Mind Games & Indonesian Cabbage Salad

We all have mind games we play on ourselves to keep ourselves going. Since my injury last summer I have been concentrating on my running form. Mainly trying to make sure to maintain a mid-foot strike instead of heel strike. This involves raising my knees up higher in my stride.

To do this I imagine I'm a steam locomotive.  They are very powerful machines. My legs are the wheels and my arms are the side rods (or coupling rods) that connect and drive the wheels.  I loosely tuck my elbows to the side of my torso forcing my arms to move in the direction I'm running and move my arms in a quasi-circular motion driving my body forward.   This little mind game seems to keep my momentum going.  I can tell when I'm getting tired on a run because my arms will swing in front of my body instead of on the side in a  pumping action.

The trickier part is keeping my legs moving in a "revolving" motion like a wheel.  Breaking almost 20 years of bad form is difficult to do.  Its especially more difficult to do when I'm tired. Wheels are pretty efficient machines and in order to run efficiently I try to imagine my legs as wheels of the locomotive. Pumping my arms and imagining them as coupling rods really helps. This will, in theory, allow me to maintain a proper stride rate by using the least amount of energy to achieve my goal.  I've noticed if I can get myself to move my legs correctly, running is a lot easier. I especially notice this when I'm tired.


Indonesian Cabbage Salad
Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek is an accomplished ultra marathon runner and Vegan.  He wrote a book about his life and career call "Eat & Run". This is the first recipe of his that tried and it was super easy, keeps well and delicious.  I don't have his permission to reproduce his recipe online, but  check out his book and get the recipe yourself. I've tried many others of his which I will comment on as well. Keep following us for more vegan goodness!

Scrapbooking & Strawberry Shortcake

Scrapbooking Fun!

I was recently helping my mom doing a little cleaning and I found some old Christmas photo cards that I sent her when the kids were really small. I also found other family member's photo cards. 

"You saved these all these years?" I asked her
"Of course!" she replies. "The kids are so cute. I have to save them"

It does seem like a shame to throw away a photograph.  I breaks my heart to do it, but each year at Christmas I get a few of these photo cards and I don't know what to do with them.  People who are important to us go through the effort to make these cards and remember us at Christmas.  But I can't be expected to keep them ALL, so I force myself to toss them. 

Then I feel ashamed of myself.   But not for much longer. 

I got to thinking.... I could help mom (and me) by giving her a place to store these cards so they will all stay together and in nice condition. 

After a few google and pinterest searches I thought I'd make scrapbook.  But how? I have very little scrapbooking experience.  It looks intimidating. There aren't any pre-made albums with pockets to slide in the cards of varying sizes and those magnetic pages are just bad for the photos over time.  So I guess I have to go from scratch. 

I know what I want to do, and its pretty basic.  Just make a book with Christmas papers and put the year on it so after Christmas she can just slide in the photo card in the appropriate year's page. But I wanted to look nice. I don't have time or money to do these tricked out professional looking pages. Besides who knows how many of each size card she will get.  The pages would need to have room to put several cards.

I found scrapbooks at Michael's for $5 each. They are not Christmas themed, but they do the job. Just a basic 12x12 20 page scrapbook.  My favorite craft store to shop at is Jo-Ann.  I love their coupon policy. I save beaucoup bucks there because of it.  They had tons of Christmas themed papers to chose from. 

I couldn't leave my in-laws out, so I made each of them one too. Then I found out 2 of my aunts also save every photo Christmas card they receive. So I'm making 6 albums all together. I needed to get an assembly line going because even though I love the creative process, I'll be darned if I'm going to do this again.  

Buying stickers to make the yearly labels would have been super expensive.  But I got lucky. My neighbor has a Cricut Machine (one of those nifty die cutting machines that cuts the papers to perfection). She let me borrow for as long as I needed.  I was saved. I thought I was going to have to cut these all by hand. 

I did have fun doing it. The end result looks like this:

Pretty basic, but it does exactly what I needed it to do: Organize by year, be Christmas-y and be flexible.  Its fun to flip through and see how everyone changes year by year. 

Now I have the bug and I want to use this machine as much as possible before I have to give it back.  I'm making a scrapbook to put all my kids' professional photos in by age. 


Scrapbooking doesn't make me hungry.  Staying up until midnight while scrapbooking does. 

I'm trying to dramatically reduce the amount of refined sugar I'm consuming.  I feel so much better without it.   We had berries and I wanted to do something special for dessert one night so I made strawberry shortcake. 

They were easy. Like the previous posts about baking, the cake part was dense.  I liked it, didn't love it, but I'd eat it again.  These instructions called for macerating the berries in sugar the night before. I didn't do this - I think its unnecessary. Berries are delicious just the way they are. 

Strawberry shortcake HAS to have whipped cream, right?  But we all know that is out of the picture.  So the closest we get here is whipped coconut cream. 

Its easy. Just prepare the night before by sticking a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge to chill. This makes the coconut milk separate and easier to whip. 

When ready to whip the cream, carefully open the top and scrape the thick cream part into a bowl. Don't shake the can- you want the separation or your cream won't get fluffy. 

Them beat them with your mixer until fluffy. Mine took about 10 minutes. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Things are getting better

With my first kid, I had a plan regarding eating.  I read all the books and when James ate everything I gave him, I knew it was because of my excellent parenting.  I swear I did the same thing with Andy, but eh, nothing.  Reality hit big time.  I still pretty much stick to my guns.  I keep healthy foods in the house, he eats what we eat, I offer fruits and veggies, involve him with the meal prep ANNNNDD nothing.  For five years.  Nothing.  In the last couple of months, I have started to have some success.  Mainly with soups.  And mainly when I say if you eat ALL your soup then you can have dessert/candy/whatever.  I'm pretty sure that was against the rules, but it works.  He grudgingly takes a bite of his soup and decides that it isn't awful and keeps eating.  He has even asked for these soups on occasion.  The most recent success was with a red and black lentil chili from Fat Free Vegan.  I had black lentils and red lentils to use up and it came together quickly.  I didn't use the pressure cooker, just cooked on the stove.  I served with white cheddar cornbread from Daily Garnish which is not vegan, but delicious.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Joys of Raising Boys & Cocoa Pancakes

I find myself wondering if I'm a good 'boy-mom'. I have two boys. My youngest is still only 2. He still is very sweet and cuddly, loves his Mama.  My oldest is nearly 5. High energy. Stubborn.

And loves toilet humor.

All the time.


Just the word makes him bust into laughter.

At home.
At the store.
At the table.

It makes me crazy.

Now, I have to admit, sometimes I think its funny - like maybe 1 out of 50 times. But I can never let my hair down and chuckle with him because my husband thinks toilet humor is extremely funny too and struggles to control his own laughter. So I find that I have to be the bad cop.

If ever I had to summon that old Calgon commercial its been in the past 3 years.

Calgon Take me Away!

I don't even think they make Calgon anymore, but even if they did, it wouldn't help.

So what do I do?  I remember that even for all his toilet-humor loving ways, my son makes me proud every day. And he knows it, so he will keep doing things to make me proud:

Does favors for me, likes fetching something for me in the other room.
Sets and clears the table.
Unloads the dishwasher
Helps his little brother.
Makes his bed, folds his clothes and puts them away.
Cleans his plate and then says "This is good Mom, can I have more?"
He doesn't like shopping, but never complains about what I bring home for him.  He told me once: "I like everything you pick out for me, Mom"

He is going to be a very fine man one day.

I just wish he didn't talk about poopy butts at Target.

Cocoa Pancakes
(from Vegetarian Times)

Sometimes you get sick of cereal and soy milk.  And then there are days you also need chocolate (at least I do).  This is from Vegetarian Times.   They were very good. Rich and thick. Not so much fluffy like you would get with a pancake that has egg in it, but its dense quality is made up for in its rich chocolate flavor.

Try these.