Archive for March, 2008

Running Update #5: Scotland Run 10K Race Report

It was a glorious day to be Scottish in Central Park yesterday. Bagpipers, kilts, people wearing those weird red hair wigs with the plaid hats, Scots being offended by people wearing those red hair wigs, tons upon tons of Scottish flags (mostly in my race packet-normally we get our race bib, chip and tshirt in our race packet, this time, along with a special bag, 2 flags, a Scottish flag poncho, pin and pen…I could be a Scottish flag for halloween!!) and bucketloads of people. I’m still not sure why there was a Scotland Run but I guess every other runner (or wanna be) in the city was curious what that was about too and showed up to see what all the fuss was about. I never ventured off the race course at all so I’m not the authority on other Scottish activities but maybe it was a fun old time. It was, however, the most packed I’ve ever seen a New York Road Runners Race.

Once again I was using this as a long run, not a race, so I had to run some miles before and after the race. I was going to do between 11 and 12 miles depending on how I felt. I decided to do 2 before, 6.2 during the race, and 3-4 after. I’ve never done this before so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with me running part by myself and part as a race, but a fun experiment it would be! (very Yoda-esque) When I got there, I realized how many people run before the races-I almost thought the race had started, there were so many people running along the course! And I joined right in! I ran my two miles down to the starting line (easy, nothing exciting, basically a longer warmup) but got there too early. I arrived at around 9:35 and the race didn’t start till 10. I thought about venturing over to the Time Warner Center to use their restrooms (just a tad nicer than the port-o-pottys, just a tad) or maybe do a little shopping (I did have $7 in my pocket afterall!!) but didn’t want to risk slow lights and crazy crowds. So I decided to keep on running. I ran about 4 minutes back up and turned around and got back in line where people were finally lining up. Lots of Scottish and English and Ameican people said some stuff I couldn’t hear or wasn’t interested in, some bagpipes played the American National Anthem (why not the Scottish? Is there a Scottish National Anthem if it is part of the UK?) and we were off!! Well, 7 minutes later we off cause the crowds were so insane that it took that long to get to the start. ugh.

The first 2 miles were…annoying. It was so packed that I could barely run. And there were so many walkers that had gotten mixed in with the faster runners we had to dodge them. I basically spent the first 2 on the grass, running outside of the pack just trying to get into my groove and get running! Sloooowly it thinned out and eventually I could run without tripping over people’s feet (which-ever since I tripped someone in my first race, I am so frightened of doing again. Which would cause a huge mass pile-up in the race and I would ruin the entire thing. stupid clumsy feet.). Mile 3 was basically one big downhill and one big uphill-oh you Harlem Hills you. I knew this hill was coming up, and I was hoping it would cause the pack to thin out even more, and it did, cause that is one bitch of a hill. But I tackled it hard!! I pushed myself and passed lots of people running up that hill, never really slowing down. I was tired at the top but felt great. One of the best feelings is coming over the peak of a hill, knowing you just pushed yourself really hard on it. And, at the top of it there was one lone bagpiper, I think he’s a runner just out to cheer on the crowd cause he had a New York Flyers singlet on (one of the local running clubs). I paused my ipod and took it in. Beautiful day, running among fellow runners, feeling good, and a lovely bagpiper…a great moment to be a runner!

Miles 4, 5 and 6 were uneventful. I felt fine and strong but could not, of course, stop thinking about the 4 miles I had to run after I completed the race. I wasn’t sure if I could muster up the energy to do 4 more miles, but I would try, and see where that took me. I finished the race strong, at 55:26 which I was very pleased with. I wanted to keep a steady 9 min/mil pace the entire time and I basically did. But, I pushed through the crowd, drank half a cup of water, and just. kept. going.

I was looking forward to running by myself after running with such a large crowd, and I did enjoy that aspect of the run. But, it was a really hard and difficult 4 miles. I struggled the entire way, even on the big downhill. My stomach started hurting very badly during the downhill, but I knew it was the muscle, not my actual stomach but I didn’t know how to react, if I should stop, or whatever. I kept going, nervous how this was going to turn out but I went up the hill and it went away. The hill was alot harder this time and alot of strength to top it, and there was not bagpiper at the top. I guess he wasn’t out there just for me. At the top of that hill I had about a mile left, which was one of the most difficult miles I’ve ever run. I was exhausted, kinda hungry and ready to be done. It took something deep within me to finish but I did.

I stopped at the Engineer’s Gate at E. 90th, where I started, and just stood there. I didn’t know what to think or how to react. Racing through my brain was the thought that I can’t believe I finish, I am so exhausted, I just ran 12.5 miles-a distance that I never ever would have thought of achieving (it’s those extra 8 or so minutes before the race when I was bored that pushed me over the 12 mile mark). It was an oddly very emotional moment and as I was stretching, I definitely shed a few tears. I was overwhelmed at that moment but confused at the same time. I was excited, tired emotional. An interesting and powerful finish to a hard run. And one that I probably won’t forget.

Beans a la Talia

Photobucket
This is my version of fast food. Much healthier than a Whopper or Chicken Nuggets.

As I’ve stated earlier, most Sunday evenings I’ll cook something larger and eat it for dinner for the next 3 nights. That allows me to always have something healthy in the fridge when I get home from the gym starving for dinner and then I don’t down half a jar of almond butter cause I do have something to eat. Wait…maybe that’s where my almond butter went. (By the way-2 weeks after buying my latest jar of almond butter, I still have half a jar left-so according to my schedule it will take me 4 weeks to get through this jar, 1 week more that the previous jar. I’m getting better! Waa hoo!!) Anyway, coming back from Cleveland at 8 on Monday night messed up my schedule…and my mind. I didn’t have to worry about dinner that night (packed a delicious pb&j back at home) but had no groceries and nothing for dinner for the next few nights. I was too tired to cook (8 is LATE for me…I’m old) and was barely able to make a venture to the grocery store down the street. So, I had to rely on myself and how I was feeling the next night to make dinner.

Tuesday nights I do tempo runs which are hard and very much energy consuming. I eat a little extra before I go to the gym to run them (spoonful of almond butter…) to help me through them, but no matter what I get home famished. Days like these are days when I am glad that I have an already made healthy dinner in the fridge waiting for me. But this past Tuesday, I had ingredients waiting for me, not something ready to eat. Ugh. I could have easily gotten take out (which probably would have taken longer than cooking because every delivery person thinks I live on 6th street, not 5th street and it takes about 20 minutes to relay the correct info. Hummus Place-as much as I love you-you NEVER know where we live!!!) but I stick to myself when I say I never get takeout. Once every other month, maybe. I had some stuff in the freezer-lentejas and white bean and kale soup-but because I hadn’t taken it out to start thawing before I went to the gym, I would take FOREVER to thaw. I didn’t have forever. My stomach was going to eat itself. And my stomach isn’t very tasty to my stomach. I did, however, buy ingredients for a dinner that would take about 20 minutes from start to finish and give me dinner for the next night and half a dinner for the night after. And like I said earlier, I would much rather make my own dinner than order in any night no matter how exhausted or hungry I was. I was so exhausted and hungry, but I stuck to my guns and made my own dinner!

This little concoction is exactly what it sounds like-a little concoction. My roommate Talia made it up one day and it is what you put into it and you can make it whatever you want. She took a box of chopped tomatoes and a can of white beans and threw together whatever spices looked good that night. I took a bite when she first made it and it was sooo good!!! I begged her and begged her to tell me how she made it. She told me the first time I asked-the begging was just for dramatic effect. She has no secrets from me. Well, she told me and I think I made it 2 nights later. And since I’ve probably made it 5 times with different amounts of spices (I NEVER measure) and some added ingredients here and there. It’s kinda foolproof and kinda silly cause it’s not really a recipe, but it’s good, and essentially healthy fast food.

So Tuesday I made it, starving, famished, sweaty. But it was worth it and my stomach didn’t eat itself. If it did, I wouldn’t have a stomach anymore. Thanks stomach for eating my dinner instead!!

I took another picture halfway through eating it cause you could see the beans better. It’s a nasty picture, but shows the entire dish better. At least I didn’t slobber on it, so it’s not too nasty.
Photobucket

Beans a la Talia (3-25-08 version…)
1 box chopped tomatoes (see pic at bottom)
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1 can white beans (I think I used Navy Beans this time but I can’t remember. Meredith-you can you Great Northern beans)
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
parsley
uhhhh-I think that’s it???

Throw it all in a pot (except parsley) and let cook for about 15-20 minutes covered. Top with ripped parsley cause you’re too tired and hungry to chop it. Eat.

I just use this box of chopped tomatoes. You could use fresh, of course, but winter tomatoes suck royally. These are good and they have no added ingredients.
Photobucket

I’ve been tagged!!! By Robin (I really need to update my blogroll) to write 5 things about myself. hmmm

1) My absolute favorite food is Nutella. I love it, but it has trans fat. However, the european version doesn’t. Another reason to get my tush back to Europe asap. My absolute least favorite food is mushrooms. I’ve never been able to eat them or anything cooked with them. One of my mom’s Christmas specialties is a tomato and mushroom casserole. I can barely be in the house when she makes it cause I makes me gag. ugh.

2) I was an environmental studies major in college and am applying to go to grad school in the fall of 2009 to get my masters in Environmental Public Policy. I’ll go anywhere in the country as long as I like the program and I’m sooo excited!

3) I have 2 scars. Both in the same place-my left knee-and both from the same accident but at different times. I went to the most fantastic camp in Algonquin Park, Ontario for 11 years and there was this huge rock that always stuck out on a hill that I would walk down multiple times a day. From ages 9-19 everytime I went down that hill I always jumped off that rock instead of walking down it or around it. I’ve tripped and fallen of it from jumping at least 40 times over those 11 years, twice leaving me with scars on my left knee. If I go back, I will jump off that rock. I’ll never learn.

4) I ice skated competitively till 8th grade, ran track in 8th grade, played tennis in high school, rowed my freshman year in college and played rugby 2 years in college and now I’m a runner. I guess I’ve always been an athlete but have never found the right sport for me…until now I guess!

5) When I lived in Spain after college, I had no TV and no dvd player on my old school laptop. I did, however, download 103 episodes of Friends from my fellow English Teacher and friend Lucy’s computer onto mine. I watched all those episodes countless times (really, a ton) and know them all by heart. Everytime one of “my” episodes comes on tv, I can quote the entire thing. My favorite episode is “the one with the last night” where Rachel moves out of Monica’s apartment and Chandler moves it and Rachel and Monica fight about the phone pen. I die laughin every time.

Eating Cleveland

Edited to add: My mom emailed me…”I hate the photos of me!!!!” sorry mom-Had to do it!!
Photobucket
My mom is probably going to kill me for posting a pic of her on the internet with no makeup on, but who cares!! It’s a good one. Love you mom!

I had a lovely and relaxing trip home. Cleveland is a fun little town and I am a homebody at heart. Out of me and my sisters, I’ll probably be the one to move back to C-town eventually. Does anyone watch 30 Rock? Cause that “Cleveland” episode last year rocked my world. I don’t, however, think I walk down the street thinking “what smells so good? Cleveland.” (watch me here)

Any who…before I get lost on a ridiculous tangent that I tend to do, moving on! Not a lot of cooking going on this time, but I did have some tasty meals in restaurants! Friday for lunch my mom and I went to a new (well, new location) Turkish restaurant in Cleveland Heights called Anatolia Cafe. I had been once at the old location with an old boss, but this new one was airier, bright and quite busy. I enjoyed a delicious falafel and snagged some A-MAZING baklava for dessert. Soooo good, honey-y and in perfect little 2 bite pieces. During lunch my mom kept asking me if I was going to post this on my blog…one of 20 times she asked me this during the weekend. This is for you mom!! You better appreciate it!! As we ate, we scanned the menu to see if my mom could take my dad here. He is a picky eater and doesn’t really do ethnic food, so we went through almost everything on the menu to find something he would eat, cause it sure looks like my mom is coming back…and my dad will have to be dragged too. Dad-I know you’ll like it. Please go!

Friday night, before the orchestra, our little trio (very rare-we are normally a group of 5, 6 now that I have a brother-in-law.) went to a local fav, and I think my mom’s fav restaurant-Sarava. It’s in Shaker Square and is Brazilian and really yummy. Their menu is really fun and not safe which I like, and they have delish Mojitos, which I had to pass on this time, although I’m not sure why. I’ve had several Sarava mojitos before and they are STRONG. I think I wanted to focus on the music at the orchestra, not how the room was spinning and the height of our seats was making me waay too nauseous. Well, I had a kinda plate of vegetarian stuff, including black beans and rice, veggies, fried spinich, onions and some other stuff. It was sooooo good, my mom had to hold me back from licking the plate. Well, not really, but I was about to do it (but they took the plate away. boo). We finished with dessert, including some chocolate cake thing and the MOST AMAZING creme caramel (mom-was that it???) EVER!! Normally I don’t like things like that cause I think they taste eggy but this was probably the best thing about the entire dinner. So, if you’re in Cleveland, go to Sarava and order the creme caramel. Oooo-just looked it up-it’s Brazilian Caramel Custard. Your taste buds will thank you FOREVER.

Our next and final restaurant adventure (this is very very rare for us-we NEVER go out to restaurants.) was Fire, also at Shaker Square for Easter Brunch. My mom even asked me before I went where I wanted to go after church for brunch. As one of three, and especially as the middle child, I NEVER get asked where I want to go. It’s all about where we would all be happiest. But this time it was all me me me!! Haha. So, per my mom’s suggestion, we went to Fire a cute and yummy restaurant that is about 7 years old. And man oh man did they have good brunch. I had lemon soufflé pancakes with blueberry sauce and basically an entire bag of powdered sugar on top. They were amazing. So delicious and perfect for a snowy Easter. Oh, Cleveland. Always snow on Easter. Last year I went home for Easter as well (early April?) for a wedding shower for my sister and we got 2 feet of snow. Yup. Don’t you want to move to Cleveland?

The only cooking I did while I was there was not healthy by any means but it was delish. We went to a little Easter party for dinner on Sunday at my parents’ friends house and were assigned to bring dessert. My mom’s glorious idea was to make 3 kinds of cupcakes with 3 different kinds of frosting. That’s a lot of cooking. But, we were up to the task, and I must say we had a good ‘ol time doing it. Coconut (the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe), Orange (Magnolia basic cupcake recipe with orange zest) and Chocolate (no clue where this recipe came from).

My mom came home from the grocery store with a coconut instead of a bag of already shredded coconut. Silly Mom. I was a little nervous how that was going to be…I’ve never broken open a coconut before, and I don’t think my mom had either. It was an adventure nonetheless. Obviously that’s her above cracking it open. She did good!
Photobucket
she had to move to the floor eventually…

Overall, they were an ab fab success. We did dump an entire tray of chocolate cupcakes on the floor but were able to salvage enough. And it was a very busy Saturday and Sunday measuring and mixing and scraping and licking bowls. It’s a good thing I did a long run Saturday cause I sure did my fair share of batter eating. My ultimate weakness. And they were delish. Don’t they just look delish??
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

The best were the coconut, but the others were amazing too. It was a fun little cooking activity to do with my mom. And yes Mom-I did put it on my blog.

Photobucket
Dalton and I wish you goodnight!!

Running Update #4: Bouncing Back

No fun running related pic this week. It’s a blaaaah post. Blah in color, not topic.

Another 2 days of running week. I’m still feel like I’m kinda recovering from strep so the exercise has been not so intense. Longest to recover from strep EVER!!! I think mentally too, it wore me down so that’s why I’m taking so long to recover. Ok-enough pitying myself.

I did my normal Tuesday tempo run and was really really nervous going into it. I felt like crap after my long run the Saturday before and was still feeling worn down (and was still on antibiotics) so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Also, and this might be getting a little odd, but the antibiotics were giving me really bad indigestion. Weird!! I know. I wasn’t sure why I was getting it, but I traced it back to those little suckers, and as a matter of fact, my indigestion stopped on Friday, the day after my last day on them. So, if you didn’t know, running with indigestion is AWFUL. It kinda makes you feel like you’re going to barf the entire time. Well, I was sure that every step on that treadmill was going to be painful and nauseating. And you know what…I did feel like I was going to barf for alot of it. But, it wasn’t a bad run. In fact, it was a great and energizing run. And fast. Except for when an annoying little coifed gym bunny kicked the plug on my treadmill and I had to stop, get off, plug it back in restart and get back into my run. Grrr. Well, besides that, and the indigestion, I enjoyed myself. 4.5 miles (actually maybe a little more) at between 7 and 7.5 mph. Yay!

I had to skip my Thursday run cause that’s when I flew to Cleveland. I could have run in the morning, but I had to leave for work at 6:20 cause I had to be at work an hour early which meant I had to get up at 4 to run. Uh-uh. Not an option. Sorry. On to Saturday it is!!

I was really looking forward to my long run in Cleveland! It is always nice to mix up long run locations, so I knew this was going to be a fun run. Also, we live really close to a park/2 small lakes (the Shaker Lakes to those in the know) which is a lovely place to run. However, sitting in a restaurant on Friday night with my parents it started to snow. Then we went to the orchestra and in started snowing harder and when we left, there was about 4 inches on the ground and not stopping anytime soon. And the funny thing is that that night at dinner, I spent about 15 minutes talking with my Dad about a route to take (cause it was an 11 miler, not a short way) and now I wasn’t sure if I could run it with all the snow. When I woke up there was about 7 inches, and I got very concerned speeches several times from both of my parents about running the snow. Overly concerned, I say!! I think they were a little protective…it’s just snow!!! Anyway, once I ate my clif bar and let it digest, the roads were (i just wrote ‘rodes where’ instead of ‘roads were’…whoa) clear. This is Cleveland, not Florida. We can handle our snow. I ended up changing my route, because my original route had me going through a golf course and I was sure that wasn’t going to be clear. So my new route was a 2-lapper, not what I prefered but it would do fine.

My loop went around 2 local small lakes, my school (which is better than your school VeggieGirl…haha!!) and surrounding neighborhoods. It is a really lovely loop because of the lakes and I’ve run a smaller version of it several times. This morning it was bright and clear and my run was smooth and comfortable. There were TONS of runners out there (well, not compared to running in Central Park) and everyone says hi to each other. In NY, everyone ignores everyone else and pretends they’re better than others. You don’t make many friends running in Central Park. It was nice to be able to say ‘Hi’ to fellow runners without feeling like I was going to be laughed at for being friendly. Yay!!! First loop was nice and I fell into my natural rhythm pretty fast. I enjoyed the change of scenary and liked looking around-even though I had driven this route hundreds of times to school and back. But I hadn’t run it in a long time!! I only had to run in the snow for about 50 feet, and it was totally fun!! If I had better shoes, I would have tried to find more places to run in the snow! The second loop…it was a little annoying starting it, after running for a little less that 6 miles, and knowing that you had to run it all again. Ugh!!! And miles 5.5-7 were really hard, like always. I brought it up with my dad and he thinks it has something to do with my metabolism. I’m going to start playing with nutrition and maybe trying out on-the-go nutrition (gels, etc.) so see if that helps. But, once I got over the hump I got right back into my stride. Overall, it was a very stress free run.

So, that’s 11 miles down…tack on 2.1 to that and I got my half marathon! Not too shabby I must say!

Oh-the half marathon WAS changed to the first weekend in May. That’s not too bad and gives me an extra week to train, but I was planning on going to Connecticut with some friends that weekend but I gotta run now!!! And after training for so long for something…sorry girls…I’ll see you another weekend! Half-marathon it is!

Next weekend-Scotland Day 10k with another 10k tacked on to the beginning or end. I’m not sure if I can run in my kilt though.

Homeward Bound

Quick post before I head out to to a snowly 11 miler:
I’m in Cleveland for the weekend, so there’s not a lot of healthy cooking going on at my apartment with my absence.

I decided to fly home for Easter weekend and am glad I did! I have 2 sisters (I’m the middle) and this weekend I’m the only one here. I get all the attention! Last year, my older sister got married and my younger sister graduated high school and started college, so it was NOT my year…I was pushed in the corner many times. So, I’m relishing all the attention to myself, as long as it’s positive attention, of course 😉

I’m actually taking 2 days off so I flew here Thursday night and am flying out Monday night. I was hoping to get home on Thursday night in time for a nice, homemade healthy dinner with my parents, but my flight was delayed about 3 hours so I didn’t get home till almost 11. Eating at the airport is one of my hardest food situations. I’m never tempted by fast food and cinnabon, I very often get 2 cookies from Au Bon Pain and a big bag of really bad for you trail mix (the kind with all the M&Ms in it(. Almost every single time I fly out of LaGuardia, my flight is delayed and there aren’t good food options in the Continental concourse: a mini Au Bon Pain stand, Auntie Annie’s pretzels and a tiny magazine stand. That’s it…no healthy options. And thus, when my flight is delayed, I always end up eating crap while I get more and more ancy waiting and waiting. This time, however, I decided to be prepared, and I’m glad I was. I packed a banana, an apple, a Kashi granola bar and a LaraBar. Between 3 (when I left work) and 7 I went through all of those bit by bit and then realized I wasn’t going to get home and be able to eat real food till 11 or maybe later. I was weighing my options, and decided the best thing I could do was buy a bag of trail mix-this time the healthiest version, no M&Ms and no preservatives, and monitor my eating of it. I bought the bag and told myself I could open it on the plane, not before, and have 3 small handfuls and then wait a while so see if I was still hungry, then eat some more. I got on the plane, at my 3 handfuls slowly, stopped and waited about 10 minutes, and I wasn’t hungry anymore! So no more trail mix for me! Which is a HUGE accomplishment. Trail mix is one of those things that is fine in moderation but I can eat tons without even realizing it. So, to stop after just a small about was a pretty amazing feat. Yay me!

I got home eventually, the flight was pretty uneventful and enjoyed the bowl of homemade butternut squash soup my mom had waiting for me. I’m glad I didn’t splurge and overeat on trail mix!

Besides being home to spend time with my parents and my best friend and just enjoy being out of the city, this is the real reason I came home:

Photobucket
Photobucket Photobucket

This is my 95+ pound dog, Dalton. He is the sweetest guy ever, maybe a little bit over energetic, but the best EVER! I love coming home and playing with him and running him around with him and taking him on looooong walks around the lake. No one else takes him on hour long walks so I know he looks forward to me coming home. In fact, every time I put on my sneakers, he gets really excited cause he thinks I’m taking home on a walk. I hate to let him down then I’m just going to the gym! But, I hope to take home out a couple of times for some ‘alone time’.

This short post is getting long. In terms of cooking-my mom and I are making 3 kinds of cupcakes for an Easter party tomorrow night. That counts as healthy food, right??

Almond Butter: A Cautionary Tale

almond butter
This stuff will burn a hole in your wallet.

I had bought a jar of ridiculously expensive almond butter from my local Key Food about 6 months ago (Yum brand maybe??) after hearing raves and raves about it from friends and enemies alike. And, it was ok. I put it in my oatmeal, and the flavor was kinda lost, I made almond butter toast and it was pretty good. I wasn’t floored and wondered what the hype was all about. Why would people pay $8.00 for something that doesn’t taste as good as a $2.50 jar of peanut butter? Idiots. Well, that jar lasted about 4 months in my fridge. Because it was so expensive, I rationed it intensely. Using it up bit by bit. I mean, it wasn’t even that good anyway, so it wasn’t that hard in the first place. Little did I know…

Finally, after what felt like about a year of digging out my daily ration of almond butter, I finished that less than stellar jar about a month ago. I wasn’t planning on buying anymore, had just discovered Honey Roasted peanut butter (yes-it is amazing as it sounds…I wish I had some and a spoon right now. I would smear it all over my body. Well-that’s a little far) and was really enjoying that. I didn’t need another nut butter in my fridge. Currently, there are 5 different nut butters in my fridge. We like our nuts. Anyway, almond butter wasn’t something I thought I needed. Peanut butter-yes. Definitely a necessity. Almond butter-no, especially not at $8 a pop and for something that wasn’t amazing. However, one afternoon I was picking up something at Whole Foods (oddly enough I think it was the shortening for the Oreos) and wandered into the baking/nut/nut butter aisle which tends to be my favorite. I noticed a Whole Foods brand of Almond butter that was a)chunky and b)2 bucks cheaper than the frou frou brand at Key Food. a) I MUCH prefer chunky nut butters over smooth-always have. Love love love big chunks of nuts among the creaminess. I had never seen chunky almond butter!!! And it was cheap(ish)?? I had to buy it. And buy it I did.

The next day, I opened up the jar to make a almond butter and honey sandwich on my fav Ezekiel Sesame bread. When I opened that jar, it was the most amazing thing. HUGE chunks of almonds among creamy deliciousness. Like, a quarter of an almond chunks. I was floored. I ate a little spoonful while making my sandwich. Holy mother of god. This stuff was worth the $5, hell, it was worth $20, maybe even $100. And that sandwich? I’m drolling thinking about it now, it was that f-ing good. However, as much as I loved it, it was still pricey. And for someone living on a tight budget, it is not so wallet friendly. But it is so good!! Like, go into convulsions good.

That jar lasted 3 weeks. Don’t forget the previous jar lasted 4 months, and my jars of peanut butter, which I eat every day, last about 2 months. A $5 jar of nectar-of-the-gods almond butter, 3 weeks. I don’t even know what I ate it all on!! No clue where it went. But I do know every bite was worth it and heavenly. After I finished that jar, I told myself that I wouldn’t buy anymore, at least for the next few months. However, when I was at Whole Foods this past weekend, somehow a jar ended up in my bag. No clue how that happened. I swear. 😉

So, be cautious. It is expensive stuff. Really really expensive. But soooooo worth it. Tread carefully into the world of high quality almond butter-it will make you happy but it will put you on the streets cause you won’t be able to pay your rent cause your gorging on pricey almond butter. I warned you.

Chickpeas…Again?

Photobucket

Yuh-huh.

I am the queen of ripping crap out of magazines. I read tons but they’re never my own so if I want to keep something, I have to rip it out. A lot of times I’ll be reading some rando magazine at the gym that is on the magazine rack (I don’t know about you guys, but my gym almost always has the worst magazines. They’re are always too many copies of L.L. Bean and Japanese Vogue. what?? so random) and something will call out to me and I’ll pull it out. I try to always do it secretly though cause I’m scared the gym people are going to yell at me. Although I’m not sure why cause the magazines are always old and falling apart. The people that work there are scaaaary. It’s a good thing I only pay $250 a year for my membership, so I have low expectations. Anyway…if I see something, like an interesting ab workout, a book review or recipe, I’ll (quietly) rip it for my ridiculously huge collection of tear-outs. However, when I’m on the elliptical or stairclimber there is no place to put these things I rip out! So, I stick them wherever I can-in the cover of a book, inside another magazine, in my ipod case, inside pocket of my bag. These things end up in crazy places and I always always always forget about them. I’ll pull out a book from my bookshelf that I read 9 months earlier and out will fall a movie review that has long been out of the theaters. Whoops.

I also collect alot of clippings, especially recipes, from work. Part of my job is PR and for it I have to read a TON of magazines and newspapers. I tend to spend extra time reading the cooking sections, even though my organization would probably never get mentioned among the recipes. Everytime I find something that catches my eye, I sneak to the photocopier and copy it, cause I can’t rip them out at work! So, among all my papers for work and such at my desk I’ll find faded old photocopies of recipes, none of which I’ve ever made and probably never will.

This past Sunday (yesterday), I had to go into work to try to catch up after being gone for 3 days last week. I spent the entire day organizing all my crap at my desk and found at least 8 photocopies of recipes and a few that I had pulled from magazines at the gym. This is a neverending habit and up until new was not being useful to me. I collected all the recipes, threw them into the inside cover of my book and headed off home.

I have a loooong commute to and from my job (1.5 hours) so I spend quite a bit of time thinking and pondering about this and that. I was trying to think about what to make for dinner (Sunday night=big meal for next 3 nights) and decided to finally do something with all those recipes! I had almost an entire subway car to myself so I spread out with 5 recipes slowly eliminating them 1 by 1. I probably looked like a fool. Let’s just say it was a really good thing my subway car was basically empty. I came down to 2: 1 was a golden lentil stew with dates and other stuff from an old Martha Steward and 2 was a chickpea and veggie stew from a really really really old magazine (Fitness or Shape or Self) from over a year ago. I decided to make the chickpea one cause it was less complicated and I was tired but I didn’t really look at the ingredients until I got to the store. I thought it was a very basic bean and veggie stew but then realized it was slightly Moroccan flavored with fun spices and fennel. It was pretty simple to make and soooo amazing to eat. I can’t believe I let this sit in the inside of Until I Find You for over a year! It was so tasty, and suprisingly so. I was really skeptical as to how it was going to taste with the cinnamon and cumin and paprika (which is not my fav) but I could not scarf it down fast enough! The fennel was really key too as was the cilantro on top. This is a winner. Make it. NOW!!

Photobucket

Chickpeas and Veggies
(heavily adapted from a random magazine)

olive oil
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, chopped in into 1/2 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, half moons into 1 inch-1/2 inch pieces
1/2 large can of whole tomatoes, each tomatoes chopped into about 6 pieces
1 large can chickpeas
2 cups low sodium veggie broth
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
3/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
kosher salt & pepper
chopped cilantro

Saute the carrots and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil in a large pot, like a dutch oven, for about 5 minutes. Add the fennel, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, chickpeas and spices and saute for about 5 more minutes. Make sure to combine all the ingredients thoroughly . By the way…this recipe makes ALOT so the pot will be full. I was really really surprised at how much it made. After 5 minutes, add the chicken broth. bring to a boil and then bring it down to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 20 more minutes. Top with as much chopped cilantro as your heart desires!! I like lots. Scarf it down ASAP!!!