Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slow Food Central NJ Farmer's Market and NJAHPERD 2 Mile Winter Warm Up Run, Reviewed!

It has been a busy and eventful weekend, in a very good way. You might remember my earlier post about the Winter Farmer's Market sponsored by Slow Food Central NJ. Well, I took the ride out to Princeton on Saturday to check it out. What an awesome event! Everyone was really friendly, the vendors were plentiful, and there was even a live band. I picked up a few tasty goodies:I got cremini mushrooms from a farm in Pennsylvania, which I turned into a tasty soup for dinner tonight. I also got a half peck of cameo apples for juicing, salads, oatmeal, and snacking. I got a tin of spiced black tea that I couldn't turn down after I had a sample of it. Finally, I got lunch and dessert. Lunch was a kale salad from a local health food store, and dessert was a delicious carrot cake cupcake. It was maybe the most moist, texturally pleasing vegan cupcake I've ever had, so awesome! All in all, I'm really glad I took the ride to check this market out, and it seemed well attended. I hope it was a success for the sponsor.

As for today, I had the comeback race I decided to do last month, the NJAHPERD 2 Mile Winter Warm Up Fun Run. I was feeling pretty "eh" about it going in, since my training has felt just okay. Keep in mind, this training is pretty low key at this point, nothing more than 2 runs a week or so. But the good news is, I exceeded my expectations. I finished the race in 16:33, putting me at a pace of 8:16/mile, and in 21st place out of 66 runners. Much better than any of my training runs! My dad and my sister's friend Dave did the race too, so that was fun. Dad came in 27th and Dave came in 8th! Here's me doing my trademark "I'm super tired so I'm letting my head list to the side" at the end of the race:All in all, a good race for all of us. I'm still deciding on what race to do next; I'll be sure to post it here.

As for tonight, I'm just relaxing! I'm sipping some of that tasty black tea I bought at the market yesterday, and I just took a batch of banana walnut muffins out of the oven. I am set!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wheatberries and More Cookies

One of my favorite things to get from the salad bar at Whole Foods is wheatberry salad. I love the texture of wheatberries; chewy but still firm. Their flavor is earthy, and a bit nutty. This past weekend, instead of buying some premade salad, I picked up wheatberries from the bulk bin and decided to make my own. So what exactly is a wheatberry? It's the actual wheat kernel, without the hull. They are an awesome source of dietary fiber, and they are also a good source of protein and iron. To make wheatberry salad, you can combine the wheatberries with pretty much any veggies, seeds, nuts, and dressing. Here is my first cut at wheatberry salad.

Wheatberry Salad
-1 1/2 cups hard wheatberries
-4 stalks celery, chopped
-3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
-2 scallions, chopped
-1/3 cup parsley, chopped
-1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
-4 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp lemon juice
-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
-salt and pepper

-In a pot, cover wheatberries with 3 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the wheatberries are tender. You may need to add more water as it cooks. When done, drain and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
-Toss the cooked wheatberries, celery, walnuts, scallions, parsley, and cherries in a bowl.
-Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper together. Pour over the wheatberry mixture and stir to combine. Serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Since this was a pretty easy thing to throw together tonight, I decided to make cookies when I was done eating. I used my awesome new cookbook, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, to make Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies. I keep telling myself they're healthy since they have 2 cups of oats in them. I love the chocolate and cherry combination in these. Mark gobbled a few of these and reported that they were indeed tasty, and I went ahead and confirmed it myself. Yum!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Risotto, with Greens

Besides soup, risotto is my favorite cold weather comfort food. Since we've been eating lots of soup in my house lately, I decided to switch it up and make risotto tonight. The possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of flavors, so I narrowed it down to something seasonal. I found this recipe from the New York Times column Recipes for Health. I liked that it used winter squash (I used my favorite, butternut) and incorporated a healthy serving of collard greens. I followed the recipe pretty closely, only adding a couple extra cloves of garlic and skipping the cheese. This recipe came out great. It was creamy, warm, and flavorful without being too heavy. I served it with my regular raw veggie salad and lemony herb vinaigrette. This made a delicious dinner, complete with a hefty serving of leftovers!
I also want to let everyone know about the AWESOME giveaway going on right now on my friend Lauren's blog. She is giving away an ice cream maker! Check it out!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Asian Feast and Race Prep

Last night Mark and two of our good friends, Jimbo and Greg, made a veritable feast for dinner. Jimbo came by and we went up to the local Asian market to get supplies. We picked up lots of fresh produce and a bunch of other items we needed to make dinner, and I got a few basics that I was low on in my pantry. Then we came back and started cooking. We made a delicious vegetarian version of a Thai soup called tom yum. We put in tofu, shiitaki mushrooms, peppers, onions, napa cabbage, and extra lemongrass, and we topped it with fresh cilantro. This was super spicy, but so delicious you just wanted to keep on eating. We also had a stir fry. We used Chinese broccoli, long beans, peppers, onions, and baby corns, and cooked it in a sauce made with soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, and fermented black bean paste. We served it over thin rice noodles. This meal was awesome, satisfying, and yielded enough leftovers for everyone.

As you know, my comeback race is less than a week away. In preparation, I ran twice over this long weekend. I also signed up with a pretty awesome website, Daily Mile. This site allows you to track your training and races by letting you map your route and enter your time. It provides your pace, and gives you a space to say a few words about your workout. I think this will be a really good tool to use throughout the year, both for historical tracking and for staying motivated. I also like to think that in a year's time, I will be able to look back and see my all my effort totaled up.

Today was grocery day, so expect to see some tasty recipes posted this coming week!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Farmer's Market

The folks over at Party of Two were awesome enough to post about some really neat winter farmer's markets that are happening in New Jersey this month and next (click the image for a larger view).These events are sponsored by Slow Food Central New Jersey. I am hoping to check out the upcoming market on the 23rd of this month. Besides the tasty winter veggies I'm hoping to find, I'm looking forward to checking out the offerings from Catherine's Vegan Treats and Davidson's Exotic Mushrooms. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Running, does it cancel out cookies?

I really hope so.

I finally got back out on the road for a run this past weekend. Mark was nice enough to go with me and help get my lazy butt out the door. It was COLD. I think it was around 28 degrees or so, but it was sunny and not really windy. I just layered up and got moving quick. I wanted to not wear my watch, because I've been known to get neurotic about that sort of thing, but I wore it anyway. I didn't peek until we were done, though. We ran a little two mile loop in 20 minutes, which felt very slow, but it was good to ease back into it and not push it. The next day the inside of my quads hurt, and my obliques were a little sore, but other than that I was fine. My plan is to run this Friday when I get out of work a little early and then again at some point over the weekend. Then the Sunday after that is the NJAHPERD 2 Mile Winter Warm Up Fun Run. I'm hoping I have a respectable showing; not a PR performance I'm sure, but hopefully something to make me feel like I'm on my way back.

To switch gears just a bit, I received an awesome birthday present from my sister-in-law: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!After a quick flip-through, it appears that virtually every recipe is awesome. Needless to say, I made some cookies tonight. I made a batch of Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles. If you've ever had Aztec hot chocolate, you'll understand the flavor profile of these cookies. I can't believe how spicy these came out! The initial flavor is chocolate and cinnamon, but then you get this cayenne kick at the end. YUM. And the best compliment came from Mark: "You wouldn't know these are vegan." Always a good thing to hear when it comes to baked goods! Nothing like a big glass of vanilla hemp milk and a cookie for dessert.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Breakfast and Dinner, Linked by Oranges

This morning I was lucky enough to not have any real plans or reason to wake up early. So, I spent a few luxurious minutes waking up slowly in bed with the cats, with sun streaming in the windows and the radiators being nice and warm. I figured a nice way to continue the morning was to have a tasty breakfast. I toasted up a whole wheat english muffin and topped it with my favorite spread, almond butter. I also made up a perfect breakfast juice. I juiced two and a half oranges, half a lemon, an inch long piece of ginger, and 4 carrots. Like regular orange juice in the morning, but better!A few nights ago I felt like making something that had orange flavor in it, since I had just gotten a good deal on a bag of oranges and was craving citrus. I decided on making a salad dressing. This dressing had orange, sesame, and ginger flavors, and I served it with a simple curry. Just onions, peppers, and potatoes simmered in coconut milk and red curry paste, served with some jasmine rice. This was pretty spicy, so the salad was a perfect pairing to cool things down a bit. This is a light salad, not heavy on the oil. It was just the refreshing thing I was looking for.

Orange Sesame Spinach Salad
-5 oz spinach
-3 carrots, sliced
-5 radishes, sliced
-1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
-1/8 cup water
-1 tbsp onion, minced
-1 tsp freshly grated ginger
-1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 tbsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp agave nectar
-1/2 tsp sriracha
-1 tbsp sesame seeds

-Toss the spinach, carrots, and radishes together in a large salad bowl.
-Whisk together the rest of the ingredients.
-Dress the salad and serve right away.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


You might remember how excited I was to receive a juicer from my parents for my birthday a little over a week ago. Well I've finally broken it in! After I returned from my trip to Vermont, I made it a point to pick up fruits and veggies just for juicing. I bought apples, lemons, ginger root, and kale to get started. I also have carrots on hand, a great vegetable to juice. And much to my surprise, when I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items tonight, bulk bags of apples and oranges were on sale! I'm thinking of using the oranges with some carrots and ginger. I need some juice ideas! I have some recipes, but I am always up for trying something new. Anyway, here is the juicer in all it's pulpy glory.I can't wait for the March time frame, because by then I'm hoping to have the vegetable garden and cold frames up and running. The pulp will make excellent fertilizer since it's all natural, nutrient dense, and already somewhat broken down.My first juices have been simple, green, and delicious. For this one I juiced one lemon, an inch long piece of ginger, three stalks of kale, and 3 medium apples. This made about 18 ounces. I poured it over ice and had it for a healthy dessert. Sweet and tart, yum.

On a separate note, I finally started taking a daily vitamin. I was really ambivalent about this for a long time. But, B12 is an important vitamin that many vegetarians and vegans lack, and I'm borderline anemic, so I made sure I got a supplement with iron. I always hated vitamins because they made me feel a little sick, but by taking them before bed I have been doing fine. I figure it can't hurt. What do you think?

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's in Vermont

Happy new year, all! Here's to a brand new year full of possibilities and potential. I rung in the new year up in Vermont. My good friend Chris and his wonderful parents were gracious enough to host Mark and I for the long weekend. Besides a great weekend with great friends, record snowfall, and heated mattress pads (!!!), I also enjoyed some seriously tasty eats and drinks.

I'll begin with The Vermont Pub and Brewery. We come here, without fail, every time we visit Burlington. This place brews some of the best beer I've ever had. Everything they serve is brewed on-site in small batches. I always get a glass of Forbidden Fruit, a raspberry beer, since it's my favorite. Mark and I decided to expand our horizons on this trip and also order some samples. We tried a seasonal ale, a sour red, a smoked stout, and a black IPA. All were delicious, but I think the black IPA was my favorite. Of course, we had to have a snack with our beer, so we ordered what we believe to be the best sweet potato fries anywhere. These are fried in vegetable oil perfectly and are SO good. They come with a honey mustard sauce, but I prefer them with ketchup. Not a shock, since I think most things are better with ketchup.
Another local favorite is Stone Soup. It's a home-style soup and sandwich place that is very vegan friendly. They always have at least one vegan soup on, tons of freshly baked bread, and a stocked hot and cold bar. They will also make any sandwich vegan if you ask; they have tempeh, seitan, and tofu options. On this trip, I enjoyed a huge bowl of curried yellow lentil soup and some hunks of french bread. The soups are always filling and hearty, and they really are a meal with the bread on the side. If I had the room, I would have splurged on an apple cranberry muffin or a chocolate chip coconut banana scone, the vegan baked goods of the day. If you find yourself in Burlington and looking for lunch, check out Stone Soup.

Finally, for our last meal in town, we went to Magnolia Bistro. This is hands down the best breakfast in Burlington, and it has something for everyone, including vegans. The menu is clearly demarcated with icons for vegan and gluten-free options, which is really helpful. Another really cool thing about Magnolia is the fact that it is a green certified restaurant. This is based on the food, trash practices, sustainability in construction and energy use, and pollution reduction. So that is a pretty cool added bonus. But first and foremost, the food is fantastic. I enjoyed a monster plate of Mexican tofu scram (topped with Vermont made hot sauce), home fries, and sourdough toast with homemade strawberry preserves. So delicious and filling. Magnolia Bistro is a must-eat!
So, the new year is off to a good start. Let's hope it continues to be as great as the first weekend was! Happy eating!