Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Salad and Another Race

Summer is definitely knocking on the door here! Today it topped out in the low nineties, although it felt hotter in the sun. On days like these, I typically want a salad (surprise, surprise!). Tonight, I made my salad a hearty meal by adding half a roasted sweet potato and about half a can of pan-fried chickpeas. For the potatoes, I simply cubed them, tossed them in a couple teaspoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. For the chickpeas, I heated about a teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, then added the chickpeas and cooked them for about 5 minutes, until they were popping. I topped this colorful creation with some freshly made Tomato Tahini Dressing, care of Gena at Choosing Raw. She has lots of great salad dressing ideas on her blog, so check it out. Anyway, this dressing called for one ingredient that isn't usually in my pantry (but should be): nutritional yeast. So, yesterday I bit the bullet and bought some from the bulk bin at my local Whole Foods. I was happy to find out that besides adding good flavor and a creamy texture to food, it is also a really good source of B vitamins and is a complete protein. Bonus. The only thing I changed in the dressing recipe was the nama shoyu; I subbed in soy sauce and it was no problem. This dressing added a lot of body to the salad without being heavy. The flavor was tomato-y, with a hint of tahini, but a little mild. Next time I might throw a clove or two of garlic in. But overall, it was a nice change of pace from the vinaigrettes I usually make. I have plenty leftover, and I think it would also serve well as a sandwich spread.

This Saturday I have my first race since the half marathon - The Spring Lake 5. This is a 5 mile race on a nice, flat course. It really serves as the kickoff to the summer racing season. This is one of the largest 5 mile races in the country, and is run by almost ten thousand people each year. It's also notoriously hard to get an entry into this race, but thanks to a very early morning wake up I managed to secure a bib. My Achilles is feeling pretty decent these days, thanks to Kinesio tape and heel lifts. I'm just happy to be healthy enough to be running! Ideally, I'd like to beat my 5 mile PR, which is 47:05. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Green Symphony NYC

Yesterday my mom, my sister, and I ventured into New York City to see the traveling King Tut exhibit. For as close as I am to the city, and with a train station just a few blocks from my house, I really don't go too often. That being said, I am not super familiar with quick, healthy places to grab a bite to eat in New York. Cue my iPhone and the free Yelp! application. The three of us oriented ourselves to the exhibit, and then I went ahead and searched the surrounding two blocks for an inexpensive restaurant. Just a few items down on my list was Green Symphony, listed as a vegetarian eatery with hot and cold food bars and smoothies. And it was only one block away. So, we headed over. What a great find this place turned out to be! A quick once-over yielded a huge juice menu, a fridge full of freshly prepared sandwiches and wraps, a well stocked hot and cold food bar, and loads of homemade goodies for dessert. I was craving a green juice, so I ordered the Green Monster - green apples, spinach, ginger, and spirulina. This did not disappoint! It was super ginger-y and tart, and was priced low, in my opinion. My sister got a smoothie with fresh apple juice and three kinds of berries. I had a sip of that, and it too was very tasty. My mom and I split an avocado sandwich on a flatbread, complete with hummus, sprouts, and mixed greens. This was really fresh and clean tasting, and it hit the spot; just enough to feel satisfied but not stuffed. I rounded out the meal with a homemade chocolate tangerine cookie. If you like the combination of orange and chocolate, you will love this cookie! I gobbled it up, but controlled myself enough to share with my mom.

This place was so chock-full of stuff I couldn't possibly sample everything in one trip. Both the hot and cold food bars looked amazing (there were samosas the size of softballs calling my name), and I could have chosen any of the juices and smoothies and enjoyed them. Also, the store was very clean and bright, and smelled like fresh juice and vegetables. Finally, the prices were so good I that forgot I was in Manhattan. I will definitely come here again next time I am in the midtown/theater district area. I highly recommend Green Symphony (255 West 43rd Street, between 7th and 8th Aves).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Ah, Cinco de Mayo. A celebration that typically ends with a bad hangover and a bloated gut. Mark and I celebrated a little differently today (not that I'm even totally sure why we celebrated this holiday, but it's fun, so I guess that's reason enough). After a run at a local cross country course in this gorgeous weather, Mark and I picked up a few items at the grocery store for a Mexican-inspired dinner. I was really craving yet another salad. I know, I know, you don't make friends with salad. Oh well, I love them, and this warm weather makes me want cool, light food. A single serving of a little homemade margarita (thank you limeade concentrate, what a time saving trick!) was the perfect accompaniment to this salad. The recipe below serves two really hungry people.

Mexican Chopped Salad with Lime Dressing
-2 servings of mixed greens (I used romaine and mesclun mix)
-1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 8 oz can whole corn kernels, rinsed and drained
-1 large tomato, seeded and diced
-half a cucumber, seeded and diced
-1 avocado, diced
-juice of 3 limes
-juice of 1 lemon
-3 tbsp olive oil
-1 clove garlic, grated
-1 tbsp agave syrup
-1 tbsp chili powder
-salt and pepper

-Divide the greens between two dinner plates and set aside.
-Combine the beans, corn, tomato, and cucumber in a bowl. Toss to combine, and then divide the mixture evenly over the two plates of greens.
-Sprinkle the diced avocado evenly over the two salads.
-In a small bowl, combine the citrus juice, oil, garlic, agave, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Divide in two and drizzle evenly over the salads. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Changes, a Race Recap, and a Salad

I am writing while sitting down and resting a pair of tired, but recovering legs, thanks to Sunday's Long Branch Half Marathon! But we'll get to that in a minute. First, this may come as a surprise to some, but I am changing my eating habits once again. After a lot of thought and rather stressful consideration, I am not going to call myself vegan any longer. Lately I have been finding the label to be very restrictive, and I've been uncomfortable with it. I'm sure I could ramble on about my reasoning for paragraph after paragraph, but I will save it, and just say that I feel that this decision is the best thing for me personally right now. Going forward, I don't plan on hitting up a burger joint 5 nights a week, don't worry. I will thoughtfully consider any animal based products I put in my body, and make my decisions in a fluid, day-to-day way rather than by a strict set of rules (which works great for some people, I'm just finding it doesn't for me). My house, however, will most likely remain vegan (at this point I can't think of any meat or dairy products I need to have at home) and I will of course continue to focus on eating a healthy diet, so rest assured that many of the recipes I post will be vegan-friendly (and of course, delicious). I hope you all, regardless of your dietary choices, will continue to follow Runs on (Mostly) Plants.

On to the half marathon! My mom and I arrived to the start and finish area hour well ahead of the start time, at which point the weather was still reasonable. By the time the race started at 9am, it was HOT. The lovely ocean breeze faded as we headed inland on the loop course right around mile 3 and it didn't make an appearance again until almost mile 12. In between it was hot and humid, but everything else about the race was great. Through every street there was great crowd support. People with signs, bells, hoses and sprinklers, and even some with homemade water stops and snacks were out. There were even a few bands playing along the course! Before I hit a few road blocks in my training, I was shooting to finish in under 2 hours. But after my fall on my knee and some Achilles tendon trouble just a week and a half before the race, I eased up on that and decided to just enjoy the race and see what happens. I'm happy to say I finished in 2 hours 6 minutes 18 seconds (from the unofficial results posted today), and ended up in the top fifth of both my gender and age group. Not bad at all considering the unseasonably hot weather and a couple setbacks during training. And most importantly, I had a really good time doing the race. My friend John (who did the marathon) and his parents hosted a party after the race, and it was nice to kick back with friends old and new and a few beers and snacks. Overall, this was a great race! Mom was awesome taking pictures and cheering me on, a number of my friends completed the race, and everything was really organized, from pre-race packet pick up to the post-race massage. I hope to be back next year.
Last night I was craving a salad for dinner, but a salad with a bit of substance. A few months ago I made this Avocado Wasabi Salad from VeganYumYum. It was amazingly delicious. It's a bit of a process to put this whole thing together, so for a fast meal I decided to just make the chickpea part of the recipe and work it into a simple salad. The chickpeas are super easy to do, all you need are canned chickpeas, soy sauce, and wasabi in some form. The recipe called for powder, but I used paste and it worked great. Anyway, I made these chickpeas and tossed them with some mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, scallions, and a orange sesame dressing that I whipped up (this is obviously my favorite dressing of the moment, I can't get enough of it). Easy, quick, and light, but still substantial.