Falling back into routine.

Morning Coffee

Today was the first time in a few months that I felt like I was getting back into a routine. I made myself a single cup of coffee in the morning, and proceeded to reheat it over and over as I worked through the day. Meetings, a webinar, it’s nice feeling immersed in my work, but I suffer when I neglect a good cup of hot coffee. I’m loving my new mug – a hand me down from my friend AA, who moved and left me with a pair of these, and plenty of good tea to brew in them.

For lunch, I made myself a bowl of steel cut oats with a large spoonful of pumpkin butter. Later in the afternoon I ate some canned wild salmon, with a spoonful of mayo, and plenty of cracked black pepper. I was in the mood for the most simple meals I could make today – as usual when I travel, I find myself on the cusp of feeling unwell, and need to take care of myself before anything more sinister develops.

Oatmeal with Pumpkin Butter

On Wednesdays I try to get into the gym to lift, but I wanted to give myself a little bit more time to rest after my marathon. I’ve been eying the local Core Power Yoga, which offers a free intro week, and decided to sign up. This afternoon I came to the mat with the intention of healing, resting, and restoring.

The yoga instructor, Amanda, was direct, clear, and gave very good guidance. I’ve practiced now for over ten years, and am always pleasantly surprised when an instructor can teach me new things in a class, or help me look at familiar poses in a new way. She was also particularly giving with extra manipulation – a hand to provide guidance, and gentle push into a deeper stretch. I was supremely appreciative of her care in this class.

Core Power Yoga

I returned home with a strong desire to make soup, taking out my Le Creuset for the first time this fall, and making a large pot of pasta e fagioli, Olive Garden style, with ground beef. I’m never too high brow around here, and I’d have killed for some of their breadsticks.

Pasta e fagioli (if you can call it that): my basic recipe was tweaked from a handful of online recipes (most closely following Iowa Girl Eats and Giuliano Hazan): brown a pound of ground beef with some salt and pepper, add a cup of chopped onion, a few sticks worth of chopped celery, and one chopped carrot stick, a few cloves of garlic. Sautée until the vegetables have softened. Add three cups of cooked cranberry beans (or a few cans of cooked beans of your choice), a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce, and a 28 ounce can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes, a teaspoon each of: dried oregano, thyme, and basil. Cover with a few cups of beef stock, and cook for an hour or two. At the end, add a few cups of cooked pasta. I make my pasta ten minutes before I’d like to serve, and stir it in at the very end. You could also par-cook it, and then let it finish in the soup. Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano. A sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Pot of Pasta e Fagioli

The best part about a big pot of soup, is that you have many a meal for later. Looking forward to eating my way through this for the next few days.

The Simplest Kheema and some Olympic Lifting

Kheema beef with peas

I cooked tonight! I know, I know, I cook most nights. But I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite pantry and freezer meals for the past few days, and this one made me proud of myself – long on flavor, short on effort. My friend AA is moving back to Colorado, and thus I managed to inherit a large haul of freezer and pantry items. Bittersweet, but getting the spoils of a sad situation is enough to perk me up a little bit. Plus, these friends are food lovers, so we’re talking homemade frozen Momofuku buns, honeymead, a black truffle, a full jar of maple syrup…

Before we get to dinner, here are a few of the things I ate today. In the morning, I made myself an aeropress of a wonderful coffee – espresso from Karma Roasters. It was a splurge at Whole Foods, and I don’t regret it one bit. It’s a stellar coffee.

Morning Black Coffee in Muji Cup

For lunch, I cracked open some of the home made liverwurst from my Walden Local Meat share. I’m always looking to add a little offal to my diet – it’s highly nutrient dense, and delicious! Given that I prefer my food as would best be presented to a five year old, I opted for little cucumber boats.

Cucumber Boats with Liverwurst

In the afternoon I was hungry, so I roasted a delicata squash from Volante Farms. Delicata are by far my favorite of the fall squashes! They are super sweet, and I personally have no problem eating the skin.

Delicata Squash from Volante Farms

Roasted Delicata Squash

In the late afternoon, I headed to the gym for Olympic Lifting class. It was the previously mentioned AA’s very last Wednesday Oly class before she moves away, and I didn’t want to miss it. Plus I’ve been out of the gym for so long with marathon training, that I was itching to get my hands on a barbell and lift something heavy! I hopped on the rower to warm up, and we ended up having a lot of fun in class – practicing clean complexes and working to some max heavy cleans. I was pretty sure that I was going to have to drop some serious weight from my usual bar, but things actually didn’t go so badly, all things considered. I worked up and got in multiple lifts at 95, but couldn’t for the life of me break the mental hurdle to get past 100. The worst part is that my lack of being able to make this lift is 100% in my head. I can lift the bar easily. I can high pull and just hold it there. I can’t for the life of me drop under the bar. Despite my frustration, I left thrilled to have gotten sweaty, and it felt so good to be back in the gym.

At home, I set to work cleaning my kitchen, as it was needing a little love. I cleaned and seasoned a cast iron, and the wok (see the top picture) that I inherited, which was looking a little rusty. Dinner needed to be something easy, and I always love some basic Indian spices in my cabinet for making something warm and comforting. I opted to do a really simple kheema – ground beef and peas – which requires little more attention than browning the beef, stirring in the rest of the ingredients, and letting things simmer.

Bowl of Kheema Beef with Peas

Simplest Kheema (Ground Beef with Peas)

1 pound ground beef (highest quality you can get)
1 tablespoon fat (olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s Curry Powder)
a knob of ginger, minced
1 15 oz.can diced tomatoes, and their juice
pinch of sugar (optional, but helps reduce acidity of tomatoes)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup low sodium chicken stock (homemade, preferable)

In a large skillet, heat the fat, and brown the ground beef with a big pinch of salt and pepper. When beef is almost browned, add the curry powder, and ginger, and cook for two minutes. Pour on can of diced tomatoes, peas, chicken stock, and stir. Bring to a simmer, and cook, partially covered (leaving an inch or two for steam to escape), for 10 minutes. Top with a spoonful of yogurt if you’d like.

One Weekend, Two Races + a PRO Compression Giveaway!

Hi all, interrupting my usual programming to come at you with a great giveaway thanks to the kind folks at PRO Compression. They provided me with a pair of compression sleeves for review and another pair of sleeves or socks for a giveaway, and given that they’ve been a life saver through marathon training this past month, I thought it’d be a good match for this here blog. Of course my opinions, and you know that I have MANY, are my own. 

Two Races in One Mizuno Sayonaras

This weekend I endeavored on a double header – running two races, the B.A.A. Half Marathon, and the Tufts 10k for Women. In planning my marathon training this fall, I opted to do two back to back races instead of the 18 miles originally on the plan. This spring I managed to snag a coveted B.A.A. Half registration, and this is my third year running Tufts – a tradition I want to keep alive as long as I can!

BAA Half Map

The B.A.A. Half Marathon is the third race in the Boston Athletic Association distance medley. One of my goals this year was to sign up for the medley and earn the sweet swag (an extra medal for completing all three races), but somehow I managed to miss the registration by a day, despite having put it months in advance on my calendar! Bitter about my mistake, I still ran two out of three this year – the 10k and the half.

When: Sunday, October 12th, 2014. 8:30 am start.

What: 13.1 miles through Boston’s beautiful Emerald Necklace, with the last mile winding through the Franklin Park Zoo.

What this race isn’t: flat. I don’t know why I assumed it was flat, but aside from the brief downhill at mile one, it was pretty much uphill the entire second half of the race!
BAA Half Elevation Chart

Challenges: getting to the zoo! Parking was nonexistent at the race location, so there were shuttles and drop-offs. Traffic was altered so we had to do some detours to get to the race start. Overheating! Although it was in the 40’s when the race was starting, it quickly warmed up, and I found myself totally overheating in my long sleeved tech t, even though I was wearing shorts! At one point I had to stop by the med tent so I could get an ice pack to stuff down my shirt. This ended up being my slowest half, but the animals, sweet medals, and great looking race shirt made up for it.

Highlights of this race included: running with several of my coworkers (Chris, Matt, Rebecca, Terry, and Mike) – okay, not technically “with”, but at the same time! Animals! I took pictures of zebras, a camel, and a selfie with a giraffe sign. A flat track finish. The end of the race is actually run on a track – this was perfect as I kicked it into gear at the last straightaway to pass a dozen people at the end of the race.

RunKeeper Team BAA Half

BAA Half Zebras at Franklin Park Zoo

Tufts 10k Map

After getting a good night’s sleep, I headed into downtown Boston to race with 5000 other women at the Tufts 10k for Women, which races from the Boston Common, on the river, and back again. It’s a beautiful and relatively flat course, and the positive energy is awesome. It was my third year running this race, and there are so many women who make this an annual occasion.

When: Monday, October 13th, 2014. Noon start.

What: 6.2 miles from the Boston Common through downtown Boston, over the Mass Ave. bridge, on the Charles, and back again.

What this race isn’t: coed. Except for about a hundred Tufts Health Plan gentlemen braving the estrogen wave! (Only one was in the top 50, and there were no male elites.)

Challenges: so many. At the end of mile two, my race belt fell apart, and I spent several minutes attempting to find the extra pins I had, and pinning my bib to my shirt. Tired, the aspirin I took didn’t kick in until midway through the race. At mile five, I saw my friend Ryan giving out water, and he seemed concerned that I was walking – this was actually good incentive to kick back into gear and finish the race strong! 300 meters before the finish line, I nearly ran into a girl puking, got a strong whiff, and almost lost it. On the plus side, I picked it up to sprint through the finish, because I was feeling sorry for being passed the whole race!

Highlights of this race included: running with two of my coworkers, Karla and Erin (even though I didn’t end up seeing them!!), and one of my oldest friends, Amanda. She ran with me for the first few miles last year, but is too speedy for me to keep up! Running the same race three years in a row. Getting to high five Joan Benoit Samuelson at the end of the race. At 63, she came in first in her division (60th overall this year), and then spent the rest of the race giving people high fives. Love her!

Tufts 10k starting line

With two races in one weekend, I did my best to promote recovery, and in my book that means coffee (George Howell at Formaggio Kitchen!), and a few extra hours post-race wearing compression sleeves. What does compression do? A tight sock or sleeve adds pressure to the leg and can improve blood flow, preventing soreness, cramping, and more serious afflictions, such as clotting, blood pooling, and swelling. After a race, wearing sleeves for a few hours helps to promote recovery! And now, the couch.

PROCompression Giveaway Second Lunch

PRO Compression Giveaway + Discount Code

Discount Code: use  the discount code FALL at PROCompression.com for 40% off Marathon Socks and Sleeves 

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win a pair of PRO Compression Marathon Socks or Sleeves of their choice. Enter the RaffleCopter below!

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{Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA}

noanet woods lake

noanet woods puppies

succulents and friends

gourd season volante farms

sausages and cous cous

I went hiking this afternoon in Noanet Woodlands, a series of trails in Dover, Massachusetts, with my good friend Alexann. She’s about to head west to Colorado, so we’re soaking up some of the best of the fall weather in New England.  We hiked a few easy trails, and got to the top of Noanet peak just as the sun was hitting the golden hour. After hiking, I picked up a few essentials at Volante Farms (carrot cake whoopie pies, if you must know). Dinner was some Italian sausage, jeweled citrus pilaf, steamed broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.  Tonight I’m reading a few more chapters of Garth Nix’s Sabriel, and heading to bed.

October Goals, Take 1

I spent the day on enforced rest to try to heal up quickly and get back to the action. It’s so easy to forget how important rest is to a healthy and active lifestyle. Well, and sleep. But we all know that!

Fall morning coffee august to august kitchen calendar sesame chicken and cucumber salad

Today I wasn’t up for doing much. My brain was just as shot as my body. So I spent time reading through a few of my favorite blogs, truthfully, not getting far from my bed. Sometimes we just really need to rest.

Let’s talk a little bit about goal setting. I’m not the type of person who is shattered if I don’t complete a goal that I’ve set for myself – for me, goal setting is really “intention setting” and “visualization”. If I can’t visualize it, it likely won’t happen. And I’m competitive. So more often than not, I finish what I intend to. Goal setting isn’t something that I have to do, but I really enjoy the process, and find that I get more done when I take the time to jot down a few things at the beginning of each month and season.

October Goals 

Kitchen journaling :: my kitchen journal got an upgrade (see above). This year I’m writing down my meals (and workouts) (and other momentous notes) in a bright yellow August to August planner. Did you use these when you were in school? They are my favorite paper planners!

Self Care Calendar :: every month, I like to focus on little things to take care of myself. This month I need to get back into the habit of regular manicures. I got off of the bandwagon, and my hands suffered. Fitfluential has a timely #FFWellness challenge with Grokker all month, so I’ll be playing along with that too.

Home Cooking  :: eating real food. I’ve been doing a few food related freelance projects that have me eating healthily and well – tonight’s chicken and cucumber salad was part of it. The better I eat, the better I’ll perform at my marathon next month.

Giving back  :: every month I try to think of different ways to give back to my community (in Jewish tradition, this is called Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. This month I’m going to be organizing some of my current charitable donations, which I try to expand upon as much as I can. Additionally, I work as the coordinator for local alumnae interviews at my college (Wellesley), and the early admission season is just starting now! I can’t wait to help some amazing high schoolers get into their dream school. It’s totally selfish really, one day these women will take over the world.

Fall foods  :: so many amazing fruits and vegetables to take advantage of this month! I’m looking at you – apples, artichokes, Asian pears, avocados, basil, blackberries, carrots, cippolini onions, corn, cucumbers, dahlias, French prunes, fresh olives, grapes, jujubes, lettuces, melons, new crop dates, onions, peppers, persimmons, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, radicchio, radishes, shelling beans, strawberries, summer squash and early winter squash, sunflowers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, Valencia oranges, and wax beans! (Okay, I stole that list from the CUESA email, which I still look forward to each week. We don’t have quite the selection here on the East Coast!)

Spin class  :: I’d like to go back and try a spin class now that I’ve biked 300 miles in September. My hunch is that I will have more power!

Watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix  :: Yep, it’s a goal. Note, I did not say “binge watch all of the seasons of Gilmore Girls that were just released onto Netflix, Hallelujah!” but.. that’s sort of what I was thinking.

Triathlon future planning  :: So, apparently, with this sport, you have to plan WAYYYYY in advance. But, I guess that’s for the best, because you can’t really just wing a multi-hour endurance event. I’m weighing my options for a 70.3 race next season. Currently I’m debating between Pumpkinman, Timberman (official Ironman 70.3), and Patriot. (A local race). If I finish my 20 miler without dying in two weeks, then I’m going to register for one, assuming they haven’t all sold out. Anyone want to sponsor me?

Good things happening in October:
October 6th – Devon’s birthday (there will be a farm trip, and pho)
October 11 – Sukkot, the Jewish Harvest Holiday – we eat chili outside under the sukkah!
October 12th the B.A.A. Half (13.1 miles to glory!)
October 13thTufts 10k (All women! Joan Benoit Samuelson runs the race and then gives everyone a high five!)
October 17th -19th Wellesley Alumnae Leadership Council – my best friend Lizzy is coming from Minnesota to visit me for this!
October 18th20 miles on the calendar
October 26th Newburyport Half Marathon
October 31stHalloween

I have to rest up, and get better quickly! There’s so much to see and do! What are you up to this month?

Hints of Insanity + Alternative Food Reading

There’s been about three hours of Ironman triathlon coverage on television tonight, and I’ve been developing delusions of joining the big kids in a 70.3 next year. This year I competed in two sprint triathlons, and the fire inside is growing. Here’s the rub: I’m a slow runner. Frankly, I’m really slow at all sports. I know that I’ll never win a 5k, but somehow, I’ve had it in my head that I’m built for long endurance. I can go, go, go, albeit slowly, for hours at a time, and I don’t like quitting. This feels like a story that is just beginning for me.

keep running

It feels good to have things that you are completely terrified of, and in a tiny part of your heart know that it just MIGHT be achievable.

And because, despite how it may look outside, I’m still holding onto summer in my kitchen, I’ve been reading through the latest issue of Jamie magazine. I have yet to get a subscription, but Whole Foods has it in the adult candy aisle, for a cringe-worthy $10.99, and I’m a sucker for the alternative food magazines.

jamie oliver magazine

I love almost all publications from the UK, and Jamie Oliver has long since been one of my culinary heroes. This magazine just delights me on a regular basis. Here are some of the other food magazines I love that you may not have read yet:

Alternative Food Magazines of Note

On my list, that I haven’t read yet, but know I should be: Cherry Bombe

Do you subscribe to any of these? Any others I should be reading?