I really did mean to do a short write-up of my experience running the Red Rock 50 at the end of November, arguably one of the toughest 50-mile races out there (and conveniently in Santa Barbara’s backcountry). But time slipped away (doesn’t it always?), the holidays hit, etc. Plus, this is a blog about food, not running. But since the two are intertwined in my life, I want to talk a little more about running.
I’ve been what I would consider “a runner” for almost 9 years. The running path along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia is where I started to fall in love, and I did my first half-marathon a few months after moving to Santa Barbara. Somehow I managed to skip the marathon distance and go straight to ultramarathons (anything over 26.2 miles). I’m still not sure how it happened. I had started running the local trails, and when looking for races, the 50k distance kept popping up. So I went for it, and its now been 3 years since I successfully completed the Woodside 50k.
“When the going gets tough, remember to be thankful.”
A friend shared this phrase with me a few years ago, and it has since become my mantra for running. I really do very few races; I run because I just LOVE BEING OUTSIDE. As much as possible. I love the feeling of moving through the landscape, and the way I can connect on a different level no matter where I am. We’ve done some pretty neat runs in some of the most beautiful places on earth: the Sierras, the Tetons, the Dolomites, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Canyonlands… almost every vacation, we find our way beyond the tourists and have the place to ourselves. I love it. Not to mention, I’m so thankful for the fabulous people I have had the pleasure to share the trail with.
So what does running have to do with food? Everything, it turns out. You can’t run well without fueling the right way, and for the most part I eat healthy because I know it will make me a better runner. (That’s not to say I don’t overindulge in sweets once in awhile – I’m a sucker for cinnamon rolls.) I experimented with cutting out meat and dairy for ~6 months (but still eating eggs and sometimes fish), and I’m pretty sure that allowed me to run the fastest I ever have. Its also important to eat the right foods to help my body recover from long runs and prepare for the next one.
I enlisted a coach to help me train for Red Rock, and my legs were perfectly prepared for the race. Unfortunately I woke up with a stomachache, and had a pretty tough day overall. But still – I ran 52 miles and approx. 14,000 ft of elevation in one day. I did some pretty intense long days in training (I ran the famed 9 Trails course: 34 miles and 12,000 ft of elevation), and the combination of good coaching and nutrition is not to be beat!
I love running the trails on weekend mornings, and coming home to a breakfast like this. I’ts fast and easy to prepare, but also has some vital nutrients. Turmeric aids in reducing inflammation, the protein in the eggs helps to rebuild muscle, garlic helps to bolster your temporarily suppressed immune system, and the kale… what’s not to love about kale? I grow three different kinds, and have come to appreciate each prepared in different ways. I like lacinato (dinasaur) kale best in my smoothies, and curly or russian kales better when cooked. But find the kind you like, and then eat with abandon!
Scrambled Eggs with Kale
2 eggs per person, whisked in a bowl
Big handful chopped kale per person
1 clove garlic, chopped
Turmeric, Cumin, Salt and Pepper
Heat a cast iron pan (or your favorite skillet) over medium heat. Coat with olive oil, and briefly saute kale and garlic until the kale is wilted. Push to the side of the pan, and recoat with olive oil if needed. Pour the eggs in, and immediately sprinkle turmeric and cumin on top (I’d aim for about 1/8 tsp of each per person, or to taste). Scramble eggs to your liking, and when done mix with the kale. Serve with a grind of salt and pepper. (I like wheat toast or a scone, but whatever you like with your eggs!)
Filed under: Breakfast, Main Dish, October Challenge | Tags: Eggs, green chile, onion, potato, tomato
Well here’s the short version: WE DID IT. We managed to eat very locally for seven full days. It was definitely not easy, but it truthfully wasn’t that hard either. I feel like I still have ideas left to continue on for another few days at least – if not as much variety in ingredients as when we first started. The weekend was a bit of a struggle to maintain motivation – I was tired of spending so much time in the kitchen, and thinking about what to eat next. Not to mention, I was unusually sore after my 20-miler on Saturday, and ready to add some more variety to our plates.
Yesterday all I could think about was “what will I eat tomorrow?” There wasn’t anything in particular I craved, but just the thought of free choice was really nice. However, after our group dinner last night I felt full and satisfied, and re-inspired to continue on with the Eat Local Challenge (100-mile radius, with some exceptions) for the rest of the month. The richness of braised goat, smoky vegetarian chili, three types of roasted squash (kabocha won out for flavor in my book – though smashing the 13 lb blue hubbard beast was a definite highlight yesterday!), and a swirl of mulberry blood orange mead for dessert. I think this week was a positive experience for all of us, and I’m looking forward to the ripples this week will create in my own outlook (and hopefully inspiration for others).
What I ate yesterday:
Green smoothie (kale, blueberries, plums, banana, amaranth, lime)
Potato Egg Scramble (potatoes, eggs, roasted tomatoes and green chile, onions)
Leftovers salad (millet, zucchini noodles, fava beans, corn, beans, roasted green chile, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, cabbage)
Oranges, grapefruit, sapote, pickles, tomatoes, avocado
Vegetarian Chili, Millet/amaranth, roasted hubbard squash, pumpkin and kabocha, braised goat, potato and summer vegetable pie (potato, roasted peppers tomatoes, eggplant and onion), slow-cooked zucchini, pesto, avocado
Matt made a version of this potato egg dish on Saturday for me after my run, and I tweaked it just a bit with the addition of peppers, onion and tomatoes to move it into the home fries realm. I boiled the potatoes the night before, so it was a snap to put together after our Sunday run.
Potato Egg Scramble
2 cups parboiled potatoes, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
2 roasted green chiles, chopped
6-8 roasted tomatoes (or sun-dried would work great too)
1/4-1/2 onion, diced
4-5 eggs, beaten
Saute the onion over medium heat in a medium frying pan. Add the potatoes after just a few minutes, then add in the tomatoes and pepper. Once its all hot and slightly brown, scoot it over to the side of the pan and add the eggs. Cook gently til done, then mix all together and serve with a grind of pepper and salt. Top with avocado or pesto if you have it.
Filed under: Bread, Breakfast, October Challenge | Tags: amaranth, carrot, chocolate, coconut, millet, muffin, zucchini
September is one of my favorites months in Santa Barbara. The weather invariable turns hot for a spell, which makes cool ocean dips extremely inviting. But despite the tendency to long for icy drinks, there are still signs that fall is coming: shorter amounts of daylight, kids going back to school, and a slightly less overwhelming daily harvest. I’m always tempted to rip out the ugly-but-barely-producing squash plants and plant new ones (I did exactly that one year, and the plants barely grew once October hit). Really, the whole yard is looking pretty scraggly. But I’m ready for a break from intensive garden time – and anxious for our Challenge week to arrive!
I noticed that the birds were starting to peck at the millet, so I’ve been harvesting the heads that appear to have the most developed seeds. I also harvested at least half of our amaranth heads – and got nearly 4 cups of grain! I never did find clear directions on the internet about the how-tos of harvest. But here’s what I pieced together for my own method:
1. Keep an eye on the birds in the garden.
2. For amaranth: rub a few flowers with your fingers. If seeds pop out easily, its probably ready.
3. Cut the whole head, then zip your fingers along the stems to release the seeds/flowers into a big bowl or bag. In batches, I put a few handfuls at a time through the food processor to seperate the seeds out. Then sift through a fine sieve (but with big enough holes for the amaranth seeds to escape).
4. Once you have a bowl of seeds + flower chaff, you winnow. This involves dumping the contents of one bowl into another, while outside with a slight breeze, so the chaff gets carried away while the seeds fall. This was nerve-wracking for me, but mostly seemed to work.
5. Once most of it is separated, spread it out and let it dry. Then sift through a sieve or colander again – most of the dry stuff won’t go through.
Millet was much easier. I let the heads dry a bit, then ran them through the food processor for a few pulses. After sifting, it was really easy to winnow – the chaff is much lighter (or the seeds heavier). And actually, sifting through a colander took out most of the chaffy bits. I’m definitely saving as much as I can for our upcoming week, and its nice to know we’ll have at least some grains!
I managed to cut down on the pile of zucchini a few weeks ago by making a few batches of zucchini muffins (and freezing one-cup piles of grated zucchini for future use). The zucchini carrot is one of my favorites, while the chocolate? Where can you really go wrong with a chocolate muffin?
Zucchini Carrot Muffins (adapted from Food with Malvi)
This is one of those recipes where my husband looked at it and asked, “Is it good? It looks healthy.” Then took a bite and said, “mmmm!” Success.
1 cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups shredded zucchini, with peel (1 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup shredded carrot, with peel (1 medium or large carrot)
Preheat oven to 375. Line or spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. Mix together the wet ingredients except for the zucchini and carrot. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the zucchini and carrot. Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
adapted from Cooking ala mel
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
3/4 cup chocolate chips
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, honey, olive oil, vanilla, and sugar together, until smooth. Slowly stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Gently fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean.
*When it comes to flour, I generally like to use whole wheat pastry flour. But sometimes I use a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat… or even a gluten-free flour mix. Just depends on what I have on hand and who I’m baking for!
Filed under: Breakfast, October Challenge, Smoothies | Tags: green smoothie, october challenge
For some reason, last week I started to get a little bit nervous about our October Challenge while walking around the garden. Why aren’t there more green beans to harvest? Why aren’t the beets coming up? (Scrub Jay, are you digging up my seeds when you bury your peanut? Because I really NEED those beets come October!) Why is there only one, gigantic spaghetti squash on the vine? Why isn’t the summer squash exploding yet??
The remedy to my nervousness is three-fold for me: (1) start my official Garden Journal to document what’s been planted and when (and what’s been harvested so far), (2) start a spreadsheet to figure out the nitty-gritty of what we’ll eat in October, and (3) get out and spend some time in the garden. The last is of course the most gratifying, between harvest and tucking seeds in.
There are no absolute guarantees in gardening. Just because you plant a seed, doesn’t mean it will germinate and grow to its full potential. Sometimes the birds come. Sometimes there’s not enough water (or too much), or there’s something vital missing in the soil. Sometimes disease comes and decimates a few tomato plants, and you have to hack them out piece by piece (today’s gut -wrenching activity). Or maybe the aphids decide to come pay you a visit. All of these factors are what makes a successful harvest taste that much better, and that is why we do this. There is a lot of magic in growing your own food.
As I scrolled back through the last few years of posts this week, I realized that one of our critical daily routines hardly makes an appearance. I’ve touched on it before, but really not enough considering how important it is to our health: green smoothies.
I tend to settle upon a combination that I really like, and then make it every day for at least a month. Through the years, I’ve learned that some greens just don’t taste good in smoothies (swiss chard, curly kale), and that banana is a required (though not locally grown) component.
I’ll be teaching a Green Smoothie class at the Goodland Kitchen on July 12. This is a big stretch for me, as I’ve never taught before. But I do feel strongly that green smoothies (really, just fresh raw leafy greens in general) are so beneficial to good health. Not to mention how good I feel running with a green smoothie as my fuel!
Chocolate Almond Smoothie
Layer in blender in this order:
1 c frozen blueberries (I also like the cherry berry blend from Trader Joe’s)
1-2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I like Vega or hemp protein)
1-2 frozen bananas
1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
1-2 tbsp almond butter
2 large handfuls lacinato kale (or spinach)
~1 c water (or nut milk of your choice – almond, coconut, etc)
Blend til smooth and enjoy! Serves two.
Filed under: Breakfast, Main Dish | Tags: Broccoli, carrot, chard, egg, greens, kale, potato, root vegetables, sweet potato, vegan
Well, its been a week now since my birthday challenge ended. And I have to say – I miss it a little bit! There was something dizzying about unlimited options in what I could eat last week, and I took full advantage. The Burger Bus, chocolate chip cookies, half and half in my coffee…. it was almost overwhelming. I think I’ve realized finally that I’m a person who needs a few rules in my life to help me find balance. I’m not sure exactly what those rules will be, but I’m working on figuring it out.
This last month Santa Barbara has been blessed with gorgeous, amazing, mostly warm weather. It feels like the summer we never had in 2010 (instead we got days and days of fog). I do feel badly for the rest of the country struggling with such cold. But I’m really, really happy in this weather! All of my seed starts are coming along nicely, and I should be able to plant in the next few weeks. Wildflowers are blooming in the mountains behind Santa Barbara, and the birds are notching up their songs (and providing lots of amusement in my yard. Scrub jay burying a peanut = case in point).
One of my favorite recent dinners (or breakfasts) is this sweet potato hash. I roast up an assortment of root vegetables, then saute greens and garlic. I top the whole mess with a fried egg or two. I find it to be completely satisfying at any time of day, and it again has those elements of flexibility I love so much! Bell peppers are a great addition, or mushrooms. Just make sure to add them in at the right time so they get their proper cooking time. This is particularly satisfying after a long run, or an afternoon spent climbing and scrambling at The Playground.
Sweet Potato Hash with Greens and Eggs
Assortment of root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, etc), chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1-2 big handfuls of greens – fresh broccoli, kale, chard, asparagus, etc, chopped into 1/2-1″ ribbons
1-3 cloves garlic, chopped small
1-4 eggs (depends on how many people you’re serving and how many everyone wants)
Coat the root vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 375 oven for 35-50 minutes (depends on how many vegetables you have)
Once they finish, saute your greens and garlic til bright green. Remove from pan, and fry your eggs (or poach if you like them that way).
Serve with root vegetables on the bottom, then a layer of greens, with eggs on top. Sprinkle sea salt and fresh pepper on top to taste.