My New Favorite Day

In college, I used to dread Sundays. I would wake up around noon (still feeling the effects of Saturday night partying) and have a ton of things to do before the day ended: papers to write, chapters to read, lab reports to finish, a long run with the cross-country/track team, and maybe some laundry.  But over the past few years, Sunday has become my favorite day of the week. I’m a total Grandma and don’t really stay out late anymore, so waking up at a decent hour is no problem. I’ve also learned to love long runs because they’ve become something I want to do rather than something I have to do. Oh, and I don’t have homework anymore. That’s pretty sweet! So I’ve decided,  Sunday is my new favorite day!

Favorite day started off with a walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for a latte lite. Love.

morning latte

And then it was time for oats in a jar. I had about 1-2 Tbs of almond butter left at the bottom of the jar, so I made stovetop oats and then added the oats to the almond butter container. The hot oats melted the almond butter and everything mixed up quite nicely!

  • 1/2 cup oats made with 1 cup water, splash of milk
  • sea salt and cinnamon
  • sliced banana
  • 1-2 Tbs almond butter
  • a few chocolate chips

Oats in a jar

My oats were perfect fuel for a long run! The weather was so amazing in NYC yesterday – sunny and 68 degrees when I set off for my run. I stopped around mile 6 to stretch out my ache-y IT band, but other than that I felt strong throughout my 12.5 mile run. I finished in 1 hour, 49 minutes which is about 8:45 per mile pace. If it weren’t for time constraints, I would have run longer! Love this weather. Can we just skip January, February, and March?

Central Park[source]

I foam rolled and stretched and then re-fueled!

  • 1 cup plain Oikos greek yogurt
  • chopped apple
  • 1 Tbs peanut butter
  • 1/2 Kashi crunchy granola bar

Yogurt Mess

And a clif bar on the way out the door!

Clif bar 

I met Katie for 5pm yoga and the same instructor from last week was teaching class. I love, love, love this teacher. Her core sequence is killer, but the deep stretches and the instructor’s mind-body philosophy more than make up for my sore abs. I don’t think it would be cool to take a camera into the studio, but I wanted you all to see what Yoga to the People looks like, so I pulled an image off of their site (thanks http://yogatothepeople.com). If you’re in the NYC, San Fran, or Berkeley areas, you have to check out this studio. I think the instructors are great and I love that the classes are donation based. Sometimes I have more money in the bank account, sometimes I have less, but I can always manage a donation for a yoga class. And that’s a very good thing.

Yoga to the People[source]

*Note for those unfamilar with yoga: this photo makes it look like the class is worshipping an altar or something, but they’re really just in child’s pose (a gentle, resting pose).

After a quick stop at Trader Joe’s (madness on a Sunday evening!), I dashed home to start laundry and dinner. Before I got down to business, I had a small snack: 1/2 whole wheat sandwich thin with Greek olive hummus.

Hummus

And then for the next 2 hours I cooked risotto. Yikes. This recipe was A LOT more labor intensive than I expected. The results were pretty good and I have a ton of leftovers, but I’m not sure I would do this again! But just in case you have a lot of time on your hands, I’ll post the recipe. Note: I improvised and used ingredients that I had on hand, so feel free to use different kinds of cheese, wine instead of beer, or arborio rice instead of brown.

Megan’s Pumpkin and Cheese Risotto (adapted from a Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tbs olive oil
  • puree of one small pumpkin
  • 1/2 can of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice (use arborio if you have it)
  • 4 oz cottage cheese (or you could use goat cheese)
  • 2 laughing cow lite cheese wedges (or you could use Parmesan cheese)
  • 5 cups hot water (or chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs butter

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Directions:

  • Steep bay leaf in 5 cups of very hot water.
  • Heat olive oil in large pot and saute rice, onions, and pumpkin until onions are translucent and rice has nutty aroma.
  • Add garlic and saute briefly.
  • Add beer and deglaze the pan.
  • Remove bay leaf from hot water and discard.
  • While stirring rice mixture with a wooden spoon (vigorously!), add one cup of hot water at a time until rice absorbs all water.
  • This is where I started to freak out – my risotto was taking a very long time to cook. I was stirring and stirring and going to the laundry mat to pick up my laundry stirring non-stop for nearly 50 minutes before everything started to come together. I realized this was because I used brown rice and the original recipe uses white arborio rice which has a much shorter cooking time. This is what I get for trying to be healthy…
  • Anyway, after your rice has finally absorbed the water and is al dente (soft, but chewy), add the canned pumpkin, salt, pepper, and cheese.
  • Before serving, add Tbs butter and stir until melted.
  • Allow the risotto to sit for a minute or so before serving and then enjoy over spinach or mixed greens.

pumpkin risotto

pumpkin risotto

After dishes and laundry folding, I was ready to pack it in. Phew, what a night of domesticity!

I finished up my Sunday with an episode of Mad Men, a glass of milk, and 2 white chocolate pumpkin cookies. Perfect.

cookies and milk

Don’t love running? Neither did Matt until he discovered the beauty of the trails. Check out the new Running Shorts article on True/Slant for the whole story!

Cursing the alarm clock every morning? Read these tips for getting the restorative sleep you need.

Question: What’s the most labor intensive thing you’ve ever cooked or baked?

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

I’m sure by now it’s no surprise that I LOVE all things pumpkin, so prepare yourself for a few more recipes :-)

When my friend Hannah visited last week she brought me a tupperware full of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that I promptly devoured. Once they were gone, I knew I had to re-create them.

Even though I love to bake, I’m not the biggest fan of measuring/following directions (um, yes – I realize this is usually essential for baking). I went with my instincts last night and the result was healthy and delicious (tooting my own horn, just a bit)!! I based the recipe loosely on these pumpkin cookies, but my final version was modified quite a bit.

white chocolate pumpkin cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3.5 oz Lindt white chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
  • small handful of dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a large baking sheet
  • Whisk together flour, spices, and baking soda in a medium bowl
  • Beat together the sugar and butter until creamy
  • Mix in applesauce, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla
  • Slowly incorporate flour mixture just until combined
  • Stir in the pecans and white chocolate and dark chocolate chips
  • Drop heaping Tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top

These cookies have a very light, fluffy textures (almost like little pumpkin breads!) and the white chocolate is a surprisingly good compliment to the pumpkin. To assist in her post-marathon recovery, Alma sampled 6 cookies and declared them “delicious!”.

And now….for my next trick, homemade pumpkin puree! Inspired by Christine, I set out to make good use of a small pumpkin that had been serving as a living room decoration. I bought this lil’ guy over a month ago and it was still perfectly edible. Yay, winter gourds!

Instructions:

1) Wash the pumpkin, cut a hole in the top, and scoop out the seeds/innards. Then cut the pumpkin in half and then into medium sized chunks (leave the skin on).

Sugar pumpkin

2) Put the pumpkin chunks in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the bowl from the microwave (be careful! bowl will be hot), stir, cover with new plastic wrap, and microwave for 10 more minutes.

Cooked Pumpkin

3) After pumpkin is finished cooking, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the pumpkin rind – I used a spoon to scoop the flesh into a separate bowl. I was doing this around 11:45pm on a Saturday night…real cool, I know.

4) Mash the pumpkin and store in a tupperware or small bowl until ready to use! I have plans to make some pumpkin risotto with my homemade puree.

Pumpkin Puree

This pumpkin was probably one of the best dollars that I ever spent. The gourd served as a decoration for over a month, yielded nearly 2 cups of pumpkin puree, and I plan to season and roast the seeds.

Hooray for pumpkin!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? In a pie? In a latte from Starbucks? As a jack o’ lantern?

Homemade Apple Butter

Most people would think I’m crazy. I returned home from work around 7:30pm last night and ended up spending nearly 4 hours in the kitchen. And I really enjoyed it! Ever since I received my shipment of fun cookbooks last week (thanks again Matt!), I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to make first. I love making jams and jellies, but somehow never got around to it this summer. While flipping through The Joy of Jam, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves I saw a chapter dedicated to fall’s most abundant fruit – the apple! I really enjoyed browsing through the cookbook. There were many helpful hints and tips for beginner canners and best of all – the recipes do not require commercial pectin! I’m not a big fan of store-bought pectin because it can be expensive and I think you can make better jam without it.

I already had most of the ingredients for apple butter on hand and I own canning utensils, so I was ready to roll.  Some 25-year-olds collect designer handbags and shoes. I prefer mason jars.

Before I embarked on my adventure in preserving, I prepared a quick dinner. I cooked a pot of lentils, baked up a garnet yam, and mixed the two together with mozzarella cheese and hot sauce. A little random, but filling and delicious!

sweet potato and lentils

And then the apple butter project began!

The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves[photo source]

I selected the low-sugar apple butter recipe which uses apple cider to replace much of the refined sugar. I also made a few alternations to the original recipe based on the ingredients/equipment that I had on hand. If you’re new to canning, you should probably follow the recipe instructions exactly, otherwise all sorts of problems could arise. Preserving and canning can be tricky. If your mixture doesn’t contain the correct amount of pectin, the jelly or jam could fail to gel. If your vegetables or fruits aren’t acidic enough, the jar contents could spoil too soon. And if you’d don’t properly process the mason jars, a seal won’t form (no seal = short shelf life). Luckily for me apples have a lot of natural pectin, so I wasn’t too worried about the apple butter coming together.

Megan’s version of Low Sugar Apple Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs of apples (I used 2 Granny Smith, 2 Macoun, and 1 Gala)
  • 1.5 quarts (48 oz) apple cider
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

I washed all of the jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water and prepared the apples by washing and slicing them (don’t peel the apples!).

Apple Butter Prep

Apples simmering

Canning tools

Boiling water bath

Homemade apple butter

Directions:

  • Boil the cider in a large cooking pot for about 20 minutes, until it has reduced by 1/4.
  • Add the apples, cover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove apple and cider mixture from heat and carefully puree it in a blender (the original recipe calls for pureeing the fruit in a food mill or sieve, but I didn’t have either of those).
  • Pour the apple mixture back in the pot, add brown sugar and spices, and allow to simmer over low heat for about an hour.
  • While your apple mixture is cooking, fill a very large stock pot 1/2 way with water, and bring to a boil. You should probably have a rack so that the mason jars won’t sit on the bottom of the pot. I DON’T have a rack, so I use an inverted metal cupcake pans. Ehhh…I improvise!
  • Place your canning lids in a bowl of VERY hot water so that the gummy underside gets soft and pliable.
  • Stir the apple butter occassionally – when it’s dark brown and glossy, it’s time to process!
  • Carefully pour the apple butter into 1/2 pint or pint mason jars, leaving about 1/4″ head space.
  • Wipe off any sticky residue and run a chopstick (or butter knife) along the inside of the jar to remove air bubbles.
  • Screw on the lids and rings (but not TOO tight!)
  • Carefully lower the filled jars into the stockpot (water should be boiling by now) and keep them submerged in the water for at least 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and using a jar grabber lift the jars straight up and out of the pot. Place the jars at least one inch apart from each other and allow to cool completely. You may hear a “popping” sound – that means that the metal lid just sealed. Yay!
  • Once your jars are cool, check the lid to make sure it is completely flat and sealed. If it pops up, you can still eat the apple butter, but just store it in the fridge.
  • Sealed jars of apple butter (and jam and jelly) can keep for about a year in the pantry.
  • Enjoy! Now it’s time to wash all of your sticky dishes :-)

Question: What’s your favorite type of jam or jelly? Have you ever made your own?

Running Machine

Phew, these last few days have been busy! Since I left the house early yesterday morning, I didn’t have time to pack lunch. Luckily I was able to find a veggie-packed meal without even leaving my office building.

  • romaine, red onions, mushrooms, shredded carrots
  • roasted cauliflower & bell pepper
  • sprinkle of feta cheese, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and croutons
  • spoonful of black bean & corn salad
  • spoonful of farro & almond salad
  • spoonful of mediterranean bulgar wheat
  • Tbs balsamic vinaigrette

salad lunch

I LOVE when my salads contain a bajillion different ingredients :-) I had a diet crack coke and some sunchips on the side.

Lunch was on the later side (nearly 3pm!), so I didn’t need a snack before I left the office. Around 6pm the rain finally started letting up and I was able to enjoy an easy 3-mile run through Central Park. Sometimes my brain feels so fried by the end of the day and I just NEED to do some physical activity to put myself in a better state of mind. I finished up with some stretching and foam rolling and then headed home in a much better mood :-)

Din-din was leftover maple syrup roasted sweet potatoes and tofu wrapped up in whole wheat lavash bread. With hot chili sauce. Is that weird? Yeah, probably, but I like my food to have a little kick!

sweet potato wrap

After catching up on some Mad Men (almost done with season 1), I headed to the kitchen for some extra special baking.

I was contacted by the cherry marketing institute the other day about the Red Recovery Routine, developed by world-renowned Sports Nutritionist Lesli Bonci M.P.H. R.D. LDN CSSD.

Check this out:

Recent studies suggest cherries may have powerful pain relief benefits for marathoners and other athletes of all levels.  This research revealed that powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give cherries their bright red color, have anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect muscles and joints even before an athlete laces up, thereby reducing post-exercise pain.

With the fall miles piling up and an upcoming marathon for many, improving post-run recovery seems like a win-win situation!

Using this Smitten Kitchen recipe as inspiration I baked up a batch of Tart Cherry-Dark Chocolate-Coconut-Pecan Blondies.

blondies

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg (organic if possible)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • dash of salt
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • big handful of each: shredded unsweetened coconut, dark chocolate chips, dried tart cherries, and raw pecans

Directions:

  • Mix together the melted butter and sugar until combined (I used a wooden spoon, but you could probably use a hand mixer)
  • Stir in the egg, salt, vanilla, and flour
  • Add in mix-ins (chocolate chips, etc)
  • Pour batter into a buttered 8″ x 8″ pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

My “blondies” turned out more like crispy cookie bars, but that’s probably because 1) I don’t like to measure and 2) the temp on my oven is a little off. But don’t worry – these treats were definitely still delicious. I sampled my fair share just to make sure ;-)

If you’re looking for more recipes that use cherries, check out the Choose Cherries recipe index!

I had plans to run with Alma after work tonight (i.e. no early a.m. gym visit), so I was able to get started on a freelance writing assignment. I had almost 2 full hours at home this morning before I had to leave for work. It was kind of weird! I (almost) felt like it was a Saturday or something…

Breakfast:

oikos

Stonyfield Oikos Greek yogurt (plain) along with a VERY ripe banana and a baked apple.

And lunch was eaten at my desk (I think this is going to be the theme for the next few weeks…busy time):

Almond butter, pumpkin butter, and banana on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread

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And two (yes, two) bags of popchips. I’m normally not a fan of “100 calorie packs”, but I give pop chips two thumbs up. Especially the salt & pepper flavor. Mmm.

popchips

Oh yeah, and since it’s Halloween week – a fun size snickers!

snickers

And I’m off – I have plans for a run in Central Park in a bit!

Check out this article from the NY TimesHumans Built for Distance 

So if we’re born to run, why are runners so often injured? A combination of factors is likely to play a role, experts say. Exercise early in life can affect the development of tendons and muscles, but many people don’t start running until adulthood, so their bodies may not be as well developed for distance. Running on only artificial surfaces and in high-tech shoes can change the biomechanics of running, increasing the risks of injury.

Love veggies more: If you like potatoes, you should try sunchokes.

Question: What’s your favorite vegetable? I could eat sweet potatoes and arugula every day!

Speedy Wednesday

Thank you for all the well wishes on the new True/Slant endeavor! Matt and I are both really excited :-) If you haven’t read our first piece, check it out!

So remember yesterday when I said I’d probably need a snack? Well, actually I needed 3!

Homemade trail mix (pretzel nuggets, chocolate chips, cranberries, pecans) around 2pm:

trail mix

1 cup of Heritage Heirloom whole grain flakes at 4pm:

Heritage heirloom whole grain

And a luna bar before I left the office (I just could not get full yesterday afternoon!):

luna bar

After some errands, I got busy in the kitchen. I had a package of tofu that needed to be used up ASAP, so I after pressing out some of the water (put the tofu on an inverted plate and place a heavy pot on top), I marinated the slices in a mixture of canola oil (1 tsp), soy sauce (2 Tbs), maple syrup (1 Tbs), salt and pepper. As I was waiting for the tofu to soak up all the yummy sauce, I cleaned up a sweet potato + brussel sprouts and tossed them in a mixture of 1 Tbs canola oil + 2 Tbs maple syrup. I arranged the tofu and veggies on a baking sheet and popped it into a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes (flipping everything after 10 minutes).

marinated tofu

sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts

All together (with a splash of red wine!):

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tofu, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts

While I was prepping dinner, I also put together some baked apples. I cored 3 Macoun apples and filled each one with: tsp butter, Tbs maple syrup, sprinkle of cranberries + pecans, and a dash of cinnamon. I baked the apples in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or so (until fork tender). I enjoyed one as a healthy dessert :-)

baked apples

Besides a delicious (veggie-packed) dinner, the best thing to happen to me yesterday was a shipment of 14 (yes, 14!) cookbooks compliments of fellow-foodie and blogger Matt (find him @ EatWithMe).  I’m super excited about all the vegetarian volumes and the Pie cookbook is just calling my name. Yay. Thanks Matt!

cookbooks

cookbooks

This morning, I woke up early, early with plans to complete a speedy workout (my first one in awhile!). I started off with a banana and half decaf coffee. The usual.

Quick breakfast

I wanted to be sure of my pace throughout the workout and the weather was pouring rain, so I opted to run on the treadmill. This might sound strange, but when I’m doing speed workouts, I kind of like the treadmill. It helps me stay super focused.

I got the inspiration for this workout from Runner’s World:

The Speed Demon Workout (appropriately named for Halloween week,  eh?)

I warmed up easily for 2 miles (9:15 pace) and dropped the pace a bit for the 3rd mile (8:30 pace). Then it was time for the intervals!

For miles 4 thought 6, I ran 4 x 3-minute repeats at 6:55 pace alternating with 3 minutes easy running (9:15 pace). I finished up with a mile cool-down (9:15 pace).

Total: 7 miles in 1 hour, 7 seconds.

After I finished I was a sweaty mess, but luckily my gym keeps a mini fridge stocked with towels soaked in lavender water. Oh my goodness, that cold towel was SO refreshing. What a wonderful idea!

After I finished up in the locker room, I braved the rain + wind and headed to the Jamba Juice near my office. I had a coupon and I redeemed for some steel cut oats with blueberry topping and brown sugar. Yum, Yum. Steel cut oats are less processed than instant and old-fashioned oats, so they take longer to digest (i.e. you feel full longer!).

steelcut oats

And later on, I sipped a (NOT decaf) cappuccino and some dried fruit (energy!) because my early morning was making me quite sleepy:

Cappuccino

Dried fruit

Questions:

1) What’s your go-to gym bag snack? I’ve been really liking prunes/dried fruit lately. Antioxidants + long shelf life + instant sugar = excellent!

2) Do you have a favorite cookbook? I really enjoy the Mollie Katzen/Moosewood Cookbook series, but I’m excited to test out the newbies I just received!

Yoga in my Toga

I live in New York City and sometimes the “city that never sleeps” can wear on a girl. From my morning commute (you have to be PUSHY to get where you’re going on time) to my after-work grocery shop (Whole Foods at 7pm = madness!) I feel like I’m constantly in overdrive. Sometimes the only things that keep me sane are running and yoga! Even at the city’s busiest studios (where the mats are packed in like sardines), saying “Ohmm” and focusing on your breath can really help you re-connect with yourself. Last night when I got home from a long day at the office and some after-work appointments, I put some laundry in to wash and then took some time for ME. I started dinner by prepping a big pot of chili and as it simmered away, I changed into my yoga toga. Why, yes. I always wear ancient Greek attire whilst I perform my asanas!

yoga in my toga

Anyway, I took some relaxing breaths, worked out the day’s stress through some strong warrior poses, and inhaled the yummy aroma of my yummy veggie chili.

October Fest Veggie Chili (recipe inspired by Skinny and the City!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1  bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes (run your knife through them to break them up a bit)
  • 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup no-salt added canned (or frozen) corn
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 0z Autumn-themed beer (like Sam Adam’s October Fest!)

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Stir in garlic, onion, carrots, and bell pepper. Add chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Cook for about five minutes or until tender.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add the beer, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for approximately one hour.
  • Stir in the corn, lime juice, and crushed red pepper and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  1. Yield: About 7 servings
  2. Cost per serving: $1.42
  3. Nutrition: 270 calories, 3 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fiber

October Fest Chili

By the time I sat down to dinner, it was almost 9:30pm! It’s a good thing I snacked on a luna bar and leftover spiced almonds earlier in the evening. Mmm, this fiber-packed dinner is best served with a big dollop of Stonyfield Oikos Greek yogurt. It’s even better than sour cream!

October Fest Chili

Oikos

Bonus: Look at all the lovely leftovers I have! I portioned the chili into tupperware containers so they’re easy to take to work and re-heat.

Leftovers

Today’s Greek Yogurt + Yoga theme is a submission to Stonyfield’s Oikos Contest. A very lucky food & fitness blogger will win a trip to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachussets. For more information, check out Stonyfield’s Facebook page!

How awesome would a yoga retreat be – special workshops, hiking trails, healthy food!!?? Ohhmmmm, this girl needs some yoga R&R. Pick me, pick me!

Question: Does your favorite chili recipe have a secret ingredient? Beer? Chocolate? Pumpkin?

Desserts All Day

I had an early wake-up call on Saturday – 5:28am to be exact. Yikes. I didn’t actually get out of bed until 6 o’clock though. I stumbled to the kitchen to make coffee and discovered that I was out of coffee filters. And milk. $%^&!! Hmph. I settled on some green tea instead. I thought about having a chocolate-fig vita top, but was worried that the fiber would make my run unpleasant, so I saved it for afterwards.

Tea and vita top

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what to wear when the weather gets colder. I’m going to do a separate post about this soon, but until then, I took a photo of what I wore for my run yesterday. The weather was windy, dry, and about 40 degrees.

I wore: 3/4 length spandex tights, a tank top, half-zip running pullover, and gloves. Whenever I dress for a Autumn/Winter run I plan on being a bit chilly for the first mile or so. Once I get going, I always warm up, so I try not to overdress.

Running clothes

When I left for my run it was still dark out, so I stuck to well-lit paths for the first few miles. Once the sun started to rise, I headed to the reservoir for a while. I think I only saw one other person on the whole 1.5 mile loop. That’s pretty rare for New York City! I guess that’s what happens when you go running at 6:30am on a Saturday morning…

I really focused on picking up the pace for the last 15 minutes or so of my run and finished the 6 miles in 49:10 (about 8:10/mile pace).

I ended my run at the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts for a latte lite

latte lite

I stopped at my apartment for about 5 minutes and then hightailed it to Port Authority. With about 4 minutes to spare, I made the 8:30am bus headed to my hometown in Pennsylvania.

Breakfast was some leftover apple crisp (last bit!) and a vanilla chobani greek yogurt.

apple crisp

Snack on the bus – 1/2 olympic granola bar. Love the super short ingredient list and crunchy flax seeds in this!

olympic granola

Once I arrived in Pennsylvania, look who was waiting for me!!

Don’t front like you don’t like hugs, Kiwi.

Kiwi

Lunch was kind of random: super ripe banana with peanut butter and jelly

banana, pb, jelly

And a cupcake with a cup of milk. Yes, I am a real person. Sometimes I eat cupcakes instead of vegetables :-)

cupcake

Mom and I did some errands and when we returned around 3pm, I was ready for another snack (more random-ness): cottage cheese, pineapple, and teddy grahams

cottage cheese

After a bit of a nap, I woke up with some time to spare before dinner. The weather was a bit chilly, but perfectly Autumn-ish. I thought about going for a walk, but the crisp air just begged for a run. I ran an easy 4 miles around the neighborhood and admired all the creative Halloween decorations. One house parked a real hearse in their drive way and decorated the yard with strobe lights and cob webs. P.S. my hamstring/IT band felt AWESOME on both runs today. Yay!

Next up: I cooked dinner for the fam. Shhh, don’t tell them it was healthy!

macaroni and cheese

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow macaroni, 1 box
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 6 oz reduced fat cheddar (I used Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 2 Tbs bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking dish
  • Prepare the macaroni in a large cooking pot, according to package directions
  • While the pasta is cooking, combine pumpkin and milk in a small saucepan until simmering
  • Remove pumpkin mixture from heat and add shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.
  • Combine the cooked macaroni and pumpkin-cheese mixture together in large pot and then pour in to the baking dish
  • In a small bowl, combine the tsp of oil, breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this on top of the macaroni dish.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is crispy. Makes about 8 servings.

My family couldn’t guess that the secret ingredient was pumpkin! The orange veggie adds a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin A without compromising the taste of the ooey-gooey mac ‘n cheese.

pumpkin macaroni and cheese

I had some of my pumpkin mac and cheese with a side of stewed tomatoes.

pumpkin macaroni and cheese

Later on in the evening, I headed to my friend Mark’s house for a little get together. Back in high school, we used to go to Mark’s after cross-country practice for snacks and swimming.

Now that we’re all grown up we partake in wine and cupcakes :-)

I had a glass of Chardonnay and some caramel covered Granny Smith apple slices. It was necessary – I hadn’t had any green fruits or veggies yet today!

wine

Mark entertains

I returned home around midnight and may have had a small slice of Caramel Apple Walnut Pie from the local Sanitary Bakery. Ahh. This crust is so flaky that it melts in your mouth. I’m sure it’s full of shortening and trans fat, but.I.don’t.care.because.it.is.so.delicious!!

caramel apple walnut pie

What a lovely day. Two runs + Kiwi the cat + dessert all day long + wine with friends.

What is your favorite type of dessert? Obviously, I love them all. Well, except for cream pies. I don’t care for those.

Chobani Greek Yogurt

First things, first – I wrote a guest post today for Angharad’s  Eating for England blog. You know you want to see more photos of those half-pound cookies I like. Mmm. And if that isn’t enough to sway you, the recipes that our English lady friend whips up are always amazing – check out her posh mac ‘n cheese dish. Swoon.

True to my word, I decided to tie on my baking apron last night. I had a big bag of Farmer’s Market apples that were just calling my name.

Apples

Megan’s Maple-Cinnamon Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 6 large apples, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • another 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Toss the apples with maple syrup and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and place in a lightly greased 8×8″ baking dish
  • Mix together the ww flour, oats, brown sugar, and second 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Using the tines of two forks (or just use your fingers) cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly
  • Top the apples with the crumbly mixture and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 F
  • Note: My oven is super hot, so you might need to bake your apple crisp for a little longer.
  • Enjoy!

Apple Crisp

This recipe is so healthy (whole wheat flour, oats, apples!) that you could eat it for breakfast. Actually, today I did just that.

But first, I started off with some coffee to-go, a few dried plums, and a still-dark commute to the gym. I do not like waking up before the sun.

Prunes

I hit up a 7:15am spinning class (the music was only half as good as Tuesday) and then finished with a speedy 3 mile run (finished the last 400m or so around 7:00/mile pace). Pheww.

Busy morning at work, breakfast was eaten in parts.

Breakfast #1: Chobani peach greek yogurt

Chobani

Actually, yesterday I received a whole CASE of these little babies. Including the elusive pineapple flavor. Hooray! It’s (almost) better than Christmas. Do you want some of your own FREE greek yogurt? There might be a give-a-way waiting for you at the end of this post….

Chobani

Breakfast #2:

Apple crisp with (another) dollop of greek yogurt

Apple Crisp

Lunch was the LAST of the coconut cauliflower curry. This was delicious, but cooking for one person means eating leftovers for days on end. Yeesh.

Leftover curry

I’m sure I’ll need a lot of mini peanut butter cups a healthy snack between now and the fun pizza dinner that I have planned….stay tuned!

I just found this great new recipe site called FunnySpoon. Bonus: the site offers coupons on featured ingredients. Two of my fav recipes: Halloweenies and 1-2-3 cookie bars.

Live in NYC? Check out the upcoming Boho Bodega where you can purchase “green” products at wallet-friendly discounts. All proceeds from the store will benefit the non-profit New York Council on the Environment.

Pumpkin, Fennel, and Grapes – Check out this Autumn shopping list for more seasonal favorites!

And now…..a fun give-a-way!! I eat greek yogurt almost every day (love all the extra protein) and Chobani has graciously offered to send a reader some samples of their very own.

Here’s what you have to do:

1) Go to the Chobani website and take a look around.

2) Leave a comment telling me what new flavor of Chobani yogurt you’d like to see.

3) Get an extra chance at winning by linking to my give-a-way on your own blog and leaving a second comment telling me that you did so.

You have until noon on Friday, October 16th to enter. I’ll choose the most creative/yummy flavor then! Note: Must be a U.S. resident to win.

Ok. Ready? Set? Go!!

Coconut Cauliflower Curry Recipe

The remainder of my weekend was action packed and full of lots of yummy food! On Saturday evening, I ventured out to Williamsburg to have dinner with some friends. We headed to Motorino, an Italian place that serves Neapolitan brick-oven pizza.

I started off with a glass of pinot noir:

Pinot noit

And chose the pommodori pizza for my entree. My pizza featured fior di latte (a type of cheese), garlic, basil, red & yellow cherry tomatoes, and pancetta afumicata a top wood-fired crust. I was hungry after my 10-miler, so I put a pretty big dent into this pie, but we all agreed that Motorino was a bit too heavy-handed with the oil. The middle of the pizza was a tad soggy for my taste. 

Motorino

Pizza

After saying goodbye to Agnes and Bill, I continued my night in Williamsburg with some after-dinner drinks. I met up with my friend Mark for a vodka cocktail before he headed out for a night on the town.

Megan & Mark

Being the old lady that I am, I passed on the clubs and headed home to my bed by midnight :-)

The next morning I was definitely feeling the effects of too much to drink and eat. I grabbed a latte from Dunkin’ Donuts  and headed to the gym to get the sludge out of my blood. After an hour of sweaty elliptical intervals and a few bottles of water, I was feeling much better.

Highlight of my morning – grilled corn with jalapeno butter from a street fair vendor. Mmm. Yes, I eat vegetables for breakfast.

grilled corn

And then a pumpkin-palooza when I returned to my apartment: a slice of toasted pumpkin swirl bread topped with pumpkin butter and a Oikos greek yogurt with (more!) pumpkin butter and a crumbled cashew lara bar.

Pumpkin

The afternoon included a much-needed yoga class with Agnes and then a trip to Barnes & Noble for a pumpkin frappuccino. Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with fall gourds :-)

Pumpkin frappuccino

Afternoon snack while I watched Netflix did some work: banana and peanut butter

Banana & PB

Later in the evening, I got creative in the kitchen. Inspired by Kath’s Coconut Cauliflower Chana, I cooked up my own version of spicy-veggie-curry delicious-ness.

Coconut Cauliflower Curry

Coconut Cauliflower Curry

Coconut Cauliflower Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped (I left the skins on, more fiber!)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 Tbs tumeric (or curry powder if you have it!)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp hot chili sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetend, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  • Heat oil in large soup pot and add the onions, cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the garlic, salt, tumeric, ginger, and chili sauce and cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add cauliflower, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, shredded coconut, and water
  • Cover the pot with a lid and cook on med-high for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • When sweet potatoes are fork-tender, remove from heat and serve over brown rice. Add extra chili sauce and greek yogurt as toppings. Makes about 5 servings

Health Benefits of Tumeric (from the World’s Healthiest Foods foundation):

  1. Anti-inflammatory
  2. Effective treatment for IBS
  3. Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis
  4. Inhibits cancer cell growth and metastases
  5. Researchers believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower!) and curcumin (a component in tumeric) could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers.

Have a great Monday!

Pumpkin Swirl and Butternut Squash

Highlights of my Saturday so far:

1) Having a conversation about track & field with the homeless guy who hangs out on my block.

2) Finally killing the mosquito who’s been feasting on me all week.

I started the morning with a quick trip to DD for a latte lite (ahhh, newest obsession!) and some breakfast: TJ’s honey greek yogurt, grapes, and Kashi warm cinnamon Heart-2-Heart. I had quite a few handfuls of cereal straight out of the box after I finished my initial bowl.

Latte Lite

After I finished my breakfast, I started to prepare the dough for some delicious Pumpkin Swirl Bread. I based this recipe on MeganNerdRun’s version, but made a few alterations.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger & nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, ww flour, oats, brown sugar, spices, salt, sugar, and yeast.
  • Stir in the warm water and pumpkin until moistened. Add egg, mix until smooth.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 cup flour until the dough is firm.
  • Put dough in stand mixer and knead using dough hook for about 5 minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with dishcloth, and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Spray the counter lightly with cooking spray and roll out the dough to a 18″ x 9″ rectangle.
  • Spread the melted butter on the dough and then sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, starting with the short side. Pinch ends to seal.
  • Place seam side down in loaf pan, cover and let rise for 90 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Dough Rising

Rolling out the dough

During the 90 minute second rising, I headed out for a long run. I didn’t feel awesome, but the weather was ideal (sunny, breezy, and 60 degrees). My legs are STILL feeling the effects of last Saturday and my right knee/hamstring were a bother, but I was feeling great mentally by the end of my 10 mile run (finished in 1:30:10, about 9:01/mile). I think I’m going to take it easy for the next few weeks – lots of sleep, lots of cross-training, and lower running mileage. Hopefully that will put some pep back into my legs!

When I got home, propped my legs up against the wall while I waited for the oven to pre-heat. I’ve found that this trick really helps with circulation/muscle recovery.

And then I popped the bread in the oven. 30 minutes later…

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

I was very pleased with the consistency of this loaf – the middle was perfectly light and doughy with a nice crust on the outside.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Mmm….a thick slice of pumpkin swirl bread with peanut butter!

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

After finishing up the bread, I was ready for some more post-run food!

A big bowl of brown rice, pinto beans, roasted butternut squash, and a wedge of laughing cow cheese.

Butternut Squash

Rice & Beans & Squash

Now I’m watching a few Mad Men episodes and preparing for a fun dinner in Williamsburg.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

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