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

Pictures 004

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?

Prepping for a Long Run

Slowly, slowly, slowly I am starting to feel like my old self again. It’s been nearly 9 months since I injured my right hamstring and there were definitely times this year when I thought I might never get to do a long run or race again without pain again. Things still aren’t perfect – my right hamstring still aches sometimes and it resists a bit when I try to push the pace. BUT, it’s a million times better than it was in the Spring. In June I couldn’t run for 5 minutes without having serious pain. So it’s been a long road, but I think things are finally starting to turn around. Even though I’m signed up for the NYC Marathon on November 1st, I’m going to defer until next year. As much as I’d love to be running through the crowds near First Avenue and Tavern on the Green, I’m not ready to tackle another marathon yet. But next year? I’ll be there.

meganmarathon1

Ok, enough reflection! On to the food! I had plans for a long run on Saturday morning, so I whipped up a yummy pre-run meal Friday night. A few days ago NoMeatAthlete featured a wonderful pesto recipe on his blog. As soon as I saw all of that fresh basil, I knew I had to make some of my own!

Pesto ingredients

Megan’s Version – Homemade Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmigianno-reggiano
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  • Place basil, pecans, and garlic clove in food processor, process until a thick paste forms
  • Run processor on low speed and stream in the olive oil
  • Add cheese and salt and process just until combined

I mixed about 1/2 of my homemade pesto with 1/2 lb of penne pasta and a pint of cherry tomatoes. Makes about 3 servings. You can refrigerate the leftover pesto for up to a week. Mix it with some light mayo and use as a sandwich spread. Yum!

Pesto pasta

Pesto- Cherry Tomato Pasta with Grated Parmigianno-Reggiano:

Pesto, penne, and tomatoes

And for dessert – the last two oatmeal-pb-chocolate chip cookies with a dollop of nocciolla (hazelnut) gelato. Heaven.

Cookies and gelato

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning – around 6:30am (who am I???). After some coffee, I dug into my pre-run breakfast: a piece of whole wheat toast with sliced banana, peanut butter, and honey. Plus some more spoonfuls of pb straight out of the jar. When it comes to peanut butter before long runs, my brain usually asks “Is that really a smart idea?”, but my tastebuds always say “YES!”

Toast, Banana, PB

Luckily all of that peanut butter fueled me for a fabulous run! The weather was perfect (sunny and 60 degrees) and I was pleasantly surprised by my pace. I was a little tight for the first few miles, but after about 25 minutes everything loosened up quite nicely. I was feelin’ so good that around mile 6 I threw in a faster mile (7:45) and my hamstring didn’t give me much trouble at all. I ended up running 11 miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes (8:35 pace). Yahoo!

After chugging some water, I put my feet up against the wall for about 10 minutes (this reduces soreness and improves circulation).

Putting my feet up

And then I had some eats! I mixed some powdered sports drink into a glass of water, sliced up a HUGE honey crisp apple (seriously…the size was almost ridiculous), and had a lemon yogurt on the side.

Apple and yogurt

After a much-needed shower (lots of salty sweat today), I had a bowl of Kashi cinnamon Heart-to-Heart with pecans. And then another bowl :-)

Kashi H2H

Now I’m off to attempt a nap – I’m headed to a benefit dinner tonight. I need some rest if I want to stay awake past 10pm :-)

Have a great weekend!

Question: When do you feel most like yourself? When you’re out with friends? When you’re running? When you’re home alone with a glass of wine and a good book?

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