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?

Big Apple Buzz

After my late Halloween night, I was feeling a little less than stellar on Sunday morning. But with some coffee and a big glass of water, I rallied enough for a run alongside the West Side bike path. Hannah and I ran about 5 miles (~43 minutes) and then came back to my apartment for breakfast!

Non-fat Dunkin’ Donuts latte, toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with goat cheese, and a sliced apple with almond butter. Full of stabilizing protein, healthy fat, and carbs. Oh yeah, and a mega-dose of caffeine.

cinnamon raisin bagel

Approximately 10 minutes after finishing breakfast, Hannah and I hit the road for another run. In order to get to mile 19 (1st Ave/115th St) in time to see our marathoning friends, we had to jog (walking takes too long!). I was a little worried about the coffee + breakfast + running and I wouldn’t do this every day, but it actually worked out fine. We were able to see the the runners at mile 19 and then again at mile 22. I wore my Nike + to record the distance and we ended up running/jogging about 3 extra miles throughout the early afternoon.

Female NYC Marathon winner: Derartu Tulu (love her!)

derartu_tulu

It was fun cheering with the crowd, but I’m not going to sugar coat it – the whole atmosphere of the NYC marathon has been kind of rough for me. I was entered in the marathon this year, but when I was side-lined by injury this summer, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to participate in the race. It was a really hard decision to defer my entry, but I know it was the right one. If I had attempted to run yesterday, I probably would have only exacerbated my IT band/hamstring issues. I’m finally able to run again (for which I’m incredibly thankful!), but there are still days that my hamstring/knee bother me a lot and I’m always worried the injury will come back in full force.

All of the well-meaning co-workers who asked “are you running the marathon?”, the bombardment of Marathon ads on the streets and subways, and the general running buzz throughout the city have been constant reminders that I spent the better part of 2009 injured. I’m glad to be building mileage again, but I’m also frustrated that I can’t run as much or as fast as I’d like to. But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some positive things that have come from my running struggles this year. I don’t think I will ever take a run for granted. I appreciate each mile that I’m able to complete. I’ve learned to enjoy new activities like cycling and yoga and I’m very excited to experiment with an indoor triathlon (January 10th!).  And being injured has allowed me to have a deeper understanding my body. I am more attuned to aches and soreness and fatigue, but I can also appreciate how good a pain-free run can feel. So as 2009 comes to a close I hope I can start moving forward, focusing on what I will be able to do and not the races that I’m missing out on.

Ahh, my heart feels better already. Thanks for listening.

I downed some Kombucha when I got back to my apartment and felt full of energy all afternoon – I was even motivated to sweep & mop the floors and take out the recycling!

Kombucha

My stomach started to growl around 3pm, time for a mini-meal of pineapple chobani greek yogurt and sliced banana.

Pineapple Chobani

Oh yeah, and a cupcake the size of my head. Earlier in the morning Hannah and I made the very wise decision to scope out the selection at Make My Cake – the cake shop (!!) next to my apartment building. I went with the red velvet cupcake, a Southern Classic. Not only was the cream cheese frosting rich and tangy, but the cake was incredibly moist (Magnolia, you could learn a few things from the folks Uptown). The red velvet had spicy undertones, so if you’re looking for a classic cupcake taste this might not be for you, but I really enjoyed it. I nibbled on this cupcake all day long and devoured every last crumb!

Red Velvet Cupcake from Make My Cake

Mmm, cupcakes.

cupcake hannah

After I said my goodbyes to Hannah (sad), I met Katie in the East Village for quite possibly the best yoga class ever. The teacher’s style definitely wasn’t traditional, but I loved her the mind-body philosophy, the fast pace of the asanas, and the intense core sequence at the end.

Pretty hungry by the time I left class and in need of groceries, so I stopped at Whole Foods. Ahh! Salad bar twice in one weekend! So good, but so $$. Will cook tonight.

Whole Foods Salad Bar

My take-out container included:

  • base of romaine lettuce
  • roasted mushrooms
  • collard greens with pineapple
  • roasted beets
  • roasted apple
  • wheatberry salad
  • tuna salad with apricots and celery

Worth every penny. Yum.

After too many a few hours of email writing, photo uploading, and organizing for the week ahead, I was ready for a snack.

Lucky for me, my yoga buddy had gifted me with a container of vegan peanut butter & jelly bars. I can believe that they don’t contain animal products, but I’m pretty sure they contain crack. So delicious. Hopefully I will have the recipe soon. You’ll have to make your own, because I’m not sharing :-)

Cookies!

Were humans “born to run”? Check out the newest Running Shorts post and see what Matt has to say!

Question: Have you ever had a sports-related injury? How did you deal?

Autumn Miles

Despite Saturday’s rain and wind, I managed to fit in quite a few fun activities. I started the weekend early with some coffee and a 4.5 mile run mostly around the reservoir in Central Park. I was a little sleepy for the first 20 minutes, but I felt much better after that. I returned home to try out the new pineapple Chobani greek yogurt flavor! I enjoyed it with a sliced banana and 1/2 Clif mojo bar (the other half was eaten quite awhile ago…).

chobani

Mojo

Then Alma and I grabbed our yoga mats and headed downtown for 60 minutes of vinyasa flow. I was really challenged during the lunge asanas (especially crescent moon, yikes), but I felt sooo much looser and relaxed after class. I enjoy running much more than other activities (yoga, spinning etc.) so it’s always a struggle to find motivation to cross-train. However, I know how important stretching and strengthening are to my running, so that gives the activities a defined purpose. Plus, I’ve found that the more I do an activity (like cycling!), the more I enjoy it.

After class, Alma and I treated ourselves to pumpkin spice lattes! I ordered a no-whip decaf skim latte with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. My order was so high maintenance that the barista accidentally made me the iced version. Hot or iced, I enjoy all of the overpriced beverages Starbucks has to offer :-)

latte

When I got back from yoga class, I was h-u-n-g-r-y! I plated up some sliced apple with almond butter and a slice of whole wheat toast with (more!) almond butter and pumpkin butter. And then awhile later I dug into a multi-bran vitatop with pumpkin butter.

Almond butter

vitatop with pumpkin butter

An friend from college was visiting the city this weekend and I agreed to run a few miles with him that afternoon (um, yes, that would be run #2 for the day). We ran for about 3.5 miles at 8 minute pace. After this morning’s run and then the hour-long yoga class, my legs were feeling pretty dead. I made sure to snack on some tasty treats to refuel.

peanut butter lara bar & spiced almonds:

Pictures 025

and then a Sam Adams Octoberfest beer!

beer

After a few hours of being lazy, it was time for dinner! We braved the winds and rain and ventured to a restaurant called Turkuaz on the Upper West Side. I’ve been wanting to try this place for awhile and it didn’t disappoint. The interior was really cool – the main dining room reminded me of a tent in Middle East. The space was cavernous (by Manhattan standards anyway) and the ceilings and walls were draped in canvas fabric.

Turkuaz

Dinner started with some warm flatbread while Alex sampled a Turkish beer.

Turkuaz

For my entree, I actually selected something with chicken! Now if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may remember my 30-day Vegetarian Challenge. At the end of the month I announced that while I wouldn’t prepare or consume meat at home, I might partake at certain restaurants or on special occasions (Thanksgiving). Lately I’ve been putting in some serious time at the gym/on the roads, so I felt like I could use the extra protein and heme iron.

Anyway, back to the entree: I ordered a chicken kabob dish that contained roasted tomatoes, char grilled peppers, yogurt sauce, and toasted bread cubes. It was so delicious! I would definitely go back to Turkuaz and order this again.

Turkish food

The rest of my evening was pretty low key. Alma and I opened a bottle of red wine that we had leftover from our housewarming party and I enjoyed some dark chocolates along with a few small pours of vino. Antioxidants!

red wine

I was having trouble sleeping on Saturday night (mosquito attacks), so around 3am I headed to the kitchen for a small (un-pictured, sorry!) bowl of cereal. The carbs + milk helped me drift of to sleep – finally!

After my late bedtime, I didn’t wake up until after 9:30am on Sunday. It was kind of awesome – I never sleep that late anymore!

spiced pumpkin pie clif bar

After the requisite coffee and 1/2 clif bar (new pumpkin pie flavor!), I headed out the door for a long-ish run. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel after my high volume week of training, but I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was absolutely gorgeous  – 60 degrees and sunny. I’m sure that helped make my run so good! I ended up running 12 miles in 1:46:37 (a bit under 9:00 per mile pace) and I felt strong throughout. My IT band started aching a bit after 5 or 6 miles, but it wasn’t too bad. After the run I downed some water and a banana and jumped in the shower. Thank goodness our hot water was working again (ughhh…so many problems with the boiler in this apartment building).

banana

Around 2:30pm, I headed to brunch with my friend. At this point I had been awake for 5 hours and had run 12 miles, but had only ingested about 250 calories. I started feeling pretty yucky. On the subway I had 1/2 of an un-pictured fruit and oat bar (free sample from the HLS!) and that made me feel a teeny bit better.

Pictures 033

Once we arrived at our brunch locale, I immediately ordered a big glass of OJ to get my blood sugar back up. Once the food arrived, I was ready to dig-in! I ordered the goat cheese and spinach egg white omelette that was accompanied by country potatoes (with lots of ketchup, of course) and a slice of sour dough toast.

Megan

omelet

It was just what I needed – I felt 100% better after eating! Post-long run brunches are fun, but I think I just need to skip the  shower next time. Food should come first in my book :-)

Oh! And the restaurant featured this amazing sandwich as one of their specials: french toast sandwich with ricotta and nutella filling, covered with strawberry jam and honey. OMG. This sounded so good. If I wasn’t craving salt and protein (eggs + potatoes!), I think I would have ordered this sammie.

Brunch Specials

I wanted to enjoy the Autumn weather for the rest of the afternoon, so after running some errands, I popped into a Starbucks and ordered a decaf skim misto with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. FYI: Mistos are 1/2 milk, 1/2 coffee and are about $2 cheaper than lattes! But I think they taste pretty similar.  I enjoyed my warm drink while walking around my neighborhood.

Starbucks

Once I was back at my apartment I basically crashed. Late bedtime + 12 mile run = sleepy Megan. I was able to enjoy a little nap and it was awesome. I wish I could do this more often!

My stomach felt a little off all day, but around 8pm, I knew I needed to eat something. I toasted up a slice of whole wheat bread and topped it with almond butter and 1/2 banana. I rounded out dinner with some veggie chili and ate it with a generous dash of hot sauce and a dollop of greek yogurt. Perfecto!

Toast

Veggie Chili

The rest of my Sunday was very chill – Gossip Girl watching, tea sipping, vita brownie (with almond butter!) snacking, and preparing for the week ahead.

vita brownie

Fingers-crossed, I think the  hamstring/IT band injury might be almost 100% better…

Last night I tallied up exercise totals for the week: 46 miles of running, 2 x 45 minute spinning classes, 50 minutes elliptical cross-training, and a 60 minute yoga class. Holy cow, I had no idea that I’d been that busy this week! My legs are a little bit sore from the increase in mileage, but this is the most positive (and pain free) week of training that I’ve had since last fall. Hooray!

Check out these healthy, Halloween cookies (they’re kind of like personal apple pies!).

Question: What’s your favorite thing to eat when you go out to brunch? Sweet (waffles and french toast) or savory (omelettes)?

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?

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!

All Warmed Up

A big Thank You to everyone who stopped by our house-warming party on Saturday night – it was a success!

My legs were feeling a little sore post-run, so I decided it would be a good time to make use of my compression socks. I wore them all afternoon as I cleaned and prepped for the party. Extremely attractive, yes?

compression socks

Mid-afternoon break: apple & peanut butter

apple & peanut butter

Next on the agenda: vegan molasses pumpkin cookies inspired by the lovely Holly!

pumpkin molasses cookies

Megan’s Slightly Modified Version

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, .5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, reserving 1/4 cup
  • 2 tbsp water

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a large cookie sheet
  • Sift together dry ingredients (flour through wheat germ), set aside
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, molasses, canola oil, and sugar
  • Mix wet mixture into dry ingredients, add 2 Tbs water near the end to help dough come together
  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup sugar and a dash each of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • Roll Tbs of dough into a ball (use your hands) and then roll lightly in the sugar mixture
  • Place dough ball on cookie sheet and flatten slightly using tines of fork
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, cool for 1 minute on baking sheet, and then finish cooling on a wire rack
  • EAT! (preferably along with pumpkin ale)

Most of our party snacks were catered by my close friend, Trader Joe, but I did prepare another bit of home-made goodness: Spanish Spiced Almonds inspired by one of my favorite bloggers – Angharad, the lady behind Eating for England!

My version ended up being a little different (I increased the yield 3 fold and used chili powder instead of thyme), but I think they were still a hit! The almonds did get a bit too brown in the oven, so the following recipe is adjusted accordingly.

Megan’s Version of Spiced Almonds

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of raw almonds
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder (use more if you like it extra spicy!)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees, spray large baking sheet with oil
  • Mix the brown sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg white and water until foamy
  • Add almonds to egg mixture and coat thoroughly, strain almonds through a sieve to remove  excess egg white
  • Add almonds to bowl of spices, coat evenly
  • Spread almonds evenly on cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes
  • Reduce oven temp to 200 degrees, stir, and bake for another 15 minutes
  • Allow to cool and then serve! Leftovers can be stored in an air tight container for a few days.

Spicy Almonds

Party eats!

House warming party food

I started off the night with a Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. Hooray for Autumn!

Pumpkin Ale

And a plate of party food (refilled this about 3-4 times throughout the night). Baby carrots, olives, crackers, brie, and iberico cheese.  The night involved  A LOT of brie, love that cheese so much :-)

party food

Agnes & Bill

Agnes & Bill

Megan & Alma

Megan and Alma

Darien & Megan

Darien & Megan

Alma & Alex

Alma and Alex

Megan & Diana

Megan & Diana

Kristen & Alma

Kristen & Alma

CPTC teammates!

CPTC

Mini-NESCAC reunion

NESCAC

And a few more of these were consumed throughout the evening….

wine

The night was fun –  I think I finally got to bed around 2am which is much laterrrr than this Grandma usually hits the sheets!

The next morning I was feeling umm…a little less than stellar. But it’s nothing a lot of water and some sunshine couldn’t help!

I walked to Dunkin’ Donuts and then H&H bagels and had a little impromptu pic-nic in Central Park: skim latte, OJ, and a whole wheat bagel

Breakfast in the Park

The weather was awesome yesterday – sunny and 70 degrees – so I ended up walking for quite awhile after breakfast. Before I knew it, I had to hustle home or else I wouldn’t make it to yoga on time.

I dashed back to my apartment and a had a little pre-yoga snack: banana and peanut butter

Banana & PB

And then I met Agnes & Katie for what is becoming a Sunday tradition: 2pm power yoga at Yoga to the People in the East Village. I was a little worried about doing the lunge sequences (my legs are still feelin’ tired), but I took it easy and felt like tons better after class. Relaxed and all stretched out!

As I was walking through Union Square, I happened upon the Pilates for Pink festival and scored this free bag of cocoa roasted almonds. They were the perfect mini-snack!

cocoa roasted almonds

After a shower at my gym, I headed uptown for an early dinner. I met my friends Joe and Chrissy at the Chelsea Grill (which is actually in Hell’s Kitchen). I’ve been here before and the menu has a pretty reliable vegetarian selection.

Chelsea Grill

After seeing photos of Jesse’s delicious grilled portabella burgers last week, I knew I had to have one for myself!

I ordered the grilled balsamic-marinated mushroom cap topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato, onion, and lettuce. I also ate every single one of my waffle fries – ahh, I love french fries! I saved room for the fries by skipping most of the hamburger bun. I’m not crazy about white bread products and I’d rather save room for crispy, crunchy waffle-y potatoes. Mmm…

Portobella Burger

And then when I returned home, I made myself a cup of tea and finished off what was left of this monster:

Levain Bakery

Are you still with me? Before I go, I want to give a BIG congratulations to Holly who just finished her FIRST marathon and Matt who just qualified for Boston by running a crazy-fast sub-3:10 marathon. Yahoo!

In the News:

Calling All New Yorkers: 10 FREE Ways to have healthy fun this October

Have you read about the new contraption that allows you to grow your own meat? I, for one, am really creeped out by this…

Has anyone tried the new Starbucks VIA? I’m interested in knowing whether it’s any good.

Question: What was the best part of your weekend? What are you most looking forward to this week?

Eat Dessert First

My work week began with my usual coffee and a few bites of Farmer’s Market blueberry cake (umm, thanks Nate).

When I got to the office, it was time for my real breakfast – a container of Fage 2% Greek yogurt, dried cranberries, and 3/4 cup of Heritage Grain flakes. So good! I love the combo of creamy, crunchy, sweet, and tart.

Breakfast

After sitting on my bum all morning, I needed to get some blood pumping at noon. I made a quick visit to the gym for 30 minutes of elliptical intervals (2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy). I returned to my desk refreshed and h-u-n-g-r-y! On Sunday night I decided to roast the beets that I had picked up at the farmer’s market. I loosely followed this NY Times recipe. After washing the beets, I peeled and cubed them. I tossed with a Tb of EVOO and a Tb of Nakano seasoned rice vingar and popped in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. I covered the beets with foil for the first 20 minutes and then removed the foil after that.

Preparing beets

I mixed chopped raw beet greens (umm…probably should have steamed these first) with the cooked beets, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, and 2 Tbs of hummus. It was a yummy combo of flavors, but the raw beet greens were pretty tough and bitter. Note to self: Just because it’s green, doesn’t mean it will taste like lettuce. And eventhough it’s summer can still roast veggies! Roasting brings out the sweetness in veggies like carrots, onions, and beets. Check out the latest Skinny Kitchen post about roasting vegetables!

salad

Alma was nice enough to bring me a mini-balsamic vinegar packet from Spain. I used it on my salad today!

balsamic vinegar

With my salad I enjoyed quite a few yummy salt and pepper pretzels. They had the perfect amount of kick!

pretzels

I stayed in the office kind of late and my tummy starting growling around 6pm – a coconut lara bar was the perfect solution. Mmm, nuts and fruit!

lara bar

I also had 2 squares of Newman’s Own Organics dark chocolate

dark chocolate

After work Katie and I met up for a class at Yoga to the People and although it was super-crowded, I felt 10x better after going. Yoga is such a great de-stressor after a long work day! Plus it forces encourages me to strength train and stretch. Afterwards, we headed to a vegan ice cream spot in the E. Village. The  design and layout of Stogo reminded me a lot of a gelato shop. I tried the Almond Joy flavor and while it was good, we all know I’m helpless when it comes to peanut butter. I chose a cup of the  peanut butter fudge and it was ahhhhmazing! There was the slightest hint of soy flavor, but other than that it was just as sweet, creamy,and delicious as regular ice cream. Stogo flavors are 100% vegan and sweetened with agave nectar. They have 1/2 the fat and only 2/3 the calories of regular ice cream.  The peanut butter flavor really shone through in this dessert and I ate every last bite!

Vegan ice cream at Stogo

Stogo

vegan ice cream

All gone!

Of course the problem with eating dessert first is that it leaves you still very hungry! On the subway ride home, I snacked on a few prunes. And then re-heated some leftover high fiber mac ‘n cheese (with broc and beets), and had a few Wasa crackers with almond butter and homemade peach jam on the side. Yum!

prunes

Mac and cheese

Wasa and jam

My eating was a little untraditional today (a bit of cake before breakfast, dessert before dinner…), but it was all yummy and I think I covered most of my nutritional bases.

Question: Do you ever eat “untraditionally”? For example, eating dessert first? Or pancakes for dinner? Leftovers for breakfast?

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