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Let’s Eat All the Carbs!- Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

15 Apr Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

So… when I last left y’all (a short five days ago, none the less) we were on the nutrition plan of champions in this household bearing down on Boston Marathon and leaving nothing to chance- or lack of micronutrient consumption.  To hell with “if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything” we said.  We’re going to burn the best of the best in this house!

Until The Hubs got norovirus (which, apparently, is the stomach virus of champions) and created a bonded association between quinoa and nausea. Now the only thing that sound appealing to him is ultra-refined carbs.  Ugh!

I’ll admit that this is tough for me.  When he injured his achilles and we decided it made sense for him to healthfully and safely drop some extra race weight I invested myself into the task with gusto.  It meant extra market trips, extra late nights prepping meals and snacks, and extra adorable/neurotic texts about dining decisions.  It meant sometimes prepare separate meals for he and Baby Bird.  And it meant tossing out all our standard taper menus I’ve become familiar with to recreate the wheel.  When he steps on the scale and is on track for the race weight we’ve been targeting, I feel like it’s a win in my column.

So tossing it all out and saying ‘Totally, eat all the refined carbs you want!’ seems pretty cray at this point.  There are SEVEN. DAYS. TO. GO!

Would a cold pressed, green juice IV line be an unreasonable thing to invent?

Admittedly, eating refined carbs is far better than eating nothing- the only other alternative for my poor patient who turns pale at even a mention of kale right now- and so my kitchen has become an artisanal bakery with hyper-obsessive portion control.  That is… until I DNF out of a half marathon, down a quarter of a bottle of Cab, discover a cherry chocolate bock in the outdoor fridge and need a more sensible way to finish it off…

Then it’s “Forget it, y’all!  Let’s eat ALL THE CARBS!” time in the most awesome way possible.

Like… seriously awesome.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

No, wait…

When life gives you 3/4ths a bottle of Cabernet, a lonely bottle of chocolate cherry bock beer, and the thumbs up on ripping into a new bag of all-purpose flour- make boozy jam and bread!

Cherry Chocolate Bock beer is in its heyday during winter months, but a cherry wheat (or even cherry chocolate stout if you’re feeling bold) would work just as well.  Spread your warm bread with a simple, good-quality chevre, slather with jam and enjoy.  You might even momentarily forget about your DNF, your stomach virus, or the A race you have looming on the horizon.

Carb blinders are sometimes a good thing.

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cherry Cabernet Jam

 

Cherry Chocolate Bock Bread with Cabernet Jam

Bread:

  • 1 package Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Cherry Chocolate Bock + 1/4 cup water, heated to 120 degrees F
  • 1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • coarse sanding sugar

Jam:

  • 3 cups of Cabernet
  • 2 cups frozen cherries, thawed, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin
  • 4-6 cups of sugar

To make Jam: If you will be canning in a water bath, prepare jars. (This makes 2 16 oz jars + some additional for immediate use)

Add cherries and all but 1/2 cup Cabernet to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, slowly adding sugar cup by cu and stirring to dissolve (amount of sugar depends on your preference for sweetness).  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until cherries are softened and wine has begun to reduce slightly.

Add the liquid pectin and remaining half cup of wine and stir throughly to disperse pectin. Skim off any foam and continue to cook over medium heat until jam mixture will coat the back of a metal spoon of mixture spooned onto a chilled plate will firm up and gel on the surface.

Ladle hot jam mixture into prepared jars and waterbath can (15 minutes at sea level) or store in fridge for 3-4 weeks.

To make bread: In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, whisk together the flours, yeast, sugar, salt, and cherries.  Add the liquids and knead the bread until it forms an elastic ball.

Oil a large bowl with olive oil.  Form dough into a ball and place in the bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise undisturbed for an hour until doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Gently deflate dough.  Reform into a ball and place on baking sheet to rise once again undisturbed until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Gently slash the top of the bread with a sharp knife, taking care not to deflate it.  Brush top of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake bread for about 35 minutes until brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola

9 Apr Homemade Oat and Seed Granola with oats, salba, chia, pepitas, and flax

As I recently filled you in, I’m on a mission right now to keep The Hubs feeling full while watching his race weight as we continue the countdown to Boston.  This task is far more difficult than one might expect; on one hand he is the most relentlessly driven, self-disciplined person I’ve ever met, yet on the other- as soon as it’s territory he doesn’t have to dominate (read: any and all of the choices on the food he consumes)- he very willingly relinquishes all control.  Don’t read into this as a complaint, I take great pride in the fact that such a capable, intelligent person would entrust his diet to me fully.  It does mean that I have a very important job.

It also mean that my phone features a constant feed of questions about what he can and cant eat.  Which is pretty adorable:

text collage

A donut? Are you serious?

See… adorable.

In order to keep Mr. Adorable away from the donuts on the road to Boston, I try to send a variety of tasty, wholesome snacks along each day to help keep him feeling satisfied.  Granola is the absolute easiest option since it can be consumed a variety of ways- dry as trail mix, sprinkled over yogurt or cottage cheese, layered over sliced bananas and fruit, or in a bowl with alt-milk and a spoon.

For me, granola is one of those foods it makes me sick to think of purchasing because the store bought versions are A) infuriatingly expensive in comparison to their raw ingredients and prep effort level, B) normally contain lots of unnecessary salt and refined sugar, and C) are always lacking just a little something that would make it exactly what you wanted… but that you could easily make at home in the perfect, custom manner.

Chances are, you have the basic raw ingredients hanging out in your pantry just waiting to be used.  See what I mean:

  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1/2-3/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (coarsely chopped if using apples or apricots)
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt or kelp flakes
  • 4-6 tbs of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbs of coconut oil

From there you can get fancy with a pinch of this or a dash of that, but in the end it’s really all the same.  It ends up being a great way to use up odds and ends in the pantry- which is far more eco-friendly and budget conscious than buying store bought.

Granola making (and consuming) rarely looks the same way twice in this household, but I do have a favorite framework I like to work around that includes lots of fabulous seeds and other little nuggets of scrumptious goodness.  Give it a go in your kitchen, but don’t be afraid to change it up to your liking.  And- MOST IMPORTANTLY- don’t turn it into something that necessitates a trip to the grocery store… use up what you’ve got in that pantry.

Unless, of course, you aren’t yet someone who stocks oats, seeds, and grade B maple syrup. In that case, get thee to the market PRONTO!

 

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola with oats, salba, chia, pepitas, and flax

Homemade Oat and Seed Granola

  • 2 cups whole rolled oats
  • generous 1/2 cup raw almond, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 2 tbs salba
  • 2 tbs black chia seeds
  • 2 tbs quinoa (raw)
  • 2 tbs golden flax seeds
  • 2 tbs shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 tsp kelp flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbs grade B maple syrup
  • 2 tsp local honey
  • 2 tbs coconut oil, melted
  • slash of vanilla extract
  • splash of almond extract
  • generous pinch of sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, toss well to incorporate.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, toss, and return to bake for 10-15 minutes more.

Allow to cool completely on baking pan before serving of storing.

*Frequency of tossing during cooking as well as length of cooling time will affect the size of your granola clusters.  If you like chunkier granola, toss less and allow to cool completely undisturbed.

Will keep in airtight container for about 2 weeks in fridge.

Homemade Gummy Hearts

26 Jan Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

We’ve got a toddler in the household, so our home runs on the currency of stickers, kale chips, and fruit snacks.  The Hubs hates stickers.  They end up on everything and are a beast to peel off of the tile after he unknowingly grinds them in place on the way out the door for his 5 am run.  I have fingernails, so stickers aren’t my adversary.  I, on the other hand, am opposed to fruit snacks.  Even the organic, naturally flavored ones are just concentrated nuggets of sugar- and that’s not even visiting the food dyes and preservatives in  the supermarket variety.  (Why are these things called “fruit snacks” anyways?  Let’s be real.  Actual fruit- fresh or dried- should be called “fruit snacks” and everything else should be correctly labeled as gummy treats.)  But Baby Bird love both stickers and fruits snacks, so there aren’t getting eliminated- we just needed to find a way to make them better!  Happily, I discovered this homemade gummy bear recipe from Taralyn over at Undressed Skeleton and was eager to give it a try.

Since Baby Bird loves Valentine’s Day and we are on a heart shaped treats kick at our house (check out our amazingly healthy heart shaped cherry kale pops), I though it would be fun to make little gummy hearts that we could also use as better snacking options to give to friends in place of the go-to red dye 40 laden store bought treats (I’ve totally got my good friend Evin and her struggles with food dyes on the mind).  We stayed pretty true to Taralyn’s recipe and the results were fabulous- sugar free gummy treats packed with fresh fruit!

We had lots of great local citrus on hand thanks to our CSA box, and it was nice to intimately know the source of our ingredients!  We had lots of oranges, Meyer lemons, and lovely key limes so I opted for a citrus medley for the strawberry snacks (1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup key lime, 1/4 Meyer lemon) that would be delightfully tart next to the banana snacks (made with a bit of orange juice) with would naturally be very sweet.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

The process is insanely simple- simmer the fruit, juice, and -in the case of the strawberry snacks- local honey until very soft.  We opted for local honey in place of the stevia in Taralyn’s recipe for two reasons: a) anything to help with Cedar Fever in the ATX, and b) the jury is still out on stevia in this household.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Once the fruit is softened, you pop the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.  Remove the blender cap to allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add the gelatin and process in the blender once again.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Pour the mixture into a pan and pop into the fridge to cool for an hour.  The size of the pan you use for cooling with dictate the width of your gummy treats.  I didn’t want ours to turn out too thin, so I chose containers that would give us thicker treats.  The strawberry recipe also makes roughly double the treats of the banana which I feel is an ideal balance of tart to sweet when tossed together!  Baby Bird strongly prefers the strawberry citrus flavor as she tends to enjoy more complex flavor profiles in her foods.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

For nice tiny hearts, I used a fondant cutter to cut our shapes.  Once you cut the shape, you have to give it a little jiggle to detach it from the bottom of the pan and it will lift up easily as you remove the cutter.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Needless to say, they were a huge it!  It was tough to snatch pictures of them before they disappeared.  Baby Bird figured I had momentarily lost my mind because I was allowing fruit snack consumption without even the slightest frown on my face and she was determined to exploit what she assumed was a lapse in judgement as long as possible.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

The texture is nice a firm- far more similar to an actual gummy bear than a jello jiggler- which is awesome.  Before we tried these, I was a little afraid that they would be more like amped up jigglers.  They have also given me high hopes that I can tweak this recipe to make homemade energy gels for our long runs.  Heck, if I can figure that out I may be able to add another distance race to my schedule from all the savings!

Now if I can only figure out how to make homemade stickers that don’t require Mommy’s nails or a putty knife to remove them from the tile…

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Strawberry Citrus Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh citrus juice (at least 1/2 cup orange juice + additional citrus juice of your choosing to create 1 cup)
  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 tbs local honey
  • 5 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions: Combine juice, fruit, and honey in a small pan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until strawberries are very soft.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 200+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

Banana Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions:

Combine juice and banana in a small bowl.  Mash banana with a fork and stir to combine with juice.  Add mixture to a small pan to simmer for 3-5 minutes until banana is very soft and slightly golden in color.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 75+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

*These can easily be toted as lunch bag or diaper bag snacks, but since these are made with fresh fruit and no preservatives, store in the fridge until you pack them up to send as a treat.

#BetterGoodThings: Healthy Kale Heart Pops

16 Jan Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama! A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

So there is this blogger in the Austin area that I’ve been following for about two years now who writes Food Good, Laundry Bad.  Her name is Evin.  And obviously you know right off the bat that she is pretty solid because, yes, food is really really good and frankly laundry stinks!

Evin and I are opposites.  The kind of opposites that matter for some reason before you have kids and you actually spend time neatly packaging “the sort of person” you are into a neat box as though it somehow makes life easier.  She’s a country gal; I’m about as urban as a Southern hippie can get y’all.  She swears openly in posts; I swear in the closet.  She hates pumpkins; I think pumpkin flavored everything is one of the best parts of fall (Plus, it’s nature’s appetite suppressant… good to know if you’re ever bitten by a Copperhead, prescribed Prednisone to fight your reaction, and are consumed by an unrighteous desire to eat all the things made from carbs.  All of them.  Ever.)  I’ve seen her rail against the perky, the matchy-patchy, the tragically hip, both the over and under informed, and the awkwardly cute (who rightfully need railing against at times because… seriously) and as a former NFL cheerleader turned yogini foodie yupster I’m pretty sure I fall pretty squarely within one of those categories… or many… but I probably deserve some railing against as well in my Moonbeamesque Causehead moments (PCU reference, for the win!)

Basically, as Evin managed to so simply express it via email to me, she is the Duck Dynasty to my Portlandia.

Verrry different programing.

But a funny thing happens when you become a parent.  All of those things that don’t really matter about who you really are start to not really matter when evaluating who someone else is as well.  As a mom, I have plenty in common with Evin.  The most important things.  Compassion.  Love.  Family.

And we both like to prepare and eat really great food.

More than that, we both feel convicted to feed our families the best quality food our budgets allow in the manner that best suits their individual needs.  (So I guess we are both railing against the FDA and Monsanto.)

Evin is dairy free for part of her family and has banished artificial food dyes from her home.  Additionally, as someone who has lost 180 lbs since 2006 (that’s hero worthy stuff right there) she is focused on trying to keep things healthy and unprocessed without having to drive into Austin for unconventional ingredients that are prohibitively costly compared to mass market processed junk that is readily available.  If you don’t know my story, I’m a vegetarian turned carnivore turned raw vegan turned accidental omnivore turned struggling locavore.  Our house is soy, peanut, GMO, and HFC free. We go organic when financially viable, and dye free as much as possible.  We strive to support our local farmers and ranchers.  And we keep things nutrient dense (because I’m feeding a future olympian and a future CEO- you decide which is which).

Together we made a plan to take a kitchen adventure each month to “better up” something our families found to be desirably good things in ways that better meet their nutritional needs without having to spend more than $5 on ingredients we don’t normally stock in our own kitchens. With that, Better Good Things was born.  We’ll be sharing our experiences the Third Thursday of every month which will seriously challenge my inconsistent habit of writing on whim.

This month, with health vacuum of Valentine’s Day celebrations looming ominously in the coming month, we decided to tackle sweetheart treats to provide some better options for our little ones to snack on and share this holiday.  Evin went with this Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothies- Better Good Things

and I created  Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

Pick your poison.

And enjoy!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Here’s a little more about how I landed on making Healthy Kale Heart Pops…

About six months ago I discovered a cookbook filled with homemade energy bar recipes- Power Hungry by Camila Saulsbury. Camila also has a blog- by the same name- which is super awesome because fabulous food bloggers are really helping me to keep my cookbook purchasing in check by making their creations easily accessible online but when I find a cookbook that is really something special I like to own it to indulge in the cathartic experience of dogearring, thumbing, and page annotating.  And this one is certainly something special! It’s like someone followed my family around to see what we like doing and the sat down to make recipes that would specifically support our frequently snacking, high energy, healthy, on-to-go, gotta run tendencies with no complaints.

Just as any good home cook will do, I adapt even the finest tuned test kitchen recipe to better meet the specific taste of my family (oh the page annotations!) which is what I’ve don’t with the Crispy Kale Bars from Power Hungry that have morphed into my Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

One of the things I love about Power Hungry is that the recipes rely on ingredients that exist natively in my hippielala kitchen.  In sticking with mine and Evin’s pact, I knew I had to work with things I normally have on hand and spend $5 or under on special additions- I needed lollypop sticks ($1.50) and puffed millet  cereal (which I far prefer to puffed rice, $2.49)… $1.09 to spare!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Pretty basic stock ingredients for a yupster kitchen.

Now here’s the true true on this one… please don’t try to pass it off as a lollypop.  It just wont work.  These are totally delicious but they taste nothing like high fructose corn syrup laden bulk treats (thank goodness) and if you’re little one is used to that and you try to pass this off as “the same thing” then everyone is in for disappointment.  Healthy choices start with healthy conversations with honest and positive positioning!

Because, for goodness sake, they obviously contain a green veggie!  And that is a good thing.

Preparing the kale is one of the most important parts of getting this right.  You need to start with fresh, dry kale or else your kale chips end up wrinkled, wilted and sad.  I find that rinsing my kale the night before so it can dry thoroughly and then putting it in a vase the night before ensures it is properly hydrated and full- we’re going back to fourth grade biology, y’all… making sure those vacuoles are full so that the cell walls don’t collapse!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Kale is just gorgeous. In the background? Yep, those are my veggies that make up my “flower arrangements.”

Prepare the kale by cutting it off of the tough ribs and tear it into small pieces then arrange it on a baking sheet to dehydrate fully.  The baking/dehydrating is the second key kale step- you want it completely crisp but not terribly browned.  Kale chips are high art!  This method makes fool proof seasoned kale chips as well- just modify by adding the seasonings of your choice.

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

While your amazingly perfect (seasoning free) kale chips are cooling, toast the grains and then mix with the dried sour cherries and millet cereal.  And here comes the fun part…

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

KALE HANDS!  It’s a great activity for the little ones if they aren’t running around in the nude banging cymbals and singing the Little Einsteins theme song.  Dehydrated kale basically crumbles into kale powder which allows you to easy pull out any remaining tough stems. Stir gently to combine.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

After combining the liquid ingredients on the stove and mixing them with the dry, press them into a prepared baking pan and compact them very firmly.  Pop ’em in the fridge to set so that they hold their shape when you cut them.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Cutting the shapes with a cookie cutter uses some decent muscle if you’ve compressed the mixture well.  I like to place a small cutting board on top of my cookie cutter so I can really lay my weight on it without cutting hearts into my hands!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Because the mixture is tightly compacted (as you’ll realize when you tackle the heart shapes), trying to insert  a lollypop stick would just cause it to crumble.  Using metal barbecue skewer gives you a solid starting point.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

From that point, it’s super simple to add the lollypop sticks and wrap it all up!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Et voila!  Eat your heart out, y’all!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Healthy Kale Heart Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of curly leaf kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbs olive oil + more for pan
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas
  • 3 tbs flax seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened puffed millet cereal
  • 1/3 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond)
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • generous 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the kale to bake. Rinse and dry very well. Cut leaves from stem and tear into small pieces.  Toss kale pieces with with olive oil and spread into a single layer across a baking sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake the kale for 15 minutes.  Toss kale, rotate, and return to oven for 12 more minutes.  Check the kale for dehydrated crispness before removing from the oven.  Return from oven for one to two minutes if needed, watching carefully, to ensure they are crisp but not browned.  Gently remove to a bowl to cool completely.

Return oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper covering the bottom and sides and treat with olive oil.

Spread the oats, pepitas, and flax seeds on the baking sheet lined with new parchment or foil and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, shaking halfway through, until fragrant.  Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the cereal and cherries.

Using your bare hands, crumble the cooled kale leaves into the bowl, picking to remove any fibrous stems that may have remained.  Gently stir to combine ingredients.

Combine the almond butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, stirring frequently.  Heat 5-8 minutes until sugar has dissolved and mixture begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.

Immediately pour into the oat mixture and mix with a spatula until well coated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Press the mixture into the pan to spread into an even layer.  Flatten and firmly compact the mixture.

Refrigerate for at least an hour until firmly set.

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Using a 3-inch diameter heart cookie cutter, cut into heart shapes.

Using a metal barbecue skewer, poke a hole in the base of each heart.  Using the skewer hole as a guide, insert lollypop stick.

Makes approximately 15 heart pops.

Breakfast on the Run: Baked Egg Cups To Go

15 Jan

The The Hub’s new Team Rogue schedule is a bit of a game changer in our household (not just because they’ve lead him to finally accepting that he has insanely loud feet).  He’s now out the door for the day pre-workout instead of our old routine in which he ran the neighborhood/area, came home to eat breakfast and get ready for work, and then left for the day.  Because it was routine, I found this slightly easier in my mind because the dirty laundry made it in the bathroom immediately and I could worry with his morning nutrition on the spot.  In reality, I’m realizing that it made me less strategic- and also meant The Hubs often made his own eggs while balancing a business call if and when I managed a morning run for myself.  We’re multi-taskers ’round here, y’all!

I’m realizing that pre-prepped breakfast to go is a thing of beauty.  It forces me to be strategic and also means I don’t feel like a lazy bum on the mornings that I sleep in a bit later than I meant… because I was up later than intended… because I took extra time to stop and smell the roses with the little one during the day… (You see the cycle right?)

Last week I created Mango Recovery Muffins for The Hubs to tote along for breakfast and this week I’ve added baked egg cups into the mix.  They are easy enough that you could bake them the morning of if you prefer, but I’m streamlining our morning shenanigans (read as: I’m not waking up at 4:15 am for someone’s track practice until it’s because I have to get up to drive Baby Bird to the track) so I’m baking them the night before and packaging them up neatly for the next morning.

Breakfast on the Run: Bake Egg Cups, fruit skewers, Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins, and Raspberry Refrigerator Jam from Go Running, Mama!

As you can see- via the beauty that is my late night Instagram snapshot- The Hubs left this morning with two baked egg cups, fruit skewers, a Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffin, and a generous scoop of raspberry chia refrigerator jam.  The kiwi blueberry skewers made it easy for him to eat his fruit quickly without having to use utensils or picking up each piece with his fingers.  A little box of balanced, satisfying, premade nutrition designed for him to consume quickly in the transition from workout to work.

Now that is a productive start to the day!

Baked Egg Cups To Go

Ingredients

  • 2-4 jumbo eggs
  • i slice of thick cut bacon; cooked, fattiest part removed, and diced
  • truffle salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

“Grease” silicone muffin cups with olive oil.  Place muffin cups on a baking pan or sheet.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each egg with diced bacon, truffle salt, and pepper.

Place baking sheet and muffin cups in oven and bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan each 6 minutes.  Remove when eggs are white and yolks still have a slight wobble.

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

13 Jan Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Last week I intended to post about my goals for this year.  Actually, I planned to post within a few day of my recap of last year’s goals but I just hadn’t seemed to settle on measurable parameters quickly enough to do so.  Then I meant to get them typed up this weekend.  And again today…

Maybe one of my goals should actually be typing up and airing my goals?

In reality, two of my very huge goals for this year are putting my family (That include ME!  I’m a part of that family so my needs are going to become more important too!) ahead of everything else and being honest with myself about each day’s “must do’s” as opposed “like to do’s.”  Guess where my goals blog post falls?

What was a “must do” today were some household responsibilities and then allowing Roomba to do my vacuuming while I enjoyed some crafting and  outdoor time with Austin’s most natural gardener.

Go Running, Mama!

Seriously.  That adorable little one wins every time.  And I’m not allowing unnecessary responsibilities to make me feel bad about that anymore.

And, of course, dinner was on that “must do” list as well.  After a day of play and a later than expected work evening for The Hubs it really became a “must do quick” sort of task.  So I kept it quick and dirty easy and healthy.

Quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, mashed avocados, and grapefruit… in a pretty little pile on a plate. Done and done.

And now I’m off… because sleep is topping my “must do” list right now!

Bonsoir!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can Eden Organics BPA free black beans
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a sauces pan with vegetable broth and  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.  Set quinoa aside to cool.

Drain and rinse black beans.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with a fork.  Add juice from one lime, diced yellow bell pepper and salt to taste.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix kefir, juice from one lime, cilantro, green onion, and salt to taste. Set aside.

Cut the pith and peel from the grapefruits.  Using a paring knife, remove each grapefruit section.

To serve, assemble ingredients in a bowl- quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, guacamole, and grapefruit sections.

If storing, keep ingredients separate and assemble when serving.

Gifts in Jars: Bacon Beer Jam and Spicy Gingerbread Syrup

28 Dec Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

Let me just lead off with this- I know this doesn’t help anyone with their holiday gift giving since Christmas is now over.  Sorry about that!  In the few days leading up to the Christmas, I was far too busy finishing off gifts for friends and family to type anything up- I just figured I’d blog our food gift recipes from this holiday season sometime in January and queue them up to post next winter when I had time to take a few proper pictures and people had homemade gifts on the brain once again.  (I can’t even begin to imagine how awesome it might feel to be 10 months ahead!)

Flatteringly enough though, I’ve gotten quite a few requests from friends wanting the recipes for the gifts I made this year and it’s far easier to share them here than via email so I I’ve decided to neglect my dreams of preplanned posts in the spirit of kitchen collegiality.

This year I made a bacon beer jam adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  Her’s uses bourbon, but I modified it for our our kitchen using bourbon barrel aged beer (specifically Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer from Fort Worth, Texas y’all!) with spectacularly amazing results.

Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

Because who doesn’t love great bacon and amazing beer?  That you can spread on a warm biscuit.

Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

Shockingly, some people don’t love bacon and beer… even when spread on a warm biscuit.

And some of them are really great people with whom I am dear friends… which meant I had to have another homemade gift option this year.  Since the arrival of the Nespresso machine my amazing husband gifted me during my bout with mono, I’ve become a bit of a latte devotee so I decided to also make homemade Spicy Gingerbread Syrup- thin for my fellow latte drinkers and thicker for my non-coffee friends to use on desserts or pancakes.  The best part is that it is super easy and uses ingredients you already have in your pantry!

Bacon Beer Jam- Go Running, Mama!

Bacon and Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cups shallots, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup bourbon barrel aged beer (room temperature, poured carefully to avoid foaming)
  • 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Directions: Working in three additions, spread bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.  Remove the fat and clean the pan between each addition of bacon.  After the last addition, reserve browned bits and 1 tbs fat in the pan (slightly less if your bacon had a considerably high fat content).

Add shallots and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until translucent, about five minutes.  Add spices and cook one minute, stirring constantly.  Increase the heat to high and add the beer and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan frequently to incorporate browned bits from bottom of the pan. Add vinegar and brown sugar and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and add the bacon back to the pan.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces to a thick glaze.

Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.  Transfer to glass jars and refrigerate at least one hour before using.  Jam will keep up to four weeks in a refrigerated, tightly sealed glass jar.

Makes about five half pint jars.

Spicy Gingerbread Syrup- Go Running, Mama!

Spicy Gingerbread Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • generous 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions: Combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn down heat to a simmer and allow to thicken while simmering- 10 to 15 minutes- until it is the consistency of maple syrup. Refrain from stirring.

Once it reaches the correct consistency, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Allow to cool before pouring into a lidded jar.

Syrup will keep a few weeks in the fridge.

Makes about four half pints.

Gifts from the Heart: Baking Soda Clay Ornaments

17 Dec Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Looking for even more ornament ideas?  Check out our Salt Dough Ornaments and Cinnamon Clay Ornaments!

I’m pretty close to breathing a a sigh of relief because we’ve almost completed all of our homemade gifts for this year.  I grew up with a mom who could command salt dough to do some pretty spectacular things, so that’s what we’ve used for our homemade ornaments in the past.  There are a couple of challenges with salt dough though- it takes forever to dry completely so you can paint and varnish and the surface isn’t completely smooth which gives it an adorable, shabby appearance but makes it hard for a little one to decorate with anything other than a paintbrush.

This year we were getting a later start and we also wanted to get started with our gift ornaments with some other playgroup friends during what Baby Bird referred to as her “ornament play party” so I decided that we would switch to baking soda clay for this year.  Baking soda clay bakes to dry much quicker than salt dough and dries with a perfectly smooth finish- my beautiful friend Kristin who joined us with her son for ornament creation pointed out that they looked and felt exactly like the ornaments available at the ceramics studio she and I have visited with our kiddos in the past.  She is right- they have a smooth, non-porous finish with a light sheen from the baking soda that makes them look special even without decorating.

The best part is they can be decorated with crayons and markers should you choose to keep the paint packed away.  You could even toss a few dried ornaments and markers into a ziplock bag in your purse to tote along for moments when your little one needs a fun activity if you are in a waiting room or stuck in traffic.  Baby Bird and I packed up a few with some markers to deliver to the porch of a friend with a sick kiddo who had been stuck at home for a few days.  There is nothing better than a virtual playdate delivery!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

The night before our “ornament play party” I made a batch of baking soda clay and Baby Bird and I cut lots of fun ornament shapes with our cookie cutters.  I baked them that evening so the kids would have an activity to work on while I made fresh clay for the kiddo’s handprint ornaments.

The precut, baked ornaments were a big hit and kept little hands very busy.  So busy, in fact, that I ended up sending the baking soda clay I made for handprint ornaments home with my mama friends…so I’ve been on the hook to provide step by step instructions for just what to do with that bag of clay I sent home!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

As you can see, Baby Bird is on a monochromatic kick.

This year I decided I’d like to give handprint reindeer and fingerprint Christmas trees since it has been two years since made anything that included Baby Bird’s fingerprints.  Instead of doing relief  handprints for a second year in a row, I opted for cutting a stencil of Bird’s hand to use for the reindeer.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I moved the cut shapes to a baking sheet lined in parchment and had Baby Bird make little fingerprint indentions on the trees-pinky finger at the top down to thumb at the bottom.  Then into the oven!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I started with the trees since I knew they would be my most time consuming project.  I’ve discovered that things turn out better when you paint the edges of your ornaments first.  Otherwise, you end up with a slightly noticeable border on the face of your ornament.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Once the trees were painted and dry, I primed the fingerprint reliefs with white paint I applied wit a cotton swab so that Baby Bird’s fingerprints would really stand out.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I let Baby Bird select the colors we would use for each fingerprint and made sure we had wipes close at hand before we started adding colored fingerprints to the tree.  Two things to know- 1) there WILL be mess when you paint on a toddler hand so prepare for it and 2) you have to work at the speed of light to ensure your tiny artist doesn’t grow weary of the project in the middle!  So be prepared.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

We worked finger by finger down the trees- we first did all the pinky finger marks on our trees and worked out way down… much easier that doing each tree separately.  Though it took considerable guiding to ensure Baby Bird’s prints made it in each proper place, she had a blast yelling “Smooosh” each time she squished her finger into the indention and left a print.  Oh, how that girl loves to smoosh.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

When I decided on fingerprint trees, I hadn’t quite decided if the fingerprints should represent ornaments or lights.  Once all the color had been applied, the fingerprinted trees looked adorable but they just didn’t feel complete…

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

So I added a “string” to make fingerprint lights which felt much better!

Once they were dry, I hung them from a drying rack outside and sprayed them with a coat of low gloss acrylic sealer.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

While the trees dried, I move on to the reindeer handprints which were insanely simple by comparison.

Paint the handprints brown.

Seriously.  That’s it.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Once the paint is dry, spray them with a sealer and apply eyes, a nose, and a bow.

Done.  Wham, bam, Happy Holidays Ma’am!

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

I love that they feel totally different from the Santas and Penguins with gave as gifts last year, but are every bit as homespun and heartfelt!  Between these, the cinnamon clay ornaments, and the reindeer tea towels we have in progress we now have holiday gifting from the toddler locked down. Such a nice feeling.

Gifts from the Heart: Smooth Baking Soda Ornaments (A homemade alternative to going to the ceramics studio)- Go Running, Mama!

Baking Soda Clay

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/3 cups cold water
  • 1 tbs cooking oil (I use olive or grapeseed since we don’t keep canola or mixed vegetable oil in the house)

Directions:  Whisk baking soda and cornstarch together in a medium sized saucepan.  Add liquids together and slowly whisk into dry ingredients.

Place saucepan on a burner at med/med-high heat and stir frequently with a silicone spoon/spatula.  Mixture will boil and then begin form clumps- once you see the first bubbles reach the surface of the mixture, move from stirring frequently to constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go.  Mixture will soon form a thick mass that holds its shape and will be the consistency of slightly dry mashed potatoes.

Turn mixture out into a glass bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel to cool slightly.  Once cool to the touch, turn out onto parchment and knead until very smooth.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

On parchment lightly dusted with cornstarch, roll out dough to a thickness between 1/4- 1/2 inch.  Less than 1/4 inch thick will cause cracking and breakage during the drying process.

Cut dough into desired shapes.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 90 minutes, rotate sheet and flip ornaments, and return to oven for 30 minutes more.

Once dry and cool paint, decorate, and varnish as desired. If painting a more detailed design, brush ornaments with a damp sponge before painting to allow better paint manipulation as paint adsorbs quickly.

Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick-Me-Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors

13 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick-Me-Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors

I count myself to be a pretty lucky girl- things, for the most part, are normally going my way. I’ve got a fabulous family, I get to stay home with my daughter, and despite minor bumps or buggies we are all in great health and spirits! No real complaints… but his summer has done it’s part to throw me a few curveballs.

I launched into the summer feeling like I was on track to being in the best shape of my life. Sure sometimes I was tired, but I chalked that up to being a dance-teaching, marathon-training, mother of a toddler. Life is never perfect…. but it was pretty close. But the summer had a few health blips lined up for me- melanoma… surgery… recovery… and returning to training in the dead heat of a Texas summer. Yikes!

When I was able to lace up my running shoes again post surgery I was tired. Really tired. I looked forward to our trip to Breckenridge because I knew, just knew, everything would be fine when I got away from the heat. I’d been planning a 30+ mile run from Breck to Frisco and back for a good six months and I was already afraid I would have to cut the miles back just a bit since surgery had messed things up but I was sure I would still be able to pack in at least five slow pace, high mileage runs with no problem.

And despite having ease back into running for a month before our Breckenridge vacation, I still struggled through every high altitude run in the mild weather far more than I knew should be normal for me. The longest run I managed was 14 miles. That’s it. A measly 14 miles. And it was a debacle (those details are coming below, for the dedicate reader).

Something wasn’t right.

Go Running, Mama!: Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick-Me-Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors

I get it kiddo. I’m tired too!

So I finally went to the doctor. He listened to me for a moment and said “You probably have mono.”

Mono? Pft… ridiculous! I’m a 33 year old mother of a toddler not a college student. He had to be wrong.

I plowed on through my additional symptoms and insisted that I had to have something to do with heat, or surgery, or anemia. Or- as I was deathly afraid in the depths of my soul- I just didn’t have enough energy naturally to handle all the things in my life that I love investing time and energy in and I just couldn’t hack it as the wonder mom I aspire to be each day. ‘Please don’t tell me that I’m just overextended and can’t handle it!’

He listened patiently and kindly and ran blood tests… including one for Epstein-Barr (mono).

Because, as it turns out, I have mono (and a severe Vitamin D deficiency which is as ironically humorous as vitamin deficiencies and skin cancer can be when paired with my Melanoma journey this summer). I’ve had it long enough that I’m no longer contagious. After careful consideration, he also decided that if maintaining activity kept me sane and didn’t make me feel worse that there was no reason for me to mope about the house waiting to feel like myself again.

Finding out I had mono had a profound effect on my well being. Finally there was a reason. I was simultaneously more tired after giving myself permission to be “sick” and unbelievably relieved and energized knowing that there was a reason for the madness. I can handle my “normal” life.

For a moment things just aren’t going to be my usual brand of “normal.”

I immediately invested myself in finding ways to up my energy nutritionally and have found two smoothies/juices that are helping me power through: mango avocado smoothie juice, and an almond cacao smoothie.

The mango avocado concoction in loaded with mangoes whose high antioxidant vitamin content help protect against oxidative cell damage and support the liver as it neutralizes and removes toxins from your body. Cucumbers contain the minerals sulfur and silicon that help support kidney and liver function as well as potassium that supports healthy fluid balance. Apples are high in pectin which binds to toxins and helps eliminate them from the body as well as provides malic acid which is used by cells for energy production. Avocados are rich in healthy fats, packed with antioxidant vitamins to guard cellular functions, and high in B vitamins that provide adrenal support during times of stress.

The Almond Cacao Smoothie is filled with raw cacao which contains higher antioxidant levels than most fruits and vegetables as well as high levels of magnesium which assists muscle function and relaxation not to mention the amino acid tryptophan which helps to improve your mood. Wheat germ provides protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, and is rich in minerals. Almond butter provides a respectable dose of zinc which is an essential nutrient for healthy immune systems along with protein. Hemp provides omega fatty acids.

I’ve been whipping up a pitcher of one or the other each morning to help pull me through while my energy level is still on the low side.

Go Running, Mama!: Mango Avocado Smoothie Juice

Mango Avocado Smoothie Juice

  • 2 apples
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 mango
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 generous tsp flaxmeal
  • 1 tbs grade B maple syrup

Directions: Juice apples, celery, and cucumber.

Add juice to a blender with mango, avocado, flaxmeal, and grade B maple syrup and blend until smooth and well incorporated.

Makes four servings.

Go Running, Mama!: Almond Cacao Smoothie- dairy and soy free

Almond Cacao Smoothie

  • 2 c original hemp milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tbs raw almond butter
  • 1 tbs raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs grad B maple syrup
  • 1 tsp wheat germ

Directions: Blend ingredients in a blender and serve cold.

Makes four servings.

Knowing that there as a reason for my exhaustion allowed me to finally forgive myself for the comedy of errors that was my virtual half marathon. The folks at Jost Running have been kind enough to allow me to run their virtual races complimentary for three months and I was exceptionally excited to run the August Virtual Half at high altitude while I was in Breckenridge. Truly I had wanted to do the virtual full as part of my planned 30+ miler I was so hoping to complete before my summer showed me it had other plans, but when I started to level with myself about what was physically feasible while still enjoying a relaxing vacation- the super long runs just had to go!

I’ve finally hit the point in my relationship where a 13 mile training run “isn’t a big deal” so 13.1 miles at a slow steady pace at high altitude didn’t seem like a massive undertaking in theory. It seemed routine enough in my mind that I made the simplest, yet most critical error imaginable in under-planning for my run. It was the morning that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was set to leave Breck for Steamboat, so the hubs had left very early for a rafting trip so that he wasn’t delayed by road blockages and had taken a key to the house. Grandma and I were left with one key and a toddler who, once dressed and ready, needed to get out of the house for a walk and outdoor play IMMEDIATELY. Since I knew that I’d be gone for two hours and change- slightly longer than Baby Bird’s morning playtime- I suggested that they take the key and we all started out the door together… locking the door behind us.

It only took me a quarter mile to realize I forgot to bring water, so I quickly circled back to the house… that was locked. I did a few loops looking for Grandma and Baby Bird on their walk with no luck but didn’t want to waste too much time because I didn’t know how USA Pro Challenge closures might affect me coming back into town if I delayed my run too long. Plus, its was only 13.1 miles….

Less than two miles in my legs already felt like lead as had become the tradition in my runs over the past few weeks (Of course, I had know idea that I had mono!) which was insanely frustrating since I was maintaining a slow, even pace. Trying to focus on anything besides my heavy legs, I let my mind drift to the fact that…. I was a little thirsty.

Wait… No. Don’t think about that. Plus, the Fire Department always has a water station on the trail four miles out.

Just as I remembered, the Fire Station had water jugs set out for runners on the Summit County Rec Trail just past four miles. And they were empty. And I was tired. I assured my inner genius I should stay committed to this debacle by convincing myself that I could hold out and push slightly beyond where I had planned to turn around until mile 7 on the trail that passed by the high school athletics field- surely there would be a water fountain out there!

Mile seven was an enlightening one. I learned that, in fact, there is not a water fountain available to the public at the sports field. And I remembered that using that as my turn around point meant that the return seven would be uphill. Now, if I’d turned around half a mile early it still would have been up hill… but it would have been at least a half mile less of uphill at 9,000+ feet without any water.

I paused my watch to think.

Herein lies the true beauty of this being a virtual race- had it been a normal race this is where I would have decided to admit personal defeat for the first time and thrown in the towel (of course… they would have had water at every mile so I would have felt less defeated, but that’s beside the point) but as it was it was the only person I was currently beholden to was myself and I needed a second to think.

I paused my watch.

Time needed to stop for a moment. This run was simply me against me… me with me… and my personal course rules that day allowed me to recollect myself before pressing forward. I needed to think for a moment about why I run.

Go Running, Mama!: Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick-Me-Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors

I thought about my inspiring husband, my beautiful baby girl, and the community or runners I have met. I thought about my health- beyond the exhaustion- and happiness. I looked around me at the mountains and back at the path that was appearing deceptively flat, I took a deep breathe, snapped a quick photo of the moment that kept me going, and clicked my watch back on- it was time for life to keep moving.

The beauty of my surroundings and my own internal drive kept me moving for the next three miles until reality in the form of dehydration, altitude, and undiagnosed mono kicked me in the gut and my slow pace went to sloooooow pace. I planned to ask the next cyclist who would pay attention to me on the trail if they had extra water, but everyone was in a major hurry to get into Breckenridge to watch the USA Pro cyclists head to Steamboat. I was closer to a jog by the time I passed a little furniture shop that apparently normally has water setup for runner but didn’t on that day. I must have looked pretty defeated at the time, because the sweet owner was outside and asked me if I needed to come in for a drink.

Pause.

That’s when the exhaustion really caught up with me. All I could think about was how tired I was and, as I stepped back outside, I noticed that on the main road there was a bus stop.

And I stopped my watch.

I decided to throw in the towel.

I sat down at the bus stop and waited, trying not to think about the fact that I had quit.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally figured out that busses wouldn’t be running until USA Pro Challenge had completely exited Breck.

I was four miles from home. I couldn’t call anyone to get me because the roads were closed.

I had two choices- run or walk.

I chose run.

I looked down at my watch and noted the time but left it off. These last four miles weren’t going to be about pace… they were going to be about me and my state of mind. Despite the fact that my footwear choice for the day was road running shoes, I decided skip off the rec trail and run the path along Blue River on the was back- if it was going to just be about me, I wanted it to be as scenic as possible.

Go Running, Mama!: Exhaustion, Smoothie Pick-Me-Ups, and a Virtual Half Marathon Comedy of Errors

Ironically, this became the best part of my run- pace wise and peace of mind wise. Focusing on the trail took my focus off of the rest of my struggles that day. I ended on my own terms and smiling… mentally.

In the end, it took me 2 hours and 22 minutes of running time to make it from our house to the high school back to Main Street- about 14 miles in distance. I’m glad I gave myself the flexibility and freedom that day to focus on what I did instead of getting caught up in the moments where I was doing nothing.

And I learned first hand how important it is to be properly prepared for every run.

And I took a really good nap.

Kale and Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and Pine Nuts

10 Sep Go Running, Mama!: Kale Cauliflower Soup with Pine Nuts

There are three publications I wait for with bated breath- Martha Stewart Living, Nutrition Action Healthletter, and each and every Williams Sonoma catalogue. And, although the first two are completely amazing, my favorite is probably the Williams Sonoma Catalogue. There’s just something about paging through such a well curated and expertly styled selection of kitchen goods that is euphoria inducing. A hot bath, a quiet house, and a moment to daydream about how chic the agrarian trend of beekeeping could be? Oh Martha, wouldn’t you be proud of this stay-at-home-hot-mess if as I jarred my own honey and wrapped each one in a washcloth I knit with the Purl Soho kit and tied them off with a homemade Lifestyle Crafts letterpress tag. But alas… handicraft hobbies are pricey and Baby Bird’s schooling can’t be paid for in macrame tchotchkes, so those ambitious daydreams will continue to live tantalizingly on the pages of each William Sonoma book of temptation.

A few weeks ago we had a mail day that produced the trifecta- Martha, Nutrition, and WS… Hooray! After Baby Bird’s bedtime, I cozied into bed to scheme about what I can’t wait to make (Plums with Sparkling Wine, Black Pepper, and Tarragon), what steps I need to take to improve my health (looking over the US nutrition report card made me glad the plums topped my “to be cooked” list instead of the beautiful flourless chocolate espresso cake), and what kitchen goodie I’d love to get my hands on (obviously, I could be creating far superior pizzas if I had a pizza peel). As I devoured the pages of the WS catalogue, tucked onto a page with the new VitaMix blenders that are short and squat enough to fit under the cabinet on the countertop (right after I have a special pull out drawer made for my VitaMix during our kitchen remodel no less) was a recipe for Kale and Cauliflower Soup.

I’m a sucker for a nutritious, healthful soup and an absolute kale nut so it was immediately bumped above all the recipes from the September issue of Living on my “must Make” list. I made a few adjustments to suit our tastes at home- I eliminated the celery and doubled the kale along with cutting back on the vegetable stock to create a thicker soup. I also opted to season my kale chips with blood orange pepper- my newest spice obsession.

It was easy, yummy and nourishing. This is one we will definitely be revisiting as we start into Autumn and dream of crisp weather that we will never see here in Austin.

Go Running, Mama!: Kale Cauliflower Soup with Pine Nuts

Kale Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Kale Chips and Pine Nuts

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 bunches curly kale, stems removed, leaves chopped, keeping each bunch separate
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 c vegetable stock
  • 1 c water
  • 1/3 c pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • butcher cut pepper
  • Maldon sea salt
  • blood orange pepper

Directions: Preheat over to 450 degrees F.

Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally. Roast 20-25 minutes, until edges are golden and crisp.

Reduce oven to 300 degrees F.

Toss one bunch of kale with 1 tbs olive oil and season with salt and blood orange pepper. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast, rotating half way through and stirring several times, for about 25-30 minutes until kale is crisp.

Meanwhile, in a stock pot over medium heat, saute the onion in 2 tbs olive oil until tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and broth and increase heat to medium-high to simmer.  Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining bunch of kale, increase heat to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Puree soup in blender or using an immersion blender.  Top bowls of soup with kale chips and pine nuts.  Add kale chips immediately before serving as they will lose crispness once in the soup.