Monthly Archives: September 2010

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I hope you are ready to talk sweet and savory, because this eastern spiced acorn squash is going to knock your socks off. I must be going through a vegetarian phase right now.. or quite possibly I’m just so enamored with fresh, fall produce that I forgot protein is a food group. Either way, do you really need meat to complete a meal? Not at all!! The combination of quinoa and walnuts in this dish mean its loaded with all the essential amino acids (aka its a complete protein source). With all the seasonal produce at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you want to cook from the garden?

Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash, halved and gutted
1 shallot
3 garlic cloves
2 oz shitake mushrooms (optional)
3 T olive oil
1/2 cup red quinoa
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp sea salt
fresh nutmeg


First, bake acorn squash halves at 350 degrees until soft (about 30 minutes). Scoop “meat” from tender squash shells and set aside.
In a skillet, sautee shallots in 2 T olive oil. Once browned add mushrooms and chopped garlic. Let cook for about 2 more minutes. Add quinoa and 1 1/4 cup water. Bring water to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.


Add raisins, walnuts, parsley, and fold in the mashed acorn squash. Season with cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Place filling back into acorn shells and bake for another 10 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 T olive oil. Alas, bon apetit!

With school back in session and chaos at it’s peak, I find myself craving that midday break when I can simply sit down and enjoy a meal. Oh, how sweet it is. And with all the spicy, savory, warm-you-from-the-inside-out foods to choose form, how can one stay focused? Thank goodness I can multitask, this recipe is now doodled in the margin of my college rule notebook paper. Right next to ‘simply fall galette’. Sshhh.. coming soon (maybe). Please do indulge, and enjoy the flavors of the season: squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, pears, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts.. and feel free to email me with any specific recipe requests. I’d love to be your test kitchen. 🙂 

What is your favorite way to eat broccoli? You know I found it for 68 cents a pound this week?! Time to get cooking. Let’s here what you’ve got..

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My First Marathon

I am so excited to say.. I did it!! I ran my very first FULL marathon, and I feel like a rockstar. With an expected 4 hours and 30 minutes finishing time, my actual time of 4:19 was pretty darn fantastic. Yes, indeedy. My running buddy and I drove up Saturday to putz around Bellingham. What a beautiful city. Carb loading took place at this very off-the-beaten-path pizza shop we discovered. Dinner was pizza and IPA. I wasn’t going to have a beer, but then I thought, what the heck. I can celebrate a little bit. Besides beer has carbs. That’s right, this future RD is getting a stellar education in nutrition. 😉

After dinner we vegged out in the hotel and watched Chopped. I think its my favorite new cooking reality show, but regardless of getting to bed early I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited. Sprung out of bed at 5:20am and tried to force myself to eat breakfast: apple and a Powerade. We were feeling pretty chipper..

 As for the race, if you’re looking for a scenic run in the northwest, this is it. It beats Seattle and Portland hands down. We started along the bay, looking out at the San Juan Islands across the water. Moving inland everything was lush and green (and wet). Some of the route was a bit of trail running as we ventured through beautiful wooded areas, and even ran part of the boardwalk (slippery). It was still early so there were fishermen out on the water, thick fog hovering over. I can’t say enough about the beauty. Thank goodness I didn’t pack my Blackberry. I would have been stopping to take pictures for sure. 🙂 I took a fellow runner’s advice though and ran with just one headphone in so that I could jog and chat with people along the way. That was a great idea. I met so many people, some from the northwest, some who had flown in from all over. Most of them were veteran marathoners so we chatted about past races, training strategies, future races, our undeniable love of running. Before I knew it I was at mile 18. Seriously, I don’t know where the time went. Here are a few highlights as I remember them:

Mile 1: Beautiful day. I could run forever. So glad it isn’t raining.

Mile 2: It’s raining. Oh yes it is. I kinda like it.

Mile 3: It’s raining so hard that parts of the road are flooded. My feet are going to get wrinkly, and that’s going to make for some gnarly blisters. Battle wounds. Yesssss!!! I’m a survivor.

Mile 4: I love Fergie. So glad I charged my dead ipod last night. Woot woot.

Mile 5-9: Met a runner from Greenlake. This is her sixth marathon in a year!! Now I’m even more encouraged.

Mile 10: Must. Find. Bathroom. (I blame the goo)

Mile 11-14: Met a runner from Auburn. First time marathoner. Total rockstar.

Mile 18: Oh my gosh I’m almost done!!! My body feels great. I rocked this!!

Mile 22: What mile is this? I have to be almost done. Still feeling good. Run faster.

Mile 23: I got a “that’s the biggest smile I’ve seen all day” compliment. Now I’m really pushing.. While I sing along to “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard..” Don’t ask. I have no idea how that got on my ipod.

Mile 24: My legs don’t hurt. My legs don’t hurt. My legs don’t hurt. I need a beer.

Mile 25: Oh my goodness my legs hurt!!!!! Are we there yet?? Forget the beer. I need a bubble bath, a massage and a glass of red wine. In fact, make that two.

Mile 26: Sprint for the finish line! High fiiiiiive!!

The end. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to sprint across that finish line. Running is such a peaceful sport, but part of me just wanted to rip and roar to  the very end. It was such an incredible moment. I ran a marathon. And I can’t wait to do it again. I read a t-shirt that made me laugh out loud. It said “My sport is what your sport does for punishment.. and I love it”.  How do you feel about that?

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Sweet Autumn Pancakes

Does the mention of pumpkin and pecans make your mouth water like it does mine? I love the change of seasons and I especially love the flavors of fall. This morning as I get packed for the overnighter up to Bellingham (and my marathon) I’m cooking up a stack of pumpkin and pecan pancakes. A breakfast so beguiling I only wish I could have pumpkin all year..  but then what would I look forward to in fall?!

Pumpkin & Pecan Pancakes
1/2 c (or 70g)whole wheat flour
2/3 c (or 80g) all-purpose flour
1/4 c pecans
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 c fat free milk
2 T brown sugar
1 T canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg, beaten
3/4 c pureed pumpkin (or sweet potato)

Since baking has to be so precise, I don’t recommend using 100% whole wheat flour. Its too dense, and no matter how much you mess with the wet/dry ingredients the pancakes always seem to turn out flat and black (or atleast mine do). So instead try using half and half, by weight. First mix dry ingredients, only using half the pecans in the batter. In a seperate bowl, mix wet ingredients through eggs. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, but do not overbeat. Lastly, fold in pumpkin mixing until batter is smooth, but again, do not overbeat. Another secret to perfectly fluff-fabulous flapjacks.. let batter rest for 5 minutes before pouring (while you practice that tongue twister!!). Meanwhile heat a cast-iron skillet for 10 minutes on high. Once even heated, oil, reduce to medium heat, and pour batter. Let pancakes cook until evenly covered with air bubbles, and be sure to oil the skillet again when flipping. Top with remaining pecans and drizzle with honey or syrup.

Breakfast of champions I tell ya, or atleast I hope so.. because this time tomorrow I will be mid-way through my first ever full on marathon. Yahoooo!! I can’t tell you how excited I am to join the elite group of marathon achievers. I heard somewhere that less than 1% of the world’s population has run a marathon, or maybe it was the U.S. Well if you know I would be interested in getting my facts straight. 🙂 Regardless, I am less than 24 hours away from being an official rockstar.. and yes, I want that on my driver’s license, right next to organ donor.

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

~Runner’s World, Quote of the Day

I am continuously inspired by other determined, passionate runners I meet in life. If you have a fall run coming up good luck to you!! If you don’t, why not?

Thanks for reading. Monday I’ll post the race recap, and soon I’m dying to share more fall recipes I’ve been trying..

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Probiotic Granola Munch

Product Review: Annelies at Attune Foods was sweet enough to send me their Probiotic Granola Müch to sample, and oh my goodness, it’s finger-licking fabulous! Chocolate with chocolate chips. I probably could have accidentally finished the entire bag (oops), which is why I scooped one serving into a bowl and put the rest awaaaaay. Far away. But don’t you love snacking on ultra-delicious goodies that are loaded with good-for-you probiotics? Well so do I!!

Münch has1 billion strains of probiotics in every 1 ounce serving (which is about a handful). Probiotics that will promote a healthy digestive system, along with the 4 grams of fiber per serving. So the next time you’re perusing Whole Foods, or shopping at Safeway grab a bag. Swirl it into your honey Greek yogurt or just pack it to work for a perfect mid-day snack. As for me, I’m enjoying it over a little fro-yo. Hello RedMango, I need some Münch with that!

Have a great Monday, and tell me, how do you Münch?

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When It Rains It Pours

My what a run I had this morning. It was very wet, but with the perfect 60 degree temperature, and sooo refreshing!! Last week when I had to treck my first wet run since last spring I was feeling a little out of sorts. How does this work again? Should I go to the gym? No, I hate running in place. So should I wear a poncho? Flippers? These were the questions running through my head after being spoiled by summer runs, but today I got my groove back!! And can I just say, I LOVE running in the rain. Here are a few pics. I was in no hurry this morning. Just enjoying the moment..

I have a few more runs this week, but with significant tapering leading up to next Sunday’s marathon. Only 7 more days!! I need to start loading my ipod with a new mix. Although I enjoy running with my blackberry for the sake of handy apps like Pandora,  SportyPal, and random photos, I don’t want the weight. So a good, upbeat mix is in order. Playlist suggestions?

Well I hope you’re enjoying this Sunday. It’s been football in my house today. Last week me and the girls were at the Seahawks game, but since I love watching all the games I’ve been looking forward to watching from my sofa, in my yoga pants, for a loooong time coming. 🙂 With ESPN in my lap and the Pats/Jets game on tv, this is definitely not a bad day. Who’s your team?

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Hot Pepper Jelly

I was a cannin’ fool recently. By the time my girlfriend Terri and I had finished 3 batches of habanero jelly I was hooked and ready for more. What else can we can this fall I wondered?? Peaches perhaps, applesauce, pumpkin butter? Oh how I love pumpkin butter over sliced apples. Then I had this genious idea to can fully prepared pumpkin pie filling for the holidays, but according to my search results I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, and according to the USDA its not safe either. Bummer. Something about the high viscosity of pureed pumpkin and low acidity make it a risky environment for little critters (aka bacteria).

So maybe there will be more canning in my fall-future, but for now lets talk about this hot pepper jelly. I’ve tried a few variations. You can make it with hot Thai chilis, serrano,  habaneñeros.. I prefer red or yellow peppers. Green jam is a little suspicious. Don’t you think??

Hot Pepper Jelly
2 1/2 cup finely chopped red and yellow bell peppers (careful not to puree)
1/4 cup habaneñero peppers
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch Certo pectin

1. Fill canning pot half full with water, simmer.

2. Wash jars and screw tops in hot, soapy water. Pour boiling water over rubber sealed caps and soak until ready to
     use. Note: sterility is very, very important with canning.

3. Transfer peppers to a large pot and begin to heat on stovetop.

4. Pour sugar, vinegar and 1/2 tsp butter in with the peppers.

5. Bring pot to a full boil, add pectin and allow pot to boil for exactly one minute while stirring continuously.

6. Quickly ladle jelly into jars, filling 1/8″ from the top. One batch makes six 8-oz jars. Before sealing 2-piece lid,
     carefully wipe rim and threading on jar top. This is very important for getting a tight seal.

7. Load jars into rack and lower into canning pot. Water level should be 2″ above jars. Cover and let boil for 5 minutes.

8. Remove jars from pot, and let set on towel for 24 hours.

It sounds like a big job, but once we got into the groove of things we just kept whipping up batch after batch. So much fun!! Not sure what to do with hot pepper jelly? It tastes great just eaten with crackers, or for a bit more indulgent treat try it over a wedge of brie cheese. Mmmm.. I love making baked brie for the holidays. Pour a little pepper jelly over the brie, wrap it in a puff pastry and bake until golden. Wow, now I’m reeeeally ready for Thanksgiving!!

What have you been canning, pickling, freezing this summer/fall?

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Carb Loading For The Big One

(source)

With less than 4 weeks until the Bellingham Bay Marathon it is time to buckle down and get serious about my nutrition and training.  Sunday I ran the farthest I’ve ever run in my life, 20 miles. Eeeekk!! And precisely how did I carb load for the 24 hours preceeding this intimidating 3+ hour run? Pizza and beer. Ooops.. all I gotta say is life happens. I certainly know better, yet when a Saturday fun-day comes along, you don’t say no.

Surprisingly I did really well! My Saturday consisted of 3 sports events: Mariners game at 1pm, followed by watching the Seahawks/Vikes preseason game, and alas the Seattle Sounders finishing around 10pm. Needless to say the day was one big tailgater. I could have stopped right there, but you know how good pizza sounds after a day of…. sports. 🙂 So I rallied the girls for pizza and movie night. Yayy!! Again, not the most ideal diet right before an intense run, but you just can’t stop life to train. I’ve compromised, no happy hour during the week, and I am committed to that.

So as I prepare for the big day I’m reading Nutrition Timing for Peak Performance. Great book. I’m learning some good tips for when to eat what foods, and how to prepare for these distance runs. Ahem, pizza and beer did not make the list. Ideally, carb loading should be a gradual increase for 3 days leading up to the long run; foods that are nutritionally dense like whole grains, fruits, veggies. Hopefully these are foods in one’s usual diet, and you can just up your serving sizes. The book goes into breakdown of how many grams of each you should add to your diet according to size, sport, eccetera, but I won’t get into that. However, I learned a couple noteworthy things (1)  nutrients aren’t as important as easily digestible carbs just before a run. Did you get that? Eating starchy or simple carbohydrates, like french toast, is used more readily available energy than oatmeal just before a run. Hhmm.. (2) too much fructose can cause digestive problems just before a run. It takes longer for the body to convert it to glucose, so it sits in the stomach long enough to cause a ruckus. Again, good to know. No wonder I don’t do well with certain goo packs. Ultimately, the body just needs carbs to burn once it’s burned through all it’s glycogen stores (this happens between mile 18-22) so something with a high glycemic index is going to spike your energy almost instantly. I’m down for whatever I gotta do to avoid hitting the wall.

Some foods in my fridge this week: ahi tuna steaks, hard boiled eggs, hummus, quinoa, spinach, apples, blackberries and roasted eggplant, bell peppers and broccoli. Keep it simple, still delicious. Yesterday’s lunch..

Well that’s what’s new in running news here in Seattle. How’s your training goin? What helpful tips would you give a first time marathoner?

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