Salad fever!

I’ve been craving a big bowl of greens for the past couple of days… And I’m wondering if that’s connected to me feeling so tired over the past couple of days.

I ended up getting takeaway last night because of this:

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I went for a ride on my bike and it was so lovely and I felt so fantastic I just kept riding. I planned to be home earlier but a bit over 30kms later I got home and realized it was probably a bit too late to start organizing dinner.

So we had Pad Thai (which was great anyway). Today I struggled with lunch. I didn’t end up having time to go grab the sandwich or rice paper rolls I wanted, and in a massive rush I dashed into the service station to get one of the oat bars to get me through. But guess what? There was only yoghurt coated ones left – ugh! But rather than passing out on the hour drive to the meeting I had to get to, I ate it just to get me through. I grabbed some nuts – there was only salted ones available.

So my body was still waiting for that delicious hit of fresh tasty greens.

So then I made this!

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Nice big bowl of greens, carrot, cucumber, capsicum, sprouts and pecans. I’ve dished it up with a couple of veggie burgers and some onions caramelised in balsamic vinegar.

Let’s have another look at it.

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Just what I was after!

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My favourite vegan dish

I feel compelled to blog about this dish because I just ate it and I realised just how much I love it. If it weren’t for my ambition to eat a wide variety of foods I’m pretty sure I could eat this every day and not get sick of it. I’ve been cooking it pretty much once a week lately.

 

Its simple, cheap, filling and nutritious. Its versatile and holds up well to a night (or two) in the fridge, or freezes for a quick fix meal down the track

 

What is it?

 

lentil bolognaise

Basic lentil Bolognese is what it is!  

The recipe is very much a ‘bit of this, bit of that’ sort of recipe. If you end up with too much it freezes well for later on.

My base recipe uses:

2cans of chopped tomatoes (or a few fresh ones if I have them handy)

1 onion

A few cloves of fresh garlic

About a cup of red lentils

About 4 cups veggie stock (or vegan chicken stock)

A generous handful of fresh parsley

A little olive oil or whatever oil you prefer.

1-2grated carrots, depending on how small they are, or how much you like carrot.

Optional spices to add – cumin, some dried chilli – have both cayenne and Birdseye available so I usually chuck one of each in as the Birdseye we grew were super hot.

Optional extra veggies – this recipe can be ‘beefed up’ with some extra veggies. Given I usually use it as a sauce for veggies on the first night I don’t add them. But I have added the following veggies to great success in the past: broccoli, capsicum, zucchini (also grated), celery, etc. Be creative!

 

How to make:

Chop the onion, press or chop the garlic and lightly fry in a dash of oil till translucent. If youre using other spices – chilli, cumin, etc -you will need to throw that in with it. Once the onion, garlic and spices is ready, add the veggies and give it all a stir.

Throw in the tomatoes, and the lentils. Stir through some of the stock – I don’t measure so I’m guessing one cup of lentils to 4 cups of water. I usually throw in what I think is right and add water as it gets absorbed.

It takes about 20 minutes for the lentils to be cooked through. Keep stirring it now and then and once they are tender you can season with a little salt and pepper, then throw the fresh chopped parsley on and dish it up.

Options: this sauce is great on top of steamed veggies, mashed potato, baked potato (any sort of potatoes really), pasta (its perfect with wholemeal spaghetti for a filling post workout meal), and it makes great lasagne. It’s awesome on its own, and it can be a side dish to meals as needed.

 

More than one reason to love spring.

Lovely weather for a bike ride over the old stock bridge to Albury

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Note: when you plan to ride to the wholesale place for soybeans, think about how much it’s going to weigh when you go past the farmers market as well and buy a bunch of stuff you didn’t initially factor in. 6kgs on your back does make a difference on the way home, especially when there’s a headwind.

Spring is also great weather for a new dress!

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This is my new running dress. Of course, I’m not running right now. But with a pair of shorts under it, this dress doubles as a cycling dress. Fun!

Spring also means flowers…

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…and hiding in flowers.

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And because of all this new growth, we had heaps of new grape leaves. Which means….

DOLMADES!

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I really should have taken photos along the way but I didn’t because I was way too involved in what I was doing.

I will hopefully write up my recipe but it’s pretty basic. Rice flavored with lemon juice, dill and mint, with some toasted pine nuts. Wrap it up in some blanched grape leaves, then set in a pot and steam in a mix of stock, lemon juice and olive oil.

I also made something like a vegan tzatziki to go with it.

1/3 tub of silken tofu, blended with a little lemon juice and a little almond milk, some chopped dill and some finely chopped cucumber.

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I dished everything up with some dill potatoes and some lightly sautéed cabbage fresh from the garden (flavored with only a touch of salt and pepper).

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It’s been a good day.

Ankle verdict and Bike ride.

Well I went to the physio yesterday. She seems to think I likely have a stress fracture. I need to have X-rays next week to confirm if it’s a fracture or just a stress reaction.

Given that there’s no obvious muscle tear or damage, and the pain is centered on the bone, and there’s a lump on the bone right where the pain is worst…. Doesn’t look good for me.

We pinpointed the change to my runs – the downhills when I run over monument hill and down the concrete path at the front. It’s pretty much straight down, so it’s steep and it’s hard. I haven’t worked out how to run downhill without feeling out of control so I’m fairly certain it has at least contributed. My mileage hasn’t changed that much so it’s likely to be the hills that have done it.

As she said – hills are great to run up but you have to come down at some point. Then we joked about running to the top of Everest and catching a lift back down.

I also got berated a bit (which I was expecting) for saying I run in vibrams. That was a little disappointing, but I understand that a lot of professionals don’t believe in them. I explained that other shoes make my back hurt when I run. She said “hmm well I still don’t recommend them”.

To be fair, the lady with the potential stress fracture probably doesn’t have the upper hand in that conversation.

I’m not allowed to run for the next week. Then we will do X-rays (apparently stress fractures are difficult to see right away on an X-ray). If it’s just a reaction I’ll be back to running quicker. If it’s a fracture it will take a few more weeks. At the end of the day I don’t think I’ll be running the full half marathon in December – but if I have to walk it I will, and that way it will be super easy to beat my PR for the next one (I have to find the silver lining somewhere!)

Given the pain has settled a bit, I’m clear to ride my bike as much as I want, which is great because my body needs to move or I start getting twitchy. So I rode 21kms last night, taking whatever path I felt like. I ended up on a rather windy course, mostly following the river. Couldn’t help stopping a few times for photos though.

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A pair of pigs I found mucking about beside the path. I probably should have told someone they were out of whatever property they were supposed to be in – but I’m not sure who to tell.

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If there’s one thing I love about this town it’s living on the Murray River. It’s a lovely river, and since there’s a large and very deep dam just upstream of Albury the water is icy cold year round – awesome for those hot summer days.

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This is the rail bridge over the river.

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There’s a spot on the causeway between the two towns called Gateway Island. There’s a tourist information centre, a small theater, a few artisan type shops (woodworking, etc), a gallery and a restaurant/cafe thing. They also use the carpark for a fortnightly farmers market. They’ve also set up a path around one of the lagoons with a bit of an arty-farty display of local history, as depicted in pictures. Kind of like hieroglyphs, only easier to read.

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Another shot of the river, from the final bridge as you come through to Albury. This is the official state border. Also the river is pretty full at the moment.

And finally, this was the last photo I was able to take before my phone decided it had no room left (I really have to delete some things!).

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Betrayed. Also, brownies.

I am so annoyed. I haven’t been able to run since last Wednesday, which means I missed out on our 10km run Friday. I’m predicting I may be ok to run this Wednesday, but not on the trail we planned.

My ankle had betrayed me. You know how I said it was a little iffy? Well it felt ok. And I ran 8kms on Wednesday – not an unusual distance for me. It didn’t hurt at all while running but once I stopped I could barely walk. I drove round and dipped my foot in the cold cold Murray River waters before heading home and icing it a little. I’ve been hobbling around since then with it all strapped up in a brace.

The most frustrating thing is that I haven’t really increased the frequency or distance of my runs. Maybe the intensity is up a little, because lotta runs slightly faster than me and I keep up rather than slowing in the last kms or so. I think what initially did it was running down the concreted path of monument hill – there’s some steps too. Maybe I’ve jarred it? I haven’t rolled my ankle, and the pain is just above the knobby bit on the outside. Given it hurts less the more I move around I’m assuming I haven’t fractured anything.

I intend to see a physio Monday about it. I really don’t want to miss too much training because, well, I need training. I’ve already told myself I’m ok with it if I need to walk/run the race. I’ll be finishing the race even if I have to hobble 21.1 kms. But the more I train the more I will be able to run.

Anyway, depending on the level of pain I have I will run Wednesday with a brace on my ankle and in my frees. I’m thinking I might have to temporarily retire my vibrams just to reduce the pressure on my (apparently delicate) ankle.

Anyhow, whining aside, I made something delicious last night:

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Peanut butter chocolate brownies, using a little of the okara left over from making tofu last week, and I also subbed in about 1/4 cup coconut flour, just because. I used this recipe.

So good! I had to bake it about 5 mins longer, and I didn’t have a suitable square pan so I made it in a round cake tin.

Also, this happened yesterday:

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We’ve had a bird nesting on top of one of the pots on our potting shelves. Yesterday one of them hatched.

I went out this morning and saw this:

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Three little baby blackbirds. I know blackbirds are a pest, but it’s so cool to have a bird nesting in our pots where we can watch the whole thing.

Garden babies!

Training run 8kms

So lotta and I did our first training run together. It wasn’t a good one. I woke up early this morning (6am) for yoga after a somewhat unsettled night. Gary’s alarms start at 5:15 and go for half an hour because he doesn’t wake up straight away. Unfortunately I do. It’s usually ok but having had a tossing/turning night didn’t help.

I felt tired at yoga. I felt tired all day. And I felt tired when I ran. I was also dealing with an upset stomach. We did 8kms and it was a struggle, mostly due to fatigue and a few stitches and a very welcome public toilet break.

And my ankle flared up again. It doesn’t girth when I run, but it does hurt when I stop. I’ve started questioning if I have the time to build up slowly enough to run the half marathon in my vibrams. I’m going to switch out my nike frees as needed and see how things go.

Apart from that it was great. Beautiful route, through the wetlands lagoons. Apparently it’s a popular running route as we met several runners. There was also one guy who lapped us around the lagoon, shirtless and making a joke about sneaking up on us before zooming off.

We have a 10km scheduled for Friday. I’m not sure how I will go with my ankle but I have a few things to try between now and then.

When I got home I finished setting up our fundraising page.

http://sussanwomensfunrun2013.gofundraise.com.au/page/breastfootforwards

Feel free to donate if you wish 😀

Then I cooked some dinner. I used these guys as well.

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laundry mushrooms! These have been growing in a mushroom kit we’ve had in the laundry cupboard

I threw some quinoa, stock, carrots, broccoli, and corn into the rice cooker with some soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder (best idea ever to cook everything in it!) I let it cook while I had a shower. Then I sautéed some kale and snow peas from the garden and tossed that through the cooked quinoa/veg mix.

Next I quickly sautéed the chopped mushrooms in vegan butter and crushed garlic. Throw the mushrooms on top and take a dodgy photo and there you go. Protein rich, full of healthy fresh home grown food. Perfect for a post run dinner.

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challenge accepted

Last week I started running with my sister in law Lotta (you can read her swedish language blog here). We went on a couple of runs, and although we had a slight setback of me leaving work late on friday, it was very enjoyable.

I confessed a growing ambition of mine – to set another challenge for myself, with a particular distance in mind.

She agreed to do this challenge with me, and so I have signed the both of us up for a half marathon. In 9 weeks time. On my birthday weekend. For my 27th birthday I will be running 21kms, and there will be no drinking until the weekend after.

It’s big, but I think it’s achievable. I have no set time I want to beat – although a rough estimate would place me at about 2.5 hours ish. I haven’t run further than 10kms yet though so time will tell. I’ve been researching a few training programs, and while a lot are longer than 9 weeks, there’s also quite a few that are 9 weeks or shorter.

At the moment the plan for each week is to run once solo, twice together, with a long run on a friday night. I will also probably do an off road walk/run on the weekend as well, although this will be a shorter distance and focus more on hill work. I’m trying to do my monday runs in the morning as I don’t usually feel great running in the morning but I need to train my body to accept it as the race starts at 7:30am.

I’m super excited. And also a bit nervous. It will be a good test of my vegan minimalist running thing as well – can I build to a half marathon distance completely plant based and wearing shoes with no supports? This morning’s run was in my nike frees – I haven’t run in them for months, however my ankle was a little iffy so I wanted to give it just a tiny bit more rest. I will be back to my Vibram Bikilas for the wednesday run this week. I really had to focus on form to avoid going back to a heel strike (which makes my back ache something shocking). But I got there.

So, I should probably tell you about the race. It’s the Sussan Women’s Fun Run and it is a women’s only run in support of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Much as I might disagree with womens only sporting events, this is for a good cause and it’s good timing. My birthday is on the 6th of December. This run is on 8th December, which gives us 9 weeks and will let me achieve something for my birthday.

As a final note, I think I’m going to have to get a little more organised with my food. running at night means I always end up cooking late. I’m thinking that my slow cooker needs to be used more, so when I get home there’s a pot of chili, lentils, curry or risotto waiting for me. I’m also thinking a few frozen meals and some salads in the fridge are going to have to happen.

Anyhow, here’s a few running motivation images that make me smile. I like to keep a sense of humor about these things.

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I plan to keep everyone updated about our training – and if there’s any tips about how to go from 3 x 6-7 km weekly runs to a half marathon distance on a vegan diet in 9 weeks, let me know!