Transition Foods

This week, John and I had some meals that I think qualify as transition foods - bridging the gap between summer and fall. For some reason, I took very up-close shots of all of them.

The Eggplant and Mozzerella Orzo Bake from Smitten Kitchen probably does the best job.

It was pretty easy to put together, and extremely flavorful. I would definitely make this again soon. This is the first time John and I have ever made something with orzo in it - what took us so long? It seems like it works especially well in a baked dish like this one. I think I would add mushrooms to this next time around.

Then we made the Lentil Pitas from Kira's blog, Cook Pray Love.

The original recipe calls for you to shape the lentils into balls and fry them, not unlike a falafel. But we kind of ran out of patience and decided to just eat it like a Greek-flavored taco. John also upped the cumin and black pepper, since I think we ended up with a little more than the lentils it calls for. The second night, we cut the pita into strips and baked it, then brushed it with oil, and ate the whole thing more like nachos. Just like the recipe for ancho lentil tacos, this lentil preparation is a tasty way to fill a pita, and super easy. It'd be a great weeknight meal. 

Last and most summery, I made a caprese salad for myself one night when John wasn't home for dinner. I sliced up about four heirloom tomatoes (fairly small ones), along with half a ball of mozzerella, and a bunch of lemon basil and thyme from our plants. I also drizzled it with a little olive oil and balsamic. It was pretty flavorful! And a good way to say good bye to caprese for the summer.

Though our tomato plant still has about 7 tomatoes on it that are not quite ready to eat. I hope they ripen up before we get a real frost, since the nights have started to get pretty chilly. I think they may actually become ripe at the same time, in which case, I think a good tomato sauce is what's going to happen. 

And that's all the exciting news from our house this week! Next weekend, our dear friend Jess is getting married, so we're headed to Toronto to celebrate with her. Our second Canadian wedding! Can't wait! 


Summer Running Recap

 Running post! Those of you who don't care about running can check out now. See you next week.

This summer my primary running goal was to train effectively for the Fort 4 Fitness Half Marathon. It's in Fort Wayne on September 29. When I say "train effectively," I had a couple of particular things in mind:
  • learn how to consume calories both before and during running. 
In the past I've had GI problems and heartburn from eating as little as a banana within 2 hours of running. But I knew that had to change in order to train for and run the Half. Thankfully, I've more than accomplished this goal. At first, I would just eat a few bites of banana before running. Then I started wearing my fuel belt, even on relatively shorter runs, to get used to drinking water with a small amount of the low-calorie (G2) Gatorade mixed in. For each weekly long run, I increased the amount of Gatorade, and now I can safely consume two 10-oz hip flasks of it during my long runs - no heartburn or fear of it coming back up. SUCCESS.

I've also tried putting half an electrolyte tablet (Nuun) in each hip flask, after the Gatorade runs out.

I'm a bit on the fence about this product. One the one hand, they are small and easy to carry in the storage pouch of my fuel belt. They're easy to use and I think they do help me feel better.
But damn, they taste like chalk. Chalk with a hint of lime. The low sugar content is good for my sensitive stomach, but I don't really enjoy the chalky taste.

As for pre-run eating, I can eat as much as a whole banana  + a "mini-thintini" with a scant spread of peanut butter on each half. The first time I did this, it not only stayed down easily, but I felt SO MUCH BETTER! Wow! Calories make a HUGE difference when running for 2.5 hours. I was shocked, but in hindsight, not eating enough in advance kind of explains why some of my long runs were such a struggle.

(This is a mini-thintini, in case you weren't sure.)

My second big goal: 
  • learn how to run really far without having a mental or physical breakdown. 
This has also gone about as well as it could have. I spent some time in physiotherapy (that's physical therapy to you Yankees) to help my right foot. It has some kind of tendonitis, and I've done a ton of exercises to help strengthen that entire side of my body, since it's not just a foot problem. Apparently I have a weak right hip and butt, but the exercises are helping a lot. I've also made some form adjustments that added a lot of mental frustration to the whole process. Just, you know, re-learn how to run. No big deal. It actually has made a big difference, but it's a lengthy process.
I was concerned with the mental challenge of running for that long, since I take breaks during my long runs, and it sometimes feels like it takes forever to get through them. I don't listen to music when I run (too afraid of being snuck up on), so it's just me providing myself with company and entertainment. Running several comparable distances to the Half, including now two 13 mile runs, has really helped. Next week is my last long run before the taper (!), and by then I will have run three 10 milers, three 12 milers, and two 13 milers (I like to call these the Tour of London runs, because I run all over the city). I feel like I know at least somewhat how I'll feel at the 12th mile. And I can only hope that I'll feel better in the race environment, especially since Kira (aka, Mama K) will be with me!
Since I've made it this far into the training cycle without (additional) injury or a lot of crying, I'm going to call this goal mostly achieved. I still have a few weeks to go!
After that, I have a couple of fall races at shorter distances on the agenda. Fall is the best for running.

A couple of other random things that came into my life this week:

Omg y'all, the masala hummus (store brand, no less) is so good. It would probably be very simple to make, if you have all the right spices on hand. I have high hopes for the spicy hummus.

Also, a delightful collection of seasonal gourds.

Happy Fall!


Avocado Zucchini Pasta and Blueberry Muffins

Ah, the end of the summer.

I know in the last post I went on about how summer was over, but this time I really mean it.

(Note: this is not our dog. This is a random beach dog.)

Summer is really ending. John and I went to Lake Huron for Labor Day, and everything. We decided to go to Ipperwash Beach, the site of a WWII army base that now features a dog friendly beach with free parking! Everywhere on Lake Huron takes about the same amount of time to get to, and the beach itself was lovely, so we will definitely return.

John and I completely forgot to bring our beach chairs or umbrella, so we sat in the shade beneath some beach vegetation until the sun moved too far to the west. It was still a relaxing and beautiful afternoon. I love Lake Huron. 

Tonight, John and I had what I'd like to call the Last Summer Dinner of the Year. We made two summery recipes that came up on my feed reader this week.
First: Julienned Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Sauce, from Oh She Glows.

(Also featured: random counter items, including the Centennial IPA from Founders that John and I shared while preparing dinner, in a new-to-us Apricot Brandy glass from Talize, part of a mixed group of glasses I bought for a grand total of $2.) 

Angela, who writes Oh She Glows, posted that she bought a julienne peeler. It's like a regular peeler, but with teeth. It easily juliennes things like squash, cucumbers, and carrots. You could use it for salad toppings, but, like Angela, I saw it and thought of veggie "pasta." A spiralizer would do the same thing, but the peeler is much cheaper ($7 for the peeler, vs. $25 for the spiralizer). I took her suggestion and made the easy avocado pasta sauce (avocado + basil + oil + garlic in the food processor) for this raw zucchini pasta, and it was a total success. We each ate an entire zucchini for dinner, along with half an avocado each. Lots of raw vegetables in this meal! 

 I think you could easily heat this very briefly in a pan and top it with basically any pasta sauce. It's perfect for the end of the summer when zucchini is still plentiful.

Since our pasta was really squash, we decided to have "pasta" with a side of carbs, in the form of these Blueberry Corn Muffins from Daily Garnish. These muffins only have a 1/4 cup of sugar and not much oil. Instead, they get moisture and sweetness from the blueberries and corn. I ate three and could have kept going, if it weren't for all that common sense I have.

Now that it's September and there are only a few hours of Labor left, I really am excited for fall! One more post about summer running, once I get around to writing it. After that, I'll start blogging about pumpkin scones, or the 100 sweet potatoes I plan on eating this month, or how cheap acorn squash is. You know, whatever's par for September.