August 31, 2010

Perfect Run with Cleaned-up GU!

If you know me, you know I love running.  And food.  Real food.  So when I get and idea that combines blogging about running AND food, I get super giddy.

You should see me now.  Giddy!

1/2 Marathon Goodness
I first discovered Gu during mile 8 of my first ever race, the 13.1Boston, half marathon. Sure, you aren't really *supposed* to try new things during a race, but since the race was new I figured what the heck, except that I did actually have a conflict of conscience.  Yes, at mile 8 in the middle of running my heart out, I ACTUALLY turned over the packet of chocolatey goodness and read the ingredients list.

And then I ate it anyway.

And it was good.  Like pep in my step good for the next 5 miles to the finish. Ok, some of that was my own adrenaline, but still.

I am training again for my next half-marathon in October in Newport, RI where I get to run IRL with one my virtual running buddies...something that ALSO makes me giddy!  So in preparation, I bought a boat load of Gu's.  Somewhat reluctantly. Just somewhat this time.  Oh that chocolatey goodness lured me in! Again!  Besides is one little gel shot of ingredients like what is written on the back of my Chocolate Outrage....
Maltodextrin (glucose polymers), filtered water, fructose, Unsweetened Belgian Chocolate, GU amino blend, (Leucine, Valine, Histidine, Isoleucine), GU antioxidant blend (Natural Vitamin E and Vitamin C), Potassium and Sodium citrate, Calcium carbonate, Sea salt, Citric acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Fumeric acid, GU herbal blend [chamomile, cola nut (has caffeine), ginger], Malic acid, Calcium Chloride, Pectin
.....*really* going to make that much of a difference? Belgian Chocolate, yum! But, yeah, that's more than my 6 ingredient rule.  I don't think Gu actually counts as "food."  And what about my cheapass status. $1.25 (sale) for one of these 100 calorie bad boys?  There has, HAS to be away to improve on this.

And then one of those convergence of ideas came into being.  After reading Born to Run and then reminded over at runluaurun about the chia frescas that the Tarahumara drank which included chia seeds, lime juice, honey and water, I decided to try it myself, but just the honey and water...Mostly because I don't have chias or limes in the house right now.  Or ever, really.  Ok, maybe limes.  For Coronas....I mean cooking.

Now, I can't say that it was just the honey water alone that made the was like a perfect storm of perfect run.

Here is what happened: Saturday mornings are my typical long runs, like double digits.  But this week, since transitioning to VibramsFiveFingers during the week, my calves were wicked tight Saturday morning.  I decided to take an extra day of rest and ran 10 miles Sunday morning.

O.M.G!  I don't think there could be anything better about this run. The temp was perfect. The roads were perfect. My legs were fresh. The zune was crankin' some good tunage.  Every runner/walker - repeat - Every runner I ran past said "good morning" or "hi".  I don't think that has EVER happened.  1/2 way through I was thinking this could actually be the perfect run, but I didn't want to jinx it. Before leaving, I loaded up my fuel belt with my 4 bottles, 2 with water, and 2 with honey water (1 Tablespoon of honey to my 6oz of water). I never gu'ed. I never needed to. AMAZING!

With a mile and a half to go, I actually yelled at the street sign at my turn "That's all you got!" I guess you can add crazy runner to my freak list now too.

Maybe it was the honey water.  Maybe it was the good night sleep, perfect temps, fresh legs, happy running. Who knows.  But I do know that I am definitely adding honey water to my tool box of natural energizers.

Thank you bees, flowers and keepers.  You made my Sunday morning extra special this week.

Honey, my new Gu.

August 30, 2010

Callaloo, Strange Callaloo

I love soup. I used to eat Progressive Soup (Thanks editor Rob! If only there WAS a progressive soup.) Progresso Soup a lot. A.Lot. I would stash a few cans and a big 'ol mug in my desk drawer and on those days that I would forget frozen my box of Lean Cuisine, or just cuz, I would have some soup. Oh, Chickarina how I loved you. And Wedding Day! Ever want to get yourself off those cans, first read the salt content. 630mg (29% for the day!) Yea, that is just for ONE serving. Double it and that is what I was ingesting. Regularly. Thinking about it now, makes my skin feel tight.

These days I try to make my own soup. Red Lentil Chard still tops the charts in our household, but I ams always up to try something new. So when we got Callaloo also known as amaranth in our share this week, I looked up a 4 1/2 star rated soup on and said what the heck...(but fyi, I did change out the salted beef for bacon. I just can't leave well enough alone. But hey, we had some in the fridge.)

Off to the store...

Shallots. Check. (Never bought these before.  THAT's what they look like.  Like little red onions.)
Chile peper.  I hope a jalepeno is the same thing, because that is what I got.
Okra.  Couldn't find it since, um I didn't know what it looked like.  I read the signs...but wow.  A very nice RocheBros worker got me a bag, said she LOVES okra and told me how she cooks them up (Good thing too, because she got me WAY more than the cup I needed.) 
Crab meat.  Holy Crap!  6oz. for almost 9 bucks??? Do I go imitation?  No, get the good stuff.  Actual food.  Michael Pollan eat your heart out.  I followed another one of your food rules. Sigh. 

Ok ready to cook.     

Got everything ready and then read this: "Puree the soup in a blender or food processor." 

I have a wonderful Cuisinart.  I love it. Really.  But here is the thing.  All these wonderful ingredients...puréed like baby food?  I don't know about you, but that feels like a total waste to me.  I mean, the whole reason SlimFast sucked was that I actually like to chew my food.  Ok.  SlimFast sucked for a lot more reasons than that.  But I digress.

Yet I did it, I gave the recipe a chance. Cuisinart-ed the sucker out of it. 

Cooked. puréed. 

And you know what.  It IS really good.  This is one flavorful soup.  It doesn't look beautiful...sort of green monster-ish. But it is quite tasty.   

Maybe next time for kicks, I'll only purée half so I still get to chew some of that $22 lb crab meat.  

Callaloo Soup
1 pound callaloo leaves or spinach
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
4 strips of bacon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 green chile pepper, chopped
1 cup okra
1/2 pound crabmeat

Remove the thick stems of the callaloo leaves, chop roughly, and put into a large saucepan. Add the chicken stock, onion, bacon, black pepper, shallots, thyme, chili pepper, and crab meat. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 35 minutes.
Add the okra, and cook for 8 minutes.
Remove the chili pepper. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Reheat, and adjust seasonings.

Oh, and for the record.  I got about 10 bowls of soup out of this recipe which cost about $12 to make.  That means, it was still cheaper than the Progresso soups I used to get on sale for $1.25 each.  Cheapassmama booyah!

August 27, 2010

Wanna see what's in my drawers? - Watermelon and Callaloo

Friday Farm Share Post!  This week we had a 100% Local Box! I love when we have a total local farm share week. Especially during the Loving Local Blogathon Week!   But hmmm....there are things in there I haven't seen before.  Interesting....

Callaloo, Salad Mix, Basil, Watermelon, Yellow Onions, Rosa Bianca Eggplant, Loose Beets, Green Bell Pepper, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber

The first thing we dug into last night was the watermelon. Seriously.  The best tasting watermelon since my little water babies I grew when I was 10 years old.  So sweet!  Screw Michael Pollan's Food Rule # whatever (Eat at the table)...I ate this bad boy at the counter.  Down to the rind. O.M.G.  Heaven.  Slllluuurp!

Enterprise Farms, please more of these next week and the week after and the week after that....please. :)

I really think watermelon should have seeds.  Don't you?

Now...about that Callaloo, that big leafy bunch in our share this week...Yes, I had to google. And guess what came up...Jimmy Buffett.  Wha????

Callaloo, Strange Calaloo
Mysterious curious roux
Try as you might to avoid the hoodoo
Sooner of later we're all in the stew
We got Crab and pigtail
Squid ink and fish scale
Okra and daheen leaves
Chitchat and chatter
Fill up the platter
With a garnish of pure make believe
--Jimmy Buffet

What is this interesting green?  And I don't mean Parrot heads..... Callaloo people.  Callaloo. 

According to my sources, is a leaf vegetable (also a dish)  from the Caribbean served in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, with variants in Barbados, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Grenada, Dominica, Saint Lucia and the Virgin Islands. It is often pared with okra, meat, lobster, crab and coconut milk.  

I found a recipe on that I am going to try to make this week. ..I'll keep you posted!

Callaloo Soup
1 pound callaloo leaves or spinach
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound salt beef, fat removed and diced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 green chile pepper, chopped
1 cup okra
1/2 pound crabmeat

Remove the thick stems of the callaloo leaves, chop roughly, and put into a large saucepan. Add the chicken stock, onion, beef, black pepper, shallots, thyme, chili pepper, and crab meat. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 35 minutes.
Add the okra, and cook for 8 minutes.
Remove the chili pepper. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Reheat, and adjust seasonings.

Time to put on some calypso and start cookin'!  

This post is part of Loving Local, a blogathon to support Mass Farmers Markets, a non-profit that helps farmer's markets. The blogathon was the idea of Tinky over at In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens

August 26, 2010

Blogathon! and Eggplant Update

My sister-in-law, Jen pointed me to the Loving Local: Celebrating the Flavors of Massachusetts, so decided to partcipate in their Blogathon this week as part of a week long celebration of Farmer's Markets.  

Check them out! There are a lot of cool recipes and food finds there.

Disclaimer: We actually don't shop farmer's markets all that much, but we do get a CSA box year-round and our CSA farm DOES go to the Somerville and Dedham farmer's markets all the time.  Oh and if you ARE interested in a fall share, Enterprise is taking new applications for their fall/winter share.  

Earlier this week I told you about the rather um...interesting looking Asian eggplants  (right hand corner) that we got in our CSA, well here is what we did with them. 

First I cut them up into circles, salted them up and put them in the fridge to sweat.  Rinsed, dried and sautéed them in a little cannola oil with some red onions from our CSA and garlic.  

I added some of the CSA green peppers, tomatoes. 

Added my favorite sauce (yeah, I know it isn't from the framer's market, but ya gotta love TJ's!) and a few pieces of pineapple. 

Served it up over rice.

Containerized for future lunches and dinners.

Yum!  I've been eating it for the last few days along with my favorite soup red lentil soup made with the kale back there.

August 24, 2010

Before and After: All About Maintenance

BMI: 33 to 22 
Size:16 to a 4 
Weight: 210 to 142 
Fitness: Huffed and puffed to my brother's graduation tent to Ran 12 miles & then marched in Pride 

This week is my official year anniversary of maintenance on Weight Watchers and by far the longest that I have maintained a healthy weight in my life.

I was inspired by my virtual running buddy and kick-ass blogger Katharine and her own success story to write my own this week.  (Check out her success story and blog: Strong and Smart!)

I was never thin. I was always trying some crazy plan even in highschool: Slimfast, Deal-a-Meal, Stop the Insanity, Body for Life. Whatever I could to try to make the outside somehow fix the inside. Yeah, and going to Costa Rica, as an AFS exchange student, while the BEST year ever, certainly didn't help the scale at 16.  (We AFSers called AFS: Another Fat Student, or Arroz Frijoles y Sismos in CR.) College was up and down...walking dogs and biking everywhere helped keep the first year 15 to 15 and not 25.  But that weight kept creeping up when I entered the world of the working.

The finally straw (or so I thought) was in 2003, when at my heaviest, topping the scale at around 210, David proposed. I decided to join Weight Watchers because that was just too much body to stuff into a wedding dress. So I joined.

May 2002

Losing weight brought its own set of challenges. It seemed to take FOR.EVER. I felt like I was always thinking about food, the point value of food and “only” losing a half a pound here, or a pound there. And then gaining back the next week! How long is this going to take to shed 20, 40, 60 pounds? Especially when I was tempted EVERYWHERE I went.  I was constantly maneuvering around the leftover luncheons. Free chicken salad sandwiches from Bakers Best…oh YUM (and FREE!) And quarter vending machines…is that package of poptarts *really* worth almost ½ my daily points? But it’s only a quarter! And I never wanted to give up 2 of my points for those healthy oils…I can just have a skinny cow instead of my olive oil on my salad, right? (Bad Christy!)

But I did it. Done. Lost 65 lbs. Whoo hoo! Just in time for my wedding…Look we SHRUNK!  (Um...We lost a combined 140 lbs, about my current weight! Yikes!)

May 2004

And before I could even lose the honeymoon weight gain, I got pregnant (on my honeymoon!)… And I ate everything in sight. 10 days after Simon was born, I was back at Weight Watchers. 49 lbs over my goal weight. Sigh.

Lost most of it, just over 40lbs of it, then Isabella came along.

10 days after Isabella was born, I was back at Weight Watchers. This time 56, lbs over my goal weight.Sigh.

This picture of me graduating with my MBA in June 2007 should make me so happy.  Doesn't Simon look so handsome?
June 2007

In preparation for my brother’s wedding  - (funny... how it is always weddings that get me to goal? And in graduations I look so big?) - preparation for my brother's France extravaganza, I went back to Weight Watchers regularly and finally lost the last 20 lbs and reached my goal weight in August 2009.  Just in time for the September wedding that outdid ALL weddings. Forever. (A blog post for another day!)
Sept 2009
So today, August 24, 2010 I am not only back at goal, but actually 8 lbs under and I maintained under goal for the last year.

Of course, maintaining certainly brings its own set of challenges. And in some ways I found maintaining harder. It isn’t like….as soon as I lose the weight I can eat whatever I want. (Well, unless what you want is good healthy portion-controlled food) but that wasn’t where my head was…clearly since I gained so much back when I was pregnant! Both times! With maintaining, I still have to watch what I eat and find that it helps ever few weeks or so to write things down.

It is also easy to get into a rut on maintenance. For example, in loss mode there is always a quantitative goal in mind. I had a number on the scale or percent that I wanted to lose and I could measure that week in and week out. Eat these points, add these weekly Flex points, subtract these Activity Points and viola, the scale goes down! And not just the scale, but the pants sizes too. But in maintenance mode, the goal is to keep the scale the same and the wardrobe the same. Same = Rut.

Lastly, it is a different type of support that is needed on maintenance. This is the first time that I know people that never knew me as the obese me. When I decline the donut or cake, I’m told “Oh, you can eat that!” or “You don’t need to go on a diet.” Who knew that the guilt I would feel for eating something would turn into guilt for NOT eating something! For me, at least, my food issues didn’t just magically go away as soon as I lost the weight. I still have them. I’m an emotional, bored, oh how I hate to waste food, let me just finish what’s on my plate, my kids’ plates (That’s how I got that sore throat!), food hoarding eater. But now I recognize those things in me, transform them, keep them in check by checking in with my Weight Watchers online peeps, join challenges, and move on. If I have a gain – like the 7 pounds on vacation (SEVEN POUNDS! – even with running 32 miles…sigh) – I make my adjustments and work them off.

Once I got “here” meaning, goal. I realized I needed something more. A new goal, something to work towards, to keep me out of that maintenance rut. So here is what I am doing now:

Cleaner eating.
I lost weight eating pre-packaged frankenfood. No more. I joined a CSA, starting making more of my own meals and really thinking about what goes into my body. If I get a choice, which everything I put into my body is a choice – I want to eat something that is going to make me feel energized and make me feel good. Make me feel good about me, about the environment around me and about the animals, workers and everyone that helped get that meal on my plate. Michael Pollan’s work was a fundamental shift in my thinking about food. Read his stuff!

Move more.
I lost most of my weight by just changing my diet. I loathed exercise. It was always just a means to an end. That changed when I discovered couch to 5k AFTER I lost my weight. C25K got me moving, set a plan in place with some goals and now I cannot imagine NOT running. In fact most things I do these days: strength training, eating, weekend plans, praying, signing up for races, and more races, even reading Born to Run revolve around my love of getting outside to run. (You can read about my 6 month couch to half marathon here!)

Find a supportive community.
I need check-ins. Regular check-ins. I have found a wonderful online support system through the WeightWatchers message boards and my friends on Daily Mile. We talk about everything under the sun but we all know that we have some common goals – to get healthy and stay healthy!

Track progress.
It is very easy to lose sight of how far I’ve come. In fact, I often still see myself as this overweight woman. It takes some reminding from my family and good friends to tell me I’m not. And the occasional before/after pic. One of the best before/after reminders is this blog/journal. A year ago, I was NOT cooking. I was NOT moving. I didn’t have a WeWa sign on. And I didn’t have this blog.

I hope in one year, five years, ten years (and on those crummy days when I still feel like the old me) I can look back, add be proud of even more progress.  Just no more before shots. Please, no more before shots.  I like me just fine in the after. 

If you are in weight loss mode or maintaining here are some tips that helped me...And by all means comment with your own!
  • Cook your own food
  • Read Michael Pollan
  • Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Buy foods from the outer aisle (the store…I don’t sell food here. But I might barter. :P )
  • Sign up for a race and train for it
  • Sign up for a class
  • Find a workout, healthy living, or garden community
  • Don’t drink your calories
  • Write EVERYTHING down! You bite it, you write it.
  • Plan daily meals and check them off as you eat them
  • Plan weekly meals
  • Really look at portions - You will be SHOCKED at true sizes
  • Find containers that match your portions and use them to dish out meals
  • Read fitness magazines (lots of free stuff online – like; Men’s Health, Runner’s World offer free year online subscriptions)
  • Blog

August 20, 2010

CSA Friday - Umm is that an eggplant in my box?

I am all about my CSA - Enterprise Farms (now accepting applications for the fall/winter share!) and this week certainly didn't disappoint. This week had a good mix of leafy greens, fresh fruit and even some surprises with a beautiful organic avocado from FL. If the other Z gets casual (un)dress Fridays over his way, then I should a LEAST get to indulge in a little CSA porn, right?

Don't those eggplants look they belong in my underwear drawer and not my vegetable drawer? Did I just say that?

Pictured: Avocado, Green Beans, Kale, Eggplant (Asian-style), Melon, Red Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Field Tomatoes

Um yeah. See what I mean? 

I haven't decided what I am going to do with all these yet this week. I think I will make this side dish with the green beans and red onions:

Green Beans and OnionsGreen beans
Raw almond slivers
2 yellow onions
Olive oil


Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
1. Prep beans and throw them in to salted boiling water for 8 minutes
2. Strain and rinse with COLD water to stop the cooking process
3. Throw the almonds into a shallow pan for 15ish minutes to toast them
4. You can use the same big pot you used to boil the beans... Add olive oil and 2-3 tbs of butter on med/hi heat.
while that melts....

5. Slice onions in quarters then equal slices. Add to pot and stir often, you want them to caramelize in the butter. Season the onions with salt and pepper.
6. the onions will take 10-15ish minutes to really caramelize
fold the green beans, almonds & onions together.

And I love me some Kale White Bean Soup!

Kale & Bean soup 

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cups chopped raw kale
4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped parsley

In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute until soft. Add kale and saute, stirring, until wilted. Add 3 cups of broth, 2 cups of beans, and all of the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. In a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth. Stir into soup to thicken. Simmer 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley.

But what to do with that eggplant?