Monday, 30 September 2013

Long runs are so refreshing

I know that sounds like a rather odd statement to many of you.  The thought of running for two hours is probably quite horrifying, and does not in any way bring to mind thoughts of refreshment.  But after the week I had - general all-around poor health, a truckload of statistics and trying to hammer it into my brain to the point where it actually made any sense, and only one measly 7km run under my belt - the long run I went on really was exactly what I needed.  Sure, my body was a little beaten at the end - my left knee was sore, my front hip flexors were stuffed, and my lower back hurt.  But my mind was clear, I was so much happier, and my soul felt refreshed and reinvigorated.  I'm not generally the kind of person that talks about the soul.  Do we even have one, and if we do, what is it exactly?  I don't really know, but for me after that run, it was just a feeling.  A feeling that everything had been set right again.  That because of the effort I had exerted over that length of time (although it certainly wasn't my fastest run!), and the mental challenge of keeping going even though parts of me were getting to the point where they'd just had enough, it made me feel... better.  Healed.  Refreshed.

It was a fabulous run, and certainly something I needed after the breakfast I had!  I made a chocolate chip cookie dough pancake stack:

They were really yummy, but I should've only had half of them.  I went a little cray-cray with the chocolate chips which more than doubled the calorie count of the pancakes.  You see, I made the pancakes, ate them, then calculated the calories.  I was lured into a false sense of security by reading a line on the blog page that said "A reader, Allie, calculated this recipe as having 130 calories and 2 grams of fat, not including the chocolate chips".  Well Allie, I don't know what planet you're living on, but it ain't here!  First off, the flour is 138 calories.  Add to that the oats at 104 calories, you're already at 242 calories without all the stuff holding it together.  And as I said, I went a little OTT with chocolate chips - the amount I used added up to 367 calories all on their own.  So I hate to admit it, but my breakfast was a whopping 675 calories!  Plus a cup of tea.  Oh yes, that run was definitely exactly what I needed ;)  And I will not be making these particular pancakes again, unless I'm in dire need of piling on weight!  Still had a great time eating these ones though.  Next time I want a chocolatey pancake stack I'll opt for these.  The way I make them they work out to be 270 calories, but that's a lot better than 675, and you can still add toppings to round out the breakfast without going overboard.  Seriously, nobody needs 675 calorie breakfasts.

I waited a good 2 1/2 hours for that pancake stack to digest enough that it wouldn't weigh me down, and did some stats while I was waiting (nearly done, phew).  Then I filled my hydration pack, slathered myself with sunscreen, stuffed some chews in my pocket, and headed out the door.  The weather went from sunny, to overcast, to drizzly, back to overcast, then sunny, and overcast again while I was on my travels.  Gotta love that Auckland weather...  I ran to Mount Eden, then on to Cornwall Park, but this time rather than turning off at Newmarket to go home, I carried on through Parnell and down St. Stephens Ave so I could run across Pt. Resolution Bridge and through the Viaduct on my way home.  22km in total, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I saw at least one wedding in Cornwall Park, but a bunch more wedding cars so I assume there were others; a rainbow lorikeet (I think - the bird I remember looked different to the pictures of rainbow lorikeets but I can't find another bird that could be what I saw.  Apparently they were introduced from Australia and are pests here.  Much like the possum.  Thanks Australia); this sign:

I was nearing the end of my run, and for some reason I found it rather amusing; and a woman in Newmarket that clearly has issues with fake tan.  Public Service Announcement, ladies: too much fake tan does. not. look. good.  Especially when you match your foundation to the exact same shade of orange :/

It's odd really.  Some Asian cultures are trying to whiten their skin, and here are all these European cultures trying to do the opposite.  I guess we're never really happy with our lot, are we?

When I got home, I devoured a PB&J&B&G grilled sandwich.  By dinner, I wasn't really hungry so just had a salad and some garlic knots (made with olive oil, not butter).  Simple and boring, but still nom-worthy.

Breakfast was a fruit salad.  But with spinach.  And lemon poppy seed dressing (consisting of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, rice bran oil, salt, pepper, and poppy seeds.  Dead easy, and much cheaper than the bought stuff):

Naked on the left, dressed on the right.  Basically, just a large (about 1 1/2c packed) handful of spinach leaves, with gold kiwifruit, tangelo, strawberry and fresh pineapple.  Yum!!!  I made two bowls, just in case I ate the first one and still felt hungry.  (Hey, it happens!)  I didn't, so the other bowl (now dressed) went in the fridge for dinner.  Who says you can't have fruit for dinner?  Deane and the kids are having crockpot honey apple pork loin (see?  Fruit for dinner!)  I originally pinned the recipe on Pinterest, but the link is gone now.  Not to worry, a quick Google search usually brings it up again :)  After having worked through my Accessing Information paper, my Google-fu is very strong.  I can find all sorts of crap now!  And yes, I'm still trying stuff out that I find on Pinterest :)  Many of the recipes I post links to on here I have originally found via Pinterest.  Of course, the more recent ones are mostly from my favourite vegan foodie blogs.  Gosh, this month is nearly over, only one September day left after today.  What will happen to the vegan diet trial...?

Lunch was at Mezze Bar for knitting again - this time around I had the slow roasted tomatoes with crusty grilled bread and hummus.  Dude!  That hummus was amazeballs, and the tomatoes were seriously good.  It was a tapas sized dish but it was perfect for today.  I think I'm still a little full from yesterday's breakfast and lunch!

Ugh, the knitting.  I keep forgetting to note down where I'm up to in the pattern, so when I get around to picking it up again (usually not until the following week) I've completely forgotten and have to try and figure it out.  I'm not good at that when it comes to lace.  Or any other type of knitting, to be fair.  Row counting is not my strong point!  Well, today I completely stuffed it up.  I got my friend to help me figure it out (she's a lace shawl knitting whiz) and she kindly pointed out where I'd gone completely wrong right near the beginning of the lace pattern.  So I'm going to rip it all out and start again when I have time to concentrate on it properly, whenever that is.  Boo.  I think it might be time to drag out the Ron Weasley blanket squares and sew them all together.  Mindless, simple crafting.  Probably just what I need.  Then perhaps I'll cast on that laceweight hoodie I wanted for summer this year...

I laid out all the blocks and realised I was one block short (which is probably why I put it aside in the first place.  So lazy!) so quickly whipped up a square, and managed to get a couple of rows together:

It's going to be quite a mission to get all the mismatched squares lined up into some semblance of order, but I'd really like this blanket finished.  The next question is whether to add a crochet border, back it with fleece or some other fabric, or do both?  Decisions, decisions...

I did end up eating that spinach and fruit salad for dinner, along with a couple of other bits and pieces.  And dessert was the last of the kiwifruit loaf with some apple jam.  Yes, I ate the entire loaf by myself.  Probably not something to brag about...

October's challenge - no baked goods!  Except for assorted breads when called for in meals, such as wraps, grilled sandwiches, etc.  So no cakes, muffins, cupcakes, loaves, slices, brownies, cookies, puddings... gosh, this should be interesting!  I have a feeling I'm going to find it a lot more challenging than cutting out animal products.  Although to be honest, cutting out baked goods makes far more sense from a dietary perspective than cutting out all dairy, eggs, and meat.  Baking is just carbs, and not much else in the way of nutritional value.  But y'all know that.  I do too, I just don't think I was ready to admit it ;)

The last day of the vegan diet trial, and the first day of the school holidays.  Fun times!  The boys had friends over to play today, and the weather was so off-and-on they spent the day going in and out depending on when it was wet or dry.

My breakfast this morning was steel cut oats, partially cooked the night before with one and a half times the liquid then left to soak in the fridge.  I microwaved the snot out of a banana and stirred it in with some vanilla and a pinch of salt, then heated it up.  Creamy, with just a slight bit of chewiness left to the oats.  It was rather delicious but looked like a bowl of slop, so I didn't take a picture.  You're welcome.

Lunch was the broccoli and soba noodles I tried the other day.  Yep, still good ;)  Dinner was a big plate heaped with salad consisting of cos lettuce, baby spinach, tomato, cucumber, carrot and spring onion with balsamic vinaigrette.  Yum!!  I made a giant bowl full so there's plenty left for me to take for lunch tomorrow.  I have that day-long stats workshop, woohoo!

Hmm, probably not the greatest end to the vegan trial month, but oh, I really enjoyed trying so many new things!  I don't know when I'll next eat meat, but dairy won't have a problem being reintegrated into the diet, although to a lesser extent than before.  I have kind of missed it to be honest.  Real cheese and milk chocolate mostly.  I'm quite happy to go without ice cream, milk, cream, butter and cheese most of the time.  Eggs?  I'll eat them again, but not to the extent that I did before.  I'm more than happy to avoid honey - knowing that one teaspoon of honey is the life's work of 12 bees kinda makes me feel bad about eating it.  I don't need it in my diet.  I'd far rather have maple syrup anyway :)  Meat... I'm in no hurry to chomp into a steak or a burger (I have fallen in love with vege burgers), although maybe some bacon.  It just smells so good when its cooking...

So no real noticeable change in overall health with the removal of animal products - I've felt great most of the month (except for last week's illness) - energy levels in general have been fine, and for running have been fantastic.  I'm thinking they may improve a little more if I add back in some animal proteins and cut out a lot of the baked sugars and carbs.  Bring on the next experiment!!  Don't panic, I won't be doing a day-by-day commentary of this one - you may breathe a sigh of relief, I won't judge ;)  Wonder if I'll be able to go the whole month before I cave?  Maybe I won't count my birthday...  A girl's gotta a have a birthday treat, right?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Not my thing

I woke up feeling decidedly below-average health-wise, and it is rather icky and wet outside, so once again I will opt out of running today :(

The internet is awash with people raving about green monster smoothies.  My curiosity was piqued, and you may recall a little while back I braved an attempt at green monster oatmeal but wasn't overly impressed.  Well, not to dismiss something too quickly, I thought I'd give the real deal a go.  I used this recipe, substituting almond pulp for the nut butter and using chia seeds.  I sprinkled a little of the buckwheat granola on top too:

It was... fine.  I don't quite understand why everyone is raving about it so much though.  Sure, it's healthy. But really?  The flavour is mediocre.  I'd far rather have a blueberry or strawberry smoothie, or oatmeal, or pancakes or waffles.  Or if I'm going non-vegan, a spinach omelette with a side of bacon.  I gave it a good go, and I've decided it's just not for me.

I will continue to try new things though.  It's fun, and sometimes you find a really good something that you end up having on a regular basis.  I was rather intrigued by the idea of a grilled PB&J sandwich with banana and granola.  I'm sure I read about that somewhere...  I find it quite fascinating that there is a restaurant and shop dedicated to PB&J sandwiches and gourmet peanut butters.  And there's even a grilled PB&J sandwich shop!  Craziness.  I'd never cared about anything to do with peanut butter before because I didn't like peanut butter.  But as you know, my tastes have changed recently regarding this classic sandwich spread, and I rather enjoy the combination of peanut butter and jam.  Or peanut butter and banana, or apple, or chocolate.  Or even peanut butter as a component of a granola recipe.  So I was interested to see what the PB, jam, banana and granola all tasted like together :)  Behold - lunch!

You know what?  It was really good :)  Pic's Really Good crunchy peanut butter (with added salt - Deane insists), banana, buckwheat granola and my favourite plum jam.  A wee squirt of olive oil in the pan and voila!  PB&J&B&G grilled sandwich!  I could totally eat another one.  But I won't.  Everything in moderation (she says now, after days of eating copious amounts of baking).  I'd be keen to try some other combinations soon.  Gotta say, this one has me a little curious... not this month though ;)  Grilled sandwiches are like oatmeal.  I used to think you were pretty limited to what you could have - cheese, onion, tomato, ham, the usual suspects.  Oh no, my friends.  There are infinite grilled sandwich possibilities!  Fun times ahead ;)

I had a little happy amongst my general feeling of blahness.  X's class was having a shared lunch and had to bring something representative of their nationality.  The first thing I thought of was fish and chips (of course!  We are kiwis after all.  Or should I say 'fush and chups'?).  Rather than going to the local chippie and ordering a couple of scoops, (ew, greasy) I decided to bake some wedges and include a bowl of tomato sauce - Wattie's, naturally.  It's the kiwi classic.  (Wish I had one of those tomato-shaped sauce bottles.  Not sure what happened to the one we used to have).  And because we live across the road from school, those wedges were delivered hot, straight out of the oven, just before lunch was about to start.   Sometimes being a stay-at-home mum has its advantages :)

I decided it was a sandwich-for-dinner kind of day, for me at least.  The boys had other stuff and Deane was out.  My dinner, although at face value sounds pretty lame (I mean, come on, who eats sandwiches for dinner?), it was in fact rather awesome.  Using this 'recipe', although I'm not sure you can call it that, I made some edamame hummus and used some of my spinach tomato pesto with avocado and tomato slices, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper:

It was surprisingly tasty.  The secret, I think, is toasting the bread before constructing the sandwich.  I had another half-sandwich with fresh bread (because it was just that yummy) and it tasted good, but it was lacking that special something the first sandwich had.  I'd quite happily have this sandwich again.  Not in the near future though, I've run out of avocado :(

Feeling a lot better today, thankfully.  I don't do sick very well.  Especially with the knowledge that I don't get to call in sick and stay home from work!  Oddly, I feel like I'm missing out on enjoying the experience because I don't get to stay in bed and watch movies while somebody brings me cups of tea.  Clearly I have a totally unrealistic idea of what it's actually like - I doubt many people get to do this on their sick days.  Perhaps its come about because that's what Deane gets when he's sick (although I bring him coffee and meals instead of tea), and because I've had several child-free people in my twitter feed recently talking about spending their sick days relaxing on the couch and watching Harry Potter while their significant other makes them tea and feeds them chocolate and wine.  Sigh.  I wanted to spend the day on the couch watching Harry Potter and drinking tea  ::pout pout pout::  Where's my sympathy party?!?  Shower me with love and attention, somebody!  No?  Okay, moving on...

Breakfast was fast and simple, and very tasty - cinnamon bun granola with soy milk and a large dollop of apple pie chia seed jam on top.  Perfect!

I spent the morning on that rather challenging subject of statistics - I'm now working on inference (ugh), then I had another grilled PB&J sandwich for lunch - this time with apple slices and sunflower seeds:

Yum!!!  Sorry the second photo is blurry, I was in so much of a hurry to eat it I couldn't wait for the camera to focus ;)  Then Deane and I headed to Cornwall Park for that run, finally.  I ended up cutting mine short and only running 7km instead of two full laps - we had to get back home by 2pm.  I cooked the family roast chicken and vegetables, and I made myself broccoli and soba noodles:

So much broccoli!  So good!  This would make an excellent quick and healthy lunch, I'll have to remember it.  I carried on with stats once the boys had gone to bed, finishing another chapter before calling it for the night.  Two more chapters to go - inference for proportions, and analysis of two-way tables.  With any luck, I can knock them out tomorrow (or maybe finish them over the weekend - let's not be too optimistic) so I can not stress over school holidays about it, and have some prior knowledge (such as it is) before the workshop next Tuesday.  Oh, I'm so looking forward to that workshop.  It seems to make much more sense when somebody is explaining it to you, rather than reading something out of a book and trying to make sense of it yourself!  My next stats assignment is due on the 15th October, right after school holidays.  Hmm, guess I'll be doing some study during the holidays after all...  There's two more stats assignments due after that, on the 14th and 28th October.  Yay :/  The last assignment for my other paper isn't due until 30th October.  Wonder what paper I'll do over summer...?

Last day of school today!  X is having a pyjama day.  I think he's pretty happy about that.  The wedges for the shared lunch the other day were a hit, they all disappeared.  I think the only other thing that got completely devoured was the bucket of KFC chicken.  Ew.  He was also very happy with his lunch yesterday - he'd been requesting kebabs for lunch for a little while, and I finally got around to marinating some steak overnight on Wednesday to quickly fry in the morning, ready to pop into his lunch box.  Hurray for half-size bamboo skewers!  Not sure it's something I'd want to do all the time though.  Could you imagine, steak for lunch every day?  As if they're not spoiled enough as it is ;)

Breakfast this morning was one of those giant cheesy spinach bagels (one left now), with soy cream cheese and sunflower seeds on one half, and marmite and walnuts on the other half.  Omnomnom!  They really are quite a mission to eat though - will definitely have to make smaller ones next time.

More statistics today.  Trying to finish the last two modules before school holidays start... no time for running... no time for shopping (need a birthday present for a kid's party on Sunday)...

Lunch was a spinach salad with a random assortment of toppings and a lemon dressing.  Quick and easy.  Back to statistics...

Kid #2 arrives home from school.  What?  3 o'clock already?  Parent of kid #1's friend calls and asks if kid #1 can go play at friend's house.  Yes, yes, that's fine.  More statistics... brain starting to fade...  Phone rings again - it's the doctor's saying kid #1 missed his after school appointment.  Ah, dammit!  And I even wrote it on the calendar after making the appointment yesterday :(  Hopeless.  Brain about to explode, despite what are clearly rather large ventilation holes.  I mean, how else can simple things like an important doctor's appointment made yesterday slip through?  Can't figure out how to calculate the last part of the last problem in chapter 8.  So close to finishing it, and only one chapter to go.  Why can't I figure it out?!?  Arrrrgghh!  I give up!!!  The people that came up with all these different calculations are clearly well-versed in the art of brain-torture.  Ugh.

At least Deane is bringing pizza home for himself and the boys.  I'll be noshing on a vege burger (yum!).  No challenging cooking duties this evening!  I'm claiming the TV for Harry Potter too, dammit.  I still feel duped from the other day.  And I'm totally going to be inhaling some of this ice cream while I watch it.  Just because.

Sigh... back to that statistics I guess.  The problem isn't going to solve itself, and I can't move on until I've got it.  Maybe I'll go for a nice long run tomorrow...

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Life is full of little surprises

The day turned out beautifully, so I fit in a 15km run as (sort of) planned before heading out to knitting.  In case you're interested, here's an awkward tan line that other runners never warn you about.  They tell you about the short tan lines, the sock tan lines, the tank top tan lines, but not about the bent elbow tan lines!

A little hard to make out at particular angles, but up the top of the photo you can kind of see jagged tan lines from where my arm was bent :)

As planned when I got to knitting, I ordered the lentil soup for lunch.  Just have to say it was the best lentil soup I've ever had.  And I was sooooo full afterwards, I could barely drink my tea!  I highly recommend it, and my friend thoroughly enjoyed her lamb tagine saying it was the best she'd ever had.  So in other words, if you're in town and looking for somewhere to eat or hang out for a coffee, check out Mezze Bar.  They rock.

I'm slowly getting through my shawl, and am now on the extended lace section.  Slowly, slowly, I will get through it.  Lace really isn't my thing to be honest.  It's beautiful and I love the finished product, I just find it a little tedious.  However, I will continue until it is done!  I have no other pressing projects at the moment.  Except maybe getting around to sewing together all the squares for the Ron Weasley blanket which I wanted done by Christmas.  And perhaps those four Christmas stockings for the kids...

For dinner, I had a sort-of-buddha-bowl.  I based it on this recipe but omitted the cauliflower, added potato, and adapted the nut pulp hummus we had in the fridge for the dressing.  Still pretty good :)  Deane and the boys had lamb shanks that I had kindly put in the crock pot before heading out on my run that morning.  I'm good like that ;)  For dessert I had the last piece of sticky date pudding (long run = plenty of calories to play with!) and some strawberry banana soft serve 'ice cream' (scroll waaaaaay down to the bottom of the post for the recipe/directions).  Delicious.  And I've decided that the sticky date pudding is going on the permanent ban list along with the brown sugar chewies and tofu brownies.  They are just too dangerous.

I couldn't help getting stuck into the kitchen a little more and scrounged up a few more jars for my collection, adding pumpkin, flax and chia seeds, and some shredded coconut to the mix:

Now the almonds in the naff plastic container look horribly out of place :/  I plan on fixing that very soon.  I rather like having all the 'healthy' stuff within easy reach though.

To make a bit more of a dent in the pile of fruit we have (we are getting through it, believe it or not) I made some apple pie chia seed jam.  I think it will go fabulously well with some granola or other cereal, as well as on toast or yogurt.  Yum!!

My head cold is catching up with me, so it's time for an early night.  9pm.  Sad...

A great start to the morning with a banana blueberry and tofu smoothie.  I added some almond pulp as well.  Why not?  There's plenty to go around ;)  Such a beautiful colour:

I had fruit salad and yogurt for lunch.  I didn't realise how much I missed fruit because of all the baked stuff I'd been eating.  Baked sugars were replacing the natural fruit sugars in my diet.  Not good.  I spent most of the day studying statistics so I was more than happy to whip up a crustless silver beet and mushroom quiche for Deane (I omitted the cheese to suit his diet), little ham and cheese quiches with pastry bases for the boys, and lamb loin chops.  Super quick and easy!  I had some mac and 'shews.  Not sure if it's because of my head cold or if the taste has diminished because of freezing, but it didn't taste quite the same.  Still yummy, just not with as much oomph as I remembered.  Oh well...

Dessert was another strawberry banana soft serve concoction.  The boys were drawn to the kitchen with the noise of the food processor, and their curiosity got the better of them.  X shared the strawberry ice cream with me and I blended up half a frozen banana with some almond meal, almond milk and milo for T.  They've also been glugging back smoothies choc-full of bananas and yogurt all disguised with milo and been none the wiser.  I even snuck in some almond meal and tofu this morning - they didn't bat an eyelid!  X, as usual, came back for more.  Win!  Particularly in the case of T, who only eats apples and absolutely no nuts in any shape or form.  Unless you can sneak some macadamias into a white chocolate cookie ;)  Mwahahahahaha!

Breakfast was something I'd been looking forward to for a while, since The Oatmeal Artist posted the recipe on her blog.  Strawberry pineapple oatmeal:

I added whole flaxseed to mine.  If I were to make this again I'd use crushed pineapple instead of pineapple pieces so it's more evenly distributed among the oats.  But oh, the combination of strawberry and pineapple just screams delicious, summery goodness doesn't it?  Alas, it is Spring, and I espy a slight drizzle outside my window...  I was planning on dragging Deane out to Cornwall Park for a run.  Perhaps tomorrow...

I had avocado pasta for lunch (halved recipe, no coriander - yuck) - don't you just love the colour of fresh, ripe avocado?

We had pumpkin soup with cashew cream again for dinner this evening.  Frozen leftovers really come in handy when you've got other things taking up your time during the day!  Statistics is no picnic unless you're into that sort of thing.  My brain is not wired for it and struggles to follow the logic.  Or should I say, the algebra.  That's what really stumps me.  It takes a little while for it to sink in, and then you have to pack it down into a big plastic storage container and sit on the lid of it lest it try to escape.  Kind of like flubber...  Today was all about null hypotheses, alternative hypotheses and probability values.  Ugh.  Just when I think I've got it, they throw in something more challenging and it all flies out the window.

I thought you might be interested in a fruit bowl comparison - remember what it looked like last week?

Well, here's what's left:

Told you we went through a lot of fruit ;)

I kind of cheated a bit though.  There are several bananas and some grapes in the freezer - the bananas because they make excellent soft serve ice cream, and they're good to have on hand for baking, and the grapes because, well, have you ever tried frozen grapes?  Yum!  Also, I went back on my word and baked a kiwifruit loaf today.  Tsk tsk tsk.  I veganised and healthified a recipe (yes those are totally words because I say they are.  Just go with me on this).  Having said that, it only saves about 30 calories per slice... better than nothing I guess.  So anyway, here's my version:

Vegan Kiwi Loaf
2 c wholemeal spelt flour (white flour would work fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 c coconut oil, melted (you could use another oil such as rice bran)
1/4 c applesauce
2/3 c sugar (I used raw sugar, but white sugar or coconut sugar would be okay too)
2 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water
1 c peeled, mashed kiwi fruit (I used 7 small-medium gold kiwi fruit)

Preheat oven to 180°C, and spray a loaf tin with non-stick spray.  Mix together all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl mix together all the wet ingredients, then combine with the dry and stir until well incorporated.  Pour into the prepared loaf tin, then bake for 50-55 minutes until cooked through and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for about ten minutes before turning out and cooling completely.  Serves ten, approximately.

It came out pretty good I thought.  Something a little bit different that I haven't tried before.  And an excellent way to use up kiwi fruit that's starting to turn on you ;)

Time now for me to put away the courier arrivals of the day - this week's Foodbox delivery and my Eco Store cleaning goodies.  Enjoy your evening/morning/whatever, and I hope you've got good weather.  It's pretty darn wet where I am...

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Hello my name is kreachr...

...and I'm a bakeaholic/foodaholic/kitchenaholic.  I am imposing a baking ban on myself for the remainder of this vegan trial month.  Read on to find out why...

The morning didn't start out as planned.  I was happy to discover that the impending head cold was not particularly aggressive (at least not so far) so I wouldn't have to spend the entire day blobbing on the couch.  I made tofu scramble for breakfast, but I wasn't at all impressed.  I've tried tofu scramble before and didn't think much of it, but at the time I thought it might have been the nutritional yeast as it was a fairly new ingredient to me at that point.  This morning there was no nutritional yeast to blame - it was just tofu, turmeric and some salt, with a few leftover vegetables thrown in.  Blah.  I think I'm just not a tofu scramble kind of person...

I spent most of the day, once again, in front of the laptop working on my assignment.  So again, lunch was a reheat of leftovers - today it was the lentil meatballs in tomato sauce.  I took a wee break midday and baked some muffins with blueberries instead of strawberries.  Again, I was underwhelmed.  Perhaps because I used splenda instead of actual sugar...  I'm not a huge fan of the taste, but I have it in the cupboard and I'm trying to use it up.  I was feeling a little morose after that, so just went back to the computer.  Things started looking up soon after when I finished writing my assignment, did a quick review and final edit, then submitted it online.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had enough time left for a 10km run so headed out on my 'Tamaki Out & Back' (there's a run name for you there, Sheryl!) and had a quick shower before the boys arrived home from school.

Then it was back into the kitchen where I whipped up another batch of almond milk - my nut milk bag arrived in the mail today, woohoo!  It is soooo much easier to strain the milk through than my homemade bag.  Awesome stuff.  I decided to try a double batch of freezer fudge to use up the pulp - it's in the freezer awaiting the taste-testing later this evening.  Hmm, might have to make that tomorrow now, because I also ended up making some of these brownies.  At least one resounding foodie success today!  The kids ate it happily, Deane enjoyed his piece so much he snuck another one two (btw, he corrected this, not me!  Cheeky...), and I've already devoured three four pieces myself.  Luckily it's only 102 calories per piece...

Comparatively, dinner was rather low-cal:

Kale with sliced cucumber, radish, and little wedges of tangelo.  I had it with the leftover lemon poppy seed dressing from the salad the other day.  I was quite surprised at how fantastic this salad tasted - the combination of flavours was really quite good.  I ate the first bowl so quickly I forgot to take a picture.  So of course I had to have a second bowl... ;)  Sadly, I am now all out of kale.  On the plus side, we're getting baby spinach in next week's Foodbox, hurrah!  Spinach is awesome for everything.

So anyway, it occurred to me while I was munching happily away on my fourth slice of brownie that perhaps I need to step away from the kitchen and stop baking for a bit.  I'm starting to get a little too sugar-happy.  Easier said than done I guess.  I would need to commandeer Deane for cooking duty, and I'm not sure how that would go...  I doubt he'd be willing to whip up a batch of banana french toast for my breakfast tomorrow morning...  Guess I'll just have to be a little better at balancing the food groups.

I did end up trying that freezer fudge.  It's pretty good actually.  As always my sugar intake is way over for the day, but on the same note, my iron intake is over 100% for the first time, so yay for that!  I guess the food choices weren't too bad today after all.  As long as you don't count the fifth slice of brownie and the brazil nut ice cream before bed...  I think I need a lock on the door after 8pm...

I made that banana french toast, and can honestly say I prefer the tofu french toast.  There is quite a strong cooked-banana flavour (that I am not overly fond of) with this version, which is not surprising considering it's a main ingredient.  It was perfectly edible, I just don't think I'll make it again.

I was thinking of going to ParkRun today, but when I had a look at my stats on the Nike website I saw that my next run would be my 200th (on the app), and I've run 990km this year (not including those three runs I didn't track).  So I kinda want my next run to be a fairly decent one, at least 10km in any case.  I'm thinking an 18-20km tomorrow might do the trick - fingers crossed for good weather!

Having munched through another two pieces of brownie (before 9am) I'm putting myself on a baking ban for the foreseeable future.  No baking of any kind.  At all.  The boys will have to eat store-bought cookies and bread for a while I think, just to be on the safe side.

Lunch was the rest of the lentil meatballs (so good!), and the last piece of brownie.  I had to get rid of it somehow ;)

The rest of the day was spent doing housework that I had neglected over the week because of my assignment (at least that's my excuse), and making some more granola since I'd run out.  This time I tried cinnamon bun granola, which is a recipe by Lisa Pitman and Nicole Axworthy in their ebook Tiny Treats, shared on the Oh She Glows blog.

I tried a little bit once it was cooled and was surprised to find it wasn't nearly as sweet as I was expecting.  This is very likely a good thing.  I had made a special trip to the supermarket to buy buckwheat groats for this recipe and as it only used half a cup I had heaps left.  What else to do but make more granola?  This recipe caught my eye, and I'm looking forward to trying a bit with a green monster smoothie next week when that spinach arrives in the Foodbox.  I've sampled a wee bit of it (okay, quite a bit of it) and it is rather yummy.  I am surprised at how moreish it is - buckwheat is awesome, y'all!

I love spending time in my kitchen, but it's rather small and quite limited on storage space.  My 'baking' cupboard is usually overflowing with ingredients and it gets a little annoying when stuff flies out at you when you open the cupboard door.  So I stood around for a while thinking about what I could do, and finally settled on this:

From left to right, top to bottom:  cinnamon bun granola, buckwheat granola clusters, dried blueberries and raw cashews, currants and sunflower seeds, crystalised ginger and dried apricots, pecans and walnuts, dried cranberries and endurance crackers.  To the immediate left of this picture is the rice bubbles, weetbix, rolled oats and a giant container with 2kg blanched almonds - easy access for the almost-daily batch of almond milk :)  I spent about an hour removing labels from jars, washing them, filling them, and arranging them until I was happy with how it looked.  I guess when I decide to do something, I like to do it well.  I'm glad I kept all those jars now!  I could add even more to this collection (macadamias, pistachios, pumpkin, chia and flax seeds, etc etc, but I ran out of bench space and jars).

We had vegetable stir fry for dinner (the boys had chicken and/or noodles as well), then we had friends over to watch a movie so I managed to offload a couple of pieces of that crazy-dangerous sticky date pudding.  Of course I had a piece myself (how could I not?) and that leaves one lonely piece remaining in the freezer.  I can't guarantee it'll still be there next week...  I also had a muffin.  I'm the only one eating them, and I'm starting to wonder why I made them.  Oh right, I wanted to use up the cashew oat milk...

We had a rather fabulous thunderstorm between about 2 and 3.30am.  It was just wonderful.  Then the boys and I got up at around 6.30am.  I had intended on having a chickpea pancake for breakfast but when I walked into the kitchen I suddenly became very lazy and decided to just have a couple of muffins and a cup of tea instead.  Six muffins left.  They may just have to quietly disappear (and not into my stomach).  I have a feeling they wouldn't freeze very well.

Another hour for my breakfast (if you could call it that) to settle, then I'm heading out the door for my run.  Might have to make it a 15km looking at the weather.  It doesn't appear too bad looking out the window, but it's supposed to rain all day and Auckland weather is very changeable so the probability of it absolutely pouring down while I'm out is very high.  My planned run to Cornwall Park and back is probably not the best option.  And I need to have enough time afterwards to get showered, dressed, and into town for knitting :)  Mezze Bar again today, I think I'll have the lentil soup...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

I just can't help myself...

I managed to avoid that dangerously delicious, sweet and decadent pudding this morning, opting for the last of my granola with soy milk and a banana instead.  Then I headed out the door for a lovely 14km run.  It's a beautiful day.  And yes, I had that U2 song stuck in my head for much of the run while mulling over many other thoughts, as one does while running for over an hour:

I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go, so just kinda ran and enjoyed the morning without worrying about my pace, which turned out to be pretty much my standard non-race pace anyway.  I was aiming for about 15km but I figured 14.4km was close enough ;)

When I got home, I made the salad I'd been thinking about since the night before - kale with strawberries, gold kiwifruit and slivered almonds, and a lemon poppy seed dressing:

Simple, yet very, very tasty.  Wish I'd had some fresh blueberries to add in as well...  Sadly, they're still $14 a punnet.  A little out of my price range :(  Then I was naughty and heated up a square of that sticky date pudding.  I am incorrigible!  I've run out of containers so I can't just hide it in the freezer...

And I decided that despite what I said yesterday, I am going to spend some time in the kitchen today, because I really want to make this pumpkin soup.  It sounds utterly divine, don't you think?  But for now, my assignment awaits.

***********************************page break***********************************

I got lots of work done on my assignment, so hopefully will have it done in the next day or so.  I made the pumpkin soup for dinner, and the roasted flavour was quite nice.  It was even better with the cashew cream!

Ooh, pretty swirly patterns...

I also had another piece of the sticky date pudding for dessert.  Then I walked down to the supermarket and bought some new containers to store the remainder of the soup and that damned pudding in the freezer, so it wouldn't be yelling at me from the fridge every time I opened it to get the soy milk out for my never-ending cups of tea.  One drinks a lot of tea when studying, don't you know?  There were five pieces of the pudding left, and I put two pieces each into two containers, which left one piece.  So I ate it.  I did tell you this pudding was dangerous, didn't I...?

Banana split pancakes.  What a way to start the day!  I am seriously in love with mini pancake stacks for breakfast:

They look pretty good unadorned, do they not?  But wait, there's more...

They look even better smothered in sliced banana and chocolate syrup.  Awwwwww yeah...  I will admit I found them a little fiddly to cook, probably due to the moisture in the strawberry bits making the pancake batter a little too wet.  But I didn't have a complete disaster, they still stacked, and they tasted fabulous.  I went all out and added the sugar, the coconut oil, and the chocolate chips.  Because why not?

I also made some cashew oat milk:

Wholesome and delicious.  It was one of those things that I was curious enough about to want to make at least once, and now that I have I'll most likely never make it again.  It's a bit like coconut milk - yummy, but something I know my stomach will not abide in any real quantity.  So I had a teeny tiny glass this morning after making it - fyi this giant glass is just for the picture, so you can see the little flecks of cinnamon and oat in the milk - and I'll probably use the rest for baking or in smoothies with other milk or water.  Also, it was a b***h to strain and I really don't have the patience for those kinds of shenanigans.

I'm starting to develop a bit of a stockpile of almond pulp here at the house of kreachr.  The other day I dried some out in the oven and turned it into almond meal for baking, and this morning I made some nut pulp hummus:

I tried a bit on an endurance cracker and found it a little bland, but that's most likely due to me under-seasoning it.  I was also a tablespoon short on tahini because I ran out.  I'll work on the flavours and see if I can improve it.

I'm into the real nitty-gritty of my assignment so most of today was spent in front of the laptop which made it a good day to eat the leftover broccoli (or in my case pak choy) curry udon in the fridge - a quick reheat and I was sorted.  I had planned on heading out for a 10km run, but it started raining and I think I'm coming down with whatever X had last week so perhaps an early night will be in order with the hope that this blows over and I can run tomorrow instead.  A simple dinner of oven baked chicken and potatoes for Deane and the kids, and I used up some cooked brown lentils I had left over from lunch the other day to make a half-assed version of this, without the pasta.  I have no sentimental attachment to spaghetti-o's since we never had them here, so I had no qualms about making this dish a lentil 'meatballs' in tomato sauce affair, with a side of braised silver beet and carrots.  Perfect.  I dished some up for Deane alongside his chicken and he was, I think, a little impressed at how good the lentil balls actually turned out ;)

Dessert was a single lady chocolate chip cookie.  Hmm, it would appear that dessert has become a habit again...

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Vegan food is the shizzle

Let me start off by saying that mac and shews I had for dinner on Sunday was AMAZEBALLS.  I made a half batch, and ate half of that.  A whole 675 calories worth!  Soooooo goooooood!  I've had to sequester the remainder of it in the freezer in two separate containers to prevent me from just devouring it.  I didn't end up having anything else with it.  It didn't need anything else with it.  Now you see, the benefit of long runs is that you can eat more.  Gotta love that, right?  So even though my dinner was a rather whopping calorie hit (in a good way), I still had room to wiggle, so I made a single serve chocolate cake for dessert.  Then I was completely stuffed, and felt like a walking lead balloon.  But it was worth it ;)

Breakfast was simple - granola with soy yogurt, almond milk and a diced pear.  Sounds boring, but it was pretty good.  I love home made granola, especially this batch with dried peach, mango and blueberries!  And seriously, after last night?  I really didn't need to go crazy with breakfast.

Lunch was decided that morning, when Oh She Glows (aka: Angela) posted her chickpea pancake recipe.  I didn't have any capsicum, so I diced up a large button mushroom and a celery stalk in its place, and served it up with some of our favourite salsa (apparently the only thing in the world with coriander in it that I can actually eat), 1/4 avocado, and some vegan mayo.  What can I say, except I really wish I hadn't promised Deane half...?  It was really, really good.  I swear these people are freakin' geniuses!  The recipes they create are just awesome.  I am absolutely loving this vegan trial month!

See?  I cut the pancake in half because I'm good at sharing :)

It looked really pretty for the pictures, but I totally smushed up all the toppings and spread them all over the pancake before eating it.  I'm not a complete weirdo.  (btw, if you're one of those people that doesn't like their different foods touching, no offense.  Everybody has their 'thing(s)'.  I myself have many, but we won't get into that right now.  What I'm trying to say here is that we're all a little weird).

I felt like I couldn't really top that for the day, so we had home made potato wedges (with some vegan mayo for dipping) with braised cabbage for dinner, and Deane had a big juicy eye fillet steak.  Not content with the 'normal' braised cabbage however, I decided to recreate a recipe that was passed on to me by a friend when we lived in Wellington.  I can't recall the recipe exactly, so copied it to the best of my knowledge, which I will share here.  I've named it after the lovely Romanian lady that shared it with me:

Daniella's Cabbage
1/2 med-large green cabbage
1 tbsp oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 tbsp minced garlic - I have the feeling this wasn't in the original recipe
1 400g can chopped tomatoes in juice - I think the original recipe called for tomato puree
generous 1/4 tsp citric acid
salt and pepper to taste

Slice cabbage, discarding any large chunky stems.  Heat the oil over a medium heat, then add the garlic and cabbage, and sauté until the cabbage starts to soften.  Add the can of tomatoes (or equivalent amount of tomato puree) and season with salt and pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper).  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving, sprinkle in the citric acid and stir through.  Taste, and adjust seasonings if required.

I made a rhubarb and pear crumble for pudding because the rhubarb was looking a little sad and needed to be used up.  It was fine, but the crumble wasn't quite right so I'll work on that one and if I get it right I might share the recipe a little later.  I usually just throw together a random assortment of ingredients for the crumble mix depending on what I have in the cupboard.  This time around I tried it with some almond pulp.  I'm not sure, but I think that may have been what was 'wrong' with it...

I did end up making the kids that other chocolate cake too.  Same recipe, just without the extra decorations on the top.  Here's a pic that shows just how tall the cake is:

The cake plate lid barely fits!  Crazy, huh?  With neither Deane or myself eating any of this, and with more than enough there for the kids to have a slice for lunch every day this week, I gave 1/4 of it to some friends along with some biscotti, chocolate syrup and orange curd.  And the leftover rhubarb and pear crumble.  I think that's why they visit so often - they usually leave with something I've baked ;)  Well, somebody's gotta eat it I guess.  Or I could just bake less... nah... :)

The photos from last weekend's race have been uploaded.  It appears that if you smile, wave, and make goofy faces the photographers take a lot more pictures of you!  There are 30 photos of me this time around (compared to the usual 3-6) and my eyes are closed in at least four of them :)  I have the cheesiest grin on my face, and am horrified to note that in the last eight photos my thighs appear to be the same size as the man's running next to me!!  Wow, I knew I had stocky legs, but jeez...  As dorky as the grin is though, I think I like photo #6 with the double thumbs up (before I blinked).  So anyway peeps, peruse the pics and have a good giggle at them.  I did ;)

Breakfast was another oatmeal trial - this time, it was chocolate strawberry oatmeal.  It has half a mashed banana in it, and so the other half didn't go to waste I sliced it up and added it to the top along with some chopped up strawberry.  I also added chunks of strawberry into the porridge during the last minute or so of cooking.  I'm a big fan of strawberries ;)

My weekend order from Nuts Online arrived before the kids left for school:

3kg blanched almonds (we go through a lot of almond milk in a month, what can I say?), 1kg cashews (because they are awesome for everything), 700g walnuts (mmm, walnut taco meat...), 1kg black beans, 500g chickpeas, 1kg dates, 1kg sunflower seeds, 300g pumpkin seeds, a jar of rice syrup, more nutritional yeast, vegan chocolate chips (because I love baking, especially baking that involves chocolate) and more rolled oats.  Although it appears I should've got the quick cooking rolled oats.  I guess a quick blat in the food processor will turn them into quick cooking oats though, right?  Problem solved ;)

My only problem now is where to put it all?  I don't have very big cupboards!  My dream kitchen would be huge, with a giant walk-in pantry, bench space for Africa, and allllll the kitchen gadgets - cake mixer, coffee machine, Vitamix, the food processor from 'nam, a big oven, baking trays and dishes in every size imaginable, and of course the space to store it all... a girl can dream...  You know, it's funny.  Deane used to be the 'cook' in the relationship.  He would be in charge of everything from poached eggs to roasts, simply because I found them too challenging.  Baking with yeast scared the crap out of me, and gelatin was something I just couldn't get my head around.  Gravy?  I didn't do gravy unless it came out of a packet and you just added hot water.  I could make a mean cheese sauce though.  Over time, as our roles have changed with the addition of children and his climb up the corporate ladder (haha), I've come to really love spending more time in the kitchen, and reveled in the challenges of conquering learning how to cook with different ingredients.  Its a fun ride, and I'm not getting off it any time soon.

Especially when you get to try things like the broccoli and lentil power plate I made for lunch.  Where to start?  Savoury, sweet, sour, salty, a tiny bit spicy, all kinds of delicious, creamy, refreshing... this plate had it all!

I used broccolini instead of normal broccoli because that's what we had in the fridge.  I omitted the orange slices a) because we didn't have any, and b) the plate didn't need it in my opinion.  I also used red onion instead of white.  But oh my, that was a very good lunch!  And one my childhood self would never in a million years have even considered eating.  I mean, just look at all that green food!!  ::childhood self shudders in horror::

Roll on, dinner!  I made broccoli curry udon, but used pak choy instead since we had broccolini for lunch. It was pretty good, but I made a bit of a mess dishing it up so I'm sparing you the picture ;)

And I've had this dessert in my mind for days, so I finally bit the bullet and made it this evening.  I knew it was going to be dangerous, and I was right to be worried. It is insanely good.  Sadly, Deane won't touch it because its full of sugars and flour, and the kids won't eat it because it has dates and pecans.  Our friends won't eat it because I loaded them up with goodies yesterday.  Halp!!!  What am I going to do with it??  ::sigh::  Guess I'll be going for a run first thing tomorrow...  Maybe I'll have some for breakfast when I get back... (I'm only sort of kidding).  Just a head's up people - if you leave this thing on the bench for an hour or two so the toffee sauce has time to soak into the cake, there will be no telling whether you'll be able to stop yourself from eating it ALL.  You have been warned.  I highly recommend you make sure there are plenty of people around to help you eat it so you don't.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

I finally got my A into G and started my assignment.  Yes yes, about time.  It's due next week.  But what really got me motivated was the realisation that school holidays are less than two weeks away and I need to get ahead in stats before I've got the boys nagging at me for the computer.  Wow, that term just flew by!

Lastly, we received another food delivery today in the form of this week's Foodbox.  We already had a bunch of fruit since I'd sent Deane to get extra apples and bananas over the weekend (because you always need apples and bananas on hand in this house, trust me).  After adding the fruit from the Foodbox, this is what my fruit bowl looks like:

Crazy!  But oh, I do so love fresh fruit.  I'm certainly having no problems at all getting my daily dose of fibre ;)  Iron, on the other hand, is proving a little more of a challenge than I expected...

Right, I think that's more than enough food talk for today.  It's about time for some knitting and a nice hot cup of tea.  Tomorrow I think I'll take it easy in the kitchen and stick to leftovers - if I keep finding new things to cook at the rate I've been going the last couple of weeks, I'm in danger of blowing myself up to the size of a house!  There won't be enough time in the day to run it all off ;)

Have a fabulous week, and enjoy the warmer weather!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Four down, two to go... and a walk

Way back last year, I signed myself up for the Unitec Run Walk Series, the Auckland Half Marathon, then early this year I added on the North Shore Half Marathon.  Call me crazy, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Well, I'm now over half way through that list of race events, with the 14km Unitec run this Sunday.  Which leaves just the 16km Unitec race and the Auckland Half Marathon to go...  Then there's the Cancer Society nighttime half marathon walk which, thankfully, is not at all a race, just a fun evening to get together with others in the same situation, remembering loved ones that have passed on (please donate to my fundraising efforts!!).  I think after all that, I will have earned myself a bit of a break!  I'm planning on taking it easy over the Christmas/New Year period, and will look at getting back into it in February once the kids have gone back to school.  I'll continue running of course, but will take it a little less seriously with shorter runs, less long runs, and probably slightly slower paces.  Perhaps a little more yoga and strength training.  Or maybe just the yoga ;)  Next on the menu, picking a full marathon to sign up and train for...  I'll probably just stick close to home and go with the Auckland Marathon.  It's not 'til late in the year - plenty of time to train for it ;)

Now, back to vegan foodie goodness...  I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner on Friday night - the vege burger with sun-dried tomato spinach and basil pesto, and vegan mayo.  It was ridiculously delicious!  I had a large handful of baby spinach leaves in the burger as well, and that topped it off nicely.  Unfortunately, we were out of tomato :(  If I'd had the option, I'd have gone for a whole wheat or whole grain burger bun.  All we had were white burger buns.  Oh well.  It was still good :)  I was really naughty and had more chocolate pudding and ice cream for dessert.  Totally blew my calorie count for the day, but does this look like a face that cares?

I think not...

Since I was totally not caring about the whole 'chocolate overload' thing and carrying on the theme from the night before, I decided to make some chocolate brownie pancakes for breakfast.  It turned out to be the cutest, most delicious little mini pancake stack ever!  I had mine with sliced banana and maple syrup, because although the original picture on the CCK website looked good, dusting it with icing sugar and smothering it with chocolate syrup seemed a little like overkill:

Omnomnom!!!  Deane and the kids left for a weekend-long errand so I had the house all to myself, which gave me time to catch up on things like laundry, and I got to watch some more Dresden Files.  And read some Dresden Files.  I lurve me some Harry Dresden...

Since I was alone, I decided it was up to me to eat all the leftovers that were floating around in the fridge.  So lunch was pretty much a repeat of yesterday, sans second course - ie: a chickpea salad sandwich.  Although this time I had it with spinach, and a lot more radish and cucumber.  Yum.

I snuck in some baking during the afternoon while the weather was really packing it in a bi-polar kind of way.  Still not entirely enthusiastic about the recipes available to use up almond pulp from making almond milk, I decided to have a go at one of my own.  Thus, I have created:

Vegan Almond Pulp Biscotti With Cranberry & Orange
1 c almond pulp (from making one batch of almond milk)
2 c whole wheat spelt flour (normal flour would work fine)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c applesauce
2 tbsp ground flaxseed/linseed
6 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange
1 c blanched almonds
1/2 c dried cranberries

Mix together the flaxseed and water and set aside.  Preheat oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  While the oven is heating, place the almonds in the oven for about 8 minutes to toast lightly (this step is optional).  Don't forget to take them out!!  Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In another bowl, combine the applesauce, flaxseed mix, vanilla and orange zest.  Pour this into the dry mixture along with the almond pulp, toasted almonds and dried cranberries then stir it all together until well combined.  Split into two and shape into loaves on your baking sheet.  Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1cm wide slices.  Return the slices to the baking sheet, sliced side down, and bake another 10 minutes.  Take out, flip over, and bake a final 10 minutes on the other side.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I'd never made biscotti before but always wanted to.  Now I have :)

Dinner was more leftovers - curried roast vegetables with brown basmati and the last of the lettuce and celery salad.  I didn't need much after scoffing taste-testing a whole bunch of biscotti ;)

The birds were chirping their heads off at 4.30am - I've noticed that a few times lately.  I always thought they got chatty when the sun was rising.  Either the sun rises a lot earlier than I thought it did, or I've been wrong my whole life...

I got up at 6.30am and had a hearty breakfast of a giant spinach bagel with marmite and soy cream cheese.  Seriously, those things are just too big.  If I make them again, the dough will be split into six instead of four.  Soooo full!  This was not helped by also having a giant cup of tea...

At 8.20am I headed out the door for my race.  By the time I got on the road after putting on my shoes and attaching the timing tag, getting the right sets of keys, sorting out the car and the garage door and everything, it would've been closer to 8.30.  I missed the turn off into El Kobar Drive (stupid missing road sign, grr) and had to backtrack, then it took me a while to find a park and I ended up being about 1km from the start line.  Deane's stupid car alarm was playing up and I couldn't get the car locked and the alarm on without it going berserk.  Dramas!  I could hear them counting down for the start of the race as I was pinning my number to my shirt while running to get to the start.  I scooted around the barriers and crossed over the start line right at the back of the pack with the walkers, then had to weave my way through them and the slower runners to get to where I wanted to be in the running pack.  Phew!  Close call!  Next time I'll aim to be at least 15 minutes early...  The course was a relatively flat one, which made a nice change.  There was a rather unpleasant odour at one part of the course near a plastics factory, so I tried not to breathe through my nose at that point.  Otherwise it was relatively nice and quiet, with very little traffic.  Ah, the benefits of an industrial park on the weekend :)  The second lap was almost like a normal Sunday run, since the number of people running had significantly dropped.

I tried to smile and wave for every photo so they're probably going to be the dorkiest running photos I've had to date - I'm looking forward to looking at them and laughing my butt off - I'll be sure to post a link so you can all have a good laugh too :)  Unfortunately, once again, I forgot to stop the timer on my phone app so according to the timer my last kilometre took nearly 11 minutes!  Oops...  Sadly, there were no Abe's Bagels this time around.  Bummer.  I grabbed a banana and some water though, and had a chat to the guy I was talking to during the last race (you know, the 'thumbs up' guy).  My official net race time was 1:11:30 - I finished 24th out of 197 overall, and 5th out of 119 women.  My second lap was evidently over a minute slower than my first.  Still, not a bad result, and one I'm happy with.

Once I got home and had a shower, I sliced up the banana and made little mini PB sandwiches:

Simple, delicious, and the perfect post-run protein hit.  Lunch was chickpea salad.  Again.  Next time I'll make a half batch.  Rather than a sandwich this time, I had it with a couple of endurance crackers.  I like to change things up a bit while sticking with the mainstream.  It's how I roll ;)  I also had some almond biscotti with a cup of tea.  More biscotti ideas are floating in my head, and I'd love to try them out soon.  Let me know if you want to be a taste tester - a girl can't eat her weight in biscotti and get away with it, you know!

Dinner is going to be pretty simple - 'mac and shews' with some steamed broccolini.  Cashews are just awesome.  I love them.  What interests me about this recipe though is the use of sauerkraut.  I'm looking forward to trying it!  I've only ever had sauerkraut in a reuben sandwich, so this should be a little different :)  Think I'll make a half batch though.  I doubt the kids will eat it, and it's got those pesky carbs that Deane doesn't like in the form of pasta.  Mmmmm, pasta...

You may have noticed a slight difference in the home page of this here blog - I spent a little time (when I should've been writing that assignment - day six of procrastination and counting...) reorganising things a little.  You can now click on the links at the top and access the recipes I have created, or find what recipe sites I'm currently using (such as Chocolate Covered Katie, Oh She GlowsThe Oatmeal Artist etc), or even where I source my food.  Grass fed beef, organic and free range pork, chicken and lamb, or fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and free range eggs.  Not to mention my latest favourite supplier of nuts, pulses, legumes, dried fruits etc etc.  I've also included a page of yarn and knitting/spinning suppliers that I have used in the past and been very happy with.  I say 'in the past' because I haven't bought any yarn since February (I'm trying for a year-long yarn diet and I think I may just make it.  Surprisingly, not as hard as I thought it would be).  But these people are all good, nice people that are a pleasure to deal with, and I just want to share the love.  Man, if I had a dollar for every time... ;)