Tag Archives: summer

Vegan Indian Spiced Eggplant Soup

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Today my friend and I ran into each other at our local farmer’s market. As we were chatting, she mentioned how much she wanted eggplant now that it was eggplant season. At the time, I was at a loss for what to make for dinner. I had some left over cheese from my Bastille Day celebration, so I wanted a little something to go with it that wasn’t too heavy. The eggplants at the market DID look beautiful and I already had some eggplant at home, so I decided to make my favorite eggplant soup.

Delicious cheese and fruit plate with the eggplant soup.

Delicious cheese and fruit plate with the eggplant soup. Another thing Ben really likes: Brie. Something Ben really doesn’t like: Macaroni and Cheese. He’s weird.

The soup is really easy and a good consistency for all but the hottest summer days. I served it with the above platter to un-vegan it. Husband had some farmer’s market salami as well to un-vegetarian-ify it. At dinner, Ben said, “This is delicious!” Granted, he is a sucker for anything with garam masala!

It's delicious!

It’s delicious!

Vegan Indian Spiced Eggplant Soup

4-6 Servings

45 minutes

1 large eggplant, peeled, 1” dice

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 15oz can of tomatoes, drained

1 15oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups of vegetable stock

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

2 Tb of olive oil, divided

1 ½ Tb curry

1 Tb garam masala

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground corriander

pinch of cayenne

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place eggplant on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until tender in a 400-degree oven (approximately 25-30 minutes).
  2. When the eggplant has about 10 minutes to go, heat a large pot (I used an enameled-lined cast iron pot) over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and sautée the onions for about 3 minutes until tender.
  3. Once the eggplant is done in the oven (it should begin to darken and be very tender to the touch, toss the eggplant in with the onions. Sautée for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add in the tomatoes, stir to combine, and season with the curry and cayenne. Pour in the vegetable stock.
  5. Allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the cannellini beans and remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Stir in the remaining spices and the almond milk. Adjust the seasoning as you want. Serve!
So easy, so delicious, so nutritious!

So easy, so delicious, so nutritious!

Italy 2: Adventures in Running

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Before I left Maryland, I had every intention to keep to my marathon training. I was going to run all the miles! Yeah. That didn’t happen. The best laid plans…As a “blah blah blah” excuse, I started having heel issues after I ran a 13 miler and decided to do some resting. However, as lovers of endorphins, Husband and I made a pact to run at least once in every city. We succeeded in that regard.

Running 1: Sorrento

Sorrento is absolutely beautiful. It is right on the Bay of Naples and built into a cliff. Gorgeous, but not very runner-friendly. When we told the hotel employees that we were looking for a good place to run, he looked at us like we were crazy, but pulled out a map and showed us a route. Basically, he was like, “Ok, here’s what you could do.” Side note, when we were outside getting read to run, an American man confused me for a small Italian child and asked me if some random cat were my cat. I got that a lot. Not the owning a cat part, but the thinking I was a young Italian girl. There are worse things.

At this point, you might be expecting me to say how awesome our run in Sorrento was. That it was filled with gorgeous sights and awesomeness. Nope. It was terrible. My legs felt awful and I was pretty much ready to retire from running. We ran a little over 2.5 miles due to the running course (not ideal) and my legs. Generally, I think that running anything less than 3 miles is a waste of my time, so this was a huge defeat for me. It was actually an auspicious decision, because when we got to Rome, Husband and I walked all the way from the train station to the Vatican and back. That was about a 6-7 mile walk. We ended up getting our work-out in!

This is a view of the city walls in Sorrento. Not taken on our run, but on an epic walk to our restaurant on the marina.

This is a view of the city walls in Sorrento. Not taken on our run, but on an epic walk to our restaurant on the marina.

Running 2: Rome

Hands-down, this was one of the coolest runs that I have ever done. Husband and I got up early to go for our run. Many in Maryland talked about how hot it was in the DMV while we were gone. It was pretty darn hot in Rome as well. On our run, we ran around the Forum, on the Circus Maximus, and past the Colosseum. So. Awesome. This run finally felt good and I was able to power up one of Rome’s famous hills. These hills. They are not joke. It was a 4 mile jaunt and Husband I walked another 6 miles later in the day. We were walking machines.

Yep. This was part of our run. We took this later in the previous day, but how awesome is running past the old stuff?

Yep. This was part of our run. We took this later in the previous day, but how awesome is running past the old stuff?

Running 3: Florence

This was the best run of the three. We were feeling good and Florence is surprisingly runner and cyclist-friendly. Unlike Rome, where you are pretty certain you are going to die at any moment on the road, Florence has designated runner/cyclist lanes and many streets that are too narrow except for scooters to cruise down. This jaunt took us over the Arno, through the streets, past the Palazzo Vecchio, back over the bridge, past the Pitti Palace, then along the Arno and back to our hotel. It was an amazing run that really made me feel fantastic…and the hotel had delectable pains au chocolat to “refuel.’ Overall, an incredible day. 🙂

Running in Florence. This was taken after my run and I'm repping the high school XC team. Hooray, Florence! Hooray, Ponte Vecchio!

Running in Florence. This was taken after my run and I’m repping the high school XC team. Hooray, Florence! Hooray, Ponte Vecchio!

While I didn’t keep to my training schedule, I enjoyed my trip and most of the runs that we did. Sometimes you need to break from training and really enjoy your surroundings.

The Accidental Half Marathon

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It sounds like the title of an Anne Tyler novel, but alas, it is not. Marathon training has really started and yesterday I was planning to run 12 miles. Ugh. I haven’t run that in the heat in a year. In any case, I have a series of loops around my house for which I generally know the mileage. Note that I said, “generally.” There is one loop that is 12 miles if you take it one way and 13 if you take it the other. Unfortunately, I forgot about the dual-loop nature of the run.

Everything started out just fine. Yesterday was a beautiful day. It wasn’t too hot or humid, the sun was rising, there was mist on the fields: a lovely, Maryland morning. I was trucking along at about 15-30 seconds slower than goal race-pace. Little Gamin was doing her job. I even went up my giant hill with no problem. There were only two near-death experiences on the roads with no shoulder, so I counted that as a win. When I turned through historic Downtown Sandy Spring (it’s super adorable and reminds me of Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls), I noticed that there might be a problem. Garmin had clicked over to 9 miles and I thought, “There is no way that it’s only 3 miles to home.” Truth. When I reached the stable where I used to ride (former equestrienne here) and Garmin clicked 11 miles, I was very sad because I knew that I still had 2.5 miles to go.

What’s a girl to do? My fitness isn’t quite up to 13.5 miles at that pace, so I had a choice to make. Should I push it or should I stop at 12 and have a 1.5 mile cool down? One of my colleagues recently wore a shirt that said, “If I stopped running, how would I get home?” I took that to heart in my decision-making and made a compromise. I ran 13.1 miles and then walked the remaining .4 mile home. During the last .1, I thought that this was a bad decision, but it turned out to be a good choice. When I said that the morning wasn’t too humid, I meant for Maryland. In reality, I was so sweaty that my running shorts had morphed into compression shorts. You’re welcome for that mental image. The extra cool down allowed me to not be as sore and calm the sweat factory, which was excellent. In all, it was a happy ending to a potentially sad story!

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are one of Husband’s favorites. It’s an American staple that can very easily be turned into something that’s vegetarian friendly, and healthy! I made these pretty protein-packed and substituted in quinoa for the traditional rice. Additionally, you can make this recipe very easily for the non-vegetarian set. One of the rules for when I gave up land animals was that Husband and Ben didn’t need to become vegetarians along with me. Therefore, I often have to make 1.5 meals for dinner. Generally, not a big deal. What makes this meal awesome is that it is very quick to make and can easily be a week-night meal (especially if you make the quinoa ahead of time). One of the keys to this recipe is that I brown the met first (for the non-vegetarian filling). By browning the meat first, you cut down on the wait time substantially.

 Stuffed Peppers

(Serves 4-5; Hands on time: 20 min; Baking time: 20 min)

6 large-ish bell peppers (whatever colors you like)

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese for topping

Vegetarian Filling

1 cup of dry quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

1 can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin

Dash cayenne pepper

Non-Vegetarian Filling

1 lb. ground turkey

Taco seasoning

  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan, bring quinoa and stock to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until the quinoa becomes translucent (approximately 10-15 minutes). When the quinoa has about 5 minutes left to cook, add in the onion.
  3. As the quinoa cooks, brown the ground turkey. After the turkey is browned, add in the taco seasoning and a 1/4 of water. Cook until the water is absorbed/evaporated.
  4. When the quinoa is done cooking, divide it roughly evenly between two medium bowls. Add in the turkey to one bowl, and mix to combine. In the other bowl, add in the coarsely chopped black beans and spices and mix to combine.
  5. In preparing the peppers to be stuffed, cut off the stem and remove the seeds and ribs. Cut a small bit off of the bottom so that the pepper will stand on a jellyroll pan.
  6. Stuff the peppers to the brim. For my recipe, I had 4 non-vegetarian peppers and two vegetarian peppers. Top each of the peppers with shredded cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes and serve!
Vegetarian stuffed peppers. Look at all that protein-y goodness!

Vegetarian stuffed peppers. Look at all that protein-y goodness!

At first, Ben was unconvinced about the whole thing. However, I added some garam masala, and he ate it right up. He is a weird, weird kid.

 

This is an action shot of Ben eating garam masala straight. I have an odd child.

This is an action shot of Ben eating garam masala straight. I have an odd child.

When Running is Daunting and Baltimore 10-Miler Review

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Recently, I have had several people ask me, when or how does running become enjoyable? When does this mystical “runner’s high” happen? How does one get to that point without giving up? My answer is always the same, you just have to go out there and run. I talk about endorphins a lot and how much I love running. However, running isn’t always enjoyable. Sometimes, the thought of another mile is so daunting that I want to give up. I will be running the Chicago Marathon in October and recently downloaded the training plan. Looking at the weekly mileages, I thought, “Why am I doing this? This is stupid.” The thought of 40 miles per week, then 50 miles per week is just hard to fathom. Then, I have to remember that I’ve done it before and that I’m not “required” to run those exact work-outs. I can modify to prevent injury as much as I want. They’re not the boss of me! But still, even as an experienced runner, I still have those, “Well how am I going to do that?” moments.

Last weekend, I ran the Baltimore 10-Miler. Initially, I hadn’t had high expectations for the race. It was run by the same people who ran the Baltimore Marathon, which I hated. I signed up for the race on a whim because they were offering a really nice jacket for all the finishers and the entry fee was relatively cheap (especially considering the prize). I’m not proud that I signed up for a race because of the give-away, but I did it. I’m glad that I did! The race was really fun. The crowd wasn’t too large (around 4,500) and the location was in lovely Druid Hill and Lake Montebello in Northern Baltimore. Getting to the race was another story. Husband, the police officer, definitely locked the car doors as we drove through some really seedy neighborhoods. Once we got to the start line, it was a delight. There was a band, plenty of port-o-potties (after the toilet debacle of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, this was excellent), Dunkin’ Donuts was giving out free samples, and many more. Ben thought this was the greatest thing that ever happened to him: a park with dogs and music? What could be better!

One of my, “Well, how am I going to do that?” moments happened in the middle of the race. Mostly, the race went well. But, like an idiot, I took it out too fast running 7:45 splits for the first 4 miles. At the turn-around (it was an out-and-back), I started to die and realized how much training I have to do before Chicago. At mile 9, the poop really hit the fan. The delightful downhill on the way out was a brutal uphill that made me want to cry. Several people walked it, but like the XC coach that I am, I made myself go up it. Thankfully, I had enough left in my tank that I was able to finish strong with a final kick, but my second half splits were abysmal. Ah well. The spectators along the way were fun. There were some excellent B’more ladies (not hons, sadly), who kept yelling, “Get on with your bad selves.” Awesome. Pure Baltimore. The officers along the way were also pretty fun and would yell at us up the hills. It was a really collegial race. I think that’s one good thing when you go into a race with little expectations about the race and your own performance: you have fun.

Post race was excellent. June in Baltimore is brutally hot and humid, so at the finish they had ice cold wet towels and my new favorite post-run food: watermelon. Watermelon is not my favorite fruit, but after a hot run, nothing can be better. It’s fruit and water all in one. Genius. After picking up my swag, we hung out listening to the band and chomping on Munchkins and fruit strips. So delicious. Ben loved every minute. He danced and had a grand old time. Husband enjoyed it, too. He’s become quite the race-spectator expert and gave the 10-miler a “thumb’s up”. It was a great race and I HIGHLY recommend it.

National Whatever Day

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Sometimes I feel really nerdy celebrating National __________ Days. In part, I feel nerdy because these days are completely fabricated. It’s not like some deity came down from on high and declared, “Mortals! Today, June 5, shall henceforth and forever be known as ‘National Running Day!’ Lace up thine sneakers and run all the miles!” That would be ridiculous. However, I don’t feel nerdy because I think of it as a way to celebrate something. Will I celebrate National Ice Cream Day? Heck yes (if I remember). Will I celebrate National Pair Up the Lonely Socks Day? Potentially. Will I celebrate National Trail Day (June 1)? You bet. I totally added a couple of miles to my Saturday run just to celebrate. Will I run with a group instead of myself on National Running Day as a means to celebrate the sport I love? Abso-freakin-lutely. So, while National Whatever Days are made up, they at least make you think about doing something special each day. That’s ok in my book.

Hello, Humidity

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“Hello, Humidity.” Imagine saying that in the, “Hello, Newman” voice. This year, Mother Nature decided that Spring was for chumps and fast-forwarded to Summer. I’m not complaining, but the rapid shift in temperature can really hurt the running sitch. Today was my first semi-official day of summer and I decided to run all the miles! Not a genius plan when there was an orange air quality day and it was 80 degrees with 70% humidity at 7:30 a.m. Eight miles at slightly slower than race pace turned into seven and a half at “this is not how I want to die” pace. Here’s a really gross picture of how I looked when I got done.

I'm a sweaty beast. This is after I cooled off a little bit. I'm glad I already have Husband because no one would like me if they saw me like this.

I’m a sweaty beast. This is after I cooled off a little bit. I’m glad I already have Husband because no one would like me if they saw me like this.

Please note that my tank top was a much lighter purple pre-run. DC Summers are great for making you look like you went swimming in your clothes.

While runs make you hot and sticky, the only thing better than a shower and froyo after a long, sweaty run is a shower and froyo after a long, sweaty trail run. While there was no trails on today’s run, Ben and I still treated ourselves to a little froyo later in the day. We added “kinkles” (sprinkles), which was a HUGE hit. Highly recommended.

Kinkles 4 eva!

Kinkles 4 eva!