Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Run Again

Fortunately Mr. Mucus came for a single-man getaway and didn't bring the wife.  Pneumonia on one side was plenty exhausting for me!

Thanks to this guy deciding to drop by unannounced for an extended vacation, I spent the last three weeks (including my birthday weekend) coughing and blowing my nose, either curled up on the couch in my pj's or wishing I was.  I had to take several days off work and should have taken even more.

I was not very active.  Every day I thought maybe that would be the day I'd at least go for a walk.  Then my cat Murray would do something funny, I'd start laughing - which would lead to coughing - and next thing I knew I was collapsed on the floor, unable to stop, and scrambling for my inhaler.  So running and working out?  ha!  Not gonna happen.  

Murray's favorite Wii acvitity

I have to say, I was really good about taking care of myself.  I'm not always so good about that.  I tend to push myself too hard, not give myself the rest I need, not fuel myself properly for workouts, over-train, etc.  But with pneumonia, I didn't want to mess around.  I waited until my lungs were clear before easing back into indoor cardio workouts - elliptical, spinning, and boot camp.  Even then I was still coughing and tired out very easily.  So I kept my heart rate lower and took breaks when I needed.  They weren't my best workouts but they were way better than lying around on the couch.  And although they tired me out it was in a good way.  I slept better after and had a little more energy.  

Still, I wasn't running.  I skipped the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon that I was signed up for.  I was bummed out to miss it but it was just last Sunday, only 6 days after finishing my antibiotics.  And I was still coughing and using my inhaler.  Perhaps not the best idea.  

Saturday in boot camp I ran one mile inside.  Despite being boring on the track, it went well and I only coughed a little bit from it.  That was encouraging.  

Sunday morning I decided to lace up my running shoes and get outside.  I have to say I was nervous.  After 3 weeks of being sick and sedentary (and perhaps not making the most healthy of eating choices), I didn't think it was going to go very well.  But what did I have to lose?  I could turn back, cut the run short at any time.  The temperature was mid-50's and the sun was shining bright, so it was perfect.  I set my new iPod Nano to shuffle, clipped it on my shorts (half the size of my 1st gen and finally hands-free - yay!), and off I went.

As soon as I got out there I knew it was going to be a good run.  I didn't pay much attention to my heart rate or pace during the run.  I just went.  By the time I got home I ended up doing 2.5 miles with a pace of right around 9 min/mile.  Not bad for my first time out.  The most important thing, however, was that I felt GREAT! 

I ran another 4 miles today at an 8 min/mile pace and felt even more comfortable.  I just registered for two 10K's this coming weekend - Run of the Dead on Saturday and the Wicked Halloween Run on Sunday.  I can't wait for both of them!

So, Mr. Mucus, you may have knocked me off the road for a while but in the words of George Castanza, "I'm back, baby!"

Good-bye, Mr. Mucus!

Have you had a setback/had to take time off from your running?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creamy Lentil Soup

One of my favorite soups is lentil soup but I rarely make it.  I have a delicious recipe but it's rather time-consuming.  A couple of months ago there was a simple version in The Detroit Free Press (adapted from Secrets of Healthy Middle Eastern Cuisine).  It required a cook time of about 40 minutes on the stove.  I made it for dinner the other night but simplified it even more by cooking it in my Crock-Pot.  

Don't let the name fool you.  It's vegan!  Despite the lack of cream, this soup definitely earns it's name.  The end result is quite thick and creamy - almost dip-like - particularly when reheated.  If you prefer yours more soupy, stir in some water to thin it out before serving.

Lentil Cream Soup
(printable recipe)


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (I used a Vidalia)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup rice (I used brown basmati)
1 tbsp. cumin
6 cups water
1 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base*
Black pepper, to taste 

Lemon wedges


In the evening:  Heat olive oil in a medium pan.  Saute the onion until tender and brown, about 5-10 minutes.  Transfer to an airtight container.  Add cilantro.  Cover and refrigerate.

In the morning:  Transfer onions and cilantro to slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients, except for lemons.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Puree using an immersion blender or carefully in batches in a regular blender.

Serve with lemon wedges and fresh pita bread.

Makes 4 servings.
*NOTE: This was not in the original recipe.  I added it for extra flavor.  Alternately, you could substitute broth for some of the water.  

Are you a fan of lentil soup?  How does this compare to your favorite recipe?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simple Sides: Baked Green Tomatoes

It was not a very good year for tomatoes in Michigan.  There was too much rain and we didn't have enough consistently warm, dry weather to get a good supply of red ripe tomatoes.  It didn't help that we planted ours so late, either.  

Anyway, so here we are in October with a lot of beautiful green tomatoes.  Yes, we can make green tomato salsa and chutney but what's the easiest thing to do with green tomatoes?  Fry them!  And what's even easier and healthier than frying them?  Baking them!  After a few different attempts Brian and I finally found a good method that gets that crispy with just a hint of fried goodness at the end.  (Without any actual frying involved.)

And since you aren't frying the tomatoes, you don't have to dress up as Kathy Bates or Jessica Tandy to enjoy them.

Baked green tomatoes with mushroom, onion, and pepper tofu scramble

Baked Green Tomatoes
(printable recipe)


2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
salt and pepper, to taste

4 medium-sized green tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Olive oil spray


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together Ener-G and water.

3. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, panko, salt, and pepper.  

4. Dip the tomato slices into the Ener-G mix, then into the cornmeal mix, coating both sides evenly.  Arrange on a single layer on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the oven to a low BROIL.  Spray the tops of the tomatoes with a light coating of olive oil spray.  Return to the oven for 4 minutes.

6. Turn the oven up to high BROIL for 1 minute.  Watch the tomatoes closely and remove if starting to brown early.  Serve immediately.

What do you like to do with green tomatoes?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Golden Ticket

When we first started to get beets in our share this summer, Katie and I were really excited.  Beets are awesome!  Golden beets are even more awesome!  But when we got beets week after week after week, the novelty sort of wore off.  We couldn't keep up with them.  Seriously, you can only eat so many beets. 

Neither of us wanted the beets.  When I went back to work, Katie started getting the share and she would sneak the beets into the bottom of the bag when she'd drop off my half.  Gee, thanks, Katie.  Soon my vegetable drawer had a month's worth of beets in it.

Last week I picked up our share and found myself with 6 more beets.  I was going to make Katie take them but then I had an idea to make a golden beet soup.  She didn't mind me keeping all of them so I combined them with a few beets I already had and some carrots I bought from Farmer Glen.  

This is probably the first soup I've made completely on my own without following a recipe. It turned out so well I'd make it again.  It's smooth and creamy, sweet and delicious.  The addition of rosemary at the end is essential - don't leave it out!  We enjoyed it with a simple salad and the easiest, cheapest, best biscuits ever.  

I was happy to use up so many beets all at once.  Not that my vegetable drawer is beet-free yet...but there's definitely a lot more room in there now!

Golden Beet and Carrot Bisque
(printable recipe)


9 golden beets, peeled and cut into chunks
5 sweet carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
4 cups vegetable broth
black pepper, to taste

Fresh chopped rosemary, or dried, as garnish


1. Prepare all the veggies and put them into 4-quart slow-cooker.  Add broth and pepper.  Stir to combine.

2. Set slow-cooker to low and cook for 8 hours.

3. Puree soup using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh or dried rosemary.

Makes 4 servings.

What is your favorite way to prepare golden beets?