Blame it on the men

I went for a run this afternoon. Oops! It wasn’t my fault, though. The firemen made me do it.

Post-run, I was inspired by Abbie to make a modified (aka quick) raw Snickers bar.

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But before I get into the raw Snickers details, back to the run. I was lazing on my couch this afternoon (very busy doing nothing, mind you) when my buzzer buzzed. I found five firemen on the other side needing to come in and do some sort of fire escape inspection.

I did not mind inviting five firemen into my home, as I do not encounter manly men often (or ever) for two reasons: (1) I live in NYC, where men tend to be, err, more “cultured” than most and (2) I am a social worker specializing in infant and parent development. For these reasons, I enjoy the FDNY. They’re good at keeping me safe and, hmmm, putting out fires. Of course, when the men arrived, I was still in my pajamas and surrounded by used tissues since I’ve been plagued by either allergies or a nasty cold (not sure which) since the moment I finished my last paper.

Anyway, one of the men came in and checked my balcony and roof while the others waited outside. After the inspection, all the firemen and their truck were still hanging around outside (I think they were trying to get into the basement apartment) for a long long time. And the urge to go for a run so I could run by them (in running clothes and not schlumpy pjs) and soak up some man energy came over me! Crazy, right? But I’m telling you, it is so rare that I get this chance! I did a rapid-fire costume change and flew out the door like I had somewhere to go, exchanging a few pleasantries with the men on my way before I took off. Seriously, I felt like I was running on clouds. It was amazing. I need to start hanging out by the firehouse.

I had planned to just run off down the block and then re-route to the gym so that I could stick to my no-running plan, but it was so nice out that I kept going for a full 4-mile loop around the park. I left my apartment so fast that I didn’t have time to bother with the HRM, but I felt like I was actually running an 11- or 12-minute mile, as opposed to the 15 that has been standard for me lately. The run wasn’t pain-free, but the pain was very consistent and dull and of the sort that I could imagine handling for, say, 13.1 miles on May 30th, assuming it doesn’t escalate. We’ll see! Anyway, now I’m really not going to run again before the half.

OK, if you’ve made it this far, your reward is that you get to see my raw Snickers again:

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My short-cut candy involved a plump Medjool date stuffed with Artisana cacao bliss and some peanut pieces. Oh man, it was so good! Really. Try this.

IMG_0072I’m also pretty sure that there was an Oh!Nuts whole strawberry in dark chocolate involved in the post-run desserting, but who really knows since they’re not all that photogenic (yet delicious enough that you NEED to try them as well).

OK, another day has flown by so fast! I’ve actually felt really busy all day, but I’m not quite sure what I’ve accomplished. Vacation is so strange. Anyway, my stepdad is in town for work, so we’re off to dinner in a bit. I’ll be back with the report later!

Have you done any accidental exercise today? And how do you feel about firemen? And the combination of fruit + chocolate?

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Ancient mysteries

I broke my own rule this afternoon and went for a secret run.

I know I’ve been saying (at least in my head) that I’m not going to run at all between now and the half marathon on May 30 because I need to let all of my muscles heal for real, but I couldn’t help myself. After finishing my paper, all I wanted to do was run. Perhaps because I really just needed an excuse to wear my official Endurance Challenge 2009 tech shirt:

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Hello giant teeth.

(Speaking of which, I updated the race post with official mid-race pictures of me dying.)

I made it 25 minutes before the pain forced me to stop, and then I finished the loop of the park with a 30-minute walk. And now that that is taken care of, I really promise that there will be no more running until the half. Maybe.

I came home and felt hungry for a snack, so I heated up some of the leftover mangu I’ve been saving in the freezer since a mom made it for me at work a few weeks ago. Remember the mangu? I do! Here it was back then:

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And here’s my doctored version:

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The doctoring took place yesterday (I actually ate some yesterday, too, but I never got around to blogging about it). I had about one cup of the mangu left, so I mashed that in with half a head of steamed cauliflower to (1) make it last longer and (2) increase the healthiness of the dish. Mangu is basically mashed plantains, but I saw how the mom was cooking it, and let’s just say that this mangu was not wanting for oil or salt! I had to spread the wealth, and cauliflower seemed the perfect way to do it 😀

I topped 1/2 cup of the revised cauliflower-mangu with one of the mom’s tostones and a little piece of her vineger-ed onion (which used to be bright purple but lost its color in the oven-reheat process):

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IMG_9683Around this time, I also decided I was in the mood for tea. What to do, what to do … Oh wait! What’s inside this random jewelry box-ish thing?

It’s a sampler of
Numi teas! I’m sorry for the product placement that is about to occur, but the packaging excited me so much that I can’t help myself. I found out about these teas a few weeks ago when Brandi mentioned them, and I knew I had to get my hands on some, if only because the website is full of flowery prose: “Numi elevates the tea experience through quality, creativity, and authenticity.” Elevate me, please!

The sampler has all four flavors of their puerh tea which has been “picked from wild-harvested tea trees up to 500 years old.”

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I’m generally not into showing labels from foods since you can just look at them yourself, but the flowery prose continued in the brewing instructions, and I had to share:

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You might think I went for chocolate first, but I did not! My tum is still feeling iffy, so I opted for the mint even though I’m generally not a fan of minty teas. Also, I really wanted to “capture the full taste as the ancient mystery is revealed.”

I actually enjoyed this tea (maybe because I followed the instructions for once and only let it brew for 3 minutes as opposed to 20), and it was soothing for my belly. Though I don’t think I experienced revelation of any sort of ancient mystery.

Have you had any mysteries revealed to you lately? Most recently (as in, this afternoon), I experienced the ancient mystery of how running in a moisture-wicking shirt feels … and I must say I’m a fan!

Dirrrty

Well. I just ran my first and last trail race.

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(Those were my brand-new shoes. They’re broken in now.)

Erin Gunn, Sarah Whiting, and I spent the morning up at Bear Mountain for The North Face Endurance Challenge. Erin and I ran the 10k; Ting (short for Sarah Whiting) ran the half. To be more specific, while Ting was enjoying a little 13+ mile jog (just kidding — Ting, you’re amaaaaaaazing and I think maybe superhuman!!), Erin and I painstakingly tried to run 6.3 miles of hiking trail through muddy rivers, slimy rocks, and steep inclines.

I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did. I was expecting to end up walking the whole thing because I haven’t really been able to run since pulling all my leg muscles at the end of March. For this race, I focused on keeping my pace verrrrrrry slow, and the treacherous nature of the course forced me to walk for quite a bit of the race to pick my way “over the river and through the woods” while remaining upright!

** Edited 5/12 to add these pictures from the race website.

Feeling energetic early in the race:

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Finish line in sight, yet still so far away (all of 50 feet I think):

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Happy (?) finish line dance:

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I finished the race in something like an hour and 35 minutes (I was second to last!!! I was kind of disappointed when I heard someone else finished after me. If I was going to be last, I wanted to be last), but I finished running! Surviving this race actually gave me a lot of hope for the Brooklyn half at the end of May. Ting finished about 10 minutes after I did (but to be fair, the half did begin an hour before the 10k). Here we are at the end:

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There was a tent with cut fruit and peanut butter. I had many pieces:

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Erin and I were cold and tired and sore and wondering how the heck Ting had roped us into over 90 minutes of voluntary torture. We agreed we don’t have to do this again next year. Ting stuck around with some of her other friends to watch the 50k runners start to come in; Erin and I busted out of there to head to her apartment for showers and lunch. Which leads us to the food …

Featured Contributions: Thursday through Saturday

Thursday’s linner: homemade tortillas with homemade chicken mole and beans left from the Parent & Me cinco de mayo event at work on Wednesday:

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Ginger chew from Beryl on Friday:

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A chopped apple, an orange, cool whip, and peanut butter left from Myrna and Mildred’s afternoon group:

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(I had another orange and seconds of cool whip and pb later, too!)

I headed straight up to Yonkers after work, and Erin Gunn picked me up for some bridesmaid dress reconn at David’s Bridal, followed by Indian food, her treat 🙂

Papadum and chutneys:

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Baingan Bhartha (eggplant):

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Channa Saagwala (chickpeas and spinach):

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We ordered spicy. We needn’t have. The spiciness necessitated lots of tissues and lots of rice:

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Anise crunchies on the way out:

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This morning, I made us pre-race breakfast cookies with the contents of Erin’s cupboards.

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Each cookie included 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp chocolate chips, 1 tbsp sweetened coconut, 1 tbsp mixed chopped nuts, and cinnamon.

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The frosting involved plain yogurt and half of this baby jar of heaven:IMG_9396

Our post-run lunch was Indian leftovers with tons and tons of yogurt to cut the heat:

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And a very very exciting treat from work yesterday:

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Rosey’s mom (who I think is Puerto Rican) made pasteles — kind of like tamales but with plantain on the outside and meat on the inside — this past week, and Rosey brought them in to share on Thursday. I missed this first delivery because I don’t work on Thursdays, but Nydia gave me a couple of hers yesterday since it was my last day until June, and they all wanted me to be able to try them! I brought my tied-up package to Erin’s with me, boiled it for an hour in salted water per Rosey’s instructions, and set to unwrapping it.

In paper:

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In banana leaf:

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Finally ready:

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Mmmm, it was yummy. I loved the texture of the plantain on the outside. Here’s the filling:

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I dozed off a bit after lunch, and then Erin deposited me at the subway. Two hours later (grrr, construction), I was finally home.

Now, “vacation” is over, and it’s time to rededicate myself to the finals: one paper due Monday and one due Thursday. Then, I will be free!! (Errr, for two weeks until it all starts again …)

To conclude, here are Ting’s battle-scarred legs:

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Would you ever in a million years choose to spend your day off participating in a trail race?

The bakery

… aka my apartment.

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It’s been a busy couple of days around here since I can’t sit still for more than 3.7 seconds. I have too much on my mind with the end of the semester, the last week of my internship (which will be followed by a three week break before my full-time job there starts), my imminent 27th birthday (doom), oh, and the 10k trail walk run up at Bear Mountain this weekend. Never mind that my hamstrings, glutes, and groin are still shot and I haven’t run more than three miles (at a 15-minute mile pace, mind you) in six weeks …

So, back to the bakery.

Featured Bakery Item #1: Raw Macaroons

On Wednesday, I brought home a hunk of fresh coconut that Jessica gave me at work. Remember this?

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Between having raw coconut in my hands and all the raw talk that’s been going around lately, I had only one thing on my mind: raw coconut macaroons!

IMG_9325I’ve been drooling over Gina‘s Fitnessista macaroons for nearly a decade (ok, maybe only six months), so I was thrilled when Elisabeth at Jogger’s Life posted a similar recipe last week. I followed Elisabeth’s recipe with a few modifications: (1) after shredding my coconut, I only had 1/3 cup … so I halved the recipe and used (2) 1/2 cup almond flour (almonds ground in my coffee bean grinder) and (3) 1 Medjool date, chopped/mashed (I am processor-less) and (4) 1 tsp vanilla extract (I’m out of almond) and (5) nothing else, as the date was plenty sweetener for my minimized batch. (Oh, except I made half of the batch chocolate and mixed in unsweetened cocoa powder there).

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I formed my batter into eight little balls.

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And then, it was time to put them in the dehydrator.

Oh wait, I do not have a dehydrator! And, just as the folks at Turtle Mountain ignored my request for coconut ice cream, the folks at Excalibur ignored my request for a dehydrator. I guess I’m not worth a $300 top-of-the-line kitchen appliance. However, those of you blessed with dehydrators have nothing on me because I have an oven with a pilot light. Jealous?

Here are the little balls of delight after an overnight (nine hours!) in my off oven:

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They don’t look any different, do they? To tell the truth, while the texture was actually different (they were no longer sticky in the morning), the batter tasted just as yummy as (if not better than) the finished product.

Featured Bakery Item #2: Jam-Filled Berry Mini Muffins

Today at work (aka my last day as an intern!), my department was planning to have a potluck staff breakfast. It got rescheduled, but I kept to my original baking plan anyway!

I loosely used this recipe for Jam-Filled Almond Muffins from Eating Well. Changes included: (1) halving the recipe to make 12 mini-muffins instead of 12 regular muffins, (2) using only whole wheat flour, (3) replacing the sugar, buttermilk, juice, and oil with the cup of frozen fruit-on-the-bottom from the four fruit-on-the-bottom hotel yogurts I collected a couple weeks ago, (4) using the homemade black raspberry jam from Wife, and (5) eliminating the almond extract because I didn’t have it.

Here’s the jam-filling in progress:

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Topped off:

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And baked:

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Cross-section:

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Some of them got a little too jammy, but that’s actually a benefit in my opinion.

Featured Bakery Item #3: Carrot-Berry Mini Muffins

I was (probably unrealistically) afraid that I wouldn’t have enough muffins, so I decided to bake a second batch using this recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins, also from Eating Well. Changes included: (1) eliminating the upside-down topping so the muffins became carrot muffins, (2) halving the recipe to make 12 minis instead of 12 regulars, (3) using only whole wheat flour, (4) replacing the sugar, oil, juice, and crushed pineapple with a 4 oz. Dole tropical fruit cup and 1/4 cup of the homemade black raspberry jam, and (5) putting nuts only on top instead of mixing them into the batter.

They looked a little green after baking:

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But they still tasted yummy!

What’s your stance on baking substitutions?

P.S. First, I was famous for my balls. Now, it’s my eggs. What’s next?

Why is that thing green?

As promised, the rest of the recycled balls came into play this morning for breakfast.

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I had a small but loaded breakfast cookie. The overnight mix contained 1 tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp oat bran, 2 tbsp extra thick rolled oats, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tsp south-of-the-border pistachio butter, and 1 chopped Hershey’s Kiss. This combination made for perfectly-textured dough this morning:

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I frosted the cookie with 1/3 cup PB2 healthy cream cheese icing and topped it with 1/4 of Sunday’s Holiday Inn cinnamon bun:

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And, of course, the remaining balls:

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I brought my cookie to the couch to eat it with the almond sunse/black tea, the white peony iced tea, and The Today Show. I forgot about the apples up on the table and then realized I wasn’t actually hungry for them. They went back in the fridge for tomorrow.

I had to be up at Hunter at 9 again this week for a workshop on government benefits. I thought I was being so clever bringing my laptop up there so I could blog at the same time … but the wireless was blocked in that room!!! The nerve. They actually want us to pay attention. Hmph.

During the workshop, I ate an orange. If you’re not sure what an orange looks like, I ate one on Tuesday, so you can feel free to backtrack if you need the visual reinforcement.

For lunch, I had the last half cup of Thai seafood coconut curry/grilled veggies from Hunter’s lobby mixed with the half cup of chicken noodle soup that also came my way Monday night at Hunter, courtesy of Emily:

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You might think that’s a weird combination, but it was actually delicious. I should be using coconut milk more often in my life. Too bad Turtle Mountain ignored my request for samples to review. I could have had an official Thai coconut milk curry vs. Turtle Mountain coconut milk curry face-off. Their loss.

The exact same yogurt/ricotta with flax, Pb2, and banana that I had yesterday followed the soup.

img_9000Speaking of samples, I received a package from the more agreeable Just Tomatoes today. They sent me a variety of their products to try, the most exciting being pineapple powder … which seems like PB2 in pineapple form but better than PB2 because it’s pineapple and it has absolutely nothing added. I can’t wait to try it out. Pineapple cream cheese icing, anyone? Ohhhhhh, that would be SO good on carrot cake. But I’m getting carried away.

I opened up the mixed fruit munchies packet and used half for tomorrow’s yogurt (I’m excited to see how the freeze-dried fruit absorbs the moisture from the yogurt overnight) and half for an afternoon snack with a splash of soymilk:

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Mmmm, so good. Especially the pineapple flavor that completely pops. I had a few dry, too — also delicious!

Once I recovered from the freeze-dried fruit lovefest, I headed out to the gym. Thursday is usually my outdoor running day, but running has been causing me too much pain lately and I opted for the gym machines instead (this made me sad because the weather was perfect for running). I did 30 minutes on the Stepmill, 15 minutes on the rower, and 15 minutes on the elliptical plus a bit of abs and stretching. I walked to and from the gym and did not jog because, again, jogging hurts! Stats: 1 hour and 40 minutes, 517 calories, 118 average heart rate, 162 max.

On the way home, I stopped into Union Market for samples of marinated mushrooms, Piave cheese, and these two little desserty treats:

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That chocolate chip brownie piece was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. And sooo chocolate-y:

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I was hoping the green thing would be marzipan-related, but it was just lime cheesecake. Still, I enjoyed every morsel.

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What’s the most surprising cheesecake flavor you’ve ever encountered? Did you eat it?