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A successful batch of hummus

18 Mar

I have struggled for months to make the perfect batch of hummus.  It’s either come out too dry, tasting too much of tahini or too garlicky. But in an attempt to curb all those problems I thought: “What if I added a bit of yogurt?” My goodness! The heavens themselves parted with that revelation! The result was the perfect mixture of flavours and consistency for veggie dunking and falafel spread.

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Now that I have discovered the secret to perfect hummus, I will impart it onto to you: 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. That’s all!

I have now refocused my training to Half-Ironman training. Mark and I are doing the Peterborough Half-Tri in July. That does not give me much time to get my butt into shape so I need to focus on discipline. That wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the weather co-operated. It is now mid-March and we are still under winter storm warnings in the GTA. Although it is not heavy snow fall, it’s slush, ice pellets and freezing rain. Not really the kind of weather in which you want to spend much time. Regardless, I am in the midst of creating a training schedule that I will post here for anyone who is curious.

Most of my training for at least another month or so will be indoors in the pool or the bike trainer. Saturday afternoon I came home from work to my living room looking like this:

DSC00955If that’s not a big hint, I don’t know what is! Mark cycled for 3hrs whereas I did 1.5hrs. It was my second ride over an hour and I made an effort to stay in high gears than the previous ride. To stay motivated we watched a Tour of California stage with some high tempo music. I find that kind of audio and visual distracting very beneficial. I find my mind just turns off and I spin. But I need to be careful that might cadence does not drop in those instances.

I tried something new for dinner. I made a spaghetti squash casserole with roasted tomatoes, white kidney beans and garlic. It was delish!

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To roast the toppings, marinate grape tomatoes, garlic and white kidney beans in 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and parsley for a few minutes. Then roast in the oven for 30 minutes. When both the mixture and spaghetti squash are done, toss them together and add a bit of Parmesan cheese. A great low-carb Sunday dinner.

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Half marathon and weekend recap

7 Mar

Well, who knew that I could pull off a sub 2-hour half marathon? Not me, that’s for sure! But that’s what I managed to pull of on Sunday at the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington. Really, my day did not start off with much confidence or high hopes. I was hoping for somewhere between 2 hours and 2hr 5min. The weather was also a factor. I’ve never waited in the cold at a start line. There was also the worry factors of wearing too many layers and getting too hot. Lastly, what would I do for hydration? I always race with a fuel belt but, in my vanity, decided not to wear one this time because it looks rather dorky with my coat. So I was hoping that there would be enough water stations along the route.

The race got started and I did not struggle to settle my heart rate to something steady (thanks to the warm up dance/jumping at the start line). I came to the first kilometer at 5:59. I knew I would have to cut off some seconds to get my two hour goal. I picked up my pace and met up with two girls who were sitting behind us on the bus to the start line. I asked if I could join them and they warmly welcomed me. We talked most of the way, distracting us from the many kilometers still ahead of us. The course was an out and back. At the turn around, one of the girls advised me that our pace was now 5:40km/hr – holy cow! Neither of us was hurting and we all felt good. However, I had to leave them at km 17. One of the girls was slowing and I did not want to sacrifice a personal best (and potential sub 2hour). I said my goodbyes and proceeded to sprint, sort of. At this point I was passing loads of people and kept an eye on my watch. I had 19 minutes to run 3km. Pfff, no big deal – that’s loads of time! As I came running in the final stretch, made a last turn towards the finish line this is the face that describes what I was feeling when I saw that finish clock and my surprised cheering team:

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“Look at the clock! Can you believe it?!” What I was thinking or yelling, I can’t remember.

My finish time was 1hr 58mins, a personal best and 13 minute gain on my previous time in 2011.

Mark and I spent Monday relaxing and cooking. We both had excellent times and wanted the day to do things at our own pace, which was slow compared to Sunday. Mark’s mom, who had come to spend the weekend with us, spent the day in Kitchener which gave us all afternoon to prepare a lovely meal.

DSC00936A three course meal was served with guacamole and tortillas for appetizers, mini spinach pies and Moroccan stew for main course and biscotti and tea for dessert.

Making the Cut

31 Oct

Happy Halloween to all! Hopefully the weather is cooperating wherever you are. We were only mildly affecting by Hurricane Sandy. Strong winds, rain, power outage for a few hours, and a few downed trees but nothing major, thankfully.

Now that I am no longer training for any running events or triathlons I’ve decided to head back into the gym for a month or two to get some of that muscle definition I had earlier in the spring. I’ve been following Jillian Michael’s “Making the Cut” book. Her workout regimes consist of 5 circuits that you can do as many times as you would like. I do them twice for a total of a 1 hour work out. She combines resistance, plyometrics and cardio in her routines. She also incorporates moves that target large muscle groups that hit the smaller ones for a more effective work out. I like it!

I’m sure the other people in the gym think I’m a crazy person. Carrying around my notebook with the circuits listed, going from treadmill, to weights, to the matts and then start all over again. Oh well…it’s all worth it when I come home to this:

Chicken with homemade seasoning, apricot glazed carrots and feta and spinach pie. Mmmm! My man can cook!

 

Sunday bake series: Baked nectarines

23 Sep

I took the day off from running and actually had a great day all by myself. Mark was at work so I was free to do things at my own pace. I walked around the farmer’s market, watched a movie and had a whole afternoon of cooking. I made a sweet potato soup, roasted vegetable tart and, for dessert: baked nectarines.

(That blob in the middle is yogurt that was engulfed by the soup)

These baked nectarines are super easy and can be made with peaches too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 nectarines
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of oats
  • 1 egg white
  • handful-ish of sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Cut nectarines in half, removing the pit. Place halves in a baking dish, drizzle with honey and some water. Bake at 425F for 30min.
  2. Mix oats, cinnamon, egg white, and almonds in a small ramekin.
  3. When nectarines are baked, place oat mixture in oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Place a spoonful of oat mixture on the nectarine, drizzle with extra honey if desired and serve.

It’s so easy and kind of a healthy-ish dessert.

This weekend was the town’s annual fall fair so Mark and I checked it out. We rode the ferris wheel and were amazed by the farm animals – we’re such city folk. One work horse in particular was very pretty. Mark snapped a photo of her and it almost seems as though she is smiling.

We sat through the end of the truck pulling competition. Mark wanted to see the demolition derby but the country girl inside me has limits.

Now it’s time to enjoy a beautiful, sunny Sunday.

Anniversary weekend

6 Aug

Mark and I always look forward to the long weekend in August. It’s our anniversary and we look back on our first August long weekend together with fondness as our two first anniversaries were spent at my family cottage.

Unfortunately, busy work schedules and life just seems to get in the way of making the trip to the cottage in order to celebrate with family. So the last few years we’ve been celebrating in our own frugal ways.

Although it was a special weekend, there was no break in the training schedule. I ran 23km Saturday morning and came home to roses. Mark had stopped by the farmer’s market after his run to buy me flowers.

For supper on Sunday I made a bean and veggie stew, guacamole and bread, and blueberry pie for dessert.

I included the beautiful roses in the picture. They are so lush and fragrant! Not pictured is the blueberry pie. I must confess I didn’t photograph the dessert because I was too busy eating it!

To complete our anniversary weekend, we went on a bike ride this morning. Mark showed me some of his training routes and brought me up into the Escarpment. My gosh! The hill to get into the Escarpment is the longest and steepest hill I’ve ever climbed – and I couldn’t even make it half way so we walked our bikes up. We had planned to visit Hilton Falls but when we arrived we were informed that we needed to pay.  Neither of us had brought any money and $13 was a little too expensive for us. So we took a little break and biked back home.

Farmer’s market finds

10 Jun

I started my Sunday just like every Sunday: a challenging and hard brick.  30 kilometres on my bike followed by a 4km run. Hopefully that will prepare me for my triathlon on the 24th. I won’t be able to do a long workout next weekend because I am going to a cottage for my cousin’s bachelorette’s party. But that will be a story for another time.

After my brick workout, I leisurely made my way to the farmer’s market in our neighbourhood. I LOVE our neighbourhood! I will need to take pictures soon because I know I will miss it. I’m trying to savour everything about it to have as many memories as possible when we leave.

The farmer’s market is in a new location this year. The old grounds are being renovated so the market moved to a park’s grounds and it’s lovely. I love it even more than the old location. There is a lot more shade from trees and picnic tables. It even seems as though there are more vendors. When I got home I told Mark that we will be going to the farmer’s market in a few weeks to have lunch: buy a loaf of bread, some fresh fruit and spreads/dips, and dessert (there is no shortage of baked goods).

These are my farmer’s market finds: strawberries, honey, eggs, sweet potato spread and apple syrup (with my birthday flowers in the background)

Mark left early this afternoon for an overnight trip to Milton. He has a job interview in the morning. I hope things go well; I really would not mind moving to Milton. From what I’ve seen and heard, it looks like a lovely city. It’s a medium sized town with a small town feel. Well, that’s what I’m hoping it offers, anyway.

So since I was alone, I made dinner for one using the strawberries I bought today.

Strawberry and spinach grilled cheese. The strawberries made the sandwich a tad sweet.

This was my plate: potato spread and pita, grilled cheese, sweet potato and a pickle with a glass of homemade iced tea.

Celebrations, food and friends

9 Jun

For a Friday, my work day was fairly normal. I worked most of my day alone because my colleague went to visit his parents for the weekend. I was looking forward to going home at the end of the day because Mark and I had planned a little date night. I had pulled out a whole chicken from the freezer and was really looking forward to mashed potatoes and steamed carrots.  But when I got home, I was faced a whole different scene and entrée.

I came home to the table set for two with flowers, lasagna, homemade brownies and presents!  Mark had decided to celebrate my birthday early as I won’t be here next weekend to celebrate on my actual birthday. The flowers are absolutely gorgeous (all my favourite colours) and the wrapping paper even matches! What a great man I have!

Later on, some friends visited and we ate Mark’s homemade caramel filled brownies. I was so proud of him; he made them from scratch! I couldn’t believe it.

I learned how to play Euchre  also. My partner and I kicked butt and won 10-4; I swear it was my first time playing! After a few glasses of wine and pints of beer we decided to call it a night. It was a good night for an early birthday celebration.