Rob disappears and I do a cold, windy and rainy bike 100 km ride. Cameo appearance by the dreaded flat tire again. Sound familiar?
It is hard to believe, but within the span of a few days of my last solo cycling adventure, I signed up for the Tour de Houston for the 60-mile/100-km ride. More impressive (or shocking), I also dedicated some overflow vacation days to visit my parents and cycle Rideau Lakes with my Dad in June. This will be my third time on the 360 km 2-day course, I am hoping it will keep my motivated to continue to cycle throughout the summer to have fun at Cycle Oregon.
In any case, cycling season has begun. This weekend simply solidified why I love cycling so much. IT IS FUN! Even with nearly 4 hours of on-and-off again rain and fierce winds, I had a blast. Granted, I was sad Rob was missing such a fun experience but it was liberating to tackle the course at my own pace (yes, I know, Rob is usually the one waiting for me, not the other way around). I don’t know how many people showed up in spite of the weather (see the video recap here), but over 5000 people registered for the event. It is infectious to be surrounded by other cyclists. I rarely see another cyclist on my commutes to work but now, I had to jostle and wind my way around so many others.
I picked this event because it is actually run by the City of Houston to promote cycling in the city. It was well marked (save one turn) and well staffed. The course changes every year to highlight different areas of Houston. This year, the course was fantastic. Nearly all intersections were staffed to give cyclists the right-of-way (most of the time, obviously they had to let cars go through as well). I also knew it would give me the courage to try out a 100 km course with lots of support. Turns out, I needed it. I found myself with a flat tire a bit after the half-way point. When I cycle with Rob, he always brings a tube, pump, and tools to fix tires but this time, I didn’t. Thankfully, I turned around and one of the sag trucks found me and my sorry wheel. They brought me back to my last rest stop where I was able to get my flat tire. In addition, they then drove me back to where I had my flat tire so I could continue my journey.
I was a bit bummed because I had lost a lot of time and I was even turned away at one of the rest stops. I had a flat tire, I am not that slow! I kept thinking to myself. However, with the continuous rain, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the cyclists had thinned out so it was less congested but the best part was that I was mostly passing everyone. Not just a morale boost, this was incredible practical: less mud in my face! No one has mud guards, so if you are within 10 feet of the person cycling in front of you, you would be greeted with mud galore. How do I know? Right before I had my flat tire, there was a muddy patch and it landed all over my face, my glasses, my clothes and my bike.
The course was well stocked with bananas, oranges and peanuts (and pretzels which I didn’t eat) but by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the vendors had packed up for the day. I cycled home. And only then I remembered how long rides really deplete my motivation to cook. I had the most motivation to do laundry and have a bath, though. Talk about being dirty. But before that, I treated myself to a fun recovery smoothie courtesy of Brendan Brazier’s new cookbook Thrive Energy Cookbook.
Based off the recipes from one of my favourite restaurants, Thrive Juice Bar, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: the recipes taste great. If they are true to the restaurant, you will want to make that pad thai stat. However, the curse: that pad thai? It tastes great, in part, because each component is perfected. The recipe may be on one page but it will redirect to 4 addition recipes – three sauces/vinaigrettes and a vegetable mix. All for a single serving.
The photos are gorgeous. The recipes are tantalizing with many classic vegan combinations. I am salivating over the drinks: kale mojito (I have had that at the restaurant and it is great!), chocolate-truffle-caramel mocha, chocolate-peppermint matcha magic drink. The restaurant’s Big Green Energy Charger is in there, too, which I love with a hit of maca, but I don’t know how I will find my own freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice for my version to be authentic. The recipes focus on mostly whole foods, although Daiya cheese makes its appearance, numerous Vega products along with Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli which seems to be the base for all four aioli recipes. Some incredibly hard-to-find ingredients are included (lucuma, astralagus, ginseng, wheatgrass juice, reishi mushroom, maca) but not too many.. and most could easily be omitted. I look forward to trying out more recipes and thrilled I can share a cookbook with one of you, too.
For this smoothie recipe, nuts, chocolate and protein powder are combined to make a satisfying smoothie. I typically don’t like smoothies with ice, but this was well balanced, probably because there was a larger amount of nuts than my typical smoothies. Brendan calls this a recovery smoothie although for information on his rationale for his sports recipe (either before, during or after exercise), you are redirected to his previous books.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below. The winner will be selected at random on March 29, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Thrive Energy Cookbook shared elsewhere:
This is being submitted to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.
There was How I Spent My New Year’s Eve and now How I Spent My New Year’s Day.
Who did not enjoy a mid-week hump day holiday?
Because we had returned to Houston, this was a New Year’s Day like no other. It was reasonably warm outside. Rob had a taco craving. The much-hyped taco restaurant was open on January 1. We wanted to cycle. So we combined the plans.
In truth, while I cycle to/from work every day, our weekend rides have dwindled in between all our travel, cold and rainy weather and lastly Rob’s cold. By the time I became infected, I was only inflicted by a minor sore throat (so far, at least). I didn’t let that stop us from cycling for tacos.
Instead of our dawn-cracking bicycle rides of summer yonder, our winter cycling is more of an afternoon affair. In Houston, daily temperatures are at their peak around 3-4 pm, whereas in Toronto, it is more like 1-2 pm. In any case, we forged ahead. Rob picked the location that would lead best to a bike ride.
We picked a nice bike trail that is fairly sheltered from motorists. While construction has demolished its uninterrupted bicycle bliss (Houston’s construction season must be winter), it was a great ride… and surprisingly without too many other people sharing the path.
While the bike ride was fantastic, nearly 40 km and with a good pace, we had a much slower pace at the restaurant. Because it was THE place to be… we had to wait at least 15 minutes prior to being seated. Rob felt vindicated, though. He had eaten the best tacos yet, although I still feel like those in Mexico City were superior. Rob pointed out that the commute is much easier if we stay within Houston.
Hope you enjoyed your holiday, too.
After our ride, I treated us to this delicious smoothie. A little messy, but I decided not to clean up my mess. All for a better photo, no? ;)
While we have a freezer filled with frozen bananas, I like to whip together banana-free smoothies, too. Dates and lucuma powder provide the sweet caramel undertones for this creamy smoothie. Banana usually lends well to both creaminess and sweetness, and in this case, the creaminess comes from tofu, hemp seeds and macadamia nuts. It is actually a very simple smoothie but it tasted great. It kind of brought whole foods smoothie to a new level for me (due to the lack of non-dairy milk). In addition to the lack of banana, this smoothie was fun because you basically create your own non-dairy milk from macadamia nuts and tofu.
This is just one of the creative craveable concoctions from Julie Morris’ Superfood Smoothies. She has really outdone herself, because there are so many wonderful drinks here: watermelon acai, carrot cardamom, mango chili, cucumber mint, chocolate kale, mint chip, mayan chocolate, maca oat, pineapple maca, red velvet cake (with roasted beets!) and even a chocolate smoothie with cauliflower.
All of the smoothie focus on plant-based ingredients, with a special focus on superfoods. Superfoods including standard fruits and vegetables but also less common ingredients (aka expensive) like acai, macqui, maca and camu powders, dried mulberries, hemp seeds, and fresh coconut water. A handy substitution chart at the back of the book will help with substitutions, but let’s be honest: smoothies are meant to be forgiving. Most of the time, the hard-to-find ingredients could be omitted altogether since they are used in limited amount, substituted with something more common or you could splurge and just use a little bit of them for each smoothie, which would last you a long time. A bit more of a bother for me was the inclusion of different juices in the recipes – carrot, apple, orange, pomegranate, aloe, etc. I would rather throw in a whole carrot than only use its juice, but one is way more sweet than the other… and way more juicy. If you use the recipes as a guide, I don’t think you will be let down. Furthermore, while there may or may not be a conflict of interest, Julie is a spokesperson and executive chef for a company that sells said expensive superfoods. Although her work with the Smoothment (Smoothie Movement), may indeed make her an expert with such ingredients. Perhaps if you drink your way through this cookbook, you will become one, too.
Thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the continental United States (sorry to all my non-US readers). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite smoothie. If you have yet to venture into the land of smoothies, have a look through the index of Superfood Smoothies on amazon (or any of the smoothies listed here) and tell me what you want to drink the most. I will randomly select a winner on January 15, 2014. Good luck!
Superfood Smoothies spotted elsewhere:
Lemon-Lime Smoothie (with Bok Choy!)
Cocoa Cream (aka Chocolate Dream Smoothie)
It took me awhile, but I finally succumbed.
Caffeine: sometimes, I need a little extra oomph in the morning.
I made it through university, medical school and a 5-year residency before I contemplated caffeine. A few months into my fellowship, with its longer hours, I started with a bit of green tea.
I am not drinking coffee or black tea (I actually don’t like the taste), but Rob and I both knew something was up after we scoped out green tea for me to drink while in Mexico. Three days with a morning green tea latte.
Just the trickle of caffeine was able to fuel me throughout the day, though. Rob and I powered through multiple markets (food and general markets), biked around midtown, visited cathedrals, admired public murals, walked around Frida Kahlo’s home, cheered for Mexican wrestlers (ok, maybe we just watched) and our most anticipated event: walking up ancient pyramid ruins outside Mexico City.
We left Houston, and its cold weather, and thankfully, by the time we returned, it was back to its glorious warm self. I am back to cycling in shorts. I know, this may not be the most seasonal recipe for those in a winter climate, but I have been enjoying a multitude of smoothies since I received Kathy’s cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies.
Each weekend, after our standard cycle adventure, I would return home for a frosty drink. I’d leaf through and pick a new smoothie each week. I quickly learned that I had to plan my smoothie in advance. Sometimes, I had a hard time deciding which smoothie to make! So many options, so little time. However, once I made this Matcha Ginger Smoothie (the ever-creative Kathy named it Matcha Ginger An-Tea-Oxidant Shake), (Rob and) I knew it was the winner. The one I would photograph and share with you.
Creamy and sweet frozen bananas complement the bitter green tea matcha, but the best part was the ginger twist. Kathy suggested using a dash of ginger powder, but sharp flavour from fresh ginger is unbeatable in this smoothie. A high speed blender would have no problems whipping this into a delicious drink.
I was not sure whether a smoothie cookbook would be worthwhile, but I have had fun trying out different drinks. With 365 different recipes, you are bound to be inspired by a few new combinations: walnut-carrot cake, jazzy ginger grape, lemon-beet clarifying cooler, maple spice buckwheat shake, mango-cado kale kiss, a-peel-ing chai shake. Her crazy concoctions span smoothies with vegetables, fruit and nuts or non-dairy milk. Occasionally yogurt or fruit juice slips in, too. Thin and frosty, or thick and decadent. All vegan. I also appreciate that nutritional facts are included (all recipes serve 2 but the nutritional contents are for the entire recipe).
Beyond the recipes, Kathy is also a fabulous photographer. I find it hard to photograph drinks, but her cookbook is peppered with gorgeous photography. Bright, colourful and tantalizing, signatures of her blog, Happy Healthy Life. It is refreshing to see wholesome ingredients highlighted at their finest. Kathy also takes the time at the beginning to ground you in smoothie creation, with troubleshooting and myths debunked. She also highlights being creative and flexible in the kitchen. I don’t like ice in my smoothies (Kathy is a big fan) but just adjust as you see fit.
I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by Kathy. If you haven’t made anything by Kathy yet, have a look through the table of contents of 365 Vegan Smoothies on google books (or my list above or below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 11, 2013. Good luck!
PS. Kathy’s recipes from 365 Vegan Smoothies shared elsewhere:
PPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for The Simply Raw Kitchen.
This is my submission to this week’s Health Vegan Fridays and this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Have you heard of cronuts? Maybe the dosant? They are both spins on the same baked hybrid: a donut-like croissant. The original cronut wooed New York City. However, they take days to make and minutes to sell out. The lines are long and the prices are high. Since then, a few knock-off dosants have peppered North America.
In Houston, they can be found at Pena’s Donut Heaven in Pearland. When Rob discovered this, we had our next cycling destination picked. Turns out, while the cronut was not that fabulous, we’ve discovered our favourite cycling route in Houston, thus far. We’ve pedalled back 3 times already, enjoying the long, flat and straight road leading out of downtown Houston. Of course, Pena’s dosant is not vegan and I oftentimes get giggles from strangers as they see me snacking on an apple while Rob munches on his donut.
When we get home, though, I have been mixing up my own fabulous tropical smoothies. We’re working through different frozen fruit pulps. After our trip to Colombia, it was hard to find tropical frozen fruit (mamey, guanabanana, lulo, etc) in Toronto, but we snagged a bunch when we spotted it at Fiesta Mart. Mamey is still my favourite, but this simple guava smoothie was very good, too. Usually we just drink it and forget it, but this one I remade and photographed because I thought it was perfect to share. Frozen guava is combined with frozen banana, almond milk and ground flax seeds. The flax bulk up the smoothie making it more creamy. You may see the small flecks of brown but you can’t taste them.
Coming home to a cold drink is definitely the way to go in Houston. Do you have a favourite treat for hot weather?
This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.
One of my favourite parts of my roadtrip to Houston was meeting friends. Friends that I have only corresponded with through blog comments and emails.
I have met a few other bloggers in person and it can be both nerve-wracking and rewarding. It is a bit like online dating. You feel like you know them without doing it in person. There can be a disconnect. How well do you really know them? Perhaps only the part they have shared publicly. On top of that, I narrate their voices in my head, perhaps erroneously. I was a bit shocked when I met Hannah for the first time. I shouldn’t have been… but yes, she has an Aussie accent! (which you can totally listen to here). Or when I met Laura, and she said y’all within a minute. You know you aren’t in Canada anymore when they start saying y’all.
Anyways, this brings me to Ellen and Andy. I was thrilled to meet up with her for breakfast as we skirted out to New Orleans. I really felt like we connected and had Rob not reminded us of our 7 hour drive ahead of us, we could have chatted all day. Ellen and Andy knew me well enough to warn me about things I had not learned yet: Americans and their guns (apparently there is a city that require everyone to own a gun!), how expensive American health insurance can be (while I always knew American health care was the most expensive in the world, I never had actual numbers to feel. We needed to find bridge health insurance which is $500/month for healthy people!), and tips on how to beat the heat.
I am a lover of tisanes and Ellen had a delicious iced tea to sip. It has been a while since I’ve had iced tea. I grew up loving the uber sweetened Nestea and I know that in the US, iced tea can be simply iced tea. Unsweetened, in all its glory, which was a shock when I liked the sweetened stuff. This time, though, instead of a steeped black tea concoction, Ellen made an iced strawberry lemonade. I have actually stopped buying fruity teas (except apple cinnamon – I still like that) because I don’t like them. I don’t know what it is. I have gravitated to earthy, spicy chai-based teas. Or lemon (+/- ginger) ones. Or mint brews. But not strawberry. Anyways, I digress. Ellen explained she brewed it for iced tea. That’s the way they drink in the South. When in the South, do as the Southerners.. ;)
I tried it, and I was smitten. Ellen sent me home with my own package so I could make my own tea once I arrived. That tea did not last more than a week in my house. It was so good. Let’s just say, Houston is hot. A girl needs to drink.
While I have added it to the bucket list to try and recreate in my own kitchen (the tea seems to be mainly dried apples and strawberries with rosehip peels and marigold petals, that I will probably omit), I ended up trying this delicious brew first which uses my kitchen staples.
Warming spices cinnamon and cardamom are paired with a bit of zip from the ginger. If you leave it to steep a long time, cinnamon will be the dominant flavour but that is good, too.
Rob will tell you I have a hard time drinking water. He thinks it runs in my family. No problems with hydration when I make this, though.
PS. Also on the bucket list: making the apple cinnamon macaroons Andy made for breakfast (only one of many delicious treats for our breakfast feast). Delicious! :)
Just like riding a bicycle.
I put that to the test on the weekend.
I have not been up to my typical exercise regime this spring. I pared it down to 1 weight lifting class a week and 1 bike ride. Over the past 2 months, I have not cycled more than 400km.
Yet, in a week, I have signed up to cycle 200km between Perth and Kingston. (I long gave up cycling the full 354km between Ottawa and Kingston).
I used to think anyone could ride 100km. However, with my severe lack of training this year, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to cycle the “short” 200km route either.
So, I dusted off my road bike (the first time I rode it this year), and cycled almost 100km with Rob and Sue on Sunday. It was one of my favourite routes (the Aurora loop) which meanders north of Toronto through such small cities like Snow Ball and Maple. Cycling north of the of the city also meant tackling the uphill during the first part of the trip and enjoying the downhill going home. All in between getting soaked from a sudden downpour and battling the wind from many directions.
Did I do it? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. Will I do it again next weekend? Yes.
Rob has been training for this throughout our short spring, so he didn’t find this route as challenging as me… which meant he had more energy when we arrived home. Originally, he wanted to treat me with some ice cream but: a) I felt more like a smoothie, and b) we should be eating through our freezer stash. As I lay on the ground, Rob whipped up a delicious smoothie. I kind of made suggestions from the floor: frozen banana, frozen mamey, vanilla, hemp protein powder and almond milk. It was a crazy concoction and we weren’t sure how it would taste…. Only after I drank a huge serving, did I have enough energy to photograph it… because we both agreed it was too good not to share.
It is hard to describe the flavour of mamey. It takes like mamey… Think about it, how would you describe the taste of apple? Anyways, it is a sweet creamy mango-like flavour with floral undertones. It has a custard-like taste and consistency. Describing flavours is hard. I like this description:
The fruit’s flavor is variously described as a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and maraschino cherries with the texture of an avocado. Source
It paired beautifully with the creamy banana. The hemp protein powder made it a bit more of a green colour but also added creaminess.
How did we find mamey? We originally discovered it while travelling in Colombia, both as a fruit and in delicious smoothie form. We were thrilled when we spotted frozen mamey (sapote) at a Colombian bakery in Toronto and picked up a few packages earlier this year. They also had frozen guanabanana, guava, blackberry (mora) and possibly other non-exotic fruits like strawberries.
Have you ever tried mamey? I think it is best in smoothie-form. :)
This is just a quick post to tell you about my latest infatuation.
(Unlike the Mediterranean Beans which I ate a month ago)
That ice cream craving was this week, though.
And while this is no ice cream, it is a deliciously creamy banana-less smoothie. And so cold, it gave me ice cream head aches.
Slow down, Janet…
Yes, this is the perfect drink to slow down with.. on a sunny summery day (thank you beautiful weather, Toronto).
Bananas are a common fixture in my smoothies, but Rob has stopped buying bananas, focusing on our freezer fruits. Vegetables are commonly added to sauce to make them smooth (cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato and roasted tomatoes come to mind), and I have even added carrots to smoothies before (for a strawberry-mango-carrot delight). But this time, I wanted to try cucumbers. They worked well in my Cucumber Beet Ginger juice, so I figured out if someone had done something similar.
Now it didn’t seem so scary to pair cucumbers with strawberries. I’ve tried it with the seeds and without, and personally I just can’t be bothered to remove the seeds. To be honest, you cannot really taste the cucumber per se but it gives a fresh feel to the smoothie. I’ve made it with and without the vanilla and both are good. And the lemon juice? Definitely better with it.
Weird, but it works.
Definitely a comforting, guiltless drink for the summer. Thank goodness cucumbers are on sale this week. If you pick some up and make this, please let me know what you think… or if you have any other ways to enjoy cucumbers drinks. I was wondering whether they would freeze well for smoothies but ate through all my cucumbers before I could figure it out.
Joy says hers feeds two. It serves one Janet. And I’ve drunk my way through 2 cucumbers, if that tells you anything.
As I said, I should listen to myself more often. I am full of great wisdom.
Another piece of Janet tried-and-true advice: follow the recipe! I know I adapt many recipes to what I have on hand, but some recipes are best left untouched. Case in point: traditional hummus. I already have a recipe I love (LOVE!) and see no need to experiment. Winging it ends up with a subpar hummus.
For some reason, I also find juices and smoothies to be a bit finicky. Sure, I can wing random smoothies and juices, but sometimes the proportions are off, some flavours aren’t properly balanced and gosh, I know it can taste better.
Hence why I am sharing this recipe. It turned out great. When I winged this with raspberries, flax and protein powder, it was ok but not fabulous. Raspberries are more tart than strawberries and while I used flax seeds as my milk substitute, almonds and hemp seeds create a more lusciously, creamy drink. I still tinkered with the original recipe but not by much. Next time, I will add some protein powder, which can easily be hidden inside a smoothie.
I have eaten at Gorilla Foods a few times when visiting Vancouver and this shake is definitely one of my favourites. I found most of their dishes to be a bit lackluster although I thoroughly enjoyed their Main St. Monkey Sandwich: a raw squash-curry bread filled with olive tapenade, creamy mashed avocado, zucchini hummus, tomatoes, cucumber and sprouts. I thought there was raisin chutney, too, but I could be mistaken. In any case, it was a delicious sandwich to try if you are in their neighbourhood.
I often try to recreate resto meals. Inspired by Gorilla Foods, I’ve made a (non-raw) kabocha squash curried flatbread, but filled it with eggplant bacon as a BLT. Their raisin chutney has been on my hit-list, though. Although their guacamole recipe is in Thrive Foods, it wasn’t until they released their cookbook, that nearly their entire menu was available to be made at home.
We’re all out of raisins, though, so I started by making this smoothie. And as I already said, I wasn’t disappointed. Sweet creamy strawberries with a hint of malty maca and vanilla.
How do you usually make your smoothies? Wing it or measure it?
Other smoothies/drinks here and elsewhere:
Peachy Keen Vanilla Smoothie
Chocolate Maca Raspberry Smoothie
Raw Chocolate Milkshake at My New Roots (very, very good!)
Mojito Smoothie at My New Roots (different but good)
My first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday). Which was actually a Thursday, and posted on a Saturday.
I have never been one to want to document everything I eat in a day, but by the end of Valentine’s Day, Rob had managed to do most of it on my behalf. HA! Not the best photos (thank you to fluorescent lights), but that’s all in the spirit of WIAW. (I have supplemented with some other photos). :)
Since I knew Rob had plans for dinner, I started off by baking breakfast for Rob: Peanut butter cookie baked oatmeal. Rob gasped at how much it tasted like a peanut butter cookie (without any flour!). Pictured with Rob’s card. :)
I usually wake up and immediately eat half a grapefruit. Lately I have been drinking some green juice (I make enough to last 3 days or so). This cucumber-beet-ginger juice was delicious. (See recipe below)
A few hours later, when I arrive at work, I eat my steel-cut oats with protein powder. Lately, I have been adding spirulina to it and it makes it an electric green.
For lunch, I had the last of my curry-miso squash and chickpea soup.
Late afternoon, I snacked on an apple.
For dinner, Rob made my African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew. I like how he scoured my blog for a recipe he knew I would like (I am very predictable that way!). It was one of my favourite dishes in 2010 (such high praise!) and it had obviously been a long time since I’ve had it. He substituted white beans for the kidney beans and served it with red quinoa. He planned for a red-themed meal and solidified it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Still as delicious as I remember. Even better (I could taste the love).
For dessert, he surprised me with heart-shaped chocolate hazelnut truffles. Rob thought my recent post was a hint for Valentine’s Day (hahaha, I swear it wasn’t). He spiced things up by using hazelnut butter and made 3 versions: au naturel, some with a whole macadamia nut inside and some with shredded coconut. We obviously had to sample all three (each, of course). I think my favourite was the one with the whole nut. (PS. Yes, this recipe is so easy, Rob made them in under 20 minutes!)
What a keeper, eh? :)
Do you “celebrate” Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do?
I know it is fall.
I unearthed my long pants to cycle to work last week. I now don full-fingered gloves as well as my cycling hat.
But, it isn’t fall until the winter squashes come out. And the apples.
I have been relishing in the end-of-summer produce for the past few weeks. Tomatoes. Green beans. Beets. I bought some squashes but have yet to cook with them. I also got some canned pumpkin and resisted the onslaught of all things pumpkin. Until now.
Maybe I can blame it on the equinox?
Now that I’ve started, I don’t think it will stop. Not only because I have to plow through the monster of a pumpkin can but because I have found a glorious way to enjoy pumpkin.
In my morning brew.
I love my tea and usually enjoy a nice cup in the morning. Technically, I enjoy tisanes because I prefer herbal-based blends. I like rooibos but have started to shun all things with black teas. My favourite tea remains a chai-based concoction and surprisingly, I have yet to create my own home-grown spice medley. No better time than to start today with this cup.
Savoury spices, including cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom mellow nicely with the pumpkin with the peppercorns and ginger offering a nice kick of spice. I used pumpkin butter (from Trader Joe’s) as my sweetener but I look forward to fiddling with this for a less sweetened version. In any case, this was so good I had to share the recipe immediately. :)
I am also excited to make this pumpkin chili with the leftover pumpkin puree! It was so good last year! :)
I have to update you on the Vitamix!
It is alive and well!!
Turns out it has an automatic shut off if the motor is overheating, which can happen when using low speeds.
The next morning, I tried it again… and it is all working fine and dandy!
I was really worried actually… Sorry for being such a downer for the past few posts. :(
Perfect timing to whip up this fabulous smoothie. The carrot tempers the sweetness from the mango and pineapple juice. It also adds a bit of bulk which I countered with some more water.
Rob laughs at me because one of my guilty pleasures is ordering fresh juices and smoothies from restaurants. Nothing beats a fresh blend of ripe vegetables, or a creamy smoothie packed with fruits. Feeling guilty about eating something so healthy seems so odd, but when they cost over $5 a pop, that’s when I feel bad. I mean, I could make something similar at home… on the smoothie aspect, that is. Unfortunately my old food processor can’t make fresh juice.
But now that I have a high-speed Vitamix blender (wahoo!), even my smoothies taste better! An immersion blender keeps things a bit on the chunky side, a food processor is better and now I know how the professionals get that secret creamy consistency without the cream (although they could also be adding cream, too, without me knowing). It’s the blender.
I know the Vitamix is not just for smoothie and drinks, but that’s all I’ve made so far (in the 2 days I’ve had it unpacked!). Even the lowly smoothie has been brought to the next level with the Vitamix. I mean, it better. I can buy a lot of drinks at restos for $500. :P
My latest smoothie craze has been devouring local Ontario peaches. Throw in a fresh, ripe, pitted peach, half a frozen banana, vanilla, chia seeds and some soy milk. Blend to reach creamy peachy bliss. Sip and enjoy!
I never quite understood why I would want to drink my breakfast. However, chilled smoothies filled with fruit and seasonings have been perfect before and after my bicycle rides.
I am currently testing recipes for Tess Challis‘ upcoming superfoods cookbook and have been loving her smoothies! Her “Maca My Day” smoothie is what got me hooked, and it is wonderful with frozen bananas and the malty goodness from maca. She has a few delicious smoothies planned for the cookbook, and I took some liberty to create my own variation.
Perfect for breakfast, a delicious treat for dessert, enjoy this smoothie guilt-free as it is packed with frozen banana, raspberries, chia seeds, toasted carob and vanilla.
Chocolate and raspberry pair well together. Except I didn’t use chocolate. I used toasted carob powder, which has a flavour similar to chocolate without the caffeine. Carob is a bit sweeter than cocoa, and definitely sweeter than raw cacao, so I didn’t feel like this smoothie needed any additional sweetener, but add to taste. Maca is also wonderful in it, but completely optional.
I should judge the difficulty of recipes on my ability to make them after a bike ride (yam and black bean stew, I’ve got my eyes on you!). To be honest, I don’t think any of my recipes are hard to make (heck, even I can make it!) but I know some can be lengthy, especially if dried beans are involved.
Last weekend, I cycled to Kitchener with a friend. We opted to take a shorter route home, cycling to the Aldershot GO Station in Burlington and training the rest of the way home. I cycled 209km that weekend, and with the shorter distance on Sunday, it meant I was home by 3:30pm and able to do some weekend chores.
Um, no. Utter fail.
I got as far as: a) blending myself a recovery smoothie with banana and maca; b) during the post-ride euphoria, calling Rob to tell him I arrived alive; c) taking a nice warm bath; d) throwing all my cycling clothes in the washing machine to get washed; e) making this soup; f) unexpectedly catching up with an old friend over the phone for an hour…. Giving my mom a well-deserved (brain-supported) phone call, unfortunately was not in the cards (=biggest failure). :(
Thank goodness I still had some delicious leftover raw pad thai for dinner that I picked up from Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (which travelled incredibly well over 80km on my bike!). (Their big green juice with maca was also exactly what I needed when I finally arrived in Waterloo).
Anyways, I had a few recipes on my week’s menu, but was only able to muster enough energy to make this Orange Beet Soup, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I figured it would be a simple thing to throw together and should take under 30 minutes, right?
Obviously, in my post-cycle haze, my coordination (hand and mental) decrease. It took me more like 45 minutes and I didn’t even grate my vegetables by hand (thank you food processor!) plus another 15 minutes to clean (curse you food processor!) . I peeled my beets which took up a lot of time, and probably unnecessary in retrospect.
Also problematic: juicing my oranges. 1.5 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. By me armed with my lemon squisher. 4 oranges later and many more minutes later, I had it all. Reinfeld may suggest 1-2 oranges, but that is impossible! Unless you get so much more juice with a juicer? Or pick an incredibly juicy one from a tree in Florida? Because I use all the pre-juicing tricks: microwave for 20 seconds, smash it and roll it around on the counter. And it took me just over 3 oranges. ;)
Anyways, I will see if my kitchen speed increases if I were to make this at any other time.
Because this is a great soup and should get repeated. Like when I have a garden filled with beets (oh yes!).
Simple ingredients layer to create a nice, light, flavourful soup. Beet is at its core, but it is sweet from the layers of orange and carrots. The dill add another dimension with a nod to the Eastern European pairing of beet and dill, and the red miso creates that subtle complexity.
This soup is great warm and chilled. Chilled, it is a refreshing and bright starter and if I had a high-powered blender, this would make this the ultimate savoury summer drink (my immersion blender left a bit of pulp, which is fine for something labelled as soup).
After hanging up with my friend, it was 7pm, and I was positively pooped. I didn’t even photograph the soup. Yet. (It was photographed as leftovers the next day, which is also when my mom got the brain-active phone call she deserved!). ;)
I cleaned up my kitchen and called it a night and fell asleep around 8pm, before the sun had even gone to bed.
It is no secret that one must stay hydrated during long workouts and to keep fuelled with carbohydrate-rich snacks. There are many ways to replenish water and sugar – from sports drinks, gels, energy bars, fruit, etc – and I have begun to investigate the various options. It is always best to experiment during your training, not during your event. Of course, though, I am experimenting with creating these options in my own kitchen.
Beware: I am also in the medical field, so as I wrote this post, I realized it quickly became quite academic. There is science to this which is why I tried to link to the pubmed resources I reference. ;)
The benefits of remaining hydrated are obvious: your performance will be impaired if you are dehydrated by even 1-2%. It is therefore recommended to replenish the water you lose as sweat throughout your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 500 mL of fluid 1-2 hours before you begin and then to replace as necessary with cold drinks throughout your workout. However, a 1:1 replacement of lost body weight is likely to overestimate your water needs and lead to hyperhydration. It is best to figure out your needs during training, based on the type of exercise, weather, level of training, etc, but aiming to replace 50-80% of the change in your body weight pre- and post-exercise is less likely to induce the ill-effects of drinking too much water. You may not feel thirsty during exercise (think fight or flight responses) and studies consistently show athletes do not adequately replace water. I am likely totally guilty of that and it is worse during long, hot rides.
Sports drinks are very popular because compared to water, they replace fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate losses. Sodium and potassium are important to replace during prolonged exercise and they confer additional benefits like augmenting glucose and water absorption in the small intestine. A sports drink with 4-8% of carbohydrates is recommended as concentrations higher than that, as found in fruit juices and soft drinks, may delay gastric-emptying. In addition to the science behind sports drinks, a flavoured drink tastes better and encourages you to drink more. I can attest to that!
Most of the commercial sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) contain 6% carbohydrate, ~100 mg sodium and ~30 mg potassium in each cup but also taste artificial and are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. There is one benefit of commerical sports drinks, though, and that’s that they are fairly ubiquitous. I try to pack fairly light during long rides and this way you could buy drinks enroute and recycle the containers afterwards.
I was on a quest to find my own homemade sports drink and really like the one found in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It is not too sweet and tastes great. It is also ridiculously easy to make and much cheaper than the commerical drinks. The recipe has also been posted here and here with other drink recipes. I’d love to hear about your own recipes for sports drinks.