the taste space

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls & RLCT Recap 2014

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 10, 2014

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

This month has and will be a whirlwind.

In fact, this entire summer will be a crazy, wonderful adventure.

I have not leaked my summer adventures here yet. In brief: cycling, long vacation, moving back to Toronto, and yet more cycling. I am warning you now. There may not be much blogging.

For now, my early summer cycling triumphs have been conquered. A month ago, Rob and I rode the 165-km Shiner GASP and I finally got my riding mojo back a few weeks ago in time to ride the 2-day/334-km Rideau Lake Cycle Tour (RLCT) with my father last weekend. This was my third time on the course, but the second time I did the full “Classic Route”. I described the route the first time I did it in 2011, but each year feels different depending on your level of training, equipment and weather.

Despite reducing my weekly cycling from 250 km to 150 km over the last month, I felt reasonably fit for the ride. I knew there were big hills that I just could not train adequately while in Houston, but we found as many hills as we could.

One difference this year, though, was that I did not have my own bike. A friend of my father graciously lent me a road bike for the weekend, although in the end, it was a men’s bike that did not fit me properly. I took it for a ride the afternoon before the ride and was sore. Too sore, too fast. I frantically tracked down a women’s road bike I could rent for the weekend which is hard to find when over 2000 other people are expected to cycle to Kingston. In the end, I found a nice bike to rent from an unlikely of stores, and they even loaned me cycling shoes to boot. This is the first year I have tried clips for my bicycle. There are different systems for clipping your shoes into bicycle pedals and SPD clips have been the bane of my existence. This weekend, I may have found a new clipping system I prefer: KEO.

In any case, while my Dad and I had fun together riding over the hills, I fell victim to all my new things, with saddle sores. Instead of my legs being tired, it was mainly the soles of my feet and my saddle that were the most bothersome. While some of the hills were still challenging, I felt the best prepared of all years. Granted, my Dad did 80% of the pulling. ;) Thankfully, the wind was not too bad but I think it helped to shave 15 minutes off our return ride along with an hour less breaks.

I actually did not bring anything recipe-inspired with me during my ride. Instead, I ate lots of bananas, dates and almonds. The dates and almonds would have been pulverized into balls anyways, so it was basically deconstructed trail mix. ;) I will not deprive you of a delicious recipe, though. They are not too travel-friendly though. I soaked the cashews, as recommended by Sarah, but I found them too creamy to be portable. Still delicious, though. I added some ginger, as a nod to the Lovely Lemon Hemp Protein Bites. I actually think these would be better with a shredded coconut dusting on the outside, but I only had coconut chips which don’t lend as well to pretty exteriors.

I am on vacation for the rest of this week and very happy to not be riding for a few days. Our next goal is finding a place to live.

In case you’re interested, another review of this year’s ride was here and one from the volunteers that man the ham radio stations here.

Please tell me about all your plans for the summer!

Raw Mango Ginger Energy Balls

I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Lemon Ginger Hemp Bites

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on May 27, 2014

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

I have been a bit quiet on the cycling front.

I kind of poured my everything into the Shiner GASP and let my body (and mind) recover as needed. Rob and I kept cycling, but nothing over 50 km.  There is no point in cycling if you aren’t having fun. It pales to our upcoming distances, but I just didn’t have it inside me to resume our crazy adventures.

Three weeks later and I got my mojo back.  I started swapping my morning gym with longer routes to work. Rob would join me. On his road bike, no less, which was a good motivator to keep pushing it on my commuter, while carrying all my stuff for work on my back. I managed to squeeze an extra 50 km, in addition to my regular commute, over the 2 days we tried this out. Sadly, the forecast is all rain this week, so I may return to the gym after all.

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites

With the long weekend, Rob and I had time to both relax and fit in some longer cycling. A perfect balance, methinks. 50 km and 107 km, including an urban hilly ride. Thankfully we made it home yesterday before the torrential rain, which is merely a preview for the week.

In any case, I made these delicious snack bites to tote along for our longer ride. They were inspired by a reader, Jessica, who encouraged me to try adding ginger and turmeric to Gena’s Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites. I love it when you guys know me too well!

No stranger to sharp, fresh ginger in sweets (remember my Matcha Ginger Smoothie?), I didn’t add enough turmeric for it to be a strong taste. I will admit that I added the ginger because I like its taste but its anti-inflammatory properties are a bonus. However, I added the turmeric specifically because of its anti-inflammatory properties (I really don’t like its taste in strong amounts!). The dates sweet this nicely and the hemp protein powder gives it a grassy/earthy undertone which complements the sweetness perfectly.

What do you think of turmeric? Do you try to incorporate into more of your foods? Any recipes you recommend?

Gena's Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites (more…)

Shiner G.A.S.P. 2014 Recap

Posted in Uncategorized by janet @ the taste space on May 6, 2014

don't avoid the hills, another lesson in running, as in life.

No recipe today.

(gasp!)

Instead, I will share my experiences riding the Shiner G.A.S.P: The Great Austin the Shiner Pedal.

(double gasp!)

I imagine this may not interest those here for the recipes, but I felt it was important to sprinkle my thoughts about the ride.

I have spoken a lot about training for this ride. It is a 100-mile (officially 101.19 miles but it was longer than that) bike ride from Austin to Shiner, Texas. The half-GASP is 50-miles and begins at the half-way point to Shiner. I can’t remember whether I already mentioned how we found out about it. While standing in line at IKEA, during our first days in Houston (we needed some furniture!), we chatted with some strangers behind us in line, and they told us about other cycling rides in the area, including the Shiner GASP. The draw was the (free!) beer at the end from the Spoetzl Brewery. We decided to ride this during the winter, when the price was still very low. In fact, the high fundraising costs of the MS 150 turned us off, and we gravitated to a more low-key event. For each of us, it was $35 for the ride and $25 for the bus ride back. A bone fide bargain for such a well-supported ride.

Because we were only told that this was a hilly and windy course, we didn’t really know what to expect with our flat terrain training in Houston. I read previous recaps, with participants stating:

This course was going to be challenging because of the sheer number of inclines and hills (Esmeralda said she stopped counting at 23 last year), and the wind that it was famous for.  source

The next 25 miles were brutal. I don’t even think I can fully describe how mentally and physically broken I was in this last quarter of the ride. source

At about mile 83, we passed over I-10, and a sign read “Shiner 19.” I was happy to be in the home stretch, but also thinking, “crap, I have 19 more miles!” Of course these were the hilliest and hardest miles of them all. I lost close to a mile per hour of speed, and I think I was talking out loud to myself, possibly even cursing. Hey, whatever it takes. source

Winds were out of the SSE about 15-20 ALL DAY, with some gusts closer to 25-30. And the last 10 miles, you turn from Moulton onto 95 straight south into Shiner – and directly into head winds. source

People even complained about the road conditions:

The roads were of wildly varying quality. The roads around Austin, Shiner, and some of the bigger towns along the way were nice and smooth, but a lot of the ones in between were chip-seal. source

I watched the weather forecast. I knew it would be a hot and windy day (33C/92F), with winds from the south-east up to 20 mph, opposing us most of the way. I honestly thought we wouldn’t be able to make it. The previous reviews were making this seem like terror on a stick.

Although I told myself: I am a stronger cyclist this year. I have done a couple imperial centuries before (and many metric centuries). I can do this. If nothing else, these reviews show that there could also be people suffering as much as me. It will be ok.

hills: do them

I will get to the punchline for those not interested in the details: This was a great ride. My anxieties were exaggerated. It was a wonderfully well-supported and fun ride. I am so glad I did it. We would not hesitate to do it again if we still lived here.

I don’t know how many cyclists did it this year but they were capped at 2000 riders. I’d venture maybe 1600-1800 people took to the roads.

It was a fun and crowded start at 7 am but the rest stops were well placed and well stocked. The rest rooms were busy at the beginning but it tapered as the crowds thinned out. I had my fill of fruits (bananas moreso than oranges), protein bars, water, electrolyte juice, peanuts, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, pretzels, cookies, etc. They even had sunscreen and bandaids. There were 7 rest stops in total, with three in the first half and spaced closer together towards the end. There was a well-deserved (but short) stop with only 10 miles left. Usually one would just breeze right through, but I knew the hardest part would be at the end.

The terrain was not as difficult as advertised. The hills were rolling, and quite continuous, but nothing too steep. The wind made it more challenging but sometimes we caught a tailwind. Flying effortlessly at 46 km/h on a flat is such a fun experience, even moreso than flying downhill for me. Rob thinks we had more crosswinds than headwinds, but I think he just forgot about the headwinds.

Rob and I stuck together the whole time and most riders seemed to be solo or small disorganized groups. The organized groups were perhaps faster than us! People were riding all kinds of bikes, some hybrids, some without clippy shoes, some even without baskets if no clippy shoes. I make no judgment because that was me. My first double (imperial) century ride was on my hybrid bicycle and no fancy shoes or baskets. You have to start somewhere. This ride actually reminded me of that ride to Cornwall, although I think Cornwall was more flat. I kept telling myself that this would be easier than Rideau Lakes since that is 172 km each day.

In fact,the worse part was that this was advertised as a 100-mile/160-km ride and it was over 165 km on my odometer by the time we finished. Those last 5-10 km were the hardest as it was mostly a long and windy (ie, with wind) uphill without any fun downhills to recover. There were people manning nearly every intersection and when the police woman told us the end was just around the corner, we were almost there, it made me so happy.

We rolled in at 3:45 pm, with around 6 hours and 45 minutes of biking time. (We obviously took a lot of breaks!). We were greeted by cheers and a participatory medal. Then we joined the party. There were showers if we wanted to get cleaned up but the only thing I wanted to change were my shoes. Next, we found some drinks (sadly the Kombucha booth had packed up already, boo) and chowed down on veggie burgers with sauerkraut and mustard. We found a picnic table under the shade and chatted with some other riders. A few hours later, we loaded our bikes and took the bus back to Austin. As we left, a bit after 5 pm, riders were still cycling in. They were greeted by everyone giving them a round of applause. Hurrah for them!

They had threatened to pick up riders if they had not cycled 90 miles by 3pm (depending on the wind), but I am not sure whether they did that. I knew there were too many riders behind me to threaten to pick me up due to being too slow!! :)

In short, I had a blast. For the beginner-intermediate cyclist, I think this is a great route. Highly recommended.

The cycling doesn’t end, though. In a month, I will cycling Rideau Lakes again with my Dad.

I promise some new treats later this week. :)

Note: Hills photos via here. If you know the original source, please let me credit the artist.

PS. You can find another 2014 Shiner recap here.

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Ange’s Glo Bars & Oh She Glows Cookbook Review + Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on April 24, 2014

Ange's Glo Bars

Yet another travel-friendly, energy-boosting snack. But these are no ordinary granola bar. They are Angela’s Infamous Classic Glo Bars, packed with all good things.

Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of granola bars Angela has posted? Soft-and-chewy baked sugar-free granola bars, healthy banana cranberry oat bars, last-minute protein energy barsbanana bread protein bars, and more. She is the Queen of Granola Treats. Previously, I had difficulties with her almond butter rice crisp treats which was probably due to too many substitutions. Thus, I (mostly) followed her recipe exactly, scoping out brown rice syrup. And let me tell you, this ingredient is key. Its viscosity alone lends to enhanced stickiness which helps keep the bars together. Initially, I tried to replace it with maple syrup, which probably didn’t help the cause. In any case, I absolutely loved these bars. Not too sweet with a hint of peanut butter, still packed with an assortment of seeds. I used puffed kamut (instead of crisped rice) and I liked this more because it lended to a more chewy bar.

Ange's Glo Bars

The cycling has been more intense (HILLS! OMG HILLS!), which explains why I have been sharing more treats. I have enough fore-thought and energy to make my snacks at the end of the week. Rob makes us tamarind lentils to go. In theory, this should give us more time so we can leave earlier Saturday morning. In theory, alas. We ended up sleeping in last weekend and having another later start in the hills. Our Saturdays have started to look like an entire treat day: fun snacks, tamarind lentils for lunch, tropical agua fresca from Mi Tienda #2 (this week it was papaya and pina colada on tap), followed out by a meal made by someone else… because we don’t have much energy to cook for ourselves once we get back.

By Sunday, I get my cooking mojo back and have been enjoying cooking out of Angela’s latest cookbook: The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I am behind the surge of posts highlighting its praises, but that is just because I have been smitten by trying all.the.recipes. All in the name of good review research for the blog.

With such a popular and prolific blog, long-time readers of her blog may wonder how many are new recipes.  Angela mentions that there are 75 new recipes with a dozen new-and-improved reader favourites. Angela has grown as a recipe developer, as I have had some failures with her earlier recipes. Thankfully some of my favourite recipes from her blog made it to the cookbook: Creamy Lemon Basil Avocado Sauce, Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas, and her Lemon-Tahini Dressing. She is also a much better photographer than me, so this cookbook is eye-candy as well as delicious. A photograph of possibly every single recipe. How awesome is that? Her recipes are all vegan, all whole foods based, 85% gluten-free and mostly soy-free.

I cooked and baked my way through 10 recipes (so far) and then had the difficult decision of what to share. In truth, I already shared the Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake, but those photographs would not due justice to such a nice cookbook. My other favourites were the On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup and the Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole. Some meals were a bit lacklustre (Indian lentil-cauliflower soup) but just adjust the seasonings to your taste. You can see all of my recipe reviews here. There are still more recipes I want to try and will continue to enjoy cooking from this cookbook.

Ange's Glo Bars

Other recipes from the Oh She Glows Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake (as christened by me, aka Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake)
Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Glowing Mojo-ito Green Monster
Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip
Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons
Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce
Walnut, Avocado & Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello Caps & Red Onion with Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinaigrette
Chakra Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons
Super Power Chia Bread
Oil-Free Baked Falafel Bites
Crowd Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole
Grilled Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto
Marinated Balsamic, Maple and Garlic Tempeh
Quick & Easy Chana Masala
15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte

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 Angela recipe or what you most want to make. I will randomly select a winner on May 4, 2014. Good luck!

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.

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Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 15, 2014

Cheater Tlacoyos topped with Nopales (Cactus)

There is long-distance cycling and then there’s long-distance cycling over hills.

We’ve heard the cycling routes around Austin are hilly but not entirely sure how it compares to Ontario. Houston, is fairly flat, so I haven’t been doing many hills, unless it is an overpass over a highway. I stumbled upon Lori’s recap of last year’s Shiner GASP.  She wrote:

This course was going to be challenging because of the sheer number of inclines and hills (Esmeralda said she stopped counting at 23 last year), and the wind that it was famous for.  I had hoped that with the front it would be a tail wind, but at mile 30 the wind shifted and was either a head wind or cross wind. Oh well, it was nice to dream.

With a month away from our own hilly 100-mile adventure, it instilled a fear of hills. So, this weekend, we sought out something to climb.

Earlier this year, we were planning to do the “Bike Through the Forest and Hills” 80-km ride in Coldspring, Texas. We had already registered and picked up our packages (the first ones, at that, bib numbers 1 and 2). It was scheduled right after I sprained both knees, so understandably, we didn’t go. However, with such a descriptive name, we figured it would be a hilly ride. Rob saved the course maps, though. He ended up modifying the route so that we had a 50 km loop. The original ride had you return in the opposite direction, but we just repeated the same loop once we were familiar with the course.

The 100-km ride wasn’t the hard part. It was the hills! After 8 minutes, I wasn’t sure I was up for this many hills. Rob clocked an incline that lasted 3 km. The worst part, though, was the wind. Wind + hills = a definite challenge. A strong wind with a loopy course meant the wind was, sadly, only helping us 25% of the time. In any case, we were positively pooped after our “short” 100-km ride.

We ended up stopping off at our favourite Mexican grocer on the way home: Mi Tienda. It reminds us of our trip to Mexico City, with lots of fun food, loud music and random decor. We treated ourselves to fresh guanabana juice and a mix of celery-pineapple-cactus juices. If you have never tried guanabana, I highly recommend it. We fell in love with it in Colombia. We also had some fresh (and warm- this is KEY) churros. After our bellies were content, I scurried back in for our weekly grocery expedition.

I try am trying to balance emptying my pantry along with trying everything that I can while in Texas/America. This time, I bought some cactus (aka nopales). You can find it fresh as a giant paddle or pre-chopped with the spikes removed. I gather you can also find it brined in jars or cans. In any case, I first tried it while in Mexico City. Cooked simply, it was a vegetable side or topping. One of the dishes I had it with was as tlacoyo from a street vendor: a blue corn masa dough that she stuffed with refried beans and topped with a nopales salsa. was I really liked it: the texture of a bell pepper with the taste of a green bean.

In truth, Rob and I were too zonked to do any cooking when we returned post-ride and post-Mi Tienda. We went out for tacos. The following day, we did another cycling jaunt. Not too long, and all flat, we were still battling the wind and the possibility of rain. However, the shorter ride meant I had enough energy to tend to errands and do some cooking.

I simply ran with the idea of tlacoyo. It is more like a cheese-less quesadilla. We had fresh corn tortillas so I used that instead of the masa dough. I already have a favourite (unfried) refried bean recipe. The problem was the cactus. I wasn’t entirely sure how to cook it, but I eventually decided to boil it first, then saute it with some leftover roasted onions. It may not have been authentic at all, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Have you ever tried nopales/cactus? What are your favourite recipes?

Cheater Tlacoyos topped with Nopales (Cactus)

I am sharing this with the Spice Trail, My Legume Love Affair (managed by Lisa and previously Susan), Four Seasons Food, and Simple and In Season(more…)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (No Bake)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on August 10, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I have discovered the secret to living in Houston’s summer. You need to fall into one of these two groups of people:

1. The people who wake up early before the sun rises

2. The people who stay up late after the sun sets

Rob and I have been exploring Houston by bicycle on the weekends. At 7am, we’ll cycle the deserted streets, only to find the paths at the parks literally packed with joggers and walkers. We must be thinking along the same lines: if you are going to be outdoors, best to do it before the sweltering heat arrives.

We quickly learned that Houston is wonderful after sunset. Many public events start late in the day, again to beat the heat.

The problem is trying to fit into category 1 and 2, on the same day. Suffice it to say, after a long bike ride in the morning, I was almost asleep mid-way through a Shakespeare in the Park production later that evening. The comfortable, balmy weather was a bit too conducive to napping. We didn’t even last past the intermission, HA! It was a splendid day, though.

Speaking of cycling in the Houston heat, it is very, very important to keep hydrated and fuelled. Even short runs are more demanding. This is a portable snack recipe I promised a while back. I whipped them up with the odds and ends in my mom’s kitchen before we left for our cycle to Kingston. I must have had some forethought because I remember bringing the coconut flour with me. My master plan for a chocolate date and peanut butter combo was thwarted because the dough was just too runny. But the magic of coconut flour did the trick. It is a very thirsty flour, so it sopped up the batter into portable chewy balls. The peanut butter made them rich and decadent, balanced by the sweetness of the dates and cocoa flavour.

A treat like this is perfect for fuelling during long rides. While our weekend rides are more around 50km now; in this heat, we feel like it gets a conversion factor of 1.5x for intensity.  We are still a long way from the MS 150, but we’re hoping to improve our distance as the weather improves…. you know, in October, when it is supposed to cool down.

Are you a morning person, a night person, both or neither?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for truffles. (more…)

Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Nut-Free)

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 20, 2013

Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Nut-Free)

As you may have guessed, yes, I am still alive.

I survived my crazy Rideau Lakes cycle.

My focus this year was to pass my exam (which I did!) and then I quickly ramped up to cycle to Kingston. I cycled another 50 km during the week leading up to the weekend and took Thursday and Friday off as rest days. My final pre-event odometer reading was 560 km, 150km within the previous week.

That weekend, though, I cycled over 200 km. Not too shabby. This was my second time on the course, so I know that the hardest part is between Perth and Kingston. This is where most of the hills lie, including the dreaded Westport hill. The nice thing about repeating the course is that I did not feel compelled to conquer the entire course. Been there, done that. Enjoying the ride with a great group of friends was more important.

Our Cobra biker gang consisted of my Dad, Rob and Sue. While Sue and I had already decided we wanted the shorter route from Perth, the boys wanted the full route. However, due to an early rain shower, we all ended up starting from Perth on Saturday. A later start meant the roads would be dry, but more importantly so would our shoes and clothes. I was positively soaked during my training ride, and I simply hate cold, wet shoes.

Turns out we had my ideal cycling weather: overcast and not too hot. We were having a great time and I was positively giddy once we smoked down Westport’s hill. Sue pummelled it at 69 km/h. I had my brakes on and my max was 59 km/h. As we lounged at the gas station at the bottom, other cyclists reminded me that the hardest part would be the next day, tackling that hill in the opposite direction.

The only wrinkle in our day was my slow-leaking flat at around the 80 km mark. My Dad pumped it up and we crossed our fingers, hoping I could make it to Kingston without changing the tube. Lucky me, we made it and found an on-site technician to change my tube for me.

As we stood in line at the maintenance tent, I chatted with the guy in front of me. He did the whole cycle from Ottawa. And yes, do the math, he lapped me. He arrived before me, covering an extra 77km in the 2 hours it took us to start in Perth. His average speed put ours to shame: 35 km/h. Ours was more like 23 km/h, and we probably took way more breaks, HA!

We arrived early enough that we beat the late afternoon sudden rainfall, and with enough time to relax and clean up before having an early dinner. While none of the heated mains were vegan, I picked up cooked carrots, corns and a marinara sauce and then loaded up at the salad bar where I made my own salad with greens, carrots, cabbage, kidney beans and chickpeas with a balsamic dressing. Strawberries for dessert.

The next morning, we met bright and early over my peanut butter oatmeal with fruit. Both my Dad and I snagged a bunch of bananas for the road.

This time, the weather was a beautiful sunny day. The wind was barely moving and any breeze was from us, or when the pentalon would pass us. HA! And the dreaded Westport hill? I was quickly reminded how difficult it was – I remembered it being not that hard. The steep incline comes early but it is short-lived. The hill continues at less steep incline afterwards, for around another 1 km. A quick break at the top had us re-energized to tackle the next set of rolling hills.

We made it to Perth by lunch time when Rob and my Dad waved us goodbye as they cycled the rest of the way home. Sure enough, they covered the last 77 km in 2.5 hours. Their 28 km/h average was impressive at the end of such a weekend. Sue and I were perfectly content to call it a day at Perth. Thankfully, I wasn’t as tired as I feared (judging by my fatigue after my training ride) and even had the gusto collect our luggage and then bake cookies for Rob before he came home. My Mom made her lovely quinoa pilaf again along with roasted asparagus and peppers.

However, now Rob calls me a monkey. I think I ate 5 bananas on Sunday, in addition to my homemade chocolate peanut butter balls. And while I would love to share the delicious chocolate peanut butter balls I brought with me, the photos are still in Ottawa. So, I am sharing these treats that I brought with me on my training run.

After really enjoying the Nut-free Raw Carrot Cake made with coconut flour, I wanted to try something similar but with zucchini and chocolate, instead. So I experimented. Instead of grated carrots, I used grated zucchini. Instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg, I used cocoa powder. Instead of the apple-cashew frosting, I used cacao nibs for easier transport. And I really liked them. Asterisk, though. I would add more cocoa powder next time. I used up the end of my supply so I worked with what I had. Furthermore, while I ate these as cycling treats, they do not travel well at all. They worked for me with a short ride, since I popped them out frozen. Within 2 hours, they are at their perfect consistency: chilled and firm.  Once they became warm, they were mushy and messy. Still delicious but not ideal. Definitely not portable to/from Ottawa and Kingston. Thus, I made new snacks that were uber portable. And once I get the photos from my parents, I will share that delightful recipe with you, too.

Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Nut-Free)

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Raw Cinnamon Raisin Balls

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on June 23, 2012

I miss the long-distance cycling trips. Two summers ago, Rob and I would jaunt around Southwestern Ontario on our bikes. Anything within 180km was fair game. We cycled from Toronto to see his parents in Woodstock and the following year, I cycled to Kitchener/Waterloo for a party. While it was fun, there was pain, too. This was challenging training. I had never done this much cycling before.

Unfortunately, after tackling the Kingston cycle last summer, Rob and I have not really done much long-distance cycling. Life gets busy. Weekends get booked up. It wasn’t until I cycled to Niagara Falls recently, that I realized how much I miss it. The cycling, the camaraderie, exploring the countryside, and of course, the multitude of snacks I would create every week. Not the pain, of course.

These are the snacks that I toted with me to Niagara Falls. A quick whirl in the food processor combines walnuts, raisins, dates, cinnamon and nutmeg into a delicious snack. Chewy from the raisins but with a big whiff of cinnamon. A great pick-me-up before and during long exercises. I should remind myself that they are good any time, really. I may have made 2 batches of it because I ate the first one through numerous “sampling” (and before I photographed it).  Sweet and chewy cinnamon treats, oh yeah. As I gear into studying lock-down mode, they may turn into my late night studying snacks, though. Swapping cycling for studying seems so sad, eh?

Other sport snacks I have made:

Homemade Almond Chocolate Lärabars
Chocolate Brownie Power Nibbles
Cocoa Mint Nibbles
Maca Chip Energy Balls
Carob Blueberry Energy Bars
Peanutty Energy Bars
Paley’s Energy Bars
Blueberry Oat Bars
Fruit, Nut and Seed Power Bars
Cacao-Cacao Chip Cookies (recipe elsewhere)
Dark Chocolate Mint Cookies (recipe elsewhere)
Gingersnap Nuggets from Radiance 4 Life

This is my submission to this week’s Cookbooks Sundays and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Chocolate Brownie Power Nibbles

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on August 30, 2010

I had a love/hate relationship with my bicycle last week. I still loved my bike, but I think she had enough of me after I biked 250km last weekend to/from Woodstock. It wasn’t the distance that bothered her, it was the rain. The light rain, we could deal with, but the torrential downpour, is what she was complaining about.

When I arrived to greet her Monday morning, a bit earlier than usual to take her down to get cleaned before heading to work, her back tire was flat. I can do this, I thought to myself. So I removed the tire, replaced the tube and put the tire back on. It took me a good 30-45 minutes, but I was still pleased with myself. My first time changing a tire solo!

Then I pumped up the tire. I almost had it at 120 psi. I know it can be difficult to pump it up that high, so I almost left it at 90. Nah, I’ll give it a good push or two, I can do it! So I pumped, and pumped… and then FOOSH!! My inner tube exploded and popped off my tire! Without any extra inner tubes, I had to hightail it to work by subway instead.

Emails flew between my family and friends. I obviously squished my tube between the rim and tire, they told me. I figured that could be the culprit because I didn’t really check to make sure it wasn’t squished. Next time, I’ll know.

But my woes, don’t end there. I felt pretty silly having only 1 spare inner tube, so I wandered over to Bikechain, the student-run group at the University of Toronto that teaches you how to fix your own bike – and also sells cheap inner tubes. There was only one staff at the time, and I was sans bike, so I quickly picked up 5 inner tubes and brought them home.

Only to discover, yes, I bought the right size but my valve was wrong! I had just bought 5 inner tubes with the Schrader valve, but I needed the Presta valve!

So I lugged out my old bike (I have no clue how I lasted 7 months with a daily commute on that heavy clunker!), and rode to the closest bicycle shop. To clear them out of inner tubes. I only bought 2. And they were over $1 more expensive than those from Bikechain, and the exact same inner tube.

Armed with the proper inner tube, I decided to replace my inner tube yet again. It didn’t take me nearly as long; I must be improving, I thought. Next, I checked to make sure I had no squished tire. I didn’t. Great! And then I pumped up the tire. And pumped, and pumped, and got it up to 120 psi! Woohoo! I removed the pump and took a sigh of relief. Not an instant later, the tube explodes AGAIN!  Now I am positively in tears, and know I need someone to help me figure this out.

Thankfully, Rob was coming over. I told him it was do or die because I only had one tube left. He supervised me and showed me a different way to assemble the inner tube and tire. I was putting the inner tube on first, then the tire. He assembled the inner tube inside the tire first, and then mounted the whole thing on the rim. Sounded good to me. So we pumped, and pumped, and pumped. 120 PSI! No blow-out! We pumped my front tire to 120 psi. I was good to go! I just need to get more tubes since my back-up tubes are down to zero, but no rush..

The next morning I ride to work. Perfect! It was just technique that was the problem. I return to my bike after work, drive it no more than 6 feet, when I feel like my breaks are rubbing my tire. I look down and I have a flat! No way! Not again! And I have no spare tube.. gah!

I take the subway home, grab 2 new tubes from another bike store. Another $2 more per tube. I ask  whether some inner tubes are more prone to leaking. I only biked 5 km before I got a new flat, I explained. He suggested that perhaps I had something stuck inside my tire that I couldn’t see. I should clean the inside really well. Excellent suggestion, I thought, and planned to do that next.

Before I went to bed, I cleaned the inside of my tire, feeling nothing, but thinking it was something small I couldn’t see. I made sure my inner tube didn’t touch the floor and mistakenly pick up rocks, etc. I replaced the inner tube, with the new Rob-style technique. I pumped it up. And no explosions! Woohoo!

Two days go by… I bike to/from work. I rack up 20km. No problem. Those invisible rocks sure were problematic. Or maybe it was the even more expensive inner tube that did the trick. Who knows. I was doing a little cheer every time my bike still had a tire full of air.

Friday morning, my bike greets me with yet another flat tire. I am almost not surprised. What am I doing wrong? I notice that there’s an actual direction for my tire. Maybe I had it backwards and that was the problem? I don’t know.. this is all voodoo.  I replace my tire again. I figured out where my leak was. Reasonably close to my valve. Maybe it was the metal hooks I was using to help reassemble my inner tube. Apparently that’s a no-no known to cause small leaks if you squish the inner tube. OK, I will look for my plastic ones. I clean it, I replace it, I pump it up. It doesn’t explode. I ride to work.

Now I am paranoid. I have no explanations for these flat tires.

So far so good, though. I make it to work intact.

I meet Rob after work to cycle to a friend’s house. I tell him about my flat tire woes and about my paranoia. How far will I get this time? The first time was 5km. Then 20km. Now what?

He looks down at my tire nonchalantly. What’s this?, he says, pointing to a small matte area on my tire. It was less than 1 mm. I have no clue but it looked like a small rock attached to the tire. I try to flick it off but it is wedged in nicely. I use my key to dislodge it and out we pull a big piece of glass! My culprit! My front tire had a smaller piece wedged in as well.

After successfully cycling 100km the following day, I knew I was in the clear.

While there are many great tutorials on how to change your tire online, here my tips that I have each learned the hard way:

1) Ride your bike with a spare tube (with the proper valve), pump and plastic hooks to change a spare tire. Try to repump your tire to see if it is a slow leak.

2) Remove the tire first with the hooks

3) Remove the inner tube, including any valvular attachment to the rim. If you can figure out where the hole is, great! You might be able to patch it too. Soapy water helps but I also tried to squish out any air all along the inner tube.

4) Try to figure out WHY you got the flat tire. Check the outside, inside of the tire and rim. Sometimes you won’t see anything if it is from having low tire pressure that gets squished over a bump, etc. Even if you can’t see anything, clean everything.

5) Pump up the inner tube slightly, then reassemble it inside the tire. Reattach this to your rim without any hooks, if possible, and make sure your tire is in the right direction. Make sure the tube is not being squished by the rim. Be careful around the valve because that area can easily be damaged, so I usually tried to push the final bit of tire in the rim away from the valve.

6) Slowly re-inflate the tire, making sure nothing got caught. Pump up until you get to your max pressure. Make sure you have your pump on with a straight valve. Once that breaks, you need a new tube, too (a lesson from my first lat tire change).

7) Reattach your tire to your bike, making sure it is properly positioned without any friction from the breaks. Re-hook your breaks.

It seems so simple, but it can be so complicated. :)

And now, about the recipe: Chocolate Brownie Power Bars. This has been my favourite energy bar for biking so far. I prefer moist, not so sweet bars that travel well. I really liked the cocoa mint nibbles, but they tasted like dates after they had been warmed in the sun. They were much better straight from the fridge for their fudge-y texture.

Adapted from Enlightened Cooking, these are similar to the cocoa nibbles but had more substance to them. They tasted more like a brownie and stayed that way after travelling with me all day. They also had a creamy taste which I think came from the milk powder. I originally threw it in because I had leftovers without a purpose (I originally bought some from the bulk store to make Momofuku’s Crack Pie). Now I think I have a super purpose for it, though, and will have to get myself some more.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by me and to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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