It’s the Final Count Down

I did my last real run this morning.  4 miles…and it went really well!

 

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The leaves have begun to fall, and it was a beautiful morning!

 

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This morning’s weather got me thinking about this weekend’s weather.  I have heard everything from perfect fall Chicago weather to 70 degrees with thunderstorms on race day.  My plan is to wait until Saturday night and then figure it out from there, but of course I am crossing my fingers for nice, cool weather.

 

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Like this past weekend…which was perfect!

 

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Who knew that crockpot weather and good running weather were one and the same?!

 

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In an attempt to keep things simple this week, I made Monday’s dinner (and today’s lunch) on Sunday in the crockpot.

 

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This curry is a lot of fun because you blend together all of your flavors and seasoning to make a sauce that tops your chicken and carrots.  See note below regarding the red pepper options. I chose to keep it sliced, but you could also blend it into the sauce.

 

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Just a warming, I thought this curry was pretty spicy (I used red pepper flakes), so adjust the spiciness to your taste.

 

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The BOY and I both LOVED this dinner and it reheats well.  My crockpot has made some really amazing dinners recently, making meals (and life) super simple, which is exactly what I needed this week.  I’ve got one last mini run before the big race and the rest of the week will be all about resting, drinking water, and trying not to injure myself!

 

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

From Sweet Treats and More

 

Ingredients

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

5 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 (5 oz ) can tomato paste

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk

1  tsp salt

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbsp water

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

**NOTE: I didn’t have as much chicken as I thought (not quite 2 lbs), so I added in 1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained.

 

Directions

Grease your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the chicken, carrots, and red pepper on the bottom of slow cooker. Add chickpeas if using.

Place the rest of the ingredients (except water and corn starch) in a food processor and process together until mixture is mostly smooth.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies, mix well, then cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

An hour or so before serving, mix cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved. Pour mixture into the slow cooker, stir to combine, and continue cooking for another hour.

 

Author’s Notes:

-The cornstarch will thicken up the sauce. When the sauce is to your desired thickness, turn slow cooker to warm setting until ready to serve.

-If you want, you can chop the bell pepper into larger pieces and place it with the chicken or you can process it in with the sauce.

7 miles and Another Weeknight (Crockpot) Dinner

It’s finally cooling off which makes morning runs so much more enjoyable!  This morning’s run was a 7 mile race pace run along the path.  My race belt and I hit the trail on this gorgeous morning.  Since my runs haven’t been real fast, I wasn’t sure what today would look like.  But I’ve run a 1:50 half marathon, so I should be able to run 7 miles in less than 63 minutes…right?!. 

 

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Two miles in I found my stride and felt strong, even with the race belt weighing me down.  For fuel, I went with a cappuccino LaraBar (a few bites at 42 minutes and the rest post-run).  I finished 7 miles striding into the driveway at 62:28.  Hooray for a race pace run (and a slight negative split)!

 

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With the marathon approaching, I have been paying attention to stretching and taking time after each run to lengthen my legs and back.  When it’s not too hot, I can stretch outside but for the most part, I’ve been working the foam roller and using my yoga strap in front of the TV on the floor of my living room.

 

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After my run, I showered and finally took one of my bikes in for a new tire.  Both of my bikes have flat back tires, which is a total bummer.  Instead of loading two bikes onto my car, I took my hybrid, which I knew I would be using soon.  There was a sign saying that the service department was closed today, but a really nice guy working at the store helped me find a new tire and fixed it up for me.  I was so grateful!

 

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I had just a few minutes when I got home to heat up some leftovers for lunch and throw dinner into the crockpot.  I’m telling you, this is ONE EASY MEAL to throw together.  I even messed up a few ingredients on my grocery list and made it work. 

 

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Number one, I only had 1 tablespoon of curry powder left.  Yikes!  So I subbed in a tablespoon of garam masala and crossed my fingers that they’d blend well.

 

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Number two, upon searching the refrigerator drawers for an onion that I thought I saw recently, I came up with only a red onion.

 

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Number three, the original recipe is made with sweet potatoes but to save time on chopping potatoes and because the BOY doesn’t like sweet potatoes, I left them out.  I’m sure regular or new potatoes could work but then we’re back to the time issue.  There was just enough time to change into work clothes, press start on the crockpot (10 hours should do), and walk out the door for work (leaving instructions for the BOY on what to do with dinner).

 

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I got home real late tonight and the BOY had already eaten half of the crockpot.  I guess it gets his seal of approval : )  I poured myself a bowl over a brown rice mixture and dug right in.  Despite a few of my shortcomings on the recipe, this turned out really flavorful and satisfying.

 

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I always find myself floored with how good of a cook my crockpot is!!!  She is hired for Thursdays the rest of the year!

 

 

Crockpot Chicken Curry

Recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl

 

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 medium onion – thinly sliced

15 oz can chickpeas – drained and rinsed

½ cup light coconut milk

½ cup low sodium chicken stock

15 oz can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons curry powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne powder – optional *I used 1/4 teaspoon

2 tablespoons lemon juice

cilantro – optional garnish

 

Directions

In the bottom of the slow cooker, whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, curry powder, salt and cayenne.

Add chicken breasts, onion, and chickpeas. Gently stir ingredients together to ensure that everything is evenly coated.

Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours per crockpot instructions.

Stir in lemon juice 5 minutes before serving.

Serve over rice and with cilantro if using.

Comfort Stew

After a rainy week and a mostly gray weekend, I felt like some soup was in order.

 

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Monday was a busy day in the kitchen…possibly more so since I was gone the week before and was looking forward to planning meals this week.  For week day lunches, I decided on Curried Lentil, Squash, and Apple Stew from Chloe’s Kitchen.

 

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It was quite an arm workout to cut the squash.

 

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I wasn’t much in the mood to take photos along the way, but I had to share the finished product!

 

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Almost on cue as I added the curry, the BOY appeared.  I had to laugh at his predictability!  I poured a bowl to take to work and saved the rest for later in the week.

 

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Dinners this week are going to be simple.  We have plenty of leftovers to get us though the week!

 

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This morning I am still trying to wrap my brain around yesterday’s tragedy.  What is there to say when I have so many questions?  Although I am building my skills as a ‘writer’, I can’t think of the words that will convey my grief and disbelief while capturing the significance of what happened.  In my opinion, runners (and triathletes) are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people.  They are supportive and empathetic…I can’t imagine anyone choosing to target such a group.  And maybe it’s because I know the elated feeling that you are supposed to have when you cross the finish line after running 26.2 miles that I feel even more sad for the runners, volunteers and spectators who will never look at the sport the same.

 

I know that this stew won’t bring with it real comfort, but there is no doubt in my mind that the blogging community (many of whom are runners) will ban together like it always does to offer support, encouragement, and love to those in Boston and beyond…and that is comforting to know!

 

 

 

Curried Lentil, Squash and Apple Stew

From Chloe’s Kitchen

Makes 6 Servigs

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup dried lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups peeled butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
1 large unpeeled apple, diced
5 ounces baby spinach

 

Directions

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat, and sauté onion and carrot until almost soft. Add garlic, ginger, curry and salt, and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant.

Stir in lentils, broth and tomato paste. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add squash and apple, cover and simmer for another 25 minutes (because my squash cubes were so big, this was 50 minutes for me), or until vegetables and lentils are tender. Remove lid and stir in spinach until wilted. Add salt to taste and serve.

Chicken Curry

Ahh 3 day weekends…how I love you!

 

After another good night of sleep on Sunday, I made the most of my Monday off.  I met the trainer at THE HILL for a challenging hill workout combined with some strength training and core.  I am definitely feeling it today!  After a week off and a 6.5 mile run Saturday, my legs were shaking as I struggled up hill.  But after the hour long workout, I felt great!   Post exercise fuel…

 

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This chocolate milk was as good as I had hoped.  It is very creamy for a non-dairy milk and has a nice rich taste.  I ran a few errands (I like Costco so much better on Mondays than Sundays) and had some down time to plan my training schedule, do laundry, and finally catch up on Gray’s Anatomy!  I’m not sure if anyone else watches this show, but I’m still addicted.

 

I had a 3:00 appointment at the yoga studio to address my back and SI pain.  This was only my second appointment to work on my alignment along with some myofascial and massage work.  After walking around Vegas in heels, my back was pretty bad last week, but afterward yesterday’s appointment, it felt 100 times better.  The focus was on my asymmetrical feet and my QL which is wicked tight and spasming.  He uses mostly Eastern techniques and has also recommended acupuncture.  This is something that I have always been curious about and am considering.  Has anyone tried acupuncture? What did you think?

 

Mondays is my night to make dinner which I really enjoy.  Usually I have some sort of plan, but I was feeling pretty undecided.  I was thinking maybe curry.  I found this recipe for Coconut Chicken Curry on the blogs, but didn’t have enough time to throw everything into the crockpot. While I was waiting for my appointment, I started to look up recipes on my phone. I came across this speedy and simple recipe for Chicken Curry.

 

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Although I haven’t been eating a lot of meat (maybe 1xweek), the BOY and I ate a lo of seafood on the grill this weekend and I wasn’t sure if he could find the enthusiasm for fish or a veggie dish.  And since he has been incredibly supportive, I’m happy to compromise.  I found a no hormone added organic chicken at Costco, which although slightly more expensive, is a healthier for you and the planet.

 

When I got back from my appointment, the sun was still shining and I was psyched to sit out back enjoy the beautiful day and read my book.  I can’t believe I forgot to add reading outside to my Spring Fever post!

 

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Eventually it was time to get started on dinner.  I was happy that I had chosen a dinner that required minimum prep and came together quickly because I wanted to stay outside all night.

 

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The secret ingredient, which is really not so secret, is red curry paste.  I found this one at the local Jewel, which was on my way back from the studio.  It was reasonably priced, low in sodium and only had a few ingredients.

 

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Dinner was almost ready by the time the BOY walked in the door.  The last time I made curry (which was also the first time), he was really impressed, so I was hoping that this curry would turn out as good as the last time.

 

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To go along with the quick no-nonsense dinner theme, I heated up some rice in the microwave.

 

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The BOY poured himself a generous helping of curry before adding this fallen pieces of chicken to his plate.

 

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He paused for a minute to let me take pictures of his plate, although he still thinks I am crazy for doing this, before whisking his dinner off to the other room.

 

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I served my curry over a grilled sweet potato and green beans. 

 

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It may sound like an odd combination, but the sweet potato drenched in the curry sauce was unbelievably good.  I dipped every last bite into the sauce and almost saved the leftover sauce for another potato.  It got me seriously thinking about a sweet potato curry…which you may see on this blog REAL SOON.

 

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What I am learning about making curry is that it can be quick and easy (for nights you’d rather be hanging out outside) but tastes fantastic.  Plus, it’s always a big hit in this house!

Here is another healthy recipe for Clean Chicken Curry.

 

 

 

Chicken Curry

From Cooking Light Magazine

March 2010

Makes 4 servings (although with the BOY’s appetite it was perfect for two)

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups green bell pepper strips (about 1 large)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk

3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Lime wedges (optional)

Preparation

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, turning once. Add bell pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken mixture from pan. Combine juice, soy sauce, curry paste, and sugar in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add juice mixture and coconut milk to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick. Return chicken mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Dinner Tonight

With the week’s dinner in the crock pot, it was time to get started on tonight’s dinner.  I was inspired by a friend to use my leftover parsnips for Parsnip Chips.  I don’t think the BOY was as excited as I was to try them, but he’s a trooper.  To go with our chips, I wanted to make Black Bean Patties from my favorite clean author Tosca Reno.

I started by collecting all the random ingredients that go into these burgers.  This is a simple recipe that involves piling everything into the food processor.

I started adding ingredients

And then added some more…

And was beginning to get nervous that everything would fit…

But with the touch of a button…

I had this awful looking mess. Luckily, I’d made the burgers before, so I knew they would taste good even though they looked pretty gross.

The BOY added some cheese to his burgers.

And then a whole bunch of sauces…

After some thought and debate, I used my slicer to cut the parsnips.  This is part of my salsa maker (that also does like 5 other things) and works real well when making sweet potato fries.  I cut two parsnips and covered them with olive oil and kosher salt.  I think next time I may add some other spices as well.

I baked them for around 25 minutes.  I started at 375 degrees because they went in with the burgers and then increased to 425 degrees.

Although they smelled different, I thought they tasted pretty good.  Steamed green beans rounded out the meal.  The BOY said his burgers were ‘ok’ and moved his ‘chips’ onto my plate.  He was happy to have leftover cheesecake for dessert!!!