Monthly Archives: January 2012

There is Kale On My Pizza!

There is kale on my pizza and I like it. A lot.

Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Kale Pizza

Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Kale Pizza

I’ve been a big fan of kale chips since last year. I don’t remember where I first heard about them, but I do remember the day I first made them, they were amazing! I make mine with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper. Sometimes I add other spices or parmesan cheese. Kale chips are easy to make, but do require keeping an eye on the oven. The key is to bake them until they are crisp but not burnt, and that line can be crossed in a matter of seconds if you are not careful. When done right, they crumble/dissolve in your mouth like an ultra light and airy chip.

Fresh kale cut and waiting to get tossed with oil and vinegar.

Fresh kale cut and waiting to get tossed with oil and vinegar.

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

There are some great blog posts out there already on this very same topic. If you are interested in making them, check out Kalyn’s Kitchen, The KitchnĀ or Honest Fare. I must warn you, kale chips are addicting! I can eat a whole bunch of kale in one sitting when prepared this way. Oh yeah!

Back to the pizza. Ah, glorious sweet potato & kale pizza. The colors are stunning – orange, violet & green – Mr. Nine calls is the Secondary Colors Pizza.

Pizza AND instant kale chips!

Pizza AND instant kale chips! Sign me up!

I got this recipe for Sweet Potato Kale Pizza with Rosemary & Red Onion from a blog that I must stay away from, Two Peas and Their Pod. I want to eat EVERYTHING they post. This pizza is as tasty as you might imagine. I used a ball of refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Mr. Nine did the rolling and stretching of the dough, and the transfer from the peel to the pizza stone. I always get nervous that I’ll drop it and there will be sticky dough and toppings all over the oven. The layer of cheese underneath the ingredients act as glue to hold the sweet tater rounds & onion into place, and the kale (tossed in balsamic vinegar & olive oil) sitting on top crisps up just like kale chips! I do wish I had put the kale on for only the last few minutes, as a few did get burnt from the high heat, but it was still alright. The pizza stone was nice and hot so it only took 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

I also made a Greek Feta Quinoa Salad (for work lunches during the week) and Mr. Nine prepared a tasty pasta dish for dinner. I forgot to take pictures of those, but they were yum in the tum!

Went to the gym and lifted weights, did a little elliptical (it doesn’t seem to bother my knee) and just had a good day of staying at home. I always like relaxed Sundays. What is your favorite day of the week to relax? Do you have a Sunday ritual? Have you ever had kale chips or kale on pizza?

Categories: Food | 1 Comment

Color on a Gray Day

My Saturday lunch plans with Mom were canceled, and although I was hoping of going out for lunch, I was equally excited about staying in because I had all the makings for this lovely creation:

Orange, Avocado & Pomegranate Salad

Orange, Avocado & Pomegranate Salad

It is inspired by Iowa Girl Eat’s Triple Orange & Avocado Salad! I used Cara Cara & Blood Oranges, so it is a DOUBLE Orange salad for me. I left the membranes on the oranges, although it would have photographed nicer without, it was much easier to peel & separate segments by hand than to section it with a knife. If you are curious how to section an orange to photo-perfection, there is a tutorial at VeganYumYum. I also left out the shrimp and used bottled poppyseed dressing because that is what I had. I tossed the spinach by itself with a light layer of the dressing, then topped it with the two oranges, avocado & pomegranate.

Served with a side of Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and a slice of multi-seed bread, it was the perfect lunch.

I was a little disappointed in the quality of my pomegranate. The first store I went to did not have them, the second store had some pretty beat-up & old looking ones. Inside the pomegranate, a lot of the arils were past their prime, but I was able to get a good handful of firm, plump, juicy ones.

The combo of this salad is stunning visually, but tastes even better. I highly recommend this one!

No word from the doctor about the x-ray. Trying to be patient.

Categories: Food | 2 Comments

Taking the First Steps

Taking the First Steps

These shoes were made for running, and that is what they want to do!

As of this Sunday, it will be 7 weeks since my injury first appeared. It was in the middle of a short, 3-mile run around my neighborhood when the knee pain started. I thought it was very odd, as I wasn’t running faster than normal, and I had just done 3 miles on the trails the day before and was fine. I took a week off as I had a upcoming trail race the next weekend and wanted to be cautious. I raced the next week, and from that moment on my knee pain reached a new level. I have self-diagnosed myself with IT Band syndrome. I’ve done my homework and have all the classic symptoms.

I have been resting, which means no running and hardly any other working out (although I need to change this). I tried to run a few times over the past 7 weeks but it didn’t go so well. I’d feel okay and put my shoes on and within 500 feet the pain would make itself known. I’ve been foam rolling…

Foam Roller

The foam roller, such a simple thing, yet it helps so much.

…and stretching and more resting.

Today I decided that I’m not getting any better and it is time to see a doctor. I dread going to the doctor and was hoping this would just go away, but it is not happening. I’ve already canceled my May half marathon plans. šŸ˜¦

I am one of those with HMO for insurance, which means that I can’t just go to a physical therapist or specialty doctor. I have to go to my primary care physician, and hope that he refers me to the right doctor. So today I drove 30 minutes to the doctor’s office, where I sat in the exam room by myself for 50 minutes. The actual meeting with the doctor was only about 5 minutes. He seems to think that I may have a stress fracture. I didn’t want to go in there saying “I have IT Band Syndrome!” because I did not want to sway his professional opinion. I was very surprised he mentioned a fracture, as I really doubt that is what it is. At that point I brought up my IT Band thoughts and he just nodded, but seemed to discount that, and sent me off to a nearby facility to get x-rays. I balked at the idea, but he wouldn’t give me a referral without the x-rays first.

I went straight to the x-ray facility to Jamba Juice after the doctor (it was lunch, and I knew I didn’t have time to sit down and eat, so a smoothie sounded like a perfect on-the-go healthy option) and then went to the x-ray facility. Thankfully that was a very quick visit, no waiting at all. Now I’m just sitting and waiting to hear the results and find out what happens next. He said depending on the results I’d probably go to either an orthopedic or a PT next.

Going to the doctor was hard for me, because by doing so I was admitting that I had a real problem. For the first few weeks I was optimistic that it was just something minor and I’d be back running any day. The realization struck that it is fast approaching 2 months and this is the longest I’ve gone without running since I started 3 years ago.

In a way I feel relief, as I’ve taken those first steps to help fix it.

I’m also going to get out of this slump and try to find new physical activities to do in the meantime. I find myself so focused on just running, that I have to remind myself there are other forms of exercise out there. Just because I’m injured doesn’t mean that I have to sit on the couch feeling sorry for myself.

While I was out today, I ran a few errands. Stopped by Trader Joe’s for some groceries for dinner. A quick meatball, bok choy, mushroom, jasmine rice concoction. No real recipe, just threw some things together.

I also stopped by the health food store for some hemp protein powder. The brand I usually buy, Nutiva, has changed its packaging and I must say I’m disappointed. The new design just seems so plain compared to their old one.

Nutiva's New Hemp Protein Packaging

Nutiva's new hemp protein packaging.

What do you think?

Next up, a short trip to Ulta. My favorite blush is MAC Ladyblush Cremeblend. Unfortunately they changed their formula and the shade is not quite what it was with the old formula (or so I’ve heard) so I decided not to buy it. I’ve been hearing about this dupe from NYX, their Rogue Cream Blush in Natural. At $6.99 it is a lot cheaper than MAC which runs for $19.50.

Mac Ladyblush & NYX Natural

MAC's Ladyblush with its dupe NYX Natural.

The packaging is identicalĀ and the shades are close. Ladyblush has more magenta in it, while Natural has more of an yellow undertone make it a tad peachy, although the difference is subtle. I found that NYX has more pigment to it and I can use less of the product. I do apply both formulas with MAC’s 188 brush, it blends way better than using your fingers.

Going to do some more foam rolling, and I hope to hear from the doctor soon. I heard he was going on vacation for a week, so I’m not sure what that means for my diagnosis…

Have you ever been injured from running or another sport? How did you deal with it?

Categories: Running | 4 Comments

Baking Therapy

I wouldn’t consider myself someone with a sweet tooth. Sure, sweets are good and I enjoy them, but I’m more of a savory girl. Salty, spicy, sour flavors are right up my alley. Despite this, I have found that I’ve been doing more baking this winter. I think it is more of a therapeutic thing, a method to focus on dough & batter, and nothing else matters.

I’ve been wanting to create a recipe for a healthy protein cookie so I did a little experimenting.

Protein Cookie Experiment

Protein Cookie Experiment

They look fantastic, right? They were okay.Ā I made them with vanilla protein powder, oats, applesauce, egg whites and a few other ingredients, leaving out butter. They turned out more like muffin tops, in that they had a muffin-like texture & look, which I expected. They were a tad on the dry side and lacking the pop of flavor that I wanted. Back to the drawing board on this one.

Next up in the oven… I was thumbing through a stack of older Cooking Light magazines, I found a recipe for Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints. It was the perfect opportunity to use up the last few tablespoons of Nutella, like I need an excuse to eat Nutella! We also had some whole hazelnuts leftover from a hazelnut torte project Mr. Nine was working on last week. Here’s how the cookies turned out:

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies

I had a hard time getting the dough not to crack when I made the thumb indentations. They were very good, but I disagree with the “rave” reviews on the CL website. I liked them, but was not wowed by them. They were a fun treat to make though and used ingredients we already had in the house… well except for the eggs. I was certain we had eggs, and I had all the dry ingredients mixed and was about to grab the eggs to mix with the espresso powder and, you guessed it, no eggs. Luckily Mr. Nine was nice enough to run to the gas station to get eggs for me (now that we no longer have our own chickens, that story is for another post). I had no idea that gas stations sold eggs! I checked the best buy date and packaging, very skeptical of the quality of them, but they seemed fine. First time for buying eggs from the place you get gas, strange!

At the end of my baking, I felt a little empty because I did not create a WOW recipe. I mean doesn’t everyone want to leave the kitchen in total foodie bliss, happily eating & talking about their fantastic food creations? I know I do. In all this I realized though that not every recipe is going to be amazing. Sometimes we have great meals, sometimes they are mediocre, sometimes they are total flops. But with each batch of cookies, or pot of soup, or whatever we make, it is a process. We learn a little along the way and each time we step into the kitchen, and no matter what the outcome, it sure beats a trip to the drive-thru.

For me, these last two recipes were also therapeutic. Whisking the egg yolks & espresso powder together (what a fabulous color it turns!) and kneading the dry, crumbly dough into a smooth, shiny ball of cookie potential. All of this reminds me why I love being in the kitchen.

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Soft Pretzels Soothe The Soul

Today I’m lounging around the house in pajamas, riding out the tail end of a cold. I seldom get sick, this was my first cold in over 4 years.

Whenever I’m feeling under the weather, my cravings go straight for comfort foods from my childhood. There is something so familiar & soothing about those foods, they truly feed the soul. While blog hopping last night on the NOOK from underneath the most incredibly snuggly down blanket, I stumbled upon a recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites from Two Peas & Their Pod. I would have jumped straight off the sofa and did a happy dance if I wasn’t as sick and tired as I was. Hot pretzels rank up there with one of my favorite childhood treats. They remind me of seeing a baseball game at Wrigley, a day of riding roller coasters at the amusement park or even a sunny summer afternoon at the beach (our beach club sold them at the concession stand).

After lunch today, Mr. Nine popped the dough hook onto the KitchenAid and began making the dough for, you guessed it, hot soft pretzel bites! I think my subtle hints (shoving the NOOK in front of him screaming “Pretzel Nuggets! Pretzel Nuggets!”) did the trick. Just like with any bread baking, this is a good project for the weekend when you are home since the whole process takes several hours with the rising & baking.

Pretzel Bites Cooling on Rack

Pretzel Bites Cooling on Rack

I received some Red Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt as a gift before Christmas this year, and it was the perfect coarse salt to top them with. Since the pink-red salt blended in with the brown pretzels, it wasn’t as picture perfect as pure white salt, but it tasted just as good.

This recipe makes a ton of pretzel bites. We had some leftover (stored covered at room temp overnight) and they were just as delicious after being heated up for a few seconds in the microwave. I am sure you could also freeze them, but I have not tried that.

The cheese dip was too thick, so we had to add a lot more milk to make it dippable. Be warned that it dips best when it is really hot, so eat it right away or put into a warming dish as it will not hold up at room temp for any length of time.

The Finished Pretzel Bites

The Finished Pretzel Bites!

While munching on these incredible pillowy pretzels, thinking about how I’ve not only been sick but injured and unable to run for the last 6 weeks, I figured now is a good time to start the blog that I’ve always wanted. So here I am, blogging about my road to recovery and all the yummy things that happen along the way.

Once I am able to run again on the trails I love, I’ll be running on cloud nine.

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