Recipe time · Uncategorized

Recipe: Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

My boss at work is currently taking a plant-based cooking course, so she brings in all kinds of delicious recipes for the office to try. Last week, she made a great traditional vegetable soup for everyone with lots of potatoes, onions, white beans, and cabbage.

After trying her soup and seeing how easy it was to make (she made it on our lunch break with one pot!), I decided to try my hand at making my own this past weekend but with an Asian-inspired twist. It turned out really, really good and is filling and full of vegetables which makes for a great diet food! I’ve been bringing it for lunch at work all week, and I’m not tired of it yet.

Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, diced in 1″ pieces
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1/3 head of green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 container shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 block of extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and diced into 1″ pieces
  • No-Chicken bouillon or broth (8 cups worth)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1/3 of a sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring no-chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
  2. While the stock is heating up, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in Earth Balance spread on medium-high until onions are translucent, then add mushrooms and Hoison sauce. Stir to mix, turn down to medium low and cover until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add mushroom mixture, tofu, and other vegetables to boiling stock. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add sriracha to taste. Serve hot.

Serves 6

Uncategorized

The easiest party dish ever

One big advantage of my new job is having weekends off. After two plus years of having to work at least one weekend day, I have been learning to embrace Saturdays and Sundays.

I woke up this morning feeling less than stellar. I’ve been battling allergies and a scratchy throat all week, so I took some medicine, drank some tea with honey, and went right back to bed. I woke up feeling loads better, and just in time to watch a little football! I’m just hanging out at home snacking, stretching, and rolling out my legs in preparation for tomorrow’s long run. What are your weekend plans?

When I’m not feeling under the weather, I prefer to watch football in the company of friends, and if I go to someone’s house to watch the game, I hate showing up empty-handed. My go-to dish is sausage and Rotel dip.

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This is the simplest dip in the world. Take one pound of hot sausage crumbles, sixteen ounces of softened cream cheese, and two cans of Rotel, drained. Mix everything together in a bowl, then spread the mixture evenly into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and eat hot!

Since I quit eating meat, I have been making my dip with Boca crumbles. To add the heat from the sausage back in, I switched one can of Rotel for the spicy mixture with habaneros. The veggie version is still just as popular, even among my most carnivorous friends!

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What’s your favorite party dish?

Running · Uncategorized

Slow and steady

I want to get real about running for a few minutes. While I love reading the blogs of super speedy runners, I’m not one. I don’t know if I ever will be one. I’m simply not a fast runner.

It doesn’t come easily to me. My natural stride is not something pretty to watch. Going out to “knock out a quick 10k” isn’t even something I can comprehend.

But I keep going. In two years, I’ve dropped almost three official minutes from my 5k time, and four minutes unofficially. I’ve run a half marathon. I’m planning to run a full marathon.

When I started running, I could barely run for a quarter mile at a time, at a 12:30/mile pace. I usually hold almost a minute faster than that for a long run pace these days.

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I’m not the kind of runner who adores every single mile. I certainly have never trained like I probably should to see awesome results.

That’s okay. Maybe someday I’ll get more serious and more competitive with my training. Maybe not. Maybe all racing will ever amount to is a way to keep me running.]

What I do know is that when I get out there, whether it’s a training run or a race, something about me changes that day. I feel accomplished. I feel like I’ve done something worthwhile, and I feel like I’ve done something for just me.

Yes, I like getting PRs and yes, I like beating the person next to me, but at the end of the day, I run because I can. Summer of 2011, I dreamed of simply finishing a 5k. That seemed insurmountable. Once I did a 5k, I set my sights on a half marathon, a goal that materialized in 2009. That seemed insurmountable. These days, a marathon doesn’t seem that way. I truly believe I can do it.

While I’m never going to lead the pack, I am lapping the old me.

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One painful, deathly, slowpoke step at a time.

Uncategorized

Peachtree Road Race recap and what’s next?

The last road race I ran was wayyyyy back on July 4th. The Atlanta Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10k in the US, if not the world. Entry is done by lottery system, and the race cap is 60,000 runners. I used my Atlanta Track Club membership to my advantage, and was able to sign up early.

The Peachtree is an annual tradition in Atlanta, with many people who have run it for decades. One girl I know is in her twenties and ran her 13th Peachtree this year. People line the streets cheering, restaurants come out early and provide on-course fueling, the volunteers are superb, and the whole experience is absolutely incredible. This was my first Peachtree, and while I was expecting a big event, I was blown away by the reality of it.

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One of my coworkers was running the event as well, so she and I met up at Starbucks to ride the train down to midtown. Because of the size of the race and the increase in security, getting from the train to the start corrals took a long time, and I noticed a lot of people who were missing their heats. The good news is that you can move back in the start waves, so they didn’t miss running.

It was humid and muggy, so my plan was to use this race like a training run. I don’t think I was aware exactly how not-PR friendly this course is. It was hilly, hot, and the skies were just waiting to open up with rain. I ran somewhere around a 1:14. Keep in mind, my PR is a 1:06. However, everyone else I know was also 5-10 minutes off their best times.

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Obviously, I had fun though.

As far as a training run, the run itself was excellent. I ran the hills strong, and I had a lot of kick left at mile 5 to bring it home. In fact, I’m pretty certain I took it out a little too conservatively.

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Also, this is what I was fighting the entire race. One of the disadvantages of it being my first year, and my not running a qualifier meant I was in the very last start wave, so I was weaving through walkers the whole time. This year, I’ll definitely make sure to run a qualifier before March so that I can get a decent start wave.

So yes, I am planning to run it again.

Piedmont Park was one big mud field, so my coworker and I split shortly after she finished. The t-shirts are cool, but I didn’t get a look at much other swag.

As far as what’s next, I’m running a 5k this weekend, so bring on the pain. I’m also planning to return from mid-distance to distance races with a 10-miler, a half on Thanksgiving, and my first full marathon in March. Training for the half kicks off next week, with the 10-miler serving as a training run.

Bring it.

What races do you have planned?

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Uncategorized

Charleston (4 weeks later photo dump)

Alright, blog world. I have been bad, bad, bad about posting. It’s now been over three months since my last post. Life happens. I have switched positions and locations at work, taken on an internship, resigned my lease for another year, and a zillion other things. I’ve been trying to maintain a social life, but honestly, I’ve just been keeping afloat. Blogging has not exactly been at the forefront of my mind.

One thing I did manage to fit in this summer was a vacation! I hadn’t been on vacation since 2009, so this was awesome. Charleston was awesome. Not being in Atlanta for three days was awesome. Let’s just say the whole thing was awesome, okay? Okay.

Here I am, packed and ready to go:

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I may or may not have a slight Vera Bradley problem. Seriously, I’ve had these bags since 6th and 8th grade, respectively.

I did fit in some running while I was in Chucktown. I was planning on some long mileage, but the humidity was so overwhelming that I ended up just doing two short runs coupled with core work. However, those early morning runs were an amazing part of the trip.

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I got to see the aquarium…

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and Fort Sumter…

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The food was amazing, Charleston was amazing, it was all amazing.

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Injury prevention: a guest post

I’ve spent a good portion of my early running career learning how to stay injury-free. I’ve sprained an ankle, gotten plantar fasciitis, struggled with sore joints, and pounded my hip into oblivion. This is in addition to the countless number of times I’ve wounded my pride by looking like a rabid basset hound while running.

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When the editors of Healthline.com reached out to me about doing a guest post, I was excited to see what they had to say about injury prevention. While a lot of this stuff is common sense, it’s really easy for new runners (and old, I’m totally guilty of these!) to overlook a lot of the basics.

So now that you know that I am not the poster child for injury prevention, let’s see what someone who knows her stuff has to say:

Four Tips for Preventing Injury while Running

1. Stay within Your Limits

One of the most important things to do in order to avoid injury is to stay within your limits. In other words, listen to your body. The saying “No pain, no gain” only goes so far. Running can come with quite a bit of psychological pain, but physical pain is a different story. If you experience pain while exercising, that means that your body needs rest. Give it a break, and try a different exercise that allows the appropriate areas to take a break.

Part of staying within your limits is also knowing how much your body can take. If you aren’t a runner, you aren’t going to become one tomorrow. That’s not to say that you will never be a runner; in fact, consistent exercise is the best way to build up to longer and longer distances. Keep in mind that that improvement is gradual. Pushing yourself too much early on can result in major setbacks in the form of serious injuries.

If you are an experienced runner, you should still make sure not to push it too hard. Studies show that for the typical runner (as in, not the guy at the front of the pack), regularly running as fast as possible increases the likelihood of injury by a large margin. Race sparingly, and do the proper training every time you want to run for speed.

2. Stretch!

And, warm up! These parts of running too often get ignored, and they can make a major difference in terms of reducing the chance that you will get hurt. First, do a light, easy warm-up exercise before your run. This can be a short jog to the corner and back, or it can be a set of jumping jacks. Warming up helps the muscles to loosen and relax, thereby decreasing the chance that they will get injured as you exercise.

After you warm up, it also helps to stretch. If you are going to stretch only once each time you run, it should come after you finish your exercise. This is when the muscles need to cool down, and stretching helps keep your body limber so that you won’t experience aches and pains hours after your run.

3. Pick up the Right Shoes

Treating your feet right is the first step in treating your body right. It may be tempting to keep going with those old trainers that are falling apart a little more with each step, but throwing down the money for a new pair of (high-quality) running shoes is well worth it.

The science behind this one is simple. As your shoes get older, they lose the support that they were made with. Eventually, they provide an insufficient surface for your foot as you run, and running in the same way as you might with a nice, new pair of shoes can result in injury. Most runners recommend tossing out your shoes after 300 to 500 miles of exercise.

4. Mix up Your Workouts

For some people, “exercise” means “running.” In reality, you can do wonders for your body by switching up your exercise routine and working on other areas a little bit each week. This gives your joints and leg muscles time to recover, and it allows your body to stay loose and active when you take a break from running.

In addition, cross training is important for well-rounded exercise, because running simply doesn’t exercise all of your muscles. Especially if you are experiencing some pain from running, think about hopping in the pool for a swim every now and then, or try out the rowing machine or a stationary bike. Any of these options can help you work on your cardio without putting too much strain on your legs.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.