Tag Archives: health-diet-nutrition

Potato Cakes and admitting defeat

Two months ago, I signed up for a variety of races in an attempt to keep my running love alive post-marathon. Most of them are in 2011, but one was for the half-marathon race in Hamilton which is happening tomorrow – just shy of one month after Chicago.

After Chicago, I was so disappointed with my performance that I began to look at the upcoming half-marathon as an opportunity to redeem myself. I reasoned to myself that I’d seen some people run second races a month after the first one before, and since I basically ran Chicago at my LSD pace, I could think of it like a training run. I barely did anything during the first week after the marathon. To be frank, I wasn’t even sure my feet could fit into my running shoes because they were so beaten up. When I attempted to go for a run during the second week, it felt like my calves had been ripped to shreds. Then I began seeing a massage therapist, who informed me as she proceeded to invoke pain in areas I didn’t know even hurt, that my balance was off and that my quads and hamstrings were a complete mess. Apparently those muscles don’t complain until they are so far gone that you’re one hop, skip and a jump away from injury. Sigh.

Last Sunday, when it began to snow during my run, I realized how miserable I had been over the last few weeks. My legs were hurting whenever I ran, I was substituting long runs on an elliptical – a machine that I abhor  –  and for what? To run but “not race” a half-marathon just to prove something to myself? I know that Chicago did not represent all of the time I spent training throughout the summer. I know that there will be other opportunities, and that I will try again in the future. I also know, that I was/am exhausted and in desperate need of a break. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I stopped running midway through my run on Sunday. I just didn’t have it in me anymore. I felt pain in every step I took and I just wanted it to stop. I decided right then and there that I had to stop cornering myself into situations that would set me up for failure. Ironically, it also stopped snowing minutes after I stopped running. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I’ve decided not to run the race tomorrow. I think it is for the best in the long run.

I also decided to take the entire week off from running. I just can’t believe it’s taken me this long to recover from my marathon. Instead I’ve been doing as many yoga classes that I can cram into my schedule and I’ve been doing 1-2 spinning classes each week. I’m certain that I’ve lost a lot of the fitness I built up over the summer, but I’m confident that I can build it up again when I’m ready to. It’s definitely not the same, and I really miss running, but more than anything, I miss running without feeling pain. For now, I’m trying to be kind to my body by doing lower impact things that will allow my legs to heal. Having a few massages here and there can’t hurt either, right?

♦♦♦

You what else can’t hurt?

Potato Cakes

Though I don’t normally buy potatoes on my own, I had a bunch of potatoes that needed to be used up from my organic produce basket. I decided to try using same method to steam them that I use for vegetables by adding about 1 inch of water, bringing it to a boil, and adding a few chopped potatoes. A few minutes later, soft potatoes were ready for experimenting. Not quite as delicious as the roasted variety, but hey, it’s something different!

Potato cakes are incredibly easy and adaptable to your tastes. You start with a base of potatoes and some kind of binding agent. I used an egg and a few heaping teaspoons of peanut flour. Then you get to go crazy with your fillings and flavours.

I started with some chopped kim chee, leftover butternut squash (+ skin!), Sriracha, and chopped steamed broccoli.

Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Form into patties with your hands.

And cook on medium heat for a few minutes on each side.

Mmm, stack, photograph, and enjoy. Or you could skip feeling the need to provide photographic evidence of your late night “fast food” dinner and just move from cooking to eating.

And if you’re like me at all, you’ll realize that these taste even better with some dijon mustard.

A few days later, realize that nothing would please you more than to have more potato cakes. This time, I added chopped black olives, tahini, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, dill, paprika, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. What can I say? I like my food with a kick!

While these cooked, I wondered which ones I would like better.

I…. may have to make more to decide.

Really, I don’t think you can go wrong with these.

In fact, I recently received another bunch of potatoes from my organic food basket. Guess what’s going back on the menu?

Let there be cake. Potato cake. Go, make some and let me know what you think!

♦♦♦

Potato Cakes (method)

Ingredients:

  • 1-3 small potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2-3 tsp peanut flour
  • 1 egg
  • your favourite flavours: as you can see from above, I mixed tahni, dill, black olives and a variety of spices for one set of cakes, and kim chee, broccoli, and butternut squash for the other cakes.
  • coconut oil (for frying)

Directions:

  • In a medium pot, bring 1-2 inches of water to a boil, add chopped potatoes and cover. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes or so, the potatoes are finished when they can be easily pierced by a fork. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add peanut flour (or regular flour/bread crumbs), egg, and whatever toppings suit your fancy (seriously!). You can’t go wrong because potatoes on their own can easily be adapted to taste great with whatever you put in it. Mix everything well and form into 4-5 patties.
  • In a large frying pan, heat coconut oil (any other oil works too) and fry each patty or cake for a few minutes on each side, flipping when a nice golden crust forms.
  • Enjoy!

Red Chard and Leek Tart

When your body forces you to take a step back to rest and your schedule spirals out of control, suddenly eating home cooked food – at home becomes a luxury. Despite the few massages that I’ve gotten (why I waited this long to get one, I have no idea), multiple yoga classes and my return to indoor (blah!) spinning classes, I’ve found myself restless at night from the lack of exercise and exhausted each day from the craziness otherwise known as my life. I definitely don’t want to push things, but I’m getting pretty impatient with getting back to “normal”. I know I’ve been told that it can take up to a month to recover from a marathon, but I’d rather fall into the “or less” camp.

Thanks to my RMT (LOVE her), I’m currently in the middle of trying out some hot and cold therapy for the first time. According to her instructions, all I have to do is alternate between applying ice cold and hot wraps to my trouble areas. Here’s hoping that it will make the tightness go away!

As for future plans, I’ve been thinking about where I want to go from here and have been considering a few things. I will update you all soon on what I’ve decided, I promise!

♦♦♦

Even though my body takes its sweet time recovering, I’ve been scoring big wins in the kitchen. Last week I feasted on delicious homemade potato cakes and this week I experimented with making a vegetarian version of my turkey cumin meatballs using white beans and tofu. Last, but not least, inspired by a suggested recipe from Mama Earth (love that they give you recipe ideas each week!), I thew caution to the wind and decided to attempt to make my first tart….ever!

Not one to follow recipes exactly unless it couldn’t possibly be made any easier, a few substitutions turned into a complete recipe makeover. But that’s okay, it’s the recipe thought that counts.

First, I wanted to make it using ingredients that I already had on hand. Unfortunately, that ruled out ingredients like whipping cream and thyme (note to self: stock up on dried thyme!). Second, as much as I love puff pastry, I didn’t have the time or patience to put one together. I mean, what kind of full-time worker has the time to refrigerate dough, roll it out and pre-bake it while the rest of the ingredients are assembled? Don’t get me wrong – I am determined to make my own pastry dough some day – but not when I have to wake up early for work the next day.

Okay, so I was never intending to make this tart vegan, although if you disregard the fact that I sauteed the vegetables in butter, this tart was completely free of animal products. But who am I kidding? I would probably use butter again the next time I make this too.

Completely vegetarian, almost vegan, and subtly fantastic in flavours, I give this tart two enthusiastic thumbs up!

It began with the dough. Well, I should really begin by saying that I am no dough-expert. In fact, I am probably the last person that you would want to take dough advice on. Having said that, I was delighted with how this turned out, and even my self-proclaimed crust snob coworker gave it glowing praise.

I digress. First you add some coconut oil with flour. I used spelt – you can probably get away with whole wheat or all-purpose. Then I slowly added cold water (do NOT be over zealous and add too much. I learned this the hard way with my spinach roti) until it came together to form a dough. I don’t know if you need to knead it, but I knew I certainly didn’t want to.

So I smooshed (yes, I just used a non-word) it into a mini baking dish (had to play it safe for my first attempt!) and used my knuckles to even out the bottom.

Okay, the filling. I started off by chopping up the white and light green parts of the fantastic leek that came in my basket last week. In about 1 T butter. Mmm, butter. Then I tossed in chopped red chard – also from my basket.

I had some leftover soft tofu from my meatballs that I wanted to use up before it went bad so I decided to substitute that as the filling instead of using eggs. I also did not feel like turning on my blender, mostly because I didn’t want to wash it after, so I figured whisking it with a slash of unsweetened soy milk would produce a similar result. Worked like a charm.

Then I tossed in some of cooked leek and red chard along with the tofu and mixed everything together. I was planning to add some nutmeg to the mixture to add a subtle kick but forgot. I will do this next time and let you know if it makes a noticeable difference.

I poured the filling into the crust, threw it into the oven and anxiously waited.

Good things come to those who wait.

Just check out that crust! It stood up on its own and everything. Best 10 minute crust ever.

Although I wasn’t watching the time, I would guess that this entire tart came together in about 1 hour, including baking time. Of course you could go the distance and make (or use pre-made) pastry dough, but in a pinch, give this crust a try for an easy and delicious meal. Make with locally organic produce and you’ll never look back. Tomorrow’s lunch never looked so exciting.

♦♦♦

Red Chard and Leek Tart

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 1 c spelt flour
  • 1.5-2 t coconut oil
  • cold water

For the filling

  • 1 T butter (or coconut oil to make the tart vegan)
  • 1/2 a leek, with the white and light green parts chopped
  • 2-3 stalks red chard, chopped
  • 1/2 package of soft tofu
  • 1 T soy milk (can use dairy or almond, coconut, etc)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°C.
  • In a small to medium bowl, add coconut oil to flour and mix well. Slowly add cold water, about 1 tsp at a time, until the flour just comes together to form dough. You don’t want it to be too sticky so be careful with the water. You can always add more flour if it gets too sticky.
  • Spray a small baking pan with cooking oil and pat down dough into the baking dish, allowing it to rise up the sides of the pan as well.
  • In a large frying pan, melt butter and saute leeks. After about 10 minutes or so, add red chard and continue sauteing until both are cooked through. If it gets too dry, turn down the heat or add a splash of water to avoid burning either of the vegetables.
  • In a larger bowl, whip half a package of tofu with a splash of milk until  the tofu is fully broken down. Toss in leeks and red chard and mix well. Pour filling into the crust and bake for about 14-15 minutes.
  • Turn down the oven temperature to 350°C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, allow tart to cool in the pan, serve and enjoy.

Notes:

  • I followed the baking instructions (first baking at 400°C and then at 350°C) from the original recipe, but it was probably unnecessary given that the original recipe uses puff pastry for the crust and lots of egg and whipping cream based mixture that apparently puffs up (mine didn’t at all).
  • Like I said, I was never intending to make this tart vegan which is why I sauteed my vegetables in butter, but since I had leftover tofu that I didn’t want to go to waste, I decided to use that as the base for my filling. I’m sure the leeks and chard would have tasted just as delicious if they were cooked in coconut oil.
  • The original recipe called for dried thyme and nutmeg in the  mixture. Herbs and spices make everything better so I’m definitely going to try using both next time.
  • There will definitely be a next time. Very soon.
  • This tastes just as good microwaved the next day with a little bit of salt and pepper. And mustard if you’re a mustard fanatic like me.

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