Arugula and Avocado Salad with L’s Lemon Dressing

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Arugula and Avocado Salad with L’s Lemon Dressing

Yesterday I felt the need to wax poetic about all of my pre-race fears, so today I’ll save you a lot of reading and just share a few simple, delicious and easy recipes.

After eating all of K’s lovely breakfast pastries for dinner a few days ago (ooops!), I felt the need to find some much needed balance and made myself this salad for lunch the next day. With the fresh lemon and any fresh herbs that you have on hand, it tastes really crisp and bright – just what I needed yesterday. The arugula has a sharp, peppery taste that I love and the avocado is bursting with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals (you can read more about how great avocados are here: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5). Below you’ll find the basics to create your own, one-of-a-kind salad to your personal taste.

Arugula and Avocado Salad with Lemon Dressing

Salad:

2 – 3 cups of arugula

1/2 of an avocado

Any of the following that you like: cucumber, shredded carrots, shallots, grape tomatoes, plain quinoa, etc…the addition options are endless.

Dressing:

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

1/2 – 1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Any of the following fresh herbs that you like: dill, oregano, thyme, basil, chives, etc…

Directions:

  • Chop the avocado (and any additional vegetables) into small, bite-sized pieces
  • Mix the lemon juice, mustard and garlic (and any fresh herbs) together. Slowly add the olive oil to lemon juice mixture while stirring with a fork or small whisk rapidly to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the dressing over the greens, give them a quick toss and voila! You have a delicious, fresh salad to eat.
  • Enjoy πŸ˜›

– L

42 Seconds

Sweat was dripping down my face and my elbows were getting rug burns as I desperately pulled myself forward. Grunting, I thought, “This will all be worth it in 7 days. This will all be worth it in 7 days.” Pain seared down my legs. I squeezed my eyes shut and heaved my body forward one last time.

I was having a special moment with my foam roller.

Why so sore you ask? Well, as you can see from the countdown on my blog, my first half marathon is in 6 days. I’ve been pushing myself extra hard at the gym and on my training runs, trying to get those legs in tip-top shape so I can run my heart out for those 13.1 miles. Yesterday was a big day for me. I had been getting jittery and nervous last week as I watched those countdown numbers slowly tick down, and I promised myself I would crank out one last “long” (for me) practice run to convince myself I could do it. I set my sights on 10 miles. 10 miles, I could do it, no big deal. I woke up yesterday feeling good, made myself an amazing breakfast, my Autumn-themed overnight oats:

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L’s Autumn Overnight Oats with banana, cranberry compote, blueberries, delicata squash and almond butter; topped with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and a swirl of maple syrup.

You can find my recipe for overnight oats here: Overnight Oats. This time, I topped my oats with blueberries, banana, almond butter, leftover roasted delicata squash, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, a little maple syrup and a quick cranberry compote. I had leftover cranberries from another recipe and whipped this up:

Quick Cranberry Compote
Ingredients

1 cup of fresh cranberries

1 – 2 Tbsp raw coconut sugar

Directions: Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat, and cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries start to pop but are still whole. Transfer to a bowl to cool; serve.

Optional: A splash of orange juice and zest of a quarter of an orange, but I had neither on hand. You can also increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if you want something sweeter, I really like the tartness of the cranberries with the other fruits in my oats, so I kept the sugar minimal.

The delicata squash I roasted for a snack on Saturday and put the leftover in the fridge. I scooped out about half of my leftover squash for the oats. (All I did was cut the squash in half length-wise, scoop the seeds out and lightly brush some melted soy butter over the inside. Roast at 450F for ~30 minutes for delicious, soft and creamy delicata squash. Easy peasy).

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Roasted Delicata Squash

Anywho, after I chomped that down and did a little tidying up, my “Booyah!” attitude was flagging. The little voice of doubt in my head started up.

– I don’t want to do this.

– You HAVE to do this, it’s the last Sunday before your race.

(etc, etc…I’ll spare you my 20 minute internal monologue – you get the idea)

I laced my sneakers up, picked a good song to start out, and pushed myself out the front door. It was crisp and sunny, and the fall colors were really amping up their game. You got this, I said.

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Dude, my shoelaces match the leaves.

I had one of those runs where you surprise yourself, when the choppy robot-lady voice from the Nike+ app interrupts your song: One mile completed. Average pace: nine minutes and fifteen seconds. As I racked up my miles, my pace did not deviate. I couldn’t believe it. It’s only a matter of time before my pace slows down to “normal,” or so I thought.

Five miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty-one seconds. (I then ate my mocha energy gel).

My legs were under protest, but I kept going. One foot in front of the other. Up, down. Up, down. I said all of my mantras to myself. I made up new ones. I hummed along to my music. Don’t slow down, I said.

Ten miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty seconds.

Let’s make it 11 miles. One more mile, you can do this, I said.

Robot lady: Eleven miles…I ripped off my headphones. I did it! BOO-freaking-YAH!

In the end, I shaved off 42 seconds from my mile split time. 42 seconds: half a minute, plus 12 seconds. I have not had that much of a jump in my speed since I started running consistently. I am walking like I just got off a horse today, and thinking about foam rolling my legs again tonight makes me cringe, but who the hell cares. 42 seconds!! Hells yeah!

Moral of today’s story: Get out there and do it. You might not want to, but you always have the potential to surprise yourself. πŸ™‚

Happy Monday/Columbus Day!

– L (who today, has no legs).

πŸ˜›

L’s Overnight Oats (aka My Breakfast Erryday)

Good Morning All!

Every morning, I get out of the gym, sling my overstuffed gym bag into my trunk and start thinking about what lies ahead for my day. After all those burpees, planks, squats, spin class, whatever my morning workout consists of, my mind is (usually) laser-focused on my to-do list. Except first: breakfast. Getting up at 5 am everyday, by the time I’m walking to my car in the parking garage at 7:15, my stomach is in revolt: “Food. Now. Like, right now. Or ten minutes ago. Feed meeeeee.” I know I’m not alone, because as the ladies’ locker room fills up after morning class, everyone has the same thought: after that workout, we are all freakin’ starving. Daaamn!

After attempting distraction by filling my stomach with coffee on my commute to work, I allow myself to start getting *a little* excited about my impending breakfast. As soon as my rear is parked at my desk, I wrench the lid off my mason jar filled with delicious goodness, dump it into a bowl and do not speak, think, or answer my phone until it is all in my belly. Mmmmm! Don’t judge me, but the moment that first bite is swallowed is the best part of my morning. For reals. Yum.

I’ve made overnight oats my (weekday) breakfast every day for the past several months (and never been tired of it, either!). I’ve gotten my sister, brother-in-law and three of my closest friends totally hooked on it. It’s always filling, it’s always delicious, and it’s always exciting. You can literally put anything on top. Anything. The best part? It takes less than five minutes to make it the night before. Seriously people, this is legit.

L's Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

Let me tell you how I make it. All you’ll need is:

  • 16 oz mason jar/any container approximately that size
  • your favorite nut butter
  • rolled oats
  • milk of some variety (almond, soy, dairy – you name it)
  • cinnamon
  • toppings
Step 1: Take a big ol’scoop (~1 tbsp) of nut butter and put it in the bottom of your jar. I use Justin’s Maple Almond Butter because it is literally the best.
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Noms. Almond butter.

Step 2: Put 1/2 cup of rolled oats and (a little less than) 1/2 cup of almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk here) on top of your nut butter.
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Add oats and almond milk

Step 3: Dump some cinnamon on top (the amount is up to you, but I really like cinnamon). Stir the cinnamon in.
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Sprinkle on some cinnamon for flavor

Step 4: Time for toppings: throw some fruit in there. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are my current favorites.
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Add your fave berries
Step 5: Top it off with nuts, seeds, whatever. I use pumpkin seeds and flaked coconut for some crunchy texture in there.
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Top it all off with nuts, seeds, coconut flakes – whatever!

Step 6: You’re done! Put it in the fridge and go relax. In the morning you’ll have a delicious breakfast πŸ™‚

I’m not kidding when I say it’s that easy. And it’s sooooooooo good for you! You’ve got a very nutritious and filling breakfast to start your day off. The possibilities are endless as well, so you can put whatever is in your pantry/fridge as toppings and make it your very own.

I hope you all enjoy it! And have a great day today. It’s hump day! Woohoo!

– L.

The Best Damn Baked Tofu EVER.

tofu

If you have read yesterday’s post, you would know that I’ve been a veg for over half my life. I’ve eaten my share of tofu. Baked, broiled, grilled, sauteed, crumbled, buffalo – you name it, I’ve probably tried it. HOWEVER, my absolute favorite way is the recipe you will find below. You’re in luck: it’s simple, fast, and friggin’ delicious. It’s even been omnivore approved: my entire family likes it (even my aunt will text me: “honey, what is that tofu recipe again?”), and my friends who previously turned their noses up at my “weird veggie sh*t” will devour the entire baking tray of this tofu. Without further ado, here’s what you do:

The Best Damn Baked Tofu Ever

Ingredients:

1 16 oz package of extra firm tofu, diced

Marinade:

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic, or fresh ginger or both

Directions:

1. If you can buy diced tofu, do it – it just makes life simpler. If not, cut up your tofu block into 1″ cubes. Drain well. This is the most important step: the better you drain the tofu, the more the marinade is allowed to soak in. Tofu is like a sponge, it comes packed in water to keep it fresh, but if you want it to taste great, squeezing all the extra water out is a must. I usually make a paper towel sandwich on a dinner plate for the tofu draining process. I place a square or two of paper towel on a plate, place the tofu on the paper towel; then, add another paper towel on top of the tofu, and a second plate. I put a 5 lbs barbell on top of the second plate but you can use whatever is handy: a can of tomatoes, a bottle of vodka, The Origin of Species, whatev.

2. Once the tofu is well drained (you should drain for at least 15 minutes, but I have been known to allow my tofu to drain for an entire episode of Scandal), place it into a seal-able plastic bag (ziploc) or shallow container. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and pour over top of the tofu. If your tofu is in a bag, great! You can “massage” the marinade right into the tofu; if it’s in a container then toss the tofu until it is well coated in the marinade.

3. Allow the tofu to marinade for at least one hour, I almost always allow my tofu to marinade overnight. It tastes better that way.

tofu2

4. Once the tofu has soaked up all the goodness, place the diced pieces in single layer on a baking sheet. Try to spread them out as much as possible, it allows the tofu to cook evenly on all sides. Bake at 350 F for 25 – 35 minutes. You want the tofu to appear lightly browned.

5. I’ve personally never done this, but I heard a rumor that you can toss the cubes in cornmeal when they are hot out of the oven for a crispy texture. Once cooled, store in an airtight container and it will keep in the fridge for about a week. Enjoy!

I’m not gonna lie – the bag pictured above is currently sitting in my refrigerator to be baked tonight. Stay tuned for a pic of the final product tomorrow πŸ™‚ I make this recipe weekly, double it, and use the baked tofu to top my salads for an extra protein boost (and to fight off the 3 pm hangry). I eat it right out of the fridge, use it to top sauteed veggies, salads, as a side dish, reheat in the microwave and put on any leftovers I have. It’s so versatile, so easy, and even SO good by itself! It’s the best damn tofu ever.

I hope you agree. Happy baking!

– L