Author Archives: Heather

One-Dish Meal: Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant Recipe

If there’s one thing I’m confident with in the kitchen, it’s a one-dish meal. I’m all for efficiency, simplicity and easy clean-up! While I love home-cooked meals, and don’t mind cooking them myself, I steer clear of complicating things.

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Here’s the deal: I do not love eggplant. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, it can be very tough on the jaw, and it dries out very quickly.

But every vegetable deserves a fair chance in this world! I DO love ordering the eggplant dish at Thai restaurants, and that just flat-out baffles me. How do they do it?! It’s always soft, and edible, and flavorful (read: spicy!), and delicious. I order it without reserve; I know they’ll nail it and I’ll want another plateful for leftovers (because no, there are no leftovers).

I’m growing basil plant #5 in the backyard and it was begging for an excuse to be harvested. I picked up an eggplant at Trader Joe’s and thought, “Okay, let’s do-si-do one more time…”

Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant
Makes ~4 servings, or 2 big ones

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Basil, to taste (~3/4 cup fresh leaves, chopped)
1 can(15 oz)  fire-roasted tomatoes
2-3 cups fresh greens: arugula, spinach OR kale (optional)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Red pepper flakes, to taste (if you really like that spice!)
Optional: top with sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a large sauté pan (or wok). Add garlic, stirring for 1 minute. Add red onions; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, sesame oil and seasonings (cayenne). Continue cooking this mix until the eggplant softens (8-10 minutes); add 1/8 – 1/4 cup water if it looks dry. Stir in the basil and greens; cook until softened.

Top with seeds for extra crunch, flavor and healthy fats!

2014-08-10 19.07.22Suggested summer pairing: Water + Watermelon Ale (not mixed together), to quench the spice and your thirst.

Eggplant, you’ve redeemed yourself! I think you have basil, spices and tomato juice to thank. But we’ll take it.

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What’s your favorite one-dish meal?

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Filed under dinners, food, Nutrition, recipes

Henry Cowell Redwoods Trail Race (10K): Up, on the ‘beach’ and along the river

Way back in April I coincidentally discovered a little piece of heart rate-training magic; do a long, ridiculous hike (read: the Incline) and reap major  cardio rewards! I don’t fully understand the science quite yet, but what I do understand is loving a crazy-low heart rate on an easy run just days after spiking that thing WAY UP THERE while enjoying nature’s best playgrounds.

Obviously this a win-win situation,  so we must pursue more of these!

Coach gave me the go-ahead to “race” 2-3 trail runs in August. If you’ve done a trail race, run or ‘leisurely hike’ of any kind, you’ll know it feels anything but relaxing to the muscles (heart included). But your mind is all kinds of distracted and at peace and happy because the world surrounding you is all kinds of wonderful.

8.9.14 Mizuno Hayates_HCP run

Our first foray into northern California’s state parks set the bar high. We found an option for round 2 even closer to ‘home’ and hopped right on it! The Mizunos were pretty pumped to get dirty again.

Another run off of the flat pedestrian trail, another new state park, and another 10k challenge: check!

8.9.14 Elevation Chart

In an uncharacteristic move, I  studied this chart well and good before heading to the starting line. Yes, there’s a nasty climb right between miles 1-2.5, but that sweet rolling descent at the end makes it all right. Another big feather in this race director’s (RD) hat is awarded because this was not an out-and-back. We only had to retrace a few steps (beginning/end), but otherwise followed an extremely well-marked loop around the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Before we started, our RD gave the quick recap of what color flags to look for, where to turn, what to expect*, what to be on alert for and where to dash through the finish line. *On the list: steep climbs, single-tracking, a jaunt near the river and one along the ‘beach’.

Well, by “beach” he meant the section of the trail on top of that first climb. And “trail” is a term used lightly here – yes, there’s a section etched out for running, walking, mountain-biking, what-have-you, so sure it’s a “trail”. But it’s actually that deep, soft, can’t-find-your-footing sand you run on the beach for all of 30 seconds before calling it a day and listening to your calves call Mercy! and you’re like I KNOW, man. I hear ya! The kind of sand where you run, walk or crawl at the same pace. We ‘ran’ up, along and down that for just shy of a mile.

8.9.14_HCP trail run 1

After this rare form of calf-torture, we were guided right onto a paved fire-road. So, at least there was that. On this, we had the pleasure of those serious drops, literally pounding the pavement and letting the legs turn over so fast I felt like there was good reason to have worn a helmet (maybe next time…).

Here I finally gained some ground on the gal who had passed me somewhere back in mile 2 where I stumbled up a sand-climb (kudos!). Luckily she was still ahead of me when there was a sharp left-turn off of the pavement and back on the trails – my strength is not attention-to-detail. She shot her arms out like an airplane and floated right onto our next adventure and I gratefully followed her. We went UP, and I kicked it in gear enough to make a move.

8.9.14_HCP trail run 3 8.9.14_HCP trail run 4

This new gear pushed me up far enough to finally catch up to two guys who had passed us way-back-when. I saw the “one mile to go” sign and thought alright, we know it’s ‘downhill’ from here. No more conservation, legs! Do it.

I passed both of them at a clip just under 7:30 min/mile and thought of that fresh watermelon waiting for me. Go, go , go!

8.9.14_HCP run awards 8.9.14_HCP trail run food 1

This guy took 2nd overall (and AG), breaking the male course record and finishing almost 10 full minutes before me. Geeze, dudes!

52:58 – 10K (clocked in at only about 5.7 mi)
3rd AG (F 20-29), 4th Female OA

———

Thanks to Tim Stahler and the Inside Trail Running crew for an extremely well organized event! We couldn’t have had a better day under the Redwoods, and can’t wait to come back for another round!

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LOVE (GF) Giveaway – Beans for Breakfast?

It’s no secret I love me some LOVE (Grown Foods), and every time the HQ team comes out with news for us it’s impossible to read it without a big ol’ smile! They are always so pumped about what’s going on, and their enthusiasm spreads far and wide!

In fact, it’s taken them so far that now the brand new Power O’s (gluten-free) Cereals are landing themselves right on the Whole Foods shelves! People are excited about having beans for breakfast – and why shouldn’t they be?! They’re essentially hidden in the form of adorable little o’s that taste delicious. Full of fiber, protein & other good things. And the Love team is so  pumped about this that they’re giving more cereal away fo’ free!

THIS IS LOVE:

Power Os Giveaway

Do ya want some?

Leave some love below & let me know – by Friday August 1!
(US & Canada residents only – please and thanks!)

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Find the LOVE team online @lovegrownfoods (tweeting & insta-ing) and in stores @WholeFoods markets! #beansforbreakfast #powerOs

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New Almaden Trail Race (Quicksilver Park)

While we’re less than half a mile to the coast here in Monterey, we happen to be spoiled by the West Coast’s tectonic genius and are also a short drive away from state parks, mountain ranges and endless trails for exploring.

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He did some searching and quickly found us a local trail race – New Almaden Race at Quicksilver Park. We had a few weeks to adjust to the microclimates here – if it’s 65* in Monterey assume that it’s at least 80* in San Jose? Got it! – and prepare our muscles for the changing terrain. He contemplated signing up for the half-marathon option, until we looked up race times from last year and the winner of the 10k came in around 1:35.

Uh….’scuse me?

The course is described as “hard with steep up and down hills”, oh, “ and is all exposed”. NOTED. We’ll start ‘small’ here in Cali. I figured the new Mizuno Hayates could handle all of the above – their first race-test. (We convinced Rachel to join us for her first trail race, too!)

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It started early, at 7am, to keep the half + full marathons in cool temps for a little while. Six hundred feet of climbing in the first mile (slowest split of the day, rolling in at 13:42) will wake you up faster than any cup o’ joe! I started to do some math and assumed I’d be lucky to finish in 1:20, and decided to stick with that.

Mile 2 brought some reprieve-turned-quad-pounding with 400 ft of descent, offering little comfort on an out-and-back course. But at least this split resembled something similar to “running”, with a much faster 10:22. WHEW.

I didn’t see any runners on their way back until around mile 2.8, and started seriously wondering if I had somehow screwed up a very well-marked course. Luckily the leaders came up around the corner (hey, I know you!), followed by the only other person I saw before the half-way point aid station. Hm, I’m in fourth place….*

I stopped for a cup of water and friendly chit-chat with the volunteers at the aid station (mile 3.1) – I know with trail races they often have to check your number & make sure you’re still out there and moving. Starting up and out again, I learned the two runners closest to me were at least a quarter-mile back. New goal: keep it that way!

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The actual goal was to run as much as I physically could. The ‘rule’ was that if I didn’t have to lean forward to get up a climb, I had to try to run. Sometimes walking was actually more efficient, but it’s easy to keep walking even once you’re over the crest because this is tough. The faster you get your legs ‘running’, once they can, the easier it is to motivate them to keep moving.

Almaden Run Altitude

One hill I actually walked up backwards, in an attempt to save the calves and lower back some agony. One hill was so steep I walked down it, too.

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There was one different turn on the way back that would save us a few ups and downs, easing up on the quads and hamstrings just a little bit.  He was waiting at the 6-mile ‘mark’ (miles weren’t marked), ready to hop in and push me to the finish. You know, that annoying thing where a pacer runs just a few steps ahead of you when you’re exhausted and so close and like, REALLY dude?! , but you chase them anyway.

The Finish Line sprint was hardly that, but it felt good to go ‘fast’ on a relatively flat section and see that huge jug of cold water waiting for us!

New Almaden Quicksilver Park 10K

1:08:58
6.2 miles
Top Female Finisher
(
Small Race = Big rewards)

Huge thanks to the West Coast Trail Running Group for an excellent race, course & finisher’s food spread! We can’t wait to join you guys again soon!

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Filed under race report, trail running, training

28: Part of Something Good

Everything there feels just as it should
You’re part of a life there, part of something good.
- Brandi Carlile –

Things looked very different on this 24th of July, as I sat in a Monterey, CA coffee shop, a quarter-mile from both the Pacific Ocean’s coast and the place we now call “home”, but thousands of miles from some of my favorite people.  We ran through the greens of Spanish Bay and along the water, nowhere near Lincoln or the Capital, but nothing to complain about here…

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Here, we have historic adobe houses, new swanky houses, and beaches that somehow show you both the sunrise and sunset (thanks, geography! – I still haven’t really figured this one out). Here, we have a totally different life than that which surrounded me one year ago.

big mistake first step

Now, more than ever, I know that there is always an adventure to be had – just turn over a few pillows and look under a few unturned stones. Something’s waiting. I know that change is inevitable; embrace it, challenge it, tell it what’s up!, let it change you. And now I know what MAF training is, how much I still have to learn about running, how to say “hello” and “Goodnight” in Swahili, where the wineries can be found in Carmel Valley (and to take the Grapevine Express!)  and that there is also a “Monterey”, Mexico!

These are all equally important life things.

adventures 

 tonyhorton5kgirls adult stuff
IMG_3163   UnicornIMG_3057
 wonderfulIMG_3687 

Bateleur Camp_Sunrise 1 Amsterdam Canal Day
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  2014-07-03 16.51.41

 our year

Yep, that.

I know that even when it’s not perfect, it’s just how it should be.
It’s part of something good.

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