Category Archives: food

Travel Running: After all the Mediterranean Meals!

My trip to Israel for the 2015 Jerusalem Marathon was sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Tourism. All options listed below are my own.

If you have any hesitations about traveling to any part of Israel, or probably anywhere on the Mediterranean Sea, let the following words and pictures reassure you it’s worth the trek if only to spoil your appetite for good. Our 6-day agenda was packed with historic sites, running and various other experiences, but at the end of the day we probably spent about half of our time eating.

Israel Museum Lunch

The majority of our trip was spent in the city of Jerusalem, but we ended on a high note in Tel Aviv. Our days often looked like this:


Prima Kings Hotel Buffet – this was no continental breakfast. The buffet had entire sections dedicated to salads, fruit, various egg options (hard-boiled, scrambled, salad, mini-quiche, etc), granola + mixed nut station, fresh breads and pastries, and all the beverages. You could also order cappuccino or lattes if preferred.

One morning we headed over to the Mamilla Hotel for breakfast, and their buffet options also included fresh juices, such as apple celery and mint + a beet variation. No skimping on the fruits or vegetables here!

On our last day in the country, we enjoyed a night and morning in Tel Aviv via the 5-star Carlton Hotel. This breakfast spread trumped the others – maybe because the restaurant sat beautifully on the water or maybe because most of us had run that morning (or were recovering from 26.2 hilly miles) and were ready to put it down – and this was just the first round:

Carlton Hotel Tel Aviv Breakfast

We were never under-fueled to start the day.


The midday meal is often the largest here, and that took a little stomach-adjusting for most of us. The first picture above is an example of what most tables were already armed with when we sat down – just a little starter next to a basket of fresh pita bread and usually dipping oil. What would follow: anywhere from 3 – 10 more courses! I wasn’t counting, but I’m not sure we could’ve kept up anyway. Sometimes we would order our preference for the “main course”, which usually caught us off-guard because we would have already indulged in the 8 courses before that. Everything was served tapas-style and would just keep coming.

On Thursday I opted to have the “grilled fish” as my “entree” and I learned a very important lesson: ask questions first. An example may be: has the fish been beheaded? Just wondering…

Adom Jerusalem Lunch

I had to put a napkin over the head to have any chance of keeping this down.

The shock of my week: I didn’t have falafel until Sunday afternoon! During our last day, we toured and explored the city of Jaffa, which is on the edge of Tel Aviv. Our guide finally let us indulge in the Americans’ must-have and took us to a famous Jaffa bakery’s sister restaurant. We couldn’t have been happier to stuff our stomachs with more carbs:

Jaffa Mediterranean coast Jaffa falafel lunch

These hearty lunches were always followed by small desserts – just enough to stuff you and keep the stomach happy until…


We dined at top-rated restaurants such as Eucalyptus and J’oy Meat In while in Jerusalem; we were seated at one of the only eateries open after sun-down on Friday evening, with a delicious Lebanese spread; we enjoyed tapas and paella at Vicky Cristina’s in Tel Aviv, complimented with sparkling Rose and Champagne for the table.

J'oy Meat In Dinner Jerusalem

We did not go to bed hungry or thirsty, I assure you.

Tel Aviv Dinner

Every meal was full of variety and catered to any type of dietary preference; a few times we had to mention that that were a few vegetarian + Kosher diners in the group, and everyone was gracious and generous with accommodations.


We were all sure we’d leave the country 5lbs heavier, but I don’t feel any different than when I arrived. The only thing I know now is that with three full and balanced meals, you don’t need snacks in between. And when you spend the day touring and exploring vs. sitting and working, you burn right through that energy! I also know that Israel knows how to eat well, and I’d go back for the food and drink alone.

I can’t speak for everyone, but all the fuel seemed to translate to hill-power during the run, and sufficiently spoiled me. By the time I was served breakfast on the airplane I wondered where my soy latte, fresh omelet and fruit bar had disappeared to.


Filed under food, travel

Eggplant Apple & Kale Salad Recipe

While I spent hours on end being a yogi last weekend, he went to town in the kitchen. We had grabbed groceries together on Sunday morning, and by 6pm half of the veggies had been chopped and/or roasted to perfection. And in a new twist, so had one of the fruits.

Aside from the occasional banana-soft-serve treat, or summer-grilled peach, we rarely consume fruit any way but raw. If you’re more adventurous, you’ll already know this: heat the sugars out of any fruit and you’ll never again question that its nature’s candy. Apples included.

All of that to say, that to get this salad party started you do this:

Heat the oven to 350*.
– Chop 2 medium apples (of your choice) and 1/2 purple onion
– Toss with cinnamon on a baking sheet.
-Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on how tiny those chopped pieces are – less if they’re smaller, more if they’re big)

– Slice 1 eggplant into discs (about 1” thick)
– Drizzle with oil, sea salt & cumin (and/or cayenne pepper)
– Roast for 20-30 minutes, until softened

Both of these could be used for a lot of things, but my first thought was my lunch salad the next day. And sautéed kale, which seems to pair well with pretty much anything.

eggplant apple salad

Eggplant Apple & Kale Salad

~2/3 cup Chilled roasted apple-onion mix (see above)
2 roasted eggplant discs (reheated)
2 cups kale, sautéed in EVOO
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
(….if you’re like me: salt to taste.)

Because the veggies were roasted with seasonings, and the kale was shining in all of its oil-sauté glory, this needed no dressing or extras. And since everything was already roasted and ready, this came together in approximately 5 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Leave a Comment

Filed under food, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian

Spicy Coconut Seafood Soup

Welcome to 2015! We’re settling back in after a 2-week holiday hiatus that started with a southwest venture for some family time, followed by a week on Hawaiian island time. Ringing in the new year without a hangover was a refreshing first (in at least 7 years); starting the first day of the year on top of O’ahu has got to stand for something, and I’m pretty pumped to find out whatever it may be.

One thing’s for sure: two weeks of vacation & holiday eats, treats and libations makes the comeback-to-reality a little startling on all systems.

This soup, however, did us a solid.

For our first meal back at home I scoured some simple recipes for something new. This Whole30 list popped up with some great ideas, but we had a few different things to work with – namely some Hatch Green Chile salsa that won’t last more than a week in my fridge. {THANKYOUTRADERJOSE!}

Spicy Coconut Seafood Soup
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup heavy coconut cream
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, divided
1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen seafood mix
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green chile salsa*
4 cups water
salt to taste

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a deep soup pan; add onions, garlic and 1/8 cup cilantro. Sauté until onions become translucent.

Add coconut cream, water, red pepper, seasonings and green chile. Mix well and bring to boil. Add seafood (thawed). Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until seafood is heated through (don’t go too long, or they’ll get all rubbery on you). Optional: mix in kale (I almost always do this with soup) and top with remaining fresh cilantro.

*any chunky salsa or even canned tomatoes works here – chef’s choice!

Coconut seafood soup 
If you want a creamier texture, alter the coconut cream: water ratio to your liking. If you want more spice, by all means, dump it in! Enjoy.


Leave a Comment

Filed under food, recipes

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.

2014-08-10 19.04.52-1

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.


What’s your favorite one-dish meal?

1 Comment

Filed under dinners, food, Nutrition, recipes

Eating in Moderation: Timely holiday thoughts from Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell

One brownie makes you happy, a second brownie, maybe a little more. The third brownie doesn’t make us happy at all, and the fourth brownie makes us sick.”

Seth Godin, “The Moderation Glitch

Malcolm Gladwell describes this in his new book, David & Goliath, as the “inverted U”. “For a while, more input gets you more results, but then, inevitably, things level off, and then, perversely, get worse.” – SG


The holiday seasons now sound like a broken-record in my head; every year I’m writing and reading list after list of “how to” survive, prevent weight gain, stick with the workout routine, etc. Healthy holiday eating tips can easily be found EVERYWHERE – magazines, blogs, podcasts, radio and TV shows, social media, etc. They’re rarely novel, yet consumers bookmark, dog-ear and save them for calling upon when motivation is low and dessert consumption is far past the point of content.


Image source.

“Moderation is a marketing problem.”  –SG

What I’ve learned:
No one wants to hear “everything in moderation”.

They may want you to authorize the “eat whatever you want just exercise a LOT!” plan, or a strict list of what NOT to eat, or maybe an exact meal plan, calorie count, shopping list, and perhaps while we’re at it, a personal at-home chef to make sure that healthy cooking gets done. I certainly don’t blame anyone for wanting any or all of the above – remove the guesswork of nutrition, the time spent deciphering all of the research and tips, and voila! We dine happy. Right?

Well, no, it’s never that easy.

But it IS simple: Eat in moderation*.
Enjoy food while you’re eating it. Move on, and go move.**

*Turn off the mental debates of this nutrient over that one; stop calculating how many calories in each bite, and put away the scale. Use a plate isn’t the size of a medium pizza, fill it with a variety of foods (and colors), and dine slowly so that your stomach can do its job and let you know when its full.

**Use your muscles to do something that motivates you, challenges you, or just gets you out the door for some fresh air! It doesn’t matter what that activity is; it’s important that you enjoy doing it, and you both want and make it part of your routine.

awesome …there is this exception. #truth


“If the data shows us that in so many things, moderation is a better approach than endless linearity, why does our culture keep pushing us to ignore this?

…This is the wine drinker who goes from the health benefits of a daily glass of wine to the health detriments of a daily bottle or two. This is the runner who goes from the benefits of five miles a day to knees that no longer work because he overdid it.

Habits are the other half of the glitch. We learn a habit when it pays off for us, but we’re hardwired to keep doing the habit, even after it doesn’t.”  – SG


What You Do Every Day

I use this quote over and over for a reason – if you take this into account EVERY DAY, it will matter.  (And clearly because I love it. So well put, Gretchen!) The way we eat, drink and/or workout (or don’t) for one holiday matters much less than how we do all of the above every day before and after the celebrations. The approach we take towards our health on a daily basis matters more than the approach we take towards the holiday dinner buffet.

Habits, and goals, matter. They drive decisions, mental chatter, and eventually, outcomes.  Think about yours, and keep them in mind.

Make yourself proud

Because honestly, that’s what will matter at the end of the day: how you feel.


HAPPY Holiday season!

I hope you’re enjoying the time with family, friends, seasonal tunes and your  traditional favorites!


Filed under food, health, motivation, Nutrition