Tag Archives: restaurants

So Far So Good

6 Aug

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Today is the first day in a very long time (well, maybe not THAT long. Almost two months feels like a long time when you’re exhausted and miserable but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a blink) I feel something like my normal, happy-go-lucky, energized self. I don’t feel 100% there yet but I’d put myself somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% and that’s not bad. Trying to be happy about all increments of change in a positive direction, even the mini ones.

I credit this good feeling to a couple of things. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

  1. I stopped falling asleep in front of the TV. In my normal life, I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. In my Steppenwolf life, I do. And at the start of the summer, I just wasn’t strong enough to turn the damned thing off before bed. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been really strict with myself. As soon as I feel like I’m drifting, I turn the TV off and go to damned sleep. I also have a cup of this “relaxing” tea that I bought in Chinatown two weeks ago and lemme tell you, that shit is the shit. Valerian root, baby. Stuff works. Ultimately, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I’m up fewer (or no) times in the night and therefore, I wake up feeling a little more energized.
  2. I started running again with regularity two weeks ago. The picture above was taken in my run along the lake. I made a new playlist a couple of days ago and named it “run for your life.” The longer I run, the more I believe that running will save you 95% of the times. That 5% is reserved for the times in your life when you’re injured or burned out. It doesn’t take very much either. I’ve been going out for anywhere from 40-50 minutes in low zones. Just to get myself moving and get that serotonin flowing through all those little channels in my brain.
  3. I got back into the hot room. Bikram has come to my rescue so many times in my life it’s right up there with running as a total soul-saver. And the lovely thing is that Bikram and running compliment each other perfectly. Bikram postures are specifically well suited for the kinds of overuse issues that all runners suffer from. And the detoxifying effects of 90 minutes of movement in 105 degrees can’t be exaggerated.
  4. I cut gluten out of my diet. I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting everyone cut gluten out of their diets. We’re all different and have different internal chemical scenarios and some people really have no issues with the stuff. But after being glutened TWICE this week at two different restaurants, I am almost certain that this pesky little protein is an issue for me. I’d been off the stuff for six weeks and both of the times I consumed glutenous substances (once at a Korean restaurant–it was own damned fault for thinking I could get away with a Korean rice bowl–and again at an Italian place WITH A GLUTEN FREE MENU) I was having dizzy spells within 20 minutes. After the dizziness came that lovely feeling of looking at the world from the inside of a mason jar. Three hours later, I had rocks in my gut. And twelve hours later I was constipated. So yeah, sensitive to gluten.
  5. I’ve cut down my non-fruit related sugar intake to almost nothing and cut my fruit intake down to one or two plums and a handful of berries throughout the day, but not before 11AM. I did this because my energy had been super super low about two and a half to three hours after waking and it was suggested that that was due to a drastic drop in blood sugar after breakfast. I realized that my morning breakfast bowl included apple sauce, maple syrup AND berries mixed into oatmeal. I hadn’t really thought about how much sugar that amounted to until I cut it out and noticed a marked change in how I felt by noon. Most notably, I wasn’t going down for a nap three hours after getting up. Anyway, it’s working for me. So now I start out the day with a green smoothie that has NO fruit in it. This has taken some getting used to, believe me. The smoothie is almost entirely supplements (1 scoop SuperFood; 1 tsp Maca powder; 1 capsule each ginseng, B complex, probiotic and multi-mineral; and 1 tsp complete omega oil) with one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and two ice cubes. Then about an hour later, I have a couple of eggs scrambled with kale and vegan cheese with a piece of GF toast.

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So now it’s 2:06PM central time and I’ve been able to run, do laundry, make myself breakfast and lunch (the above photographed gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi over sautéed kale, chicken sausage, shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes) and bake a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for our second tech this afternoon.

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I’m gonna post the recipe (adjusted from the original posted here on The Iron You–my new favorite triathlon blog). Originally, this recipe was vegan, gluten-free and Paleo. But I baked my first batch with no binder and the cookies were just too darn crumbly.

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So I added one egg to the remaining dough (sorry vegans but I didn’t have anything in the house to sub. If you want to make these, add the equivalent in egg substitute or chia goop) and they second batch is holding together better. I also cut the almond meal by half a cup and added 3/4 up of gluten-free all-purpose baking flour. You could certainly leave out the flour. I just don’t know what the hell holds these babies together if they’re all nuts and no binder.

These babies definitely hit the spot if you’re looking for a chocolate fix. There is minimal sugar in the recipe and they’re packed with good fats. Granted, this cookie is no substitute for a real Tollhouse but, as with most diet-adjusted baked goods, you gotta try to forget about the original and just take the new thing at face value. This cookie is not the cookie you grew up with. But guess what? You’re not ten years old anymore. Your body has changed and maybe you shouldn’t be eating cookies like you used to. Just saying.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Drop Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)

3/4 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
½  cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large egg
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ chopped almonds

Preheat oven at 350°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, sunflower seed butter and egg until well mixed. Add flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to mix well.

Drop the dough by spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for another 15 minutes. Move to a cookie rack and cool completely.

Oh and just a little note: the black sprinkles on these cookies are actually Hawaiian black lava salt. I picked some up last week and I’m obsessed with the stuff. If you don’t have any (and why would you) don’t worry about it. You can throw a little bit of regular ol’ coarse sea salt onto these cookies and it really works. But if you don’t like your sweets a little salty, then by all means, abstain from the sprinkling.

Dim Sum and Doped Up Date Nut Balls

1 May

After indulging my salt tooth post-race yesterday with WAY too much delicious dim sum at China Pavilion in the Flamingo Pines Shopping Center, I decided today had to involve a trip to Whole Foods, yoga and copious amounts of H2O.

Don’t get me wrong, CP was totally worth the 35 minute drive north to Pembroke Pines–it is vastly superior to any Chinese I’ve had here in Miami proper–and totally worth the extra intake of salt, sugar and fats. Possibly a little MSG too, thus the lingering headache all day today. Still: worth it. Below is a shot of MOST of the entire spread:

There was more but I couldn’t fit it all into the frame of my camera. I LOVE dim sum. Love love love. In fact, I love any meal that involves eating lots and lots of little things. I also love tapas. And I love Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. I like my indulgent meals to last for hours. And I like to taste as much as possible. I like it when waiters just keep bringing me stuff. I like it when I think the waiters are done bringing me stuff and then, surprise! They bring me more stuff!

I liked this glistening platter of beef chow fun because it reminded me of the drunken noodles I used to get at Zaab Thai in Jackson Heights. Before Zaab went to the dogs (maybe literally).

I liked these adorable, perfectly round steamed custard buns despite and because of the fact that they looked like boobs. Also, they reminded me of my walks around Chinatown when I was doing time as a grand jury participant back in the summer of 1997.

I liked the steamed roast pork buns (steamer basket left bottom corner) for the same reason I liked the custard buns–not the boob part (dear God), just the grand jury memory– and because they were delicious. I liked the custard puffs (large plate center) because they had custard in them too and reminded me of the sfogliatele I ate in Naples when I was there in December of 2005. I liked the sesame ball and pan fried taro cake (small plate top right) because they were both chewy and sweet and salty.

As much as I try to get behind this whole food as fuel thing, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully embrace that philosophy. Because food is so much more than just the gas that keeps this motor running. It is memories of vacations, family dinners, crazy adventures and…well, food. Some of my fondest memories in life are food related. From my first bowl of carrot soup to my first experience with scuppernongs to the first time I ever set foot in a Logan’s.

Oh God. Logan’s.

It’s funny. We ordered way way way too many things at CP yesterday and couldn’t finish most of what we ordered. After the meal, we were stuffed beyond belief and feeling kind of gross but looking at these pictures now makes me want to jump into my car and drive back up to Pembroke Pines for a quickie MRI, a pedicure and more Dim Sum. You can get all of those things and more at the Flamingo Pines mall!

But alas, meals such as that one must now be reserved for days when I run 13.1 miles. I’m no spring chick. More like a sassy hen who’s clucked and scratched her way around the coop a few times. If this hen stops clucking and scratching, she will start to resemble those adorable little custard buns shown above and nobody wants a hen shaped like a basketball. So today, I was back on track with my egg whites, lean ground turkey, black beans, lots of berries, Kashi, protein powder, etc…

I did do a little no-bake experimenting with my favorite rediscovered super fruit–the date–and my latest Whole Foods bulk purchase–hemp seeds.

I used this recipe from Good Girl Gone Green as a starting point and created my own variation, the Doped Up Date Nut Ball. Almond butter is on the way out for me. The last few times I’ve eaten it, I’ve sorta felt headachy afterwards. So I’m switching to sunflower seed butter for the moment because I know sunflowers are fine.

Still, I had about four tablespoons of almond butter left and I hate wasting food. I decided I’d make this batch of balls with what little AB I had left and then be done with the stuff. I also had a few figs lying around (also a migraine trigger) and didn’t want to waste those so I used them in the recipe as well. I just figured that if the balls make me super sick, I’ll give them away to some starving vegan street urchin or something.

They’re really tasty and not terribly bad for you. 1 ball is about 87 calories, has 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein and is full of healthy fats. The hemp also gives them texture and a nice amino acid boost–if you care about such things. I rolled them in a little cocoa powder but that’s optional. These things are gonna be great on the super long bike I have planned for this weekend.

Doped Up Date Nut Balls

5-7 Pitted Dates
5-7 Figs
4 Tbsp Almond Butter
2 Tbsp Sunflower Butter
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
3 Tbsp Hemp Seeds

Place dates and figs in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until the fruit becomes a soft, sticky paste. Add the nut/seed butters, extract, cinnamon and ginger and pulse to fully combine. Move mixture into a small bowl and add hemp seeds. Work the seeds through the mixture with your hands. Make balls of the mixture about 1″ diameter either with an ice cream scoop or your hands. Roll the balls in cocoa powder and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze for a few hours and enjoy.