Friday, September 24, 2010

On the comeback trail

In baseball, you never talk about a no-hitter for fear of jinxing it, so I don't want to say too much about my left knee improving.  It might be worse by Sunday...  Looking back over my running log ('I Just Ran' on Facebook) I had the first inkling that something was going on with the knee back in April.  Almost  5 months ago.  It takes that long for an overuse type injury like this one to become noticeable, then start to interfere with your running and eventually blossom into a major issue.  Until your mileage drops or you take some other preventative and recuperative steps, and it slowly goes away. 

Recipe of the day from Vegan on the Cheap is Walnut-crusted Tofu with Spinach and Orange.  I just happened to have some Panko crumbs and a small quantity of walnuts left over from a previous recipe, as well as tofu in the fridge, and a couple of large navel oranges.  A quick trip to the neighborhood grocery store to pick up some fresh spinach and we were in business!  I had to splurge a little for some fresh sage leaves - will definitely plant some in a container over the weekend. The only change I made to the recipe was to marinate the tofu in a little bit of Grand Marnier orange liqueur for a few hours.  Oh, and I added some freshly chopped parsley to the crumb mixture.  Just a touch of color... 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Linguine with marinara sauce

One more recipe from Vegan on the Cheap: an easy Marinara Sauce (two cans of crushed tomato, some herbs, onion, shredded carrot and garlic) - this time over a whole grain linguine.  Good running food.

Talking of which, it was Hilly Tuesday today and Kathleen and I did about 4 miles - 10 minutes of 'serious' hills and 12 minutes of running the Spotts Park cloverleaf (Memorial and Waugh interchange).  Plus getting there and back.  One of the best runs I've had in weeks - something must be going right with the knee.

Monday, September 20, 2010

7 weeks to 100 push-ups

I am on week 2 of a 7-week program to do 100 consecutive push-ups.  The program is contained in a slim book by Steve Spiers, a runner, triathlete and fitness enthusiast.  Picked it up for $14.95 at Borders. The book is particularly effectively illustrated and it clearly explains the benefits of being able to do that many push-ups such as strengthening and 'sculpting' your arms, abs, chest, back and glutes.   Even if you can't do a single push-up to start with, the book can help you with a preliminary program which involves some less strenuous quasi push-ups such as against a wall, from one's knees and so on.  There is a 'test' to see where you should start (beginner, intermediate or advanced) as well as a very good warm-up sequence and some post-exercise stretches. Plain old push-ups not your cup of tea?  Don't worry.  The book illustrates and describes 15 more challenging versions of the standard push-up such as wide push-ups, narrow push-ups, fingertip push-ups, diamond push-ups, knuckle push-ups, clapping push-ups and several more.

So far so good:  I'm up to about about 50 push-ups in 5 sets, resting about a minute between sets. Sculpted arms?  Not quite yet but we'll see in 6 weeks time...

Recipe of the day is again from Vegan on the Cheap - Polenta Pizza with Roasted Vegetables. We pretty much always have corn-meal in the house, using it as a substitute for maize porridge ('pap') which is a staple of Southern African and East African diets.  In addition to some roasted vegetables (red onion, zucchini and portobello mushrooms) as toppings, I added some capers and pitted kalamata olives, on a homemade marinara sauce and of course a polenta crust.  One of my old Pampered Chef pizza stones happened to be just the right size for this.  It turned out quite well - and between the three of us there wasn't much left over for lunch today...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vegan on the Cheap

I'm having fun trying out various new recipes from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson.  Batting .1000 so far with everything I've tried being easy to make, quite colorful and flavorful and of course, cheap.  None of the recipes exceed about $2.00 per serving.  Take that McDonalds!

Today's recipe was Curried Tofu Wraps.  With a little bit of mango chutney as a base, the flour tortilla is filled with a curried tofu & vegetable mix (with chopped peanuts & golden raisins & some lightly curried vegan mayonnaise) and then topped with shredded lettuce.  Even the boys liked it!

Kathleen completed her last 20-miler in preparation for the Oct 10 Mohawk-Hudson Marathon.  As with the previous 20-miler two weeks ago, we got lucky with the weather. It was relatively cool and cloudy - not bad considering that we've been going through a seemingly endless heat wave for the last three months now.  I managed 7 miles with Kathleen; the knee is still not 100%, in fact it is probably not even 70% but at least I can run 3 times or so per week. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not quite fall update

Very little relief so far from the summer heat here; we enjoyed one nice weekend two weeks ago and since then the daily high temperatures have reverted to the mid nineties, mid seventies in the morning.  Hardly conducive to running.  Kathleen has been very diligent about keeping to her Hal Higdon schedule in preparation for the upcoming Oct 10 Mohawk-Hudson Marathon.  It's getting closer now - we've got our flights booked, so the excitement and probably a bit of apprehension (Kath, not me) is building. Attempting to run a Boston qualifying time is a rather daunting prospect for most runners, realizing that it is going to be a close thing even if the weather conditions are near to ideal.  She's got one more long 20-mile run (tomorrow) and then the taper starts!!

I have been busy with work, so not as much time for other things.  Still mourning the loss of the Angelika movie theater, haven't seen any new movies lately.  I hear the new Ben Affleck movie is worth checking out, will try to make some time later this weekend.  Otherwise have started a new photography class (7 sessions) at Rice University's Continuing Education School.  I might have to move from the Thursday (advanced) to the Wednesday (intermediate) class.  I am not yet proficient with Photoshop and judging by the class curriculum, practically half the time will be spent on editing and processing.  I still need help on the technical aspects of the photo taking process, so will likely benefit more from the intermediate class.

Also cooking quite a bit, just got a new cookbook the other day: Robin Robertson's 'Vegan on the Cheap'.  Have tried 4 recipes so far and each of them have been a winner:  Moroccan Chickpeas and Couscous (I substituted the required golden raisins with regular raisins); Penne-Wise Peanutty Pasta; Three-Bean Loaf (had some sandwiches with the leftovers just like old-fashioned meat loaf) and Garden Rotini and Chickpea Salad with Inner Goddess Dressing.  Used a different type of pasta which I picked up at Whole Foods - made from quinoa and corn.  Tasty.  And as vegans know, if you eat quinoa more than twice a week you go straight to being an operating thetan Level VII... Just kidding.

Moroccan chickpeas and couscous

I probably could have added some broccoli but this was very tasty
Rotini and chickpea garden salad with Inner Goddess dressing
The faux 'green goddess' dressing is rich and creamy