Monday, June 17, 2019

Simple meals + running + knitting

It's been a busy spring between work, training and traveling to welcome a new baby to the family.

Often I arrive home late in the evening and want a quick, simple and tasty meal for dinner (and enough leftovers for lunch at work the next day). Recent creations include:

Baked chicken breast with vegetables:
Potatoes, green beans, broccoli, garlic and carrots chopped
I split the veggies and garlic evenly between the two chicken breasts, sprinkled with salt and pepper and about a 1/4 tsp of tumeric, sprayed with avocado oil and drizzled balsamic vinegar over all. Wrapped up the veggies and chicken in the foil and baked at 375 F for 45 minutes. A very filling and tasty meal!
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts - I buy in bulk and keep
them in my  freezer, taking 1 or 2 out to thaw in the morning
Tonight I threw together an asian inspired meal. My first step was to put some brown rice on to cook in the rice cooker (such a convenient way to prep rice!). After a brief break to do some reading I prepped the veggies:
 - 1 carrot sliced on the diagonal
 - 1/2 lb of green beans, cut on the diagonal
 - 1 large clove garlic, minced
 - handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered

I mixed up a sauce with 1/8 cup (or so, I didn't measure to be honest) of coconut aminos (soy-free/wheat free soy sauce/tamari alternative); half of the minced garlic and 1/2 tsp or so of minced ginger and set this aside.

In a cast iron skillet I heated olive oil (1 Tbsp?) till a drop of water spattered, added the remaining minced garlic and the carrots and green beans and sautéed for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. To this I added 1/2 lb ground beef and continued to cook until the beef was browned and crumbled. I tossed in the tomatoes and poured the sauce over all and stirred well, then covered to let the flavors meld.

In the last few minutes of cooking I added 1/4-1/3 cup kimchee chopped and let this heat through.

When done serve over brown rice. Mmmmm - comfort food!

A riff on Japanese style beef and veggies, dinner plus leftovers for lunch

I just finished up my last big training week before a taper and then Black Hills 50 mile. Thursday I ran 3 hours on the SHT in Duluth starting from the 24th Ave W. trailhead and heading southwest for 1.5 hours before turning around. As usual I got back a bit early so headed down the Lincoln Park trail for a little more practice in descending and climbing. 

Saturday I opted to head up the shore for my 3 hour run and chose a section of the SHT I usually get to just as it is getting dark during the Superior 100. The last two years I have felt pretty nauseated at this point (last year to the point of vomiting) so thought it was time to get some positive memories going before this fall's race. 

I haven't been on this part of the SHT (Co. Rd. 6 to Finland) in a long-time in daylight and it was great to be able to look around and see my surroundings and the great views from the Section 13 cliffs. There is a lot of climbing on technical trail in the first 2 miles! In low areas and near creeks I had an escort of a flight of dragonflies. Very cool!

At one point I encountered a ruffed grouse and her chicks crossing the trail. She was NOT happy with me and fluffed up as big as she could, hissing and flapping her wings and rather insistently escorting me away from the area. I did get to see one little fluff ball grouse chick but there was no opportunity for a photo due to mama grouse's aggressive behavior (they may be little but they are fierce!) plus I didn't want to stress her out anymore then my presence already had. 

I have some strong memories of a large area of mud on this trail and I found it Saturday. It extended for 50+ feet and was knee deep for much of that distance. It had that lovely consistency that allows you to sink a long way but doesn't want to release your feet/legs easily. What a slog!! On my return trip I lost my balance and slowly fell backwards. There was nothing to grab onto and I ended up hip deep in the muck. Since pushing off the bottom wasn't an option (my arms aren't that long) I set about trying to reach a tree root that was near by, and contemplating when the next hiker would be likely to come by in case I couldn't manage a self-rescue. 

extricating my leg
knee deep on a short runner
mid-point of the mud pit
I managed to get myself up and out of the mud pit and was grateful to happen upon a stream a short time later to wash my hands and arm off (brrr!! that water was icy cold!).  Within a half mile the worst of the mud had fallen off my shoes and I felt a lot lighter. But being that wet on a cool day with a breeze off the Lake ensured I kept up a decent pace in order to stay warm. 

As I headed back towards the sketchy boardwalk over the long beaver dam I encountered a moose print. Hmmm... that wasn't there an hour ago. I was a bit cautious when rounding blind corners until I was out of "moose country". 
My hand for size comparison (small runner, smallish moose)

Sunday was another 3 hour run, this time on the Voyageur trail from Carlton to Grand Portage and then the SHT into Fond du Lac. Much more runnable bits of trail then the day before, so got to stretch out my legs a bit and up my pace.


I have a couple of knitting projects on the needles - a onesie for my new grand daughter and a shawl/wrap that I am doing as a knit-a-long with a friend. Unfortunately I have no pictures of either project. Will need to remedy that soon.


The wildflowers have been amazing this spring and I just have to stop and admire them whenever I am out.

Yellow Lady slippers
Pale Corydalis
Blue-eyed grass
Wild strawberry
Wood anemone 
Baneberry (Doll's eyes) 
Trillium grandiflora
The trillium are starting to fade now and turn a bit pinkish. 

Purple clematis
Large-flower bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) 
Wild Oats/Sessile Bellwort (Uvularia sessiliflora)

Dewberry/Dwarf raspberry
Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Rime Ice

A combination of meteorological conditions resulted in rime ice that was 0.5 - 1 inch long above the ridge line here in Duluth. It was magical!

Magnetic mount antenna on my car
I first noticed it when looking out my window at my car, but then when I got into the woods on my run... well, it just proved too enticing and I had to stop and take a few photos:

For more information about rime ice.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sourdough Creations + Tahini-Pumpkin Seed-Cranberry Bars

When it became clear that I wasn't tolerating a lot of wheat in my diet, but that rye seemed to be okay I went in search of recipes for rye bread. I eventually decided I wanted to make a sourdough starter from scratch that was 100% rye as detailed in a previous post.

I also went in search of recipes for 100% rye sourdough bread and stumbled across this cookbook:
100% Rye.

Not only does she include a great No-Knead Sourdough Loaf, but there are lots of other fermented and baked goods using rye flour, traditional fats (butter, lard or coconut oil) and honey (or molasses).

My favorite recipes, so far:
 - No Knead Sourdough Loaf - this loaf keeps incredibly well so I am making only one at a time
 - Sourdough Clafoutis - I use coconut oil instead of butter as I am dairy free, and add cranberries as well as apples, plus leave out the cinnamon (a highly inflammatory food for me)
 - Fudgy Sourdough Brownies - again using coconut oil. I also use dark cocoa powder which gives it a deeper, richer flavor.

I have found that all of these foods have been well received by friends, even those who were a little skeptical when they heard the words sourdough and brownie used in the same sentence!


Tahini-Pumpkin Seed-Cranberry Bars

This recipe was adapted from one I found at Sweet Potato Soul for her Cinnamon Tahini Cookies.

At some point while baking up a batch I got lazy and put the whole mixture into a baking pan and made bars. When I learned that cinnamon was out, I tried other spices (nutmeg - go lightly on this stuff!) but eventually just left the spice out. As I am nut free due to allergies (as well as peanuts and sunflower seeds, but thankfully NOT coconut) I substituted pumpkin seeds for walnuts and eventually, because all things are better with cranberries, added those as well.

These bars are vegan, nut, soy, dairy and gluten free (if made with gluten free oats).

My version makes enough for a 9x13" pan (24, 2" bars)

1.5 cups tahini
.75 cups maple syrup
3 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together well. Add:

2.25 cups oats (I use thick rolled oats)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup whole frozen(fresh) cranberries
pinch of salt

Stir until well combined

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper (makes for easy clean up). Add batter and press into place, evening out the top and ensuring it reaches all corners. Cut into 2" squares.

Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250 F and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Cool (lifting bars out by parchment paper onto a rack), separate along the scored lines into individual bars and store in an airtight container.

Double-baking makes for a firmer bar that can hold up to being in a pack during a long run or ride.

Wildknits Ramen Soup

I should note that when I first created this recipe I didn't measure anything, just went by what seemed right. The last time I cooked up a batch I tried to keep track of what I did, as well as the measurements.

So - my version of a ramen noodle soup. Gluten, nut, soy and dairy free. Can easily be made vegetarian or vegan by substituting an appropriate protein source and broth.

Ramen Soup

Lotus Brand Rice - Millet Ramen noodles (their other varieties are delicious as well, available at my local Co-op and at Costco)
Cook per instructions, rinse well, drain and set aside

1 chicken breast, cubed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp diced ginger
black pepper to taste
olive oil

Saute spices in oil for about a minute then add chicken and stir well.

Chop an assortment of veggies. Some I have used:
pepper (green, red, orange or yellow)

When the chicken is almost cooked through add the chopped veggies to the pan and saute for a few minutes. Add a quarter cup or so of chicken broth, cover and cook until chicken is done and veggies are tender.

Place noodles, chicken and veggie mixture in a sauce pan and add enough broth to cover and make a nice soup consistency. Add additional minced ginger (1/2 tsp), nori (1-2 sheets), a healthy splash or two of coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce) and greens (spinach or kale work well). Heat until greens are wilted and all ingredients are heated through.

The above version made enough for 3 meals and reheats well.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Updates and Recipes

It has been over a year since I started on a journey to sort out some nagging GI issues and heal my gut. Working with a fabulous dietitian (Rachel Turi @ Trail Transformation), and starting with foods I suspected were causing issues, we began a process of elimination and food trials to see if we could sort out the triggers (see posts from last January and February). By May we decided to try MRT testing. I will admit to being quite skeptical and it took Rachel some convincing to get me to agree to the test, but by that point I was interested in anything that could help me feel better.

The test results were pretty remarkable and showed that some of the foods I had been eating a lot of were those that caused the most inflammation. So, on to another strict elimination diet. This one also resulted in more weight loss, enough so that we talked a lot about how to boost my overall caloric intake and maintain my weight while staying on the diet and continuing to train for a 50 miler in June and a 100 miler in September.

While my main interest was in addressing my GI issues, an unlooked for but very welcome "side effect" was the cessation of the hand, wrist and arm pain I had been experiencing for years. It would ebb and flow but was always present. I also had developed Heberden's nodes on my pinkie fingers (which would come and go) and they also completely resolved!

Overall I was feeling a lot better. So much so, that when it was time to start adding in new foods I was a bit hesitant. I just didn't want to go back to how I had felt prior to the dietary changes. Over the summer we added back in many foods and settled on a pretty decent list of "safe" foods. By the end of August it was time to start trying out the foods that MRT testing had indicated were moderately inflammatory for me. This happened to coincide with my upcoming 100 miler so I opted to wait until I had made it through that race to do anything new.

I should note here that when I have a flare it may start anytime up to 24 hours after eating the offending food, and will last 24-36 hours, with a "hangover" that lasts another day or so after the main symptoms have resolved. Not debilitating, but not very pleasant either. And once I was not having these issues on a daily basis I was even more loath to re-experience them!

Proof that the diet was working and my training was paying off:

 - Black Hills 50 mile (52.5 miles) 12:50:29
This is a tough course with big climbs and descents. While the elevation isn't very high, for a flatlander like me getting near 6000 ft will cause a noticeable effect.  I was on sub 12 hr pace (my audacious goal time) until the final 10+ miles when my quads said enough is enough. The downhills are so runnable compared to the SHT and I had flown down many of them. I just couldn't muster a run any longer (or even sit or squat without whimpering). I ended up hiking the last 8 miles or so to finish in what I feel is still a quite respectable time.

 - Superior 100 mile (103.3) 33:57:31 (38 min PR!)
After last years DNF I was motivated to figure out what went wrong and to fix it. I had a great crew supporting me, had worked closely with Rachel on fueling and hydration plans for the race, taking into account my dietary restrictions (aid station tables are not the food oasis they are for most runners) and had followed my training plan from Jake closely.  Despite some overnight nausea, and vomiting (first time for me in a race), I rallied on day 2 and felt awesome in the final miles. When I realized a sub 34 hour finish was in reach I really started pushing. It was such a great feeling to finish a race feeling that good!

The great race results have continued through 2018 and into 2019. I am really excited to see what I can accomplish this year!



In an effort to gain back some basic foods I have missed (bread) and expand my choices I have gone in search of recipes that are "dietary compliant". I posted about my adaptation of a tahini cookie recipe and have gone on to adapt it even further to make what I call Tahini-Pumpkin Seed - Cranberry bars. Cinnamon, sadly is one of the highly inflammatory foods found during the MRT testing so it is gone from my diet (as is mint and several other foods). These are a great nutritious snack and, if baked properly, travel well in a pack for mid-run/ride snacking.

Other favorites:
 - Cocoa Bites (cocoa powder, coconut oil, pumpkin seed butter and maple syrup)
 - Rye Sourdough bread*
 - Rye Sourdough Apple-Cranberry Clafoutis *
 - Fudgy  Rye Sourdough Brownie*
 - Ramen (noodle soup) made from scratch using Lotus Millet-Brown Rice Ramen
 - a saute of hamburger, veggies and tomatoes, topped with spinach or baby kale and served over sweet potato (my creation)

* from 100% Rye

I plan to start posting the recipes in the near future. I have found that every one of these items has been well-received by friends, many of whom have no dietary restrictions, and I figure they might also be of interest to others. All of the recipes are dairy, nut, soy and sunflower free. Some are vegan, but others are not, though could be adapted. I will note that I use coconut oil as a substitute for butter (many of the alternate butters contain one or more ingredients that are a problem for me) so if you have an allergy to coconut be ready to substitute your favorite fat.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Sneak Preview Screening of Worlds of Ursula K Le Guin - Duluth January 13, 2019

January 13, 2019     7:00 pm
*One Night Only*

I am really excited to be part of the team that is bringing this movie to Duluth. 

A bit more information about the film:

Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guinis a feature documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the late feminist author Ursula K. Le Guin. Best known for groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy works such as A Wizard of Earthsea,The Left Hand of Darkness,and The Dispossessed,Le Guin defiantly held her ground on the margin of “respectable” literature until the sheer excellence of her work, at long last, forced the mainstream to embrace fantastic literature. Her fascinating story has never before been captured on film.
Produced with Le Guin’s participation over the course of a decade, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin is a journey through the writer’s career and her worlds, both real and fantastic. Viewers will join the writer on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, opening new doors for the imagination and inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. The film features stunning animation and reflections by literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, and more.

If you have a favorite poem, or excerpt from one of Ursula's works (1 minute or less) that you would like to read prior to the screening please let me know. We will accommodate as many people as we can in the 10 minutes prior to the screening. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Winter Trails!

Woke up this morning to a couple of inches of fluffy snow. Made for a lovely run on the single-track at Hartley Park. I even got to lay down the first tracks on one segment (neighborhood connector trail).

First tracks!

The multi-use trails through the park, as well as the Superior Hiking Trail, had already seen some use by the time I got there - hikers, dog walkers, and fat bikers (multi-use trails only).

Superior Hiking Trail  - can you find the blue blaze?

The oddest encounter was a couple of fat bikers that saw me, stopped in the trail completely obstructing it, and waited for me to pass. I ended up heading off trail into the woods while the female biker admonished her male partner for not moving off trail.  Slightly irritating and amusing at the same time!

The sun was shining and snow was falling at the same time. There was little wind and temps were hovering around 20F. Winter running doesn't get much better then this! With a few more inches of snow the trails will actually become less technical (today's snow fall was just enough to obscure small obstacles and icy patches) and even more fun to run on!


I didn't quite make my stretch goal on finishing the Tomten Jacket I am knitting. Once that deadline passed I slowed down a bit, then had a bunch of travel (I was driving and attending a conference = less knitting time) which slowed me down even more. I have picked up the pace again, and am working on finishing touches. Instead of a zipper I have decided on buttons for this sweater. I am using applied i-cord to finish off the front of the jacket. By knitting two "rows" and leaving gaps between the 1st and 2nd i-cord I will create buttonholes. The buttons are handmade by Incomparable Buttons, are handmade, ceramic and machine washable. For this sweater I settled on their ladybug beetle design as I think it will go well with the yarn I used.

Next up: a lace baby blanket