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Hot Summer, Cold Avocado Soup

Hey guys. So with this hot hot summer heat I wanted to post a recipe that is: refreshing, delicious, nutritious, and doesn’t require an oven.

Full disclosure I initially saw this recipe in Runner’s World in their July issue. However, at this point I have made this soup so many different ways that I feel I can offer up some interesting twists. But no one likes a copy cat.

So one of the reasons I love this recipe so much is: I spend A LOT of time in my car, I eat most of my lunches in my car. This is by no means a complaint- it just means I need to be creative if I’m going to avoid eating out. 

Part of this creativity entails making meals I can consume while driving. This is not mandatory but a timesaver.

Enter this article. And my life changing forever.

So far I’ve made two of the soups from RW’s article, and they turned out great, and created one of my own, which I’ll post soon! 

My favorite so far, has been the avocado basil. 

Chilled Avocado Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

•2-3 Small Avocados, pitted

•1 Cucumber or zucchini, chopped 

•1 Green Pepper, chopped 

•1-1/2 Cups Plain Kefir (full fat) 

•1 Jalapeño, chopped

•1-2 Limes

•salt

•garlic

•basil (so much basil)
[receipe-directions]

•Get out your knives and food processor

•Put one cup of water and your kefir in your food processor.

•As you chop your veggies just toss them in. I just scoop the avocado right in, and the other nice thing is that you don’t need to do uniform chopping- literally everything goes in the food processor.

•Add in your bell pepper, cucs, lime juice, and jalapeño, and pulse until things get all nice and acquainted 

•Then add in your basil and salt. Add both to taste. In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as “too much basil” 

•I use this for lunch so I immediately portion mine out in mason jars

Pro-tip #1: if you want it spicier you can add more jalapeño and/or Sriracha.

Pro-tip#2: you can actually get pretty zazzy with your herbs. For instance, if your local grocer is out of basal- feel free to substitute cilantro- it’s like drinking guacamole- (it’s better than it sounds). Mint is another viable herb choice as well. 

Also you can really use whatever veggies you want. The kefir and the avocado are really the most important ingredients – from there you can add in whatever you want- other viable ingredients I have used other than what are listed in the recipe are: zucchini, kale, arugula, spinach, and if you desire a hint of sweetness you can toss in a few pineapple chunks. Also- it’s a super easy meal prep recipe, and involves little clean up (yayyyy!!) 

In terms of nutrition value you are getting a fabulous source of fat from the avocados and the kefir. Carbs are coming in the form of your fantastic veggies you’re tossing in. The only thing this recipe is a tad light on is protein. I’m a huge fan of vital proteins collagen, so I will either add two scoops of that.


If I don’t do that then I will usually pack some cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or cheese to bulk up the protein a bit more. 

In addition to being a pretty well rounded pfc recipe it is a fantastic way to get in a few servings of veggies. It’s also pretty filling- which I attribute to the fat and fiber content! 

Keep your eyes peeled for more recipes coming your way in the coming weeks. Specifically another cold soup, or two. 

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I’m Baaaack!

So.  I’ve been super busy, I think this is the longest “break” I have every taken from blogging.  I took the break both intentionally and unintentionally.  I have been really busy with my full time job, and running, but I have always been able to make time in the past. I have found lately that every blog post I started was really negative.  Not snarky and semi- delightful, just negative.  So I decided to just not put anything out there until I had some things to say that were worth putting out.

Which leads me to this post.

What better way to ring in my return to blogging than a race recap and a pr?

Yesterday morning I ran Ele’s Race 5k, on a total whim.  My long run was scheduled for Sunday this week instead of Saturday, so I was thinking it might be a fun way to get a few miles in.  As of Friday night I still hadn’t registered, I went to bed thinking: “if I’m up in time, I’ll do it”.

Well I’m pretty well conditioned to get up early most days.  So I rolled out of bed in time.  And made my new pre-run cocktail (branch chain amino acids and highly branched dextrin- for carbs) and made my way over to the race, and registered.

Yesterday at 7:30am it was already over 70 degrees, sunny, and humid.  I had also done speed work the night before on the treadmill- so again- I was not expecting an amazing run.  I seriously just went out with the intention to run my a** off and just see what would happen if I went out at my target pace.  The first mile was actually ok at sub-8, I started to feel the heat in the second mile, and felt it into the third mile too, but just wanted the damn thing to be done and over with.

I knew going into the third mile I was on par to run a personal best- even if I had a slow third mile, which as it turns out I had a pretty good third mile, and strong finish.  It was seriously one of those races where, I swear the stars aligned, and what I have been training for and what I was able to do actually evened out.


The race itself is one I would 100% do again. As the name implies the race supports Ele’s Place which is a fantastic place/program that provide support to grieving kids, and their families.   The course was very fast, and very flat, despite there being little shade, that was made up for by having 2 water stops.  Also apparently this year they moved the time up to 8 am to “beat the heat”.  That still didn’t happen, but it is really the thought there that counts.


The cherry on top of it all was placing in my age group.  I think this is the largest race I have ever placed in, so that felt pretty neat.  I was showing Pat my splits yesterday, and I told him if someone would have told me 4 years ago I’d place in my age group, and look at my times like I do now- I would have straight up laughed, and never believed you.  So it really goes to show that it really doesn’t matter where start (i.e. a 12+ minute mile, and hating the idea of running more than a mile).  Outside of talking about time, 4 years ago, I never would have just jumped out of bed, and gone to run a 5k.  Four years ago the idea of just hopping out of bed to run- would have just been “crazy”.

Hell.  Even today, it’s still a little crazy.  I think I’ve just embraced the crazy.

 

 

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Riced Buffalo Cauliflower

It’s a vegetable, it’s spicy, it’s delicious.

I love wings- they are one of my favorite things to get, and I think a large part of that is I love the buffalo sauce, and I love spicy foods.

This recipe is definitely not trying to emulate buffalo wings, but the flavor is still AWESOME!!!  And I’m not sure what it is about the cauliflower, but it was like cauliflower was meant to be covered in buffalo sauce- I don’t know what it is.

The trick is in the riced cauliflower – you can hand grate it, but I use the big bad food processor.  I buy 2-3 heads of cauliflower at a time, and “rice” it in my food processor; I use my “dull” blade (my cuisinart came with a very sharp blade, and and less sharp plastic blade), the trick is to not add too much at one time, and therefore over-cutting some of the pieces and turning them into a puree (from the moisture in the cauliflower).

I recommend using the the pulse function versus just turning the processor on.  And once you make a big batch- it is so easy to freeze, pull out, and reheat to perfection in a hot skillet.

 

Buffalo (Riced) Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower, as much as you want (1 cup riced is ~ 30 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp Buffalo Sauce – I really like Tessemae’s, it has great flavor!  Franks’ is really good too!
  • Optional: Flavor God Ranch seasoning.  It’s optional because you don’t “need” this, but if you have it, for the love of God use it!

Directions:

  1. Rice your cauliflower – see tips above, but use a duller blade, pulse, and do not add too much cauliflower at one time, once you get a little bit riced – set it aside, and add more.
  2. You can either freeze, or use right away.  Either or- put a tiny bit of coconut or olive oil in a pan, and add your desired amount of cauliflower

For about every 1 cup of riced cauliflower use 1 Tbsp of buffalo sauce, but if you like it extra saucy you can definitely add more. You can also add whatever vegetables you want to your cauliflower, I do carrots a lot, zucchini, and yellow squash (diced) in the warmer months is a nice addition also. 

Cauliflower is a great thing to pick up at the store each week, it is always pretty cheap, and a great component to add into your food prep lineup.  You can roast it, and keep it as a side throughout the week, eat it raw, or as I’ve suggested thus far – rice it.  Once you rice it it will keep in your fridge for about 5 days, but it freezes very well, and thaws very quickly once you get it into a hot pan. So it is FANTASTIC to be used for meal prep, personally I usually have a gallon bag of riced cauliflower in my freezer pretty much at all times. 

In terms of buffalo wing sauces, I know some people like to make their own, and I do too, but there are two brands you can buy at the store that I LOVE to use. One is Tessemae’s and the other is Brownwood Farms Slatherin’ Wing sauce. Brownwood farms is my favorite, the flavor is AMAZING, the ingredients are super simple (so are Tessemae’s), and this is made in Michigan. So to my out of state readers this may be harder to find, but if you find it- I highly recommend it. I found mine at my local Whole Foods, but I have seen this at markets, and fairs also. 

Ok so back to cauliflower!!!  Cauliflower is very obviously white.  And many times people think it has little nutritional value due to its bland color, that however, is NOT the case.  Cauliflower is a GREAT source of Vitamin C, additionally it is also a good source of Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron.  In fact 1 cup of chopped/riced cauliflower is 85% of your daily needs for Vitamin C – which is clutch – so ditch your processed OJ, and eat some dang cauliflower!

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Hartford Strawberry Run 10k

This past weekend I had a brief reunion with some of my Chicago crew in southwest Michigan. 

The Venados captain is ready for the race to start


One of my awesome couple friends who live in Chicago, also have a house in Southwest Michigan, and last year my friend Margaret had told us about these races that are part of of the fruit belt series, and we agreed that if we could make it work we would all sign up for some of them this summer. 

It just happened that this race worked out for a few of us, and we all came in Friday evening, raced the 10k the next day, then all went back home. 

The race itself was pretty cool, it was a flat course, the cost was $20 that included a shirt, and a pancake breakfast (yes, there were strawberries on the pancakes), which is pretty nice. If you place in your age group or overall then you are given a medal and basket of strawberries!!! How awesome is that?!?!


There was only one downside: the heat. 

It was 82 at the start, and 86 at the finish. There was very little tree coverage so you pretty much had the sun beating down on you the entire race, there was also some head wind at the end (however the breeze was welcome). 

I had been sick earlier this week, and only getting back to normal by Friday night, and then even Friday night I wasn’t feeling that hot. Then when I felt how hot it was I just trying to not panic. 

I had also been experimenting with some pre run nutrition ideas to help with my acid reflux. All in all I was sure how things were going to pan out but I was really motivated to go out at my goal pace and just see how it felt. Goal pace felt good, the heat did not, by mile 3 I needed to dial it back, by mile 4 I need to do so a little bit more. It was not my best race by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t been running a lot in the hot weather, and I have only been steadily back running for a few weeks now. 

It was easily the slowest 10k I have ran in the last 2-3 years. 

Taking that into consideration, I was pretty surprised when I placed second in my age group. In fact all of us placed: Sasha and I were 1 and 2 in our age group. 

Sasha was first in our age group, and I was second


And Margaret was Third Overall Female


It was a lot of fun, and again the race was really well organized and you really got a lot for $20. 

I would definitely do this again, and I will try to do a few more of the races in this series (The Fruitbelt Series) this summer!!

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Simple Mango Salsa

To be fair most salsas are simple.

But this one is mine, and it is freaking delicious. It is also tomato free- which is essential (for me).

I figured the best way to make up for my extended absence is to post a recipe. I had every intention to blog when Pat and I were in Mexico. I had these visions of me laying by the pool with a margarita blogging about recipes and Nutrtion and other neat things.


But alas, it just was t meant to be. Let’s blame the margaritas and move on.


It’s only very recently that I’ve come to the realization that making my own salsas is so simple, and again that added bonus of being able to control what goes in and quantities of your ingredients- especially when it comes to spiciness. You also get more control over the consistency when you make it home (I.e. Do you want chunky salsa, or more like a puréed salsa). Obviously making it home is also more cost effective, or it can be in most cases.

Whole Foods has a mango salsa that I like. You can find it in the produce section (or you can use this recipe), but the reason why I don’t love it (only like) is because it is expensive for such a small portion, and it is too spicy for my liking.

I also like being able to use it as a sauce/topping on other things throughout the week instead of just a snack.

Sarah's Mango Salsa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients

  • 3 ripe mangos
  • 1-2 jalapenos (depending on spice preference)
  • A generous handful of cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • pinch or two of salt

Directions

  • Peel your mangos, chop your onions, and your jalapenos, and place in a food processor
  • Rip your cilantro and place that in the food processor along with your other ingredients
  • Blend to your desired consistency, and add additional ingredients to meet desired tastes

I love this sweet salsa that has just a little kick to it. I use it throughout the week with chips, but also on shredded chicken (great for tacos), and adding it on top of fish.


As long as I don’t make it too spicy, Pat loves it too, which is another great reason to make it at home so I can control the spice.

If you can’t find nice ripe mangos- use a few cups of a thawed frozen mango chucks. It will work just as well, and it will save you some prep time!! 

When you’re selecting mangos (if buying fresh, not frozen) they should give slightly when you squeeze them, and they do get softer the more they ripen. Some varieties will develop a red shade on the skin the, however this is NOT an indicator of ripeness. 

You can also add different fruits that are in season. I have added a cup or so of pineapple to one of my batches, and also a cup of peaches to one of my of batches. Both were delicious. 

When we were in Mexico there was a restaurant in our hotel that did tacos everyday for lunch, it was super simple well seasoned shedder chicken, a tortilla, and I put pineapple chunks on it, and salsa. Now that we are home, I have been making my own rendition of these tacos for dinner with shredded chicken and my mango salsa. 

Again this is super easy to make, honestly I think it takes less time to make a more puréed salsa than a chunky salsa (but to each his or her own). The part that takes the longest is cutting everything, but this is something that can easily be done as part of food prep on your meal prep day. 

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Uncle John’s Hard Cider 5k

I’m not sure I have mentioned this on here before, but here it goes: I hate running trails.  Or rather, I strongly dislike it.

Another thing I have yet to mention- and has probably been a big driver in my recent lack of posts has been for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been dealing with an injury.

I came out of Glass City feeling (physically) great, maybe a little mentally beaten up, but otherwise great.  A week later I got into an accident with my bike (operator error, no- I was not hit by a car, or did not hit a child).  Bike is fine, the bridge I was on is fine, my hip was not fine.  Unfortunately due to a busy a schedule (of mine) I still haven’t seen my doctor.

For the past 3 weeks I have ran 13 miles.  Total.  I have been able to ride my bike again, to lift weights, to basically do anything besides run.

This past week was finally the turnaround, but I am still not back to 100.  I can at least run now- which I am SOOOO thankful for!  For a solid 10 days I was unsure I would even be able to run this race, and was seriously considering just walking it for fun, or selling my bib.

Clearly the rest has helped, I was able to run the race, and actually run.

Let’s rewind, I signed up for this race months ago, with my two lovely cousins who were really interested in doing it.  All of us as kids grew up going to this cider mill for craft shows, donuts, and cider.  To this day I prefer to only have cider from Uncle John’s.  I did know it was (at least partially) a trail race.

The main thing I find so frustrating with trail running is that I am working wayyyyyy harder to maintain a pace that is still slower than my normal 5k pace.  Then with dealing with my hip I just wasn’t sure how everything would go.

So I decided to just have fun.  My cousin was there with her two boys, my aunt, and mom, so even before the race it promised to just be a fun morning, on top of that the weather was perfect.


Despite promises to have fun – I still wanted to see if I could push it, and if my hip would feel ok doing so.  I promised myself up and down, that if I started to feel pain, I would just walk.  And by push it, I knew 8’s and trying for sub 8’s would be out of the question, but I figured if I could aim for sub 9’s on a trail, I would doing pretty well for myself.

Everything went well.  Yes, it was challenging because we were running through an apple orchard, on grass, loose dirt/sand and gravel (when we were lucky), and it was hilly.

But it was a lot of fun, the race was ran really well, it started on time, and was very organized.  Finishers received a medal, and a glass of hard cider in a commemorative glass that you got to keep, and a shirt.


My cousin (Jenny) did ask if I would do it again, and to be honest- if it were just me signing up- no, I would not just sign up to run a trail race on my own.  However, provided I have company I would absolutely sign up for this race again.  It had everything that makes for a good race: everything I mentioned above, and then all of the areas of cider mill were open (wine & cider tasting, the pie barn), you could get everything from cider and donuts, to having food trucks on sight to offer even more variety.

Overall, it was a very fun race, and fun morning!

 

 

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Keeping Your Guac Green

I truly feel there are fewer things more frustrating than having an amazing batch of guacamole, and having it turn brown.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I have gone into MANY a guac coma to prevent any precious avocado-y goodness going brown.  However, I also love just having guacamole around for meals and snacks.


Avocados (like apples) turn brown because of oxidation!  Avocados and apples (and others) contain polyphenol oxidase which is an enzyme that catalyzes the enzymatic browning that occurs.

Long story short when the polyphenol oxidase and air come into contact they undergo a reaction that ultimately produces melanin (creates the browning).

 

I have tried many different things to prevent this browning: extra salt, and excessive lime juice.  This works “ok” but if you are particular about taste, it get’s very “limey”, also it does not work as well as:

 

Water.

 

Water is the magic ingredient to keep your guacamole perfectly green- water inhibits the reaction described above, which leaves you with this beautiful green guac without the expense of excess salt and/or limes.

Am I late to the party in using this trick?!? 

This is my homemade guac about 36 hours after I made the original batch


All you need to do is make your guacamole as you normally would, then transfer whatever you don’t eat right away into a bowl.  Then when you’re ready to put it in the refrigerator, pour about an inch of lukewarm water on the top of the guacamole.

When you’re ready to eat more, dump off some of the water (stir in the remaining), then enjoy your guac.  Personally this method has let me stretch my guacamole out 48 hours (it is usually all gone by that time) without running into brown areas.  Once you pour off the water you can stir any excess water right into the guacamole.

I won’t leave a recipe for guacamole as different people are picky of the various ratios of common ingredients- for instance Pat is not a huge fan of cilantro, so when I make it for the two of us the cilantro is a bit understated.

I do think really amazing guacamole contains all of the following:

  1. avocados
  2. diced red onion
  3. cilantro
  4. salt
  5. lime juice

Anything beyond that is on you!.

Ok but you get the protocol right?  Make guac, eat guac, cover leftover guac in a layer of lukewarm water, eat more when you’re ready within about 2- maybe 3 days.

I feel like this is such an amazing discovery! I am sometimes picky about texture with avocado, but I always love guacamole on toast, chips, veggies, and just having it available for a taco night.

So an important thing to note. Because of water and potential promotion of bacterial growth- I would NOT recommend extending this method with the water past 48 hours. 

Again, maybe I am SUPER late to discovering this trick, but it does work, and I could not be happier about it!