Brooks Haiku Contest: I Won!

I can’t believe I won a GRAND PRIZE in the Brooks Running Haiku Contest – my choice of any pair of Brooks shoes! My poem was one of the top 5 out of more than 600 entries! Here it is:

soft flakes morning breaks
footfalls grace the sea of white
cold run warms the soul

I love winter running. I wanted to capture the feeling of heading out into fresh snow. I find the quietness comforting as the snow absorbs much of the resonant sound. I love the feeling of knowing that. despite what many would consider inclement weather, I was out. I got it done. The rest of my day is set.

I expect to receive this spiffy new pair of Adrenaline GTS 11s in shiny RED sometime soon.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11

I’m running in the GTS 10s right now, and they are definitely my favorite shoes. I did 8 miles in them on the first day without any problems.

In other running news, it’s go time again! We’re just a few days from the 2011 Illinois Marathon, where I will run my second half marathon. It’s actually my first time running this distance, since last year I walked part of it. The humidity was oppressive and temps were warmer than expected in 2010, and I had just had an egg-sized cyst surgically removed from my neck about 6 weeks before the race. Despite this, I had a lot of fun. Although I walked, I completed it.

This year, I’m looking forward to running the entire race. If the weather is favorable (as in NOT 90+% humidity like my last 3 runs!), I would like to finish under 2:20. That’s pushing it, but is is a race.

I had a really fantastic 11+ mile training run a week ago on the course, where I was able to remember how I felt along the way last year, and process how much better I feel this year leading up to the event. Let’s see what unfolds!

Chickpea Salad Wrap with Hot Cherry Peppers

chickpea salad wrap, arugula salad with grapes and sesame

Chickpeas are my Swiss Army Legume.

Steep them in spiced tomato sauce for channa masala. Mash them up with Vegenaise and whatever you fancy for a Chickpea Salad sandwich or wrap. Roast them for a crispy snack. Bake them into burgers. Grind them smooth to make hummus. (I made a wonderfully spicy southwestern-style hummus last week that I’ll post very soon. It disappeared before I could take a pic.)

I could go on, but… Chickpea Salad. This is a new family favorite. My son asked for this wrap in his lunch today, with the hot cherry peppers and everything. He’s six, and he has always liked spicy foods.

I don’t follow a recipe for this salad, but I’ll try to give some general guidelines. The result is something like tuna salad. I love to serve it with hot cherry peppers because it reminds me of the Jimmy John’s Totally Tuna sandwiches I used to order, “with pep”. It disappears instantly.

Today’s lunch: Chickpea Salad Wrap with Hot Cherry Peppers, and Arugula and Grape Salad with sesame seeds and sweet onion dressing.

Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

  • One 32-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
  • 4 tbsp Vegenaise
  • 4-5 slices white onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • a few twists of black pepper

Directions:

Coarsely mash chickpeas in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Serve on bread, in a wrap with baby arugula and hot cherry peppers (as shown above), or on crackers.

Edit: Makes about 5 large-sized wraps with Mission Spinach Herb tortillas.

Smoothies with Chocolate: Still Learning

I’m not a person who needs chocolate daily to survive, but I like it. I’ve been experimenting with smoothies for breakfast, and wanted to try some chocolate combinations.

cherry cacao smoothie

The Cherry Cacao Smoothie above was a good first attempt. Part of this was a total win… frozen tart red cherries, frozen banana, unsweetened coconut milk, some Pure Via powdered stevia, a scoop of Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion, and a few leaves of boston lettuce. Yum. I always try to include a leafy green in my smoothies, and boston lettuce is sweet, watery goodness.

Then I added about one tablespoon of raw cacao nibs. They blended up just a little, resulting in a crunchy-weird texture, but they were not bad. I enjoyed the bursts of strong, dark chocolate flavor. I will try this again, but grind the cacao nibs before adding them to the mix.

chocolate strawberry smoothie
Round Two: Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

The Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie turned out with a better texture, although I opted for a fresh banana versus the frozen ones I usually use, mostly in the interest of time. (Note: when freezing bananas for smoothies, peel them first, then throw them into a gallon-sized freezer bag or plastic container.) This one contained almond milk, which worked well with the unmeasured amount of cocoa powder I dumped into the blender. I added too much cocoa powder, as you can tell from the dark, rich color. I also added some green ingredients (Vega Smoothie Infusion and boston lettuce) and powdered stevia to balance out the bitterness of the cocoa.

With a bit less cocoa and a frozen banana, this would taste like a really good milkshake. Not bad for breakfast.

Recycling vs. Trash

my 30-gallon garbage tote, a typical non-stuffed 13-gallon trash bag, and a full recycling binOne of the benefits to eating a lot of whole foods is less waste. We end up with about as much or more recyclables each week than trash. Here is our small-ish 35 gallon garbage tote (black), with the mostly-full-but-not-stuffed 13-gallon kitchen garbage bag that we throw out weekly. That’s usually it. I can always knot the top corners of the garbage bag, too.

Yes, I know you see that Morningstar Farms Sausage Patties box there, and it is a processed food, but I just love those little things! I’m still cleaning out the not-so-whole foods from my freezer and pantry, and working on more whole-foods and homemade alternatives. I’m not about perfection, but I imagine there could be a tempeh sausage recipe in my future.

Eating whole foods, plant foods, and cooking mostly from scratch reduces food packaging waste. I don’t even use produce bags as much as I used to, unless I’m buying small things like grapes, or purchasing in bulk. Our local food co-op allows you to bring in your own containers – neat idea! I could probably knit my own reusable produce bags out of the hemp yarn I love so much. (Did you know that hemp is one of the most awesome and versatile plants on the planet?) I have plans to reduce our bag footprint even further.