30 July, 2013

Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds

A last quick recipe before I hop on the plane for my annual summer holidays in Germany and Portugal tomorrow morning. I can't wait to get out of the Dubai summer heat. I can't wait to continue my marathon training outdoors at decent temperatures for a whole month.

My running gear was the first thing I packed. Running shoes are in separate bags to ensure that I will not be without them, in case a bag gets lost. My Garmin is in the hand luggage, and my running clothes take about as much space in the suitcase as the rest of my clothes. From the four of our family, my stuff contributes the most volume to our luggage. I am taking a few spare GU gels along (you never know if you get them in the Portuguese country), my one and only pink running water bottle, my Garmin is packed with charger and everything it needs. And of course, running clothes for all kind of weathers.

The only thing I am dreading now is the airplane food. I bought some extra packs of nuts, seeds and raisins to get me through the 6-hour flight. I hope I can get myself to eat something in the morning at home before we leave for the airport.

I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I have included more grains back into my diet, now that I am marathon training. That means that porridge is back on the menu. While I love my porridge especially before a long run, it's still a hot meal and not quite compatible with the Dubai summer at the moment.

Overnight oats are the way to go when the temperatures rise. Today's recipe is adapted from Rosewater & Thyme. It has pretty much the same ingredients as my traditional porridge, with the addition of chia seeds and a spoonful of nut butter. A great-tasting, satisfying and filling breakfast with only good ingredients. My new favorite for hot summer days that are filled with lots of running. I hope you enjoy.
adapted from Rosewater & Thyme

(Print Recipe)

⅓ cup old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup milk

1 small ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter
fresh berries

Serves 1
Mix oats, chia seeds and milk until well combined. Place in a sealed or covered container overnight in the refrigerator.
In the morning, stir in mashed banana and nut butter and top with fresh berries or other fruit. Serve cold.
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23 July, 2013

Thai Coconut Quinoa

The third week of my marathon training is just completed and everything is going according to plan. Last week I ran a total mileage of 78k/48mi with just one rest day. That was the most I have ever run in a week. What's even better is the fact, that I seem to be coping well. I found a good balance between hard workout and easy days. I think I eat and eat sufficiently now to ensure speedy recovery between my runs. I feel fresh and am ready to take on the fourth week with a total mileage of 85k/53mi. It includes a 29k/18mi long run.

If I get this done, my reward will be a "rest" week with just 65k/40mi next week. It's fitting in well, as I'll be spending two days on aeroplanes. On Wednesday, we'll be flying to Hamburg, and on Saturday move on to Lisbon. I look forward to Europe. It's my home, it's where I feel I belong culturally. I look forward to real green trees, street cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch people walking by. All things that are rare or non-existent in Dubai.

It's about time to escape the scorching summer heat. It's almost impossible to spend anytime outside during the day, unless you are inside a cooled swimming pool. I do most of my runs on an air-conditioned indoor track which is only 650m long. It seems crazy to run in such short circles, but it's the only chance I have to get a 20+k run in without dying. I manage easy 10k runs outside at early morning hours or after sunset. Anything beyond that would be irresponsible. My 29k run will be around 45 laps on this indoor track. I gotta rely on my Garmin for the distance, as I can assure you that I will loose count  after about four or five laps.

As in previous years, I have deviated a little from my usual nutritional restrictions. In order to meet my carb needs, I have included some grains back into my diet. They fill me up when my stomach feels like a bucket with a hole, they help me recover and they get me ready for my next run.

Today's recipe is as good with quinoa as it is with brown rice. Rich and aromatic, with zingy and earthy flavors and different textures. Good on its own or as a side dish. I hope you enjoy.


(Print Recipe)

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups boiling water (divided)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

1 green chili (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, tightly packed
1 2cm/1-inch piece fresh ginger
1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup cashew nuts, halved
1 7cm/3inch piece cinnamon
3 whole cloves
6 whole peppercorns

1/4 cup frozen or thawed green peas
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
cilantro leaves to garnish

Serves 2 as main, 4 as side dish
Pour 3/4 cup of boiling water over the desiccated coconut and let stand for a few minutes.
Place coconut mixture, cilantro, ginger, garlic and chili in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
In a medium pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and cashew halves and fry for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add sliced onions and fry until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in quinoa and cook for another couple of minutes. Add coconut mixture and cook for another few minutes.
Now add peas, salt and remaining 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir gently, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on low heat until all liquid has absorbed and quinoa is al dente, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove the piece of cinnamon. Sprinkle over the lime juice. Stir in chopped cilantro leaves. Gently fork through the quinoa. Garnish with whole cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
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15 July, 2013

Peanut Soba Noodle Salad

Ten days since my last post, and by now I am two weeks into my marathon training.
I am saying this because it's the main reason why it took me so long for the next post. The marathon training has taken over my life. Every single minute of it. 24/7. My weekly mileages are crazy. I run six times a week. My sleeping and eating pattern have not quite adapted yet. I don't sleep enough to ensure proper recovery, I don't eat enough to make up for the energy spent. This needs to be fixed as soon as possible, or I will not be able to run the same distances and intensities for much longer. You see, this marathon training is on my mind non-stop. I don't care much about anything else, as I want to get it right. With all this on my mind, an attempt of writing an intelligent blog post will naturally end in disaster. Bear with me as I bore you with my marathon training thoughts.

I am aware that a more relaxed approach towards the whole training might help me. It's no point to deny that marathon training is hard. It's supposed to prepare you for a 42k race. Race that is, not run. It will be my 4th marathon. I've done it all before. From my experience I know that the training is the hard part. It's tough on the body and the mind. And on the people close around you. Anyone willing to listen to your moans and complaints of your tough life, will get the full story. At every single occasion. I gladly share my moans and complaints with you.

The good news is that it's part of the training too. It prepares you mentally. A marathon is not a walk in the park. You will be sore, you gotta deal with pain. You got to learn how to deal with things not going quite according to plan. Everything that can happen during the race, should have at least one practice run during training, e.g. not being able to run the pace that you wanted to, not being able to run as far as you wanted to because your legs are tired. Part of the training is to learn how to pick yourself up or when to change plans.

Ten more weeks of marathon training before the race itself. I will be escaping the grueling Dubai summer soon for a month and continue my training in Germany and Portugal. A change of scenery will surely help. In fact, I can't wait to run in Portugal at the coast of the Atlantic. The view alone should be motivating enough to get the mileage in that I need.

I hope I will be able to talk about something else than marathons before that. As I need to eat more, I  surely spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking meals that fulfill my dietary needs. As I force my marathon stories on you, you shall have the right to see what I am cooking too. Here we go.

(Print Recipe)

100g/4oz soba noodles

1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into thin matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into thin matchsticks

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves for garnish

4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
2-3 tablespoon hot water

Serves 2
In a bowl, combine all ingredients (except the warm water). Whisk vigorously until well combined. Add warm water by the tablespoon and keep whisking until you reach desired consistency. The dressing should not be too firm or too runny. Set aside.

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the peanut butter dressing. Add the pre-cut vegetables. Sprinkle coriander and sesame seeds over the top. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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04 July, 2013

Homemade Bounty Balls

I warned you last week: energy-dense recipes are on their way! Which means my marathon training is on the way. I am slightly exaggerating at this point, as today will only be Day Three of the first week. But I am going out to run my first long run later today. 21k to start with! From previous marathon trainings I know that I will need to eat more, especially after the long runs. Marathon training leaves its mark on the hunger scale. In my case, I need normal-sized portions and snacks more often for one or two days after a hard or long workout, rather than increasing portion sizes of the three big meals. And better have good things ready, or otherwise you'll tuck into the first best junk or processed food that crosses your path. So here is calorie-dense recipe number one: Homemade Bounty Balls.

Ever since I figured out the right proportions, these little treats were gone as soon as I made them. For several weeks I didn't get a chance to take pictures. My kids love them too. Nothing makes me more happy than when my kids favor my treats to store-bought junk. And thank God, my husband doesn't like coconut. So more for us.
While this recipe may fall into the low-carb category, it's still a treat, but a very good one! With just four ingredients, you can make your own Bounty Bars or Balls, and it's as easy as can be. Enjoy!

(Print Recipe)

2 cups desiccated coconut
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons honey

100g/4oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

Yields ca. 25
In a food processor, blend coconut, coconut oil and honey. Process until mixture is starting to stick together. Form balls of the size of a cherry out of the coconut mixture. If the mixture is too crumbly to work with, you may want to press it into the bottom of a loaf tin and then refrigerate. After 1-2 hours, the hardened mixture can be cut into preferred shapes.

Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Drop one ball of the coconut mixture at a time into the melted chocolate so that it's completely covered. Use a fork to lift it out and gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place on waxed paper and chill to set. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.
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