26 September, 2013

Beetroot and Lentil Salad

The big day has finally come: only 3 more days to go until the Berlin marathon. Tonight, I'll be flying out to Germany. I am usually not a person who packs days in advance before traveling. But this time, I was very tempted. For the past three days, in my mind I have been going over and over every single piece of clothing and all the gadgets, bits and pieces that I want take along for.

Am I sounding mad if I tell you that my complete race outfit will be in my hand luggage? In case, my checked-in luggage gets lost. Makes sense, doesn't it?

I did my last run two days ago, an interval session with my usual running group. After months of lonely marathon training it was good to run with other runners again. Now I will rest. My hip adductor injury is still there and doesn't need to be challenged before the marathon on Sunday. I'd like to get to the start line pain free. Whatever niggles, aches and pains will come on during the raced, I will deal with it then. Whoever has run a marathon will know that the aches and pains will come anyway. In the whole body. Both feet, legs, hips, just everything will be sore at some stage, probably somewhere between 20 and 30k into the race.

Honestly, I think my leg will hold together. Often in the past few weeks, the injury was only to be felt AFTER the run.

I keep a training log when training for a marathon. In the past 12 weeks I have run 730km, instead of the planned 800-850k. The deficit is due to two injury-induced complete rest weeks and a few more take-it-easy weeks. It is still 100km more than I trained for my previous marathon.

My goal time for the Berlin marathon is sub 3:15. That would be PB by more than 11 minutes. I don't know where the injury has left me physically and mentally. I don't know how training in the Dubai heat for the past 4 weeks will translate into running in cool Berlin September weather.  I gotta see on the day what I am capable of.

The weather forecast is looking very promising for Sunday: mostly sunny with temperatures between 6C at night and 16C during the day. Some 35.000 will be lining up at the start line at 8:45am. I have never run in such a big race. The runners will be sent off in three waves according to their abilities and previous marathon times. I will be in the last section of the first wave.

With three days to go, I am still calm and collected. I think the nerves will kick in, once I reach Berlin.  The place where I lived for 10 years and where I went to university. Where I partied myself to delirium countless times. It's the place in Germany that I identify with. The place where I feel home.

I have been looking after my diet with extra care for the past two weeks. Avoided take-away foods and anyhting ready-made or store-bought. Haven't had a drop of wine. With three days to go, I am trying to carb-load. All I want to eat is vegetables. Vegetables to me, are the safest thing right now. Easy on the stomach and with a very low risk for food poisoning. Last thing I need now is an upset stomach.

I have been craving beetroot. a vitamin C bomb to ward off any colds and other bugs that could possibly put my marathon at risk? This Beetroot and Lentil Salad is what I had for most of last week. I made it numerous times and the recipe is now ready to be shared. Loving the earthy-sweet flavors of the roasted beetroot combined with some lentils that give substance to the salad. Enjoy!

(Print Recipe)

1 cup green lentils
3 cups water
2 bay leaves

4 medium beetroots
dried thyme
olive oil

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Honey Mustard Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mustard

Serves 4
Wash the beetroots. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with dried thyme. Roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the beetroots. Check with a fork if tender and cooked through. Take out of the oven and let cool.
Once cooled, peel them and chop into bite sizes.

Place lentils and bay leaves in slightly salted water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Pour dressing over the lentil and mix well. Fold in chopped beetroots and parsley. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Ready to serve.

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17 September, 2013

Chia Crispbreads

An update on my marathon training and progress of my healing running injury is overdue. It's been 10 days since I last posted here and whined and moaned in a lengthy post about my overused hip adductors that restricted my marathon training for the Berlin marathon.

Good news first, it's all looking much better now. The hip adductor injury is not healed. But its not getting worse and I did another 32k run a week ago, without aggravating it. In fact, in the last week, I ran 86k and I am feeling OK. The pain is no more than a niggle that doesn't inhibit my running or is slowing me down. My hamstrings have calmed down. I don't seem to compensate any longer for the injured muscles. I am still getting physio treatment. The physio says that after Berlin, I must put myself on complete rest until I am 100% pain free. It makes sense, although I already know that it will be hard to sit still. Even after a major event.

In less than two weeks I'll be running the Berlin marathon.The major part of the training is done. With only a few days to go, I cannot get much fitter and faster than what I am at the moment. It's taper time and I will do myself more good by decreasing mileage and arrive at the start line with rested legs. It's still hard. I feel I have lost out on so much training. The temptation is there to catch up quickly. But it will backfire.

Tomorrow night will be the first race of the Dubai season: a 5k race on a hilly course in horrible conditions, as weather is still hot and humid. I am being a good girl and help out as marshal. I thought it would be a good idea to not drink my traditional glass of wine in the evening for the two weeks leading up to the race. Needless to say, I look after my diet more than ever these days.

After a month of holidays, my family is also grateful to be back to on the foods that we usually eat. It's less heavy, less indulgent, less processed and simply less food. These crackers I made for the first time before we went on vacation, and were one of the first things I made again after our return to Dubai. A great snack that my family appreciates in between big meals. Enjoy.
adapted from Nyoutritious

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, etc)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wholegrain flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Serves 6-8
Preheat oven to 150C/300F.
Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. In a measuring cup, mix water and oil. Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes, so the chia seeds can absorb moisture and the mixture becomes a thick dough.

Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out the dough evenly and as thin as possible, to 1/8 inch thickness (or less if you can). Carefully remove top baking paper. With a knife, cut the dough into desired shapes.  Transfer onto baking sheet (with bottom parchment paper).

Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Let cool for 5 minutes before breaking them up at pre-cut edges.
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04 September, 2013

Coconut Cashew Cookies

The higher you climb the harder you fall.
It's been sometime since my last post. Not only was I on holidays and traveling abroad, as this has never kept me from posting here, but I was deeply demotivated to cook, photograph and write. The reason? My marathon training came to a complete standstill with a groin injury due to overuse.
In my last post I was bragging about a weekly mileage of almost 100k. These 100k were my downfall. A little niggle after a fast interval training session just wouldn't go away, and within a day I was feeling that pain non-stop.

The injury couldn't have come at a worse time. It was just before the important 30+k long runs. My training so far had gone absolutely perfect. But I wasn't quite there yet in terms of distance when the level of pain made me realize it's not sensible to keep on running. With a heavy heart I took a week off. It was particularly difficult because I was in Germany with perfect weather for any sorts of runs. My initial plan was to do as many of my long runs in Europe, so I wouldn't have to run in Dubai at 38 degrees outdoor temperature with high humidity. Now I was sitting at home, watching valuable days go by while I was icing my injury and feeling terribly sorry for myself.

After a week I had enough and went for a 30+k run. The pain was there right from the beginning, but I could run with it. Needless to say, it didn't get better. Common sense left me completely as I was panicking that weeks of marathon training would go down the drain, and I did another 12k run two days later. During that run I felt another niggle, in the hamstring of the same leg. Then we flew back to Dubai.

Upon arrival I made an appointment to see a physiotherapist. And went for another run right before the appointment. It's obvious, after common sense left me, stupidity set in. The physiotherapist confirmed what I suspected: overuse injury of hip adductors, groin ligaments and lower abs. The hamstring niggle was a consequence of my running with the groin injury. By trying to avoid the groin pain, I compensated with other muscles. I was at high risk to get the next injury straight away. I was told that a hamstring injury would have me sit at home with complete rest for at least 6 weeks. The Berlin marathon would happen without me and probably even half of the Dubai running season which starts in October. This outlook put some sense back into me.

I have been completely resting for another week, wearing compression shorts, icing the affected areas, doing daily walks in the swimming pool, and religiously do my light strengthening exercises.

A week is most probably not enough to completely heal the injury. But I feel much better, and I am not in constant pain. I will go for a run tonight, hoping that everything will stay under control. I haven't given up on the Berlin marathon, and my goal time of 3:10. My next physio appointment is tomorrow morning. She will have to fix the damage that I might be doing by going running to soon. In the end, it's my actions that will decide if I will be fine for Berlin or not.

Do you understand now why my heart and mind wasn't much with this blog in the past weeks? I am not even much into foods, as I am sitting at home, and my marathon fuel recipes are not much needed. To fill in, I am posting a cookie recipe. Grain free and just a third of a cup of sugar in thirty cookies almost doesn't count as dessert or treat, does it?
adapted from Kate's Healthy Cupboard

(Print Recipe)

1 1/2 cups raw cashew nuts
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/3 cup grated jaggery or raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoon coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Yields 30
Preheat oven to 165C/350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place cashews and coconut in a food processor and pulse until texture is of a coarse meal. Add sugar, salt and soda and pulse until combined.

In another bowl combine coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Add to dry ingredients in the food processor
and pulse again to form a dough.

Form balls of the size of a walnut out of the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet press down slightly to flatten them. Repeat until all dough is used up.

Bake for 10 minutes, until slightly brown.
Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes to set.
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