24 July, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Banana Bread

Remember my last post about the upcoming Ramadan 10k race that involved big prize money? Well, the prize money was doubled to 2.1 million AED (that's 400.000 EUR or 540.000 USD). I ended up finishing 10th female. After doublechecking nationality and residency of each runner, I moved up to 8th female in the expat female category.
As no specifications were made upfront as to who would get how much money, I would not know if I was in the prizes. It's been almost three weeks now since the race. My residency details have been checked three times. Now I am waiting....for that email.....that will tell me about the IF and HOW MUCH.
It's summer and it's Ramadan. In Dubai, those are sure signs of things moving very very slowly. I have no choice to sit and wait.

The actual race was great fun. It was extremely hot, around 38C/100F with very high humidity. Running paces were totally off due to the heat. The race started at 1045pm. Sheikh Hamdan himself, Crown Prince of Dubai, was there at the start. The announcement of the provisional first three in each category was at 0120am at night. A huge stage with DJ was set up to announce the winners and to entertain us while we were waiting. Almost festival atmosphere. Everything was so off what I usually do: a 10k race in July, running at 11pm at night, staying up til 2am in the morning....But well organized and thoroughly enjoyable. Now if that email would just come...

My running is back to base training. Lots of long slow runs. Nothing strenuous. I run by feel rather than let my running watch predict my pace. I find these slow runs very invigorating. It's my favorite way of taking a rest.
Low heart rate training is the best thing you can do in the off-season. It boosts the metabolism and gives my legs a well-deserved break. I have a three week holiday in Greece to look forward to. Can't wait to go run there. And look forward to Greek food too. Lots of yogurt, olives, fresh veggies, seafood....simple, straight forward food.

I have realized that I haven't baked for a while. My last baked dessert post was in April. Not sure how that happened. It could possibly be explained that my diet has become simpler and more straight forward too. I am happy with plain nuts and seeds and a piece of fruit rather than processed dishes.

However, cravings come and go. And this chocolate banana bread I have made and perfected in several attempts. It certainly satisfies and sweet and chocolate cravings. And it's amazingly simple to put together with an ingredients list that couldn't be much shorter. I hope you enjoy!


(Print Recipe)

150g/1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (ca. 2 large bananas)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serves 8
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

In a large bowl, combine almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and sea salt. Mix until well combined. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until creamy. Then add mashed banana, honey and vanilla and mix some more. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients. Gently fold in until ingredients are just combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
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04 July, 2014

Salade Niçoise

My running break is over. Thank goodness for that. It lasted about 2 1/2 weeks. I am not sure if it was enough to recover physically from the strains of a very long season. Probably not. But I couldn't sit at home and/or cross train any longer. While I enjoyed the rowing machine in the gym as a cardio alternative and as a good whole-body workout, it's not the same as running. Running is where my heart is.

Those 2 1/2 weeks were surely enough to make that clear again. In terms of motivation, it worked wonders. No race in the near future was planned anyway, as I decided not to participate in the Berlin marathon in September for which training would have started now. This decision was very deliberating, as I would have a whole long summer of just leisurely runs, as many or few as I wanted, as long or short as I wanted, just for the fun of it.

However, my leisurely summer running plan had to be abandoned at short notice. For a 10k race tonight. It's Ramadan. Here in Dubai eating and drinking is not allowed in public from sunrise to sunset. Naturally, all activities are scheduled between dusk and dawn. Like this crazy 10k race tonight. Start time is 1015pm, and huge prize money is involved. While there will not be any international elite runners, there will be prizes worth 1 million Dirhams (that's 200.000 EUR or 270.000 USD), and rumour has it that a few Mini Cooper cars have been thrown into the prizes too. The six categories include both male and female Emirati club runner, expat club runner, social runners and kids under 16.

That all sounds great, and if they spread the prizes over the first 10 of each category, I might stand a chance. Now the downside: it's the middle of summer in Dubai and temperatures at 9-10pm are still around 38C/100F. Not exactly ideal conditions to run 10k. Perhaps even a dangerously long distance for the untrained runner.

When I picked up my race pack last night, I saw who else signed up. The Who is Who of the Dubai running scene will be there. Gold diggers!!!!...... And I am one of them. Although I really will only have a chance if the Top 10 gets prizes.

So wish me luck. I'll keep you posted. Until then I leave you with our current family's favorite summer salad: Salade Niçoise. My favorite lunchtime salad if we eat out, as it is light enough for hot Dubaian summer days, yet has enough substance to be a main dish with the addition of potatoes, eggs and tuna. I hope you enjoy.

(Print Recipe)

2 medium potatoes
150g/6oz green beens, trimmed

2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
150g/6oz tinned Albacore tuna, drained

1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup radishes, sliced
1/4 cup black olives

2-4 anchovy fillets

Lemon Mustard Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Serves 2
Scrub the potatoes, and with the skin on, cut them into chunks. Cook them in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, steam the green beans, until just tender but still crisp, approx. 4-5 minutes. Put the beans into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. That way you keep the green color. Once cooled, drain and put aside.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing. Whisk vigorously until well combined. Set aside.

Assemble potatoes, green beans, quartered eggs, tuna and salad ingredients next to each other on a plate. Sprinkle over the black olives and place the anchovy fillets onto the potatoes. . Drizzle over the lemon mustard dressing. Ready to eat.

TIP: all ingredients can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge for up to 12 hours before assembling.
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