Running News

My still-undiagnosed knee injury, along with bilateral iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, has prevented me from participating in two road races that I was registered for; a half marathon on May 31st, and a 5K fun run this last Sunday. I sat out both of these events because I knew I could never convince myself to walk, not run, once the horn sounded. So I played it safe and stayed home to keep from making matters worse.

So what could have caused injuries to hit both legs at once? After much research and going over my training logs very carefully, the only thing that stood out was the new shoes (Brooks PureCadence) as nothing else in my routine had changed. Then, after some research into the shoes, I found out that they were, in fact, stability shoes, an obvious no-no for minimalist runners such as myself.

The fact that the wrong shoe has the ability to sideline a person for months at a time just reaffirms my belief in minimalist running. I trained for (and raced) a half marathon last year almost exclusively in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) without a single incident. And this is how it should be. A true minimalist shoe, better yet, a barefoot shoe such as the VFFs, that allow your feet to flex and move as nature intended, should never be the root cause of any running injury.

On a side note: What irks me is that the owner of the running store that I have trusted implicitly for many years did not alert me as to what I was purchasing, despite the fact that he knew I was a minimalist runner. Lesson learned: Never put all your trust/faith in a running store. Do your research before making any purchase… or suffer the consequences.

You’re probably wondering why on Earth I would “go back” to a pair of conventional shoes if I’m so dedicated to minimalism, aren’t you? Well, I use cushioned – yet minimal – shoes for walking long distances as well as the occasional run, particularly for spring runs, right alongside my trusty VFFs. The Brooks PureCadence were meant to be a replacement for my aging Saucony Kinvaras. Little did I know they were a whole different animal!

As far as treatment goes, I’d like to think I’m attacking it aggressively enough. I’m in weekly physiotherapy sessions, I did a bit of swimming and water jogging (though I should be a LOT more consistent here!) I roll the IT bands with a lacrosse ball and foam roller for about 15 minutes two to three times per day, daily deep tissue massage, and strengthening exercises for the hips and glutes. The best news was having my physiotherapist give me the green light to throw a few short jogging intervals into my walks as well!

My biggest wish at this point is to recover quickly enough to resume half marathon training next month, and, of course, be ready for the actual race on October 18.

That’s it for now, stay tuned for more updates next month :)

Soft Dinner Rolls

This week’s recipe features a dinner roll that can easily replace the store bought variety.

They are super soft, have an amazing texture and flavour, and go great with butter, honey, jam, whatever you fancy. They also make wonderful hamburger and hot dog buns!IMG_0145Adapted slightly from Baking Bites
1 cup warm water, divided
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbs. organic cane sugar
3 cups flour, divided
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled to rm. temp.
Additional melted butter for brushing over freshly baked rolls

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar; set aside until foamy. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attached, add 2 cups of the flour and salt. Stir in yeast mixture, egg, butter and remaining water. Allow the machine to knead the dough 5 to 7 minutes, add additional flour as needed until dough is no longer sticking to the bowl. Remove dough from mixing bowl, knead a few times then place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Grease, or line with parchment paper, a 13×9″ baking dish. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and place in prepared dish. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise again until doubled. Bake rolls in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 325°F and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until rolls sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Immediately brush with melted butter. This step is optional but makes for a lovely soft crust.

Frosted Banana Bars

How many of you have had bananas sitting on the counter, slowly going black, knowing you’ll never eat them before they go really bad? Probably everyone who’s reading this, I imagine.

Of course, this happened to me for the umpteenth time not long ago, but I was armed and ready with a recipe that sounded very promising.

These bars (really they are banana bread… in bar form) got rave reviews over at the Taste of Home website, and I’d been waiting for the opportunity to have a go at them for quite some time.

When I finally made them, it literally only took one bite to know that I had stumbled on one of the best things ever baked in my kitchen.

You can imagine that I was shaking my head in disgust for having waited so long to make them!

As per usual, I made a few modifications from the original recipe, but nothing major. For the batter, I reduced the sugar and added walnuts, then I cut back a bit on the frosting and used half the called-for amount of cream cheese (not a big fan). OK, so perhaps that’s a fair amount of tweaking! Feel free to go with the original over at TOH and decide which one sounds best to you. Whichever you choose, I’m sure it will not disappoint :)
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
3 eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 to 2 Tbs. milk

Preheat oven to 350°F, grease, or line with parchment paper, a 13×9″ baking pan and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, bananas and vanilla. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; add to butter mixture along with the walnuts and mix just until blended. Do not overmix! Transfer to the prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. In the meantime prepare the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add icing sugar and almond extract; beat until smooth, adding milk as needed to make a spreadable frosting. Frost the bars once they have cooled to room temperature. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container… IF they ever make it to the container!! Yields 2 dozen delectable bars.

Calories: 265
Fat: 11.3g
– Saturated Fat: 6.1g
– Cholesterol: 52.3mg
Sodium: 106.4mg
Carbohydrates: 39.3g
– Sugars: 28.5g
– Fibre: 0.9g
Protein: 3g

Running News

I ran my first event of the year on the 9th and I did exceptionally well; setting a new personal best for a 10K by over 6 minutes, and with a very sore knee at that!

Did I mention they handed out medals this year? No? Well, they most certainly did!

Did I mention they handed out medals this year? No? Well, they most certainly did!

While I am no stranger to participating in these events, I have never credited myself as truly “racing” in any of them. Because I have, what I believe to be, exercise-induced asthma, I run races with the same intensity (or lack thereof) as my training runs to avoid that terrifying feeling of suffocating. Last Saturday, however, I can honestly say that I pushed myself a lot harder than ever before, and maybe more than I should have…

The pain in my knee has worsened to the point where running has been out of the question for the better part of the week.

And the timing couldn’t be worse.

I was finally signed up for the half marathon that I have wanted to run for years.

The Royal Canadian Air Force run was the first road race that caught my attention many, many years ago and was the catalyst that made me take up running on a more serious level. This is also the first year that I have been in good enough running condition to even consider participating.

The optimist in me says that I still have two weeks until race day, and there’s a good chance that I will be good to go by the 31st.

A week after the half marathon, I will be doing a 5K fun run (my second time participating) and I’m really looking forward to this well-organized event!

In other news…

brookspurecadence– I had to return the New Balance Minimus shoes that I purchased. I made the mistake of purchasing them without first testing them on the store’s treadmill and later found that they were blisters waiting to happen. So I exchanged them for a pair of Brooks PureCadence (shown above) and you can bet these were put through their paces beforehand! But I am not 100% happy with these either (sigh, is there even such a thing as “the perfect shoe?”) Even though Brooks calls these “minimalist” shoes, they are, in reality, far too cushioned, rigid, and heavy to ever be considered a true minimalist shoe. But, they don’t rub anywhere and are fast, so they are keepers ;)

– I have not attended any meets with the run club that I was interested in joining and I’m not all that confident that it will ever happen. Reasons, 1) I am not a particularly social individual, 2) I really don’t see any added benefits, and, even more importantly, 3) without access to a vehicle, I have no convenient way of making it to the meets even if I wanted to take part.

That’s it for this month. Stay tuned for more running news in June when I hope to deliver some good news in regards to the upcoming half marathon!

POST #100! Spaghetti Sauce… with a twist!

100To celebrate my 100th blog post, I am having a pre-race pasta party!

Yes, tomorrow morning is my first race of the year – a 10K – and, thanks to a knee that has been bothering me all week, my one and only goal is to actually finish the run without causing any further damage!

I will provide details about said race in next week’s post. For now, let’s talk about this rather unusual sauce!

Out here in cyberspace, there are countless recipes for spaghetti sauce, no matter the individual preferences, there is going to be one to suit just about any tastes. Some are not much more than an herbed tomato sauce, others contain a plethora of garden veggies, while others are a meat lovers’ delight. This one is all of the above plus something you wouldn’t ordinarily find in an Italian dish.

A touch of heat! In the form of paprika, chili powder, and even ground cayenne.

I’ve no idea who invented this recipe or what made them add a little Mexican flair to a decidedly Italian dish, but it actually works.

Aside from using this as a traditional topping for hot, cooked spaghetti, we absolutely love this in lasagna. Of course, that’s simply our personal tastes talking, but if you like a little kick to your food, give this a shot to see what you think :)

This recipe makes a boatload and freezes exceptionally well.

2 Tbs. olive oil
5 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 green bell peppers, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, finely diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1, 798ml can diced tomatoes
2, 295ml cans tomato soup
1, 295ml can tomato paste
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
1 Tbs. crushed fennel seed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a large stockpot, brown the ground beef in oil over medium high heat until no longer pink. Drain, return beef to pot, add onion, carrot, celery and peppers. Cook until crisp-tender. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 2 hours. Yields roughly 20 cups!

7-Layer Dinner

Today marks the closing date for the little contest I held, and it failed miserably with zero recipe submissions. Sigh. Oh well, I tried!

This week’s post features a classic casserole that has been served on our dinner table for decades. While most casseroles of this type utilizes ground beef or crumbled sausage for the top layer, my family has always used sliced wieners. I am not exactly fond of using processed foods, so I am going to experiment by finding a meat that really compliments the dish and also a substitute for the tomato soup. But for now, here is our original recipe for 7-Layer Dinner.
3 medium potatoes, cooked and thinly sliced
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas & corn)
6 all-beef wieners, sliced (we like Harvest brand)
2, 10 oz. cans condensed tomato soup mixed with equal amount water
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Layer potatoes, rice, onion, veggies and wieners in a large casserole dish. Whisk together soup, water, salt and pepper; pour over the casserole. Cover and bake until mixture begins to bubble. Lower temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for approximately 30 minutes longer. Yields 6 to 8 servings.

Nutritional Information
Calories (per 1/6 of a recipe): 415
Fat: 10.5g
– Saturated Fat: 3.4g
– Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 933mg
Carbohydrates: 68.7g
– Fibre: 6.7g
– Sugars: 6.6g
Protein: 13.3g

Black Bean & Brown Rice Casserole

While most of my [favourite] recipes are a tad on the rich and heavy side, this one, chock full of veggies and protein, promises to deliver a light, flavourful, and nutritious meal.

The original recipe calls for Swiss cheese, and I did use it the first time around but I was not impressed. I felt that the cheese overpowered the flavours of the other ingredients. Later, I experimented with cheddar and mozzarella cheese and I would have to say that mozzarella gave the best results. Feel free to use your favourite :)IMG_0049Adapted from

1/3 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup vegetable broth (I just use lightly salted water)
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 green peppers, julienned
2 carrots, shredded
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can black beans, drained
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. cumin
Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil; add rice and cook until tender. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and cook until translucent. Add peppers, zucchini, cooked chicken, mushrooms, and 1 cup of cheese. Season with cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Stir in the cooked rice and beans; mix well. Top with remaining cheese, cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Yields 8 servings.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 420
Fat: 11.3g
– Saturated Fat: 4.5g
– Cholesterol: 53mg
Sodium: 325mg
Carbs: 46.2g
– Fibre: 10.2g
– Sugars: 4.2g
Protein: 34.5g