Category Archives: Lunch

East And West

First of all, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who commented on my previous post. Reading your tales of running woes and the lessons you learned from them really made my day. You guys have so much to say, and I feel so lucky and honored to be a part of such a vibrant, intelligent, and supportive community. In a nutshell, you all rock, and I’m taking all of your encouragement with me into my next long run. 🙂

So, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a bad food blogger as of late. The food pics have been few and far between.

Please accept the following pictures as my form of an apology. They feature a sampling of the international flavors I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

From West:

An all-American classic: Turkey burgers with horseradish sauce, cheddar cheese, diced peppers, onions, salt, and pepper.

Adding horseradish sauce to turkey burger patties is a stroke of genius that I credit to my mum. They add great flavor to the burgers! That and the cheese. If there’s one thing I know in this life, it’s that you can never have too much cheese in your burger patties. Never.

To East:

A take on spicy Thai stir-fry: Marinaded pork tenderloin stir-fry with sprouts, bell peppers, asparagus, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic.

Colorful veggies galore!

Many of my favorite meals are wok-based. Some veggies, some flavorful meat, a little brown rice on the side. A perfectly balanced and delicious meal.

And back to the West again.

That cornhusk-wrapped classic of Latin American cuisine: tamales!

My sis picked up some of these bad boys at a tamale shack in the middle of Nowheresville, CO on her way to Breckenridge a few days ago. I enjoyed one cheese and one chicken enchilada for lunch today…

My favorite part of eating tamales is unwrapping them from their little husks. So fun! Or at least, I find it fun to do this. Then again, I’m weird.

Mmmm….doughy cheesy corn-based deliciousness.

One of these days, I’m going to have figure out how to make tamales on my own, but for now, I’ll just enjoy them straight from my fridge. Trust me, the people who work at the tamale shop in Nowheresville, CO know what they’re doing.

Question: Which type of cuisine do you prefer most often? American, Asian, or Latin American?

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Epic Music, Epic Spiciness

After my epic day of mountain climbing on Saturday, I had another epic day planned for Sunday. Epic in a completely different way.

I didn’t have to face cliffs or rocks or summits as I did during my mountain sojourn. No. This time, the enemies were smelly hippies, intense heat, and drunk high schoolers. In other words, I spent my Sunday at an all-day outdoor music festival, specifically the Mile High Music Festival in Denver!

A lot of people were getting their Rocky Mountain high on, if you catch my drift, and weren’t exactly in the right state of mind to realize where the heck they were stepping as they meandered through the crowds. Armed with sunscreen, chairs, blankets, water bottles, and some dark chocolate, my friend Heather and I were ready to defend our turf against all the crazies who happened to stumble upon our blanket.

Don’t we just look intimidating? Not. Maybe that’s why all the drunks liked to stumble by us on their way to go barf in a trashcan. We just look like the type of people that will get out of the way for them….and we certainly did. Neither of us are stupid enough to stand our ground when the drunkies are out and about. They could just as easily yak on your blanket as in the trashcan.

In addition to the smorgasbord of people watching, we might have also seen a few musical acts. Ya know. Because it is a music festival.

Train put on a solid set. I just loved hearing their songs Meet Virginia and Hey, Soul Sister live.

Weezer made a fantastic appearance too. Their frontman had the energy of 100 Energizer bunnies on crack. He was bouncing all over the place during their set, and his enthusiasm was infectious. The crowd (including myself) ate it up as they breezed through a bunch of their hits and a hilarious cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.

The headliner and main event of the Mile High Music Festival was Dave Matthews Band, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their set was epic, sprawling (almost a bit too sprawling, to be honest….I grow weary of jams after they reach the 10 minutes mark), and perfectly suited for the Colorado crowds. Regardless, I enjoyed hearing the prodigious musical talents of the band’s members. Dave is a veritable guitar hero!

How, I wish I could have brought my DSLR to this event! My P + S just couldn’t hack it in this kind of lighting. Regardless, take my word on it. The little tiny guy in the black shirt in this pic is Dave.

All in all, it was a fantastic outing. Mile High magic for sure.

Now, don’t think that I’ve forgotten about the food. I know I have a tendency to drone on and on about mountains and Colorado and things of this nature, but not to worry. To go along with my kickin’ music festival action, I rocked a pretty epic meal today.

Enter: the spiciest green chili I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Now, I don’t go around throwing around the word “spicy” lightly. I adore spicy foods, and rarely is anything too spicy for me. If I was a lesser food champion, this chili might have been too much for my poor little tastebuds.

But I’m a food beast, and I definitely beasted this bowl of chili from King’s Chef, a little diner in downtown Colorado Springs well-renowned for the both the quality and the spiciness of their chili.

Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this joint had some great food!

The entire dinner fit eight people tops. It was legitimate.

They love their green chiles here. 🙂

Because few people have the cajones to finish off the whole bowl of habanero-infused green chili, I received a reward for my efforts: membership in the “King’s Chef Clean Plate Club.”

I was honored.

I wore my sticker proudly. You bet I did.

The chili may have left my lips red and swollen for a solid hour or two afterward, and I might not be able to taste anything ever again.

BUT… it was totally worth it to finish off that chili. Best bowl of green chili I’ve ever had.

Question: What’s the spiciest meal you’ve ever had?

My Civic Duty

My time was up. I knew it as soon as my dad handed me the envelope. I couldn’t avoid it. Couldn’t escape it. Couldn’t pretend like I didn’t know what was happening. Oh no.

It was jury duty time.

That’s right. I ventured on down to the court house this morning for my first ever jury duty summon and quickly realized why most people dread these things.

All you do is sit there and wait. And wait. And wait and wait and wait. And then, just when you think you’re done waiting, they’ll make you wait some more. Just to test your patience. I was glad that my parents had urged me to bring a few books, so I spent most of the morning happily chugging through Freakonomics. The other entertainment option was some terrible Nicholas Cage movie about the Masons and buried treasure that they screened on the tvs lining the large holding room (or as I like to think of it, the holding “pen”). Of all things to subject us, a Nicholas Cage movie.

Honestly now, judicial system. Where is your taste?

I digress. Anyway, after waiting forever and a year, the people up at the front started calling out an absurd amount of names and numbers. All of us in the holding pen clutched our little summons numbers and trembled in fear that they would announce our number. They might as well have been leading us to the slaughter; that’s how much people seemed to dread hearing their names called.

There were sighs. There were moans. There were upset faces.

Mine was not one of them fortunately. After nearly calling my number several times (they called the ones immediately before and after mine), they let the remaining people in the holding pen go.

Sweet freedom! It was like the last day of classes all over again.

In honor of my not getting selected for a jury, I had some celebratory tofu pad thai for lunch (which, of course, I didn’t make…my mom did). Thanks mom.

Just for the official record, I will choose pad thai over jury duty any day of the week.

You can quote me on that.

I also enjoyed my first sampling of POM juice, which the wonderful people over at POM Wonderful sent me a few days ago.

Aren’t they cute? The bottle design is just fantastic.

Beyond this, the taste is great too. Tart and not overly sweet. Just the way I like my juice.

I can’t wait to use some of my pomegranate juice in my cooking (whenever I get around to the whole cooking thing again). POM wonderful has some great-sounding recipes on their site that incorporate the juice into a wide variety of dishes and drinks. Can’t wait to try some of them out!

Anyway folks, I’m going to head to bed. Gotta rest up for my 10 miler in the morning. I’m doing it in a place that’s quite hilly, so it should be challenging.

Just the way I like it.

Question: Have you ever been summoned for jury duty? Were you ever selected for a trial?

The Cooking Vacation

Before I returned home to Colorado, I promised my parents that I would cook for them. I had visions of myself running gleefully back and forth between the well-stocked fridge and the ample counter space while whipping up gourmet meals for my family. The mere thought of my parents’ beautiful kitchen brought a smile to my face.

Now that I’m actually home, the aforementioned vision has not yet become a reality. In fact, I would daresay that I’ve been reveling in the act of not cooking. As though I’m now on a cooking break or something….

To be honest, it’s easy to take a cooking break if your mom is as good a cook as my mom. For lunch, she busted out a beautiful cold potato and zucchini soup for us to enjoy. Why would I dare turn on the oven burners when she’s around to make such amazing meals?

All I’ve had to do for the past couple days is pull out the camera when it’s time to eat and photograph my mother’s cooking. A food blogger could get spoiled with this kind of service….

I know, I know. I should be a good daughter and give her the break from cooking. She’s been doing it for the past twenty something years, after all! But why cramp the woman’s style when she obviously knows what she’s doing?

Can you spot me in that last photograph? I snuck into the spoon’s reflection….

Just for the record, you all should make this soup. It’s simple and tasty, and while I’m not sure if it takes a lot of time to make (you’d have to ask my mom), I would venture to say that it’s worth the effort. The addition of the roasted almonds was particularly delicious.

Anyway, you’ll just have to blame my mom for the lack of new and creative culinary efforts on the blogfront as of late. I’m sure I’ll return to my cooking ways soon enough; but for now, I can’t say that I’m not enjoying being spoiled by my parents. 🙂

For dinner, I continued my lazy streak. We had grilled salmon burgers (which I didn’t grill), steamed asparagus (which I didn’t steam), and potato salad (which I didn’t assemble). It takes a lot of effort to be this lazy.

The salmon burger topped with grilled onions and avocado slices…..

I just love salmon burgers….well, I guess I love most things that come in burger form, to be honest. Veggie, salmon, bison, turkey. You name it, I’ll undoubtedly enjoy it in its burgerized form.

Green, green asparagus….a meal isn’t complete without a little green goodness!

What’s taters, precious?

A meal fit for a queen….or a lazy daughter on a cooking vacation.

On the exercise front, I attempted to do an hour’s worth of Yoga For Runners, but it was a fail. It was nice to stretch out my legs from the 13 miler yesterday, but I didn’t feel the burning desire to do a gazillion chattaranga pushups in a row or hang out in boat pose for 10 minutes straight. I stopped the podcast after about 45 minutes and chilled in child’s pose for a while. That’s more my pace…especially on a cross training day. I usually use my cross training days as an excuse to do the least amount of exercise possible without actually calling them “rest days.”

Like I said, lazy.

Question: What is your favorite thing to do on a lazy day?

Half Marathon Breakfast

This morning, I ate a half marathon for breakfast, and it was delicious. In fact, I might still be hungry for more miles. Does anyone else want to join me for my next running feast?

You know you want to.

One of the nice parts about Colorado weather is that it is significantly cooler in the morning as compared to Hartford, which means that I don’t have to get up near as early to enjoy a comfortable run. I didn’t even start running till 7:30 at which point it was in the lower 60s. By the end of my run, it was in the low 70s.

After several weeks of disgusting heat and humidity during my morning long runs in Connecticut, I am just loving this sort of weather. I hope it continues!

I did my solo half marathon on one of my favorite running trails in the Springs called the Santa Fe Trail. It’s a nice dirt path with rolling hills (some of which are quite steep) that meanders onto the grounds of the Air Force Academy and features great views of the Front Range foothills. It’s such a beautiful trail that I often forget about how tough some of the hills are because I’m so engrossed in the beauty of the environment.

That’s the type of run I had today. I so enjoyed the scenery that I almost (emphasis on almost) forgot that I was running for over two hours. My tired and achey feet again reminded me of this harsh reality by the end of the run.

I ran slowly to make sure that I could complete the distance without suffering any issues from the altitude. Apparently, it takes about a week to get rid of that yucky “Why is my lung capacity decreased?” feeling, so I didn’t push it today. I ran just under 11 minutes miles, and that pace felt just about right for me today.

Gotta take each run’s pacing one day at a time…

Nevertheless, I felt strong, especially while pushing up some of the hills. In fact, I haven’t done a run this hilly thus far during my marathon training, and I appreciated getting in some hill action. I figure they’ll make me even stronger and better prepared for race day.

I wrapped up the entire half marathon in a grand total time of 2:23:09!

These are the feet that just ran 13.1 miles. I’m proud of these guys….

Is it strange that I feel most beautiful and most myself in the moments after wrapping up a run rather than when my hair and makeup is all done up? I think that true beauty is reflected through a person’s happiness….and I am so happy here.

After a little stretching, showering, and foamrolling, I had a simple sandwich + salad lunch featuring one of my favorite sandwich combos: turkey, brie, and Crofter’s American on whole wheat bread.

Such a simple sandwich, but so tasty. Brie is one of those cheeses that I could eat everyday. Or bathe in. You know…same thing.

I also had some spinach salad with ‘shrooms, grape tomatoes, red onions, sliced hardboiled eggs, and shredded mozzarella cheese to go along with my sammich.

After eating this lunch, I crashed landed right into my bed for a solid afternoon nap. I really didn’t accomplish much of anything today because I was so tired.

One thing I did accomplish, though, was the consumption of a green monster. I split one with my mom, who is a recent convert to the green monster movement. She had been quite suspect of the green smoothies before, but the addition of some Vega Vanilla Chai powder finally made her see the light.

In the mix:

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Vega Vanilla Chai
  • two handfuls spinach
  • one handful blueberries
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • ice

GMs are like an energy shot in a glass. After downing this green goodness, I decided to start unpacking the zillions of boxes stacked high in my room.

Horace was proud of me for this unexpected burst of productivity. He supervised while I did most of the unpacking. He likes to think of himself as a “manager.”

Question: When are you most happy?

A Birthday With Altitude

It is only fitting that my first full day back home in Colorado is my birthday. My 23rd birthday, to be exact.

What a birthday present….the day could have been boring and terrible (it most certainly wasn’t!), and I still would have enjoyed it if only for the fact that I am now back in Colorado. I really love it here….the crisp and dry air makes me smile. Just like this:

I started my day off with a 3 mile birthday run around my neighborhood. It started off great….I ran down the hill from my house and completed the first mile in a blistering fast 9:03 (for me, this is lightning speed!). I could hardly believe my Garmin when I saw my pace…..

….and then, the altitude struck.

Oh yes, altitude.

I had forgotten about how much that little factor can affect you when embarking upon cardiovascular activities at 6,000 feet above sea level. There really is less oxygen at this altitude, and I started feeling it once I hit the turn around point in my run. As I turned around to start heading back uphill to my house, the altitude started kicking my ass. My lungs were burning, and my heart was thumping much faster than it normally does at sea level when I run uphill. On the final hill up to my house, I had to stop and let my heart slow down. It felt like it was about to thump out of my chest! This run was the anti-negative split run. My first mile was a speedy 9:03, the second mile was a moderate 9:43, and the last one was a sputtering 10:43.

That last hill up to my house KILLED.

Lesson of the day? Even though I am a Colorado native, I am not invincible to altitude. My next run (which will be a 13 miler tomorrow) will be done at an extremely slow pace to prevent altitude burnout like I experienced today.

Lunch

For lunch, my mom took my sister and I out to one of my favorite places in downtown Colorado Springs, a funky little restaurant called Poor Richard’s.

Their menu features all sorts of fresh salads, sandwiches, and homemade pizza selections. They even offer a spelt crust option for the pizza, which I think is just fantastic. I love spelt.

While I love the thin crust pizza at Poor Richard’s, my heart longed for one of their fresh and fabulous veggie burgers.

I chose the Mexi-veggie burger which was served on homemade whole wheat bread (so soft and doughy!) and was topped with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, mustard, and lettuce.

I could only finish a little more than half of it, but I savored every bite that I could manage…fresh veggie burgers are glorious.

Dinner

For my birthday dinner, my family and I went to a tapas place downtown called Nosh. My family loves good food just as much as I do, so the meal was enjoyed by all. Honestly, can you every go wrong with eating a whole lot of everything? I think not. It’s a foodie’s dream!

The mom and me:

Being a huge goofball:

My sis and my dad got in on the photo action.

The little sis can be a big goofball too. Guess it runs in the family…

My mom and I started the meal off with a refreshing cucumber vodka cocktail (not my normal drink choice, but my dad thought I would like it). This guy packed a punch, so I sipped it slowly and only finished about half of it by the end of the meal. I’m such a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, so I have to be careful with drinks like this….one too many, and it wouldn’t be such a pretty sight.

My dad went with his usual martini. The man loves his vodka….

We ordered a slew of tapas plates including a roasted beet salad with herbed yogurt cheese, large leafy greens, and tofu-garlic vinaigrette dressing….this was so earthy and delicious!

...Wild tuna sashimi with crispy rice crackers for scooping. This had a great sesame-infused flavor, and it tasted lighter than air!

…Grass-fed bison tar tar with homemade vinegar potato chips (my dad’s choice….he ate 90% of this….the whole raw meat thing is a bit too much for my mom, my sis, and I). I dug the chips though!

…Spicy shrimp with sweet basil and kale. This was good, but I feel that I could make this type of dish at home. Whenever I go out to restaurants, I always try to order things that I wouldn’t normally cook in my own kitchen.

….Roasted brussel sprouts with manchego cheese, candied lemon peel, radicchio, polenta, and a buttery sauce made of mirin, ginger, and honey. This was hands down the best dish of the night! I am already a brussel sprouts lover, but this dish would convert even the most fervent brussel sprout hater. My family and I practically devoured this dish. The sauce was to die for!

Roasted cauliflower with caramelized onions, cilantro, and cashews.

And no birthday is complete without a little dessert. Or in this case, a LOT of dessert. I have a serious thing for chocolate, so I decided to share the “Chocolate Lovers” dessert platter with my family. Aren’t I generous?

So much chocolate. So good. My taste buds are smiling.

With that, I’m headed off to digest before my run in the morning. Let’s hope the chocolate doesn’t make a reappearance then.

G’night!

Midwest Road Tripping

Greetings from Kansas City, Missouri!

Didn’t think Kansas City would look this nice, did you?

Kansas City gets such a bum wrap, but there are definitely nice parts of it…..like where my aunt lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. It’s chock a block full of trees and lakes and huge houses.

Not too shabby, Kansas City. Not too shabby.

The past two days of driving have been loooooong. The first day, my dad and I journeyed from Hartford to Dayton, Ohio….and it took us nearly 13 hours to complete the drive!

We departed Connecticut around 9:00 AM or so and said our last goodbyes to beautiful New England. Even though we’ve had our ups and downs (especially with your mercurial winter weather), you’ve generally been quite good to me over the past five years, New England. Thanks for the memories….

For a long stretch of I-80 through Pennsylvania, we encountered roadwork about every 10 miles, and we think that it delayed our arrival time in Dayton by at least an hour. It became so frustrating at points that I resorted to taking strange pictures just to keep myself from attacking the road workers. WHY were they doing so much roadwork on such an isolated and altogether random part of Pennsylvania? It confused me. I think they were doing it just to annoy me and my dad….and it worked. Mission accomplished, Pennsylvania roadworkers.

We saw a lot of this type of view yesterday. Lots of cars and trucks. Sitting still. Like a parking lot. Boring!

I decided that taking self-portraits would be a good idea at this point. Boredom can make you do funny things.

Head shot.

Feetsies.

Knees + feet.

As far as food goes, I’ve been subsisting primarily on the following items:

  • Souped-up Starbucks oatmeal (who honestly thinks that the toppings they give you can last you more than a couple hours? Please…my appetite needs MORE than that!): Oatmeal + banana + chia seeds + Barney Butter blob

  • Coffee: need I say more? It soothes my savage soul before spending a bazillion hours locked up in a car makes it savage again.

  • Subway’s Veggie Delite on Wheat bread + apples: I’ve had it for lunch the past two days and will try to convince my dad to eat it again tomorrow, if he’s up for it. It’s the only fast food place I can tolerate. I always get “the works” on my subs including the jalapenos and banana peppers. I like it spicy! I tried some guac on sub today, and it was especially delicious. Highly recommended for veggie delite fans!

  • Homemade trail mix + stash of Bora Bora granola bars: I’ve been snacking on these items in between stops. I love my trail mix, and the Bora Bora bars are pretty tasty too! Not to mention made with all organic ingredients….my fav flavor thus far is the Tiki Blueberry Flax. It has the right amount of crunch and sweetness to satisfy my snacking needs.

Exercise

In the exercise department, I took a 45 minute walk before the infinite car ride to Dayton, which was a pleasant way to start the day and say goodbye to the West Hartford Reservoir one last time. While I walked, my dad took a run. It worked out pretty well.

This morning, I somehow dragged my butt out of a very comfortable hotel bed and ran a painful 6 miles in 59:40 among the concrete-clad suburbs of Dayton. Even though I kept up a good pace, my legs just felt so heavy and tired. Maybe spending 13 hours cramped up in a vehicle isn’t a good idea? It didn’t help matters that I ran without music….I had never realized before how much music motivates me during my runs and helps the time go by faster. Each mile seemed ENDLESS, but I got it done. I have a rest day tomorrow for the final leg of the trip, so my next run will be in Colorado, where I know it will be beautiful and awesome! Hooray!

After the run, my dad and I made the considerably less lengthy drive from Dayton to Kansas City (only 9 hours versus 13 hrs from Hartford to Dayton).

We saw fields. Lots and lots and lots of fields.

We also passed through St. Louis, Missouri and saw the famous arch!

Gateway to the West, indeed.

Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball also popped up along the drive.

We made great time to Kansas City, so my dad and I were able to take a nice stroll before dinner in this beautiful area. It felt great to give the old legs some breathing room.

The old man….

This was his “studly model” pose.

We then ventured to a restaurant called Mongolian BBQ. It’s a place where you can build your own stir-fries using whatever meats, veggies, and sauces you like, and then the chefs will make your stir-fry for you right in front of you. It’s a cool concept, and I liked how it was executed!

I loaded up my bowl with all sorts of veggies+teriyaki sauce + a seafood medley which included salmon, crab, scallops, and shrimp.

It was awesome. Just what my body was craving….

I also had a little bit of brown rice to alongside of it. I liked that the restaurant even gave the option of having brown rice. Some places don’t even bother with it.

Blue Moon + stir-fry= a great way to end a long day of driving.

Tomorrow, we’re heading across Kansas (oh joy of joys) and FINALLY into Colorado! I can’t wait!!!!!!!!

My mountains are beckoning….