Monday, January 30, 2012

Detox Salad

Detox is a word you hear a lot around early January. People have this desire to “clean out” their systems by fasting or doing something like the Master Cleanse. Medically, there is no advantage to those programs that you can’t also get from eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. Hence, this salad.

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Fact: I am unable to use the food processor without making a complete mess of our kitchen.

It’s a good thing Joe was in another country because I could hear him grumbling half a world away about the little broccoli and cauliflower particles that I got everywhere. Don’t worry, sweetie; I cleaned it up.

This salad looks and tastes a lot like a grain salad but without any wheat products or oil. I would never make a lunch out of broccoli and cauliflower, but when it’s chopped up so finely and tossed with parsley and dried fruit and some sunflower seeds for crunch, I didn’t mind. I found it surprisingly filling alongside some Greek yogurt for protein. With a green monster smoothie for breakfast and this salad for lunch, I’ve been downing my fair share of veggies!

Detox Salad
source: Oh She Glows
Yields 4-5 large lunch-size portions


  • 2 heads broccoli (1 bunch), stems removed
  • 1 head cauliflower, stems removed
  • 2.5 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup currants (I substituted dried cherries since currants were not available)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 4-6 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste (I used the juice of 2 lemons.)
  • kosher salt, pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 tsp salt and lots of pepper)


1. In a food processor (or chop by hand) process the broccoli (no stems) until fine. Add into large bowl.

2. Now process the cauliflower (no stems) until fine and add into bowl. Do the same with the carrots.

3. Stir in the sunflower seeds, currants, raisins, and parsley. Add lemon juice and seasonings to taste.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Not to Train for a Marathon

I had one of the worst runs of my life on Sunday afternoon, an 11.2 mile death march up and down the hills of Percy Warner Park while my poor mother tried to keep me putting one foot in front of another. Long run Saturday became long run Sunday because I spent Friday afternoon through Saturday here:

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The 180th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee took place up at Sewanee, and even though I’m not canonically resident and therefore had no seat or vote, it was a good experience. The weather and atmosphere was completely different from being up there during the summer. The infamous Sewanee fog was out in full force. We could hardly see our hands in front of our faces and finding the cabin I stayed in was an exercise in driving extremely slowly. Not to get into the nitty gritty of church politics, but convention was amicable and uneventful, apparently different from years past. The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island was the keynote speaker and gave the sermon at Saturday morning’s Eucharist. She was incredible and very much embodied her episcopal role. It was my first Eucharist at All Saints’ Chapel (pictured above), and it lived up to expectations. The music and aesthetics and liturgy were all spot on.

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The various parishes, missions, and ministries of the diocese all processed with their banners, which was a touching experience for me. Emily, our Divinity School field ed student and my friend, was our banner bearer. Not at all biased, but our banner was by far the prettiest. Anyway, I spent Friday and Saturday mostly drinking wine and coffee and not getting very much sleep.

So when Sunday rolled around, I executed my duties at church, serving at two services and leading Sunday school for the youth, not stressful but exhausting. Intellectually, I thought, “I should be mindful about hydrating since I’m running this afternoon.” But the other voices said, “Have some more coffee.” I slammed down an English muffin with almond butter and banana with a little water and got ready to meet my mom at Percy Warner Park.

I had been dreading this run for a while. Percy Warner’s hills are long and steep and brutal, and while I’m familiar with the 5.8 mile loop, I had never tackled the 11.2. The first mile is all uphill, and I knew immediately I was in trouble. My heart rate was sky high, and my legs felt like bricks. My hamstrings were still sore from my first Bikram class on Thursday, and I could feel them with every step. I couldn’t catch my breath, and it felt like we were going much faster than we were. Each mile split was morale-depleting.

The elevation graph of doom

“What was I thinking. I’m never going to be able to run a marathon,” the little voices in my head told me. “You feel like death after 5 hilly miles. How do you think you’ll feel after 20?” I struggled to resist lying down on the road and crying. Then I listed all of the reasons I was having a crappy run: legs were tired from both BodyPump and Bikram this week, dehydration, travel and emotional stress, church that morning, unseasonably warm and humid January weather, a hard and hilly course, etc. Every time my eyes started to well up, I tried to think, “There is no crying in running (a la A League of Their Own). Do you think Desi Davila or Meb Keflezighi cries when they have a bad run?” We got to the clubhouse, and I drank some water and took some Gu Chomps.

I started to feel a little stronger but still took quite a few walk breaks just so my heart wouldn’t explode out of my chest. We made it up 9 mile hill, and I felt better just knowing the end was in sight, particularly since the last mile is all downhill. Still, my hamstrings were super tight, and I started to feel a hot spot on the bottom of my big toe. I just couldn’t get comfortable, and everything I had on (heart rate monitor, RoadID, fuel belt) felt like it was strangling me. We hit the stone gates as my Garmin clocked 11.2 miles, and I wanted to cry. I chugged the water I had remaining in my fuel belt and walked around trying to shake out my legs. Then I went home, drank some Gatorade, felt sorry for myself, and put on my compression gear.

It sucked, and I still finished. Lessons learned: no more long runs after church, and drink your freaking water. Still, any pep talks about how I am not a failure and how I will be able to run a marathon are certainly welcome. Week 3 of marathon training complete.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Since You’ve Been Gone

Joe left for Kenya on Saturday, and after a brief two day stop in London where he tortured me by getting tickets to Wicked, arrived in Kijabe Wednesday morning. I’m loving the pictures he’s able to send me, and he’s also writing a joint blog! The doctor he is with gave them tips about what to do when they run into baboons. You know, like you do. Oh yeah, the Rift Valley, NBD.


Meanwhile, we’re having freakishly warm tornado weather in Tennessee followed by 30-degree temperature drops. I’ve been surprisingly productive though – washed all of our sheets and towels, have made myself meals and cleaned up, and taken care of the cats. I’ve run, done BodyPump, and my very first Bikram class. You know, keeping busy.

Remember when I made the Italian Slow-Cooker Eggplant Casserole and I mentioned that I wanted this cookbook? Well, my very lovely Secret Santa from my women’s running forum got it for me, along with some other treats.

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It has already been put to great use. I’ve made Hot and Sour Soup and Tempeh in Peanut Sauce with Veggies.

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Sorry that we’ll have to make do with iPhone pictures for the next little while. Joe took the nice camera to Kenya with him. I don’t want to share the recipes here because I really, really think you should buy this cookbook, but trust me when I say that I have been extraordinarily pleased with everything I’ve made so far, even if I was a little unsure at first (Um, seriously? Making peanut sauce in the slow-cooker? How did that even work?). Very few of the recipes use any kind of “weird” ingredients, and you would hardly even know they were vegan.

As always, all opinions are my own. This post was not sponsored in any way, shape, or form. I just want to let you all know about products I think are good.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Long Trip Alone

Tomorrow morning, I will be dropping Joe off at the airport for his long trip to Kenya. The lucky duck opted to spend two nights in London on his way over there, so that will break up the trip a little bit. He laughed when I suggested he bring me back something Burberry. In addition to clothes and entertainment and other personal effects, Joe and his fellow anesthesia resident are also taking over a LOT of medical equipment and accessories for Kijabe Hospital. This box is just a little bit of the anesthesia masks, stethoscopes, and needles that they’re packing up to take over.

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A large part of my anxiety about him leaving is that we haven’t had a lot of time together lately. We both worked intermittently during the holidays, and our last full weekend was constricted by his call schedule, my church commitments, and helping my parents move. It seems as if we’ve been working on completely opposite schedules. I’m on when he’s off, and he’s on when I’m off. Before you call the WAHmbulance, here are a few things I’m looking forward to about being single-in-function for the next month.

  • Cheese and crackers for dinner. Not the healthiest, true, but what it means to me is getting to scrounge and snack for dinner rather than focusing on meal planning and making a big dinner every night. Leftover soup, cereal, mac & cheese out of the box, salads, and protein shakes also fall into this category. Preferably with red wine while watching The Tudors.
  • The whole bed to myself. I love Joe, but he is a big guy. And when our queen-sized bed is taken up by him, the body pillow, and me, and THEN a cat decides to squeeze in, I don’t always sleep very well. Also, our wake-up times rarely coincide. Either he gets up WAY before I do, or he sleeps in, and I end up getting dressed for my morning run in the dark.
  • Girlfriend time. Since our schedules are so crazy, most of our free time gets spent with each other, often to the neglect of our other friendships. Girlfriend time is usually relegated to Joe’s on-call nights or other times of the day. I’m looking forward to Skype dates with Abby, movies and wine with CPE friends, and just feeling free to do things with girlfriends without it cutting into my quality time with Joe.
  • Making the stuff that I want to eat. Most of the time, I do a pretty good job balancing things that I like and what is appealing to Joe, but he has put it in no uncertain terms that the following are not appreciated: tempeh, soba noodles, eggplant, cauliflower, olives, tuna, mushrooms (in most cases), or canned salmon. So I’m already making lists of Kira-friendly foods that I can make explicitly not for sharing, like this Detox Salad.

Of course, at the end of the day, I’m really going to miss that goofy guy, and I’m sad and disappointed that I can’t join him this time. Bon voyage and safe travels, Joe! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spinach-Cheddar Casserole

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a terrific start. After working both big holidays and ringing in the new year asleep in my bed, I’m in a bit of a funk. A large part is due to something that I haven’t even mentioned on the blog yet.


This guy, otherwise known as Joe, is leaving next Saturday to go to Kenya for a month because he’s doing an anesthesia rotation there. I’ll miss celebrating his 30th birthday. I’ll miss just hanging out, doing the things we like to do. Plus I’ll be running our household all by my lonesome. No avoiding cleaning up the cat barf now. Or having him clean up the mess I made cooking dinner. I know he’s going to have a great experience, but right now, I’m just majorly bummed out.

Also, Nashville Originals Restaurant Week is January 16-22nd, and I’m taking requests for dates (the non-romantic kind of course).

I really will miss his help in the kitchen. Shortly before Christmas, I whipped up chili and beer bread for us to eat and then remembered that I needed to make something savory and breakfast-like to take to my CPE group the next day. There were quite a few dishes involved that night, and he helped me with all of them, even though he never got to eat this spinach-cheddar casserole.

I found it by browsing the Epicurious app on my iPhone. Fortunately for me, it had decent ratings, and I only needed to pick up a few things at the store to make it. 1/3 of our group forgot to bring something, so it was a boon to have something hearty to eat. The original recipe recommends this as a side dish, and I guess you could go that way as well, but I served it more like a crustless quiche. Brunch, breakfast, lunch, or dinner – this would be good for any meal.

(iPhone picture of leftovers)

 Spinach-Cheddar Casserole
source: Bon Appetit March 1995


  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
  • 1 16-ounce container cottage cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (I used low-fat)
  • 1 cup packed grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dillweed
  • Preparation

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Beat eggs, salt and pepper to blend in large bowl. Mix in spinach. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Transfer mixture to prepared dish.

    Bake casserole until center is firm and top is golden, about 45 minutes.