Saturday, January 25, 2014

Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

When I go to the grocery store or farmer's market, I always try to buy at least one thing that's not on my normal rotation. That way, I end up eating a variety of produce, rather than sticking to the same fruits and veggies (and nutrients) week after week.

 This week, my pick was cauliflower! I knew I would roast it, since that's my favorite way to eat cauliflower, and the rest just sort of fell in place in my mind. So there you have it - one super easy, super flavorful (vegan and gluten free!) side dish that requires little more than a roasting pan and the acceptance of turmeric-stained fingers.

Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • chopped dry roasted peanuts, fresh limes, and cilantro for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss the cauliflower florets, chickpeas, spices, and olive oil together in a large bowl.
  3. Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and browned, and the chickpeas have firmed up a little.
  5. Garnish with chopped peanuts, a squeeze of lime, and cilantro.

Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Are you still stuck in this polar vortex?!

It's freezing (or below) here in Providence, and there's still snow all over the ground. While hiding out in my cozy house on my cozy couch, I was inspired to make some really cozy food. Enter: the slow cooker.

We have a nice little slow cooker stowed away in our cabinet, yet no one in my house (including myself) use it very often. But let me tell you, it's amazing! I always forget about the wonders of a slow cooker. In this case, dump everything in, let it go overnight, and wake up to the incredible aroma of vanilla and  warm cinnamon. It doesn't get much better than that.

This awesome steel-cut oatmeal was approved by all my housemates and even the guys who live next door. Everyone loved it drizzled with honey - and I bet they didn't even know it had flaxseeds in it. See?! Healthy food that actually tastes good!

Speaking of healthy food, steel cut oats are the best. They're chewier and heartier than regular oats, plus they don't get gummy and weird if you cool and reheat them. You know those packets of flavored instant oatmeal that are touted as health food? Well, not so much. Here's a little oat story.

Oats start out as whole grains. The hulls are removed, leaving you with the groat. I've seen whole oat groats in the bulk section at Whole Foods, looking just like this:
Organic Whole Oat Groats

The next step down from the whole oat is steel cut oats - groats that are basically just chopped up so that they cook faster.
Organic Steel Cut Oats

Then, we get into the more processed stuff. Rolled oats are whole groats that are steamed, rolled out, steamed again, and toasted to become what we usually think of as oats. That processing makes rolled oats easier (faster) to digest, leaving us hungry sooner.
Rolled Oats

Lastly, we come to instant oats. You probably guessed it by now, but these are the most processed. They're whole groats that are steamed, rolled, chopped, cooked, and then dehydrated...not so much a "whole grain" anymore, huh?

Oats Instant
Anyways, this is just my very lengthy way of saying that you're probably better off buying steel cut oats (they're cheap as heck in the bulk section), tossing them in the slow cooker one night, and reheating them for the rest of the week, than you are buying highly-processed, not-as-filling "oats" supplemented with a handful of sugar and artificial flavors. Sorry dad, I know I'm bursting your bubble here (love you!). 

If that all made sense and you're still here for an awesome, comforting breakfast recipe, here you go!

Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Oatmeal:

Makes 8 serving
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (dairy or nondairy; I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla exract
  • 3 small apples, finely chopped
  • Garnish (optional): honey, chopped apples, walnuts
  1. Put all ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Set on low and let cook overnight or for about 8 hours.
  3. Stir (the spices and apples will probably end up on top) and serve!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dopey Challenge Recap, Part 2

Are you ready for part 2?!

This time, it's all about the big guys - the half marathon and the full marathon from the Dopey Challenge!

Saturday (the day of the half marathon) started bright dark and early at 2:45 this point I was sure they meant to call it the "Sleepy Challenge." After meeting up with the Maryland and Georgia Team in Training participants, we hopped on the bus to the start.We hung out at the Team in Training tent for a little while, then headed over to the starting corrals, which are about a mile away from where the buses drop you off.

My favorite part of the race starts at Disney is the fireworks! Fireworks go off at the start of every corral, not just at the beginning of the race, which is so awesome. Eventually my corral made it to the front, and off we went!

My goal for both the half and full marathons was to take it easy, walk when I felt like it, and be able to walk around the parks afterwards. Oh, and to take lots of pictures with characters!

We basically ran from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back, with lots of character stops along the way. It was hot and humid, but with so many fun distractions on the course (and plenty of water), I didn't even notice.

Seriously, just like that - the half marathon was over! I was proud of myself for holding back and walking a lot, which is harder than it sounds. You just want to get out there and give it your all, but that's really not a great idea when another 26.2 miles stand between you and the finish line.

After the half marathon, we went to the Polynesian resort (again...) and were joined by my uncle who recently moved to Tampa. Then off to Hollywood Studios we went!

Now back to those 26.2 miles...

Marathon morning started out the same as the half, so I'll just skip to the fun stuff.

I don't think I'll ever love a race as much as I loved the Walt Disney World Marathon.

It was so incredible that I don't think I can pay it justice with words and pictures, but here's my best try:

Once again, we started at Epcot and ran straight to the Magic Kingdom. This part was before sunrise, which I always love. There's something about running in the dark with 30,000 other people that's just so exhilarating!

I saw my family cheering me on in the Magic Kingdom again (one of my favorite parts of the race!) and ran through Cinderella's Castle. I knew I wanted to jump in front of the castle again, but my legs were tired and still loosening up (even after 6 miles) so this one took a lot of mental preparation.

The Magic Kingdom is really pretty magical.

After the Magic Kingdom, we ran around Disney's racetrack, where spectators were cheering by their personal vintage car collections. I'm not into cars, but it was pretty cool to see runners stopping to ask the spectators about car models and engines and whatever else you talk about regarding cars.

Then, my favorite part: Animal Kingdom!

I don't know if it's just because I've never actually been in the Animal Kingdom before (shame on me!) or because we were nearing the halfway mark or even because I had met one of these stilt-walkers at Starbucks a few days earlier, but this stretch was pure awesomeness.

I even got to ride Expedition Everest during the marathon. While running through Animal Kingdom, I noticed the ride's sign and a few runners running into the entrance, so I just followed them! The staff directed us right onto the ride (sorry, regular park-goers!), so we basically ran onto the ride, cheered and chanted "GO DOPEYS!!!" the entire time, then ran off the ride, through the gift shop, and right back onto the course at mile 13. Where else?!?

 We then made our way to ESPN's Wide World of Sports, where there were glorious washcloths soaked in ice water, bananas, and tons of spectators. All of mile 16 was headed into the sports complex, while other runners were headed back out on mile 20. While I was running both of those stretches, I passed time by searching out the "purple people" running the opposite way and cheering "GO TEAM!" I got so many cheers back, it just made me really appreciate everything Team in Training does. Not only are we all raising thousands of dollars, but we're cheering each other on, helping each other out, and growing into a family out on the course.

Once we made it out onto the main roads again, we were well on our way to the finish - less than 6 miles to go! We ran into Hollywood Studios via the creative costuming department, a behind-the-scenes look at the character costume creations. Naturally, I walked through that part to soak it all in. 

As we neared the finish, knocking miles 22, 23, and 24 off, we made it to Epcot! Hooray!

Dopey was there to greet all his challenge runners, and I had a great time chatting with other Dopeys and a few other Team runners in line. Most of us had stopped to ride Expedition Everest and a few had plans to take tequila shots and grab frozen margaritas in "Mexico" at mile 25.5! Runners really are the craziest people.

I ran-walked my way to the finish, grabbed my marathon finisher's medal and snagged two more  (the Dopey and the Goofy) while I was at it!

A productive morning, indeed.

 Can you tell how excited I was at the finish? :)

If you're still hangin' in there with me, thank you for reading! I love writing race recaps because they remind me how much I love running, and I hope you have fun reading them!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dopey Challenge Recap, Part 1

One week ago, I completed my craziest (or should I say dopeyest) endurance challenge yet. I ran 48.6 miles over 4 days: a 5k (3.1 miles) on Thursday, a 10k (6.2 miles) on Friday, a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday, and a full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday. I had the time of my life and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Let's start on Wednesday...

I flew in from Providence to Orlando in the morning and took the Magical Express shuttle to my hotel, Coronado Springs. After checking in I barely wasted a breath before hopping on a bus to the expo to pick up t-shirts and bib numbers for myself and the rest of my family. I spent a good few hours touring the expo at ESPN's Wide World of Sports, checking out new running clothes and gear and sampling healthy snacks. After heading back to the room, I caught up with my parents who flew down in the evening and we all headed to sleep to get ready for the 5k!

Early on Thursday morning, I headed to meet up with the 60 other Team in Training (TNT) participants doing the Dopey Challenge. They were all awesome - so spirited and excited even at 4:00 am! We made it to the TNT tent near the start, where I met up with my parents, and hung out until it was time to head to our corrals. The corrals separate runners and walkers by expected finish time so that walkers aren't jumbled in with elite runners, and so on.

 In corral D, my parents and I met an awesome new friend, Cesar! He's running the LA marathon in a few months with TNT and was so inpsired by my dad that he decided to break off from the friends he came with and walked the race with us. Incredible!

We all ran across the finish line together, smiling and incredible proud of my dad for finishing his first 5k just one year after his bone marrow transplant! He's pretty amazing.

We relaxed, napped, tweaked costumes, and tried to stay out of the rain for the remainder of Wednesday until Andrew arrived for the 10k the next day!

On Friday, Andrew and I woke up before 3 am and headed to meet up with the TNT dopey-ers again, following the same routine as the day before. We saw Cesar in our corral again and chatted until we took off.

We make pretty awesome Rapunzel and Flynn Rider runners.

Andrew is the best running partner ever. We danced and cheered through the stretches with music blasting, flew through the road leading up to Epcot, and walked through the backstage areas so Andrew could soak in every detail. Everyone loved our costumes; we got so many compliments on the course (thanks mom for putting them together)!

I'm obsessed with all of these race pictures. So much bro & sis love!!!

After the 10k, we headed to the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian resort for an incredible Hawaiian themed brunch. You really can't beat fruit salad served in half a pineapple with coconut banana bread. 

After more resting and relaxing for the day, we headed to the TNT Inspiration Dinner in the evening. It was, of course, an incredible inspiring night. We celebrated the successes of survivors, remembered those who lost their battles, and learned about the advances being made in blood cancer research. Have you seen the viral video about a young girl, Emma, whose leukemia was cured after being injected with a form of the HIV virus? She was there with her parents, who spoke about their journey and the miraculous recovery she's had. It was tear-jerking, without a doubt, and so encouraging for families and patients facing blood cancers. 

I'll be back soon with a recap of the half and full marathon! If this sounds like an awesome time to you, head over to and join a chapter in your area to meet some fun cancer-busting runners!