Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I don't often make sweets. I mean real sweets, as in something you eat more than one, or two of and feel a slight sense of guilt, not to mention a little ill in your tummy. But, tonight I decided to look past the healthy nut cookies and the quinoa cakes and attempt to recreate my favourite tasty treat: peanut butter cups. Because there are no bottles of Skippy peanut butter or milk chocolate in our house, it was dark dark chocolate all the way, with an almond butter filling. I didn't exactly need a recipe as I don't think it's possible to really go wrong with those two ingredients, but the best part is that they even look like the real thing. Actually, maybe the best part is that they are so insanely rich and sweet that half of one is enough of a treat (ok, maybe a full one).

The ingredients:

These are all estimates as I was kind of winging it:

-2 bars dark chocolate
-1/2 cup almond butter
-4-5 tbsp coconut flour
-1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

In a double boiler (one small pot over a larger pot with hot water), I melted about 2/3rds of one chocolate bar. I lined a muffin pan with twelve paper cups and poured the melted chocolate into each, turning each cup so that the chocolate spreads across the bottom. I popped the tray in the freezer while I made the filling. In a small bowl, mix the almond butter with the flour, vanilla and a pinch of sea salt, until it has a slightly doughy consistency. Create tiny "paddies" and place one on top of each cooled chocolate in the muffin papers. Press each patty a little bit flatter. Melt the rest of the chocolate and pour over the almond butter filling. Again, turn each paper cup so that the chocolate covers the filling. Sprinkle with some sea salt if desired and pop back in the freezer. They will be ready in just a few minutes!

On a much healthier note, our rooftop veggie garden is coming along nicely. Well, maybe that is a slight stretch of the truth as it is somewhat of a meadow right now, but it's a work in progress. Man, those weeds can grow FAST! It was almost unrecognizable, although I had a feeling it was ours as it was the only non-manicured perfectly plotted garden up there. Ooops, that is a little embarrassing!

Adam is very proud of our "meadow." We've got some fertile soil! Note the weeded gardens all around us. Also note the coffee cup in his hand. Yep, we enjoyed dry cappuccinos while gardening on our rooftop: YUPPIE alert!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My rock star bike... and a bit of everything else

Shimano and Trek have made me one lucky girl. Today I picked up my new lovely green riding machine. Complete with Shimano Dura-Ace grupo, Pro components, and my favourite Dura-Ace tubeless wheelset, the women's specific Madone 6.9 is one very sweet bike. Thanks so much to Troy and Bill at Pro City Cycles for building her up.... and for being just as excited as I am! I could probably write a novel about how pretty and fast it looks, and about how the green matches my Shimano tri shoes and will look flash with my red Canada suit, but I thinks it's best write the real report after I actually ride it. To be continued... for now, please enjoy the eye candy!

As for the training side of things, I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say that things have been great. It's been a trying month (or two), physically and emotionally. They are good days and not-so-good days (there were probably more not-so-good days than I would have liked), but these sorts of setbacks really do force you to look at the big picture, rather than what you can't do at that moment or that week, and to keep things in perspective. All I can say is that this adversity will definitely make the future successes that much sweeter :)

Apart from rehabbing and doing the little bits of training my body has been able to handle (now including 2-arm swimming!), my extra energy has been put in to cooking. I know I say I like to cook a lot, but I think I have taken things to a whole new level! I really have put all of my anger and frustration into the cooking. Don't get me wrong, I do find it enjoyable and relaxing, but right now it's a way for me to change my focus for an hour or two everyday. I don't think Adam is complaining either. He often laughs when he comes in the door from class to a plate full of roasted fennel bulbs stuffed with chicken, cranberries and almonds (thanks, Noa!), alongside a mixed green salad with roasted butternut squash, avocado, goat feta, and sliced peppers. For some reason, I have been going crazy over vegetables (yes, this is not a bad thing, probably better than going crazy over cakes or cream pies, but Adam might beg to differ..). So, we have had basically every vegetable I can get my hands on. Because it's simple yet adds dimension to the veggies, I have been doing a lot of oven roasting (yams, squash, onions, fennel, broccoli, kale, asparagus,..) anything and everything, sometimes tossed with coconut oil, sometimes olive oil, but always with a variety of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary,..). This mixture is then added to a salad with a mixture of raw veggies (grated carrot, avocado, peppers), toasted seeds and nuts, some sort of protein (chicken kabobs, baked arctic char, smoked tofu, grilled & diced tempeh burgers, hard-boiled eggs...) and usually tossed with either of my favourite dressings (olive oil + balsamic vinegar + maple syrup or olive oil + lemon juice + lemon rind + honey). Then there's are the soups (coconut curry, lemongrass, miso, bortsch...) and proteins (slow cooked bison, kangaroo burgers (I apologize to my Aussie friends!), smoked salmon...). Anyway, it has really been a fun adventure and definitely rekindled my passion and love for cooking.

Here's tonight's salad creation, unfortunately not one of the most gourmet, but is still tasty. Oh, I just realized I forgot to add the cheese!!

If anyone has any yummy recipes to share, please pass them along! I'm thinking I might just have to officially turn this into a recipe AND triathlon blog...

Last but definitely not least, I must say how incredibly proud I am of my husband. He placed 3rd at his first ultramarathon this past Sunday, the Chukanut 50km. What I love about Adam's training is he just gets the job done. He's busy with school so often runs in the dark in the mornings or evenings and doesn't have the luxury of waiting around for the perfect weather conditions (if it's pouring during his study break, he is still heading out), and rarely complains. I know I am a proud wife, but he honestly rocked this race. He went for the win but still fought hard to the end. I do have to say though that I am a little annoyed that he is not even a snitch sore... and I am walking funny from doing a few sets of squats yesterday!!

Here's my favourite pic from the race:

Sunday, March 7, 2010


After seven weeks of nasty separation, my bones have decided to play nice and unite. I was a little concerned they would stay mad at each other for ever, leaving me with a drooping shoulder and non-functional wrist. Thankfully the latest x-ray showed otherwise, displaying a beautiful hazy swirl of callus across my collarbone and a teensy tiny "flake" on the side of my wrist. Even the x-ray technician was speechless this time, silence that was music to my ears!

I am now in the midst of improving my range of motion. I thought this would be exciting and enjoyable but it is painful, slow-going and frustrating. I went to a hand physio last week (I did not know such a practitioner existed) and was given a few basic exercises for my wrist to get things moving again. I was very cautious for the first couple of days, being gentle with the movements and really making no progress. So, yesterday I decided to go cold turkey and ditch the splint. I acted though I had a hand made of glass for the first half of the day, afraid to touch anything and carrying it around like a limp rag, but as the day wore on, I got braver. Before I knew it I was chopping veggies, opening doors and shaking hands no problem. I decided today to try a swim without the splint. Lately I've been in a bit of a swim rut, being able to do only a one-arm-with-splint stroke for the past 5 weeks. It was fun at the start as I could get back to the pool on a regular basis, but I am almost at the end of my rope with these 2km special stroke sessions. So today I did not even bring my splint out on the deck and "swam" 2.1km. The highlight was not the weightless feeling of the arm, but the lack of hair stuck in my hand. It turns out the splint is a fantastic human hair net, picking up every possible strand of hair and hairball in the pool. It is never fun realizing later in the day that someone else's hair is stuck in the velco. Yes, it is disgusting, I know. So long, splint!!

On a totally unrelated note, here what I cooked up for dinner tonight, a recipe from March's issue of EAT Magazine. A little labour intensive and ingredient-heavy, but if you've got a well-stocked spice cabinet, it's definitely worth the effort.

Spicy Roasted Vegetable Stew

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red potato, chopped in bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped in bite-size chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped in bite-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/3 cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 or 2 jalapeno chile peppers, minced (with or without seeds, to taste -- I'm not a big fan of spice, so omitted this altogether)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 inches fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 6 asparagus spears, cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, toss carrots, potatoes, zucchini, and red peppers in olive oil. Place on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until veggies are slightly brown. Remove and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, dry roast the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves over medium heat for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add butter, chilies, bay leaf, ginger, and onions and stir fry until the onions are translucent. Add roasted vegetables and stir and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, tumeric, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes and broth. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender. Add coconut milk, cooked lentils and mustard seeds. Simmer for 5 minutes.

During the last few minutes of cooking, I added some chunks of raw red snapper and it cooked quickly and was a tasty compliment to the cinnamon, ginger, and coconut flavours.