Thankful

Read last year’s post.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I always have a lot to be thankful for but for some reason I feel extra thankful this year.

I am so thankful for the people in my life. I am thankful that they are safe and healthy.

I am thankful for my parents. They do so much to make my life comfortable. I am also thankful for my little brother. This is a kid who doesn’t really run but hammered out the last 7 miles of a marathon with me, staying with me as long as I wanted him to. He’s in the red shorts in the above photo.

I am thankful for my friends. My law school friends keep me grounded when things get crazy. My Simmons friends are like my roots. I don’t get to see my oldest friends very frequently but when I do they do amazing things. Sometimes they even yell at you at mile 25 not to stop. I am so thankful for them. I have LA friends who provide a distraction from law school when I need it.

I’m thankful to be studying in the field that I’m studying. I just found out that I get to take another class with another famous critical race theorist. I have been endowed with a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have to pinch myself sometimes, I feel so fortunate.

I am thankful for my body. It carried me 26.2 miles in one sitting this year. Seriously, a moment I will cherish forever.

I am thankful for all the things that make my life easier on a daily basis: having plenty of food, health insurance, basic transportation, financial comfort, safety, and water.

I am thankful for being able to share special moments with my friends.

I am thankful for the ocean air and waterfront. For everything I love about LA. For all the food in San Francisco include and especially Tartine, Bi Rite, and everything in the Ferry Building.

I have a pretty sweet life. I’m thankful that I have several things to smile about on a daily basis. Whether it be finishing a marathon, getting a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, reading the New York Times, or laughing with a good friend who gets it.

What are you thankful for this year?

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Seasonal Eats

Another week and I’ve been MIA. I know, I know. It was the last full week of class this week and finals are impending as I mentioned earlier this week.

4 exams, 1 35-page paper before December 16th. What was I thinking? I am way too easily swept up in the excitement of classes that sound interesting and/or are with great professors. The good news is that only 2 of my exams utilize “black letter law” which is good for this theory loving girl.

But for the record, I feel a bit like this right now:

Alert, anxious and rifling through paper.

So, as I mentioned it was a busy week but I did manage to cook a delicious dinner this week. Unfortunately, I did not come up with the recipe myself. Can’t win them all.

I made Pumpkin Mac and Cheese and it was everything I wanted and more. I love those dinners that you can make in a casserole dish and then eat out of for meals. Yes, this means I ate pumpkin mac and cheese three times this week. Don’t judge. I foresee this happening more than once in the next few weeks.

This was also my first time using pumpkin, rather than just laying on them. I KNOW, I KNOW. All healthy living bloggers, whatever that is, are OMGSOOBSESSED with pumpkin. I have decided that I like pumpkin in certain contexts. For example, I for sure like pumpkin topped with whipped cream or with carbs and cheese. I still have 3/4 of a can chilling in my fridge so I need to figure out what to do with that. If you have any suggestions for a 3/4 can of pumpkin let me know by dropping a comment!

In other news, Thanksgiving is next week and Kaitlin is hosting! I am so excited to have thanksgiving with Kaitlin. She’s a food blogger so I know it’s going to be good eating plus lots of wine and I’m clearly going to need a break at that point. I’ve decided to make Eat, Live, Run’s caramelized Brussels sprouts because, as we know, I love Brussels sprouts. I also plan to make my eggplant dip. Any by “my” I mean “my mother’s” and by “my mother’s” I really mean “Barefoot’s”. I’ve never blogged the recipe so you can look forward to that next week!

Finally, I have Tavern news!

My favorite restaurant has opened another outpost in Beverly Hills. I haven’t been yet since I live walking distance from the original but if you’re in that hood make sure to check it out!

Go get yourself a treat. You earned it.

Also, I found Suzanna Goin’s (the chef/owner of Tavern) Brussels sprouts recipe which is on the Tavern Thanksgiving menu: Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta, Balsamic, and Breadcrumbs. Oh yes. I debated making it for Thursday but there are going to be many veggies at Kaitlin’s thanksgiving and I want to be accommodating. I debated bastardizing the recipe by switching out the veal stock and pancetta but doing that just didn’t sit right with me.

But! I encourage you to make it and let’s face it. It has pancetta and Brussels sprouts so I will be making it eventually!

And finally, Congrats to everyone who passed the bar today! I cannot believe that a year from now I’ll be finding out my bar results.

So, since I have no free time to cook my own things, link me a great, easy, quick recipe for me to try.

Linguini with Caramelized Fennel

There are two things that I love: fennel and anything caramelized.

Don’t act surprised. Fennel has a licoricey flavor. Caramelizing involves cooking something in butter for an extended period of time. What NOT to love?

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve featured a pasta dish on the blog. I love me some pasta but I ate a great deal of quinoa while marathon training and I still am eating a great deal of it. However, the other day I came home from school and was just craving a big bowl of pasta. I blame the cooler weather and the impending rain. It makes me want to carb load. But then again, everything makes me want to carb load.

It’s been a while since I’ve cooked something truly blog worthy. I blame law school. I’m taking some really interesting classes but I have 4 exams and a 35 page paper all staring me down in December. What was I thinking!? Finals prep normally lasts for about a month and my fear of how much work I have to do have motivated me to start earlier than usual.

Finals are starting to get to me. Like today. I did laundry. I washed, dried and folded it before I realized that I neglected to add detergent. Seriously people. Sometimes I wonder about myself.

In any case! My meals have been roasted veggies and quinoa -> boring. Hopefully I can make some bloggable meals in the next few weeks. I promise to try!

Linguini with Caramelized Fennel

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 servings of brown linguini (portion determined per package directions)

2 tbs unsalted butter

1 blub of fennel, sliced length wise

1 can diced, unsalted tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup red wine

1 head of broccoli

Goat Cheese

Oregano

Salt

Pepper

Instructions:

Cook pasta in salted pasta water. When the pasta is halfway done cooking add the broccoli to the boiling water. Drain and set aside once al dente.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Add the sliced fennel. Stir gradually at a low heat until the fennel softens.

It might take a while. Add a pinch of salt and pepper while stirring.

Once the fennel has softened add the garlic until fragrant. It should only take minute.

Then add the can of diced tomatoes and red wine. Turn the heat up.

Let the sauce cook until it has reduced a little. Add more salt and pepper. Add the oregano. Stir frequently.

Add the pasta and the broccoli to the mix and combine well with the pasta. Serve in a bowl with a big dollop of goat cheese on top.

The fennel really serves as a substitute for onion and I really like it. The sauce isn’t anything too different than usual but I loved mixing it up with fennel. I really like a simple diced tomato and red wine sauce. I added the goat cheese on a whim at the last moment but it the perfect way to top the pasta. The noodles were warm and melted the goat cheese. Melted goat cheese on pasta? Yes! All day everyday!

How was your weekend? Considering finals, mine still managed to be pretty fun.

Drinksy Carter

When I first was accepted at UCLA Law I came out to LA to tour the campus. At the time I was very anxious about moving cross country (again) and leaving my adopted city, Boston, behind. I went to LA thinking there was NO WAY I was going to leave Boston to attend UCLA. Of course, we all know how that worked out. But at the time I was convinced I couldn’t do another cross country move to a city where I didn’t know anyone. Lucky for me, I wasn’t totally alone. I had my Mom’s cousin Joe to guide me.

My Mom literally has dozens of cousins, and that trip to see UCLA was my first time I actually meet Joe. He and my friend Catie greeted me in LA for dinner after my campus tour. Joe, my Mom, my friend Catie, and I rolled into an Italian restaurant in Brentwood and Joe immediately pointed out the “plastic surgery gallery” sitting in front of the window. That was the moment I knew Joe and I would be friends.

Joe filled a role that I didn’t have in Boston: that of caring adult willing to guide me through some major “20 something moving to LA” milestones. Joe brought me to Target (before we both started boycotting it) when I didn’t have a car to help me buy essentials (by essentials I clearly mean Christmas decorations and flip flops). Joe introduced me to some stellar east side restaurants like The Kitchen, Masa, Mohawk Bend, Taylor’s, Local, and Allston Yacht Club. Joe taught me how to drive defensively on the 101. Joe also came with me when I bought my car and I could not have completed the process without him. He also refused to let me drive the streets of LA without a GPS -> seriously, the best gift anyone has ever given me. He helped me move more than once. He let me tag along at a United Way event where I met Arne Duncan and cosigned my weirdo politico crush. For more than two years Joe listened to me complain, try to cope with struggles, and gossiped with me about my 20 something girl problems, always providing seasoned guidance without being a parent about it.

Joe announced a month ago that he was leaving LA to perform in a play in Houston. Of course, I was borderline devastated at the news. We decided to have one last LA dinner at Mohawk Bend. I parked at his place, took in the emptying apartment. We had a fantastic meal at Mohawk. I haven’t blogged about Mohawk yet, but it’s a great restaurant with a fab California craft beer list. Seriously, one for the ages. On the way back he said that there was something he wanted me to have…

Drinksy Carter.

Drinksy is a cocktail cart that Joe had in his apartment. Longtime readers might remember my obsession with getting a cocktail cart. I actually blogged about it nearly 2 years ago and have been on a prowl ever since with a tiny budget and minimal luck. I even threw in the towel and bought a cocktail tray for my new apartment. Joe graciously gave me Drinksy as a parting gift before he left LA and I promise I’m giving her a good home. Drinksy is adorned with martini glasses, vermouth, St. Germain, Bordeaux, a jigger, and my cocktail mixing supplies (which I outlined in this post).

Drinksy also has some new additions. I snagged this amazing vintage glass cocktail shaker at the Fairfax high school flea market (which happens every Sunday). Obviously, I decided it was perfect when I realized it was old and had a Parisian theme. I also have a 1950’s bar towel compliments of my mother. I think it fits well with the feel of Drinksy. Drinksy is also now home to a super old meat thermometer one of my friends found at an antique store in Utah and brought back for me because it’s two things I love: old and kitchen. There really isn’t another home for it so Drinksy is providing a resting place.

I also repurposed my old cocktail tray into a jewelry tray. I moved my California National Horse Trails award to my dresser and simply laid out some of my jewelry. I almost never remember to put on jewelry and I’m hoping that being able to see it in the morning will inspire me to wear it more. I have some great pieces that are completely underutilized.

I must say that I am very pleased to fulfill my dream of owning a cocktail cart but I’m sad it had to come at the expense of Joe leaving LA. Joe leaves this weekend and while I am sad to see him go I am thankful for all the support he gave me over the past 2 1/2 years (and for Drinksy). I know you’re going to be successful Joe. After all, you bloom where you’re planted.

Marathon Reflections: Food and Running

Now that I’m a few weeks out from my marathon glory I want to write a little bit about the whole marathon experience. I’ve had some time to reflect on my two great loves Food and Marathon Running. Here are some of my thoughts. I have a lot to say about it. Just to warn you, this post is almost 2,000 words.

BEFORE (training)

During my marathon training I made a serious attempt to keep my diet “clean-ish”. What does that mean? It means not eating fistfuls of cookie dough whenever I get the chance.

In reality this means that I tried to eat sweets in moderation and didn’t eat a ton of processed foods. I made a concerted effort not to overindulge in my meals. While marathon training made me hungrier, I didn’t eat huge meals like I would have three years ago. Instead I focused on eating protein and moderately sized meals. Like this one:

I have to admit, I was worried about marathon training and eating. I know myself and so I know how easy it is for me to say, “I ran X miles therefore I can eat Y and Z”. I definitely did indulge but I made sure not to go overboard. I still treated myself to my weekly bagel and cream cheese the morning after my long runs. I also broke a personal rule and grabbed the occasional bag of Ketel chips from school. Normally I avoid even buying them. In my head, if I buy one once I need to buy one everyday thereafter. This was a common theme in my larger days in college. I would have one bagel one day and then have one every day after with extra cream cheese for three months and wonder why my pants didn’t fit. I am proud that my self control has improved a little bit. I did treat myself during marathon training but it was always within moderation. Honestly, I learned that if my diet were poor my running would be uncomfortable. No one wants to run 16 miles and feel like voming the whole time because they ate too many indulgent treats. But I’m human, I still ate treats. Hence why we call this a “clean-ish” diet.

I did all of my long runs in the late afternoon because that is the time when my body is the best. Normally I do school work in the morning like a beast and by the afternoon running is a great way to clear out my brain. I always made sure I had a lunch with plenty of protein but not too much fiber (because if you run with too much fiber in your system… let’s just say it leads to a less than desirable result). I also drank plenty of water which means I have to front load my insane coffee habit and then drink as much water as possible. I also tried to carry a water bottle with me on a daily basis so I always had water in hand.

On runs 8 miles or longer I made sure to bring Gu. Gu is a gel that you can consume while running (or if your me, while on a walk break). When you run for an extended period of time your body burns energy and you need to intake calories. I always carried vanilla bean flavored gu. I consumed one Gu for every hour of running on long runs. I ran with a watch and normally around the 45 min mark I would rip into my first Gu. I would consume one for roughly every hour thereafter and I learned that it was a good idea to carry an emergency Gu just in case. I tend to get really hungry really easily on runs. In my opinion there is nothing worse than being on mile 15 of an 18 mile effort and wanting to gnaw your arm off because of hunger. I also ran with a water bottle which I made sure to refill frequently. I trained in the summer and early fall in LA so I had some warm runs. My typical running path had plenty of water fountains and I took liberal advantage of them.

Post long runs I made sure to consume something immediately after I returned home. I normally would stretch out, eat a larabar and get into an ice bath if the run was 13 miles or longer. I wasn’t normally very hungry after long runs. I normally finished around dinner time and made sure I ate something reasonably balanced (meaning protein, some type of carb and veggies). Normally I would hit Chipotle or the Whole Foods hot bar to get my fix and then retire to the couch with water or perhaps a beer if my stomach wasn’t bothering me. I would also ice my knees and foam roll my legs as a precaution.

In the most intense weeks of training I noticed I was becoming much hungrier. I tried to eat more tempeh and veggies. My meals ended up being the same but they tended to be a portion and a half. I can’t really speak to weight gain and marathon training. I don’t weigh myself. Instead I take measurements. I noticed that marathon training toned my body up. I also went to the doctor for my yearly check up during this time and I had gained about 4 lbs (yet had still lost a dress size). This got the best of me for a few minutes and then the nurse told me to get over it, I looked fab and was training for a marathon. Any you know what, she’s right. A little muscle gain is worth it in the end and completing the marathon made me love and accept my body in a way I never have before.

In terms of inches: I lost a 1/2 inch from my chest, a 1/2 inch from my waist, a 1/4 inch from my hips (from May to the end of September). My arms stayed the same. I’m going to go ahead and chalk any weight gain up to muscle because my overall measurements got smaller.

DURING (the marathon, post marathon treats!)

During my taper I was still voraciously hungry but I did a good job of not changing my eating habits. It was a bit of a struggle but I managed to stick to regular eating pretty easily. During my taper week I started to consume more carbs. Oh hell, I only consumed carbs. I had white rice for the first time in forever and had a bagel everyday which hasn’t happened since early 2009. It was awesome!

I continued the carb load in Chicago. The day before the marathon I ate Lou Mitchell’s pancakes with hash browns, a larabar, fancy cheese and crackers, pasta with pesto and chicken. I didn’t eat any extraordinary portions. To be truthful, my nervous excitement prevented me from eating very much.


On race morning I still had a nervous stomach and so I only ate half of a peanut butter bagel plus iced coffee and water before heading to the start. Like my two previous half marathons, I had a Nike Prime before the race started.

While racing I consumed a total of 6 gels. This is probably one more than I needed (since I finished in 5 hours and 20 mins) but I was likely under fueled from breakfast (or lack thereof). I carried 5 vanilla bean Gu’s onto the course with me and picked another one up at mile 20-ish because they were available on the course. I also drank a ton of water. I forgo Gatorade while running because it makes my stomach uneasy but I more than made up for it with water.

After I finished I ate a bizarre assortment of food. I had pretzels, beer, milk duds (from Lou Mitchell’s!), pretzels, steak sandwiches, a million Cape Cod chips, brownies, rice krispie treats, more beer, water and cookies. I think I also had a salad my mom made. I wasn’t immediately hungry after finishing but the moment I got home I beasted a rice krispie treat. What can I say? They’d been on the brain since mile 24. You can corroborate that story with my brother because I swear I told him, at that point, I was running for a rice krispie.

AFTER (the past few weeks)

The morning after the race I woke up and was voraciously hungry. I ate a larabar and took a walk with my mom. Then I had breakfast and a huge lunch and dinner while at the airport. I ate consistently for about three hours and just wasn’t satisfied or full. It was to be expected.

Post race I gave myself a week off from healthy eating and working out. This was necessary. First of all, my body was sore. Also, I was very hungry. I will say that even though I was “eating whatever I wanted” my diet was still much healthier and more balanced then it was before I lost weight. There was no binge eating of pizza and no pasta at midnight. That shows me how far I’ve come in the past three years. #pride.

When I say I gave myself a week, I mean I literally gave myself a week. I set a time for my eating to switch back over. I told myself that at noon on Sunday I would change back into a pumpkin and stop ordering milkshakes at McDonalds. It was perfect. I was on the road back from SF and I knew that when I got to LA I would be back into my regular habits. It worked out perfectly with my trip to San Francisco and I’ve been able to stick to it.

A week after the marathon my appetite started to normalize. I’ve been back into regular eating and regular pre-marathon snacking. Lots of quinoa, oats and mango. I was worried if I would automatically gain weight post marathon. I was concerned about my ability to switch back to regular post race. I also was paranoid that my lack of a training plan would cause me to gain weight. If anything, I think I’ve lost a little bit since the race. I don’t step on the scale but I can tell that I haven’t gained and based on photos, I think I may have even slimed down a bit more.

So, that is my marathon journey in food and weight loss. I’ve been posting less on the blog due to school. I hope that even though I’m posting less the quality of my content is the same, if not a bit better.

LA Cancer Challenge 2011 5k

Despite my sore throat I still managed to participate in the LA Cancer Challenge 5k on Sunday morning. Long time runners might remember that I ran the 10k last year. You can read my recap here. Confession: I was an ill prepared blogger and took limited pictures.

I run this race every year in honor of my friend Shahrin and her mom Lily. Lily died last year after a 16 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Every year Shahrin organizes a group of my friends to walk in Boston. I wish I could participate in that walk, but obviously it’s geographically impossible. So instead I participate in the LA Cancer Challenge which benefits the Hershberg Institute. You might remember Shahrin from when I went to her wedding last summer in Boston.

I love this race. It takes place on the VA grounds and because there are large teams of participants there is a family feel. People bring their dogs, dress up in costumes, and have shirts and signs about loved one who had pancreatic cancer. The race is well organized and contained in the VA grounds.

I also had my friend Danielle joining me. It was Danielle’s first organized race ever! Her Grandpa died of pancreatic cancer so it’s a cause close to her heart too.

Danielle and I on Halloween, in the spirit of the weekend, vampire and ballerina.

I woke up with a sore throat and I’ve only run 3 times since my marathon so I had planned to take it easy and run with Danielle. But at the last second Danielle said it was OK if I ran fast on my own and that’s what I did. What can I say? Races bring it out in me. The course was the same as the year before so I knew what to expect. It felt hillier than last year, probably because I moved and my new running routes have fewer hills. I felt great for the first mile and it was downhill from there.

I’ve been noticing that recently I can run for long distances slowly but I can’t run quickly. Especially with a sore throat I felt challenged. My legs never felt tired despite the hills but I did take several walk breaks to catch my breath. This is not my favorite thing to have to do but the fact is that I haven’t trained for speed and I was sick. It happens and I will bounce back. Plus I ran a marathon and it was worth it.

I managed to still finish in 28:50 and a 9:18 pace. Not bad by ANY means but I ran a half marathon with a faster pace. I guess it just highlights what I know I need to work on.

But the best news? I fifth out of 75 in my age division! Woo hoo! I can deal with that.

Overall I love this race and I hope to do it every year where I live in LA. The event is well run and I really love the community feel.

Unfortunately I was not feeling well before the race and the combination of a race plus yoga exacerbated my cold into a fever! I actually took Monday off of school and am starting to feel better finally.

How was your Halloween weekend?