Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hooray!  So I finally made something seasonal (aside from kabocha squash on the reg.) and something other than tacos.  My goal is to try and cook every Sunday, since I’ve been taking that as my rest day, and I pretty much don’t do anything else…we’ll see how that plays out.  For now, enjoy these fall flavors!

 

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Spinach, Apple and Sausage
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS:
2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
6-8 thin Italian sausage links
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 cup spinach, chopped
1 apple, finely diced
½ cup walnuts, chopped
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle acorn squash halves with olive oil, salt & pepper. Place cut side down and roast for approximately 25 min.
  2. Flip over the acorn squash and cook for approximately 15 more minutes or the edges are golden brown and the flesh is tender.
  3. As the squash is cooking, bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in the quinoa, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook sausage links for 5 minutes on each side, until browned and thoroughly cooked.
  5. Separately, whisk the olive oil, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar is a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Chop the spinach, apples and walnuts.  Set aside.
  7. When the quinoa is done, pour the quinoa into a large bowl.  Mix in the spinach (so it wilts down) and allow the mixture to cool completely.  Stir periodically.
  8. Once cool, pour the dressing over the quinoa, add sausage and apples, and stir.
  9. Once the squash is done, fill each half acorn with a slightly heaping portion of

San Diego Trail Running: Raptor Ridge

In honor of #OptOutside, Kate, Andy and I hit the trails running a little northeast from us in Escondido. Originally we were looking to go to Julian/Cuyamaca, but the low temps (30 vs. 55) and the potential for rain convinced us otherwise. Instead, we ended up doing a trail run I’ve completed a couple times with my running group. In fact, the last time I visited was last January, before I realized I was incredibly sick with food poisoning.

Anyways, Raptor Ridge is part of the larger Coast to Crest Trail in the San Dieguito River Park, and pretty straightforward. It’s a well designated, wide path that is easily accessible right off the freeway.

What I call the Raptor Ridge trail is around 10.5 miles round trip (5.19 out an 5.19 back). We went the morning after some rain, so while it was muddy, it wasn’t too bad.

Around mile 4 the trail changes to a single track (this is considered the “Raptor Ridge” trail) and starts the ascent to the top. And while it was tricky (requiring a few walking breaks in which Andy turned around and said “you guys coming?!”) the view from the top was worth it!

And the best part about going up is that you get to go down! We ended up negative splitting this trail. By the time we hit mile 9 we were ready to be back to the car and turned the pace into a tempo run, dropping down into the 7’s.

My favorite thing about trail running, especially in the middle of San Diego, is how it makes you feel so displaced. Like you’re hundreds of miles away in a completely different area. We all agreed and loved how it felt like such a quintessential fall afternoon, from the color of the …

Running and Recipes: Day Sixteen

Happy St. Patty’s Day!  What better way to celebrate than run 10 miles?!  However, I’ve been having some trouble with my runs lately, and I hope it can be attributed to my body still adjusting to the Whole30.  I’m on day 16, or day 7 if I re-start from my cheat day.  I’m hanging in there, hoping I reach the day where my body starts using my fat reserves as fuel.  Our 10 mile run took nearly as long as a half-marathon.  I just feel bad for my running partner because I feel like I can’t move my body any faster than a 9-10 min pace.   And even at that, my heart rate is still elevated to 160bpm+.  When I try an exerted effort to hit 8-8:30 pace, it increases to 174, but I’m not able to sustain this for a while.  It’s almost unenjoyable and discouraging to run.  I checked on the Whole30 forum and it seems like this is a common side-effect for endurance athletes:

Tonight we made another Martha Stewart inspired recipe adapted to be Whole30-compliant. While this cooked, my bf/sous-chef Fritz made a very gourmet crab and shrimp salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and arugula dressed with lime and olive oil with beautiful knife cuts and plate presentation. Doesn’t look like he will be competing with Carla anytime soon on Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America ??

 

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Olives
INGREDIENTS

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
6 chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 cup pitted botija olives (Peruvian)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Combine chicken, oil, tomatoes, olives and thyme in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and

Oregon Trails: Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain (not to be confused with Tumalo Falls or the town of Tumalo), is located almost directly across from Mt. Bachelor. It’s around a 4 mile up-and-down hike with a good amount of elevation gain (1,312 ft).

For some reason, Tumalo Mountain is one of my least favorite summer hikes. It seems like a lot of vertical climbing, for not much of a reward. The first time we hiked Tumalo, it was late-August –the day before the solar eclipse. I remember because we looked from the top over to Prineville and could see a line of cars and lights. The wildfires and amount of smoke had been fluctuating, so there was a weird haze to the air and the sun.

 

The second time we hiked Tumalo was mid-September, right after the first snow. Since the snow wasn’t too deep, we were able to hike in hiking boots. I found the snow to make the hike much more enjoyable because it didn’t seem as steep. Plus it made the usually dry mountain feel like a winter wonderland snow globe.

 

Tumalo Mountain
Entrance: 
Dutchman Flat Sno-Park
Directions: Heading from Bend, you’ll drive on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The parking lot is about 1/4 mile past Mt. Bachelor Sunrise Lodge parking entrance.
Miles: 3.9…

Cheap, Easy & Light Tacos

As often as we have Rollswisserie Wednesday’s (which coincidentally is tonight!), we have Taco Sunday’s.  With a trip to our favorite mexican market, Northgate Market, it’s a cheap and easy meal (we’re talking mad buck$$$ below Whole Foods).  Add some fresh veggies and nopales tortillas (25 calories per tortilla), it’s light too!  I love roasting peppers because it elevates the taco (yes, taco elevation is happening) and makes it seem more gourmet.

We always use flap meat, which comes in thin slices and cooks quick.  Seasoned with a little bit of cayenne and chili powder, it’s perfectly “mexicano.”  At first I was afraid to know what “flap meat” was…like, I didn’t want to know where this flap was coming from.  I felt like it might have something to do with the reproductive organs of a cow (kind of like how I thought “lung” was the name for male genitalia when I was younger).  Thankfully, it is just the bottom sirloin butt cut of beef!

Sunday Night Tacos
INGREDIENTS:

2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
10 nopales tortillas
1-2 tomatos, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1-1.5 lbs of flap meat
Cayenne and chili powder, as desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In the meantime, slice up your bell peppers and toss in the extra-virgin olive oil.  Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 20-25 minutes.
  2. Season flap meat with cayenne, chili powder, salt and pepper as desired.  Over medium-high heat on the stove top, cook for roughly 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Build taco: 1 tortilla, a couple pieces of flap meat, handful of roasted bell peppers, and a few avocado and tomato slices.

Camp the Coast: Florence, OR

The landscape of the Oregon Coast is one of my favorites, with the rocky forest that meets the sea. It remains comparatively untouched to the California coast–sparsely populated and not impacted by houses brimming the cliffs.

Florence, OR – Immediately west from Eugene. Known for encompassing part of the Oregon Sand Dunes (largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America).

 

Where we stayed – Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. This campground has 7 first-come, first-served sites. Tucked on the east side of Highway 101, our campsite was under the ultimate tree canopy (to the point where we had to watch for falling branches). Even though we were in the center of some campsites, we felt completely secluded (my kind of camping!). 3 tents fit perfectly in this space, and we probably could have fit a few more.

 

Where we hiked – Valley Trail to Hobbit Trail/Heceta Head Trail, accessible from the Carl G. Washburne Campground. First you’ll come across Hobbit Trail, that will take you down through a vine canopy to the beach. If you go back and continue on the trail further, you’ll experience sweeping views of the Oregon Coast through towering trees. Around 2 miles you’ll make it to the Heceta Head Lighthouse and Heceta Head Beach. We made this a one-way trek and met the boys who were surfing at Heceta Head Beach.

 

 …

Eating for the Season: Hunter Gatherer

I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate more leafy greens into my diet, to compliment my increasingly meat-centric meals.  This stir-fry is the perfect thing for when you want a warm and healthy meal.  I feel like the secret ingredient (which might be completely normal and not a secret at all) is the sugar snap peas.  They add a nice bit of crunch and work nicely with all of the other ingredients.  Option to start off with your favorite protein and work in the vegetables, or to pair with (my favorite), baked chicken wings!

Vegetable Stir-Fry
This recipe is Whole30 and Paleo-approved
INGREDIENTS:
1 crookneck squash
1/2 eggplant
5 baby bok choy
2 cups crimini mushroom
2 cups sugar snap peas
2 cups kale, chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the squash and eggplant into half-moon pieces.  Separate the bok choy stems from the leaves.  Cut the stems at a diagonal and cut the leaves horizontally.  Keep the stems and leaves separated.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat.
  3. Sautee squash, eggplant and bok choy stems over medium heat, for 10 minutes (or until stems start to become translucent) while intermittently stirring.
  4. Finally, mix in the bok choy leaves and kale and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving! And My Black Friday Theory

Happy Thanksgiving from yours truly and the cooked turkey!  This morning started off with a fun Turkey Trot 5k and a PR (recap later).  Right now I’m in the midst of cooking.  This year, instead of improperly cooking a bird again (specifically a duck), we’re going untraditional with cioppino, pumpkin parmesan bread rolls and caramel apple crumble with pumpkin ice cream.  And 8pm we’re heading out to  jk, watch Catching Fire.

Are you Black Friday-ing, or rather, or shopping in the event that has taken over Thanksgiving (I’ve heard it’s now called “Gray Thursday”)?  I am under the impression that Black Friday is a hoax. A scam. A myth.  The one time I participated in Black Friday was my junior year of high school.  My family was down visiting my aunt and uncle in SD for Thanksgiving and my brother and I convinced our parents to take us to Circuit City (?) at 4:30am.  So we waited and waited, and once we got in, the one thing we wanted was sold out (or just not there)!  I mean come on, it wasn’t even a big ticket item…and now looking back I don’t know why it was pertinent we tried to buy it on Black Friday.  That was my one Black Friday experience that proved Black Friday’s do not exist.  Scoring anything is about as mythical as man-bear-pigs (oh wait, I kind of have one of those with my cat-bear-sheep-rat-shark-dog).

And if you’re wondering, yes, I did eventually get my desired Black Friday item at full price…a pink Nintendo DS and Nintendogs…lawlz.

Have you Black Friday-ed?  Slash are you going to this year?

Oregon Trail: Green Lakes

The first time I hiked Green Lakes, it was an early morning during mid-summer. While I was only hiking, I remember seeing trail runners and thinking it would be a great trail to run. We started at the Green Lakes trailhead, and once we got to the Green Lakes campground, continued on the Soda Creek Trail, that would eventually loop us back to the trailhead/parking lot. Originally we were looking for the trail to reach Broken Top summit, but couldn’t find it. This hike was very green, and butterflies were abundant (especially on Soda Creek Trail).

Fast forward to late September, when I felt like doing a solo trail run and thought Green Lakes would be a great option. We had just experienced our first snow dump in the mountains. However, I didn’t know how Green Lakes would be affected. My trail run ended up being probably less than a half mile, before I came across mushy ground lined by ice. I thought it would clear up eventually, but soggy dirt turned into slippery ice that turned into deep snow. This trail follows Fall Creek, where you’ll encounter some waterfalls (one of my favorite things about Oregon is that there is no lack of waterfalls). It’s a fairly mellow/moderate hike, with only a few switchbacks towards the very end. On the last stretch you’ll be required to jump a few rocks across some streaming water. Once you reach Green Lakes, you will have stunning views of Broken Top and South Sister.

I found this hike to be entrancing, especially in the snow. Since the snow was fairly fresh and other trails weren’t well identified (and I was also only wearing trail running shoes), I decided to make this an out-and-back hike and return the way I came from.

Green Lakes

#FitBlogLA Celebs

This past Tuesday (October 22) I took the 3 hour (with traffic) drive up to Santa Monica from SD. The day started out cloudy, but the sun eventually broke through beautifully.

 

FitBlog LA was the biggest celebrity shock I’ve received; from Tony Horton, Alyse Levine, Harley Pasternak, to some of my favorite blogger idols.

Previous celebrity excitements have included witnessing the top of Kim Kardashian’s sock bun at the SD Zoo, yelling at Michael Cera through a tent at ComiCon and kissing the cheek of who would years later become “VH1’s America’s Most Smartest Model” at a Maroon 5 concert when I was 15. What can I say? I try hard.

 

All of these celebrity sightings/experiences added together do not even come close to the excitement of sitting in the same room as Skinny Runner, Run Eat Repeat, Blogilates and Eco Vegan Gal (I still need to check her out!). I feel like these bloggers are “tangible celebrities,” because you feel like you know them, and you know you could run into one someday.

 

Other amazing and informational speakers included:

 

Tony Horton – The New Way to Workout
Tony Horton was ridiculously vascular. And 55. He talked about the HIT trend (working multiple body parts at once).

He believes in the combination of intensity (6-8 on a scale of 1-10), variety (working outside your comfort zone) and consistency (schedule 7 a week with room to miss, but get at least 22 workouts a month)…basically P90X.

If you focus on skill (such as exercises with a bosu ball, stability ball, and/or medicine ball) your functional fitness will increase, and before you know it, you will have reached your fitness goals.

Some other interesting points:

  • Don’t stick to food philosophy like religion.
  • Eat healthy 80-90% of the time,