Posted by: Kennedy | November 3, 2011

Do something once a day that scares you

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” – Marianne Williamson

I first heard this quote in my Professional Skills class, a particularly awesome class I just finished that focused on public speaking.

Like many people, I’ve always had a lot of anxiety about speaking in public. And though I was dreading the class, it turned out to be one of my favourite courses at IHN. During the course I did:

- a 3 minute speech about my foam roller

- a “one minute stand,” where I literally stood in front of the class in silence for 60 seconds (awkward, but really great, exercise)

- a 4 minute speech about replacing New Year’s resolutions with ‘‘

- a 5 minute speech about how the birth control pill affects our nutrient status

- a passage reading of my choosing (I chose to read  I wrote about my struggles with binge eating)

- a 10 minute food demonstration (I made a modified version of )

By the end of the course, I felt a noticeable improvement in my level of nervousness as well as my dependency on note cards. It’s true that the more you do something, the more comfortable you become doing it. But even more significant for me was realizing along the way that my nerves actually stem from a fear of failure, not a fear of public speaking itself.

It’s no secret that I am a bit of a perfectionist, another manifestation of fear of failure. I want to be accepted by the audience, and in my mind, unless I give a flawless presentation I won’t earn that acceptance. I was working myself up, asking: “What if I’m not funny?” “What if I’m boring?” “What if I stumble?” “What if I have a panic attack?” Damn those “What Ifs”! 

But through class discussions and exercises led by our very inspirational instructor, I realized something: No one, except me, expected me to be perfect. It seems like such a simple and obvious statement, doesn’t it? But it completely shifted my approach to the speeches. I stopped worrying about whether I said everything exactly “right.” I got over myself and just did it. 

That said… we started a new class today and the first thing we had to do was take turns walking to the front of the room, where the teacher asked us questions on the spot, such as “What is your gift in life?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” And my stomach jumped into my throat. 

But hey – it’s practice. And practice makes perfect does wonders for the nerves.

And now, for your viewing pleasure… scenes from our 3 delicious days of food demonstrations! 

My classmates have got some mad culinary skills, yo. Can’t wait to make some of these!

Posted by: Kennedy | October 28, 2011

It’s been another crazy week at IHN… and now that it’s over, time to blog about food! TGIF, guys.

Last week went out with a delicious bang: Dinner Club at Sampson’s!

On the guest list: Najette and Sarrah.

On the menu:

Super Foods Kale Salad…

Najette’s ‘Mama’s Hummus’…

And (without the cheese).

I had made this dish for dinner the night before the half, and it was so amazing that I immediately sent Sampson the recipe to have it Dinner Club-approved.

The beauty of this meal is that it is very simple and quick to prepare. Aside from roasting the squash for 40-45 minutes, it only takes 10 minutes to make the sauce and another 15 to cook the pasta, which can be done simultaneously. For the full recipe, check out the link above.

You can experiment with different kinds of add-ins to boost up the healthy factor. When I made it on my own, I used broccoli, extra squash and pumpkin seeds:

And at Dinner Club, we used Swiss chard. Both turned out beautifully.

The sauce is seriously SO cheesy… both the flavour and texture are bang-on. It really is hard to believe there’s no cheese or milk in there.

Sarrah in action!

With four pairs of hands in the kitchen, we made three different dishes in just a little over an hour (and that includes time spent wine-sipping, cheese-nibbling and girl-chatting).

FYI: the kale salad tasted even better the next day as leftovers – the extra time to let the dressing marinate into the salad was key. The mac and cheese, however, wasn’t as nice re-heated. The sauce wasn’t nearly as creamy and delicious. I would recommend just eating any leftover pasta cold.

Dinner Club night was also a perfect opportunity for Naj and me to practice our food demonstrations, our final assignment in Professional Skills class. Each of us has to get up and prepare a dish in front of the class, talking about proper prep techniques, tips and nutritional benefits of the foods. Then we get to sample everyone’s recipes!

I usually procrastinate from schoolwork by cooking and/or baking, anyway. Why not just cut out the middle man and make the food the homework? The perfect homework assignment, if you ask me.

So Naj made her Mama’s (amazing!) Hummus for us:

And I chopped, peeled and mixed away until I came up with this Super Foods Kale Salad, inspired by .

I will say, though, that preparing a meal while speaking intelligently about all of the wonderful benefits of the ingredients is not as easy as it seems! I have a newfound respect for the hosts of all those cooking shows on the food network.

The last day of our food demos is this coming Monday. I’ve been photo-documenting a number of my classmates’ creations, and when we finish I will have 35 new recipes to add to my kitchen rotation. Stay tuned for a recap post next week (or whenever I can find the time to write… it’s hard to come by these days).

Hope you all get out there and enjoy the crisp, cool weather this weekend.

… Have a Spooktacular Halloween! 

Posted by: Kennedy | October 19, 2011

Hello strangers! I’ve been dying to tell you all about Sunday’s race, but the past few days have been a whirlwind of assignments, speeches and PowerPoint presentations.

Yes, school is pretty overwhelming lately, however… I’m allowing myself a short break today to fill you in on my experience at the .

In the week leading up to the race, I barely ran. I took ‘taper’ to a whole new level. School was getting crazy and it was one of those weeks where there just weren’t enough hours in a day. Saturday rolled around and I felt like I should be feeling the pre-race jitters, but they weren’t coming. Weird, right?

Sidenote: A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a Globe & Mail reporter looking to speak with runners about how they prepare for a long race. I was stoked to participate! You can check out the article . 

On Saturday, I took a trip to the race expo where I grabbed my race kit and a gel, and signed the runner’s wall:

Then I headed home to make a truly awesome pre-race dinner: It was so mouth-watering that I’m making it again at Cooking Club this weekend with the girls.

Sufficiently carb’ed up and hydrated, I laid out all my race gear and hit the hay.

[Confession: I broke several of my cardinal pre-race rules by going out to Oktoberfest two nights before the race. Beer was consumed. Sleep was minimal. But I did manage to carb-load by feasting on homemade pretzels, cookies and schnitzel on a bun.]

Cut to… me oversleeping on race morning. By 40 minutes! This is why I meticulously lay out each and every item I will need to put on, pack or consume the next morning. This time around, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies came in handy. I scarfed down my usual pre-race breakfast of oats in almond milk. Then I called a cab – I was running too far behind to chance it with the Yonge bus.

After meeting up, checking our bags and making a last-minute pit stop at Lynne’s office (conveniently across the street from the start line), we headed to our corral and got our game faces on.

The race was even bigger than last year. It took us 9 minutes to reach the start line!

The crowds at the beginning were amazing. I always get a bit emotionally overwhelmed by all the supporters cheering from the sidelines. This race has the best spectators I’ve ever seen. So many awesome high-fives and signs along the way. I tried to snap a shot of one but Vinda got in my way…

That dude’s sign says “U R All (Still) Nuts.” He added the ‘Still’ after we passed him on the way out (this was taken at 17k of the out-and-back route. By that point, I agreed with him).

Another thing that got me weepy was seeing this visually impaired runner with his guides:

How amazing is that? To run a marathon without relying on your sight. I thought of this guy later in the race when I was fading, and it helped me push through. What an inspiration.

I got into a good groove early in the race. By 6k, the crowd of runners had dispersed a bit and I was in the zone. At one point, I even noticed a $20 bill on the road in front of me – and I didn’t stop to pick it up. Now THAT is what you call being “committed to the cause.”

I took my walk breaks at each water station since I decided to run without my fuel belt. Water for the first few, then started taking Gatorade around the 9k mark. Lime… it did not agree with me. 

At 12k I took a gel, which seemed to rev up my energy levels for the next 4 or 5k. But then, I started to get really tired. I was pushing myself, and I knew my body wanted me to back off… but it was a race. I just couldn’t. I cursed myself for my Oktoberfest antics and tried to get back into a good headspace.

I was so happy to see this:

Finally, the end was near. I wished a few nearby marathoners good luck and settled in for the last leg. I kept telling myself, “just 12 more minutes… just 10 more minutes…” but what really carried me through was playing that damn “Woohoo” song by Christina Aguilera & Nicki Minaj on repeat. Like it or not, that tune is pace-friendly.

Suddenly, I was heading north on Bay St. for the last 500m stretch of the race. It was all uphill and straight into a wind tunnel. Thankfully, though, it was very temporary. I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 2:14:59. Later, I discovered my official chip time was 2:05:38… not quite a PR, but almost 6 minutes faster than my time at STWM last year. Win!

But alas, not even the post-race endorphins could save me from what I was about to endure…

The Dreaded Baggage Claim Line of 2011. Seriously, this will go down in history as one of the most epic race fails of all time. I was in this line from 11:15 a.m. until 1:25 p.m. For those keeping track, that means I stood in this line for five minutes LONGER than it took me to run the half-marathon. Unacceptable.

No baggage pick up, indeed.

The worst thing a runner can do after finishing a race is stand in one spot in the cold with a bunch of other sweaty, chilled runners. I was freezing, my legs seized up, and I’m pretty sure some dude coughed on my bagel. I also got to spend 2 hours trying not to slip on banana peels and apple cores… all kinds of nasty. 

The front of the line was madness. Runners sifting through heaps of bags trying to find their own…

I know the race organizers have received a lot of complaints about the situation already. They have (quite rightly) issued an apology on the race website as well as in an e-mail that was sent to all finishers. I sincerely hope they take measures to improve the baggage claim process next year. I, for one, will not be taking that risk.

Eventually, I met up with Lynne and Manny and we headed out for brunch at the Duke of Richmond:

At long last, it was time for eggs!

Turns out, a hot meal, a nice full-bodied red, and laughs with good friends will cure the most horrid of moods. I could finally bask in my race day glory.

Posted by: Kennedy | October 13, 2011

Guys. Have you been to  yet?

If your answer is yes: Good. And also… why didn’t you tell me how awesome it is??

If your answer is no: I highly recommend giving it a try, if you live in the area. It’s an organic raw food restaurant with a huge , a liquor license and a warm, cozy atmosphere.

I love that quote on the menu: “We believe the only way food should be processed is by the human body.” 

My school pals and I had been talking about checking it out all year, and a few weeks ago, we finally went. Them’s the breaks when all your free time is consumed by Pathology papers… sigh.

Dinner buddies!

Anyway. The five of us met at the restaurant, which is actually just a short walk from my apartment! This realization could prove dangerous… for my wallet, not my health ;)

We ordered drinks before perusing the menu. I don’t usually stray from my Cab Sauv when out to dinner, but the cocktails sounded so amazing I couldn’t pass them up. I went for the Cucumber Collins: “Organic bulldog gin, cucumber, lime & agave, sparkling water, garnished with a cucumber wedge.”

Every bit as refreshing as it sounds. Live also has organic beers, wines and martinis – and all kinds of delicious-sounding smoothies and juices.

It took us some time to order… too many choices. I already know what I’m having next time I go back. But this time around, I opted for the raw soft shell tacos: corn flax tortillas, tomato salsa, guacamole, spiced ground walnuts, and micro greens.


They were fantastic. Really, it’s likely I’m going to love anything with guacamole listed as the third ingredient.

Other dishes ordered at our table: raw tostadas, kale salad and the sunshine wrap. All winners.

And when it came time for dessert, I was all for it. I’d caught a glimpse of the raw chocolatey goodness on display earlier and I was sold. I can’t recall the name of my treat… it was two weeks ago, after all. But I do remember it tasted like a frozen chocolate ice cream bar. Ingredients? Walnuts, dates, cacao. Maybe some coconut oil? Definitely no ice cream.

So, if you’re looking for a new nutritionist-friendly spot to try out, you know where to go. And can I come??

Posted by: Kennedy | October 4, 2011

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I’m not a huge meat-eater. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the odd burger. I do. I just don’t buy meat very often. It’s a personal choice and I have my reasons… but that’s for another post.

With that in mind, I sometimes find it difficult to come up with delicious, satisfying dinner ideas that don’t revolve around an animal. Yes, I love experimenting with different grain-and-veg combinations. They are indeed delicious… but not always completely satisfying.

More, please!

Through school, I’ve learned this can be attributed to several things, such as a lack of complete protein in the diet (a.k.a foods containing all of the essential amino acids). Meat, fish, eggs, milk and soy are complete proteins. Most plant-based foods, such as beans, nuts, and brown rice, are incomplete proteins.

 

Sidenote: I’ve had friends ask me why some amino acids are called “essential.” Here’s the deal. There are approx. 22 common amino acids that, in different combinations, make up thousands of different types of proteins. Eight of those amino acids cannot be made by the liver. Hence, it is “essential” that we include them in our diets.

In case you’re wondering: those 8 essentials are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

But never fear, herbivores! You can have a complete protein by combining two or more incomplete proteins, such as brown rice and lentils, into one meal. This way, you’ll consume the entire spectrum of essential amino acids – those all-important building blocks of life. Seriously, they are nutritional beasts! Check it:

Amino acids link together to form over 50,000 unique proteins and 20,000 different enzymes. And they do this all day long as we go about our business, totally oblivious. The human body is a crazy awesome machine.

Without amino acids…

-       Our hormones would be a mess

-       Our muscles and bones would get weak

-       Our nails would break

-       Our hair would fall out

-       We wouldn’t be able to concentrate… or perform any normal brain functions, for that matter…

-       We’d have no energy because we’d lack the enzymes required for metabolism

-       (Not to mention the nasty digestive issues that go along with that)

-       We’d constantly be getting sick because we wouldn’t have antibodies

-       We’d bleed profusely from a paper cut because we wouldn’t have blood clotting factors

-       And we’d become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, leading to a whole host of other health problems.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds positively terrible to me. So yeah… I’m not going to mess with amino acids.

And I knew I would be getting all of my amino acids when I made this awesome Lentil Walnut Loaf from . Lentils + Oats + Walnuts + Whole grain bread = All kinds of protein!

My brother recently moved to Toronto to attend college. He lives in a dorm without a proper kitchen, so I try to have him over for dinner once a week. He tells me the types of food he’s been eating, and I know he’s a student but… oh it’s just frightening. That’s why I try to make rock star nutritious meals for him when he comes over.

My bro Hamilton and his favourite, homemade spaghetti

Case-in-point: Lentil Walnut Loaf. Packed with protein, healthy fats, veggies and whole grains. Can’t go wrong.

I was a little wary about whether he would like it or not. He’s a born-and-raised carnivore and has been known to frequently eat seconds – and thirds – of all kinds of meat-based meals. The boy loves his meat, and he has a big, big appetite.

Imagine my surprise when, not only did he like this dish, he went back for seconds (as did I), and after that… he was full! (As was I… oh was I ever). It was tasty, satisfying, and hungry-brother-approved. Most definitely a win.

Recipe (slightly adapted from ):

Ingredients:

1 cup dry lentils

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sweet onion, diced

1 medium carrot, grated

1/2 medium sweet potato, grated

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1.5 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup regular oats, ground into a flour in a food processor

1 tbsp ground flax seed

1 egg

3/4 cup breadcrumbs (or two slices of toast ground in a food processor)

Sweet Glaze

2 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp apple butter

Directions:

Rinse lentils, add them to medium saucepan with vegetable stock and bring to boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 45 minutes), stirring frequently. Once cooked, set lentils aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a loaf pan with parchment (parchment paper should hang over the edges by 2 inches).

Toast walnuts at 350F for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic for about 5 minutes on low-medium heat. Once onions are soft, add carrot and sweet potato and sauté for 2-3 minutes over low heat. Add raisins and walnuts, sauté another 2 minutes. Add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

If you don’t have breadcrumbs: Lightly toast two slices of bread, rip into pieces and process in food processor until small breadcrumbs are left.

Once lentils are cooled, place three-quarters of the lentils in food processor. Process until mostly smooth (some small lentils will remain). Scoop mixture into a large bowl and add in the remaining non-processed lentils. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, veggie mixture, oat flour, and ground flax seed. Stir well with a spoon, then mix well with your hands. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Dump the mixture into your loaf pan and spread out with a spoon. Use your hands to press the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan.

To make glaze: In small bowl combine all glaze ingredients. Spread evenly over loaf and bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350F.

Cool for 10-15 minutes and serve. Makes about 8 thick slices.

It does take some time but not much work – a lot of the time is spent waiting for it to bake. And trust me, the wait is worth it! I think this would be a fantastic addition to a vegetarian Thanksgiving menu…

Posted by: Kennedy | September 27, 2011

I thought summer was over. But on Sunday, it made an appearance for one last hurrah.

Not only was it a gorgeous, sunny, warm day in Toronto, it was also the day of the on Centre Island – a race complete with hula dancers, steel drums, and grass skirts.

This was my very first relay race, and I loved it. Here’s why:

1) I had an awesome teammate! My running buddy Lynne, who is quickly becoming a regular on the blog as she’s done every race with me since August. Even though we ran alone, we completed the race together. It was a joint effort, which made it all the more special when we finished.

2) I got to be a spectator. Since I started running two years ago, I’ve stood on the sidelines exactly once – when due to a knee injury. It’s really motivating to watch a group of runners start a race – all that nervous energy and excitement standing at the start line, followed by all the cheers when the gun goes off. It’s totally fun.

3) There was a friendly, relaxed, supportive vibe. Maybe it was the fact it was a women-only race, or that it had a fun island theme, or that some of us were running in teams, but this race had a really great, non-competitive, easygoing atmosphere. We were just a big group of women out for a Sunday run along the lake.

We practically saw the sunrise as we rode the ferry to the island:

After checking our bags, picking up our timing chip, and making a pit stop, I saw Lynne off at the start line


…and proceeded to stroll around taking photos of the beautiful island scenery before making my way over to the “exchange area” where Lynne would finish and I would start:

While I waited, I chatted with fellow relay-ers, cheered on runners, swayed to some island beats, and watched two hula girls shake-shake-shake their booties:

When the announcer called out “64!” I knew Lynne was right around the corner. I quickly shook out my legs, took her chip off her ankle and wrapped it around mine, and with a quick ‘congrats/good luck’ exchange, I took off.

It was a lovely route – plenty of shade from the tall trees in the first 5km, followed by a few kms along the boardwalk right next to the lake, and plenty of sunshine towards the end.

All smiles at the half-way point!

For me, the toughest part was the boardwalk portion. Though scenic, there was a lot of resistance as we ran against a pretty strong wind. I passed a runner soon after reaching the boardwalk, but for the next 10 or 15 minutes, I was all by myself. At that point, I could have used someone to draft.

The relay distance was 10.5k (half of a half marathon, or 21.1k), and I crossed in 59:06. As I approached the end, I spotted Lynne waving at me from the sidelines. She jumped out and ran with me across the finish line – teammates to the bitter end! We came in 19th out of 51 teams, with an official time of 2:04:55. Nothing to sneeze at!

After a quick stretch, we grabbed snacks from the food tent and had a mini-picnic on the grass. This was not your average post-race bagel-and-banana:

While we basked in the sun, a nearby group of ladies asked us if we would take their picture. We happily obliged, and they returned the favour:

We got chatting and soon realized they were from my hometown ‘hood: Goderich and Stratford! They had driven up the day before and made a weekend of it. Such a small world.

Eventually, Lynne and I made our way to the ferry and back to dry land…

…only to discover we had missed brunch at the  patio by 30 minutes. A bit disappointing… we were both craving eggs!

I ended up having the chipotle roasted turkey wrap with side salad and coleslaw. And a celebratory glass of wine.

And that’s that. A great way to spend what is sure to be one of our last summery days. Mahalo, Island Girl!

Posted by: Kennedy | September 24, 2011

I’m probably one of the most boring breakfast-makers out there. I rarely make the exact same dinner recipe twice, but for some reason, I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my morning meal.

About 90 per cent of the time, my breakfast consists of cold rolled oats in almond milk. Once in a while I’ll mix it up with different nuts, seeds, and fruit, but the general formula never changes.

Clearly, I love my oats. They’re healthy, filling and I can make them in less than five minutes – a must for a girl who wakes up famished every morning.

But like many people, I tend to deviate from my routine on weekends. When I have more time, I have more options. And with the arrival of each new season, my appetite seems to change. As the mornings turn cooler, I’m craving warmer foods.

Last weekend, I found myself craving hot oatmeal – for the first time in my life.

That same day, I just happened to come across Oh She Glows’ latest post: her . Her timing could not have been more perfect.

I went straight to #1 on her list – . Umm… yes. If there’s any oatmeal in existence that will convert me to hot oatmeal, it’s one that tastes like carrot cake.

So I decided to make it after my 18k run on Sunday morning (stuck with my trusty toast & PB combo for beforehand).

I had a beautiful run along Mt. Pleasant and the Belt Line, and by the end I think I’d picked up the pace merely in anticipation of this oatmeal. And I hadn’t even tried it yet! But just looking at photos made my stomach growl…

I came home and got right to work:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup regular oats
1 cup almond milk (or substitute)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large carrot, finely grated
2 tbsp coconut milk cream (use the cream off the top of the full-fat can)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp crushed walnuts (1 tbsp for mixture and 1 tbsp for topping)
1 tbsp coconut milk cream + 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup, to drizzle on top.

Directions:

Finely grate carrot to yield one heaping cup.

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add almond milk, lemon juice, and coconut milk cream. Stir well. Add cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir again until mixed.

Stir in grated carrots and oats. Bring heat to low if it starts to boil. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. When the mixture has thickened up, stir in the vanilla extract, 1 tbsp crushed walnuts, and 2 tbsp of maple syrup. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.

Top with 1 tbsp of crushed walnuts. Drizzle coconut milk cream + maple syrup mixture on top. Garnish with whatever tickles your fancy: more cinnamon, raisins, coconut, etc. Serves 1 large portion or 2 small portions.

I devoured the entire thing.

Next up… …

Posted by: Kennedy | September 22, 2011

Nothing screams “it’s fall!” like an overflowing pile of pumpkins on display at the grocery store.

But as cute as they are, I must admit I rarely buy them fresh. Yes, I’m more likely to buy the canned stuff because:

a) I’m lazy

b) the thought of struggling to cut through their thick skin with my $10 Ikea knife set kind of terrifies me.

But other, thinner-skinned members of the squash family are another story. I adore a good winter squash. Acorn, spaghetti, butternut… it’s all delish.

Not only are they tasty, versatile, and simple to prepare, they also have nutrition superpowers! They are chockfull of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, and those colourful yellows and oranges mean they’ve got lots of phytonutrients.

What does all this mean? Lots of toxin-fighting antioxidants to promote heart health and function of the circulatory system.

A lesser-known benefit of winter squash is that it is one of the most concentrated vegetable sources of alpha-linolenic acid, a.k.a. Omega-3s – and we all know how important those fatty acids are for our brains, hearts, and skin.

Squash is also full of fibre, keeping you satisfied for hours. And after my long run on Sunday morning, I knew I would need a hearty dinner to help my body recover and prevent me from later devouring the box of cookies I got from the 5k the day before.

And boy, did this recipe do the trick. Warm squash belly is the best!

Sweet & Savoury Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Stuffing:

-       ½ cup brown rice, uncooked

-       1 Tbsp olive oil

-       1/3 red onion, chopped

-       1-2 cloves garlic, minced

-       1 cup kale, chopped

-       ½ red bell pepper, chopped

-       1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

-       Pepper & sea salt, to taste

-       ¼ cup goat cheese, sprinkled on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut acorn squash in half and place on lined baking sheet, fleshy side facing down. Bake for approx. 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cook brown rice on stovetop while you prepare vegetables and herbs.

Saute onions and bell pepper in olive oil in large saucepan over low-medium heat, until tender. Add salt, pepper and garlic, cooking a few more minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in kale, parsley and rice.

Once squash is done baking, place ¾ cup of the filling into each half, sprinkle with goat cheese and return to oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

So pretty! And obviously delicious…

Fun fact: This squash was grown on a farm near Scotland, Ontario.  Intrigued, I Googled the town and discovered it’s near Brantford. Who knew I was just an hour or so away from Scotland? Wonder if they have haggis?

Posted by: Kennedy | September 19, 2011

Friends, fall is in the air. And with fall comes many of my favourite things

Sweaters, scarves and boots…

Soups and stews full of fresh fall produce…

Crunchy, golden leaves…

And, of course, all things pumpkin. 

So when it was time to plan our September Cooking Club, Ms. Sampson and I decided on a lovely pumpkin ravioli from the Autumn issue of the LCBO’s .

The recipe reminded us of in Jo’s old apartment, when we made a squash ravioli in a sage butter sauce.

After a nibble of cheese and crackers in the backyard, we got to work:

Multi-tasking!

Ingredients for ravioli:

1 tbsp butter

¼ cup diced onion

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ tsp dried sage leaves

¼ tsp salt

Pinches nutmeg and pepper

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup ricotta cheese

2 eggs

2/3 package of wonton wrappers

Ingredients for sauce (double the original recipe):

8 strips bacon, thinly sliced

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp chopped parsley

Pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan to top

We started with the ravioli, cooking the onions in butter over medium heat until tender. Then we added the pumpkin and seasonings and cooked for about 5 minutes. We removed the mixture from heat and let it cool completely before stirring in the cheeses and one egg until blended.

Next came the tricky part – dealing with the wontons. We whisked the remaining egg with 1 tbsp of water. After spreading out the wontons on a baking sheet, we scooped a heaping tsp of filling into the centre of each wrapper, brushed the edges with the egg mixture, picked up the edges and folded them together to form a triangle.

Finally, we cooked the ravioli in boiling water. Actually, we overcooked it. We followed the recipe, which said to cook it for 4-5 minutes. It should have been more like 1-2… but even though the pasta kind of fell apart and looked like a mess, all was not lost. It tasted amazing.

Our 'hot mess' pasta...

Once pasta was cooked, we added the sauce – crispy bacon combined with butter, parsley and pepper in a pan. Be careful to stir gently – the pasta (especially ours) comes apart easily.

We also made a salad as a side: Tomato and fresh cheese salad with basil salsa verde. With fresh, local summer tomatoes at our fingertips, this was the perfect time to make such a salad – and it was delightful.

Salsa verde:

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

½ tsp chopped garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Throw the basil, garlic and oil in a food processor and mix until well combined but slightly chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Salad:

4-6 Heirloom tomatoes, sliced (depends on size – ours were big, I think we ended up using only 3)

½ a sweet onion, sliced

4 oz soft pecorino cheese (my new favourite – Oh. Em. Gee.)

2 tbsp olive oil

Arrange tomatoes on a large serving plate (or 4 individual plates). Lightly salt and pepper the tomatoes. Top with sliced onion, crumble the cheese over the salad and then the salsa verde. Drizzle olive oil over top.

Seriously… it is so, so, SO good. I mean, just look at it!

We enjoyed our meal by romantic candlelight:

And while it may not have been our prettiest dish, the pumpkin ravioli was most definitely a hit. I’m already counting the days ’til our October cooking night… what should we make next time? 

Posted by: Kennedy | September 17, 2011

Today, I kicked off race season 2011 with the , a brand-new race in support of the . And I had a blast!

It’s been well over a year since , and I forgot how much fun the shorter distance can be. No need to prepare for months on end. No need to wear a fuel belt or bring gels. And it’s the perfect way to get some race-pace practice in for my upcoming , which is now just four short weeks away.

I decided to sign up a few weeks ago when my friend and running buddy Lynne invited me to run it with her as part of her birthday celebrations.

Lovely Lynne, celebrating with a Caesar after our 10-miler in August

This year, instead of gifts, dinners or drinks out, she is participating in back-to-back 5ks and asked her friends to run with her, cheer her on as a spectator, or make a donation to the race charities.

I think this is such a fabulous idea and I’m so happy I was able to help her celebrate. I wish I could steal this idea for my own birthday (anyone know of any races in the GTA on the first weekend of June??).

Full disclosure: a ‘bonus’ reason to sign up was the proximity of the race to my apartment building – the start line was literally a 7-minute walk away. That meant more sleeping and less stressing this morning as I got ready. And that extra sleep was much needed. Last night I tossed and turned for what felt like hours…

I awoke feeling pretty groggy. Had my usual pre-race breakfast of rolled oats in almond milk and a glass of water.

Then I made another pair of arm sleeves out of an old, hole-y pair of stockings to keep me warm on my walk over, since it was a chilly 8C.

They worked like a charm! I ended up wearing them for the whole race so I may even re-use them.

Before I left, I made sure to go to the bathroom. Three times. Yes, I’ve

I met up with Lynne and some of her friends, including Joey and Cat who ran with us in April. I love when races turn into mini-reunions!

Soon enough, we were off…

The course was quite nice – it followed a few residential streets with gorgeous homes and great big trees. There was a mix of flat ground and hills – including a fairly intense incline that started just after the 3k marker. The last few hundred metres were also on an uphill slope – but who doesn’t love sprinting uphill to the finish?

Despite the hills, I managed to keep a decent pace throughout and only stopped once for about 15 seconds at the water station to gulp down a cup. I felt like I was losing steam toward the end, but I pushed myself hard and ended up with a time of 26:30 – a new PR! Yay!

Before today, I’d never run an inaugural race – but I’d heard nightmares from other runners about chaos ensuing as race organizers tried to work out the kinks. I’m pleased to report that this race was practically kink-free. Aside from an issue with the chip timing that meant we had gun times only despite wearing Velcro anklets, everything went smoothly. We started on time, there were plenty of port-a-potties, and the volunteers – mostly high school students I think – were cheerful and enthusiastic.

We snacked on apples and bagels afterward while taking celebratory group photos:

And get this: they were giving out ENTIRE BOXES of President’s Choice Decadent chocolate chip cookies. Clearly it pays to enter small races!

But was that enough food for us? No. We ventured over to for breakfast, after calling to check if they were even open yet (it was only 9 a.m.). Lucky for us, they had opened at 7:30 for the . However, they still weren’t serving mimosas…

I actually wasn’t very hungry. I’m used to devouring about 800 calories within a few hours of finishing a race, but I suppose my body didn’t really need to ‘re-fuel’ after a workout under 30 minutes…

I ate about two-thirds of this veggie omelette, half a piece of toast and exactly three home fries. I was not feeling it.

Hours later, my appetite returned and I made this for a late lunch:


Kale pesto, tomato and goat cheese pizza. Mmmm heaven.

Off to rest up and prepare for a long, slooow 18k tomorrow. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, friends… and Happy Birthday Lynne!!

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