Recipe: Garlic Sesame Kale Chips

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Kale.

Another green, leafy vegetable right? Well, yes and no. Kale is hugely popular right now and is known as the “queen of greens” according to WebMD (Ok, I know they’re a sketchy source but we’ll let that go). Recipes abound for kale. You can steam it, bake it, eat it raw, and more. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and lutein. It’s also a great vegetable to have during the winter months because it likes to grow in cooler weather, unlike many other vegetables that are more common in summer months.

In my quest to improve my diet, a process that’s been slow going, I decided to throw kale into the mix for something new and different. I embarked on a quest for some good recipes, but wasn’t real thrilled with what I was coming across in my short and infrequent searches. Then my Runner’s World magazine showed up. Low and behold there was a recipe for kale chips.

Now, I’ve had store bought kale chips before. They’re good, but not something I was going to spend money on regularly. I just wasn’t overly impressed with flavors and prices. Making my own was definitely something I could do though, especially since I already had all the ingredients for the recipe.

I tried to find this recipe on the Runner’s World website, but had no luck. Here’s my version:

Ingredients
6 1/2 cups kale, chopped.
1 tbps. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Chop up the kale into 1 1/2 in. pieces. (Kale comes in bunches at Wegman’s on long, thick stems. Just focus on the leaves.)

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

3. Combine the kale, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl. Toss to evenly coat the leaves.

4. Add the sesame seeds and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Spread the kale on a baking sheet. It doesn’t have to be a single layer.

Love the color!

Love the color!

6. Bake for 15-17 minutes, tossing about halfway through. The leaves should start to crisp and the edges will turn brown.

7. Enjoy!

The leaves shrink down quite a bit so you'll probably only get 2-3 servings with one bunch of kale.

The leaves shrink down quite a bit so you’ll probably only get 2-3 servings with one bunch of kale.

Notes:
I noticed my garlic ended up in the bottom of the bowl so I just sprinkled it on top after I spread the kale on the baking sheet. I also did not need the full 15 minutes as my oven runs hot. You might want to play with the oven temperature as I’ve seen many other kale chip recipes with a lower heat, such as 300-350. You would probably just have to increase the baking time if you lower the temperature. I ended up removing about half the chips early so they wouldn’t burn, while the remainder finished crisping up. Did I already mention my oven is terrible? ;)

I loved the flavor and hope you do too. The chips are nice and light, yet filling. They’d be a great snack or side dish.

Question: Do you have any good kale recipes you can share?

Race Recap: Cook Forest Half Marathon

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Have you ever started a race and soon felt like you weren’t sure you would be able to finish?

I’m sure I’ve felt that way in the past. I have definitely had runs where I’ve had to cut them short because something just ached too much or I didn’t feel well. In fact, I cut a 9 mile run in half last Wednesday because I just didn’t feel well. Not exactly how I wanted my last run to go before a half marathon I was using as a training run, but I needed to listen to my body.

On Saturday a group of us from Ki’netik Fitness headed up to the Cook Forest Half Marathon & 5k. It was about 2 hours from home. What was nice was the race wasn’t until 11 a.m. so we didn’t have to get up too early. The half was at Cook Forest State Park, which is really out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t even a hint of cell phone service until you drove 15-20 miles down the road toward the interstate. Not a big deal though.

Our crew before the race. Four were first-time half marathoners!

Our crew before the race. Four were first-time half marathoners!

It was a pretty nice course along a river. Small rolling hills, but mostly flat. I think overall it was more uphill on the way out in the first half. The weather turned out to be nice with sun for most of it. It did decide to pour on our walk to the car afterwards though.

There were about 450 people doing the half marathon. They did a great job staffing water stations and had written inspirational things in chalk on the road, which was entertaining. Overall, it was a good, well-organized race. The $25 entry fee was also nice. While there was no medal, you at least got a very bright shirt.

In terms of my performance, I’m actually happy with my time because I had contemplated quitting during miles 3-6. That’s totally not like me. When the gun went off, my friend Ivy and I were hanging together running about a 9:35 pace. My shins were sore, as were Ivy’s, but that’s pretty normal until we get warmed up. However, we both soon realized that it wasn’t shin splints giving us issues. My left foot was falling asleep, a feeling I experienced during one of my leg’s of the Tussey Mountainback Relay that was 4.5 miles straight up a mountain. I think the issue in both cases was the sloped road. It was very difficult Saturday to remain on a non-sloped section of road. I tried running in the dirt on the side, and ultimately just constantly switched to the side of the road that was least sloped. Sometimes that meant running down the middle because both slides sloped away from it.

I stopped at least three times during the first 5 miles. I stretched, rubbed, untied and retied my shoes, and walked. Nothing helped. I wanted to quit. I just couldn’t imagine running at least 7 more miles like that. But, I realized I was closer to the halfway point and turnaround mark than I was the start/finish line. So, I trudged on. Eventually the road started to remain level, feeling returned to my foot and the pain in my outer shin went away. I got to the turnaround point at just past 6.5 miles and crossed the timing mats at 1:05.

Feeling a surge of confidence, I pushed my pace. My starting 9:35/mile had dropped an entire minute to 10:30. Not cool. I made it a goal to catch to guys in our group who had caught up to Ivy and I early on, and that I had fallen behind when I had to stop multiple times. I caught them at a water station where I grabbed some gatorade, ate some sport beans, and pushed on with Ivy in my sights. Thanks to a bathroom break by Ivy, I caught her around mile 3 and we finished the race together.

While my thoughts of a PR vanished during the first half of the race, I’m happy to say I was only a minute off my PR and had cut my average pace back down to below 9:35. My left ankle/shin was sore afterwards, but icing it and using BioFreeze Perform has done wonders. I wasn’t sore at all on Sunday.

Now it’s back to the grind, but with beautiful weather in the forecast. Hoping for a nice easy run today, 9 miles on Wednesday and 5 on Thursday. This weekend, a long run of 14 miles is on the calendar.

In other news, yesterday I met my dad to go to the 67th Annual PA Maple Festival. More on that in another post. I’m also planning to share a recipe from Runner’s World for Kale Chips that I made last week. Very yummy!

Trying Something New!

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As a child, I wasn’t always the most adventurous with food. I had my likes and dislikes, and boy did I go through some hilarious phases. I hated pizza for a brief period of time, and still am not the biggest fan of Italian food in general. It’s something to do with the texture of the cheeses, which leads me to my dislike of cheese.

I know what you’re thinking…who doesn’t like cheese? Well for a long time I didn’t like any cheese. As I got older though, I discovered I liked cheeses that have more complex flavors or are just basically not boring. I love chèvre, brie, feta, gorgonzola, etc. However, I still can’t bring myself to sit down and eat cubes of cheese. And frankly, I don’t really enjoy watching other people do it either.

So back to the point, as I’ve gotten older I always make an effort to try things at least once. There are also foods I keep making myself try over and over in the hope that one day I’ll like them. I know that’s madness. For example, I don’t like eggs. I can eat them if they’re disguised by cheese, bacon, etc., but I just can’t eat eggs. No omelets, not scrambled, nada! I’ll keep trying. Our tastes change constantly. You never know!

The other day I stopped at the grocery store for some sort of protein for dinner. I already had a ton of veggies waiting at home, but I decided to walk through the produce section anyway and see if anything caught my eye. For some reason I bought a head of cauliflower. I’ve never eat cauliflower. It’s white and looks kinda gross. I like colorful foods. Interestingly enough, despite its lack of color cauliflower is super good for you. It’s high in Vitamin C, and also contains other things like folate, Vitamin B6 and K, fiber, and more!

Gabe and I decided to roast it along with some asparagus. I have to say it turned out quite good! It’s definitely going to be something I’ll eat again. Check out our dinner and my directions for roasting cauliflower.

Baked wings with roasted asparagus and cauliflower....mmm!

Baked wings with roasted asparagus and cauliflower….mmm!

Directions for roasting cauliflower:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (my oven runs hot so you might want to set yours to 425).
2. After chopping the cauliflower, lightly coat in olive oil in a bowl. It doesn’t need to be soaked in it, just a light coating to help seasoning stick and keep it from sticking to your pan.
3. Choose your seasonings. I used a a spice mixture from Penzey’s Spices. Anything would be good, but don’t forget some salt and pepper too! Sprinkle and mix to evenly coat the cauliflower. I used my hands to mix to keep from breaking apart the cauliflower too much.
4. Place it in a single layer on pan.
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5. Roast for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. You want to be able to stick a fork through it, but it shouldn’t be mushy.
6. Enjoy with the rest of your meal!

As I’m attempting to improve my eating habits, I’ve learned that spices can do wonderful things to foods you might not like (or at least think you don’t like). You can go mild, sweet, spicy, you name it! And don’t forget salt. Obviously you don’t want to drown anything in salt, but a little goes a long way in enhancing flavors.

On another note, back in February I entered the lottery for the 39th Marine Corps Marathon in D.C. in October. I haven’t run my first marathon yet (it’s May 4 in Cincinnati), but my friends had nothing but rave reviews for the MCM last year. It’s mission, according to the website is “to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the United States Marine Corps.” It’s considered “The People’s Marathon” as the largest marathon in the world to not provide prize money. So anyway, I decided to enter the lottery and see if I’d get a spot. I got my e-mail at 12:48 p.m. today. I am nervous, but excited! Hopefully my first marathon in May goes well and I’ll be confident heading into the training for the MCM this summer.

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Banana Muffins and #MarathonTraining

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What a combo, right? That was pretty much my weekend though, with a little extra fun thrown in. How was yours?

On Friday, two running buddies joined me for an 8-mile run. It was warmer, but the wind started to pick up the later it got. I was definitely glad to have my jacket with me. I had delayed that run for two days due to the weather so I was running regardless at that point. I do not enjoy running inside or in circles, so I’m usually willing to brave the elements. The wind had just been too bad on Wednesday and Thursday. I really don’t want to get sick so I try to be flexible.

On Saturday my week of dogsitting came to an end. It was fun and I look forward to watching her again sometime. For now I’m glad to get some sleep. I didn’t sleep well most of the week thanks to the crazy noises the house made!

When I got home I decided to use two very ripe bananas I had sitting around, and one my roommate had leftover. I had made these banana muffins before with walnuts. They’re yummy, but definitely a different consistency than a normal muffin due to having no butter or oil. They’re “healthier” :) However, this time I found the batter to be excessively dry. I remembered that one of commenters suggested adding some skim milk so I decided to try that. I didn’t measure, I just poured in a splash. It did the trick. I also lacked some walnuts, but had two open bags of chocolate chips (one dark chocolate and one milk chocolate) that wouldn’t be enough for any other recipe. I dumped those in, gave the batter a stir, and poured into my super cute muffin cups.

The exterior design doesn't fade when baking due to the lining. They were just as cute after!

The exterior design doesn’t fade when baking due to the lining. They were just as cute after!

I filled the cups about 2/3 full. You can see the chocolate chips in the batter.

I filled the cups about 2/3 full. You can see the chocolate chips in the batter.

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Mmmm!

Mmmm!

The milk, while not adding a lot of calories (it was skim!) did just enough to improve the consistency of the muffin, in my opinion. They’re definitely a little more muffin-like, but can still be considered quite a bit healthier than a banana muffin you might buy at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks (nothing against their muffins!). You can also try adding a fourth banana, something I have done in the past. It adds a bit more moisture, but the muffin will still be on the chewy side of things.

Two other big things to note. First, the recipe says to bake for 20-25 minutes. Mine only needed to be in for 15! My oven runs a bit hot, but that’s still quite a change so you’ll want to keep an eye on them. Second, I got 18 muffins using a regular cupcake sized tin. Recipe says you’ll only get 10.

Here’s my modified recipe:

Ingredients
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup skim milk

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line the muffins cups in a cupcake tin.
2. In a medium bowl, mix eggs and bananas. Add in flour one cup at a time and mix. Add in salt, sugar, and baking soda and mix.
3. Stir in about one cup chocolate chips (or walnuts, etc), or more if desired. Spoon into muffins cups filling about 2/3 full.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

Easy!

Saturday night, Gabe and I headed out to Elk Creek Cafe with his friend Mario and his fiancé. They hadn’t eaten there before. The restaurant is known for it’s beer and delicious food! I highly recommend the beer sampler. You get a taste of each beer, plus their seasonal, in good-sized glasses. It’s worth way more than the $10 they charge!

Did I mention it looks quite pretty too?

Did I mention it looks quite pretty too?

We had a great time. Despite it being about 30 minutes outside of town, it’s worth the drive. They often have music on Friday and Saturday nights and they definitely pack it in!

On Sunday I continued my marathon training with another long run. This weekend was 16 miles, only one more mile than last week. My friend Ivy joined me. We headed out at 11 a.m. to plant some water at the halfway point. It was nice to have that to look forward to, and it helped stave off hunger pains that hit us both about 3 miles from the end. We were both a bit tired when we started, but once we got going we did pretty well. Hopefully next weekend’s 18 miles goes just as smoothly!

I stopped at the grocery store yesterday as well, and managed to buy almost exclusively fresh food, including kale, asparagus, lettuce, plum tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, strawberries, sweet peppers, and apples. I also bought two Eye of Round steaks for a crockpot meal, as well as some Chobani Greek Yogurt Flips. I’m trying to improve my eating. I’m hungry a lot from the increase in activity with training, but don’t always make good decisions when it comes to picking my food. Definitely something I need to pay more attention to for the long run!

Anyways, I’ll be back to check in soon! Hope you had a good weekend!

Dogsitting, Spring Break, #MarathonTraining

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It’s Spring Break time at Penn State and that means State College is back to its peaceful, quiet self. A lot of people assume universities shut down during breaks. Alas, that’s not true. Staff members are still hard at work! It is kind of nice to not be traveling, but what I wouldn’t give to be off on some adventure. I’m doing a lot of weekend travels during April into May so I’ll try to make up for it then.

Anyway, it’s been a busy few weeks particularly when I took on overlapping dogsitting jobs that ended up not really overlapping.

My first charge was Miss Izzy, a sweet lab who loves to cuddle. She can get a bit mischievous when left alone, but that’s a pretty rare occurrence. I ended up only having her overnight since my friend’s trip was cut short. 

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My other charge was Miss Marina. I have her until this Saturday, a full 8 days. I’ve been camping out at her house overnight keeping her company. She’s a slightly overweight Golden Retriever, but her owner is working on that and I’m doing my part. No human food for this girl! She’s definitely noticeably thinner than the last time I watched her a few weeks ago. 

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So this is what Marina’s backyard looks like right now. As you can see, things have certainly warmed up in Happy Valley! Every time I let her outside I end up with a very muddy puppy. We’ve made friends with the hose, but today ought to be insane with how much it’s raining. I’m prepared with rain boots and a rain coat!

Marina is true to her breed and loves to play fetch. She’d let me throw a tennis ball for hours if the mood struck and will even kick the ball back and forth with you inside on the hardwood floors. I try to give her as much time outside or playing as I can. It’s good exercise for her and she certainly loves it! 

On top of dog sitting, I’ve been quite busy doing an outline for my final paper for one of my grad classes and had a bachelorette party on Saturday. We spent the afternoon at Seven Mountains Wine Cellars. It was great to spend time with Michelle (on the left in the photo below), the bride-to-be, my dear friend April (on the right), and also my friend Christine (not pictured) who I haven’t seen in a few years! 

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Did I mention I bought three bottles of wine? :)

After the festivities, on Sunday I got back to my running with my longest run ever…15 miles! A few gym friends joined in and we finished in 2:33. Not too shabby! I was sore Sunday night, but by Monday I felt pretty good. I took Monday off from everything before enjoying a nice 4.6 miler on Tuesday after a day working from home that included an amazing massage to loosen me up!

Due to today’s soaking rain that’s not supposed to end until late, I’m heading to the gym this evening and will tackle my 8 mile run tomorrow when it’s sunny and windy. I have another long run this weekend…16 miles! Here’s hoping it’s actually as fun as my 15 miles.

Have a great week and I’ll be back soon!

 

Valentine’s Day #LoveLoveLove

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I know, I know. It’s a Hallmark holiday. However, it can be really hard not to get caught up in all the lovey dovey.

I recently started following Olive To Run and she participated in a Valentine’s themed Old School Blogging event hosted by The Miss Elaine-ous and Tamara. I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun!

Feel free to join in on the fun! Tweet @elainea and @TamaraCamPhoto with #OSBlog, and don’t forget to post a link on Elaine’s blog!

How do you typically celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Well, I like to keep it low key. Gabe and I have usually made dinner at home and usually surprise each other with something simple, yet special. This year, we’re once again staying in with maybe a trip out for drinks after. He’s making dinner (he’s the kitchen talent in our relationship) and I’ll be baking these!

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

I’ll be modifying it and using marshmallows instead of Nutella. I’m not a huge Nutella fan and the only jars at the store were huge!

Do you like to get A)chocolates, B) Flowers, C) a sweet card or D) all of the above?
Honestly, B or C. However, I don’t expect it on Valentine’s Day. I don’t think showing someone your love should just be limited to this one day a year, a day when flowers are insanely overpriced. I think the random acts of love and kindness are the best and most special. Gabe and I have a nice evening planned, but I think he does a wonderful job of expressing how he feels throughout the year.

Would you consider yourself a “cuddler?” If not, would you at least cuddle on Valentine’s Day?
Yes, I’m a cuddler! It’s the best!

What is your favorite movie about love or with a love story?
I’m a sucker for a good (or cheesy) love story/chick flick. What? I’m a girl and they make me happy. Anyway, I think I’ll have to be cliche here and go with The Notebook and Pride and Prejudice.

Do you believe in “love at first sight?” Did it happen to you?
I don’t know. Maybe. I think there can be attraction, lust, lots of different feelings. Love grows with time and that’s a good thing in my book.

Do you believe love can conquer all things?
I believe that love, understanding, and a desire for good can help us get through and achieve much. It’s not the simple, but yet maybe it could be.

What is one of the main things you love about your S.O.?
Just one? Seriously? Ok well, that’s not going to happen. He’s driven and focused and intelligent, but he’s also passionate and gives his all to the things he’s passionate about. He also knows how to make me feel special in ways no one else has.

If you could have the perfect Valentine date what would you and your loved one do?
That’s tough! I think maybe we’d be celebrating somewhere new and far away. We’ve been talking about all the places we want to travel to and experience the culture be it South America, Europe, Asia. I think it’ll happen one day!

Tell me about your first crush!
This is tough because you always have those lil kid crushes on classmates or friends’ siblings. I’ll touch on my kindergarten crush. His name was Justin and we were in Mrs. Fall’s kindergarten class. He moved away after first grade.

Do you have any embarassing or horror dating stories?
Amazingly not really. I will say I didn’t exactly put my best foot forward with Gabe on our first date. We went out after the gym one night for drinks. I showed up in a hoodie and jeans. Sexy, I know! However, apparently my ability to make him laugh for the next few hours charmed him enough to look past my lackluster fashion.

Favorite Flower?
This is another tough one. I love flowers of all kinds. I’m going to have to go with sunflowers and roses. However, this lilypad flower definitely fits in with my favorites!IMG_20130724_112713_051

What’s the first type of chocolate you hope for when you reach into a box of chocolates?
Not the biggest fan of boxes of chocolate, especially when they don’t have a key to what all the chocolates are. I like anything with nuts in it though.

Favorite love song?
Umm again just one? Sorry not happening! Here’s a few I like.

What is the best breakup song?
Not real sure, but this one is fun.

Favorite celebrity couple?
I don’t have one. Sorry, I just don’t.

Overall, are you pro- or anti-Valentine’s Day?
I think I would go with pro. I think it’s gotten a bit out of hand maybe. However, it never hurts to show someone you love how much you care as long as this isn’t the only day it happens.

If someone did that “Say Anything” boombox thing outside your window, would you be into it, or call the police?
I guess it depends on the person :)

First thing you notice about the objects of your affection?
I think with Gabe it’s how he can look so classy. He doesn’t dress up often here, but when he does or when we’re in the city and he does, he looks awesome and I’m happy to be the one on his arm.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever gotten for Valentine’s Day?
I think it’s really just the love that gets reinforced from family, Gabe, and my friends. A card in the mail or a text or a call, make the day that much more special.

Well that was fun! Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope it’s special and memorable!

#MarathonTraining Update!

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It’s been a bit, but I’m back with a quick update on my marathon training. I’m in to week 7, which means a four runs with distances of 3 miles, 6 miles, three miles, and 12 miles.

So far the runs are going pretty well and I’ve managed to change up my routes, which helps stave off boredom. Last week I decided to check out one of the rail trails despite knowing there’s no winter maintenance and we’d had about six inches of snow with ice on top. It was about a mile from my office and once I got to the trailhead, I decided to detour into the woods for some snowy trail running. Others had hiked in before me so there was a decent path to follow.

Peaceful and beautiful.

Peaceful and beautiful.

My mistake came when I decided to exit the woods to head toward another section of the rail trail. There was not a path to the rail trail and once I got on the rail trail, I was choosing between creating my own path or using one that was really unstable. It was slow going for sure and often times it was like I was doing high knees. I finally go to a road, which was clean and dry, and finished my run.

For my long run last week, I decided to do the Colyer Sno Big Deal 10k. It’s an out-and-back on one leg of the Tussey Mountainback course. The three miles out are a pretty consistent uphill climb. While the forest road had been plowed, it was still covered in snow and ice leading to slippery footing once in awhile. Going up was on the slower side, but heading back down to the finish was fast and fun.

I took Sunday off and decided to try out a barre class at one of the local gyms. It was interesting and it definitely made your legs burn. It was mentally challenging though because while it’s based around ballet moves/positions, it by no means uses correct form. That was tough for the dancer in me to watch and do myself!

This week I’ve already knocked out one run. I helped out a friend yesterday with her dog and decided to take her for a run with me. She’s an energetic lab who does pretty well on a leash so I figured I’d try it out. She had a blast in the snow and we only stopped a few times for her to sniff or do her business.

Today I have a 6-mile run lined up, and thankfully it’s supposed to warm up to 23 from the -4 it was when I got to work. Here’s hoping anyway!