Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vegan Raisin Cookies

What defines a foodie?
Can you call yourself a foodie when you lay in bed thinking about what sort of ingredients would taste good together or how you can improve a recent recipe or better yet.... thinking about how to get your mill to work!
I seriously was so perplexed last night after my mill just would not grind up the whole wheat! 
I had HIGH hopes of experimenting with different grains, but I don't want to put my coffee grinder under more abuse, so I was determined this morning to figure out how to get my mill to do what I wanted. 

First thing in the morning, I went online, found a youtube clip that showed the ins and out of my mill, and then went to work  immediately on the thing. I realized that I wasn't turning the 'knob' far enough to the 'fine' setting, so the mill stone (whatever its called) wasn't tight enough to press the wheat into flour.
Turning the "knob" was quite some work. My forearms got a little sore in the process of turning and readjusting. 
And then it happened! I finally found the right setting and the grains started turning into flour! 

It didn't turn as 'fine' as I was hoping it would, but I knew it would work if I just shifted my flour before using it. I was so excited that I had to try some brown rice. Yes, I now have brown rice flour! 

I was so happy with myself that I promptly emailed Motozo to tell him the wonderful news. I know he doesn't really give a damn about mills or even about muffins for that matter (he still hasn't tried the muffins I made last night! HUMP!). But being the kind husband that he is, he humored me and said "good babe!" :)
Enthusiastic husband or not, I was thrilled! 

Of course, I had to use the flour when it was fresh, so I used a tried and tested Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, taken from EveryDayDish
I don't have chocolate chips other then cacao nibs, but I really want to save those for raw desserts, so I substituted with raisins instead. 

Don't they look yummy! So easy to whip up and only 11mins of baking time! The problem was they turned out too salty. I'm still learning this whole measuring thing. I wasn't looking at my measuring spoons properly and I put way too much salt in. So far my sweets seem to be either too sweet or too salty. One of these days I'll find the right balance. Until then, I have a big tupperware of muffins and cookies that should last me for a good while! YAY!     

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vegan Banana Muffins

I'm totally addicted to this women's site Oh She Glows !
She has absolutely amazing recipes and photography of her vegan creations! Although I'm trying to stay towards raw food, seeing her delicious foods, especially desserts, has made me want to turn on the oven and make some sweets. 

And today I finally did! I had 3 over ripped bananas that I thought would be lovely in a cake or muffin. So I went to Oh She Glows site and found the perfect recipe
If you actually do go to the site, please don't compare my muffin with hers. Of course, hers look better! ha

I didn't go all the way and make the filling that she made for her muffins and I had to make a few ingredient adjustments, but they still turned out very fluffy and delicious! 

 I started off with whole grain which I wanted/needed to grind up. My wonderful mill, which I got as a wedding gift, unfortunately was not doing the job! 

Very frustrated that the mill was just spitting out the grains whole (not a single dent in the grains!), I gave up after 15mins of trying to get it to work and pulled out my never failing tiny coffee mill. 

Now that's more like it! 

It took a while for the grains to turn into flour and my poor coffee mill got so over heated that it started making a strange noise. The recipe called for 1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, but I only managed to grind up a cup of whole wheat and used regular white flour for the 3/4 cup since I didn't want to kill my coffee mill. 

My 100% freshly ground whole wheat. Very proud of myself for spending 30mins just on flour! 

I made quite a huge mess in the process of putting together the wet/dry ingredients and then mixing them together. But the final result didn't look bad after putting them into the muffin tin

I planned on sprinkling some cacao nibs on top, but I totally forgot about it because I was busy licking the bowl and mixing spoon. The batter was delicious! 

20mins later.....TADA! 

I forced myself to have a large salad (dinner) before eating a muffin. The taste: very fluffy, moist, light, and not too sweet! The original recipe calls for 1 cup of mashed bananas, but I only got 1/2 cup out of my 3 small bananas, so the flavor of banana was a little weak. Next time I want to definitely making sure I have a full cup of mashed bananas. But still very yum! 

I really want to try making gluten free desserts, so I'm going to play around with Amaranth in the next couple of weeks. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yamanote Run and Farmers Market

The Yamanote Run or better know as "Tour de Yamanote" is an annual run my running club does. The object is to run around the Yamanote line, as close to the tracks as we can get. The entire distance is relative to how many times we get lost. But its roughly 40k or so all the way around.
Its the GREEN line.
Out of the 4 years that this run has taken place, I've ran 3 of them. The 1st one I did was earlier in my running life so long distance was relatively new for me. I made it half way around and my legs were screaming!
The 2nd time I got some long distance training under my belt with 2 marathons and lots of half marathons, so it was pleasantly not that hard to complete :) Of course, I was tired at the end but the reason why it was "not that hard" is that we go at a VERY slow pace, stop at every single red light, wait for any people who get stuck at the stop light or are a distance back, and we stop for water and bathrooms when needed. It takes approx 4.5 hours in total.
The 3rd time was this Sun.
This year, I have taken a big break on the long distance training, so I didn't have any plans on completing the entire loop. Half way, I figured, was enough for me. With a scheduled brunch with girlfriends the same day, I had a valid reason to pull out in case anyone tried to persuade me otherwise.

The day started extremely early for me at 5AM. My alarm was set for 5:30AM, but I was so excited about the run that I was wide awake before it went off.
No appetite so early in the morning, but drank my coffee to get everything moving.
Luckily, I live close to where the start was, so it was a nice 10min jog down to Yoyogi-park. After the mandatory group shot, we were off at 7:30AM.
See if you can spot me. 

We look really serious with our matching Tour de Yamanote shirts, but today was not a serious day. Today was strictly a "fun" run. Anyone expecting to get a race out of this would be very disappointed.
The easy pace allowed for some pleasant chatting and since it's been awhile since I've joined a running event, I realized how much I missed the club....well, at least a few key members. Like these two lovely ladies!

Jaynie, Mary and I are planning to do Oxfam Trailwalker again next year. We're planning on having a ladies team, so we spend some time discussing who would be good for our 4th member and how we'll go about doing Oxfam. I know, were a little crazy. Here we are planning a hiking event that's what...5 months away, but these things got to be planned in advance.
More of my favorite peeps

As you can see, we stopped a lot. Check out my awesome camelbak backpack. This thing is so convenient! I can drink and carry water easily. Not to forget, carrying my camera wasn't a hassle either.

The initial plan was to run for about 2 hours to get me half way around the Yamanote, but after 2 hours I didn't feel very tired and decided to carry on for a couple more stops. After another 30mins or so, I finally started to feel it in my ankles a little, so I made my exit at Tabata.  For a total of 25k (probably 27k including my jog to the start), no injuries, lots of smiles and laughs I have to say it was a very successful run!

Ah, the joy of running with a group of people! I seriously should make a bigger effort to run with people as it really does help time fly!

Immediately after getting back, I took a quick shower, stretched my suddenly achy legs and dashed out the door for a late lunch with the girls. It was great to have girl talk over a vegan lunch.
With my run earlier, I felt I deserved a spurge! Vegan carrot cake for desssert. MMMMMM!

After lunch, I persuaded my friend to walk down to the Farmers Market. Every Sunday there's a Farmers Market in Omotesando not far from where I live, but ironically, I've never been there. So today I was determined that I'd check it out. Also it was about closing time so I thought I might be able to score a few discounts. And lots of discounts I got! I can't believe I don't come here every Sunday to buy my fresh produce. Organic vegetables and fruits were almost half the price that I buy at the store! Unbelievable! I was too busy buying stuff that I forgot to take photos. But I did manage to get a few.

It was love at first sight with the mini apples! So adorable! The kind apple man gave us each a mini apple for FREE!

I want this in my kitchen!

The best deal of the day were 5 organic pears for Y250! SCORE!

I'm totally going back there on a regular basis.

And that completes my fabulous weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shoes and cookies.

As a runner who considers herself pretty savvy for running do's and don'ts, I certainly fall short in the department of keeping my running shoes fairly fresh.
Most runners own 2-3 pairs which they rotate on a regular basis so it prevents one from getting worn out too soon. Very logical and highly recommendable!
And yet, I've always only own 1 pair, (minus the many worn out pairs I don't have the heart to throw out) that I use until I see signs that its in need of a replacement.
Depending on your weight,height, and smoothness of your gait, an average life of most running shoes is 583-804 kilometers. According to those numbers, I should be replacing my shoes AT LEAST 2Xs a year. If one year I'm training for a marathon then I should expect to go through 3 pairs. 
But shame on me, I've never done this. I've always worn the same pair for at least a year before getting a new one.
That time of year rolled around again.....oh, 3 months ago. So 2 days ago I finally forced myself to the sports store. You'd think I'd be excited to go shopping, but no, not really. The problem is the shoe I want is usually not in my size. After MUCH trial and error I know the exact shoe I want and for the pass 3 years I've always stuck with the same one. They've never failed me so theres really no point in changing brands. I'm an Asics lover!
Just as I expected, the shop was out of my size. The shop clerk tried persuading me to buy Nike or NewBalance.....nope, can't do it! So he shyly said they have the Asics in my size BUT it's the men's model.
Tried them on, loved them, bought them. The main reason I was so thrilled with them was the color. I am a such a girl.
I've worn pink for years now,but only because there wasn't any other color available . Why can't they make blue or green female shoes eh? Take a look at the blue beauties!

As you can see, I put my running shoes to good use! A little sick of me, but that dirty shoe makes me proud! It shows its been through a lot!

I got a little carried away and did a little Him & Her shoe :)

The comfort of the shoes - fabulous! The difference from the old shoes is seriously shocking! Now I'm actually contemplating getting another pair of shoe so I can rotate and retain the cushion and spring I feel a little longer. The shoes made me feel like I was flying! The 2 runs I've done in them have got to be the most enjoyable runs I've had in a long time. WOOHOO!

Food time! I was inspired yesterday to use my newly purchased vanilla agave. I wasn't in the mood to follow a recipe so I made some raw cookies with my own imagination and the limits of what I have in my cupboards.

What I used:
  • Raw hemp protein power
  • Ground black sesame seeds (white probably would have made the cookies look more appealing)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Unsweetened shredded coconuts
  • Lacuma powder
  • Vanilla flavored agave
Threw everything together.

Mixed and soon learned that a little bit of agave goes a LONG way! I put too much agave in (sob sob, precious agave wasted!) as they turned out too wet and I had to add in more coconut shreds. I put them in the freezer for 30mins to hardened a little so I can mold them into cookie shapes. They still were a little sticky, but I managed and licked my fingers happily and transfered them back into the freezer.

I know they don't look very appealing. The green from the hemp protein and black from the sesame makes for some hamburger looking cookies ha.  


Before and after the freezer                                                       

The taste - OH SO DELICIOUS! Maybe a little too sweet, but they still made me very happy.
The nutrition value is not too bad as well. Protein, omega 3 and calcium rich! :)
It'll be fun to play around with by using less agave and maybe add some nuts next time.
And umm....maybe work on the presentation as well haha. Brown/green cookies...don't they look yummy?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go ahead and hug yourself!

Let your food be your medicine. That's going to be my motto!
I've been reading this awesome book "Happy Yoga" It says, 7 Reasons why there's nothing to worry about. 
It's really an AMAZING book and every morning I read a little from it before beginning my day. I find these great little quotes that inspire and put me in a great mood first thing in the morning.


A lot of things that he mentions are things I've heard before, but it's great to review some important points. 
Here are some things that spoke out to me:

Treat My Body As I Would A Dearly Loved Pet (don't you want your pet to be healthy so you feed it the best food and give it the best treatment?)

A pet is an idea that is mentioned in the book, but it can be anything from husband, child, or friend. Basically, anything that I have lots of respect and love for. This is a very good thing to keep in mind, because when I really think about it, I realize that I don't love my body as much as it deserves to be. Hell, I would never tell my friend, child, or husband "Why, after all that running and healthy eating, do you have a larger ass then most girls!" OR "You'll never fit into skinny jeans because your thighs are too large!"  And yet, these are things I say to myself quite often.
If a friend says anything negative about her body I'm quick to tell her something positive. Now why don't I do that for myself!? Why don't we all do that for ourselves?

I Am Not My Body. I Am Intelligence.

Having six pack abs and buns of steal(not that I have either one) doesn't define who a person is. A yogi views the body as a vessel for living on this earth. And we want that vessel to be running smooth and living a long life. How do you do that? Treat the body well!

There are LOADS of other wonderful points, but I won't mention it all now.
One of the most important things to remember is that Happiness is a state of mind. Bottom line, its my choice to be happy and no one or anything can change that.

This morning I told myself some arrogant things, but let me tell you, it totally worked! I was so happy right after doing this and felt happy ALL DAY. Here's what I did.
Before I got myself out of bed, I laid there with my eyes closed, put my hand over my heart and told myself out loud "You are happiness, you are joy, you are love." I felt good....why not continue. " I am intelligent, I am brave, I am strong, I am capable, I am beautiful." Of course, I felt a little foolish talking to myself and being VERY immodest, but when do I ever say those things to myself? And why shouldn't I? I spend a lot of time telling myself negative things, I deserve some sweet talk every so often. No I deserve it EVERYDAY!
And so does EVERYONE! Go on, become friends with yourself because your body and you is going to be with you forever so you really should like love you!
I know this sounds so cheesy and like I'm writing some Self Help thing, but really, I just want everyone to be/find happiness!

Alright, enough deep talk. Time for some YOGA! Here's a little something for dear Hana. I'm so proud of you for training for your 10k! Here's a little stretch/massage you can do to for your legs.
Even if you aren't a runner, anyone can benefit from this. As I mentioned in the video, it's a massage for me, so go ahead and give yourself a treat :)
PS. I make lots of grammatical errors and look pretty sweaty because I videoed it right after my run. SORRY! But I feel damn proud of myself for not having to get all dolled up for the cam. No make up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lavender and Cinnamon

Blogging makes me happy. Absolutely juvenile as it sounds, updating my blog makes me feel accomplished so maybe I should do it more often :) Of course, I must keep it in perspective and make sure I'm not spending hours on the computer.

Today is a cloudy Autumn day. But I love it! I'm wearing long sleeves, socks, AND a scarf in the house and I've had to go back and forth between closing windows and opening them up again. I love the cold breeze that flows in when the windows are open! Its 5pm now and its quite dark outside. The days are definitely shorter and I can't help but get so excited. I know I said it before, but I love Autumn!

For some reason I'm feeling pretty relaxed and organized today. I wonder if it has anything to do with everything smelling like Lavender! I spilt Lavender Oil last night as I was giving Motozo a massage. At the time I thought "CRAP!" oil all over the sheets, but now that the sheet is clean, dry and still smelling like lavender I'm happy we had a little spill. My hands and almost everything smells like lavender....ahhh......maybe I should buy myself a lavender plant.
Lilia, do you know this brand? One of my yoga students bought it for me when she took a trip to Australia. I'd like to go visit this shop when we visit there! Which reminds me, I haven't done any research on Australian Open like I should have weeks ago! I'm making a list of things to do ASAP!

Today I whipped up a snack that was so good and simple I just have to post it!

Two ingredients I'm sure everyone has in their fridge.

Diced up the apple, threw it into the food processor, and processed until coarsely chopped.

Added the large banana, dash of nutmeg, and lots of cinnamon! I LOVE CINNAMON!

Processed everything until sort of pudding like, but not completely smooth.
Sprinkled more Cinnamon on top. Mmmmm...yum! Apple and cinnamon...nothing gets more Autumn like then that.

Certainly nothing special and most people would probably consider this baby food, but you can always make some adjustments to give it more texture. Some optional add ins could be: Walnuts, vanilla extract, raisins etc. Endless options to have fun with!

Since this blog is becoming more about food then running, I'd just like to mention now that I am still running. Not that I think Lilia (my faithful and only reader hehe) cares. So I'm really just saying this for myself.
In fact this weekend I plan to do a long run around the Yamanote Line with my running club. I probably will only make it half way around which will give me 20k or so, but that's pretty good for me right now :)

Right then, back to studying.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend update

Everyone loves weekends, especially this particular girl. It means I have a good excuse to sleep in, spend the whole morning drinking coffee, surfing the net and best of all, spending quality time with this special man!

My Saturdays usually start off with either taking an Ashtanga class or doing my own yoga practice before teaching my Yoga for Runners class in the late afternoon. I felt inspired this time to practice Vrschikasana - Scorpion Pose.
Watch me hop 1,2,3, and FINALLY on the 4th time I bang into the wall to get myself up. How graceful of me! I'm a beginner at Vrschikasana so I'm quite shaky in the video, but oh, well...I need to start somewhere. Nina, with your bendy back I bet you can get your feet to touch your head much easier. Give it a try, but do make sure you warm up well! In this clip I was practicing yoga for over an hour with gentler backbending to ease myself into this intense backbend.
Sure was fun!

I was having a pretty moody Saturday, so I was quite happy that I woke up on Sunday feeling much more positive! I've been reading this awesome book called "Happy Yoga" and it's been a life saver recently. Its all about finding happiness from within yourself rather then looking to people or any other outer source for happiness. It explains how we can't place expectations on things or people to bring us happiness, but that happiness lies within each and every one of us and its up to us to nurture that area. So, I've been practicing some self love and each time I feel down I tell myself, "I am happiness" and amazingly I usually feel much better. I think I will elaborate on this topic on another post.
We started our day off with some refreshing carrot/apple/ginger juice. Freshly squeezed from the juicer. I was so happy that I could share this juice with Motozo and doesn't the orange make you think of Autumn? ah, Autumn!

Charged with energy from the carrot juice, I went out for a short 10k run and after returning, I got Motozo out the door because I was dying to go to VegeFesta!

Tokyo Vege Food Festa is held every year in Yoyogi-park. Since last year they made it strictly vegan (no vegetarian eggs or milk) and each year it seems they've either got better stalls out or I'm just a little more aware of the healthy things. This year they had so many goodies out! Wonderful super foods that are hard or close to impossible to find in Tokyo.
They had green juice stall. Which I thought was a little lame because look, it's mainly fruits they have in there. But wonderful, non the less, to have a green juice stand.

This place had amazing spices and reasonably priced dried fruits and nuts.

Even a place to do yoga and meditation if one wanted to.

I was on a quest to find a raw lunch and hit jack pot with this raw spinach curry and nut "cracker". YUM! I'm inspired now to try making raw curry.

Dessert was vegan ice-cream and since most of the stalls had samples, I munched happily while walking through crowds of people.

Unfortunately, I got a little carried away with looking at things and at one point, ducked into a stall that were selling things that I've been keen on getting for ages and in the process lost Motozo!
After making my happy purchase, I realized Motozo was no where to be seen. After 30min of walking around we finally found each other and Motozo was not in the festive mood any more. I accidentally left my phone at home and Motozo was not thrilled that he couldn't get in touch with me. The poor man!

After getting home I congratulated myself on some good finds.
Lacuma Powder and Cacao nibs are sure to make my raw desserts more interest!
Agave Syrup - not extremely healthy. Its still sugar at the end of the day, but the vanilla flavored agave was to die for so I had to get the 2 for the price of one deal!
KALE! First time EVER to see this in Japan. We stopped at Kinokuniya to get some groceries and I found kale on sale. This was my lucky lucky day!
Later in the afternoon I made Motozo and I big green smoothie using the kale and I slowly enjoyed it as I don't know when the next time will be for me to find the rare vegetable.

I'm kicking myself for not getting this one particular type of tea, but it was a little more expensive then what I was willing to pay for at the time. But now....damn, I wish I got it because its a tea that could possibly even replace my coffee addiction.
Oh, well, maybe I'll find it somewhere else.
Motozo and I ended our relaxing day by watching Wall Street 2. It was alright.
And then I watched Julie and Julia. Wonderful movie if you're into food like me,Haha! Motozo choose to read a book after 15min, so definitely not a guy flick unless he likes cooking.
But I highly recommend it if you're a Meryl Streep fan and a foodie.
How was everyone elses weekend?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stacking, stuffing and dessert!

It's been a whole TWO posts since I've blogged about food. But I'm coming back in full force in this one. Beware this is a monster post!

I haven't been the healthiest person lately and I'm certainly not doing very well as a wannabe raw foodist, but along with my "bad" food, I've been eating lots of the usual fruits and vegetables.
I've been putting my food processor in good use. I'm SO in love with it that I've used it every day the pass week and I can't believe I lasted years without one! For some reason last week I really enjoyed pureeing my food. For lunch and dinner I often processed my fruits and vegetables together and it was a nice pudding like texture. It was a great change from chewing salads. I must have been having a bad stomach week because pureeing all my food was friendly on my sensitive belly as well. Looking back now I realize I didn't use a single ounce of oil or salt dressing on my food because pureeing brought out the natural flavor of the fruits and veggies!

If anyone has a food processor I HIGHLY recommend pureeing apples, carrots, and spinach together. It sounds strange and it turns out very green, but the taste is fruity and oh, so good! To that mixture I added some cinnamon and it was almost dessert like. Mmm...just writing about it makes me want to eat it again. I know what lunch will be tomorrow hehe.

Ok, on to to what I've learned (amateur me) how to do recently. To make my food more decorative, I've learned that there are 3 things you can do: Stacking, Stuffing, and Rolling. I've done the rolling recently with my raw "sushi", so I decided it was time I did the other 2.

Stuffing is pretty simple. Put something soft into something harder. In this case, I stuffed hummus into green peppers. For some reason my tahini that I add to the hummus is slightly on the sweeter side, but the sweeter hummus complimented the bitter/tart taste of green peppers. I'm actually not a huge fan of raw green peppers, but this made them very easy to eat. They were good enough that I even snacked on them the next day.

On to stacking. This was really fun! I first had to start with a paste to add in between my "stacks." I got this idea for a Bean Pesto in a magazine. I used whatever I had on hand. It happened to be Arugula, another green leafy veg that I only know the Japanese name for, and Edamame. Threw it all in the food processor along with some dried basil, oregano, pepper and dash of salt.

Processed everything until smooth. It was a little too bitter for my liking so I added my strangely sweet tahini and it balanced everything out perfectly!

Now the fun part! Stack, Stack, Stack!

Tomato slice, bean pesto, cucumber slice, tomato slice, bean pesto, and just for fun garnished the top with some eringi mushrooms. Drizzled (accidental doused) some balsamic vinegar and WALA! It tasted very good. Unfortunately, I made this yesterday for lunch, which means Motozo couldn't enjoy it with me :(
This will be a good entree one day, some day, if ever I host a dinner party (haha fat chance!) With a little more practice I think I can make this look even better.

Vegetables aren't the only thing I've made recently. Of course, I can't forget dessert! Lately, I've been REALLY wanting chocolate. It doesn't help that Motozo has had a box of chocolates on the kitchen counter now for weeks and I don't think he ever plans to eat it. But I KNOW as soon as I put it in the cupboard he'll ask me where it went. So, I leave it out for him in case he decides he wants to eat it them one day.
Anyway, I decided to try out a simple chocolate recipe that I've been eyeing lately online. I had all the ingredients on hand and had the added incentive of using my new glass mixing bowls. Lovely eh?

The ingredients: Shredded coconut, unsweetened cocoa, maple syrup, dash of vanilla and cinnamon and Chia seeds.
Threw everything into a bowl, stir, and look at that chocolate delight! Vegan, semi raw and healthy.....alright, maybe not extremely healthy, but certainly better than your standard store bought chocolate though.

I transferred everything into a Tupperware and put it in the freezer to harden. The beauty about this is that it doesn't freeze rock solid, but hardens up to a perfect texture!

Of course, I couldn't resist licking the mixing bowl clean before washing it. It was SO good!

The next day, which was today, I spooned some out, garnished it with some frozen blueberries and OMG! Chocolate orgasm! Even Motozo, who mind you, is not big on sweets, said this was a very addictive flavor! I think it could have been better with a little less maple syrup as I prefer
a little darker chocolate over uber sweet choco. But it certainly hit the spot on my chocolate craving and I think I'm all chocolate out (in a good way) for this week. The great thing is I have half a Tupperware of this goodness still in the freezer which I can dig into whenever the craving comes back. HAPPY HAPPY!
One more photo of the chocolate just for the sake of it....even though it highlights the blueberries.
Gosh, I seriously am becoming food obsessed, but I'm having a grand old time!
My next challenge - Making almond milk!