Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Eats and More Weekend Fun!

Well the fun continues at Plato's Plate! I have been so busy lately with work, friends, fun and working out. I have been really focusing on eating as much produce as possible. Given that I am now the only human in this house, my large box of produce from the CSA seems extra large. BUT, I am challenging myself to eat through it, and have been doing a pretty good job. I am headed out of town for three of the next four weekends, so friends and neighbors and have been getting some of the benefits. Here are some of my best dishes from the past couple of weeks.....

Post Race last Sunday, I ate a magnificent, veggie filled meal. I made a salad with fresh shelled peas, fresh chopped cilantro, fresh green onions, S and P and EVOO.

 I also grilled some zucchini and spring onions, and then roughly chopped them with fresh basil, parsley, and cherry tomatoes. A little S and P and Balsamic Vinegar...delish!
After all that racing  I thought I needed a little protein so I grilled some scallops to go with my veg. I think it's funny I think of protein as something to go along with my veggies! For years I thought it was the other way around...finding enough veggies to go with my protein.  I wish more people thought this way, weather they are meat eaters or not! I doused everything in lemon juice and ate on my porch with Pdog. Yum! What a nice nightcap to an amazing day of racing.
This is a loaf of multigrain bread...that I made! I was so proud of myself! Well I can't be too proud, it came from a Mix from Bob's Red Mill. But, it was still very time consuming with lots of raising, resting, raising, punching down, etc, but in the end it turned out great!

With that bread I had an absolutely delish light dinner...toast with chopped mango, avocado, cilantro, S and P and lemon juice. OMG. This was so good, I could not stop saying "mmmm" the whole time. Peroni was jealous.
This is a little desert combo I have been enjoying...a couple pieces of brie, a little cup of blueberries, and some dark chocolate covered cherries. Do I even need to tell you how good this is?

Last Saturday was an epic day. I woke up early, rode my bike to an insane yoga class, rode home (it's 7 miles round trip of ridiculous hills that make me wonder what on earth I decided to start riding a bike for) and got ready for brunch at the Grand Del Mar.

The Grand is an UNREAL hotel. I have never seen anything like it. I am not bragging, but I have seen 4 star hotels in NYC, SF, Paris, Rome, London, Maui, Kauai, etc.....but I have never seen this place's equal. It's very elaborate with lots of crown molding, gold details everywhere, marble everywhere. It's quite palatial. It's a little over the top, but it is somehow very pretty. No detail was spared, and the grounds are gorgeous. I mentioned dinner at Addison a while back...that was at the Grand. Well, my best friend Erica is pregnant and unfortunately I have to miss her baby shower, so I treated to brunch! We had such a nice time talking, enjoying yummy food, and opening her gifts. I didn't do a great job of taking pictures...but you get the idea....
And here is my perfectly pregnant Erica. She looked so elegant in this dress....I thought she should be a preggo model! If it weren't for her belly, you would never know she was pregnant! She is about a month away from being due and has only gained 16 pounds. She looks fantastic!
After brunch I had a last minute invite to visit with another dear friend, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Martin, on Martin's boat in the San Diego Harbor. Divine is all I can say. Jessica was dolled up and perfect as usual with lots of tasty treats on the boat including homemade guacamole and whole grain chips, smoked salmon, and truffle cheese. She also had some of the seasons first cherries. There is something so satisfying about eating cherries on a boat and sending the pits into the water. We had some champagne while Martin and Peroni steered the ship!

 The sun came out for about an hour, and we soaked it right up!

I am the captain! He is my skipper!
Jessica is the best hostess I have ever experienced!!!!!She always makes things so nice and perfect and she is a pleasure to spend time with.

Later on Saturday I went out for sushi and drinks in Del Mar. It was a long but fun day!

The following Sunday was filled with the beach, farmer's market, and lunch at Captain Keno's. Captain Keno's is a greasy spoon heavy on the meat. They do have Crab legs on Saturday nights which I love, but other than breakfast one of the few things I can have is a tuna melt. It is tasty but not very healthy.

In effort to lighten things up, later that night I made a twist on this Coconut Spinach Dish from 101 Cookbooks. (By the way, this is short grain white rice "New Crop". It is hands down the best rice I have ever had. I always try to eat brown rice because its so good for you...and I like it! But sometimes white, fluffy, sticky rice is all that will do. This rice does this trick. I got it at a Japanese grocery store...I highly recommend seeking out some new crop short rice and learning how to cook it properly. I drain mine in a siv until the water is clear. Then I put 1 1/4 rice to 1 1/2 cup water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil as quickly as possible. Once boiling, turn way down, as low as possible, and let cook for 25 minutes. Turn off, and let steam for 15 minutes. Once you turn the rice on, DO NOT REMOVE THE LID! This is key. Then take off the lid and gently fluff your rice. Perfect Sushi rice, ready to be eaten or covered in sushi seasoning).

The changes I made to the Coconut Spinach recipe included using a whole chopped caramelized onion...and I used this weird baby spinach I found at the farmers market. It doesn't look like spinach and didn't taste like spinach, but I wasn't going to argue with the person who grew it. I also used fresh asparagus, and I topped it off with tons of chopped cilantro, green onions, and toasted cashews. I served it over fluffy white sushi rice. It was wonderful!

I made this soup on Monday. I made a simple stock from celery, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red pepper. After simmering for about an hour, I strained out all the ingredients. I  added the broth into a large pot with sliced asparagus. After a couple minutes, I added chopped beet greens and chopped spinach. I added in some noodles that were cooked and added at the last minute (I find adding noodles directly to soup makes them mushy) and topped with some sauteed tofu and fresh green onions. I added some drops of sesame oil, soy sauce and black sesame seeds. It was SO tasty and fresh!

And that my friends, is it for now. I am off to enjoy a long weekend in SF. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Well, I completed my first triathlon!

It was, above everything else, a complete and total blast! I had SO much fun and was smiling the whole time. I got up super early (I actually woke up on my own at 3:15 am!). Luckily I slept pretty well thanks to massive amounts of tea, a hot epsom salt bath, and plenty of homeopathic sleeping pills.

I was the first athlete to the race at 4:40 am...I think I was a little over excited! The transition area opened at 5, and I wanted to get a good parking spot and spot in the transition area. The wind was howling and the waves were kind of gnarly! I was pretty nervous.

First it was time to set up the transition area.

 Here we are trying to act calm. We were not calm. We were nervous and excited and full of emotion!

Then we walked down to the beach for a practice swim. I was SO happy we did this. It seems the first 100 yards are the hardest, so we got them out of the way. The wind died down and the waves died down...although there were definitely still waves and the water was pretty choppy.

Then we had to wait for about 40 minutes. My feet were FROZEN by the time we got in the water. In fact, for about 75% of the swim, my feet were numb! I was in the 5th wave of people starting. They do it by sex and age group. The anticipation was building while we were waiting to go! But, we finally went in. The water was 63 degrees, so it was just as warm if not warmer than the air, so that certainly helped. I tried to stay calm and did a pretty good job of it! I swam for what seemed like an eternity. But I finally finished and wasn't even really out of breath! Wahoo! 1st step done.

Then I had to run up this awful hill to the transition area. Not fun. I walked. Quick change and jump on the bike. I did not train on my bike enough. Not that the ride was too hard, but I could have gone faster with more training. I was so worried about the running and swimming...I just didn't focus on the bike. Next time!

The bike ride was pretty and fairly uneventful.

Next came the hardest part...changing from biking 12 miles to running for 3 miles. HOLYCOW BATMAN! My legs felt like jello. I thought they were going to give out on me and I was going to topple over! But, after I got into a rhythm, it was fine. There were not very many spectators. The ones that were there sure did help! It was very encouraging to have people cheer for you.  It was also great to see my tri training buddies along the course! And whenever someone older or heavier than me would pass me, I would be very motivated to go faster. Overall it was just such a cool feeling! I seriously was smiling ear to ear the whole time. It was just so much fun!
 I ended up sprinting at the end (who am I?) and passed that guy in the a lot!

 Who-hoo! I finished! They even called out my name over the loud speaker!!!! It was SO FREAKING AWESOME!!! And if I do say so myself...I think my arms are looking very toned in this picture! That's probably thanks to yoga. :)

We did it! Look! I got a medal!
My awesome friends Missy, Gil and Aaron got up early to come and support me. They were so nice to do that! I needed moral support. Afterwards we walked to Captain Keno's which is my favorite dive bar and greasy spoon for a big breakfast and drinks. Can you tell I am happy to be getting food in this picture??? And who are we kidding...that was the best beer of my life!
 These ladies are awesome. We already signed up for another race in July and are going to train together for the next couple of months. Yahoo!

Overall, I highly recommend doing a triathlon. The training was time consuming and sometimes pushed me outside of my comfort zone (umm...swimming in the ocean at 6 am? WTF?) but it was doable. And I have never considered myself to be an athlete before. If I can do can you! The actual event was so much fun and I felt a great sense of accomplishment afterwards. Plus...I lost 15 pounds while training...if that isn't motivating, I don't know what is! I also made some great new friends which is just an added bonus. 

I also finished the race in 1:53...I thought it would be a least two hours, so I am really proud of that time. All in all a great experience....and now I think I am hooked!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Countdown Starts....

Well in about 12 hours from now I am going to hear, "Females, aged 30-34, Wave 5, take your marks at the shoreline...ready, set, go!" Gahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! The anticipation is killing me! it time to see this yet?

This finish line is going to look SO good tomorrow!!!

I went to pick up all of my race stuff today and ran into my tri buddies Andrea and Jo. We actually went out for a great pasta dinner last night too. 

This is where the killer swim will occur. I know its hard to see, but we are swimming out to a yellow buoy. It's actually not too bad... I am being overly dramatic about it! It's actually just past the buoys we have been practicing with, so I am not too worried about it. The surf is supposed to be non-existent tomorrow which is great news.  Also, Jo and Andrea will be in my wave! So that is going to be fantastic. 

So...I have done everything on the pre-tri check list. Carb loading two days exercising for the day is all ready to go...gear is packed. I just ate dinner....baked greens, cracked wheat toast and some tofu. It was tasty! Now I am trying to calm down and get to bed...I want to get to the transition area by 4:30 I think I need to get up at about 3:30 to allow time to drive, blend my smoothie, and take the pooch out before I leave. My clothes and everything are all laid out, so it shouldn't take too long to get ready. Going to bed at 7 on a Saturday night is not easy. I am drinking tea, took some night time homeopathic sleeping pills...and am going to jump in a Epsom Salt Bath...hopefully that helps loosen my muscles, calm my nerves, and make me sleepy! 

I am full of nerves...mostly excitement. I hope that I have trained enough...that I don't get  a flat....and that I don't drown.  OK, I am not going to drown...but I really hope to do well. It's so funny how I have already accomplished so much...all the time put in for training...all the weight I have lost (15 pounds! Can you believe it????)....and above all....pushing myself far outside of my comfort zone. Yet, with all of these accomplishments...the biggest one is still tomorrow. I must get across that finish line! Today this man at the expo was telling me to get rid of "monkeys"...first...there will be a monkey on my back while I am waiting to jump in the water....there will be a monkey on my back for the first hundred yards of the water...there will be a monkey on my back when I have to run up the hill after the swim...and there will most certainly be a monkey when I transition from biking 12 miles and my legs feel like they are going to give out when I start to run. 

Well....I am off to force myself to sleep and try to sedate those monkeys until tomorrow. 

Wish me well, lovebugs! Here goes nothing!!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Triathlon Training Updates and a Fabulous Weekend

This past weekend was a mix of sunshine and overcast skies in San Diego which was perfect for me. I took advantage of the sun on Saturday and took Peroni to the beach in Del Mar. I even got him to run in the water! Sunday was overcast so I spent the day running errands and cleaning and organizing. I always hate doing that kind of thing on a gorgeous day...this was my kind of weekend...some fun....some work....and a perfectly clean home on Sunday to start the work week off right.

I was so unbelievably productive this weekend! I look back on everything I did and am shocked! It's no wonder I was exhausted last night.....

Look at this insane list of things I got done!

I did some work.
I gave myself a pedicure.
I scrubbed my house from top to bottom.
I cleaned my windows.
I steam cleaned my carpet.
I cleaned all of my couch cushion covers and chair covers.
I did about 15 loads of laundry.
I made it through my "to do file" of bills, thank you notes, etc.
I journaled.
I went to a farmer's market where I picked up gorgeous flowers
and Moringa Leaf Powder...I plan to use this to fuel my triathlon. It has protein, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, iron, and vitamin c! It seems to be the perfect fuel for a workout. Has anyone else heard of this stuff?

Every time I go to the farmers market I also pick up farm fresh eggs. 

I went shopping for succulents and planted them on my deck. I went to this amazing little succulent shop on Coast Highway 101 in Solana Beach... Solana was a lovely place that I have always meant to stop into. They had so many gorgeous varietals I had never seen. I had to buy some.....

Here are the plants I went home with. I also bought some new pottery to plant them in. I am a sucker for handmade pottery. I think they look so nice on my little deck....and add to my previous collection of succulents.

I went shopping for some flip flops from a local surf shop...and some pretty earnings and a glass bracelet from Noon.....this is the sweetest little store of jewelry....soaps....stationary, etc. It's very girly...The have an awesome deal called 12 X Noon where you buy a yearly subscription to their earrings. Each month for one year a handmade pair of earrings comes in the mail, packaged and pretty. I may or may not have bought this for myself.....

I went grocery shopping.
I went out for sushi Friday, out for lunch Saturday, and out for breakfast on Sunday. I did all three of these alone. And it was glorious.
I exercised for about 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday.
I watched a great movie..."The Kings Speech"...highly recommended!
I read three cooking magazines.
I read three cookbooks.
I cooked some great food.

All in all, a very busy weekend.

As for my triathlon training...the triathlon is less than a week away. I am starting to get very excited but also very nervous. On Sunday my training group set out in Encintas to do the actual course...we just did half the distance of each. I would love to tell you that things went smoothly for me. But...they didn't......the swimming...the swimming is a totally different story at Moonlight Beach. We have been training at La Jolla Shores. This is open ocean water but it is fairly calm and the ocean floor is very flat, so the waves break very consistently there. Encinitas is a totally different ball game. On our Sunday swim I immediately noticed that the current is pulling both up and down the beach...the ocean floor is violently sloped and troughed in many places...which leads to waves breaking very erratically. Almost immediately upon jumping into the water a huge wave knocked me in the face and took my breath away. I was so freaked out I literally almost turned around and went back into the beach. I wish that we would have been training at this is quite literally a whole different game.

I know I am going to finish the race on Sunday...I just hope I can channel my inner yogi and remember that it's just water, I have spent my entire life in the ocean, and I am going to be completely fine. I also need to remember to breathe...I got so worked up on Sunday I couldn't breathe...spooky stuff. Of course, after the swim, we have to run up this crazy hill in our wet suit...panting away after swimming a half a mile. As if that swim isn't enough! I personally was cursing myself the whole time...I am the one who decided to do this, right? Am I a glutton for self-punishment?

Then we have to quickly get out of the wet suit and put on shoes to get biking for 12 miles. Then we have to switch and run 3.2 miles. During both of our transitions I kept thinking to myself...what am I doing here? Why on earth am I doing this to myself? I just finished I have to bike? I just finished I have to run?

During the actual exercises my mind reached a kind of zen space....The course winds all through the cute little town of Encinitas and Cardiff by the sea....past the ocean and a lagoon...and the train's really a pretty course with lots of visual distractions. But it's really during those transitions that my mind started playing tricks on me. Once I actually got into the rhythm of biking and was smooth sailing. I just need to remember that when I start questioning my logic of putting myself through this beast of a challenge.

I am going to have to figure out a way to think in terms of what I have finished rather than what I still have to do. The race course found here shows that you literally bike and run two loops on the same course. This is also going to be challenging...mentally more than anything. When I run, bike, etc, I mentally enjoy seeing a landmark and realizing that I am a quarter or a half of the way done, and I won't pass that landmark again unless I am running or biking back that way. Well, on Sunday I will have to do two loops on both! So I am going to see everything twice...during two different events.

I think there will be lots of spectators cheering us all on and I am sure I will have an insane amount of adrenalin pumping through my that will certainly help. I also have prepared. I have been running, biking, and swimming my heart out...not to mention building strength through my yoga and sculpt classes. I have done everything I can to prepare and now it's time to enjoy the fruits of my labor....and to fight my way through that half mile, 12.4 miles, and 3.2 miles. If you had told me a year ago I would be running right now...I would have laughed at you. If you told me I would be preparing for a triathlon....I would have told you that you should lay off the funny stuff....It's really amazing what we can accomplish with our bodies when we put our minds to it!

So, this is my "taper" week and I am supposed to be taking it easy. I am trying to avoid yoga because yoga typically makes me sore the next day. (Although I sure miss it!) My training coach said to avoid anything that might make you sore. We are doing another ocean swim tonight, and I plan to get in two more bike rides and runs on the actual course...but I will just do half the distances. I need to save up my stamina and strength for Sunday.

Ah! Crazy, crazy stuff.