Monday, January 14, 2013

My thoughts after the 2013 LA 13.1 Marathon

The review for my race this weekend follows, but first you have to bear with me as there are a few things I'd like to share.

I've been running since 2008, and in the last 5 years I've found that theres at least one unshakable truth about running:  It will always surprise you.  Each route is never the same twice, each race is never the same experience, and you will always have farther and faster to go.
Running the LA 13.1 was a first for me because it was the first time I'd run a race a second time.  Approximately the same course, same weekend of the year, same goal of "doing better".  Only this time, I had a Personal Record FOR THIS RACE to beat.  I had all the confidence of it being my 7th half marathon.  None of the pre-race anxiety that I had the year before.  I knew that my diet didn't have to be EXACT to do well.  I knew that I could function well even on poor sleep.  I was excited and pumped up about race day but it wasn't tearing me to shreds.  But in the back of my mind there was that  clock time from the previous year.
I love the course of the LA 13.1, and have replayed it in my head a thousand times as one of those GOOD race memories.  Running past the iconic Muscle Beach, through the eclectic town of Venice,  down to the paved beach path, the hilly turn around, the desolate stretch of 3 miles that tests your resolve, and the downhill finish line that suddenly jumps out at you.
As I ran it this year, I was greeted by memories.  Mile 1:  The farthest I had ever run without stopping to walk.  Mile 5: The path down to the beach, where a tornado of seagulls had surprised us.  Mile 6: Stop at a beach bathroom Mile 8: Cursing the slow incline that forced me to walk  Mile 11: Pain in my feet so bad that I wanted to cry Mile 13.1: Crossing the finish line with cramps in my calves and the feeling of victory as I completed a sub-3 hour half marathon for the first time.  

I had said in the past that I didn't think that I'd want to run the same race twice.  That the excitement of a new and different race each time was too enticing, that there are too many races in Southern California to stick to the same ones over and over.  But now I get it, I know why some people run the SAME race every year for decades.  Some courses just speak to you as a runner.  Some have such special memories to you that its like seeing an old friend.  And each race can be better than it was before.  

And, by the way?  I totally blew my old Personal Record out of the water.  2:42:56  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

150 Days Paleo + Football carnitas

Today is my 150th days since I committed to a new way of eating.  I did it to combat a slowly increasing weight gain despite training for and running 5 half marathons in a year.  I did it to be a better runner.  I wanted to be stronger, faster and experience more rapid recovery.  Amazingly, Paleo has done all those incredible things.  150 days ago I held SUCH doubt that cutting out whole food groups was even good for you.  I was willing to join a friend on a journey, test it for 30 days and then make a decision.  I'm glad I did.   Those days where I just want pizza, or a cinnamon roll or fruit snacks . . . . I think about if I want to go back.  Back to bloated, frustrated and not satisfied with my results.  Nope, 150 days later and I still believe in Paleo.  I fall off the wagon and succumb to temptation but Paleo is forgiving and totally helps me drop those insta-pounds that come with eating forbidden foods.

To celebrate my 150 days, I've got a recipe for you!!!  This one comes from and its the BEST CARNITAS recipe I've ever tried.  Great for football games and I recommend topping it with a bit of mashed avocado mixed with Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  (Frank's Red Hot Sauce is my current obsession).  I did make a few changes to the original recipe, so if you'd like to see how it was originally suggested that you do check out the link.



For the rub:
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the Crock Pot:
  • 3lb pork shoulder
  • 1 sweet onion sliced in thin strips
  • 1 small can of mild green chiles
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few shakes of sea salt and ground pepper

  1. Mix your rub together and rub onto all sides of the pork shoulder. 
  2. Place the sliced onion, and bay leaf on the bottom of your crock pot.  Place the spiced up pork shoulder on top. Add the green chiles and the chicken stock along the sides of the meat. Avoid rinsing the spice off the meat. Sprinkle a bit more sea salt and pepper on top. 
  3. Cover and let cook on Low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.
  4. Once done, remove pork from crockpot and shred with forks. Place in bowl of holding dish
  5. Strain remaining crockpot contents, SAVING BOTH THE LIQUID AND THE SOLIDS. 
  6.  Return the solids (consisting of bits of pork, and the cooked down onions and chiles) to the crock pot. 
  7.  If you have a gravy separator, use it to separate the fat out of the liquid.  If you don't have one, allow the liquid to sit a bit and it'll separate.  Carefully skim off as much fat as you can.  
  8. Put the PORK back in the crockpot and use the remaining liquid to add some flavor back into the carnitas.  I used just about a cup of liquid, you should use all of it.  
  9. Serve on a bed of lettuce or however you wish to enjoy your carnitas!  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


The only thing I have more passion for than Cooking, well is Running. But I have a third passion and that's reading. And if it's writing about cooking or running then I'm over the moon. Right now I'm reading Best Food Writing 2012 Edited by Holly Hughes.

Food writers have it rough. They have to sum up the sensory experience of cooking and eating foods in words. How many of us can say that we can do that and still convey the way that food has affected us?

One piece of writing affected me quite a bit, and that was "Sweet Spot" by Paul Graham.
An excerpt from the piece:
From Sweet Spot by Paul Graham
We have only the one tree, a haphazardly-trimmed 60-footer that turns orange in October. I’d never have thought to tap it if our old neighbor, a poet who worked in an Adirondack sugarbush with several hundred trees, hadn’t tapped his one tree. One, it turns out, can be more than enough and not nearly enough at the same time. I’ve tried to picture the yield from 1500 taps and can only get as far as a fleet of tanker trucks and an acre of fire.
The holes go waist-high on the western side, which receives more sun and delivers more sap. I sink two taps with a rubber mallet. I reserve a third in case one dries up. Immediately the juice starts running, dribbles to the metal lip and trembles in the sunlight before falling into the bucket with a flat plunk. It seems impossible that I’ll empty these buckets twenty, thirty times, but I will.
The sap, when I lift a drop to my lips, tastes of the purest, cleanest water.
I highly encourage you to pick this book up. It's already been a treat and I'm only 55 pages in.

How can I say NO?

I'm a mother of two, which means most of my daily actions involve fulfilling the needs of those who I have created.  One of my children is extremely picky due to food sensitivities of autism.  As a foodie and someone who loves to cook, that's difficult for me to deal with at times.  Life blessed me with a second child who loves food just as much as I do and often has cravings.  HOW CAN I SAY NO when the fruit of my loins asks for a Manwich?  If she's asking for it, that means there's a positive emotional connection with that food.  And honestly, I want her to look back at her childhood and remember amazing meals that her mom used to make.  And when she asks me about it, I'll hopefully have a recipe book already made for her to use when cooking for her own family.  But enough about my musings of a perfect future . . . . HOW AM I GOING TO FEED HER A MANWICH?  It's loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other NON-PALEO ingredients.  After much musing, I plan to try a paleo version of a sloppy joe that the internet has kindly provided.  I'll definitely report back on my success/failure later.

This was the second meal requested in the same week.  The first request was for "Soft Meat".  That's what my adorable 9-year old calls Asian Beef Short Ribs.  I'd previously used a recipe from a friend that called for soy sauce, brown sugar and corn starch.  I don't blame my little one for loving that recipe so much.  I made them in a crock pot and the whole house would smell delicious all day.  So when she asked when I'd make "Soft Meat" again, I asked myself HOW CAN I SAY NO?  Not only does that meal mean something to her, it reflects the friendship I had with another person.  Emotional food connections mean a lot to me, obviously.  So off to the internet I went, hoping that someone had replicated the salty, sweetness of the recipe I had.

Luckily Paleo Spirit had done this feat.  I am so glad I found her blog.  I'm sure you'll see me replicating MANY more of her recipes on my blog (as I was writing this blog, I was distracted and inspired to make her Paleo Shortbread Teabag cookies).  I altered a few ingredients and I changed some of the prep and cooking to suit my needs.  To see the recipe in its original form, please visit the link to the Paleo Spirit website.

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (Paleo)


  • 5 lbs beef short ribs (ideally from grass-fed/finished cows)
  • 1 teaspoon fat/oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 hot pepper (I used serrano)
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (make sure it is gluten-free)

  • 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms 
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 3-4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper

  1. Season the beef ribs lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large, oven-proof pan on medium-high heat and spread a thin layer of fat/oil to keep the ribs from sticking.
  3. Sear the ribs for about 1-2 minutes on the meaty sides. You will probably have to do this in batches. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Sauté the chopped onion for about 10 minutes in the same pan you used to sear the ribs.
  5. Mince the garlic, ginger and pepper (or use a food processor as I did) and add to the pan with the onions, cooking while stirring for about one minute.
  6. Place the beef ribs in a crock pot and add the stock, water, coconut aminos, and vinegar. Make sure the ribs are just covered in the liquid.  Cook on low for 6 hours
  7. Remove the short ribs to a separate platter and cover them with foil to keep warm. 
  8. Allow the sauce to cool somewhat and strain it through a mesh sieve. I like to use a spoon to press the juices out of the solids. Dispose of the solids. (You might want to skim some of the fat off the sauce at this point, especially if you are using conventional beef.) THIS PROCESS WAS MADE SUPER EASY BY USING MY PAMPERED CHEF GRAVY SEPARATOR.  I highly suggest purchasing this or something similar.  All I did was pour the crockpot contents through the top sieve and the fat separated out nicely.  
  9. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce to about 1 1/2 cups. It will be very rich. 
  10. Add the shiitake mushrooms and juice of one orange and continue simmering until mushrooms are softened – 5-10 minutes. 
  11. Pour sauce over short rib.  Serve the ribs warm, with the mushrooms and garnished with orange zest and sliced scallions. 
I served myself this as a salad, with the meat shredded and the sauce used as a dressing.