Date-nut Balls and the Vegan Challenge

It’s time for another What I ate Wednesday with Jen:

I didn’t do a great job of capturing my eats yesterday, but I did enjoy leftover curried squash soup for lunch and red lentil cakes for dinner.  (We had our usual oats for breakfast, and a banana-almond-butter- raisin snack).

The red lentil cakes were a hit!  I used this recipe and added shredded zucchini to the brown rice-lentil mixture.  For the salsa, I combined fresh tomato, avocado, and cilantro with a splash of red wine vinegar and dash of salt.  We’ll definitely be making this again!

After dinner, I decided to restock my date-nut balls.  Tonight I made a larger batch and actually took the time to measure, so here’s what I used:

Date-nut balls  (print recipe)

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1 3/4 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)

Mix the dates and cashew in the food processor until well blended.  Add vanilla and cocoa powder and continue to process until they are well mixed and can start to stick together (but not so long that you release the oils from the nuts).  Combine heaping spoonfuls into balls.  Freeze or refrigerate.  This made about 30 balls.

I like to save the cocoa powder for last, and roll some balls without cocoa.  (In this case, use less cocoa for the remaining mixture.)

Finally, I jumped on board the Vegan Challenge with Amanda for the month of March.

I’m hoping this isn’t too hard, as we already eat little meat, and I grabbed some soy yogurt and almond milk today in preparation to jump in on Thursday! Is anyone else joining in?


Tomato poached eggs

I’m still feeling good after Sunday’s race, and have been able to ease back into my normal routine with a recovery spin on Monday and a easy run yesterday in place of speed work.

I would love some training feedback: I’m debating how to handle this Saturday’s long run, as the following Saturday is a 5k race and also the weekend I was planning to do a 20 mile training run.  For you seasoned marathoners, does it make more sense to do the 20 this week, assuming I’m recovered enough? Or somehow combine the 5k and 20 miler on the same weekend? What would you do?

I have a new favorite recipe to share.  For dinner last night, we had a spinach salad and tomato-poached eggs with brown rice.  I love the tomato-egg combination, and have tried a variety of recipes for this family-friendly dish. It would be really good with sharp cheese and avocado as well.

Tomato Poached Eggs (print recipe)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional chili powder or crushed red pepper
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes, or 2 cups prepared pasta sauce
  • 5 or 6 eggs

Heat oil in saucepan, and saute onion and peppers for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and spices, and sauce another few minutes.  Add tomatoes or sauce and simmer until nearly boiling.  Gently drop in eggs and cook covered 4-6 minutes, or until done.  Serve over rice or pasta, and sprinkle with fresh parsley or scallion.

This was just enough for the three of us.  Happy Wednesday!

A peak at our day, WIAW

As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve developed some routines for our days and weeks, but every day is a little different, and I like the flexibility.  Here’s a peak at our Tuesday, while we link up with Jen for WIAW…

7am: Wake up.  L is calling from her room, saying that her foot is stuck.  She’s not upset, so I take my time getting to her, but sure enough- it’s stuck in the crib slat. Maybe that’s happened one other time in her life? I rescue her, and we join daddy in the kitchen to make breakfast.

7:15 am: L requests oatmeal and blueberries every morning, so we start oats on the stove, while daddy made eggs and a bagel for himself.  L decides those eggs look good, so we make an additional one for her and I, then sit down to eat together. L’s breakfast below, (mine was similar with a larger bowl of oats):

8 am: Daddy leaves on his bike for work, and we wave out the window.  We get dressed and tidy up the house a little bit.  I do a quick email check.

9 am: Play date! Two of L’s friends come over to play… they do some painting, crawl through the tunnel, bounce in her crib and “cook” in the kitchen while I chat with friends.

11 am: We say goodbye to our friends, and start making lunch. I quickly throw ingredients for split pea soup in the crock pot. L grabs an apple off the dining room table, so I let her work on it while I got lunch together.  When I check in, I find this:

I guess three is better than one!

11:15 am: We have leftover pasta and veggies for lunch, and I have a salad as well.  (We threw together a quick pasta dinner last night, and added onions, carrots, mushrooms and kale to the tomato sauce.)  L requests hummus and mushrooms with her lunch, but we are out of hummus so I tell her she can help me make more after lunch.  She finishes a quarter of an avocado instead.

11:30 am: We’re all set up to make hummus, and realize there’s no tahini.  We improvise, and come out with a yummy result.  I think the tahini-free version is even more kid-friendly.

Tahini-free Hummus (print recipe)

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp each, cumin and paprika
  • dash of salt

Blend all in food processor!

11:50 am: L licks the bowl and then “helps” me wash some dishes, getting soaked in the process.

12:15 pm: New shirt, new diaper and reading books before nap time.  I put L down, and check email, read blogs, snack on kashi cereal and dark chocolate chips, and start this blog post.

2:00 pm: L’s awake, and asking for snack.  She has some kashi cereal and milk.

2:30 pm: We pack up and head over to the zoo for the afternoon.  It’s a nice day, so I jog over with her in the stroller, and she finishes one of her apples on the way.  We check out our favorite animals and play on the playground.

4:30 pm: We jog home. We’re both excited to see daddy.  I eat half a banana and pb, then head out to finish my run and squeeze in as many 400’s as I can in an additional 3.25 miles (got 6 done, but they were all over the place, from 6:00 to 6:50 pace).

5:30 pm: Dinner- Split pea soup and whole wheat couscous; Luna bars for daddy and I

6:30 pm: Family time, clean up, I shower, daddy starts bedtime routine with L.

7:15 pm: L goes to bed, I catch up with my husband, finish the blog post, watch Parenthood and eat an apple.

10:00 pm: I attempt to read as long as I can (parenting book right now) before falling asleep.

That’s a pretty typical day in our life! I also shared our black bean crock pot recipe yesterday on Fitness Cheerleader.

Do you use a crock pot recipes? Any favorite recipes? Do you make your own hummus? Any special ingredients?  Runners, how do you keep your intervals consistent when you’re not on a track or treadmill?!

Speedwork and WIAW

Speed work! I mentioned earlier in the week that I’m putting together a training schedule, and one of the key components will be Tuesday night speed-work, which I kicked off tonight.  Races and virtual races are the only “speed work” I’ve done in the last few months, largely because I don’t want to do too much too soon and re-injure myself.

I’ll share the plan soon, but it called for 6×800’s at a little slower than 5k pace.  I was excited about this workout, but halfway through remembered why I so often skip the speed part of any training plan… I hate being uncomfortable! I made it through five of the 800’s and decided that my legs were done for the day. My stomach was also a little off, as I probably ate more than I needed to, in my attempt not to be feel hungry or weak during the run. I hit them at 3:28, 3:33, 3:35, 3:35 and 3:38, with a warm up and cool down for 6.5 total miles.  I was obviously getting tired by the end… but I felt great afterwards and am hoping it will get “easier”!

WIAW! It was a weird eating day because I didn’t know if I would get my run in before or after dinner, and was trying to determine the best way to fuel for an evening run.  I did a lot of snacking, and ate a small amount of dinner before leaving.  Here’s how it looked through about 5pm:

Breakfast: Oatmeal & blueberries and coffee; Snack: banana and pb; Lunch: salad with mushrooms, avocado & goddess dressing; leftover bulghur chili (the picture was from Monday night’s dinner, I didn’t have quesadillas today); Snack#1: apple & trail mix & dark chocolate chips; Snack #2: 2 small “luna” bars

I made ChocolateCoveredKatie’s Homemade Luna Bars (print recipe) after reading about Natalie’s successful experimenting.  They were a huge hit! I’m storing them in the freezer in an attempt to make them last as long as possible, but the unintended consequence is that my husband forgets about them, and I end up eating them all.  🙂 Here’s Katie’s tempting photo:

For dinner, we made Thai red curry, which I forgot to take a picture of, but below is a similar curry from Eat, Run, Live:

Her picture is gorgeous, so it all worked out!  We do a similar version, basically by following the directions on the jar of the Thai red curry paste!  For a lighter version, I sometimes use half the can of coconut milk and save or freeze half for another use, and then add an additional 1/2- 1 cup of water or broth.  We used broccoli, kale, mushroom and chicken in ours, with brown rice.  It’s really fast and easy for a weeknight dinner…  L wanted to drink the “juice”, it’s that good.

Unfortunately, my husband was sick, so I didn’t head right out the door to run.  I hung around until closer to L’s bedtime, and ate a small amount of dinner with them.  After running, I had plain yogurt and kashi cereal for an evening snack, and lounged in my favorite neon green recovery socks.


Crock pot comfort

Toddlers are a tricky bunch.  Despite one’s best efforts, it seems that some are destined to be picky, at least for a stage.  L has been pretty easy to feed, and I like to try new recipes every week.  I’m finally settling into some favorites that I keep falling back on, especially when I know we’ll have no time to cook and can throw everything in the crock pot in the morning.

One of our favorite repeat recipes this fall has become a new comfort food for me.  I like to make split pea soup in the crock pot so the cooking is done for the day, and makes the house smell amazing.  It was one of L’s favorites for a few months, and a great way to increase her veggie intake for the day.  It makes for an easy dinner and good leftovers.

Vegetarian split pea soup (printable recipe)


  • 1  package of split peas, or 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, chopped (or parsnips)
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 cubed potato or sweet potato
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • optional, 1 c. milk 30 minutes before serving (decrease broth or water by 1 cup)

Preparation: Combine everything in the crock pot on low for 6-9 hours.  You can add additional water or broth toward the end if it’s getting too thick, or milk for more creaminess.  Remove the bay leaves, and top with plain yogurt, if desired.

Curried Squash Stew

Pumpkin and squashes fill the grocery store long before they are actually “in season.”  But I gave in and picked up a butternut squash this week for soup.

This is one of our favorite squash recipes, and the delicious spices make the whole house smell like fall.  L will eat everything except the lima beans, so it’s a great way to get squash, tomatoes and chickpeas into her.

We’ve also made it without coconut milk and it was still good. The milk makes it creamier and helps to balance the acidity.  You could also replace the squash with pumpkin cubes.

Curried Squash Stew– (print recipe)

Curried Squash Soup


  • 1  tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 medium peeled butternut squash, cut in 1″ cubes (4-5 cups)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups less-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans or edamame
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 c. chopped, frozen spinach, or 2 c. fresh
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  1. Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sauté 1 minute. Add curry powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the squash, carrots, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lima beans, and chickpeas. Uncover and simmer 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add spinach and coconut milk; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and juice. Serve immediately.


Veggie inspired

We were spoiled the last 6 years in Ithaca, NY with multiple CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture), u-pick fruit farms, and a top-notch farmer’s market (not to mention the ease with which we could walk or bike most places!).  After moving to Houston this summer, it took some time to feel out the local food scene, but I finally discovered a small co-op that offers weekly shares of local and organic vegetables and we got our second share this week.  I’m so excited! One of my favorite aspects of a CSA is that it forces me to plan meals based on  the chosen-for-you vegetables, although it can take some effort to ensure nothing is wasted.

Last night’s dinner was inspired by the eggplant and pomegranate, two items that I enjoy but rarely pick up on my own.  L “helped” me throw together a simple pizza (homemade dough that I keep ready to go in the freezer, a simple seasoned tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese) that we topped with grilled onion and eggplant.  Eggplant isn’t the prettiest vegetable once it’s cut, and I have limited photography skills, so use your imagination and trust me that it was really good.  🙂

I used the pomegranate juice and seeds in a salad, inspired by a number of online recipes.  We added avocados and toasted sunflower seeds to the greens, and used the pomegranate juice in this yummy dressing:

1/4 c. pomegranate juice

1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

My helper who really wanted to taste the raw pizza dough:

In the north, our share would have been over by now, so it feels odd to continue to get fresh food almost year-round.  But I’ll take it!  Do you have a CSA or farmer’s market nearby? What inspires your meal planning?