Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

For dinner tonight I made Stuffed Squash with Quinoa and Sausage. To save time and add a nice flavor, I used a quick cooking Olive Oil and Rosemary Quinoa and Brown Rice blend from Near East foods (here) as the base for the stuffing.

To save time, the filling can be prepared and squashes can stuffed ahead of time. To save even more baking time, the squash halves can be microwaved until soft prior to being stuffed. If this is done, the stuffed squashes will only require 20 minutes of baking time.

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Quinoa and Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 box Nile Foods Olive Oil and Rosemary Quinoa blend
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
2 medium to large acorn squashes
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. chicken Italian sausage
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Prepare the Quinoa blend according to the package instructions, adding in 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage before cooking. Set aside and allow to cool.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat until translucent.

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Turn up the heat to medium and add the sausage.

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Brown the sausage, being sure to break up the sausage into small chunks.

Turn off the heat and add the cooled quinoa blend and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

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Cut acorn squashes in half from stem to flower end (the pointy part).

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Scoop out the seeds. Cut a small slice of peel off each squash half so that they will lie flat on a baking sheet. If the flesh is more than 1/2″ thick, microwave the squash halves for 2 – 3 minutes or until flesh just starts to soften. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet.

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Stuff the squashes with the quinoa/sausage mixture. Use all the mixture, mounding the stuffing on top of the filled squash halves. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

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Bake about 30 – 40 minutes or until squash is completely soft when poked with a fork in the stem end. If cheese browns before the squash is done, cover the tops with tented foil (make sure the foil doesn’t touch the cheese). Makes 4.

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Stormy Weather

I did it – I got out there and did my long run. I ran, even though it was windy. I ran, even though the skies were grey. I ran, even though it threatened rain. I ran, even though I could have skipped it. I ran, and it ended up being a great run. I even lucked out with the weather – there just a few sprinkles, and I even saw some blue sky peeking through.

I am glad I went when I did though. The weather forecast shows that the next wave of this storm will start coming through later in the afternoon. and by tonight, we will be dealing with this. Yuck!

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Here is today’s run according to MapMyRun:
Distance: 6.06mi, time: 01:03:22, pace: 10:27min/mi, speed: 5.74mi/h.
http://mapmyrun.com/workout/396610045

That’s the farthest I’ve run since I got hurt, and makes me feel like being ready for the Snohomish River Run is definitely not going to be a problem. I didn’t push the pace at all today, so I think that I might even be able to get it done in under an hour. That would be pretty cool.

I got to break in the new running clothes I bought yesterday too, and was pretty happy with them. Kept me dry and comfortable but not too warm. I really like my new soft-shell jacket. It is from Mondetta, a Canadian company, and looks really sharp. I wish you could see it in this picture a little better – it has a really cool reflective detail on the sleeve. And yes, that is my Hokies cap. Virginia Tech represent!

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I mentioned the weather wasn’t too bad while I was out, but there was plenty of evidence of the storm front we’ve been dealing with. September is going out with a bang!

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Eat and Run Mom Guide to Running in the Rain

Tomorrow I will be running in this:

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But as my aunt reminded me on Facebook, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Or at least the wrong clothes. I have a 10k race in 4 weeks, so skipping out on this run is not really an option. And besides, it’s only September 28. If I start skipping out on things because of rain now, then I will be trapped inside until March – and that’s if Spring comes early. So I gotta get out there. Rain or no rain, I am doing this thing.

Fortunately, having lived an active life in Seattle for most of my years means I know a few things about how to stay happy and comfortable in bad weather.

The main thing to remember is that rain is not the enemy. Wind and cold combined with rain can be your enemies, however. If nothing else, they’ll all conspire to make you miserable. So you need to dress appropriately. Look for clothing that cuts the wind, without adding too much warmth. You will only be cold for a few minutes at the beginning of your workout anyway. Your body warms itself up pretty quickly, so what you are looking for is to stay as dry as possible, and to keep wetness away from your skin. You want to avoid chills and chafing. So avoid cotton, look for wicking fabrics just as you would during hot weather. Synthetic fabrics are usually best.

For me, the ideal rain gear includes a pair of long tights with a slightly fuzzy inner layer (such as the Under Armour cold gear brand), a lightweight long sleeve top for fall type weather, or a heavier top when it gets colder, and an outer layer jacket that cuts wind and is water resistant. I say water resistant, NOT waterproof, because your own heat and sweat should be able to escape. The worst ski jacket I ever had was one that was waterproof – I sweat a lot, so waterproof meant all that water couldn’t get out. After about an hour I would be wet all the way to the skin – in skiing, this is a downright dangerous situation. Not a very comfortable situation for running either.

Protecting your hands and feet is also important because fingers and toes can get cold. Personally, I prefer to wear wool socks, but no gloves unless it’s really cold. What works best for me is a long sleeved short with a hole for the thumb. If hands are cold at the beginning of the run, then I tuck them inside, and slowly let them poke out as I warm up. If I get really warm, I push the sleeves up. Obviously this wouldn’t work in Minnesota, but it works here where it’s not so cold.

Headgear is another important consideration. I like a hat with a bill – baseball type caps are good – because it keeps rain out of my eyes and off most of my face. Rain on the face is kind of annoying, plus I wear glasses most days and they create a visibility issue, so a little protection in that area goes a long way towards keeping me happy. Stocking caps don’t really keep the rain off, and for the type of weather we typically get in Seattle, they are too warm. Anything too warm just has to be discarded after a couple of miles anyway.

While we are on the topic of discarding your clothes, the last “rule” of dressing for Seattle type rain is to dress in layers. As I said, you warm up as you go along, so you have to plan to unzip or remove things along the way.

The final thing you need on a rainy day run is a positive attitude. The hardest part is just getting out the door – as always, the first mile is the hardest. If you can just get geared up and going you will probably find yourself happy to be outside even if the weather isn’t so nice.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Gems

It’s a cold, rainy Friday here at our house and this kind of weather makes me want to do something to make myself feel better. I miss the sun already. Although I will say I am cheered somewhat by the fact that snow has started falling in the mountain passes. Maybe we will have an early ski season? Trying to stay positive!

Hey, speaking of staying positive, it is a scientific fact that cookies can improve mood, especially if they contain chocolate. I can’t point you to any official research on the subject, but I can tell you that I have personally tested and proven this hypothesis many times. However, in my observation it’s dose dependent. If I am feeling down and eat one or two cookies, I feel happier after. If I eat an entire batch, then I am more depressed and considering bulimia as a viable life choice.

(Just kidding, this blog neither practices nor endorses bulimia).

It is said that emotional eating = no bueno. However, I am pretty sure that whoever said this does not live in Seattle. If you live in Seattle and you know you are at the front end of a 6 month stretch of no sun, you do what you gotta do. So, I am going to have some damn cookies. However, in the interest of not undoing all my hard work, I need something sort of healthy(ish) that still tastes good and feels satisfying. Everyone in the family has to like them, since I don’t want to have to eat them all myself.

Here is a recipe that fits the bill. It contains no flour, no butter and only 7 ingredients, so it is super simple to make. The dough also keeps pretty well for a few days in the refrigerator, so if you’re like me and can’t leave cookies alone, you can just make a few at a time so you avoid eating the whole batch in one sitting.

Hopefully this time I listed all the ingredients! There are only supposed to be seven, so I think we are okay this time.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Gems

1/2 cup peanut butter (can be crunchy or creamy)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the peanut butter, brown sugar and egg in a medium size bowl (I mix them in the bowl of a stand mixer).

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In a small bowl, stir together the oatmeal and baking soda, then add to the peanut butter mixture. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Stir chocolate chips in by hand.

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Scoop a spoonful of dough (should be a 1″ to 1-1/2″ lump) and roll into a ball between your hands. My lovely assistant here demonstrates the proper technique – it’s more of a cradle and pat, than a true roll.

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Place about 2″ apart on a nonstick cookie sheet.

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Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until bottoms are slightly golden.

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These cookies are about 100 calories each, fairly high in protein and low in cholesterol due to using peanut butter instead of butter. Just don’t be like some people I know and eat the whole batch. Remember it’s not so much about what you eat but how often and how much.

So go ahead and enjoy yourself. Winter IS coming, after all.

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This is Max and Oleg, Eatandrunmom’s official cookie testers, and they have approved this message.

Wednesday and Thursday Workouts

Wednesday was a cross training day. I’m slowly building my mileage back up, and this time trying to do it safely so as not to injure myself again, so I only run 3 or 4 days a week. On days when I don’t run I usually do 30 minutes of some kind of low impact cardio, followed by strength training and exercises to strengthen my hips.

So yesterday’s workout was 30 minutes of stairclimber, followed by weights for the upper arms and shoulders, and a workout for core and hips using the Swiss ball and resistance band. And planks. Which I hate because they hurt, which probably means I need to do more of them.

Today was a treadmill workout. What I usually do on Thursday is start out walking, and then speed up gradually until I am basically running at my usual moderate tempo, then add in a couple of intervals to work on speed. When that is over I do some strength training. Today was leg machines, core and hips.

I work on core and hip strength every day because my belief is that weak hips caused my injury last spring. The stabilizing muscles were too tight in the front and inside of the hip (hip flexors and adductors) and too weak in the rear and outside (the hip abductors and external rotators).

You can actually see the problem in pictures of me running from last spring – my knees cross the midline while my hip is sort of poking out to the side – I.e., the left hip is dropping down when the right bears the load, and vice versa. I also overpronate and heel strike, so pretty much I have/had the trifecta of running gait flaws going on. A hot mess. So I’ve been working on strengthening these muscle groups and actually focusing on pushing off more to the rear and outside when I run. Turns out that even though running is a natural exercise that the human body is built to do, there’s still a lot of stuff to work on and think about if you want to actually improve. Or at least, go long distances without hurting yourself.

So anyway, yesterday was stairs and strength training. Today was treadmill and strength training. And tomorrow will be running and elliptical and strength training. Then comes Saturday, a rest day before I do my long(ish) run on Sunday. Good times.

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