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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Recipes are Hard!

Turns out that this recipe needed baking soda and salt. Also pumpkin. Pretty sure those are crucial ingredients in a pumpkin muffin.

Oh well. Hopefully nobody followed it the way I originally wrote it but if you did, a) I apologize, and b) I’m curious from a scientific point of view to know what happened. I suppose it would be sort of an unleavened spice cake. So either really good, or really gross.

Probably the latter.  Kind of like the time I made cookies without flour.

Anyway, thanks Barbara for catching my mistake!

The First Mile

As I was logging my miles on the treadmill today, I was thinking that I completely understand people who say they hate running. Even though I have personally come to love it, if all I had to judge by was how I feel when I first started out, back when just running a mile was a struggle, I would hate it too. One of the things I am grateful for in my life is my time in the Air Force, many years ago, when I discovered running longer distances could actually be enjoyable (I ran cross country in junior high, but never enjoyed it).

Since leaving the Air Force, running (and cycling to a lesser degree) has always been my go-to sport, due to the fact you can do it anywhere and don’t need special equipment. During the period earlier this year when I started back to running, I at least knew that if I put in the miles, eventually things would get easier and I would hopefully enjoy it as much as I used to. So that helped me stick with it when things sucked. There was the hope that the suckage would give way to enjoyment, and the memory of it having happened in the past. So I stuck with it and sure enough it got better.

But even now, the first mile of any run is always a bear. During that first mile is when my body likes to weigh in and let my brain know how unhappy it is to once again be doing this running thing. It does its best during that first mile to convince me to quit, usually with a little pain here and there. Today it was my shins complaining first, then a twinge in the hip, then a little ache in the foot.

Then miraculously after the first mile, the pain went away and things got easier. As I knew it would.

My typical strategy for dealing with the first mile is just to go as slow as I need to until things loosen up. I find this is particularly true on the treadmill since I do not have the distraction of scenery to keep my mind off any discomfort I may be experiencing. Once I am warmed up, I can pick up the pace and go. But I need to give myself plenty of leeway during the first mile to get both brain and body in gear.

What do you do to overcome that little voice that tells you to give up or quit?

Today’s workout

TREADMILL 5 min. warmup walking, 3 miles running, 5 min. cool down.

TOTAL Distance: 3.54mi, time: 43:08, pace: 12:11min/mi, speed: 4.92mi/hr

Strength Training: Legs, hips, back

Cat From Hell

Today I had to take my cat to the vet, and one of my kids to the doctor. The kid just has a persistent cough (post nasal drip seems to be the culprit). The cat was peeing blood in what seems to be a long-term recurring battle with urinary tract infections. The vet trip was the more stressful of the doctor visits given that peeing blood is usually not a good thing and he is an old cat. Plus we have sort of a policy on cats which is if they need more than $1,000 in veterinary repairs, they are totalled.

Let’s step back in time to twelve years ago, when I acquired a cat by the name of Asher. He was howling away inside of a box at Starbucks, where he was being given away by a young mom who couldn’t keep him because apparently, he kept attacking her kids. Being a single-ish (dating but not married) over-30 lady, and not having any kids at the time, I saw no problems with this behavior. All I saw was a cute, grey, ├╝ber-fluffy cat about a year old, and in need of a home. I had a home in need of a cat. What could go wrong?

Well, the first thing that went wrong was that my boyfriend (later to become my husband) didn’t like cats. I didn’t consider this a problem and figured his dislike of cats could be overcome simply by spending more time with one, petting it and smelling its soft, warm fur. Which sounds good in theory unless a) the person in question dislikes and is also allergic to cats and b) the cat in question is the kind that bites when you pet him or try to put your face near his body. Both of which turned out to be the case. The cat didn’t help matters by being the sort that specializes in sneak attacks and stalking and pouncing on passing legs like they are some wily prey.

Over time, the husband and the cat came to an uneasy truce, but the balance of power is still a fragile thing. Violence occasionally erupts when the cat decides you’ve petted him too long, or you’ve invaded into an area that he has determined to be his territory (such as sleeping in the linen closet on top of the towels). As a long time cat owner, I just naturally know how to deal with these situations (keep petting sessions brief, distract the cat with the left hand while grabbing towels with the right). But these things are harder to explain to husbands and small children who lack a natural affinity for dealing with felines. My older son and I are both pretty good readers of the cat’s mood. Little brother and my husband are not. Which leads me to the conclusion that some people are just “cat people,” and others not – just as some cats are “people cats.” Mine, again, is not.

That all said, the cat has come up in our family’s estimation in recent years given how well he has handled the transition from a household without children, to one with 2 active, rambunctious and grabby little boys. Well, one of the boys is grabby – the other as I said is just naturally a better reader of the cat and handles him better. The cat has taught the other one to have respect and give a wide berth because if he doesn’t the cat bops him. He’s never hurt him, just “gotten his attention” with a swift paw to the face.

We always refer to Asher as the “worlds most expensive free cat,” because he is prone to UTIs, and various other veterinary ailments. The veterinarian refers to him as the cat from hell because he hates the vet office and everyone in it, and when they handle him he has to be handled in the same protective gear they wear when dealing with vicious dogs. So after dropping off the cat to be checked out, the first call I receive is to ask if they can sedate him. Of course, knowing how he is, I said yes.

Ultimately, I got the call that Asher would be okay, and that he just needs to be on more expensive food to help prevent further UTIs (of course). But even though he is how he is, we realized how much we would miss him if he were gone…so maybe we should rethink our limit in cat repairs. Even the husband realized that the cat adds something to our family – and not just hair balls and vet bills.

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