Sexy New Footwear

After a couple weeks of waiting and spending a lot of time in the pool, I finally had my orthopedist appointment today.

The good news is that the MRI shows no evidence of a tear to the tendon. There could be a small one that would only show up if they opened it up surgically, but he doesn’t see any need to do that as I am still able to lift up onto the toes which indicates that the tendon is mostly still sound.

The bad news is, the tendon is still pretty inflamed. There is a lot of fluid around the tendon which is pushing on everything around it and making it sore, and according to the doc will probably take a while to subside. How long, he can’t say. It just takes as long as it takes.

He likes my plan of staying in the pool and doing the occasional spin class, and basically says that if it hurts, I should not do it. And no running until I can get through all my daily activities without any pain. When I am pain free, then I can start doing therapy band work and then work my way back into running.

I am still hoping to ease back into dry land running towards the end of the summer, but basically there is no way to plan for it because the ankle is in charge of the timing. So I will hold off on putting down those entry fees for the fall triathlons.

He doesn’t seem to think that I need an orthotic over the long term, but says I should go ahead and get some inserts like SuperFeet green to assist with the over pronation that is at the root of the problems I am having.

He also wants to immobilize the foot a bit more for the day to day activities while it is healing. So he gave me one of these lovelies…

20140617-184918.jpg

Ain’t she purty? That’s gonna look awesome with all my summertime shorts and skirts! I just need an extra large sandal to pull it off – maybe something gladiator-style would work?

I know you’re jealous that I have all the fun, but oh well. We can’t all be fashionable.

Your turn! What is your favorite summer footwear? Have you ever had a supposedly minor injury that would not go away? How did you cope? Tell me about it in the comments!

Holding

I’m still in a holding pattern with the running. I’d like to get back to it but the way it’s looking, it will probably be a while until I can. I have an appointment with an orthopedist next week on the 17th when we will go over the MRI in detail and hopefully formulate some sort of plan as to how I can start running again.

Whatever the case, I would not expect to be able to do a lot of mileage between now and the end of 2014. It will take time for it to strengthen and recover. Even just walking around sometimes gets painful at the end of the day, and this has been going on for several months now, so I can’t imagine how it’s going to be able to stand up to any kind of distance running any time soon.

So I am adjusting my goals a bit. Since swimming seems to be going much more…ahem…swimmingly than I remember, I am thinking I will look into possibly doing some sprint triathlons this Fall.

I did a couple of sprint tris many years ago and the swimming is always what held me back from doing it again, because I hated it. I am not hating it anymore (though I’ve yet to test this lack of hatred in open water) so I think that is God’s way of telling me that maybe this is what I should focus on for now. I have to focus on something otherwise I will get bored, and possibly fall off the exercise wagon completely.

My thought process is that as long as the running is between 5 and 10k, I could probably do that with minimal run training. I can swim and bike as much as I like and it never seems to hurt, I just need to hold off on running or load bearing exercise until the tendonitis goes completely away. I think that was my mistake previously – I just waited until the pain was “manageable” rather than actually gone.

Races I might consider doing in the fall include:

Whidbey Island Triathlon – Aug. 16
This is a hilly course with the longest bike course and a longer (1/2 mile) swim. The only attraction is really the proximity and even that isn’t so attractive since it involves a ferry ride. But I would consider it if I could be running by that time.

Lake Sammamish Sprint – Aug. 23
This race has the shortest swim (1/4 mile) of any of the races I would consider, and the flattest overall course. Probably the one I am most interested in doing.

Lake Stevens – Sept. 6
This race offers an option of a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. Probably would be looking at doing the sprint since I am not sure I’d be up for a 1 mile swim! Has a 1/4 mile swim and only a 10 mile bike, plus is very close to home.

Kirkland Triathlon – Sept. 21
This race has a sprint (1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3.1 run) and an “Aquabike” option,which is just the swim and the bike. Kind of a long swim and I know the bike would be hilly but a definite possibility.

I would probably only do one or two of these and the more likely scenario would be that it would be a later race since I can’t run at all right now. Because of the Aquabike option, the Kirkland option is probably the most likely since I could sign put to do the tri and switch categories if I had to.

But we’ll just have to see how things go.

Have you ever done a triathlon? Did you like it?

Almond Meal and What to Do With It

When I posted the recipe for almond milk, I said to make sure not to throw away the almond meal. In this post, I am going to tell you what to do with it.

What to Do With WET Almond Meal

image

When you’re done making almond milk, you will be left with about 1 and 1/2 cups of moist almond meal. There are many uses for this meal. You can store it for several days in the refrigerator and use it as a mix-in for smoothies. It will add fiber but not a lot of almond taste so it can go into just about any type of smoothie. A little goes a long way though.

You can also mix it into pancake or muffin batter to add some fiber and texture.

If none of these uses appeals right away, then you can also dry out the almond meal so that it can store longer. There are a variety of uses for dry almond meal.

What to Do With DRY Almond Meal

The process to dry out the almond meal is simple. Spread it out in a thin layer on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment but you don’t have to) and place in an oven at its lowest temperature – usually this is between 150 to 180 degrees. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.

image

Leave the almond meal in the oven for 2 – 3 hours. Go for a run or something. When time is up, remove from oven. You now have almond meal that can be used as a crunchy, nutty coating to oven fry fish or chicken, in place of bread crumbs.

You can also make it into almond flour.

How to make almond flour

To make the dried almond meal into almond flour, simply place in a food processor using the chopping blades attachment, and process until the meal achieves a fine floury consistency. A minute or two should do it.

image

image

Place the processed almond flour into a glass jar and cover tightly to store.

Almond flour can be used in baking either mixed in with your usual flour, or on its own in certain recipes. A well-known use for it is in French macarons, which are made primarily from egg whites, sugar and almond flour. And buttercream filling. That’s sounding pretty good right now so you can probably look forward to seeing them in a future recipe!

Have you ever made almond flour? How do you use it?

National Running Day

Today was National Running Day. I went swimming for an hour to celebrate. I would rather have gone for a nice outdoor run but with the ankle issue, I can’t. So, into the pool I go.

I am sort of excited about one running related thing that happened today. My Runners Rehab kit arrived from AquaJogger. This kit includes an AquaJogger belt, some funky little floaty shoes, a tether, and some triangular dumb bells.

image

Nope, not gonna look dorky at all in that getup…

The belt is the only critical piece of the kit – you pretty much can’t do pool running in deep water without it. The other items – shoes, dumb bells, tether, are mainly intended to increase resistance. I intend to use the shoes and belt every time I do this because I have a hard time feeling my legs without the shoes. I think I need a little more resistance. Not sure about the dumb bells, and I probably won’t use the tether until I start transitioning my running back onto dry land.

In other running related news, I also had an MRI this morning for my ankle. That meant 35 minutes with my ankle locked into a flexed position and inserted inside a very loud and clanging machine. You cannot move at all while they are taking images, which is tough because each of the images takes 4 or so minutes to be done, and they take 10 of them. And the machine sometimes causes your muscles to twitch from the magnets (or something). I got yelled at a couple of times for involuntary movements, but overall they said they got a good image quality.

It was a very long and uncomfortable 35 minutes. But in a day or so I will finally have definitive information about my ankle, and once I have that, I’ll be able to start formulating some kind of plan for how to get this thing healed up. So, I’m glad it’s finally done.

Almond Milk

Let me get something out of the way here. I like cows milk. I prefer it to most of the alternative milks out there, and I think as long as you aren’t actually lactose intolerant, buying organic milk is the way to go. It has protein, calcium, vitamin D – all good things.

It is my preferred cereal moistener, coffee whitener, and cookie chaser.

However, I learned something about milk a couple of years ago that I previously didn’t know, which is that milk can interfere with iron absorption in iron deficient people. And since at that time I had a small child who was iron deficient, I investigated the different kinds of alternative milks, in hopes that one of them might be a better choice than dairy.

Almond milk was the main alternative I was willing to consider. Unlike soy milk, it doesn’t have a lot of plant estrogens in it. It’s not watery like rice milk, and it has a lot of vitamin E and iron in it from the almonds.

The main downside with it as compared to dairy milk is the packaging and preservation. Most almond milk comes in TetraPaks, which can stay shelf stable for months. The way this is accomplished is through ultra pasteurization. Most of the nutrition that would otherwise be in there is cooked out during that process. Plus it is full of additives. Some of the additives are okay, such as the vitamin E that they add back in to replace the vitamin E that leaches out in the preservation. But others are just unnecessary.

Ultimately, I decided that we would stick with milk but that we would only have it on cereal or with coffee or cookies. Otherwise, we generally do not drink milk. We have other dairy – yogurt and cheese mainly. We get our calcium and vitamin D from these other sources, my kid gets his iron without interference from the calcium, and it all works out.

Recently though, I learned that you can get around the problems with the almond milk you buy at the store by making your own. I always thought that making it must be really complicated, but it turns out it is the easiest thing ever.

All you need to make it is milk and almonds. Maybe a little salt and vanilla too, if you like. But neither are necessary.

Here’s the recipe and step by step.

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
2-3 cups water for soaking
4-6 cups water for making milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

In a small cup or bowl, soak 1 cup almonds in 2 – 3 cups water, along with salt if desired. Soak at least 8 hours or overnight.

image

The almonds will about double in size, and the water will get a bit cloudy.

Drain off the water.

image

Measure the almonds. You should now have about 2 cups of almonds. Put them in your blender. Add double the amount of water as almonds. I.e., if you have 2 cups of almonds, add 4 cups of water to the blender.

Turn on the blender and blend for about 2 minutes.

image

Place a strainer over a bowl, and line the strainer with 2 pieces of rinsed cheesecloth. Pour the blended almond slurry through the cheesecloth to separate the almond meal from the milk.

You can also use an item called a “nut milk bag” to make this or any other kind of nut milk. I have never seen one. I just know they exist. I also think that the phrase “nut milk bag” sounds like a really bad insult – as in, “you nut milk bag!”

Sorry. I digress.

Back to the recipe. We were straining our nut milk (heheh). Periodically gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much milk from the almond meal as possible. Place the almond meal into a jar or plate, rinse off the cheesecloth, and continue repeating this process until all the milk has been separated from the meal.

image

Pour the strained milk into your 1qt. storage container. Add the vanilla if desired, along with any sweetener. Shake, and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for 5 – 7 days.

Your final product will be about 4 cups of almond milk (if you started with 4 cups of water – more water will mean more almond milk) and about 1 and 1/2 cups of almond meal.

DO NOT THROW OUT THE ALMOND MEAL. There are many uses for it – if you dry it out in the oven it can be turned into almond flour and used as a gluten free substitute for wheat flour in baked goods. In a future post I will feature how to make almond flour as well as some of the uses of this almond meal.

image

This is a less processed version of the nut milk you buy at the store. One knock against it is that it is somewhat more expensive than buying it in the TetraPaks, but given the expense of almonds, one wonders how the manufacturers are making it so cheaply. Not many almonds and a lot of chemicals is my guess.

One way to reduce the cost is to add more water, but be aware that this is essentially just diluting the milk – it also dilutes the nutrition. If you want to maximize the nutrition from the almonds, the best bet is probably to make it full strength.

Another way to reduce cost is to find an inexpensive source for the almonds. I got mine at Costco in a 3 lb. bag for about $15. That’s $5 a lb. There should be about 3 cups of almonds in a lb., so that means it costs about $1.60 to make a quart of almond milk. However, since I love almonds, I am not sure how many will become milk and how many will go straight into my face. Because of this, it’s hard for me to say with any certainty how much it costs to make almond milk.

The main thing is, I like it, it’s easy to make, and I know it’s healthier to make it myself without the preservation and additives.

How about you? What do you think about alternative milks like nut milk and soy milk? Do you like them?