Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An intro to Newton Running

A couple of weekends ago I went to the Multisport Expo held over at MIT and attended a seminar on running form and biomechanics.   The talk was led by the co-founder of Newton Running Danny Abshire, Ian Adamson and Dr. Mark (I think this was his name?  I wasn't taking notes...  oops).   I haven't done reading on barefoot/chi/pose running styles, but apparently the idea of Newton running is similar.  That is, to run with a more natural footstrike.

What is a natural footstrike?   To get this idea, they suggesting taking off your shoes and trying to run.   Should you go and try this, you would notice that your footstrike is on your mid or forefoot.  Modern shoes have a heel lift (which are not actually beneficial for running) and are highly cushioned.  This promotes heel striking and by providing so much cushion, prevents feet from feeling the ground and weakens the foot/leg.   Hm, interesting...  go on.

Newton Running shoes have been designed to encourage a more natural running and allow you to land on your mid/forefoot safely.  While they mimic barefoot styles of running, they provide the right type of cushioning to enhance shock absorption and promote proper running form.

Now, if I had never had issues running, I wouldn't have even been at the seminar, let alone be intrigued by what they had to say.    But I've always had issues with running and alignment, various muscle tightness and aches that can't be explained.   For the past two years I haven't been able to manage more than 10-15miles in a week (which isn't necessarily a goal, but an observation).   I knew that something was still not quite right.

There's more science behind the shoe that you should take a look at if you're interested, especially their Action/Release Technology (based on Newton's 3rd law of motion) that's supposed to absorb and return energy back to you.    There's also a ton of information in this post (including the comments), and I'm sure much more elsewhere.

I would be remiss to not mention more about proper running form.   Newton has a lot of great videos on the topic, I'd recommend starting out there.   The idea is to land with your weight centered over your body mass (under the hips).   Instead of long strides and muscling through your stride, better form comes from short strides and quick leg turnover (or cadence).  Illustrated much better in the videos, you want a slight forward bend and to think lifting your foot off the ground at your hips instead of pushing off.    Does that make sense?

Why am I telling you all of this?   Well, I ended up getting fitted for a pair of Newton running shoes and I have 30 days to try them out.   Will they work?   I have no idea!   I was impressed right away at how they corrected my alignment, to show you this I learned how to use the timer on my camera!  In the image below, my feet are hip-width apart and I'm bending my knees, sort of going to a squat.  Barefoot you can see my knees go in, and my heels roll inward, causing my arches to collapse (ouch).  You can see how that is corrected in the Newtons (w/o orthotics), and I've included the shoes I'm currently running in (w/current orthotics)

(l to r):  barefoot, Newtons, Asics Nimbus w/eSoles

I'm going to follow their advice, starting out slow, running every other day and focusing on form.   We'll see how it goes, and I'll be back with weekly recaps to see if these shoes can work for me, or if they won't.   I have already talked to someone a Newton about my orthotics, and I'll have to try it out to determine whether or not I should still use them.   Remember, I'm not a doctor (well, that kind of doctor ;)), and am not telling you to go run barefoot!   I have not read all the research, and these ideas I'm sharing are not my own, I am simply sharing my experiences as I try out something new.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions, I can try to answer or at least point you in the right direction!   Have you tried barefoot/chi/pose running??

**Just so you know, I purchased these with my own $$ and will follow with weekly reviews based solely on my experiences! **

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Hope everyone is having a good weekend!  Temperatures dropped here again so I stayed inside and got some work done on my blog...  what do you think??   Props to blogger for their updates, I was able to easily add some more columns to my layout and pages quite easily.

I finally got around to archiving my recipes (check the Cook tab up top).  Holy heck, have i done alot of cooking since I started this blog!!  Crazy.  And my fingers hurt from all this clicking and copying and pasting :/   I included not only my own, but links to original recipes that I've tried and talked about, so go check it out!  Hopefully this will be helpful for everyone? 

I also setup a page for triathlon-themed posts, so check out there for tips if you're interested in getting started!  Hopefully I'll pick out races for this year soon and post them there as well.  Any feedback on what you do/don't like with the new layout, or suggestions for how to improve the blog is more than welcome!

One note on some of my old posts...  I didn't realize that photos were stored in Picassa, and when you delete them from Picassa, they're gone.  Oops.  I have also deleted my trash since then, so I think they're gone for good.  It's (somewhat) ok since they were bad pictures, but I need to fix the posts.

One last thing before I get back to watching my alma mater kick some hockey booty...    it's pretty exciting, too ;)   I'm going to Italy this summer!!!   Who's got advice on where to go or travel tips??  I've got no plans as of yet besides a friend's wedding, so please hit me up with your favorite spots!

Thanks in advance, and enjoy the rest of the weekend :)  When my fingers rest up, I'll be typing up my first post on Newton Running.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brussels and Breakfast

I'm (supposed to be) working on a presentation for work so I haven't spent much time in the kitchen (except to roast the butternut squash I ate for dinner... ), but I can point you to two good recipes! I mentioned that I had the best brussels sprouts EVER at the Foodbuzz Festival. Well, Chef Dennis Lee was gracious enough to share the recipe!! You can find it here, or check out an awesome step-by-step version at We Are Not Martha. I didn't find all of the appropriate ingredients, but I came close ;) Still a winner, and worth checking out your local markets!

Brussels Sprouts to die for ;)

The second was a breakfast cake I made while my parents were in town, flavored by the last of my Coconut Chai tea. Smelled great in the oven, and I think they enjoyed it as part of their breakfast! (edited to add: Mom and Dad added their thoughts in the comments below!) You can find the recipe here.

Coconut Chai Breakfast Cake

I'm going to mix it up a bit in the upcoming weeks, to talk a little bit about these. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amazing Pancakes


I've been meaning to tell you about these pancakes... but with puppy sitting, my parents visiting, and some more dog sitting, I haven't had much blogging time. Didn't mean to hold out on you ;) And of course I have some more doggie photos for good measure!


So the recipe (found here) is for Kabocha Buckwheat pancakes. I don't know if it was the buckwheat flour, the spices (cardamom), or the combination of the two that put these over the top, but I was floored!!

While I didn't have buckwheat flour on hand, I did have some kasha (roasted buckwheat), which ground to a flour easily in my spice grinder (aka coffee grinder). I also used some kabocha I had already roasted (instead of grated fresh squash). I'm sure any other winter squash or sweet potato would work as well.

I can't wait to try more recipes using buckwheat flour... have you used it before? Or do you have any recommendations??

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Goodness

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! And if you're in Massachusetts, Happy Evacuation Day!

I'm sharing a recipe today that, while may not be traditional Irish fare, is green :) My parents came to visit this past weekend, and I attempted to recreate the pistachio ice cream we had on vacation in Arizona. It may not have been spot-on, but it was still delicious!

Pistachio Gelato

Pistachio Gelato
Recipe by Shannon

Yield: ~2c

I'm calling it a gelato because it lacks the traditional custard base with heavy cream and eggs, but it's essentially a coconut milk ice cream. Cornstarch is used to thicken it a bit, and the coconut milk imparts a silky mouth feel. I left the texture from the ground pistachios, but feel free to strain it with cheesecloth before churning if you prefer a smoother texture.

150g shelled pistachios
65g turbinado sugar
1T milk (non-dairy if desired, or more coconut milk)
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
1/3c milk (non-dairy if desired, or more coconut milk)
2T cornstarch
1-2T honey

Combine pistachios and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to a fine powder. Add in a little milk so it becomes a paste (I just eye-balled 1T). Transfer pistachio paste to a small saucepan with coconut milk. Heat over low heat until the paste "dissolves" (to a smooth liquid). Whisk starch and 1/3c milk until dissolved. Add milk/starch mixture to coconut milk/pistachio mixture and continue to cook over med-low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool a little bit. Transfer to a blender (I just used my stick blender) and add 1T honey. Blend, taste, and add more honey if desired. Refrigerate until cool (few hours or more), then churn according to the directions on your ice cream maker!

*Edited to add: I adjusted the recipe, as after Elina's question, I found this website detailing the strengths/weakness of different thickeners and wouldn't recommend using arrowroot if you're using dairy milk.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ras na hEireann 5k 2010

Well, I may have dried out from the race, but it's still raining here in Boston... by the time it stops (i'm hoping that time comes soon), we'll have gotten at least 6" of rain. Add in the windchill, and I'm totally ready for spring!

Elina & I

After volunteering at the Jingle Bell 5k this winter and seeing how much fun everyone was having, I signed up for the Irish-themed Ras na hEireann 5k that was this past Sunday in Davis Square. I didn't dress up like a leprechaun, but I did sport a big green hat that managed not to fly away ;) Prior to hearing the forecast, my goal was 24min... not a PR, but it would beat my time for "winter" races when I haven't started doing any speedwork. After hearing that the rain was not going to let up, I let all hopes of that go out the window and just wanted to survive! Luckily I ran into Elina on the escaltor getting off the T, and we got each other psyched up despite the weather at the start :)

Kerstin & I

I wasn't too cold waiting for the start, but I couldn't quite feel my feet for the first 1/4-1/2mi. Luckily I warmed up quickly, even wishing I had one less layer on top with 1mi to go! I have a tendency to take off too fast, and indeed I did (sorry Elina!!). I saw Tina on the course, lots of green, a super hero, and LOTS of puddles. I left my newly acquired tracking device at home for fear of drowning so I had no idea of how far I had left, but after a few rolling hills and a jaunt through a park, the finish line finally came into view. When I saw the clock, it was inside 24 minutes and I did what I could to book it, realizing my goal was actually in sight. I crossed the line at 24.01, with a chip time of 23.45!!! Woo hoo!!! A great start to the year ;) Afterward, I was lucky enough to run in to Elina and Tina, as well as Kerstin, who was running her first 5k! She rocked it, and luckily enjoyed it despite the weather! After snapping a few photos (thanks ladies/husbands ;)), I got some tea and headed home to warm up. On a side note, this is the second race I've done in a row with heavy rain, and I'm hoping this trend doesn't hold up...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thai Curry Shrimp

Before we get to the curry, trivia! The answer to the last question surprised me, the number of commercially grown varieties of fruits and veggies has declined 97% since the turn of the 20th century!!! I tried to do a quick search to find out why, but most things I found addressed the quality of commercially grown products. My only guess would be that commercial farming is selecting for superficial qualities like fast growth and appearance, and thus growing the "best" instead of variety. Any other thoughts?

Ok, back to the main event. Ever since I opened up a can of red curry paste, I've been wondering what else to do with it. I happened upon a couple of recipes that inspired this Thai Curry Shrimp dish that was pretty delicious.

I'm not sure if corn and peas are normally in Thai dishes, but I wanted more veggies so I threw them in after taking the pictures. I'm sure any veggies you have would work in this, you might just need to adjust the cooking times a bit. I bet green beans would be an especially nice addition! It came together so quickly, but you'd never know it tasting the coconut-curry broth. Perfect for busy weeknights, or leftover lunches.

Thai Curry Shrimp
adapted from Aggie's Kitchen and Bitchin Camero

Serves 2

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1-2T red curry paste
1/2c frozen corn
1/2c frozen peas
~20 frozen, cooked shrimp (or tofu, cooked chicken, etc)
1 can lite coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1-2T soy sauce
cooked spaghetti squash (or brown rice)
scallions and cilantro for serving (chopped peanuts would also be nice if you have them)

Heat 1T oil (coconut oil or a mild flavored oil) on medium in skillet. Add onion and red pepper and saute until softened, ~5-10min. Add curry paste and stir so veggies are evenly coated. Add coconut milk, frozen veggies & shrimp (or other protein), and simmer 10-15 min to warm through. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and soy sauce. Adjust seasonings. Serve over spaghetti squash, topped with some chopped scallions and cilantro.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cauliflower Party


I took the weekend off from blog reading (i'll be back reading soon!), but I had a good reason. (see above) Puppy sitting time!! My friend is in NYC for work, so I got to help out this weekend. Shula and I got out for some nice walks in the gorgeous weather we had, so that was nice! Maybe next time we'll be able to make it to the dog park ;)

One last picture, b/c it's pretty darn cute. Any guesses as to whom she's named after? haha.

Looks like someone didn't want to watch any more Veronica Mars!

I didn't do any cooking, but have enjoyed trying some of your recipes! There's a theme here, and it's called what to do with a head of cauliflower so you don't get bored :)

Cauliflower Salad w/Orange Vinaigrette

I wanted to try some new things with it, so I chose two "raw"cipes from Gena's site-- a Cauliflower Salad w/Orange Vinaigrette (minus asparagus as I didn't have any) and Eggless Salad (made with pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds). Both were delicious! I don't mind cauliflower raw, but I like tiny florets, and this salad was great as part of my lunch. I also can't get enough oranges in the winter, so I loved the dressing! The Eggless Salad wasn't quite like its cooked counterpart (which I love), but great in its own right. Made for a fabulous sandwich... alongside an orange ;) What can I say, I average at least 1 a day for a few months!

Eggless Salad Sandwich

The last recipe I could've sworn came from Diana, but I can't find it on her site anymore. It was a layered casserole with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, and lightly sauteed spinach in a cottage cheese-egg-parmesan sauce, topped with whole wheat panko breadcrumbs. A different combination, but a winning one, as I love all the components :)

Sw Potato-Cauliflower-Spinach Casserole

Here's some more trivia for you... By what percentage has the number of commercially grown varieties of fruits and vegetables been reduced since the turn of the 20th century- 50%, 78% or 97%?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Hit and a Near Miss

First, the hit! I used the pizza dough I made a few weeks ago (and stuck in the freezer) to make one killer pizza :) Even after freezing, I was able to roll it out thin so it was nice and crispy after baking on my pizza stone.

All of the prep work for this pizza can be done ahead of time (my preferred way to do things). I happened to have a lot of shallots thanks to a farm haul from friends of the family (thanks david & al!), so I made some caramelized shallots one night when I had a little extra time. Another night I was roasting veggies and threw in an extra head of garlic to have some roasted garlic. The mushrooms and spinach can also be cooked up ahead of time as well.

The roasted garlic got mixed with some creamy goat cheese, and the rest of the ingredients topped the pie, resulting in a fabulous dinner! I was totally in love with the flavors in this pizza, and will definitely be making this again soon :)

Woodsy Pizza
(or Pizza w/Caramelized Shallots, Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese, Mushrooms and Spinach)
Recipe by Shannon

Pizza Dough (I used 1/4 of Jenna's recipe made with all white whole wheat flour)
2-3oz goat cheese
~2c thinly sliced shallots (or sweet onion)
2-3T EVOO, divided
2t balsamic vinegar
4-5 cloves of roasted garlic
4oz sliced mushrooms (I used a mix of Shiitakes and Baby Bellas)
few lg handfuls of baby spinach (I used ~3oz, or half of a 6oz bag)

For the Caramelized Shallots, I heated ~2T olive oil in a heavy skillet on med-hi. Add the shallots and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes, then lower the heat to med-low add balsamic vinegar and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook for ~20min, until the shallots have become soft and delicious- err, caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool. Can be done ahead.

Combine roasted garlic cloves with goat cheese and mix well. Store in fridge until assembling the pizza.

For the mushrooms and spinach, I heated a 1-2t EVOO in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add in the mushrooms, stir to coat, and cover for a few minutes to get them cooking. Remove the cover, stir, and continue cooking mushrooms until the water (from covering) has evaporated and they have started to get brown on their edges. Add in spinach, and cook until it has just begun to wilt, stirring as needed. Remove from heat and let cool. This can also be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 450deg (I keep my pizza stone in the oven while preheating). Roll out dough to the size of your stone. Have the rest of the ingredients out and ready to go. Once the stone has heated, transfer dough to hot stone (careful!). Cover with goat cheese mixture, top with caramelized shallots, then the mushroom/spinach mixture. Bake for 10-15min, until the crust is golden brown. Try to let it cool before handling/inhaling!!


My (near) miss was my entry into Katie's Artisana contest! I've seen a bunch of sweet entries, but the first thing that came to my mind were Avocado Pancakes and I couldn't resist giving them a tri. I won't share my recipe for the pancakes as they failed (I barely got one to roll up), I suggest you try Heather's or Gourmet's. Not sure what went wrong with the batter, but on my sole pancake, I slathered on some Laughing Cow (cheddar or gruyere would also work, or you could leave it out all together) and thought a black bean-corn salsa would be perfect so I rolled it all up. Yum, for sure! The scramble made from the failed pancakes was also good :) An excellent idea for brunch, should you use a tested recipe for the pancakes ;)

Avocado Pancakes w/Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

I've probably mentioned it before, but I hated brussels sprouts as a kid. Whenever my mom made them, they had to be at the other end of the table :) I don't mind them now, but didn't fall in love until the Foodbuzz Festival. After this I knew I needed to try again, and they would find a way to my heart.

When I saw Tara's Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts, I couldn't wait to get into my kitchen :) I took a slightly different approach, as I had some Sweet Potato Papparadelle in my pantry. It was a great pairing, and I'd use this preparation for sprouts as a topping for a baked sweet potato too!!

Sweet Potato Pasta w/Shaved Brussels Sprouts
adapted from Seven Spoons

Serves 2

6oz sweet potato papparadelle
10oz brussles sprouts, trimmed, lightly steamed, thinly sliced
1 1/2T olive oil
1T butter
2-4T chopped toasted walnuts
freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in medium nonstick skillet. Once butter is melted and beginning to brown, add thinly sliced brussels sprouts. Saute until browned and caramelized.

Add salt to pasta water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and transfer to skillet with brussels sprouts. Add a little pasta water if needed to coat pasta if it's a little dry.

Transfer pasta to plates, top with chopped walnuts and parmesan right before serving.

**Edited to add: I'm submitting this to this week's BSI: Brussels Sprouts, hosted by the lovely and creative Sophia!**
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