Wednesday, April 28, 2010

POM Wonderful

Ryan from POM Wonderful recently sent me a free box of their juice to play with.  Like everything lately, I've been a bit behind in putting it to good use, but I have come up with some goodies!   While I'm not an avid juice drinker, the absence of added sugar and plentiful antioxidants makes POM one of my favorites.   When I got about to figure out what to do, I discovered that grenadine was originally made from pomegranate juice??  I had no idea :)  Sounds much better than that HFCS-laden syrup I recalled using way back in the day!!

Love the cute 8oz bottles!


1c POM juice
1/2c cane sugar
splash of orange blossom water (optional)

Heat the POM and sugar until dissolved (in the microwave or on the stove).  Remove from heat, add a splash of orange blossom water.  Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

I saw quite a few variations on the recipe, including some that reduced the juice by half, but I thought that seemed more like making pomegranate molasses.  You could also add in a little vodka to help preserve the grenadine if you're not planning on using it right away.

I love the tart frozen yogurt places that have opened up in Boston, and have recently been getting the pomegranate flavor with semisweet chips and raspberries.  The first thing I wanted to do when I got the juice was to try and recreate this at home!  I'm sharing the recipe that I used with what was already in my fridge, but I would make some changes as it froze very hard (evidenced by the picture, I was unable to get a good-looking scoop).  I'm not a chemist, but I think it needed either a higher percentage of fat and/or a splash of liquor to help the consistency after being frozen for a day or two.

Tart POM Yogurt w/Chips
Recipe by Shannon

The sweetness of this frozen yogurt can be adjusted according to your tastes.  Mine wasn't too sweet, and just what I was after.  If you'd like less of a tang, add a bit more sugar!

2c POM juice
1/2c grenadine (see above)
2c greek yogurt (use 2% or higher, otherwise it will be too hard)
1T pomegranate liquor or vodka
1/2c semisweet mini chips

Whisk together juice, grenadine, yogurt and liquor until well combined.  I found that I didn't need to heat this at all, but my grenadine may have been warm enough to help it come together.  Refrigerate for an hour or more, to make sure the mixture is chilled.  Churn according to manufacturers directions, adding the chips towards the end of churning!

I went for my first bike ride outside with my second cousin last weekend, so I brought him and his wife some Dark Chocolate POM Brownies.  I just made them in a 9"pan instead of making individual brownie cups and frosting them.  May have kept 1 or 2 for myself...  they didn't all fit in the container ;) Can't say the pomegranate flavor was that prominent, but they were still yummy.

I also figured I could use some of the POM juice to bake something for work.  I decided on a POM Velvet Cake w/POM Cream Cheese Frosting.  Yeah...  cream cheese frosting is right up there with peanut butter frosting in that I should not have it in the house.  At least most of it ended up on the cake ;)  Again I couldn't quite pick out the pomegranate in the chocolate cake, but it probably did add a certain dimension to the flavor.  Pomegranate definitely came out in frosting, adding a subtle tart that helped keep the frosting from becoming too sweet.    Nobody complained :)

Need more ideas?  How about caramel sauce, jello or truffles??  There are quite a few savory options out there too (especially with pomegranate molasses)!  What's your favorite way to use pomegranate juice??

Thanks again Ryan and POM Wonderful!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Odds and Ends

This weekend I had a few things that needed to be used asap, and I was glad to get back in the kitchen!   Too much going on to come up with my own recipes, I turned to my recipe stash and came up with some good ones.

With the over ripe squished bananas I picked up on the cheap, I made Camilla's Banana Toasted Millet Muffins.  I used all white whole wheat flour, sucunat instead of brown sugar,  my yogurt was greek, and I threw in some dark chocolate covered cacao nibs that had been hiding in the back of my pantry!  Mmm, the little crunch from the millet and melty chocolate...  these were good.

Banana Toasted Millet Muffins

Now, what to do with the roasted buttercup squash that you forgot you had?   Well, I'm so glad it hadn't gone bad, because I got the chance to try one of Dawn's amazing creations.  Seriously, she comes up with some outrageous looking goodies and has me drooling on a regular basis!   I used the squash in her Sweet Potato Cheddar Cookies, and wow.  She hits all the right notes with these!   Serendipity, really, I also had some Dubliner that needed to get used :)  I actually wasn't sure I could taste the cheese when I sneaked a bit of the batter before baking, but it was definitely there after baking.   I left out the raisins (didn't have any) and my only other changes were to use Smart Balance 50/50 sticks and white whole wheat flour.

Squash Cheddar Cookies

One last thing, that I've been meaning to discuss!!  Remember when I introduced you to CSN stores?  They're actually a Boston-based online retailer for tons of (not just home) goods.  Not only can you browse cookware, but if you're in the mood to rearrange your living room, perhaps one of their corner tv stands will help maximize your space?  I'm going to be doing a product review for them in the upcoming weeks, but in the mean time-- check out one of their many stores for whatever you might need!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Newton Running Weeks 3+4

This is the third in a series of posts about my experience with Newton running shoes.  In case you're wondering what they're all about, check out my first post to learn a little bit about the shoes!  

Oops, didn't mean to leave you for so long!   I don't know why I have felt so behind lately, but I think I'm back ;)  A few things have been going on in the running front, so here's the last installment of my trial with Newton running shoes.   I didn't take as detailed notes the past few weeks, but hopefully you'll get the idea!

Week 3:  I went back to running w/o my orthotics as things felt better that way.  I tried out some intervals on the treadmill, as I didn't feel like doing them in the rain.   I could definitely tell I was landing on my mid-foot and tried to focus on form, but I can't wait to get outside as I appreciate their lightness :)  A minor hiccup came when I tried to add in my longest run to date in the shoes...  my 6 miles may have been a little ambitious, as I started to feel my calves get tight after 4.5 miles.  I kept running, as I still had to get back to work, but they have required more stretching and rolling out.

Week 4:  I took it a bit easier this past week but got in a few good runs, including a 5+ mile jaunt through Central Park.

A piece of the puzzle:  At the end of Week 3, I started going to PT for my hips.   Turns out that they're tight (both sides, opposite places) causing my alignment to be off.   I had hip dysplasia when I was still in a crib, so it's not all that surprising.  I've got a lot more stretching on my plate now (both before and after runs), along with a whole new set of exercises to strengthen my hips.  My PT also added in exercises to strengthen the muscles in my feet that support my arches, and recommended that I keep my runs in the Newtons to no more than 4-5miles.  He does support my use of the shoes, and will take a look at my running form in upcoming visits to ensure that things are in the right place ;)

So... where does that leave me?  Optimisitc.  I'm definitely keeping the shoes, and think my body will continue to adapt as I continue with PT and incorporate more speedwork and bricks to gear up for some summer races.   Hopefully they'll help me meet some of my goals this year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Breads

For Easter my mom requested some of the breads she had growing up...  babka, poppyseed bread and nut bread.  They all use the same sweet bread for the base, with raisins added to the babka and the poppyseed and nut breads being rolled out and filled before baking.  They all came out pretty good, although I should've made them into smaller loaves (they were pretty massive!


You can find my recipe for Babka here, adapted from several of my great grandmothers recipes.  This year I used poppyseed filling from a can, but you can be sure that I'll try to make my own next year!

Nut Bread & Poppyseed Bread

Nut Bread Filling (for 1 loaf, or half of babka recipe w/o raisins):

1/4lb ground walnuts
1/4c brown sugar
hefty sprinkle cinnamon (to taste)
1 egg white, whisked
1t butter

Mix well with a fork.  If you need a little more liquid, use up to 1T warm milk.  Spread out evenly over dough, then roll up!  Secure ends under the loaf of the bread, allow it to rise for a second time (2hrs) and then brush with egg wash and bake for ~35min, until it sounds hollow when tapped.   Yum!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Newton Running Week 2

This is the second in a series of posts about my experience with Newton running shoes.  In case you're wondering what they're all about, check out my first post to learn a little bit about the shoes!  

To recap the first week of running in the shoes, I took things pretty slow and experienced some (expected) tightness in my calves.  After a back-to-back run with the Newtons and my Asics, I was cautiously optimistic about the Newtons--  they seemed to make running easier, both in form and in my joints.  This week I tried out my orthotics in the Newtons for comparison!

Tuesday (no run)

Wednesday (Run 5):  3mi
     I ran to/from a yoga class in the rain, so I wasn't so much thinking about my feet/legs ;)  I did try to check out my form in a few of the buildings I ran by, but it was a little hard to do!

Thursday (Run 6):  ~1mi w/orthotics
     I went to an intense spin class and didn't have any tightness in my calves!!  To celebrate, I snuck in a little run to do an errand ;)  Since I wasn't about to put on my old shoes after Sunday's run, I tried out my orthotics in the Newtons (removing the insoles and replacing with my orthotics).  Certainly not as light as w/o them, but they felt ok during this short run.

Friday (Run 7):  4.15mi (w/o orthotics)
     After a rather sleepless night, I felt a bit sluggish but legs felt relatively good.

Saturday (no run)

Sunday (Run 8):  5mi w/orthotics
     While I wanted to get a long-ish run in to keep up my mileage, I didn't want to push too much (2 runs over 4mi in 3 days) so I threw my orthotics in the Newtons and took off.  No tightness and legs felt pretty good.
     After this run with my orthotics, I can say that I think I like running in the Newtons better w/o them.   I think my feet don't have to work as hard when I wear them (more support/cushioning), and something about my alignment seems a bit off.

There's a few things I haven't mentioned...  when I run in the Newtons, the comfortable pace I fall into is roughly 30sec faster than it used to be.  I tried to keep my mileage the same and haven't done speedwork since my recent 5k, so I think it's more a consequence of quicker cadence/improved form.  I actually have found that my legs want to go faster than my breathing can take me, so hopefully getting back into some speedwork will help!   

The other (accidental) issue is that I haven't been doing my PT exercises for my knees.  I really didn't mean for this to happen, but a busy schedule got the best of me.  What I was surprised about is that I didn't have any problems with my knees.  Sunday was a minor "setback"...  more of a reality check, when I spent most of the day on my feet, barefoot (after a 5mi run).   My knees didn't appreciate that, and I'm paying for it now.  I'm planning on getting right back into it, so hopefully my last two weeks won't be tainted!

Spring has sprung!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Flavors

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend!   I got to spend a relaxing weekend at home by this beauty...

The fishies were eager to say hi!  Or was that I'm hungry after hibernating all winter?  I'm not sure ;)

I wanted to share with you the dessert I made for Easter--  a Meyer Lemon Lavender Bundt Cake.   I followed Hannah's recipe for the cake, adding in 1T crushed lavender pedals (you could probably use up to 2T, but I ran out).   I made a quick glaze of sifted powdered sugar and more meyer lemon juice/zest (3.5T for 2c sugar).   While the glaze came out a little runnier than I had wanted, it was absolutely delicious.   Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I couldn't help but go back for a second piece!

Meyer Lemon Lavender Bundt Cake

This was the first time several of the people at our table had tried meyer lemons, but they enjoyed the slightly more complex and less tart flavor.   Have you tried them?   What is your favorite thing to do with them?

ps-  Check out Heather's giveaway for So Delicious!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Newton Running Week 1

This is the second in a series of posts about my experience with Newton running shoes.  In case you're wondering what they're all about, check out my first post to learn a little bit about the shoes!

To adjust to Newton running shoes (or barefoot running),  you need to start slow.   There's no putting them on for the first time and running 10miles.  Your feet have been dormant for many years in our cushioned shoes, it takes time to strengthen and adapt the bones and connective tissue in your feet.   To adjust to their shoes, Newton recommends starting with a run of 1-2miles.  Then run every other day, increasing distance by no more than 10min a day (umm, that sound wrong to anyone else?) and continuing to rotate with your old running shoes for the first couple of weeks.  Two more things, don't try to increase intensity (speed or distance) until you're adjusted, and focus on good form.   As with all things, if you do feel unusual discomfort, back off!

I picked up the shoes on a Saturday, and for one last hurrah, went out for a 6.5mi run in my old shoes on Sunday.  I needed to get used to the idea that I may be setting myself back and it might not be easy.    Then I got started.    I'm not sure if I'll need my orthotics, but because the shoes seemed to correct alot of my alignment on their own, I'm giving it a try without them, and then I'll reassess the situation.

Tuesday (Run 1):  1.6mi
     Wow, these feel light.   Take it easy...  think about your form...  Hmm, done already?  13ish minutes?  You should stop before you hurt yourself.

Wednesday (Run 2):  1.6mi
     Still can't get over how light these feel!  A little tightness in my right ankle/lower calf, stretch that when you get home.  Otherwise... ok?  Am I doing this right?  Does my knee hurt?

Thursday (no run)
     I went to a spinning class, and realized how tight my calves were when we started to climb.  I started to roll out and use my Trigger Point kit on both of my calves, but probably should've done this from Day 1.

Friday (Run 3):  2ish miles
     Still a feeling a little tightness on the right side, but otherwise good.

Saturday (no run)
     Another try at a spin class and more rolling.

Sunday (Run 4):  2.5mi in Newtons followed immediately by 5 in my old shoes
     This was the big test in my mind, a back-to-back comparison to see how they felt.  The first 2.5:  feeling good, take it easy...  look at my watch (8:15 pace)... really??...  check back...  this feels easy...  try to slow down, you've got more miles coming!
     Shoe change:  Umm, these feel wierd, why am I so high?  This is going to be interesting...  can I turn around and get my Newtons?...  I can tell I'm trying to land on my midfoot for the first 1/4mi or so, but don't feel the same "spring in my step" as when I had the Newtons on.  My legs felt heavy the entire run, and I felt sluggish.   By the end of my run, my joints felt like they had taken the brunt of the work.

While I'm still feeling a bit tight in my calves, I'm cautiously optimistic after Sunday's run.  I immediately noticed how much harder it was to keep a quick cadence in my old shoes and lift my knees.   While skeptical at first, I think I felt the energy transfer they talked about on my Sunday run, and really like what these shoes do for my form (at least from what I can tell).  It's going to be hard to try and run in my old shoes again, especially back-to-back like that.  Maybe I can throw a short run with them, or just try my orthotics in the Newtons?  We'll see!  I realize I didn't follow all of the rules I mentioned to a T, but I think I took it slow...

I'll be back soon with a recap of Week 2, and some Easter cooking this weekend!  Have a great day/weekend :)
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