Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recipes for Health: Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry

I recently got adventurous and made tofu for the first time EVER. I usually pick it out of my chicken pad thai and I've never ordered it in a restaurant, but for some reason this Recipe for Health called to me -- it just seemed so delicious and nutritious. I gave it a try and it turns out that it IS delicious and nutritious! And it turns out I can cook tofu! It does take a little time -- though the recipe doesn't call for it, my roommate said when she's cooked tofu before she pressed all of the water out of it, otherwise it would turn to mush. The first time I made this dish I kinda pressed out some of the water and it turned out fine, but the second time I was more thorough and I think the tofu did remain firmer. Speaking of, one of my favorite blogs, Carrots 'n' Cake, just wrote a post about a tofu food press! Check it out!

This dish is a little spicy and really tasty. I used Martha's suggestion to use it as a pita filler for every serving I made. She also suggests serving it over grains or noodles. I doubled the recipe since one thing of tofu is one pound. I've reflected the doubled recipe below.
Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound tofu, cut in small dice -- I used firm tofu
2 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons grated or minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Soy sauce to taste
2 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
  1. Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok, and add the tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu is lightly colored, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and stir-fry until the spinach wilts, about one minute. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
  2. Using tongs, transfer the spinach and tofu mixture to a serving bowl, leaving the liquid behind in the pan or wok. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and add more soy sauce as desired. Serve with rice or other grains, or noodles. You may also use it as a filling for whole wheat pita bread. 

I hope you enjoy!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sooo yeah that "getting back thing"...

I'm here! I'm doing stuff! I've been running, racing, cooking, ellipticalling, AND I got a massage. All good things.

I ran the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k last weekend with my roommate B. It was my first run over 2 miles since the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half-Marathon in late April, so I went into it not expecting much. B and I had discussed running the race together since neither of us was planning on racing hard, and thank goodness B ran it with me! I felt sluggish and my legs felt like sandbags, and I have a feeling I didn't eat enough the night before. Having B with me definitely helped me through it, as did the usual mix of Lady Gaga, Miley and Girl Talk!

Just compare me finishing the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Half-Marathon:
Happy! I'm even smiling (or is that a grimace? Haha)! me finishing the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k:
Blehhh...tired looking...dragging...dead.

Oh well. Sometimes you have bad races. C'est la vie!

I still felt pretty good for the first few miles, and around mile 4 or 5 I was starting to feel a little...weird and not great. I was really glad to have B with me though!

My legs felt pretty good the next day. I've been going to physical therapy and working on strengthening and stretching my hip flexor. I still have this totally bizarre and unidentifiable pain in my right leg, but I think it's from overcompensating for the hip flexor pain on the left leg. I'm not sure how to fix that really, but the massage I got today definitely helped and hopefully more stretches and strengthening exercises will help too. I highly recommend the place I went to for my massage -- Eastside Massage Therapy. It's very no-frills, but it's far cheaper than any hour-long massage at a fancy spa. And it was the best massage I'd ever had!

I ran only once last week, a couple of miles where I ran a mile and walked on an 8% incline for half a mile or so. I felt pretty OK and physical therapy helped a lot too. I had the Brooklyn Half-Marathon yesterday and since I'm doing the 9+1 program for the 2011 NYC Marathon I figured I should at least show up and cross the start line to make sure it counts. My legs had been feeling OK (the hip flexor had been feeling great) so I decided to give it a try. The race involved two loops around Prospect Park (I'd never run there before!), a 5-mile straight shot along Ocean Parkway (SOOOOO boring...), and about a mile along the Coney Island boardwalk (I'd never been there before!).

I honestly felt SO great the first seven miles (aside from the uphill parts of course) -- that was a huge motivator for me. I was torn because part of me just wanted to be there and try my best, and part of me wanted to compete and do well! Once I left the park and had nothing to look at but highway signs though, I was lost. Totally bored. I had a few miles where I would just stare straight ahead and focus on a person in front of me -- unfortunately for part of the time I had a man in front of me with THE HAIRIEST BACK I had EVER seen. He had a bald head but an incredibly hairy back. THAT was motivating for me to run past him at least...

Once again, my Garmin lied to me and would beep at the mile before I reached the mile marker, so the time is off on this (which I guess means the splits are also off a bit). I think I need to call them or recalibrate it or something because in every recent race the miles have been off!

Pretty good! You can see where the hills were in Prospect Park... And at the end there was a ramp up to the boardwalk, which really is just so cruel at the end of a race!

I had a great time overall, but I just could not stand that 5-mile straightaway. I'm just glad that I finished it, that I survived, and that I improved!

More to come soon...I'll definitely be back! Especially since marathon training will be starting in late June!!! AAAHHH!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Getting back

I took a week (OK, 10 days) off from blogging, and I've taken a week off from running while I figure out what's going on with my legs. I've been to a physical therapist who was great but too expensive, so I'm starting over at a new physical therapy (PT) place on Friday. The first place I went to was very thorough in their evaluation and I definitely learned a lot -- I'm too mobile in some places and not flexible enough in others; I've built up certain quad muscles too much and haven't built up others enough; and my knee surgery from almost 10 years ago has affected the way that I run. I'm hoping to start a physical therapy program soon so I avoid any other injuries before the marathon in October.

I have a couple big races coming up in the next month (Brooklyn half-marathon on May 22, aaahhh!) and I haven't been running too much so I'm a little bit concerned with that...tomorrow I'm going to go for a run outdoors (I was so cold today and I may well have to dig up my winter running clothes!) and just hope for the best! My legs are definitely feeling better, and I've been doing the elliptical, erg and total body conditioning class to keep up my fitness. It's not running, but I'm hoping I can get it back soon enough. Maybe if I don't do well in Brooklyn I'll just have to do the Queens half-marathon again! :)

Here's a map of a run I did a little while ago:

I changed it up and ran along the East River -- it's a nice run as well, but I definitely prefer the West Side Highway.

I also made a delicious Recipe for Health last week, but forgot to take a picture of it...I'll post on it soon enough though. And I got a CamelBak for running during the summer -- pretty excited about it! I figured it would be rather necessary since I'll be running long distances in July, August and September in preparation for the marathon, and it would be pretty awful to be without water in those months...

Anyway, that's what's been happening in my world recently. I think I've been a little down about not really being able to run, but with Friday's PT appointment I hope I can get back to it and start strengthening my muscles to run injury-free!