Steamed Peaches with Custard

[peach eating photo]Hey NMA-ers!  It’s Christine here with your weekly healthy dessert recipe!  For this Sweet-Tooth Friday, I went international and made Thai Steamed Peaches with Custard.  You’re not going to believe how delicious and elegant a dessert can be with just FOUR ingredients!

Now for most of my Sweet-Tooth Friday posts, I’ve been sneaking nutritious elements into normally unhealthy desserts, like avocado into chocolate mousse.  I’ve also been doing crazy substitutions to get my desserts to athlete standards- swapping out animal products and unrefined sweeteners with alternatives like flax and applesauce.  The results have been delicious, but there have been a decent amount of ingredients involved to bring the healthy desserts into the yummy category.

Gettin’ Steamy

[peach dessert ingredients]At my last camogie game, a friend of mine requested a recipe with less ingredients for this week’s post.  A long list of ingredients can appear time-consuming, complicated, and expensive.  I decided to go back to basics.  Besides, after a large and often spicy meal I am never craving a sky high piece of layer cake.  All I really want is a piece of fruit with a little pizzazz to sweeten the palate.

You know, the best dessert I’ve ever had was at The Thai Restaurant in Baltimore.  Like the restaurant’s name, this dessert seemed so simple but so perfect: fried bananas with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of sesame seeds.  With this inspiration, I left Betty Crocker on the shelf and reached for The Food and Cooking of Thailand.

The Thai cookbook had a recipe for Steamed Custard in Nectarines, which is similar to the Thai dish sankaya but done in a nectarine instead of a small pumpkin.  If you’re curious about sankaya, be careful with your internet search—google repeatedly “corrected” my query to Sanjaya, the silly American Idol contestant with the weird hair!

[peach half photo]Anyway, I went ahead and used peaches for my version since there are just so many around this time of year.  Peaches are part of the “dirty dozen,” so try to find organic if you can.  My peaches weren’t quite ripe, but steaming them really did wonders to open up their sweetness and softness.

I’m a baker, not a “steamer,” so this was a first for me.  I think by getting outside my comfort zone I can really bring you Sweet-Toothers a simple and successful dish without relying on my experience.   I was delighted to see how easy the custard was to make!  Previous to this, I had only done it painstakingly over a double-boiler with lots of cornstarch, careful stirring, and dozens of failed “scrambled” custards.  This one is just pour and steam!

[peach custard photo]Maybe you’ve noticed that this is the first Sweet-Tooth Friday that calls for a real egg.  A lot of times in baking recipes the eggs really are unnecessary and are just there out of traditional misconceptions.  I did this recipe THREE times, once with Ener-g egg replacer, once with two egg whites, and once with one whole egg.  The egg replacer was just too slimy; the egg whites were passable but nothing to write home about.  The whole egg, on the other hand, launched my taste buds into creme-brulee-meets-peach-French-toast land.  There may be ways to make vegan custard, but with this few natural ingredients and without the magic of soy, it just wasn’t happening.

Also, the original recipe called for three tablespoons of palm sugar, which I would like to try but couldn’t get my hands on this week.  I used 2 tablespoons of amber agave nectar and it was plenty sweet and the custard still firmed up.  Go ahead and use honey if you prefer.  For the coconut milk, just put two tablespoons aside the next time you open a can, or get one of those teensy cans.

Steamed Peaches with Custard

6 organic peaches
1 egg
2 tbs agave nectar
2 tbs coconut milk

Optional garnish: fresh mint leaves, lime zest

Start heating a pot of water to boil.
Meanwhile mix together the egg, agave nectar, and coconut milk.
Cut the peaches in half along the “seam” and remove the stones.  Use the spoon to hollow out a slightly larger cavity.
When the water is boiling, put peach halves into a steamer basket over the water.  Pour the egg mixture into the cavity about 3/4 the way full.  I’ll tell you from my own mess that it’s just silly to fill them first and transfer to the steamer second!
Cover and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the filling is firm.
Take the steamer off the hot water, but let cool completely before removing the peaches from the steamer basket.  This way they don’t lose their shape.
If you’d like, garnish with fresh mint leaves or lime zest.

[peach dessert photo]

These were so light and refreshing, with just the right amount of creamy decadence!  They looked really nice served in little martini glasses with some extra coconut milk pooled in the bottom.  This peach dessert will make an excellent ending to your spicy summer dishes and it’s so easy to make!

I hope you give this Sweet-Tooth Friday a try!  It’s really a nice change of pace to have something so fresh and simple at the end of a meal.  I never would have tried this if there hadn’t been a request for fewer ingredients but I am so glad I did!  With that in mind, please remember that I take requests!  If there’s a dessert you’ve been craving, let me know and I will try my best to revamp it with a NMA twist.  Or if you have a ton of a certain ingredient around, say summer squash, let me know and we can create a yummy recipe based on that!

Can’t wait to hear from you!
Until next STF, stay sweet!

xoxo Christine



Pancakes for Dinner!

Almost Friday, veg-heads! I have to tell you, your comments on yesterday’s post absolutely made my day. Thanks for all the encouragement.  Just over six weeks left until the big day!

In case yesterday was running-overload for some of you, today’s all about food! Erin and I started the day with mango-jalapeno smoothies, hands down our favorite from Thrive.  Quick, healthy energy, and the best replacement for coffee I’ve found.

Key word: “best,” not “perfect.”  I couldn’t resist this morning, so I busted out my Moka pot afterward and brewed up a few potent shots of my favorite vice (Starbucks Gazebo blend), which I’m drinking now!  Sweet black nectar, if drinking you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  Well, I kind of do, just not today.

[Moka pot photo]

By the way, does anyone know how to use one of these correctly?  How fine to grind the beans, to tamp or not to tamp, etc.?

Corn Cakes (Yee-Haw!)

[corn cakes photo]For dinner yesterday, I pulled out my trusty Williams-Sonoma Vegetarian cookbook, the steal I got off the Barnes and Noble discount rack that has yet to produce  a bad meal.  I had been eying up these corn cakes with black beans for a while, and this kind-of-related post at Fake Food Free finally inspired me to make them.

So I did, but I had no idea how pancake-like they would be!  I guess I was expecting something more like cornbread?  Nonetheless, they turned out really well.  Plus it made dinner really fun since, after all, we were eating frickin’ pancakes!  Sweet!

Now, I must warn you, the prep work (mise en place, for you real chefs) was extremely complicated.  If you don’t have a culinary school degree, you may want to go grab one before you attempt this.  To make it more accessible, I’ve broken it down into photo-steps.  Watch me for the changes, and try to keep up (movie name, anyone?).

Step 1:

[step 1]

Step 2:

[step 2]

Step 3:

[step 3]

Seriously, that’s it.  No more prep, for the entire meal.  So easy.  To spice it up a bit, I made a fresh salsa with an heirloom tomato from the garden, half an onion, some cilantro, and lime juice, but even that required only minimal work, since I did it in a food processor.

One quick thing before I give you the recipe.  It calls for buttermilk.  I didn’t have buttermilk; I mistakenly bought 2% when I was trying to remember what I needed at the store.  But then I found this simple substitution, which just involves mixing a tablespoon of lemon juice with about a cup of milk.  (As an aside, milk was something that we stopped drinking when we went vegetarian.  Not for ethical reasons, but because I’m convinced that the milk we have access to in stores does NOT do a body good.  I drink almond milk now, but I’m ok with a little bit of the real stuff for cooking.)

Ok, here’s my slightly-adapted version of the Williams-Sonoma recipe.  I think a touch of sugar would be really nice in the corn cakes, but I have no idea how much to add so I’ve left that out.

Corn Cakes with Black Beans

Ingredients (for 2 large or 3 small servings):

  • [corn cake photo]1 15-oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tsp Mexican-style chili powder
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk or substitute
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • toppings, like salsa, cilantro, sour cream (or plain yogurt)

For the beans: Over medium heat, combine the beans, oregano, and 1 tsp chili powder.  Heat through, cover, and set aside.

For the corn cakes:  In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, baking soda, flour, 1 tsp chili powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, melted butter and egg with a whisk.  Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and whisk for a few seconds until mostly combined into a lumpy batter.  Add the corn.

Heat a large pan (you’ll need to be able to flip the pancakes) over medium-high heat.  Brush the pan with the oil to lightly coat it, then pour in some of the batter to make whatever size pancakes you want.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping once.  Repeat by wiping the pan and brushing more oil between batches.  Keep the cooked pancakes warm under foil while you are doing the others.

Top the corn cakes with black beans, and whatever toppings you choose.  Pretend you’re a cowboy!

[corn cake close photo]

Bad Dog

Alright kiddies, that’s all for today.  I’ll leave you with Exhibit A, which was found next to our dog Linus by the garden yesterday.  We can’t keep him out of there.  First the jalapeno plant, now this.  He even eats serrano peppers!  I have no idea how, because I tried once and nearly burned off my taste buds.  Somebody better shape up if he doesn’t want to be returned to the pound….  (Kidding, dog lovers.)

[chewed cucumber photo]

[linus photo]

See you tomorrow for Sweet-Tooth Friday with another healthy dessert from my sister Christine!



Times, They Are A-Changin’

[newcastle and salad photo]Morning!  I’m proud to announce that I’m a guest-poster on The Runner’s Kitchen today, one of the very first blogs I started reading when I joined the blogosphere six months ago.  As a fellow beer lover, Megan always posts about the great suds she’s drinking, so for my guest post I made up a fancy salad to pair with my favorite beer, Newcastle Brown Ale.

I mean, if you’re going to get all banged up, the least you can do for your body is eat a salad with it, right? 😉

I’ll let you get your food fix for the day over there, while I post about training over here.

You’ve Changed, Man

There are some major changes going on with my body.  Not those changes, silly!  I may be baby-faced, but I’m 28!  I’m talking about my fitness level, as the result of about a year and a half of consistent training and the best diet I’ve ever eaten for any amount of time.

A few things about my 20-miler yesterday made me realize this.  Mainly, it was the fact that I ran the 20 in the morning, quickly showered and wrote a blog post, then went into school for a meeting.  I was running five or so minutes late and had to bring lunch in the car, an all-too-familiar situation for me.  But that’s the thing, it was exactly the same thing I’d have been doing if I hadn’t run 20 miles in the morning.  All the sudden it hit me.

Holy f, two hours ago I was running farther than most people will drive today.

20 miles used to be the type of thing that would require an entire Sunday.  Three hours to run it, 21 hours to lay on the couch/limp around the house moaning and feeling like I was coming down with the flu.  What’s more, runs like this would invariably be followed by a day or two of achy knees and shins.  But not now.  My quads are tired, for sure, but I don’t feel any differently than if I had, say, done a few squats in the gym.    

Next week I’ll run 15, then another 20, followed by another 15, then one more 20 before tapering for two weeks prior to my marathon.  A far cry from my previous training programs, when my legs would scream for an easy week after any run longer than about 13 miles.  And I would reluctantly oblige, concerned at the realization that my body would only allow me to get in a single 20-miler during my training.  A single 20-miler, in preparation to not just run 26.2 miles, but to try to do it faster than I ever had before.

Six months ago, when I was giving serious consideration to this vegetarian thing, the marathon training was almost the deal-breaker.  If I stop eating meat, is something going to happen to my running?

Yes, Matt.  I’d say something happened to your running.



Natural Sports Drink from Thrive

Whew!  I just got back from my 20-miler this morning, that which was postponed due to my feeling like crap when I woke up yesterday.  All better today though!

I did it in 2:38:54, a 7:56 minute-per-mile pace.  This is a little slower than the 7:45 I was shooting for.  My temptation is to list a million excuses about why it was slow, but I’m resisting the urge and just leaving it at that.  No excuses.  Hopefully I’ll be faster next time.

I brought along a Thrive raw energy gel, which worked well again, and a lemon-lime Thrive sports drink as well.  I’m really starting to love making my own sports drinks and gels.  If I don’t eat processed food normally, then why would I eat it when I’m running? Since my Thrive 30-Day Challenge is over and I don’t want to abuse the privilege of posting recipes that Brendan has so nicely granted me, I’m going to make this the last one I share on the blog for a while. Smoothies, sports drinks, energy puddings, energy gels, recovery drinks, vegan pizzas, energy pancakes, crackers and dips, salads, desserts… all vegan, high-raw, and energy-dense.

Ok, here you go.

Thrive Homemade Sports Drink Recipe (raw)

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • 3 dates
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • sea salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  This makes about 16 ounces, so I usually make a double recipe to fill up my Nalgene bottle.

Alright, I’m out!  You’ll get a double-serving of me tomorrow, since I’ll be guest-posting on another blog as well.

For more posts (and recipes) on natural sports nutrition, check out the Running Fuel page.



Turn Off Your TV, Turn On Your Stove

No Run Today

I went to bed last night with a pretty good feeling that today’s scheduled 20-miler wasn’t going to happen.  Pretty soon after I finished writing yesterday, I crashed.  I got really cold and lost all my energy.

In fact, since Erin was busy, we just ordered pizza for dinner.  On a Sunday!  My balls-to-the-wall cooking day! So you know something must have been wrong.

I woke up this morning feeling hungover.  Odd, considering I didn’t drink anything yesterday.  Nothing terrible, but if you’re a marathoner, or even a half marathoner, you know that attempting long runs when you’re feeling any less than 100% is a recipe for disaster.

So I’m planning to get up early tomorrow and do the 20 before I go into school.  I don’t expect whatever this is to last—I haven’t had a sickness last more than 24 hours in two years, and even that was just a weird head cold.  So not to worry, readers.  The run will get done, and the training will go on!

Stop Watching People Cook and Start Doing It

[Food Network collage]This little bit of extra time today has afforded me the opportunity to read a fantastic article by Michael Pollan, called “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch.”  If you’ve read this blog since the beginning, you know that I’m a big fan of his since reading In Defense of Food (and I’ve heard The Omnivore’s Dilemma is even better).  I even went to see him speak in Baltimore.

This article has rekindled the fire in my loins that In Defense of Food started.  It’s about food television, and the way that Americans are now spending far more time watching people cook than they spend actually cooking.  “Watching people cook” isn’t even the right phrase, because that implies that some iota of learning might occur in the process, the way it did when people watched Julia Child (or so I’ve come to believe; I’m too young to have watched Julia).

When we watch Iron Chef, for example, are we really taking anything from it that’s going to put better food on our table?  Of course not.  We’re watching a frenzied sport, an exciting orgy of culinary prowess that has nothing to do with real cooking,  the way a shootout in soccer or hockey is an incredibly entertaining contest that really has nothing to do with the actual sport.

But what really makes this article resonate with me is the underlying message that rings true for so much more than cooking: Stop watching people do stuff; get your butt off the couch and do it yourself! (Remember how I’m a sucker for the Tony Robbins stuff, too?)  As far as we know, we’re alive on this earth one time.  One single time.  Is watching someone cook, or exercise, or decorate a house on television really the way you want to spend it?

If it interests you, do it yourself.

Yes, it takes effort.  Yes, it takes energy.  It’s not quite as enjoyable as watching it, at first, because there’s even a chance you’ll fail.  (When’s the last time someone said you sucked at watching Top Chef?)

Get over it. Doing things is what fulfills us, and doing things is what we’re meant to do.  (Duh.)

So come on, do something today.  Don’t leave that same comment you always leave on your favorite blog, the one that says “This looks so good!  I’m definitely going to try it sometime,” and then forget about it a minute later.  Write it down, print out the recipe, whatever it takes, and make it tonight.

Stop watching people do things.  Do something.

Ok, I’ve calmed down.  But do check out the article.  It’s eight pages long, so it takes a little while, but stick with it.  Especially if you haven’t read In Defense of Food or any of Pollan’s other stuff, the last two pages are a good way to get the gist of his message.  So is the quote at the very end:

“You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. It’s short, and it’s simple. Here’s my diet plan: Cook it yourself. That’s it. Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”

Two more interesting things,  kind of unrelated to the main point of the article, but that I would like your input on:

  • Men cook only 13% of the few meals that are cooked at home these days, women the other 87%.  This is funny, because in my house I cook the 87%.  But I do only 13% of the lawn-moving; that’s Erin’s job.  Some friends of mine found this fact hilarious the other day.  What do you think?  Weird?
  • Pollan, in talking about the advent of cooking and the evolution of man, claims that cooking food makes it much more easily digestible, leaving us with more energy for other things.  But everything I’ve learned about the raw food movement tells me otherwise.  What gives?



Raw Pineapple Papaya Smoothie

I’ve been drinking a new smoothie all weekend, one that I’ll call “inspired by” a recipe from Thrive, since I’ve made some changes to the recipe.  This smoothie is supposed to deliver lots of quick energy, something I can live with.  And it’s fun because it uses lots of tropical fruits, so at least we can pretend this sweltering heat is part of some island vacation we’re on.  If only I had a live steel-drum band in my house…

The main ingredients in the smoothie are pineapple and papaya, both of which are a little bit scary to prepare if you’ve never done it before.  In fact, this was my first time ever cooking with papaya.  Thanks to my sister (you know, the Sweet-Tooth Friday healthy-baking fiend) for bringing me some papayas from an Indian foods store she frequents.  (“Frequents” is not an exaggeration; she lives for finding strange ingredients to put into her creations.)

Anyway, I made another video (3:41 in length) to help ease some of that tropical-fruit anxiety you might be feeling.  Please accept my sincere apologies for the weird hair and being half asleep—it was early.  I’m just thankful that all my digits survived my little knife-honing demo!

Here’s the recipe.  If you make it, let me know what you think and how it might be improved.  I’m still looking for that one magic ingredient to make it perfect. (Is it bad that I’m thinking it’s rum?)

Tropical Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 banana
  • 2 fresh or dried dates
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 1/2 papaya
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 Tbsp unflavored protein powder (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Blend ingredients together.  If possible, call in sick to work.  Makes 2 large smoothies.

Erin looks like she might have gotten the with-rum version.

[pineapple papaya smoothie]

Alright, I’m off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday and (of course) do some cookin’. Enjoy the rest of yours!  I have 20-miler planned for tomorrow and again, it would be optimal if I didn’t die.  So I’m going to run early to beat the heat, meaning I’ll post a little later than usual.

For more natural sports nutrition posts and recipes, check out the Running Fuel page.



YOUR Favorite Running Songs

Earlier this week I posted MY list of great running songs and asked you to submit your favorite songs to run to.  And did you ever!  I’ve compiled your submissions into the Ultimate No Meat Athlete Reader Running Playlist!  Everybody loves a good revamp of their workout playlist to keep it fresh, so here you’ll find a road-tested, runner-approved list to do just that.  There’s a huge variety of styles here, from old school punk to reggaeton to electronic-rock to teen pop, and quite literally everything in between (with the notable exception of country, for which I thank you).

Here you go, runner/rockers!

Reader-Favorite Running Songs

  • “Police on My Back” by the Clash The Clash - Sandinista! - Police On My Back
  • “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor Fort Minor featuring Styles of Beyond - The Rising Tied - Remember the Name
  • “Idioteque” by Radiohead * Radiohead - Kid A - Idioteque
  • “The Whole World” by Outkast
  • “Starry Eyed Surprise” by Paul Oakenfold * Oakenfold - Bunkka - Starry Eyed Surprise
  • “Lose Yourself” by Eminem * Eminem - 8 Mile - Lose Yourself
  • “December African Rain” by Johnny Clegg Johnny Clegg & Juluka - Work for All - December African Rain
  • “Play Your Part (Pt. 1)” by Girl Talk
  • “Hysteria” by Muse * Muse - Absolution - Hysteria
  • “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You (Remastered) - Start Me Up
  • “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas Black Eyed Peas - The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) - I Gotta Feeling
  • “Talk Amongst Yourselves” by Grand National Grand National - Kicking the National Habit - Talk Amongst Yourselves
  • “Run” by Gnarls Barkley Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple - Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)
  • “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
  • “The View from the Afternoon” by Arctic Monkeys Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - The View from the Afternoon
  • “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse Muse - The Studio Album Collection - Knights of Cydonia
  • “Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends” by Fall Out Boy Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree - Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends
  • “Burn Down the Mission” by Elton John Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection - Burn Down the Mission
  • “The First Single (Cause a Scene)” by the Format The Format - Interventions and Lullabies - The First Single (You Know Me)
  • “Go Girl” by Pitbull Pitbull - The Boatlift - Go Girl (feat. Trina & Young Boss)
  • “Heart of a Champion” by Nelly Nelly & Lincoln University Vocal Ensemble - Sweat - Heart of a Champion
  • “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers Red Hot Chili Peppers - By the Way (Bonus Track Version) - Can't Stop
  • “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire * Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - Keep the Car Running
  • “I’m Running” by Mistress Barbara *
  • “Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys Dropkick Murphys - The Warrior's Code - I'm Shipping Up to Boston
  • “Troublemaker” by Weezer Weezer - Weezer (Red Album) [Deluxe Edition] - Troublemaker
  • “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne Ozzy Osbourne - Prince of Darkness - Crazy Train
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana Nirvana - Nevermind - Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey Journey - Journey: Greatest Hits - Don't Stop Believin'
  • “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen Queen - Queen: Greatest Hits - Fat Bottomed Girls
  • “Can’t Take That Plane” by John Mayer Trio
  • “Fuel” by Metallica * Metallica - Reload - Fuel
  • “Chariots of Fire” by Synthesizer Syndicate Synthesizer Syndicate - Synthesizer Syndicate Selected Hits Vol. 1 - Chariots of Fire
  • Theme Song from Rocky Bill Conti - Rocky (30th Anniversary Edition) [Original Motion Picture Score] - Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")
  • “Somebody Told Me” by the Killers The Killers - Hot Fuss - Somebody Told Me
  • “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus - Party In the U.S.A. - Single - Party In the U.S.A.
  • “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo Elvis Crespo - Suavemente - Suavemente
  • “The New Workout Plan” by Kanye West Kanye West - The College Dropout

It’s funny; as I listened to these songs I noticed that they pretty much fell into two camps: the pump-you-up, feel-your-heart-beat-faster songs that are great for pounding out hill repeats, and the repetitive, sometimes slower but get-into-the-zone-where-you-forget-you’re-running songs that work so well on those 10+ milers.

But who’s the winner, you ask?  Who is the proud new owner of  a No Meat Athlete t-shirt?  Well, I listened to every single song (for those who submitted bands, I just chose their most popular song, based on iTunes rankings).  There are lots that I want to run with, but there’s only one winner.  And that winner, the song I’m to get out there and pound the pavement with as soon as I’m finished writing this, is…

…yet undetermined.  But all the asterisked songs above are my finalists, and I’m taking them out for a tempo run right now.  And by the time I get back, I think the winner will be obvious.  To me anyway.  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow. 🙂

Want more?  Check out Mel’s running music, or this cool index of running mixes and songs, organized by genre and beats per minute.  Still want more?  Check out me in my wannabe rockstar days!

Oh, to be young and in love with the drums

[matt playing drums 2]



Lemon Poppy Zucchini Bread

Hey everyone!  It’s Christine checking in for Sweet-Tooth Friday.  I have the perfect recipe for your over-brimming summer garden: Lemon Poppy Zucchini Bread!  This vegan treat is delightfully easy to make.

My brother was just talking about how his Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats really got him started in cooking.  For me, it was totally my “Big Red” Betty Crocker cookbook.  To be more accurate, it was actually my mom’s copy that inspired me.

[betty crocker big red photo]

Growing up, I remember her tattered cookbook being waterlogged to twice its original size from years of spills.  The crepe recipe was smudged with real crepe batter and the pie section was covered in pumpkin fingerprints.  In the margins there were doodles and notes.  And there were magazine tear-outs stashed between the pages.  For any dish, this book held all the answers and it was well loved.

Soon after I got my first apartment my mom gave me my own Betty Crocker cookbook.  I was clueless, but this book taught me the very basics of cooking from simple steamed broccoli to mashed potatoes to homemade salad dressing.  My first instinct for any cooking question I have is to “ask Betty.”  It’s one of the few books I still consult before checking the internet.

[zucchini bread photo]So when I decided to make zucchini bread, I headed straight to “ask Betty.”  It’s not an avant-garde publication, but the newer editions are a lot more health conscious and vegetarian friendly.  In the recipe for zucchini bread,whole wheat flour is even listed as a Betty-approved option!

I obviously went for the whole grains and supplemented it with flax seeds.  Then I cut back on the oil and sugar.  To make up for the lost sweetness, I went out on a limb and swapped out the 4 eggs for an equal amount of crushed pineapple!  I added extra leavener to give it the rising action that the missing eggs would have.  And to really make this zucchini bread stand on its own, I ditched the traditional spices and threw in fresh lemon and poppy seeds.

[vegan zucchini bread pan photo]Poppy seeds are actually chock full of calcium.  They also contain two essential fatty acids.  But wait!  Don’t waste your money on that tiny overpriced spice jar in the baking aisle!  Swing by the actual bakery section of your grocery store and see if they have any of their bulk ingredients packaged for sale.  My local Giant packs up sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sprinkles, croutons, and more at a fraction of the spice company’s cost.  My local natural store also has a bulk section for spices that is significantly cheaper.

The pineapple, lemon, and poppy accents in the moist zucchini bread result in a quietly elegant taste of summer.  Here’s my version:

Vegan Lemon-Poppy Zucchini Bread

[vegan zucchini bread ingredients]2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
4 tbs flax seed, ground
1 tbs baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

3 cups shredded zucchini (about 2-3 medium- I didn’t bother to peel mine but you can if you want a more uniform color)|
1 cup drained crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced (about 6-8 tbs of juice)
1/2 cup poppy seeds

1 tsp powdered sugar, for optional garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the dry ingredients, set aside.  Pour the pineapple, pineapple  juice, oil, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice over the shredded zucchini and stir together.  Mix the dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, then stir in poppy seeds.

Spray a tube or Bundt pan with Pam and toss with flour to coat.  (Instead of a Bundt pan, Betty says use two 8×4 loaf pans or one 9×5 loaf pan).  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.  I didn’t make it in the loaves, but Betty recommends 50-60 minutes for the smaller sizes and 70 to 80 minutes for the larger size.  The loaf times may vary for my version since it doesn’t have the eggs, so if you do it in a loaf pan start checking after 30 minutes.  When it’s done the top should be domed and cracking in the center while the edges pull away from the sides.  Check to see if a knife comes out clean.  If the top is browning too much before the center is done, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

When the cake is cool, invert to unmold.  Put the teaspoon of powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and gently tap over the bread to garnish.

[vegan zucchini bread photo]

I hope you enjoy this simple and wholesome zucchini bread.  It’s such a nice versatile snack—perfect for breakfast on the go, tucking into a lunch bag, or presenting whole as a sweet hostess gift.

That’s it for this week, see you next STF!
xoxo, Christine