Saturday, March 30, 2013

No New Running Shoes until Feb 2014

For 2013, I am currently averaging 28 miles of running per week.  The last two pairs of my beloved Pearl Izumi Streak IIs began needing replacements around the 700 mile mark.

Therefore, with the two new pairs I just bought, I should be all set on running shoes until Feb. 2014.

I have until Feb. 2014 to find a shoe model to replace the Streak II.  Time to keep my eyes open!


1.  How many pairs of running shoes do you currently cycle through or at least have on reserve for rainy days?
The ISO Transitions only get used sparingly.  I've been using two pairs of Streak IIs recently, but now have three until I feel the new shoes are broken in enough.

2.  What's the most of the same shoe model you've been through?
The newest pair of Streak IIs puts me at four.

3.  How many shoes do you go through in a given year?  (or how long does a single pair typically last?)
I've been extremely lucky (or biomechanically fortunate as the running store tells me) in that I've gotten over 700 miles out of both pairs of Streak IIs.  

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Is this the limit?

As I said when I posted my 2013 Race Calendar...

"I want to test my limit."

I asked my body can you handle the crazy racing schedule, the high intensity training schedule, and the never ending training cycles?  It responded this week with my first speed bump. 

Ran a 5k PR.  Felt tired, but good.

Ran 6 miles to meet up with a group I'm training for the FitAthlon.  We ran 3.4 miles together and then I ran 6 miles home.  It was 15-16 miles for the day.  Felt awesome.

During the warm up for a strength training workout, my right calf tensed up something awful.  I was running at a slow 8:00 pace as usual and BAM!  Weird, but I kept going for the leisurely mile.  Some massage afterwards and I was fine.  I did my workout, went to spin, did some stretching and was all good.

I was up early with a couple clients at the track.  I ran maybe 1.25 miles with them and BAM!, the calf pain comes back like a rabid raccoon darting out from the bushes.  I stretched, massaged, and walked it off, but it didn't get much better, so I called it a day and biked instead which felt fine.  Maybe I just need a day or two off to rest.  That's nothing surprising. 

I spent all morning at work resting my leg, icing when possible, and while it feels a bit tight, it seems to be improving.  On my way home, I got to try on a pair of shoes for work.  I take three steps of a light jog to see how they feel moving and BAAAAAAAMMMMMM!!!!!  The sharp pain is back and it's not happy!

I am currently in bed with my right leg propped up on a pillow.  I'm alternating my calf wrapping with ice packs and an ace bandage.  While this would not be a surprising fact for a typical Friday night, this one certainly is causing my weekend workout prospects to rapidly decline.

Luckily, I am booked for a trip to see my mother this weekend for Easter.  Maybe an Easter brunch buffet will cure the leg!


1.  What injuries have been speed bumps or derailings for your race/training schedules?
My calves kept me from running at a sprint last summer, but otherwise I've been good.

2.  What are your weekend workout prospects?
I had planned a 60 minute ride tonight and a 40 mile ride tomorrow, but I might opt for some cooking and bike cleaning.

3.  Any plans for Easter?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Monday, March 25, 2013

RACE REPORT: Sandy Hook Run for the Families 5k

Saturday, March 23, 2013

This was by far one of the more uplifting races I've competed in to date.

As we all know, Sandy Hook Elementary School suffered a great loss this past December.  With all the hope of those involved and touched, a countless number of programs, funds, scholarships, and events were put into place to help support the school, kids, teachers, first responders, and the residents of Newtown, CT.  One of the events that was suggested was a run.  The Hartford Marathon Foundation jumped on board and offered their services for organizing the event. 

The run was originally slated to be in Newtown, CT, but after quickly hitting the 3,000 runner limit, they had to move the event to another locale in Danbury, CT with a new 5,000 runner limit.  Once that was hit, they moved the event to Hartford, CT.  And wouldn't you know, the run still hit capacity with 15,000 runners.  They announced at the opening ceremony that this was the largest inaugural run in CT ever. 

They offered a kids 1/2 mile and mile race and the 5k. The 5k didn't start until 10:30am, but given the amount of people they expected to be in Hartford, they suggested being at the race no later than 8:30am.  I arrived at 7:15am to get my parking spot.  It was PACKED!!

I went to the XL Center to get my t-shirt, and caught up with a few people from the gym that I knew were running.

I checked out the start line and figured out where they wanted the runners to line up based on finishing time.

I went back to the car and stayed warm until about 9:30am.  At that point, I made my way over to the start line and quickly realized that I should have stayed in the car.  haha  It was cold!  But I kept running every 10-15 minutes to keep warm and loose - probably ran a good 2-3 miles prior to the race.

As a member of the <20 minute finish group (approx. 30 of us), we lined up right at the front.

"Runners, take your mark.  Get set.  Go!"  As you can imagine, it was a mad dash to spread out and not trample other people.  I did lock legs with one guy in the first 25 yards, but we quickly spread out and I found myself in 4th.

One guy was hammering it out in front.  Then I heard a couple of guys chatting behind me.  I couldn't believe it.  I assumed we were going sub-6 and they were chatting like it was a Saturday group run.  They passed me and made their way to the front looking quite relaxed.  And of course they were very lightly dressed.  Haha

My plan was to stay at a "comfortable push" through mile 2 and then hammer it home.  At mile 1, I checked the watch - 5:32.  Fastest mile time I've recorded so far.

I passed one guy from Colombia, the guy hammering it out at the start fell back, and I was sticking with two guys while we tried to hang onto the third place runner ahead of us.  We made our turn north and hit a small hill where things shifted.  I fell back a bit on the hill as I slowed to not dig too deep and then easily passed one guy into fifth on the slight downhill.  The following straight away allowed me to put some distance between us and the other guy I had been with caught up to and was battling for third.  Mile 2 went by in 6:06. 

I knew we had one more incline before the big downhill to the finish.  Sixth place was hanging on as I started to pick it up.  On the uphill I cut the gap by one-third but I was never able to catch 3rd place.  They're battle kept them out of my reach.  We sped down the hill and were rounding the corner to the finish.  The third place battle turned into an all out sprint ahead of me.  Then I heard footsteps behind me.  The guy I thought I had shaken off came back to out kick me.  I gave him a thumbs up as he went by.  I didn't have it in me to give another kick and I saw I was already well under my goal.  Then two more guys sprinted by just before the finish.

Finish - 17:37
5:40 pace
8th place overall

I couldn't be mad at that point.  My goal was an 18:00 5k and I had crushed it.  I also have not run a 5k since 2010, so I obviously don't specify for this distance.  Nor do I train for it.  I was happy to finally have what I consider a respectable PR to compare to my other races. 

I was, however, quite out of breath and surprised at already being finished.  Less than 20 minutes and I'm done.  I should be used to this.  My longest event in high school was 6 minutes.  But now my shortest event is an hour, so 20 minutes seems like a blink of an eye, or a warmup.

Post-race, I was only able to catch up with three of the people I knew that had run the race, but the rest texted me and they were all happy with their race.  It was a great cause and even with a slower time, we were all happy to have supported it by doing what we love, RUNNING!!!!

Once I got home, I got some food and took a nap.  I was surprised to find that I was d-e-a-d tired!  I slept, got up to munch, laid back down, and was all together lazy for the next 4-5 hours.  I finally peeled myself off my bed to get some miles in on the trainer.  And wouldn't you know, 30 miles on the trainer woke me right up!  You can tell I'm not built for speed by that fact!!  haha


1.  What's the biggest race you've been apart of?
I believe this 5k was the biggest I've done.

2.  Do you have PRs that really don't match your other race PRs?
I've focused so much on longer distances that I've never gone back 'till now to reset this PR.  Plus, the registration fee to race distance ratio always seems too high with the shorter distances.  I like to get my money's worth!!

3.  What distance race makes you the most tired?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


The Annual Raffle Run
March 16th, 2013

The Annual Raffle Run is an event held each year (ok, at least the last three of them) by my triathlon club, Hartford Extended Area Triathletes.  If I'm not mistaken, the whole idea behind the event is to break up some of the late winter training with a low-key, fun event.

There are no medals.
There is no timing.
There are no mile markers.
The entry fee is not money; it's a "delicious food item."

And here's the trick.  To excel at this run, you have to perfect the skill of grabbing AND storing raffle tickets while running.  Think that's easy?  I dare you to give it a try!

Here's the break down.  The entry fee was a "delicious food item" of our choice.  No item was turned away.  We met at the local Fleet Feet, a sponsor of our club.  From the store, we ran around the block - yes, literally around the block - and back to the store.  Aaaaand, repeat.  Many times.  It's approximately a half mile loop and every time you pass the store, you grabbed a raffle ticket from one of the volunteers.  We did this for 40 minutes.  Once everyone was back to the store, we headed inside and raffled off all of the "entry fees" as well as a number of awesome swag from our various sponsors; INCLUDING a 4-month triathlon training package!!  How THAT is what I call a sweet prize!

As I'm sure you can guess, I had no specific training for this event.  It's meant to be fun, and it was.  I showed up with a box of Samoa Girl Scout cookies (thankful to have them out of my reach!) and lined up with about 12-15 people.  My goal was to run roughly 6 minute miles, which would be 12 laps.  I'll tell you now, a half mile loop is easy to lose count on!

I made it 3 or 4 laps before I started second guessing how many I had done.  Haha.  Didn't take long.  On what was lap #11, I was told I had three minutes left.  I had certainly slowed down beyond the 6:00 pace, but bolted around the next corner!  I kept looking at my watch, hoping that time would slow down.  (Side Note: Time never does you favors!)  As I rounded the last corner, I looked at my watch and knew I hadn't made it.  I finished the 12 laps in 40:18.

According to the "race officials," that was a 6:43 pace.  According to Mapmyrun, it's a 0.58 loop, which puts me at a 5:47 pace.  And according to the only GPS that worked during the run, it was a 0.54 loop, which is what I'm going with - an unofficial 6:13 average pace. 

Once inside, we raffled off the prizes and I walked away with a new water bottle and a belt that holds a single large water bottle.  Awesome!!  That will come in handy for my trail running in the fall.

I think it's safe to say that we all walked away knowing that the HEAT triathlon club is well worth the membership fee!!  What an awesome group and an awesome, fun race!


Take a WILD guess!

How many calories do you think I averaged per day over the past week?  Today is the last day for my weekly challenge of keeping track of my caloric and nutrient intake.  To say it's been easy is putting it very mild.  It is TOUGH keeping track of some of the stuff you eat!!


1.  Do you belong to a running, triathlon, fitness, or other type of activities club?  If so, what's your favorite aspect of being a member?
I belong to a triathlon club and my favorite aspects of the club are the camaraderie of the members at races and the discounts we get at the local stores.

2.  What's your favorite local race?, and why?

3.  Do you know how many calories you eat on average?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

TTT: Spinning, Standing, Nerves

Back to Spinning

That's right, it's cycling time again!  And to avoid the dread of multiple hours on the trainer, I've been hitting up a spin class at my gym once a week from an instructor who comes from a cycling background.  Not to say that strict spinners are sub-par, but I really do find that cyclists teach a different class than spinners.

Spinners are more fun and inviting.  Cyclists work you.  
Agree?  Disagree?

And to top that off, I've been doing my full leg workout (roughly 3 hours) and a run before class.  Talk about mental toughness to make it through class while following along 100%!!!  And the instructor LOVES it.  He knows I want a hard workout and so far he has delivered every time. 

Fashion or Function?

When I first heard about standing desks, I couldn't really figure out if it was a fad or if it would stick around.  Given that they are now including custom treadmills, I think it's safe to say that they are growing beyond the eccentric body-conscious crowd.  That, or the body-conscious crowd is gaining influence.  Oooooooo....

Due to some early AM back pain (I believe from my sleeping position) and the fact that I can get sucked into the computer for hours on end at times when I should be training, cooking, or cleaning, I've joined the crowd.  I switched my desk chair for a $10 coffee table and am now the owner of a beautifully pieced-together standing desk.

I must admit, I haven't had any morning back pain since I made the switch and I do find myself stepping away from the desk to stretch my legs which helps separate me from the computer.  So far, Success!!


Last night during work I took note of how far out my first big race of the season was; Rev3 Quassy.

10.5 weeks

I looked at that number - 10.5 - after writing it down and the butterflies started multiplying in my stomach.  I don't recall eating any live bugs lately, but somehow they still got in there.  Who knew the stomach would be a good breeding ground for an animal.  Way to go overcoming extreme pH levels!

My GOD!  While my running simply needs to be tweeked a little thanks to my very long winter season, my cycling needs to be kicked up a notch (on top of the spinning!).  I have a very big goal set for this race and as an athlete, I am getting very nervous about piecing it all together - the on course rides, the long runs/rides, the speed work, the swims, and so much more.

AAAAAaAAaaAAahhhhHHHhhhHhhhhh.....  (*breathe*)


1.  Do you spin?  If so, how do you feel about different instructors?  Do you have a favorite?

2.  Who's ready to switch to a standing desk?  Who's adamantly opposed?

3.  Do you get nervous before your big race?  When IS your big race this year?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This Month's.. Weekly Challenge?

In January...
I kept off the computer after 10pm
and have thus far stuck to that rule.

In February...
I tried four new plant-based protein foods.  

In March...

It's the 16th!  This month is half over with and I hadn't come up with a challenge for myself.  I guess I shouldn't be disappointed.  It's not like I'm sitting around eating pizza and cake.  Ok, so I've had one pizza and one piece of cake, but you know what I mean!

However, I may still redeem this month!  I was struck by a question this week - what are the optimal proportions of protein, fats, and carbs I should be eating?  I've been very interested in nutrition and how it relates to training, but I admit that I don't know much about it and it would be a very big project to undertake.  But maybe I could break it up into smaller questions and projects.

It all started with a rather interesting story from a dietician at the gym.  While I'd love to get a nutrition plan and train on my optimal diet, I know that it's unlikely that I'll stick to it for too long.  But it can't hurt to see how my current diet compares to the numbers.  That seemed manageable. 

I've surfed around on the internet and found what I believe to be a somewhat agreeable set of nutrient percentages for a "normal" person and an "endurance" athlete. 

Protein / Fat / Carbs 
(Percentage of total calories)

Normal Person
20 / 30 / 50 

Endurance Athlete
15-20 / 20-25 / 60

The difference between the above numbers, in my understanding, comes down to the metabolic level at which endurance athletes train at.  We dominate the middle range where our body thrives on carbs and fats.  We also can lower our protein intake if we increase our carbs so that our body can use the carbs as energy and use protein instead for muscle repair. 

What I'm going to do is keep track of my diet for the next 7 days...
calories, protein, fats, carbs
...and see how I compare.  

How close am I to eating the optimal proportions?
Is there a connection between those levels and 
A) how I feel after specific meals and 
B) which foods/meals I crave at certain times?


1.  Are or have you ever been on a specific diet plan?  Do you keep track of your nutrient levels?
I've only ever tried the vegetarian and Paleo diets, but never kept track of caloric or nutrient intake.

2.  TO ANY NUTRITIONISTS, DIETICIANS, ETC. OUT THERE: Would you agree to the above percentages for protein, fats, and carbs?  
I know the internet is a sink hole for a lot of bad info.  I may be being misled or ignoring something I'm not aware of.  I would LOVE to learn what you want to inform me of, or simply discuss the idea of sports nutrition.

3.  Does anyone know of a good sports nutrition book whether it's information based or useful for starting discussions/thought processes.

4.  I am in need of Monthly Challenge ideas for the remaining 9 months of this year!  Thoughts?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Your Thoughts: Cleanse Diets

I was curious what the blogosphere's thoughts were on the idea of cleansing diets.

I recently met someone who is currently on the Master Cleanse Diet.  As the website explains, it "is a liquid diet that provides a healthy amount of calories and nutrients specifically suited for weight loss and cleansing, while resting the digestive system and allowing the body to heal naturally."

 The diet goes for ten days and allows you to drink a mix of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper 6-12 times a day.  There is no solid food aside from laxatives taken 1-2 times a day.  The purpose is for weight loss and to clean out your digestive system from processed foods.

Without giving away my thoughts, I wanted to ask you for yours (I don't want to influence your responses). 


1.  Have you ever done a cleansing diet (this or others)?  If so, which one, why, and how was it?
I have only ever tried various nutrient diets, never a cleanse.

2.  What are your thoughts (good, bad, ugly, or related) on cleansing diets?
I'll save mine for later.

3.  Do you ever find yourself confronted with opinions and perspectives that challenge your own?
Nearly every day!  It's a refreshing way of reviewing WHY I think they way I think. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Don't Stand Behind Me...

...I'll poke an eye out!

My Wingspan came just in time for Winter Storm Saturn.  By Friday morning we had a foot of snow and today it's going to be 50.  What an undecided weather pattern!

I guess it's time to start training for Rev3 Quassy and Ironman Lake Placid!  *Sigh*  


1.  What new item(s) are you sporting at this year's races?
I've got my Rudy Wingspan and am working on a new tri kit (more on that later).

2.  Do you wear an aero helmet?  If so, which one?  If not, why not?
Will this really help my time?, doubtful.  But everyone swears it cuts 10 minutes off your Ironman. 

3.  What are you up to this weekend?
My mother is coming for a visit this weekend. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Birthday Hat Marathon Photos

For those who had scoffed at the lack of photos in the Colchester Half Marathon and Hyannis Marathon Race Report, my apologies.  The race photos take time to get processed; I assume the biggest time crunch is sorting them all.  But have no fear, the birthday hat photos are here!!

Start line of the 2013 Hyannis Marathon

I know how to Par-Tay!!

A 26.2 mile long party!!
 Ok, so the hat only made it 8 miles before Mother Nature tore it off my head.  
But it was still worth the effort.

Cruisin' the first lap still
Just before the 20 mile marker

Just after the 20 mile marker

Asian garbage bag runner
Enjoying the last 6.2 mile push

Ahhh, the finish!

So relieved to be finished!

As usual, the photos are so out of order, I can only hope I put them in somewhat of the right order.  But heck, you'll never know!  I'm simply happy to have a picture of the birthday cone hat.  =D


1.  Do you have "fun" race photos?  Do you ever pose or do crazy things just for a "fun" photo?
I couldn't help myself with the jump at mile 20.  I was getting bored and needed the momentary relief.

2.  Do you purchase your race photos?  If so, how many do you get?  If not, what price would make it worth your while?
I've always been curious to know if a survey could be done - how would race photo profits change as the prices per photo decreased.  I think race photos are way too expensive, but it has to be because not many people buy them.  There has to be a price where more people would buy them and offset the costs.  

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A LOOK BACK: February 2013

Total Swum:  0 yards!
Total Biked: 110.6 miles (259.9 miles for the year)
Total Run:  147.2 miles (260.8 miles for the year)
Total Strength: 4
Total Yoga: 0

Greatest weekly swim mileage:  nada!
Greatest weekly bike mileage:  37.8 miles
Greatest weekly run mileage:  48.0 miles. 
Greatest weekly no. of strength training sessions: 2

Average bed time:  10:43 (That's earlier than January.  Success!)
Average time to get up:  6:49 am
Average amount of sleep:  8:05
Average RHR:  47.2 bpm (5.1 bpm lower than January.  Nice!)

Monthly Goal - Try four non-animal based protein foods.
The first choice was Tofu, which went over well.
Then I moved to Tempeh, which I have yet to feel I've figured out.
Falafel was third and I've decided the packages are not good.  I have try a homemade recipe.
Black beans has been the most used in the past month, but I need to branch out to others.

2013 Racing Resolutions

  1. Race 12 races throughout the year - 5 races completed!
  2. Break my 5k PR (currently 19:30 from 2010) - Registered for the Sandy Hook 5k on 3/23
  3. Run my 3rd Half Marathon - Completed Colchester Half Marathon
  4. Run my 2nd Marathon (for time) - Completed Hyannis Marathon in 3:18:17
  5. Run back-to-back marathons - Hartford & Newport in October
  6. Race an ultramarathon
    1. Run a 50k - Lake Waramaug Ultra
    2. Run a 50 miler - JFK 50 in November?
  7. Break my Lake T Sprint PR (58:06) - Starts in June
  8. Race an Olympic Tri
  9. Race Two Half Irons - Registered for Rev3 Quassy & HITS North County (both in June)
  10. Race an Ironman - IM Lake Placid in July
  11. Race a new event (i.e. Spartan Race)
2013 Training Resolutions
  1. Ride a double century (200 miles) - No way I'm doing this indoors!
  2. Once started, maintain at least one swim, one bike, and one run each week - Success for Feb!
  3. Maintain strength training sessions throughout the year - Success!
  4. Make use of group training sessions - One group run so far
  5. Do not ignore recovery
  6. Maintain data log
2013 Personal Resolutions
  1. Do 12 things that scare me throughout the year - Still working on #1
    • I am taking any suggestions!!
  2. Obtain a 2nd coaching position - In the works!!
  3. Make time to visit my sister in PA 
  4. Compile and keep a list of recipes / meal ideas - Nothing compiled yet.
  5. Continue eating healthy - Success!
  6. Continue cooking from home - Sucess!
  7. Continue personal reading - Finished 'A Game of Thrones' and now on 'Clash of Kings'
  8. Put 10% of my income into savings! - 51% of February's earnings went in the bank! 

1.  How was your February?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food Adventure #4: Black Beans

I will start this off by admitting that I consider this a bit of a cheat as far as the February monthly challenge goes. 

Are black beans a non-animal based protein?
Have I eaten them much prior to the monthly challenge?

But I had not planned on using it as one of the four foods.  I had planned on making Quinoa, but man is that stuff hard to find at the normal grocery stores!  I haven't been able to make it to Whole Foods, so my inadvertent use of black beans will suffice to complete the monthly challenge.

You can also tell that I had not planned to make use of black beans by the lack of photos. Sorry!!  Bad blogger!

Anyways, a few years ago, I attempted to start making use of black beans in my Mexican dishes - burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, etc.  However, I went for the dried beans thinking that they would be healthier than the cans and found out that they are much more difficult to cook than I thought.  Either you have to let them soak overnight or they need to cook for 2-3 hours.  I tried both and neither seemed to work in my hands.  Therefore, this time around I went straight for the can!

I've used black beans now as a quick burrito meal.  Toss them on a tortilla, add some cheese and frozen corn, microwave, add lettuce and tomato, and you're good to go!  A very quick bite to eat.  And quite tasty I might add. 

I've been through maybe ten cans this month and every time I go down the international aisle I keep thinking "I should really get a different kind of bean," but having no idea what the flavor difference is, I've stuck with black beans for now.  I do want to attempt my own hummus one day.  And I've had a lot of people say that bean salads are a great option.  We'll see how far I can branch myself out.


1.  Do you eat black beans or other types of beans?  If so, what's your favorite way to eat them?, and do you use canned or dried beans?

2. Any suggestions on next month's challenge?  I haven't decided on one yet.

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Food Adventure #3: Falafel

This suggestion came from my roommate who personally loves falafel.  All I knew about this food was that it came in a package, my roommate makes balls out of it, and eats it in pita bread.  Not much.

So...  Back to google!

"Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.  Falafel is a tranditional Arab Food; usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flabread known as lafa.  The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces.  Falafal balls may also be eating alone as a snack or served as part of a meze."

Thanks Wiki!  So I've gone from Indonesian soy beans to Arab chickpeas/fava beans.  Cool.

It took a trip through the "healthy food" area in the grocery store to find falafel.  I'll admit I was actually looking for something else and happen to see it.  Either way, it made it home. 

As I said before with Tempeh, I'm not a fan of fried foods.  I'm also not a fan of deep frying foods because it wastes a lot of oil.  So I opted for the above-mentioned patty option and decided to go with baking.  I made balls, compressed them to patties, and drizzled oil on them.

It was a messy experiment!

 I put them in the oven for about 10 minutes on each side.  I'm sorry, I don't recall the oven temp I used; most likely 375.  I flipped them after 10 minutes and they were already falling apart.  When they were done, I pulled them out and had them with some baked mushrooms; a favorite food of mine.

Wow!!  Talk about processed foods!  The spices added into the boxed mix were extremely overpowering.  I had to pull out the Honey Mustard just to cover up some of the flavor of the falafel.

Immediately I knew that this boxed falafel was not going to work in any way I cook it; baked, deep-fried ball, or pan-fried patty.  But I still had mix and my roommate strongly suggested frying it, so I did.

With the same size patties shown above, I heated up a pan of oil and attempted frying falafel.  That was just as messy!

At first, I tried flipping them too early.  They had not been stuck together enough.  And even after waiting awhile longer, they still crumbled a bit.  Oh-well.  I scooped them out of the oil the best I could and gave them a try.

This batch was better than the baked falafel patties, but that was only because frying seemed to cover up some of the flavor that the mix packed.  So while I call this a success in the attempt of falafel, it was a fail in finding a staple non-animal based protein food to add to my diet.

I will have to find a recipe to make my own falafel next time.  


1.  Have you tried Falafel?  If so, do you have any alternative ideas for cooking methods?

2.  What new foods have you tried recently?

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Food Adventure #2: Tempeh

After a suggestion from Big Daddy Diesel, I decided on Tempeh for my second non-animal based protein food to try this month as part of my Monthly Challenge.  

I admit that when BDD suggested it, I had no idea what Tempeh was.  So as every good consumer does, I Googled it.  Here's what Wiki has to say...

"Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia.  It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty."

Yeah, that's about right.  It's fermented soy beans packed together in a patty.   And to make it seem even cooler, they double wrap it.  'Cause only the best products take you twice as long to enjoy!

When you finally get it open and cut into it, you find that those soy beans really are stuck together in a solid patty form; they do NOT fall apart as I partially expected. 

From what I've read, some people prefer Tempeh over Tofu because while they are both Soy products, Tempeh is more of the whole soy bean and therefore more of a whole food.  In my mind, it's still fermented, so both are the same to me.  However, they do cook differently and sure do taste different.

Not knowing how to attack Tempeh, I looked up some recipes.  Everyone seemed to agree that the best way to cook it was to fry it.  So I pulled out the oil, cut up quarter-inch chunks of Tempeh and tried it fried.  It took roughly 2-3 minutes on each side; roughly 6 minutes total. 

My best description of how it tastes is this...

It tastes like a nutty tater tot.

No joke!  It has the consistency of a tater tot, which should not be surprising.  They're both fried and chunks of their previous whole food.  And the nutty nature I assume comes from the protein content.  Who knows though; I could be wrong.  I then tried to alter the flavor with some spices; garlic powder and cajun seasoning.

Both tasted good, but did not cover up the nutty flavor.  It seems the nutty-ness (is that with an "i"??) is a constant Tempeh flavor you need to work with.  But is the tater tot fried flavor a constant?

I tried baking the same size Tempeh pieces next to figure out that answer. 

After about 10 minutes, the Tempeh looked no different - a pale, off-white color.  It sure was lighter though; it had dried quite a bit.  The taste had lost the tater tot flavor, but kept the nuttiness (yup, looks better with an "i").  However, after snacking on a few which I found delicious, the flavor started to gross me out.  I'm not sure if that was a factor of them cooling down or simply my taste buds catching up to the true flavor, but I had to force myself to finish this small batch. 

Definitely better fried over baked in this test.

I'm not really a fan of frying foods, so I can't say I've found a way to cook Tempeh that would make it a staple in my diet to some degree.  However, I'll consider this a success in having tried it.  


1.  Have you tried Tempeh?  If so, how do YOU cook it? 
I'm all ears for alternative suggestions.

2.  Do you have any suggestions on other non-animal based protein products?
I have also tried falafel and black beans (posts coming soon). 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.