…And We’re Back

A lost page of fractals on the bike path

Success! The new laptop is networked and operational. I still have a lot of file migration ahead of me, but I do have a working screen and keyboard, and I’ll take what I can get. 

Sunday’s long run was something of a mixed bag.  It was a 16-miler and the first run of the next four-week build-up series. Cardio-wise, it felt great. The first 8 miles felt easy and I was able to push the pace a bit on the way back. This one felt much easier than the first 16, and I was pleased at how much my endurance has improved since then. The disappointment of the run was that I felt my hip start to tighten up at the half-way point, and by the last few miles, the pain in my knee really amped up.  It was manageable while I was running, but when I took a quick walk break for Gatorade at mile 14 it nearly undid me.  Starting up again was terrible, and the only thing that kept me running was that walking seemed to hurt just as much. This worries me for a number of reasons.  Just for starters, this is week 1 of the build-up, and I have alternating 20’s and 16’s for the next three weeks.  Everything seemed to have settled down during the recovery week, so I was surprised when things started going south only 8 miles in this week. I’ve scheduled a massage for Friday and I’m going to keep on the foam-rolling regimen until then. 

On to more delicious topics. I have a number of recipes I’ve been meaning to post for a few weeks now.  The first are these energy bars, courtesy of Dana Carpender at Hold the Toast.  I’ve been looking for a good pre-run snack for easy days, when I don’t need carbs to fuel the workout.  These are a rehash of a recipe posted on Mark’s Daily Apple, which I’ve also tried.  I liked the flavor of the MDA version, but found the texture to be too crumbly for any sort of transport. Dana Carpender is a strict low-carber, not paleo, so I made a few modifications to her recipe and came up with an energy bar that suits me perfectly. I eliminated the erythritol and splenda and sweetened with about a tablespoon of honey.  I also left out the currents and used dark chocolate chips.  

Primal Energy Bars Redux

1/2 cup shelled almonds
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup shredded coconut meat — divided
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons erythritol
2 tablespoons splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt — preferably sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
3 tablespoons currants
3 tablespoons carbsmart chocolate chips, chopped a bit smaller

Pre-heat oven to 325. Put your almonds and pecans in a shallow baking dish — a jelly roll pan is good — and slide ’em in. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When it goes off, shake the pan, add 1/4 cup of the coconut, and shake again. Let the whole thing toast for another five minutes.

Dump your toasted nuts in the food processor, with the S-blade in place. Pulse until they’re chopped medium-fine — some like breadcrumbs, some still in chunks a little smaller than a pea.

In a microwaveable mixing bowl, combine the almond butter and coconut oil, and zap ’em for about 30 seconds at 50% power — you just want to melt the oil and soften the almond butter a little. You can do this while your nuts are toasting. Stir the almond butter and coconut oil together.

Stir in the vanilla extract, the two sweeteners (you can use all erythritol, if you prefer), the salt, and the cinnamon into the almond butter/coconut oil mixture. Now stir in the nut mixture, the almond meal, and the vanilla whey protein.

Now add the egg, and stir it in thoroughly.

Finally, stir in the currants and chocolate chips. (If your currants are a bit dry — mine were — put them in a custard cup with a little water and nuke them for 30 seconds or so on high, then let them sit for a couple of minutes. They’ll turn soft again.)

Turn the mixture out into an 8×8 baking pan you’ve sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press it firmly into an even layer.

Slide the pan into the oven, and set your timer for 7 minutes. When it goes off, sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup of coconut over the top, and slide ’em back in for another 7-10 minutes. Then remove from oven, and let them cool in the pan a bit before cutting into 12 bars. Store in a snap-top container.


My other great food discovery this week was Health-Bent. I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes yet, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the food porn in the mean time. I have a deadline at work this week, which means that my early mornings, evenings, and weekends have not been my own lately. It also means that I’ve been on the hunt for quick recipes that are still made of real food. Last night I tried this one from Ruth Reichl, which was fantastic. This is the kind of recipe I love – a few simple ingredients, minimal prep-time, and a really flavorful result. Enjoy! 

Spiced Chicken

Serves 4

Active Time: 10 minutes Start to finish: 45 minutes.

Fragrant and deeply savory, this spice rub balances the heat of chili powder and black pepper with the more floral notes of coriander and cinnamon. It jazzes up bland chicken breasts nicely, and legs give even juicier results. The quick pan sauce adds an extra shot of flavor.

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 chicken breast halves (with skin and bones)

or 4 whole chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated if desired, rinsed and patted dry

½ cup water

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to


Stir together spices, salt, and 1 tablespoon oil. Rub

evenly all over chicken.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over moderately high heat until

hot but not smoking. Brown chicken, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes.

Turn chicken skin side up, transfer skillet to oven, and roast until just cooked through, 16 to 18 minutes for breasts, about 25 minutes for legs. Transfer to a platter.

Add water to pan and deglaze by boiling over high heat, scraping up brown bits, for 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a bowl and skim off fat.

Serve chicken with sauce on the side.


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