Archive for September, 2010

September 29th, 2010

Squashed

When I was younger I hated squash. We only ever had it on special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas but I would never have it (same with sweet potatoes). Like liver and brussel sprouts, we rarely ever had it in the house so when it did appear, I’d balk.

Looking back, however, I realized that I don’t think I ever actually tried it! I’d just look at the orange colour and wrinkle my nose and reach for my Dad’s famous whipped mashed potatoes with LOTS of processed cheese slices melted into them.

Now? Alan and I love our squash (with the exception of pumpkin – I only like it in breads or carved with a candle in it )! Butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pattypan (or “pattycake” as Alan likes to call it) it doesn’t matter! Just give it to us! Squash, other than just being yummy, as so many nutritional benefits: iron, calcium vitamin A, high fibre, beta carotene and magnesium are all stuffed into these funny little root veggies.

While out at the grocery store last week Alan and I decided to try something new!

Kabocha. Say it with me: kabocha. Isn’t it fun?! Just sort of rolls off the tongue there, kabocha.

Kabocha is a Japanese squash that tastes a LOT like butternut squash only it’s rounder and green on the outside.

Quinoa Stuff Kabocha Squash

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This dish is super easy and left us both stuffed afterwards! Please forgive the orange tint on the photos, it was night when all was said and done!

Ingredients!!!

  • 1 Kabocha squash (they’re a bit bigger than acorn squash but look the same)
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1/2c dry quinoa
  • 1c water
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper chopped
  • Other veggies if desired, all chopped up finely
  • Salt & Pepper


Preheat oven to 400*F and line a baking pan with tinfoil.

Step 1: Slice your squash into two pieces and scoop out its guts. Dab a bit of butter onto the outside of both squash (for a nice, juicy flavour) and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.


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Step 2: Place squash onto line baking pan and cook for 45mins.

Step 3: While the squash is cooking, get your quinoa ready by boiling 1c of salted water and adding quinoa to it, turning the heat down to low, covering and letting it simmer for 15mins.

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Step 4: While the quinoa and squash are cooking, add some oil to a pan and with heat on medium add garlic, onions and pepper. Cook for 10mins.

Step 5: Add veggies to quinoa and mix thoroughly.

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Step 6: When squash is just about ready, take it out of the oven and scoop half the quinoa mixture into the first half of squash and the rest in the second. Carefully pop it back into the oven for 15mins. Let cool for 10 – 20 mins!

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The only thing I would do differently next time is to try and stir up the quinoa once while cooking inside the squash because the top layer ended up being pretty crispy (almost hurt my teeth!) but the underneath was super yummy!

I also added the last of a Tofurky sundried tomato sausage but the fillings are endless! You could use the squash as a bowl if you like but you’ll have to really let it cool, Alan and I had to plop them into bowls.

I tell ya, it was pretty sad that the two of us, after digging into the squash itself, we just looked at eachother with huge grins on our faces. You would have almost thought we were eating ice cream we loved it so much!

Are you a squash fan? Which is your favourite and what’s your favourite dish to make with it?

September 27th, 2010

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon Race Report

Just in case you missed it: Did you win my giveaway?!


My race yesterday was amazing!

Before I continue, I just want to let you all know that the photos you’ll see are a mixture from four different people, all of whom were amazing and I felt like a superstar with all of this paparazzi!

It really started the night before when I laid out all of my race gear and packed a backpack with my essentials (a change of clothes – except that I forgot a bra – baby wipes, first aid kit, deodorant, emergency Clif bar, bottle of G2 Grape Gatorade, my camera, phone, wallet, Metropass). I also cleaned my Camelbak and filled it 1/4 of the way with water and stuck it in the freezer (I like my water COLD when I run). I then proceeded to have an unpictured dinner of rotini pasta with tomato sauce mixed with cooked spinach and Tofurky sausage links (for extra protein) which I then slopped onto my brand new iRUNLIKEAGIRL shirt. FOUR washes later and you can BARELY tell I did anything to it...Oye…my friend suggested I add to the other arm: “iEATLIKEASLOB” and she wouldn’t be wrong…

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I managed to get to bed around 9:30 after remembering to charge my Garmin and iPod.

Race day morning had me up at 5am (okay, I slept in for ten minutes) before sliding out of bed and getting ready. Alan got up at 5:30 and had a quick shower before the cab picked us up at 6:15 (I was smart and ordered the cab the night before). We swung over to pick up my friend Mandy and we jetted down to Nathan Phillips Square where the action was happening!

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I ended up having to pee FOUR TIMES before I started the race. What can I say? The cold makes me pee constantly! I got there with about 40 minutes to spare so we were able to wander about, beat the line-up for the porta-potties and find out where my start-line was. Seeing as Scotiabank is one of the most popular races in Toronto, I was not surprised to find it so well organized. It took us no time to find the start line and there were bathrooms EVERYWHERE!

About ten minutes before start-time I said my good-byes to Alan and discovered I was a bit reluctant to leave him! Must have been pre-race jitters! But I tore myself away and went to my corral and was lucky enough to get beside the fence so Alan and I could chat a bit more (and for him to give me my iPod which I had almost forgotten).

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The gun went off and it took me about eight minutes to get to the start line but once I got there I was off!

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About a kilometre into the run I met up with two friends whom I knew would be there but really didn’t think I would, quite literally, run into! They were doing the full marathon (the full and half marathoners started at the same time) and seeing as we were around the same pace I decided to run with them!

3km we ALL had to pee (what the heck?!?!) so we made the decision to pee then so that we would have the opportunity to make up for the time. It took about three minutes off our time, not too bad really.

The first 10km went by so fast! Seriously, I don’t know where the time went! We managed to see the elite full and half marathoners run by as well as famous runners like Rick Ball and Ed Whitlock! We cheered and hollared for all of them until and had a blast!

Around the 11km mark I noticed my legs starting to ache a little bit and I started to lag behind. My pace didn’t suffer too much (I was aiming for a 7:30/km for the first half and then a 7:20/km for the second half but I was actually averaging around 7:00/km for a large portion of the run).

Between 11km and 13km I was catching up to them and then trailing again and by the time 14km came around I was behind and I was really aching. I managed to catch up with them just before the route diverged and split up the half and full marathoners. We whooped support and said our good lucks and parted. I popped in my other earbud, cranked up the music and was on my own for the end.

I tell ya, those last 4.1km were a test of mental fortitude, that’s for sure. My legs were just not wanting to move, I was SO achy! So I had to pull out all the tricks! I focused on each kilometre at a time, seeing as the course had huge flags at every km I just looked ahead and tried to find the next flag and when I saw it, I just ran towards there. My other focus was on my 10 minute intervals, I would just try to get through each ten minute interval so that I could have a quick walk break. Those walk breaks found it hard for me to get started again but I don’t think I would’ve lasted without them. And when none of that was working I distracted myself with my music and people around me.

FINALLY I made it to the final turn up Bay St. and saw Old City Hall which was a beacon as I knew that it meant the finish line!!! I focused my eyes on that and started chugging along. Around the 800m mark I was REALLY struggling but then I heard Mandy screaming at me and turned to see her smiling face and it totally brightened up my mood! I screamed out: “I FEEL LIKE S**T!!!” and she screamed back: “YOU LOOK GREAT!!!”

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That held me through to about 500m to the end when I heard my best friend making her boyfriend deaf by screaming at the top of her lungs at me! I look over to see her, her boyfriend, Alan and my good buddy Brian all screaming, snapping photos and pointing??? I hear Ian scream: “LOOK TO YOUR LEFT!!!” so I look left and see the camera guy, so I wave!

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But then I hear Ian scream it again! “LOOK TO YOUR LEFT!!!” I’m thinking “What the hell is he goin’ on about?!?!” So I look MORE to my left and boy, was I surprised!

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Who do I see?!

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My brother and my Mom!!!!! They kept it a secret and snuck into the city after I started out!!!

I tell ya, having that support system REALLY brought me through those last 600m! My body was killing me but I knew I was so close to finishing!

I got to the 100m marker sign and did my best to give it my all! I heard the announcer call my name just before I hit the finish line and was NEVER so glad to finish a race in my life! Ha ha ha I felt a little wobbly and my lower extremities were screaming at me but I did it!

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I’m a half-marathoner!!!

This was truly the most crazy emotional experience I’ve ever had and although I was telling them how sore I was when Ian asked me if I’d do it again I said “Oh yes!” without even thinking! Then he, the double-digit marathon runner himself, said I was crazy…


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I think he just might be right!