Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Summer buzz

So I mentioned last post that I'm thinking of doing a triathlon. I've never been fitter but I don't want to just stick at running, both for want of variety and prevention of injury. My interest was piqued by Angela's try-a-tri adventure. So I started looking into open water swimming, because I live on an island, and I love outdoor swimming, but my technique is rubbish. So on sunday I went to the swimming pool to try out a few lengths. My intention was to swim 400m front crawl. I swam a bit more- 775m, but maybe only 3 lengths front crawl...because I simply COULD NOT bring myself to put my face in the water. It didn't help that I didn't have goggles. If I want to do this triathlon thing, then I need to get the hang of the front crawl again. I better get me some eye gear. That's another thing about triahtlon, it's a kit-heavy sport which means expensive! But I want to take my fitness up another level for the following reasons:
I like goals. I like setting myself challenges and having something to work towards
Doing lots of exercise makes me so chirpy! :)
Doing plenty of exercise also does my digestion a lot of good
Which is good- because it means I can (in fact have to) eat more food.

As well as mixing my running up with cycling and swimming, I've been fitting in some strength training as my upper body and core strength is kind of non-existent! To complement the exercises, I've been consciously choosing subbing some carby things for more high protein foods, like instead of noodles with my big heap of cabbage in garlicky tomato sauce tonight I had peanuts (which are agreeing my tum pretty well so far). Other dietary changes have been a concerted effort to get most of my carbs from fruit and vegetables and being much more rigorous about fluid intake. Needless to say these little changes aren't just supporting my extra workouts, they're doing wonders for my tum. So things have improved quite a bit in my bowels, I'm definitely feeling more postive about things than I have been. Also, I am so hungry these days! I don't think I have fined tuned my calorie intake yet (I haven't increased it enough), in fact this afternoon, about two hours after lunch, I was starving and all I had in work was a bag of oats, so I made some porridge...maybe not the best afternoon snack (I want to eat a greater variety to make sure I'm getting all the right nutrients) but man, I enjoyed it! My favourite food discovery, however, is eating frozen raspberries! Yum. I've had them a few times this week with a little vanilla flavoured soy yogurt.

I think I mentioned in my last post that my phone is broken, and that's what I use to take my photos for the blog. Until I get a new phone, then, I apologise for the text-heavy posts.

Here's a link to the (sprint) triathlon I'm hoping to do at the end of September(go to Seven Frogs Triathlon link): At the moment I'm alternating between running and cycling and aim to fit some swims in, and the strength training, with one rest day a week. My aim is to start a 12 week training program for the triathlon on 5th July.

Work is still crazy as the auditor is with us all week. My boss is having a barbeque on saturday evening, so I'm going to bring either tempeh bacon or aduki sunflower seed burgers. I'm also hoping to get in an open water swim. I think I'd prefer getting to grips with my swim breathing without the entrapment of lane swimming and lots of other bodies in the water.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Stressed... not a good thing for most people. It's especially crap if you have IBS. Like me. In work, we have two audit visits coming up, tomorrow and then another group all next week. I work as a medical secretary in a blood transfusion service. My boss is incredibly hard working, which means there's a lot for me to do. She's just taken up the role and so is busy whipping things into shape. As much as I prefer working for someone like that, this week has been pretty tough on my guts. This time last week I was completely bound up and looked about 5 months pregnant. Today, my problems are at the other spectrum of IBS experience. Meh. I keep telling myself things will be ok when next week is over. However, I'm pretty sure cereal flakes deserve a large share of the blame too- I just cannot digest the stuff, gluten or not. And the cramping and diarrhea, that's because I've been eating a lot more fruit this week to clear the constipation, and the stress probably made the cramping worse.
Food wise, I've been eating mostly fruit, pulses and vegetables, usually fruit for breakfast or oatmeal and amazake. I had no time for snacking mid-morning, which meant I was ravenous by lunch time, but kept it smallish anyway. I then had a snack when I got in from work and then a smaller evening meal after my run. Which I've been doing a lot of this week, there's nothing like a good workout after a busy day at work. It does wonders for chasing the stress away. However my right hip is a bit sore, so I've been thinking of switching it up a bit by going to the swimming pool. I'm not a big fan of pools, but I've been toying with the idea of doing a sprint distance triathlon and swimming would be the part I'd need to work on. However, I can't find my swimsuit and don't really think a bikini will cut it at the pool, so that's on my shopping list for the weekend. I'm spending a week in July where I'm thinking of doing this triathlon so will get plenty of cycling, hilly running and open water swimming done, and that should give me a fair idea, by the end of July, whether I'm up for this triathlon lark. In any case, switching up my workouts should help prevent getting into a rut and getting injured. In preparation for adding extra sports to my routine, I've been doing strength training in the mornings (as I've been too tired to face a run). Once I get this coming week over with, I'll do a proper post on the triathlon idea.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Vegan quiche (gluten and soy free)

My gluten free woes are over, readers. I'm starting to get into it, and my tummy is settling down.
I've had two hiccups. I had two digestive biscuits (graham crackers) one evening during the week, and then last night, I walked home from work, realised on the doorstep I had no keys, so walked to meet HB coming home from work. By the time we were 5 minutes from home, I'd been walking non stop for two hours, it was a really hot afternoon, and I'd had a small lunch. I was tired and ready to eat my arm, but I didn't fancy cooking. I didn't want chips because I hate too much greasiness. Instead we stopped at the Asian fusion takeaway and got udon noodles and veggies. I could have had rice and veggies but I wanted the noodles and I was hungry and I didn't care. It wasn't mindblowingly good, but it tasted better than an hour's cooking. Anyways, I slept badly and had tummy cramps and a similar boweliness that I had in France. HB had a bit of a meh stomach too. It may have been the gluten for me, it may just be that we rarely eat takeout food and our tummies can't handle it. But probably both.
My intention had been to get home early so I could get something nice ready for dinner in time for monstrous hunger to kick in. So the plan failed. But I made up for it today.
We spent the morning at the allotment, and the only stuff ready to eat is lots of herbs. I picked mint, chives, oregano, thyme and fennel.
I got home and sat around reading until the hunger monster began to poke at my belly. I was going to do socca with some salad and a herb sauce, but decided to make one of my vegan omelettes with all those lovely herbs. Why not make it a proper cooking challenge, and a more elegant lunch- vegan, gluten free quiche?

Summer herb and roast vegetable vegan, gluten free quiche

Roast vegetables
2 large zucchini
2 large red peppers
Fresh oregano and thyme (the leaves from about 4 stalks each)
Sea salt
Olive oil
Chop the vegetables, sprinkle over the salt, pepper and herb, pour over olive oil to lightly coat, and roast for 20 minutes, while you make the pastry.

Gluten free pastry
300g buckwheat flour
80g brown rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt
100g vegan margarine/shortening (I used Pure sunflower, if you want to make it soy-free and can't find soy free vegan margarine, use about 1/2 cup of light olive oil)
enough cold water to form a pastry

Mix the dry ingredients, then add in the margarine or oil and rub in until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Then add water, a tablespoon at a time, until you can form it into a ball without in falling apart easily. Roll out and line your tart tin. I used a large metal-handled skillet because I don't have a tart tin/plate. Lift out the roast vegetables and put in the pastry. Bake at 200C/390F for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave the oven on.

2 small onions, chopped
1 cup (not packed) of chopped herbs (chives, mint, fennel or dill, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, whatever you have)
1 cup of chopped rocket
1 cup gram flour
2.5 cups water (or non dairy milk or your choice for extra caloric density, it won't add much to the flavour of the dish)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
Fry the onions over a gentle heat. Leave to one side. Mix the gram flour, nutritional yeast and water until smooth, it will be watery. Stir in the rocket, herbs, salt and pepper.

Lift the pastry out of the oven, pour the onions and roast vegetables into the pastry case. Pour over the gram flour herb mix and put straight back in the oven. 30-40 minutes at 180C/350F will set it nicely. Enjoy hot, warm or cold!

I was shocked at how perfectly this mimicked quiche. The nooch adds a credible cheesiness, the gram flour sets like beaten eggs as well as having the same colour. The pastry was nicer than wheat pastry- buckwheat is without a doubt my favourite flour, I just adore that nutty flavour. I think the same pastry, with a little sweetener, would make a great apple pie. It holds its shape very well.
We had it with the first iced tea of the summer: raspberry peppermint iced tea:

Make a litre (4 cups) of peppermint tea, cool it down, add a little sweetener if you want (I added 2 tbsp of maple syrup) and serve over ice cubes, lime slices (which I didn't have, boo) and frozen raspberries.