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March Recap + Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower Recipe

First things first – happy last day of March! I woke up to the sun shining and birds singing, and though rain is predicted later today, I’m just soaking up these rays of spring as long as they last.

 

East River running path

 

I can’t believe March has come to an end. Literally up until yesterday, I thought this month was going to have arrived and be leaving like a lion, but it might just be a welcome lamb! And in between the bouts of wacky weather, my March seemed to slink by while I wasn’t looking. I celebrated the first anniversary of my first half marathon with a second stab at the New York City Half Marathon, Which also meant my second anniversary of running!

 

At the finish line - it's not sweat I'm covered in, it's pixie dust!
At the finish line – it’s not sweat I’m covered in, it’s pixie dust!

 

I conquered another challenge (much smaller in scope) without really noticing by making good on my February promise not to buy any new clothes, and doubled the time – it’s been about 9 weeks, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the funny thing is I’ve been tempted very little (except that suddenly I’m noticing all these holes in my admittedly well-worn running gear that seem to be telling me I should splurge on a pair of Wunder Unders…)

 

Seriously scrumptious side
Just one scrumptious dish

 

I got to share my feelings on food and its place in our culture, and with those a plethora of recipes that I have created and cooked in my journey to enjoying food as fuel for life. Some are old standbys and some new experiments. In the mood for a sweet and filling breakfast or snack? Try one of my oatmeal cakes, in flavors like Pumpkin Spice or Blueberry Muffin. Want a savory vegetarian main dish? Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu is here to help, unless you’re in the mood for a Savory Goat Cheese & Vegetable Tart. Want a more classic brunch? Go for Smoked Salmon & Quinoa Quiche. Need some more vegetable inspiration? Just keep reading for my last recipe of March, and keep on cooking!

 

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All about my oatmeal cakes

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake

This rainy start to spring has put a damper on my mood recently (bad pun, no apologies) and I’ve been wishing and hoping that the sun will break through and May flowers will bloom even when it’s supposed to be April showers. After all, March went out like a lion instead of a lamb, the weather should mix it up a little! To get in the spirit of spring, I’ve been making meals with lots of spring fruits and veggies like asparagus, artichokes, baby lettuces and berries. 

 

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake 

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At the start

Sunday Run n’ Brunch Fun

At the start
At the start

This morning I woke up to blessedly sunny skies and an absence of snowflakes. Dare I say that spring is finally here? Well, I don’t personally want to jinx it, but my Sunday began with an aptly titled Spring Meltdown 10k in Central Park. In the two weeks since the NYC Half Marathon, I’ve been taking it easy, with just a few 4-5 mile runs each week at a slow pace, because I aggravated some dormant knee and hip injuries during that race. This morning wasn’t much different, as I ran purely to get back in the swing of things (and metaphorically run in the spring). While the air was brisk, running in the sun was a treat.

 

 

 

 

 

After the finish
After the finish

My moderate workouts also meant that I missed November Project Wednesdays for a few weeks, so I had a blast this morning knowing that my friend Kaitlin was also running. Even though we just met last month, one of the awesome things about NP is how fast you get to know people (I think it has something to do with the hugs). After the race, we had plans to head out for brunch. I think I speak for both of us when I say that running and refueling with delicious eats is pretty much the epitome of a perfect Sunday morning!

 

 

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The ice cream man has arrived outside the Guggenheim

Snow and Signs of Spring

This winter seemed like it would never end, what with the snow and freezing temperatures taking over the Northeast from the holiday season well into March. There was half a foot of fresh powder on what was technically the first day of spring in the tristate area! I’m grateful that where I live wasn’t hit as hard as Boston or Buffalo. And though I may lace up and dash through the snow, waking up for my workouts all winter no matter what, brushing off concerns with the thoughts that others have it worse, I’m still so thrilled when signs of spring appear.

Marching through the spring snow
Marching through the spring snow

 

 

A river runs through once more
A river runs through once more

Earlier this week, I saw a ship chugging down the East River under a sparkling sun. The river is no longer frozen, with floes of ice so large it would be dangerous for any boat to pass through. While it’s still chilly, the water is moving again and nature is back on its proper course. The sparkling sun attested to that fact! On a related note, I took this photo from the river running path, which is finally free of the thick sheet of ice and resulting slush that made it hazardous for months. This means that November Project PR Day for April won’t require running in an ice bath!

 

 

Fuel for body and mind
Fuel for body and mind

Thursday we had misty rain, with temps in the mid-50s and rising. Today was a little nippy again (snowflakes!) That plus nerves meant I was experiencing some shivers this morning. I ate a small breakfast before heading to Columbia for the 8:30am start. A half-cup of coffee, a Chobani Oats apricot yogurt, a small apple, and a few squares of dark chocolate with black tea leaves (hey, dark chocolate is brain food!)  The new Chobani Oats flavors also contain chia, quinoa, and amaranth. I didn’t realize when I picked it up, and it was the first time I tried chia seeds. I’ll have to give them another go though, because the pre-test stomach butterflies were very unhelpful.

 

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Happy to behold this beauty

Five Things I’m Loving This Friday

Today I woke up feeling a little jumbled. It’s Friday and I have no class to attend or internship hours to fulfill, but I do have a national ethics exam for law students to take tomorrow morning at 8am! It’s sort of strange feeling like I have a jump-start to the weekend when I have to take a test on Saturday, but I decided to follow my usual rules for the day before a big test, which means taking it easy and not thinking about it too much. At this point, there’s not much I can do – if I don’t know something already, I’m not going to learn it by tomorrow, so it’s best to relax and refocus. To take my mind off of it, I decided to share a few things I’m loving this week with all of you, and think about them instead!

 

Cloudsurfers
Cloudsurfers

1. My Cloudsurfer sneakers. I’ve been wearing these since August now, and they’re better than any running shoe I’ve tried before. I’ve worn them on my weekly long runs and to race the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and NYC Half Marathon. I think I’ve logged 400 miles on my first pair, and 100 miles on the second pair (which I bought at the Expo in Disney, and broke in after that weekend). So far, they’ve held up very well, and with my tendency to aggravate old knee and hip injuries, they offer a nice flexible cushion without being too clunky.

 

 

 

 

Garden Lites Spinach Souffle
A delicious base for a brunch dish

2. Garden Lites Spinach Souffle. I’ve been a fan of these gluten-free, nut-free veggie souffles for awhile now. They’re a little expensive for the size of the dish (most are 7-8 ounces and they retail for $3.79-$4.79 in the grocery stores closest to me) so I can’t eat them too often, but I love trying out new ways to use them in meals.

 

 

 

Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base
Brunch bowl with a spinach souffle base

 

I just made myself a hearty brunch bowl with a spinach souffle, two scrambled eggs, frozen veggies, Al Fresco spinach and garlic chicken sausage, and goat cheese. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy to behold this beauty
Happy to behold this beauty

3. The return of one of my favorite paintings, The Lighthouse at Two Lights, to the walls of the Modern wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Edward Hopper is one of my favorite artists, and of all his works the studies he did of the New England coast capture my mind and heart the most. This painting was in storage for awhile (I wandered into the Met the birthday before my last one to catch a glimpse and it was no longer there, which took a lot of birthday ice cream to make up for!) but it’s being displayed once again, at least until the Met moves the modern art to its new home in the old Whitney building. I dropped by this week after school!

 

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Metropolitan Museum

Marveling at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is majestic. It is one of the most famous and foot-trafficked museums in the world, and it commands a position of respect among art connoisseurs, scholars, visitors from around the globe, and the New Yorkers who pop in every day (and who might just be the hardest to please of all those!) The Met is a place that can be many different things to each individual who strides up its steps, dashes through its doors, and lingers in its halls. Some come because it is an encyclopedic collection of art history, and they thirst for knowledge. Others come to take in the beauty of the works within. As for me? My Met is a place of reflection.

 

Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer 1894)
Moonlight, Wood Island Light, Winslow Homer (1894)

I’ve always loved art. Several members of my family have more than an amateur interest in art, and my parents made sure that my brother and I would value it by filling our home with objects of visual art. They would take us along to galleries during vacations on Cape Cod and in Maine, and march us through museums in Europe. When I was very young, good behavior on those gallery trips was rewarded with ice cream (in Rome, the tactics were the same, except that the treat was gelato). Somewhere along the way, it was as if a spark ignited in my mind, and instead of being taken to museums and galleries, I was getting to go. It was a privilege.

 

Growing up in the orbit of New York City, the Met was the marquee museum. I cannot say that the Met is my favorite museum of all those I’ve visited, because I cannot say that of any museum. I love the Frick Collection for its intimacy and the fact that my artistic taste aligns so closely with that of its founders and curators. For a historian intrigued by people who collect, the Barnes in Philadelphia is an overflowing fountain. Seeing Starry Night at the Musee d’Orsay or Wivenhoe Park at the National Gallery in London are magical experiences. But what I can say about the Met is that somewhere in its vast environs, there is a place for each individual who passes through to come and reflect. No matter how many eyes have lain on any given work, if you choose to make it your work, your place to come and look and listen, it becomes a part of you, and you a part of it.

 

As I wander the halls of the Met as a young adult, all sorts of memories come to mind of childhood and the first time I saw each work that I love. I walk quietly upstairs and into the galleries of nineteenth-century European paintings, and lose myself in the works by Monet, Sisley, and Cezanne. And I remember that no matter how difficult life has seemed, taking a step back, really looking at a painting, drinking in the details and willing myself to wholly engage in examination – that’s what has brought me clarity and perspective.

 

Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)
Alpine Pool, John Singer Sargent (1907)

I’ve said that running outdoors is what allows me to mentally detach, and that is true. But before I started running, art was the only thing that brought me such peace. Now, I am blessed to draw on both sources of comfort. There is nothing quite like being out in the fresh air, the only sounds coming from nature and the pounding of my feet on the trail. But the feeling of stillness that washes over me when I am alone in the Horowitz Galleries in the American Wing, standing before my favorite Winslow Homer or John Singer Sargent, is divine in its own right.

 

 

I am fortunate to have this place to come where I can take stock of my life and reflect on what it has brought me thus far. I am even luckier to be part of the Apollo Circle, a group of young members of the museum treated to special curatorial talks and social events after-hours, because it has brought me not only knowledge but the ability to stand in the Petrie Court and gaze upon the stained glass and lampposts with few other souls around to break the silence. But the Met is open to all who wish to enter, and though nothing can replace the experience of visiting in person, it has become even more accessible online. I only hope that more people gain the opportunity to experience what I have.

 

Ive celebrated three birthdays isince 21 on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls
I’ve celebrated three birthdays (each since 21) on the Met rooftop and had countless other fun times within its walls

 

 

To those who think that art is nice, but not really a priority, or think it’s frivolous to cherish and protect when there are so many problems in this world, I would say that art is a part of our human civilization that makes it worth preserving. We are all put on this earth for a reason, and who is to say that the creation of beauty is not that reason? Art is at the pinnacle of what the human race has been able to accomplish, just like technology and math and medicine. Ignore it, and we lose a part of our history and our selves. Embrace and admire it, and we may just find the answers we are looking for.

 

Koch Plaza at the Met

 

 

This is my Thinking out Loud Thursday with Running With Spoons. What do you think about the place of art in our society? Do you have a favorite work of art or museum?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

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...but still delicious!

WIAW #3

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to another round of WIAW! I’m here to share yesterday’s eats with all of you, and can’t wait to see what everyone else over at Peas and Crayons has been cooking up. I was on the go pretty much all day, so you’ll see a lot of snacks! I woke up in Connecticut, went to a doctor’s appointment, hopped on Metro North and got off for class in Morningside Heights, took the subway to my internship at Lincoln Center, walked home across Central Park to the Upper East Side for dinner, left again for a Junior League meeting, and got home for good around 9pm. During that time, I consumed a lot of my go-to snacks, actually triple-timing both Greek yogurts and apples. At least I branched out with the varieties – a Dannon Greek Strawberry Banana, Fage 2% Acai Blueberry, and Fairway 2% Plain for the Greek yogurts, and Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, and Empire apples. And so, without further ado…

Strawberry banana yogurt + crispers
Strawberry banana yogurt + crispers

 

Breakfast: Today was a little snack-y, beginning with an early breakfast before an appointment in Connecticut. I had a Greek yogurt with some gluten-free Crispers (generic Crispix, sans barley malt) and a cup of decaf coffee, and an apple.

 

 

Brunch follows breakfast
Brunch follows breakfast

 

Brunch: After my appointment, I came home to eat, grab my stuff, and hop on a train back to Manhattan to head to an early afternoon class. I knew it might be my only real meal for awhile, so I whipped up a turkey cheddar omelette and had some salad with honey mustard dressing on the side (and another apple, yes). I also had a second cup of decaf coffee – a Dulce de Leche Cake Boss K-Cup.

 

 

 

 

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On-the-go PB&J Yogurt

 

Early afternoon snack: While in class at school, I had a Fage 2% blueberry yogurt with a Peanut Butter Cup muffin crumbled in. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer mixing my own fruit, peanut butter, etc. into Greek yogurt, but these are great for when you’re on the go and don’t have that option! I packed the muffin, two yogurts, and the soy crisps pictured below and had them with me on the train.

 

 

 

 

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A little like Dunkaroos!

Late afternoon snack: I found these mini rice cakes (or that’s what I thought they were) and decided to give them a try because I love anything apple cinnamon (like my Caramel Apple Cinnamuffins!) They turned out to be little crispy cakes made of soy protein, and made a decent little snack with a 2% Greek yogurt. I mixed some peanut butter into the yogurt and dipped the cakes in, a fun little treat to brighten my afternoon, during the two hours working at my internship that I squeezed in after class.

 

 

 

 

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A simple salad to start

Dinner: Sometimes, even the most food-focused among us are in a rush and haven’t prepared anything ahead of time. I got home from my internship at 6pm and had exactly half an hour to cook and eat dinner before heading back out to a Junior League committee meeting at 7pm. So I turned to my freezer, where I try to keep a stash of a few frozen meals for times like this. I usually stick to some brands that I feel okay about eating – Amy’s, Evol, and Garden Lites to name a few. The meals are pricier than cooking, of course, but like I said, we all have crunch times! Tonight, I actually tried a new one, Udi’s Gluten Free Broccoli and Kale Lasagna.

 

 

Udi's broccoli and kale lasagna
Saved by the Udi’s bell

I’ve had Udi’s products before, but only recently saw their new line of frozen meals in stores near me. Since these boxed meals are never enough food to satisfy me, I try to add in whatever plain veggies and protein I have on hand in the fridge. Tonight, that meant frozen broccoli and cauliflower, and some plain cocktail shrimp. I tossed a few shrimp on a salad to eat while the meal was in the microwave, and then dug in. The meal appeared very “white” when cooked, which isn’t something I really like (colorful food is a must for both health and enjoyment in my book!) but I cut through the noodles and there were bright flecks of carrots and greens. It was pretty good – the cheese was a bit bland, but it hit the spot.

 

 

Blueberry sorbet with sprinkles
Blueberry sorbet with sprinkles

 

Then later, when I got home after my meeting, I had some blueberry sorbet with sprinkles for an evening snack, followed by an apple and some popcorn. I tend to eat most of my food between 8am and 8pm, but I’ve found it’s best to have a substantial snack if I eat dinner early and head out again – otherwise, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling!

 

 

 

An Empire apple and Skinny Pop
An Empire apple and Angie’s popcorn

 

I enjoyed my snacks while watching an episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. There’s barely anything left on television that I actually watch anymore – now that Parks and Rec is over (and sadly it seems like Hart of Dixie has followed suit) all my mindless entertainment comes from old favorites. It’s probably for the best – I don’t have much time to spend in front of a TV anyway!

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

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Baked Tofu with Parmesan Garlic Quinoa, Mushrooms + Mirepoix

Meatless Monday: Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu

Tofu. If you’re an omnivore (and even if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian) you might love it, but you also might fear telling that to other people, because the tofu they see at the salad bar or in the package is white, watery, and tasteless. I first started eating tofu when I began to rely on Amy’s Kitchen meals to heat up for dinner during my crazy first year of law school. The meals were good, but not big enough for a proper dinner, and lacking in the amount of protein I craved. Bathed in tamale or enchilada sauce, the tofu was fine, and since it’s so much cheaper than the chicken or fish I would otherwise cook, it was perfect for a law student budget.

 

Baked Garlic and Thyme Tofu, the perfect meatless alternative to a tasty dinner.

 

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Mussels + frites

Dinner with My Dad at Luc’s Cafe

Fairy lights make everything magical
Fairy lights make everything magical

One of the best parts of spring break was getting to spend quality time with my dog Sasha. Another was enjoying leisurely dinners with my dad (he would agree with this order – she’s got the whole family trained!) We share a love of art and history, and I probably got so interested in both because I grew up tagging along to galleries with him by day and watching documentaries on TV together late at night. One night, we decided to head over to Luc’s Cafe, a French brasserie close to Main Street that’s always bustling. The outdoor area is really pretty, with twinkly lights all around.

 

 

 

 

Luc's Cafe Ridgefield
Bistro accoutrements

Inside there are photos all around of classic French scenes, and there’s a large map of France on the back wall. I like the decorations here because they blend in with the atmosphere, and aren’t too garish. Just enough to be quaint!

 

 

 

 

 

Luc's Cafe Mussels frites
Mussels + frites

As the snow melts and hope springs eternal that winter is falling away, my dad figured it was his last chance to get a steaming mug of French onion soup and a toasty croque monsieur. I’m always happy to have mussels marinière. It combines one of my favorite seafoods, mussels, with a delicious white wine and garlic sauce – and a little butter, because everything tastes better with a little butter! My portion came with frites, of course, which were cut shoestring-style. Everything was quite tasty – I couldn’t partake in his dishes, of course, but he helped me polish off that giant vat of mussels!

 

 

Bridgewater Chocolate
Dark chocolate is heavenly

We were a little full for dessert, but after heading home and taking an evening stroll in the neighborhood with Sasha, we each found room for a delectable piece of dark chocolate from Bridgewater Chocolates, another Connecticut institution. I went for a square of dark chocolate filled with sea salt and caramel. Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, it was a delicious meal and some great daddy-daughter time. What’s your favorite memory with you and your dad?

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

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Seriously scrumptious side

Lunch at Bailey’s Backyard

Bailey's Backyard Ridgefield
The restaurant

I met a good friend of mine for lunch yesterday, at a restaurant off our quaint Main Street called Bailey’s Backyard. I came here a lot growing up. They closed a couple of years ago, and when they reopened, the owners had altered the atmosphere and the menu, hopping on the farm-to-table bandwagon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch Menu
Lunch Menu

While I’m nostalgic for things that have changed since my childhood, the new menu is awesome. It incorporates a lot of local Connecticut and New England ingredients, in the excellent Sunday brunch, daily dinners, and as I found today, regular weekday lunches. I’m both gluten-free and nut-free, of course, which means I need to make alterations to a lot of dishes when dining out. My friend Taylor is also gluten-free, and she can’t eat eggs either. Luckily, although the menu includes lots of allergy-triggering items, the staff at Bailey’s is very helpful in letting you know where adjustments can be made. The chef even came out to introduce himself to us to see how we liked our lunches!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow carrots
Seriously scrumptious side

We decided to split a side to start. Originally, we were both eyeing the kale and Gruyere gratin, but unfortunately there was flour in that mix and they didn’t have a substitute. However, our choice of the roasted rainbow carrots with garlic butter and roasted marshmallow was simply scrumptious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seared scallop salad
Scallops seared to perfection

For our main courses, we both went with salads. Taylor had the Connecticut Kale Salad with grilled shrimp, and I went for the Spinach Salad with feta and onions and grilled scallops. Since I was allergic to the pistachio vinaigrette on the menu, the waiter suggested substituting the apricot dressing, which was a nice fruity addition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sweet treat like gooey smores
A sweet treat like gooey s’mores

We ended the meal with decaf coffee for me, and more iced tea for Taylor. I’m not going to lie, I may also have scraped every last bit of the blackened marshmallow cream off that carrot plate! It was so lovely to enjoy a relaxing lunch with a good friend. I’m making this last spring break count!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s your favorite place for a girls’ lunch?

 

Do you and your friends have any fun traditions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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