Category Archives: Food

Eat-Clean Cookbook giveaway!

Training for the marathon continues and we’ve entered hill territory — four repeats last night and five next Wednesday. In addition, I continue to chug away at the 22 minutes in 10lbs challenge I set for myself a few weeks ago (five pounds down, five to go). But to get on with the topic of today’s post — Food and a giveaway!

Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is by Tosca Reno — a successful author (of ten books), motivational speaker, wellness consultant, media personality and model (gracing the covers of Oxygen Magazine). I was first introduced to her books by my parents of all people. After my father retired, they made some dietary changes based on Tosca’s books that were very successful. Beyond weight loss, the recipes in this cookbook are healthy, easy to make, and most importantly, tasty.

In addition to giving me permission to post some recipes from the cookbook, the people at Robert Kennedy Publishing have been generous enough to also provide a copy for me to giveaway to a Fartlek Runner reader! Here is how it’ll work. Each Friday, for the month of March, I’ll post a recipe from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook. Simply post a comment to any or all of the Eat-Clean posts, and I’ll enter you onto a list in the order that I received your comment(s) (make sure to include an e-mail with your comment so I can contact you). A winner will be chosen using a random number generator, and announced in the Wednesday, March 31 post. Easy peasy and you could win an awesome cookbook to fuel your running!

To kick things off on a light note, this is one of my favourite recipes to have with veggies in my lunch at work. I make this dip at least twice a month. It’s very low in calories and fat, making it a guiltless way to make cut raw veggies and crackers more interesting. To repeat, this recipe is from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, by Tosca Reno and published by Robert Kennedy Publishing.

Tofu and Curry Dip

Makes 12, one-TBSP Servings


  • 6oz / 168g silken tofu
  • 1½ Tbsp / 23ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp / 30ml best-quality olive oil
  • ¼ tsp / 1.25ml sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp / 30ml chopped green onion
  • ½ tsp / 2.5ml curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp / 15ml parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Do not over-process. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Serve with crudités as a healthy dip alternative, spread on wraps with grilled chicken, or anywhere else you would like a delicious shot of creamy flavor.

Nutritional value per one-Tbsp serving:

Calories: 28 | Calories form fat: 22 | Protein: 1g | Carbs: 0.5g | Dietary Fiber: 0g | Sugars: 0g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 43mg


Thrive pizza…

February is drawing to a close and with it, many of us are approaching or entering the next phase of our training for our spring races. My marathon is at the end of May and I’m finishing up week five of 18 of my training schedule. After next Wednesday, I’ll be moving from the base phase into the strength phase, with the addition of hills training. I love me some hills! (This will likely kick off the Toronto Hills series I mentioned in this post)

As training progresses, I’m becoming more and more focused on one particular element of my training: nutrition. For me, this is one of the most important aspects of training, because if one’s nutrition sucks, their body will not be able to adequately recover, and as a result their running will suffer.

In addition, with my personal 22 minutes in 10lbs challenge, I’m trying to choose more wisely where my calories are coming from in order to maximize the nutritional content without too many empty or excess calories.

I’m a huge fan of Brendan Brazier’s books Thrive and Thrive Fitness, and have found a ton of useful nutrition ideas from reading these books. Brendan is a Canadian 50k ultramarathon champion, professional Ironman triathlete, bestselling author and creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called VEGA. Brendan also offers a free video and e-mail program at that I highly recommend — and in case you missed the word before video, it’s FREE ;-). Here is a quick video about the program:

In keeping with the idea of “high net gain foods” I made a “pizza” tonight from Brendan’s book Thrive. I put “pizza” in quotes here because this dish resembles a pizza only in that it has a base or “crust” on which there is sauce and then toppings. The recipe for this pizza can be found at Canadian Running Magazine’s website, but there was a difference between the online version and the printed version, which added 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat groats. For my pizza, I added the groats, mostly out of curiosity (I hadn’t had them before), and found that they added a really nice crunch to the crust. So thumbs up to the groats.

This pizza is made completely from plant materials and cooked at a very low temperature. To start, I took all of the ingredients for the crust and put them in a food processor:

Then I formed the crust (mmm, groaty goodness!):

While this was happening, I roasted the red peppers in the oven, and then placed them and the rest of the ingredients for the sweet pepper hemp pesto (the “sauce”) into the food processor:

…and coated the “crust,” sliced up some veggies, toped the “pizza”, put it in the oven, and…. Voila!

I had quite a bit of the pesto left over, which will be perfect as a veggie dip for the next day or so.

Red Lentil Dahl

One of my favourite dishes to cook at this time of year is red lentil dahl — a warming, nutrient-packed dish that is perfect after a run. Dahl is a flavour-packed dish found in Nepali, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. It’s made from various types of lentils that are split and reduced to a mushy consistency and then have various spices and vegetables added in.

Lentils are one of those wonderful foods that are great to cook with, but can be kind of daunting at first. They’re packed full of protein, iron, dietary fibre, folate, B1 and various minerals. Served with rice, lentils make a complete protein (meaning together, they contains all of the essential amino acids required by humans dietary needs), which is convenient, because dahl is best served over basmati rice!

The following is a family recipe gifted to me by a close friend, and is Marathi in origin. I reduced the amount of oil called for (the original was four to five tablespoons), and as presented, it is of a medium spice, but can be made more or less hot by adjusting the chili powder accordingly.

Red Lentil Dahl
Serves 4


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse lentils under cool water until water runs clear. Place water or broth into a large saucepan and bring to a boil before adding the rinsed lentils.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer the lentils until they resumble a thick paste.
  3. While the lentils are simmering, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger, sautéing until soft.
  4. Add the curry powder, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to the onion mixture and continue to sauté for an additional two to three minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.
  6. Add the contents of the frying pan to the lentil paste, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Cook the combined mixture for another 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick stew.
  8. Serve over basmati rice, with roti.

Shaving 22 minutes in 10 lbs…

(Wherein Matt approaches his food as a form of training to help improve his running.)

The inspiration:

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=elite+runner&iid=6319374″ src=”9/1/8/5/AgeAFL_Fun_Run_c455.jpg?adImageId=10387254&imageId=6319374″ width=”380″ height=”229″ /]Apparently, it’s common knowledge in the running community that loosing one pound can increase a runner’s speed by about two seconds a mile (in Canadianese, that would work out to be roughly 3.2 seconds per kilometer). That can be huge for elite runners who need to shave (or shed) precious seconds off their race times. This is generally referred to as their “race weight”.

Generally, I aim to do the best I can (as hokey as that may sound) — so why not finish my race with a better time? It may not smash any world records, but I could aim to smash my PB (or set a challenging one in the case of the marathon).

This got me thinking, why not us non-elites? I want a race weight damn it!

A little background:

In May 2008 I was 85lbs heavier then I currently am. Over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to loose a considerable amount of weight that was done in a healthy, sustainable manner that didn’t include anything gimmicky or invasive. It’s become incredibly cliché, but it truly was a lifestyle change that also included taking up running and adopting a plant-based diet. I’ve developed a strong fascination with all thing nutrition, and  love learning about how different foods affect the body. I have no academic credential in nutrition, but day dream of getting some.

The starting point:

This is me last Friday:

I’m currently at what I (and my physician) consider a healthy and manageable every day weight of 185 lbs at 5’11”.

The how:

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=vegetarian&iid=5079696″ src=”7/6/a/3/Cardboard_box_of_ad2c.jpg?adImageId=10387700&imageId=5079696″ width=”337″ height=”506″ /]A pound of fat is comprised of 3,500 calories. I’m aiming to loose a total of ten pounds of fat before I run the Ottawa Marathon. That’s a total 35,000 calories that are gonna go!

The basis of weight loss in no secret (despite what infomercials would have us believe). Calories in must be less than calories out in order for the body to shed weight. The challenging part of this will be to do this while also maintaining an adequate nutritional basis from which to train for my marathon.

I’m going to do this by focusing on three specific areas that will become future installments in this series of me acquiring my race weight:

  • Food: nutritionally rich, dense, filling and whole foods
  • Training smart: building strong, lean and efficient muscle
  • Mental: treating food as a source of fuel with purpose

The goal:

My race weight goal is 175 lbs, which according to those studies should shave an additional 22 minutes and 35 seconds off whatever my marathon time would otherwise have been. Not too shabby for 10 lbs lost!

So that’s the plan I’m looking at — acquiring a race weight so I can run faster! I’ll keep you all updated in coming posts within this series, and welcome any crazy souls who want to join me in acquiring their own race weight.

Marathon politics and food…

Toronto Marathon(s?):

The 2009 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon start line boasted an impressive display at city hall.

After a week of speculation and intrigue over the future of the two Toronto fall marathons, the city has extended a final opportunity for the two groups to figure it out. They now have two weeks to decide which of them will move to the spring, or the city will begin accepting RFPs, including third party bids.

If you’re not familiar with the situation, Toronto has two marathons — the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon — that are three weeks apart from each other. This past fall saw  years of rivalry between the two races come to a head when many in the city were fed up with the various Sunday road closures being so close together. I’m sure that it’s an election year in our grand ol’ city doesn’t help the situation either.

Aestus, myself and Thomas at the starting line of the 2009 Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon.

So now we Toronto runners get to wait some more to see what happens. There seems to be progress according to the story appearing in the Toronto Star yesterday. Jay Glassman of the Goodlife marathon is quoted as saying, “we’re open to moving.” Given the self-described “grass roots” feel of the race, it might make more sense for it to move to the spring, despite being the older of the two races.

Allan Brooks of the Scotiabank marathon talks in the same article of bringing in more elite athletes from around the world to add “star power” to the event.

Regardless of promises, both camps have until the February 22 city council meeting to come to a resolution.

Now on to lighter topics…


A while back I heard about how great quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is. Shortly after, I picked up a small bag of organic quinoa that has sat in my pantry. That was, until last week.

Last week, while reading in the blogosphere, I came across a post on Frayed Laces, where she mentioned that she cooked her quinoa in a rice cooker. This peeked my interest, because I thought it had to be done by some miraculous method that I had no clue had to do. I had a rice cooker. I had quinoa, and I had water — I could do this.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=quinoa&iid=5281095″ src=”1/f/e/2/Quinoa_full_frame_d6ab.jpg?adImageId=9839986&imageId=5281095″ width=”234″ height=”236″ /]If you don’t know what I’m talking about, quinoa is a seed that originated in the Andean region of South America and is related to beats and spinach. It functions much the same way as rice, but is known for being somewhat of a super food. It is very high in protein and contains a balanced set of essential amino acids (making it a complete protein). It is also easily digested, gluten free, a good source of dietary fibre, phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron.

Frayed’s instructions are to put 1 cup of dry Quinoa to 2 parts water (or vegetable broth) into the rice cooker. It turned out perfectly. Last week was all about putting something on a bed of quinoa.

This week’s theme is somewhat similar, but with a small difference: it’s all about mixing things into the quinoa.

Enter Mr. Carrot and Ms. Leek. I bought a bag of the ginormous carrots this week, so I took one of those and grated it (yielding roughly 2 cups). I then took the leek and chopped that up. I heated a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and combined the carrot and leek with is and sautéed for 5-10 minutes. When it was done I mixed this with a batch of the quinoa. It looks like this:

It tastes fantastic! Once this batch is gone, I’m going to try a Mediterranean theme — sun-dried tomatoes, black olives…

If any of you have quinoa recipes and are holding out, please share!

Chiropractor and food…

So far, I have been a good little runner. That is to say, I haven’t run since last Wednesday. But that is not to say, I’m a “happy little runner”. We had amazing weather here in Toronto over the weekend, and I stared out the window like a lost puppy dreaming of running in all that sunshine. My new shoes sit there, minute upon minute, mocking my gimp knee… all right, end the dramatics. Had to try to work it just a little, didn’t I? It was, after all, the first Sunday in a long time that I’ve been able to actually sleep in! Oh glorious mornings of waking up without an alarm!

I went to the gym Saturday morning for a spin class (with no issue) and then a weight class. During the weight class, the my knee began to act up during lunges and I had to backed off (or rather, I sat down and waited for the next track). Enter Beth Douglas.

Beth Douglas coached the 10km clinic I took last year. She also happens to be my Chiropractor. Readers, meet Beth:

I went to see Beth about my knee issues today. While she doesn’t love it, among my running buddies, Beth has garnered the nickname “The Dominatrix.” Frankly, it’s not a really fitting nickname, as Beth is a sweetheart, and stems more from the fact that we’re a bunch of whinny wimps. But it may also have something to do with these bad boys:

No, those aren’t Dexter Morgan’s tools – those babies are used for the Graston Technique, which Beth has employed during past running-related sessions. My experience of Graston consists having those shinny metal tools “raked” across the tight areas of my legs (e.g., IT band, knee and hip bone). It makes using a foam roller look a lot more appealing, and perhaps that is part of the message. If I had been properly rolling out my IT bands (personally, I prefer to use a rolling pin from the kitchen), my knee wouldn’t be hurting right now. But I digress.

During today’s session, Beth used Active Release Therapy (ART) and a vibrating machine that looked like an oversized personal massager (see picture on the left) to make my glutes relax (yes, I have a tight ass… har har har).

In the past Beth has also used Acupuncture as part of treatments. The acupuncture needles – which don’t hurt at all — were hooked up to a machine that generates continuous electric pulses (this is also known as Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or PENS), helping the muscles to relax and loosen.

Rest, RICE, and a Chrio appointment down, I’m hoping to be pounding the pavement soon! I see Beth again later this week for a follow up and to get the ok to start running soon. Lets keep our fingers crossed!


On a different note, I got to cook several fun meals this weekend. Friday night, I made Tal Ronnan’s “chicken” scalloppini with shiitake sake sauce, braised pea shoots, and crispy udon noodle cakes (pictured Left), and served SusanV’s apple pie wontons with peach chutney for dessert (pictured below). Both went over well! Then on Sunday, I made a big batch of lentil soup from a new cookbook I have, and tried SusanV’s Black-eyed Pea Masala. Both have been tasted, and both get a thumbs up, for being both simple to make, and very tasty.

New Years, food and the Hair of the Dog…

I’m back from being up north! There is something about being up there that allows me to actually relax, because there is nothing that I have to do. Long runs on quiet rural roads, snow shoeing in the snowy forest, playing with the dogs, and lounging around made for some major battery recharging time. Of course, now that I’m back in Toronto, there are a million and one things I should get to. But all of that can wait till next year.

I went back to the gym this morning for the first time in a week (in my defense, there was no gym where I was). I was planning on doing two classes (an hour each), but after the first one, decided I should ease myself back to the intensity I was going at. It feels great to be back at it though.

A four-bottle Fuel Belt, Body Glide, new running shoes and a marathon clinic were waiting for my under the tree in the form of gift cards!

Yesterday, I had a chance to go and spend my gift cards for my local running store, and picked up a bunch of the things that were on my X-mas wish list. Shoes were also purchased, but my size had to be ordered in from a store in Quebec City (not because I have ginormous feet, but because my size is common and they were out ;-). I apologize for the quality of the photos in this post – my camera is on the frits and possible dead. I’m currently sourcing out a new one and for the time being, pictures will either come from my phone (booo) or my camera if it decides to work again.

Tofu-spinach "ricotta"

Initially, we were planning on going to a friend’s party tonight to ring in the next decade, but due to the hubby coming down with a nasty cold, we’ll be celebrating at a house party for two, complete with a homemade meal and some new DVD’s. I’ve whipped up a tofu-spinach lasagna dinner for us. I know most of you will be thinking “ewww… vegan lasagna”. But seriously, this recipe is really good.

Lasagna in progress..

Of course, lasagna isn’t complete without Caesar salad, so I also whipped up a vegan Caeser dressing from Laren Ulm’s Vegan Yum Yum (based on her award winning blog, — an invaluable website for amazing vegan recipes!).

Caesar dressing:

¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp miso
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 pinches salt
6 oz silken tofu
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp water (to thin).

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and well, process.

Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting up with a bunch of my running buddies who are running the Hair of the Dog 9k (complete with peach schnapps at the 4.5 km mark!) and will have a report of that at some point this weekend. I’m not running the race, but will be my own little cheering squad for the Terrible Tutus!

Happy New Years everyone!