Happy Passover and Easter! Looks like a gorgeous day out there – perfect for a run, bike ride or even just a nice walk. I plan to do the latter with a friend this afternoon as a study break, since I ran in Central Park yesterday (6.75M) and am still trying to keep my mileage low this week. It’ll be nice to get some exercise – I don’t know about you, but I had an amazing, VERY indulgent Thanksgiving style dinner last night and need to burn some of it off!

This past week has been incredibly intense, with my second physiology midterm on Thursday and other work I needed to catch up on, so I’m grateful I was able to take some time “off” this weekend to do normal things like food shopping, emails, laundry and cleaning my apartment, as well as socializing with other students in my department, relaxing in front of the TV and celebrating Passover with my relatives. I even made it to the gym (once)! After so many weeks of looking like a zombie in sweats or exercise gear, it felt good to put on real (clean!) clothes and make myself look presentable. I obviously had to take a photo before I went to Passover dinner as proof that I do actually have long hair and look like a normal person on occasion! πŸ™‚

My latest update on the coaching front is that I finally got around to writing my bio for Physical Equilibrium, to post on their website now that I am part of their team. I had fun writing it – it was a great way to procrastinate studying for physio – and think it came out quite well. Their marketing guy made a few edits, including adding links to certain things – I find it hilarious that he linked my Master’s degree in “Oboe Performance” to the wikipedia entry for an oboe. Fair enough – if I had a nickel for every time someone asked what an oboe is…Here’s the link to my bio – click on Claire at the bottom of the list of trainers and coaches.

In my Food Science lab this past week, we focused on soups, stocks and sauces. I didn’t get around to doing the sauces, which is unfortunate since I have never actually made a sauce, but I did have a great time with the soups. Soups are great because they are filling, relatively cheap, you can make a huge batch and freeze portions for later, and generally speaking, they’re easy to make and quite healthy. This class reminded me that I really need to start making soups more regularly!

Each group was tasked with making an assigned recipe in our cooking lab manual (ours was carrot dill), and then with improvising a soup from a big box of ingredients. At the end, after our usual presentation and tasting, we would choose a winner from the improvised soups. It was great practice for our final exam in early May, which essentially involves our teacher handing each of us a pile of ingredients and asking us to improvise a meal. Nothing but the ingredients, your knife and other kitchen tools are allowed. I’m actually bit nervous…!

Anyway, it was a warm day and I saw a bunch of tomatoes, so I immediately thought – gazpacho! It was a bit of a cop out compared to some of the more complicated vegetable soups that other groups created – gazpacho isn’t that hard to make and obviously involves zero cooking – but I am a huge fan of gazpacho and it gave me an opportunity to practice my knife skills, since I like my gazpacho nice and chunky. That’s why it kind of looks like a bowl of salsa, but it was delicious and very colorful. We didn’t win (a carrot apple soup did – it was pretty spectacular) but we were highly ranked, and our carrot dill soup was well received too.

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In case you’re interested, here is a slightly amended recipe for the carrot dill soup. It’s pretty simple and quite healthy – we used water as the base of the soup because we didn’t have any stock handy, and it tasted fine, but I definitely would use vegetable or chicken stock instead to give it more depth of flavor. If you’re not a huge fan of dill, you can also try using fresh ginger.

As for the gazpacho, we used around 6-8 tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves, red and green pepper (we didn’t have any cucumber), one carrot, one red onion, mint, cilantro, lime, olive oil, salt and pepper, and apple as garnish. We took most of the tomatoes and threw them into the food processor with two raw garlic cloves (the other two we chopped and sauteed in olive oil, and later put back into the food processor). The remaining tomato we chopped and set aside to add into the serving bowl, along with the carrot and bell peppers (which I finely diced), to add texture. We chopped up some fresh mint and cilantro, and set aside with the other veg. We chopped the red onions, placed them in a separate bowl and submerged them in red wine vinegar for about 15 minutes – this is a trick I learned from our previous week’s feta quinoa salad recipe. The vinegar takes away the bitterness of the onion and makes them quite tangy – normally I hate raw onion but prepared this way, I love it! They turn a nice pink color too. Once the onion was ready, we drained most of the vinegar and added half of the onion to the food processor (being careful not to over-process). We emptied the contents of the food processor into a large bowl, adding the other half of the onions, all the other vegetables, juice of one lime, the fresh herbs, some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. We chilled it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then finished it off with a bit more olive oil and diced apple garnish on top. Delicious and colorful!

In my last two Nutrition & Health lectures, we have been discussing vitamins and minerals. Our assignment for this week was to record what we eat for two days and do a very detailed analysis of our food intake to see if we are meeting all of our DRIs (daily recommended intakes). It has been a very time consuming but eye opening exercise – for instance, when I calculated the average intakes for both days, I discovered that I only consumed 53% of my DRI for Vitamin E, and 80% of my DRI for iron. Everything else was at least 100%, in some cases even 400%, purely from food (I usually do not take supplements). I certainly don’t think I am deficient – obviously the foods I eat vary from day to day, and thus my intake of vitamins and minerals vary – but it was really interesting to calculate the percentages.

I think many of you could benefit from doing something similar – perhaps not as in depth, but how many of you actually know how much of each vitamin and mineral you should be consuming, and how much you actually are consuming? Are you familiar with the best FOOD sources (since we always emphasize getting nutrients from food, not supplements) for various vitamins and minerals? I’m guessing the answer is no for at least some on the list. So, stay tuned for my next post – Vitamins & Minerals 101. So many people pop pills rather than focusing on real food – and in the process, can be doing more harm than good.

That’s all for today. Time to head to the library and dive back into the books!

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