Recipe Box: Festive Black Bean Chili

This vegan recipe is a long-time love and even a fan favorite of my meat-eating friends. It was also among the first “real meals” I learned to make in my post-college life, back before Y2K.

Umpteen years ago I moved to Ithaca, a stunning and liberal college town nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Back then, I was a 22-year-old college grad, a vegetarian and working my first job at the local newspaper, The Ithaca Journal.

Not two blocks away from my office, I came across a great vegetarian eatery that quickly became my go-to lunchtime haunt. The Moosewood Restaurant, known for its veggie and vegan fare, was widely known. I quickly fell in love with the food and in turn started acquiring Moosewood cookbooks. (Um, I confess I have more than a half dozen of them.)

This recipe, which I’ve adapted a bit over the years, was among the first I tried and remains one of my favorites. I hadn’t made it in years, but the other day, inspiration struck.

I forgot how damn good it was. So for you, my adapted version of Festive Black Bean Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.

feb March 2016 985

Ingredients:

1 diced onion

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. coriander

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 15-oz can black beans

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 cup salsa

salt and pepper to taste.

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In a large pot, brown the onion with garlic in 1/2 cup of water for about five minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and stir on high heat for about a minute. Add salsa and bell peppers, lower the heat and cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add corn and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Stir every now and again and salt and pepper to taste. I typically pair this with either cornbread or tortilla chips (hint of lime flavor hits the spot!) Sometimes I top it with avocado before serving.

Serves 4 people. Reheats well. Each 11 ounce serving has 222 calories and 10 grams of protein (that’s without the bread, chips or avocado!) Enjoy!

Happy birthday Meri (and Jay!) I used this because these two lovelies share a birthday!

Happy birthday Meri (and Jay!) I used this because these two lovelies share a birthday!

On a completely unrelated note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MERI! Today is our chick’s 30-somethingth birthday and we love her to bits! Make sure to wish her a happy day via Scoot’s social media or in the comments below!

Throwaways: the good, the bad and the really ugly

I have a stash of old sweatshirts and hats in the corner of our guest room.

Of course, they’ll go to charity. But first, they get one last use – as early morning road race throwaways!

IMG_1497It’s overflowing

Since the days are growing colder, and I’ve started to actually wear long sleeves while running on crisp mornings (gasp!) so I thought I’d share some tips on throwaways – including a how-to manual to create my infamous tube sock mittens!

Throwaways:

Most race organizers have volunteers collect discarded clothing at the starting line and along the course. Those items are then donated to charity. I love this. It’s such a smart form of recycling and giving an item a second – and third – life.

Typically, I scavenge my house looking for clothing (read: warm outerwear) I don’t mind parting with. I typically don old sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts and knit caps.

If I forget or can’t find what I am looking for, I head to the Dollar Store or a second-hand store to find what I need. I even found a $5 fleece at Target in a pinch.

A Mylar blanket – the kind you receive at the finish of most large races – or a garbage bag – with a hole for your head – will also do the trick.

vic throwawayMe and my many layers before the Philadelphia Marathon in 2010.

 For my first marathon, I was overdressed with throwaways.  Sweatshirt, sweatpants, mittens and knit cap. I had it all. I also tossed it all before I started running. That taught me that its sometimes smart to hold onto mittens and hats until I warm up, typically a mile or two into my race.

nwh5The chicks and friends in a few throwaway tops before a 2014 race in D.C. Note how Meri dons a fancy shrug. (yeah, its really a ripped Lululemon shirt)

The key is to wear something that will A.) keep you warm and B.) you don’t mind discarding.

I struggle with this. I want everything to have a second life. And I hold onto some clothing for far too long. What’s that? You want an example? Well, ok.

Nov13 to May14 079See these duds? They are hideous and I couldn’t part with the 17-year-old fleece for about 15 years too many. That and my hubby’s torn-on-the-behind sweatpants have me looking voluminous pre-NYC Marathon in 2013. But hey, Christy Turlington Burns complimented them as we waited to start the race.

Brooke is fantastic about tossing unwanted or damaged clothes. We’ve traded throwaway layers at more than one race.

bthrowawyBefore the 2012 Princess Half Marathon, Brooke tossed these layers.

Sometimes, I really don’t want to part with an item.

In March, I passed on a favorite pair of warm up pants I’d had for years. They were ratty, but fit over my sneakers so became my go-to pants for regattas and road races.

Nov13 to May14 1601I memorialized these pants before I discarded them before a race in March.

Good bye, old friend.

The key with throwaway pants is the ability to take them off in a rush – without having to untie your shoes.

Most warmup pants don’t fit over my sneakers, so I make them fit. I take a pair of scissors and cut up the seam of the pants, starting at the ankle. I make the opening large enough for my show to fit through. (If you look closely at the first pic in this post, you can see my handiwork)

And yes, this is why a supermodel/runner told me I was brilliant before we both ran NYC last fall.

How to make your own tube sock mittens:

It’s easy. Place tube socks over your hands and push your thumb through the heel area of the sock.

IMG_1499So simple, so stylish

If you’re like me, your socks are well worn and might even already have a hole in your heel.

If you don’t wear your socks to threads, you can opt to use scissors.

Presto change-o! Done! Tube sock mittens.

wineglassmittensTube sock mittens paired with an old sweatshirt. These mittens lived to see another race day.

Now that you’ve seen my hideous throwaways, I want to hear what YOU do! Share pics of you in your discard layers with us on social media! – We’re ScootaDoot on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Running through my head

I don’t listen to music when I run, but rather, I let my mind wander.

And oh does it wander…. Today, I thought I’d offer a peek into my mind. Dangerous… I know. But here’s an example of my stream of consciousness while on a run long distance. (abbreviated of course, since you don’t want a 2+ hour ramble!)

Off I go. I always start out too fast. Slow down, woman. You’re going to need that little burst of energy later. Speaking of later, I need to clean the house for our dinner guests tomorrow. I guess I can always do that tomorrow though. I could vacuum today and oh man, I forgot about laundry. I don’t want drying laundry hanging on the rack or in the bathroom when our guests arrive. I mean, they don’t need to see all my clothes. Then again, will they really be looking at my running gear? On the second floor? (ahem, no where near the kitchen) Gosh, I hope not.

Nov13 to May14 1733Drying gear. Note the Oiselle obsession.

How does it go? Pain is temporary, pride and prejudice. No, that’s not right.  That’s definitely not right. But that’s a great book. Heck, I also love the movie. I need to get a new DVD player so I can watch it again. I can’t seem to remember much of anything these days. Good thing my job doesn’t rely on my memory. And thank goodness I have amazing friends and running partners to keep me sane. And yes, I know some of us can’t plan out the correct mileage to save our lives, (raising hand) and others seem to keep inserting hills in the middle of every single run. Eh, that’s OK, I am better for it and need more hill training to improve my base- and my time. I’m thirsty. Why did I drink all of my water already? Good thing I can swing past the library to refill, and refuel, and use the bathroom. But I do need a new water bottle, or I can keep hiding bottles mid-course to pick up later. 

Am I done yet? One foot in front of the other. Why have I not finished and why have the new neighbors added that hideous trellis around their lovely wooden deck? The old residents would cry. They were so proud of that deck. I wonder how they are doing out in Utah. Or did they move to Idaho? I know it started with a vowel. How old are their kids now? Gosh I bet they can drive. Oh and a random dog-walker is waving. Hello ma’am, puppy! Did I say that out loud? I think I did. Maybe I didn’t though since neither batted an eye. Ah well. I’m back in my yard and am beyond ready to guzzle some water. 15-miler done!

Moments like this one, and many more, will be starting back up in the next few months as I start to train for marathon number 6, the Philadelphia Marathon! Philly was my first marathon (in 2010 – and this year will be Meri’s FIRST MARATHON – so I’m looking forward to heading back to the City of Brotherly Love for another 26.2.

Today’s stream of consciousness run was brought to you by my tired brain. I really do need a new handheld water bottle or belt though. Can you give me suggestions? I’d love to hear all about what you use.

Chick Chat: Scoot runs DC

For the second time in less than a month, several Scoot a Doot chicks (and honorary chicks) are gathering for a weekend of food, fun and fitness.

That’s right, three short weeks after we ran the boards in Atlantic City, the chicks are headed to our nation’s capital for yet another 13.1-mile jog, the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon.

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So it’s been months since we learned we’d be heading to Washington D.C. to run with about 20,000 fierce women. Brooke, Meri and I will be joined by a slew of amazing friends. (honestly, too many to name but we’re excited to see each and every one of you!)

Anyway, here’s what we three chicks are looking forward to this fine spring weekend:

brookenameplate

I can’t believe this weekend is finally here. When we agreed to try the lottery for this race, my back-up plan if we didn’t get in was to go for the Broad Street 10 miler, and I was already attempting to convince my husband to run it with us- I was that certain that we wouldn’t get in. Needless to say, I am more than a little excited to be heading up to DC in a few days.

My plan for the race is to run at a comfortable pace and enjoy the sights. I’m not feeling any pain during my runs this week, but I’m not up for attempting a PR either (which would be unlikely anyway). It’s a nice flat course with lots to see- I’ll definitely be carrying my camera.

Beyond the race, I’m really looking forward to a weekend away with my husband, doing some shopping and seeing my girlfriends. Oh, and THE FOOD.

 

meridithnameplate

Having lived so close to Washington, D.C. my entire life, you would think that I would have visited there more than a handful of times.

That would be false.

I’ve driven through (on the way to and from Florida) quite a few times but haven’t actually spent much time in our nation’s capital. Therefore, I’m really looking forward checking out the sights while running and hopefully I’ll be able to do a little sightseeing besides the race, too.

The biggest challenge of the weekend won’t have anything to do with the race (I hope!) but rather being able to see everyone I’d like to see. I’m driving down on Friday evening. On Saturday we’ll be heading into the city. Sunday the race begins bright and early, and I’ll be back on the road on Sunday afternoon.

Whirlwind trip, for sure! With a race this big, there are so many friends running and I hope to be able to connect with them all. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to spend time with everyone!

victorianameplateRace plan? You chicks are funny. I just learned yesterday what time the race starts (7 am for you kids following along at home.) I know the course starts and ends in the same spot, that there’s some sort of tunnel and lots of landmarks on a route that friends keep telling me is flat and fast. More than that? I really haven’t thought that far ahead, which is incredibly unlike me as I AM A PLANNER.

As a kid, my family went to DC all the time as my eye doctor was there. (Yes, I’m blind as a bat. Yes, I’ve had five eye surgeries. Yes, there’s so much scar tissue in my eyes that Lasik surgery or contacts are both bad ideas. And yes, we really drove to DC several times each year to see my eye doctor.) But as a result, we spent a lot of time visiting DC landmarks, including all sorts of monuments, museums and of course, The National Zoo.

You may know I was just in DC last month to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA marathon and 1/2 with my friend Traci. We had a blast but spent little time on the sights outside our mileage.

This weekend, I’m sure some sightseeing – and LOTS of eating – will occur and I am itching to wander around the Mall and amidst some cherry blossoms, the weekend will hopefully include lots of quality time with a few of my favorite chicks.

Might we be seeing you in DC? What’s your favorite thing to do in our nation’s capital? What can’t we miss? And good luck to all the runners!

 

Training: faking it versus the real deal

Once upon a time, there was a girl who signed up for her first half marathon in November of 2011. The half marathon was runDisney’s Princess half marathon, for in those days you didn’t have to sign up the day registration opened to be able to participate.

She trained for the February 2012 race in two and a half months (in hindsight it probably wasn’t enough training for the distance) but she ran the races with supportive friends who whispered encouraging words in her ear and walked with her when her IT bands no longer wanted to run.

princess2012

And she did it!

From there, she went on to run another half a month later, where her IT bands fared much better and she helped Cam achieve her first half marathon.

camachalf

She continued to register and run the half marathon distance, although her long runs weren’t always quite long enough and she didn’t always follow the training plan exactly like she should. Read: SHE WAS FAKING IT.

Faking it got her through the half marathons. Not as fast as she wanted though, and not without injury. Make that injuries, plural. After her most recent injury, she said, “Enough is enough.” (Actually, she used more colorful language, F this S… just so we are keeping it real.)

Her injuries have lessened significantly, for which is she very grateful. She’s been treating her Plantar Fasciitis  with medicated gel and Thorlo socks. Custom orthotics just joined the mix as well and while she’s not 100%, she’s feeling about 85% better.

Thanks to Thorlos for connecting on Twitter and for assistance. Very grateful!

Thanks to Thorlo for connecting on Twitter and for assistance. Very grateful!

She’s been pushing herself harder than ever before with training. She doesn’t skip or skimp. Three days a week she’s achieving at least five miles a day. She is following the training schedule to the letter; her long runs on the weekend have been accomplished as she works her way toward her next half. Her A, B, and C goals are in place and she’s confident in her abilities to hit one, if not all of them. And while the winter-y weather might have deterred her in the past, she is saying I can and I will now more than ever. She’s hoping for a happily ever after in the land of PR.

Have you ever faked your way through a race (or two, or three)? Come back after an injury (or two)?  What types of goals do you set for races?

#werunDC!

We won the lottery!

Before you start wondering what all the Scoot chicks will be buying with our newfound wealth, it’s not that sort of lottery. We were lucky enough to be selected to run the 2nd Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington DC.

Yes! We won the rights to enter a coveted road race! Woot!

That means Brooke, Meri and I will be among the 15,000 women running 13.1 miles through our nation’s capital on April 27, 2014. Two of our longtime friends Keri and Maureen will be joining our happy gang for the big weekend next spring.

We are giddy.

Okay, so we changed the name to say Scoot a Doot... but you get the idea!

Okay, so we changed the name to say Scoot a Doot… but you get the idea!

Meri called me last night to tell me the news and I was speechless. Sure, we entered, but I never actually expected we’d get picked. I actually figured we would be out since I have wretched lottery luck.

I was also rejected three straight years from the NYC Marathon- which ironically earned me a guaranteed entry for the 2013 race.

Meri and I entered the race lottery for the inaugural DC race last year and didn’t get picked. We were sad. There’s no other way to say it. We’d been looking forward to running, made tentative plans around the weekend, then we didn’t make the cut.

So when Meri suggested we apply again last month, I nearly dismissed the idea.

I’m sure glad I didn’t. Because next spring, #werunDC. Who is with us?

Post-publication note:

Lottery hopefuls who didn’t make the cut can still run the Nike Women’s DC half-marathon by running for charity, specifically for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Click here for more info on how you can join their team.

Our first meeting

nowvandm

Before we ever met in person, Meri and I were pen pals. We wrote letters almost daily for months before we finally met in person this week, 21 years ago.

I had been dying to meet Meri in person for months and, somehow, successfully badgered my parents to let me spend Thanksgiving break in NJ with Meri and her family.

It’s become quite the joke in both our families, that my parents were willing to ship me off to strangers for a few days, and that Meri’s family didn’t reject inviting an unknown teenage girl into their own home.

“They seemed like good people,” my mother says when prodded about the decision. Our moms spoke on the phone several weeks prior, approved of each other and decided to permit my trip.

Mother knows best. But little did any of us know, this journey was the first of many meetings for Meri and me.

I should further explain our background. Meri and I were pen pals for many months before our famed in-person meeting. We actually met through a mutual friend who I befriended at a concert in NJ one year prior. Meri was a close friend of the concertgoer, who months later moved to the Midwest.

We wrote daily, chatted on the phone and send each other “audio letters,” that’s a recorded, rambling message on a cassette tape. We shared a love of writing, music, books and Disney. And we loved address labels and stationary – still do!

letters

The day before Thanksgiving I boarded a train alone for Trenton, NJ. Little did I know I was traveling on the busiest travel day of the year. I also didn’t have a clue I’d need to switch trains in Philly without anyone to guide me. Sure, I was 16 but I still hadn’t gotten my driver’s license and had never traveled solo before.

And, of course, I had overpacked. (Because every girl needs two suitcases and a video camera for a 4-day adventure to visit her bestie. Right?!)

I was a bit overwhelmed in the travel hustle, but managed the board the correct train (twice!) and hours later arrived in Trenton. Meri and her dad were waiting for me at the station.

throwbacktrain

We hugged, squealed and giggled like (well) teenage girls. Then we made a music video. (I wish I could say I was kidding, but I’m not. We were so cool.)

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

Exhibit A of our coolness factor

The weekend festivities went all too fast. We danced, we sang, we swapped stories. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Meri’s family, which was also my first holiday away from my own home. We attended several parties with Meri’s friends and watched Aladdin in the theater.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

It should be noted we are wearing each others jackets. Why? Because.

We spent Black Friday in NYC – where ironically we did not shop, but visited the Natural Museum of History and Hayden Planetarium (I fell asleep!) then walked all over Central Park and midtown, avoiding subway vents on each block because we were afraid we’d fall down to the tracks.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

We stayed up until early morning hours gossiping and giggling.

And of course, we took lots of photos. We still laugh at our fateful decision to get portraits taken as a pair. That’s where we came up with this beauty:

throwbackcouple

The weekend was the first of many get-togethers over the next two decades.

throwbackband

Together, we’ve explored NYC many times, sang along in concert with boy bands, savored chocolate in Hershey, PA, hiked a canyon in California and ran hand-in-hand through Cinderella’s Castle in Florida.

I cheered alongside Mer’s parents as she earned her masters degree.

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throwbackmasters

And she cheered as I ran my first marathon.

Philly Marathon 2010

Philly Marathon 2010

We were each bridesmaids in the other’s wedding and I am auntie to her two incredible sons.

vic-treeboysChristmas 2012

Ironically, we both lost touch with our mutual friend, but we were blessed with each other. And this week, I can’t think of a better reason to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Who else is thankful for a longtime best friend? How did you meet? Will you also share embarrassing photos with us? Tell us more in the comments.

Nuun – flavored hydration

I guzzle at least a gallon of water daily. Crisp, cold, refreshing — and oh so necessary in the summer months.

So when I heard other runners rave about Nuun, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I loved my water. And really, I didn’t see the need to replace it.

Last spring, I first sampled Nuun at my local running store. Employees put it out instead of water after a Saturday morning group run. It quenched my thirst, but I wasn’t used to flavor as I usually just drink plain, old water. I liked it, but promptly forgot all about it.

Months passed, and a few friends mentioned Nuun. They loved it, they raved about it, they wanted more. I knew I had tried it, and didn’t hate it, but remembered little else.

So in June, I ordered a variety pack of Nuun tablets. I’ve been sampling ever since.

A few of the chicks decided to test it out with me. Here’s what the chicks had to say about our taste test experiment.

Brooke

Hydration is important for any athlete, especially one who lives and in Florida. As my daughter would say, “It’s soaking hot,” even when one runs in the early morning.

I used to use Nuun regularly after my long runs. My favorite flavor is the Tropical Fruit, which I actually purchased because I liked the color of the tube. I’m a big water drinker, but sometimes, it’s nice to have something with a bit of flavor.

I hate to admit this, but I’ve also found that Nuun can help a hangover. We used to host a fiesta on Christmas Eve, with tacos, my mom’s fabulous enchiladas and margaritas, natch. Well…tequila and Santa do not mix, friends. My husband and I were exhausted. Lucky for us, the kids were a little too young for Christmas Morning Excitement and Nuun helped us feel much more festive. (And we’ve since moved the party to a couple of days before Christmas, haha!)

Meri

Nuun chatter is everywhere! I first heard rumblings about it on Twitter and it quickly spread to blogs that I enjoy reading. Now personally, I’m a water drinking gal, but curiosity got the best of me and I had to give it a go. The kiddo and I made our way over to the local running store (you know the cartoon characters that have dollar signs in their eyes? That’s what happens when I walk through the door) and checked out the flavors they had to offer. After chatting with the employee, I settled on tri-berry and lemon-lime.

nuun1Meri’s Nuun stash

I’m a big fan of the tri-berry and will be picking more of it up soon. You’ll notice in my picture that the tube’s gone. Yeah, used that all. Lemon-lime is decent but not my favorite. The watermelon was a gift from Victoria. Who gives tubes of Nuun as gifts? These running nerds, that’s who!

And friends, the watermelon is my favorite favorite (so good that it deserves two favorites)! Since my running store doesn’t have it in stock, I’m going to have to order more. I’m heading south to Florida soon and plan to use my Amphipod handheld bottle with Nuun during my runs down there. I’ll admit, I’m a bit nervous about hitting the pavement down there but I think that the Nuun will help keep me hydrated and balanced.

Vic

As I’m sure you already guessed, I’m a watermelon Nuun girl. I’m actually drinking a glass as I write this.

I first tried a few flavors from a mix pack. I expected to love the fruit punch flavor…you know, because I love fruit punch. Yeah. Not so much. I enjoyed the grape (it’s not purple, folks!) and was surprisingly wooed by tropical fruit. I don’t like tropical fruits, how can this be? The only thing I like about pineapples is chopping them up!

I was thrilled to find tubes of watermelon at my local running store. It was love at first sip.

You want to know more about Nuun? So did I.

According to the product info on the Nuun website, Nuun is packed with electrolytes, light flavor, no sugars or carbs, and is portable.

Nuun comes in tubes, 12 tabs are inside each tube. You drop one tab into a pint glass of cold water and watch it dance!!

We three chicks are sold! And there are many more flavors to try. (But not lemon-lime. Thanks for taking that one for the team, Meri.)

But don’t worry, we still love our good, old water. It’s not going anywhere.

Have you tried Nuun? What flavor are you obsessed with? What flavors do you want to try? How do you hydrate?