Barcelona Summer Squash and Mussels

Yesterday’s Run: 4 easy miles with the (biking) parents. 7:50 average.

Today’s Run: 6.3 easy, hot, and flat miles in Florida. 7:58 average.

 

I’ve been better with running this past week or so since getting to Florida – I’ve done an easy 8-miler and 7-mile “tempo” (1 mile warm-up/cool down, 5 miles at 7:20 pace) and hope to put in one more speed session and one more longish run in the next six days before I go back to school. I was in Chicago and Minnesota for the first two weeks of break, and Jesus, it was miserable. I didn’t have time to do anything longer than 4 miles in Chicago, and then I tried to go out running in three-degree weather in Minnesota on Christmas day. Never do that. Three steps out and I was crying (actually), so I turned back and drowned my sorrows in Christmas cookies and my aunt’s pesto lasagna.

 

The mini-break was nice though, I am excited for training to start for the DC RnR Half. I’ll get a formal training plan up here soon. By soon, I mean tomorrow. That is my goal, minions. That is my goal.

 

After my run, I ran around all day with my parents. We went to Captain Charlie’s, my favorite you-know-you’re-in-South-Florida-when-you’re-at-this-fish-joint, went grocery shopping, and saw Silver Linings Playbook (OH. MY. GOD). When we got home at 7, I wasn’t particularly ravenous, but I saw half an avocado in the fridge and thought of fajitas. Next thing you know, those avocado innards are gone and all that remains in my hand is a spoon and its shell. Well, now. It was delicious of course (because when are avocados not delicious) but I had to reroute my dinner plans a bit, more so because as I was busy scooping my ‘cado, Gary swept into the kitchen and ate last night’s leftover steak, the very steak that I was planning to use, with his bare fingers.

 

And so is life. Animals we are.

 

Luckily, my second option was just as delicious.

 

Barcelona Summer Squash and Marinara Mussels

 

I remember the first time I tried a mussel. I was 6 or 7, visiting my father’s side of the family in New Jersey (I know, I know), and my parents and I were out to dinner with my extended family. My dad and uncles got an order of steamers for the table to share. I have never been a picky eater, and I quickly gobbled up half a dozen of the shellfish, never pausing to ask exactly what the little things were. And then I saw it: that nasty, gritty, grey substance leaking out of one of the shells, and I made the mistake of asking what it was, and my uncle, well, he explained that it was the contents of that particular creature’s organs, digested food, and more.

 

If you didn’t know that and like mussels, oysters, and clams, I apologize. Hope I didn’t ruin it for you.

 

Needless to say, mussels joined my small list of childhood forbidden foods, along the ranks of blue cheese (still there) and mushrooms (TO THINK I EVER DISLIKED THESE MARVELOUS FUNGI). That was all to change last summer though when I studied abroad in Barcelona for two months.

 

Mussels were everywhere.

 

So I decided to try them. More than ten years had passed since this emotional scarring. Additionally, mejillones a la marinara, a traditional way of preparing the shellfish similar to the Italian fish stew ciopinno, seemed…dare I say it…appealing to me. With these mejillones, the mussels and their shells are immersed in a marinara broth, so all the scary goop and ugliness is disguised. Upon my first bite, I knew I had found a friend in Barcelona. Maybe the Catalans still couldn’t understand my American accent at the end of 8 weeks (ah, what a humbling experience, accepting that languages are just not your thing), but at least I left Barcelona with a repaired relationship with sea creature.

 

A nutritional little powerhouse, mussels are a great low-fat protein source. Even more importantly, they are high in iron, vitamin B12, zinc, manganese, and a bunch of other stuff that you can read about here. Since my iron is on the lower side, I make a conscious effort to add stuff like this to my diet, as should many other runners. I plan on creating a page on the importance of making sure your iron is in the healthy range soon.

 

Anyway. Mussels, high in iron, tomato sauce and summer squash, high in vitamin C, which equates maximum absorption of iron. Success.

 

  • 1 can mussels 
  • Chopped (already cooked) summer squash
  • Marinara sauce
  • Other possible add-ins: pasta, rice, bread for dipping, cheese
  • Instructions: Drain and rinse mussels. Put in a bowl with steamed squash and tomato sauce, heat until warm.

 

 

You know what the best part about this is, especially for other poor souls who still live in a college dorm? The entire thing can be made in a microwave. I only dirtied one bowl, and the whole process took under 5 minutes. When I get back to school I will definitely be making this concoction often.  

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2012

This past year was probably the most transformative 12 months of my life, even more so than 2011. A year ago today, I was probably at the lowest point in my life (#firstworldproblems). You can read about the Dark Ages, aka my freshman year of college, here.

 

That said, never before had I yearned for a new beginning like I did last January. But that was impossible, so instead, I committed myself to change.

 

And change I did. 

 

It was slow. It was invisible at times. But little by little, I began to bury the person that I had become, and the girl I once was reemerged. Now, a year later, I can sincerely say that I am proud of the person I am. I’m (mildly

 

2012 may have started in the gutter, but I can’t quite say that it ended on a high note. Why? Well, my little darlings, to say that would be to imply that I’m at the top of my life’s little metaphorical mountain. And that is just so hilariously untrue. I’m just getting rolling.

 

So hello to 2013, hello to only 4 classes (!), hello to an attempt at a 1:30 finish in the DC Rock n’ Roll Half. I’ve got a few other exciting things planned that I’ll share with y’all as they unfold a bit further, but as of now, the sky is the limit. 

 

(And now, I feel like a hypocrite for rolling my eyes at all the sentimental Facebook statuses that have been appearing in my newsfeed. I like to think that such a sappy monologue is more accepted in the blogosphere than the ‘Book though, right? Right.)

 

 

And so we return after our hiatus

Confession 1: the above title was stolen from my Econ notes from a few weeks ago, when I decided to start going to lecture again after doing epicly mediocre (um, can we say unacceptable) on my second midterm (I always wonder: why do these people call them midterms if we have two in a semester? Why?).

Second (slightly more obvious) Confession: I have epicly failed at this blogging business, Barcelona got the best of me. Clearly I have been inspired to resurrect JaneJogs, God I am so creative, where do I come up with these names.

3: Epicly is not a word according to dictionary.com and Urban Dictionary. Seriously? This just blows my mind.

4: I have not ridden the bike once. It is here at school, yes, but I do not ride it. Again, fail.

No pants grandma

After drinking my coffee, eating a banana, and putzing around for 40 minutes or so, I finally got my butt out the door to go on a run. Not even 9AM and the heat just clung to my skin. Good thing I got over my whole fear of running in just a sports bra. I used to not do it because I thought it was obnoxious. I still think it’s obnoxious, but it’s kind of a necessity in this heat and I figure, I’m obnoxious with so many other aspects of my life, why not just add to the list.

I ran without another accessory today: my contacts. Every time I do this, I think to myself: Jane, never do this again, you are like a blind rodent out on these trails, you hate this. And then, one or two morning runs later, I’m at it again. It’s an OCD thing; I feel like I’m being nice to give my eyes a break, so I continue the cycle it even though time and time again I curse myself for doing so. Masochism I tell you.

The most exciting thing on the run: passing a farm. Live animals, wow!

If my parents were cool they would have bought a house that’s actually on Lake Geneva; instead, we live in this golf community because my dad loves the sport. I don’t like running in the neighborhood though because it’s super hilly and I avoid those monsters like the plague. So, I tend to retreat to the corn. But there’s simply no hiding from the sun when it comes to running on an asphalt highway through fields, no hiding at all. Also, the “route” (turned left instead of right upon exiting the development, super exciting I know) ended up being super hilly (wtf?!).

As a result the first 1.71 miles of my run were pure misery, I felt like I was trudging my way through the Sahara desert.. Then the switch flipped and I got into the zone, I turned around at 2.5 mile but coming down the massive, 0.5 mile hill on my way back (see above) I got all looney and did another 0.5 miles out.I finished 6.06 miles in 46:45, for an average pace of 7:43. Not too shabby considering it was 85 out and sunny.

ImageI got home and downed this premade little protein drink – just a few handfuls of kale, 1/3 cup of greek yogurt, 1/3 cup almond milk, and some cinnamon. I had wanted to make a smoothie but then realized I hadn’t pre-frozen a banana once all the other crap was already in the Vitamix, so I just accepted defeat, blended it all up, and decided I’d make some oatmeal upon returning and sip on that during the cooking process.

Then, for actual breakfast –

1/3 cup oats, 1 cup almond milk, vanilla and cinnamon, banana whipped in, 1 egg white, spoonful of peanut butter, handful of granola. Perfection.

While making the above masterpiece, the phone started ringing. I have this bratty habit of not picking up the landline, so I continued on with my business. All of the sudden I hear, “where’s the phone?” I turned around, and there stands my grandmother, pants at her ankles, looking lost as ever. She had been in the bathroom and thought it was her phone to answer. Cute, typical, hysterical. I helped her back to the bathroom and then continued making my breakfast; that was undoubtedly just a sneak preview to the madness that lays ahead.

Family is arriving at my house. I can hear them downstairs. I’d best finish getting ready and join them, this should be interesting.