Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Of Zucchini Bread Baking

I was catching up on some blog reading the other night when I saw a beautiful loaf of Zucchini Bread that Lauren over at Healthy Food For Living had made using a modified version of this Avocado Zucchini Bread recipe. I drooled over it a little bit and decided that I had to have some. So badly that I actually went out to buy the ingredients to make it. I'm really lazy so this was a big deal.

I've been a regular follower of Healthy Food For Living for a while now but have never made any of Lauren's recipes until now. Again, because I'm lazy. I love all the beautiful drool-worthy food photos on her site and the best part is that all the recipes are healthier versions of their former selves. So you can have your cake zucchini bread and eat it too!

Lauren subbed whole wheat pastry flour for regular all-purpose, added some chocolate chips and made it in a 9x5 pan. Sounds good to me, where do I sign up? 

I'm not going to go into too much details on the step since I followed the recipe almost to a T except for making those minor modifications mentioned above. I forgot to add the chocolate chips though. :(

Here's what it looked like out of the oven.

It was moist! I have to give it that. That's about all I'm giving it though. There was a strong olive oil taste that did not sit quite right with me. Plus, and I realize that I had made modifications to make it healthier but it was noticeable. Not in a good way. For one, it needs a whole lot more sugar and this is coming from someone who always orders things half sweet or quarter sweet. Secondly, it needed butter...that's all that needs to be said about that. In conclusion, I realized that I would rather eat one slice of regular zucchini bread than a whole loaf of healthy zucchini bread. Although my sister made a vegan one once and it was pretty tasty.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Looks like it is starting to cool down a little bit around these parts. I snapped this photo the other day when the inside of my car doubled as an oven.

This week has been very stressful for me. Mostly emotionally. I wouldn't call myself an emotional eater but I do tend to comfort myself with food when I am feeling on edge. Sometimes I comfort myself with healthy stuff...

...sometimes not so much. I wasn't even craving this cupcake but I ate it anyways. It didn't fill my emotional void. Plus, this cupcake earned me 5 miles on the treadmill this morning. I won't be letting stuff like this happen again.

Finally, I went back to track yesterday after taking 2 weeks off. My calf seems to be all better so I am starting back up nice and slow. The sun decided to give me a break yesterday. As soon as I started my first lap, a patch of clouds rolled over the track which made for some cooler mile repeats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Post: Impact of Healthy Nutrition During and After Cancer Treatments by Jillian McKee

Today I have a guest post from reader Jillian who reached out to me recently to ask if I would share some information with you on the Impact of Healthy Nutrition During and After Cancer TreatmentsHaving had to deal with health problems myself, I understand the importance that good nutrition plays in maintaining one's overall health so I was glad to do it. Watching close friends and family members deal with cancer was the driving force that inspired Jillian to put forth the effort in spreading awareness. So without further ado, here is Jillian's write-up in her own words.

"The battle against cancer requires active participation from the patient in areas that they can control. Facing mesothelioma cancer, colon cancer or another cancer starts with finding different ways to improve quality of life during and after the treatment. Healthy nutrition plays a role in the ability to maintain an active lifestyle with cancer.

Those who are diagnosed with cancer need to understand the possible changes to nutritional needs that accompany the illness. Cancer and its treatments can impact nutrition by causing changes in the body.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer treatment can cause sore throat, constipation, poor nutrient absorption, reduced appetite, vomiting and changes to the way foods taste. The problem that results from physical discomfort or the body not properly absorbing nutrients is the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

The body changes during cancer treatments because of medications and treatments that help fight the disease. Many treatments are harsh and will change appetite or the body’s use of nutrients. As a result, patients need to take measures to prevent the possibility of facing any deficiencies. The easiest way to avoid problems is by eating enough food each day. That might mean eating certain foods to gain nutrients. Doctors should help patients in order to ensure the body obtains enough nutrition to continue fighting cancer.

Understanding key benefits will make it easier to start implementing dietary changes based on personal needs and the situation. Cancer patients who eat a nutritious diet will maintain a healthy body weight, have healthy body tissues, and are able to fight infection. A patient’s chance of recovery and quality of life is better for those who eat a well-balanced, healthy diet during and after treatment. Cancer treatments are often harsh and the side effects can be difficult to overcome, but a nutritious diet plan and help when trying to manage side effects.

The benefits of eating a healthy diet are clear when related to cancer. The problem is that many individuals are not sure how to apply the eating habits, particularly when the cancer changes the body or when challenges from treatment make it hard to eat.

Incorporating nutrition therapy into the treatment plan can help patients who were diagnosed with cancer, undergoing treatment, or are in remission. By working with a dietician, it is easier to work through any potential problems.

Depending on the type of cancer, the challenges will vary. Some cancers result in changes to appetite while others will alter the way the body absorbs food. A physician will help determine the challenges and how to use nutrition to fix them. By working out a nutrition plan, the likelihood of recovery is increased." 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Happy Monday? Just kidding, I'm not a fan of Mondays either but it's warm outside and there is a/c in here so it's not all bad. The Olympics might be over but here is something to kick start your week.

I recently saw this commercial by Dick's Sporting Goods...

It's a pep talk for all those times during training when you want to stop. Save it, keep it, use it...because we all have those days. I'm having one of those days today.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Return of Long Run Saturdays

Since my fall race training started last week, so has the return of long run Saturdays. I got up really early this morning to get it done before the sun decides to roast me like a marshmallow. Let's pretend this is me, except I don't look anything close to this cute or serene in the morning. I basically look like a sleepy nightmare. That' why I'm using this photo.

I drove to the Back Bay hoping that it would be cooler there for my 9-miles but it was still pretty warm at 71 degrees that early in the morning. I don't mind the heat so much but the humidity is just something I am not use to. I started feeling moisture on my arms 5 minutes into the run. By the time I was done around 8am it was already 81 degrees and I was dripping with sweat. I looked like I had walked under a waterfall. Man, that would have been nice. Plus, somehow I decided to take a shortcut which turned into a long-cut that added 2 more miles onto my run. I was just glad that I found my way back onto the main path before it turned my 9 miles into 20. I'm terrible with directions and that could have actually happened.

After my run and a shower, I went to the farmers market to pick up some produce for the week. I am planning on baking a zucchini bread soon. I was hoping to do it this weekend but I could not find any pre-ripen avocados so now I have to wait. Waiting is the hardest part. Also, if you like grapes they are coming into season and they are sweet and juicy. I wanted to take a photo of all the different varieties of grapes that were at the farmers market today but I was sweaty and cranky and got there too late so everyone and their relatives were there and I just wanted out. Maybe next time.

I also picked up these Hydrangeas for M's mom's birthday. I don't know the women at all. She doesn't like anything I get her. She is probably going to hate these.

Lastly, while I was driving to work last week I drove passed a street in Irvine that was taped off and crawling with police vehicles. I knew it was something bad because they never tape off the streets unless there was a death. Apparently, a girl was found dead in the trunk of her car on that street. Officials are saying that it is a suicide but it seems very suspicious to me. I've been following along with the story because I think there is more to it than what they are saying in the media. It is all very sad since she just gave birth a couple of months ago and investigators are saying that postpartum psychosis may have caused her death. This whole thing just reminds me of that girl who was killed at Harvard and then stuffed into the wall of her workplace. I just think there is more to this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Savory Crepes)

I'm going to start off this post by saying that this is not a post about the history or origins of Banh Xeo (a savory Vietnamese crepe dish). I'm not going to argue the finer points or inner workings of this dish. I'm also not an expert recipe writer and did my best to try to capture each step as accurately as I could while still trying to enjoy the moment with my mom. This is simply just a post about a dish that my mom has been preparing for our family ever since I can remember. She only makes this on special occasions when everyone is home because the prep work is a little bit extensive unless you have a lot of time on your hands, in which case, you can probably make this every day if you wanted too. I love watching my mom prepare this dish so I thought that I would share it here on my blog. This is what the final product looks like and they are delicious!

Please note that I've photographed the instructions on the back of the bag to point out that over the years my mom has painstakingly experimented, modified and perfected it to just the way we like it. I'm sure you can prepare it word-by-word based on the instructions on the back of the bag but good luck with that. Also, I'm sure you can make the flour mixture from scratch but why would you when the prepared flour is $1-$2 a bag.

1 12-oz bag of prepared Banh Xeo flour (you probably will need to go to an Asian market to find this)
2 cups of steamed and mashed mung beans
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of canned coconut milk
1 egg (well-beaten)
2 lbs Fresh bean sprouts
1/2 lb Pork cut into short thin strips
3/4 lb Shrimps with shell-on, cleaned
Vegetable oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

First, pour the content of a 12-oz bag of Banh Xeo prepared flour into a large mixing bowl and mix with 2.5 cups of water (the bag instruction say 3.5 cups of water but that is too much) and 1/2 cup of coconut milk (the instruction say 1 cup but you actually don't need that much). A note about the coconut milk, the instruction says you can also use regular milk but I think the final product will taste a lot better if you use coconut milk. And when they say coconut milk, they mean the stuff you find in a can that is normally pretty thick, it's not the kind that comes in the carton that you eat with cereal. I'm sure it would turn out fine if you use the "lite" canned coconut milk instead of the full fat version.

So already in the mixing bowl is the prepared flour, water, and coconut milk. To that mixture add 1 well-beaten egg, 1 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp turmeric, a pinch of pepper and a handful of finely chopped scallions.

Soak 2 cups of shelled and dry mung bean in water over night and steam until soft. Then take the back of a spoon and mash it until smooth. Once smooth mix in 1/2 tsp of salt and sugar. Mixture should be a little bit sweet in the end so start out with 1/4 tsp of salt and build to ensure that the mixture does not get too salty.

Cut pork into thin strips and leave the shell on the shrimps. Add salt and pepper to both and mix well. You can add a little bit of MSG to both if you like.

Heat a skillet and add a little bit of vegetable oil and start by browning some sliced onions. Then add the pork and shrimp and brown it a bit.

Give the flour mixture (batter) a little stir and then slowly ladle some into the skillet. Remember this is a crepe so it needs to be thin but make sure you put enough into the pan to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Tilt the skillet in a circular motion to distribute the batter as you ladle to ensure a thin layer. This is kind of like making an omelet but thinner. Yeah I bet you can guess that the thinness of this dish is key. It is also important because the thinner you make it, the more crispy the edges will be and crispy is a good thing here.

Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 30 seconds to one minute or until set.

Remove the lid and add a small spoonful of the mashed mung beans and some fresh bean sprout. Then fold the crepe in half right in the pan and let it cook for maybe 30 seconds more and plate.


At our house, we eat it with some nuoc mem sauce, shredded lettuce and assorted herbs. Maybe one day I'll write down the recipe for the sauce and post on here.

On this particular day, my dad also made a Thai dessert jelly drink. I'm posting a photo because the colors looked so amazing.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

2012 OC Fair 5K - Race Recap

Date: August 5, 2012
Location: OC Fairgrounds - Costa Mesa, CA
Start: 7:30am
Finish: 23:49

I signed up for this 5K at the last minute earlier this week when a couple of people from my spin class informed me that they had signed up. Then on Friday night I saw a tweet about the The Boring Runner's Sweat Your Thorns Off 5K virtual race...I had forgotten to sign up until I saw that tweet. I thought it was a lucky coincidence that everything sort of fell in place for this race. Not only do I get to run this race with some spin peeps but  perhaps maybe even win a nice prize from The Boring Runner.

I haven't ran a 5K since last October at Chapman. I'm not a very fast runner so shorter distance races are tough for me but I had a lot of fun.

I arrived at the fairgrounds around 6:30am and on my way to use the restroom, I heard someone call my name from the line of cars coming into the parking lot. It was Pam. We ran into each other again near the registration table and Pam taught me some warm-up moves which were great because my legs felt relaxed the whole time I was running. Pam is amazing! She finished second female!

Photo credit to Pam

Me and a couple of gals from spin class.

The course was pretty flat and weaved in and around the fairgrounds. I liked it a lot. Plus, you get a pretty medal at the end and a free ticket to the OC Fair. You know I'll be back there soon for my turkey leg and other fair goodies. I might even do this one again next year.

After the race, we all went to brunch to celebrate M's birthday. There was a balloon artist, Paul, there and he made a Mickey Mouse and a Hello Kitty bracelet for my niece. I swear they were both for her. Paul works for Balloon Monsoon and he is an amazing balloon artist. Seems like he can make just about anything out of balloons.

Brunch was amazing! I died from the deliciousness.

Little E eating a strawberry for the first time all by herself. She only made a tiny mess. I got away with only one stain on my jeans. She had a nice time at brunch. Me too!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Original Fish Company - Los Alamitos, CA

A couple of weeks ago, M and I had dinner with his parents. They took us to a local seafood restaurant. I'd been here before but I guess I wasn't wowed the first time. This time around, the food really knocked me off my feet. I must have ordered the wrong thing that first time.

Let's start with the bread basket...it was filled with these warm sourdough rolls that were crusty and chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. Everything a piece of bread should be. We also ordered the calamari which had a nice light breading, fried and seasoned perfectly and it came with a pretty good marinara sauce. Can't complain, it was delicious! The seafood is so fresh here. My entree came with a choice of soup or salad. I selected the soup. In particular, I selected the Manhattan (red) Clam Chowder over the regular white chowder. So good, I died! I'm very picky about my red chowder but it is done right at this place. I could come here just for the soup even if they had nothing else. It's that good.

For my entree, I ordered the Shrimp & Scallops Mesquite Grilled Salad and it was amazing!! So amazing that it made my top ten list of delicious food I ate this year. I haven't released the list yet as I normally do that at the end of the year but you can be sure that this salad will be on it.

M had the Fish & Chips and tried it with vinegar for the first time and liked it! M's parents had a bowl of clam chowder and a shrimp and rice place that came with a side salad that did not look very good to me.

And for dessert...Key Lime Pie. It wasn't mine, I was stuffed. It smelled and looked so pretty. The waitress tells me they have bread pudding. I was sad that I was so full. I'm coming back here soon to have just red chowder and bread pudding. I'm really looking forward to that...so much!

The Original Fish Company
11061 Los Alamitos Boulevard
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
(562) 594-4553