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Summer Salads

It is Hott with two T’s here in pretty much all of America this July. If you’re unfortunate enough not to be on the west coast, it is also humid 😦 Can I move back to Portland now?

To combat this heat and humidity, I’ve been trying to come up with as many cool, light dinner recipes as I can lately.  Most often, I resort to salad wraps – a tortilla smeared with hummus – sometimes basil hummus if I’m feeling fancy, topped with a big handful of salad greens and occasionally some cheese. Last week, I decided my salad wraps were getting a little bland, so I spiced them up with a different type of protein. Instead of the hummus spread, I made a bean salad to pair with the greens.

Black bean guac:

1/2 sweet onion diced

1/2 bunch cilantro chopped

2 avocados mashed

1 can black beans rinsed and drained

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

juice of 1/2 lime

salt and pepper to taste

Voila! Mexican-inspired salad wraps. From the Mediterranean to central America without turning on the oven.

When salad wraps got a little boring… correction, I ran out of tortillas. I moved on to chicken salad. This one does require some cooking.  I’m no raw foodist. And although I think bacteria are super neat and all, eating Salmonella isn’t really my thing.  I’d much rather mutate it and see what it looks like under the microscope.


Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing:

2 diced cooked chicken breasts, 1 c celery, 1 diced apple, 1/2 c raisins, 1/3 c chopped pecans, 1/4c salted sunflower seeds, finely diced 1/4 sweet onion. Dressing: 1/2 c vanilla Greek yogurt plus 1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to thin it down and 1 Tbsp dijon mustard.

Finally, tonight’s creation was inspired by Shauna and Danny over at  Danny made a delicious roasted beet salad last Friday. A former room mate of mine made it earlier this afternoon and sent me the recipe but it was hot, so I knew turning on the oven to roast the beets was out of the question. I knew I had some feta cheese in the fridge, but the recipe called for chèvre. I had some lemon thyme, but the recipe called for dill. I had apple cider vinegar instead of champagne vinegar. I had French stone-ground mustard with horseradish instead of fresh horse radish. I consulted the Flavor Bible… it said my substitutions were going to be okay. I went with it. it was delicious. Vinegary. Refreshing. I paired it with a big handful of baby salad greens and a beer. 

ImageTake that, oppressive heat and humidity!




Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

First off, I say “the livin’ is easy” because it has been, for the most part. I’ve had some really excellent chances to escape work and get away for the weekend, or meet up with friends, or spend hours quietly (<–key word there) weeding the garden. Work has been busier than ever before because now I'm in charge of a summer student three afternoons a week! Yes, I asked my boss if I could have a student and I knew it would eat a major hole into my productivity at work, but the chance to get some mentoring experience was something I did not want to turn down.

So, it's been a busy summer so far! Busy working, busy playing. The cleanliness of my apartment is definitely suffering, but as the placard above the phone and mail table in my parents' house says "An immaculate house is the sign of a misspent life".

A quick re-cap of what's been keeping me so busy lately:
A trip to Boothbay Harbor, ME with many, many work friends. We stayed with family of one of my coworkers at their summer home right on the ocean. I did not want to leave. It was by far the most relaxing three day weekend I've had in years and reminded me of spending summers "Up North" at my grandparents' house in northern Michigan.



The garden is also taking off! Thanks to the extra sunlight and consistently warmer weather. Also thanks to the wild animals that have decided to stop chewing the tops off of my bean plants and letting them grow. There will be beans this year after all!


My goal as summer continues (and gets even busier and more stressful on the work side of things) is to take a little time out each day to celebrate, to contemplate, to be thankful, or to be in awe.

Happy summer!


Getting Fresh

We’re in the thick of Spring here in Connecticut. My garden is sprouting, I’ve worn shorts consistently for every run in the last week, and a can’t help but stock my fridge with all things green and crunchy!

This week, I’ve been inspired by a great Cook’s Illustrated recipe I found several years ago. Brown rice with peas, mint, and feta. It’s the perfect balance of flavors, and embodies freshness with the sweet peas balanced by the salty, feta. All of the tastes are brought together by a bright spritz of fresh lemon upon serving.
I served this side, along with lots of other delicious things last Sunday when I had a few friends over for dinner, but come Thursday, I was hungry for the fresh taste of spring again so I whipped up a similar mixture, adding in sweet tiny salad shrimp, and subbing quinoa for the brown rice.

That’s when it happened. I finally used up my 4lb bag of Quinoa. Only took me 14 months. Good thing it’s grocery day and I could stock up again before I had to go without;)



Tempo Tuesday!

For two weeks in a row, my coworkers and I have celebrated Tempo Tuesday!

For the uninitiated, Tempo Tuesday is where I try to keep up with the guys running at their normal pace, and they force me to do intervals of 1-2 blocks from about 9:30 to 8:50 pace. (Not everybody who writes a running blog is fast, m’kay?}. During this time, they ask me questions and push me if it’s easy for me to talk. Not super scientific, but it gets the job done. Tempo Tuesday is also WAAAAY more fun than pushing myself to run fast just for the heck of it.

On last night’s Tempo Tuesday run, my partner wanted to do some hills as well. Here’s a map of our “ooh, let’s do that hill, ooh, let’s do that hill” run. *This is a map to the best of my memory. I don’t have a fancy watch – more on that soon, so I mapped what I could remember on

We also stopped by the garden to check in and give it some water. The lettuce blend is forming nice little rows of two-leafed sprouts. Some of the rainbow chard is sprouting. The garlic and the onions are about an inch tall already! Here’s a shot from Sunday afternoon.
The best part about Tempo Tuesday this week: I felt great! My feet and ankles feel good this morning too. Now, time for some serious stretching!

Spring in my step

What puts a spring in your step?

This blog highlights several hobbies of mine that brighten my day. Recently, I’ve jumped two feet back into running. It feels so good to be back to running 3-4 miles a few times during the week. Last Wednesday, I joined about 16 other runners for an Asics-sponsored evening run at my local running store, soundRUNNER in Branford. Asics was demoing the new Gel-Cumulus. I’m a stability shoe wearer so I declined on the demo, but reports from my fellow runners were all positive. We ended the evening back at the store with beer and free T-shirts for all! Way to go, soundRUNNER for your continued support in fostering the running community!

What else put a spring in my step this weekend? A SIX mile long run! (Longest since the fateful pre-tendonitis-diagnosis 10 miler that did me in)! And, two garden plots of my very own.

I had two beautiful raised garden beds when I lived in Oregon and I missed that fresh produce and the peaceful feelings gardening provides during my first year in Connecticut. Last year, I made do with a re-purposed shipping palate that I converted into an herb garden behind my apartment. This year I have two 3×6 ft plots in the Mansfield Community Garden sponsored by the New Haven Land Trust.

The beds were completely overgrown with weeds Saturday morning, but by 5pm on Sunday, they looked like this:


That’s some pretty nice dirt, huh? 😉 Here’s the map of what to expect. I’ll be posting updates throughout the summer.


There were many other reasons for feeling happy, accomplished, and loved this week. I’m thankful to say that these are just a few.


The last week was filled with lots of quality time with friends.

Friends that let me talk about Boston, and I’m sure tell them things I’ve told them a few times already. Much of this talking was accomplished while running. The ease of processing that happens while I’m running is one of my favorite things, and perhaps why I can call myself addicted to the sport. Running for me is a way to let go. Like a good old fashioned cry, sometimes pounding the pavement really does help me process a thought that’s bringing me down, and then leave it in the dust. That sea of endorphins in my brain leaves no room for negativity. Leave it behind you! Go running!

On Saturday we ran Boston Strong, on Sunday, we picnicked atop East Rock, and on Tuesday, I went for my first RUNch. It was short and sweet, and it felt fantastic.


Cookie of Victory

The Cookie of Victory! (I felt unreasonably and completely hurt that there were no cookies left at seminar last week on April 18th – Oh, hello traumatic stress response! How will you toy with my roller coaster emotions this week? – I finally got my long-awaited cookie at our Sunday picnic. It was a cookie of victory.)

On the running note – How happy am I that my major stress reliever and coping mechanism is now fully available to me?! PT for my peroneal and achilles tendonitis has been going really well and I’ve been running a few times a week for the past month. At the SoundRunner BostonStrong run, I ran my farthest since January – 5 miles! and I’ve run three other times this week.  Back into the swing of things and I like it! Maybe my New Year’s goal of a sub 2:00 1/2 marathon is still within reach! I’m wary about pushing for speed as I’m just coming back from being injured, but I feel like contacting an experienced coach might help me safely reach the sub 2:00 goal by the fall.

Any running coaches out there that you’d recommend? Local to New Haven, CT would be awesome, but there seem to be several people that offer online coaching.

Happy Running! Especially good luck to my Portland, OR girls busting PR’s in Eugene this weekend, and to Dr. Annie rockin’ on at the Nashville Country Music 1/2!


Today was one of those dreamy, theoretical days. I have them in all parts of my life, and you do too.  Where you draw up your attack plan for a long term goal, like writing your marathon training program on your google calendar (Or just copying Portland Fit’s marathon training plan onto your google calendar). Or, when you start planning a vacation that’s going to take saving up some money, but also planning out all of the logistics for your trip. Or when you have an awesome 90 minute meeting with your boss about your project at work and instead of just going over the stuff you’ve done in the past, you end up scheming and laying out all of the milestone experiments for your next paper…. Yeah… It was a pretty good science day.

Despite being a good science day, as soon as that meeting was over, I packed it up and headed home! I’ve got cookin’ and cleanin’ to do!

The cleaning and laundry mentioned above are in preparation for having a house guest this weekend… well, for one night before we drive up to BOSTON, baby! My good friend Eric is flying in from Portland to run the Boston Marathon next Monday. I might be more excited about it than he is. Given this excitement, you can expect a Boston weekend re-cap sometime next week.

The cooking is part of my quest to expand my weeknight dinner repertoire. Tonight, it was “Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes with Paneer Tofu” Why’d I sub cubes of extra firm tofu for the paneer? 1. I’m Lactarded. 2. I wanted to add some lean protein to the dish. 3. I did not want to make paneer.  So, even with the tofu (upping my PNW cred, here) and not the paneer, the dish turned out very well. It was also very fast! 20 minutes from start to finish. I used a bag of frozen, chopped spinach instead of the fresh stuff and a can of San Marzano chopped tomatoes. Easier than pie.

Here’s the final product.  Image

It totally tastes better than it looks!

And just to prove to you that I don’t take horrible pictures of food, this is what it looks like in the cookbook when it’s been food styled.

Image (From the book, Vij’s At Home) So there. It still tastes way better than it looks.

I’m excited about what the future has in store. In the lab, for my ethnic cooking skills, and for this weekend with friends and being surrounded by my people, the marathon-lovers of the world.


60 degrees

What’s your threshold? It depends on the topic, I suppose.

When Science is not cooperating, I usually have an 80% threshold. 80% of the time, I’m going to stick it out and figure out why it’s not working before heading home. When my schedule calls for me hitting the gym in the evening, I have about a 60% threshold. And when it’s the first beautiful day of spring that reminds me of summer after a long, snowy, super cold winter, I have a threshold of about 20%.

I tried. I did finally figure out why all my red fluorescent proteins were not where I expected them to be inside the cells? but did I do anything about it? 20% threshold says, Nope! I packed it in, changed into my running clothes (An Oiselle Simplicity tank and my fave men’s cut shorts (Ladies, if you have no hips or butt, and don’t mind “boy colors” try the men’s shorts on! No poof! – I’ve yet to try the Oiselle shorts, but they’re cut to avoid running short poof too!)

Next thing I knew, I was blissfully away from Science Land. Running my two mile loop with about four stretch breaks. It was glorious! Once I got warmed up, my legs felt great. But I reined it in and only did two – just to be clear, and in case my PT is reading.

The flowers, the tiny baby leaves, the four hundred other runners out running through the neighborhood… Okay, I only crossed paths with ten runners in two miles, but there were a lot of us, and it was fantastic!

Here’s to the first shorts run of the year! It turns out that 60 degrees is my shorts threshold. And that 70 degrees and sunny with the scent of just-opened spring blooms in the air is my “I don’t care about Science anymore” threshold. Observing thresholds might make me slightly less productive at work, but it makes me a much happier me.

Reclaiming my title: Runner.

I’ve been cautious. Not wanting to jinx any recovery that is taking place, but I’m ready to announce that I think I’m back to running. (Very short distances with a day of recovery in between each run).

I was diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis in both ankles at the end of January. I was completely off running till a gorgeous early spring day lured me to three cautious miles on March 16th. Since then, I’ve been keeping up with PT once a week (plus lots of stretching, squats and hip-strengthening exercises at home), as well as cycling at the gym 2-3 times per week.

Three miles on Saturday mornings with the SoundRunner crew in Branford have been my norm since mid March, but this week I stepped it up a bit. I have successfully added in 1-1.5 miles at a painfully slow (although not painful!) pace before my cycling/PT routine twice this week. I gave the running a rest today in favor of the complete PT routine, but I’m going to try adding it back in tomorrow.

Another thing that helps, these babies:


If you’re gonna go compression socks, go big or go home. I think hot pink argyle captures that mentality perfectly. Also, do not be afraid to ice whenever you need to ice. Even if you’re at work and you have to use a resistance band to attach a cold pack to your lower leg because you can’t afford those super-fancy 110% Compression socks. Image

I’m writing it down so I can’t deny it in the future: healthy running means strength training and proper recovery!

Dear running,

I’ve missed you. I’ve been a giant crankypants for two months since we’ve been apart. I’m so glad we’re back together. You’re my favorite.



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