Tag Archives: trail race

Easy Tasty Angel Hair From an Empty Pantry

The cupboards are bare. Or nearly so. My kids haven’t been here the past few days, and I’ve been very lazy about grocery shopping. I’ve lately been living on flatbread (locally-made flatbread which I top with homemade arugula pesto, whatever veggies I have on hand, maybe some diced tofu, and cheese) as well as eggs.

But I don’t feel like going to the grocery store at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. So I grubbed around and realize I have the ingredients for three great meals tonight:

    1. Spring rolls (filled with tofu, carrots, cilantro, and bean sprouts, as I recently sprouted a bunch of mung beans). I happen to have a bunch of spring roll wrappers, rice vermicelli, and a sweet chili dipping sauce.
    2. Stir-fried bean sprouts on rice. Probably tasty, but not at all what I’m in the mood for.
    3. Angel hair with the last few tired cherry tomatoes, (jarred) garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh Parmesan. That sounds like the most appealing (and low-effort) option right now.

I went with option #3…easy comfort food. Much needed, today.

So here’s how you make yourself a quick, easy dinner with no recipe and very little on hand. And I’m sorry that all the images are sideways/upside-down. New plugin, see.

Get a pot of salted water boiling. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add a glob of jarred garlic if that’s all you have, or a pile of minced fresh garlic if your pantry is better stocked than mine.

Chop up your last tired cherry tomatoes. Toss them into the skillet. If you have some remaining fresh spinach leaves, add them, too. Add any other leftover veggies you might have; I had steamed broccoli in the fridge, so I put in a few florets and mashed them as best I could.

Squeeze in a healthy dose of tomato paste and half as much anchovy paste. These are things that you should have in your fridge at all times, even if you run out of bread and milk and beans and everything else.

Stir it around. Add about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet.

Drain the pasta. Add it to the skillet, tossing everything around. Let the extra water cook off.

Shower it all with a pile of freshly-grated Parmesan. If you need to use pre-grated cheese, I understand and won’t judge, but do yourself a favor and grate it fresh if you can.

Because you’re worth it and had the absolutely shittiest and most disappointing race/run of your life today, because you ignored your tight calves and sore creaky Achilles and went into a six-hour trail race on ice/snow/mud with very little training,

and at mile 4 your calf pain shifts to a sharp Achilles pain and you know the day is over, and you are at this point down to a T-shirt and capris (no hat or gloves or any warm layer tied around your waist) and it’s 40 degrees out and you try to shortcut back through a snowy bramble field,

possibly crying with anger and disappointment, and when you’re back on trail, scratched and bleeding and limping and shivering, you reassure concerned passing runners that you’re fine and making your way back to the start/finish, and one woman looks extra-concerned and you burst into tears because THIS IS YOUR FAULT,

and she turns around and walks back along the course with you and is very kind and doesn’t even attempt a hug until you’ve gotten yourself under control and are able to recognize that you knew going into this race you had some physical issues you’ve been ignoring and at least this time you didn’t run through the pain but instead stopped when it felt significant, and then you hugged and thanked her and sent her on her way,

and because you drove four other 6-hour runners to the race, so you had to wait around another five-plus hours in the cold drizzle waiting for everyone else to finish.

anyway, toast some bread crumbs in olive oil and toss them in with the pasta. It is delightful. You deserve it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley on it if you have it.

Sprinkle salt over all of it.

While it’s good and hot, eat it. Unless you are me, in which case you realize your younger son’s hamster, in his new hamster ball, has been too quiet for too long, and you discover this:

Where is the hamster??!?

Eat your cold pasta, after you finally catch and re-cage the hamster. It will still be tasty.


Print Recipe
Empty-Pantry Easy Angel Hair
Haven't shopped in awhile? Make this easy, healthy angel hair with what's in your fridge and pantry! Angel hair with tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat 1-2 T olive oil in a skillet.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes. Add spinach if you have it. Sautee 1-2 minutes
  5. Add broccoli and smash with your spatula.
  6. Add a squeeze of anchovy paste and twice as much tomato paste.
  7. When pasta is done, splash about half a cup of the pasta water into the skillet before you drain the pasta.
  8. Heat oil in another skillet. When hot, add bread crumbs and toss until lightly toasted.
  9. Add drained pasta to the skillet. Toss with tongs. Keep on heat long enough to evaporate extra water.
  10. Shower with grated Parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. Add toasted bread crumbs and toss.
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Love Chocolate? Perfect Fuel Chocolate Review and Giveaway!

PFC_closeupI discovered Perfect Fuel Chocolate one day at Whole Foods, where they were giving out samples. Fortunately, I was with my three-year-old, who has a radar for chocolate. He especially loves raw and dark chocolate (he beelines for the Tazo booth at the farmer’s market!) and spotted the samples and demanded some. We tried it. He insisted I buy some. I did (and then hid it from him and that was that, because really, no three-year-old needs additional fuel). (And honestly, I don’t always give in to his demands…unless chocolate is involved.)

Perfect Fuel is this amazing raw organic chocolate that’s roughly ground (if you’re looking for silky-smooth chocolate, this isn’t it) and mixed with American ginseng. It’s pretty much the perfect endurance food. It’s really, really yummy: grainy and dark and intense. If you like silky-smooth, creamy chocolate, this is not for you. This is raw. This is awesome.

Dark chocolate, as we all know by now, is really good for you. It can also help your workout! And ginseng is said to have many beneficial properties.

The first time I tried to use Perfect Fuel for running, I did it all wrong: I brought a chunk with me on a twelve-mile trail run, to eat the way I’d normally eat jellybeans or a gel or standard fuel block. Chocolate, however — especially raw chocolate — is hard to eat while running. If it hasn’t melted, then it’s just a little too rough to eat if, like me, you have to breathe through your mouth. I would have to either eat it before the run or else stop to eat it.

For my next long run, I ate some Perfect Fuel before the run. Much better!



Perfect Fuel Chocolate is why, I think, I zipped through the first loop of my recent trail race at a very lively pace; I ate a chunk of this athlete’s elixir about half an hour before the race. However, I should have eaten more halfway through (or eaten more than a standard goo-gel, at least!), because at mile 11, I tanked. My racing friend left me on a hill, as did this woman I’d been trying (and unable) to pass for three miles, and I slogged along alone for the rest of the race. I wasn’t as trained as I could have been, and I had definitely started the race too hard. I don’t think my wall was due to the chocolate. (And I still placed first in my age group, fourth woman overall!)downhillzoom

While some people more creative than I have been known to melt this chocolate, dip chunks of frozen banana into it, and then freeze the treats, I’m a simple chocolate eater. I just eat it. I eat it during the day. I eat it when I want an energy boost during the workday. I eat it to calm myself sometimes (seriously, sometimes it’s extremely soothing for me).

And now, I eat it before running.  Well, and whenever I feel like I need some, because that’s how I am.

Note the tattoo!

Note the tattoo!

Even if you’re not a runner, even if you don’t work out at all, Perfect Fuel Chocolate is handy for getting through the day: remember, the holiday season is starting up! And it’s just really yummy chocolate.


1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how you will enjoy your Perfect Fuel Chocolate! Obviously, if you comment anonymously, I will not be able to contact you if you win. 🙂

Extra Entries!–so you can have a total of three entries!

2. Like me on my Facebook fan page and leave a comment telling me you did so.

3. Follow me on Twitter and tell and leave a comment telling me you did so.

Winner will be chosen at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 20.

U.S. winners only. Prize will be sent by Perfect Fuel, not by this blogger. Winner must respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be selected.

[Disclosure: The great guys at Perfect Fuel Chocolate kindly provided me with chocolate samples and a couple of fun temporary tattoos for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.]

TARC Fall Classic Trail Race Recap

The weekend before last I had the joy of running the TARC Fall Classic trail half marathon. I love the TARC runners (TARC stands for Trail Animal Running Club) and the Fall Classic. Imagine running with a bunch of people who are really laid-back and focused on the fun of running and supporting each other.


Absolutely gorgeous morning for a race, right? Here, runners amassing behind the barn for the pre-race meeting.

Absolutely gorgeous morning for a race, right? Here, runners amassing behind the barn for the pre-race meeting.

There are several races in the Fall Classic: 10k, half marathon, full marathon, and ultra (50k, or about 31 miles). This year, I’d hoped to run the ultra that day (50k) but realized, about a month before the race, that it wasn’t the best idea for me. So I ran the half instead, with the goal of beating last year’s time. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard, since last year I ran it as a fun run with some friends, but my training really flagged once I gave up the plan of doing the ultra, and my Achilles is sill a little tender.


Beautiful fall woods

Beautiful fall woods + random hound

In my favor, I’d be running with a friend who’d raced a very fast half marathon the previous week. I thought maybe I’d stay ahead of him and feel fast and powerful.

Ha! Have I mentioned my occasional ego smackdowns? As it turned out, I barely kept up with him…and not even for the whole race.

But also in my favor, I was powered with PerfectFuel chocolate (more on this in another post!) I ran the first 11 miles at a pretty lively pace; then I slowed down immensely. My friend left me on a hill, as did a woman I’d been trying (and unable) to pass for three miles, and I slogged along alone for the rest of the race.


I’m not ashamed to admit I limped up that little hill and when I saw the photographer on the other side, I ran down it, smiling. It’s true.

It was nice, actually — I was finally all alone in the early-autumn woods, losing myself in the patterns of the yellow leaves…which covered one particular rock, on which I tripped and sailed, Superman-style, landing face-down on the trail.


“Down!” I yelled, to no one in particular. After a moment I got up. “Up!” I shouted, even though there was no one else in sight. I had dirt inside my bellybutton. But I wasn’t injured, and I was, in fact, giggling, because everyone trips at some point on a trail run, and I kept on running, and I finished the race ten minutes faster than I had the previous year….

to finish

Out of the woods, the final stretch around the field toward the finish line. Who’s so happy about that last tenth of a mile?

…which made me first in my age group and fourth woman overall (1:56, if you must know– slower than my road half marathon times, but not terrible). Not bad at all, really. It’s nice when all the faster women run other races, so that I have a chance of placing!

And then there was this:

one of four food tables

one of four food tables

The famous post-race/aid station. Four tables heaping with food (I mean, HEAPING). I went for the boiled potatoes dipped in salt, but there was plenty more to choose from.

I’ll be back next year, if not for the ultra then for the half again.

Thanks for another great Fall Classic, Trail Animals!

A Sole Sister Confesses: I Didn’t Get So #Fit4Fall

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 2.26.11 PMIn August, I was invited to join Planet Shoes for their fall fitness campaign, Get Fit for Fall, as a blogger (a Sole Sister, in fact — part of a great group of bloggers who did such amazing things through this campaign, such as a first 5k, or a woman who had a baby just as the campaign got started!). The Get Fit for Fall campaign is a six-week online fitness campaign in which you set up a profile, share your goal, and share weekly updates. Meet your challenge by October 20th (that’s this Sunday!) and you get free entry into a sweepstakes for a $500 shopping spree at Planet Shoes.

That’s not why I was into it. I love running and being fit and setting goals and encouraging others with their fitness goals. We kicked off the campaign with a really fun bootcamp on the Greenway in Boston.

Kelsey group_8423

Me and some of the other Sole Sisters after bootcamp. Several of the bootcamp regulars are in the picture, too.

Tomorrow, I’ll run the TARC Fall Classic Half Marathon (TARC stands for “Trail Animal Running Club” — it’s put on by a bunch of fun-loving trail ultra runners, and I’ve really enjoyed my weekend training runs with them). I’m not racing it. I’m just running it.

If you follow along here now and then, you might know I’d planned on running an ultramarathon this fall. This weekend, in fact. Day after tomorrow. A trail 50k (that’s 31 miles, if you don’t speak “race distance-ese”). But then I missed a few long runs in a row, was hit with a minor bout of a funk (who, me? in a funk? shocking!), and aggravated my old calf injury, so I decided to give up the ultra goal…for this year, at least.

Planet Shoes sent me a great pair of running shoes, the New Balance Minimus, the most delicious trail running shoe ever: lightweight, 4mm heel drop, enough sole to protect from sharp rocks but not much more than that…Except, with my calf injury, I need a little more heel support at this time. I cannot wait until my calf is better and I can run in these again.NB_minimus

I’ve stayed just fit enough to be confident I can knock off my trail half marathon, no problem. I haven’t followed my training schedule (or, um, any training schedule), but I’m pretty sure I can do it. I ran 11 miles without incident last weekend. Also, I will be powered by PerfectFuel (review and giveaway coming up soon!), which are these awesome little bars of organic chocolate and ginseng….yum!! Not easy to eat while running, but excellent before (and after, and any other time).

I realize that saying I can run a trail half marathon with an injury and not much training might sound really cocky. While it’s nice to know that I hover in a fitness range that will let me do that, I know I haven’t trained enough or really made the time for running. I didn’t feel as inspirational as I could have been.

In fact, instead of being an inspiration to the others in the Get Fit for Fall campaign, I felt like they were an inspiration to me — people making time to play tennis every day, people trying to get their runs in with new babies and sick cats, the single mom who took up Zumba, people with medical issues who find ways to stick to their goals. The Planet Shoes fitness campaign brought together a great group of people, and I’m so glad I got to be part of it. I admit I thought I’d be one of the more inspiring ones, with my trail ultramarathon and all, but at least I’ll be racing this weekend, and I’m inspired to sign up for more races soon.

Rock on, and stay fit!

How do you stay fit when it seems like you can’t even get your workout clothes on? Who inspires you to get moving?


Disclosure: As a Sole Sister with the Planet Shoes Get Fit for Fall campaign, I received a pair of trail running shoes. I was otherwise not compensated, and all opinions are my own.