Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two Summer Soups and my Unlikely Summer Project

Soup may seem more of a Fall and Winter thing but we've been enjoying these two soups in this warm weather- one served hot and the other served cold. Both are very plain looking, but I promise that they taste better than they look. They are light and refreshing and I will be making them again and again.

Avocado Soup takes about 5 minutes to make, and no cooking needed.

Simply blend together:
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 3 small red radishes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Serve chilled!

Leek and Zucchini Soup was a way to use up my CSA bounty. My German friend uses cream cheese to add body, richness and tang to soups and that's what I did here.

1. Heat 1 tbsp butter. Saute 3 leeks, prepped and chopped, and 3 zucchini, chopped, for a few minutes. Optionally, 1 chopped potato can also be added (and then omit flour from step 2).
2. Add salt and pepper, 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp. flour. Stir well for a couple of minutes.
3. Add 3-4 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender.
4. Stir in 1 bunch chopped spinach and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
5. Add 3 tbsp. cream cheese, cut in cubes.
6. Use an immersion blender to blend everything into a smooth soup.
7. Add 1/2 cup milk or cream. Taste for salt and pepper, then serve hot.

*** *** ***
I was telling a friend about my exercise routine at the gym. He said to me- that sounds great, but you really should be running. I gave him a strange look- um, do I look like a runner from any angle? He proceeded to give me a lecture about all the benefits of running and how life-changing it is. Running is hard on the knees, I said, to which he quoted research that says it actually strengthens the joints (he's a physiotherapist and keeps up with the research on such things.) For every reason I gave him why running would be a terrible idea for me, he had several reasons why it would be a great idea. Later he started passing along copies of Runner's World magazine for me to read.

V overheard our conversation and decided to start running in the early mornings with Duncan. The thing about running with a dog is, after you do it once or twice, the dog expects to do it every day and you're obliged to take him for a run just to get him to stop whining. So man and dog have been jogging for a couple of months now.

It is my good fortune to have friends who care enough to badger me if necessary to try something that they truly believe will be good for me. After ignoring my friend's many lectures on the joys of running, I finally caved in and did something crazy. The local running store has a program where they train newbies for 10 weeks and then get them to run a 5K. I signed up and got fitted for running shoes. I was honest with the instructor about exactly where I stand. It might be just a 5K but for me it is the equivalent of running a marathon. I mean, the last time I ran, I was trying to catch a bus. And that was during the Bush administration!

The plan is to start my running program in July, train steadily over 2 months and run the 5K in September. I guess  This is going to be quite the adventure- learning to run in Georgia in summer. It is one hundred degrees out there, and summer only officially starts 5 days from today. If I don't collapse in the middle of the street somewhere, that will surely count as a success! But 2015 is my year of trying different ways of staying active and I am excited to give running a shot to see if it is something I will like.

In any case, it is good to have a few different exercise options to choose from. Swimming, which I love so much, has been on hold for a few weeks because I have a stubborn toe injury-  some sort of soft tissue infection which is requiring multiple rounds of antibiotics. I have to avoid swimming until that clears. Run when you can't swim, swim when you can't run- that would be a good thing.

Meanwhile, V is once again nominated for the Husband of the Year award. He gave me the sweetest birthday gift- a fitbit, one of those wristbands which tracks your activity and sleep. "As a data geek, you'll love this gadget"- he promised me, because in general I don't gravitate towards techy gadgets. I was very touched by his gesture of loving support and recognition of my efforts to get more exercise.

I do really enjoy wearing my fitbit. 10,000 steps per day is the arbitrary but commonly used target number for staying active. (This comes to about 5 miles a day for the average person, but only about 4 miles for me because I'm very short and have a small stride.) Turns out I walk 10,000 steps most days without too much effort. I've always felt like I run around all day long, and now I have hard proof of that. On days when I do a lot of cooking, I swear I get over 5000 steps just tracing the little triangle between my sink, stove and fridge. The tracker has been a good motivator to keep walking even in this heat, to and from work a few times a week, and in the evenings a couple of times of week in the company of my neighbor.

So...to make a very long story short, that's my unlikely summer project, to train for a 5K- wish me luck! All advice for a running newbie will be gratefully accepted :) 

32 comments:

  1. Love your 5K project. Good luck with it. I was able to run 5 K but it took me a year to do it at my own pace. Nothing beats the endorphin Rush after 10 mins of running. Whenever I need a mood boost I run to the gym.
    Arpita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arpita- hi! That what everyone has been telling me- about the runner's high and how amazing it is. I can totally believe it because even now my gym classes are such mood boosters.

      Delete
  2. I would be VERY cautious about running if you are on antibiotic for a toe problem, as in, I would talk to the doctor first. Here's why, my husband lost a toe because he had his foot stuffed in a shoe instead of letting the injury get plenty of air. He was off work and his feet two years while that foot healed. Be careful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy- I'm so sorry about your husband's toe. That's awful. You make a very good point and I will be careful. I finish the antibiotics this week and seem to have finally kicked this mysterious infection and the running doesn't start for a couple more weeks so I have time to rest the toe and air it out. Thanks for the note!

      Delete
  3. That avocado soup looks great for warm weather. Whereas I agree with you that running hot weather sounds like no fun. Good luck with your running and with your toe healing. I love swimming but have never got into running - I know a friend of mine took it up recently and really enjoyed it. I have just started doing a class at our leisure centre and it was quite a challenge but my friend and I are going back this week. And belated happy birthday - the fit bit sounds great

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joanna! It is so much fun taking fitness classes with friends! I know that part of why I keep going back happily to the classes is because I like the company of the other students in the class.

      Delete
  4. Hi Nupur,

    Yes, you can do it. My husband just ran his first half marathon. He has never run before and he is much older than you :) He got fitted for a good running shoe (I think New Balance 990 with Orthotic inserts as recommended by his podiatrist) which made a huge difference. He ran every other day and increased his distance slowly and stretched religiously to avoid injury. If he did it you can do it too!

    I think 5K is the best target to achieve and maintain for the long run. He does have some foot issues, just the way his foot is and the doctor does not want him to run long distances in one stretch. He trained from January and ran on May 31st and finished just under 3 hours. I am still amazed!! But for the long run I think he will limit to 5 miles and under and may be run one half marathon a year just for fun. I hope to do 5K's and maybe 10K's some day. Even walking the 5K in an hour is a good pace to start with.

    Yes you can do it! Good Luck!!

    Regards,
    SN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouraging note, SN! Kudos to your husband. I definitely plan to start slow and steady and doing everything I can to avoid injury.

      Delete
  5. Good luck Nupur! I did the Couch to 5K program app on the iPhone last summer and thought it was pretty good. Check it out!

    I got a Fitbit too! I've been in monitoring mode so far .. just got to 10,000 steps on 2 days (My primary workouts are a 1 hour Vinyasa yoga class and swimming which don't give me any "steps" so despite putting in the time I need to walk more to get that 10,000 point if I wish to compete with my friends .. (Adding your friends on the Fitbit dashboard helps if you're competitive like me .. not too many that it doesn't matter anymore .. just a few who will give you that push)


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) My husband uses the Couch to 5K app and so do some friends- my problem is I can't get myself to exercise on my own, that's why I signed up with a running group and an instructor who will spoon-feed me and hold my hand, so to speak.

      Like you, my usual work-outs (stretch and strength) don't count on the fitbit as far as steps go but that's ok. Zumba adds steps for sure!

      Delete
  6. Inspiring Nupur!! I need to create some kind of exercise routine too..

    Oh and your Leek Soup recipe says : "Stir well for a couple of months."
    LOL. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lavanya- Thanks for catching that typo- corrected it :)

      I do hope you'll find some exercise you love because it is really really fun once you find something you enjoy.

      Delete
  7. yippe yay! May I say, I am sooo glad you took up running! I have been running regularly since earlier this year and I love the high you get after a run! (or for that matter any vigorous exercise).
    I have never been a runner... I mean, I can do/have done some very very hard day long hikes and backpacking trips, but I could not run for more than a minute till few months back. Then just to challenge myself and also because we can no longer do too many hikes with a 20 month old, I took up running and followed the C25K programme. I did 2 5Ks these past 2 months and have another one coming up in a month. I dont actually enjoy the race so much (too much pressure!), but having a race target is one of the only motivations in the earlier stages of running. I think once i hit my target pace, I am going to stop doing races and just run for fun :)
    My advice - The thing that helps me greatly is a foam roller. I bought one from target and religiously use it after every run. Its a big help. Another thing - Great fast paced music. Sometimes I feel thats the only thing that keeps me running when I get too tired. All the best for the run! I am sure you will rock it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL Neha thanks for being my cheerleader! You are my hero! For me, the goal of the race is- to get to the finish line without collapsing. Walking some of it is OK. Coming in last is OK. Just getting to the race is going to be my achievement :) Thanks for the advice on the foam roller. Will get one!

      Delete
  8. The very best to you runner gal! You can do it, sure you can. My younger sister got into training for a marathon back in mumbai only because she was over weight and needed a huge motivation(and some shaming if she didn't go for the sessions:-)) to get moving. She now runs full marathons all over India whenever she can manage to get away from work.

    And BTW a variation of your avocado soup is something I make all the time for my mum, it makes her feel full quickly, she loves the new flavors('new' for her that is, avocado and all) and doesn't cause a spike in her blood sugar which is the best.

    Here's to a hot and sweaty but fun summer for you and lil' Lila and V(Boy, does her qualify for that award or what, he's sweet on you that's what it is:-))

    Deepa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Deepa, your sister is amazing! I love hearing stories like that, gives me hope. Best wishes to you and your family.

      Delete
  9. hey good luck with your running. but also be sure of not worrying too much about diabetes etc. After all stress is also a major cause of Diabetes! I have started yoga from last week. with two kids who have MORNING schools (7.00 a.m.), I don't get time for morning walks, but that's okay. Yoga is great too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there- Yoga is wonderful indeed! Good for you. I am not worried about diabetes. In fact, I have been taking action (changing my diet, becoming active) and that's like the exact opposite of worrying!

      Delete
  10. Hello Nupur,
    I'm Aarti, a regular reader and a participant in your Spice & Something Nice swap (that was fun, any chance of doing something like that again?)

    I started running about year and a half ago when I impulsively registered for a half marathon on Mumbai. Three months of running two times a week, and each session to push myself a little bit further, and I was able to complete and enjoy the half marathon.

    Do this at your own pace and you will learn to enjoy it, especially since you seem to be someone who's open seeing the good in most things. And never ever skip a warm up and cool down.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best, and have fun :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aarti- I have too much on my plate so there won't be another swap in the near future, I'm afraid. You are SO cool to run a half marathon. And it is very cool that Mumbai is hosting races. Thanks for your thoughtful advice- I will keep it in mind.

      Delete
  11. I am so excited to know about your summer projects! Kudos to you for signing up for the 5K, I found pleasure in running last summer when my sister-in-law was visiting us to participate in the marathon. She would 'wear' some small water bottles around her waist that helped her stay hydrated and hands free, I highly recommend it. Give me a high-five for the FitBit! I wear it since last year and love it too thanks to my V who's hands down the best husband ever! :-)) We both go running together and reward each other with a kiss when we meet our target steps, my idea of course ;-) since I get a big high from it where as V feels too shy for words. :-)) I will run just for that kiss, not that I don't get many indoors ;-)) but it just feels incredibly special and daring at the same time. LOL!

    - Priti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG you guys are so silly and cute- love it :)

      Delete
    2. So cute!
      I got a FitBit a few days back. But I am still getting used to wearing it.

      Delete
  12. Glad to hear you've enrolled in 5K run this year and also a running club. I ran for few years and loved it. Thats when I started walk/run for all sorts of causes - ALS, American Heart Association, Komen For Cure, Relay For LIfe...Have done several 5K walks/run last few years until a condition hit me which causes me to burn when I go out in the sun :-( So I switched gears and now enjoy 5 day workouts at the gym.
    I've been using workout tracking gadtes for years now. I used Motoactve before; but just got a new wristband Fitbit for my B'day..loving it. I usually get 5000 steps most days; but 10,000 here and there...
    I recently read a book 'What I talk about when I talk About Running' by Haruki Murakami. As a runner, I really enjoyed and shared some of his experiences. After reading the book, I feel motivated to start running again, probably during fall when it gets cooler outside. Things to keep in mind is to get the form right while running, warm up, cool down and stretching anf foam roller and you'll be good to go :-)

    Enjoy your new summer project..you'll do great.
    Take care
    Meena.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meena- Wow, that's awesome that you've been a runner for years! I am excited to maybe be part of that club. Actually, that's why I joined the running group- because it would nice to have an expert coach me on my form, stretching and all that- since I am completely clueless about it. Thanks for the encouraging note!

      Delete
  13. Hi Nupur,
    Inspired by your post on diabetes, low-carb diet and muscle toning, I have joined a mums n bubs fitness class and have started eating clean with reduced carbs.

    All the best for your summer project!

    Angel

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi,
    I am a big fan of running. The best thing is while you are running, you have ample time to enjoy scenery around you and get quiet time to plan your day or plan your blog article or think about creative ideas. As for actual running, I would make sure to drink water, relax, stretch, good shoes & socks. Feel comfortable and push yourself a bit extra each time. Its liberating :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I ran my first 5K this past Saturday. It was the Color Run 5K. It was such a great experience. I felt great that I could finish the race in less than an hour. My goal was to walk, but I could jog/run the entire distance.
    I didn't practice running before the race. Have been going to the gym thrice a week. I think that built my stamina. Mornings are a great time to run.
    I have another 5K coming up in 10 days.
    All the best Nupur!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Viola SaldanhaJune 20, 2015 1:35 AM

    Very interesting Nupur and heres wishing you all the best. Nice to know your better half's cooperation in motivating you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yes!Running is the best!I have been running for about 7 years now.Best time is early a.m..I don't even take music with me most of the times..it is my zen moment..just my breathing,my foot steps and mother nature.Make sure to get a very good pair of shoes..nothing worse than foot injury or strain from ill fitting shoes..I get mine at a local family run shoe store where they give lot of personal attention before they fit me with the right pair of shoes!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Nupur, It is always so motivating to read your blog. Although I've always been interested in exercise and fitness, running has never been my thing either. Congrats on taking the first step to the 5 K and all the best to you. Desi got me a Fitbit too a couple of months back, and it's definitely keeping me on my toes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Happy birthday Nupur. Fitbit and the 5K sounds good together :) All the best. I am bookmarking the avacado soup. I have a few over ripe ones here.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!