Tuesday, September 01, 2015

On the Run, and a recipe for Carrot Raita Dip

I heard a whoosh and Summer 2015 sped by before I knew it. For our family, the last couple of months went by in a blur- the guest room was solidly booked with visits from parents and friends, we spent a week in Minneapolis to see my sister with the requisite afternoon at the Nickelodeon theme park (my kid is an adrenaline junkie, much like her daddy and totally unlike me). Then we went on a 1600 mile road trip (over just 5 days!) for a reunion with old friends. Plus I've had a pretty big change in my schedule when I switched back to working full time a month ago.


A fun shopping trip on my travels: Nordic Ware, the baking ware manufacturers, have their factory right in the middle of Minneapolis. Last year, I spotted it but we couldn't get off the highway right then and missed going there. This time I dragged my mom and sister to the Nordic Ware factory store and we lucked out. They were having a giant tent sale- their first in a decade. Oh, the excitement of being surrounded by stacks of baking pans in every shape and size. Like being a kid in a candy store, only better. I restrained myself and only bought two pans: their classic bundt pan and a rose-shaped muffin pan.

At home, the kitchen was constantly busy but I never paused to try anything new or different- it was easier to trot out old favorites. I do have a recipe to blog about, though. We met up with friends for a potluck with the theme of "salads"- which seemed appropriate for August but in fact it turned out to be a rainy and cool evening. I was asked to bring an appetizer and made something very familiar but in a newish avatar- carrot raita served as a dip with chips.

I used tender curry leaves and minced them, so you don't have to pick out the leaves from the dip. A touch of chillies would be a nice addition for those who can handle the heat. Cucumber, beet or radish, even greens like spinach or kale would work well in place of the carrots.

Carrot Raita Dip

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a small pan.
2. Temper it with 2 tsp. mustard seeds, a pinch of asafetida, a few minced curry leaves.
3. Stir in 1 cup shredded carrots and salt to taste, cook them for a minute.
4. Cool the carrot mixture, then stir it into 1.5 cups Greek yogurt.
5. Add a handful of minced cilantro.
6. Chill and serve.

Serve with vegetable sticks or potato/lentil chips. 

* * * 
Summer 2015 will be memorable for another reason- it is my summer of running. In a moment of misguided enthusiasm, I signed up for a 5K race and have been training for it since July as part of a running group. We're a motley bunch of about 15 people and most of us are very new to running. We meet one morning and one evening every week. Our running coach is unrelentingly cheerful and supportive; she smiles sweetly while kicking our collective behinds. 

So far, it is been exciting, hard, painful, amazing- all of the above. And kind of hilarious. The very first time we met, the coach walked us down to the Olympic-size athletic track and announced that she's going to measure the baseline mile time for each of us. And I asked her- this shows you how stupidly unprepared I was for all this- how much of the track is a mile? Turns out it is FOUR TIMES around the track and I was like, NOOOOO in total disbelief. Is it too late to switch to the 100 meter training? That evening, I did run (or rather, run-walked) the mile, with a baseline time of 12:52 minutes. I thought I was going to die. My legs felt like lead the next day. 

Over time, we've built up a routine. The coach is a stickler about warming up, then running with good form, then cooling down and stretching. Each session focuses on something different- running up and down hills, keeping a steady pace, trail running, doing drills, trying to go slightly longer distances each time. 

Running sounds simple enough (you just put one leg in front of the other), but it is the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes cardiovascular fitness and stamina that I just don't have. Learning to run in 95-100 degree F heat and high humidity of Georgia has been interesting to say the least. As one of my teammates said, some days it feels like we're running on the surface of the sun.

Running with a group is what keeps us going. There is a sense of commitment and positive peer pressure. No matter the reason for not wanting to run- it is raining, you slept badly- you just show up and you run. Our progress is modest- we've gone from barely being able to run a mile to running 3 miles. Still, it feels scary and rewarding to step out of one's comfort zone and do something that you did not think you could do.

I've been working as steadily as I can, trying to keep up with my training through all the visitors and trips. I did short runs around the lake promenade next to my sister's home in Minneapolis, on a leafy urban trail in Virginia and in a nice hilly neighborhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A Kenyan colleague stayed with us for 10 days in July and I dragged him out to run with me- "You're Kenyan, so you can run, right?" Yes, he could run. He protested about not being in shape, then casually ran 2 miles in 16 minutes.

The 5K is just a few days away. My goal is to run the whole race (not walk any portion of it, I mean) and to finish the race in 36 minutes or under. But it doesn't really matter what happens- just showing up, training and running with determination is enough. 

How was your summer? Tell me everything! I've missed being here. 

34 comments:

  1. I am so happy to see a new post from you after such a long time! I missed you dearly and hoped you were having a great time. Good luck for the 5K! I would be cheering you from here. How lucky to be able to visit the nordicware factory outlet during their tent sale! I know I would have totally freaked out and bought a few bundts myself.

    My summer has been busy due to work and I am struggling to make time for exercise. Still when I chanced upon a huge beautiful raw jackfruit at my local wholefoods I couldn't resist getting home a big chunk, all 6 pounds of it! We spent hours on prep'ing it and make two amazing curries out of it. Raw jackfruit is a great substitute for meat, it imitates shredded meat and takes on the flavors of the marinade very effortlessly, I also love the seeds that taste like chestnuts. Prep'ing the jackfruit is a little cumbersome but can be really relaxing if you do it with someone who also enjoys such things over a cup of tea.

    - Priti

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    1. Do make dhokla in your bundt pan :-) it makes a very pretty presentation. I had seen it on the blog Spiceroots where the blogger used her heritage bundt pan and the dhokla looked spectacular!
      - Priti

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    2. Hi Priti! Hmm- dhokla in a bundt pan is a very novel idea- maybe for a big get-together! because that would be a LOT of dhokla :) Raw jackfruit is the best- haven't eaten it in years and years. How fun that you found one!

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    3. Hi Nupur! I got 2 bundt pans for a great deal over the labor day weekend - the heritage bundt and the classic anniversary bundt both in petite 6 cups size (1/2 the usual size). I am so excited! I stayed away from bundt pans for so long because of their size, these smaller bundt pans fit my needs perfectly and were in my favorite shapes. Thanks to your blogpost I started looking for bundt pans again after a long time and found exactly what I was looking for, I am so happy I had to share it with you and Thank You! :-)

      - Priti

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  2. This summer I traveled (flew) halfway across the world. I was like one of those visitors keeping your guest room occupied!

    I'll be happy if I can become regular at walking, but I see a lot of my friends and family who are running marathons all across the country! Respect.

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    1. I have been enjoying your travel posts, Anita!! Keep them coming. And hope you come to North America again and find your way to GA to visit us.

      Marathons are so beyond my wildest dreams, and yes, now that I am running a fraction of a marathon, I have even more respect for people who can run that distance.

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  3. I missed you, Nupur!

    I love your attitude - so positive! Best wishes for the race. I was nodding my head and chuckling away at everything you wrote about your running experience - that's exactly how I feel about it. Big difference is that you are doing something about it and tackling it head on. You go, girl, I know that you will meet and exceed all your expectations :)

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    1. Thanks, Kamini! I lucked out and got myself into this nice group of people, now I just do as they do and it is getting me somewhere that I could never have gone by myself.

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  4. Love your carrot raita recipe. I make one similar to that with cooked tomatoes. Cooking the tomatoes gives the raita a completely different (and much more delicious, in my opinion) taste. On a hot summer's day, I can eat just a bowlful of that and be satisfied.

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    1. The tomato raita sounds interesting. Could you share your recipe please? thanks!

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    2. It's very simple, really; follow the exact steps that Nupur has outlined above in her carrot raita recipe, only substitute finely chopped tomatoes for the carrots. Cook the tomatoes until soft and pulpy. Important: let it cool until at least lukewarm before adding it to the yogurt. This tastes good even at room temperature.

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    3. Ooh that sounds good! Will have to try it before tomatoes go out of season. Thanks for the idea.

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    4. What a lovely coincidence. Just like Kamini, I make Tomato raita with cooked, mushy tomatoes. It makes a good accompaniment for roti/rice on busy (read as lazy) weekdays. :-)

      So inspiring to read about your running Nupur. I did 2 weeks using my C25K app and then got a new job and things got busy. I am motivated to start again. Ordered a Fitbit Flex just yesterday..so I know I will be determined to move my bum.

      Siri

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  5. Agree with you. Showing up and participating is the right thing to do. We had gone on a 2400 mile trip (parts of it on the famous Route 66) - when we passed St.Louis - I immediately thought of you and said "A nice girl used to live here."

    My son the skeptic wanted to know how I knew you were nice and when I told him about Dale he didn't need any further proof :-)

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    1. Wow, that's quite a road trip!! What fun. Did you stop and explore St. Louis- it is such a great city.

      LOL at your son's comments, you are so nice to say that :) and yes, Dale did bring out the best in me.

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  6. so glad to see an update from you! good luck on the 5K! Summer has been so eventful, but full of fun and outdoors as it always is. We travelled to hawaii and oregon to meet friends. Oregon is my new favorite state! It is so green and serene! We are currently busy as we are relocating to India in 3 weeks! doing all the boring stuff like packing, selling, buying, paperwork. We might take a 3 day getaway trip somewhere close by to celebrate our son's 2 year bday :)

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    1. Relocating to India- Wow, that's a big change- so exciting! Best wishes for a smooth transition and happy birthday to your little boy.

      I've never been to Oregon (or Hawaii), they both sound fantastic.

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  7. Awesome, Nupur! Good luck with 5K. Love the bundts..Iwish I could get some too, but don't want to over-buy the baking stuff especially with me trying to minimize the sugary stuff. I make similar raita..with beets.. saute grated beets in little oi and then add the rest..u can even add onions and cilantro..it's very yummy.
    Keeping rocking, girl! Looking forward to see Lila's bday spread this time..it surely inspires me.

    Archana

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    1. Archana- I know, I'm not baking as much as I used to either, so I tried very hard to not buy every baking pan in sight! Beet raita sounds fantastic.

      I just started thinking of Lila's birthday party- we're doing a brunch this time. Will post about it :)

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  8. Happy to see a post from you after a long time Nupur! I would've gone nuts at that Nordicware sale. We've had a busy summer too with my parents and sister visiting.

    Good luck for your 5k! How did you find your trainer and group? I've been thinking about doing something like this but not sure where to begin.

    - Anu

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    1. Anu- Hi! A friend/neighbor of mine did the program and I heard about it from her. There is a running store near our house, they have running coaches and organize these training sessions (for 5K, half marathon etc) every few months. I know that our YMCA also has a running group with a coach. These are "couch to 5K" sort of programs, might be called by different names but the concept is the same- someone holds your hand and helps you go from being quite sedentary to running some distance over a few weeks/months.

      I would suggest calling running stores and gyms around you to ask if they know of a running program or group. Good luck and I hope you find one- it is really fun and rewarding.

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  9. Welcome back, you've been missed. Best of luck with your 5K. You have inspired me. I did my 3rd 5K this weekend and it took me 41 minutes AND I walked a few times. :-( I'm going to aim for your goal for my next 5K.

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    1. Angela- Congrats! That is SO great! If you did 41 minutes with some walking, then you'd have to be walking pretty fast. Good for you! I just heard that our 5K race course is rolling hills all the way- yikes- we'll have to see how it goes :)

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  10. hello Nupur,
    Finally a post from you after a long gap :-) Glad to know you've been busy with family visiting you, good times :-)
    Good luck with your 5K. I've done several 5K walk/jog/run before and each one is just a fun experience. Running/jog needs stamina and it takes a while to build it up but the satisfaction is worth the effort and the cause....
    Keep up the good work :-)
    Meena.

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    1. Meena- Hi! Thanks for the encouraging words. I too hope to do a 5K every couple of months, just to keep up the momentum. Slow jog/ run walk is all good!

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  11. You brave girl, you! So proud of you for even attempting the run. My sister began a few years ago to lose weight and now she runs every 1/2 she can and some full ones too and she's gotta be the most unathletic person I've ever known. Or perhaps " ....I knew" is more appropriate given her new found linking for physically strenuous activity. All the very best, I missed you here do much so keep chiming in ok? :)
    Deepa

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    1. Deepa- Your sister is awesome! It has been a revelation to me that even if one is unathletic for decades, it is possible to spark an interest in exercise. Never too late :)

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  12. Your running posts are so inspiring. After two back-to-back babies (as I like to call them lol), I really need to make the effort to take all that theoretical inspiration I gain from you and convert it into practice..:-D I love how you have transitioned from staying home with Lila to part time to full time work (was that a conscious choice, if you don't mind my asking?). We just started daycare for my son (after quite a few months of no daycare) and it was heartbreaking all over again..I'll get over it..:)

    All the very best for the 5K.
    Is Kashmira planning on resuming Kala Koyree in the U.S? - I still have the lovely bag that my mom bought from her.

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    1. Hi Lavanya- Thanks! I never stayed home with Lila (except for a brief 2 month period during our move from MO to GA), so there was no gradual transition or anything of the sort. She went to full time daycare as a wee 10 week old baby. When we moved to GA, a project came up that could be done 3 days a week so I jumped at the chance, just to catch a breather and it was great, not gonna lie :) but now projects are piling up so I am back to a normal full time work load and that's wonderful too. Lila's always enjoyed daycare- the kids, the teachers, the activities, which made it easy and less heartbreaking but I understand where you are coming from.

      About the running (and other exercise), I'm finding that I truly enjoy it all, which has been the big difference this time around between making myself do it and actually wanting to make time for it. I've made countless failed attempts at exercise so all I can say is, keep thinking about it, take the first step if you can and just know that it will happen, sooner or later. Good luck!!

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    2. Hi Nupur - that is good to know! My son started daycare around 3 months too (since I had a post doc then). I think I attended a lab meeting 2 weeks after he was born which now feels surreal. My postdoc fellowship ending coincided with the birth of my daughter so I took a bit of a break (two under two felt overwhelming…lol). It is great to hear you talking about your work and projects, even as a backdrop/background to your foodie posts.

      As for exercise, I think the only exercise I have been able to sustain, was yoga. I had always been resistant to yoga in the U.S because it always seemed a bit 'hooey' to me. Plus I never did any yoga in India before I came here, so it just seemed weird (and ironic) to start here. But I got over that mental block and started and actually began to enjoy it. And that particular studio was really close to school, had nice student discounts and actually increased my fitness. I think I enjoy running but hate going to the gym. A running group like yours sounds like a great idea. I must look into something like that. Thanks!

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  13. Hi Nupur,

    Good luck with the 5k run. Would love to read about your 5k experience.

    -Deepa.

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    1. Thanks, Deepa! It was a great experience and I'll write about it next week.

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  14. Sounds like a very funfilled summer. We went to India this summer , spent lots of quality time with family and friends. I ate too much and didn't exercise ( no regrets!) and now am dragging my behind to the gym. I am so unfit now :)
    Your running is going so well and that time sounds super. Love Arpita.

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  15. Keep running!! Miss your monthly round up posts though :)
    Also only one sentence that you have started working full time again!! Need more on that :)

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!