about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    What’s Cooking?

    Personal Bests

    5K - 23:28

    10K - 52:35

    15K - 1:38:14

    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.

That Other Half Marathon I Ran (See Jane Run 13.1).

I spent the first few months of summer training for, talking about, and eventually running the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon.  It was my big postpartum goal, and something I’d worked hard for through the spring and early summer.  It was a good race, and I finished feeling strong, proud, and yet determined to still get faster. 

I knew I had another race on the horizon, so I told myself I’d buckle down and really dig into training for just a few more weeks.  And then Casey traveled almost non-stop for a month, we traveled ourselves for a week, and I ran exactly TWO times. 

In early July, we spent a week in Ohio visiting with family and friends.  Casey still does business there, but this was the last extended business trip he’d be dong for a while, and since he’d been traveling so much in the weeks prior – the kids and I tagged along.  I tried to run my old favorite three-mile loop while we were there and felt like I was going to pass out and die.  The Northwest sure has changed my ability to handle heat and humidity!

We flew back on a Saturday morning, and a few hours after landing I found myself at the See Jane Run Half Marathon expo, nervously picking up a packet.  I’d signed up for the race months prior along with my friend Lacey, and when I registered I didn’t know we’d end up traveling.  I felt dehydrated from air travel, sluggish from a week of indulgent eating, and extremely tired from a week of sleeping with a baby right next to our bed.  I absolutely did not feel like running.  I told myself to drink a ton of water, eat a big dinner, and to give it until morning before officially wimping out.

And then morning came, and I felt much more like myself again.  And so I found myself at Gasworks Park with about a thousand other women (and a few men!), lining up to run a half marathon. 

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Lacey and I hung out at the start together and I started to feel very nervous as the clock ticked down toward 8am.  I knew I hadn’t done much running in between races, but there was also a teeny part of me that thought maybe I could squeak out my sub-2:00 time because the course was much, much flatter this time around.  Although the rising temperatures definitely weren’t working in my favor!

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The gun went off and the runners got started!  I felt pretty good at the beginning, settling into a pace that hovered between 8:40 and 8:50/minute miles.  It felt good to be running a familiar stretch of trail that I have run a hundred times before.

In just the first few miles, I could tell the heat was going to be a problem.  All you southern runners will laugh, but we are just not used to running in hot sun up here, and my body has certainly adjusted.  It was about 75 and full sun – not terrible, but definitely not something I was well trained for. 

The first few miles ticket by and I felt comfortable and excited to be running.  We did an out and back on the canal trail, and then headed down and around the Lake Union loop for the middle miles.  For some reason, despite many emails warning about the heat and saying there would be extra aid, I saw saw zero water stations from miles four to eight.  On one hand, it kept me occupied – constantly looking ahead and hoping to see waving volunteers.  On the other hand, I was HOT and thirsty!

As we rounded the lake toward mile eight I finally saw a much appreciated volunteer station.  I grabbed several cups and downed them, and then grabbed several more and dumped them over my head.  Years and years of running in the Midwest taught me this trick.  A few of the volunteers looked at me like I was crazy – I don’t think North-westerners soak themselves as often!  I was wet, but much cooler, and it felt great.

Just after that water stop, I walked for the first time.  I keep telling myself that some day I will figure out how to give up the walking breaks, but I just haven’t been able to do it yet.  I walked up a massive hill and then willed my legs to start running again at the top.  They did, but I knew I was slowing down.

Just after the mile nine water stop – with another few cups of water over my head – a blog reader ran up along side me and said hello.  I embarrassingly blurted out WILL YOU RUN WITH ME before she could even tell me her name – oops!  Jess was also looking to run a sub-two half marathon, so I figured if I could keep up with her (she was looking super strong) I’d be in good shape.  We chatted for just around a mile before I saw Casey up ahead.  And instead of sticking with Jess, I wished her good luck and felt myself slowing down to a stop.

I should have given him a high five and kept going, but I felt all the energy drain out of my legs and I stopped completely.  I was so hot and so tired, and the sun was such a drain at that point.  He urged me to keep going, but I stood there for another minute or two before I finally plodded on.  At that point I switched to a run walk and was going much slower.

Miles 10 through 13 had us running AWAY from the finish line (which we had just cruelly passed), and even though this was a very familiar stretch of trail to me, I found it sapping what little energy I had left.  I got to the final turnaround at mile 11.5, and then scanned all the runners behind me looking for Lacey.  I was shocked when I saw her just a few minutes later – she was killing it!  And then I immediately regretted that we hadn’t run together, since we would end up finishing so close together after all. 

I did one final dunk of water over my head around mile 12, and a minute later my bluetooth headphones cut out – what timing!  I spotted Casey and the boys again but this time I forced my legs to keep moving.  I tore off my headphones and Garmin, and tossed them to him along with my phone (which I was using for music).  Just losing that little bit of added weight helped give me a small boost as I headed toward the finish.

I crossed the finish line in 2:03:14, and immediately poured ten more cups of water over my head.  I was so happy to be done!  And then I took my shirt off because I was so hot that I didn’t care anymore.  I saw Lacey cross the finish line just a few minutes later, and I ran back to the finish chute to shower her with congrats.  This was her first race ever and she ran so much faster than she expected – so, so proud of her!

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Many thanks to Casey and the boys for cheering for me on yet another early weekend morning.  I could never train and race without Casey’s support, and I am so grateful for all the times he freed me up for training runs and encouraged me to lace up and get out the door.   

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Hard to believe it took me so long to write this race recap!  And in the weeks since I’ve done very little running.  I think after back to back races, I just needed a bit of a break.  I have one more half marathon lined up for late September, so I need to get back into my running shoes sooner than later. 

I am really happy that running and racing has been so much fun this time around.  I’ve challenged and pushed myself, and I’ve been really happy with the outcome.  As far as this particular race goes, I didn’t beat my sub-2 goal, but when the race was finally over that was nowhere on my mind.  I was happy I raced as well as I did coming off a week of travel, and in unusual Seattle heat (it reached 90 eventually that day!).  And most importantly, I had a lot of fun running! Sure, it was miserable and I wanted to die the whole time, but I also enjoyed being out in the city and running in some of my favorite spots.

In looking at the breakdown of the results, I ran the first half of the race at an 8:41 pace, and finished with a second half at 10:08 pace – averaging a 9:25/minute mile pace overall.  It is clear that going forward, I really need to focus on maintaining my speed over a longer distance, and to do my best not to walk in those late miles. 

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Looking forward to a double stroller run this coming weekend.  Only six weeks until my next race – time to get serious!

Creative Cooking with Blue Apron!

Last week was my first experience cooking with Blue Apron – a delivery service that provides you with all the ingredients and recipes in order to create delicious, chef-designed meals at home!  I arrived home mid-day to see two large boxes on my doorstep!  I was really excited to open them up and see how this whole process worked. 

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Let me fill you in a little bit on the basics before I jump straight into the unpacking and cooking.  Blue Apron does not deliver ready-made meals that you pop into the oven for dinner.  Rather, they provide quality, fresh ingredients and creative recipes so that you have all the tools and products to cook a delicious and inventive meal yourself.  All the food comes pre-portioned, which cuts down on prep time and waste of unused ingredients.  No meal planning or grocery shopping needed, as literally everything is included – even down to the tiniest pinch of spices. 

You can choose between standard and vegetarian meals, and there are options available for two, four, and six servings.  There is one flat price – $9.99 per person, per meal – and there is free delivery in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness!  Blue Apron delivers to 80% of the US – you can check here to see if it’s available in your city.

So now that you know how it works, let me walk you through my experience!  The first thing I noticed when I went to move the boxes into my kitchen was that they were HEAVY!  Once I opened up the package and saw the first layer of ice packs, I understood where the bulk of the weight came from – aha!

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Of course, the ice was necessary in order to keep all my ingredients and food cool and fresh on a hot summer day.  (There are instructions on the Blue Apron website detailing how to recycle the packaging and boxes.)  Between the layers of ice packs, I found beautiful, colorful produce that was all portioned, packaged, and labeled for each recipe. 

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There was also a package of paperwork, which included an intro letter explaining that week’s meals and inspiration, along with three recipe cards.  I was instantly struck by how well-designed and nice all of the graphics and recipes looked.  The front of each recipe card had an ingredient list, photos of the individual ingredients, and a photo of the finished product.  The back contained easy-to-follow step by step instructions on how to make it all come to life! 

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Each of the boxes contained everything we needed for two servings of that week’s meals.  So since we had signed up for the four-serving plan, we had two boxes with two sets of everything.  I unpacked it all into my refrigerator, and planned out when I’d be cooking them that week.

Last week my three Blue Apron meals were the Trofie Pasta, Roasted Poblano & Quinoa Sopes, and the Three Pea Salad.  All Blue Apron recipes are available in their online cookbook!

The first meal I made was the Trofie Pasta.  It was the day Casey was returning from a few days in NYC, and he was getting home just after the kids went to bed.  I waited until he texted that his plane had landed, and then I got to work.  I found the recipe really easy to follow, and I was both surprised and sort of excited to see how much cooking technique was involved.  It definitely wasn’t a “throw together” type of meal.  But rather, something that brought joy in cooking, and a meal that felt a bit more upscale and romantic than something I’d normally create.

The second recipe we made was the Three Pea Salad, and I took some pictures of this one to help walk you guys through the process.  I started by following the recipe card and pulling out all of the items designated for this particular salad. 

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I got started by cooking the farro.  One of the things I found through cooking the Blue Apron meals is that I really enjoyed the creativity and new ideas they brought to my cooking.  Take this for example – lemon zest in the farro’s cooking water – so delicious, and something I never would have thought to do. 

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While the farro cooked, I prepped everything else.  I think a common misconception with Blue Apron is that pre-portioned ingredients also means that everything is prepped and ready to go.  But in order to keep things as fresh as possible (to last you through the whole week!), most items come whole and in their freshest form, so a bit of prep work is needed to get ready to cook.  I quartered the lemons, shelled the English peas, trimmed the snap peas, and used my mandolin to thinly slice the radishes. 

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One of my favorite – and again, unexpected – aspects of the Blue Apron recipes is that they actually involved quite a bit of cooking technique.  This might sound intimidating to a total novice cook, but the recipe cards are so well written and the visuals are easily able to walk you through each step.  With each recipe, I found myself using cooking techniques – things like crushing garlic, blanching vegetables, and roasting peppers – that I probably haven’t done since culinary school.  I really enjoyed using more of my skill set in the kitchen, and it reminded me to think beyond basic grilling and sautéing each night. 

I blanched the snap peas and English peas in simmering water for a minute or two…

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And then transferred them to a bowl of ice water for cooling. 

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I also toasted the sesame seeds…

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And made a basic lemon dressing.

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Once everything was cooked and prepped, I tossed it all together in the biggest serving bowl I own.  I couldn’t believe how much salad this made for just four servings! 

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I crumbled the goat cheese on top and dug straight in.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I could not stop saying out loud (to myself) – “Man, this is SO good!”

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Everything tasted incredibly fresh, and I loved that the ingredients were so seasonal and of high quality.  I had originally planned to cook some corn and tofu so serve on the side with this, worried that a “simple salad” wouldn’t be filling enough for dinner.  Boy was I wrong.  This was more than enough food, and we had full bellies and leftovers for days.  With all three meals, I have found the serving sizes to be quite generous! 

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I finished up our week of Blue Apron meals feeling excited and energized by both the food and the cooking.  Here are a few of my thoughts as I continue to use the service going forward…

The meals are complex, and a bit more time consuming than I’d originally anticipated.  I think they are a perfect way to add fancier dinners and date nights into the week.  I personally can’t see doing the prep and following the instructions with children at my ankles, but I think it is a perfect addition to a weekly menu for meals to cook after bedtime – a nice change of pace just a few nights each week. 

I thought the meals were seasonal, creative, and nutritionally diverse.  The quality of ingredients was top-notch, and even things like greens stayed fresh in my refrigerator all week long.  On the days that I cooked the Blue Apron recipes, I found myself more relaxed during the day knowing that dinner was already planned and the ingredients were already in my kitchen. 

One thing I think could be really neat is to consider using this service for a vacation.  It would save big trips to the grocery store, and you wouldn’t have to buy full bottles of things like oils, spices, etc. that are always left over at the end of the week.  I love having nicer meals on vacation but I never want to plan or shop for them!

As the Blue Apron business continues to grow and evolve, I might consider suggesting that each delivery box could hold more than two servings.  For our four serving meals, we received two identical boxes that contained items necessary for two servings.  This meant that to cook four servings, I essentially doubled everything.  It might be easier to ship it all together to cut down on both packaging and prep time!

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I will definitely keep you guys posted as I continue to cook with Blue Apron in the future!  And for those of you interested in trying it yourself – how do two free meals sound? 

Blue Apron has generously offered a discount of 30% off (the equivalent of two free meals) to the first 50 reader who sign up through this link!  You can sign up for a weekly delivery of three meals for two, four, or six servings.  Whether you have a busy job or a million kids, and you are too swamped to shop for and prep meals – or you are simply looking for a bit of inspiration in the kitchen, I’d highly recommend giving the Blue Apron experience a try. 

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This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.  None of these links are affiliates, and I do not earn credits or commissions for ongoing sign-ups to the service – I simply want you to enjoy it for yourselves!  Thank you for your continued support of Daily Garnish.

Also, congrats to Lauren Luhrs, winner of the Oliviers & Co. giveaway!

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