California Walnut’s Virtual Dinner Party {& Giveaway}

A few weeks ago I was contacted by California Walnuts, a group I connected with a few years ago when I was more of a healthy living/food blogger.  I have now kind of stepped away from the food blogging, but when they offered me the opportunity to join a virtual dinner party and make a dish with their walnuts from one of 4 amazing chefs, I jumped at the opportunity.


Immediately when I was making my decision on which chef to choose, Aida Mollenkamp stood out to me.  She had a number of recipes that were already gluten free and dairy free friendly, and when I saw the Kale, Apple, Pancetta, and Walnut Salad with Creamy Walnut Dressing I knew I had to make it for the Virtual Dinner Party.

For the most part I followed the recipe above, but I made a few substitutions based on what I had in the house, and what I could find at the local grocery store: (1) I couldn’t find endvies, so I subbed in sunflower sprouts, (2) I didn’t have white wine vinegar, so I subbed in rice vinegar, (3) I couldn’t find pancetta, so I used bacon.  I do wish I could’ve tried it with the endives, since I’ve never had them, but sometimes you have to make do and adjust.


The recipe came together so quickly — the longest portion was the frying of the bacon (which took all of five minutes), and it was a delicious, fairly healthy meal that filled me up.  The only requirement is that you have a food processor for the salad dressing, but if you don’t mind it a little chunky, and more of a ‘spread’ I think a blender might work in a pinch.  And speaking of the creamy walnut dressing, I can’t wait to use on other salads, and possibly even as a dressing for meats!  Soooo good!


Aida Mollenkamp and California Walnuts for the win, that’s for sure!

I am so happy I had the opportunity to join the virtual dinner party — check out some of the other food bloggers who joined Aida’s Virtual Dinner Party here.  It felt great to get back in the kitchen and do some cooking again!  Thanks California Walnuts for this fantastic opportunity!

As a part of the Virtual Dinner Party, and on behalf of California Walnuts, I was also sent TWO copies of Aida Mollenkamp’s recipe book: Keys to the Kitchen.  What does that mean?  That I have ONE copy to giveaway to one of you!

Although I was disappointed the recipe I made wasn’t in the cookbook, I still loved Keys to the Kitchen at first glance.


Its got a great set of recipes, a number of which I’m really excited to make, but one of its greatest aspects I think is the informational and instructional information the first two chapters have.  And it has photos, which is always a bonus in my book.


It gives you great instructions on mastering grocery stores, knife skills, and etc, before diving into the delicious looking recipes.  I mean, if the Kale, Apple, Pancetta and Walnut salad I made says anything about what’s in her cookbook, it should be pretty fabulous.

The Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen.  The giveaway will be open through Friday, March 8 at noon PST, and I will announce the winner later that afternoon, and get the cookbook sent out asap.

How to enter?

You must do one of the following to enter:

(1) Take a look at Aida Mollenkamps’s recipes used for the Virtual Dinner Party and leave a comment on which recipe (from the Winter or Spring menus) you’d like to try.


(2) Leave a comment telling me about your favorite way to eat walnuts (in a recipe, raw, candied…etc).

For an extra entry:

(3) Tweet about the giveaway, and leave a comment back here saying that you did so.  example tweet: “I just entered to win an @aidamollenkamp cookbook from @phdstrides virtual dinner party giveaway″

*California Walnuts provided me with the walnuts for this recipe and the cookbook for the giveaway.  However, all opinions are my own.

Run, Turkey, Run (and a PR!)

So, the blog has been empty for a little over two months.  I apologize, but with my running on a hiatus due to a horrible foot injury there really wasn’t much to blog about in terms of running.  What did I do?  Oh, I tore my plantar fascia tendon on a training run with Meg.  And no, contrary to rumors, she did not trip me for fear of me beating her at CIM this weekend (Good luck, btw!).  In fact, she was my guardian angel, and ran the 5 miles back to our cars to come get me when I couldn’t stand up to walk across the pathway to a bench.  Now that’s a true friend.  And while I was thinking I was going to be sidelined for months with inactivity…I was wrong.  Very wrong.

Much to my dismay (I tried to put my CrossFit membership on hold for a month), my CrossFit coaches decided that I could in fact keep doing CrossFit even if I was on crutches for two and a half weeks and my foot in a boot for four weeks.  They set me up with an intensive arm/ab cycle (bench press, strict press, pullups, T2B, sit ups, good mornings, dips, etc) that kept me occupied and burning during my rehab – and added a hell of a lot of definition to my arms, if I do say so myself.  On top of that, I picked up aquajogging, swimming and spinning early in the morning to keep the cardio mileage and time up.  I kept active, started eating paleo (90% of the time), and picked up the cross training.  And my, oh my did it pay off.

Just two weeks before Thanksgiving (for which I had pre-registered for a 10k, and then dropped to the 5k), I was given the a-okay to start running.  I was BEYOND stoked.  I started easing in taking a day off between my runs, and started with a 1 miler on the treadmill, then a 2 miler.  And since I was feeling really good, I picked it up and ran 3 on the road with Leslie and Meg.  I followed that up with a 1.5 mile run, a 3 mile run again with the ladies, and then took a few days hiatus, before running another 3 the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Through it all, there has been no pain in the foot (a miracle!), and I was very careful not to push myself too hard.  The same, however, cannot be said for Run, Turkey, Run 5k.

My goal was to just run the 3.1 miles.  My sister flew in for town for Thanksgiving so I didn’t have to spend it family-less, and she was just running it, so I was supposed to do the same.  I wasn’t supposed to go for time, I was just supposed to finish Run, Turkey, Run 5k.

Pre race, super excited to be running again!

Well, Thanksgiving morning I was feeling really good.  And as the race started, I just went on feel.  Next thing I know?  I’m running 7:00 for the first mile.  I knew this was bad, so I pulled back — or so I thought: 7:13 for the second mile.  The third mile my legs decided to hate me, and it was a 7:40, and the last .07 was at some unknown pace.

My sister and I post Turkey Trot

Next thing I know I finished 6th woman OA (I thought I was 5th, but apparently some woman behind me snuck in), and 3rd in my AG (20-29).  Oh yeah, and I ran my way to a shiny PR.  Yes, a 22 second PR with a time of 22:23 (7:13/mile pace for 3.07), having only been running for not even a full two weeks prior.

All smiles with my AG 3rd place medal!

Talk about cross training paying off, and not losing any speed during injury.  Hell, I got faster.

It was a great way to get back into running, and has made me super excited for the months of running in front of me (and here’s to NOT getting injured anytime soon — knock on wood!).  And all the crosstraining has definitely made me really thankful for the days that I can get out there and run.  Its amazing what a little perspective will do for you.

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?  Did you run a turkey trot?  I spent it with great friends and family (yay sis!), and was happy to be running in the morning.  I seriously couldn’t have been more thankful for that.

Breaking News: Just In…

My-oh-my.  These past two weeks have been ridiculous.  The week before my prelim retake consisted of 12-14 hour study days for SEVEN DAYS STRAIGHT.  During this time I also managed to do my long last run – it was supposed to be 20 miles, it turned out to be 18.  Sometimes you can’t win them all – and this time I was exhausted.

The week post-prelim retake was almost more stressful than the week before. MY ENTIRE future was on the line.  If I passed it, I could continue on the path towards becoming a professor.  However, if I failed, I would be out of the program.  The stress got to me.  I had a few too many glasses of wine, didn’t sleep well, and was out too late a few too many nights.

But then, then on Tuesday morning I got a phone call from the department.  And it was official: I PASSED MY PRELIM!  And with that, I was officially a second year – and officially FULLY FUNDED!  No more career path stress, no more monetary stress.  Within 30 seconds it felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. 

And I couldn’t have done it without all of you.  Thank you for your support and understanding during this time.  PhD programs – and all grad programs – are not easy on the mind or psyche.  All of your encouraging comments and thoughts really helped me through.  So, thank you for being the best bloggers and readers a girl could ask for.

The other thing that got me through this time was fuel…

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And awesome PhD friends and time on the coastal bluffs…


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Feels so good to know where I’m going to be for the next four years.  And with that note, time to hit the books on Friday night – marathon on Sunday!!!!

How do you celebrate great news?  What was your most recent great news?

Anyone else going to be at HMBIM this weekend?!