Ultramarathons and my Wienerschnüzzelstrassen Recipe

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I opened the junk drawer and found THIS:

And because no one in this house is turning 93 any time soon, it can only mean one thing:

We forgot two of our children’s birthdays.

Actually, turning 39 DOES scare me, but not in the way you might think.

Because I didn’t begin running until about three years ago, and because I was still not in good shape after my first marathon, and because my eating habits have been continually atrocious, all I could do was improve. Basically, when you start as a couch potato, mediocre marathoner (for example, one who likes to wash down entire bags of Salt & Vinegar chips with Cokes) looks pretty good. 

*See www.aufdiedauer.com for the painful details of my first marathon

In all fairness, running a marathon was a high goal for me–and meeting it changed the course of my life.

So now, my future seems bright. As an ‘older’ runner, I have a few years yet where I can become faster, leaner and stronger.

The reason those waxy cake toppers scare me is because it means I have little over a year to meet the entirely irrational and self-imposed deadline for two of my big dreams: to begin training for an ultra-marathon and to have my fiction published.

Sometime between the ages of 40 and 49 11/12, I would like to run an ultra marathon; specifically a mountain marathon; even more specifically, the Swiss Alpine Marathon K78; which takes you 79.4k through “high alpine terrain” (up to 2600 meters); which is terrifying  because it means my time for being lazy is running out.

Don’t ask me why I long to run nearly 50 miles through the Swiss Alps, because I have no idea.

I think I’m addicted to challenges the same way I’m addicted to horseradish. It’s for that zinging, biting, sweating thrill that makes you shake your head and say, “Yeah, I’m crazy,” while eagerly reaching for more.

It makes me thankful I’ve never tried Crack.

Training for marathon #3 begins ‘officially’ on Saturday; and I am hopeful, optimistic, and judging by my recent runs, faster this year.

But I’m just wondering how my newly veganized, minimalist-shoed body is going to perform?

I wonder if I can ditch my knee straps?

I wonder if I can sustain forefront running for 26.2 miles?

I wonder if I can find someone to bring me a warm double-espresso at mile 18?

I wonder if I could actually drink a double-espresso at mile 18, or if I would just spill it all over myself?

Marathon running combined with this plant-based diet is like a science experiment, and rather fun for me because I am that kind of nerd.

I know it sounds weird, but I get a thrill from making a gluten-free vegan dinner that ALSO tastes good–probably because, just like in my dreams 1 & 2, it seems impossible.

And the so-called Impossible makes me clench my jaw and think, “We’ll see about that!”

So, whatever your Big Goal is, work hard to achieve it. And don’t give up! Even if you feel you’re not progressing as quickly as your Dream Deadline dictates.

If I had abandoned Veganism after the Tofu-Garlic ‘Mashed Potatoes’ (which were, in fact, as disgusting as they sound), I never would have stumbled across the gloriously delicious Wienerschnüzzelstrassen (see recipe below!)

Recipe of the Week: 

Wienerschnüzzelstrassen AKA Cauliflower-Spinach ‘Mashed Potatoes’

I should have known that Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in his book Eat for Health, would ONLY share recipes that taste good. So, after sampling the delicious cauliflower-spinach ‘mashed potatoes,’ I served them to the family.

The only problem, as was debated by my cherubs around the dinner table, was that the name of the meal was rather unimaginative, so, they came up with some alternatives.

Yes, I am well aware that Wienerschnüzzelstrassen, in German, literally translates into ‘Viennese Schnüzzel Roads.’ And though I am a hopeless Amerikanerin, I am also well aware that Schnüzzel are not found in Germany, but rather, the word ‘Schnüzzel’ is derived from an obscure language only found in the uttermost regions of my teenage son’s head.

I selected the name because it A) had nothing to do with Optimus Prime, and B) sounded more appetizing than Spinach Sludge.

I love cookbooks, though I rarely follow them. So if you want the ‘real’ recipe with the dull-sounding name, you’ll have to buy Dr. Fuhrman’s book.

The Wienerschnüzzelstrassen recipe is my adaptation.


The Raw Materials

1 huge head fresh cauliflower, steamed (this is enough for a skeptical family of 6)

3 cloves of garlic, pressed and steamed with the cauliflower

2-4 cups baby spinach (depending on your taste buds)

1/2 cup raw cashew butter (see instructions for making your own)

Almond milk (or Soy or Rice milk, as needed)

1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional, as I just at this moment realized the recipe called for it–tastes fine if you forget it too!)

The Raw Cashew Butter

I had purchased an overpriced little jar at the organic store, only to realize it had a bunch of oil added. Thus, I got brave and made my own. I don’t have a fancy, schmancy nut-butter-maker (though I admit being a teensy bit jealous of those who own such contraptions), so I made mine the old-fashioned way–in the food processor.

Seriously Raw Materials

2 cups cashews (NOT salted or roasted…CHECK the ingredients: if they contain anything other than cashews, like salt or oil, put them back on the shelf!)

1 cup water, as needed

1/4 cup dates, pitted

1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or to taste). I simply squeezed half a lemon into mine.

Making the ‘Butter’

Toss cashews & dates into the food processor, and then listen to jokes by your 13 year-old daughter about having too many dates.

Using the ‘S’ blade, pulse and add half the water and the lemon juice. Keep pulsing, stopping to scrape down the sides (and to taste & adjust ingredients) as necessary.

The butter should begin to roll up into a ball. You can add more liquid to make it creamier, if necessary. Eventually it will look like a grainy sort of peanut butter. Continue to process until the cashews have all been de-chunkified.

Then, try not to eat it all before using in your Wienerschnüzzelstrassen recipe.

The Grand Design

Steam the cauliflower WITH the garlic, and if you are a multi-tasker, let it steam while you make the nut butter. When the cauliflower is steamed (about 8-10 minutes), drain, and press out as much moisture as possible. I put mine in a strainer, and mashed it down with a big spoon.

Place spinach in the steamer until it is just barely wilted, and set aside.

Process cauliflower/garlic and cashew butter in food processor with ‘S’ blade, until you have reached creamy, smooth perfection. If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of almond milk (or other milk substitute).

Add nutmeg, if you happen to remember it exists.

Fold in the wilted spinach.

For best results, serve hot, without telling your family what it actually contains. They will like it better that way and may even ask for seconds!

Guten Appetit!

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