Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

Category: Food (page 2 of 3)

Minor Progress and a Recipe

I do apologise for the large periods of silence around these parts lately. I’ve been stretched rather thinly in the real world so unfortunately when that happens blogging tends to be put on the back burner, but I’m happy to report that all is well and it’s good busy, not bad busy!

I’ve been having minimal trouble from my knee and ITB issues. I really think the sports massage treatment I had last week did a great job – what exactly it did I am not sure, but I’m certainly feeling the benefits. I went out on Sunday with the intention of doing 6 miles along the Deeside Railway line, but I felt so relaxed and happy that I decided to keep going and in the end ran 11 miles in 1:35. That’s 8:40 pace!! It was one of those runs where I completely found my groove and was able to push out mile after mile at a decent clip. The weather was a little odd however – I was wearing a tank top and shorts with sunglasses as it was sunny when I left. At mile 9 when it started pelting hail and snow, I began receiving some very odd looks from dog walkers and other people hurrying home…

We’ve been plagued with really bad weather recently and I have to admit my shorter runs have suffered – it is not possible to squeeze in short runs in between day and evening work when it is pouring with rain. I frequently work front-of-house at concerts so looking presentable is a must – not easy to do after taking an alfresco shower in the great outdoors.

I think I may have lost some of the blinding optimism of my last post – Baker Hughes is now only 9 days away and the prospect of knocking out six sub-8 miles on the trot is as scarey and alien as ever, but perhaps not completely out of reach. I am mindful of the fact that there is another 10k shortly after Baker Hughes (The Running Shop Beach 10k, on 12th June) which is entirely flat and without the crowds of Baker Hughes so that may well be a better bet for me to achieve my sub-50 goal, but I am still out to destroy my PB of 52:36 on May 20th and celebrate the start of my 3rd year of racing with a strong race.

It’s been some time since I’ve posted about food on the blog, so to make a change from endless narcissistic chat about my 10k training I’d like to share this recipe with you which I created and enjoyed this week. As a vegetarian ‘athlete’ I get asked quite frequently what on earth I eat to fuel my running, and honestly the answer depends on what I’m training for. In general however, I try to eat a diet as full of as many different fruits, vegetables, grains and pulses as possible, I tend to steer clear of dairy and eggs as much as I can (although I am not vegan) and am concious of sneaky added salts and sugar that can creep in to my diet when I’m not looking.

Processed food in general is a no-no for me, and instead of buying ready meals to eat throughout the week when I’m short on time, I prefer to make a big pot of something at the start of the week which will last a few dinners. This particular dish is a prime example of a typical meal which I enjoy; except this was given an unusual twist when I got the chance to use a somewhat unusual ingredient…

Last weekend my gentleman friend and I were enjoying some unnecessary and indulgent food shopping around some of the boutique specialist premises in the West End of Aberdeen and we came across this Garlic Beer. My love for unusual alcoholic beverages is well documented here, so unsuprisingly I picked up a bottle of this when I saw it on the shelves at Hammerton Stores. When I took it to the till (alongside bottles of Brewdog Paradox Jura, Bitch Please Islay Cask, several smelly cheeses, vegetable pates and a loaf of locally made bread…) the server asked me if I was going to cook with it! The thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but then later in the evening when we tried the beer it seemed like quite a good idea.

I poured a small glass to try it – it’s very, very aromatic and smells just like freshly crushed garlic. It tastes immediately like a hoppy IPA but follows with an intense garlic flavour which sticks around in your mouth for some time. It is certainly not a session beer! I have to admit I struggled to finish the small glass and immediately got to thinking about how I could use the rest.

Garlic Beer and Vegetable Stew


  • Box of chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 x medium onions
  • 1 x pepper
  • 1 x large courgette
  • Bag of quorn chunks or similar (I used Asda’s own brand)
  • Half can of Chickpeas (drained)
  • Small can of sweetcorn
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint of GARLIC BEER!
  • 300ml Vegetable stock


Heat a decent swig of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and lightly fry onions until soft.
Add chunkily chopped mushrooms, courgette and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
Gently add half of the beer and the vegetable stock and cook for further minute or two.
Add can of tomatoes, sweetcorn, chickpeas and quorn chunks, stir well, add spices and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes.
Add remainder of beer and simmer until desired sauce thickness is reached.


This recipe is fairly adaptable in that you could season it in many different ways – I went for a spicy Cajun flavour but you could as easily add a blend of Indian, Middle Eastern or Italian spices to creat a completely different dish. I mixed approximately 1tsp each of garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, chilli powder and thyme into the pan, alongside a couple of dashes of liquid smoke. Being a huge hot-head I also used around a tablespoon of my current hot sauce of choice, 100% Pain.

I served this with cous-cous and wholemeal pitta bread. It was amazing and this pan gave me two more dinners. You could easily replace the Garlic beer with your favourite Stout or IPA perhaps, if you can spare some that is. I will certainly be trying beer in more of my recipes – it gave the stew a unique flavour and depth which was very enjoyable!

D33 Ultra – Training Week 3

Another great week’s training in the bag – slightly less miles than were on the schedule but everything I did was quality hard work.

Monday – Yoga
Class was unfortunately late in starting due to someone who had hurt themselves in the class beforehand and needed medical attention. Maybe this was why I didn’t feel as sore the next day as last week, but either way I feel my flexibility and core strength returning. I caught my reflection in the mirror at one point and thought “holy crap I actually look like I know what I’m doing here…! Nice!”

Tuesday – Spinning
Unfortunatly I missed spinning this week due to working too late to get to the 5.30 class. I didn’t really miss it to be honest…

Wednesday – 6 miles, 1hr 1min
This run had the most random pacing I think I’ve ever experienced. The weather on Wednesday down at the beach was breath-takingly bad. The wind was so strong you could bearly stand up in it and to face it meant getting blasted full on in the face with sand. I ran two 9 minute miles down to the beach, one 14 minute mile struggling in to the wind, one 7 minute mile streaking back down the beach the other way where I nearly took off, and two 10ish minute miles on the way back. Hard work but as usual I was glad I completed what I set out to do.

Thursday – 8 miles, 1hr 23
This run was unusual as I had my friend Niall join me for the middle four miles for his first run, ever. I found myself thinking about how on earth one dictates correct form to an absolute beginner and in doing so spent quite some time analysing my own and how best to describe it. Hundreds of people have written thousands of books on how to run and I am certainly no expert, but I found myself telling him to firstly think about how and whereabouts he landed on his feet, to relax his arms and to just move in a way that felt natural to him.

Niall successfully completed just under 4 miles at a steady 11 minute pace with a couple of walking breaks and a rest after 2 miles to stretch and loosen out. He has since been out again by himself and has signed himself up to the Baker Hughes 10k…ladies and gentlemen, I think we have another convert!

Friday – REST
I fuelled for my extra long solo journey South the next day, by eating pizza and drinking Brewdog Stout…

Saturday – 21.5 miles, 3hrs 58min
This long run was a little ahead of schedule, but I took advantage of a social event to incorporate trying a new-to-me route and save myself a little money on public transport! My friend Graeme, aka Kynon, lives in Stonehaven and was planning a birthday dinner/pub session on Saturday night. I wanted to be able to enjoy myself without worrying about a long run the next day so pulled my scheduled 20 miler forward a day. I knew it was possible to run from Aberdeen to Stonehaven, so queried a few of my ultra friends for a route and the consensus was to head in-land via Drumoak.

Unfortunately whilst the coastline between Aberdeen and Stonehaven is some of the most beautiful in the country, no coastal path extends beyond Portlethen. Instead this route to Stonehaven follows the Deeside Railway route (aka the actual D33 Ultra route) out to Drumoak and then cuts down on back roads and forestry trails with a big climb to reach the top of a hill, before a fast few final miles downhill towards the coast.

I had strict timing to keep to after agreeing to arrive at Kynon’s house at 3.45pm when he would be arriving home from rugby. To that end I judged that leaving at 11:30am would allow for four hours of steady running to my goal pace with a little breathing room to stop and rest if required. The first eight miles along the railway line were without note as I’ve done them so frequently before, but before long I was travelling along parts of the route which were new to me so I turned off my music and enjoyed listening to the sounds around me.

The weather was perfect again – I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been so far. It did get a lot colder the further inland I moved.

There was a thick frost in places and some interestingly shaped ice in the puddles. These are the kind of inane things I notice when I’m toddling along…!

When I reached Drumoak it was time to turn South and I took the opportunity to have a couple of jaffa cakes and enjoy the view of the River Dee for a minute or two.

Shortly after this bridge the road began to climb, after crossing South Deeside Road the road went up very steeply indeed and when I got to the top of the hill I turned around and saw this…

The view as seen from a smart phone is obviously fairly poor, but from my vantage point I could see right up Royal Deeside and beyond towards the snow-capped Cairngorms.

The journey continued and the miles ticked by. Between 13 – 17 my legs were feeling pretty fatigued from the hill, but I did my best to stick to my 30 min run/5 min walk strategy except when I was going up a hill I couldn’t see the top of. Once the route turned on to Forestry trails I felt a lot more isolated – the only sound was my feet hitting the ground and my breathing. It occurred to me at this point that since I was off road I could safely turn my music back on, but to be honest I really didn’t want Lady Gaga blaring in my ears when I could listen to the world around me. I emerged from the dark forest to reach the top of another hill to yet another view which took my breath away.

Miles of empty countryside ahead of me with the North Sea and Stonehaven twinkling likeĀ  gems in the distance.

At that point there was not a person on the planet who knew exactly where I was, and it felt amazing. I felt so grateful to be in good enough health and strong enough to tackle these distances, and so thankful to live in this part of the world where these trails are on my doorstep.

Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment!

I could have stayed up there all day, but there were more miles to run and beer at the end of them to drink. I floated down the other side of the hill and cruised the last few miles in to Stonehaven on the roads to arrive promptly at my destination at 3:44pm.

I felt SO STRONG at 21 miles, I could have gone on forever! Things are shaping up very well for tackling 33 miles in just 6 weeks time. The fear is gone and the excitement is growing – I can do this race, and I can do it well!

After a shower and some recovery munchies we headed off to the Marine for an amazing dinner. I’m not one to run to burn off calories, but I can honestly tell you that when you’ve covered 21.5 miles a couple of hours before and you are presented with this…

…not an ounce of guilt shall be felt. Yes, that is a 6″ x 3″ slab of breaded, deep fried Howgate Kintyre brie with redcurrant compote. And yes, it was as good as it looks.

Sunday was a quiet one, spent recovering from the indulgences of the night before. I thought about heading out for a few shakeout miles to make up my weekly target once I got back to Aberdeen, but sometimes you just know when you need a rest. I’ve had three hard weeks training and now I’m heading into a cut-back week. Much as it pains me to dial it down a notch (it goes against all my natural training urges!) I know that the body needs a few days to regroup and recover to make sure I can hit next week harder than ever without injury.

‘Til next time!

Technical Problems

Hi Friends! Unfortunately here at Red Wine Towers our broadband has broken and my plans of posting my Texas update have been thwarted for now.
I can still do a brief update on my phone however so I thought I’d update you all on some of the exciting food I got to eat whilst back Stateside!
One of the problems of being an avid blogger based in the UK is that so many of the produce and products talked about in US healthy living blogs are simply not available over here, and ESPECIALLY not up in Aberdeen which is relatively isolated from the rest of the United Kingdom, both physically and culturally. Veganism? Nigh on unheard of. Almond butter? Nope. Coconut water? Kombucha? Pitta chips? No, nada and nyet.
So naturally I was very excited to try all of these things and more and see if the buzz around the blogosphere about these foods was anything worth writing home about. On my first day in Austin my friend Celeste took me to the Texas grocery chain H.E.B so I could buy some supplies for my visit. I used to love visiting H.E.B when I lived in Austin – the huge amounts of fresh produce available is truly Texas sized and the choice is mind blowing. Wandering around the Whole Foods section I was able to find several different types of nut butters… Jen at Peanut Butter Runner recommended I try Sunflower Butter – I liked this; it was very smooth and creamy and tastes exactly like sunflower seeds. I love cashew nuts so naturally I grabbed some cashew butter – it’s quite sickly but still tasty, i want to try it on some kind of Sourdough bread. Finally I bought some jars of the legendary Almond butter; loved, seemingly, by anyone with a healthy living blog! I bought a big jar of plain Maranatha, a jar of dark chocolate Maranatha and two sachets of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. I had no idea what it might taste like – since it’s made of almonds I thought it would maybe have a marzipan flavour. I was surprised at how runny it was – i had it with a banana and it has a very hard to describe taste…it’s thick and claggy in the mouth with a pasty texture. To be fair I was expecting something lifechanging but it was…moderately tasty. The chocolate one is phenomenal however – it tastes like cake icing! I haven’t yet tried the Justin’s but I’m going to put it on a bagel. VERDICT: NUT BUTTERS = worth the hype. I near exceeded my baggage allowance on my way home šŸ™‚


Next up – Coconut water. This has been hailed as a miracle fluid that hydrates the body quicker than water. The fit blog community love it – It’s essentially the water you find inside a coconut, flavoured, and put in a single serve carton. I bought two – natural flavour and tropical flavour, and tried them both first thing in the morning when I was dehydrated. I really didn’t like it actually – it was slightly thicker than water and the thick clear texture made me retch somewhat. There wasn’t much flavour going on and I didn’t find it refreshing in the slightest. VERDICT: COCONUT WATER = BOKE.
Thirdly – Kombucha. I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs talking about kombucha recently. It’s a fermented tea made with live cultures which are kept in it and retained in the bottle. You can get many different flavours and there seemed to be a lot of Austin companies making and selling it locally. Due to the live cultures in the drink it helps digestion and maintaining a healthy balance in the body…I think. I need to read up on it online. I found it wonderfully refreshing and flavoursome – it wasn’t cheap ($3.50ish a bottle) but if it was available over here I’d definitely be drinking it. VERDICT: KOMBUCHA = WINNER!
Pitta Chips. Now I looooove pitta bread; i’ll eat it at any time of day and I can’t think of a better snack or accompaniment to a meal than a steaming hot pitta and creamy cold hummous. I was excited to see Pitta Chips so I bought a huge sack of them – just as well as they were SO. YUMMY. They’re rectangular and about 3/4 of an inch by an inch, and very thick and crunchy. They were wholemeal and had a wonderful crisp grainy, earthy texture – not greasy at all. I ate them dipped in hummous or salsa…very, very tasty. I’m going to try and make these myself… VERDICT: PITTA CHIPS = HELL YEAH!

Other food notes…let’s be honest, Texas and the South is notorious for it’s food, and you either love it or you hate it. Me? I am in love with Texmex – cheese, chillies and corn chips – what’s not to like?!
– Blue corn chips…not as wild tasting as you’d think. Kinda boring actually.
– JalapeƱo flavour crisps are still the most amazing thing ever.
– Lemon Pepper – what a great condiment!
– Frito Pie – a Texas speciality; a pie made of Frito crisps, salsa, guac, queso and chili. What the hell?!
– Fried pickles! – after Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point ate some recently and waxed lyrical about their greatness, I knew I had to try them when I saw them on special at a fried food cart. They were coated in a salty batter made with sesame seeds and coconut. AMAZING – but a bit salty. I took some pictures which will appear when the broadband is back.
– Michelada del Sur – an amazing Mexican beer drink. 1/3 tomato juice, hot sauce and lime juice topped up with Dos Equis Mexican beer, served over Ice with lime. Sooo refreshing – I tried to recreate this with Asda tomato juice and Tennants’ lager recently and it failed miserably šŸ™
– Migas – My old friend Angharad over at Eating for England recently did a post on Migas after she revisited Austin last year (to get married! To the man she met whilst we were both studying in Austin! She now lives in Minnesota and has an ace food – go check it out!). Migas are a Texmex breakfast food – eggs scrambled with cheese, tortilla chips, onions, peppers and whatever else is lying around around in the fridge and served with the usual trimmings. I had mine at Trudy’s – with a legendary Mexican Martini whilst catching up with an old friend. Sheer Austin bliss.

I think this has to be it now; my fingers are exhausted from typing on my phone but I really wanted to share some of my amazing food experiences with you all!

Buggy lugs

Ugh, I’m SICK. With the creation of my training plan I did not factor in the fact that I might catch some filthy bug which would knock my on my ass. Ā On Saturday I woke up with that tell-tale funny feeling in the back of my throat that something wasn’t right, but I headed out for my long run in the lashing rain and wind anyway. Afterwards I felt really woozy but I figured that was just because I’d run so far and got on with the rest of my day. I was a little hungover on Sunday after watching the rugby and hitting a friends birthday party the night before and my throat was acting up AND I was coughing. Monday? Yep, sick. Stuffed up nose, green gunge, cotton wool head, nausea; the works. I kept perky for a wonderful Valentines dinner with Badger but I knew by the end of the evening I wouldn’t be going to work the next day šŸ™

So Tuesday was spent on the couch and Wednesday I came back to work and struggled to the gym determined to bust the bug out of my system, but I bonked on the treadmill after 2 miles and did weights instead. I felt better for it last night but today I’ve been struggling. My ears are all funny and I’ve had a three day headache…hill intervals weren’t happening when I got home from work. It’s not a cold, it’s not flu – it must be some gross virus. Unfortunately working at a University leaves you exposed to constant streams of varying bugs so you never know what’s around the corner. I hate feeling like this though – I’d rather have 3 days of sickness and diahorrea than a week of feeling gross.

I’m a little concerned about losing out on training, but not too much. Much better to stay in and get better than compromise my immune system by running outside when ill. I’m also spurred on by my AWESOME run on Saturday. I mentioned running far? Well…

That’s 7.5miles you see there! Seven and a half! I’ve never run so far in my life, I was so pleased – every step was a new record! I took it very easy at roughly 9m30s pace throughout and hit 10k at 1hr and 30s. As mentioned above the weather was atrocious, and down at the beach it was even worse – a strong wind which carried me along running one way along the beach front, but was a huge struggle to run into going the other way.Ā HorizontalĀ rain as well so I was COMPLETELY soaked. There were a few other runners out but hardly any compared toĀ yourĀ average Saturday afternoon – we exchanged knowing looks; relieved that we weren’t the only person to be crazy enough to run in that weather.

I could have gone for longer when I got home, and I wanted to – that’s the frustrating thing, but I didn’t want to risk injury. At least I know whatever I’m doing, I’m doing the right thing for long distance runs. If I was to run a half marathon at that pace I’d finish in 2hrs and 5minutes; which is only 5 minutesĀ moreĀ than my goal time… I’ve begun looking for a half marathon earlier in the summer, and even begun entertaining the idea of running a marathon in the Autumn… Loch Ness perhaps? Or maybe I should become more familiar with the half marathon distance throughout the latter half of this year and be ready to run a full at the start of next year? Hmmm. Ideally I’dĀ likeĀ a half to be my go-to distance; 10k is actually a really fast run if you’re trying to do well and I prefer to go slower for longer (I guess that’s my inner ultra marathoner speaking :P).

Speaking of 10k’s however – my home run, the City of Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k, opened on Monday and I was the 29th person to register and the 10th woman. Let’s hope those are the results on the day eh!? I’m REALLY looking forward to this race; it’s held down by the beach which is where I run all the time so I know the course inside out and I’m looking forward to showing what 8 months of training can do to my PR – I’m hoping for around 48 minutes which would knock 6m 47s off my current 10k PR, but of course I may PR at at RunGarioch 10k next month. I’m excited for that too – I’m bored of 5k races, I’m itching to do something more challenging!

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