Szechuan Tofu with Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choi

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Have you ever chewed Szechuan peppercorns by themselves? They make your tongue tingle, a feeling like licking a battery. It’s like nothing else in the world – you can see why Szechuan foods are sometimes labelled “Numb and Spicy” when translated from Chinese. Don’t worry though, in this vegan and gluten-free recipe, the feeling is rounded out by earthy miso and balsamic, and a good pungent Szechuan-hit of garlic, ginger and chilli.

I’ve been experimenting with the peppercorns, trying to find an easy dish that showcases them but isn’t overpowered. Tofu is the perfect pair to it, a great blank canvas for all of these big flavours, and the mushrooms give a gorgeous meaty bite. I’ve been a bit stuck in my rut lately, making the same peanut-butter stir fry for dinner several times a week, so I’m pleased to have created something new to add to the repertoire.

You can buy Szechuan peppercorns at Chinese supermarkets, or at bigger supermarkets, and once you have them, this dish is basically a store-cupboard standby. Hurray! Happy Chinese New Year

This blog post has been made in collaboration with Cauldron Foods to celebrate Chinese New Year. Check out our archive for more tofu inspiration. 

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Vegan Risotto Cakes

vegan risotto cakes

We Veggie Runners are full of the Blitz spirit. We’re all about make do and mend, waste not, want not and putting a few stitches in our lucky race knickers so we don’t have to buy new ones. We’re the same with food. Why make one meal when you can stretch it out to two, three or even four? Having your dinner ready leaves more time for running and/or washing your sweaty race kit too. Win-win, which you know we love.

This dish starts out as a tasty vegan risotto using seasonal vegetables and ends up as delicious risotto cakes to serve with a crisp salad or steamed veg. It’s inspired by Ottolenghi’s Brussels Sprout Risotto, in that it also uses Brussels sprouts, but the resemblance ends there, really. We’ve made a vegan variation, ditching cheese for nutritional yeast, used different vegetables and added beans for extra protein. Continue reading

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Top 5 Reflective Outfits and Accessories for Runners (And their Dog and Cat Friends)

{Reposted from 2014, with new clothes and more DOGS}

Hey, you, runners! You are great, you are powerful, you are better than you were yesterday. You are, however, NOT INVINCIBLE. This winter, I have been seeing a lot of runners out in head-to-toe black, no reflectors, headphones in and it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

We need to have a talk about reflective gear. Lights, outfits, shiny jewellery that will make you be seen and stop traffic in its tracks. If you drive, you’ll know how fogged up car windows get at this time of year. Add this on top of the 18 hour darkness, and misty mornings and you need to light yourself up like a christmas tree to stand a chance of being seen. It’s not only cars you need to be seen by – out with my lovely lovely run group last week, we very nearly all crashed domino-like into a runner dressed, for all intents and purposes, as a ninja. Good one, mate.

Gone are the days when you had to nick a hi-vis vest from work to be seen on a run or your bike. It’s not too hard to be seen and be reasonably chic at the same time. Please, please, please implement one or all of these ‘Be safe, be seen’ measures to keep yourself safe when you’re out running – here are my picks. Please share yours in the comments below – we love new gear.

Light-Up Dog Collars

No, not for YOU. For your dog. Your pal is pretty invisible at night, tends to dart, and is more valuable than anything. Keep him in sight and safe with a light up dog collar, which will have the added benefit of making you feel like you’re at a puppy rave. I don’t think those exist but I think they would be brilliant. Puppy rave > Cat Cafes.

Light up Dog Collar for Runners

Henry, the fastest and most handsome member of my Teesside run group

GOD look at how cute he is! His collar was from the market, but you can get them here at Amazon, too. If you have a dog, you gotta get one of these.

Reflective Clothes

A little flash of reflective tape on your zipper or seam isn’t going to cut it. When it comes to shine, as every showgirl knows, more is more. Technology has come along strides in the past two or so years – the fabric isn’t stiff, and washes much better than reflective bits used to. I love that everyone is incorporating reflective gear into the actual design of gear, rather than as an afterthought. How cool are these Nike leggings?

Nike Flash Tights

Nike Flash Tights

Sweaty Betty’s upcoming SS15 collection has totally flashy running gear, which you can have a sneakypeek at on our friend Sophie’s blog, BePrettyFit
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Get Faster, Fast! How to smash your marathon PB in 2015.

This guest post comes from the fantastic Laura Fountain, the brain behind Lazy Girl Running and half of our favourite event of the year, run blogging conference Write This Run. Having run ten marathons, she knows a thing or two about training. When I heard her Marathon Talk interview and found out that she had taken nearly an hour off her marathon time, I asked her to share her tips with you guys. 

If you’d like to read more about Laura’s exploits, you should buy her real life, proper paper book, The Lazy Runner and follow her on Twitter

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My marathon PB still stands from Manchester in 2013 where I ran 3:38. This was a 53 minute improvement on my first marathon in Brighton (4:31). Jayne and Bibi asked me to share how it happened. As with most things in running, it’s mainly common sense and patience, but both those things are often easy to leave behind when you put on your running shoes. So it’s probably worth repeating.

1 Consistent training over time

Running didn’t come easy to me. It took six months for me to build up to my first 10k. When I finished it the idea of running another 20 miles seemed preposterous. After I ran Brighton in 2010, I was pretty happy with how it went, but it took another 18 months until I did another marathon.

When I started training for marathon number two in Nottingham, my thoughts turned to running it faster, if for no other reasons, so I could get to the pub sooner. I ran Nottingham, but not as fast as I’d wanted (4:17), then I ran Edinburgh six months later a bit quicker (3:59) and then Manchester in 2013 (3:38). There are three years between my first marathon and my fastest race. That’s three years of (mainly) consistent training. Some people’s upwards trajectory is steeper than others, but there are no short cuts or magic bullets. You have to put in the training, be realistic and have patience.

2 Choice of race

Having said that, there are a few things that can help. Manchester was a nice flat course (they claim to be the flattest in the UK) and that certainly helped. This year I ran Snowdonia marathon – it’s a course where you look at the scenery and not at your watch. Only a fool would try to get a PB on a mountainous route, but it makes the point that some courses are made for going fast and some beg you to slow down. There are things that can go wrong on marathon day that are beyond your control. I ran Venice in 30mph wind, rain and through floodwater. I was hoping for a PB that day. It didn’t happen, so try to enjoy these races as best you can and have a back-up plan.

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