In a Rut & Bacon Truffle Parmesan Popcorn

All day yesterday I thought it was Tuesday.

 

I am especially happy it’s Thursday today.  If it was only Wednesday this week would be reallllly long.

I don’t know what it is, but this week has seemed tedious.  Work, workouts, even cooking.  I think I need a vacation.

spring break

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be an adult.  No authority, no homework… I do what I want!  Wellll… the thing I didn’t realize is that you actually DO have to answer to people (bosses, bills, cops…) and there really IS homework (work you were handed at the end of the day, house work, working on my fitness, other obligations).

I’m not necessarily complaining.  I normally love working out and I’m happiest when my job is busy.  It’s just this week.  This cold.  Bad dates.  Girl Scout Cookie cravings (I swear those little people are stalking me at the grocery store!).  I need a vacation.  Some place warm.

Thankfully, I have friends like Kat to cheer my up.  Not only will she meet me for a glass of wine and a second dinner after a bad date, but she also write a guest post (see below), that perfectly describes my feelings right now.

So now you should quit reading my whining and listen to Kat, who reads my mind and makes me feel more connected:

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It’s part of human nature to sometimes feel like “no one gets you.”  We have to make an effort to realize that it’s not true!  You’re never alone – someone will always be able to “get you” if you just reach outside yourself.  (Editor’s note: get outta my head, Kat!)

Being A Person

 

So, I have to share – I was in a RUT! Every kind of rut – a running rut, a yoga rut, a dating rut, a food rut, and opening up about my feelings rut.  UGH!

How to kick yourself out of a rut?  First steps first – admit it to yourself… then tell people!  When people relate to you, they often offer suggestions that help you pull out of your rut and kick you into high gear with a new, better attitude.

Who's Awesome?

 

And having an amazing Friday night girls night opening up to some of your closest friends and sharing a lot of wine your feelings doesn’t hurt either.

K Trifecta: Kelly, Kat, & Kim

K Trifecta: Kelly, Kat, & Kim

 

To get out of my running rut, I decided to run some new places, with new friends, and make better, solid plans!  This helped my running rut because it made me want to run even more than I already usually want to!

I made a plan with a new friend, and a woman from yoga.  BOY did that help! :)  It made me get back to my smile-when-I-run mental amazing state, and enjoy my solo runs even more. (I know, crazy, running with people made me enjoy solo runs more???)

Running is my quality time

 

Have you ever noticed that smiling literally makes you happy?  It’s true.  Whatever muscles you use when you smile trigger something in your body, that triggers something in your brain… let the experts tell you about it.  It can also make you younger, prettier, friendlier, and on and on.  The point is – SMILE.  (Editor’s note: this actually works.  I was skeptic, but after Kat told me this I grinned my way through my 8 hour race!)

I ran 15 miles on Monday (Yo-Run-Ga! – 7 before yoga & 8 after).  On my way home, I was almost GIGGLING.  I was smiling so big and bright.  I love love love to run.  It makes me high.  BUT, not everyone can relate to that.  So, apply it to your favorite thing/activity!  Smile while you do it!

Run yogi run

 

Now, to get out of the yoga rut. I was taking the same classes over and over and over. I was hitting a plateau – not trying as hard, not getting much stronger, not learning new poses. Perfect solution – try a new teacher!

Turns out I didn’t even really like the new teacher I tried, but I learned something and it helped me to enjoy my regular classes even more.

Yoga pose

I want to learn to do this!

 

I really want to start learning new poses and breaking out of my shell.  Maybe I will try a new studio or ask some of my favorite instructors for tips.  I know I’m strong enough and flexible enough to do more!

The dating rut?  I have no idea how to get myself out of this one.  Ask someone else for advice on this.  (Editor’s note: Good Lord, don’t ask me. #fail)

Hey Girl Boyfriend Material

 

The food rut!  Okay, seriously, who else ends up buying the same groceries over and over and over?!  It’s like I have been reusing the same listforever!  And you know what I make?  The same meals.  I know, shocking!

To get out of the food rut, I have had a few strategies:

  1. Eat out more! If you do this, you will draw inspiration from menus, and eat different things.
  2. Shop in the frozen section.  No, don’t actually spend a ton of money buying the frozen meals, but use the ideas to go buy stuff to make similar, more fun items.
  3. Buy something, anything, that you wouldn’t normally buy, then go online and search the ingredient for recipe ideas.  The advent of the internet is glorious!  (Editor’s note: So true!  I just bought curry leaves = awesome.)

 

One other thing I like to do, is find something I like, and do it better!  For example, I had Bacon Cracker Jack Popcorn (below) at Harper Station.  UGH – It could be done SO much better.  (Editor’s note: I had the same thing at Holeman & Finch 2 weeks ago… and thought the same thing!)  So I later made Bacon Truffle Parmesan PopcornWIN.

12 Lb Popcorn

Yes, it’s real!

I couldn’t help but recreate it after coming home to a 12.5 pound bag of popcorn on my door step, thanks to my friend Jimmy!

Popcorn is one of my favorite foods.  In fact, I eat it almost every day!  Not always as decadent, usually just some EVOO and Salt.

H. Harper Station popcorn

H. Harper Station popcorn

 

Mine was SO much better.  First of all, the “Cracker Jack” from H. Harper Station was way too sweet.  Second of all, their bacon was NOT crispy – and it was COLD. Turn-off!  Third, who doesn’t love truffle-parmesan anything… and then you add bacon!?  AMAZING WIN!

And I got the idea for the cute little serving cups online – bonus if you’re going for portion control. I refilled my “personal size” like 3 times.  (Editor’s note: Bring me some!!!  Inviting a friend helps with portion control!)

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MY Bacon Popcorn = Amazing

MY Bacon Popcorn = Amazing

Bacon Truffle Parmesan Popcorn

  • 1/4 C popcorn kernels
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 T truffle salt
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked crispy and chop finely
  • 1 C shredded Parmesan

 

Cook the popcorn in the coconut oil; this gives it a better texture.

Then coat the popcorn with truffle salt.  Add bacon (finely chopped and crispy) and Parmesan.

Use a large spoon to stir it all together.  Devour.

Notes: This is not a healthy meal option.  You could also sub the truffle parm and do bacon chocolate popcorn!  YUM!  Next time.

Editor’s note: Make it vegan with bacon bits (yes, they’re vegan) and nutritional yeast!

***

Tomorrow is Friday.  Kat’s post made me smile.  *deep breaths*

What kinds of ruts have you been in, and how do you get out of them? TIPS!?

What is your favorite unhealthy snack?

 

Awareness in the Long Run + Sweet Potato-Pecan Mac N Cheese

I know I’ve already complained…

 

But it’s really flippin’ cold.

Honestly, it isn’t TERRIBLE.  I have a lot to be happy about.  I made it through security with my questionable stash, had a productive day at my client’s office, and had a bangin’ workout.

Hotel workout

Not too shabby for a hotel gym that only had dumbbells, eh?  I sure was happy to have a homemade chicken burger, celery, and snow peas waiting for me in the room after that burn.

I was also happy to have my Pop Snax.  You can find these in the children’s food aisle at Whole Foods.  Don’t judge!  Kid food travels well and is typically low in sodium and sugar!

Pop Snax

Even better?  When I asked an employee if she’d tried them before, she said she hadn’t but that I could try them for FREE.  She game me the whole container.  Yet another reason I  that place.

 

Enough about me and my random foods.  Kat is back this week with an amazing San Fran trip recap, and some serious mac ‘n cheese food porn.

Heeeeere’s Kat!

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There are so many ways to be self-aware.  I think it’s increasingly natural for many of us to be aware of our food and what we put into our bodies, and we are generally aware of our basic needs and desires.  For example… You could be aware of whether or not you are cat person or if you are more like a cat.  Laura and I both feel that the following photo describes both of us (Editor’s note: Me?  Never… HA!):

NotTheCatLadyType

Okay, okay, really I was trying to find a way to fit this in!

 

But I’m talking about a different kind of awareness…the kind where you have to pay attention… to yourself.

Instead of looking at what others are doing or saying and judging them, looking at yourself and wondering why you feel that way about something said or done or the situation you are in.  Then, don’t judge it or try to change it.  Just accept it.  Whether you’re happy, sad, or in pain from a work out (or something in life), it’s okay to accept it.

TooManyRun

 

I started another 30-day yoga challenge on Saturday.  It was a spur of the moment decision, but I’m ready to make some changes.  What changes, you ask!?  Well, I’m not even sure I know.  I just know that I feel ready to change even more for the better, keeping with my New Year’s theme of taking crap off my plate to enhance the quality of what I do take on.

Yoga makes me run smoother, love better, and enjoy life.

A good life

 

I want to be more aware of the way I respond to other people and situations and why.  I want to be more aware of my stressors and triggers that throw me into a mood, a frenzy, or some other state of discomfort.  I want to listen to my body’s needs and desires in a new way.  Yoga really helps me to concentrate on feelings that flow naturally and become more aware of them.

My goal in all this is to learn to love myself and my life more.  I think my new “awareness” will help me to be more understanding, forgiving, and loving – of myself and others – in a unique new way.  In the physical long runs and in the long run of life, awareness leads to growth – physical, mental, emotional.  My theory?  This is how to live a long and fulfilling life.

 

Now… onto some PHYSICAL and FOOD!  Because I also personally think a good life is also when you get to spend as much time as possible outside being active and enjoying good food!  (Editor’s note; AMEN to that!)

Recap 1!

Recap 1!

 

RECAP!

I had some good times with old friends and acquaintances, we went to Napa and I got to visit Sullivan Vineyards (that Laura recommended) and joined the wine club, saw the Golden Gate from the overlook in Sausalito at night, explored the whole city on foot, did a trail race, had a picnic at Cowgirl Creamery (Editor’s note: No you didn’t!  Lucky!!!), did more exploring, and rode on an old school cable car.  The trail run was the most beautiful, and the steepest I have ever done.

2_7-SanFranRecap2

The SteepRavine was the steepest and hardest, but also the most beautiful trail run I have ever done!  It was a HUGE race.  I chose the 25K distance.  But… well…. as I told Laura and some other bloggers last week, I went off course, and ended up running an extra couple of miles.  Oops!!  But you can’t really be upset about that when it was THAT beautiful!  (Editor’s note:  You probably did it on purpose ;))

 

CHECK OUT THE VIEWS!!!!!!

2_7-Trails1

2_7-Trails2

 

Some of the most inspiring moments in the race showed up when you least expected them.  I really paid attention to my body.  I had to stop and adjust my food.  It was freezing, and then hot, and then freezing.  But I got to meet a lot of cool people out there, one of whom told me that you usually can’t see so far because it’s too foggy.  Boy did I luck out!

My friends Sara and Jenny were kind enough to drive me out there and wait on me while I finished.  And then we had an amazing little picnic afterwards.  They really made my trip enjoyable.  They were spectacular hosts who made me feel at home.  The way they made me feel comfortable, made me feel calm, safe, and happy.  Definitely good!  They also helped me with my itinerary for my last day, where I got to visit the Ferry Building!  CHECK OUT ALL THESE COOL LOCAL SAN FRANCISCO GOODS!

Cowgirl Creamery

Cowgirl Creamery after the Race!

Ferry Building

Ferry Building

 

I came back feeling extremely food inspired.  Jenny and Sara took me to a place called Homeroom Mac and Cheese.   Yes, that’s what they make!  They specialize in Mac N Cheese!!!!  Check out their menu!  It’s inventive and awesome.  I took a spin on it and created two of my own last Friday.  I made a Sweet Potato Pecan Baked Mac n Cheese and a Tomato Basil Pesto Baked Mac n Cheese.

I personally liked the sweet potato better, so I HAVE to share this recipe.  Let’s pretend I actually measured most of this!

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Sweet Potato Mac 'n Cheese

Sweet Potato-Pecan Baked Mac ‘n Cheese

  • 1 egg (tofu would work)
  • 1 ½ C milk or milk substitute (I used coconut milk!)
  • ¼ C fat-free sour cream (or substitute)
  • ~2 T brown rice flour
  • ~2 T butter
  • 8-10 oz of Gluten Free Elbow Macaroni Noodles
  • CHEESE – LOTS OF GRATED CHEESE! (please grate your own… it DOES make a difference) – I used 1 C Cheddar, ¼ cup fontina, and ¼ cup smoked gouda
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Pecans to top
  • Salt and pepper to taste (and a little cayenne)

 

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Prepare an 8×8 pan for the mac.

Cube your sweet potato into roughly ¾ inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Place in oven.  I did not season or oil – plenty of seasoning and oils from the rest of the meal!

Boil noodles according to package instructions.  Make them al dente; don’t over-cook.  Strain, rinse with cold water.  Strain again. Set aside.

Now the yummy part!  Take your butter and flour and mix together in a sauce pan over medium heat.  USE A WHISK!  This makes a delicious roux.  Don’t let it get TOO brown, but you want to do this for a good base flavor.

Reduce the heat to medium low, add milk, and mix until combined.  Wait a minute for the temperature to drop because you don’t want your egg to cook!  Keep whisking.

Start slowly adding your cheese.  You could add even more than I recommended.  Add all but ¼ cup of the cheddar (reserve that for the topping).

Once all the cheese is good and mixed in, you should begin to feel excited, very excited about the creamy delectableness.  Add salt and pepper and a bit of cayenne, if desired.  Paprika or cinnamon would also be good here.  Taste it.  Make sure it tastes good.  This is an important step people – do NOT skip it!  Whisk again.

Pull the sweet potatoes out of the oven.  You want them to still be pretty firm, like the texture of an apple.  Add the sweet potatoes AND the noodles to the sauce deliciousness.  Mix up.  Put in 8×8 baking dish.

Sprinkle the reserved cheddar on top and about ¼ to ½ cup of pecans - however many you like!

Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Note: When you pull it out, it WILL BE JIGGLY!  That’s okay – it’s because it’s creamy.  Wait 5-10 minutes then serve and devour!

 

2_7-Mac2

Please be sure to invite friends.  (Editor’s note: I didn’t receive an invite.  I demand an invite.  De-Mand.)  This will keep you from eating the whole pan in one sitting by yourself.  Your friends will never forgive you for making them the best mac n cheese of their lives.  Also serve with veggies.

I didn’t get many good pictures because I had people over and we dove in too fast… SORRY!

-Kat

***

Oh Kat… why must she make me drool from my hotel room?  Whatever.  I have more fro-yo for dessert.  24 degree temps, be damned.

Have you ever been inspired by something you ate at a restaurant, and then liked yours better?

How often do you pay attention to YOURSELF?

 

Cramming 101: Endurance Training and Recovery

Endurance isn’t for the weak.

 

It also probably should not be prepared for in a cram session.

This Saturday I’m doing an adventure/orienteering race that my cousin talked me in to.  8 hours in the woods with a GPS.  They give you the start, the finish, and a couple of mandatory check points along the way.  It will be running, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing.  I hope I live.

 

Keep going

 

Some of you may not know it, but before I got into lifting seriously, I was a runner.  I was a decently fast 5K’er, loved adventure races (hellllloooo Tough Mudder) and ran a few Halfs.  I wanted to run a full but one day my knee said no.  If I ever want to run distances again I need to have surgery.  That won’t be happening.

 

All of this to say, I haven’t been running in 8 months!  Saturday that changed.  My cousin recommended I get 6 hours of continuous exercise/training in before the race.  Cramming.

Kat agreed to keep me company for half of that by taking me on one of her trail run/hikes.

Kat and Me

 

13 STEEP miles in 3 hours.  We hiked up steep incline filled with wet leaves, leapt over creeks, and ran power lines.  It was the perfect day for it – record high 75 degree temps and partly cloudy.

I was sore half way through.  

 

Nutrition is something I struggle with.  I have a hard time eating or drinking during a run – it makes me slosh and cramp.  In our 3 hour run, I just ate a mini über Lara Bar (the one with the nuts) and sipped some water.  Will have to be sure to take in more fuel while biking and canoeing this weekend.

We finished (thank you, Kat, for being patient with me) and did a little yoga to loosen up.  I chugged water.

Post-Run Yoga #FitFluential

 

Kat dropped me at my place where I ran up to pee, change shoes, and eat.  In that order.

I broke out an old favorite for fuel:

Sweet Potato “Cereal”

  • 1/2 sweet potato, bakes and cubed
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Unsweetened almond milk

 

Place sweet potato in a cereal bowl.  Mix together remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, adding milk until the mixture thins to a milk consistency.

Pour protein milk over the ‘taters and inhale.

 

Then I grabbed my bike, water bottle, and a GU and took off.  (Note: Espresso GU is tasty!)

Gingerly set out may be a better way to describe it.  I was tired.  What I considered to be “flat” ground before seems quite hilly.  I rode about 15 miles (had to stop for air in my tires and forgot to re-start my RunKeeper app).  After I loosened up a bit, it turned into a fun ride.  I followed Atlanta’s new Beltline Path and got to see the city in a whole new way.  I even took a tour to ride the Krog Street Tunnel (infamous for its graffiti):

Krog Street Tunnel

Krog Street Tunnel

 

I decided to get back on the path and head back when I rode past a woman on her porch yelling at her neighbor, “Don’t mess with me or I will HURT your dog!”  Scary lady.

Honestly, after I got back within a mile of my place I’d convinced myself to call it quits at 5 hours.  I was tired, sore, bored, and hungry.  Then I ran into Carol and her sweet puppy Bailey!  She was walking home from an afternoon at the dog park, so I joined her to catch up.  30 mins walking there, then another 30 back to my house = 6 hours DONE.

 

When I got home I was famished.  I would have eaten my right hand (I’m left-handed).  Instead, I stood in the door of my fridge and ate half a rotisserie chicken with my bare hands.  After washing my hands, of course.

Then I cleaned my sticky self:

 

And finally it was dinner time.  Burger topped with avocado, black bean dip, jalapeno, and pico de gallo, with a side of house-made crinkly-crispy sweet potato fries dipped in sriracha and mustard.  Then… there may have been an (unpictured) apple pie milkshake.  I’ve been boycotting the burger trend (I HATE Yeah! Burger), but Grindhouse Killer Burgers changed my mind.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Gringo

 

Yes, it’s Junk-Free January.  I needed calories… and it was junk-free-ish.  The meat for the burger is freshly ground by a small North Carolina producer and delivered every day, and the bun is a soft potato roll made by a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery.  The sauces are homemade.  The shakes are homemade.  I have no regrets.

Then I crashed.  And got hungry again.  Banana.  Cottage Cheese.  Protein powder.  Cinnamon.  Face plant in bed.

Then, in the wee hours of Monday morning, I got the stomach flu.  I think I would have gotten sick despite the cram session… but it probably didn’t help.  In the future, I’ll plan better.  Thank you all SO much for the well-wishes!

2 days ’til race day!!! I’m eating my carbs and doing to light workouts to prepare.

***

I was nominated for something I’m really excited about: Top Health and Fitness Blog of 2013.  I’d be honored to have your vote!  It’s really easy – no registration required.  Click here to Vote.

Leap Fitness Top 100

 

How do you fuel before/during/after races?

What is the toughest race/physical activity you’ve ever done?

 

Setting the Tone for a New Year + Amazing Kitchen Mistakes

Life is full of failures.

 

I am going to discuss one on Monday, in fact.

Sometimes they are happy accidents!  One of my favorite stir-frys happened because I couldn’t figure out how to use my spiralizer.  This Indian Ginger Tempeh Stir-Fry happened when I wanted zucchini pasta but failed to  spiralize:

 

Or how about last week when I accidentally sprouted a spaghetti squash I’d planned for my meal?  That forced me to come up with this Sweet Potato Chicken Salad Strange But Good (don’t forget tomorrow’s link up!) creation:

Sweet Potato Chicken Salad

 

Breaking my jaw playing roller derby was a fail… but without that experience I would have never come up with one of my favorite oatmeal discoveries: Blueberry Pie.  Made smooth enough to slurp thanks to an immersion blender.

Jaw-breaking in action.

 

Or how about when you leave for vacation thinking you’re going to Argentina, but end up in Chile?  That was one FUN fail!

All that said, don’t be too discouraged by fails.  Trust in what will be and happy accidents you shall see.

And now I’ll shut up and let Kat tell you about hers!

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Because I blog bi-weekly, this is my first opportunity to say, “Happy New Year!

I had an A-typical New Year’s Eve, which I used to help me set the tone for the year.  I went to a hot yoga class that lasted from 10:30pm-12:15am.  Yep, meditating, thinking about goals, who I am, who I have been, and who I want to be this year.  It was amazing!  I felt centered, and was happy to bring in the New Year thinking about health, community, and grounded-ness. (Editor’s note: Remind me to do this next year.)

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

 

I want to share a couple of my goals, so you all can partially hold me accountable.  First, I want to say, “No,” more often – in work, in family, and in social aspects of my life.  This seems easy for a lot of people, but it give me knots in my stomach just to think about possibly disappointing someone.

This goal is in support of my second goal, to stop stretching myself so thin.  I tend to take on way too much, and some things I do become a little bit less “quality.”  So, in order to enjoy what I do more, and to have more quality, I have to reduce quantity.  These are lofty goals.  I also started a journal for the first time since I was 12, to help keep me working towards my goals and thinking about them often.

 

thequieteryoubecome

 

I later got to celebrate with a holiday party, a West Side Story theme.  I got to get all dolled-up, and I was SO excited to get dressed up and dance the night away.  My feet and legs were definitely sore afterwards!

I’m also back on track with all of my runs and work outs.  I didn’t mention it, but December was rough for me and threw me through a loop.

alldolledup

 

I’ve also been cooking at home like a madwoman!  I had a New Years Day party with mocktails and healthy food to start the New Year catching up with a few friends.

Many didn’t make it due to hangovers and being out way too late, but it was still fun!  The mocktails were delicious, but too sweet, and kept me up all night from sugar!  I made Indian food, pop-corn (Kat-classic), and a number of other fun dishes with lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

 

NewYearSpread

 

Eating and cooking more at home, for me, means many unplanned meals, sometimes just throwing whatever I have in my fridge together, and last week, amazing kitchen mistakes!

I was making dinner for a friend this week, and I had left over quinoa and brown rice, extra fresh broccolini, kale, and sweet potatoes, and some random tofu.  So I just got started, and this is what ended up happening:

 

kitchenmistake1

Amazing Kitchen Mistake

 

I sautéed the veggies with fresh ginger and garlic, re-heated the quinoa/brown rice combo (about 75% quinoa, 25% brown rice), and felt like the dish needed something else.  Tofu.  The tofu preparation was the amazing mistake.  I wanted to sort of “fry” it, so I coated it with some brown rice flour mixed with cayenne, salt, and white pepper.  I carefully coated each cube and placed it on a plate for frying.  But I totally forgot cornstarch!  This would have gotten the flour mixture to stick to the tofu and fry properly.  Instead, when I put it in the hot coconut oil, the flour started to stick to the bottom, and it wasn’t going very well.

So, to save the tofu, I took part of a box of Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Soup and poured some in the pan with the tofu, stirred and scrambled the tofu with the soup and flour mixture, let it simmer, and made THE most delicious scrambled tofu I have ever had.  (Editor’s note: will you plase make me a mistake too?)

 

kitchenmistake2

 

Amazing Tofu Carrot-Ginger Scramble (Mistake)

  • 1 block firm Tofu, 1 in cubes (which are later scrambled)
  • ½ C brown rice flour
  • Salt, Cayenne and White Pepper to taste
  • 2 T Coconut Oil (for frying)
  • ~ ½ cup of Carrot-Ginger Soup (Trader Joe’s or Imagine Brand)

 

kitchenmistake3

 

Follow the directions above and serve with the brown rice/quinoa mixture and sautéed veggies!  This was definitely a healthy meal too!

It feels good to give.  I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t also say that I’m donating blood today.  It’s SO important.  I also tend to be low-iron so I’ve had an iron-packed diet this week.

Note some things you should eat to pump up your iron (Editor’s note: I read this in an Arnola accent):

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Lentils
  • Raisins
  • Black beans
  • Pumpkin seeds

All of these give you almost as much iron as a big steak, and is less harmful to your body if you ingest too much iron because they contain nonheme iron.  They also give you more per serving than the dark, leafy greens that are often recommended.  If you eat whatever, nothing can compare to the iron-filled foods like liver, clams and mussels.  And don’t forget dark chocolate and cocoa powder!  Check out their nutrition facts for confirmation!

 

Donate

 

Additionally, I have a theory about blood donation for my own health.  I think it promotes cell-regeneration throughout my own body!  Do something good for others, while doing something good for yourself!

***

 I echo Kat’s thoughts on the importance of blood donation.  My dad suffered from cancer for 4.5 years and made it as long as he did largely in part to blood, platlet, and bone marrow doners.  Click here for more info on becoming a marrow donor.  It only takes a cotton swab!

What amazing kitchen mistakes have you had that you want to share?

How do you get re-centered when you have an “off” month?

 

Balance for the Holidays

I laughed when I opened this post.

 

I swear we didn’t plan this.

Kat is back with her bi-weekly spot.  It focuses on balance over the holidays…. and it rounds out perfectly this week of posts focusing on holiday survival.

 

Are you with me the on the #KitchenWorkout?

 

Most of my posts have been about clean eating and balancing it out with some treats.  Leave it to Kat to keep me honest on the mental front.  It’s not always easy with all we have going on, holiday family visits, and end of the year thing at work!

Don’t neglect yourself  - keeping a healthy mental state will benefit you and everyone around you. ;)

 

Here’s Kat…

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I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!  Mine was unreal!  As usual, I had a TON of work to do, but I was in Hawaii.  This felt like a conundrum at first… but I gave myself the “in the long run” pep talk and knew what I needed this trip was balance!

 

My sister, Kristyn, lives in Hawaii, and because of the cost of travel, she rarely gets visitors.  So, my mom moved Thanksgiving to Hawaii this year!!  I had never been, so I was especially excited to visit my sister, see the island, and celebrate one of my favorite holidays!  My friend Jimmy also came along for the ride!

All in all, I give the trip an A!  The grade is based on the fact that I got a lot of work done, and was also able to spend a couple of care-free days enjoying myself and time with my family.

 

Whale Watching

 

Hawaii is NOT really a place for foodies.  However, it IS really a place for active folk!

I don’t know how many miles I swam in the ocean.  Yes, miles. (Editor’s Note: I cannot even imagine doing this… you rock, Kat.)  I also got to run more than I should have (poor IT band, sometimes it hates me for how much I love to run), and got in hours of surfing!   All of this helped to keep off the thanksgiving lbs we all tend to rack up!

 

 

I hadn’t surfed in almost 10 years, but after a quick lesson from my sister’s boyfriend on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I was back up and at it!  Surfing so early in the trip was perfect because not only was it a blast, but it also helped me bring balance into the rest of my trip.

I’m nerdy and metaphorical (Editor’s Note: It’s part of her charm), but after falling a couple of times, and remembering to get up and try again to keep my balance, I knew I would make it through the trip alive, and that I would be able to keep this balance thing going! (I also did some yoga on the long board.)

 

 

So after swimming a few miles in the ocean after surfing, I took my Monday to work.  Almost 8 hours at Coffee Gallery in Haliewa, HI.  I got all of the research for my independent study done, and then had an awesome dinner with my mom and sis, and a fun Thanksgiving trip to Whole Paycheck – yep, they’re all over the island!  Besides the fact that my sister kept poking fun at me for being the only chick in Hawaii swimming in a one piece, this balance thing already felt good.

 

 

Tuesday I spent the day with my big brother (I mean, my sister’s boyfriend, John).  It was AWESOME.  We hiked up Koko Head.  1,200 feet of elevation gain in 1 kilometer.  It was so much fun and beautiful up top, with 360 views of the southeast side of the island.

Afterwards there was more swimming and lunch.  Later that day I got another opportunity to sneak in some work!

 

Koko Head

 

Wednesday was one of my favorite days, randomly enough.  I spent the day with my sister at work.  She works at Starbucks, so I could work on my 35-page independent study all day, and see her, meet all of her friends, and get a run in.

It went pretty well up until about oh, 7 miles into my run, when I realized I was 5 miles from where I needed to be, my IT band wouldn’t let me run another step, and I had to flag down a cop to pick me up and drive me most of the way back into town because the cab I called couldn’t find me.  You follow?  Yes, ride in the back of a cab car in Hawaii.  If only I had a picture of that!  This day still felt balanced because of the assortment of randomness and the work that got done!  (Editor’s Note: Only you… ;) )

 

Thanksgiving also rocked!  We surfed in the morning, and I got to spend a bunch of time working while my mom and sister cooked up most of our amazing feast.  I made gluten-free stuffing.  However, I made another contribution that I am eternally sorry for – popcorn.  Yes, I broke a tooth on a kernel and am off to the dentist today to see what can be done.  Yikes!

 

Sisters contemplating the waves

 

The trip was certainly balanced, and I feel more connected to my sister than ever.  Amazing!  How lucky to get to swim, surf, and run for a week in Hawaii!?!  Thanks mom! 

Now, I am in the throws of finals, and hope you all wish me luck in the coming weeks, as I finish the two papers and conquer business tax!  Balance might even be more important this week!

***

I know jealously is unattractive… but I am insanely jealous of Kat on this trip! :)

How do you remind yourself to stay balanced?

Last dental problem that you caused yourself? oooopppssss!  (Editor’s Note: I cracked a tooth on a hard nut inn a piece of carrot cake on Thanksgiving… but the worst was breaking my jaw.)

 

YO-RUN-GA and One Chore a Day

Who’s sick of my repetitive posting?

 

I know I am!

Today we have my friend Kat back (see her intro post here) to talk about how she fits it all in.  As I said before, she may be the only person I know who’s even busier than I am.  Today she has so great tips on how she does it all, and encouragement for those of us who struggle to stretch (I have TERRIBLE discipline here!).

Meanwhile, I’ll be eating asparagus and packing for this weekend’s competition!  And packing my post-competition treat of choice:

$15 nut butter.  I think I earned this one.

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I’ve been so excited to post again! Ever since my first post, I’ve been brainstorming, writing down ideas, taking pictures of my food and random self portraits, like me in a mirror at the Stonewall Bar Association Awards dinner on Thursday night (who am I?).

I have a TON to share with you guys, but I will have to pace and limit myself.  Really, I should write a novel, but who has the time!?

 

If I learned anything from my 30-day-challenge, I learned it was super hard to fit in as much running as I like while doing at least one yoga class a day.  Solution?  Yo-RUN-ga.

Yes, running incorporated with yoga.  I had to run commute the 5-ish miles to and from yoga, or show up to yoga about 30-45-minutes early, throw my mat down, and go for a short run.  I also made a couple of run dates immediately after yoga to make sure I fit them in.  I had to cut back to running about 40 miles per week during the challenge, but I would be insane without running.  As most of you know (and some have pointed out)you make time for what’s important.

Like I tell my sister when I give her a pep talk, you don’t have to run/walk/workout/lift for an hour to get a workout.  You can spend 15 or 30 minutes, and you’re still beating someone who is sitting on the couch!

 

 

A friend of my from my Ultra-running group, GUTS, had a status update one day that said “Yo-RUN-Ga” I didn’t get it.

My thoughts exactly:  “I would never do yoga. I don’t like it, I don’t have the patience for it.”  (Editor’s note: That is my sentiment toward yoga!)  And look at me now!

 

My attempt at a self portrait after running to yoga last week.

 

What changed?  That friend who started to yo-run-ga got me to come to her yoga studio, Atlanta Hot Yoga (yes, all the classes are hot, even the flow classes—I don’t like classes that aren’t hot).  I started on a 20-day Groupon, and I was HOOKED!  I realized that yoga is really great for ANY athlete. I was stretching for the first time (a lot of runners are notorious for lack of stretching), I was sweating my ASS off (a clean sweat), it caused an increase in my metabolism, an upping my immune system, and I was “coming down” for a minute.  Honestly, it’s an escape, where I just think about my breath, and not my go-go-go lifestyle.

I also set an intention as part of my practice, which helps me to work on things I typically wouldn’t just work on—patience, seeing beauty in myself and others, accepting imperfections, getting out of my comfort zone, “just being here”—sitting with a feeling that might be uncomfortable and accepting it, and being grounded and strong.

 

 

Besides, run-commuting to yoga, work, and various other places, one of the other major time-savers that I practice is one-chore-a-day.  I don’t know when or how it started but it works!

I almost never have to clean my whole apartment.  (Editor’s note: Good… can you come clean mine?)  Sometimes my one chore is as small as picking up my bedroom, emptying the dishwasher (my least favorite chore ever), a load of laundry, a quick sweep of the floor.  If you make a decision to do ONE chore a day, whenever you do a bigger clean, it is much more manageable and takes far less time.  Cleaning the bathtub is a prime example of something that if you put off too long will take twice the amount of time.  (Soap scum gets stickier over time, doesn’t it!?!)  I get to mine at least once every week and a half, and it takes me about 5 minutes to thoroughly clean.

This really helped me last weekend when I had to go to three yoga classes, shop for a bridesmaid dress for my cousin’s wedding, attend a wedding in Tennessee (my beautiful friend Kelly is a WIFE!!), and still get all my school work and other work in!  Yay for a clean kitchen and freshly mopped floors! Although, what I really need to do is give my cats a bath!  Seriously, they’ve been giving me the, “Mom, we need some more attention, please,” faces all too frequently lately!

 

 

I am already looking forward to my next post! You have no idea the amazingness of the 15-page single-spaced Word document with ideas that has accumulated on my computer!  All fun stuff! I hope you want to tune-in again!

In the coming two weeks, I will be dog-sitting for a friend, taking the MPRE, going to Arizona to bridesmaid for my cousin’s wedding, writing a 14 page paper and a 35 page paper, and still going to class and working. AYE!!!!! But I seriously love the way I feel when I get it all done!  Yay for sleep!  (Editor’s note: And having a celebration dinner with me!!!)

***

Kat’s Questions:

What keeps you sane when you are busy? Running? Comfort Food?

What is your least favorite chore?

Have you ever tried something you didn’t think you would like and end up loving it!?

Are you totally excited to hear about Laura’s competition next week!?!??!

 

Guest Blogging 101

My cooler is packed, I’m ready to go…

 

 

Yes, this is a Rachel Ray bag.

I wouldn’t have done it… but it was the perfect size and isn’t too loud to bring into a business meeting.  #sorryimalittlesorry

Packing for this trip was a lesson in being prepared.  It didn’t take as long as you would think; doing a massive weekly food prep is the biggest time-saver I know.  It certainly saved me here – this is a pic of the 8 meals I’ll have to eat while on the road.  Normally I wouldn’t quite go to this extreme, but with just over 2 weeks until my first figure competition, I’m not taking any risks!

 

Shirt from Rawxies

 

I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks when I get back, but today we have a guest blogger!  My friend Kat will be doing a bi-weekly guest spot from now on.  I told her to write about whatever she wanted… so we’ll all be surprised together!  :)

Seriously, I trust this girl.  She’s a HUGE inspiration when it comes to determination, athletics, and taking time to enjoy life despite being just a busy (maybe ever busier) than I am.  I’ll quite rambling and let her introduce herself.

Heeeeeeere’s Kat!

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I’ve never written a blog before, but I think I’m going to become a regular @ Laura’s Sprint to the Table. I don’t Twitter or Instagram, and I’m not great on Facebook, but I LOVE blogs.  When presented with an opportunity to do a bi-weekly guest blog for Laura, I couldn’t pass it up!

This is who I am:

 

My name is Kat, and I would say that I’m random and silly, overly outgoing, and I’m pretty extreme!

I live life to the fullest and I’m not sure I was ever taught how to do something in moderation (editor’s note: go big or go home!).  I’m a 3rd year law student (read—so busy I don’t know what to do with myself) with two part-time jobs.  I’m also an ultra runner, and triathlete (I say that, but I’ve only ever done two triathlons, both Half Ironman distance – note, extreme).  I’ve never run a marathon, but I decided to run a 50 mile Ultra in September.  I’m also in the middle of a 30 day yoga challenge—one class a day for 30 days.

That doesn’t sound extreme to you?  Then just try it!

 

 

I’m also a huge foodie! I love to eat out (a lot of times out of necessity), and cook at home (a real treat because of my busy schedule).  I also have a real talent for making the most randomly delicious meals and snacks, without spending more than 5-10 minutes in the kitchen.

Since this is an intro, I thought I would give you a brief overview of why I think I’m a great guest blogger for Laura’s Sprint to the Table! (Yes, I’m also modest…) <– editor’s note: add that to the list of things we have in common.

 

Ways we are alike:
  • Focus on fitness - for me it’s part of my daily life in some form or another
  • Love for all things foodie - we are both completely obsessed with greens and protein
  • Love for life
  • Very, very busy all the time!

 

Ways we are different:
  • I run long distances—extremely long
  • My main diet restriction is that I’m gluten-free (and NOT because it’s a trend—I need to be for my health!) 
  • I do yoga
  • I don’t lift any more (not since wrestling in college, really)

 

 

My goal is to show you how you can seemingly pack more hours in to a day by being hyper-efficient, get everything you want to get done, DONE, have a ton of fun, feel like wonder woman, and still sleep 8 hours almost every single night.  Yes, it’s possible!

I will probably bore you with my own “strange but goods,” my crazy training schedule, my amazing eat-out adventures, and random crap in between as I see necessary!

Oh, and I would love feedback as I get the ball rolling… since I’m such a newbie at this!

***

I need to make one of those popular “That moment” graphics saying “That  moment when you pull out a can of tuna during a meeting.”

Kat’s Questions:

Do you ever feel like you can’t fit it all into one week?!

When did you  last say “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have time to run/workout/etc.”?

 

5 on Friday + Vanilla Chai Frappuccino

Life gets crazy.

 

I have about a million things that I ran out of time to do this week.  There are pictures on my computer of things I’ve been meaning to share with you all for weeks.  It’s embarrassing.

 

This Friday I am going to begin to catch up!  Here are 5 things I’m digging lately:

 

1. Dandy Blend

I won a bag of Dandy Blend in a giveaway from Tiffany @ Como Water.  It’s an herbal dandelion powder that supposedly has a coffee-like taste.

You know what?  It does!  Granted, it’s no replacement for your fancy Ethiopian blends… but for you non-fancy coffee drinkers and herbal drink lovers, I would recommend it.

 

 

The bag says to mix 1 rounded tsp with a mug of hot water.  That didn’t cut it for me.  I had to use 2 heaping tsp to get that coffee taste.  Hot “coffee” is good, but my favorite way to drink it was been mixed into other things.  Namely, mixed into a vanilla chai frappuccino.  (Recipe at bottom.)

Speaking of the frapp below…

 

2. Vanilla Chai Vega Nutritional Powder

Vega’s re-formulated Vanilla Chai also had a starring role in my  vanilla chai frappucchino.  I have previously tried Vega’s plant-based protein powder and didn’t care for it.  They did a great job on the reformulation!  I loved the 15g of protein to keep me full, and that it only contained 2g of sugar.

 

 

With many powders I find that the flavors are either too diluted or leave an artificial aftertaste – the new Vega doesn’t commit either crime.  It made an awesome chai-spiced cold drink to start out the crazy-winter-balmy 75 degree day!

 

3. Super Me! Wrist Cuff

This rockin’ cuff was ordered from Horse Feathers several weeks ago.

(Side note: Does any one else think “finger cuffs!” every time they hear the word cuff?  Chasing Amy reference?  Any one?)

 

 

Check out the website here.  They sell a bunch of different items and other cuffs with various quotes.  Mine says: “If I gotta be me, I’m gonna be super-me.”

They shipped fast and it arrived in a cute blue bag.  Sold.

 

4. So Delicious Chocolate Dairy-Free Ice Cream

This deliciousness is almost sugar-free – only 1g of sugar!!!  It was on sale (mind you, on sale meant it was still $5 a pint) at Whole Foods, so I treated myself.  My expectations were low… but OMG it is delicious!!!

 

 

 

5. YOU

You guys have been making me smile all week.

One of my new favorite bloggers, Lauren @ Oatmeal After Spinning made a variation of my Chili Nutty Tofu and declare it “perfection.”  If you haven’t tried baking tofu yet… you should! :)

Click here for my version (pictured below):

 

Click here for Lauren’s variation.

 

 

Gina @ Running to the Kitchen (Our blogs’ names should get married – no wonder I love her!) made my Vegan Goat Cheese-Stuffed Tomatoes.

I’m not one to brag (ok, I can be one to brag…), but these were damn good:

 

Click here to see Gina’s post, which includes some killer pics!  Read: much better than my iPhone efforts.

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Vanilla Chai Frappuccino

  • Vega Vanilla Chai protein powder
  • 2 heaping tsp Dandy Blend (or instant coffee, to taste)
  • 2 big kale leaves (optional)
  • Handful of wheatgrass (optional)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Ice

 

Toss everything in your blender of choice, mix until smooth, and happily slurp away!

I topped mine with a few cacao nibs.  Whipped cream would have also been good. ;)

***

Crossfit update: I’m so sore that I actually did yoga yesterday.  I hate yoga.  It helped.

What’s the best new food/product/recipe you’ve tried lately?

Has anyone tried any of the above products?  I’d love to hear your opinions!

 

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday’s lake day didn’t result in any Jim Beam-fueled chants, but my friend Kristy did make the most patriotic jello shots the world has ever seen.

They were just as good as they look!

We also enjoyed a great spread – everyone made something to share.  I sweat we didn’t plan the Mexi-theme… obv nothing says the 4th like Mexican. :)

The goods included (back to front): watermelon salad, Tostidos, peach-avocado salsa, my chipotle corn hummus, veggie sticks, and bean salad.

Not pictured: sandwiches and a ridiculous amount of beer.

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2 hours until the Peachtree Road Race!!!  I’m so pumped.  This year will be my 4th one.

4th on the 4th.  Tee hee.

This is also probably the best running-shape I’ve been in.  I’m especially excited to see how this impacts my endurance – Atlanta is a hilly city!

I hit up the expo yesterday to pick up my number and peruse the freebies (free Vega Sport powder samples!).  Parking downtown is a nightmare, so I decided to jog there and back.  Not a terrible idea until i was half way through the run home and reallllly wishing I wasn’t carrying that bag full of freebies.  :)

After a hydration-filled day, I got in bed early in hopes of being well-rested.  This was only moderately successful since

  1. I was too excited to sleep and
  2. I firmly believe it is impossible to feel well-rested at 5:30 am (it’s still DARK!).

Nevertheless, I have my gear ready to go and I’m drinking a cup of coffee with my pre-race Chia Banana Pudding.

I made the pudding the same as the linked recipe, but added a bit of almond extract and cinnamon.  LOVE the additions!

Items to Remember Not to Forget:

  • Race number
  • Safety pins
  • Ribbon (orange for Leukemia)
  • KT Tape
  • Inhaler
  • Gum
  • Watch
  • Shuffle + ear earphones
  • MARTA (ATL’s Metro) card
  • Sport Bean samples

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Last week I decided to begin posting a weekly workout recap on Mondays.  Even though it’s a holiday, I’m sticking to it and using this to add to race motivation!

My running was light due to the pesky Achilles injury, but I really enjoyed a weight-focused week.

Workout Recap (6/27-7/3)

  • Monday – Yoga for Runners, 30 mins stationary bike intervals
  • Tuesday – Biceps/Back, 84 push-ups
  • Wednesday – Legs, P90X Ab Ripper X, 84 push-ups
  • Thursday – 4 mile run, Core, 84 push-ups
  • Friday – Tris/Chest (w/ 1 mile of intervals)84 push-ups
  • Saturday – Lake day! (that counts… right?), 84 push-ups
  • Sunday – Shoulders, P90X Ab Ripper X, 4.5 mile run

***

It’s already been quite the weekend!  I have a feeling I’m going to want a post-long weekend vacation day.

What’s the most fun you had over the long weekend?

Did anyone else enjoy jello shots? :)

***UPDATE: I did it in 51:08!!!***

Healthiest Crackers Ever Made

Baby Sis and I went for a rockstar run.  We braved the cold (and the dark) and conquered 7 MILES!

 

The best part: when we got home, we both said we could have gone longer.  I  never thought I’d be saying this… but I didn’t mean to start running more than 2-3 miles at a time.  It just happened.

Note to self: File under “Things that I  never thought I’d say.”

 

Stats:

  • Distance - 7 miles
  • Time – 60:00 mins
  • Avg Pace – 8:57 mins

 

I think we are going to be just fine for our Thanksgiving 10K Gobble Jog. :)

Disclaimer:We made a pit stop at Old Navy about half way though for 10 mins for a quick peek. Girls will be girls…

 

Prior to the run, I did my Whittle My Middle with Mom.  She held a very impressive 90 second plank!

Following the run, Baby Sis and I completed the Yoga for Runners DVD, which really helped keep the soreness to a minimum today for both of us.

The narration is a tad cheesy, but its effective!

 

For some reason I have a hard time making myself take time to stretch after a workout, but I am always glad when I do.  I need to get better about doing it!

Any motivational advice is appreciated!

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On to the big cracker win!

Unbelievably, I figured out how to make cleanse-approved crackers.  These are probably the healthiest crackers ever created.

AND they are packed-with-flavor-good!

 

Mixing the fillings

At first there were 2

Then there was 1

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Asian-Spiced Flax Crackers

  • 1 C Flax meal (mine were roughly ground)
  • 1/4 C Chia Seeds
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Kale leaf
  • 1/4 C Cilantro
  • 1/4 C Mint
  • 1/2 Jalapeno (seeded)
  • 1/8 Large yellow onion
  • 2 T Tamari Miso
  • 2 T Lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 T Cumin
  • 1 T Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Combine flax meal and chia seeds in a medium bowl.  Place remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the puree to the seed mixture and stir until combined evenly.

Line a baking sheet with Silpat (non-stick aluminum foil works too!).  Spread mixture about 1/8 in thick onto sheet.

Place in oven and bake for 2 hours, until firm enough to flip.  Flip the cracker and bake 2 hours more.  Turn off the oven and leave crackers in to dehydrate overnight.

Break into pieces and they are ready to eat!

Notes:  You may crack the oven door if crackers are too moist.  Ideally you would use a dehydrator for this, so feel free if you have one!

***

The fail part: I tried for a sweet flax cracker but adding coconut butter, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice.  The butter made it too moist (ewww…) and we had to turn it into a topping for the grilled pineapple.