lessons on long distance

So, yesterday was a tough running day. Being worried about panic attacks on a run is a tough business. If you’ve never experienced a panic attack before, god bless you. You are one lucky peep. To give you a deep dive into my fear, I am terrified that I won’t be able to breathe and there will be no one there to help me. Hence why my miles and miles of running has turned into walk/runs listening to podcasts. So, Brett and I took off on a run and I was really down on myself about having to walk.

Me: “I’m sorry that I stink at this now…”

Brett: “You don’t stink at running. Do you see all of these houses around you? I guarantee that not a single person living on this street has run 2 miles today. WE did. That’s an accomplishment.”

Me: “So says the ultrarunner…”

Brett: “Baby steps. You’ll get back to longer miles. I know you will.”

Sometimes, all you need is a little reminder from someone you love. How lucky am I?

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When we got back, I decided to try out a variation on a recipe sent to me by Kath. Though these protein cookies have to remain in the freezer, they make for a great pre or post workout snack.

PB Raisin and Quinoa Protein Cookies (Makes 24)

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used Wild Friends Cinnamon Raisin PB – SO good)

New addiction

New addiction

Thank you Wild Friends for letting me know how I can store this butter :)

Thank you Wild Friends for letting me know how I can store this butter 🙂

2 Tbs applesauce

1/4 cup agave

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup almond flour

1/2 cup soaked quinoa (Note: you can use 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa if you prefer. Uncooked, soaked quinoa gives the cookie a little crunch)

1 Tbs chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and fold until combined thoroughly.

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Line two baking sheets with wax paper. Scoop spoon sized servings onto the sheet until you’ve used all the batter.

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Don’t be alarmed that the batter is a little more gooey than you thought- the cookies take on a fudge consistency once they’ve frozen. Put in freezer for 20 minutes. Remove from baking dish and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Make sure to line the container and separate the cookies by layer. Simply use the wax paper from the baking sheets – double use success! 🙂

Pre-gym cookie :)

Pre-gym cookie 🙂

 

Hi there hummus

You ever have one of those days where you feel like a bottomless pit? That happens to me a LOT. A lot meaning every day.

#nojoke

#nojoke

I suffer from an endless need to snack. What I like most about snacking is the crunching/chewing and jaw movement when I’m watching my favorite show or movie. Don’t give me that face – I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the mindless eating that is the devil at fault for my bad habit. I’m just going to go ahead and blame the devil vs. taking responsibility for my actions…no judgment.

We’ve been rather blasé in the snack department of late so I decided to whip up a classic after a bout on the dreadmill.

A cup of edamame contains 17g of protein and is filled with a slew of vitamins and minerals. Using it as an ingredient in hummus is pretty genius. Combine a few scoops of fresh made hummus and some carrots or celery and what does that make? A very happy, snacking Dana monster. Brett thanks the hummus gods for my creativity (pat on back) and my good mood.

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Homemade Edamame Hummus (Serves 2-4)

Easy ingredients

Easy ingredients

1 cup shelled edamame (We used a bag if frozen edamame, thawed)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 Tbs tahini

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp sesame oil

Sesame seeds

Kosher salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Sometime getting out the food processor (and cleaning it) can be a hassle. The blender works great!

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While blending, add water to get the desired consistency. We used 1-2 Tbs to make a chunky hummus, but feel free to make it your own.

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Remove from blender and add salt and pepper to taste. Top with sesame seeds and serve with veggies and/or pita.

Snack heaven

Snack heaven

Holy, holy guacamole

We have been on a humongous avocado kick lately. In smoothies.

I. Can't. Stop.

I. Can’t. Stop.

Eggs. Salads. Buying Chipotle with guacamole…I mean, making it homemade. Yes, we had some burrito bowls this week, but we DID make homemade guacamole. I know what you’re thinking. Making your own seems like a lot of work…lots of chopping. Well, the way we do it here at COTR, delicious guacamole will be in your belly in 10 minutes.

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I. Know. The great thing about making your own guacamole is you can make it on Sunday and use it during the week. Mine doesn’t usually last that long, but you could give it a try! 🙂 Use a dollop on a salad. Have guac with eggs and salsa for breakfast. Eat it as a snack with some blue corn tortilla chips. Or just stuff your face with plain old guac. It’s so versatile.

If you are able to control your inner guac-beast and have leftovers, simply pack the container with saran wrap tightly against the guacamole, pushing out any air bubbles and stick it in the fridge. This will prevent that green beauty from turning brown and grossing you out.

10 – Minute Homemade Guacamole

3 avocados, cored and scooped into a bowl
3/4 red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, pressed finely or minced
Juice of 3 limes
Kosher salt, to taste

Mash the avocado, onion and garlic in a bowl until well combined.

Mashing hazard. Note to self: aggressive excitement  does not make more guacamole.

Mashing hazard. Note to self: aggressive excitement does not make more guacamole.

Add the lime juice and continue mashing. Now, it’s time to taste test. If needed, add additional lime juice and/or salt to your taste preference. A bit of salt does bring out all the flavors. And that’s it! Bring to a party or selfishly hold that bowl with love and a mouthful of guac. Not that I know from experience or anything…

#drool

#drool

All about the pom

I was first introduced to the lovely pomegranate in college. My good friend and roommate at the time Molly, pulled one out of the fridge, and turned around to witness my perplexed face. Up until I was 10, I believed that if I accidentally ate fruit seeds, they would grow in my stomach. My Mom told me this so I would stop swallowing watermelon seeds. No judging. Go ahead and eat those pomegranate seeds – they are good! 🙂

Naturally, I loved pomegranates as soon as I tried them. Molly and I would sit and eat the seeds right out of the skin like monkeys, while watching VH1 countdowns. Again, no judging.

Brett and I look forward to the fall/winter season when pomegranates are in season. Poms are a strange looking fruit…seriously, weird. The name “pomegranate” literally means seeded apple. Despite its’ unusual looks, the pomegranate does have many health benefits. Not only is pomegranate juice high in Vitamin C, but potent with antioxidants, fiber and low in calories. It makes for the perfect snack, addition to a smoothie or topping for a dessert!

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NOM

Of course, there is always the question of ripeness. How do you tell when a pomegranate is ripe when you’re in the grocery store? They should feel heavy (they’re full of seeds and juice) and the skin should be firm. If you see discoloration (almost like bruising), that does not affect the quality of the fruit.

Now, pomegranate juice stains and when you just slice it open like an apple or an orange, you waste seeds and increase the chances of staining your clothes (believe me, this has happened). Plus, it’s just plain messy.

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Check out this cool method Brett and I use to gently open a pomegranate with less fuss and more fruit! Make sure to look for Fred’s appearance half way through…he’s a snoop in the background.

 

 

Staying healthy on work trips

Traveling doesn’t make a healthy lifestyle easy. Knowing that I had to travel to NYC for work from Sunday to Tuesday night, I tried to plan ahead…for both Brett and me. Since I was leaving Brett to his own devices, I decided to get some of his meal prep work out of the way. He was set up at home with a meal plan and cooked leftovers. That should mean no pizza delivery…right, babe?

Since I was attending a work conference and knew I would be running around, I purchased a few Macro bars and Barre protein bars to have on hand. Sometimes you run around half the day like a crazy woman and forget to eat. Having a nutritious bar handy makes life easy. I love Macro bars because I know every single ingredient on the package – vegan, raw and delicious. They are higher in calories, but good when you don’t have the time to think about a meal. Barre bars hold a special place in my heart. Created by dancers for dancers, Barre bars have all the ingredients necessary to fuel an active person’s day. My favorite is the “ballerina spirulina” – what is spirulina? Spirulina is a natural algae packed full of protein, essential amino acids and is particularly high in iron (great for my vegan and vegetarian friends!).

After a flight, a bus and a 20 min walk to the Grand Hyatt NYC, my coworker Beth and I were so hungry we could have eaten for a family of 5. With little time before we had to work, we stopped at Pret a Manger. Boy, we were happy we stopped in. Pret makes fresh salads, sandwiches and soups daily made with all natural ingredients. Their branding was awesome…what can I say? We marketers notice these things.

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I had Pret’s greek falafel wrap packed with hummus, tzatziki and veggies.

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ho, hey, yum

After a long night of interviews and interesting stories, we went to the Hyatt restaurant, New York Central, for some hummus, veggies and pita.

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And, of course, much needed margaritas.

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Day 1 down – healthy and happy

Ultimately, it was a successful day and my planned snacks helped give me energy throughout the day. Hopefully day 2 and 3 are just as successful. At least I packed enough healthy snacks for a week 🙂

I squash you

I woke up this morning bundled up nice and warm…next to Fred, who happened to make himself quite at home in between the two of us. Sadly, he is longer than me so he takes up the length of the bed. The funniest part was: I was spooning Fred and Fred had his paws spooning Brett. If only I had my camera near by…

We fell asleep with full bellies the night before (some delicious acorn squash that I’ll get to later) after one of the best dates we’ve had in a long time. Want to know what we did? We spent the evening lying next to one another asking questions. You see, no matter how long you’ve known someone, you can’t know everything. We took turns asking questions about our hopes, dreams, memories, fears, and secrets. If you haven’t asked someone you love (family, friends, significant others) a question like this, you should. You’d be surprised at how much you learn and grow to love them more. Brett and I promised one another that we would do this on our runs. Ask a question you’ve never asked. You can never stop learning about one another. We’re a little bit wiser and happier, I’d say 🙂

Now, for the squash. Sweet. Lord. Usually we stuff our squash with quinoa or veggies, but this time, it was all about the comfort and less about the decadence. It’s simple and sinful. It’s good leftover, too! Just be sure to heat it up. Acorn squash is a great source of fiber and potassium. We ate this with a lush side salad to get our extra greens.

Comfort squash bowls (Serves 4)

2 acorn squash

4 Tbs unsalted butter (split into 1 Tbs chunks)

4 Tbs brown sugar (same as above)

Maple syrup

A dash of cayenne

A dash of cinnamon

A sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Half the acorn squash from the root tip to the bottom. Be careful, as it’s sometimes hard to slice open with a knife. Scoop out the seeds and guts from each half.

Note: For a nice treat, clean the seeds and set them aside to dry. Coat with EVOO sea salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 350 fro roughly 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to roast both sides. Acorn squash seeds are just as good as pumpkin seeds!

Now it’s easy. Add 1 Tbs butter and brown sugar to each half. Drizzle each with a touch of maple syrup, feel free to splurge up the sides of the bowl with a little extra…live a little. Sprinkle with the salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

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Add a little water to the bottom of the pan you are using to bake these in. This will prevent the outsides from drying out. Cover with aluminum foil.

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Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake another 30-40 minutes. Your house will smell glorious.

Feel free to scoop out and mix like mashed potatoes or just dig in and scoop as you go. Whatever you do, I’m sure your mouth will water just like mine did.

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Serve a half with a side salad.

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leftovers the next day 🙂

Taming the beast

I have the worst sweet tooth imaginable. You think you’re bad? I have embarrassingly woken up with crumbs on my face. Brett has caught me before with chocolate smears on my face and/or ice cream drips on my shirt…particularly when I don’t want him to know about it. Apparently I’m not very good at hiding my sweet obsession.

People say there are ways to overcome cravings.

“Wait 20 minutes and you won’t crave it anymore.” I’d like to meet the person who came up with this. They’re full of something…probably cookies when no one is around.

I have found the secret. Want to know how to defeat your cravings?

Go workout. Go for a run. I guarantee when you get back, you won’t want it anymore. It’s that simple. And if you do? Have a little. You’ve earned it.

After gym and yoga session 1 today, I had a couple cookies (after a huge salad lunch, I might add). I know that I have a long yoga session coming up later today, where the cookies will be sweating out of my pores. I think I’m covered for the day 😉

In the meantime, I’ve been a busy baking bee. I decided to whip up some homemade granola as an alternative breakfast this week for my hungry, hungry…boyfriend 🙂 This granola should last you at least 2 weeks if stored in an air tight container.

Tropical Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts/seeds of your choice (I used pecans, almonds and sunflower seeds here, but use nuts and seeds you like)

1/2 cup unfiltered organic apple juice (be sure to shake the bottle before pouring since it’s unfiltered)

1/2 cup raw agave

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup EVOO

1 Tbs vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Dried mango, cut into small chunks

Preheat oven to 325. Combine the agave, oil, vanilla, juice and spices in a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Stir until completely combined and heated through.

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Combine the rest of the ingredients (except for the mango) into a large bowl.

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Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until well coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper in a thin layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Every 10 to 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir to make sure all sides turn golden brown. Once finished, let cool and then add in the mango pieces.

Serve 1 cup granola with 1/2 cup almond milk and frozen berries. You’ll be in heaven.

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I. crave. granola.

hey la, hey la, my boyfriend’s back

Brett arrived home from his Hawaiian excursion last night tan, tired and covered in boogie boarding bruises and scrapes. He slept like a baby, while I, unfortunately, did not. It seems that a very loud, snarling bear was in our bedroom. *cough* Brett snoring *cough*

Despite the lack of sleep, I still got up early and made him breakfast in bed (ahem…I’m a catch and you’ll agree with me when you try these pancakes).

Lemon Chia Pancakes with Fruit (Makes 10-12 pancakes)

1 cup brown rice flour (or coconut flour)

2 Tbs chia seeds

1 Tbs ground flax seed

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs honey

1-2 Tbs coconut oil

Mix together the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients a little at a time until completely mixed.

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Note: don’t overmix your batter – the pancakes will not be light and fluffy

Heat a pan on medium high heat. Add 1/2 Tbs of coconut oil once pan is hot. Begin adding a small amount of batter to the pan (these taste better when you make the pancakes small). When they begin to bubble, flip.

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Keep a careful eye on the other side and remove. Continue this process until you use all the batter. Serve with any fruit you have on hand and maple syrup if you like (I know Brett does!)

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As Friday went by quicker than the blink of an eye, I started to panic. I had signed up to run with some of our friends from the VHTRC to cover between 15-18 miles on the Massanuttens mountains. Gulp. I decided to make my very own energy balls in preparation.

Running Energy Balls

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup cashew butter

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 Tbs chia seeds

1/6 cup honey, 1/6 cup maple syrup (or 1/3 either honey or syrup)

1 tsp vanilla

Mix together all ingredients thoroughly with your hands. Put in fridge to chill for 30 minutes to an hour. Once chilled, roll into golf ball size pieces

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I was having some trouble forming them…heh. Put them back in the fridge for a little bit!

…and wrap separately into plastic wrap. I put a bunch of these in a baggy and hoped they would be good fuel for the long miles. (They were AMAZING)

After sucking down some Sunwarrior Vegan protein in a smoothie and some green tea, I was ready to go.

The day absolutely flew by in great company. The views were incredible.

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We met a snake…

We also encountered two skunks, one of which almost lifted his tail in alarm. Wouldn’t that have been charming? Four ladies blazing through the trails covered in skunk stink. Think of that car ride home…actually, never mind. Thank goodness for our fast legs.

I did finish the days with some bruises and scrapes all due to running away from some mysterious gunshots and my own clumsiness in tripping over myself. I guess I can call them battle wounds? We had quite an adventure.

All in all, it was a successful 16 miles. I couldn’t have done it without my 3 funny, inspiring and encouraging friends. I’m very lucky to be building up my mileage with these motivational people guiding me through roots and rocks.

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Thanks friends! 🙂

 

 

Chickpeas and Sorbet

Despite the beautiful weather today, I’ve been in quite a funk. Brett left early this morning to go on a 22 mile run with our new friends and as much as I wanted to go with him, my body was screaming bloody murder. Sometimes, as much as it stinks, it’s better to be smart. I’m listening to my inner sore self.

I decided to do a light workout at the gym, happily garbed in my new compression sleeves.

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I haven’t removed them yet

For those that haven’t tried them, I would highly recommend getting a pair. I was the biggest skeptic, muffling my laughter when Brett would wear his compression tights to bed. After one night in my sleeves, I’m a believer. The compression stimulates blood flow and helps legs recover faster from a long run. We both use the CEP brand.

Working up a sweat usually helps get me out of being a crank, but my mind simply wasn’t having it. That meant there was only one thing that could be my saving grace from crankdom. Music on, spatula out and flirting with new recipes in the kitchen.

Thanks to Simply Gluten Free magazine, I found this beauty of a recipe and tweaked it to my liking. Chia seeds are one of our favorites in the house as they contain healthy omega-3’s, carbs, protein, fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Combine those with chickpeas and lots of herbs and spices? Devine. Warning: Don’t go overboard on these babies. They are good in small doses as a snack, salad topper or in a stir fry.

Roasted Chia Chickpeas

1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed thoroughly

1 tbs EVOO

1 tbs chia seeds

1/2 tsp salt and pepper, each

a healthy dash of chili powder

a bunch of fresh rosemary (or dried if you don’t have fresh)

zest of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 425. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

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Spread out on a baking sheet.

0-1Roast in oven for 25 minutes – be sure to shake the pan at least 3 times throughout. Set aside to cool. Store in an air tight container for up to 10 days (though I’m sure they won’t last that long).

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#sogood

Brett and I are both lactose intolerant. So, ice cream and I have a love-hate relationship. Brett’s not a huge fan, but he’ll eat a sorbet or sherbet on occasion. We used to go to JP Lick’s in Boston all the time and he would get off the wall flavors: avocado, Sam Adams, etc. In honor of JP Lick’s and for his 22 mile feat today, I’m making him a special treat.

Strawberry, Black Pepper and Basil Sorbet

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

3 cups strawberries, roughly 1lb

1 tbs coarsely crushed black peppercorns

1 tbs lemon juice

1 big bunch of basil, roughly chopped

Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns.

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Make sure to coarsely grind the pepper. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use the back of a large spoon to break up the peppercorn.

Set aside for 20 minutes or so so the mixture can absorb a peppery flavor. Drain sugar syrup through a sieve, removing the solid peppercorns. Pour the sugar syrup, strawberries, lemon juice and basil into a blender. Blend until smooth.

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Pour into an air tight container and freeze for 4 hours.

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Happy Saturday!

Blank Check, Black Coffee, and Baked Goods… and a Burrito Baby

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I have been staring at a signed, blank check all day.  The frozen raspberries in Dana’s morning smoothie must have fermented, because she left that check knowing I might do something crazy…  You see, the Mountain Masochist trail run 50 miler online registration has closed, but on September 1st a drawing to fill any available slots takes place.  I have been staring at this check all day.  I’m at a crossroads; will I take action or tuck my tail?  If I fill out the check there is no turning back and my training must commence immediately, even without knowing if I’ll gain entry.  If I don’t send in the check, all I have is talk.  I can tell people I want to run an ultra, but…

Let the training begin!

Let the training begin!

Entering the MMTR race lotto has me excited enough that I really didn’t need more coffee.  But, I just couldn’t resist.  Second cup of coffee, green tea, third cup of coffee and a glorious chocolate energy bar = Dana’s gonna go crazy.  That energetic 5 yr. old Dana wrote about yesterday is awake and ready to play!  On a serious note, I usually limit myself to two cups of coffee a day.  There is nothing wrong with caffeine, in moderation.  It has even been proven to boost endurance.  More to come in a later blog.

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The baked goods that accompanied my cup-o-Joe are from some baking I did the other night.  Dana runs the baking department in our kitchen, but I wanted to give it a go.  Thanks to Eat & Run, by Scott Jurek, I blended, stirred, and baked my way to chocolate energy bar bliss.

The whole of the ingredients taste phenomenally better than the parts would suggest.  While these bars are vegan and made with nutritious ingredients, please take note:  Healthy is NOT synonymous with low-calorie.

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Perfect Energy Bar. Easy to make, inexpensive, and tastes better than any store bought bars.

I have been calling the bars “Jurek Bars.”  In Eat & Run they go by “Chocolate Adzuki Bars.”  Paraphrasing Scott Jurek, the bars are made with the easiest digestible bean, are mildly sweet, moist, and have a great combination of carbs and protein.

Quick Update:  Dana and I just returned from The Running Store’s Wednesday Night Workout Series.  This is a free, all-levels, interval track workout.  Over 80 people show up each week to get sweaty!  The workout is coached by THE infamous Ian Connor, an All-American runner from THE Ohio State, and THE owner of THE Running Store.

After our workout, Dana and I stopped at Chipotle to refuel for tomorrow’s celebratory July 4th Runabout with the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club.  Dana had a reasonable portion of a vegetarian burrito bowl.  I, on the other hand, had a burrito the size of a small child.  AND IT WAS SO GOOD!!!  Must. Finish. Blog. Before. Food. Coma. Overtakezzzzzzzzzz.

Chocolate Adzuki Bars

1 15oz. can adzuki beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium, overripe banana

½ cup almond or rice milk

½ cup light coconut milk

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon miso or ½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup barley flour

¼ cup rice flower

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup dried raisins, currants, or goji berries (optional)

½ cup vegan chocolate chips (vegan is optional, but at least use dark chocolate)

½ teaspoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease pan 9” cake pan with coconut oil.  In a blender or food processor, puree first 7 ingredients until smooth and creamy.  In a large bowl, stir together the flours and cocoa powder.  Add the pureed mixture and stir until lump free.  Fold in the dried berries.  Pour mixture into greased cake pan.  Top with the chocolate chips.  Bake for 35-45 min, until firm.  Let cool, then cut into blocks. You can individually wrap in plastic or store in a covered container.  Refrigerate, and enjoy!  Purchase Scott Jurek’s book, EAT & RUN for an awesome collection of recipes.  As an added bonus, you will be motivated by his journey to being the ultimate ultrarunner and vegan athlete.