Birthday goals

It was Brett’s birthday yesterday.

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I’m a genius and found him these boxers.

Turtle power

Turtle power

Yes, that is a cape

Yes, that is in fact a cape

He swears that he will wear them (with cape) during his next race. I’m hoping it will be for his 100 miler in September. That would be hilarious.

I also got Brett Run or Die by Kilian Jornet. If you haven’t heard of K Jornet, you should jump in a lake. He is the biggest bad a** in the running world. This guy ran up Mount Kilimanjaro. Yes, I said ran. HE RAN UP KILIMANJARO. He RAN up Mount Kilimanjaro! Yes, I repeated myself 3 times. Fierceness like that is jaw dropping and worth the repetition. I’m looking forward to reading his book when Brett’s done. It will be an inspiration for both of us.

Given that my birthday is around the corner, I’m ready to set my running goals for the year. 27 is going to be big. Heck, Brett is running 100 mile races at 31. I only have a few years to catch up! God help me…

I will need massive amounts of water...

I will need massive amounts of water…

*Drum roll please*

This year, I plan to run my second marathon and *dun dun dun* a 30 mile ultra.

Peeing my pants is a definite possibility

Peeing my pants is a definite possibility

I will settle for a marathon and 2 half marathons, but I’d like to stick with the former. I’d like to finish this year and feel a little like Kilian Jornet or the ridiculously amazing and determined man in my life.

Uhhh

Uhhh

I meant this one :)

I meant this one 🙂

In order to start the process, I made a delicious smoothie this morning. Check it out.

Mango Avocado Smoothie (Serves 2)

Half an avocado

1 banana

1 cup pomegranate kefir (try Lifeway = delicious if you don’t feel like making your own)

1/2 cup water

1-2 cups spinach

1 cup mango

Added ice, optional

Combine kefir, water, spinach and avocado in a blender, blending until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for a few minutes until incorporated thoroughly.

#yum

#yum

I made a separate smoothie for Brett. I’m nice like that. You’re welcome, sweetie.

Happy Birthday! Thanks to @lifeway

Happy Birthday! Thanks to @lifeway

 

 

COTR Envy

Heylow, friends. This week, we’re starting a series about envy. Not envy in a bad way, but envy in an “I would like to be you/own you/eat you every day of my life” kind of envy.

1. Dog life. Brett and I often discuss how great it would be to be a dog. Think about it. People feed you. You poo, people clean it up. Gross, but true. You get snuggles all the time. The lounging is ideal.

This is hard. Obviously.

This is hard. Obviously.

2. Yogi honey lavender tea. This tea has been a blessing in helping me sleep. If you have any sort of anxiety issues, I’m sure your mind rambles like mine does. Makes it hard to take a snooze. Brett often comments on my jittery feet in bed. “What are you doing? Are your toes tap dancing?” This honey lavender bliss is calming and I’ve found that I get to sleep fairly easily an hour or so after drinking it. Yogi, I would bathe in you if I could. Thanks for helping me get some zzzz.

Yogi = Sleep

Yogi = Sleep

3. Fabletics. Mrs. D found this one. Good find, Binz! Kate Hudson has a rock star body.

She's ridiculous.

She’s ridiculous.

So much so that she put together an athletic apparel line. Similar to Stitch fix, Fabletics uses your preferences to pair you with different products. The pricing is great compared to other athletic brands. From all of the reviews, the material is great quality AND you get 50% off your first order. Those leggings are looking better and better…

4. Chocolate covered PB pretzels. Whoever came up with these should be given a big hug, then punched in the stomach. I could eat a whole box myself.

In fact I did.

In fact I did.

Damn you, Wegmans.

5. My favorite water cup.

#sigh

#sigh

Unfortunately I can’t tell you where this came from- Maybe Target? It’s large and in charge, which I love. I drink more water at home if the glass is bigger than my face. Brett decided to steal it last night while he was eating popcorn topped with smoked paprika and now it smells like his smoked paprika mouth. In to the dishwasher it goes. Listen up, Brett. MINE.

Question: What products are you most envious of this week?

Smoothie cleanse

With all the craziness of moving and job hunting, my food intake has been poo. When you eat like poo, well, you know how it goes…

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When attempting to exercise, after said poop diet…

#fail

#fail

I really miss my blender. It’s packed away in storage and I desperately begged Brett to get it for me on his way home last night. My blender and I are now happily dating.

Hey, yourself.

Hey, yourself.

The quickest way for me to get back to healthy eating involves lots of fresh juices and smoothies. I have a difficult time getting enough vegetables in my mealplan so by adding a ton of spinach or kale to a smoothie, I give myself an A for amazing.

I started off this morning fresh with a new smoothie created by yours truly 🙂

Spinach Mango Kefir Smoothie (Serves 2)

Ingredients #letsgo

Ingredients #letsgo

1 cup homemade orange kefir

1/2 cup water

Spinach, to fill the blender (pack a TON in there)

And add some more!

And add some more!

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 banana

1 cup frozen mango

Ice, optional

Add the kefir, spinach and water to the blender. Blend for 2 minutes, until you get a lovely wicked green color. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. If you’re making this for 1, bring the whole thing with you! I usually put the entire smoothie in a mason jar, drink half, and sip on the rest throughout the morning. It gives you a great added boost throughout the day.

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Speaking of boosts…let’s discuss the benefits of drinking greens. Holy energy, my friends. I drank my smoothie this morning and went to the gym 90 minutes later. I was able to run 7:30s on the treadmill during my interval workout. This is a big deal given I’ve been on the running struggle bus lately. I was able to power through a full 30 minutes of climbing hills and faster speeds. It helped that I watched the Biggest Loser during my run. This has become my new obsession. If Jillian Michaels doesn’t scare the crap out of you to work hard, you’re a lost cause.

#peedmypants

#peedmypants

Feeling accomplished, I headed home to have a hardboiled egg as a snack.

Seems I wasn't the only one ready for an egg. Happy weekend!

Seems I wasn’t the only one ready for an egg. Happy weekend!

 

the culture of kefir

We have kefir in our house 24/7. Brett demolishes it quart by quart. The first time I tried it, I immediately thought…”hmmm drinkable yogurt.” Given it’s recent popularity, I had a slew of questions when he first started bringing this mystery drink home. What is kefir? What are the benefits? Given our lactose intolerance, will we be occupying the bathroom frequently? (gross, but seriously…) How is kefir different from yogurt? I set out on a quest to find some answers for us.

Kefir is…an enzyme-rich, cultured, creamy food that contains beneficial yeast and probiotic bacteria to clean your innards (similar to yogurt).

Lactose intolerant friendly – YES! The yeast and bacteria found in kefir produce lactase, the enzyme that consumes the lactose remaining after the culturing process.

Kefir is made by…starting with a white or yellow particle called a “kefir grain.” The grains combined with milk (goat, cow, coconut, rice, soy, etc.) begin the fermenting process. The grains contain the yeast, bacteria, milk proteins and complex sugars necessary to culture the milk. After a certain period of time, the grains are strained out of the milk mixture and wah-lah, kefir is born. See below for our very own homemade recipe 🙂

Kefir and yogurt are both cultured milk products. Kefir:

  • Colonizes the intestinal tract, whereas yogurt simply keeps it clean and provides nutrients for the “friendly” bacteria located there.
  • Contains more friendly bacteria than yogurt does, in turn the yeast and bacteria provide more nutritive content than in yogurt.
  • Simply put: you can drink it vs. spoon it. Kefir is easier for travel and quicker to pack in the healthy calories.

Now, back to kefir in our house. At Wegmans, a standard quart of kefir goes for roughly $3.50. With Brett in the house, that becomes a huge hit to our bank accounts. So, I decided to make it instead.

Note: You can make kefir 2 different ways. 1) Most stores offer a “starter kit” that does not require straining any grains during the process.

Starter kit = so easy!

Starter kit = so easy!

2) You can purchase the kefir grains online or at select health stores. Option 2 is more expensive up front, BUT you can reuse the kefir grains indefinitely! COOL. For the recipe below, I used a starter kit, but moving forward, I plan to order kefir grains to save money.

Orange Jubilee Kefir (Makes 2 1/2 Quarts)

1 Kefir starter kit 

4 cups milk (for this go around I used 2% reduced fat milk)

6 cups OJ

1/2 cup sugar

4 tsp coconut extract

Follow the instructions provided on the kefir kit to begin the fermentation process. For my kit, I brought the milk to a boil in a medium sized pot until it reached 180 degrees.
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Remove the pot from the heat and let cool to 75 degrees. Once cooled, mix a starter kit packet into the milk and pour into a quart sized container. We used an old glass cherry juice bottle.
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Cover the bottle top with saran wrap and a rubber band. Make sure the wrap is air tight! Sit out on the kitchen counter for 24-48 hours until it reaches a thicker consistency of your liking. We felt like 8th grade scientists – inspecting our creation every few hours 🙂 For us, it took 48 hours because the house is on the cooler side – you’ll want to maintain a room temperature if possible.

Time for the flavor

Time for the flavor

Combine the OJ, sugar and extract into a large bowl and whisk. Once the kefir mixture is thickened, add to OJ and whisk thoroughly. Pour into air tight containers to store in the fridge. You’ll want to refrigerate for roughly 6-8 hours before drinking.

Yum #kefir #homemade

Yum #kefir #homemade add chia seeds for some additional benefits!

By using milk and the starter kit, you’re saving $1.85! ($3.50 for a store bought container). If Brett were to drink a bottle a day for one week, it would cost us $25. If we make our own kefir and do the same, it would only be $12/week. You’re welcome, Brett – enjoy the kefir made with love! 😉

 

 

 

mug cakes and dog runs

Apparently, I’m on a creative, breakfast kick. This morning, all I could think about was making something new and different. Quinoa cereal? No. Almond milk oatmeal? Nah. Oatmeal and a hard boiled egg? No thanks. Mug cake? Uh, duh! I’ve made mug cakes in the past for dessert, but making a mug-worthy breakfast was a new challenge I was ready to tackle.

The best thing about mug cakes is that they’re FAST. Mix together ingredients and in the microwave they go to blow up for a few minutes. Done. Favorite part about making the mug cake this morning (besides eating it) was the way it made me feel. I wasn’t tired or run down like I would be with most pastries or donuts. I felt light, sated and ready to go. Tastes like dessert and makes me feel great? I’d say that’s a double win.

Almond Cocoa Chia Mug Cake (Serves 1)

2 Tbs cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 1/2 Tbs almond butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond – delicious!)

1 tsp chia seeds

1 overripe banana, mashed

1 egg

1 tsp maple syrup

Fresh or frozen mango chunks (optional)

Ingredients - go!

Ingredients – go!

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.

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Pour into a medium size coffee mug. Cook in microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave. Simply turn over the mug onto a rack or plate to remove the cake – it should pop right out. Let cool for a few minutes and serve with a side of mango.

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Breakfast is served with an iced coffee with almond milk

Breakfast is served with an iced coffee with almond milk

Afterwards Fred and I went for a run. We’ve both been out of running shape as of late. For those of you that don’t know, I deal with some tough anxiety – some of which manifests itself during my time on the road. Unfortunately, that’s made it rather scary for me to lace up my running shoes. Running with Fred is the perfect solution. He is so entertaining outside that I hardly think about the stressors of anxiety.

Let's go, Mom!

Let’s go, Mom!

Since Fred likes to stop to smell everything…I mean everything: grass, random invisible spots on the pavement, mailboxes, the air, etc. Personally, I think it’s his excuse for a running rest. He’s so lazy.

...and happy :)

…and happy 🙂

 

While Fred is in nasal euphoria, I make the most of my time by doing calf raises or lunges in place. I may look quite ridiculous to any drivers passing by, but guess what? I’m working out…with my awesome dog and they’re sitting on their behinds in their car. I’m pretty sure Fred and I win.

Take that, lazy people. Go eat cake! ;)

Take that, lazy people. Go eat cake! 😉

the secret lives of chia and almond milk

Want to know a secret? Chia is one of our secret food weapons. We’re not alone. The Mayans and Aztecs cherished chia, using it as a flour/pressed oil and mixing it with water as a super drink. In fact, “chia” comes from the Mayan word for “strength.”

So, why are chia seeds so good for us? Chia packs in all the nutrients we need with a minimal amount of calories. Friends like fiber, omegas, calcium and protein are ever present in this superfood, giving us the long-lasting energy and fuel we need to power through the day. I often find that chia leaves me fuller longer.

Brett will simply add 1 Tbsp of chia to a glass of water and incorporate some fresh lemon juice. After stirring and letting the chia sit for 10-15 minutes, the water becomes thicker, taking on a slight gelatin texture.

Personally, I think that’s weird.

#gross

#gross

If you can deal with the texture, it’s good and a great boost prior to a workout. I’ll stick with my chia smoothies, chia oatmeal and the latest, chia breakfast pudding! Brett can have his weird, jelly water 😉

Chia Almond Banana Pudding (Serves 2)

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (we use Silk unsweetened vanilla)

4 Tbs chia seeds

2 Tbs almond butter

2 overripe bananas, mashed

Ingredients

Ingredients

Combine the milk, almond butter and bananas in a blender  until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large mason jar. Add the chia seeds, seal tightly and SHAKE THAT JAR.

Shake it :)

Shake it 🙂

It may sound silly, but it’s a great arm workout. I add a little kitchen dance and poof…the calories disappear! Let the mix sit overnight in the fridge. By morning, this should take on a pudding consistency and have a almond, banana fresh flavor…yum. This is nice and easy to bring into work if you have an early morning workout. Serve and top with your favorite fruit. I opted for blueberries.

Happy Weekend superfood!

Happy Weekend superfood!

Get me to the green

When something isn’t right for you, you feel it in your gut. Well, my gut was screaming to Sunday and back. New York City was not my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong. I love the food and all of the culture, but the past few months have been all consuming with work. Add an already anxious Dana to a high stress, fast paced environment and you get some pretty obnoxious panic attacks in public places. Thank god for the plethora of parks in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

During a visit to my parents’ house, my mother looked at me biting my nails with a perpetual frown on my face and said: “Dana, your job is not God. Is it really worth it when you’re this unhappy?”

Moms are always right, especially when you need them to be. So, I quit my job. I moved out of New York City. I’m on, what I affectionately refer to as, “my sabbatical.” So, it’s time to get back to the things I love most. Running, cooking, spending time with family and sharing new and fun recipes right here 🙂

On my first official weekend back in Upstate New York, I realized a few things:

1) It’s quiet. Quiet as in wind chimes and crickets. No sirens and car horns at night.

2) IT’S SO GREEN.

The outdoors - brilliant photo taken by Mr. D :)

The outdoors – brilliant photo taken by Mr. D 🙂

3) oh yeah, and these guys.

Charming fellas

Charming fellas

Outside of the above, I really missed cooking fresh and healthy foods. In the NYC dynamic, I found myself cooking less and less. That makes for one cranky Dana. Mrs. D and I decided to start my return to cooking off right by making a mediterranean feast with my favorite…PITA! This makes for a perfect summer dinner and great cold lunch leftovers over a bed of greens.

Let's get started, shall we?

Let’s get started, shall we?

Mediterranean Pita with Falafel and Roasted Chickpeas (Serves 4)

Roasted chickpeas (<our recipe, minus the rosemary for this pita dish)

Romaine lettuce, chopped

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced

1-2 tomatoes, sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 package falafel mix

1 package fresh pita, cut into halves for pockets

Canola oil

tzatziki sauce, for dressing

Prep the falafel mix according to package directions. Most mixes will require combining the package with water to sit and harden for 30 minutes or so.

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Once the mixture has set, form into thin patties.

Formed by chef Linda

Formed by chef Linda aka Mrs. D

Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet. You’ll want roughly 1/2 an inch to an inch of canola oil in the pan. Once the oil is ready, add the patties to sizzle.

Whoa there

Whoa there

Remove once the falafel is a golden brown and let cool. Now, for the fun. Assembly line! This is my favorite part of prep in the Diamond household. With a meal like this, we create our own dishes. Petite little pocket for me, whereas Brett will make a pita the size of a small child. This is the beauty of the assembly line. To each their own.

Don't forget to add your chickpeas!

Don’t forget to add your chickpeas to top

Top your creation with some tzatziki and enjoy!

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Turning errands into training miles

Weekend time disappears in the blink of an eye. Before I knew it, I woke up Sunday morning with lots to do and only 1 day to do it. I wanted to fit in a run so I made a plan to fit it into my day of errands. Since I had to head over to Union Square, I plotted a run on Map My Run and used it for directions and tracking mileage.

Running this way is a great way to explore…

Farmer’s Markets.

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Beautiful buildings.

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And of course, a reminder that we’re headed into March Madness. Go Orange!

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After a great 3 miles, I couldn’t wait to make a new recipe jam packed with veggies. I based this meal off of a fabulous recipe from Herbivoracious. I used fresh, chopped peppers instead of roasted peppers and added radishes to the mix. Radishes are a great to add to any salad – an abundant source of vitamins and minerals. Plus, it adds that essential salad crunch – love that! I prepared this dish right in my tupperware containers to save myself some after cooking cleanup *pat on back*

Quick and Fresh Chickpea Veggie Salad (Serves 4)

4-5 radishes, washed and diced into long strips

1 large cucumber, rinsed and chopped

Half a red onion, diced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1-2 fresh peppers (I used red, orange and yellow)

1 can chickpeas (no salt added), rinsed thoroughly

A few handfuls of fresh basil, chopped

Half a lemon, for juicing

1/4 cup EVOO

6 oz feta

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with lemon juice and EVOO.

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Though this dish was out-of-this-world amazing freshly made, I found that it was even more mind blowing after sitting over night in the lemon-EVOO-basil mixture. This is officially a new staple in my weekly meal plan…WIN! 🙂

helllooo dinner

helllooo dinner

Smoked mozzarella and city bustle

Work, work, work. New Yorkers don’t lie when they say life is chaotic here in the city. Sadly, moving into Manhattan, dancing and balancing work life have left me with zero motivation to prepare food.

It doesn’t help that I live in the middle of restaurant/foodie paradise. Cheap Chinatown sesame balls, we tell you!

get in my belly

get in my belly

…the views

from DUMBO

from DUMBO

and the unconventional beauty of graffiti in a few words…

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Amidst all this chaos, I’ve been spending far too many dollars on foods that I could make in my own kitchen. So, how do you make it easy to cook in a town filled with sights, sounds and endless distractions? Simple. Fewer ingredients. Fewer steps. Big taste.

I made this quinoa dish in 10 minutes. Basil. Sautéed tomatoes. Smoked mozzarella…uhhhh CHEESE heaven. What’s not to love?

Smoked Quinoa Bowl with Sautéed Tomatoes and Basil (Serves 2)

1 cup quinoa

1 1/3 cup water

1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

2 large handfuls of basil, chopped (or more if you love it like I do)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, chopped

Smoked mozzarella (I’m not going to add an amount here. No judgment when it comes to cheese)

2 Tbs EVOO

Sea salt and pepper

Bring the quinoa to a boil in a small pot. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat. Sauté the onions and garlic, stirring for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to color the onions. Add the sautéed mixture to the cooked quinoa along with the basil and mozzarella. Add a dollop of EVOO, salt, and pepper – stir and enjoy!

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holy taste buds #nomnom

That’s life

Nothing like your bum saying hello to the pavement in NYC. Good thing I was on a run.

At least it was pretty

Right now, I’m located in Brooklyn Heights and there is nothing like the New York skyline to greet you while putting on some miles. I forgot how exhilarating it is to run in the city. Cold, crisp air. Taking in the sounds. Watching all kinds of people bustling to where they need to be. It fills you with this buzz. It’s the buzz that runs throughout the Big Apple and it’s exciting.

The view...

The view…

The feeling of accomplishment :)

The feeling of accomplishment 🙂

Since Brett will be missing in action for the next few months being a genius at Upstate Medical University, I’ve decided to keep my meals simple. I’m sure you’ve heard of all the diet crazes as of late. Paleo. Gluten Free. Cambogia garcinia pills. If you’ve tried any of these methods, you know they are NOT CHEAP. That’s the beauty of simplicity. Protein, carb and veggie. Take my dinner last night for example. I sautéed some spinach and tempeh, cooked some brown rice and fried an egg. I used some nori (seaweed) seasoning and a pinch of sea salt. It may sound bland, but it’s cheap and you’re getting everything you need to provide your body with the fuel it needs.

Nori Fuming Furikake - rice seasoning you can buy at any Asian grocer

Nori Fuming Furikake – rice seasoning you can buy at any Asian grocer

Here’s an example day of “simple” eating:

Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 banana, a piece of whole grain toast with 1 Tbs PB
Snack: 1 oz raw almonds
Lunch: Mixed green salad with tomatoes, peppers and quinoa. A little EVOO and apple cider vinegar
Snack: 2 chopped carrots and 1 Tbs hummus
Dinner: Sautéed tempeh with spinach, brown rice and 1 fried egg

…and making the above dinner is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Sautéed tempeh, spinach and egg

1/2 block grain tempeh, diced into small cubes
1 cup fresh spinach
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
2 Tbs coconut oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and sauté the tempeh until light golden. Set aside. Add a touch more oil and sauté the spinach until wilted. Before frying the egg, plate the tempeh and spinach on top of 3/4 cup brown rice. I have a habit of overlooking my fried eggs. Brett tends to be the egg master in our house. Luckily, it still tastes delicious. Top with Nori seasoning and serve.

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