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Happy Birthday, Zach!

10 Sep

Yesterday was my fiance’s birthday!

Happy Birthday Honey!

Isn’t he handsome? I wanted to make his birthday special, but because we just got back from vacation, I wanted to stay close to home. So, on Friday night we went to dinner with some of his old friends from high school, then on Saturday we went to dinner with our friends in town. On Sunday, I hosted a football party for his Fantasy Football league (including a few others). We had lots of great food:

Looks awful, but it’s sooo good!

Buffalo chicken dip (made by Zach’s sister). This stuff is addictive, delicious and probably not health food. Ok, it’s definitely not health food. But oh is it good.

I had never made a meatball before yesterday, but it wasn’t that hard! Zach specifically requested “the meatballs in the crockpot”. After doing some research, I realized that meant meatballs in a crockpot with sauce made from grape jelly and chili sauce. Courtney said she usually buys frozen meatballs, but they didn’t have any at the store when I went so I decided to make my own. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, and the meatballs turned out great.

Football staple.

I also had never prepared chicken wings prior to yesterday. I made a copycat sauce of the Buffalo Wild Wings Spicy Garlic sauce (my favorite). I baked the wings in the sauce, but next time I’ll bake the wings separately and then toss them in the sauce. They were good, but the sauce did weird things when cooked.

You can’t have wings without raw veggies and creamy ranch dip. I cut up the veggies myself, which saved some money. I had  half a carton of plain yogurt in my fridge so I made my own yogurt ranch too. It was very good. Everyone made fun of my labels though. I think I spend too much time on Pinterest.

Of course, what is a birthday party without cake? I made this yellow cake from a box mix, and bought the frosting. This is the first time I’ve ever made a layer cake though. The presentation isn’t great (the frosting on the plate in this photo is driving me crazy, but I was holding hungry party-goers at bay while I took this picture), but it sure was good.

So, as you can see we had a very healthy day yesterday.

Just kidding! But it was delicious.

Today for lunch, I took some of the leftover raw veggies, steamed them, and tossed them with some whole-wheat pasta, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Much healthier! (Although I did follow it up with a slice of leftover cake).

I think Zach had a great birthday. His birthday present was two tickets to see our Alma Mater play next weekend, so the birthday festivities continue next weekend!

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I know how to do this!

5 Sep

In everyone’s life, there are ups and downs regarding everything. Right now, I’m on a very big upswing in most of my life, but one aspect is struggling: Health and Fitness.

Why is it that sometimes when we get happy and comfortable, we just want to hunker down and eat everything in sight? I know some people do this when they are sad, some when they are happy, I can go either way. When I’m sad, I tend to eat more and exercise more. When I’m happy, I tend to eat more and exercise less — which is very bad! (Please notice how eating never suffers — oh yes, I know how to eat.)

But, you know, I’ve been on this health train for quite some time, and I know how to do it. I know I need to get to bed early, set my alarm, go do something active, eat my fruits and vegetables, drink my water, try not to drink alcohol every single night. I know! But that doesn’t stop me from slipping up.

This morning was rough! I woke up way early, I had slept very well the night before, and I had absolutely no excuse to skip the gym. But I wanted to skip it. Oh so much. My mind was fighting with itself:

“But the house is such a mess. You could get so much cleaning done if you skip the gym!”

“You know you are going to regret it if you don’t go!”

“I could just go for a run after work, and maybe do some strength training after.”

“You know you won’t do that! If you do your strength this morning, you’ll be ahead of the game.”

This went on for quite some time, so much so that I knew if I didn’t leave almost right away, I’d be late for the sculpting class, so I tweeted this:

 

…lo and behold, social networking was the motivation I needed, in this reply:

…SO TRUE! CW is a college friend, and I see him at the gym in the mornings pretty regularly, so this was the motivation I needed. I threw on my clothes and headed out. I was only a few minutes late, I didn’t even miss the whole warm up. In some unsurprising news, I did not at all regret going. It was a really tough workout, and just what I needed.

After that I was pumped to have a healthy and productive day! Breakfast was delicious and filling:

A bowl of fruit: 1/2 a banana, 4 strawberries, five grapes and 1/2 an apple. Then I spooned about half of that greek yogurt on top. A Thomas’ Everything Bagel Thin w/ neufchatel cheese, and of course a big glass of water. Yum! I only finished half the fruit, I’ll save it for a mid-morning snack.

When I weighed myself this morning, I was down a pound from yesterday which makes me think most of my vacation weight gain was just water retention from eating crappy food all week. Hopefully now that I’m getting back to drinking tons of water during the day (vacation was more like tons of mimosas during the day), things will go back to normal.

Today’s training run is supposed to be speed work in the form of 400 repeats. My plan is to do that on the treadmill after work, but we’ll see how that goes. Although I am trying to up the fitness and health, I’m also not trying to push myself too much.

Question of the day:
Do you ever have an inner fight with yourself on whether you will exercise or not? 

A Long Run and Sunday Eats

20 Aug

I slept so well last night.

Like, the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a very long time.

I did not wake up during the night one time. I did wake up at 5:45 AM long enough to decide that I’m going to be keeping Monday as a rest day, and then rolled right back over and went to sleep until Zach’s alarm went off at 7. Ahh, sweet relief!

I’m in a great mood today, because we have officially entered the period of time which it is appropriate to count down to vacation! Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve really been counting down since August began. I really can’t wait, and I have a few vacation related blog post ideas formulating in my mind.

Yesterday was long run day, and I had such a great run! I took a ton of pictures:

From left – right: Me taking a break near my favorite water fountain, my favorite view, and my nemesis/lucky charm, the Muscovy duck that lives in the park where I run. I would have gotten closer to him to take a photo, but I harbor a healthy fear of him, so that’s all you get.

Backtracking a bit, I thought I’d share my meals from yesterday with you. Prior to heading out for my run, I had some greek yogurt with granola and “fruit” (it was really just fruit syrup):

I also had some instant coffee (still no coffee pot), which is surprisingly not bad. I followed it all up with a glass of water and a probiotic (I’m going to do a probiotic post soon, because I’m loving them!) and caught up with some magazines while my food digested.

I had a great run, as I mentioned. My training plan called for 6 miles, but I had to pause my CardioTrainer app (which was tracking my miles) at one point because some guy and I were running a ridiculously similar pace. It was awkward, so I stopped and pulled over to let him go ahead a bit. Apparently I forgot to restart the app, because I didn’t notice it until much later. I estimated I had ran about a mile or so, so I just added an extra loop on at the end of my run just in case I was shorting myself. Well, when I got home, I logged on to Map My Run and I had done 6.81 miles! To be honest, I could have kept running too, so that felt great.

I had planned to make brunch for me and Zach when I got back, but he decided to go golfing with his dad, so I whipped up some lunch for myself. I was surprised that I wasn’t famished right after my run like I usually am, I guess the yogurt/granola combo is a winner for staying power. I’ll have to remember that come half-marathon race day.

I bought some local tofu at the Wild Ramp market which I really wanted to try. I’ll tell you this: I’m never buying any other tofu again. This tofu had the best consistency, I only had to press it for 5 minutes, and I was able to cook it without the tofu breaking up and turning into a scramble. Even when I buy extra-firm at the grocery store, it doesn’t have the firm texture I’d like. I made the Cast Iron Tofu  using Caitlin’s method (Healthy Tipping Point is hands down one of my favorite blogs!), added it to some sauteed Kale and served it over Ramen noodles. Yes, Ramen noodles! I’ll admit I love ’em.

I don’t know if I’ll ever cook tofu another way again. It was so crispy on the outside! I love the texture of tofu, so I left the cubes to be kind of on the large side, but if you made them smaller this would be even crispier. I had a few strawberries on the side also. All of the meals I had yesterday had amazing staying power, and this was no exception. I was full for a long time after I chowed this down.

I went to a 5:30 yoga for runner’s class (which was incredible!) Our instructor focused on the Piriformis, which is a muscle in your glute area. It’s a deep muscle that is hard to stretch, but we sure did stretch it. In fact, I didn’t even know that mine was tight until we started stretching it out. My legs feel  great today! I’m on a budget, so I don’t know if I can afford to shell out the $8 a week to go to this class, but I think I’ll try to make it at least a monthly thing.

After yoga, it was late and we had movie plans with friends, so I whipped together a quick dinner. Earlier in the day, I had made a batch of Indian Curry veggie burgers from the No-Meat Althlete veggie burger formula (found here.) So, burgers it was:

This was an amazing veggie burger! I basically just used the recipe at the end of that post for the Indian Patties, but I didn’t have chickpeas so I used Great Northern instead. Also, I subbed carrots and yellow squash as my veggies. Yum! I made it a double decker because I was quite hungry. Add some baked french fries (yay, health!) and some steamed broccoli w/ a bit of shredded cheddar and it was a yummy meal. I decided to put a dollop of plain yogurt on my burger, and it was a very good decision. After dinner, I was ready for some dessert, so I had a frozen greek yogurt bar (flavor: blueberry), and it was delicious.

It was a great day for food at my house, and I didn’t realize how much yogurt I ate yesterday until I typed it all up. I swear, that isn’t typical!

Question of the day:
What is the best thing you’ve eaten recently? 

Weekend Eats

13 Aug

Still sleeping not-so-great, still having not-so-great runs. Think they are related? Hmmm 😉

I thought I’d use this post to share some of the yummy food I had this weekend. I cannot for the life of me remember what I made for dinner on Friday night (that’s what I thought about while I was laying awake in bed in the wee hours this morning), so I’m going to start with Saturday morning.

I woke up feeling not-so-hot, probably due to the fact that Zach and I met some of his friends out pretty late and then ended up meeting up with another friend. We were out later than usual, and I still wasn’t sleeping so well. I decided I wanted to make something different, so I whipped this together:

 

I chopped up some green peppers, onions and a potato, and sauteed them in my cast iron skillet (which is my favorite thing on earth, by the way). Then I sprinkled on some cheese and cracked two eggs on top and threw it in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.

Oh. my. goodness. was this delicious. I served it up with a slice of whole wheat toast. Yum.

Saturday was kind of….blah. I ended up taking a rest day from exercise because I was so tired from not getting enough sleep. I ended up taking a three hour nap in the middle of the day! I don’t know if I’m a little sick or what, but you would think a three hour nap would be refreshing…nope. I was still so tired throughout the day. But, we decided to meet up with some friends anyway to go to the annual Ribfest happening down by the riverfront: 

Ok, not the healthiest meal, but it sure was delicious. I got the three bone sampler, which came with potato salad, baked beans and a cornbread muffin. The cornbread muffin was more like dessert, but I wasn’t complaining (I ate Zach’s, too). It was pretty good, but I wish we had stood in the longer line to get Carolina Rib King. Though our friends were keeping the party going, I was feeling too run down to go out, so instead Zach and I headed home to watch a movie. On the way back to the car, I made him stop at Tropical Moon so I could get some frozen yogurt:

 

I got the mountain blackberry flavor, and added fresh fruit, including….more blackberries! It was really good, but I think the craving was just a craving, because I was too full from the Ribs to finish it.

The movie we watched was Wanderlust with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston — it was quite funny! I hope you check it out if you haven’t.

On Sunday, I woke up not feeling great (again!), so I didn’t get around to running until late afternoon. I cleaned house, made some breakfast, and went with Zach to get some new work clothes (for him). Then I decided I had really better get a run in, considering I’d already skipped a training run on Saturday. Here’s how my first week of half training went:

Since I wasn’t feeling so hot on Saturday, I had planned to combine Saturday and Sunday’s run into one long 8 miler, but I ended up not feeling great on Sunday either. 😦 I did end up doing 5.5 miles, so I ended up 2.5 miles short of my goal for the week. It’s not the end of the world, I’m sure I’ll have better weeks. I do need to figure out why I’m feeling blah though – I suspect allergies. Are anyone else’s flaring up a lot right now?

After my run, I made lasagna for dinner, and it turned out really well. When I make lasagna, usually I just throw a bunch of veggies in a bowl, mix in ricotta cheese, mozzarella and spices. Then I layer it with sauce and the noodles. Easy as pie (why is that a saying? Pie is kind of hard to make…):

Yes, I put corn in my lasagna. I had some leftover from something I made, so I threw it in. It was very yummy. After a relaxing Sunday evening, I thought for sure I would sleep well, but I think maybe I was too anxious about it, so I ended up tossing and turning all night 😦

To top things off, here’s what I had for a nice desk breakfast this morning:

Scrambled eggs with cheese and sriracha on a whole-wheat wrap, cottage cheese with blackberries and a cup of green tea (still no coffeepot!). Yum!

Question of the day:
What was the best meal you’ve had recently? 

What I ate Wednesday…

25 Jul

…which means actually what I ate on Tuesday, because I’m writing this in the morning.

But I actually had a really good day yesterday of food, so I’m excited to share it with you! But first, I want to talk about my workout this morning. I swear, my new Brooks Pure Flow shoes make me faster. When I went out for my run on Tuesday, the Nike+ app told me twice that I ran my fastest 1k. Then, this morning, I did a fast treadmill mile before Cardio Sculpt class to finish up Kristen at Following Fit’s 7-day Feats of Strength (I did it!), and it ended up being a very speedy mile (for me)!

I’m pretty slow, 9:14 is like 5k race pace for me (my fastest is 27:32 or something).

Now, on to the goodies. Of course, I already showed you a photo of my Hot Apple Pie Smoothie (I’m having another one today…I’m obsessed!)

You’ve seen this, but it’s worth seeing again. Yum!

I typically go home for lunch. Usually Zach will swing by and pick me up, but sometimes I walk home. Yesterday looked like it was going to storm, I didn’t bring an umbrella and I wasn’t wearing walking shoes, so I thought I might just go somewhere and grab something. Then I remembered my pact with myself to spend $0 until payday, and I hoofed it home. I am actually always happy with that decision, because as much as I like eating out, I can eat a much heartier and healthier lunch when I prepare it at home. I like my lunch to be a fairly large meal, because I get the 3:00 PM munchies pretty bad. This is what I had yesterday:

 

I can’t resist taking a bite before I snap a photo.

A Light Life black bean veggie burger w/ a slice of cheese and this really delicious bourbon mustard my friend Mandee bought for me when I watched her dog, and sauteed kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli & cauliflower and chickpeas. The sauteed veggies and chickpeas are a lunch staple for me. I almost always make that for lunch. Sometimes I’ll serve it with noodles, and sometimes it’s a side dish, but I probably eat it at least 3-4 times a week for lunch.

I had a banana for an afternoon snack, but you know what a banana looks like, right?

Dinner actually turned out really well too. My plan was to make stuffed peppers. Usually, I make them southwestern style with rice, black beans, tomatoes and other veggies, but last night I was feeling like I wanted to do something different. So I browned the turkey, and added about a cup of frozen “Italian Style” veggies (Zucchini, cauliflower, red pepper, carrots and lima beans) and a little bit of brown rice leftovers and seasoned it with S&P and Italian seasonings. I stuffed the peppers and added some jarred marinara sauce all over it (with the leftover stuffing around the sides), and topped the peppers with some shredded mozzarella. Here’s where it gets weird: While the peppers were in the oven, I boiled some whole wheat spaghetti noodles (just about 1 serving for two people, so not a ton), added some sauce and served the peppers over top of them, like this:

So, so good!

I know that rice and spaghetti sounds weird together, but it so wasn’t. Since I only made about a serving of each (split two ways), we didn’t end up having too much grain on our plate. After I took that photo, I chopped up the pepper and mixed everything together. This was delicious! I love to experiment in the kitchen. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. This definitely did work out.

After dinner, I decided to go to the 7 PM yoga class at the Y. It was much needed. Lately I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts. Just kind of…anxious and unsure of myself. There have been some things going on with friends and with myself that have left me feeling not so hot, and yoga really helps center me. I was feeling pretty good afterwards, so I whipped up some banana and strawberry soft-serve for dessert:

Delicious and healthy!

Now, in no way did I invent this recipe: I’ve seen it floating around on blogs all over the place, but here is how I did it:

Strawberry/Banana Protein Soft-serve

1 frozen banana, chopped
handful of frozen strawberries
1/2 a scoop of vanilla protein powder (optional)
small amount of almond milk

Put the banana and strawberries into a food processor or blender and blend until mostly pureed. Add protein powder if you wish and turn the processor on while streaming almond milk in until it reaches the proper consistency.

Easy peasy! I usually add the protein powder if I’m eating it after an evening workout, but leave it out if not. It’s really good, and has the same consistency as ice cream. It does melt a little faster, but you could stick it in the freezer after making it to firm it up if you wish.

Question of the Day:
Do you ever experiment in the kitchen?