Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cookies for Breakfast

Remember how I said breakfast was my favorite meal?

Well yesterday was another glorious morning because I ate cookies for breakfast :)

I guess this runs in the family because growing up my 80-year-old grandpa would eat cookies for breakfast every day.

Well I guess I didn't technically eat cookies, it was more like one big cookie!

The Fitnessista shares my same love for sweet breakfast meals, and when I saw her breakfast cookie recipe, I knew I had to make it.


Breakfast Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

- 1/3 cup oats
- 1 tbs nut butter (I used peanut butter)
- 1/2 scoop protein powder
- 1/8 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- your choice of mix-ins (ex. banana, chocolate chips, raisins, anything!)

Directions

- In a small bowl, mix the oats, nut butter, and protein powder into a crumbly mixture.
- Add milk.
- Add the mix-ins! I added half of a smashed banana and topped it with Greek yogurt and strawberries. Next time I'm definitely adding chocolate chips ;) The Fitnessista recommends adding some Stevia (sugar) and cinnamon as well.
- Place the mixture onto a small plate, shape it into a circle, and flatten it to distribute the thickness evenly.
- Put the cookie in the fridge overnight. This is essential for the cookie to solidify, but it's still nice and chewy in the morning :)
- Wake up and pull your beautiful, delicious cookie out and enjoy!

This was so delicious! The Greek yogurt and strawberries on top really hit the spot.

I think this recipe is perfect for those who don't have a lot of time to make breakfast in the morning. You don't have to do a thing but pull it out of the fridge! I think this would be great for the mornings when I go for runs and don't have much time to piddle around before work.

Workout

Before yesterday, it had been 4 days since my last run because I never did my 3 miles on Saturday or 9 miles on Sunday. Yikes!

Once I fall out of my routine, it's so much harder for me to get back in it. Thank goodness for Justin last night. He finally pulled through as a motivator for the first time during this 8 week training period. Usually I'm the one who has to push him to run at least once a week with me, but this time, he pulled me away from my BBQ bag of chips, and we hit the pavement!

My body felt funny at first. I couldn't tell if it was because I just ate half of the chips or if it was because my body forgot what it was like to run. Either way, the first mile was uneasy, but the following two felt great! It was nice and cool out, which made the run even better. It was one of those runs where you feel like you could run forever.

After that great run, I feel like I'm back to my routine and looking forward to spin tonight! Only 4 days until the half-marathon...Yay!

Question

How do you get yourself out of a workout funk? Anybody else doing a race over Labor Day?

I try to used the age old "you never regret a workout" mantra, which usually always gets my routine back up and running!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday

Today I didn't eat meat once. On purpose.

This past weekend, Justin and I curled up and watched three documentaries as Hurricane Irene passed through North Carolina. Two of them focused on food and the importance of what we put in our bodies.

The first - Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead


Focused "on two men whose bodies have been trashed by steroids, obesity and illness, this documentary chronicles the rigorous healing path -- including a two-month diet of fruits and vegetables -- that both attempt in a bid to rescue their health."

This documentary demonstrated how much the average American loves food, but to a point where they eventually are sacrificing their lives for it. One man who was in his fifties and about 50 pounds overweight, was at risk for a heart attack, but continued to eat his chicken fried steak and whatever else he wanted because he'd prefer to eat it then see his six children grow up. He didn't say that directly, but basically said he knew the direction he was headed in, and didn't plan to change it.

My main takeaways from this documentary were the focus on fruits and veggies in your diet. To maintain a vegetable based diet, the nutritionist in the film recommended eating meat only twice, if not once, a week.

Not sure if I can do that, but I'm working on cutting it out where I can :)

The second - Food, Inc.


This "Oscar-nominated documentary explores the food industry's detrimental effects on our health and environment."

What really stuck out to me about this film was the tour of the chicken farms. Here the chickens never see daylight and can hardly walk because the hormones they've been given have made them grow too big, too fast, and their bone structure can't support themselves.

The film showed the difference in size between a chicken breast you'd find at the grocery store with hormones and one without hormones. I will never buy a big chicken breast again. Also, I doubt I'll every buy meat that's not organic ever again.

I still think meat is important, but after these two documentaries, I'm convinced that I'll never buy general processed meat. The documentary also explains how one of the largest buyers in the meat market is first McDonalds followed by a few other popular brands like Perdue. Because these are the largest consumers of meat, they have the largest say in how it's produced. So even if you're buying meat from the grocery store instead of McDonalds be careful because it could be produced similarly to McDonalds' meat since there are only four meat processing factories in the United States.

---

In reality, Justin loves cooking steak, and I love eating his amazingly, delicious steak. However, I am going to make steps to substitute animal protein for protein found in beans, lentils and nuts when possible. I also want to focus on trying recipes that don't incorporate meat. A great blog for these kind of recipes is Peas and Thank You. Sarah is a mom who feeds her husband and two young girls on a vegan diet. She makes healthy, but oh-my-goodness-I-want-to-eat-all-of-that-right-now recipes.

---

Lunch

Was my go-to salad from the Abs Diet for Women.



Ingredients

- 3 cups mixed greens (I substitute 2 cups romaine, 1 cup spinach)
- 2 slices smoked deli turkey, chopped (today I substituted chickpeas)
- 1/2 small Granny Smith apple, chopped
- 1 tbsp diced pecans
- 1 1/2 tbsp Craisins
- 1 tbsp blue cheese crumbles
- Dressing: 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I substitute light balsamic vinaigrette)

Makes 1 serving.

Calories per serving: 296; Protein 15 g; Carbs 31; Total fat: 15 g; Saturated fat: 3 g; Sodium: 590 mg; Fiber: 7g.

I'm assuming the noted substitutions I make alter the above nutritional details in favor of lower sodium and saturated fat.

Dinner

Was leftovers from last night! When scoping out recipes on Peas and Thank You, I asked Justin, "Do you want tacos tonight?" I thought he knew that I wasn't incorporating meat into last night's meal - I guess I thought wrong.

As we headed to the grocery store, Justin asked, "What kind of tacos are we making? Fish?? Chicken??" My response, "Nope! Roasted Chickpea Tacos!"

Justin's response, "Ugh! This is going to suck. I'd rather go out to eat and spend money than eat that."

Oh, well! My mind was made up :)

It turned out just as delicious as I anticipated. Justin was very apprehensive and at first thought it was "just ok" but I think that's because he was being Mr. Negativity. After a couple more bites of the tacos topped with the Mmmm Sauce he was sold and said it's worth making again. Yay!

(I'm borrowing pictures from Sarah's website since hers look much more appetizing than my quick iPhone photo. See above links to recipes for the sources.)



I was actually more excited to make the Mmmm Sauce than the tacos. I've heard several others talk about how it's just too good to be true, and they were right. It can definitely go on anything and tasted delicious over the tacos!

Did I mention this was a vegan meal? Actually, my first. Success!

Also, Sarah just published her first cookbook this summer and it's already hit the New York Times Bestsellers List. There's plenty of recipes to choose from off her website for free, but I'm definitely going to buy the book this weekend after payday!

Question

What's your stance on meat? Organic? Love a Wendy's burger? Have you tried any recipes from Peas and Thank You? Any recommendations on another good recipe?

All of her recipes look good and I can't wait to make more!

How Not to Train for a Half Marathon

When training for my first half-marathon this past April, I ran the exact amount of miles on the day my plan recommended, and put emphasis on doing my runs no matter what. Granted, I did substitute a couple cross training days for runs when I felt my legs needed a rest or were getting shin splints.


However, my current training for my second half-marathon has left me feeling a little apprehensive. Last time, I felt confident and ready. This time, I feel underprepared and less excited because of it.

This is probably because...

1) Instead of running my long runs on Sundays, I've pushed a couple to Tuesdays due to late nights on the weekends. Whoops :/

2) It's super hot outside, and at first I woke up at 5am to run, but now I've become lazy and sweat it out in the 90 degree heat after work. YIKES.

3) Sweating like a pig makes my runs more miserable than fun, and thus makes me less excited about running in general.

4) When you're training for a half-marathon in Sept. you have to start training in July. This means waking up early on the weekends to get in your long runs before the heat. I started out good, but it's so much nicer to sleep in!

5) Exhibit A & B of this weekend. Didn't run 3 miles on Saturday or 9 miles on Sunday. Now I have to run 9 miles today (Monday). This is not ideal when you're running 13.1 miles in six days.

Despite all of this, I really am still super excited about running the Virginia Beach Rock 'n' Roll half marathon this coming weekend.


Especially because I'm expecting a supporting crowd of spectators, a FLAT course, listening to bands every mile along the way, plus a post-race concert on the beach with Brett Michaels! Oh yeah - and spending another vacay weekend with Justin!

I really wanted to run this upcoming half-marathon in less than 2 hours (previous time 2:04), and I hope I still can since it's flat. I remember thinking during the last half-marathon about how the next one would be that much better because I'd be that much stronger of a runner, but now I feel less prepared than I did before...darn.

Oh well, I'm now focusing on the positives after that little rant! It's going to be an awesome weekend!!! Carolina football starts this weekend (can't wait to tailgate next weekend!), I get to explore Virginia Beach, push my running limits, and do it all with my best friend :)

sMile of the Day

"Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent."
- Joan Benoit Samuelson

"We all know that if you run, you are pretty much choosing a life of success because of it."
- Deena Kastor

"I love when an hour or two into the run something opens up and I feel divine energy flowing into me. I try to send the energy all over my body. I love the feeling of it - I'd love to be running right now. "
- Flea (aka Michael Balzary), bassist in The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Question

How is your training going? How do you deal with feeling under prepared? Do you feel like this heat is helping or hurting your training?

I think I'm going to focus on just having fun so I don't beat myself up over my original goal!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Best Part of Waking Up

...is Folgers in my cup and breakfast!

It's my favorite meal of the day. I truly look forward to it every single morning.

I used to wake up and put a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave and then eat it as I was running out the door, but now I seriously spend about 20 minutes enjoying my breakfast. Some would probably prefer to sleep in more, but once you get a taste of my traditional eggs and toast with peanut butter and peaches, you'd start hopping out bed a few minutes earlier too ;)

However, this morning was something new - protein pancakes. I love pancakes way too much, but always feel a little guilty after I eat them because I know they're not the healthiest meal.

Insert protein pancakes. They are amazingly delicious, keep you fuller longer, and are good for you!


I could hardly finish both of these because they were that filling. I also didn't get any mid-morning snack cravings and was able to wait to eat lunch until 2pm today. Winner!

Another delicious pancake recipe to try are whole wheat blue berry pancakes. I made them earlier this summer and they were delicious and a little lighter than these. The whole wheat pancakes are less than 200 calories too (not that I count, but it's good to know)!

Today's protein pancake recipe came from Carrots 'N' Cake.

What I love most about this recipe is that it only calls for a few ingredients and is super quick and easy to make!

Protein Pancake Recipe


Ingredients
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/3 cup liquid egg whites
- 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions
1. In a bowl, mix together ingredients.
2. Preheat a skillet (medium-low heat), spray with non-stick spray, and pour in half of the batter while shaping it into a pancake with a spoon.
3. Heat until partially cooked and flip pancake.
4. Once cooked through, top with syrup, nut butter, fresh fruit or anything else your heart desires.

Makes two pancakes.

I topped mine with Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and black berries.

I might make this for Justin this weekend after or before our 9 mile run Sunday morning. But then again he's kind of traditional with his meals, and even though he likes healthy food, he's doesn't always seem to think my healthy meals are as great as I think they are :) We'll see!

Question

What's your favorite meal of the day?? Do you prefer something sweet in the mornings?

I think I love breakfast so much because it is sweet!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food makes me happy :)

After being super lazy yesterday (smoothie for breakfast and dinner), today I got back into my normal cooking routine!

Breakfast


About almost two months ago, I learned the importance of incorporating protein into every meal in order to stay fuller longer. Also, your body burns more calories when it's processing protein compared to other nutrients. Since then my normal breakfast consists of the wonderful amazingness below:


Two eggs. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and fresh peaches. Yum!

I eat this every. single. morning. And I look forward to it every day. This morning, Justin even commented on how often I eat it. He said, "I wonder how my calories are in your meal?" He sounded like he was skeptical that it was a lot, so of course I looked it up out of curiosity, and well it is more than I expected. It's about 463 calories. Whoops. No wonder I like it so much. Also, it really does keep me full until lunch time, so I doubt this meal will be going anywhere, anytime soon :)

Plus, it has about 30 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein. This is a win in my book. Lots of protein and just the right amount of carbs to keep me fueled during the day and into my workouts. I prefer to eat more carbs in the morning and then eat leaner at night anyways :)

However, I do have a different yummmy breakfast recipe in mind for later this week...and it involves cookies (but healthier)!

Dinner

I found a recipe for chicken pesto earlier this week on Food to Run For and have been dying to make it. Tonight was the night, and it was so delicious.

All you do is spray a glass baking pan with non-stick spray and then spread some pesto on the pan, place the chicken on top, add more pesto on top of the chicken, a slice of tomato and more parmesan cheese.


Bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Top it with a fresh basil leaf and dig in!


This is definitely a new go-to week night meal.

Workout

Today's run was 6 miles with 4 at a tempo pace. It was a little warmer out today, and I could feel my legs were a little tired from spin yesterday. It's funny though because I actually did run better compared to how I felt in the beginning.


I really wanted to start walking after 5 miles, but stuck it out and am really happy I did. Runs like today are the ones that leave me with a "runner's high". They're challenging, sometimes they feel good, other times they hurt, but in the end you finish something you at one time didn't think you could do.

Question

What's your go-to breakfast or dinner??

I feel like I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, but I'm always switching it up for dinner. However, I really want to start building a list of go-to meals that are easy and always delicious!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You never regret a workout.

So true.

Lately, I've been very sluggish and less excited about my workouts. Maybe because this is week 8 of half-marathon training (only ONE more week!). But I LOVE to run, and I LOVE all forms of exercise, so why am I being slow to roll off the couch?

I'm not really sure.

But I do know, that once I do, I feel high on life.

Kind of like Exhibit A:


I think the other week's vacation to St. John put me in a food and drink coma, and my body's just now figuring out that that lifestyle was only for a few days...not every day.

I sure do miss it though...






On second thought - snorkeling, eating 10x my portion size, and ordering every frozen drink imaginable is the life, so I guess, I can understand why my body has been a little slow to get up to speed.

Workout

Last week's workouts were pretty horrendous. I did them, but I felt off. I felt terrible. I felt out of shape.

Justin and I did our final big long run this past weekend, and instead of enjoying it like normal, I felt out of touch. This probably was because the first 6 miles were relatively flat, and the following 5 miles made me feel like I was running up Mount Kilimanjaro.

But we did run 11 miles! YAY!

Monday was a glorious rest day, even though I don't really like rest days. I love being active. But it's essential for my body to repair itself, so I do it.

Yesterday, I did my third body pump class at my new gym! I LOVE IT. Followed by 3 easy miles.

Today's workout was a cycle class! I haven't done one in almost 2 months and forgot how much I loved it. I almost didn't go because I was so nervous about it for some reason. However, the instructor was awesome and had great/sweet/amazing/awesome music.

Dinner

I've been a smoothie making machine lately. I even had one for breakfast this morning.

Tonight I made a Peanut Butter & Banana smoothie from Carrots 'N' Cake.

Ingredients:

-1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 2 tbs. peanut butter
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 5 cups of ice

Delicious.

Smoothies are a great quick meal when you're on the go. However, I do love to actually chew my food, so I think I'm going to actually cook tomorrow. :)

Smile of the Day

Getting back into spin and strength training! These past couple of weeks have been mainly running since I didn't make the time to check out a new gym after my move. But I love them so much, and they actually make me love running more since I'm changing up my routine and not doing just one thing :)

Also, hooray for blogging again! I've missed it...and will be back to my food-taking-picture ways starting tomorrow!