Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Sweat Stats 4/23-4/29

My friend Tammy recaps her workouts on Mondays and it is always so motivating. A few weeks back, she challenged friends and her followers to also post their weekly workouts.  There is something about making it public that holds you accountable.  So I am going to join her in Monday recaps from the previous week's workouts, I hope I can remember to post Mondays!

This past week was my last week of a month long vacation from work.  I teach at a year-round school, so we have month breaks instead of only a few weeks.  Aside from eating healthy, I wanted to get in as much exercise and variety as I could. 

Ooooh, something super exciting happened this week.... I finally bought a bike helmet so I was able to take my new road bike out for its first ride! Also, I have a half marathon in three weeks, not sure how my legs will decide to work that weekend but I am very excited to travel to Portland and see another new city! 

Here are my sweat stats for the past week:

Week of 4/23-4/29

Monday: day off
Tuesday: 6.5 mile run
Wednesday: 8 mile trail run, Hot Yoga
Thursday: 1 hour walk
Friday:  10 mile bike ride (my first one ever!!)
Saturday: 6 mile hilly run
Sunday:  2.5 mile run, Hot Yoga

Pretty good, my legs are finally coming back to me but the running is still so heavy. I've been frustrated with how slow my runs have been lately. It sounds weird, but if I push a little and speed gets easier. Maybe I need to try more of that??  Exercise, some nice evenings with friends & good meals helped me feel "myself" again.
Excited for the fun week ahead...Padres game with friends, bike workout, tap class, oh and some running in there too.   Back to work tomorrow after no school for a month!! I can't wait to see my kiddos!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three Cheers for Kale!

        After returning from an indulgent weekend in Austin, all I could think about was cooking for myself. We could have eaten worse but after eating out a few times, I begin to crave my own kitchen.   Monday, I went straight to the market and picked up a TON of fresh produce. Beets, kale, spinach, avocados, grapefruit, fresh carrots, radishes, green beans... the list went on.
        Only last year did I venture to eat kale.  Since then I've made kale chips, tossed into a smoothie & added kale into pasta. But still it was minimal amounts. I've been really wanting to try some new and made-up kale recipes and now was the time.   Got myself fresh curly kale from the farmer's market & went to work.

First cheer!

Strawberry-Kale Smoothie
(serves 1)

1 cup almond milk
1-2 kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup frozen/fresh strawberries
1/2 banana
1 scoop protein powder (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Add more ice if you like your smoothies thick, or leave without ice for more of a juice-like consistency. I like to trick myself that I am drinking a milkshake, so I usually use frozen bananas also. A quick & easy way to incorporate more greens into your diet.

You wouldn't even know there was kale in here!

Second Cheer!!

Kale Grapefruit Salad
(serves 2)

2-3 kale leaves, stems removed
1 grapefruit, segmented (How to Supreme/Segment Grapefruit)
1 avocado
Sliced almonds
Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Rinse kale leaves & tear from stems, pat dry with towel.  Drizzle a little Apple Cider Vinaigrette on kale leave and massage onto leaves.  Let leaves rest in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes, kale will become soft in hands and less stiff. While leaves are resting, cut grapefruit segments and avocado into chunks. Once ready, toss kale, avocado, grapefruit and sliced almonds together.  The grapefruit and avocado complement each other so well, while balancing the kale.  I have made it three more times this week, once with apples and once with mangoes. I think its a new favorite!

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp agave or honey
Salt & Pepper

Blend or shake up in a jar and enjoy a light & refreshing dressing. I've had mine in the fridge all week and have been using it on more kale salads, chopped beets and tossed with cold pasta even.

Third Cheer!!!

Kale and Goat Cheese Pizza

1 lb pizza dough  @ room temperature (homemade or I used Trader Joe's whole wheat)
1 bunch of kale, leaves removed from stems
3 T extra virgin olive oil (1 T reserved for kale)
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh ground pepper

optional additions:
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes

So this option might not be the healthiest use of kale but hey, if I am going to eat pizza... I should add something good to it right?  I made a tasty but dried out goat cheese pizza last week and wanted to give it a shot again.  This time, I added a little more EVOO into the veggies and kept the same amount on the dough.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

With your dough at room temperature, use hands or rolling pin to stretch it out to desired thickness (about 1/4 inch).  Spread 1 T evoo onto dough and cook in ready oven 3-4 minutes just to get the crust set and a little bubbly.

Slice onions and chop garlic, carmelize both in 1/2 T evoo in a pan to get nice and juicy! I found this created great moisture, whereas sometimes a raw onion on no-sauce pizza is just dry.

While the onions are getting down and funky, pour 1/2 T EVOO onto torn kale leaves and massage the oil until all leaves are covered and soft.

Drop dollops of 2 oz goat cheese on browned pizza dough, while trying not to lick your fingers. Lovingly scatter onions, garlic, kale and spinach around dough surface.

Place heaps of the last 2 oz of goat cheese across greens.   Now, my pizza was supposed to end there. But I was feeling like more cheese so I added on mozzarella & parmesan.

    Bake in oven 8-10 minutes or until greens are crispy & cheese is melty.

Then take a big ol' slice and smile as you bite into your new favorite pizza!

Three ways to incorporate kale into your eating.  Hooray! Hoorah! Hoorale! Three Cheers for Kale!   
(yes it's late, my brain is fried on witty rhymes)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wonderfully Weird in Austin

I spent last weekend in Austin and just had to share a few bunch of fun things we saw, tasted and laughed at in that fabulous town!

First meal in town... fried pickles & a cold beverage 
 Quinoa & Carrot Salad at Hickory Street
   Hundreds of beautiful boots
   Food trucks on South Congress
Buffalo chicken sandwiches - Jalapeno/onion/cilantro/amazing flavor Sausage - Truffle Oil Fries
 "Welcome to Texas!" 
1) Shoot tequila out of jalapeno 
2) Lick the chili & salt off rim of jalapeno
3) Shoot the rest of the the tequila
4) Feel the burn for a few minutes
 Found at your local Austin 7-11. Look you can even make sushi with it!
 Pickle Shots & Greyhounds
Pickle Shot: Shoot some Tito's vodka, chase it with a glass of pickle juice
Surprisingly delish!
 $2 slices at Home Slice Pizza
Highlight of the trip - Live music all day & couples showing off their dance moves
Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes & Thai Green Beans
(Sorry for the awful lighting but I just had to capture this..)

Visit this city if you can. Highly recommended.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paleo Snack Attack

Paleo Diet: The paleolithic diet, also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era. Centered on commonly available modern foods, the "contemporary" Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products and refined sugar.

In other words,  Paleo eating is a popular food diet right now where you eat as fresh and cuts out grains, dairy, legumes and refined sugar.  I have quite a few friends eating this way right now and it is something that interests me to help with my running and training performance (except not sure I could quit the candy!) I am not eating Paleo, but am definitely trying to each as little processed foods as possible.  I love fresh food and doing everything to keep my body free of disease and lethargy.
A dinner club friend, Ashley, is also a food lover, amazing cook, baker, kickbutt triathlete and blogger. She and I decided to get together and try out some "Paleo snacks" we've been finding here and there.  As an endurance athlete (did I really just call myself that?), it is important to fuel your body with clean and natural foods. I think that goes for our entire human race, not just athletes. Ashley and I also happen to enjoy snacks, so we wanted to make some healthier options that were still satisfying.  

Recipes for the evening:
Raw Pistachio Balls
Paleo No Bakes
Herb Crackers
Cashew Energy Bars
Primal Lemon Bars

The Pistachio Balls turned out delicious and I couldn't eat enough No Bakes (but forgot to take a picture of those)!  When I was at home and craving a treat, I would have one of those and yummmmo!    The Primal Lemon Bars were beautiful but tasted like pure heaven egg. Ashley & I are determined to try again and maybe use less egg and a lot of lemon zest.  The crackers were delish too.  Seriously, I was pretty excited to say "I just made my own crackers!"  I am sharing the four recipes we used and adapted, tried and trust.

Raw Pistachio Balls 
(found on
1 cup raw pistachios
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons coconut oil (can probably use less)
1-2 tablespoons honey or agave
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of Himalayan salt

Place the pistachios and cashews in the food processor.  Process until the nuts are finely chopped.  Add the coconut oil, sweetener, vanilla and salt.  Process again until all ingredients are combined.  If you wish to use a scoop to make the cookies, place the batter in the refrigerator for 2 hours to firm.  Remove from the refrigerator and scoop into perfect little cookies. Store in the refrigerator. 


Cashew Energy Bars
(found on Fast Paleo) 
1 1/3 c dates, pitted
2/3 c raw cashews
1/8 tsp cinnamon 

Line a loaf pan with a piece of plastic wrap. In a food processor, puree the dried dates until they form a paste. It will whirl around the food processor for a couple of minutes and then form a ball. Turn it into a bowl.  Without cleaning the food processor, pulse the cashews and cinnamon until it becomes a mealy consistency. Turn over the pureed dates. Use your hands to mix the dates and cashews together until they are completely incorporated. Press into the bottom of the loaf pan until it is an even thickness.
     Carefully pull the plastic wrap out of the loaf pan with the bar and turn onto a cutting board. Cut the bar into 6 pieces. Store the bars by wrapping individually with plastic wrap and keeping them in the fridge. 


Herb Crackers 
(adapted from Fast Paleo)
1 cup Almond meal or flour
2 Tbsp Coconut flour
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano 
Fresh chopped rosemary

      Mix all dry ingredients, then add the egg whites.  Form a ball. Roll out a portion of the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper very thin.   Remove the top piece of parchment paper. Take a pizza cutter and score rectangles on the dough.
       Place dough/parchment paper on a cookie pan in oven and bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
You may want to check every 5 minutes until the crackers are lightly browned but not burnt. Sometimes I remove the browned ones and then stick the rest back in the oven to keep baking.
Place the crackers on a counter top to cool.

(Paleo) No Bakes
(adapted from Fast Paleo)
1 cup coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup almond butter
1 T cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (or nut of choice)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  You can chop pecans or leave whole. In a cooking pan on medium heat melt chocolate, olive oil, honey and almond butter. Once it has a smooth consistency remove from heat and add cinnamon, pecans, and coconut (make sure all ingredients are covered in chocolate) Drop spoonfuls onto parchment paper and refrigerate until they harden (about 30 minutes).

So there you have it. Four delish & nutrish (or at least healthier) snacks and desserts. Do not attempt the lemon bars, as for now ~ yucky!   I'm off to make another batch of pistachio balls. SO GOOD!
Most importantly, love fresh food & your body.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Strawberry Picnic

This weekend I hosted a Strawberry Spring Picnic! 
What is that you ask? Well, each dish we ate included strawberries! Yum!  

         A few months ago, my friend Tammy invited me to be part of a dinner club with a group of her friends who love to cook!  The idea is that each month, one of us hosts dinner club providing the place and theme for dinner and everyone provides a dish.  So far we have done Thai Food and Spanish Tapas. April was my month to host and let's just say... my apartment isn't very big. I had decided to make it a picnic at a nearby park, but after a few days of San Diego rain and a lot of indecision I moved the picnic to my living room. Turns out, it was still bunches of fun just relaxing on the floor and hanging out. Or maybe everyone's legs were so cramped from sitting criss-cross, either way there was good food!!!

Our Menu included: 

Spiked Strawberry Limeade 

Strawberry Balsamic Crostini 
Chile Lime Fruit Salad 

Beef Skewers with Strawberry Glaze
Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad
Strawberry Lavender Chicken Salad Sandwiches (this was mine! See recipe below)

Strawberry Shortcake 
(Refreshing Strawberry Limeade)
   (Strawberry Crostini with Goat Cheese & Balsamic) 
(Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad)
(Beef Skewers with Strawberry Sauce) 
(Strawberry Lavender Chicken Salad - my dish!)
(Avocado & Arugula with Chicken Salad = Strawberry Lavender Chicken Salad Sandwiches)
It was fun to just sit around in a way that we aren't used to.  I think an indoor picnic would make such a great date!
Cheers to something that brings back childhood memories and making new adulthood ones!

Strawberry Lavender Chicken Salad Sandwiches:
(adapted from Our Life in the Kitchen
Makes about 4 sandwiches

The Dressing
Strawberries, 5 or 6 large
Honey or Agave Nectar, 1 tablespoon 
Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar, 1/4 cup 
Extra Light Olive Oil, 1/3 cup 
Coconut Milk, 1/4 cup
Optional: 1/2 tsp lavender for extra taste

The Salad 
Shredded & Cooked Chicken Breasts, 3 to 4 cups
Strawberries, 1 1/2 cups, sliced 
Green Onions, 4 or 5 
Sliced Almonds, 2/3 cup 
Lavender, 1 teaspoon

The Fixings 
French Bread or Baguettes

Blend strawberries, honey, vinegar, olive oil & salt and pepper together. Once blended and smooth, blend in coconut milk.  From the original recipe I replaced heavy cream with coconut milk and sugar with honey to make it "healthy fat" friendly. Set dressing aside.

Slice strawberries and onions and mix with shredded chicken, almonds and lavender.  Starting with a small amount, pour & toss dressing with chicken mix.   It was incredible how the lavender meshed with the other tastes. On whatever bread you prefer, add a handful of arugula, some fresh sliced avocado and a scoop of strawberry chicken salad and enjoy a delicious sandwich!   mmmmmmm...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No More Excuses

So this week started off with a major lack of exercise, three days of pure laziness. Lots of tiredness and excuses. I know sometimes we need a break, but I am quite disappointed with some of the unhealthy choices I've made in the past few days. So instead of dwelling on that, I thought I would reflect back on the past two week's workouts.  Are you checking in on your workouts, too?  Last week, I filled my fridge with fresh groceries so I have been eating healthy (with some easter candy here and there) and have seen changes in the last month or so... but, I still feel like I could do more if I really want to see a change in my running, body & energy level.

Last Week's Workouts:
Sunday - day off
Monday - 5 mile run & Body Attack class at 24 hour (1 hour of crazy cardio)
Tuesday - 1 hour Hot Fusion Yoga
Wednesday - 3 mile run & 1 hour Yoga
Thursday -  1 hour Power Yoga
Friday - 5 mile run
Saturday - 1 hour Hot Fusion Yoga
  *I did a smokin' job last week, but could definitely do more.

This Week's Workouts:
Sunday - day off
Monday - stayed out too late Sunday night
Tuesday - still recovering from Sunday (yikes!)
Wednesday - 5 mile run & 1 hour Heated Yoga

Goals for the rest of the week:
Thursday - short run & Yoga
Friday - possible long run
Saturday - short run & Hot Yoga
Sunday - attempt to ride my new road bike, so it isn't just a decoration in my living room

I'll report back and see how I do the rest of the week. I am still working on getting my running mileage back up, its taking a while but I am doing my best to avoid injury again. My girlfriends and I are heading out of town next week so it's time to continue serious pre-vacation sweating! 

How's your fitness? Are you fueling your body correctly?

Challenge yourself to do one extra day of exercise, 20 more minutes, go an extra mile or try a new fitness class.

I need to quit the excuses and do more!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

With spring's arrival, we start to crave cool and refreshing foods. Hummus is a refrigerator staple for me and earlier this week I bought a ton of chickpeas with the intention of making roasted chickpeas, hummus and Chickpea & Roasted Tomato Soup. Tomato soup will be tomorrow's adventure. But for now, here is the hummus I whipped up thanks to leftovers and an idea from my best bud.

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 large jalapeno, cut into chunks (use smaller for less heat)
Fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon (or 2 limes)
Sea Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Put garbanzo beans, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, salt and lemon juice in food processor. Pulse and pour in stream of olive oil until smooth. Dip with your favorite crackers and veggies.

Note: this packs a good spice punch!