Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Homemade Tzatziki

Summer is beginning to creep through the May gray. BBQs are grilling. 
Fresh cold beverages quench our thirst. It's time for a cool, zingy dip.

Homemade Tzatziki
16 oz greek yogurt
2-3 cloves garlic
1 lemon (juice & zest)
1 English cucumber
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped dill
Salt & Pepper

Place greek yogurt, garlic cloves, zest from half the lemon and juice from entire lemon in food processor. Pulse until mixed well.  

Cut cucumber in half, scoop out seeds. Thinly slice cucumber.

Place half of the sliced cucumbers & dill into food processor. Pulse until cucumbers are chopped but not smooth.  (I like my tzatziki a little chunky) Salt & pepper to taste.  Then stir in remaining sliced cucumbers.  Dip away!
      Add more or less garlic & lemon zest depending on your preference
I like the English cucumbers, since you don't have to peel them. Persian cucumbers are great too for this dip! If you prefer a smoother texture, pulse all cucumbers into mix.

Enjoy with chopped vegetables for a snack, dipped with crackers or on a spinach salad!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Portland Half Marathon

About a year ago, a group of running buddies and I signed up for the Inaugural Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon.  One of our friends had just moved to Portland, the race fee was around 50 bucks and we decided it would be a fun adventure. Turns out that it was, and the 13.1 run was just a smidgen of what we did.

We arrived at the airport Friday morning, bloody marys in hand and we were already singing ridiculous Muppet songs.  When we landed in Portland, I could see it was already a gorgeous city.

First view of the city from the MAX (train ride from airport to downtown)

Friday we checked into the hotel, walked around town and found some good spots for small bites & drinks. Then we headed to an insane 80's party at a place called Lola's Room. The joint was a huge old ballroom with a spring loaded floor, creating the best 80's dance moves!

On Saturday, the girls and I slept in and then went for a short 2 mile run. I always like to do a short walk or run the day before a race to keep loose & stretch.  After that, we found some yummy coffee and headed to the Portland Saturday Market.  We met up with the boys and enjoyed a lovely afternoon on the riverfront. The Saturday Market was sort of like a street fair, booths of random items and little food stands. Live music. Kids laughing. Sun shining.

 An eclectic collection.
 The girls enjoying a fresh strawberry lemonade & the warm sun

         Saturday evening, we rested and grabbed an early dinner. Everyone was back at their hotel by 7, watching basketball and reading. We had a race the next morning, although it didn't start until 8! Meaning we got to sleep in later than I think we ever have on a race day.  Super bonus! 
         Race morning, the whole group met up at the bag check area. Some of us planning on taking the race slow and a few wanting to run quite quickly. The weather seemed perfect, overcast and a light drizzle. 

        Let me say, going into the race, I had no goals for time but still hoped to have an enjoyable run. I had been battling allergies, tight chest and a cough since a few days before we left for Portland. Sunday morning I felt fine and Dave, Pat & I set out for a 2:10 goal including a lot of stops for pictures and chatting. It was a beautiful course and we were having a blast looking at the old houses and cool shops we ran past. Around mile 8, my chest got really tight and I was having a hard time breathing. I kept insisting the boys run ahead but they refused to go on without me.  Around mile 12.5 (ugh!), I finally stopped at an ambulance and was able to get some of the inhaler medicine I have at home. Thing is, I haven't used my inhaler in years and have never stopped at an aide station at a race. After a few puffs of medicine, my chest released and we zipped off to the finish line. Oh well, we did the rain..while singing Muppet songs.

 Mile 8 or so, when the rain really started coming down
 Finish line foil wraps! 

We found an awesome breakfast place for celebration drinks and fuel after the run - The Original, a Dinerant (are dinerants the new thing?).

 My favorite post-workout meal - Tomato Soup. 
 Fancy mimosas & beef jerky bloody marys

           We all took afternoon naps, then off we went to the famous Powell's books.  I went to straight to the children's book section and found some "northwest" inspired stories for my classroom.         Then we enjoyed some pizza, beer and a night full of laughs.

  Deschutes beer sampler
The whole crew

         Our final day was spent groggily searching for a breakfast/lunch spot. It was pouring rain as we walked aimlessly from restaurant to restaurant looking for a place that 1) served breakfast and 2) could accomodate a group of ten.  In the end, we landed at a diner and ate lunch. Dessert was a visit to Voodoo donuts. Every donut is its own experience - some filled with different jellies, topped with crazy cereals and some even with bacon on top!
The "No-Name" - raised donut with chocolate frosting, rice krispies & peanut butter drizzle.
       We finished up our donuts at Stumptown Coffee, changed into dry clothes and off to the airport. After a few plane delays, we landed in San Diego late Monday evening and I dragged myself into bed almost dreading going back to work the next day.  It was a great trip, but I was exhausted. Don't you sometimes feel like you need a vacation from vacation?
Until next time, Portland!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekly Sweat Stats 5/14-5/27

I realized I haven't updated my workouts in the past two weeks, maybe it's because I haven't really been working out.  I had a taper week pre-Portland half marathon and then a lazy week after. oops.  Back in the saddle this morning, literally... I rode ~20 miles.   I was just burnt out the past few weeks, sometimes we need a break - mental & physical. Can't beat ourselves up about it (although, I still kind of am)

Here's a look at the past two weeks:

Week of 5/14-5/20

Monday: stretch & yoga
Tuesday: 6 mile taper run
Wednesday: 4 mile taper run
Thursday: yoga
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 2.5 mile pre-race jog
Sunday: 13.1 run, Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon

Week of 5/21-5/27 

Monday: Walk 5,000 miles around Portland
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: laziness
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical & light weights
Friday: eat cheese & charcuterie
Saturday: sew & be lazy
Sunday: read & eat BBQed grilled cheese

Yea, so I guess this week was more about resting my brain & muscles and recovering from a disgusting cough & wheezing. Our bodies need it sometimes, now I am energized and so excited to go back and do some kickboxing, try some swimming, more time for biking and some short runs just to keep up a base.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Italian Stuffed Tomatoes

        I am still alive! I know you were worried that I hadn't posted in a while and I am sure you called all your friends to make sure I was okay. Alright, maybe not... 
        I have been out of town last weekend and trying to not drown in work this week. With Memorial Day weekend approaching, I will be able to update you on my trip to Portland (a blast!) and a few recipes I have been working on. 
        Anywho, I have been craving stuffed mushrooms and stuffed tomatoes lately. Tuesday's dinner was this creation: Italian Stuffed Tomato!   I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a rice stuffed tomato, a stuffed mushroom or what seasonings I wanted...but as my brain began to slow down as I trudged through the grocery store Tuesday night, I went for the basics. Basil & tomatoes go well together and that sounded easy.  (see variations & ideas at the bottom!)

Italian Stuffed Tomatoes:
4 large beefsteak tomatoes (6 if you choose small on-the-vines)
1 lb ground chicken or turkey (I precooked the onion & ground turkey)
1/2 white onion
2 c fresh spinach
1 c mushrooms
1/2 c greek yogurt
1/2 c basil leaves, loose in measuring cup
Salt & Pepper

Since it is just me, I cooked the meat & onion and set aside in fridge to use for later meals. This is about what you would need for just one tomato. (I made it up for one, and then expanded the recipe to feed four if need be.. or maybe you are just super hungry!)
 Saute chopped mushrooms & chopped spinach for 3 minutes. Toss in already cooked meat & onion.
 Cut the top off tomato & scoop out insides, seeds and most of the juice. Leave some for moisture.
Mix greek yogurt, sliced basil and meat/mushroom mixture together in a bowl.
 Spoon mixture into tomato. Stuff Stuff Stuff!
 After stuffed as much as it can take, bake the tomato for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until the tomato is juice and filling is warm.
 It is like a mini lasagna... but better! 

Additional variations:

Stuff filling into a portabella mushroom & paprika (minus the basil)
Stuff filling into a hollowed out bread roll (I did this for lunch, with fresh spinach)
Mix ground turkey with wild rice, greek yogurt/sour cream, chopped dill & paprika 
Season with fresh, chopped dill instead of spinach and basil
Spice it up with a jalapeno & chili powder
The possibilities are endless.
Share your favorite idea or stuffed "vegetable"!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Weekly Sweat Stats 5/7 - 5/13

This past week was full of fun with friends but craziness at work.  Potlucks, BBQs, birthdays and Mother's day are all such great occasions, but not having downtime makes me a teeny bit grumpy. I ate a lot of good food, but maybe a little too much of it! I spent later hours at work, so I had to squeeze in morning workouts too.  Let's just say I had a meltdown yesterday.

I was excited for some solid running but my knees decided to get achey and my legs even more heavy. In all honesty, I can't wait for this upcoming race to be over so I can give my running legs a "break." I know I will get through this race, but I've never felt like I wasn't going to do well. Maybe resting this week will be good recovery for Sunday.

Tired legs, busy work days and less eating at home has got me in a funk. I feel more stressed, less strong and I shouldn't. Working on re-balancing things and reminding myself to filter out the extra bugs. 

Week of 5/7-5/13

Monday - Hot Yoga
Tuesday - rest & time with friends
Wednesday - 4 mile run
Thursday - Hot Yoga
Friday - 3 mile run in the morning
Saturday - 8 mile run
Sunday - rest

This upcoming week is my taper week for the Portland Half Marathon, so I have a few short & easy runs planned. Today was a disaster at work and I got home late and just wanted to crawl into bed. I did some core work this morning and was drained from the rough day when I got home, so I just gave myself the night off from exercise & stretched instead.  Healthy meals planned for the week and lots of sleep.  Ready for less pressure on the running and more time for other exercise.

I need a change NOW and it's entirely up to me!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Weekly Sweat Stats 4/30-5/6

This past week I did some nice long runs and my first bike workout, but not as much exercise as I had hoped. I started back at work this week after being on spring vacation for a month. The students were wild and I was exhausted every day. I fit in what I could and what I felt my body could handle. 

Luckily, my friend Missi invited me to come to a bike workout on Wednesday with the San Diego Tri Club. It would be my 2nd time on my bike but I knew it would be a good chance to get out there.  The workout was a 20k time trial, 3 big loops around Fiesta Island (about 12 miles).  I have no idea what my time was because I forgot to start my watch and then I did about a mile in and then forgot to turn it off when I was done.   Who cares about time though, I was just happy to get out there... I learned a few things about my gears and that I need to raise my seat a bit a lot.

Here's a look at what I was able to fit in this week:

Monday: 10 mile run
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: 12 mile/20 k bike ride, 2 mile run
Thursday: 20 minute workout video, 1 hour Tap class
Friday: 6.5 mile run
Saturday: Hot yoga
Sunday: 12 mile run

Being back at work this week took some adjusting for my body. I was sore, achey and a scratchy throat. It may have been weather, being around 20 eight year olds again or just getting used to thing again.

I am excited to get more familiar with my bike! Rock 'n' Roll Portland Half Marathon is in less than two weeks. I have a feeling it is going to be a slow race for me. Maybe my slowest, but sometimes I just need to remember that getting out there is the biggest challenge. Shoot... three years ago I didn't even enjoy running a mile - now it's a serious part of my life. We need to give ourselves credit for the things we do, and not always worry about it as a competition with others or even ourselves.

Had a really delicious dinner tonight - more to come on that later - now time for sleep before double workout tomorrow.  Pat yourself on the back tonight for something you did today to improve your health!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kitchens & Casas

I normally don't go out to eat for dinner, but during spring break I was treating myself to trying new places and meeting up with friends when I would normally opt for cooking in my own kitchen after a workout.  When you get the chance, check out both of these new spots in San Diego!

I was really excited to try out a place that opened near my house a few months ago, Casa de Luz. The restaurant serves a plant-based cuisine and a menu that changes daily. Their produce is fresh, they compost and the place is a community set-up... one big vegetable home! Okay, the vegetables aren't growing out of the walls or anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

I was able to have lunch at Casa de Luz with a friend who started eating vegan a few years. She is a beautiful, strong woman who is committed to her health.  We chatted about life over some of the most delectable foods & organic beer.   I am not planning on going vegan, but it is nice to know that tasty & hearty foods are still available when eating plant-based meals. I am working on incorporating even more nutrient rich vegetables into my meals....something we all need to do.
 We got all three because we just had to try everything!
 Golden beet salad, the leftover greens & cilantro dressing, curried vegetable soup
The mustard sauce on the greens was insane! 

Casa is definitely a place to check out, enjoy and they even offer cooking & health classes. I would love to have breakfast and/or dinner there some time also. 

Then last weekend, I went to dinner with some girls who had heard about a new spot opening down near Bay Park. Kitchen 4140 supports sustainable and seasonal food and they even had a cute garden on the side of the restaurant!  Although, it is complete opposite from Casa de Luz with meats and cheeses that just melt in your mouth. Such a cute place, perfect for a date... or for a girls night.  We dined indulged on burrata, pork belly, short rib, risotto and homemade pasta noodles!   Ooooh, and I forgot to mention they don't serve alcohol so you can bring in your own wine & beer and they will just cork it for you.

I apologize for the lighting of the photos, quick phone pics in restaurant = yucky lighting.   

   Burrata Caprese Salad
Pork Belly w/ Vegetable Risotto
   Shrimp Pappardelle
Short Rib w/ Polenta and Vegetables

Of course we saved room for dessert, we couldn't help ourselves! The two girls I was with are fans of marshmallow so the Fluffer Nutter was an immediate choice.
We had wished there was more ice cream and that it didn't melt so quickly, but that just meant we got to eat it faster... the carmelized bananas were my favorite part!

Letting someone else provide a tasty meal for your tummy can be fun! Now back to my kitchen...