the last long run.

  I am most confident in a pair of running sneakers.  I feel my best when I am sweaty and tired and moving.

 Calm.  Centered.  Focused.

My weekend long run was such a mental feat for me today.  I knew it would be as soon as I woke up, feeling as if I had already ran the 12 miles.  Twelve miles?  Pshh…Try one.

Yes.  A serious mental feat.  In fact, I almost didn’t go.

But of course, with the half marathon being but two weeks away, I had a good dose of motivation to get out and run.  I told myself that if I still didn’t feel good by the 6th mile, I could shorten the running loop.

After the first mile, I felt on top of the world–-light as a feather.  This carried me through until somewhere between mile 6 and mile 7.  Which is when I had to muster up every last inch of strength that I could possibly find.  My legs and breathing were near perfect but my mind was a million miles away.  And then Negative Nancy paid me a visit.

“You can’t do this, you know.”

What are you thinking???”

You’re not a runner, silly!”

With each step, I pretended I was squashing each negative thought.  Staying positive is crucial for carrying me through these longer runs!!

When I came home, I slipped on my comfiest flats and headed back out into the sunshine for a little stroll around the yard.  Stretching out felt absolutely delicious on the legs!

Half marathon: I think I am ready.  I’ll see you in two weeks! :D

QUESTION: What was the highlight of your Saturday?

a few simple moments with a side of eggs.

Once again, time has gotten a hold of me.

I twist and I turn and I try to pull free, but somehow it becomes 3 o’clock and I’m just eating lunch.  It becomes 6 o’clock and I realize that I’m eating spaghetti squash for the second night in a row.  And, somehow, it becomes 8 o’clock and I once again realize that I’m fighting a losing battle.  A losing battle that has really already been lost.

Time.  Where do you go?

I’ve learned over the years that I can’t control time.  As a little girl, I could never make Christmas morning come any faster no matter how hard I wished for it.  As a freshman in college, I could never make time go backwards for just “a little more time to study.”  And now, as I sit here in my fuzzy socks, drinking tea, and blogging I realize: Sarah, you can’t control time.

But..BUT!

There is always a “but”.  But, I can control what I do with my time.

Even on the busiest days, I need to remind myself what “slow” feels like.  What it means to feel the wind on my face.  Or a water droplet splattering against my cheek.  The sound of a mallard duck flying overhead.  Even the sound of my footsteps on the ground.  Just a few things.  A few things to settle me down and realize that I’m okay.  That despite how busy life feels, the slow things in life continue on as well.

Sigh.  This is so satisfying.

Eggs, spinach and quinoa are satisfying too (yes, together!)  Maybe it’s the fact that I finally broke away from the repetitive nature of my spaghetti squash.  Or maybe it’s because the meal felt so out of the ordinary and totally random.  A splash of surprise for an otherwise normal, busy day.

Yes.  It satisfied every tastebud. :D

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite “simple” moments that you see or experience on a day to day basis?  If you’re not really sure, I recommend trying to seek them out tomorrow!  You’ll be surprised with what you notice. :D

a breakfast kick of sorts

You must bear with me for a moment or two.  I am on a breakfast kick of sorts.

Normally, when I’m on such a breakfast kick, I revolve my mind around oats and yogurt and muffins.  And things like that.

But then, this week, a friend told me that she was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  That she would miss her beloved raisin bread and melty chocolate chip cookies the most.  And then, also, she would mourn the loss of her morning bowl of warm and creamy oats.  That’s when I realized (by golly!) that I needed to do something about this.  The raisin bread and cookies, I’ll tackle later.  But with so many gluten free grains to choose from, I knew she could quite easily find a breakfast that would once again make her feel right at home in her own kitchen.

If you’ve ever been into feeding your backyard birds or even if you’ve ever been to an animal feed store, you know exactly what millet looks like.  It’s one of the most popular seeds used for feeding birds, especially in the US.

A tiny, seeded species of cereal crops, this grain is completely gluten free.  The flavor is mild and subtly sweet, making it ideal for things like rice pilafs or tabbouleh.  Or–in my case–breakfast.

This isn’t as fast as throwing together a morning bowl of oats.  But there are some shortcuts.  You could easily double (triple?) the batch and have breakfast for the upcoming week.  If you really find yourself enjoying it, it might be worth purchasing some millet grits, which are ground more fine, making them quicker to cook up in the morning.  This is delicious with walnuts on top or served in an almost empty peanut butter jar, which will offer the most ultimate, creamy pleasure.

Whether your health demands that you go gluten free or not, millet will quickly win your heart.  And your breakfast.

Warm and Creamy Millet

(Serves 1)

This breakfast takes about 25 minutes of total prep and cooking time, which is why I highly recommend making it in bulk and refrigerating the leftovers for the following day.  :D

  • 1 cup lowfat milk + 1/4 cup water
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • dash of salt
  • 1 very ripe banana, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. raisins
  • toppings: walnuts
  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring milk, water and spices to a bowl.  Add millet and a dash of salt.  Stir, cover and reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add banana and raisins.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until millet has reached desired consistency.  Top with walnuts and ENJOY! :D
QUESTION: Are you adventurous with trying new grains or do you have your tried and true favorites?

all about the beans

Sometimes I just want a big bowl of hummus.

I’m aware that this isn’t entirely normal, and that most people who experience any sort of food craving won’t usually find themselves craving mashed-up beans of any sort.

“Quick!  Run to the supermarket!  I need my bean fix!”

Or…

“You know, I always stash a couple of extra beans in my purse.  You just never know when that urge will strike.”

You see?  Totally not normal.

I’m not trying to exaggerate my craving.  Because, really, when I want a big bowl of hummus, I want a big bowl of hummus.  This is serious stuff.  And so, tonight, when I found myself with such a craving—and no cans of chickpeas in sight!!!-–I needed to improvise.  White beans, I decided, would do just fine.  I added a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of zingy red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of rosemary to pull it all together.

It’s that simple.  It’s that delicious.  And it’s how my dinner became my dinner.

Anyways.  Continuing on with the bean theme…

I found this bag of “Beanitos” at the grocery store the other day and simply had to purchase them.  It’s nice to see a corn-free version of tortilla chips, especially when it revolves around black beans!

Love the ingredient list…

Love the nutrition facts…

Low salt!  High fiber!  Protein!

(Love those beans!)

Love that flavah and c-r-u-n-c-h!

A big ol’ scoop of the white bean dip found its way onto my roasted vegetable salad.

Dinner was simple.  Dinner was fabulous.  Simply fabulous.

Sometimes it’s all about the beans.

White Bean Dip

Beans are loaded with fiber, protein and nutrients.  They’re also loaded with flavor and they can be incredibly versatile.  Try whipping this quick dip together and make a veggie sandwich out of it.  Or serve over a couple of crunchy crackers.  Add it to a platter of veggie sticks for an easy appetizer.  Enjoy! :D

  • 1 15-oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary
  • pepper to taste
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Enjoy on your favorite crackers, salads, flat wraps, etc!
QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of bean and what is your favorite way to eat them?

gleaning the veggie drawer.

I went all crazy and wild with the vegetables, tonight.

First, I chopped up some butternut squash.  Then I sliced some mushrooms.  And then I decided—since I was at it—may as well chop the broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions too.  Feeling deliciously wild and free, I squished and smashed a few cloves of garlic and spread them all over the top.  And then—as if that wasn’t enough!—I bathed it all in a little bit of olive oil.

It feels good to go wild now and then.

Inspiration for these vegetarian quesadillas came from Trader Joes, which is where I found these cute ‘n’ wrinkly sun-dried tomatoes.  I knew they’d be perfect for some impromptu pizza or maybe some scrambled eggs.

Or, as in tonight’s case, perfect for a veggie quesadilla.

(Or eaten as is, straight from the bag…yum!)

This fresh and local mozzarella was a bit on the pricey side as far as cheese goes, but it does make a fun splurge now and then.

Dinner was fabulous.

On the side, I roasted some brussels sprouts.  They came directly from the freezer isle and tasted sweet and amazing.

(But don’t tell their fresher cousins that I told you so.  They think they’re so much better than these guys, but they’re really not.) 

The Great Vegetarian Quesadilla

Serves 4

This is the “Great” Vegetarian Quesadilla because it requires a “great” clean up, as you glean your way through the veggie drawer.  If you have an extra stalk of broccoli, throw it in.  Half a red bell pepper?  Chop, chop, chop it.  A few mushrooms on their last leg?  Perfect.  Use it all up and don’t be afraid to try some of the more uncommon quesadilla additions, such as butternut squash or turnips.

Top these melty quesadillas with a scoop of fresh, zingy salsa and you’ll have yourself a delicious, easy meal in no time!  Enjoy!

  • Mixture of your favorite vegetables (I used mushrooms, broccoli, butternut squash, red and green bell peppers, and onions)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Spray baking pan win with cooking spray.
  2. Chop all of your vegetables into bite sized pieces and layer on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle garlic over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Stir lightly to combine.  Place in oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping once in between cooking times.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Place tortillas down, place cheese on half of the tortilla, and fold over.  Flip tortilla once it has become golden brown on one side.  Continue cooking on the other side until golden brown.
  4. Once vegetables are cooked, unfold tortilla and fill half with the vegetable mixture.  Fold back and cook for another minute or so.  Serve hot with salsa.  Enjoy! :D
QUESTION: What is your favorite quesadilla filling?

Healthy Living.

Healthy living means never eating fast food.  Never!  Not even subways.

Healthy living means skipping a meal now and then.  Especially if you “overdid it” the day before.

Healthy living means never eating fatty foods like olive oil.  Or avocado…

…or nut butters, for that matter.  Fat = fattening.  Avoid it!

Healthy living means learning how to take control of yourself and never—ever!—eating your favorite foods, ever again.  Just say no.

Healthy living means choking down a ton of tasteless, colorless veggies.

Healthy living means never taking another bite of anything with carbohydrates.  They’re bad for you.  Horrible.  In fact, they will instantly add weight to your thighs and butt, making you feel tired and sluggish.

You need to also look out for things like apples, carrots, and sugar beets.  Keep an eye out for these top three danger foods, which are sometimes seen at your local farmers market.

Healthy living means exercising for hours and hours…

…and hating every second of it.

Obviously.

Oh, and since we’re on the topic?

No.

Walking around and exploring a new city does not count as exercise.  I’m surprised you even asked.

Healthy living means never being satisfied with your body.  There’s always something that could use improving, and it’s your job to figure out what that something is!

Healthy living means packing yourself boring lunches that taste like cardboard.  Because it’s healthy and that’s what healthy people do.

As you can see, healthy living is pretty miserable stuff.  But a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. ;)

TODAY’s CHALLENGE: Find a way to be more active aside from “exercising.”  Take two 10 minute walking breaks during the day.  Park your car in the furthest parking spot.  Take the stairs.  Walk around the mall two times before actually shopping.  Walk to the furthest bathroom at work.  Most importantly, have FUN with it! :D

dancing the night away.

What pulled me through yesterday’s 12 mile run:

  • Your comments!  Talk about some serious motivation.
  • Mind tricks.  I pretended that I had a rope tied around my waist and that my dad was pulling me.  This didn’t work so well when he disappeared from view, but the visual cue was still there.  It worked!
  • Bottling some energy for the last 2-mile stretch.  Another mind trick.  I didn’t “open” that bottle of energy until I needed it the most.
  • Praying!  Random people popped into my head during the run.  Twelve miles offers a lot of time to think and pray. :D
Everything ached by the end of the run, but I was incredibly ecstatic all at the same time.  I’ve never run this far before and I never thought I could do this.  THANK YOU for all of the motivation and inspiration! :D
And then I partied the night away at my cousin’s wedding. :D
AJ and Stacey’s Wedding: A Photo Montage

(p.s. The secret to wearing heels when you’ve never been a “heel wearer” is to invest in a pair of comfortable wedges.  The front of these shoes was a good 1 inch or so off the ground, so even though it was giving me height, there were no weird angles!)

There’s never a normal picture with my brother and I.  Somehow we always feel the need to make funny faces. ;)

Reusable place setting tags…LOVE it!

Love.

I. Heart. Wedding. Cake.  :mrgreen:

Congratulations, Stacey and AJ!!  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and everyone had such a blast!

QUESTION: What is your favorite thing about weddings (besides the food! ;) )

Tomorrow? I’m ready.

Tomorrow, I’ll be attempting my weekly long run of 12.5 miles.  The longest I have ever—ever!—run.  (Please note: “attempting” is the key word here.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be wearing heels.  I mean.  High, high heels.  I never wear heels.  (Pray for me, please.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be up until well past 10.  (FYI, this never happens.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be dancing, eating prime rib, laughing, chatting with family, and indulging my love of frosting and cake at my cousin’s wedding.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going, going, going.  And then going (and going) some more.

And so, tonight I stopped.

Tonight, I ate grilled, wild caught salmon on a bed of garlicky swiss chard.  I ate slow.

Tonight, I visited and chatted with Pepere.

Tonight, I went to Whole Foods, bought some mixed nuts, drank a kombucha, and laughed with some friends.

Tonight, I took a bubble bath.  I read a magazine.  And then I plan on reading some more.

And so, tomorrow?  I’m ready.

Garlicky Swiss Chard

Swiss chard reminds me of kale.  But it also reminds me of spinach.  I happen to think that it has the delightful best of both personalities.  The leaves are soft and tender.  They will wilt and shrivel with embarrassment in just a few moments.  Of course, my favorite component of swiss chard is the flavor.  Where kale is strong and boisterous, swiss chard has a much more mild manner.  It’s slightly withdrawn, so to speak.  Which makes it perfect for showcasing your favorite choice of protein, be it grilled tofu, chicken breast, or–in my case–salmon.

Round out the meal with some form of starch.  I opted for potatoes, as that’s what I happen to have a lot of in my basement right now.  I think quinoa or brown rice or even a hunk of favorite, whole grain bread would pair nicely as well.  Enjoy! :D

  • 1 medium bunch of rainbow swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a medium pot.
  2. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until garlic begins to smell fragrant.
  3. Add swiss chard.  Cook until leaves are beginning to wilt.  Add vinegar, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until leaves are tender and wilted.  Taste to be sure that salt and pepper are to liking.  Plate and enjoy! :D
QUESTION: What are YOU doing tomorrow?

my recent breakfast kick.

I have been on a French toast kick lately.

I think this is due in part to all of my frantic running around.  Not ever really knowing if I’m coming or going.

I mean, it’s one thing to wake up and forget what day it is.  It’s another thing entirely, to have my calendar virtually tied to my waist so that I will never forget where I’m supposed to be or where I’m supposed to go.

Yes.  This is exactly why I have been on a French toast kick lately.

Because there’s something—something—comforting about having a few spare moments in the morning to just…mmm…breathe.  I even read the newspaper(!!)

I can’t quite place my finger on it, but French toast, to me, signifies the very thought of slowing down.  It’s relaxed and easy.  Not at all fussy or needy.

Yes.  I have been on a French toast kick lately.  And I really don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon.

French Toast

Serves 1

Everyone has a favorite French toast recipe.  This one is my favorite, go-to breakfast recipe for during the week.  It feels special.  It’s healthy.  And it’s as simple as they come.  Enjoy this breakfast with your favorite combination of fruit and nut butters.  Blueberries and strawberries would be a wonderful touch, as would a thick and creamy Greek yogurt.  Just have fun with it!

  • 2 whole eggs (or 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites)
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 slices Ezekiel bread (or your favorite whole wheat bread)
  • 1 banana, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • sprinkle of coconut
  1. Heat nonstick pan over medium heat.  Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt.  Dunk in bread slices, flip to coat other side, and place on heated pan.  Place bananas in pan alongside french toast.  Let french toast cook until underside has browned.  Flip and continue cooking until desired doneness.  Bananas may be flipped at any time, as they begin to brown.
  3. Place french toast on plate, smash banana on top, and drizzle almond butter over the top.  Sprinkle with coconut and ENJOY! :D
QUESTION: What is your current favorite breakfast?

a favorite kind of soup.

There are many recipes that I just don’t blog about.  Recipes that simply feel too…well…simple.  Overused and much overdone.

Like oatmeal.  Or hummus veggie sandwiches.

Or my daily consumption of peanut butter.  (Besides, I’d hate to think that I might scare you away.)

Soup is a pretty regular thing in my kitchen too.  Sadly, many of these recipes flitter and float around but never really get spoken of.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy them.  Or that I want to ignore them.  It’s just that.  Well.  They’re just nothing special (ouch!)

However, this recipe made me very, very happy.

And for that reason alone, I am blogging about it.  Because I think you’ll feel delightfully happy and content with it as well.  And that’s a feeling worth sharing.

Bountiful Black Bean Soup—as seen on the back of the package of Bob’s Red Mill Black Beans

This soup pairs perfectly with homemade corn bread or cheese quesadillas.  You could tweak it and make it your own by adding spinach, mushrooms, and other such veggies as well.  Or, spice it up with some cayenne or red pepper.  I absolutely love this soup and I almost always double the batch so that I can have some for lunch during the week.  Enjoy! :D

  • 2 cups roasted corn (roast frozen corn in 350 oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 package of Bob’s Red Mill black bean soup mix (or about 1-1/2 to 2 cups dry black beans)
  • 1-28 oz. can tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into large, bite sized cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; add onions and celery.  Saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and saute for one more minute.
  3. Carefully pour in stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits.  Stir in black beans and tomatoes.  Add butternut squash and roasted corn.  Add herbs, stir and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hr.  Add more stock or water if beans and squash absorb too much liquid.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is your favorite kind of soup?