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 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?

Easter 2011

“9″ Things I Loved About This Year’s Easter

1. Nicole’s creativity, dispersed into the cutest place settings that I have ever seen.

(Nicole is the up and coming Martha Stewart, in case you didn’t know.)

2. Quiet time spent with family and friends.

3. The food.  (of course!)

Nicole made a large batch of sweet potato and rosemary soup.  For a moment, I completely lost my senses and found myself wishing that I was one of mom’s homemade butter rolls being dunked into the rich, orange broth.

Did I just say that out loud?

Heavenly.

I honestly could have made a meal out of the bread and soup, but the main meal was pretty scrumptious too.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Summer Squash w/ Dill Saute

Ham and Turkey

Broccoli Casserole

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

Green Beans

I hated the meal.  All of it.  Obviously. ;)

4. Seeing my bestie: Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

5. Dessert. (because this is a completely different reason than the #3!)

Nicole went all out with the entirety of the meal.  And then she ended it with a loud, lemony, coconut bang.

Kelsey brought a trio of yummy vegan desserts for the table to share as well.

Delish!

6. End of meal conversations.

This is always my favorite part of every holiday.  Empty plates.  Quiet chatter.  Candles glowing.  People laughing.  Bellies feeling full and content.

7. Goodie bags! :mrgreen:

Thanks, Nicole!

8. Cuddling with a cat named Stitch.

Because he never ceases to make me laugh.

9. Remembering all of the good things in life.

Sometimes I forget to thank God for the simple moments.  Which is funny, because these are the moments that I continue to remember, long after the day has passed.  The moments that mean the most.  I love that Easter reminds me of all these things. 

Happy Easter!!!

QUESTION: What is your favorite part of Easter?

let it…snow?

Well.  I tried to be mature about this.  But waking up to snow this morning was not at all my cup of tea.

In fact, I felt like doing nothing more (or less) than griping and complaining.  And I definitely let out a loud groan as I turned the coffee maker on, which probably (most definitely) woke my parents up.  Yep.  Real mature.

But a girl can change her mind, right?

I slipped on my flats (because I absolutely refuse to wear Uggs in April!) and stood on the porch, overlooking the magic around me.  It was beautiful.  Everything.  Beautiful.  The snowflakes were large and melted on my face as I grinned up at the sky.  The world was asleep and I was completely alone.  Watching the snowflakes.  Life is so beautiful.

Dad walked into the kitchen and ate some breakfast with a mug of coffee.  And then we decided to head out for our morning run.  In the snow.  I felt like a little kid on my day off from school, running and splashing through puddles.  Fingers feeling numb from the cold.  Face feeling frozen.  This is what contentment feels like.

Happy Easter, everyone!  I hope that you are able to enjoy the day with the ones you love the most.  :D

QUESTION: How are you celebrating Easter this year?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah’s “Official” Half Marathon Training Plan

Week 1: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 2: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—5 miles

Week 3: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—2.5 miles

Week 4: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—6.5 miles (YIPPEE!)

Week 5: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—3 miles

Week 6: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—8 miles (We. Did. It! :D )

Week 7: 
Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—3 miles

Week 8: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—9.5 miles (Feelin’ Good!!)

Week 9: 
Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 10: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—11 miles

Week 11: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 12: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—12.5 miles

Week 13: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—4 miles

Week 14: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—14 miles

Week 15: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—5 miles

Week 16: Tues—3 miles   Thurs—3 miles   Saturday—HALF MARATHON RACE DAY


limbo.

Some like it cold…

Verry Berry Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • toppings: sunflower seed butter and Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a mixer and top with your favorite add-ons!

And some like it hot…

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 small/medium apple, diced small
  • 1 cup milk + 1/4 cup water
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed flax
  • toppings: walnuts and Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola
  1. In a large dish, microwave all ingredients together for 5 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Top with your favorite add-ons!

Me?  I haven’t really decided yet.  The weather isn’t officially feeling like spring.  But it doesn’t quite feel like winter either.  Yep.  Here in New England, we’re in a serious state of limbo.

QUESTION: What have you been eating for breakfast?

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! ;) )

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?