enjoying the journey

I can’t even begin to tell you how frightened I was of this morning’s long run.

For starters, I was flying completely solo.  Dad had to go into work (therefore, running his mileage later in the day.)  And as much as I love running by myself, it scared me silly to think that I wouldn’t have our usual conversations to distract me when I needed it the most.  Somehow, talking to myself never feels quite the same. 😉

Secondly, I haven’t run 9.5 miles in over a year.  A year!  And the last time I did, I had some major knee issues.  Speaking of knee issues, my third reason for being scared out of my mind was that my knee has been acting up over this past week.  Needless to say, my inner runner’s confidence was feeling a little shaky.

It was morning.  It was 7:30.  It was now or never.  (Never was never an option.)  I grabbed my water, a clif shot (which I had picked up for free from last week’s 5k,) and began my fearful trot.

Mile one and two were the toughest.  But from that point on, I sort of just melded into this lovely groove.  “Settle down, Sarah.  You’re fine.  Relax.  One step at a time.  Enjoy this run.”

(See?  I do talk to myself. )

Once my mind quieted down, I found myself quite enjoying the sounds of crunchy sand beneath my feet.  I enjoyed the sounds of morning doves cooing to each other.  I enjoyed the smells of muffins and coffee whirling up to my nose as I passed by the local bakery.  I even enjoyed the raspberry clif shot and being scared half to death by one quite large, almost unrealistically over-sized goat.

Running wise, I haven’t felt this good in a long, long time.  Probably going back to my pre-injury days!  It was such a delicious feeling. 😀

As always, I immediately refueled (and rehydrated!) myself post-run.

Sweet and Salty Garden Salad
Serve with homemade bread ‘n’ butter, crackers with cheese, or whatever suits your fancy.

  • Mesculin Greens
  • Cucumber and tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Snap peas
  • Green bell pepper
  • Raisins
  • dressing: sprinkle of sea salt, olive oil and a drizzle of honey

There was a little more refueling later on after dad completed his 9.5 miles.  We both found ourselves in the mood for something cold, creamy and delicious.  The choice was Ben & Jerry’s.  Obviously.

Chunky Monkey = my favorite

Time to relax and unwind with a good book.  It’s been forever since I read last, and tonight it just feels like the right thing to do.  Hope you’re all having a happy Saturday! 😀

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

QUESTION: Favorite ice-cream flavor?

smile and carry on

Life has been kind of insane lately.

For starters, I just started my Christmas shopping today. Which, actually—to be completely honest—is a major improvement for me. 😉

And then later today—during a shopping trip with my mom—the car’s tires were apparently all wobbly (thanks to a kind woman who alerted us of this fact) which means that our shopping was cut early for a trip to the tire barn.

And then I realized that I had more homework than I first realized, after finishing up my pediatric rotation at the hospital over the past week.

But then.  Then!  I realized that we’re just two weeks away from Christmas, and it finally occurred to me that it’s no time at all to be grumpy or frazzled.  So I threw on some Pandora, helped put up the Christmas tree (the “official” decorating is tomorrow though!) and got to work making dinner.  With a smile on my face. 

Because, you know, life is just too short—just too precious—to get frazzly fried.  Besides, it’s kind of impossible to frown or feel stressed when you’re listening to “Deck the Halls” by Nat King Cole. 😉

Smile and Carry On.

(To make life even easier for everyone during the next couple of days, I loaded the baking sheet with plenty of extra veggies.  Any leftovers will be used for salads, wraps, pizzas, sauteed chicken, pureed soups, et cetera.  )

Next to whisking, dicing a bunch of fresh veggies is one of my favorite activities; one of life’s many, many, many simple pleasures.

And lucky for me, I planned on tonight’s dinner being filled with an overabundance of such diced veggies.  Roasted to nothing but caramelized perfection through the heat of the oven.  Perfect.

Time.  To.  EAT!

Smile.  Eat.  And Carry On.

Roasted Veggie Wraps

This is one of my favorite meals to make when life gets busy.  They’re super easy to make, and even easier to use as leftovers for the next couple of days.  

The wraps are delicious with any and all of your favorite veggies.  Broccoli, spinach, de-seeded tomatoes, carrots, et cetera.  No combination will fail you, I promise!  And as far as the cheese goes, I’ve made these with feta, swiss and gouda before.  It always comes out new, slightly unexpected, and wonderful.  Just have fun with it!  😀

  • a mixture of your favorite veggies, sliced and diced (I used mushrooms, peppers, and onions)
  • sea salt and pepper
  • whole wheat tortilla wraps
  • cheese
  • optional: serve with guacamole and side salads
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spray baking pan with cooking spray.  Add chopped veggies and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Place in oven for a total of 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. Once there is only about 10 minutes or so left for the veggies, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add wraps and place cheese on half of the wrap.  Fold over, press down lightly and cook until the side is well browned and crispy.  Flip, lower heat and continue cooking until veggies are ready.
  4. Fill wraps with cooked veggies.  Cut in half and serve with guacamole if desired.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Christmas music…yay or nay?  A big YAY to the old classics! 😀

pumped with pumpkin

Pumpkin seems to be floating around blog land these days.

Some of us continue to eat it in everything.  Some of us are screaming “enough already!” 

And then there are those of us who still have a good dozen cans waiting in our pantry.  Just sitting there.  Lost, confused, alone.  Desparately looking for some way to be used and appreciated.

Now, I’ve always been one to err on the side of sweetness when it comes to pumpkin, which is why I always pair it with warm, creamy oatmeal.  Or yogurt topped with crunchy granola.  But now—with November being over and all—I felt that I needed a change.  A bite of something completely new.

With that in mind, my lunch evolved.

Thursdays require me to pack a lunch the night before.

I’ve learned to embrace this time spent alone in the kitchen at night, trying to think up what it is that I want to eat the following day.  I flick on some Christmas music, pull my comfiest of wool socks on, and dance around the kitchen while preparing my meal.  Speaking of which, whoever said cooking is serious business, obviously did not know what they were talking about.  The less serious you are, the better things will turn out.  Having fun and enjoying the creation of a meal is the key to success! 😀

First, I tossed a couple handfuls of baby romaine leaves with a tsp of olive oil and sea salt.  This is a simple way to up your veggie intake.  It also creates a nice bed for whatever foods are tickling your fancy at the moment. 

With pumpkin on the brain and a bag of leftover whole wheat pasta sitting in the fridge, I created what I now call “pasta with pumpkin and sage.”

I didn’t take any exact measurements, but I did taste a little as I went, just to be sure that the seasonings were exactly where I wanted them to be.  Remember, when you are cooking solely for yourself, there is no need to primp and ponder whether everything tastes exactly like it should.  If you love it, that is all that matters. 😉

The rest of my snacks and lunch itmes included a mini whole wheat bagel smeared with roasted red pepper hummus… 

…a handful of almonds…

…a mini luna white chocolate macadamia bar just for fun…

…and a container of pineapple and red pears.

I received this Luna bar at the recent nutrition expo that I went to.

My thoughts were that it was just “okay.”  Honestly, I don’t think I would actually ever buy one for myself, as all the flavors seem to blend and taste the same to me after awhile!  But it did make for a nice mini-sized snack, and I can see how it would come in handy for an “emergency snack.”  They’re small enough to stash in a purse or to have on hand before or after a visit to the gym.  Still.  I think I’d rather have a handful of almonds or a fruit instead.  Much more satisfying. 😀

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage

 If you’re looking for a new way to use your canned pumpkin, give this simple, savory dish a try!  I never thought I’d live to see the day, but I can honestly say that I much prefer savory pumpkin to sweet!  There’s something wonderful about sage and pasta mixing and mingling with creamy pumpkin.  These three simple ingredients really do go very well together. 

The addition of lemon juice is a must in this dish!  It (along with the garlic!) gives the dish such a lovely bite, pulling it all together.  Feel free to change things up as you go!  I’m pretty sure nutmeg and/or thyme would be two interesting ingredients to play with as well.  

  • 1 c. cooked whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. canned white beans, drained and rinsed
  • a few dashes of sage
  • one or two sprinkles of cinnamon
  • garlic powder to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • a few splashes of lemon juice (be semi-generous with this!  It offers a wonderful flavor)
  • lettuce, olive oil, sea salt (optional)
  • toppings (optional): walnuts, cranberries, pepitas, etc.
  1. Combine all ingredients from pasta to lemon juice together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Toss together lettuce, oil and sea salt.
  3. Top the lettuce mixture with the pasta mixture.  Place in fridge for following morning’s lunch or eat right away.
  4. ENJOY! 😀

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My room is officially filled with Christmas cheer! :mrgreen:

This little tree stands a meer 2 feet tall, but it’s sending such a warm glow throughout my room.  I love it!  I can’t wait until the official tree is put up next week. 😀

Question: When do you usually put up your Christmas tree?

a bowl full of veggies (and noodles!)

Ginger and I have a love-hate relationship.

Love.  When my Memere handed me a hot, sugar dusted ginger cookie.  Licking my fingers to make sure I didn’t miss a single crumb.  

Hate.  When I accidentally dumped half a bottle into my morning bowl of oatmeal.    

Ginger is just one of those things that can be used or abused. 

Some people say the more the merrier.  I tend to err on the side of caution, using a little as I go.  Tasting.  Adjusting.  Finding that sweet spot.  Ginger is strong and can easily overpower the foods that you’re trying so hard to emphasize.  A little goes a long, long way.

This is especially true in soups and broths.  A very simple but tasty broth can be found in the combination of your favorite vegetable broth (I recommend using a base in which you add your own water OR making your own!), a couple handfuls of cabbage and a little ginger (or a lot if you’re a “more the merrier” kind of person. 😀 )

I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to make out of my ginger-infused broth, but I knew I wanted to put these brown rice noodles to good use.  So—I thought to mysef—why not a veggie noodle bowl?

I let the broth simmer for the entire time that it took to dice the veggies and cook the noodles (which, by the way, takes a grand total of 2 minutes!)

Part of the fun to be found in a noodle bowl is having the chance to make your very own.  Spinach?  Carrots?  Celery?  Mushrooms?  Onions?  All of the above?

Peanuts are traditional.  Sunflower seeds are unexpected.  Both act as fun, crunchy toppings!

Brown rice noodles remind me of the ramen noodles I ate as a kid.  Thin.  Stretchy.  Fun. 

(With a whole lot more fiber and nutrients than the “kid” version. 😉 )

After piling my bowl full of the stretchy noodles, I added in some sliced tofu.

And added—of course—all of the toppings.  A few ladles of ginger-infused veggie broth on top, and dinner was on.

Veggie Noodle Bowlserves 2-3

You can easily make the very same meal for the vegetarians and carnivores in your life.  Offer a separate plate for the tofu, shrimp, or chicken, and allow everyone to take as they please.  Dinner doesn’t get any easier (or more fun!) 

Helpful Tip: Be sure to slice the veggies super thin, since you won’t technically be “cooking” them. 

  • 4 cups of prepared vegetable broth
  • a few handfuls of chopped cabbage
  • ginger, fresh or dried
  • 2 servings of brown rice noodles, cooked, rained and rinsed with cold water
  • 2 servings of tofu, chicken, or shrimp
  • thinly sliced veggies (ideas: carrots, celery, spinach, mushrooms, baby bok choy, red onions, etc.)
  • sunflower seeds and walnuts
  1. Bring vegetable broth, cabbage and ginger to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place cooked noodles in a soup bowl.  Top with tofu, chicken or shrimp.
  3. Add veggies of choice on top.  Ladle a few scoops of hot broth on top, sprinkle with sunflower seeds, and serve.  ENJOY! 😀

Question:  What is your favorite and least favorite spice/herb?  Favorite = cinnamon.  Least favorite = oregano!

how convenient

Sometimes I exhibit split personalities.  Especially in the kitchen.

For example, sometimes I really love cooking over a hot stove for several hours.  Wearing my apron as if it’s an accessory item.  Waving my spoon around while chanting “Bon Appetit” in my best Julia Childs imitation. 

And then there’s the other side of me that wants convenience.  This mostly takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when I’m doing my internship in the school system.  I don’t want to spend longer than 15 minutes preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Quick!  Snap, Snap.  No time to be wasted. 

Breakfast: 1 serving of creamy banana oatmeal + 1 almost but not quite empty peanut jar + 15 minutes of preparation = perfect.

Lunch could not have been easier in the convenience department either.

As soon as I finished making the lentil tacos last night, I popped some directly into the freezer and dished the rest into a tupperware container for today.  Eazy Peazy.

When served along with a whole wheat wrap, an apple, and some carrot sticks, this meal was complete. 

Convenience.  Nutrition.  Taste.  It’s nice when they decide to get along.

Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. plain yogurt mixed with 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin + Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola

I’ll bet when you think “fish,” convenience doesn’t always come to mind.  And I’ll bet that some of you won’t believe me when I tell you that my dinner was served in under 15 minutes.

But it’s true.  From grill to salad, salmon makes a quick and easy dinner for a busy weeknight meal.  Sometimes I’ll go all crazy with the marinades, but honestly, I like to keep things as simple as possible with the wild caught salmon.  The flavor is so sweet and fresh; salt and pepper is all it really needs.

I threw some black beans, tomatoes, and good olive oil on top, along with some kashis on the side for crunch.

Moral of the story: convenience isn’t always such a bad thing for your tastebuds or for your health. 😉

Question: What are some lunch items that you’ve found to be most convenient, still nutritious, and TASTY? 

cold recovery

I don’t know what’s come over me.

Apparently, nobody gave me the memo that you’re supposed to lose your appetite when you’re sick. 

And—apparently—nobody gave me the memo that you’re supposed to crave mostly soup and crackers when you’re not feeling well.

I spent about 10 minutes or so at the Whole Foods’ meat counter on Friday, battling out the question of whether I truly wanted to spend a mini-fortune on ground beef.  Ground, local, 90% lean *grass fed* beef, to be exact.  Was it worth the cost?  Was it worth my returning the local honey jar back to its shelf for another day, another dollar?  Was it worth it?

Short answer: Yes.  Yes, it was.

I’ve come to the conclusion that for the amount of times that I actually purchase and eat red meat, I want to make it count.  I want caramelized onions.  A whole wheat bun (courtesy of Trader Joes.)  And I want the best of the best beef.  Local.  Grass fed.  Delicious. 

(Just remember that grass fed beef tends to be much leaner than it’s grain fed counterpart.  This means (a) reduced heat and cooking time is usually necessary and (b) your beef is going to be much healthier.)

*****************************************

Unfortunetly, I’m still sick.  But—looking at the sunny side of things—I’d rather be sick now vs. Tuesday when I have to go to a Food Service Directors’ meeting. 

In an attempt to get myself feeling back to normal, I’ve been focusing on:

#1: Tea

#2: Fresh Fruits

Cold, chilly, fruit.  Preferrably of the citrus variety. 😀

Just as a little side note, did you know that Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin?  This means that your body has a limit of what it can hold, and past that certain amount, your body simply flushes it out (think of this like filling up your bathtub to the point where it can’t hold any more…it simply overflows!)  So the next time you’re sick, eat an orange but skip those expensive Vitamin C supplements.)

#3: Baking.

I baked.  Mom baked.  I licked the frosting beaters.

And yes, baking is totally necessary for a full recovery.

Besides, there is a good excuse for having a big sheet of carrot cake in the house right now.  It’s my Pepere’s 78th birthday, and with the entire family having a cookout over his house, carrot cake it had to be!  This recipe is a guarenteed crowd pleaser.  I can’t wait to see how it tastes!

#4: Greens, greens, greens.

There’s nothing like filling up on some fresh produce to make a girl feel like brand new again. 

 Yum!!

I’m not sure if a run is going to happen tomorrow, but you never know.  Sometimes a short little run or a walk can do wonders for clearing up a stuffy, congested head.  😀

Question: Do you normally lose your appetite when you’re sick?

summer meets autumn

Fun thought for the day: If your body’s temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and you walk outside into 98 degree weather, why wouldn’t this feel like the “perfect” temperature?—courtesy of dad 😉

“Un” overnight Oats in a Jar!

In an almond butter jar.  Full of creamy, ooey-gooey, swirls and globs.  Stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth delicious. 😀 

Trader Joe’s knows how to make a mean almond butter.

I’ve noticed that along with being able to handle a slow increase in running mileage, my stomach is slowly being able to handle heavier meals before a run.  I love when this happens.  It means that I don’t cramp up after eating breakfast, which leaves me feeling more energized and fresh.  No heavy, lead-filled legs or side stitches either.  Just perfect.  It also means that I don’t have to rely on a simple orange or a date before a run, which means more fuel for those (eventual) longer runs.

Needless to say, today’s 3-miler was fun and energetic. 😀

Morning Snack: kashi crackers and Justin’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Lunch

I’ve been craving roasted chicken lately.

Something to do with the cooler summer weather.  Something about early autumn making its first appearance in a brilliant yellow leaf.  I’ve been craving roasted chicken.

It has something to do with something, but when all was said and done, it didn’t really matter what the temperature was.  The oven was turned on to 350, the chicken was cooked for 2.5 hrs with an onion, and voila.  My roasted chicken cravings were fulfilled.

I wanted salad too, so I decided to combine the two into one meal.  Roasting a chicken and making a summery salad might seem a little odd at first.  But it was a little like setting up a blind date for summer and autumn to meet each other (because you just know they’ll get along once they start mingling) and watching them fall in love.  The salad was crunchy and full of fresh, the chicken was tender and filled with flavor.  The cranberry sauce added the “pow” factor and tied it all together.  Love.

Leftover pasta salad on the side!

+ a heep of watermelon!

Afternoon Snack: Homemade Granola Bar

I used my original recipe, but subbed in almond butter for the pb.  I also added some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Definitely one of my favorite batches yet! 😀

Did you know that the recommended amount of egg yolks to eat in one week is 3?

You’ll find a lot of controversy over that statement, as some people feel this amount should be expanded and others think it should be reduced.  I personally feel that eggs do a whole lot more good for our body then bad, but I don’t recommend loading up on them either. 😉  But don’t be afraid to include that yolk now and then, for its high content of healthy vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, selenium and riboflavin!

For some reason, yesterday’s egg over salad left me wanting eggs again.  I went with a “sweet” version this time in the form of cinnamon raisin French toast.  Topped with a creamy, super ripe banana. 

Can’t forget the veggies!  Roasted cauliflower and onions (425 degree oven for 25 minutes, 2 tsp olive oil + paprika) because I was still craving autumn. 😀

Time to finish up on some homework before tomorrow’s Preclinical Training.  I need to look over a case study on Muscle Wasting in Heart Failure.  It seems interesting but tricky!

Happy Hump Day! 😀

Question: Can you eat right before a workout?  Do you stick to something light or can you handle something larger?

chopsticks

I wrote out an entire post, only to have it completely eaten by WordPress.  Which means, that the post will wait until tonight and I’ll leave you with a short little blurp. :mrgreen:

Have you ever eaten with chopsticks? 

It is an experience. 

A little while back, the Broccoli Hut made a post on eating with chopsticks, and how it adds to the entire dining experience.  It slows you down.  Makes you notice that you’re eating.  I completely agreed.

I am a self-proclaimed inhaler of food.  Not when I’m eating out with friends and family or at a fancy schmancy restaurant.  But at home?  Yes.  I inhale.

Which is where chopsticks come in.  Now, let’s face it, not every meal can be eaten at a slow, leisurely pace.  There are times when I’ll need to wolf down a lunch in five minutes flat, and times when dinner is something that must be fit in—somehow, some way—despite being in a rush.  But there are also times when it’s important to slow down and enjoy the food that we’re eating.  Life is too busy.  It’s important to take time out and enjoy the day, whether by ourselves or with friends and family.

I’m convinced that part of the reason why people who consume the Mediterranean Diet are so healthy, is due not only to the foods that they eat, but also due to the fact that they eat. so. slowly.  A drink of wine here.  A laugh with a friend there.  A small bite every other conversation.  It’s so relaxed. 

Chopsticks, chopsticks, chopsticks (not that people on the Mediterranean Diet eat with chopsticks, but I’ve found it’s one of the easiest ways to slow the entire dining process down :mrgreen: )

So my challenge to you is to try using chopsticks.  For a meal.  Or a day (although eating oats with chopsticks may prove to be kind of challenging 😉 ).  Most grocery stores carry the free wooden kind that you can simply pick up and mess around with before investing in a pair.  They’re super simple to use once you get the hang of it.

The How-To of chopsticks

Don’t be intimidated.  And don’t be put off by the fact that you may drop food on your shirt at first.  True Story: I have olive oil stains on my t-shirt too.  But as everyone who uses chopsticks will attest to, it gets easier with time.  You’ll be a pro before you know it. 😀

Question: Have you ever used chopsticks?