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.  😀

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


Hello, winter.

Hello, Winter.

Apparently, winter isn’t through with we New Englanders.

Ice.  Snow.  Wind.  Frigid, frozen temperatures.

This morning, I ran under a canopy of white.  I heard and felft the crunch of snow beneath my feet.  One step after the other.

Crunch.  Crinkle.  Swoosh.

I watched the icicles dance with excitement after they met the sun, sending their sparkles of light here, there, in every which direction.

There’s a fresh snowfall, here in New England.  And today I was the first—the very first!—to spread footsteps across a snowy path.

Sigh.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite as peaceful.  I don’t think I ever will.

And you want to know a secret?

I kind of, sort of, maybe, almost enjoyed my morning run.  Despite (because of?) the frigid cold temperatures.

I don’t always know why or how to explain it, but sometimes I find myself falling absolutely in love with winter.

For such a snowy morning, I figured breakfast may as well include a bit of snow as well.

In the form of coconut, of course.

There was exactly one jam filled muffin left in the freezer.  And it was practically begging me to crumble it into a morning bowl of yogurt.

I just couldn’t say no.

Muffin Crumbled Yogurt Bowl

Crunchy walnuts.  A snowing of coconut.  Warm, jam-filled muffin crumbles.  And a dish of thick, creamy yogurt.

This is one of my most current favorite breakfasts.  I think you’ll love it too. 😀

  • 6-oz plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chopped grapes, banana, apricots, or other favorite fruit
  • 1 jam-filled muffin (or other favorite muffin of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. granola
  • 2 Tbsp. walnuts
  • dusting of coconut
  • drizzle of honey (optional)
  1. Combine yogurt with wheat germ and fruit, and place on bottom of bowl.
  2. Top with muffin, granola, walnuts, coconut and honey if using.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Is it still officially feeling like winter where you live?  What is your favorite season?

a snowy day

We have snow literally coming out of our ears, here in New England!

 

3

 

Sent home early.  No critical homework due. 

There’s but one thing for a girl to do in such a situation.

 

1

 

First I made a steaming hot cup of licorice tea…

 

6

 

…and then I had myself a date with Mr. Quaker.

 

5

 

These are my stand by, true blue, you’ve never let me down, fool-proof recipe for granola bars.  What I love most about these chunky little bars, is that the combination of flavors is limitless.  Honey?  Molasses?  Agave?  Chocolate chips?  Peanut butter chips?  Raisins?

Absolutely limitless!

Today’s combination of flavors included pecans, dark chocolate chips, flax…

7

 

…and a deep, intoxicatingly rich swirl of blackstrap molasses. 

 

10

 

Honey would have given these bars more of a golden hue vs. the deep chocolate color.  But I absolutely love the flavor that molasses imparts.

And, really now, who doesn’t like the color of chocolate?

 

11

 

You want to know something?  When Mr. Quaker is around, a little bit of extra snow around the place doesn’t look so bad after all.

 

4

Granola Bars with chocolate chips and pecans

These bars can be made with any mixture of your favorite ingredients—peanut butter chips, dates and coconut come to mind!  Enjoy them for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert with a cup of tea.  They also keep very well, and can be packed as a fun addition with your lunch-to-go.

ENJOY! 😀

  • 1 T. olive oil + pam for spraying pan
  • 1-1/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 c. natural, chunky, salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom and two sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side.  Spray again with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine oats, chocolate chips, flaxseeds, and pecans; set aside.
  2. In a small/medium saucepan, combine molasses, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla. Cook over medium until melted. Add dry ingredients to pan, turn off heat and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until golden and edges pull away from sides of pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift bars out of pan. On a cutting board, gently cut into 8 pieces using a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container, separating pieces with wax or parchment paper, for one week.  ENJOY!

Question: What is your favorite activity on a snow day?

hug a bowl of soup

I am cold, and all I want is soup.

Most of my favorite soups are the ones that will never win a beauty contest. 

Split pea soup.  Lentil soup.  Brazilian Black Bean Soup.  Creamy Mushroom Soup.  They leave me feeling more and more comforted with each delightful bight.  Happy with life in general, no matter what kind of crazy day I may have had.  Soups that are filled to the absolute brim with bright and beautiful personalities.  Warm and friendly and totally indulgent.

This creamy mushroom soup—from the latest Eating Well magazines—is one of my current favorite soups.  It’s rich, smooth and full of body.  Come to think of it, it’s a little like warming up to a bowl of savory mushroom gravy and realizing that such a guilty indulgence is actually okay.  More than okay.  That it’s actually healthy for both your mind and your body.  Really, it’s enough to make a girl sing.

Side Dish: Salad

Side Dish: Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
(made with blackstrap molasses)

There is nothing quite like hugging a bowl of creamy mushroom soup after a chilly January run. 

Life is so delicious.

Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup—as seen in Eating Well Magazine

I recommend doubling this recipe and serving it out on the chilliest of winter nights.  It pairs lovely with a rich, dark bread and a simple side salad. 

Each bowlful of this creamy soup offers you more than just flavor.  You’ll also get a healthy dose of calcium, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, fiber and protein.   Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill
  • 4 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are very soft, about 3 minutes more. Add flour, paprika and dill and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add broth, milk and potatoes; cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sour cream and salt. 

Question: What are some of your favorite soups?

Yes, I love winter.

We are knee deep in winter right now and I kind of like it.

That’s not to say that I never gripe or complain about how cold I am.  How much I’m looking forward to summer even though it’s only January.  Sometimes, I even exaggerate the unbearable chill factor by wearing my down jacket indoors.  The Uggs are saved for those especially cold moments, but I’ve yet to wear my wool hat around the house.  I’m not one to say that this won’t ever happen though. 😉

But putting aside how much I love the sun and the warmth of summer, I really do love the winter too.  There’s nothing quite like waking up on my day off to realize that buckets and buckets of snow have fallen down around me; a blanket of white.  I love watching the strong, fierce winds whip the delicate little snowflakes into circular tunnels, as they travel in each and every direction.

All of this happening while I’m safe and sound in my own home.  So yes, I really do love winter.

Oddly enough, when the temperatures drop, my breakfast choices are usually on the chillier side too.  Yogurt.  Overnight oats.  Things like that.

Some things will never change.

“Layer One” Kashi Go Lean Crunch

“Layer Two” Sliced Banana

“Layer Three” Dollop of Plain Yogurt

Stir, Stir, Stir. 

“Layer Four” Cashew Butter

 Now we’ll see who wins.  Yoga in my living room?  An outdoor walk in the woods? 

My bets are on the yoga. 😉

A Simple Yogurt Mess

Unfortunately, a bowl of cereal never seems very filling to me.  Cheerios is like air in my belly. 

Thankfully, this is one situation where cereal is very filling.  The combination of a high protein cereal mixed with yogurt and nut butter (i.e., healthy fats and protein!) makes for a very satisfying, very crunchy, very filling breakfast.  This makes a nice change from a regular breakfast routine, and it’s quick enough to make for those busy mornings.  Mix in some of your favorite cereals, but be sure to keep the fiber and protein up in order to keep you going all morning long. 😀

  • 1-1/2 c. Kashi Go Lean Crunch
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 2 T. cashew butter
  1. Combine Go Lean Crunch, banana and yogurt together.  Top with cashew butter and let the cereal sit and soften for about 5 minutes.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: What is your favorite season? 

just a few days

Within the past few days of being on vacation, I have…

…brought all of the recipe pages up to date, which hopefully will make it easier for everyone (and me!) to find past recipes! 😀

…consumed a very full head of kale.

…worn my apron like it’s the latest accessory item.

…made three big bowls of “un”overnight blueberry banana oats.

(because, obviously, having just one day to eat your favorite breakfast is never quite enough!)

…enjoyed one, two, three lovely New England walks with my parents.

…and trotted out 5 pain free miles through a sunrise.   Which, by the way, I haven’t done before my knee injury.

I always seem to flirt around with the idea of entering a race come spring, but I’ve also been indulging in the sheer pleasure of just heading out for a run.  Just because.

No clear training goals in mind.    

No drills.

No speedwork.

No 12-mile long runs in zero degree weather.

Just running.  For the pure and simple reason that it feels delicious on my legs. 

When life gets busy and crazy with the dietetic internship and everything else, nothing brings my pace back to normal quite like a brisk morning run.  It slows me down.  The half marathon is still on my horizon.  But for now, my heart belongs to just running. 

Just because.

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

Warm Kale Salad

If you’re still sitting on the fence over kale, try this recipe!  The flavors are subtle but bright, with the sunny addition of lemon juice.  Aside from kale chips, this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.

Kale won’t wilt like spinach does, and stands up quite well against all of the heat and stirring.  Even still, the kale will be tender and soft, making it a wonderful accompaniment to any and all of your favorite meals. 😀

  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • at least 4 large handfuls of chopped kale
  • a few spritzes of lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 a carrot, grated
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and cook onion until tender.  Add chopped kale, stir, lower heat slightly to medium low, and cook until wilted and slightly tender.
  2. Add lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and grated carrot.  Continue cooking on low for another couple of minutes.
  3. Serve warm and ENJOY! 😀

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

“Un”Overnight Blueberry Banana Oats

The “un”overnight oats resemble their close cousin, the “overnight oats.”  The main difference is that there’s no soaking or waiting involved with this version.  It’s are made the same morning that you want to eat it, which is nice for those of us who frequently change our minds on what we want to eat, come morning. 😉

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 c. frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cortland apple
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 2 T. almond butter
  1. Mix together all of ingredients except almond butter.  Stir well.
  2. Top with almond butter and ENJOY! 😀

 Question: If you had an entire day to do only the things that made you happy, how would you spend it?

ready (or not) for winter

Dear winter, I’m not really ready for you yet.  I love your sparkly flurries, your rush of cool air, and yes, I even love your fierce and bold personality.  But…I’m just not ready for you yet.

It was only about 10 months ago, when I was out running 11 miles in the middle of a blizzard.  My face felt numb.  My feet felt like…well…they actually felt like nothing at the time.  And I had a smile plastered on my face, as if I had just been botoxed.  And, I truly loved every second of the experience.

Now, fast forward 10 months to the present:  December 8, 2010.

The moment I stepped my sleepy self outside and onto the front porch, I wanted to run back and hide under my warm, dreamy blankets.  Into my dark, cozy room.  For just a few more moments.  *Sigh.*

It was 16 degrees out this morning with a blustery wind that immediately burned my cheeks.  But I wasn’t out running 11 miles.  There was no snow on the ground.  I could feel my feet.  Life wasn’t really that bad after all. 

And so I kept on trudging.  One foot in front of the other until I began feeling warm again.  This happened on the last stretch home as I covered a nice gentle 3 mile run.  Sometimes getting out of bed and facing the cold is a major challenge for me, but it’s always so well worth it in the end. 😀

Overnight Oatmeal

If you plan on working out in the morning, it’s important to not give yourself any available excuse for getting out of it.  Especially in the winter, when we need all the motivation that we can possibly get. 😉

This preparation method saves you the trouble (and time) of putting things together in the morning.  A quick pop in the microwave, and your breakfast is ready.  And finally, after fueling yourself with a warm bowl of hot oats, head out and get your workout in.  You’ll be glad you did. 😀

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 T. flax
  • 1 c. milk + 1/4 c. water
  • toppings: about 2 T. peanut butter
  1. Combine all of the ingredients together except for the peanut butter.  Place in a high topped (to avoid boiling over) microwaveable dish and put in fridge overnight.
  2. The next morning, place dish in microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Stir.  Heat another 1-2 minutes and top with peanut butter. 
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you ready for winter this year?  What are some of your favorite activities in the winter months?

Winter Biking

This morning I tried adding some bran to my breakfast cookie!

  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 1 smashed banana
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 2 T. crushed flax

If you’ve ever tried bran muffin batter, you know exactly what this breakfast cookie tasted like.  It had that lovely hint of bran which I loved.  I also love how 2 T. wheat bran contains 3 g. fiber, lots of nutrients, and only 15 calories!

Served with a glass of milk and lots of water. 😀

We’re expecting snow and rain until next Thursday, so I was all prepared to bunker down today with a strength training routine.  I made a change of plans when I realized the precipitation hadn’t yet started though.  May as well take advantage of the clear weather and go for an 11-mile bike ride! 😀 

There are definitely some challenges to winter biking:

  • Slip ‘n’ Slide: I ride my mountain bike to avoid slipping or skidding on snow and sand.  The thicker tires provide some grip, but it’s still important to be extra cautious on the snow and ice!
  • The Big Chill:  I thought my face would be chilling the most, but it turns out that my feet are the problem!  I heard somewhere that an easy solution is to duct tape the front toe of your sneaker, which covers up the vents.  However, I just threw on some thick wool socks, and it took care of that! 😀
  • Vision: Both for me and the cars.  Wearing bright colors (ie, yellows, greens, etc.) makes you more visible.  And although I don’t personally have a pair of glasses, I’d recommend investing in a pair for when flurries start.  It’s important to keep your eyes on the road, which can be a bit challenging with snow hitting your face. 😉

There are lots of perks to biking in the winter too.  Like that feeling of satisfaction and refreshment after a long morning ride.  Plus I was able to plan out a lot of  my coconut presentation for tomorrow.  Running makes me zone out…biking makes me think. :mrgreen:

After a quick shower and adding a bit of makeup, I grabbed this snack to-go: an orange and a Fruit and Nuts Yogurt KIND bar.  Another lovely flavor! 😀  I still like the Almond and Cashew the best so far, but this was one was chewy, sweet and fun to eat.  I loved the yogurt! 

Lunch was scrumptious! 😀 I had no idea what to expect from this meal, because I threw it together last night when I was tired from studying and homework. 😉  But the flavors all worked out really well together.  I especially loved the splash of lemon.  It added a touch of freshness and zing!

  • 1 c. leftover brown rice
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans & black beans
  • 2 celery stalks, diced small
  • 1 carrot, shredded finely
  • about 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • about 1/8 tsp. cayenne (a little less)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • splash of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Yum!

I brought along some almonds (about an ounce or 20 almonds) and a pear for an afternoon snack too.

Dinner was as much a hodgepodge as my lunch, but in a different kind of way.  Still just as delicious. 😀

Lots of veggies!  Turnips (boiled and mashed,) steamed green & wax beans, and peas.

There was also a recipe for Soba Noodles and Broccoli from a Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook (not to be confused with Molly’s Moosewood cookbooks, ) which I went back for seconds on.  Soba noodles are one of my favorite types of noodles.  They take approximately 2 minutes to cook, and they have a unique flavor all their own.  This dish was so simple (think soysauce and hot red pepper with a bit of oil) and paired perfectly with the leftover orange marmalade chicken. 

I love sampler plates full of variety and flavahs! 😀

Finale!  I broke into the Valentines chocolate box and picked out a pretty caramel chocolate.

Tomorrow night I will be done all of the presentations and papers and exams that have been keeping me so busy over this past week!  I plan on relaxing and taking a break by reading blogs, drinking tea, and journaling.  So excited! :mrgreen:

Busy day tomorrow, so I’m heading to bed ASAP!

What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind after a busy work/school week?  I love reading a fun magazine, journaling, drinking tea, taking a bubble bath, and just taking the night off from plans and work.  I think we all need a catch up day once in a while! 😀