Thanks for the reminder…

October 28, 2011

Oh, hello Friday…

I was boring today.  It was my “rest day” for training.  Which means my weekly indulgence day where I buy coffee and a bagel in the morning (shhhhh-our secret guys).  Sadly, not even contraband caffeine and carbs could lift my mean reds mood.  But, the day wasn’t BAD persay, so I feel sort’ve bad griping about it.  And I learned a new machine for work today.  Like the good post-doc that I am, I scribbled took meticulous notes as fast as the girl was talking. And then, in true Artist’s daughter fashion…I did this.

  I’m a visual learner.  Don’t judge.

Other ways I was boring today?   I got mad at drivers on the way home…and the way to work.  I didn’t even cook.  That’s right.  Zero hours clocked in the kitchen tonight.  Instead we tried a new (to us) place called Au Poitin Still.  Brandon was nice enough to have me check it out before we went, to make sure it had something there I’d be ok with eating.  And fellow Baltimore Vegetarians, this place has not one, but TWO veggie burger options (plus a solid salad section).  For an IRISH PUB, i’d say that’s pretty darn good.  In fact, better than pretty darn good, that’s practically unheard of.  So I made my selection, a black bean burger.  At this point, i’d like to apologize for the lack of food images, the place was dimly lit and by dimly lit – I mean it felt like we were in a low budget production of Beowolf.  I’m talkin – fake stone walls, fake flame lights.  yeah – it was cheesetacular.   But for all of that, it almost added to the charm, if you let it.  As far as the food goes, I was really happy with my veggie burger – just enough kick to give it some good flavor, but not overwhelming.  The Chipotle Aioli it came with  – CAME ON THE SIDE.  Which you usually have to beg for, here I didn’t even have to ask.  The best part about this place though, was what happened WHEN they brought out my dinner.  Some background.  The burgers all come with a side of house made chips.  No biggie.  But their chips, come with a little tub of homemade French Onion dip.  Ok, still no big deal, right?  Here’s the kicker.  The guy brought out my veggie burger and from out of nowhere, someone from back in the kitchen ( I think?  I don’t even KNOW, he was like an Irish vegetarian guardian ninja…in the middle of Beowolf’s castle – mind blowing, I know).  And no joke, I was chip in hand about to delve into aforementioned French Onion Dip and ninja knight in shining armor stepped in to let me know – that he wasn’t sure if I had any particular dietary restrictions, but since I had ordered the veggie burger, he just thought he’d come out and let me know, that the French Onion Dip – has Beef products in it.  And normally they don’t serve the dip with their veggie burgers, so he just wanted to give me a heads up.  I was in shock that someone thought enough of my ordering a vegetarian entree to warn me of their mixup.  I’m still in shock.

Remember that post awhile back – where I said sometimes I like to try and find the good things in life.  This goes double, triple, quadruple for those days where I’m feeling gloomy and cranky.  These are the days where I really want to be reminded of all the good in the world.  This guy, my Irish Vegetarian Guardian Ninja Beowolf Knight in Shining Armor is the perfect example.  The kind of person who cares enough to step in and do something unexpected, but appreciated – for so so so many reasons.  So thank you world, I appreciate the reminder.

Feel free to use him as an example.  Go ahead – I double dog dare ya.

Have a great weekend guys, I can’t wait to show you what I make for my parents when they come for dinner – see you soon!


Yesterday I mentioned that I was prepping a delicious filling for what promised to be an equally delicious lasagna.  And aside from the fact that none of my food photographs aestically…

Seriously – it may look like a hot mess.  But it was a hot mess of AWESOME – this baby did NOT disappoint, it was so good.  Layers of lasagna noodles, sauted mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash, marinara sauce and that insane tofu/spinach blend.  I may have lied forgot and said that this lasagna had cheese in it to the boy.  He MAY have believed me.  He MAY Have eaten two helpings and said it was good. The only thing he said he missed was the meat.  NOTHING about the cheese.  Once I TOLD him it was tofu and not ricotta, he got all grossed out and claimed he KNEW something didn’t taste right.  Such a stigma.  Ignorance is bliss folks… when they ask “is there cheese in this?” – LIE.


Ok guys.  Week two of training is almost to an end and I know I keep saying this, but MAN I am exhausted.  What’s going on body!?  This morning I slowed down my run because my attempted race pace run was just too much for me to struggle through this morning.  I think i’m fighting off a cold, because I spent the next hour after my run coughing up snot. Yaaaay.  This gross fact of the day, brought to you by yours truly.  But seriously.  I’m taking my rest days (on Fridays) and I’m making sure to keep my cross training not as strenuous.  I think this week is just a rough week, mentally and physically.  My body is trying to get used to this new training schedule and i’m trying to make sure I know how to nourish it the way it needs and wants in order sustain this pace.  I also know I could be sleeping a little better too.  New goal.  Sleep better, drink more water (and tea!).  Eat more clementines! Did you guys know, that 2 clementines can pack up to 2/3 of an adult’s DV for Vitamin C??!  Excuse me while I go wolf down the entire bag I purchased this week… So my question is this – when is it ok to take a break from the training?  I know that missing a day here or there isn’t going to hurt my progress, and I know that sometimes its more helpful to let my body rest more.  But how do you know the difference between being tired, but able to work through something but decreasing the intensity, and being tired and parking your butt in bed or on the couch to not push it.  I’m really bad about deviating from routine, I don’t like it.  So of course, I marched back down to the gym this evening with Brandon in tow to do some weights. For the record, Brandon doesn’t lift weights, and even though I designed what I thought was a relatively easy workout (ok, a little heavy on the arms), it was somewhat satisfying to hear “holy jeez” under his breath more than a few times, while I powered through.  He may be bigger and “stronger” than I am, but my working out, even just in this past month has really paid off and that gave me a pretty big push.  This stuff is working, there ARE results. They may not be visible yet, but changes are happening.  And that vindicates me for pushing myself to go, even when I don’t always want to.

And because its Thursday and I”m a sucker for cheering for the underdogs (and my alma mater), Coz and I are going to go celebrate a long hard week of training and watch the UVA football game!

 d’awwww she’s such a good buddy.  Go Wahoos!


As good a night as any

October 26, 2011

After last night’s not so creative meal, I was itching to try something new.  Something that had my own spin, ya know? Give this whole “creating” thing a go. Tonight was as good a night as any.  Figuratively, because – well, why wait?  And literally, because the plan for tonight was salmon for the boy and tofu for me.  I know I know, “ewwww Tofu, scary”.  The great thing about tofu (besides the fact that I actually ENJOY it) is that it’s a relatively easy way to try out flavors that you think might be interesting.  So, I knew that I was having tofu/salmon and veggies and some rice.  But what I couldn’t figure out is what kind of sauce I wanted.  While browsing one of my favorite blogs, I found the recipe for Emily’s Four-Ingredient Healthy Peanut Sauce (& Tofu Marinade) – see the recipe here (I also prepped her veggie lasagna tonight to eat tomorrow, yum!). See??

  the recipe replaces ricotta with a tofu/spinach mix

This stuff is seriously lick the spoon worthy, i’m amazed I had enough for the lasagna.  I’m so excited to pop this puppy in the oven tomorrow, especially with a run AND lifting circuit on the to do list.

But I digress… in the spirit of my wanting to both try something new AND be creative, I decided to play with the recipe and ended up with what appears to be an Asian/Mexican(ish?) fusion dish, Roasted Tofu (or salmon) with a Chipotle Peanut Sauce,  Word.

Before I get to the recipe though, I wanted to look at little bit at one of my major ingredients tonight…

Peanuts.  I think nut butters can get a bit of a bad rap, with the fat content and calories.  But what about the peanuts themselves – in non butter format?  First things first – peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they’re a legume – which puts them in with the beans, equally delicious and nutritious.  Fun fact?  Depending on where you are in the world, your peanut may be called a goober.  But what about nutrition?  Turns out these little guys have a ton of monounsaturated fats.  Before you go screaming for the hills, this is the good fat, one that’s emphasized in a heart happy Mediterranean diet.  On top of that, peanuts pack a punch with a healthy dose of Vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and resveratrol (and yes, for those who think this looks familiar, you’re right – it’s the same anti-oxidant found in red wine).  And speaking of anti-oxidants, peanuts are pretty equal to some of their fruit counterparts (think blackberries & strawberries) when it comes to levels of anti-oxidants.  All of these help to make peanuts a healthy treat, in moderation.  So, I feel pretty good about my peanut sauce, and because I don’t want the peanut flavor to be overpowering, I’m only using a small amount of raw peanuts (unsalted) for my sauce.   Served with my healthy tofu (or salmon) over a mix of lentils (a nutritional powerhouse!) and brown rice, with roasted poblano pepper and corn, I feel like I’m getting a good mix of fiber, healthy heart happy fats, protein and grains.

And so, without further ado I give to you…dinner!


 Chipotle Peanut Sauce (Original recipe in Italices)

Peanuts (I used unsalted cocktail peanuts),  a scant 3/4 cup or heavy 1/2 cup.  Depends on the consistency you want and the flavor.

Rice Vinegar – 1 tbsp

Sesame oil – 1 tbsp

Soy sauce – 2 tbsp

Water – to preferred consistency

Chipotle powder – about 1/2 tbsp (my powder was pretty strong and this gave it a serious kick, but the honey and ginger really helped to tone that down)

Minced ginger – 1 tbsp

Honey – 1 – 1.5 tbsp (to taste)


This sauce is super easy to make, chuck the ingredients into a food processor and watch the magic happen!  Once you have the consistency you want – you’re done!  I served it at room temp over some PERFECTLY DONE roasted tofu (crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside) and my rice/lentil/roasted veggie combo.  I even sprinkled it with sesame seeds at the end to make it look pretty 🙂

This dish had just the right amount of kick to it with the chipotle in the peanut sauce and the roasted poblano pepper and it was a fun twist on a pretty standard sauce. I’m thinking maybe next time I’ll try it with just lentils or some barley.

Sure, this dish may have earned me a serious eye-roll from the boy when he walked in, but sometimes you just need to have fun in the kitchen and create something that’s tasty, different, healthy and yes…pretty.  And honestly, isn’t tonight as good a night as any?


Why do YOU do it?

October 25, 2011

This afternoon I had a really great discussion with a good friend of mine about the goals are reasons for running.  It was really interesting and brought out a lot of self-realizations and just interesting points.  So I thought maybe I’d share.

Anyone who knows me (well, the prior to October me) will attest that “a runner” is one of the last things I would define myself as.  If anything, I was a sprinter – years of softball with an emphasis on bursts of speeds vs. long distance running had me enjoying my time in the weight room more than on the track.   Fast forward 8 years and I’m suddenly shocking my friends by bringing up the possibility of this race or that race.  I heard “its like I don’t even KNOW you anymore!!” today.  This morning I continued training for the 8k with another 3.5 mile run on the treadmill – this time a workout, vs this weekend’s pleasant long run.  And let me tell ya – it was DEFINITELY far from pleasant.  It had me once again convinced I’d tumble off the treadmill in tears when my workout was done.  Now, a small disclaimer here:  I’m not THAT much of a wimp, I use these workouts to incorporate some high intensity speed bursts to try and be a stronger faster runner on top of upping the distance.  Which brings me to my first point, I only get one workout a morning.  I don’t want to leave it thinking “well, yeah – I went, but I definitely could have pushed myself harder”.  I want to come out of there going “that.sucked.  I am NEVER running again” and then feel proud when I lace up the sneaks for the next time.  To me, training is just as much mental as it is physical.   But seriously guys, how many times have we reached a point of discomfort while running, lifting or any workout really and thought “I can’t anymore”.  It would be so easy to stop and eventually be dissatisfied.  But the really, truly amazing thing is – when we push past that mental block and finish the workout.  We could be gasping at the end, red in the face, dripping with sweat, close to throwing up or tears, heck even all of the above.  In the end, what it comes down to, is something that was very eloquently put by my friend in her email:  “I can keep running, but I really don’t want to”.  Or in a slightly more positive way “I don’t want to keep going, but I know I can!”.  I’ve found that the more I run, the more that feeling of “I am NEVER running again” after a workout lasts for a shorter and shorter period of time, while that endorphin rush is starting to begin earlier and last longer.  Which leads me to my next point.  Why am I running? Why am I doing this?  I know some people who’s philosophy is “Well if you make yourself run faster, you’ll get the workout done faster and then you can move on with your life”.  While there IS some facet of truth to this, the faster you get your workout done, the faster you’re done with your workout.  But is that really why I want to be working out?  To obsess and burn the greatest number of calories and justify a glass of wine at the end of the day? As a female, I think I am particularly susceptible to this line of thinking.  But what I’ve found, is that having started to train for these races, my goal has no longer become “I’ll go until I burn this many calories” its become “I’m going to hit that distance!”  I’ve learned to enjoy my workouts for what they are, becoming a stronger person, physically, mentally and emotionally.  And this isn’t just isolated to running, I’ve started enjoying trail rides on my bike, I’ve gotten back into lifting.  All of these things, when I finish a tough goal I’ve set for myself – I feel amazing.  I’m constantly smiling, I feel strong and throw compliments at random strangers just because it makes me happy to make someone else smile.  I’m more self-confident, and here’s a secret guys, I haven’t stepped on a scale once in the past 2 months.  I don’t know what I weigh.  I can’t tell you how many calories I’ve burnt in the past 3 weeks with my workouts.  I CAN tell you how I’ve improved my 3 mile time and can now run a 10 minute mile for 3 consistent miles without gasping for air.  I can tell you that I’ve upped my time at 7 mph from 1 minute, to 3 minutes to 5 minutes while in my run.  My goals have changed, my perspective has changed.  My goal for eating is to sit down to something that is colorful, tasty, was fun to prepare, nutritious and able to fuel my body the right way to get on with the day.  On its own, my focus has shifted from a less healthy thought process and the emphasis is now on FIT and strong vs. skinny.  Yikes! When did this happen!?   But nowI have a better idea of why I’m waking up to get to the gym, why I’m lifting those weights even though my arms are starting to tremble (bye bye arm flab!), why suddenly I want to know what makes the things I put into my smoothie or pasta dish so good for me.

So now what?  My 5k is in just over 3 weeks.  My 8k shortly after.  What do I do next?  Do I say “ok, I’ve done that” and just trust myself to keep up with workouts without a clear, tangible goal in mind to achieve?  I dunno.  Frankly, I’m not sure I trust myself that much.  There’s a half marathon by my home town at the end of March.   I dunno guys.  Can I do it?  It’s a significantly longer distance than anything I’ve run yet.  I know I know, its in MARCH.  I haven’t even run my first 5k yet.  On one hand, there is plenty of time for training.  On the other hand – its scary a little bit – no?  But, I’m trying to decide what I think it is, that’s more daunting to me – the idea of running that far or of running for that LONG. I think, that I’m going to wait until after my 8k and see how I feel after finishing that.  There will be plenty of time to register if its something that’s important to me and will give me enough time to train effectively.  I’d like to think that after December 11th, I’ll be coming home or waking up the next morning and putting down that registration fee.  I’m really starting to enjoy the benefits of achieving these goals that DON’T have to do with the word “skinny”.   No matter what it is.   So what do you think?  Have you guys tended to accomplish a goal and then move on to something different or try and keep improving and stick with it past the goal?  Creating new goals along the way?   Should I run that half-marathon?  Why do you put on the sneakers?

To bring it all together, I was reading a little article on that was talking about working out with your dog and I found one point that was particularly meaningful to me and seemed to really hit home with how I was feeling.  Lemme share:

“The Stats Aren’t Important

During my workouts, I used to worry about how many calories I burned or the distance I ran. But the calories and miles mean nothing to Murphy. He focuses only on the fun stuff — the sights, sounds, and smells of our exercise. Murphy reminds me that the best workouts are the ones during which we don’t worry about the stats.”

Murphy is a pug.  Which only helps with the mental image of a little dog just HAPPY to be out, wagging his little tail, jumping around, loving spending time with his owner.  Now, I am not a pug (sad face), I don’t have a tail that I wag and I don’t really have an owner, persay.  But this idea is what I want my workouts to embody.  I want to get out there and just be happy doing what I’m doing and feeling how strong and amazing my body can be and end the day with more tally’s in the smile column.

Whew.  That was deep.  Sorry about that, but it felt like something that was pretty important to write and share.  And for some comical/culinary relief:

First up.  Garfield.  He rules my life, he’s got some awesome little nuggets of wisdom.  Like this one.   And its true, life IS totally a roller coaster sometimes.  But this comic made me laugh so hard, because sometimes, you just need to not take life so seriously, I think.

courtesy of mah computer screen (try for the real deal).

For dinner – the boy requested a pasta primavera of sorts.  Not too particularly challenging, but as it was a vegetarian meal I DIDN’T have to force feed him (I kid, I kid), I happily agreed.  By the time this dish was done – I felt like I was back at college with a healthier version of the pasta bar at school.  Here’s How:

take whatever veggies you want.  Here I chose the last of a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, peas,  some asparagus (obsession continues, I know), zucchini, squash and GARLIC (in the words of Brandon “NEED MORE GARLIC”) and saute with a little canola oil (or whatever oil you choose) until the veggies are done.

While you’re doing that – boil some pasta.  I combo’d some elbow and rigatoni to get enough pasta together.

Toss it together with a sprinkling of garlic powder (told you), sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, loaded up the oregano, some feta cheese and parm.   and a drizzle of truffle oil, enough to make the stuff sort’ve glide together.  (Can pasta and veggies glide together? Who knows…)

The final product is something a little like this:

  which by the way, should fall under the “delicious” category.

So now that I have poured out my workout soul to you, shared a little of how I develop my life philosophies (he he he) and showed you an embarrassingly simple but healthy, delicious dinner, I’m going to go wag my tail at something.  Simple pleasures for the win.



Did everyone have a good weekend?  Mine was buuuuusy.   But busy is good, right?  I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with the last two days of training for week one.  Saturday wasn’t so hard, took my book down to the gym and had a good bike workout for cross training – but not so intense that I couldn’t turn a few pages in the book i’ve been reading.  If you haven’t jumped on the David McCullough bandwagon yet, I highly recommend it.  I’m reading his biography on Theodore Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback and the writing is far from dry and monotonous, like a lot of biographies can be.  I also got in a nice, steady and enjoyable (!?) “long run” outside.  I felt like I had the amazing fall morning all to myself.

Unfortunately, the downside to a fun and busy weekend is that I feel like I got absolutely NO sleep and of course, indulged a bit on food and sugar.  While I don’t feel guilty, exactly, I’m definitely feeling the physical consequences, sluggish, SUPER tired and just plain ol’ blah.  My training schedule calls for Mondays being a strength and stretch day, so I didn’t bother getting up early to go to the gym – especially since I wanted to take some time and learn a little more about putting together a lifting routine. Without having the benefit of some text books, I spent some time this afternoon learning about different muscle groups and the exercises that target those muscle groups.  When doing my lifting, since I’m only going to be doing it about twice a week, I decided to focus on some full body lifting circuits.  Where I did lifts that targeted more than one muscle groups at a time and tried to get a well-rounded workout.  That means targeting my legs (quads, hamstrings, gluts and calves), my arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders (deltoids all sorts of ways and the rotator cuff), and my core (abs and obliques).  There are a ton of different exercises to target these different muscle groups and today, I tried to hit a few for each major muscle, using just my limited dumbbell weights here at home (and believe me, by the time I was done, I was pretty sure I didn’t need anything else).  The last thing I did was make sure I snuck in a lower back exercise.  From what I read though, its pretty important to not push it on these, but still something important to have.   So here’s what I did:

Lifting Circuit

DB Squats (3×10):  Gluts, Quads, Hams

Dead lifts (3×10):  Hamstrings, Lower back

Pushups (3×10):  Back, delts and chest

Internal Rotation (3×10): rotary cuff

Single leg Calf Raises (3×10):  calves (duh?)

Side plank bridges (3×10):  Obliques

DB Bench Press (3×10): Chest

External Rotation (3×10):  rotator cuff

V-Ups (3×10): abs

Arnold Shoulder Press (3×10): anterior deltoid

DB flies (3×10): Posterior deltoid

Lat raises (3×10): Lateral deltoid

Curls (3×10):  Biceps

Tricep extensions (3×10): triceps

I know it looks like a lot – but I wanted to get the most out of my workout.  And lemme tell ya – my upper body is feelin it.  And those V-ups?  Yeah – these puppies almost had me cryin.  I’m not ashamed to admit it 🙂 I’m out of practice with lifting and its definitely a little harder when lifting from home – but so much nice when you can do your workout without having to bundle up and head out to the gym.

Not much on the food front to share with you tonight – we didn’t get grocery shopping in until this evening, so it was a simple veggie burger and homemade sweet potato fries kind of night.  I have a busy week with random guests showing up and then a parental unit visit for the weekend – which means I am planning menus! I think I have a pretty good one planned and it features a dessert recipe from one of my favorite blogs   But what I CAN leave you with tonight, are some pictures from my weekend, which included a play downtown, errands with my mom and dinner at my parents house.  My mom roasted some root veggies (wonder where I got it from…) and I roasted some asparagus (yes, again).  My dad grilled up some fish for the rest of the family and I noshed on a “chicken” cutlet that was breaded with some grueyere.  While I’m definitely trying more vegan recipes, I figured I’d take it easy on the fam for the night and let that slide a bit.  🙂 Dinner wasn’t anything insanely special, but it was at home and just what I needed.

happy almost Halloween!

Try as I might, my veggies NEVER look this good getting ready to be rinsed. Its a mom thing 🙂

because…who doesn’t need a reminder that sometimes happiness is in the little things.