Monday, January 31, 2011

Creamy Asparagus Soup for a Blah Monday

Lifting on Blah Monday
Today I definitely had a case of the Monday Blahs. It didn't help that the skies were heavy and gray today. Tomorrow it's supposed to storm and then get down into the teens. So much for early spring huh?

I had actually contemplated trying to do tomorrow's training run today just so I could get it done outside. But I had to be realistic, I had a long run Saturday and another 4 miles yesterday. I needed to do something other than run today.

So, I hit the gym for some upper body weights and a short stint on the elliptical. I did 10 minutes on the elliptical to warm up then I went with back and chest, then abs

Assisted pullups - 10
Pushups - 24

TS#1 - 3x8
Underhand barbell rows
Flat bench flyes
Flat bench dumbbell press

Assisted chinups - 10
Pushups with feet on bench - 16

TS#2
Single-arm rows
Incline bench flyes
Incline bench dumbbell press

SS#1

Pullovers
Staggered chest press

I did a variety of ab work including some stability ball abs and weighted ab exercises before finishing up on the elliptical for another 10 minutes.

I'll admit that I was starting to dread the workout halfway through the day. But I knew that once I got to the gym and got started, I'd be good to go. Was it the best workout ever? No, but it felt good to get the blood pumping at least. Sometimes you just got to get in there and get it done.

Am I Nuts?
During lunch, I got the ingredients into the bread machine for some whole-grain French bread. It's something I should have made yesterday. I really wasn't sure how well it'd turn out with the delayed timer setting, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I suddenly decided I wanted to try to make a creamy asparagus soup for dinner and just had to have fresh bread.

We had a bunch of asparagus that needed to be used. I had originally planned to have it with quinoa as a side, but soup just sounded comforting. It wasn't necessarily a cold day, just plain dreary. Kind of a mopey day actually. I decided to try to come up with an asparagus soup at the last minute. I mean really? Working all day, hitting the gym, then deciding I had to have fresh bread to go with a soup I've never made? Please someone help me.

Creamy Asparagus and Potato Soup
Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and diced
5-6 new potatoes, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
32 oz no-salt vegetable broth
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 package firm silken tofu
To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, lemon pepper spice blend, lemon juice, coriander power, curry powder, ginger powder

Directions:
In large pot, saute onions, garlic, potatoes, asparagus until begin to soften then add in broth, peas, and spices. Simmer until potatoes are soft.

Transfer to a blender in small batches and puree adding in the tofu to one of the batches. Transfer back to pot and continue to simmer until flavors have all melded and soup is desired consistency. Re-season as needed and add more liquid if needed.
 

This turned out really well. I was rather impressed. The flavors were mild, but not bland or blah. I topped it with some tempeh bacon, but roasted chickpeas would have been really good as well. Oh, and the bread was some of the softest I've managed since making the original recipe into a whole-grain recipe.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Good Run & Good Times with Friends

Housewarming Recap
Just a quick recap from the housewarming I mentioned yesterday. The new homeowner, Gwynne (seen in the middle) was very appreciative. Cris (the gorgeous blond) is the one who really put it all together though. I forgot to take pictures of the spread. But everything looked great and I don't think there was any of my hummus or Black Bean Salsa left. Even the not-quite-so right cereal bars were devoured. 
 

I will say that I was so worn out from the long run that I was worried I'd have to be leaving at like 8pm. But I guess I caught a second wind and we were there until about 11, which is beyond late for us. I guess that's what chatting it up with girlfriends will do for your energy levels. Good times with good friends is good for the soul.


More Running 
The weather forecast for today had originally been low- to mid-50's and rainy. But when we set out for our 4-miler, it was sunny and 64 degrees. My legs felt a bit heavy today after yesterday's long run. But they weren't exactly sore and the 4-miler did help to loosen them up. We took advantage of the weather and put the top down on the ride home. I just love having the wind in my hair like that.

After the run, we both stretched and rolled on the Triggerpoint kit before quickly getting cleaned up and fed. We had plans to see Black Swan with another couple today. It's really rare that I look forward to going to the movie theater, but we were told last night that we HAD to see this one in the theater. So, that's what we did.


Sunday Movie
I don't even know where to begin with the movie. Wow. Talk about intense. It also made me a bit wistful about dancing. Ahhh to be preparing my pointe shoes - yes, I really did cut out part of the shank, bang them on the ground, wet them, scratch them up as soon as I got my new pair home. And then just getting lost in the music and choreography. I guess it's similar to getting lost in a long run. Anyway, I'm still processing the movie. I think it was fantastic and very well done. Just really intense. Have you seen it? Did you like it?

While we were in the theater, that's when the rain finally rolled in. Thankfully it wasn't pouring down when we left, but it was definitely cooler and darker out. At least part of the day was gorgeous though. I'll take half of a gorgeous day, no complaints.

So, I kind of made myself sick on popcorn and M&Ms at the theater. Not exactly sure what we'll be having for dinner. I'm assuming it'll be something super light, like soup perhaps. If it's anything exciting, I'll be sure to post tomorrow. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the last bit of my weekend. I hope you are doing the same!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Day to Smile

Felt Like a Spring Run
Today was an absolutely, unbelievably gorgeous day. Seventy-three degrees in January??? I'll gladly take it. Jason had some errands to run and he wanted to bike rather than run, so I headed to the river trails solo. Of course, it was packed down there so I was anything but alone. In fact, when Jason got home he asked if everyone in the city was down there when I was as well. Yep.

I got in a really good 9.5 miles today. No IT band pain at all, but my piriformis on my left side did start to hurt around 5 miles into the run, but nothing sidelining.

The only big fail was that I ran out of water and tried to stop at two different water fountains that were shut off. Not cool at all when it's warm out, you really need to take in a shot blok, and you have no water and are more than a mile from your car. I may have to get a larger water bottle or see if I can stand running with a water belt. 

This could have been a fail...I was running in new shoes today too. Probably not my smartest move - running 9.5 miles in new shoes, but the tread on my other shoes was pretty much gone on the outer edges. I'm glad to report that the new shoes felt great - Brooks Ghost 3.

Smiling Kind of Saturday
I was super excited to be able to put the top down on the car for the drive back to the house. A girl could get used to this kind of weather! I got home and decided to try a Vega Whole Food Optimizer drink. Our Whole Foods finally started carrying the Vega brand, so I picked up a packet of the Vanilla Chai. It was ok, maybe I just didn't know what to expect. But I love that it's all plant-based. After the Vega drink, I spent about 30 minutes stretching and rolling on my TriggerPoint Therapy Kit .

So what can make for a better Saturday when you already have beautiful weather and had a great run? How about a blogger gift box waiting for you. I recently won a giveaway from the incredibly kind Candice @ ChiaSeedMe. This most certainly brought a smile to my face. She included a handmade note card with the kindest words, homemade super charge me vegan cookies (delish by the way), Prirates Booty, a carrot cake flavored Larabar, Alba lib balm (a girl can never have too much lip balm) and a stress relief candle. Candice - you're the best!!!
 
We have a housewarming to go to this evening. I was asked to bring a couple of things. I made up a roasted red bell pepper hummus, some Black Bean & Corn Salsa, and I tried to make Sarena's Peanut Butter & Honey Cereal Bars as well.

I had some puffed rice cereal that Jason bought randomly and tried using that. and tossed in some chocolate chips. I don't think I pressed it down tight enough though, as mine came out a bit crumbly. Sarena's definitely looked prettier. I doubt anyone is going to mind though.

So what made you smile this Saturday?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blogger Date & Fun Facts Friday - What Running Has Taught Me

Gorgeous Day for Blogger Lunch Date
Today was another beautiful, and unseasonably warm day here. It would have been ideal for a run, but today was a much-need, well-deserved rest day for me. At least tomorrow is supposed to be another really nice day. My longer run is scheduled for Sunday, but it's supposed to rain and cool back down. So, I'm switching up my plan and getting in the long run tomorrow on the prettier day. Smart huh ;-)

Today I finally had a blogger lunch date! I've only met two other bloggers, but I felt like that was less of a blogger meet-up really because I was meeting Jessica and Jolene for the Cathe Road Trip. I swear it feels like there are no bloggers in Arkansas, or at least not where I live. Anyway, I finally met a local blogger - Jenny @ Vegan and So Forth.

We've been trying to schedule this meet-up for some time, but you know how schedules work sometimes. We decided to eat lunch at a place down in the river market - 4 Square Gifts. It's only 1 of 2 vegetarian/vegan only places I know of here. One is a food truck of all things. Jason and I had tried this spot out once before and really enjoyed it. Jenny had never been, so I thought it'd be the perfect spot.

I got their Chickpea Wrap, which is Indian spiced chickpeas, hummus, tofu, and spinach (supposedly had carrots, but didn't see any in mine). Jenny got their Hummus & Tofu Wrap (which is what I had the first time I was there).  I was really pleased with my wrap; the chickpeas had great flavors. I may give this filling a try at home. It'd be great over a salad too.
 

Just a fun observation about meeting up with a fellow blogger - you're not the only one pulling out a camera to photograph your meal, and it's not awkward when you request to take pictures of each other or together.

Unfortunately, we only had an hour. I feel like we could have sat there and chatted for a few more hours just trying to catch up and get to know it each other. Plus, it was absolutely gorgeous out. I guess that just gives us an excuse to get together another time. Hopefully the next time we can bring the husbands along too. They both cycle, so they already have something in common other than being married to two fantastic ladies ;-)

Fun Facts Friday - (More) What Running Has Taught Me
As I alluded to yesterday, I had a great run. I was totally in the moment of running, just enjoying the fresh air, the sunshine, my surroundings (though everything is brown and dead this time of year). I

 guess in some ways, that's also a runner's high.  The run was tough because of the intervals at the end, but those intervals made me realize how capable I am, how strong I am if I get out of my head and let it happen. So for Fun Facts Friday, I thought I'd do another edition of what running has taught me (especially yesterday's run).
  • Runner's high - it does exist and there are at least 3 types: The slap-happy, drunk on life high, the I could run forever, life is perfect high, and the post-run endorphins that just make you feel awake.

  • I'm sadistic - I kind of like hill intervals and pickups (speed work really). It's hard as hell, the time flies by, and I feel like a real badass (even if I'm not).

  • I'm solar powered - I need sunshine for a good run. Ok, maybe not "need" for real, but man are my runs better when the temps are higher and the sun is shining. 

  • I'm a speed demon - from driving to running, I like going faster rather than slower. Now, I'm not race-winning fast, let's not pretend here. But I dread having to go super slow. Yesterday I averaged 8:30 minute/mile for my 6-mile steady state. Too fast to sustain for 13.2 miles. I know I must learn to slow the heck down so I can make it for longer distances and not wipe out my energy reserves. 

  • I have a split personality - I can't decide if I prefer to run alone or with a partner. Yesterday I was looking forward to running with Jason, but he couldn't join me. My heart really sank. But once I got out there and got going, it was freaking awesome. Sometimes I LOVE being alone running, but other times I really miss having Jason at my side. I also sometimes with I had a girlfriend to run with. I see pairs of girls running and kind of get a little lonely feeling then as well. 
What are some things you've learned about yourself from running (or from whatever exercise you most prefer)?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fantastic Run & Delish BBQ Portobello & Tempeh

Nice Day for a Run
Today turned out to be a sunny, warm day (well, warm for January). It was in the upper 50's so that may as well be 70 degrees right about now. I had a long-ish run scheduled for today that included some intervals. Here's what the weather looked like when I set out for my run.

It was simply too nice outside not to take the run to the river trails (even with the wind gusts), plus, the Big Dam Bridge provides the perfect incline for the incline intervals the run called for.

6 miles, 4 x 1:30 incline intervals, 6 gentle pickups

I had a really really good run. For the first time in ages at the turnaround I didn't feel like I had been smacked by a wall of wind. The wind actually felt nice as I had on long sleeves so was getting little warm. The 6 miles really was just a blur. It flew by as I just bee-bopped along with my music, soaking up the sunshine. I felt really strong.

The incline intervals were no joke. A minute and half feels long a long as time going up a hill. But man did they make me feel like a serious badass. I have to say that after the inclines, the pickups on flat ground seemed like a cinch. Funny how that works. I imagine my hams and quads will be talking back to me tomorrow though.

I got home and spent some time stretching and rolling out with my TriggerPoint Therapy Kit before getting cleaned up.

Pre-Made Dinner
I was relatively pooped from the workout and super thankful that I had taken the time to get most of tonight's dinner finished up yesterday. All I had to do was throw some sweet potatoes in the oven for a side to my BBQ Portobello and Tempeh.

BBQ Portobello and Tempeh
Ingredients:
1 large portobello, thinly sliced then diced
1/2 white onion, thinly diced (thin slices then cut into smaller pieces, not necessarily fine dice)
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 package tempeh, crumbled
splash liquid smoke
BBQ sauce of your choice (we found one that is vegan with no high fructose syrup)
Splash of hot sauce of your choice (optional)

Directions:
In large skillet, saute onion, garlic, and portobello until the portobello begins to soften. Add in the tempeh and allow that to begin to crisp. Stir in BBQ sauce and hot sauce and allow to simmer.

Serve on a bun or in a wrap with slaw. This would actually be really good on a salad as well to be quite honest. It was just as tasty cold as it was reheated. I have a feeling this will become a summertime favorite for us (just add in some grilled corn and veggies).

Now we're going to relax on the couch and watch The Grown Ups. We did the Red Box deal for the first time because I saw a free rental code. Normally we do Netflix, but the two movies we have in are both in the 2+ hour time range. That isn't happening tonight. So short, funny (I hope), mindless.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Productive Wednesday - Even Made Tomorrow's Dinner

Weights & Elliptical on Wednesday 
Today I had thought about running 3-4 miles of tomorrow's planned run making tomorrow's run with intervals shorter. But, my legs were against that idea. So, I decided to hit the gym after work (despite the fact that it was way to nice out to be inside). I wanted to get back done, and had thought I might do chest as well to be done with weights for the week. In the end, I just did back and abs. I started with 20 minutes on the elliptical to warm up before hitting the weights. I really only planned on 10, but someone was using the barbell I needed.

This is yet another tweaked version of my last back workout from Cathe's STS rotation. It was done at 4 sets of 8 reps at my 1RM.

Pullovers
Single-arm rows
Underhand barbell rows
(I omitted the single-arm horizontal rows)


Assisted pullups - 2x6 (I tried to go as light as I could with the assist)

I also did some ab work before finishing up with about 5 minutes more on the elliptical before calling it done. All in all, it was a pretty good workout and even the elliptical time seemed to go by quickly today. Gotta love that.

Two Meals Made
I had been thinking about one dish I had wanted to make tonight, but then realized that there was some kabocha squash already roasted up in the fridge that had to be used right away. I mean, it would be a huge food fail to let that go to waste.

So I actually ended up making dinner for tomorrow (BBQ Portobello and Tempeh, will post recipe tomorrow) and a Chiptole Kabocha and Black Bean Chili for tonight's dinner. It was really hardly any extra effort to get tomorrow's meal done while I was getting the chili made. Tomorrow will be a later workout night, so a quick meal is going to come in handy.

Chipotle Kabocha and Black Bean Chili
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 package tempeh, crumbled
2-3 tbsp minced garlic
16 oz no-salt vegetable broth
1 no-beef bouilon cube
16 oz water
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
1.5-2 cups black beans
2-3 chiptole peppers in adobo, minced
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, cilantro, splash liquid smoke
1/2 kabocha squash, roasted and diced*
1-2 tbsp tomato pasted

Directions:
In large pot, saute onions, bell peppers, garlic, and tempeh until tempeh is browned and onions and peppers are beginning to soften. Add in remaining ingredients up to the kabocha. Let simmer until veggies are cooked then stir in the kabocha and tomato paste and allow to simmer until kabocha is warmed through and chili has thickened to desired consistency.

*Note, you can also use sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Additionally, if you don't have them pre-cooked, just cube them smaller and add them in at the beginning of the cooking.

 

Well, if you like kabocha squash and you like chili, um, you can't help but like this! It's such a nice, comforting meal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Running and no Whining on Tofu Tuesday

No Whining Today
First off I want to thank everyone for your super kind words of support and encouragement regarding my little temper tantrum/rant. I know that so many of you understand and get it. Thanks for any advice as well. It's much much much appreciated. I promise to not go overboard being a big brat about this training.

Today I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. I had no idea how long it would take, but I knew I probably wouldn't get back to work until after 3 pm (and I leave at 4). So I went ahead and took the rest of the afternoon off and that worked out to my favor for the run today. Thankfully the sun also came out finally. It was windy, but the sun made it feel so much nicer out.

I almost decided to take my run to the gym because of the wind, but I knew the sunshine would make me feel so much better. So, I took my run down to the river trails. The half marathon training plan called for 3 miles, 3x(2:00, 2:30) athletic intervals, 2 miles. This ended up being an 8 mile run with an overall average pace of 8:37, which is shocking to me. I guess those intervals really make up time from the slower steady-state miles.

This was actually a really good run for mentally and physically. I think the sunshine was what the doctor ordered. It did start to cool off quickly though as soon as the sun started to set. And for some reason, I almost always seem to run into the head winds for the return half. Oh well, resistance training right?

When I got home, I spent about 30 minutes stretching and rolling on the TriggerPoint Therapy Kit .
Oh, and I'm super excited to have found both a website and phone app called MapMyRun. Now no more guessing my mileage if Jason isn't with me ;-)

Tofu Tuesday
Sunday I went ahead and roasted up some spaghetti squash, shredded it, and had it in the fridge waiting on me for tonight's dinner. Last night I started pressing tofu, and this morning I threw together a tomato-based marinade for a Crusty Italian Tofu to go with a Tomato, Capers, Cannellini Spaghetti Squash.

Crusty Italian Tofu
Ingredients:
2 tbsp tomato paste
Balsamic vinegar
No-salt vegetable broth
To taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano
1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed
Panko bread crumbs
Nutritional yeast flakes, basil, parsley (for panko)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients up to the tofu, then let the tofu marinate for a minimum of one hour.

Before baking, mix some panko with nutritional yeast flakes, parsley and basil and dip the tofu into the panko to form a crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then flip and bake until crisp.

(Note: next time I will ad a little more broth and balsamic vinegar so it will soak into the tofu more)

Tomato, Caper, Cannellini Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients:
1/2 spaghetti squash (already baked, shredded)
Capers (to tast)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1.5 cups cannellini beans
1 can no-salt tomatoes with liquid
To taste: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast flakes
Optional: white wine and 1tbsp tomato paste

Directions:
In skillet, saute onion and garlic until soft. Add in remaining ingredients. If you want to create a bit of a sauce, add in the white wine and small amount of tomato paste.

 

I was really happy with how the tofu turned out - super crunchy. Like I said in the note, I'll add just a bit more liquid to the marinade though. Now, I will say that this dish could be a bit time-consuming, but if you pre-plan and prep everything, it's a breeze to throw together.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waging War with Crockpot & Pissing and Moaning

Heather vs The Crockpot
Ok so you remember yesterday that I mentioned starting a crockpot dinner? Well, we ended up having leftover sushi instead. It's not because the crockpot dinner was inedible, it's because it was taking WAY too long. Yes, started it at 10 am and it was still not ready by 7pm. Clearly I need to learn to follow a few crockpot recipes or read up on cooking times before just coming up with recipes off the cuff.

I had decided to try to make Vegan Crockpot Red Beans and Rice. I say try because I've never really made it. Jason used to make a red beans and rice dish for us eons ago, but he couldn't remember what he used to do. So, here's my version, with lots of notes on improvement at the end.

Vegan Crockpot Red Beans and Rice
Ingredients:
1 bag red beans soaked  overnight
1/2 white onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 carrots, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water**
2 cups no-sodium vegetable broth
1 not-beef bouillon cube
Liquid smoke, several splashes
To taste: pepper, red pepper, chili powder, old bay seasoning, oregano, parsley
1 1/2 cups brown rice**
2 Tofurkey Kielbasa (or other vegan faux sausage)
4-6 slices tempeh bacon (optional)
Salt, to taste

Directions:
Put all ingredients up to the "sausages" into the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. Then cook for 1 hours on high then lightly mash beans before adding in remaining ingredients and cook another hour on high.

**Notes**
  • I suggest cooking on high for 4-5 hours then smashing and adding in remaining ingredients. It took longer than I anticipated to cook the beans.
  • I suggest using less liquid and cooking the rice separately. If it's not thick enough, add in a cornstarch slurry instead of trying to cook the rice in with the beans. I added in the rice in order to thicken it up, this of course added to the cooking time.
At least dinner was already made for tonight right? It looked terrible, but it tasted good, and that's what matters the most.
    Monday Confessional
    So, today was one of those "gotta peel myself out of the bed" kind of mornings. I had zero energy. The dark certainly didn't help. I will be so glad when it starts to get lighter earlier. I had thought I might try to get shoulders and triceps done at lunch. But I just wasn't in the mood, period. I had zero desire to put on workout clothes, to heft a heavy weight, to even break a sweat at all. So instead I went home, changed over laundry and we watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory.

    Confession time: that made me feel lazy. Yes, I realize this is irrational. I'll be the first to admit that. But I felt flat out lazy for just sitting on my lunch break. More confessions? Ok, I didn't want to do any workout at all today period. I had thought that I might end up finding the energy to get in the weights and abs after work. But you know what, I said screw it. I haven't done abs since Thursday so I'm ticked about that too.

    It most definitely wasn't easy to just say screw it. I am having a major internal battle going on. I know that if I am so unmotivated to workout, then I need to just call it a rest day. But then I have that part of me that is saying, "You're just being lazy, just get started. Oh, and remember you want Friday as a rest day so suck it up." I have had so many tell me how inspiring I am. This certainly doesn't sound inspiring huh? See, I'm totally human!

    More confessions...I know that many of you have trained for half and full marathons before. Some of you did so under the radar with zero complaints. So this makes admitting the next part really bad, like I'm just a whimp. But I feel like whining, moaning, and throwing a big-ass fit.

    I'm exhausted feeling (and my mileage isn't even up that high yet), I don't want to freaking run outside in the damn cold and wind one more time, I don't want to do another 3 miles + speed drills + 2 miles training day. *Picture stomping feet, clinched fists, bratty child*

    So there, I said it. I am losing motivation steam big time. I am doubting my ability to run the race both for mental and physical reasons. I obviously need a big fat attitude adjustment today. Definitely not the ideal way to start off the week huh?

    Weights Done
    Oh, and back to the screw it part...I lied. I ended up getting home and hitting the weights and getting in abs. Even better, I had a really strong workout. I did completed the final STS workout for biceps, shoulders, and triceps. Today was done as trisets (since I didn't split it out) of 4 x 8 at 85% of my 1RM.

    TS#1
    Dumbbell curls
    Overhead shoulder press
    Lying triceps extensions

    TS#2
    Hammer curls (in lieu of incline curls)
    Seated lateral raises
    Double-arm overhead extension (in lieu of single-arm)

    TS#3
    Concentration curls
    Seated rear delt flye
    Double-arm kickbacks (in lieu of cross-body kickbacks)

    I did abs from Cathe's High Reps DVD using 1# weighted gloves for added resistance. So now all I have left from STS is back and chest. Then I guess I will start to re-think my weights and the type of weight training I can handle with the half training.

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Sushi Saturday Success & Lazy Sunday

    Sushi Saturday Success 
    So last night I finally did it. I finally made sushi! Well, ok, I only did one roll and let Jason do the rest of them, but that's not the point. We were like kids in a candy store coming up with combos to make. We went a little overboard, but it was so fun.

    The ingredients we used to make a variety of combos were: Kabocha squash, portobellos, asparagus, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and, avocado.

    I also made some spring rolls with a Spicy Sweet Peanut Dipping Sauce and some baked tofu cubes.We obviously made wayyyyy too much. For the filling for the spring rolls, I used a broccoli slaw mix (it was a manager special) and combined with basically the same ingredients in the dipping sauce but also added in some vegan tom yum.

    Spicy Sweet Peanut Dipping Sauce
    Ingredients:
    Tamari sauce
    PB2, approximately 1 tbps (could use creamy peanut butter)
    Honey
    Sriracha chili sauce
    Rice wine vinegar

    Directions:
    Whisk together all ingredients to desired consistency. (Note, start with less on the wet ingredients then add in more depending on how thick or runny you prefer.)

     
     
     

    This is most definitely something we'll be doing again. We really had fun coming up with the different fillings and have some more fun ideas to try out. Guess I can go ahead and invest in the bamboo rolling mat now ;-)

    Running on a Lazy Sunday
    This morning I was sort of lazy. I stayed in PJs until we left for our run around 11:30. But I did get dinner started in the crockpot (posting recipe tomorrow) so that meant dinner was taken care of early on and that can be such a relief sometimes.

    Since yesterday's run was a longer one, today we planned on doing 4. This put me at the estimated weekly mileage total for the training plan (24 miles) even if I did completely redo what had been scheduled for this weekend. We ended up doing 4.1 miles at an average 8:21 pace.

    I won't lie and say it was just a super fantastic run. I struggled a little bit today with my breathing, so it felt like we were going even harder/faster. It was definitely not sunny and pretty today either. Kind of gloomy, but at least it wasn't terribly cold and not rainy as predicted.

    Overall, we had a pretty uneventful Sunday. That can be a good thing though right? Basically that meant that we were really lazy. We had a super late lunch (again). I did manage to get laundry washed (not folded of course). At least we have workout clothes for the week. I swear that's the majority of what I wash these days.

    There are so many things on the to-do list that I should have at least attempted to tackle, but I feel no guilt in being lazy this weekend for a change. Though, I did also at least bake spaghetti squash to use in a couple of dishes this week. So not completely a bum right?

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Lazy Sets in After Long Run

    Pizza Friday Shared
    Last night was Pizza Friday, of course. But we actually shared the occasion with another couple for a change. I may need to invest in a larger bread machine though. I had to plan out the timing on getting two pizza doughs done. But it all worked out perfectly. We had so much fun too. I made two pizzas, but did three different options total.

    Veggie & "Sausage" - onions, red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, Tofurky Keilbasa

    Greek - roasted red bell peppers, artichokes, banana peppers, spinach, sundried tomatoes, seitan, feta

    Buffalo "Chicken" - onions, red and green bell peppers, portobello, seitan, and BBQ and hot sauces

    Our friends really seemed to enjoy the homemade pizzas and didn't even mind the vegetarian additions like the faux sausage, seitan, and Daiya.

    Running Plan Redo
    The half marathon training plan called for a 5K today. We did not sign up for any race, and quite frankly, the idea of running 3.2 miles at race pace was rather laughable in my mind. I know that the crazy intervals I did earlier in the week were in preparation for a 5K today, but I was simply worn out.

    Ok, I say worn out but then will tell you that rather than doing a speedy 3.2 miles, we did a slower-paced 8.5 miles. It's crazy when 8.5 miles sounds more appealing than a puke-worthy, fast 3.2 miles. It was a gorgeous day here. Finally some sunshine. The temps were hovering around 43 degrees when we set out for the run. That felt almost hot after running in sub 30 degree temps. For me, it was a really really great run, both mentally and physically. The first 4 miles seemed to just fly by. This was a complete 180 from last weekend's long run. I definitely need some of the mentally strong runs.

    As soon as we got home, we both spent time using the TriggerPoint Therapy Kit and stretching. I am so happy that using the roller is no longer so painful that I could cry. This means my IT band is definitely healthier and this gives me hope that the half marathon is really and truly doable for me.

    After we got cleaned up we decided to have a late lunch at a place called Canon Grill. It's nothing spectacular, but it's got a nice atmosphere and it's relaxing. I brought along some Quorn nuggets in a baggy and just got a garden salad with salsa and then added in my veggie protein. I used to feel so weird about doing things like that, but I don't anymore. Oh, and it's cheaper too ;-)

    Case of the Lazies
    We were both feeling rather drained after the run, so PJs were on by 4:30. I feel like I've lost some endurance for recovery after the longer runs. I feel more like I did 10 miles rather than 8. Anyway, I feel a bit lazy that I didn't really get much done around the house, but there's always tomorrow for that. And tomorrow's weather is supposed to be crappy again (cold, rain, chance of possible flurries) so I have a feeling I can get a lot accomplished.

    If we can muster the energy later, dinner is supposed to be homemade sushi (finally). I have been wanting to make sushi for ages and just never seem to get up the nerve to try it. So this week I declared Saturday to be Sushi Saturday. I'll be sure to report back of course. Any tips or tricks are most welcome.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Fun Facts Friday - Tagged Answers

    Early Morning Workouts
    I had another crappy night of sleep last night. I woke up at 3:30 and never went back to sleep. I finally got out of bed at 5:15 and got my workouts done. Because yesterday's workout was such a doozy, I decided to keep today's short and fairly easy (not that this weight set up was exactly a cake walk).

    Today was back done at 90% of 1RM doing 4 sets of 6 reps.

    Underhand rows
    Single-arm rows
    Pullovers
    Single-arm horizontal rows

    I added in low back extensions on the stability ball and finished off with two combos from Cathe's MMA Boxing. Very glad to have the workouts done for the day.

    Sister's Surgery Update
    And, after the blizzard-like snow we had yesterday, it all melted and dried up by around 5-ish. Yep, not a sign that there was ever that much snow other than an iced-over car this morning. While I love my house, I do not love that we don't have covered parking. It took forever to de-ice. Actually, it took a while just to break into my car. The door was frozen shut. Good times at 6:40 am and 22 degrees! But, no ice on the roads meant Sarah's surgery was still on.

    I spent the better part of the morning a bit distracted, thinking about my sister. She was there by 6:30 and they took her back for prep right away. The surgery didn't start until just after 9 though. Both my parents were able to be there with her at least.

    Everything went as planned. I knew the surgery would go smoothly, but it's just the sitting and waiting that sucks. And she's my baby sister so I'm going to worry, period. I wanted to thank you all for your prayers and positive vibes. Very much appreciated. Now I'm just hoping for a super speedy, no complications recovery.

    Fun Facts Friday - I Was Tagged
    Now, moving along to something more fun - Fun Facts Friday. Several weeks ago my friend
    Jessica tagged me in a post to answer some questions. I wanted to take advantage of the questions for Fun Facts Friday (you know, so I didn't have to come up with anything on my own). Sorry for the delay Jess, but you do still kind of owe me a post too ;-) But here you go:
    1. How many days a week do you workout? 6, always taking 1 rest day. I prefer to take it on Friday, but if I need it sooner, I take it (though sometimes begrudgingly).
    2. What is your favorite ab move? This is tough because I love to work abs - maybe pikes on the ball.
    3. If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be? Um, Johnny Depp
    4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why? A beach, just give me a beach house please!
    5. What is your favorite beauty product you can’t go a day without? Moisturizer and mascara...and chapstick.
    6. Do you have any pets?  If so what kind?  If you don’t what animal would you love to have? I have 2 crazy Cocker Spaniels (Maddie and Heath), both are rescues.
    7. If you could only eat one food for the rest of you life, what would it be? Pizza
    8. What does your family and friends think about your blog? I don't know that my family really gets the whole blog thing at all. As for friends, I know some of them read it and think it's pretty cool. They all seem to be ok with me taking pics of them and food all the time at least ;-)
    9. What is one sport you haven’t tried, but would love to get involved in? Not sure, don't really see myself as one into sports.
    10. Red wine or white wine? Both...it just depends on what I'm eating. I prefer white wine if I for some strange reason have a drink at lunch (like on a weekend) or during the summer. Typically I prefer reds now.
    11. (Bonus question) What is your favorite workout memory? Going to have to go with the Cathe Road Trip in July 2010.
    Your turn - answer at least one of the questions, more if you're so inclined! 

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Another Snowy Day Means Treadmill Run & Working From Home

    Conquering the Dreadmill
    Well today started off chilly and misty then turned into chilly and snowy. We were supposed to be doing my boss' birthday lunch, but I actually thought ahead just in case the weather caused us to have to cancel it and brought along some Amy's Organic Split Pea Soup. Very glad I brought the soup as the lunch was indeed postponed.

    The snow was thick and wet, coming down sideways. It was so heavy that from our 10th floor windows it actually looked more like fog. Probably about 15 minutes after I had finished my soup, the bosses said that we could go home as we needed and just use personal time or work from home. Well, in all my planning, I brought along my gym bag. The plan was to get in my training run at the gym because I knew the weather would likely prevent an outdoor run. I figured I needed to wait at least 30 minutes before leaving so as not to hurl split pea soup all over the treadmill.

    I finally decided to leave work around 12:20 and get the run over with. The half marathon training pla was calling for 4 miles, 4 x 1:00 minute incline athletic intervals, 5-6 gentle pickups. Um, yes, ass-load of intervals there friends. I was prepared to at least do 2 miles then the intervals. The gym was empty when I got there, so I had my treadmill picked out (the one with the only fan near it). I got cornered by one of the spin instructors though and by the time I got out there, someone was on that treadmill, with the fan. Drats. I get sooooooo hot and sweaty when I'm working out and that's part of why I hate hate hate the treadmill at the gym.

    Anyway, I walked at a 6 incline to warm up then got to it. The first mile actually felt fairly painless. I tried to maintain a slower pace (9:13 mile) at a 1.5 incline. Everything was going smoothly until I started getting hot. At mile 2 I ended up asking the owner if there was another freaking fan. He ended up adjusting the one so that the other runner and I both had air circulation. All in all, I did 5.5 miles. Because I wasn't sure how to really do the gentle pickups on the treadmill, here's how it all went down:

    4 miles at 9:13 pace at 1.5 incline
    4x1:00 athletic intervals: 2 at 8:06 pace and 2 at 7:53 pace all at a 4 incline
    6 gentle pickups: starting at 9:13 pace increasing to 7:53 for 30 seconds then recover 30 seconds and repeat.

    I did about 10 minutes of ab work using weights and the stability ball. I stretched briefly then headed out to stretch more at home. I got home and hit the TriggerPoint Therapy Kit hard and stretched for a while longer as well. But so far, IT band is holding up.

    These intervals are wiping me out I must admit. So while my IT band seems to be doing ok, I am feeling super fatigued from this training plan. What gets me is that I'm not even really hitting any big mileage. Also, these runs are leaving me STARVED. I never feel this famished with long runs, but 5-8 miles...and intervals....wow. Anyone else experience this?


    Working from Home Perks
    After cleaning up and having a quick snack, I decided it'd be smart to get some work done rather than take personal time. I had some articles to work on. But, since I was home, I was also able to get some Chikn' Seitan made. I've been trying to play around with the recipe a bit to get the texture that I (and Jason) prefer.

    I did end up going with a simple dinner, well, simple because part of it was already made and waiting in the freezer. Remember the Chipotle Lentil Loaf I made at Christmas? Well, it made a lot. So, I froze half of it and decided to pull that out for dinner tonight. Sauteed some kale with apples and onions (with orange juice, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, agave, salt, pepper) and roasted some sweet potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and parsley.
     
     

    It looks like a time-consuming meal. But lucky for me, I keep stashing things in the freezer ;-)

    I have a favor to ask. My sister has to finally have gallbladder surgery tomorrow morning. It is an outpatient procedure, but I'm worried of course. If you're religious, please say a prayer; if you're not religious, please send positive vibes.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Wednesday = Rest Day and Wok Day

    Whoa Rest Day
    Well, I have sufficiently fried my legs. Today ended up being a mandatory rest day. I was hoping that I might find it in me to hit the gym and work the legs out on the elliptical. But I seriously don't think that would have loosened them up this time. Sometimes an easy workout helps. The only thing is that now I have to try to figure out how to squeeze in a workout on Friday. I'll figure something out I suppose.

    Of course, not having a workout today gave me the extra time I needed to get to the grocery store. We never made it over the weekend so things are getting sort of bare in terms of anything fresh. Yet, once again, the grocery trip is falling on the day before we're supposed to get a wintry mix. How am I so talented to schedule these trips before bad weather? Pure old luck ;-) So, the store was a mad house, and they were out of many things, as was Whole Foods (aka, repeat grocery trips).

    With bad weather in the works tomorrow, it looks like I'll have to take my workout to the gym. The running plan calls for another crazy long run with crazy intervals. I'm assuming it'll end up equaling another 6 miles. It starts with 4. Folks, I don't have it in me to do that much on the treadmill. Not at the gym, not when I have no fan, no air control, not TV distraction. So this may be my first missed or slightly adjusted training run. Either that or get out in the sleet!

    Wok Wednesday
    This morning I started pressing some tofu for dinner tonight. I woke up around 1 am with my mind just racing away, plotting, planning, making up recipes and such. Anyway, I decided in the wee hours of the morning that a tofu stir fry was what was going to be on the menu for tonight. At lunch I went home and threw together a quick Spicy Sweet Peanut Marinade.


    Spicy Sweet Peanut Marinade & Sauce
    Ingredients:
    Low-sodium soy sauce
    Honey (or agave)
    2 tbsp creamy natural peanut butter
    Orange juice
    Powdered ginger, to taste
    1 package extra firm tofu, pressed, cubed


    Directions:
    Whisk all ingredients until well combined. Pour into a baggy or bowl with tofu and allow to marinade at least one hour.

    Obviously this means I made Spicy Sweet Peanut Stir Fry. I baked the tofu until firm then tossed it into the wok along with a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies (included sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots). I used more of the marinade/sauce to flavor the stir fry and served over soba noodles.
     
     
    I even remembered to chop up peanuts to sprinkle on top - gave it a nice additional crunch and texture.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Two Many Workouts on Tuesday & Two Bean Soup

    Tired, Two on Tuesday
    Can I just say dreary days suck? They kept saying clearing today....it's been so incredibly foggy though so that means damp. Thankfully it was about 50 degrees, but did I mention damp? So it felt cooler (as in 45 degrees) but not freezing at least.

    I was feeling so lazy about working out. I had thought Jason and I might try to get in our training run at lunch. He had other plans apparently that he failed to mention. I ended up going home and getting in shoulders and triceps. I increased weights again (90% of 1RM) and dropped the number of reps so that it was 4 sets of 6 reps.

    SS#1
    Standing overhead press
    Lying triceps extensions

    SS#2
    Seated lateral raise
    Double-arm overhead extension (rather than single-arm as it was hurting my elbow)

    SS#3
    Seated rear flyes
    Double-arm kickbacks

    I was very happy with the weights today; I had a strong feeling day oddly enough.

    Onto workout #2. Today's half marathon training plan called for 2 miles, then Athletic Intervals of 1:00, 1:30, 2:00 done twice through, then another 2 miles. (Intervals were fast run, then slow job to bring down heart rate.) I brought my gym bag with me to work with clothes for either the gym or for a run outside. I ended up opting for the run outside. Now, the weather forecast had called for clearing in the afternoon and highs in the mid-50's. Um...not so much. The sun never came out. When I headed out for my run at the river trails, it was cloudy, still foggy, and wind chill of 45 degrees.

    The first two miles were actually really good. They seemed to just fly by. Then came the intervals. Well, I got 'em done. They were definitely not what I'd call fun, but they went quickly. Then came the turn around and that put me into the head winds. I almost always seem to end my runs into the wind. What gives???? Anyway, all said and done, I got in 6 miles in 53:22. Not super great pace, but not too bad considering the slow jogs in the intervals to lower the heart rate.

    Two-Bean Tuesday
    So no Taco, Tofu, or Tempeh Tuesday....But how about Two-Bean Tuesday??? Our food stash is starting to thin out. We should have gone to the store on Sunday. That didn't happen, so I got creative with a Crockpot Two-Bean Vegetable Soup that I started at lunch. And after that run, which totally wiped me out, I was one happy girl to have that soup waiting on me.


    Crockpot Two-Bean Vegetable Soup
    Ingredients:
    1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced
    1/2 medium red onion, diced
    1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
    1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
    32 oz no-sodium vegetable broth
    3-4 carrots, chopped
    1/2 yellow squash, diced
    1/2 zucchini, diced
    To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, parsley, oregano, basil, red pepper, garlic powder
    3 oz. tomato paste

    Directions:
    Put all ingredients (minus the paste) into crockpot and set to cook on low for 6 hours. Stir in the paste at the very end just to add some richness.
     

    Did I mention how happy this soup made me? Not only was it warming after a chilling run, but it was ready and waiting for me. Two days in a row of pain-free meals is spoiling me. Oh and how did the soup taste you ask? It reminded me a bit of a minestrone. I think the addition of some whole-wheat pasta or barley would be fantastic.

    And I must give a special shout out to my mom - Happy Birthday Mom- I love you!!!!!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Double Weight Day & Souper Supper

    Double Weight Day
    It's a misty/foggy, chilly, gray day here today. It certainly made it that much harder getting up for work. Even harder knowing so many have the day off. Sigh. I was really feeling super lazy and contemplated making today a rest day.

    But I know that I'll want the rest day (need it) more later in the week. So I mustered up the energy and got in biceps and abs during lunch. Biceps was supposed to be 4 sets of 6 reps at 90% of 1RM.

    Dumbbell curls
    Hammer curls
    Concentration curls

    I had a pretty strong feeling workout and wish I could have adjusted the weights for hammer curls by 1 lb.

    I am finding it nearly impossible to get in a leg workout now with this new half marathon training. There just seems to be no ideal day. I have been doing legs on Monday the past couple of weeks though, so I decided to go with legs after work rather than doing any cardio. My legs were starting to feel a bit of fatigue after the weekend runs. Rather than going super heavy with weights, I added in some low-end pulses and some plyo moves. I did a superset of 3x8 (unless noted) then the plyo.

    SS#1
    Alternating front lunges
    Deadlifts

    Alternating split jumps - 32 total

    SS#2
    Squats with low-end pulse
    Plie squats with low-end pulse

    Plie hops with weight - 24

    SS#3
    Step ups
    Calf raises - 3x12

    Explosive running man on step

    SS#4
    Narrow-stance squats
    Side-drop squats off step

    Weighted donkey kicks - 2x16

    I think this was a pretty good leg workout for now. It wasn't so heavy that I was wobbly going down stairs, but I definitely felt it. I guess tomorrow I'll really know if it was too much or not when I set out for tomorrow's training run.

    Souper Simple Dinner
    Today I just wasn't in the mood to even think about what to make for dinner let alone cook dinner. I think part of it was the dreary weather. Luckily, I had some leftover, frozen Creamy Curried Kabocha and Pumpkin Soup in the freezer, so I pulled that out at lunch to thaw. So this worked out perfectly.
    I roasted up some chickpeas (seasoned with curry powder, salt, pepper) and tossed those on top of the soup for added texture and crunch. I really like pairing something like the tempeh bacon, toasted squash seeds, or roasted chickpeas with a creamy style soup.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Picture Overload

    Fantabulous Night Recap
    Ok, sit down and hold tight. Lots of pictures ahead:

    Well, yesterday evening was a great time. We started off at a Japanese sushi/hibachi place in our hometown. It was me, Jason, my sister, her friend C, and another couple (S and M). We sat at one of the grills, you know the kind - fun hibachi guy tossing around utensils, throwing flames, tossing food. I ordered some edamame, seaweed salad, a shiitake sushi roll and later a veggie roll. Everyone else stared with sushi then had the hibachi. 


    Sarah got the whole Birthday song and dance that came with tempura battered cheesecake. Extra dirty martini was not free ;-)
    After dinner, we moved along to the first bar where a friend of hers was bouncing. She pretty much just wanted to say hi to him. Music started off ok then turned to country.


     

    After the country started, we moved to a bar next door that played more dancing tunes.

     









    I must admit to feeling terribly old. Jason was DD and also guarding purses and coats. It was SO smoky and crowded that I spent most of the time standing with Jason trying to be out of the way. Most definitely not my scene any longer.

    BUT... I am so glad my sister had fun. That was the most important thing. She said it was one of the best birthdays ever. Jason and I did feel like the old couple having to drag everyone out around 11:30. We just couldn't stand the smoke any longer at that point. And quite frankly, it was a very smart choice to call it a night at that point. Sarah thanked me this morning ;-) Big sisters do know best!

    Craptastic Run
    Jason and I got back home then bundled up and headed out for our training run. The weather was pretty much a 180 from yesterday. Today the wind chill was about 32 degrees and it was gray and damp. The half marathon training plan called for 7 miles. We ended up completing 7.3. I won't even pretend that I had a great, fun, enjoyable run either. Today was one of those days when I pretty much hated ever single moment of the run.

    Did my IT bad hurt? Nope. Did my calves hurt? Yep. But really it was mostly mental. Oh, and my lungs felt like they were going to explode. I'll chalk that up to smoking about 2 packs of second-hand smoke last night.

    After the run, we ended up "cheating" and going to Vino's for pizza for a super late/super early dinner. We were both starved, had no desire to cook, and just wanted to be bad ;-)

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Perfect Day for a 5-Miler

    So So Weights
    It's funny how a super cold snap bringing wind chills of 2 degrees can change your perspective on what suddenly feels warm. It was about 40 degrees at 9 am and I thought, "Wow, it's warm out there." I was definitely more excited about the training run on a gorgeous, slightly warmer day. Too bad we were only schedule for 4 miles though. I would have preferred that we did the longer run today.

    But, before I got the run in, I did finally do my chest workout and finished up with abs from High Reps. Today was supposed to be 85% of 1RM doing 4 sets of 7 reps.

    Flat bench chest press
    Flat bench chest flyes
    Incline chest press
    Incline chest flyes

    I'll admit that today was HARD. I ended up hitting failure at the 6th rep for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th sets of the presses. I ended up going back to last week's weight for the Incline Chest Press because I just couldn't hold form right and was struggling. Better safe than sorry.


    Awesome Run
    Now, the run...it was a gorgeous sunny day and about 50 degrees when we headed out. Even better, for once it wasn't gusting winds. We decided to start out at a different spot on the river trail today. That meant we ended up hitting. 5.2 miles mostly by mistake since we didn't know how far the route really went. It was a great run though, everything just felt great. We even saw two armadillo out. I've never seen one alive let alone two!

    It was great to see so many other runners out today too. I know most of them are training for either the full or the half marathon coming up in March as well.

    Lunch and Heading Out of Town
    We got home and both stretched and used the TriggerPoint Therapy Kit . I was famished, and thankfully I had prepped lunch before the run. For lunch we had Blackened Seitan Wraps. It had been a while since I had made this and have actually been craving it. Luckily I had some homemade Chikn' Seitan in the fridge ready to be used. It was fate.

    As I mentioned yesterday, my sister's birthday was on Monday. We'll be loading up and heading to our hometown today to hang out with her. There's a sushi place she really enjoys. She has promised me that they do have a wakame salad. Other than that, I'm not a huge sushi fan. I mean, I don't eat meat so it's hard to get really excited about it. But she's fallen for it, and Jason loves it too. Do you guys like sushi? Or does it just scare you? I used to be scared of things like a seaweed salad, now I crave it!

    Anyway, I'll be MIA from blogging because Sarah doesn't have internet at her house. I do finally have my smart phone, but can't seem to copy/paste email addresses so I can respond - can only respond to the comment and I don't know if everyone gets notification when I have replied. I hope you all have a great Saturday!

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Fun Facts Friday - Four Things

    Rest Day
    Well, today is a much-needed rest day for me. I had thought about trying to sneak in my chest workout during lunch, but I'm going to be realistic (and rational) with myself. I need to rest completely. I have a 4-miler tomorrow and 7-miler on Sunday. If I don't rest up, the runs will suffer. Period. My muscles will not atrophy if I miss the chest workout this week. They won't will they??? Just kidding.

    Tonight we're supposed to meet up with some friends at The Flying Saucer for a happy hour. I'm looking forward to hanging out with friends (not just guy friends, but a girl friend as well). I realized recently that I mostly spend time hanging out with the guys. Our typical Friday happy hour involves Jason and me meeting up with 2 guy friends who also work right by our offices. Don't get me wrong, not complaining, but I do think I need more girl time too. Or maybe not, that just encourages things like shopping trips....LOL

    Tomorrow I'll definitely get some girl time with my sis. Her birthday was Monday, so she has asked us to come stay with her tomorrow night and go eat with her at one of her favorite sushi places. I'm sure we'll have lots of fun, I mean, that's a given when we're together! For my female readers - do you find that you spend more time with guys or other girls? Which do you prefer?

    Fun Facts Friday - Four Things
    I know many of you have seen the Four Things survey going around. It's kind of fun to see these and get to know knew things about each other. Holly @ Greek Yogurt and Apple Slices tagged me last week. I wanted to hold off and use it when I needed it most - Friday!!! It definitely made Fun Facts Friday a no-brainer this week! Thanks Holly!!! Although, I will say that some of these were harder to come up with than I had thought.

    Four TV Shows I Watch:
    Modern Family
    Cougar Town
    Rules of Engagement
    How I Met Your Mother

    Four Things I'm Passionate About:
    My family
    Working out
    Eating healthy
    Helping others

    Four Words/Phrases I Use Too Much:
    F*ck
    I don't thinks so Joe (to which Jason responds, "Who's this Joe guy?")
    Holy cannoli
    Jackass

    Four Things I’ve Learned From The Past:
    I'm stronger than I thought.
    Friends do change
    You really can try too hard
    You should never just settle

    Four Things I’m Looking Forward To:
    Spending time with my sister
    Trip to Seattle
    Cathe Road Trip (Which also means seeing Jessica & Jolene again & hopefully meeting Madeline)
    Beach vacation

    Four Things I Love About Winter:
    Um, pretty much the only plus is getting to wear boots.


    Of course I'm supposed to tag some bloggers for this! Here's who I've chosen:
    Crissie @ Run Crissie Run
    Melissa @ Melissa Dishes
    Bela @ It's Life, Max it Out
    Alison @ Physically Philosophical
    Jenny @ Vegan and so Forth

    Now, this doesn't get you off the hook of course. You know the Friday drill - spill it. Tell me at least one thing from a category or four or however many you choose!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Chilly Run, Easy Dinner

    4 Miles, Below Freezing, No Problem
    Today was yet another chilly one. It was sunny at least. The skies were clear enough that you could see the moon even. I love that crispness in the sky. Now if only it weren't so darn crisp in the air too. Today's workout plan was a run. The half marathon training plan called for a 4-mile run followed by 4 1-meter gentle pickups*. I called Jason around 11 to see when he wanted to get out for the run. I was prepared to run outside (despite the temps). However, he was planning on the treadmill after work.

    I told him that I was either going to run the 4-miles and intervals outside, or not at all. Period. That's how much I hate the treadmill. Anyway, it was about 22 degrees at that time. I said we could just eat lunch then go a little later. Well, that ended up being about 1:30. It warmed up to a balmy 27 degrees with a wind chill of a cozy 20 degrees. But it wasn't terribly windy so that really made a huge difference. I actually ended up really hot halfway through the run. Who knew you could get hot running outside in the frigid temps???

    All in all, it was a pretty good run I must say. The cold will certainly slap you in the face and wake you up!

    Gentle Pickups (GP): At the end of your run, walk for several minutes, then slowly increase your leg turnover on a flat stretch for 100 meters--the straightaway on a track--up to the point where you start to breathe hard. Hold it there for 10 to 20 meters, then gradually slow down. Walk to full recovery before you start the next one. The purpose of both AI and GP is to improve your stamina, leg speed, running efficiency, and to make your normal pace feel more comfortable. What's more, this kind of up-tempo running adds variety to your training. Always a good thing.

    Pooped Out Means Easy Dinner
    I think the run took more out of me than I had expected (and maybe some DOMS from yesterday) because I started to feel super fatigued around 4 and a bit achy in my back. When I mentioned it to Jason, he said he felt the same and that we ran pretty hard. Anyway, I got home and put on my PJs (big shocker) and stretched for a bit thinking that might help. Thankfully my IT band seems to be doing ok. It was a tad achy, but nothing really terrible and no pain at the knee. Tomorrow is a rest day for sure.

    Since I wasn't feeling super peppy, that meant I wasn't super excited about dinner either. Soup sounded so good though, just warm and comforting. I started thinking of some ideas, but then remembered Jason had soup for lunch. He was wanting stir fry, but I really didn't feel like that. If I really just don't want something, I have a hard time making myself eat it. Are you that way or can you just go with anything?

    So I decided to just go with homemade veggie burgers and baked sweet potatoes. In the freezer I had my Black on Black Burgers I made up a few weeks ago, but we hadn't had them yet. Hard to believe it's been so long since I've had this handy dandy, go-to meal! Guess I've been working harder in the kitchen lately than I thought.
     

    These were really rather tasty. Sometimes black beans can be a little dry, but the black-eyed peas were softer so it was a good balance. I topped them with a vegan "cheese," roasted red bell peppers, spinach, and some Chipotle Cranberry Relish

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    The South is Frozen - This Calls for Pasta

    Freezing Outside
    Well, I know almost every single state has snow, but I have to bring up our frigid temperatures. It was warmer on the days it snowed here! Walking into work at 7 am, it was 16 degrees with wind chill of 2. Yes, that's a single digit friends. I thought I lived in the south??!! I guess the only saving grace was that it was sunny. Sometimes really cold days are some of the prettiest - so crisp (literally). Tomorrow's high is only 32 and that's not the wind chill of course. It's going to make the scheduled 4-miler a bitch.

    Gym Day
    Speaking of workouts, today I did 15 minutes on the elliptical then hit the weights. I did biceps for STS Week 2 of Meso 3 (sort of). Since I was at the gym, I didn't have my weighted gloves that allow me to micro load (in 1 and 2 pound increments). So say I did 15 pounds last week and needed to increase 5% this week. I could use the gloves to do that rather than trying to jump from 15 to 20. Also, the incline curls are supposed to be on the stability ball, they have balls, but they're smaller and mostly flat. so I ended up making a few modifications. The exercises were supposed to be done in 4 sets of 7 reps, increasing 5% from last week.

    Dumbbell curls

    Hammer curls (supposed to be incline on ball, started with heavies weight for as many reps as could, before lowering weight - typically got in 5 before lowering for the last 2)

    Concentration curls (here I had to go lower so I added on reps to give me 4x10)

    I was able to go up quite a bit for the dumbbell curls and only hit failure at the 6th rep once. I think that I burned out the biceps though, because the other exercises I felt a lot weaker, of course, I was trying to use a heavier weight than I would have liked. I also did some ab work as well before finishing off with about 7 more minutes on the elliptical.

    Catching up on Errands
    Today I only worked until 12:20. I had an appointment at 12:45 that had been moved around from another day. I wasn't sure how long it would really take, but I knew I wouldn't be getting back to work until after 2 or so. So I ended up taking the rest of the day off.

    I had lots of errands to run actually, so it sort of worked out that the appointment got moved. Because of the snow and then slick roads, I had not been able to get to Target or Whole Foods. Today I managed both. However, I got home and realized I had forgotten one major thing on the Target list: contact solution. Ugh. I swear I always forget at least one thing. Do you do that too?

    Pasta Wednesday
    Since I had already gotten my workout done, I had a little more time to play with dinner. Meaning I was done with everything around 4:30 for a change. I swear you'd think Jason was totally deprived, the poor guy keeps asking for pasta when I ask him if he has dinner thoughts. Since I had more time this evening, and we had 2 large portobellos to use up, I made my Creamy Portobello Pasta.
     

    It really and truly feels like a decadent, sinful, fat-filled dish. The great thing is...it's not. I guess the most decadent part is the whole-wheat pasta; I call that decadent because I really don't eat a lot of pasta. But at least the whole-wheat is filled with extra protein too. Do you have a dish you make that seems really decadent, but is actually pretty good for you?

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Weights, Training Run and Tofu Tuesday

    Two on Tuesday
    This morning we got another 2-hour work delay because of the weather. Now, I'm not complaining one bit, but in all honesty, they should have shut down yesterday and done a normal workday today. Anyway, this did allow me plenty of time to get up and get my weights done early. Today I went with shoulders and triceps from STS Week 2 of Meso 3. The reps dropped and weights went up by 5% of my 1RM (85%). It's the same workout as last week other than the changes in reps and weights - 4 sets of 7 reps.

    SS#1
    Shoulder press
    Lying triceps extensions

    SS#2
    Seated lateral raises
    1-arm overhead triceps extensions

    SS#3
    Seated rear delt flyes
    Double-arm kickbacks (in lieu of lying cross-body kickbacks, which hurt my elbow)

    I had a really strong workout session and was successfully able to increase all weights and complete all reps.

    After work, I hit the gym to get in my scheduled run. The half marathon training plan this week is the same as last week. Today called for 2 miles, 5-7 1-minute athletic intervals* (I went with 7) and another 2 miles. However, looking at the chart initially, I missed the additional 2 miles so I ended up only doing a total of 4 miles. But if I had added on the full 2, then it would have been 5.6 miles and I thought that sounded like too much. Anyway, 4 miles on the dreadmill is about as much as I can muster anyway. I couldn't wait to be done!


    *Aerobic Intervals (AI): You push the pace. But just a little. Find a tempo that feels somewhere between comfortable and "Hey, I'm workin' a little here." Don't run this too hard. Trying to add too much intensity while you're also increasing mileage spells I-N-J-U-R-Y. When you finish the timed AI, jog very slowly until your breathing returns to normal, then work back into your regular pace. On all other days, just run your assigned miles as you feel.

    Tofu Tuesday
    Yesterday I had started preparing some tofu that I was going to use for dinner tonight. I made a quick marinade of balsamic and rice vinegars, orange juice, minced onion, salt, pepper, and honey. I usually only have time to let my tofu marinate for a few hours, so I was excited to see how it would turn out letting it marinate over night. It definitely soaked up a lot more of the marinade.

    To go with the tofu, I made Smashed Sage Sweet Potatoes and White Beans and sauteed kale. I also made a Balsamic Cashew Cream Sauce for the tofu using the leftover marinade from the tofu.

    Smashed Sage Sweet Potatoes and White Beans
    Ingredients:
    1 medium sweet potato, small dice
    1 cup white beans
    1/8 cup white onion, minced
    2-3 tbsp minced garlic
    Fresh sage, minced (to taste)
    Almond or soy milk, to desired consistency
    To taste: salt and pepper

    Directions:
    Microwave the sweet potatoes until soft (approximately 7 minutes).

    In large sauce pan, saute onions and garlic for a couple of minutes then add in beans. Allow to cook until beans soften then add in the sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Start to smash the mixture and add in the milk to desired consistency. Stir in the sage and allow to cook a couple of minutes.

    Balsamic Cashew Cream Sauce
    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup cashews, grind in coffee grinder
    Balsamic vinegar
    Rice wine vinegar
    Minced onion
    Salt
    Pepper
    Honey
    Splash of apple cider vinegar (this was not in the original tofu marinade)
    Water, just to cover ground cashews

    Directions:
    In blender, puree all ingredients until completely smooth. Refrigerate prior to use.

     
     
    This turned out really well. I was really happy with the potato/bean mash, though I probably added a bit too much sage. I'm not used to cooking with it to be honest. The next time I do the cashew cream, I would like to add in chives, which I was out of tonight.

    Recipe note: Yesterday I forgot to include that I also used 1-2 tbsp red curry paste in the Creamy Curried Kabocha and Pumpkin Soup.