Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Run, Spin & Spaghetti Squash with Tofu Pesto

Run & Spin
I feel like my posts can get so repetitive because I stick to a fairly regular routine with my workouts. So what did I do today? Yep, you guess it. I hit up the noon spin class. I thought I might get in my triceps workout before class, instead I did about 12 minutes of intervals on the treadmill.

I should have started my half training plan this week, but I didn't know I was going to sign up for it. So, I am winging this week and just decided to throw in a short, but fast interval run. After a warm up at a 9:13 min/mile pace, I did 4 sets of 1:00 minute intervals.

Interval 1: 8:00 min/mile; 9:13 min/mile
Interval 2: 8:13 min/mile; 9:31 min/mile
Interval 3: 8:06 min/mile; 9:31 min/mile
Interval 4: 8:06 min/mile; 9:31 min/mile

I ran another couple of minutes at 9:13 pace to cool down. That put me at 1.7 miles. I definitely have some catching up to do on speed. I used to run sub 8:00 min/miles for 5K times. I know that's not a feasible goal (for me) for the half, but I would like to drop my half pace (just a bit) to about an 8:40 pace. My last half the average was about 8:46.

Anyway...I need to figure out the plan I'm going to follow and get going on the training. That sort of makes it all more real. I have 8.5 weeks. So, Game On.


Still No Grocery Store
Once again, no grocery store. But that's ok. Jason picked up a few extras when he stopped by the store near us last night. I had said: apples, bananas, sweet potatoes. He came home with: apples, banana, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, spaghetti squash, zucchini, spinach, and bagels. Works for me.

I had planned on doing stir fry, but since he had bought the spaghetti squash and tomatoes and I had on hand half a box of silken tofu that needed to be used up, I decided to make a tofu pesto (we have an assload of basil growing) to go with the squash, tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas.

Tofu Pesto
Ingredients:
1/2 package firm silken tofu (about 6 oz)
2 cups fresh basil
Handful pine nuts (more or less depending on preferences)
Lemon juice (to taste)
To taste: sea salt, black pepper
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Directions:
In a food processor, puree all ingredients until completely smooth. Re-season as needed.

Tomato, Spinach & Chickpea Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients:
1 small spaghetti squash
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2/3 container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Fresh spinach (as much as you like, I used several handfuls)
1 tbsp minced garlic
To taste: salt, pepper


Directions:
Cut squash in half and place flesh sides down on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until easily shreds.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the shredded spaghetti squash while still hot - it will help to wilt the spinach. (If it doesn't, you can microwave approximately 1:30 minutes).

Stir in the pesto and either serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.
 

This is a surprisingly filling dish. Even better, loaded with veggies and protein. I will definitely be making this again. It would also make a great side dish if you were feeding a large group or as a potluck dish.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Trying new dinner recipe

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Morning Run, Cannellini Sauce and Grilled Tofu & Veggies Sandwiches

Recipe Recap
Last night I made a dish based off a recipe that we used to make quite often. The original recipe was from Better Homes & Gardens - Cheese Tortellini with Cannellini Bean Sauce.

I decided to try to recreate the sauce from memory because I was too lazy to pull out that cookbook, and I also had to figure out a different way to cook it as I didn't have any soy or almond milk on hand, no parmesan or tortellini.

So, here's what I came up with instead: Rotini with Sundried Tomato, Peppers & Basil Cannellini Sauce.

Rotini with Sundried Tomato, Peppers & Basil Cannellini Sauce
Ingredients:
4-5 oz whole-wheat rotini (penne would work as well), cooked per package directions
1/2 small white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
6-7 sundried tomatoes reconstituted and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth (you may need more so keep on hand)
1/2 package silken tofu (firm)
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Handful fresh basil
Splash of lemon juice
To taste: salt, pepper, red pepper, dried parsley (was out of fresh)

Directions:
In food processor or blender, puree tofu, beans, broth, yeast, basil, lemon juice, and seasoning until smooth - should be a sauce-like consistency.

In large skillet, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until begin to soften. Poor in the bean sauce and stir in the sundried tomatoes. Re-season if needed. Allow to continue to cook until veggies are done (depending on how soft you like yours). If sauce begins to thicken too much, add in more broth.

Turn heat off and add in the pasta. Toss well.
 

This turned out to be really tasty. It's definitely a hearty, protein packed dish. Normally I go back for seconds, not this time. I was stuffed.

2 on Tuesday
This morning we got up early for a morning run. It was a brisk 72 degrees out. Kind of hard to pass up that opportunity. I just wish it wasn't dark so late. The river trails aren't really well lit. The only light you get is from street lights, which isn't very much.

Anyway, we got going and everything was really clicking for me today with the exception of a bloody toe (note to self, cut your dang toenails). I think it was the more pleasant temperatures and lower humidity. Jason was having some IT band pain so we really only ran the first mile together.

Luckily there were quite a few other runners out braving the dark so I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable running alone, and the sun finally started making an appearance somewhere around mile 2. I managed to sneak in 6 miles before having to call it quits to get to work.

During lunch, I went ahead and did biceps and abs. I went with a superset then topped it off with a dropset.

SS - 3x8
Hammer curls
Incline curls

DS
Dumbbell curls - 6, 8,10

Hello fried bis! This doesn't look like a lot written out, but my arms are already sore. I went with abs from Cathe's Power Hour DVD because it's short, sweet, and effective.

Avoiding Grocery Store
Once again, I failed to make it to the grocery store. Since I waited to start my run until 6 (trying to wait as late as possible so the whole run isn't in the dark), I didn't get to work until 7:45. Meaning I had to work until 4:45. I just couldn't stand the thought of having to brave the grocery store at 5, not getting home until 6, not eating until 7-ish. Yes, I'm very schedule oriented ;-)

I did have a few veggies left and some tofu at least. Jason picked up just a few things (like sweet potatoes) from a grocery store in our neighborhood. You're probably wondering why I didn't just stop in myself if it's so convenient.

Well, this store isn't exactly stellar unless you want something from the butcher shop or perhaps pickled pig's feet (not joking). Fresh veggies and vegetarian foods are not their specialty. But, in a pinch they work for something like sweet potatoes and bananas. Maybe bread, but only if you're cool with white bread.

Anyway, during lunch I started pressing some tofu for Grilled Tofu and Veggie Sandwiches. I then marinated the tofu in a simple balsamic sauce (balsamic vinegar, OJ, agave, salt, pepper, garlic powder).

I grilled the tofu along with zucchini and portobello mushrooms. I also added some roasted red bell peppers (jarred), fresh spinach and vegan cheese to the sandwich. And of course sweet potatoes made an appearance ;-)
 

This definitely hit the spot for a nice summery meal. I feel like it's been ages since it's been bearable enough to grill out.

Oh and in non-food related news, last night I signed up for my second half marathon - Soaring Wings Half Marathon. It'll be October 29. I'm both excited and nervous of course. I was really hoping to run with Jason, but don't really think his IT band is going to allow that one to happen. But, you never know right? Guess now it's time to get myself on a training plan...

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run with hubby
  • Grilling

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hitting the Gym and Lazy Means Creative Tex-Mex Creation

Sunday, Gym Day
Why do vacations and min-vacations go by so quickly? Just doesn't seem quite right. Anyway, we left Branson around 9:30 am to head back home. It was a pretty uneventful drive back, which is usually a good thing. We got home and unpacked, then I headed up to the gym.

I started with a 10-minute treadmill run to warm up before hitting the weights for back and light legs then abs. I went with a giant set for back then supersets for legs.

GS - 4x8
Underhand barbell rows
Pullovers
Double-arm rows

SS#1
Rear-leg elevated lunges (Bulgarian Split Squats) - 3x8
Calf raises - 3x20

SS#2 - 2x8
Walking lunges
Plie squats with low-end pulse

Single-leg deadlifts - 2x8

I did some ab exercises, stretched, and called it quits.

Lazy = Crazy Dinner
I may have made it to the gym and washed a few loads of laundry, but I never made it to the grocery store - lounging in the pool trumped grocery shopping. This meant getting creative with dinner.

We had another package of the Field Roast "Sausages" in a Mexican Chipotle flavor. So, we ended up with hodgepodge kind of meal I'll cleverly call Tex-Mex Mishmash. It consisted of: Not Really Refried Black Beans, Tex-Mex Tomato Quinoa, Mexican Chipotle "Sausage" Skillet.

Not Really Refried Black Beans
Ingredients:
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup no-salt vegetable broth
To taste: salt, pepper, cumin, cilantro

Directions:
In medium sauce pan, combine all ingredients and allow to simmer on medium-low heat until thickens then lightly mash.

Mexican Chiptole "Sausage" Skillet
Ingredients:

2-3 Field Roast Chipotle "Sausages"
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
To taste: salt, pepper

Directions:
in large, non-stick skillet, saute all ingredients until the onions are soft and the "sausage" is browned.

Note: The flavors in the "sausage" were strong enough that there was no need to add additional seasonings. If using a different product, you may want to add chili powder, cumin, cilantro

Tex-Mex Tomato Quinoa
Ingredients:

1/3 cup (plus just a tad more, sorry didn't measure) quinoa
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes, with liquid
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, splash lemon juice

Directions:
In saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer on low until all liquid is absorbed by the quinoa.
 
 
 

I topped the black beans with some Daiya Vegan Cheese and sprinkled on some green onions (optional). It all started off separated on the plate, but I ended up mixing it all together in the end. The Mexican Chipotle "Sausage" Skillet would be great in a tortilla or in a taco salad bowl as well.


Normal Monday = Spin
Today was a fairly typical day for me in that I hit up spin at lunch. What wasn't typical was that Jason made an appearance as well. I know this sounds silly, but I love working out next to him.

It's not like we're talking even, but it's just fun to be at the gym together. Though, he might not fully agree on the "fun" part of it.

I did manage to fit in shoulders before the spin class too. I just went with the same workout as last week doing a giant set of 3x8:

Overhead shoulder press
Lateral raise
Front raise open to T (front raise all the way overhead, rotate palms and open arms to T then bring all the way down to start)

More Lazy = Another Creative Dinner
I had thought I might go to the grocery store after work, but thought twice. I remember my last Monday after work trip, chaos. So, while we needed groceries, I was not up for the hassle.

Originally I thought I might go with stir fry for dinner. That was simple and I had all the ingredients. I asked Jason what he thought and the next thing I know he's planning a meal with some sort of apple gastrique that then turned into an apple salsa. Only flaw is we didn't have enough zucchini (or any other veggies for that matter) to make up a veggie side.

So what do I do? I go with something crazy again. But, I will do you all a huge favor and save that recipe for tomorrow since I already have several going on. I will say it involves cannellini beans, tofu, and pasta.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Catching up on Big Brother

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Running, Laking, Shopping, Eating In: Branson Day 3

I wish I could say that I'm getting tons of restful sleep here. Not so much unfortunately. The bedroom only has blinds so once the sun starts coming up, that's all she wrote. Also, the walls seem to be very thin or we just have very loud neighbors.

But, I won't complain too much because I'm having a very good time. Today we decided to run a trail along the lake front. It ended up being 4.6 (rolling hills) miles. So, 4.6 actually felt more like 6. It wasn't an easy run, but it was scenic and it was nice running with Jason.

After the run, we found ourselves a nice spot to go hang out by the lake. Jason floated in the water and I sunbathed on the shore. The lake is gorgeous, but it's a lot different than what we're used to. There are no sandy beaches at all. It's very rocky - hence Table Rock Lake I suppose. But, it was nice and relaxing.
 We brought a picnic lunch to enjoy. Here's what we gazed at while eating.
 
 

Not too bad huh? I could get used to that scenery.

After the lake, we headed back to the condo, cleaned up, then headed out again for some outlet mall shopping. I usually have lots of luck at this outlet mall. Today...not my day. However, Jason scored big time. I'm convinced he's a secret shopaholic ;-)

We left the outlet mall then headed to another shopping and dining area called Branson Landing. It's in the historic area of the city. We milled around for a bit then decided to stop for a drink and light snack at Garfield's. Nothing to write home about, but the cranberry walnut salad was pretty good. We split that, relaxed a bit, then headed back to the condo for the duration of the evening.

Normally our anniversary includes a fancy schmancy dinner out somewhere, but this trip is the gift to each other basically. Oh, and there really aren't any nice restaurants here - mostly steak joints. So, cooking in and loving it. This is definitely more "us." PJ's, homemade dinner, wine. That's all. We're not really that complicated actually.

Oh, so what did we make? Again, nothing terribly fancy as we're not in our own kitchen. I brought along some homemade seitan cutlets, portobello mushrooms, garlic, and white onions. So, that gives you a red wine portobello sauce over seitan cutlets along with baked sweet potatoes topped with steamed broccoli and Daiya Vegan Cheese. This is what 11 years looks like, and I'm not complaining one bit!

Please excuse the sad picture, it really tasted much better than it looked.


Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Running with hubby
  • 11 years with hubby
  • Lake time
  • Picnic lunch
  • Shopping
  • Homemade dinner

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Branson Days 1 and 2 - Eating, Boating, Relaxing

Thursday Night - Branson Day 1
Than you everyone for your kind words on the Fun Facts Friday - Anniversary post! My internet is sketchy so replying to everyone is more difficult than usual. In fact, posting, blogging, anything is more difficult.

Thursday night we arrived in Branson, MO later than we had hoped because of extremely backed up traffic heading out of town. It took almost an hour to get to a town that usually takes 30 minutes. Good times my friends. Thank goodness I had my purse loaded up with protein and granola bars. I'm like a Girl Scout I swear. People make fun of how much I carry in my purse, but they will never starve, have bad breath, have a headache, migraine, messed up fingernail, get wet, or need a tissue ;-)

Anyway, we got our bags dropped off and cooler unloaded and headed to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner. It's close by and we know that I can eat from the salad bar. And I pigged out! I started with a Skinny Lavender Lemon Drop Martini. It was really quite tasty actually. I was surprised.
Jason got some mini zucchini sliders and the salad bar combo that they let us share. It probably doesn't sound like much, but trust me, we loaded our plates down at the salad bar like pros.
 

Since it was such a pleasant night, we spent the remainder of the evening sitting out on our balcony overlooking a golf course. We actually stayed up until midnight just chatting and sipping wine. Very nice start to the min-vacation.


Friday - Branson Day 2
Friday morning I got up and ran. It's VERY hilly here and not many sidewalks unfortunately. I took off the only direction I knew that had a sidewalk. Holy mother of hills folks. Yowzers is all I can say. Thankfully, the temps were below 70 and it was bright and sunny. Gorgeous. I probably got in 3 miles then I did another 1.5 on the treadmill before calling it done. Need to figure out another route if possible for tomorrow.

After I got cleaned up, we packed up the cooler with snacks and lunch fixings to take with us to the lake. We rented a boat on Table Rock Lake since we were actually here during warm weather for a change.

 

We had such a nice, relaxing time just riding around on the boat exploring the lake. We stopped in a cove to make our lunch (hummus & spinach wraps). There just something so relaxing about being on the water. Table Rock Lake is really a gorgeous lake. I'm very glad that we went ahead and spent the money for the boating day.

I will say that the sun will wear you out. Doing nothing is exhausting so we ordered pizza in (hello Pizza Friday) and ate it on the balcony. Again, nice and relaxing. Just the way a Friday evening should be in my book.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Running in cooler temps
  • Day on the lake
  • Just enjoying period


Friday, August 26, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - Anniversary Edition

Since tomorrow is our 11-year wedding anniversary, I thought today would be Fun Facts Friday - Anniversary Edition.
  • We met just before St. Patty's Day in 1995 at a party that I had to chauffeur my sister to.
  • We pretty much only met because Sarah was dating Jason's friend (also named Jason).
  • Jason and I didn't exactly hit it off like love at first site. I just happened to be the last girl standing anytime we were around each other.
  • We stupidly moved to AL together within 6 months of meeting - somehow that seemed better than AR. 
  • We lived together for 5 years before deciding to get married.
  • We actually bought a townhouse together before getting married.
  • Jason "proposed" after a long night at the restaurant (he cooked in a fancy schmancy French restaurant). Basically, sitting in his stinky chef clothes, me in my PJs, both with Bud Lights in hand he just asked if I wanted to go ahead and get married and use our vacation package as the honeymoon. Sure...why not. 
  • My sister go married in June; we got married in August. Families love this of course.
  • We catered a sit-down dinner for 78 guests making homemade manicotti, which I have not made since. 
  • The reception (aka party) went on until about 11:30 pm (wedding started at 6:30). 
  • The wedding was outdoors, in August. It was only 107 that day.
  • I lost my wedding band after we walked down the aisle - funny to watch guests digging around the grass searching for a ring. It was found though, no worries.
  • My mom made my dress (and my sister's).
  • We were broke - I did my own hair, nails, makeup, etc.
  • My mom and I decorated 4 Italian Cream Cakes with lace, pearls, and ivory silk roses (again broke).
  • My bridesmaids all carried 2 ivory silk roses that I later took to the grave site of a dear friend.
So, even though the wedding wasn't fancy, it was spectacular to us. Everyone enjoyed themselves and that's what we wanted the most - a party to celebrate our lives together. Because it was a small affair, we were able to really visit with everyone, sit down and enjoy dinner, dance, sing, just have fun. Very unpretentious. No receiving lines and formalities.

And you know what? The actual wedding doesn't really matter in the end does it? It's over, the mess gets cleaned up. Presents opened and put away. Life moves in a forward direction. We eventually sold the townhouse, got new jobs, bought our current home, have lost two furbabies, adopted two more furbabies. Seasons come and go. Times can be rough, but they can be good. And eleven years later, Jason is still the love of my life.
Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Day on the lake
  • Being disconnected

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Running & Leaving. Branson Bound

Running (Short on Time)
This morning I just couldn't get myself energized or enthusiastic enough to get out of bed for a morning run. It was pitch black. Jason wasn't going to run with me (he had to be at work early). Of course I kicked myself big time when I stepped outside to head to work. While it was very humid, it was only 72 degrees.

I just hate feeling like I HAVE to get out there at any moment when the temps cool off even slightly. I could have done spin today, but I really don't like the class style from the instructor for today. Instead, I sucked it up and hit the treadmill for intervals before moving onto triceps and abs.

As much as I hate running indoors, at least the treadmill is good for speed work. Especially since I don't have any way to calculate my pace when running outdoors on my own. I was in a time crunch to be honest, so I did a simple giant set for triceps as 3x8 and some ab exercises during the rests.

Double-arm overhead triceps extension
Lying triceps extensions
Double-arm kickbacks

Just did some quick abs like hanging leg raises, weighted side bends, wood chops on stability ball and bicycle move.

Why the rush? I needed to get my pupsters to my sister who will be doggy sitting while we're gone. She can't stay the night tonight since she has to work so she'll be bringing them back up and house/dog sitting tomorrow.

Oh, and I know I've only been slightly alluding to us being out of town. We were supposed to be heading to visit my friends Jessica and Jolene this weekend. But plans changed. While I'm really sad that we can visit this weekend, I am looking forward to still being able getting away briefly.

We're going to Branson, MO. The last time we went it was over Valentine's weekend in 2010. My father has a time share so it's a free stay at least. We don't really do any of the tourist attractions other than shop at the outlet mall (sooo looking forward to this). We're really not into shows and the wineries are...well, not our preferred style of wines.

There is also a lake nearby - Table Rock Lake. We've never had a chance to go out to the lake because we've only been in the winter. But this time, we're taking advantage of being there in warm weather. Tomorrow we'll be renting a boat and spending the day lounging on the lake.

Sorry for the quick post today. I promise to make up for the pictureless boring post when we get to Branson. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run (ok, this didn't happen)
  • Getting out of town

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spinning, Rambling & Tempeh Taco Salads

Spin & Ramble
Ugh, another sleepless morning for me. Maddie has been waking up at 3:30 am on the dot bouncing around her kennel causing a ruckus. Yes, I know. We should put the kennel downstairs. But they stay in the kitchen ALL day long. So I feel bad. But I'm about to not feel so bad any longer.

Anyway, I kept waking up every hour after that, then Jason got up at 5 to go to swim practice. I finally dozed off soundly just in time for the alarm to rudely interrupt me. You see, while I have been getting up early for some morning runs and am at work really early, I am not actually a morning person.

I do not wake up all happy and cheery. I don't bounce up out of bed with enthusiasm. Nope, quite the opposite. Don't talk to me, don't even look at me first thing. It's like I have to wake up and totally get my bearings and contend with the fact that I am no longer asleep and must get my butt moving. The only way I can get up and out so early is that I have everything ready to go.

Each night, I set out my outfit (from my accessories to my underwear). I have my gym bag packed, or if I'm running, my running gear is set out (water bottles usually filled even). I make my oatmeal the night before and already know what I'll throw together for lunch. There's no thinking, I just get up and go through a set routine.

Anyway, I got my grumpy butt out the door and to work. I knew I was hitting up spin today and was initially looking forward to it. Not sure what went wrong, but I ended up in a big fat funk after class. Of course, it didn't help that it was storming. My walk back to the office was more like a swim. Thankfully I had my rain boots on so the only dry part of me was my calves down to my feet.

I guess I should at least be thankful that I don't have to water the yard this evening right? So, spin class was good, but I just wasn't into it. I've not been terribly motivated this week actually. And then my less than stellar run yesterday has just left me really blah about workouts. I mean, it wasn't the worst run even. I've had worse. But to have two runs in a row that were really hard kind of makes you less than excited about getting back out there.

I could go to another spin tomorrow, but it's a different teacher, different style. I'm beyond particular (surprised aren't you LOL). I do need to finish up weight workouts for the week as we are going to be out of town Thursday night through Sunday. I'll have access to a treadmill, but no free weights. It's a shame condo/hotel gyms rarely have free weights. I understand the liability, but still....

Anyway, totally rambling at this point. So I understand if I've lost you. Guess that shows you my mood for the day. We'll call it Wandering Wednesday ;-)

Taco Salad Bowl Wednesday
I got home and the sun finally started coming out. I needed to get some more packing finished up for this weekend trip. I was going with all black colors, then changed to brown, now back to black. I try to stick with one color so I don't feel the need to pack as many shoes. I try right?

So, more packing and laundry meant that I wanted a fairly easy dinner. I decided to go with taco salad bowls. I know Taco Salad Bowl Wednesday doens't have the same ring as Taco Tuesday, but I'll get over it.  This was super simple and that's what mattered tonight.

I just sauteed bell peppers, jalapenos, tempeh, onion, & black beans together. I seasoned with the typical Tex-Mex style of seasonings (cumin, red pepper, cilantro, salt & pepper). At the end, I tossed in cherry tomatoes and served all of it in a taco bowl I made by toasting up in my toaster oven (love that little sucker).
 
 


Of course I topped with more jalapenos and some Daiya Vegan Cheddar.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class (enjoyed, just not with it today)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Muggy Run, Biceps and Veggie & Tempeh Wraps

Muggy Morning Run & Weights
This morning Jason and I managed to get up and out the door for an early morning run. I have decided that I no longer need lungs to run. I need gills. The heat index was already 86 and humidity 90%. It was super foggy out and damp from last night's storms.

I made it 6 miles, but they were rough. I added in a few sprints along the way. Probably not the smartest move since I was already struggling. I never felt like I hit a smooth rhythm. Even taking a drink of my water threw my breathing and everything else off. And the gnats...very annoying when you're soaking wet (sweating from your toes even) and the damn gnats keep buzzing you and sticking to you. Grrrrr.

But you know what? I got it done. Plain and simple. Mind over matter.

At lunch I decided to get in my biceps and abs. I knew I wouldn't have the steam left to get it done after work. I went with a giant set of 3x8 then finished off the workout with a set of 21's (just for fun).

GS
Alternating bicep curls
Hammer curls
Preacher curls

21's

I did abs from Cathe's High Rep DVD before calling it done for the day.


Roasting vs Grilling
While I was home at lunch, I threw together a quick balsamic marinade for tempeh (balsamic vinegar, OJ, agave nectar, parsley, garlic powder, salt & pepper). I had one lone Japanese eggplant from our garden - not enough for any special dish, but can't waste it. So I went with a Roasted Veggie and Tempeh Wrap with (what else) baked sweet potato fries. 

I was going to grill the tempeh and veggies but with a heat index of 108, I decided against that one pretty quickly. I just roasted the veggies as I was baking the "fries."
 

I made up some quick sundried tomato and roasted red bell pepper hummus. I spread that on a whole-grain lavash sheet and piled on the goodies.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run (well, not the best, but got it done right?)
  • Easy, veggie heavy dinner
  • Clean pupsters to hug on (they got groomed)

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Sausage" Quinoa, Non-Stir-Fry Tofu Salad and Biofreeze

"Sausage" on Sunday
Last night we ended up just chilling on the couch watching a movie - Winter's Bone. We also decided to try a new product we picked up at Whole Foods the other day - Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage "Sausages." 

We have tried one of their roast loaves, but I have never seen the "sausages" until recently. Kristina @ Spabettie had done a post about them, highly recommending them. So I was excited to see Whole Foods finally carrying them.

Since the weather turned out to be fairly nice, we decided to grill the "sausages" with some veggies (onions, zucchini, squash). I made some quinoa that I flavored with thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, fresh garlic, and nutritional yeast flakes.

When the quinoa was done, I tossed in some halved cherry tomatoes then I added the grilled veggies and "sausages" over the top.

This was a really great, light summery dinner. The "sausages" would be perfect for a vegan stuffing for Thanksgiving as well. It was just the right amount of sage with bits of apple running throughout. Even better, they grilled up perfectly not drying out or becoming rubbery.


DOMS = Rest Day & Biofreeze
Today was supposed to be a typical Monday - meaning spin class. Jason had mentioned that he might join me again. However, he swam this morning and was pretty worn out. I had my bag packed up and was ready to go. However, I started questioning going to spin myself by mid-morning.

My weight workout was a killer apparently. Definitely feeling it in the shoulders, back, AND legs. I kept thinking that the soreness might ease up or that it would be one of those work-out-the kinks spin days. I had to be honest with myself though, there was no spinning out those kinks.

I had thought my leg workout was light enough that I wouldn't be in pain today. Um, not so much. Apparently those rear-leg elevated lunges got me. I must add those in more regularly.

Because I was so sore this morning, I decided to try out a new product that I recently received from Swanson Health Products: Biofreeze Pain Relieving Roll-On. I have heard really good things about it. So, today seemed like the perfect opportunity to test it out.

I liked that it was a roll on, didn't have to dip my fingers in it. It also wasn't overly pungent. It had a slight pain cream smell at first, but it quickly dissipated. It really did seem to help ease up some of the muscle soreness in my legs, but it wasn't a cure all (unfortunately). My legs are still sore/tight of course, but the Biofreeze did help relieve some of the pain. I'd definitely recommend it and will be using more this tonight.

Please note: I received this product free to review. All reviews are, and will always be, my honest opinion.

Are you interested in getting some free Swanson Health Products goodies to review on your own blog? Then check out the Swanson Health Blog for all the details.


Non-Stir-Fry Salad
Since I didn't hit spin at lunch, I was able to leave at my regular time (4 pm), which was the upside to the unplanned rest day actually. We're going to be heading out of town this weekend, so I have lots of prep to do (laundry, cleaning, and such).

This also gave me more time to spend in the kitchen. I made some more homemade seitan to freeze. I also got a little creative with dinner. I'll save the easier meals for later this week. I really wanted a salad of some sort tonight. Jason was suggesting stir fry. So, why not meld the two for a Non-Stir-Fry Style Tofu Salad?

Please note that the ingredients for the marinade/dressing are to desired consistency and flavor. I suggest making a slightly thicker sauce to marinade the tofu, then thinning it out a bit for the dressing. You will want to make enough to act as both the marinade and the dressing.


Non-Stir-Fry Tofu Salad
Ingredients:
Tofu
1 package tofu, frozen, thawed and squeezed dry, cubed
Low-sodium soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Orange juice
Miso paste (maybe 1/2 tsp)
Grated fresh ginger (to taste)
Sriracha chili (to taste)
Plum sauce
1 tbsp peanut butter
Sesame oil (just a few drops)

Salad
1/2 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash or zucchini, shredded
1-2 carrots depending on size, shredded
Broccoli florets (as many as you like)
1/2 cup edamame, thawed
Leaf lettuce, shredded
Wakame, reconstituted (optional)
Rice noodles (just a small amount, optional)
To taste: salt, Chinese 5 spice
Few splashes of red wine vinegar

Directions:
Make the marinade/dressing by whisking all ingredients together. Pour over the tofu and allow to soak in. Bake the tofu at 400 degrees until firm, flipping once.

Using a mandoline or food processor, shred the carrots and squash.

Toss all veggies, wakame, and noodles into a large mixing bowl, splash on some red wine vinegar, salt, and Chinese 5 spice, mix well and set aside.
 

I was actually really happy with how this turned out. It was definitely different, but kind of fun. I liked the veggies not being cooked, but you could easily steam them very briefly if you wanted. I would love to have this again with sugar snap peas. I also wonder how well you could crisp up rice wraps to use those as a bowl....

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin (nixed for rest day)
  • Extra kitchen time
  • Catching up on Big Brother

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Super Saturday and Lazy but Productive Sunday

Super Saturday
Well, yesterday was just an amazing day. Sarah got here just after 1. We ran a few errands before hitting the pool. Some friends came over to join us so it was a Saturday Pool Party kind of day. And you know what, I absolutely disconnected. After I did my blog post, I put the laptop away. Period. Done.

Even more...after everyone got to the house, I left my phone in my purse. No checking emails, checking to see who had posted a new blog post, no Facebook or Twitter. Nothing. I lived in real life and enjoyed ever single moment.

Don't get me wrong, I love blogging and love the constant interaction. But there was a time when I didn't spend half the weekend checking the computer. It never was turned on. I think it's good for the soul to remember that. To remember to just enjoy the here and now before it's gone.

The plan was Pizza Saturday. I started the dough for our pizza (as in me and Jason) and then got Sarah's socca pizza going. Our friends decided to stay and partake in Pizza Saturday as well. So it turned out to be a full day of pool, pizza, and amazing conversation.


Gym Day
This morning we woke up to rain, but the rain sure didn't cut the humidity or heat unfortunately. It was cloudy most of the day, which made getting myself energized for the gym a little more difficult. I ended up heading to the gym just before 10 am. My friend was going to join me. However, she refuses to do legs with me, so I told her I was going to do legs first then she could join me for shoulders and back and perhaps some boxing.

I started with 10 minutes on the elliptical as a warm up then did a short, lighter leg workout.

Squats - warmup set - 10 reps

SS#1 - 3x10
Squats
Plie squats

SS#2 - 2x10
Alternating squat with front kick
Single leg deadlifts

SS#3
Rear leg elevated lunges - 2x10
Calf raises - 2x20

GS#1 - 3x8
Shoulder press
Lateral raise
Front raise open to T (raise front all the way overhead, rotate wrists and open to T, lower to start)

GS#2 - 3x8
Underhand barbell row
Pullover
Single-arm dumbbell row

After the weights, we did the first full segment then just the 2nd boxing section from Cathe's MMA Boxing workout. It was a really good workout and lots of fun doing the boxing workout with a friend.

Productive & Lazy
I left the gym and headed over to Target to make an exchanged then to Kroger for groceries before heading home. Oh, and I did bring along a protein shake for post-workout just so you don't think I worked out that hard and didn't properly re-fuel.

I know I don't really talk about post-workout fueling other than post-run electrolytes. I know that everyone has their own take on fueling and re-fueling. I think you have to do what works best for you in the end.

Anyway, after the stores, Jason and I decided to go to a favorite pizza place, Vino's. We actually hadn't been in many many months. It was a way overdue visit. It's just a really different atmosphere. Pretty much a dive, but you get all types of people. So much people watching to be done.

After Vino's, we hit the pool since the sun finally decided to show itself for the day. So, fairly productive and fairly lazy Sunday so far. I call that a success. We've been debating on what we'll do for dinner. If it's anything new and exciting, I'll be sure to post tomorrow. For now, I'm going to sit back and relax and enjoy the last bit of the weekend.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Workout with friend
  • Pool time
  • Relaxing
  • Catch up on Big Brother

Saturday, August 20, 2011

9 Humid Miles and GU Brew to the Rescue

Seitan Wraps for Friday
Last night we had a good time meeting up with some friends for happy hour. We just visited and caught up for a few hours. A nice way to unwind after a really long week. Normally we would have gone home and made pizza for Pizza Friday. But my sister is coming up today and has requested pizza for dinner. I can definitely forgo Pizza Friday for Pizza Saturday with Sis ;-)

Instead of pizza, I had made up some Blackened Seitan before we had left for happy hour. I used that in whole-grain lavash wraps for a really tasty Blackened Seitan Wrap with baked sweet potato fries.

While I do love my pizza, it was sort of a nice change. Plus, my second love is sweet potato fries.

9-Miles
This morning I was up really early for a Saturday thanks to Maddie's antics. She started banging around in the kennel around 6. I finally decided to go ahead and get up at 6:20. I was planning on running anyway, and I knew I should get started sooner than later because of the temps.

While we enjoyed almost a week of below-average temperatures and humidity levels, that all changed this week, and we're back to hitting 100 degrees with very uncomfortable humidity and dew point. I got to the Big Dam Bridge right at 7 am and it was already a very humid 84 degrees. I didn't get started right away either because I ran into someone I knew and we chatted for a few minutes.

It was surprisingly packed at that hour. I guess everyone had the same idea - get it done as early as possible. I decided to take the same route as last week so that I could pass back by my car to refill my water bottle and towel off. This time, however, I did go a little farther down that new route.

There is a new bridge that connects the trail to another park across the river. I actually went over that bridge today and circled around that side. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very nicely shaded, forest-like path. The air was a little stagnant, but at least it was totally shaded. Definitely a nice change of scenery, and a very pretty sunrise.

I made it back to my car at 5 miles into the run, the perfect point to refuel as well. So I refilled my water and took in a GU before heading off to finish the run. This is where the run started to really get difficult for me. The first 5 miles, while hot and humid, were pretty good for the most part. Now if only I had gills, breathing would have been a cinch. At 6 miles in, I really started thinking about lapping back and calling it done at 7 miles. But then I started thinking, "no, I wanted 9, I'm doing 9."

It was a struggle mentally and even physically today. It was really hard to breathe. Normally my asthma is very controlled, but the humidity was doing a number on me. In the end, I did it - 9 solid miles. I am definitely proud that I didn't quit. I just had to dig deep today.

I couldn't wait to get back to the car so I could towel off (total sweat fest), get more water, and also try a new electrolyte product. Normally I have Gatorade, but I honestly hate the taste. Recently, I received GU Brew Tablets from Swanson Health Products to try. I used the GU gel, so was excited to try another product.
Before I left for my run, I had put one tablet with 16 oz of water so the tablet had ample time to dissolve. Then I stashed it in my handy cooler for post-run. While I liked the flavor so much better than Gatorade, the fizz was a little harder to take for me. I was wanted to chug it, and really couldn't. But, it has a much lighter, more refreshing taste. I felt quenched, as if I had also had water. When I have Gatorade, I feel thirstier actually. So, I would recommend this, but also warn you not to try to chug it down ;-)

*Please note that I received this product free to review. Opinions are my own and, as always, completely honest.

Are you interested in getting some free Swanson Health Products goodies to review on your own blog? Then check out the Swanson Health Blog for all the details.

Sister Saturday
After I got home, I rolled on my Triggerpoint kit and stretched out for a good 30 minutes. I definitely felt this run more than I did last Saturday.

Next on tap is to do some house chores like sweeping, laundry, dusting. Not only is my sis coming over and staying the night, we are also having some other friends come over for some pool time. I am most definitely looking forward to lounging in the pool and being utterly lazy. I feel as if I've earned that for the day.


Happy Saturday!

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run
  • Time with sister
  • Pizza Saturday
  • Pool time 
  • Hanging with friends

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - Running Styles

So today is definitely a rest day for me. I thought I was going to crash out and sleep soundly last night. Not so much. I tossed and turned starting around 2:45 am until I finally just got out of bed at 6. Yawn. Let's just say that coffee never sounded so good as it did this morning.

I really hate it when I am unable to sleep and it's my rest day. I feel like I should go ahead and get up and run anyway, take advantage of the situation. But, I knew it would be a really crappy run if I had attempted it. So I just stayed in bed, thinking.

It's funny when you run the same routes routinely and at the same days/times. You start to see the same set of people. You almost look forward to it, kind of like seeing a friend. Sometimes I think I should just run alongside someone and start up a conversation since we're already out there together all the time. Then I think that people would probably think I was a lunatic. So I refrain.

Along with seeing familiar faces, you start to recognize people from their running styles. I will admit to some people watching while running. So, for Fun Facts Friday, I thought I'd share my list of running styles that I see, some that make me shake my head, make me chuckle a little, or make me envious even.

Fun Facts Friday - Running Styles

Arm flapper - there is one guy that flaps his left arm inward. He may very well have an injury or ailment, I recognize that of course. But I had to laugh when one day he passed by and I wasn't sure if he was waving or it just happened to coincide with the arm flap.

All elbows - this guy runs with his elbows out, arms clinched in tight to his body and they shift from side to side. He looks like he should start a lateral skate motion.

Duck feet - one girl (who actually happened to be in my same pace group for the half marathon, she did the whole) runs with her feet slinging out. Her knees are slightly bent inwards and she seemingly slings her feet out and around.

Tilted head - there is one guy that runs with just one earbud in, and he keeps his head tilted to that side.

Pained runner - for about a year now, I have seen this one man running the route shuffling along so slowly that I think he could really walk faster if he wasn't trying to imitate a jog. I know that sounds terrible, but he looks incredibly pained doing this. Sometimes fast walking is better than trying to do a running motion. If that makes sense...

Left palm up - there is one guy who runs barefoot. Not sure if that is the reason for the upwardly turned palm or not. Maybe totally unrelated. Anyway, he runs with his left palm up and moving back and forth, perhaps keeping rhythm somehow?

Perfection - we have a local running legend named Leah Thorvilson (as in 2012 Olympic trials qualifier). When you pass her on the route, you immediately feel frumpy and slow. It's really something to see her zipping past you with amazing form and speed (and basically sweat free unlike me).

Disclaimer, please don't get the wrong idea that I'm just out there making fun of people, being cruel, thinking I'm perfect. Not at all. In fact, I wonder what people think when they see me. There is probably some weird idiosyncrasy in my step I don't recognize. Some strange something or other. Maybe I'm just "the girl who sweats a lot."

The thing is, no matter how you run, or how these people run, there is a sense of camaraderie. So I might chuckle at the guy with the flapping arm not knowing if he was waving at me, but we still nod and smile at each other. I wave at people with sweat flinging off my fingers, even the guy who looks like he's in pain musters up a nod. We all have something in common - we're out there together getting it done. And in my book, that's just plain awesome.

For you runners, do you notice idiosyncrasies? Do you have any of your own? We can even see these in the gym for the lifters too.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Rest day
  • Happy hour with friends
  • The fact that it's Friday (um hello!)
  • Wine Friday (thanks for the invite Lisa!)
  • Pizza Friday - ok, not tonight. It'll be Pizza Saturday with Sister instead ;-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Morning Run and Easy Veggie Burger Dinner

Dark Morning Run
This morning I got myself up and out the door for an early morning run. It's getting harder though now that the sun isn't coming up until mid-run. For starters, it makes me a little nervous to be out there by myself. There are usually cyclists, a few, but not as many runners until the skies begin to lighten up. So, finding a good running time is now on the shuffle for me - not sure how to run before it gets too hot, when it's light enough, and still get to work.

Anyway, it was about 10 degrees hotter this morning and the humidity was definitely up there. Not nearly the pleasant, chill bump inducing weather from Tuesday. But at least it wasn't 90+ degrees with blazing sun right?

I set out thinking that I might do 4 miles then some hill repeats. I quickly realized there were not going to be any hill repeats though. My legs were feeling pretty heavy from spin, run, spin this week. It could have easily been a rest day for me actually.

But, I was out there. I decided to try for a slightly faster 5.5-miler rather than any repeats or intervals. I really didn't have any way of gauging speed other than my heart rate, but that can be tricky too. I've noticed that as the dew point and humidity increase, so does my heart rate - or it seems to be the case. Maybe I'm pushing harder and I don't realize? Sometimes I think it can be a good thing to have the fancy gadgets so you do know your speed and distance. Sometimes they can be a hindrance too.

Despite heavy legs and high humidity (aka non-stop sweating), it was a pretty good run overall. And, it was a good way to start the day.

Easy Dinner
By about 11 am, I was beginning to crash big time. There was not going to be any double workout today. In fact, just staying upright was going to be my biggest challenge. It is really rare that I get super tired during the day. But today, I was so tired I had a headache and was beyond grumpy (even clumsy and broke a candle holder). So, instead of abs or any other workout at lunch, I went to Target.

I had been putting off the Target trip for several days, so I decided to just get it done today. I thought maybe walking around would help wake me up a little as well. Jason got his hair cut (it was out of control) next door to Target while I did the shopping.

Target can be so distracting I must say. I did very well, however, and only bought the items on the list. That deserves a gold star for the day I do believe.

As a reward for my run, getting an errand done, AND not buying anything off the list, I went with another easy easy dinner tonight: Lentil & Quinoa Burgers (based off the Lentil & Quinoa Sliders), which I had stashed in the freezer and baked sweet potato fries.

I even went with my typical "burger" toppings of roasted red bell peppers, fresh spinach, and vegan "cheese." Sometimes sticking to the basics is just the way to go.

These were the last of my homemade veggie burgers unfortunately. Guess that means I need to spend some time in the kitchen this weekend. And speaking of time in the kitchen - I need your favorite chia seed recipe. I finally got a bag and don't have a clue what to do with them. So send your recipes my way please. I will do my best to create a list and link back to all of them.

Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run
  • Easy dinner
  • Catching up on Big Brother (finished my book and need a new one now)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spinning, Overthinking and Eating Leftovers

Spinning & Overthinking 
Today was a pretty typical Wednesday. Jason got up at 5am for swim, I did not. Instead, I hit up spin at lunch. Jason actually went with me today too! I really do look forward to my noon workouts. Even if I'm feeling sluggish, I know that going will really help boost my energy and mood.

Sometimes I think the key to getting workouts done and maintaining routine is just getting yourself going. Don't think about it too much, just get in there and get started. Overthinking causes us to question ourselves too much sometimes.

I know that when I get too much inside my head, that's when my runs tend to falter. I start to question my ability to make it a certain distance or speed. I start to notice those little aches or pains and they suddenly seem way out of proportion. So then I'm so focussed on discomfort, that I stop myself short. And I don't mean pain as in an injury, I just mean being out of a comfort zone kind of thing. Working out shouldn't feel easy peasy. You should feel like you're doing something right?

Sometimes I even question my weight selection or strength and don't give myself enough credit. In other words, I undermine my own efforts. I opt for fewer reps or lighter weights rather than just going for it. So what if I only get 6 out of 8 reps, at least that's trying.

What do you think? Do you notice a difference when you start to overthink something, get too inside your own head?

Oh, back to workout...I did a quick chest workout before spin class:
Chest flye into chest press - 3x8
Incline chest press - 3x10
Pushups with toes on bench - TF

Leftovers?
Speaking of overthinking, I tend to also overthink dinners way too often. I will literally start thinking about dinner first thing in the morning. I go over what I have in the fridge or freezer. I think about what sounds best, what new creation I might come up with.

Why can't I just go with something nice and simple? That can be just as tasty right? So, tonight, I'm going the easy route. I know what you're thinking, "riiiiggghhhttt...."

But I did it. I didn't cook. I made SOOOO much Balsamic Dijon Veggie Pasta Salad yesterday, that I made the executive decision to finish that off before making more leftovers. I can't seem to grasp the concept of cooking for two. When one squash would work, I use two.
It definitely didn't look as pretty the 2nd time around though

Do you over do it in the kitchen making enough to feed an army when it's only a few people? This is great if you are a leftover person. I, however, am not a big fan. But, tonight, I'm making an exception to my crazy crazy rule. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • No cooking
  • Reading before bed

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two on Tuesday and Balsamic Dijon Veggie Pasta Salad

Morning Run
This morning we woke up around 5:20 to get ready for a morning run. My plan was to run 6 miles. Jason was going to do 2 then bike.

Now that it's getting light so much later, I can't really get started on my run until right at 6 am. This makes me feel like I'm really crunched for time. I normally go into work at 7, but if I do 5 or 6 miles, plus the driving time to and from the Big Dam Bridge, then I don't get to work until 7:30-7:45. So I "feel" like I'm late even if I just stay later. Guess I just feel thrown off is all.

Anyway, we got going and Jason turned around at mile 1 to give himself 2 miles. He is still trying to nurse his IT band after his blow out when we were in Chicago. I definitely don't want him to be hurt, and it was so peaceful and calm that I didn't mind doing 5 solo miles really. Though, his company does make the run enjoyable as well, don't get me wrong.

It was only 70 degrees out, which felt amazing. Definitely more my running temp and my body responded accordingly. I had wanted to do a faster run, but misjudged my initial speed as I wasn't really paying attention. On my return lap is where I started to pick up my pace.

It was kind of funny because there was a group of three guys that were doing some intervals. Of course they all passed me, but once they finished their intervals, their pace was relatively slow. So I started catching up to them. As I started closing in on them, they heard me and started to try to speed up a little. My competitive nature took over so I let them speed up then slow down a few times before taking on all three ;-) Men really hate to be passed by a woman, whether it's in a car or by foot.

I came upon another lady running solo. She was keeping a good pace, so I sort of stuck with her. But then started thinking she might think I was a weirdo for not pacing, but staying fairly close. I know that can annoy me. So I did end up passing her, which also helped to push me to run a bit faster. Now if only I could have done the whole distance at that faster pace.

I feel like my pace has slowed down to a snails crawl since my half training. I really need to figure out a plan of attack to increase my speed. I guess I need to really start planning out runs not just in terms of distance but intervals, pick ups, hill repeats. How often do you add in speed work? Only when training for a race or do you have a plan of attack for maintaining speed?

Weights
During lunch, I did the weights I was going to do yesterday: biceps, triceps, abs. I had planned on just doing 3 different supersets, but changed my mind last minute. I have been feeling really stagnant in my weight workouts, so I decided to change it up today.

I chose 3 exercises per muscle group. I did 2 sets of supersets followed by drop sets.

SS#1 - 3x10
Hammer curls
Lying triceps extensions

SS#2 - 3x8
Cross-body curls
Double-arm kickbacks

Dropset #1 - 6,8,10 decreasing weight each set
Dumbbell curls

Dropset #2 - 6,8,10 decreasing weight each set
Double-arm overhead triceps extensions

I finished up with abs from Cathe's Power Hour DVD. I definitely felt the dropsets and struggled to finish all the reps, especially with biceps. So this was a good change up for me.

I really am not feeling terribly creative in the kitchen this week. Maybe my weekend cooking took it out of me. We have lots of fresh veggies screaming to be used. I decided to go with a simple Balsamic DijonVeggie Pasta Salad, mostly because Jason said that sounded good. Oh, and I figured it'd be fairly easy to make.

Balsamic Dijon Veggie Pasta Salad
Ingredients:
Broccoli, chopped (as much as you like)
Container cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 can artichoke hearts, diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen peas
6 oz whole-wheat rotini or penne
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (may need a little more)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup orange juice (may want to start out just a tad less)
Agave nectar, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp minced garlic (more or less depending on taste)
To taste: dried parsley, salt, pepper, red chili flakes

Directions:
To make the dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, OJ, mustard, agave, and spices and set aside.

Add in the tomatoes, artichokes, peas, and chickpeas to a large mixing bowl.

Steam your broccoli pour over the veggies.

Cook pasta according to package directions and transfer to bowl with veggies and toss. The heat will help thaw the peas. Pour dressing over the pasta and veggies and toss well. As an option, you can also add in nutritional yeast flakes.
 
 

I did cook more pasta than I had intended. I have a tendency to underestimate pasta's blow up potential. But, it turned out to be a great dinner. It would be fantastic to make ahead and take for a potluck as well.


Daily To-Enjoy List
  • Morning run
  • Cooler temps
  • Easy dinner
  • Reading before bed

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working Out for Work Health? And Grilled Salad

Spin Day
Today was a fairly typical Monday. I hit up spin at noon. It seemed like everyone in the class was having a major case of the Mondays though. Normally it's a fairly lively class. Today...not so much. But it was still a great class, and I felt so much more energetic after class.

I had thought I was going to get in biceps before the class. But I just didn't have it in me today. So, I'll get to those tomorrow. Some days just aren't meant for lifting.

Workouts for Work Health?
Today was a fairly hectic day for me at work. When I get to enjoy a workout mid-day, it really helps me refocus. I feel so incredibly lucky that I am fortunate enough to be able to get in a workout during the day. I kind of think all work places should promote that to be honest.

I know how much better I feel, more energized, re-focused, just happier. It would seem to make sense that the company as a whole would benefit from all employees coming back feeling like they were ready to take on whatever challenges they are facing that day.

Sometimes I think health and wellness should trump time spent tied to a desk. Let's face it, that time sitting is NOT healthy. There are so many studies out now that talk about the detriments of so much time spent just sitting. And smokers take multiple smoke breaks that add up, but non-smokers don't get that time? So why not give that time in terms of workout time? Just a thought, totally rambling.

Are you lucky enough to have a flexible schedule that would allow for mid-day workouts? Do you work for a company that promotes health and wellness? I will say that my company does in terms of providing free gyms to employees. They are on site and I know ours (we have a few different buildings we occupy) has several classes like dance cardio and even yoga.

Grilling 
Our weather has cooled down tremendously. Today was only 90 degrees with low humidity. And yes, 90 feels very cool after days of 115 degree temps. I couldn't pass up firing up the grill. I just went with a Grilled Tempeh & Veggie Salad.

Nothing spectacular or fancy. Just lots of grilled veggies and tempeh that I marinated in balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, OJ, salt, garlic powder. So simple and the veggies don't need anything if you ask me.

This is definitely my favorite salad. Do you have a favorite salad combo?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin
  • Grilling 
  • Catching up on Big Brother

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Spring Rolls & "Tuna" Tacos

Snacky Saturday
It took a long time for either of us to start thinking about dinner last night after our lunch yesterday. We were so full and lazy the rest of the day it just wasn't even funny. I knew dinner needed to be something on the light side. Jason suggested a snack plate of sorts.

Of course I never do anything super simple. That'd just be too easy right? We had plenty of fresh veggies and some frozen tofu. We also had some rice wraps, which I never think to use. So, I decided to go with baked tofu and spring rolls.

Spicy Peanut Soy Marinade/Dipping Sauce
Ingredients:
1-2 tbsp plum sauce
Sriracha chili (to desired heat level)
Soy sauce (to consistency, probably 1/4 cup)
1-2 tbsp peanut butter
Water (to desired consistency)

Directions:
Simply whisk together all ingredients. Pour over tofu or use as a dipping sauce.

When using as a marinade I will say that I think using frozen then thawed tofu is ideal for this recipe. It soaks up the marinade much faster and bakes up with a nice crispy outer layer.


For the Spring Rolls, we used a mandoline to thinly slice zucchini, squash, and carrots, then thinly sliced some red bell pepper. Tossed the veggies in a large bowl and seasoned with dried mustard, Chinese five spice, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic powder, rice wine vinegar and just a splash of sesame oil.

We let it sit while the tofu baked then rolled it up in the rice wraps. I used the same ingredients for the tofu marinade, only made it slightly thicker, as the dipping sauce along with some soy sauce.
 
 
 


The marinade was the perfect combination of spicy, salty and even slightly sweet from the peanut butter and plum sauce. This was the perfect light snacky type of dinner for the evening.

This morning I woke up around 7 again. I knew I shouldn't go out and run, but it was tempting. It was barely 70 degrees, sunny, and low humidity. But, I took myself to the gym instead. I did a similar workout as last Sunday going with shoulders, back, and light legs. I did upper body as 3x8.

SS#1
Overhead shoulder press
Upright rows

SS#2
Lateral raise
Incline rear delt flye

GS
Underhand barbell row
Pullover
Double-arm rows

GS
Walking lunges 2x8
Plie squats 3x10
Calf raises - 3x16
Single-leg dead lifts - 2x8

I did some ab work then stretched really well. Surprisingly enough, only my hip flexors are a little tight from yesterday's long run. I won't complain.


Lazy, Productive, & "Tuna" Tacos
After the gym, I headed to the grocery store, then home for some pool time. Today it was not interrupted by rain. The pool was actually really cold after all the rain and lowered temps over the past week. It was kind of nice not having to add water to the pool just to make it comfortable. But you did have that initial, holy shit this is cold reaction ;-)

We had a really good, fairly lazy, but also productive day. Got laundry done, did some rearranging (always makes me feel good), decluttered, etc. Dinner is where we decided to get complicated. It's funny that Jason always talks about me getting too complicated in the kitchen, overthinking meals. He's just as bad, trust me. And it's even worse when we work together.

A few years back, we found some vegetarian/vegan "fish" products while on vacation in Daytona Beach, FL. We didn't remember the brand, and never found anything similar. Until recently that is. I found a "tuna" steak made by Yves (would link but they don't have it on their site).

We decided to give it a try tonight. Originally, I had suggested putting it with a grilled veggie salad. But it go more complicated than that. We ended up making "Fish" tacos with spicy black beans and a spicy veggie salad.

I cooked the "tuna" steaks mostly according to the directions but only used half the sauce (it had a very Asian undertone). I made an easy salsa with tomato, jalapeno, red and green onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

For the beans, we cooked down black beans with cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper, I pretty much used the same spices for the veggies (leftovers from last night: shredded carrot, zucchini, squash and orange bell peppers).

I did lightly brown the whole-wheat wraps before filling them with chopped lettuce, the "tuna" and fresh salsa. On the side was the black beans with sprinkle of Daiya and veggies over lettuce.
 
 

Don't ask me if this tasted like a fish taco or tuna or anything like that. I never had tuna other than in a can and have never had fish tacos. But, was it a good dinner? Yes.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Weight workout
  • Pool time
  • Reading time 


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Accidental 9.8 Miles & Lunch With Sis

Accidental 9.8
We had yet another storm system move through in the early morning hours. Why can't they move through during the day? Anyway, Heath woke us up of course. I finally dozed back off around 6-ish with the assumption that today's workout would be at the gym and not a run.

I woke up again a little after 7. Just couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted feeling. It was drizzling out and a brisk 71 degrees. The wheels started turning in my brain as I quickly checked the weather map. It looked like once the system moved out, then I would be able to get in a run after all. I just needed to wait about 45 minutes.

It was kind of nice not feeling pressured to rush out the door and hurry up to get in a run before it hit 100 degrees. It was about 73 when I set out for my run around 9-ish. I decided to take a different route today. I headed off in the opposite direction towards a newly built bridge. I really didn't know the distance to that bridge, I was just assuming around 3-ish, maybe 3.2.

It started off feeling on the cooler side until the sun came out. With all the moisture, the sun created a sauna effect immediately. Holy sweatfest. I was really thankful for taking that route as it would put me back by my car so I could refill my water and wipe my eyes off - sweat stings!

After my little pitstop, I headed on my merry way now going in the direction of my normal route. I was totally in the zone before my stop and it took me a good mile to hit my groove again. I was seriously considering cutting the run short and being happy with 5 miles.

Then Mother Nature cooperated and the clouds rolled in and a light breeze came with the new shade. As soon as that happened, the sauna effect disappeared and I started to hit my stride again. It's really amazing how temperatures, humidity, etc. can really affect your performance.

I knew I needed to take my GU but wanted to wait until there was a trashcan nearby so I could toss the packet when done. I saw one can, but decided to go to the next one instead. I had my GU, made my turn around and just kept cruising along totally zoning out and bebopping along.

I really felt good the whole run. I thought I was probably a little over 8 miles. Actually, it ended up more like 9.8 miles - total accident. And how does one accidentally run 9.8 miles? By underestimating their speed and taking a route where they don't know the distance. Then judging said distance based on incorrect speed. It also helps when the body is fully cooperating along with Mother Nature.

Oh, and giddy runner's high doesn't even begin to explain my drive home. I started grinning then full on laughing. Seriously wish I could bottle that up and sell it - I'd be one rich gal!

When I got home, I rolled and stretched for a good 30 minutes. I kept drinking water and electrolytes (tried a new GU product, electrolyte tablets). My feet were starting to cramp up, but my calves were 100% fine and only slight ache in my piriformis. This is all good in my book.

Sister Approved
I had a protein shake then got cleaned up. Jason and I were meeting my sister and her new boyfriend for lunch. This is a big deal - me meeting someone she's dating. This would rank up there with her introducing her to dad. He's gotta pass the sister test first. Thems the rules ;-)

We met at a place called Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro. I have been there a couple of times, but Jason has never been and neither has my sister or her new man. We actually had a card that gave us a discount (thanks Groupon), so were excited to use that finally.

Lunch was good, a little pricy, but large portions at least. The only downfall of the place is their service. It's sooooo slow. It was ok though I suppose, gave us more time to visit. Sarah and I could just talk all day as I'm sure you can imagine. Luckily Jason and "R" hit it off talking football so there was no awkwardness at all.

R seems like a really nice guy. I told my sister I didn't feel the urge to have the "sister" talk with him even. And yes, I've pulled men aside and had a little Come to Jesus meeting about how they will or will not treat my sister. I'm a total Mama Bear. You don't f*ck with my family or my friends period. Maybe that's the Italian in me.

Anyway, long story short: we had a great lunch, a great visit, and now I'm a stuffed lazy slug.

Happy Saturday my friends!!


Oh, before leaving you - I must give a shout out to Jess & Jo running their second half marathon tomorrow!! I wish you two ladies the best of luck. Know that I'm with you in spirit and can't wait for your text!!!


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Long run
  • Lunch with sister
  • Lazy afternoon