Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughts and Thanks

Today - well this week - I've had a lot on my mind. Too much really. Too many worries, frustrations, upsets. But I've also had things to be thankful for of course.

I thought I'd do a little Things I'm Thinking and Thankful For post today. Just sort of random, bear with me.

I'm thankful that I prepped the tofu for the Pho Jason made last night so that I could spend the needed time studying for my ISSA Personal Trainer Certification.
 

My head is going to explode from all the new information I'm having to learn with the personal trainer cert. I should have paid more attention during biology.

I've passed the first 2 quizzes, but I'm not sure how well I'll do with more written and detailed questions - insert one of the worries that's crept in.

I'm thankful that my boss is letting me work from home 2 days a week right now. It's helping me not feel so entirely fatigued - which is good since I've not been sleeping this week. It also makes it easier when I'm getting down.

I'm thankful that it's sunny today.

I'm thankful to have a rundate set with my running partner after work.

Will I ever not feel aches and pains with running - let alone the exhaustion I get right now. I want to just get out and run and not worry if my feet are going to hate me the next day or my piriformis is going to keep me up at night, or that I can't run the next half marathon.

I'm thankful that I can at least get out and run. Mentally necessary.

What are some of your thoughts or thanks for the day?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chase and Race Bike Trainer Workout

Work it Out Wednesday
Ok, so I didn't do this particular work out today, but I thought I'd share today just the same. I actually opted for a yoga workout during lunch today for an active recovery day. Plus, the yoga helped to quieten my mind so a win-win for me.

On Sunday, Jason and I ran 3.5 miles together. While he went on for another 4 miles, I went inside and hopped on my bike trainer. I didn't want anything really hard like the previous Quad Killer workout though.

I decided to do a Chase and Race sequence to help me practice with my turnover pedaling. Just because it wasn't all about hills didn't make it any easier mind you. You do still need a certain amount of tension on your bike so that you're not just free spinning.

For the Chase part (first half), I used slight inclines (tension increases) to add a level of difficulty so that you know you're working but you can still keep a pretty swift turnover, then you you plane out, ease off the tension and pedal as fast as your legs can manage (without bouncing wildly in your saddle of course). Imagine playing a game of chase and trying to catch up with a buddy - a little bit of back and forth.

For the Race part, the tension is much lighter, but you must have some resistance, don't take the easy road here. You're working. But the point of the race part is to keep your turnover fast and then even faster again with no real recover periods like with the chase section.

Make sense? If not, it's still fun - or I thought it was. Again, turn the music up and rock out!

A few things to keep in mind:
  • You always want some tension on your wheel - never free spinning.
  • If you find yourself bouncing in the saddle, you're tension is probably too light.
  • For spin bikes, turn your knobs to achieve the tension you need - this might be a half turn or even a full turn. 
  • For bike trainers, use your own judgement with your gears (this was good practice for me learning gears). 
  • Everyone has their own level to work from, but make sure you're not taking the easy way, it's short, so work hard ;-)
  • Find some upbeat music and crank it up.
  • Most importantly, have fun!

30 Minute Chase and Race Bike Trainer Workout

Be sure to step off your bike slowly after you stop, and please take time to stretch out your legs. I promise you they'll thank you in the end.

Way to Go Wednesday
And, on to another edition of Way to Go Wednesday. Hope you don't mind, and please leave shout outs in the comments. Love to hear them!

Mrs Stuftmama knocked out a PR marathon time despite tummy troubles. She seriously rocks!

Tina is now a Nature Made Ambassador!

Laura at Mommy Run Fast has signed up for the RRCA Coaching Certification.

And I have to give Brian (Pavement Runner) another much-deserved shout out for putting together the We Heart You post for Krysten.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Prepping and I Heart Post

Yesterday I spent the majority of the day studying for the ISSA personal trainer exam as well as meal-prepping. I definitely don't do that enough. While it was time-consuming and messy, I know it'll be worth it throughout the week.

I made spaghetti sauce for 2 dishes. Last night I used part of it for Eggplant Lasagna. Later in the week I'll use the rest with "meatballs" over spaghetti squash, which I already baked off and have waiting for me.

For the eggplant lasagna, it was basically layers of thinly sliced eggplants, spinach, TVP and sauce. Topped the last layer off with Daiya and baked it low and slow to allow the eggplants to really soften up.

I pressed 2 packages of tofu then baked one for Pho and started marinating the other block for stir fry. While the tofu was pressing, the sauce simmering, and the squash baking, I also made some homemade ciabatta bread that we had with the eggplant lasagna and will enjoy again with a vegetable soup.

Do you take the time to do some meal-prepping and planning? I know several of you do. I guess I just need to make it a habit.

I had originally thought about posting a spin workout that I did yesterday, but instead wanted to share something - this is the power of the blogging community at it's best.

If you don't know Krysten from Darwinian Fails, you must visit her blog. She's an amazing, inspiring young woman. She's been through a tremendous amount of medical issues and is having to undergo surgery again this week.

Brian from Pavement Runner reached out to bloggers to pull together and show our support for Krysten with a "We Heart You" post. Here's the post (please visit if you haven't already seen it).
Thank you to PavementRunner for putting this amazing post together!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cold Running & Things I Need Help With

Cold Running
Yesterday, my running partner and I had planned a rundate after work. Let me preface this story with the fact that it was sunny and 60 degrees on Wednesday, a day I did not run. Thursday was the opposite. It was overcast, gusting winds, and wind chills at 30 all day, dropping by the time we ran into the 20's. I know 20's aren't that cold for a lot of you, but in the South...brrrr

I won't lie, I was dreading that initial sting of the cold. You know that one when you first step outside and think, "What the hell am I doing?" It's that moment where you fight with your brain about the temperature. You're cold at first and you instinctively feel the need to rush back in and put on more layers.
Posted on Instagram:
This is my what am I doing it's too cold to run outside look
But your rational side sometimes prevails and forces you to just step away from the door and get moving. Thankfully I listened because I did almost end up hot, almost. I ran the mile to "A's" office then we ran around the downtown area near the river. Luckily, the route we took kept us mostly out of the gusting headwinds.

Sometimes I still get nervous running with "A," especially now since I never know how far I can go without having to stop. But somehow, we almost always setting quickly into a nice pace and even better conversation. Traffic downtown does mean we have to stop more frequently, so that does help me right now recover a bit without having totally stop and/or walk. But I think the talking also helps me focus elsewhere. 

All that to basically say that despite the cold, gloom, and wind, I had a really awesome 5.5 mile run.

Do you ever semi-dread a run or get nervous before a run? And temperatures? What's your cut off point?

Fun for Friday - Things I Need Help With
I almost did this list yesterday as a Thursday Things I Need Help With, but decided to save it for Fun for Friday instead. It's Friday and I think we all could use something light and slightly inane. So here is a list of things I need help with - links, suggestions, whatever you got.

Hemp seeds - just got a bag to try. Any tips, tricks or recipes you want to share?

Warm running socks - I have 2 pairs of bamboo/wool socks that now have holes in the toes. I haven't worn them "that" much. So any brands you recommend?

Heel caps - I end up knocking the heel caps off my shoes (I might run on my toes but walk on my heels). Has anyone ever bought heel caps and replaced them yourself?  

Though I have a rant about Steve Madden shoes - they fall apart! I have a pair of gray booties and the heels literally crumbled. Not sure if heel caps would even work on those shoes.

Low acidic recipes - I've started having some tummy issues that I believe are related to the Xarelto. I wanted to try some lower acid dishes to see if that might help.

Personal cert training - Ugh, overwhelmed with all the info. Any tips of advice on how to approach studying?

Ok, your turn, what's something you need help with?




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bike Trainer Spin Workout

Working it Out
Yesterday I ended up going for a run after work. I wasn't feeling the best. Not sure how to explain it, almost nauseous but not quite, upper tummy area hurting. I was going to just play any workout by ear (or tummy as the case was).

My plan was just to see what I could do. I thought the fresh air might help make me feel better. And it actually did. It was a little chilly at the start, my thumbs were frozen, but the air felt great on my face. I did right at 3 miles. I was feeling so much better after the run, endorphins I'm sure, so I decided to take a little spin on my bike (on the trainer mind you).

I cranked up the music and got to it. I wasn't sure what my plan was going to be, just spin and play around with the gears or try out a trainer workout from Angela at Happy Fit Mama. I didn't write it down though, and ended up sort of making up my own workout. I think it was a pretty darn good one too and was happy to have her inspiration to make up my own workout.

This wasn't a long workout (36 minutes), but it was a good one - maximized my time with hills. My quads were talking to me and it most definitely got my heart rate up! If you wanted a longer workout, you could repeat the climb for a 3rd time. I will say that loud, upbeat music really helps too.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • You always want some tension on your wheel - never free spinning.
  • If you find yourself bouncing in the saddle, you're tension is probably too light.
  • For spin bikes, turn your knobs to achieve the tension you need - this might be a half turn or even a full turn. 
  • For bike trainers, use your own judgement with your gears (this was good practice for me learning gears). 
  • Everyone has their own level to work from, but make sure you're not taking the easy way, it's short, so work hard ;-)
  • Find some upbeat music and crank it up.
  • Most importantly, have fun!


I was a sweaty mess after this workout. I took time to recover and stretch out really well focussing on quads, hamstrings and glutes. I do suggest cooling down and stretching for at least 10 minutes after the workout.

Unfortunately, my sense of feeling good was short-lived. My tummy started bothering me again and I just wasn't feeling great. I had started the makings for a Thai Tofu and Veggie dish.

Jason kindly took over and finished it. I was in bed before 9 pm. I'm starting to be concerned of other side effects from the Xarelto and think I may end up going for a second opinion. I really wish I could find out more information or even a support group for Xarelto. But the usage for dissolving a clot, not just preventing, is so new I feel like I'm alone in this.

Way to Go Wednesday
Rather than ending on a down note, because that's no fun, I wanted to do a couple of shout outs for Way to Go Wednesday! And please, don't forget to share your shout outs for the week as well.

Laura at Sprint 2 the Table for completing her first adventure race!

Heather for not only completing the Goofy Challenge but doing so as a running coach.

Angela at Happy Fit Mama for inspiring me to create a spin workout.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Spinach and Cannellini Bean Pasta Bake

After yesterday's way-to-deep-for-a-Monday post, I thought I'd make today's post much lighter and simpler, kind of light this recipe. I'm rather liking Tasty Tuesdays actually. Kind of keeps me inspired to be creative in the kitchen again.

We haven't been to the grocery store in a little over a week now. That means fresh veggies are pretty low and the pantry is starting to get a little more bare than usual too. Jason has this thing for casseroles and baked dishes. I decided to just work with that as a starting point for dinner.

I had rotini, frozen spinach, some tomato sauce and silken tofu. I thought I'd make a fast, creamy pasta sauce with the tofu. Love using silken tofu to make a "cream" style sauce. It works so well plus it's an added boost of protein.

Now, if you can't do soy, you can always use a cashew cream, coconut or almond milk instead. It'll just make for a slightly looser sauce, but shouldn't affect flavors much. Feel free to omit the beans or sub them with a bean you prefer best. I think lentils might be nice with this dish too.

Spinach & Cannellini Bean Pasta Bake
Ingredients:
1/2 package silken tofu
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
7-8 sundried tomatoes, re-hydrated and chopped
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
To taste: salt, pepper, red chili flakes, basil, parsley
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
6 oz whole-wheat rotini (or pasta of choice), cooked per package directions
Daiya Vegan Cheese (or cheese of choice)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor, puree the tofu, tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, nutritional yeast flakes, seasonings. If you feel like your sauce is too thick, add in a splash of almond milk or white wine.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta, sauce, spinach, and beans. Then transfer to a prepared baking dish. Top cheese and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.


The great thing about this dish, besides the flavor, is that it's really quick to throw together. And if you didn't want to take the time to bake it, you could just heat up the sauce in the microwave or in a saucepan. Even easier right?

I think the next time I try this one, I'll add in a little more liquid to the sauce. But I loved how the sundried tomatoes gave the dish a hint of a feta taste. You could easily omit any "cheese" because of that tang. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honesty, Running and Cathe's Yoga Max

Dismal Run but Wonderful Family Time
This weekend ended up being far better than I had expected. Initially, Jason and I had no plans. I was supposed to have lunch with my mom and sister next weekend to celebrate my mom's birthday, which was the 18th. Things changed and mom and sis ended up coming up on Saturday.

Saturday started off with one of those dig-deep-to-finish runs. I had set out to do 4 easy miles. I wanted it to be slower, easier, just enjoying being outside. I ended up over-dressing. It was 32 degrees when I started the run, but it warmed up faster than I expected.

I also encountered far more creepers (aka vagrants and un-savory characters) than usual, so that meant I instinctively ran faster, faster than intended, and faster than my body needed. I never got my breathing on track so I felt like I struggled the entire run to breathe easily and to even hit a nice rhythm.

I had to stop at mile 2 to take off my gloves then I had to stop each mile after to try to recover. Honestly, I was pissed off by the time I was done. I felt like I was failing somehow. I know, irrational. My body is not functioning as it should. My endurance is down. My energy is down. I should cut myself some slack. Yes.

But I just wanted another good run. I needed it to make me feel more normal, more healthy I suppose. And it didn't happen. Jason actually said, "You looked like shit when you came through the door." Yep. That sums it up.

But, the day improved because I got to spend time with my sister and mom. We started off at the mall to do some shopping. My mom's not a big shopper unless my sis or I am with her. She found a gorgeous little black dress on clearance + 40% off at the Limited and a super cute shirt. Then she found another cute shirt at New York and Company.

After the shopping, it was time for lunch. We ended up at a place downtown called Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro. We had the best time laughing, eating, drinking wine, laughing some more. It was just what I needed after a trying week.

Honesty and Yoga
Speaking of trying, I keep getting comments, sweet, kind comments, about how strong I am, how great I seem to be doing with this whole blood clot issue. Honestly, it makes me feel like a bit of a fraud. Yes, I'm dealing with it. I'm doing my best to be positive, to realize it could be soooo much worse, to be thankful, grateful, etc.

BUT, I do have my meltdowns. I cry a lot. I get pissed off, a lot. I'm tired, just so tired on so many levels. I don't share all of that because I don't want to be a downer. It'd only make things more depressing for myself too. But, I don't feel like I'm strong or inspiring or anything like that.

I feel like a huge mess to be honest. I feel like I'm just getting by the best way I can, maybe even partially by denial. And the support I get from you guys means more than you could ever possibly know right now. And I guess I'm just confessing this so you all realize how insanely human I am. I'm struggling. And all I know to do is try to find the positives no matter how minute they might be.

I guess I'm sharing all of that because everything just sort of came to a head on Sunday. After the less than stellar run on Saturday, I was just feeling down, angry, annoyed, and frustrated. I had planned on running on Sunday. I had it in my head I was going to try to get in 8 miles.

But, my body just wasn't going for that idea at all. And mentally I wasn't up for it either. So I ended up doing myself a favor, I didn't try to push through a run just because. I didn't force anything. I decided I needed to take a big step back. While Jason laced up and geared up for a run, I pouted for a minute (or 15 or 20) then I went upstairs and put in a yoga DVD.


I went with Cathe Friedrich's Yoga Max from her Low Impact Series. To say that this was just what I needed is an understatement. It was calming and helped me to clear my head. I'm so used to Cathe's voice from years of doing her DVD's that it was like hearing a friend talking to me. And she also said something that almost brought me to tears:  
"Don't be judgmental to your body. Respect your body. Be happy with what it's giving you today." 
Another bit of honesty time, I am terribly judgmental about my body, especially right now. It's not doing what I want it to do plain and simple. I've gained weight, I'm unable to workout the way I did, things aren't the way they were 2 months ago. Period. No matter how much I want to pretend that I'm back in the game, I'm more like warming up on the sidelines, or maybe the locker room.



Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun for Friday & Blood Clot Follow Up

This isn't super fun for Fun for Friday, but I do still get questions about the blood clot situation. I had another follow-up appointment yesterday, so I thought I'd share about that.


My appointment was at 11:30. I got there at 11:25 and was promptly taken back to do lab work and vitals. Unfortunately the guy who did the blood draw this time was not nearly as gentle as the previous lady. It hurt like heck and is all bruised up. Have I mentioned how much I hate needles, shots, blood draws?

After that I was sent back to the waiting room. It was packed just as it was the last time. It looked like the majority of people were there for chemo. But apparently that didn't mean I'd get in to see the doctor any quicker.

After 2 1/2 hours, all patience was gone. Jason had taken time off work to be there with me, so he was getting really antsy too. At 3 hours into the wait (no lunch yet by the way), I finally got up and asked how much longer. They sent me to the back to ask. There were still 5 people in front of me! They hadn't even gotten to the 11 am patient yet.

Really? I was furious and ready to just leave. I asked if my blood work from the day would suffice for another visit time because I was done. I ended up talking to the doctor's nurse and after asking a few questions and getting my responses, she got me in a room right then. Yes, I probably skipped ahead of others and pushed their wait back. So that did make me feel bad I'll admit. But no one should be stuck waiting that long period.

The visit with the doctor was sort of disheartening for me. Basically, I will likely end up being on Xarelto + baby aspirin permanently or at least on baby aspirin permanently. Chances are I will not be able to go back on birth control pill so that means surgery for endometriosis is inevitable. That also means continued heavy and long (as in 2 wks) periods and the severe cramping. I was prescribed hydrocodone. And to top it off, there's a chance that the clot will never fully dissolve.

There's still no real answer for the discomfort I'm feeling in my clavicle still or along the side of my neck for that matter. And the fatigue part - I asked that he test my iron levels. He also suggested that maybe I'm not sleeping quite like I think. That the discomfort is waking me up more than I realize so my sleep is very interrupted. So...that's that I suppose. Not the worst news, but definitely not what I would like to hear.

But, I don't want to be a downer - so some good for the day? It was sunny and warmer. I got in an amazing run with my running partner after work. I needed that run more than I could ever express in words. I needed to run away from the day basically and the conversation was just simply enjoyable.

I thought for Fun for Friday, I'd share what I've learned from sitting for hours upon hours in a waiting room:
  • Always bring a book.
  • Always bring food.
  • People watching can be entertaining.
  • People actually do rip out pages from the magazines - sat and watched a lady pulling out recipes.
  • Not every fashion trend should be followed - boots over baggy pants makes you look like an Umpa Loompa. If you can't wear the skinny or slim jeans, don't put the boots over the top.
  • I'm amazed at the amount of junk food and sodas consumed in that waiting room. 
  • When a shackled prisoner in the black/white striped outfit is wheeled in by an officer, the room gets really quiet. 
  • Waiting room chairs are very uncomfortable. 
  • No one wants to sit right next to a stranger - waiting room chairs bolted together make for uncomfortable situations.
What's the longest you've ever had to wait for a doctor's appointment? And have you learned anything from having to wait?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vegetable "Beef" Soup and Way to Go Wednesday

Post-Run Soup
Yesterday ended up being another weird weather day for us. Saturday was 70+ degrees. Yesterday it was in the upper 20's with freezing rain/sleet/snow. That meant slippery streets, not conducive to a run with my running buddy.

I ended up hitting up our work gym's treadmill. I normally hate the treadmill. Once upon a time, I actually liked it though. But there's just something stagnant to me about running on the mill. Also, my former gym didn't allow you to change the TV stations so you had ESPN or CNN. Oooohhh exciting right? Not.

Anyway, no one was there (most people left work early because of the road conditions), so I changed the TV channel to the Food Network. Something about running and watching cooking shows that just works for me. Not being sarcastic either.

I kept it fairly slow and steady. I ended up hitting 4 miles and made a deal with myself to go to 5 then I could rest and see how I felt from there. At 5 miles, I walked, drank water, toweled off, recouped basically. Then I made another deal with myself to hit 6. Repeat the recoup, then 7, recoup then 8.

The last mile I did do 1 minute intervals to make it go by quicker. And it did the trick. 8 miles done and done. And on the tread I think that counts for like 11 right?

I won't like, I'm sore as hell from that run. It was hard and not just mentally. I had to really dig deep to get it done. But, I have a half marathon in 6 weeks. I need to figure out if I can physically do it or if I need to drop down to the 10K. Of course the treadmill was easier in the fact that it was an even pace an no hills.

I did keep it at a .5 incline, but that's not really indicative of an outdoor run. But it worked for me and allowed me to get in the miles. Would it suffice for half training and the course for the half? Not hardly. So, I have some thinking to do.

So, after the run, I got home, cleaned up and stretched and rolled. I was wiped out and really achy already. All I wanted was something easy and warm for dinner. I decided to go with a Vegetable "Beef" Soup using Gardein Beefless Tips

Vegetable "Beef" Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 white onions, small dice
3-4 carrots, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head of cauliflower, diced
1/2 bunch broccoli, diced
1 3oz can tomato paste (or 1 15 oz can no-salt diced tomatoes)
1 32 oz container no-salt vegetable broth
1 not-beef bouillon cube
To taste: salt, pepper, chile powder, parsley, basil
1 zucchini, diced
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips
1/2 cup frozen peas

Directions:
In a large soup pot, saute onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes. Add in the cauliflower, broth, seasonings, bouillon cube, tomato paste.

Allow to simmer for approximately 20 minutes then stir in broccoli and zucchini. Let simmer an additional 10-15 minutes then stir in the Gardein Beefless Tips and frozen peas.  Allow to simmer until veggies are cooked through. Re-season if needed.



This was perfect for a cold evening. It was easy to throw together, warm and filling.

Way to Go Wednesday
I've missed Way to Go Wednesday recently, but wanted to get back to it this week. I know I'm missing a lot of other runners, so if you completed a run this week, please post in the comments because you deserve a shout out too!

For the first time ever, I'm going to give myself a shout out first. I finally took a leap of faith and signed up for the ISSA Personal Trainer Certification! Like I mention, my word for the year is "change." This is the first step.

Heather at Running With Sass for being Goofy! Not only did she run 39.3 miles in 2 days, but she also PR'd on the full marathon!

Laura at Mommy Run Fast for knocking out an awesome time at the Houston Marathon despite rainy conditions.

Charlotte from Wild Things Run Free for getting a PR at the 3M Half Marathon in Austin.

Heather from 26 and More also did the Goofy challenge. Amazing!

Your turn - share your shout outs!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Zucchini, Tomato Tofu Bake

Sunday was rainy and cold for most of the day (cold all day, rainy half the day). I decided to take advantage of being holed up in the house and prepped my lunch for Monday and Tuesday. I also made some homemade ciabatta bread to have with soups for dinner.

I love zucchini, and I love using them in lieu of pasta sheets. I thought I'd try something new, so I came up with a Zucchini, Tomato Tofu Bake. I just used half a block of tofu, so this made two portions. I probably should have just used the whole block for four lunches, but wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. Saving the other half for later.

Zucchini, Tomato, Tofu Bake
Ingredients:
1 large zucchini, cut in half then thin slices lengthwise
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
Approximately 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, thin sliced
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
3-4 artichoke hearts, small dice (not in oil)
To taste: parsley, salt
1/2 block tofu (thin sliced for 4 slices), pressed then pan seared

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, artichoke hearts, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic, parsley, and salt.

In a prepared baking dish (used a small one), add one layer of the zucchini. Top with half of the tomato, artichoke, garlic mixture. Top with tofu. Repeat with zucchini then remaining tomato mixture.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.

 
 
I just cut this down the middle and put into two containers to reheat for lunch. A little bit of prep time of course, but worth it in the end for a tasty, healthy lunch.

I will definitely be making this again, and not just for lunch. Not only did it taste great (even without marinating the tofu), it's a power-packed dish full of vitamins and nutrients as well as lean protein.

  • Artichokes are a great source for potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and even protein. 
  • We all know tomatoes are filled with lycopene (an antioxidant), they are also packed with vitamins C and A as well as potassium and iron. 
  • Tofu is a rich source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B as well as protein. 
  • Zucchini actually contains almost all of the B vitamins as well as C, K, and E. 
  • And if all of those nutritious ingredients aren't enough, even smelly garlic has vitamins and nutrients. 

There are definitely so many options for this dish. You could always add in Daiya (or other cheese of choice), red sauce, red bell peppers, even capers would be wonderful.

What is your favorite healthy, go-to lunch recipe?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Cathe Workouts & Veggie Enchilada Casserole

Gotta Love Cathe
Well, I haven't really been talking much about workouts lately. I'm trying to get back to running. It's still really hard right now. I go back to the doctor on Thursday and plan on having him try to text my iron levels as well as whatever else they'll be testing. I just feel wiped out and need to figure out the cause. Is it the clot, the medication or perhaps iron levels.

This weekend we had crazy weather. It was in the 70's on Saturday with bouts of rain. By Sunday it was barely 40 degrees with even more rain. I had hoped it'd clear up long enough to get in a run, but that wasn't going to happen.

I ended up testing out 2 of Cathe Friedrich's DVDs from her Low Impact Series. My sister has been holding these DVDs hostage for quite some time. I finally got them back from her on Saturday and was eager to test some out.

Unfortunately for me right now, they pretty much all use weights. However, I was able to modify enough and still get in a good workout. Cathe never really disappoints, so I knew they'd be good workouts.

I tried the Cardio Supersets and then the legs and abs from Turbo Barre. The Cardio Supersets was a great, sweaty workout. It's low impact, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's easy! The Turbo Barre is a definite booty killer. Great for targeting your bum and outer thighs. It sort of took me back to my ballet days. I even donned my old slippers just for fun.

Do you have any favorite instructors you know you can always rely on?

Tex-Mex Monday
I had originally intended on making chili today as it was hovering in the low 30's, gray and gloomy. However, Jason had some leftover green chili for lunch. I didn't figure he'd really want chili again for dinner even if it was a different color.

I've been pinning a lot of recipe ideas recently, so I went back to my board for some ideas. I was inspired by this recipe from Perry's Plate for Stacked Roasted Vegetables Enchiladas. Definitely check out her recipe. It looks amazing.

I started out by making my Chipotle Enchilada Sauce. While I was making the sauce, I roasted up the veggies so it worked out nicely being able to take care of two pieces of the puzzle at once. So here's what I came up with.

Chipotle Enchilada Casserole with Roasted Veggies 
Ingredients:
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 bunch broccoli, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced

3-4 garlic gloves, minced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
To taste: salt, black pepper, cumin, chile powder, cilantro
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Corn tortillas - 6-8 depending on pan size
Daiya vegan cheese (or cheese of choice)
Chipotle Enchilada Sauce (see below)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add veggies into a glass baking dish. Toss with drizzle of olive oil, garlic, and seasonings.

Bake approximately 30-35 minutes or until veggies are soft.

In a glass baking dish, add a small amount of the enchilada sauce to the bottom (to help prevent sticking). Add a layer of the tortillas. Top tortillas with roasted vegetables. Next top with black beans. Now add a layer of sauce then top with Daiya. Repeat once more.

Bake casserole for approximately 25-30 minutes or until cheese is nice and melty.

Enchilada Sauce
Ingredients:16 oz tomato sauce
2 cans no-salt diced tomatoes
1/2 small to medium white onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cilantro, agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)

Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute onions and garlic until onions begin to soften. Add in remaining ingredients. Remove from heat and lightly puree with blender or immersion blender (I like mine to have a little texture to it).

Return to heat and allow to simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes. Re-season if needed. 

 
 
 
 
This turned out really well (despite the look of the picture). I did get the sauce a tad on the spicy side, but good for clearing out the nose right ;-) It was definitely a nice change from the typical enchiladas that I make. And it's hard to go wrong with ooey gooey Daiya on top too.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun for Friday - Least Favorite Commercials

Since I worked from home all of December, I got to see some really interesting tv commercials. I'll agree that some commercials can be cute or funny. But, I typically dislike commercials, and these take the cake.

It's not that the product is necessarily bad, it's the commercial. And with these, it's typically making it sound like you cannot possible function without them. I mean, how on earth have people been flipping pancakes or eggs all this time without this gadget? 

Here's my list of least favorite commercials (disclaimer, if you click on the links they often try to not let you close out. Hit the X button rather than hitting ok or anything like that please):

WaxVac - I mean really, who on earth puts a cotton swab in their ear and yells "Ouch!" that loudly?

Forever Lazy - These are like those PJs we wore as kids, the one-piece have to zip out to potty. Only these are more like Snuggies AND they proclaim easy access when you gotta go. Now, I might want a pair of these, I do like my jammies, but the commercial is so far fetched - a college male student studying in them? Right....

Perfect Pancake Maker - Now I agree, I don't flip pancakes all that well, but the way they make it sound, it's absolutely inconceivable to make a pancake without this contraption.

Ped Egg - Ok, it's just a flat out gross commercial. Even if I need my callouses removed, please do not show that to me on tv.

Forever Comfy Gel Cushion Seat Pads - What irks me about this is that they are touting you can sit all day without discomfort. That's fine and all, but people don't need to be sitting for hours upon hours period. Maybe we should be making chairs even more uncomfortable.

Ok, that's it for now. I could go on, but would love to hear from you guys. What are some of your least favorite commercials and why?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Why Hate on Runners?

This might be a complete and total ramble, so feel free to skip unless you're bored ;-)

Recently I've been noticing a lot of pins all about the hatred of running. Honestly, it really ticks me off. No one is saying you have to run, that you have to love it. I've never dismissed someone because they didn't run, and I don't bash workouts I don't care for.

So it got me to thinking, why is it that if someone doesn't like to run, they feel like they must go out of their way to proclaim it to the wold? To call all of us runners crazy, nuts, insane, etc.? To swear up and down how much it sucks, how much they hate it.

It flies all over me when someone asks me about my workouts. I say I run and the first words are, "Oh god, I HATE to run." "Running just sucks." Um. Ok. Well, I don't really like just walking but I don't get all worked up about it. I don't get all fanatical if you tell me you're a swimmer and I'm not.

So why all of this:




Now, I do realize runners are a passionate lot. If you ask us about running, and really want to hear, we'll gladly blather on for hours about it. But, that's what you do when you're passionate about something.

If someone asks me why I run, and I can tell they aren't really into running, then I just give a cursory reason like, "It's my 'me' time, it's how I de-stress and stay sane." Then I move along. I know there's no trying to convince a hater. They don't seem to want to understand.

But I guess it feels like a personal stab, especially when that person knows how I feel about running. It's like they're openly bashing something I love. Like telling me my dogs are ugly or something. Does that make sense? It'd be like someone railing against women lifting weights (which my doctor sort of did, whole other story), or when people like to bash vegetarianism even. I think you get the point.

There are always haters of course, but I've had more people opine about their hatred of running than anything else. And of course this is a rhetorical question, "Why?"

What makes it ok to bash something someone else enjoys. Especially when it's something that's healthy, that's good for them, that makes them happy, releases stress...unless, of course, you are concerned about that person over-doing it maybe.

Thoughts? How do you react when friends, family, even strangers declare their hatred for running?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Work it Out Wednesday - Tabata Legs

This is something I've never really done before. I mean, I've talked about my workouts here and there, listed out the weight workout and miles run. But I've never really dedicated an entire post to a specific workout and the reasoning behind that workout. I thought I might start doing a Work it Out Wednesday when I come up with a new workout for myself.

I am NOT a certified personal trainer or group instructor. I read a lot, I've done endless hours of DVD workouts, I gather inspiration, and I try to learn from all of it. I don't put together workouts for others, just for myself. But I thought I might share this one and my reasons for it.

Right now my only cardio option is really being allowed to run. I'm not supposed to be doing weights because heavy lifting causes micro tears that, if were too bad and in or near a joint, could bleed out, causing permanent joint damage due to the Xarelto.

I've been trying to come up with workouts that I could do that would still engage muscles though. I don't want to be a cardio queen and lose all of my muscle mass. I've worked way too hard for that over the years.

I used to really love doing HIIT workouts, especially plyo for the legs. Yes, it's cardio, but it does engage your muscles in a unique way. (lots of paraphrasing here) According to the research I've read, plyo exercises can help increase both speed and power, which leads to muscular strength gains as you have to engage those muscle in order to acquire the speed, power, endurance.

Essentially plyo exercises require the muscles to rapidly stretch and shorten and this helps increase power, which can also help decrease the the force of impact on joints (I need that) as your muscles strengthen.

No, it's not quite the same as weight lifting and building up mass, but it'll have to do for now. And perhaps the plyo exercises can help my running as well.

I have a few Cathe DVDs for HIIT workouts. Some use the step, others just the floor. I don't really feel comfortable using the step right now for fear of fall on my face. I figured, exercises that I could do and control the depth of movement or intensity (lowering the impact) would be ideal, especially since I get fatigued and winded quickly.

This workout was inspired by this HIIT Your Legs Workout by SkinnyMs. I definitely need to be hitting my legs big time right about now! The original workout called for 5 moves done for 20 seconds each for a 5 minute workout.

I thought I would turn it into a tabata style workout (8 moves done for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest). Tabata is tough, but it goes by quickly. You don't have a lot of time to think about the torture you're inflicting upon yourself.


Video Examples:
4 Squat Flip
Reverse Lunge with a Front Kick
Squat Jacks
Burpees (with our without pushups)
Forward Backwards Bounds 
Squat jumps 

I plan on changing this up and doing Alternating Split Jumps in lieu of the lunge with front kicks and adding in Up Down Planks after the Squat Jumps as a variation.

I like the alternating lunges and the forward backwards bounds moves for stability. Burpees are a great all around move that really rev up the heart rate too. I might be the only person on earth who likes burpees.

Another great thing about this workout is that you don't need any weights to get a good burn in the legs and rear. If you wanted, however, you could easily add in light weights for the lunges with kicks or the squat flips.

Do you like putting together your own workouts? Where do you find inspiration? 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Protein Pumpkin Bread

My friend and running buddy had been really sick Friday with a stomach flu going around. I know she's sick when she told me she wouldn't be getting in her long Saturday run. Somehow we ended up chatting about pumpkin, pumpkin bread, muffins...that sort of thing. I think she was hungry, what do you think?

I started looking around on Pinterest and shared several recipes with her. Then I found one I had pinned a while back and decided I would make that for her. You know, a get well gift. Plus all the recipe searching had gotten me in the mood to bake.

So, Saturday morning I made this High Protein Pumpkin Bread by The Iron You. I did make a few substitutions and additions.
  • Coconut Oil: The recipe called for vegetable oil, which I did not have. So I used coconut oil instead. 
  • Baking Stevia + Molasses: It also called for brown sugar, again, out of. So I tried making my own using the NuNatural Stevia Baking Blend along with a drizzle of organic molasses. 
  • Vanilla Stevia: I also added in several drops of NuNatural Liquid Vanilla Stevia because I felt like it needed vanilla.Vanilla makes everything better in my book. That and wine.
Pumpkin Protein Bread (recipe based on original by The Iron You)

Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tbsp egg whites
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup NuNaturals Baking Blend
1/2-1 tbsp organic molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup protein powder (I used a vanilla brown rice)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia - to taste (or vanilla extract)

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine NuNaturals Baking Blend and molasses (or you can just use 1/2 cup brown sugar)

In a medium bowl combine pumpkin puree, egg whites, coconut oil, water and Baking blend/molasses mixture. Whisk until well combined.

 In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and baking soda.

Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined, without over mixing, adding in the vanilla stevia if desired.

Pour the batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake 45 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake. You can use the toothpick trick to see if the bread is ready.

I had originally miscalculated the calories per loaf at 590 (estimating that I used 1 tbsp of molasses, though it was probably less). But had forgotten to add in the calories from the coconut oil, oops. So that brought the total to approximately 1060 calories for the entire loaf and 31 grams of protein.

The protein count was lower as I used a brown rice protein powder, which tends to be lower in protein than a whey powder. So if you're wanting to beef up the protein then you might choose a different protein option.

If you got 10 slices out of it (which would be good sized portions) then that's a tad over 100 calories per slice. Not horrible by any means. Plus you get vitamins, fiber, and protein, all with no sugar. I think you could probably cut some of the oil by adding in either banana or unsweetened applesauce if you wanted to lower the calories even more.

The bread was incredibly moist. When you first bite in, however, it's not very sweet. Not a bad thing mind you. The sweetness hits you later on. And I think that might be due to the use of the NuNaturals Baking Blend perhaps. I've not baked with it enough to really know though, and I've not made this recipe previously.


I will definitely make it again. Next time I think I'll add in more molasses and more of the vanilla stevia. I might also use a chia or flax egg as well. If you like pumpkin bread and aren't expecting a cupcake, then this recipe is perfect. A much healthier option for satisfying your sweet tooth.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Starting Over and 1st 5 by 5th

This weekend I completed my first 5 by the 5th run. I think that might trump just about everything else that happened over the weekend. Though I did enjoy a nice lunch with Jason on Saturday then a girls' afternoon of shopping and eating with my bestie. AND I got to run again with my running buddy. It was a pretty good weekend ;-)

Before I found out I had this blood clot, I signed up for the 5 by 5th Virtual Run Series that Laura from Mommy Run Fast has put together. I was worried I wouldn't be able to participate (at least in January), but luckily I got the ok to run, and now I have a goal to work for each month.


Basically, the “5 by the 5th” – a virtual race series in which we run (or race!) a 5k or 5 mile run by the 5th of each month, from January to June, 2013. I've never done a virtual race before, so I thought this would be fun to be a part of.

I barely made my 5 by the 5th this month. But am so thankful that I was able to do it!

It was hard. I had to stop a few times to recover. And by stop, I mean literally stop and stand around for a few seconds. Let's just say that I welcomed busy intersections for a change. But I was giddy afterwards from the accomplishment. Having an injury or illness that prevents you from running or working out can be humbling to say the least.

I feel like I'm starting over, and that can be frustrating. Before the clot, I had worked my booty off to increase my speed and keep up some pretty decent weekly miles. I was consistently running around 35 miles a week with a double-digit long run.

I was really proud of my new "comfortable" pace and was able to sustain that for 8 miles. Now? I can't manage that pace for even half a mile let alone 8 miles. Actually, I can barely manage more than 2 miles without a break for that matter. Sometimes not even a single mile.

I know that the clot is the biggest issue. It's causing me to have major shortness of breath, almost like an asthma attack actually (I noticed that that can also be a side effect of the medication as well). But no inhaler can fix the problem.

My legs feel heavy and I'm absolutely fatigued to the core. 1 mile feels like 3 miles, 5 felt like I'd run a PR'd half marathon. Humbling. I guess this is what it feels like to most people just starting to run. I can see why it'd be easy to give up and declare a hatred for running.

I've had to start over after injuries twice before. But this feels so much harder than coming back after an injury. Not being able to breathe is such a frightening (and frustrating) feeling. It's like your body just isn't functioning for you any longer. And when you've seen yourself as fit and healthy, then it's like a huge blow to your world. 

Have you ever had to start over? Have you ever participated in a virtual race or even a running challenge?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Food Friday with Field Roast Soup

How about a Food Friday post today? Kind of switch things up a bit. I'm feeling sassy like that - or really it's just a lack of creativity if I'm honest. And I'm honest like that.

Last night I felt completely and totally wiped out. I don't know if it was from the amount of blood they had drawn or just the day itself dealing with the hematology appointment overload. Either way, I was pooped.

I really could have gone to bed at 7 and skipped dinner all together. And I am not one to skip any meal at all, ever!

Jason did me a big favor and made dinner. We had picked up some Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage "Sausage" Links from Whole Foods recently, and he had been wanting to use those for several days. Since he was cooking, I told him to go for it.

He ended up putting together a really amazing, richly flavorful soup. I thought I'd share one of his recipes for a change. He really is a good cook I must say. Of course, he did spend five years in the kitchen of the best French restaurants in town. I'm a lucky girl.

Vegan Smoked Apple Sage Sausage Soup
Ingredients:
1 package Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage Links, diced
1 small white onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 small zucchini, cubed
1 32 oz container no-salt vegetable broth
*Diced, roasted butternut squash (approximately half)

To taste: salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, white pepper, red pepper
1 1/2 tbsp tapioca flour mixed with water (options, helps to thicken soup)

Directions:
In a non-stick pan, brown the sausages and set aside.

In a large soup pot, saute onions, pepper, zucchini, and garlic until onion begins to soften then add spices and broth. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and allow to cook 15-20 minutes. Then add in the butternut squash and sausages and tapioca flour mixture and re-season if needed. Allow the soup to cook another 10 minutes or until tapioca flour has slightly thickened the soup.

*I had roasted squash on hand, if you do not, add in the raw, cubed squash into the pot with the onions.
This turned out to be incredibly flavorful and hearty as well. Perfect soup for a cold evening. Lucky for me, I had some homemade ciabata bread on hand too.

Does your significant other ever take over in the kitchen for you?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Veggies and Blood Clot Talk

Eat Your Veggies Salad
I'll start with something lighter before moving on to the nitty gritty. Last night I decided to roast up the beets and butternut squash I had on hand. I had originally wanted to use the beets to try to recreate a salad I had out, but decided I wanted to do more of a roasted veggie salad.

What ended up happening was a concoction of roasted beets and butternut squash with wheat berries (was going to us quinoa but was out), chickpeas, spinach, Honeycrisp apple, feta, and an orange vinaigrette.


The vinaigrette started off with orange juice, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, agave, salt, pepper, olive oil. Jason took over and added in minced shallots, Dijon mustard, garlic powder.

The apples did take it more towards a warmer weather dish, but the veggies were still warm as were the wheat berries. I did like how the apples added both crunch and a hint of sweetness to help offset the earthiness of the beets.

I am glad I went with the wheat berries. I think they added a nice texture to the dish as well. I love quinoa, but it really has no texture and sometimes you need that chew in a dish.

Let's Talk Blood Clots
Today I FINALLY got in to see the hematologist. Because of the winter storm we had last week, I missed my appointment and their offices were without phone and power until yesterday.

I called first thing yesterday and was greeted by a wonderfully rude person who flatly told me that I had to call back in 15 minutes because the person taking appointments had a line in front of her and she hung up. Um...wow. Let's just say blood pressure went up.

I called back about 30 minutes later only to get the same rude lady answering. Lucky me right? I told her I was trying to reschedule an appointment so she told me to hold. I held...held...then the phone rang and rang right back to her. Again, repeat. Then hung up on. Then repeat. She finally said to give her my name and number and hung up. I knew she wasn't passing that info along though. You know how you just know those things.

By 2:30, I called my doctor's office and left a message that I wanted a new hematologist and let them know exactly why. I got a call just before 5 from the hematologist office with an apology that they heard I had been treated rudely, etc. I assume my doctor's office let them know. Anyway...they got me in today at 11:15.

I got there and it was simply insane and chaotic. I don't know if it's always that way or just because of the office having been closed and trying to squeeze everyone in. The chaos made me even more nervous than I already was. I knew I was going to have to give blood and that always freaks me out. I've flat passed out from giving if that is any indication of how high my anxiety is.

They shuffled me back to the "lab" area almost immediately. The lab was just inside the doors separating the waiting room from the back. There were 9 or 10 chairs filled with people having blood drawn. Nice and cozy. Very inviting right?

They initially put 3 vials beside me then went back and got more (It was either 6 or 7, I stopped trying to count). I wanted to vomit. Luckily, the lady who drew my blood saw my anxiety, or maybe it was the tears, and gave me a fan so I could keep myself cool. She was really amazing. I only hope I get her again in two weeks.

After the draw, I was sent back to wait. An hour later I finally got to go back but only to have someone else enter data and ask questions, then another 20 minutes before the doctor came in. At least he was very personable.

I don't really have tons to report though. He wants me to stay on Xarelto for 3 months adding in a daily dose of baby aspirin. After it's gone we can focus on the cause. If it's not genetic, then there is a 1-2% chance each year of another clot. Not high, but too high for my liking.

(Men you can skip this part) They have taken me off birth control just in case that's the cause. The problem with that is I have used birth control pills to control my endometriosis. So no pill means insane cramps, migraines, heavy bleeding, and no real schedule. Being on blood thinners makes things worse.

He gave me the OK to run but doesn't want me lifting weights. Oh, and no spicy foods. Clearly this doctor has no clue who he's talking to! I live for jalapenos and sriracha, weight lifting and running.

Confession, I've started trying to add in running with the walking. When I couldn't get in to the doctor, I started doing a lot of research on my own. I finally founds some really good articles that gave me a better understanding of the situation. One study found that exercise actually creates an overactive fibrinolytic system (that dissolves blood clots). So exercise is actually ideal in that case.

However, the running? It's hard. Really hard. I tire really easily and am really out of breath to the point of having to just stop moving for several seconds then walk. He thinks that being short of breath is a result of the clot dissolving - apparently it releases some sort of hormone that can cause you to feel very anxious and even short of breath. However, if it continues, then it could be that I had a clot in my lung. But, I'm already on treatments for clots anyway. So not a huge deal really.

I feel like it's still a long road ahead trying to get this dissolved then moving on to trying to figure out the cause then prevent future clots. It's hard to believe it's already been 4 weeks of this as it is.

Sorry for the insanely lengthy post. So many of you have expressed concern, have emailed for updates. So I thought I would share. Who knows, maybe someone will read this that's going through something similar. Maybe I can help someone else in this same situation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Eggplant Caponata on Way to Go Wednesday

As I promised yesterday, I have a new recipe to share. The inspiration for this recipe came from a recent lunch at a place called Ya Ya's Euro Bistro.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately because I'd be there way too often otherwise), the restaurant is clear across town. It wouldn't be quite as bad to get there if there wasn't major construction going on that direction. In other words, traffic stinks and it takes a good 20-25 minutes to get there.

But once you do go, it's worth it. I've eaten their twice. Jason has never actually eaten there, but he's been wanting to for quite some time. We had some dear friends in town with their newborn. They were able to meet us on Christmas Eve day. Not many places were open around town though. However, Ya Ya's is in a shopping complex, so I knew they'd be open.

Our friend "B" is someone who really appreciates good food. He used to have us over for dinner when he lived here. Long story short (too late right?), we knew he and his wife would be happy with the venue as would Jason even if it meant a longer trek for all of us.

We were all pretty hungry by the time we go there so appetizers were a must. I have had their hummus before, so that was appetizer number one though it was a little too oily this time. The second was an Eggplant Caponata. The caponata was simply amazing. It was so rich with textures and flavors. I knew immediately that I had to figure out how to recreate it.

Jason had picked up some eggplants at the grocery store and they really needed to be used sooner rather than later. Perfect excuse to test out a new recipe in my mind.

I did some searching on the internet for recipes and found that it is a Sicilian eggplant dish that often includes fried eggplant, celery in a sweet and spicy sauce. There are, of course, many variations on an caponata. Not just the cooking methods (roasting, frying, sauteing), but even the ingredients used.

I sort of did a pick and choose method between a few different recipes, because who follows a recipe right? ;-) Basically I didn't want to fry the eggplant, sauteing sounded easier and used less pots and pans. I love heat, but also wanted to make sure to include the raisins to offset the heat. And pine nuts were a must. So I bring you - my version of Eggplant Caponata.

Heather's Eggplant Caponata 
Ingredients:
1/2 white onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium eggplants, 1/4" cubes
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp cinnamon 
4 tbsp currants or raisins (might use 3 tbsp if using raisins)
3 tbsp organic sugar (agave would work as well)
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 15 oz no-salt, diced tomatoes (petite diced would be ideal)
3/4 3oz can tomato paste thinned with approximately 1/2 - 3/4 cup water and/or white wine)
1/4 cup capers, diced
1/2 cup green olives, diced 
To taste: thyme and basil (fresh basil would be best if you have)
4 tbsp pine nuts

Directions:
In a large, non-stick skillet saute onions, garlic and eggplants in olive oil for approximately 5 minutes or until eggplant begins to break down.

Add in remaining ingredients up to the pine nuts. Cover and allow to simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes.

Add additional water or wine if needed. Stir in pine nuts, cover and continue to cook another 10 minutes or so, or until the eggplant has broken down. Uncover and let any excess water/wine simmer out if needed.
Serve as an appetizer with crostini. Or serve over spaghetti squash or pasta of choice. I had mine over spaghetti squash and it was fantastic. I think it would make an excellent appetizer for a party. You could make this ahead of time then simply warm up and serve the day of your party.


I was very pleased with how this turned out. There were just a few tweaks needed, which I included in the recipe above. I made the mistake of adding in the pine nuts too soon as I was cooking mine differently than two of the recipes I had looked at. So they lost some of their texture. I think raisins would be better than currants, but that's just from a texture perspective.

Do you ever try to recreate a recipe?

Way to Go Wednesday
I missed Way to Go Wednesday last week, but didn't want to miss it again. I really enjoy sharing some shout outs each week. And I love hearing your shout outs as well.

Pavement Runner for RunChat Award, “Best Overall Running Blog”AND just completing the 41-day run streak. Seriously, this guy is on fire.

Lindsay for inspiring so many amazing "Word" posts for the new year.

Christine (Love Life Surf) for ending the year with a 5K.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Word - Change

I apologize in advance for this semi-rambling post. I hope it makes some sort of sense. Even if it doesn't, perhaps you will indulge me just a bit. If you do, I promise to come back tomorrow with a new recipe. Deal?

My friend Lindsay had a wonderful New Year's Day post (she always has some awesomely inspiring posts) and there was this one quote that just jumped off the screen at me:

“Lose the long list of resolutions — all your sweeping promises to change — and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything.”

I really never do a list of resolutions. No goals to run x miles or x races. No plans to finish a degree or certificate. Maybe I feel that's too much pressure? Last year, I tried to make it a point to remember to live more. To enjoy more.

I think I've gotten better about that over the years, especially this past year. Not worrying so much about the things I can't control and remembering to enjoy the little things each day. Even on a crappy day, I can usually find something that made me smile whether it was a hug from Jason, an email or text from a friend or even Maddie curling up in my lap...something to smile about. I just have to remember to stop and think about those little things. They're there. They do add up.

But, I never fully get out of comfort zones. I don't take that leap of blind faith. I fear change plain and simple. Change means uncertainty. But, change can also lead to something new, something better, something happier.

Lindsay had another post where she suggest we pick a word for the year. Forget resolutions, find a word. So perhaps 2013 will be a year of Change for me. I don't know exactly what that means just yet.

I have a few ideas. But I know that things will change regardless of whether I'm ready or not. Some changes you can't control. But others, others you can. So I need to make a plan for that change I have in mind and stop being fearful. Actually doing what I've said I want to do...live more fully. 


Do you have a word for the year?