My kids eat fruit like it’s their job. In fact, just to get Nolan to sit and eat dinner I put out a “fruit appetizer” to get him to start eating and then cross my… More
I am definitely not a traditional potato salad kind of girl, but when I came across the recipe for one using pesto in one of my favorite cookbooks, Run Fast Eat Slow, I was intrigued! I have not tried their cashew pesto yet, but made my own version yesterday. The results did not disappoint! Here’s another simple take on an old classic. (And remember…I am not a measurer unless I’m baking so it’s all approximates and you can adjust to your own taste!)
For the Pesto:
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic (grated)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, etc)
sea salt/black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until desired creaminess
For the Potatoes:
1-2 lbs. small red potatoes
Wash potatoes and slice into halves or quarters (depending on size and preference)
Place cut potatoes in a large pot and fill will water to about an inch above potatoes
add about 2 tsp sea salt to the water
bring pot to a boil, then turn to medium/ low and simmer for about 15 minutes (you can make the pesto during this step!)
Test them with a fork to see if they’re soft enough, then drain in a colander, return to pot and after a few minutes toss with pesto. (You will have enough pesto left over to use for another day, or I had spread some on salmon that I baked to have with the potatoes for dinner)
As I was making this my husband questioned whether it would really taste as good as I was anticipating. He regrets doubting me now!
I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of these wonderful little cabbages, but I cannot get enough! Even back in the 80’s when they were just boiled and served, I loved them. But one of my absolute favorite veggies are roasted brussels sprouts. They’re ridiculously simple too! Not to mention believe it or not a good source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients, including vitamin C! Here’s an quick and easy recipe.
1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts (washed and halved)
about 2-3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 tsp Sea Salt
1-2 tsp Black Pepper
1-2 tsp Paprika (or whatever “red” spice I’m feeling that day-chili powder, etc)
1 large clove garlic (grated)
Preheat oven to 425
Place all ingredients in a large plastic storage bag and shake/press together
Empty the bag onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (does anyone else love those pre-cut sheets?)
Bake in oven for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn sprouts to get that nice brown color on all sides.
That’s it! They look and smell so good that my anti-sprout husband tries them just because he wants to like them so bad! I don’t mind not sharing these though, they are just too good.
Another week of meal prep is under my belt and I am really loving it! Last night I made hummus, like I have been each week but I tweaked a few things and decided to add some sun-dried tomatoes as well. It really kicked the flavor up and I think it is my new favorite! Hummus is so simple to make and I love that I can use organic ingredients and not worry about all the added preservatives. Here’s what I did:
1 box organic Garbanzo beans (or can) 15-16oz
4 or 5 sundried tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic
1/4-1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use organic)
1-2 TBSP Lemon juice (I squeeze half a lemon)
a pinch of sea salt
Drain and rinse Garbanzo beans
Using kitchen scissors, cut tomatoes into small pieces
Put beans, tomatoes and oil into food processor.
Grate garlic into processor
add lemon juice and salt
Blend/chop until desired smoothness. (I usually add more oil as needed)
That’s it! As part of my meal prep I then divide it into small containers for a quick snack with veggies at work. The rest I keep in the fridge to spread on sandwiches, or dip at home.
I have also used this recipe without the tomatoes if they aren’t your thing.
So here we go! It’s a new year and I’m back. Not just to writing here, but the healthy, motivated me is back.
The new year is always a time to reset and reassess our goals, and the new year could not have come at a better time for me. December was a little rough…2 biopsies, my first ever case of the stomach flu, and a surgery. I missed a lot of work for medical reasons, and working out and eating right became nonexistent. Add in the holiday treats and it was a recipe for some dark times in my kitchen. And although it’s never about the scale for me, 10ish extra lbs. showed up there too. I just needed to get through the year, and now I’m ready to get back on track!
One of the main things I plan on doing this year is meal planning. I hope to share a lot of how I’m doing that here, but for today I’m just going to share one recipe I put together last night.
I was making sweet potato fries for the first time (so good!), and had some leftover potatoes since I am the only person who will eat those yummy orange spuds in my house. I have always wanted to try baking with them so it seemed like a good time to start! While my fries were in the oven, I wrapped 2 medium sweet potatoes in foil and baked them at 375 for an hour. After dinner, they were ready to mash and I am so happy with the outcome of the recipe.
Realist Lifestyle had just sent me a sample of their ghost flavor protein powder, and I have been trying to come up with ways to add it into my food/shakes. This seemed like the perfect time to give it a try and I have to say it did not affect the taste or texture of the bites! Perfect option to give these an extra boost of protein.
Sweet Potato Banana Protein Bites
For 12 Mini bites:
1 large (or 2 medium) Sweet Potatoes (baked)
1 Large Banana
2 TBSP Peanut Protein (optional)
2 TBSP Realist Ghost Protein Powder (optional)
1-2 TBSP Coconut Water (or water) to desired texture
handful dark chocolate chips (or whatever seeds, nuts, dried fruit you like)
Preheat oven to 375
Mash together baked sweet potato and banana with hand masher
Add egg, water, powders, and chocolate chips and stir until combined.
Spray a mini-muffin tin or line with wrappers
Drop spoonfuls of mixture into muffin pan
Bake for 20-ish minutes
Enjoy! (Keep extras in air tight container)
That’s it! I mashed the potato right out of the oven so the batter was warm but it did not affect the outcome. If you try these, let me know what you think! I was hesitant about the texture from the banana but if you really mix it, the batter will be smooth.
(Like I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big measuring person when it comes to cooking. I go by what looks right, so these quantities are approximates and you can change the amount based on your own preference of texture and taste. The sweet potato is more than sweet enough even for me, but you can add sugar, honey or agave)
Happy Baking, and Happy New Year!
We spent last weekend in Philly and had an incredible time. The main reason we went this particular time was so I could run the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut half marathon for the second year in a row, but since we love the city decided to make it into a fun mini vacation as well…similar to most of our race weekends.
On Friday after work Jeff and I signed Ava out a little early from school and then we picked up Nolan too. Since it was National Doughnut Day, we couldn’t start our trip without a yummy treat first!
Once we were all cleaned up we were on our way. Perfect timing for both kids to get a solid nap in before a busy weekend! The ride was easy and we checked into our hotel. I headed out for a quick run, as I have mentioned before I need to get up and move after longer car rides due to the risk of blood clots. A short 2 mile run helps put my mind at ease and stretch out after sitting for a while.
When I got back, Jeff headed out to run and by that time my parents and niece Rowan had made it to the hotel too. We all went out to dinner (pasta for me, of course) and then went back to get a good night’s sleep. My kids are like little hotel pros these days which makes the transition with traveling and sleeping away very easy. In the morning, we took the kids to my parent’s room and Jeff drove me to the start.
This half marathon is by far the most challenging I have ran so far. I had also ran it last year, so I knew what was coming. The strange thing for me this weekend was that I did not know I was 100% running this race until the weekend before. I was waiting on Jeff’s baseball schedule so did not even register until then. It made training slightly interesting, especially having just ran a half marathon only 2 weeks before. But I was excited to get back on that course!
I literally stood in line for the bathroom right up to the start of the race. It’s not a big event, about 600 runners. Since it is a German themed race, many runners were dressed in leiderhosen and other German outfits which sets the tone for a fun race!
I got to the start literally 15 seconds before we were off. The entire race is a trail, some paved, some not and the beginning is quite narrow. Once you get to the first mile, things start to thin out, and once again I somehow found myself spending the first half of the race completely alone. Usually I don’t mind that, but sometimes having other runners around can distract me from all of the huge hills.
One word I would not use to describe this course is flat. You are constantly climbing unless you are at the top of a hill, in which case you are going down a steep hill. There really isn’t a time when you have a break at the top. I find this to be the most challenging part. Not being able to catch my breath or recover a little before running down the hill is difficult for me. I am hoping to remember this and train a little for it next year. Add in the 90% humidity, and breathing was probably my biggest struggle of this race.
Around the halfway point we encountered Mount Cookoo. It is exactly as the name describes, nuts! A narrow, winding, somehow always uphill climb full of giant tree roots, rocks, and slippery mud. But I love it! I had actually forgotten just how long we were in that trail, but it is over a mile of some real tough conditions. There are a lot of horses in the park as well, so I’m sure you can imagine the smell is a little interesting and there quite a few flies!
Back onto the main path after Mount Cookoo you basically just repeat the hilly trail back to the finish, which was also the start. At this point I spent a few miles running with a young guy, which although we never said a word to each other, he kept me going and made me feel a little secure that someone was nearby…I was starting to feel that I was somewhat dehydrated and had goosebumps by mile 9. I ended up taking a good amount of time at the water stops from mile 7 on trying to replenish with both Gatorade and water but knew I needed to be smart and not push it at this point. My goal became “finish”, and try and get under my time from last year which was a 1:51. At mile 12 I checked my watch and was at 1:40, which is my usual time for a half this year.
I have to be honest, one of the big reasons that I did not just give up and walk the rest of the way was Ava. She can be apprehensive about things, and even though she has seen other kids grab their dad or mom’s hand and cross the finish she has never done it. I know she had wanted to, but new things can be intimidating for her at first (as they are for most 5 year olds). So I’ve never pushed for it, but secretly hoped one day she would ask. During the week she had told me this would be the race. I was beyond excited about it and we talked about how it would go and that we would hold hands, etc. Knowing she was standing there, most likely talking herself up to actually do it, I had to do the same. Thinking about her got me to that finish, and when I saw her, hand extended, I felt completely better. We crossed the line and high-fived; she looked so happy and I was so proud of her!
We headed to the after party at the German club and had a great time watching the German dancers and accordian player. The kids danced and the weather was hot but beautiful. The fun after this race is another big reason I like it so much. Everyone has a great time. Soon after they began the award ceremony and I won my age group. The awards at this race are great. The overall winners receive a Cookoo Clock and age group winners receive these cute little German weather houses. Since I had placed in my age group last year as well, Ava claimed this one.
After the race we decided to head to our next hotel over by the airport. We changed into our bathing suits and all went swimming and just hung at the hotel the rest of the night. My sister who had been working that morning met us there and the kids had a blast.
Sunday morning Jeff and I headed out to the John Heinz National Refuge for a nice run. We had explored there last summer and I was looking forward to getting back again. I was tired from the race the day before, but it’s just too beautiful to pass up.
We got back to the hotel, met the rest of the crew at breakfast, got everyone ready and drove to the Franklin Institute. Right now there is a fantastic Pixar exhibit going on, so we paid the extra to have it included in our admission, and we were not disappointed. I had not been to the Franklin Institute since I was a kid but had always loved it. It was neat to not only see the newer exhibits but also to see that the giant heart and train were still there. The kids really enjoyed it and we spent close to 4 hours there. They were all pretty exhausted by that point so we decided to let them nap on the drive home and then got dinner with my sister once we were back in town before unpacking and resetting for the week.
I know I always say it, but these weekends really are about so much more than my race. I put a lot of time into planning out which races I will do for this reason. I research what’s around that makes it into an adventure, learning experience, or just a fantastic memory for our family. I was very happy that Jeff was able to be there this weekend since he hadn’t made it to any other half marathon yet this year. The added bonus is that my parents and sister join us on almost every weekend. The support I receive from my family is incredible. There is always someone willing to watch my kids while I get out on a long run. Or someone who is willing to bike or run alongside me. My kids are great about joining me in the stroller, and Ava is always up for a quick mile or two. As long as I have their enthusiasm and support, we will continue these weekends and I will continue to race. When you make these weekends about more than just running they become truly special and I hope memories my kids will always treasure. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be crossing the line with Ava after her first half marathon!
Life is an adventure. Enjoy the journey.
I have always been very interested in the science behind how our body works, and how that applies to nutrition and exercise. In fact, although I almost failed chemistry in high school, I had an incredible understanding once I started taking nutrition courses in college. Along with that…I have also been very interested in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and how they affect so many great things in our bodies.
BCAAs have so many positive benefits, especially for women who lead active lives. The problem for me has always been finding one that was all natural and that did not make me feel like I was adding chemicals and artificial “stuff” to my body. I’ve done a lot of research about them and made sure I was educated in making a decision of what brand to try. So when I came across Momsanity’s BCAAs I felt that they were a perfect fit for me. . They are completely free of any artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives and made by moms with busy moms in mind. I was excited to try it out and have not been disappointed.
Here are some of the benefits I have found since starting to use BCAAs for the past few weeks:
Blood Sugar levels
This is a big one for me. I have been dealing with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) my entire life. I cannot tell you how many times I have fainted from my levels dropping, and I feel faint if I do not have something to eat almost every hour. But taking these I have noticed a huge difference in the way I have felt. BCAAs work like a carbohydrate in your body, so they help maintain sugar balance and also reduce sugar cravings. After a hard workout a lot of times I will feel my levels drop and now instead of reaching for a Gatorade for sugar, I add a serving to my water and get the same effect. I really feel a difference taking them post-workout.
As a working mom of two who leads an active lifestyle this is huge. BCAAs also help regulate cortisol levels which can be raised from stress. I feel like I can think clearer and am more balanced from them. Because as I mentioned they work like a carbohydrate in your body, they also help prevent fatigue. There are times that I am so exhausted at the end of the day that I literally cannot sleep. I have noticed a really big difference in the quality of sleep I am getting since my energy levels are higher during the day.
As women, the older we get the harder it is for us to maintain muscle mass. The amino acids help to build muscle and help to prevent this from happening. It also helps reduce muscle soreness, so after a hard workout I feel I can recover quicker.
Although this isn’t necessarily something it’s known for, for me personally I have always been one to struggle with drinking enough water. Having some yummy flavor in there helps me tremendously. What I usually do is fill my 32 oz bottle with water, and then once I’m down to the 10 or 12 oz mark I add a scoop and finish it. It dissolves easily and I like the fruit punch taste!
BCAAs are also gained through foods in our diet, but when taken as a supplement they are absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. And let’s be honest, most of us do not eat completely balanced or healthy every single day. I love that I can take 2-3 servings mixed in with my water and know that no matter what I am getting these benefits.
Although I was able to try the Momsanity brand before it was available to everyone, it is now up on Amazon for purchase! You can find it here and use the code: BCAA4YOU for $10 off your order (expires Sunday, May 29th at midnight). You will also get a free cookbook with your order which has some fun recipes to use the BCAAs with, including gummies and smoothies. Do you use BCAAs? I’d love to hear others experiences with them as well!
This past weekend we went down to Wildwood, NJ for not only a half marathon, but a quick fun getaway with some of my family and friends. I did this half marathon last year as well, and it’s a really fun race and Wildwood is a great family beach town, so what’s not to like?
My parents, sister, niece, and my kids headed down Saturday afternoon after swim lessons and gymnastics (tired them out to ensure a good nap on the ride). Also joining us were my friend Beth (the same friend who did her first half with me in Asbury) and her two daughters. Her older daughter, Faith is a former swimmer of mine who signed up for this to be her first half marathon!
The trip was easy, and we got there right in time to check into the hotel. Little did we know when we made the reservation that it was directly across the street from the bib pickup site on the boardwalk, and only a few blocks away from the start! I just love when things work out like that! We headed up to the boardwalk, and easily got our bibs, packets, shirts, and ride wristbands. One of the great thing about this race series is that with your registration you get a free 2-day pass for the rides at Morey’s Piers!
So at that time, Beth, Faith, Ava, and myself split from the group and headed down to the beach. The rest of our crew headed to the rides but we met up with a group of runners for some beach yoga, also a bonus of this race series. The instructor was great and it was perfect after a long morning and ride down.
When we were done, we met back up with everyone and continued to enjoy the rides and fun atmosphere of the boardwalk. The kids had a blast. As far as I’m concerned, this is what these weekends are about. Sure, I put in the time to train for the runs, but making it a whole family event is the most important to me. In fact, it is probably my number one motivator in my training!
As we were deciding to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner, the dark clouds started rolling in. We made it back to the hotel just in time before the thunder and lightning and as soon as the storm passed we headed to the Boathouse for our pre-race dinner. We went to the same place last year and the food and atmosphere is perfect to bring kids and the view over the water is beautiful. We headed back to the hotel and I got everything organized for the morning.
On the morning of the race, we grabbed a bite to eat, got dressed, and walked up to the start just before the playing of the national anthem. The starting line was super organized and not too crowded the way they space out the pace groups which was a nice change! A few minutes later we were off.
Just to start off…
If I’m going to be totally honest with my race experience, I will have to apologize for sounding slightly negative. I really struggled during this race but hope it does not come off as sounding like I had a bad experience.
So as soon as I started to run my hip, which I never have issues with started to hurt. It scared me a little since there was no warning and I actually thought that maybe I should stop. Instead I decided to just hang back and run a bit to see if it loosened up. Eventually it did, but I was worried about it.
Within the first mile we were heading north on the boardwalk. The spectators were really great. I remembered from last year how supportive the crowd and race volunteers are for this series and it helped to regain my stride knowing the support I would have throughout the race. The WildHalf series is not just a half marathon, there is also a 5k and 8k option for runners. They do a great job of clearly marking the course for each distance. It was super windy that day, so some of the mile marker signs were blown down, but my Fitbit takes care of that for me anyway.
I still cannot tell you exactly which direction the wind was blowing that day, but I can tell you that no matter which direction we ran, it seemed to be against us. It was a challenge, but growing up running around the beach, this is nothing new to me, and I don’t mind the challenge. When you run into the wind, however, your core and upper body become even more engaged which for me anyway, means more soreness the next day.
Around mile 4.5 is where the challenges of this course that I love really begin. The course is pretty much an “out and in” loop. At this point you cross over a highway overpass with a nice steady incline and down to an old high drawbridge. As I climbed the bridge, I was actually a little scared of being blown over! I had no one around me at that point so nothing to block the wind and it was strong!
I made it out to the turnaround, which I was really looking forward to. This was the first race in a while where I knew a good amount of people running. Once you turn around, you see all of the other runners for about a 3 mile stretch. So I got to see everyone I knew that was also out there! It’s a great distraction and really makes this race fun. The other runners were really enthusiastic and we all gave thumbs ups and words of encouragement, high fives, waves, whatever. I was almost laughing at this point as I headed back over the high bridge because I was being blown into the other side of runners. I won’t soon forget that!
I really did not feel right through this race. If it wasn’t for the volunteers and the high number of water/powerade stations they had I am honestly not sure I would have finished. My blood sugar felt off, my legs felt dehydrated, and the wind was definitely tough. At one point a man at one of the stations ran over to ask if I was ok, I’m thinking I must have been pretty pale at this point.
As I passed the 12 mile mark, I started to realize that I wasn’t doing as poorly as I thought and there was still a chance of going under 1:40, which is a personal goal I have. I just kept pushing through and at this point being up on the boardwalk with lots of crowd support I started to feel a bit better. Before I knew it, I could see the finish and crossed just above my goal, at 140.11. Still a personal best, and I was just so relieved that I pushed through those miles and never gave up on myself.
I found my family and headed over to Fox Park where the food and stage were for the after “party”. Ava joined me and picked out some goodies, the volunteers were awesome and gave her some of her own too…chocolate chip cookies, bananas, apples, bagels, soft pretzels, and more. I sometimes think my kids really only enjoy these races for all the food I get after! We took a quick pic on the step and repeat and then headed back to the finish line to watch everyone else finish.
I always enjoy watching the finish line and seeing the variety of people who run these races. Young, old, some finish holding hands, some sprint past people and keep that competitive spirit going until the end. There were even dogs crossing the line! This race just has a great vibe at the finish and the announcer was great too. So fun. Soon I saw Faith and Beth who both looked amazing and happy and I was so proud of them! Faith had completed her first half marathon with a smile on her face, and Beth had taken close to 20 minutes off her time from her first 13.1 only a month before. So awesome!
I headed back to the park with Beth and we checked out the tents once again. At this time the band was playing at the stage so the kids were having a blast. We sat down to listen for a few minutes and they began to announce the awards. Ava asked if she could come up with me for mine, and I laughed and told her I would not be getting one today. A few minutes later, they were announcing women 35-39 and wouldn’t you know it…they said my name as placing 3rd! I was shocked and Ava was over the moon excited to go up! We took some pics and then quickly headed back to check out of the hotel.
The day of the race just happened to also be my niece Rowan’s second birthday! I was honored that she woke up way before her usual wake up time to come cheer me on, and was looking forward to spending the rest of the day celebrating her. Between the wind and the cooler temps, our best bet was to find an indoor activity. We drove up to Atlantic City to the aquarium, which is really a cute place if you’ve never been. They have some touch tanks, turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, and lots more fish plus an observation deck on the top floor and a pretty garden area out front. It’s right on the water in a very pretty spot away from the hustle and bustle of the casinos.
After the fishies we headed to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner (I was beyond starving at this point!). They sat us in a big booth, which normally is great but poor Rowan was terrified of the ape over the table next to us. Nolan was not a huge fan either, but Ava loved it! We all got burgers or dinosaur nuggets, and much to my husband’s surprise I even caved for some souveneer cups! We had a great family dinner with my sister and parents complete with a huge volcano cake and then headed home to open some presents with the birthday girl. I’m not sure I mentioned that Jeff was not on this trip with us due to baseball, but by then his games were over and he met us at my parents and got to celebrate her big day too.
The weekend was fantastic. Like I have said before, I love how running can bring us to so many fun places and love making these races into mini family vacations and new experiences. The Wild Half series is just so great and they really do take the steps to make it a great weekend for not only the runners but the spectators and families too. I plan on running it again next year.
A few days after the race we received an email that the course may have been slightly short. They apologized and offered runners a discounted rate for next year which I thought was really impressive. That being said, I’m actually very happy that I did not go under 1:40, and can now do so on a more regulated course. Everything happens for a reason, right?
Live for adventures. Run Happy