Friday, July 31, 2009

17 kinds of produce in the HOUSE

Hi everyone!
I hope you all had a fun Friday!
I spent today hosting Day 1 of a 2-day garage sale with my MIL and grandmother-in-law. We had the garage sale at Mike's aunt's house, so let's just say there was enough Greek going around today to fill the Acropolis! Not too lucrative though........ today's earnings was a measly $75 :-/
After an early 5am start to the day, I groggily fixed myself a juice. And... YUM!!! I was surprised to find that this gave me quite a boost of energy, at least for a little while. That morning I snacked on tons of fruit - a peach, some blueberries, and some blackberries.
I also ate a banana bread flavored Larabar, which was just ok - "B" ok. I think I am comparing everything to the delicious cashew cookie flavor and that is a high bar to meet!
Here's the pretty view through the trees above me that I wanted to capture.... not a view I get to see much in the city!
I see some of these in Chicago, but I still found them to be photo-worthy :)
Lunch was fresh from the garden!! I was served up some spinach with lemon and EVOO and some roasted peppers, while the Greeks feasted on - what else? - lamb ;) The peppers were really good, and it was my first time having purple peppers. These were sooooooo delicious.
Have you ever seen or tried a purple pepper?!!? Somehow the flavor is out of this world!! It has a lot more of an intense flavor than regular peppers and is a bit sweet and kind of meaty tasting. I loved it and am now fixated on where to find these but I have never seen them at the grocery store! Does anyone in Chicago know where I can find these guys?!?!
I left the garage sale for a bit to go to the grocery store since going to the suburban grocery stores are like taking a trip back to the 1950s! As in, I got 7 bags of food and 17 kinds of produce (plus other stuff) - for only $85.00!!!
I am psyched about all of the goodies I stocked up on!! Aside from some of the usual stuff, these are some things I am excited to use (most that I have never bought before):
- Yuca
- Daikon
- Beets
- Young coconut
- Rutabaga
- Ginger (surprisingly I've never bought fresh ginger since it's usually so expensive and since I have about 4 half-used jars of the dried stuff!)
I am really looking forward to make some exciting dishes with these items!! Any ideas? What are your favorite ways to prepare these items?
Later, the MIL and I basically attacked the mulberry trees like a lion on its prey. Have you ever had fresh mulberries?? I've never seen these at the store, but my dad used to grow these at our old house and eating them reminds me of my childhood! We literally were groping at these berries for about 20 minutes until all of the ripe ones were eaten. Sooo good, except for the telltale blue hands (and feet) - that stuff doesn't come off easily!

After a tiring 2 hour drive home, dinner part 1 was comprised of leftover coleslaw.
And tons of dates, snacked on while I type this! This is the plan for dinner part 2.....
I'm sure you are all sick of leftovers, so it will be nice once I start cookin all of those newfangled, weird veggies I bought today ;)
Tomorrow is a 13 miler - yikes!!! That's like running a half marathon, yet I am approaching it as a regular old training run which is kind of funny. Then, it's back to the garage sale - let's hope I have better luck tomorrow!

Gratitude Journal:
1. Was able to wake up today without coffee.... thank goodness for Cornelius the rockstar juicer ;)
2. Despite not making a lot of moolah it was nice to sit outside in the sun today with Mike's fam
3. I know this is dorky to say but I could NOT be happier about all of the cheap but great produce I bought today!!!
4. Today ended up being an "off" exercise day since I had to get up so early, but while I missed the exercise it was a nice break and I know it will give my body the rest it needs for its 13 miler tomorrow
The next time I talk to you guys it will be AUGUST..... crazy!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My shortest post ever (I'm serious this time!)

Ok, on your mark, get set, go!
Seawood and cucumber salad at Triad, a fabulous sushi joint if you are ever in Chicago's South Loop........ although I wasn't super impressed with the salad unfortunately. But it looks pretty!

2 Avocado rolls, 1 order cucumber and sesame maki rolls, a 3 serving of avocado rolls ordered later... yum but again, I kinda liked my sushi I made from scratch last week better ;) - thanks to Gena's amazing recipe!
I have a stomacheache or cramps or heartburn or something now - I can't decide where the pain is because it keeps moving lol so I'm off to read a couple blogs and go to bed before getting up at 5am tomorrow to garage sale it up tomorrow!
Gratitude Journal
1. I pounded out my 6 miler this morning despite the super high humidity
2. Cleaned and did laundry (hey, noone ever said this list had to be exciting!)
3. Hung out with neighbor friends in the building, enjoyed a bottle of Oliver Winery's finest, their company and their cute baby
4. I had been craving sushi for forever and it was great to get it tonight! And also to see Caity, whom is finally back in the U.S. from being in Uganda for two years!
5. Even though it's because of an upset stomach, I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to go to bed early and I plan to relish this opportunity!
Goodnight - it's Friday tomorrow!!! :)

Groats 101

Here are those elusive Luna Moons that managed to escape from this morning's posting!

Breakfast was a very refreshing juice of 4 stalks celery, a few handfuls spinach, 1/2 lemon, and 2 apples. Delish!!!!

I spent the morning doing laundry and cleaning, and then for lunch decided to have some of the soup I made from yesterday, which wasn't as good as my regular carrot-avocado bisque due to not having enough carrots, and the addition of cuke.

I spiced it up by throwing in another avocado...... didn't do it. Time to try again.

Then, I threw in a huge can of whole tomatoes....... THIS did it!! I prefer the fresh stuff, but I would rather save the fresh veggies to eat on their own. The tomatoes definitely made this into a tasty gazpacho!

Bored later on, I baked some chocolate muffins and some mint chocolate chip brownies for our garage sale tomorrow and Saturday (in Mt. Prospect, IL, in case I have any readers there!)

I wanted to bake more even though we have tons of desserts laying around the house. Ohhhhhh, welll ;)

I wanted to do something with my Newman's Own Organic dried fruit - namely the prunes, raisins, and apricots. I ground these up in the mini-FP and threw in some cocoa powder, salt, vanilla Stevia liquid, cinnamon, and a splash of agave and maple syrup.

Last but not least, I added in about a cup of dried, unsweeted coconut. This is officially my favorite ingredient to bake with!!! Well that, and dates, and agave nectar, and... ok, so I love to bake with anything and everything :-)

Not very pretty, but I wasn't aiming for aesthetics here, I just wanted something to munch on! As of now I haven't eaten the whole bowl, but who knows how long that will last ;)


I got some questions on yesterday's posting regarding groats - here is a short explanation:

* Buckwheat groats:

- are a misnomer since they are not wheat at all, but rather buckwheat is a part of an edible fruit seed

- are gluten free

- easier to digest than grains

- high in protein

- low in fat

- low on the glycemic scale

- supposedly helps in preventing the accumulation of fat

- reduces blood pressure

- slows the aging process

* Oat groats:

- regular oats have been heatened and steamrolled, which destroys the ezymes

- full of soluble fiber

- known to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol

From my understanding oat groats are more starchy than buckwheat groats, but both are a great alternative to regular wheat flour, and definitely preferable to refined white flour!

Hope that helps! :)

Runners do the darndest things!

So I had an interesting run today. I love running in the city for so many reasons, and one of them is for the people-watching!

Today I saw this..........

It was my first time seeing a running dress!!! I searched high and low on the internet to find out WHY one would wear something like this and I couldn't really find any reasons - I assume comfort or style? But the woman I saw was wearing the dress OVER shorts, which doesn't make any sense to me. Plus it was in a wild, crazy pattern which made me laugh :)

This one I would possibly consider wearing....

What do you think, would you wear a running dress? It sounds totally nuts I know, but think back to 2 years ago when noone had ever heard of running skirts which now are quite the cat's meow as we all know....

I also saw this:

So funny!!! I guess I can't knock a guy who wants to spend some quality time with his pooch. But again, this made me smile :)

Before I ran I munched on some Luna Moons in blueberry flavor. I'm too lazy to connect my camera for one picture haha, so it may or may not show up later on here in picture form. They were pretty good, tasted like gummy bears and had a good blueberry flavor. I made sure to take what I thought was enough water with this, too.

After digesting, I went out for a 6 miler. It started off awesome and breezy when I was running through my neighborhood to the lake, but once I got to the lake the wind completely halted. ?!?!? Chicago is ALWAYS windy as heck, especially by the lake. This was quite the anomaly. I had worn a sports bra but with no wind, this ended up being a bad idea. In theory wearing less clothes would make my run cooler, but I am beginning to think that it's worse because I was all sweaty and I had nothing to mop up the sweat with, gross.
What do you think guys - do you think it's better to wear a sports bra, or to wear a longer tank when running in hot and humid weather?
Sorry to you nonrunners who don't want to hear about this! I also think my run was tough because I was dehydrated, I had to stop four times for water which is a lot for just running 6 miles.

Oh well, it feels good to have it done! It's still amazing to me that my LONG runs are so much more glorious than the short ones. My 12 miler was literally an easy, peasy, effortless run, yet this week's 3 and 6 milers were tough as hell. Hoping that this Saturday's 13 miler will be a good one!

Hope you all have a great Thursday! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicago Diner, you've got some competition!

Thank you to Jen Strait for her generous donation to Ceasefire!!! Jen and I trained for and ran the Chicago Marathon in 2007, and she was truly the best running buddy a girl could ask for. I miss running with you Jen!!
Look at this loveliness - really whets your tastebuds am I right?!?!?

Haha, I know it doesn't look very appetizing but once lightly baked in the oven, these turn out to be THE most amazing veggie burgers ever. The recipe:
- 4 c. diced red pepper
- 2 c. diced celery
- 2/3 c. diced onion
- 4 c. sunflower seeds, ground (I used my spice/nut grinder but a FP would work too)
- 3 c. flax meal
- salt, pepper, oregano to taste
- 2 c. water This made WAY more than I planned.... so I ended up forming them into patties, layering them between foil and froze the majority of them for later. It took awhile to chop all these veggies and to form the patty shapes but it will be worth it later - these are awesome topped with some fresh tomato and avocado, but you could also throw them on a bun and doctor them up with your favorite burger toppings!
I needed a sweet snack, soooo I grabbed this guy. It didn't really strike my fancy - pretty much like the Cocoa Mole flavor but minus the chili powder, it was pretty dry and not chocolatey enough. I'll give it a B-

Still feeling snacky, this one came next......... at first I didn't care for this either - it wasn't what I expected, it was very very hard and crunchy. I typically go for more of the chewy, moist Larabar texture. However, after awhile I started to like it more! It's not something I would buy for myself, but it did keep me full for quite a while and has great, simple nutritional stats. Rating: B
I bought these "cheeses" today after hearing about how great this brand is from Hungry Hungry Hippie, who raves about one of the flavors but I forgot which one....
A couple weeks ago Mike and I finally went to the Chicago Diner, which sounds like nothing special but the name is very misleading - this is no mom and pop joint!!! Everything we ordered was FABULOUS. One of the menu items I tried was a vegan sweet potato quesadilla, which I attempted to recreate here.
It was actually really good - I need to experiment with the flavors, it was definitely lacking something (I didn't have any ripe avocados or I would have made some guac to top it with) - but the vegan cheese was actually a bit heavy for me. I think I just prefer salads most of the time! Which is why I had a light tomato salad on the side, which hit the spot.
Then, Mike and I went to watch the biweekly fireworks at Navy Pier. It was a lot of fun! It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is taken from right in front of the planetarium and it is one of the most beautiful places to look at the Chicago skyline. Maybe once I get my act together and figure out how my camera works for once, I can take a video of it and post it on here ;)

Me bloggin away.....
Did you all here the "big news story" today about how tanning beds were recently moved into the "top risk category" in terms of being definite causes of cancer? This is nothing new, we ALL know tanning is bad for us, but it still was disconcerting to think about. My first thought was that I wanted to immediately go eat a ton of veggies and antioxidants to ward off the the scary cancer...
Although I knew better at the time, I was a frequent, frequent tanning addict during high school and into college. I'm actually really ashamed to think about my stupidity and ignorance, and I know that I did a ton of damage to my skin and I can only hope that I stopped in enough time.
What really irks me is not this news story, but the fact that SO many people still do not understand the importance of sun protection. When I'm out in the sun for longer than 5 minutes I will almost always try to apply my Neutrogena spray 70SPF - this stuff is awesome because it is sweatproof and while they spray bottle is super easy and non-goopy, it really WORKS!!
However, regardless of who I am with, I am usually the only person that cares enough to wear sunscreen. Guys, I totally understand that most people think they look better with a bit of color (I know I do!), but all it takes is a bit of fake tanner to take care of that safely.
Even more disturbingly, I just read a study today from a Canadian-based tanning bed company who actually said that "If you're to take skin type 1 and 2 out of the equation, those being [people] with red hair and blue eyes and then reddish brown and brown eyes — if you take those out of the data — the number pretty much goes to zero in terms of the risk of a tanning bed as a carcinogen" - WHAT?!?!?!
I'm sorry, but I think of myself as bright and educated and if I knew the dangers of tanning and did it anyway, teens who hear this type of misinformation will certainly have no qualms about subjecting themself to carcinegenic tanning beds.
Sorry to rant and rave about this, but it makes me sad that people, mostly younger girls I assume, haven't learned the lessons of people my age and I wish I could get the message out to them so they could learn from my mistakes. I have done irreversible damage to myself and I have premature wrinkles that I should NOT have as I am only in my mid-2os!!
Did you go tanning as a teen - or do you still today? How do you think we can get the message out that this is serious business???
Gratitude Journal:
1. Great spinning class today!
2. I spent all day cooking, which is my favorite thing to do all day.. I would do this more often if food was free, if only I could be someone's personal chef...
3. Fun time watching the fireworks and admiring the wonders of our city with my wonderful husband

Oat groats, she wrote

Hi there!
I slept in today until about 8:30.... love it!!! It definitely helped my energy level and mood to get caught up on sleep :)
An apple for breakfast........ And then it was time to head to the gym! Spinning again... and for the first time since last week I truly loved it! I find that if I go to class feeling sluggish or not in the mood then it's hard for me to get into it, but if I start spinning class with a positive attitude it makes SUCH a big difference. Class goes by faster - too fast even - I often want to keep going! I've gotta keep that in mind for next time - go into class with a smile and excitement and I will reap the benefits!
I was planning to stay at the gym after class to do a bit more cardio or strength training, but I knew I was going to Whole Foods afterward and truthfully I love grocery shopping and ESPECIALLY WF soooo much that I was so excited that I left the gym early!
What a dork right?!??! I had planned to just get some produce, and then realized that I will be by a Costco on Sunday so I didn't get as much fresh stuff as I had planned. However, instead I got some fun stuff - vegan cheese, miso paste, an enormous bag of dates, Ezekiel tortillas, and my favorites, organic buckwheat groats and organic oat groats for super cheap from the bulk bin.
What are your favorite things to do with buckwheat and/or oat groats?? I would especially love to hear something I can do with them w/o cooking them - keepin it raw here ;)
PS - thank you to Eating Bender for notifying me that my WF has a gelato station that I somehow never noticed before!!! lol.
I also did something I haven't done in years since I worked at WF one summer back in the day - I hit up the salad bar!! Woohoo!!! I made an awesome salad from carrots, peas, marinated kale, beets, seaweed, cherry tomatoes, and tons of roasted garlic.
Back at home I threw this on top of some spinach I had leftover and made a simple dressing from lemon juice and a bit of salt. So good!
The rest of my morning and afternoon will be great - cooking all day!!!
- freezing bananas (for Gena's soft serve, of course!)
- cooking and prepping sweet potatoes for my dinner tonight - which is a spin on what I had at the Chicago Diner! I can't wait!
- made a cream of spinach soup that I froze for later
- made a carrot-avocado bisque, but ran low on carrots so subbed cukes instead..... not quite as
good, I'm afraid

- I'm about to make some sunburgers to freeze for the week for me, and....

- below are some vegetarian "meatballs" that I made for Mike's pasta tonight - they are made from soy protein, bread crumbs, eggs, and lots of seasongings, then baked at 400 degrees for about 14 minutes!I'm also itching to bake (or unbake?) something, but we already have a ton of treats in the fridge so I think I'll hold out on that.
Hope you are having a lovely day!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oops I did it again......

Yet again, I forgot to do my Gratitude Journal - both yesterday and today! I would say "shame on me", but shame is counterproductive and so I'm going to forgive myself with a smile :)

1. I'm proud of myself for completing a training run in VERY high humidity
2. I'm VERY proud of Mike for getting a very positive result on a case at work!!
3. I made Mike a delicious dinner of chicken, rice, coleslaw, and vegan brownies
4. I'm beginning to look forward to going back to work in the fall!

What is something that you are grateful for today?

Busted blender :(

A lot of people have been talking about freebie products recently........ speaking of, I forgot to mention this lipgloss from Kath - it was part of her swag from the BlogHer conference this past weekend! Thanks Kath! :) I also forgot to mention how much Mike LOVES all things Newman's Own Organics. They did send me free products to review, yes, but I have been honest about disliking other products before and I would not hesitate to do it again.
However, Mike and I have been obsessed with EVERY NOO product we have tried. He is a huge proponent of their "oreos" and Ginger-Os!

The EVOO and balsamic is also good stuff. That said............

My mid-afternoon snack was basically a ton of these dates with 100% dark chocolate. Don't worry, this time I didn't eat the whole bagfull, although I easily could have ;)
I now FREEZE my dark chocolate to decrease the odds that I will eat the entire bar in one sitting!
I got bored later on and decided to try my hand at another raw vegan treat. This time, I made "raw vegan brownies". The bottom layer was:
- ground walnuts
- ground almonds
-ground dates
- cocoa powder, blended with other ingredients
The top layer was avocado, agave, cocao stevia drops, vanilla, a splash of salt, and a bit of coconut oil. Oddly (and annoyingly) enough, my blender could not blend this concoction. What?!?! I added water - still nada. I transferred mixture to mini-FP, which was a bit easier - hoping my blender is not busted???? :(

Spread "icing" on the brownie layer and freeze. I've nibbled on these without freezing them, and so far my concensus is "just decent". Definitely good enough to eat, but NOWHERE near as fabulous as the coconut chocolate bars I made last week!!!! Those were P.H.E.N.O.M.E.N.A.L.

For Mike's dinner, I made him some marinated chicken and Mexican rice.
The chicken's marinade:
- 1/2 c. balsamic
- 1/2 c. EVOO
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- 2 T. dijon mustard
- salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
- Marinade for a few hours then bake at 400 for about 45 minutes. Very easy, but he loved it! :)
As I type this, I'm snacking on more coleslaw but I'm about to go make some type of a mashed sweet potato dish, assuming that my blender is working ok.... and looking up trips to EUROPE!!!!!
Mike is half Greek, half Italian (we both tend to falsely give the Greek side more credit sometimes since they are a larger fam and have had a bigger influence on his upbringing in many ways, but we love the Italian side just as much!)
However, he is actually the first generation to be born in the U.S., yet we have never been to Greece or Italy! My parents (non-Greeks) actually MET in Greece, and these days I feel like everyone and their mother has been to Europe but us....
Any advice on planning one's first trip to Europe??? I think if I am lucky we may end up going next summer!! :)

I'm scared of Twitter!!!

Hi friends!

After eating too much bad-stomachache-inducing, nonvegan food yesterday, I woke up still feeling sick.

BUT, I knew just the thing to get myself feeling back to normal - banana soft serve!!! I used two bananas which took forever in my teeny little mini-FP, but boy was it worth it :-) Today's training plan called for a 3 miler, which I knocked out despite the super high humidity. I had big plans to run to the gym to do a sculpting class, but I was dripping with sweat in a big, bad way and I needed to cool off a bit so I just walked home, which about 20-25 minutes.
I bought a purple cabbage last week with hopes of making coleslaw, and I finally got around to it today! This is how I did it:
- one head of cabbage, chopped
- 4 carrots, grated (I used my mini-FP but you could use a hand grater, too)
- vinegar (I used what i had on hand - part red wine vinegar and part balsamic)
- dijon mustard
- a splash of agave and a splash of real maple syrup
- Nu Naturals stevia liquid (love this stuff!!)
- salt and pepper

This ended up tasting awesome!! I loved it so much that I couldn't even be bothered to throw some in a proper serving bowl, I've been eating out of the mixing bowl all morning!
I think I may go have some of this in a moment... leftover carrot/lemon/apple/celery/grapefruit juice that I made last night - it's been chillaxin in the fridge since then :)

Ok guys, I am not happy about this, but yesterday I reluctantly joined Twitter. You can follow me here - but if you do, please understand that I may never actually "tweet" (?) - or at least not frequently - because I'm sincerely worried that I will get sucked into the abyss of Twitter and that it will become all-consuming, like Facebook was at one time, and much like the iron grip that the blogosphere currently has on me!
I've heard good things, but to me it doesn't seem convenient to update your twitter unless you have a wireless internet phone -otherwise you have to go to the website, etc......and it just seems so time-intensive to have to look up people you want to follow, read their tweets, tweet your OWN tweets, YIKES my brain is spinning just thinking about it!! I know there are things like "twitter deck" or whatever it's called but frankly I just don't know if it's worth the time....
Readers, iss there an easy way to be on Twitter without getting stressed about it? Any advice for a newbie Twitterer?
I'm crossing my fingers that we have nice weather tonight since Mike and I had planned to go to Movies in the Park to see a free showing of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - hope you all have a great day! :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Food miscombining and Running shenanigans

Hi guys!
I have to admit, after eating a high-raw diet for a few weeks now (with few exceptions) and for the most part feeling AWESOME, breaking the "rules" today made me feel like crap. Really, really, really crappy.
For those of you who eat meat, or don't know or care what "raw" means, you probably think it's crazy to follow "rules" when it comes to eating, but trust me, I have felt infinitely better over the past few weeks from following the food combining rules than ever before (certain foods fid into certain categories, such as starch or protein or veggies or fruit, and mixing categories makes it harder to digest various foods).
So, while it may not work for everyone, it HAS worked for me. I am incredibly ready to get back on track tomorrow, and I feel so yucky right now I can't bring myself to bother posting about what I ate tonight.
Basically, part of the reason I fell of the "raw" wagon today was because I was getting super low on fresh produce so I tried to stretch what I had left, and not having ANY greens today was a sorry change compared to my normally veggie-heavy diet. I miss you veggies....
ANYHOO, in the meantime I will leave you with something I found on it's pretty hilarious and realistic, if you are like me you may find that most of these apply to you! ;)
You know you're a runner when...

*your first thought when you look at the weekly weather forecast is, "When can I fit in my runs?" (check!)
* you have more running clothes than regular clothes in your laundry pile (check!)
* you've lost a toenail. And you tell people, "It's not that bad."
* you smirk when non-runners ask you, "So how long is this marathon?" (check!)
* you have a drawer full of medals and other race souvenirs that you're not sure what to do with (check!)
* you go into Starbucks more often to use the bathroom than to actually buy coffee (check!)
* you no longer make fun of fanny packs because your running belt looks very similar (although cooler) to one (check!)
* you've used an old race T-shirt to wash your car, dust furniture, or clean something else (check!)
* your treadmill has more miles on it than your car
* you get an invitation to a wedding and you automatically think about what race the date will conflict with (check!)
* you have dreams about showing up to a race late or not wearing any clothes (I have running dreams in general - check!)
* you're not embarrassed to wear spandex
* the salespeople at your local running shop know you by name
* you're always hungry (double check!!)
* you know how to take a cup of water from a water without choking on it or spilling it all over yourself (haha, still learning to master this one!)
* at least one of your web site usernames or email addresses has the word "run" or "runner" in it (check!)
* you know where your illiotibial band is located (um no, do you?)
* you no longer hate port-a-johns. In fact, there have been times when you've been very happy to see one (oh yeah, check!)
* you wear your running watch even when you're not running. ("It matches, right?") (check!)
* you've had your running shoes for three months and you know it's already time to replace them (check!)
* you spend more time researching running routes than local restaurants when traveling to a new city (check!)
* your physical therapist's receptionist knows you by the sound of your voice on the phone (no, thank goodness!)
* you know where exactly one mile from your front door is (in any direction) (oh hell yes! and 2 miles, and 3 miles, and 4 and 5....)
* you know how to correctly spell and pronounce plantar fasciitis (don't go there... PF is my arch nemesis)
* you own more pairs of running socks than dress socks (for sure, check!)
when you hear PR, you automatically think "personal record", not "public relations" (check!)
* you pack more running clothes than bathing suits when going on a beach vacation (check!)
* you have running clothes and an extra pair of running shoes in your car, "just in case."(I always have a pair of running shoes in my car in case my PF kicks in during work hours!)
* your holiday wish list can be fulfilled at any running or sporting goods store (check... or the Garmin store, hint hint!)
* one of the first things people ask you when they haven't seen you in a while is, "What race are you training for now?" (check!)
* you have several drawers dedicated to running shirts (practically!)
* you get excited when the new Runner's World comes in the mail (oh yeah!)
* your Facebook or Twitter updates frequently involve running (check!)
* your only recent photos of you alone are race photos
* you always have your next race on the calendar (and have about 3 calendars just to keep track of my training runs!)
* your runs are sometimes longer than your commute to work or school (by far!)
* your running partners know more about your bodily functions than your significant other (weirdly enough, yes!)

I loved this :) Do you have anything to add to this list?

Balcony reading and blog designing

Hello everyone!
This morning I finished off the 2 remaining golden kiwis from last week. I am now a bit obsessed with leaving the skin on ala Meghann-style - not only does this save time and you don't waste as much of the kiwi, but I actually like the taste and texture that it adds, plus it gives you more fiber and nutrients! Before I left to go to the gym, I got started on Mike's dinner for tonight. I used these Arrowhead Mills organic red lentils which I have used before and love!
I basically just threw the bag of lentils into a pot along with a chopped up onion, covered them with water, brought it to a boil, and then simmered until the lentils were done. While they were cooking, I also stirred in some organic ketchup (no HFCS crap in this house, the fruit-sweetened kind), dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.
Even though it wasn't even 9am yet, I was dying to sample this sweet and tangy concoction so I had a bowlful for my pre-workout fuel!The lentils tasted great, but they didn't sit too well in the ole stomach. For those who follow food combining, it's best to avoid beans because, while healthy in many ways, they are considered both a starch and a protein and thus are "nature's miscombined food". Basically, for those of us who have stomach insensitivities, it's a good idea to stay away from beans and legumes.
I left for spinning class feeling a bit sluggish thanks to my too-heavy breakfast, which was annoying because yesterday I had a rough spinning class too. I prefer starting a cardio session with a more upbeat attitude, but I forged ahead nonethless! :)
Spinning ended up being good today, but was a bit shortened because the instructor got there late so I did another 15 minutes on the machine from h- err, I mean, the stairmaster, and then some crunches.
2 plums for a snacker

After seeing what seemed like tons of PB & Js on various blogs this morning, this combo sounded too good to beat so I made one up for myself
Since the lentils had already thrown off my food combining for the day, I thought maybe I would go for the rest of the day w/o following the "rules" to test to see how I felt.
Technically this meal is not combined properly since it has a starch, nut butter, and fruit, but I'm not going crazy about the rules here so I figured it couldn't hurt to try it! I didn't have any jam in the house that didn't contain HFCS (it's Mike's) so I made some of my own by blending frozen blackberries with water, agave nectar, and 2 packets of Truvia.
The blackberries must have been in the freezer for awhile or not closed up well enough because the jam took on a bit of a freezer-burned taste, not too good. However, the combo with raw almond butter on Ezekiel bread was decent..... though not as good as I thought it would be.
I spent some time reading on my lovely balcony, which is something I don't do enough of! Some of you had asked about the book I just finished, Jodi Piccoult's Handle with Care. I really didn't care for it, and found it oddly (and annoyingly) to be VERY similar to My Sister's Keeper, which was much better! There were a ton of similarities, and I'm not sure why Piccoult would have written a book that was basically a rip-off of her own best-seller, but oh well :)
Now I'm onto The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, by Dr. Bruce Perry. Dr. Perry is well known in psychiatric circles for his work with traumatized children, and he happens to be from Chicago which makes it even more interesting to read his work - I attended a lecture by him earlier in the summer.

Since Mike will be home soon, I got out the lentil mixture I made earlier - which I thought was good on its own - to doctor it up before serving it to Mike. I had made a ton of veggie bacon strips earlier and once they cooled, I crumbled them up into small pieces and stirred them into the lentils along with a 1/2 or so of bread crumbs.
I poured the mixture into a casserole dish and topped it with more breadcrumbs and some parmesan cheese.
I had a ton of bites of the lentils and veggie bacon, and again this didn't make me feel too hot (I later realized the veggie bacon is NOT vegan, yuck). For whatever reason when I eat too much, sometimes I have this twisted idea that eating something ELSE wil help! lol.
So, I tried to soothe my aching tummy with something sweet. I tried this guy for the first time that I picked up from WF during my last trip.

It sounds awesome, doesn't it? When I think chocolate hazelnut, I think NUTELLA! This bar came nowhere close to being that delicious - it was weirdly kind of oily - but it was decent. I would give it a B or B-; I would eat it again, but definitely prefer most of the Larabar flavors instead!
I've been getting excited about having a new blog template soon courtesy of ZestyCook, and I am still looking for more ideas for my new domain name since is already taken! What do you think: MarathonValerie? ValRunsMarathons? ValsMiles? MarathonOrBust? RunnerVal? ChicagoVal? Any suggestions?
I'm so excited to watch the last episode of The Bachelorette tonight - who do you want to win, Kiptyn or Ed? I'm a Chicago girl myself so I'd be happy if Ed won, but Kiptyn is certainly not a bad catch either ;)

* MaRaThOn MoNdAy * : Hydration, continued

Last week's Marathon Monday posting was getting a tad lengthy and rather than put you all to sleep, I thought I would just break it up into two postings. Hey why not, hydration is a runner's best friend right?
Here are some more things to keep in mind:
Make sure to get enough produce in your diet while training for the marathon so that you are receiving enough vitamins, minerals, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium
If you are a heavy sweater, consider taking salt tablets. Although I sweat like a man - sooo much so that strangers at the gym have come up to me to comment about this as if that was a polite thing to do, lol - I have never tried salt tablets. The experts recommend drinking at least 8 oz. of water with each salt tablet. You can buy fancy schmancy "athlete" salt packages, or I've heard that the salt packets from fast food restaurants work just as well!
Something to try: weigh yourself sans clothing before your run. Weight loss means that you need to replenish your water loss, while weight gain means you took in too much water
Running in high temps or high altitude = you need to take in more fluid than you are used to!
We can increase our ability to endure high temps by 50% by working out in these conditions as long as you are properly hydrated
Studies have found that stopping more often to get water can actually increase your race time, and if it does you down, it will only be a matter of seconds since the hydration will increase your performance and will help to ward against fatigue
Happy running! :)
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PS - I am considering having an "expert" (Zestycook!) help to to design a new template as well as to get my own domain. However, there already IS a - I am trying to brainstorm what my new domain name could be. Any ideas, my creative friends?