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You know those times growing up when you cross your fingers, wear your PJs inside out, do a dance in front of your freezer, and stay up kinda late in the hopes school will be cancelled for a snow day? (Or was that just me?) Well, this weekend was one of those times, but the grown-up/Hurricane Irene version. On Saturday, NYC braced itself for Hurricane Irene by shutting down the entire subway system at 12 noon, with “reports service wouldn’t be restored until late Monday afternoon” and preparations made for mass power outages. Excited by the chance of no subway service, I crossed my fingers and mentally prepared for the day off work Monday, or at least the day working from home.

Thankfully, NYC wasn’t hit bad by Hurricane Irene at all. I’m so glad we’re safe and sound here, but thoughts are with the hundreds of others who are left without power or stranded with damages to home. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for NYC,  this also meant subway service was restored early this morning so Manhattan-ites were expected to be in the office, doing business as usual. I kind of felt like a kid whose dreams were crushed, but there are worse things in life than being safe and going into work. And, I randomly have a ‘summer day’ tomorrow which means I can still sleep in and eat breakfast in bed tomorrow…which I was so looking forward to today.

While Irene was a nice chance to stay inside, complete my blog self-hosting activity, do laundry, clean my room, and drink a few bottles of wine, by Sunday afternoon I was a bit stir-crazy. My legs actually felt weird from laying in bed and on the couch for so long, which I didn’t think was possible. Since it didn’t look too bad outside, I ventured to Riverside Park for a leisurely run!

Hurricane Irene <3s Sweat.

I made my way down to the Hudson River Bike Path, which was packed! Much more so than on a typical, nice weather weekend. Strangely enough, despite being just feet away from the Hudson River, there was no flooding along the path—barely even a puddle. I covered 7 miles total, and I was extremely thankful to have the tail wind at my back on the way home…the gusts and spitting rain really picked up on the latter half of the run.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and night relaxing, watching trash TV, and cooking up some lunches for the week. I prepared a batch of quinoa to make 4 servings, and put the cooked plain quinoa into different tupperwares to dress up with different ingredients throughout the week for variety. For today’s lunch, I mixed quinoa with zucchini ribbons, feta cheese, walnuts and sliced Garlic Chicken Sausage. This meal took less than 30 minutes from start to finish, including cooking the quinoa and rinsing all my dishes. And now, I’ve got a great lunch base for the rest of the week. Easy!

Quinoa is a very versatile ‘ancient’ grain, and can be found at most grocery stores (even Trader Joe’s!). It is a ‘complete’ protein, meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need. It has a slightly sweet and nutty taste, is pretty quick to prepare, and 1 serving has around 170 calories with 3 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 5 grams of protein, along with 10% of your daily iron. I’m not a big refined pasta/rice person, so quinoa is a great way to get in healthy carbs and iron, which is extremely important during marathon training.

Quinoa with Garlic Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, Feta and Walnuts

  • 1 cup quinoa (makes 4 servings of quinoa)
  • Toppings for 1 serving:
    • 1 Trader Joe’s Garlic Chicken Sausage (or any protein of your choice)
    • 1/3 zucchini, peeled into ‘ribbons’ with peeler
    • ¼ cup feta cheese
    • ¼ cup walnut halves
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, for 4 servings of quinoa it’s usually 1 cup quinoa boiled in 2 cups water for 15 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy
  2. While quinoa is cooking, microwave or grill chicken sausage. Peel skin from zucchini using peeler, and continue peeling insides to create ‘ribbons’. Alternatively, you could also slice/chop the zucchini.
  3. Once quinoa is done cooking, split into 4 serving sizes. To your single serving, add in sliced sausage, zucchini, feta cheese, walnuts and mix. Store remaining cooked quinoa in tupperwares, or add more toppings to save for later!
  4. Enjoy! This is also portable and can be re-heated for about 1 minute or more in the microwave, and eaten from a Tupperware at your desk like I did today :)

East coasters, are you back in work today? Have you ever tried quinoa, and what’s your favorite way to make it? I’ll need ideas for the next few days…

 

 

I am so excited tomorrow is finally Friday! Despite taking a sick day on Monday to rest up and do basically nothing, I still felt as this week was moving exceptionally slow.

Bright and early Wednesday morning, I met up with Megan, Ali, Kelly and Elyssa bright and early (like, I left my apartment before 6:00am early…) to get in my long run for the week, 13 miles. If you take a look at my training log, you’ll see most weeks I’ve been doing my long runs during the middle of the week versus the weekend. I’m an advocate of the mid-week long run for a few reasons:

  • Since it’s kinda early in Marathon training, my long runs have just been 12-13 miles. Totally manageable distance before work if you want it to happen. I’ll probably continue mid-week long runs until my long runs reach 15-16 miles.
  • It allows me to travel on the weekends (or just sleep in…) without having to worry about squeezing in a long run.
  • Planning a run-commute is a great way to do a mid-week long run, as you can either run a few extra miles (in lieu of taking the subway/driving to work) or get some extra sleep. Unfortunately, my work does not have a shower but my gym is a few blocks away. If I am planning a run commute, I’ll bring a change of clothes and my shower stuff the day before and end my run at the office to grab my stuff and head to the gym. Don’t worry about scaring the front desk security when you enter your office building soaked in sweat; they’re probably just amazed at how bad ass you are.

I highly recommend mid-week long runs if you’re traveling for the weekend, too busy, or want to get a bit more R&R. It’s also good prep (for me), as I’ll shift my long runs to the weekend as the mileage goes up, but I’ll likely still look to get in 10-12 on Wednesdays as a weekly ‘short-long’ run. I did many of those as run-commutes last year and it was great being able to wake up at 6:45 and still squeeze in 12 miles before work!

Tonight’s workout called for 5 miles at half-marathon pace, a very brief recovery, and 1K basically giving whatever you had. The one downside to mid-week long runs is feeling a bit lethargic heading into Thursday workouts, but I’d probably be tired no matter what.

Soooo it was a bit longer than 5 miles. Also, my time for 5 miles was about 15-20 seconds faster than I actually raced during the Club Champs 5M race, whoops. This workout had us starting on W72nd street, heading counterclockwise south on the lower loop, coming up cat hill on the east side, cutting across the 102nd street transverse, and coming down the west side. I wanted to start conservative, as I really felt zonked at the end of last week’s workout, and I was happy I was able to bring down the pace a bit each mile. Mile 4 always gets me with the rolling hills on the west side heading south. Hills are not one of my strengths, never have been and never will be, and rolling hills are the worst.

Nonetheless, I felt like I was able to really push at the end and I felt really strong mentally. Although I had to continually repeat a mantra of “You. Can. Do. It.” and “Strong. Steady. Smooth.” in my head, and maybe outloud once or twice as I gasped for air. Hey, whatever works.

My 1K time was exactly 4:00; which is 6:27 pace. At that point, I was just lucky to be moving. Oof.

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All this hard running deserves a good treat! I’ve been meaning to check out the Soft Serve Fruit Company for a while, and yesterday just happened to be their 1 year anniversary! In celebration, they were offering $1 Kid Size treats with all the toppings you wanted. Since I’m a sucker for a good deal, I stopped by after a late-ish night at work.

I got banana and raspberry swirl since I couldn’t decide between the two and almost every topping under the sun. It’s no 16 Handles (my true love<3), but it’s actually a tasty and healthier alternative– just real fruit, sugar cane and water. Yum!

Since evening workouts leave me a bit parched and sweaty (yum), I decided to try to re-create my own ‘soft serve fruit’ when I got home, with a twist.

Based on the classic recipe of ‘soft serve banana‘; simply whipping up a frozen banana in a food processer though I add a bit of soymilk to make it blend easier. But, I knew a bit of protein would probably be good for my muscles post-workout and make it a bit more filling, I added a scoop of protein powder along with some frozen berries for flavor.

Yum! Who knew bananas + berries could turn into something so creamy! It’s no Soft Serve Fruit Company, but it’s pretty darn good for homemade.

I’ve got a busy but exciting weekend ahead as I’m headed out to NJ to spend some time with college friends Friday night, then back into the city Saturday morning to do the Great Urban Race (should be interesting!). Afterwards, I’m headed out to Long Island on Saturday night and Sunday for a relaxing weekend with Dan; I bought a Living Social Escapes deal for a quaint hotel and we’re going to go celebrate his birthday a weekend early!

Do you ever do your long runs during the week, or are you strictly a weekend long-run kinda person? If you do weekends, do you prefer to knock it out Saturday or save it until Sunday? What’s the best recipe you’ve made this week?

One of my favorite easy week night dates is the “Whole Foods Picnic”. Grabbing food to-go and heading to the park for a picnic is much cheaper (and healthier?) than eating out at a restaurant, and allows for a bit more conversation.

Usually I hit up the UWS Whole Foods since it’s closer to my apartment, but since I was coming from an event in midtown, Dan and I headed to Columbus Circle on Tuesday night and took our food down to Riverside Park. We enjoyed the scenery and nice cool river breeze with made the hot temps bearable.

I <3 Riverside Park

The only downside to date nights is when Dan’s alarm goes off at 5:15 am, since he gets into work around 7. Not so pleasant. I’m usually able to fall back asleep (or half-asleep) until my alarm goes off, but I was just not feeling it. On Wednesday morning around 5:45 am or so, I tweeted:

All the sudden, replies popped up!

It was like MAGIC! I had a longer run planned for the morning anyways since I am going away this weekend, so I was thrilled to have company. I <3 Twitter for reasons like this. I met up with Susan, Megan, Ali and Kelly for some easy miles, and ended up at 11 miles for the day with an average of around 8:00/mile. Perfect!

Tonight, I headed to Central Park for a CPTC workout. Only my second week of workouts back, I didn’t know what to expect from the 4-mile tempo run at half-marathon pace and wanted to go off feel. I aimed for 6:45-7:00 miles but got caught up with my group and ended up a bit faster than that. Whoops!

It was a tad longer than 4 miles, but an average pace of 6:25. YIKES! This was a pretty hard effort, particularly struggling in mile 3, but the workout was completed at my exact half-marathon pace so I suppose I nailed the task at hand.

I am trying to make an effort to not go too hard in these early weeks of training, as I’m building up my base and I want to have enough in me to rock workouts in later weeks. I suppose it’s a fine line I’m dealing with from not wanting to burn out or peak too early, to really pushing myself beyond where I’ve been to get to the next level.

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Backing it up to the weekend, I wanted to share some recipes I made this past weekend for “cooking club” with my friends. And, they’re healthy and delicious!

Kale Quinoa Goddess Salad

(based off Angela’s Weekend Glow Kale Salad)

  • Kale (I used 1 large bag from Trader Joe’s– removing the stems)
    • Tip from Angela: massage your dressing directly into the kale before adding other ingredients and let sit for about 15 minutes to absorb!
  • Quinoa (1 cup, cooked)
  • Feta Cheese
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Chopped Zucchini
  • Walnuts
  • Orange Bell Pepper
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Baby Tomatoes

Mix it all together, and top with your favorite dressing! I love Annie’s Goddess dressing, it goes perfectly with any vegetable and added a great flavor to the (kinda) bitter kale.

I have only tried to make kale chips, but I’ve never had it in a salad! I never knew what went well with it, until I saw Angela’s recipe and figured it’d be the perfect veggie-packed salad. It was so flavorful with the feta, the quinoa added a bit of substance and texture, and I love tomato and zucchini in anything.

Yum!

I also made dessert this weekend. I’m not going to share the exact recipe since I made some tweaks given what I had on hand and it didn’t turn out as well as I’d like. It was still good, but the original recipe looks and probably tastes better– so make this instead! Deep Dish Cookie Pie by Chocolate Covered Katie

Ready to go in the oven...

This recipe was appealing to me because it uses a secret ingredient: chickpeas! Coincidentally, I’ve had about 6 cans of chickpeas sitting around waiting to be used. This recipe called for 2 cans, so maybe I’ll be making a few more batches.

Everyone really enjoyed the taste of the cookie pie (which I cut into bars), and nobody could guess the secret ingredient! They agreed they tasted ‘healthified’ but not in a bad way. They were super gooey and chocolatey considering I used about double the amount of mini chocolate chips. Yum!

I am headed to my friend’s lake house this weekend, so running may be at a low but fun and drinking will be at a high and I can’t wait to get out of the city and enjoy the great outdoors :)

Have you tried any new recipes this week? What do you have planned for the weekend?

 

I can’t wait for this weekend! Tomorrow after work, I am planning to head down to the Jersey Shore (cue jokes) to stay with my college roommate Emily for part of the weekend. On the docket: Spring Lake 5 Mile Race (just running as a solid effort, not all out), going to the beach and getting a tan, going out with other friends and lots of delicious drinks! But Sunday is the main event- my friends Casey and Matt are getting married! I can’t believe the day has come, it was just about this time last year I got her excited phone call telling me the news.

But before the weekend comes, let’s recap the week. With cheesecake and a track workout!

I woke up on Monday and my legs felt surprisingly good after Saturday’s Brooklyn Half. So, I decided it was time to finally make it to the East 6th Street Track for a CPTC workout to work on my leg speed. I have not done a real track workout in….a long, long time. I survived the workout, but it wasn’t pretty. My breathing was really labored, and my splits definitely weren’t where they should have been. It was 6×600 with 200 recovery, and 6×200 … I only did 2 200′s at the end and called it a day.

  • 2:16
  • 2:17
  • 2:17
  • 2:17
  • 2:16
  • 2:12
  • 40
  • 41

Yikes. This was not my favorite workout, but a workout nonetheless. I took off Wednesday for my weekly rest day, and it felt great! I am kinda excited to go to more track workouts to improve on my speed, definitely a weak point for me right now and it’ll just make me stronger no matter how much it sucks, right? Right.

Enough running, let’s back up. On Sunday, my friends and I met at Dayna’s apartment for cooking club. The theme was Italian, and I was (of course) making dessert! I hate cannolis and can’t think of any other real italian dessert, and have been on a cheesecake kick lately, so cheesecake it was! Only, I had never made it before so prepared for an experiment. Especially since I wanted it to be low(er) fat.

Lindsay’s Reduced-Guilt Cheesecake (adapted from this Food Network recipe)

I made this in a glass 8×8 baking pan because I don’t have a round pan or springform pan. Worked fine!

Ingredients

  • 10 whole graham crackers, broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 8-ounce packages of reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated splenda (you can definitely use 1.5 cups regular sugar and nix the splenda, I just wanted to lighten it up a bit. It’d probably taste better with all real sugar.)
  • 1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs and 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until crumbled. Add 2 tablespoons water and the melted butterand pulse until combined and soft. Coat the inside of the pan with cooking spray and press the crumbs onto the bottom. (In hindsight, I would have made a bit more crumb mixture and also pressed onto the sides, so the edges would have crumb goodness as well). Bake until browned, about 8 minutes. Let cool while mixing the other ingredients.

If you have an electric mixer, now’s the time to use it. I don’t, so I just used good old elbow grease. Beat all cream cheese and the sugar and splendauntil smooth, then add the greek yogurt. Lightly whisk the 3 egg whites in a bowl, then add to the mixture along with the 2 whole eggs, flour, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir until smooth and pour over crust.

Bake until the cake is set but the center still jiggles, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Turn off the oven; keep the cheesecake inside with the door closed for 20 minutes. Let chill 6 hours (I only chilled it about 30 minutes and then popped it into the fridge to speed up the chilling. Whoops? I had places to be!).

In all, I probably ended up overcooking this. The edges were a bit browned and firmer, not as tasty as the center parts. It actually doesn’t look that appetizing to me from the pic below. So, judge me! All in all pretty easy and I’ve been enjoying leftovers all week! It’s no restaurant cheesecake, but an easy sub in when you want to make it yourself and feel a bit less guilt :)

Do you enjoy healthy-fied baked goods? Sometimes I sub out apple sauce for butter or oil, splenda for real sugar, etc. Most of the time I can’t tell, and wonder if others can. I do admit, I have made a fair amount of funky healthy cookies and cakes before that my family wouldn’t touch! Hehe.

I came home last night after a 12 hour workday, pretty exhausted. I stared at the pile of laundry I had yet to put away from Sunday, and the suitcases I had yet to fully unpack from my trip to CA and Boston a good 2-3 weeks ago (I am the worst unpacker). Stressed and unable to even deal with the messy state of my room, I made myself a cup of relaxing tea and got into bed.

I love Yogi brand tea not only for the delicious flavors (yay Ginger tea!) but also for the cute phrases on the tea bags. Last night’s was especially true.

Work, but don’t forget to live.

As a 24 year-old living in NYC, the city that never sleeps, and working at a PR agency (#2 most stressful job according to CNBC?), it’s a constant struggle to find a work/life balance. Some nights I am breezing out the door at 6, other nights it’s well past my usual bedtime after I head out. It ebbs and flows, and is in the nature of the fast-paced job, which I love. I want to excel at my career, but I also want to have a life! and run! and sleep! and hang out with friends! and watch mindless TV! and clean my room…sometimes.

You can’t give 110% to everything, all the time. This tea bag reminded me that yes, it is important to work (and do well at it of course), but what’s the point of it all if you’re not enjoying LIFE, too? Sometimes you have give more to work, just as sometimes you give more to the other areas of your life.

I managed to get out at 6:40 this evening (a good night!) and cook a nice dinner and write this post, and it felt good. I just needed a reminder. I am not going to have any guilt about leaving at 6 p.m. tomorrow to get home, change, and make it to my 2nd CPTC workout- mark my words!

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On a completely different tangent, I have been trying to add more vegetables into my eating routine as of late. Not really to replace anything, but rather to supplement. I already eat pretty balanced, but there is room for improvement (says the 10 handfuls of jelly beans and chips I devoured today…) Over time, I have found that my body is actually craving veggie-based dishes. Funny how that works.  Instead of the meat as the main course, and veggies on the side, I have been trying to amp the veggie presence to make it the main star or try alternatives like tofu.

No worries, I am not going vegetarian (I love chicken and burgers too much, and I need the iron), but I do think there is some benefit to adding in more of the good stuff like vegetables and beans and tofu while ensuring you’re still meeting your nutritional needs in other areas (protein, fat, calories, etc.). Here are some of the delicious dishes I’ve had this week….sans meat!

Roasted Artichoke & Mushroom Greek Salad with Hummus and Feta

All packed up the night before...

PS- the Sabra “to-go” containers of hummus are actually 2 serving sizes– seriously? Who eats that little hummus?!

Hummus as dressing!

This salad was refreshing and flavorful, while still pretty filling for not having a topping like chicken. Loved the combination of hummus and feta!

Tropical Teriyaki Tofu Vegetable Stir-Fry

Take different flavor marinades you like, and coat sliced bits of tofu on both sides so it soaks up the flavor

Bake tofu in oven on 350-375, for about 10-15 minutes on each side.

And add to stir-fried veggies and/or over rice! My mix contained frozen pineapple, edamame, and frozen stir-fry veggies from TJ’s.

And that’s all I’ve got for you so far. Running-wise, I’ve been feeling some tightness in my hip/IT/piriformis so I have been foam rolling like crazy and sitting/rolling on a tennis ball while at work to relieve the tightness. It comes on about 3-4 miles into each run, and isn’t excruciating but is enough to kinda throw off my stride and be annoying. Took a nice rest day today so fingers crossed I will be feeling fresh tomorrow and this stays at bay.

How do you find a balance amongst all your priorities (work, school, running, friends, LIFE)? How do you make meals with veggies as the star a bit more interesting? Salads bore me easily if they’re plain and not-filling, so I welcome any suggestions!

Interesting title to say the least :)

First and foremost, after 3 long years with my once-loved and then loathed Blackberry Curve, I finally upgraded to the Verizon Thunderbolt HTC.

So far, I love it. I don’t quite know how to work it, and there was a slight glitch where no text messages went out (wonder why is nobody answering me?!) but it’s super speedy and doesn’t freeze every time I try to do something web-based like my blackberry did. It’s a whole new world- welcome to the 21st century!

Sunday night was the 2nd meeting of “Cooking Club” with some friends. I was in charge of desserts and was a bit stumped as to something easy to make that was “mexican-themed”. I am not a huge flan or tres leches cake fan, and I didn’t want to resort to baking a cake with a mexican flag designed on it :)

When I went to Mexico, one of my favorite parts was the fresh cut fruit cups they sold in the town. It was only $2 and so fresh and delicious!

Yummy fruit! Ignore my sweaty face...

So, I took that inspiration and made rum-infused fruit sorbet in 3 flavors: mango, pineapple, and watermelon.

They turned out much better than I expected!

Pineapple & Mango

Watermelon

It was really easy, and involved very few ingredients which really helped the fruit flavors shine through. This recipe would probably taste even more like fruit sorbet you’d find at the store if you added sugar or simple syrup, but I (surprisingly) don’t have real sugar in my apartment, only splenda!

Rum-Infused Fruit Sorbet

  • Chopped up fruit (As I said, I used mango, pineapple and watermelon but would also like to try this with berries, peaches, etc.)
  • Splashes of rum
  • Juice (preferably complimentary in flavor to your fruit, I used mango juice for all of mine)
  • Sugar/splenda to sweeten
  1. Chop up 1 whole mango and add to blender (or food processor), with a splash of fruit juice to get it to blend without being too watery.
  2. As the fruit and juice is blending, pour in a splash of rum or other alcohol. You can probably bypass this step if you prefer a virgin sorbet, but I read that the alcohol keeps the mix from freezing entirely and helps contribute to the softer, sorbet state.
  3. Pour liquid into shallow dish or tupperware to place in refrigerator.
  4. Let freeze, and stir every 60-90 minutes to prevent any solid chunks/blocks from forming. This helps make it more ‘sorbet’ and less ‘italian ice’. While stirring, add in sugar (if desired) to taste. After about 4 hours, should be ready to serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat with as many flavors as you want!

This went perfectly with our mexican-themed fiesta and was a nice, light dessert after a few margaritas and fajitas!

Running has been so-so as of late. I took a week entirely off running after the NYC Half, which I needed and loved, and have been building back into the mileage slowly. Some days I’ve had to stop and walk/stretch because I’ve felt so awful and drained! My runs have all been a bit slower in general too, but I’m just continuing to chug along until this ‘building’ phase passes.

  • Week of 3/27: 19 miles (on vacation half of the week)
  • Week of 4/3: 31.5 miles

I’ll work to get to around 35 miles or so this week. I tend to run about 30-35 miles per week when I’m not training for any race in particular, just running, and increase it accordingly as races get closer. I am going to work up towards maxing around 55 mpw before the Brooklyn Half Marathon, just as I did for the NYC Marathon.

Any advice/must-have apps for this Android newbie? Have you ever made ice cream or sorbet from scratch? Now that it’s feeling like spring here in NYC I am definitely going to make the recipe above more often as I am a HUGE fruity dessert fan.