About Me

My photo
I am a former career girl and am now a stay-at-home-mom to 2 amazing little girls. Exercise and "dieting" have never been easy for me. But now more than ever, I am determined to adhere to a more active, healthy lifestyle. I am not dieting - just making smarter, more natural food choices. I want to set a great example for my girls. I starting running last year with the Couch-to-5K running program. I've lost over 35 pounds since last year and I want to lose 60 more. I completed my first race (a 5K) in October and I running a 10K by this summer. My long-term goal is ultimately to run a half-marathon in 2012. I've created this blog to put it all out there and most of all - to keep me honest. I include a tested recipe & inspiring workout song on each post. I am also hoping to inspire and be inspired by you! I would love for you to join me for this journey and become an official follower of this blog!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Everyone has bad days. 
It's how you respond to them what's important.

There are many reasons - or let's be honest... most of the time they are excuses for a bad (food) day.  For example, some of my most recent bad days have been from things like having a bad cold, a social event, being exhausted from taking care of a sick infant, an injury, a slight hangover or a combination of a few of these!

Often bad food days go hand in hand with bad (low activity) days.

These bad days are inevitable once in awhile. Instead of beating yourself up about the bad days (like I used to do), I'm finding it's really important to stay positive. You can't make yourself feel too guilty, because that would most likely only backfire on you. It would backfire on me to the point I would over-compensate too much for the bad stuff I ate by trying to eat like a perfect dieter therefore depriving myself of too many things and eventually eating more (whew!). Or by eating more in the first place to comfort my guilt with food - which is so counterproductive, but made me feel better at the moment (and then worse). It was a vicious cycle.

However you can't completely overlook the bad days either, or they could start to get ugly. 

Here are some tips for not turning bad days ugly:
- It might seem really crazy but it helps me to think things to myself like: 
       * "I know what I am eating isn't the best choice, but it is not one I am going to make very often" OR
       * "If I eat too much of this, I am going to not feel so great after." 
- Don't let yourself have 2 bad days in a row. Once they start to add up it is harder and harder to turn back.
- Try not to go overboard with your bad day. For example if your guilty pleasure is a "bad" sandwich, skip the chips. Just because you are eating something bad doesn't mean you get a free pass for the day (like I used to think it did). 

Question: How do you keep bad days from turning ugly?

PS- Hello to all the new fans of the blog - welcome!

RANDOM TIP OF THE WEEK: If you ever have a hard time distinguishing if you are truly hungry after a meal or just want to eat something for whatever reason ask yourself a simple question: would I eat an apple? If you are truly hungry your answer will be yes every time! If your answer is no... don't eat :)!.... or at least realize that you are eating when you aren't really hungry so you minimize what you are eating. 
WHEN YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE COOKING: Walk (no... run) to your nearest Trader Joe's and buy this soup. I usually don't like processed soups but this is SO good. I added a dollop of fat free greek yogurt for a little tang and some extra protein. 
THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: "Clean" Sweet Potato Hash
I read a post recently about someone cooking something out of their comfort zone.... so I decided to make this recipe a few weeks ago as I had never poached an egg. It was delicious - since then I have refined/perfected the recipe to the recipe below... it's super satisfying and seems very fallish to me! 
"Clean" Sweet Potato Hash
-2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small
-2 tsp olive oil
-4 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
-1 medium onion, diced
-3 stalked celery, diced
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 cup of cooked black beans (if from a can rinse and drain)
-1/4 cup salsa (preferably low sodium)
-1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
-White vinegar (as needed to properly poach egg)
-4 eggs
-Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add potatoes, 3/4 cup water and oil. Bring to a boil, partially cover and cook for 3-4 minutes (potatoes should be tender). If any water is remaining, drain potatoes. 

Add jalapeno peppers, onion, celery, and garlic and cook. covered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add beans and salsa, uncover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and cover. 

Poaching eggs step:
These poaching tips I received from Clean Eating magazine (you already know I love it) - the above recipe was adapted from one of theirs! 
- Fill a saucepan 2/3rds full with water, bring to a oil and add about 1 tsp vinegar for every cup of water. Reduce heat to a slow simmer. Crack egg into tea cup or large ladle. Gently lower teacup or ladle into water and pour egg out, careful not to break yolk. Repeat with remaining eggs. Cook eggs for 3-4 minutes (I cook for more like 4-5 because I don't like yolk super runny!) before scooping out with a slotted spoon. Place each egg over top of 1.5 cups vegetable-hash mixture. Season with salt and pepper...especially on the egg :)... serve immediately & enjoy!

Serves 4. Approximately 250 calories & 8 grams fat, 8 grams fiber. (and very very satisfying!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If You Don't Like It...Don't Eat It!

Somebody close to me is starting a healthy journey and has been complaining about some of the 'diet food'. I told her today.... "if you don't like it, don't eat it!"

It seems like a simple enough idea, but it's one that has been hard for me to follow in the past. 

Previously when trying to get healthy I would subject myself to eating things like rice cakes, wasa crackers and many other things that tasted like cardboard. Did I like these things - no. Did they satisfy me - absolutely not. If you just try to eat things you don't like to fill you up, you aren't going to be satisfied and you are either going to A. end up eating more calories trying to satisfy your hunger or B. be a miserable person. 

I've had so much more success these last months on my own just eating wholesome foods I enjoy, sensible portions, and incorporating lots of vegetables into my diet. The key is that I am not giving up things I really like that are considered "bad foods". For instance, I love cheese - and I still have it - in smaller portions. 

I think the same can be said of exercising. If you don't like it or get satisfaction from it (in some way) then don't do it and find something else that does give you some type of satisfaction. There are so many options out there today in terms of ways to get more active... and I was forced to find a new one this week. 

About a week ago I got terrible shin splints and had to take a week off running. I was so miserable that I couldn't run (and can't believe I actually felt that way!... anyone who knows me knows I've never liked exercising on a consistent basis). I think I just love running so much because it is such a great de-stresser. Also, I feel such a great feeling of accomplishment after I finish a run I set out to do. 

Okay - back to the point.... I couldn't run, but I didn't want to be completely sedentary either because I was starting to feel like a slug. When I was googling shin splints - I read that yoga helps with shin splints, so I busted out an old DVD that I bought but never did called "Weight Loss Yoga." The stretches felt great and made me feel strong. I am now going to incorporate yoga into my weekly workout routine. 

PS - I officially hit the 20 pound weight loss mark. I was especially proud this week because of my running complications and the fact that I had a very extravagant dinner on Monday (drinks, huge pasta bowl, and 1/2 of a dessert) - but I made up for it by being 'really good' food wise these past 2 days. :)

SONG THAT KEPT ME RUNNING THIS WEEK: "California Girls" Katy Perry - I started running again today and did a slower, shorter run and this song went great with it :).
RANDOM TIP OF THE WEEK: When you are 'really hungry' before a meal, make a big... I mean really big salad with lots of veggies and eat half of it before your real meal and half of it after. It's what I did tonight - I was starving and alone at dinner. I knew I would overeat if I didn't do this. My trick is to also include things you really like in the salad - I included a few pine nuts and a little goat cheese but used a fat free dressing (I would rather have the fat in the cheese and the nuts) and the dressing is a good one (Hendrickson's..see pic). My dinner was a piece of turkey meatloaf and I am satisfied (mostly.)
THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: Confetti Chipotle Chili - adapted from an original Ellie Kreiger recipe.
This meal is a staple in our house especially in the colder months. I always make a double batch and freeze the extra portions for an easy, quick future dinner!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion diced (1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (3/4 cup)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound lean or extra-lean ground beef/ground sirloin
One 28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes, with their juices
2 cups water
3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 4 teaspoons of the sauce*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
One 15.5-ounce can black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
One 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed**
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
Optional toppings:
- Bunch of scallions chopped (I would say this topping is a must!)
- Reduced fat shredded mexican cheese blend
- Reduced fat or fat free sour cream
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground beef; raise the heat to high and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.

Stir in the tomatoes, water, chipotle and adobo sauce, and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, stirring from time to time, for 30 minutes.

Stir in the beans and continue cooking, partially covered, 20 minutes longer, until the chili is nicely thickened. Stir in the corn and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves: 8
Serving size: 1 1/4 cups 
Approximately Calories 220; Total fat 5g, Protein 20g Fiber 9g per serving (without cheese and sour cream of course!)


Monday, September 13, 2010

Doing It and Doing It and Doing It Right...

A number of people have been suggesting to me that they don't have time to cook like this or asking me how I have time for these runs, the cooking, the blog, along with being a mom of a toddler and an infant who requires extra attention. 

Believe me what I do is not perfect by any means...

The short answer: You just have to make it a priority. 

The long answer:
 - I watch a lot less TV at night - which has actually helped me cut down on the mindless snacking :). 
 - Unfortunately I don't really have time to read novels like I used to, but hope to make this a priority again as my kids get older.
 - I don't cook brand new recipes every night. I try out a few new ones a week for the blog and only post best ones. 
 - When I know it's going to be a long day with a very early workout and a lot scheduled throughout the day - I have a more simple dinner planned (tacos, spaghetti, grilled chicken etc). 
- Sometimes we also get take out, but I chose a healthier option and eat a smaller portion (most of the time).
- My kids are very young. Only one eats real food and can be a picky toddler.... I feed her earlier and make her her own meal. She has some healthy staples she likes. 
- This means that sometimes by the time I am done with all the evening routine for the 2 entails, and by the time I finish cooking; we (the adults) don't eat 'til 9:30. 
- My house doesn't look as clean. There is a lot more clutter around - as a friend who stopped by the other night can attest to. I can't worry that everything is in it's proper place all of the time - I just make sure it is clean (dirt-wise).
- I stay up too late....especially for how early I get up. I do need to get more sleep. 
- I have a great support team in my husband and parents, one of which will watch the girls while I run most of the time. Otherwise if neither are available for whatever reason - I invest in a babysitter just to run and shower. Investing in yourself is important. I feel ultimately I'm investing in my family. 

I am just writing this to let you all know that it's not picture perfect. I don't have a lot of true free time now. My house often looks like it has been ransacked, and we don't all sit down for a perfectly wholesome meal at 6pm. I want to have family dinners - and as the girls get older I will make that happen. BUT right now, this is my reality and I feel I am "in-training" not only in running but in this whole life change.

I am excited to report that I've lost 19 pounds, since I started my journey in July. I'm on my way...

Thank you to the new followers that have recently joined. I appreciate your interest and support!

SONG THAT KEPT ME RUNNING THIS WEEK: "Beautiful Day" U2 - takes on a new meaning with running outside. I am really appreciating the outdoors even more, now that I am running outside.

It has so much more protein than regular yogurt (one cup serving has 22 grams of protein!) Choose non-fat, plain and flavor yourself with natural sugars. I like mine with cut up fruit or berries (whatever I have in the house) and a spoonful of drizzled raw honey (using raw makes such a difference). This yogurt can be expensive if you eat it a lot .... but if you have a Trader Joe's and you can buy the big containers of their brand for much cheaper than "Fage" is. This is my favorite breakfast especially after a run. 
THIS WEEK'S TESTED RECIPEMultigrain Pancakes with a Ricotta/Yogurt Sauce & Raspberries adapted from an original Clean Eating recipe.

I thought since I haven't included a breakfast recipe... it was about time. These are something to definitely make on the weekend while you have more time. I like to make extra to freeze - they reheat well and are a good 'before school' breakfast. One is also a great mid-day snack with a Tbsp of almond butter and 1/2 of a cut up banana! My toddler even loves these (although she likes hers with a lot of syrup... see pic below... it's high fructose corn syrup free ... don't judge :).

Some of these ingredients were a bit hard for me to track down (sorry!) but my small local health store had them - and it's worth it - these are very good for how healthy they are (especially with the sauce!). Serves 4. 

-1 1/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
-1/2 cup spelt flour
-1/4 cup wheat germ
-1/2 cup regular oatmeal ground
-1 tsp Sucanat
-1/8 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 egg
-1 egg white
-1 cup low-fat buttermilk
-1 cup of unsweetened plain soy milk
-Olive oil cooking spray
-1 cup raspberries

Ricotta Sauce:
-1/2 cup of non-fat plain greek-style yogurt
-1/2 cup low-fat ricotta
-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
-1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon (I upped this to 1/4 tsp of cinnamon because I like it - you might want to use less...taste it with less first)

Prepare pancakes: In a medium bow, mix both flours, wheat germ, oatmeal, Sucanat, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg and egg white, buttermilk and soy milk until foamy. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until well blended; let sit for 5 mins. so flours have time to absorb liquid (mixture will thicken). 
Prepare ricotta sauce: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, ricotta, maple syrup, and cinnamon with a whisk until smooth and creamy. 
Next: Heat a griddle of large skillet over medium high and coat with cooking spray. Pour pancake batter onto griddle in large spoonfuls (4 inches in diameter). cook until bubble form around edges, about 3 mins. Flip and cook for another 2-3 mins. 
To serve: stack pancakes evenly among plates, drizzle with 1/4 cup ricotta sauce and top with 1/4 cup of raspberries.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finding Your Rhythm

"Daily chaos will never cease. Rather than struggling against it, find your own rhythm." Whole Living, August

This past week was a tough one for me for many reasons. I am so glad I have found this outlet and have made some major life changes, or I probably would have gained at least 5 pounds this week - no joke. 

Instead of finding comfort in food, I had the urge to run! When I would have those urges to run, unfortunately I wasn't able to drop everything and do it right then, but it still helped me think that I didn't want to use food for comfort. Sometimes I would just drink a big glass of ice water and take a couple of deep breaths. 

I am so excited to be in this positive place to want to deal with stress in a healthy way - naturally. If you aren't there yet, just try to start a regular program and stick to it. I like the running because it is very goal oriented. If you can't run for whatever reason, set goals with biking, walking etc. Feeling like you accomplished something you set out to do at the end of every workout is very rewarding. Especially for me - as someone who used to get that feedback & reward in the workplace - it's not as obvious as a stay-at-home-mom. 

Last week I had mentioned the 14-day meal plan in Clean Eating magazine.  I bought a lot of the ingredients but I didn't follow it for every meal (and I also had a glass of red wine here or there!) but I made most of the breakfasts and lunches (last week's great salad recipe for example). 

Doing this really helped me for a few reasons. It opened my eyes to meal ideas to add more variety into my diet. Also it reminded me about specific portion sizes as I measured everything out for these specific 1-serving recipes. I highly recommend this publication - it has GREAT ideas!

I hope everyone has a very happy & healthy holiday weekend!

SONG THAT KEPT ME RUNNING THIS WEEK: "Lose Yourself" Eminem - not my usual choice for listening to, but the lyrics are very inspiring to run to!
RANDOM TIP OF THE WEEK: Getting through an intense run or workout can be difficult (it is for me almost every time). There are things that I have to I think about to keep me going. One of them is my "cool down" song. I've chosen one song that I love as a consistent song to play the second I finish a run. I look forward to hearing this song and will only play and enjoy it if I finish the run that I set out to do (either for time or distance). When a run gets tough and I want to stop, I think of the feeling I have when I have finished previous runs and am listening to this song (which is an awesome feeling) - and so far it's worked every time. 
THIS WEEK'S RECIPE: Summer "No Cook" Caprese Pasta. 
If summer had a taste - for me it would be this dish. Use local super ripe tomatoes.. so good. It is also so nice in these last few days of summer not to have to heat up the kitchen - all you have to is boil the noodles! There is also something very gratifying about tearing the tomatoes with your bare hands. ENJOY!!!
This dish tastes like summer!
  • Summer "No Cook" Caprese Pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (since it's not being cooked - use a high quality EVOO, it makes a big difference!)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 pound cooked and drained whole wheat short pasta (penne, rigatoni etc.)
  • 4 medium ripe in-season tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss in cooked and drained pasta. Tear tomatoes (with your bare hands!); scatter over pasta with the cheese. Garnish with basil leaves, and sprinkle with pepper. Serves 4.