Monday, November 30, 2009

Cauliflower rice (you will not regret having this in your brain)

This is a really easy recipe. I couldn’t believe it worked and to be honest, I can’t believe how well it turned out. I will definitely continue to play around with this recipe to see how far I can stretch it.

I will say that the only complaint I have is that it is really stinky when you cook if you have sensitive noses in your house, beware. Other than that, it’s pretty damn good!

Chop up a raw head of cauliflower. I cut mine in quarters and used a quarter at a time.

Place in food processor.

Blend until it gets this consistency (about 30-45 seconds maybe?) 

 cauliflower rice food processor

Place in a microwave safe bowl with a lid and microwave for about 5 minutes. DO NOT add water.

Fluff and add whatever ingredients you want. It’s kind of like tofu; it takes on the flavor of whatever you add. (I added onions below)

cauliflower rice 1JPG

Cauliflower Burrito (like Chipotle’s)

Add 1/2 cup of beans (black, pink, red, whatever you like) to cauliflower rice and microwave for 5 minutes (or cook on the stove for all those peeps out there (HEAB) who hate the microwave)

Cook up a wrap of your choice in a pan. I used this one:

smart and delicious tortilla 
I’m not necessarily a low carb girl but this one has 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein and only 80 calories per wrap. Some wraps are full of fat and have like 300 calories, which is why I go wrapless at Chipotle’s.

Then add salsa (I actually made some homemade salsa but you can use whatever kind you want) avocado, and whatever else you want (cheese, sour cream, plain yogurt, whatever)


cauliflower rice fajita 1

Roll or eat with a fork.

cauliflower rice wrap

You will not regret eating this. I promise.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now all I need is a Vita-Mix

My CrockPot and my food processor are my two best friends right now. They are always there when I need them, and they never disappoint. So when I decided to use them both today for two separate meals, I knew I needed to give them props.

I decided to make a Black Bean soup in my CrockPot so I can have some healthy lunches during the week. Good thing I’m not a vegetarian because I wasn’t paying attention and used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. I realized as I was pouring it in that I grabbed the wrong one…oops! Oh well, no biggie for me. Since it’s still cooking, I’ll be sure to give you a full recap on the soup later.

On to the food processor.

I wasn’t feeling great this morning so Dennis used this as an opportunity to order Pizza Hut since he knows I don’t like it. No worries, I’ll make something else when I’m feeling better. After making a trip to Target to stock up on anti-bacterial stuff to take to work with me (and a trip to Trader Joe’s) I finally felt like eating. My amazing oats did me well, so at around 3 I decided to go for a run. A nice 5 miler with a trip to the gym in between…but my stupid Garmin keeps starting and stopping so my mile 3 to 4 was WAY off since it clicked back on while I was lifting and I didn’t notice it until something like 4 minutes had passed. Oh well. The rest of the run went well, and I’m noticing that my miles are getting quicker. I started out averaging at around a 10 minute mile a year and a half ago, and now my miles are averaging much closer to 9 minutes, which I see as a great improvement. (I have to send my Garmin back to the Garmin store so they can replace it but they said it could take up to 4 weeks before I get it back. GRR! However, it does need to be replaced since it’s only 2 months old and already screwing up on me. Sigh.)

When I got back I was wishing I ordered pizza. So I made my own.

In my trusty food processor with the dough adaptor went:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1.5 tsp. quick rise dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1.5 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 105*)

I adapted this recipe from here and I halved it, knowing the pizza would be just for me.


Then I rolled it in a ball and let it sit for about 20 minutes. I’m not sure it did any good or not, since the dough did not rise at all.

Then I spread it out on my pizza stone with some flour and added my toppings:


  • baby Bella mushrooms
  • chopped onions
  • fresh garlic
  • goat cheese

Then I baked it for about 27 minutes at 375*. I say about because I first put it in for 20 and had to add another 7 minutes or so, but I can’t remember if it was exactly 27 minutes or not.

It came out very very thin, but not bad for a quick homemade crust.


As you can see, this halved recipe didn’t make quite enough to fit on my pizza stone. I ate half of the pizza and I’m still not full yet. Seriously, the dough was thin like a wrap. I think next time I’ll make the full recipe and see how that comes out. Still a good recipe though.

Now I’m off to finish laundry and getting everything together for the week. I don’t know about you but I spend half of my Sunday prepping for my week ahead. And every night I have to make sure my breakfast is prepped, my lunch is made and my clothes are laid out. Yes, just like my mom did for me when I was a child. Hey, some things don’t change!

Pumpkin Pie no more

I’m not sure exactly what did it to me, but unfortunately I’m going to have to blame the pumpkin pie. I ate a piece after dinner Thanksgiving night, Friday night, and Saturday night and I think it’s the only thing I can blame for making me feel so sick. I blame the pie because I was fine until I ate it…and it took me three times of leaving things off my plate to figure it out.

I had an awesome turkey salad cranberry sauce sammie on an Arnold thin for lunch on both Friday and Saturday afternoon:


I chopped up some onion, cut up some turkey and mixed them in a bowl with some plain Greek yogurt. Yum.

However, for dinner last night I ended up having a veggie burger with some mashed sweet potato banana casserole since I was turkeyed out. It wasn’t until an hour later when I decided to eat a small piece of pumpkin pie that I realized this had to be the culprit. I spent most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights feeling like absolute garbage, all after I ate the pie. (Unless it was the homemade whipped cream I dabbed on top?) Either way I think it will be a while before I eat pumpkin pie or homemade whipped cream again. Sucks.

Needless to say, Dennis and I spent most of our weekend here:


His belly wasn’t feeling the greatest either. What the heck? But our Thanksgiving dinner rocked! ? :( So sad. We watched Funny People, History channel’s WWII in HD, and about 60% of our DVR between Friday and Saturday night. We’re lame.

Today Dennis is going to make a second attempt at changing my sparkplugs. Apparently spark plugs in Subaraus are different than those in American made cars. Who knew? (insert sarcasm here)

I’m off to fight the crowd at Trader Joe’s, then hopefully I’ll feel well enough for a run later. Stupid pie…why did you have to taste so good??

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My own Turkey Trot (Thanksgiving fun)

We stayed home for Thanksgiving this year since we just moved and Dennis has to work tomorrow. Bummer. However, not having to fight the traffic was a big positive to that. So was making our own Thanksgiving dinner.

Dennis and I made a great dinner two years ago and decided to replicated it again this year. He did most of the work brining and making a turkey breast, corn bread stuffing, and whipped sweet potatoes with bananas and honey. Dennis outdid himself. Those sweet potatoes were awesome!


I made a pumpkin pie with crust from scratch and cranberry sauce. (my pumpkin pie rocks, and it deserves a page of its own…I’ll have to give you a recipe on that soon, along with my kick ass homemade crust…not to toot my own horn or anything..)



And we used the turkey platter that my mom gave me.


Being that Thanksgiving is not the same when your family isn’t around, it can get a little lonely, but we made the best of it with good food, good wine and of course, football!!!

And our kitties. They’re our family too!

I started out the day with my own Turkey Trot. Due to budgetary reasons, I decided that paying to run a Turkey Trot  is an unnecessary purchase. We’ve dropped close to $800 on my car in the last 2 weeks, so yeah, the $35 for the race was out of the question. Remember, I just started a new job! I have to be smart about things. (sigh)
So, I decided to run my own turkey trot. 8.5 miles in the foggy mist of Alexandria, VA.

However, this run was my first on a “liquid diet.” If you read my last post, you noticed that I’ve been having stomach issues after running. Upon the great advice from my fellow blog friends I decided to make a smoothie before I set out for my run this morning.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy
  • a little bit of coffee (caffeine is a must)

I decided that since this was only about 140 calories to bring some raisins with me to eat in case I needed the fuel. I ate a handful of the raisins toward the end of my run but I did feet great for most of the run. The only problem I had was MAJOR heartburn. I’ve had the heartburn all day. I did run at a pretty decent pace; 8.50 miles, 1:16:37, with an average pace of 9:01, but I need to tweak what I drink a little to ward off the heartburn. I didn’t get bloated, but the heartburn really sucked. Especially on Thanksgiving.

However, I am grateful to have been able to run. I’m also grateful for my wonderful dinner, my cats, my job, my health, my family and of course, Dennis and his health. It’s been a tough year but things are getting better.

I’m off to finish watching football. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why am I bloated after my runs?

I have come to realize that my Buddha belly issues are not normal thanks to finally remembering to ask fellow bloggers HEAB and Caitlin if they’ve ever experienced this issue. First and foremost, thank you ladies for helping me out and for your quick and very informative responses. I’m still working thing out, but I wanted to talk about it a little more for those of you who might be experiencing the same thing I have.

After a run, my stomach usually bloats out. It’s been something that I’ve been experiencing for as long as I can remember, and I never really thought anything much of it until this past weekend. I ran 7 miles and on my cool-down walk back to my car, I noticed my belly was sticking out. I looked in my car window and it seriously looked like I was a few months pregnant. I thought, “Damn, what the hell is this?” It really shocked me to see how bloated I got, and to be honest, it kind of scared me.

I emailed Caitlin and HEAB to let them know what I experienced and asked them if they knew anything about why that would happen. Figuring it to be normal, I half expected a quick and easy response such as, “Oh it’s just your body reacting to the stress of running,” or something like that. But when they both emailed me back to say they had never heard of anything like that before, I was a little worried.

Let’s take a step back 29ish years. When I was a baby, I had some intestinal issues. The doctors didn’t really know what was wrong with me but I was in the hospital with complications that were thought to be related to my small intestine. I struggled for years with regularity, and as a child was forced to take (Warning, TMI) enemas, laxatives, and mineral oil for lubrication. I would go weeks (seriously) without a bowel movement all throughout high school and never thought twice about it. Ignorance? Maybe. But I didn’t know anything else. It was just how my body worked.

It wasn’t until I started changing my diet (and when Dennis got sick) that I realized the importance of regularity. Eating more balanced, less refined, and more natural “whole” foods is what helped me to becoming “normal” so to speak. But this bloat issue has remained, so I thought it must be natural.

Both Heather and Caitlin asked me what I eat before I run and gave me information about how eating solid foods too close to a run can cause bloating and nausea. I don’t get nauseous, thank God, but this could be the cause of my problem. I eat before every run or workout session; depending on how long my workout is how much I will eat. If I know I’m running a long run, I’ll be sure to eat a good, hearty breakfast of oatmeal or Go Lean waffles with yogurt, PB and bananas about 2 hours before I begin my run. I do this because I don’t like to eat while I’m running, and I don’t know how else to stay fueled during the run. I took a Goo with me during the Boilermaker 15K and it ended up making me sick, so after that I decided to stay away from that kind of stuff and just keep doing what I’ve been doing. However, I am seeing that maybe liquid nutrition might be best for me before a run or long workout.

Caitlin sent me this link: #3 states:

Liquid nutrition is the easiest and most convenient way to get kilojoules and nutrient dense fuel. Solid food for the most part cannot match the nutrition of the best liquid food supplements. In addition, too much solid food consumption will divert blood from working muscles for the digestive process. This and the amount of digestive enzymes and fluids required in breaking down the constituents of solid food taxes the body and can result in a feeling of bloating and/or nausea. Some solid food intake is okay during endurance exercise, particularly during ultras, but for a more rapid utilization of nutrients with less chance of stomach distress, a liquid energy source is preferred.

Heather sent me something similar…pretty much the same thing as what was bolded. However, when I looked back at #3, it was labeled as Eating too much solid food DURING exercise. I’m not eating while I run, but I do eat solids before. So I chalked it up to that for the most part. On Thursday I’m planning a long run in the morning. I was going to run a 10K but I really need to save that $30. I have a carton of Muscle Milk that I will drink before that run and we will see how well that works. I will also try making a smoothie with a banana and some milk or something like that.

Another question I have is is it safe to run on an empty stomach? I’ve heard it is really bad to do that, but I know many people who do. I don’t typically run well on an empty stomach (i.e. first thing in the morning) and I’ve only done it a few times. Usually if I run in the morning I’ll at least eat a half a banana before I go.

Now here’s the other issue: fueling while I run.

I need to find a good energy source that isn’t too expensive and not too processed. Caitlin suggested jelly beans or gummy bears and I will try them, but I feel like putting that kind of sugar in my system will only hurt me in the long run. I have been using agave nectar which is slightly more natural but it’s still pretty much sugar, and the coconut water is expensive. I never realized how important this stuff was, so now I’m reaching out to see what kind of suggestions I can get to finally get what will work for me.

Heather and Caitlin were a major help to me. I really appreciate the help they provided for me. Now all I can do is test the theory of liquid fuel vs. solid fuel.

I wanted to put this out there just in case there was anyone else experiencing this issue. Feel free to let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Overcooked, but luckily I recovered

You know what I’m talking about. Overcooked food is always a bummer. It’s usually dry, tough, and just not as desirable to eat. But sometimes you eat it anyway simply because it’s all you’ve got.

That’s how I started out my weekend feeling: Overcooked. After waking up Saturday morning excited to have a nice, normal breakfast of hot oats and coffee, I was saddened to see how they turned out. You guessed it: Overcooked.

This was a very draining week of training for my new job. Don’t get me wrong, I am really excited about this job and I think I’m really going to like it. It’s just that being new is demanding. Learning new things, driving to new places, sitting in traffic….it’s not like I’ve never experienced these things before, but it’s been a while so I have to get used to it again! On top of that, my gym schedule has been completely thrown upside down so I only made it to the gym once this week. Yes, I know, it’s not that big of a deal. Sometimes things happen and we have to accommodate for those things. But usually when things get stressful, I use working out as my release, so not having that to fall back on this week has been tough.

That being said, I headed out for a run to make myself feel somewhat useful. 7 miles on a sunny Saturday morning, nothing like it right?  Let’s just say I struggled for about 90% of this run. Here are my stats:

7 Miles, 1:07:12
Mile 1 – 9:45
Mile 2 – 9:15
Mile 3 – 9:15
Mile 4 – 9:52
Mile 5 – 9:44
Mile 6 – 10:00
Mile 7 – 9:19

My numbers don’t look too terrible but I felt awful most of the run. I couldn’t really breathe, and I felt kind of yucky. I was just dragging ass the entire time and I felt like I was forcing every step by the time I was done. However, I have to remember that my week was crazy compared to normal, and starting a new job is draining both physically and emotionally. Let’s just say I was happy to have it done and out of the way.
The rest of my day consisted of another burrito bowl from Chipotle’s

Burrito Bowl 
(yes this is a recycled picture. I inhaled it so fast that I didn’t have time to take one.)

It is looking like having Chipotle’s so close to me might become dangerous. I was in bed by 10 and passed out shortly after. I really needed that sleep because I woke up feeling like a million bucks this morning.

I started out my day with another HEAB-esque breakfast of modified Sweet Potato pancakes (well, pancake-I only ate half of the recipe)

I used her Kabocha Squash recipe but instead tweaked it like this:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • a generous sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 of a good sized sweet potato, cooked and smashed

Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients (separately at first) and cook. This was the best batch I’ve made so far. I think the problem before was that I was just throwing everything together and mixing, but the key is really to combine wet and dry ingredients separately first, then combine together. I should know this by now as a baker but I get lazy and impatient sometimes.


A bite was taken before the picture was taken. Again, impatient :)
I topped my pancake with a little bit of peanut butter and some pumpkin puree. Yum. Along with some coffee, a perfect Sunday morning breakfast.

Then I decided to go for another run. I normally don’t run two days in a row but I was feeling so good this morning, the sun was shining, and I just couldn’t resist. I waited about 2 hours after breakfast and headed out.
I rocked my Otter Run 5K T-shirt:

I just love the otter!

Boy what a difference a day makes.

4 miles, 33:17

Mile 1 – 9:01
Mile 2 – 8:05
Mile 3 – 7:58
Mile 4 – 8:11

I wanted to keep running but since I ran 7 miles yesterday I didn’t want to overdo it. I thought 12 miles in 2 days might not be good for the foot. I came home and did some push-ups, crunches, and some squats with 3 pound weights (I really need to get more weights) and really ended my weekend on a good note. 

Tomorrow’s post will cover this in a little more depth but I’ve been experiencing some major Buddha belly after my runs, and I wasn’t sure what if this was normal. I’ve always had this issue but after Saturday’s run I seriously looked a few months pregnant after my run. (not like ready to pop preggo but maybe 2 or 3) After consulting with a few of my blogger friends I have come to the realization that this is not normal and I must be doing something wrong. More on that tomorrow…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My version of Easy Mac

Traffic in the DC area sucks. Plain and simple. So when I got out of work an hour early (4 instead of 5) I thought, “Great! Maybe I can beat some of the traffic!”


My GPS (God bless it) completely avoided all highways, which made me think it was just trained to do that during rush hour. OK, I’ll take the back roads…it’s got to be better than sitting in traffic on 495 right?


It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to get home….and most of that was driving through the city of Fairfax. It took me a half hour just to get out of there. Lame. So when Dennis called to ask me what I had planned to make for dinner, I thought tonight would be a great night for my easy mac and cheese. Boy did I need some comfort food in my life.

I stumbled upon this recipe while fumbling through my Betty Crocker cookbook a while back. Throughout the years I’ve made many a changes to it, drastically decreasing fat and calories without ruining the taste. It’s Dennis approved, so you know it’s good.

Easy Mac and Cheese (low fat version)

  • 2 cups uncooked regular or whole wheat elbow macaroni (8 oz)
  • 2 cups 1% milk (or skim, but we don’t do skim in this house..yuck!)
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  • 2 hearty handfuls of fat free garlic croutons, crushed

1. In 3-quart saucepan, cook and drain macaroni as directed on package. Return to saucepan; cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 2-quart saucepan, stir milk, flour, mustard, salt, and black pepper with wire whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat.


Stir in cheese until melted.
3. Add cheese sauce to cooked macaroni; mix well. Spoon into baking dish.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Serves 6-1 cup servings.


To give myself some color, I added 1/2 steamed peas and some sliced mushrooms.


Yum. The nutritional value for this (without the peas and mushrooms) was around 340, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams sugar, 44 grams carbs and 2 grams fiber. Not too shabby for Mac n Cheese.  (I got these facts from the Betty Crocker website)

I told you I’d have a full recap of ICE! but I didn’t get the pictures today. I’m hoping to get them this weekend. BUT since I’m still playing with the fun settings on my camera, I took this awesome picture of Dylan:


I think it looks professional!

By the way, I’m already sick of Christmas commercials. I feel like  the retail monsters takes the spirit away from Christmas and it really saddens me.

Check out Caitlin’s blog about going vegan for a day. Veganism is a topic that I have some pretty strong feelings about, and she did a great job touching on the pros and cons of eating vegan. Looking for some good ideas on getting more protein in your life? Check out what HEAB has been up to. Jess posted an awesome looking Chickpea Curry with Butternut Squash and Peeled Dried Cherries recipe—I want to make it right now!! And if you are in need of some good, honest smiles, read Polly. You ladies all rock.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Look what I came home to

Today was day 2 of my new job and I was invited to view Ice! at Gaylord National. I will have to give you a full post tomorrow on this because I have pictures coming to me.

I had left my phone in the car, and after being out all evening without calling Dennis, I was worried he might have thought I was dead on the side of the road or something. As soon as I got in my car I checked to see if he had called. I saw a text and a voicemail and just assumed they were from him, but when I called he said, “Oh I just sent you a text like 5 minutes ago…you’re almost home? OK. See you in a few…”

That’s strange, I figured he’d be worried about me. Whatever. He must have thought I was in good hands.

Until I walked in the house and saw this:


THAT’S why he wasn’t worried about me!

But that’s OK, because after showing me his new toy, he gave me mine:


My last camera was a Power Shot SD600 and I loved it. But one day out of nowhere, the damn thing just stopped working. We had been talking about getting a camera that had more manual functions, but knew we couldn’t afford to buy the Rebel EOS I’ve been wanting. This camera was kind of a step in that direction: A step up from a point and shoot camera but not as fancy as the Rebel. I’m really excited! Now I can go back to taking my own pictures and not relying on everyone else!

Here’s a picture of my after-Ice! viewing snack:


Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin cereal. I only took this so I can see how well my Macro setting works. I think it came out great!

I have yet to play Wii…ever. Everyone I speak to thinks I’m insane but I’ve never gotten into it. I’ve been home for almost an hour and a half and have yet to play it—I’ve been too busy playing with my new camera. However, we do have Wii Fit stuff, so maybe I’ll get into that. We’ll see. I honestly just don’t want to get addicted to it. The last thing I need is to have another thing to keep me inside. (at least it gets you off your ass, I’ll have to say that much)

Do you have a Wii? Are you addicted to it? Ugh….I see some Rock Band in our future…

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grind your flax

First and foremost, after being unemployed for 8 months, I finally found a job. I’m really excited since we just moved to the DC area in September. It only took me 7 weeks, which is amazing! I start tomorrow, so I must get to bed soon.

To celebrate the job, we went bowling. Although it had been four years since we’d bowled, and Dennis has yet to get all of his strength back, I’ll try not to rub it in TOO much that I…ahem..kicked his ass at all four games…I bowled a 123, 117, 134, and 191! Damn I rock. No, seriously.

bowling  funny-pictures-bowling-ball-cat
(ha! kitty bowling ball..kinda like Marley)

I woke up a little sore on Saturday morning from 2 hours of flinging a 12 pound ball around (and kicking some serious ass) and met my running group at 8 a.m. I didn’t have a goal in mind…I just figured I’d run for an hour or so. But then I found a group to pace with and ended up losing track of everything. We talked about Boston, living in Northern VA, jobs, etc., and all of a sudden, I hit a wall.

At mile 6 I had to let the group go ahead of me and at the next water stop I asked for a ride back to the beginning of the trail. I ate some raisins, which really helped, so I think I just was under fueled. Ugh. Some people can’t eat a large meal before they run, but if I don’t, I just run out of gas. Plain and simple. 

This is where the flax comes into play.

I was talking to one of the runners about flax seeds and how I love to put them in my oatmeal. His response?
“Umm, I hate to be gross, but umm, they kind of don’t do anything for you…whole.” I laughed so hard that he almost got embarrassed. Then he said, “No seriously, I hate to be gross, but they, umm, pass right through you…you know what I mean?”
"You mean like corn?”
"Yes, like corn.”

Yes, TMI, but I didn’t think about that. He told me that he makes sure to grind his flax for that very reason, so I’ve been doing the same ever since. I actually like it better…the flavor pops, so to speak. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but now that I’ve started grinding my flax, there’s no turning back.

Oh and we went and looked at cameras today, so hopefully I’ll have a new one soon.

Sunday we spent our day walking around DC with some friends from home. We didn’t realize how close we are to downtown DC…it took us 12 minutes to get into the city. We hit up the Holocaust Museum (I had been there before..every time you go it’s a different experience. Amazing.) And we did a bunch of other touristy stuff….like this…

Suzanne, Danielle, me NY
Giving some NY love

me and dennis DC 
By the reflecting pool

It was 74 and gorgeous. I was sweating in my long sleeved shirt. We must have walked about 6 miles. Oh and did I mention I got up and took a spin class at 8:30 Sunday morning? Yeah, my legs were very tired after this weekend.

First day of work in less than 12 hours…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hatha Yoga and a burrito bowl

Ok. I think I’ve finally figured it out.

For those of you whom have been reading (thanks for that!) you know that I’ve been struggling with yoga. I have been searching for that burning love that so many share for yoga and I’ve consistently fallen short. Aside from my hot yoga class that Reba took me to for my 30th birthday, I have yet to find a yoga type or class that I really enjoy (Polly’s videos don’t count, by the way.)

I found a Hatha yoga class at my gym (Washington Sports Club Alexandria) and for the past three weeks have been contemplating whether or not I should go. I knew Vinyassa hasn’t been working for me, but I wasn’t sure what Hatha yoga was about. I swear I’d say, “Ok, I’m going to try this Hatha yoga class tomorrow!” And then I’d chicken out and (as per Polly) go for a run instead. This time, however, I was determined to at least give it a shot.

I started out my day with Kabocha pancakes and some coffee, and a quick browse through the newspapers. (Did you guys see the video about the girl who fell on the train tracks a few days ago? It was in Boston. Crazy stuff.) I still read the Boston newspapers even though I’m not there anymore, and I also read my hometown newspaper too (well it was my first job, so I have to keep up with what they’re up to!)

After my breakfast and a quick shower, I headed out to the gym. I was nervous, but excited, as I rolled out my matt and took off my shoes and socks.

“I really hope I make it through this class,” I thought to myself. “I really hope this doesn’t suck.”

Our teacher, McKenna, came over and introduced herself to everyone in the class that she didn’t already know and made sure to get our names as well. “That was cool,” I thought.

The rest of the class was just …. awesome. She was patient, caring, and she made sure we all were happy. We worked on a pose and held it. Now that’s my kind of yoga. We did do some flow, which was OK because it wasn’t confusing and I didn’t feel pressured to keep up. She made sure we were aware that we didn’t need to compete, and I actually focused more on what I was doing than what I looked like. That NEVER happens when I’m in a yoga class. Never. We also spent the last 10 minutes on meditation, which is definitely something I need to do more often.  With waves crashing in the background, she talked to us in a soothing voice telling us to imagine the waves crashing on us, the bubbles exploding their joy on our bodies. Then she walked around and put our towels on us for extra warmth and comfort. I think that just put me over the edge.

I loved this class.

The hour flew by so fast, I was actually disappointed when it was over. 

McKenna, you got me good girl.

My plan was to either walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical after the class, but honestly, I was a little sore and getting hungry, so I came home instead. … which leads me to lunch

Over the summer while working at Harvard, my friend and co-worker Amanda and I went to Chipotle’s for lunch. It was my first time, and since I’m not big into chain Mexican foods, I didn’t think I’d like it. Boy was I wrong.

Since we’ve been here we’ve driven by a few Chipotle’s and I’ve been dying to get my burrito on. Since Dennis has today off for Veteran’s Day, he was on board to try something new. I ordered a vegetarian burrito bowl, which, for those of you who don’t know, is the burrito without the tortilla. Mine contained rice, vegetarian black beans, tomato salsa , corn salsa and guac, which they do not skimp on.

Burrito Bowl

Dennis ordered the hard shelled tacos with chicken.


What a wonderful way to end my morning. And what’s cool is that they have a burrito builder calorie counter on their website, so you can see how many calories each of the toppings are. Mine was 500 calories with 19 grams of fat for the whole thing. I ate about 3/4. Yum.

Now we’re relaxing on this rainy Virginia day, letting our bellies rest from our wonderful lunch.
And don’t worry, McKenna…you will see me again.

Again I’d like to thank all of those whom have put their lives on the line for this country, and those whom are out there fighting for us today. God Bless and support our troops!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pilates, oh how I missed thee

This morning I was reunited with Pilates at my gym. I can’t remember how long it had been, and to be honest, I don’t know what took me so long to go back. I.Love.Pilates.
I don’t know if it’s because I was trying to pay more attention to Yoga, but I put my beloved Pilates on the back burner and now that we’ve been reunited, I will not let it happen again.

balance ball pilates
Obviously not me, but just one of the moves we did today.

Our instructor, Aylin was amazing. She was hardcore, bad-ass ripped, and she blew my mind with the things she was able to do on a balance ball. Now, I love the balance ball, so when she said we’d be using it, I was really excited. But shortly I was cursing her when I realized I have A LOT of work to do. A lot.

We did a lot of hip work and I was sore 10 minutes into class. My plan was to run afterward but I promise I will be sure to get my cardio in BEFORE class next time. For reals. This was hard.

I got on the treadmill (reluctantly) after our hour long class and my legs felt like Jell-O. I ran about 2.5 miles before my legs started to give out on me, so I walked for 5 minutes and called it a day.


And although I was cursing Aylin and that damn balance ball during class, when approached by one of her co-workers afterward (McKenna!), I found myself immediately saying I loved her class and I will be back. Ha!

After my workout I came back to make an awesome lunch. For those of you who read HEAB’s blog, you’ve already seen that she had a meal with Kabocha squash and apples after receiving two emails from readers telling her how amazing the combo is. I was one of those readers. My concoction was a little different than hers, and I’m completely in love with this new sammich. I present to you:

Nicole’s KBA sandwich


I toasted up an Ezekiel English muffin (any kind of bread or English muffin will do) and topped it with peanut butter, squash, and apples. That’s it. And let me tell you, this is DEVINE. Yum. I’ve eaten about four of these over the past week and I will be so sad when the Honey Crisp apples go out of season because they are perfect for this sandwich. (Although I suspect Braeburn apples will work too) Honestly, between HEAB’s Kabocha Squash pancakes, Kabocha squash butter (although I’ve been making it with pumpkin) and this recipe, I’m really not sure how I haven’t turned orange yet. Seriously.

Wednesday is Veteran’s Day, so everyone remember to thank those whom are or whom have served in the military to make our country safe and free. Remember, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we do every day without those courageous men and women who have put their lives on the line for us. Thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Watch out Amy

I love split pea soup, but the thought of messing around with a ham bone has never been appealing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some meat, but I never liked dealing with it. So although I enjoy making my own food, I’ve never made split pea soup. Until last night.

I’ve been relying on Amy’s Organic Split Pea Soup (which, by the way, is very tasty)

Amy's organics split pea soup

But I have to say, mine is much better.

(remember I still don’t have a new camera yet so work with me here)


I don’t know how I stumbled upon this blog, probably through HEAB or Polly, but I found an amazing recipe for my wonderful pea soup on 101 Cookbooks. If I would have known that making split pea soup was so easy, I would never have depended solely on the can (or my mom’s)

Click HERE for the recipe from 101 Cookbooks. If you like split pea soup, you will LOVE this. So simple, so healthy.

In other news:

  • I broke down on a major highway in the middle of rush hour traffic last Thursday (so much fun) and found out that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my car. Long story short, I was over heating. I stopped and put some anti-freeze in it, but it was still overheating afterward. When I got home, (four hours later) my gauge seemed to stabilize but it was still in the red. Friday morning, the mechanic can’t replicate the problem. Strange.
  • The Yankees won the World Series!!
  • I met up with some old friends from high school on Saturday and it was awesome. I hadn’t seen one of them in almost 15 years (how OLD does that make us?) My car made the trip to Bethesda MD (only about 35 minutes away) and we had a great time catching up. We went to Cosi and holy cow they give you S’mores to make at your table. I haven’t had S’mores in years. It was the first time I ate a crazy dessert and didn’t feel one bit guilty or frustrated or hesitant. Good times with good friends and good freakin s’mores! We’ve already planned another get together. Isn’t social media amazing?

Me, megan and Joanna

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rockville 10K


First of all, I really  need to get a new camera. I’m still waiting for Cat to send me the one self-timed picture we took after the race, which I’m completely grateful for, but I can’t stand not being able to take and share pictures!!

OK, on to the race.

Let me begin by saying that I left my house at 6:30 knowing it would only take me about 30-35 minutes max to get there. I had already programmed the trip in my GPS and told Cat I’d be calling her when I’m on my way. As I’m driving, my GPS is taking me completely out of the way, avoiding all highways and driving me through back roads and down the middle of Washington DC. What the hell is going on? I’ve been driving for 25 minutes already and I haven’t even reached Maryland? How can this be possible?
So I call Dennis, freaking out. This was our conversation:

Ring Ring….
Dennis: (in his sleepy voice) Are you there?
Me: (in my panic voice) NO! Did you change the settings on the GPS or something? What the hell is going on? I’ve been driving through the woods for the past half hour! And it won’t let me get on the highway!
Dennis: Oh…yeah, I did….I’m sorry I forgot to tell you….
Me: Well what the hell? I’m gonna be late….
Dennis: OK, calm down. Just fix it.
Me: Well if I knew how to just fix it I wouldn’t be calling you!

After my meltdown (it was raining, still dark, and deer were jumping out at me. I had no idea how far away from the race I was, AND I forgot to put Cat’s phone number in my phone.) Stupid technology. This is time #1 that I was kicking myself for not having a camera. If only I could have shown you what kind of scenery I was driving through. You would have thought I was in the middle of nowhere but I was actually in Arlington this entire time.

10 minutes later, Cat called (Thank God she was smart enough to remember to put my # in her phone) I apologized profusely for being late and told her my GPS was finally showing I’d be there in 10 minutes.

When I arrived, it was still raining. We met up and walked to the starting area to get our packets. This is time #2 I wish I had a camera. Cat was wearing a garbage bag and it was funny. Great idea, but still funny.

My goal was to run this 10K in under an hour—really under 57 minutes but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It was, after all, my first 10K race. Even though I’ve ran 10Ks before while training, I’ve never officially been timed. As we were running our 10 minute warm-up, we started talking about where we should meet up if we were to get separated. We got to the starting line, and we were off.

Now, first of all, I was so caught up with the excitement that I forgot to set the Garmin. DAMN! I started running and spent the first 5 minutes fumbling with the damn thing. Finally I got it to work.

Second of all, Cat is fast! She was gone before I even had the chance to look up from my Garmin! It’s all good, I just didn’t realize she was so fast! She kicked my ass! She was coming off an injury so I was really glad to hear that she felt good during the race, even after 7 weeks off. Cat, you rock! (I found out later that she ran track and cross country all through high school and college and she comes from a family of runners. If I have kids, I want them to run with me too!)

Third off all, this race was hilly. Not crazy hilly like up, down, up, down, but more like steady, mile long up hills followed by the same downhill, with some flats in between. This really messed with me. It was like a mini version of the Boilermaker. This race was really hilly too, but I was prepared for it because I knew ahead of time.

I was keeping a pretty decent pace of about 8:40 throughout the first four miles. I started out slow (trying to fix the Garmin and also to conserve my energy) but as I got passed the first mile mark I was feeling great. The first half mile was a long incline, and I would say all of mile 2.5 to 3.5 was just one, long gradual climb. It was tough but I managed to keep a good, steady pace and was feeling good. I ran back down the hill and got to the mile 4 mark and saw another hill coming up ahead. I had been sipping on my coconut water pretty steadily throughout the race, but when I saw this hill coming, I decided to fuel up some more.

That’s when it all went south.

Miles 4.5 through 6 were BRUTAL. I don’t know what happened. Groups of people started passing me. Old men, young women. I was so burnt, I couldn’t figure out why my legs wouldn’t move any faster.
Did I not eat enough? My overnight oats breakfast was a huge fail. I will never use water again—I usually use milk but I didn’t want too much protein (what was I thinking?) so it tasted kind of like garbage. I probably ate 1/2 of my breakfast (forcefully) and that was all I could stomach.
Did I take off too fast? I didn’t think I did. I mean, I was keeping up through the hills and feeling great all the way through the first three miles at a pretty decent pace.  I wasn’t breathing heavy or feeling overworked.
Do I need to practice more hill work? There are a lot of hills here and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the hills, but maybe I need to go back to running hills as sprints. It could be a combination of many things. It was raining for most of the race, which sucked, but I didn’t feel like it was slowing me down at all. I didn’t feel bad. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t really feel tired. I just couldn’t muster up the energy to keep running up those hills. I slowed down to an 11 minute mile pace at some point during this mile and a half of torture, but I was still feeling good about finishing in under an hour.

As I came around the bend to approach the mile 6 mark, I saw Cat running on the sidewalk for a cool down. She got my attention and started running along side, cheering me on (which was really awesome.) I picked it up and pretty much sprinted the last .3 miles, and when I turned the last corner and saw the clock ticking at 56:54, I said, “Oh hell no, I’m not letting you beat me!” And sprinted my ass through that finish line at 56:59. My chip time was actually 56:30. Even better!

It all ended up being a 9:06 pace/mile, which honestly, I can’t complain about. I was running 10 minute miles (and up) a little over year ago. How can I complain about cutting my time down by almost a minute per mile in just over a year? I can’t. And I won’t. And now I only have PRing to look forward to for my next 10K, which will probably be the Gonzaga Thanksgiving Classic 10K Run/5K Health Walk Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It’s right here in Alexandria and I usually run on Thanksgiving morning anyway. Chances are I will PR only because this race is on Mt. Vernon trail which is very flat, so I don’t want to get too excited if my time is much faster because chances are, it will be.

I’m really glad Cat and I ran this race and I will definitely run it again. Next year I’ll have the hills in mind and I’m sure I’ll be a little better prepared (GPS and all)

I also found out that Cat and her dad are running the Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon in Las Vegas, aka the Team Challenge 1/2 that I was planning on running this December. Bummer. I mean, awesome for them but crappy that I won’t be able to be there too.

There’s always next year. (Boston I’m sure you’ll be happy to have me back for a weekend)