Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to School

First day of classes! Last night I was so excited I couldn't sleep. I'm kind of a total nerd.

Being back in school means a number of things. Roomie is back (YAY). I have moved out of my parents' house (DOUBLE YAY). And I have a bunch of fun and exciting classes this semester. I'm looking forward to everything but my math class. I'm convinced that mathematics is some form of dark magic.

Despite a series of unfortunate incidents this morning, I'm still hopeful about this semester and its prospects.

What sort of horribleness occurred this morning you may ask?

Well, I began my day of with a quick 3-mile run. It was raining, which I had anticipated. I usually don't mind running in the rain, as long as the path I'm on isn't flooded and its over 50 degrees outside. What I did not anticipate was coming back to my dorm, and taking a shower with no hot water.

That's right. Begin your morning with a wet run and cold shower. See how you feel.

Then the residence hall housekeeping came by when I was in my towel to check my shower (the room below mine had a leaky roof). Finally I was dressed and ready for class. First class of today went off without a hitch. The class afterwards, however, was a disaster. I had misread my schedule and consequently thought my spanish class was in a different building. Thankfully, I ended up in the right place, but I was 15 minutes late. I hate being late.

But enough bitching complaining. This semester is going to be awesome. Look forward to lots of neat microwave cooking tips and recipes soon. And a few Half Marathon training updates as well. So far so good with my training plan. I promise to post more often this semester!

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's a New Year!

Happy 2012 everybody!

As I mentioned in my Winter Break Goals post last month, I have been planning to complete some sort of "detox" before heading back to school.

The goals of the detox are simply to feel better and have more energy. I feel like a holiday slug.

I plan on doing this by eating mainly raw foods. Lots of vegetables, fruits, raw grains, nuts and seeds! Yummy!

Dinner last night consisted of:

Mixed greens salad with avocado, raw sunflower seeds, and dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sriracha).

Overnight oats with unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, topped with dried cranberries.

Smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, milled flax seed, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and banana.

I doubt every meal I eat this week will be quite as nutritious as this one was, but as long as I do incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies, I will be satisfied.

Oftentimes, it is too easy to get caught up in an all of nothing attitude. My detox is about eating the freshest foods I can this week in order to feel better, not about sticking to a strict regimen. If I have a cup of coffee or eat a cookie, it's not the end of the world or my detox.

Breakfast this morning was more overnight oats with chia and sunflower seeds, and a blueberry, pineapple, spinach, almond milk smoothie. And now, I think I will have some coffee.

I don't necessarily have a resolution for 2012. I have small goals. Run the half marathon in April. Swim, bike, and rock climb more often. Dance always. Ride my bike instead of driving. Lots of small goals to work to the big goal of living happily and healthily.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Apple Chips

Over the course of the past semester, I discovered the joys of dehydrated fruit: specifically apples and mangos. They sell snack-sized packets in the campus convenience stores. I'm addicted.

And I needed a fix.

So I took apples and made apple chips. They proved to be a scrumptious snack. And they're easy as apple pie to make. Except easier. Much easier.

You will need:
Baking Apples (I used Granny Smith, but any will do)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Take your apples and slice them as thinly as possible.

If you have a mandolin, now's your time to use it.

Unless you are like me, and the only mandolin you own is a musical instrument. I did not use my mandolin.

It is not necessary to peel and core the apples, though I do recommend removing the seeds, because they are not tasty, and they contain cyanide.

Place the thinly sliced apples on a baking sheet. I used parchment paper to reduce messiness.

This is about two medium-sized apples worth of chips

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon to your taste. 

Stick them in the oven and bake for 2 hours, flipping the apples every 30 minutes. When the apples begin curling around the edges they are ready.

Mhmmm. Delicious. 

It didn't take long for these apples to disappear, but they weren't quite on par with the packaged ones. Next time, I think I may try peeling and coring the apples. 

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Strength Matters

Okay, I can't deny it any longer.

I've been blinded. Blinded by my love for Running. I mean, we've been flirting for years, but I've always managed to keep it casual. Involve other sports in my life.

Swimming I had been seeing before I even met Running. Even after I had found my match I would regularly spend afternoons with Dance or Yoga just to keep things interesting. And then there were the trips to the gym. Not my favorite, but I couldn't avoid an occasional rendezvous.

But in the past couple months, I've been overcome by my passion for Running. It seems that now I'm more of a one-sport girl, and we just can't have that.

But why, you may ask? What's wrong with being loyal to Running?

The answer: Running isn't everything. A routine of running alone puts an athlete at risk of both serious injury and serious monotony. That's why strength matters.

When we run, we are primarily working the muscles in our legs. That's why runners have kickass calves, hamstrings, quads, and gluts. Of course, running works out other parts of the body as well, but not nearly to the same degree as it works the legs.

Working muscles groups in your core, arms, and back with not only improve total body health, but also make you a better runner with fewer injuries.

That's why today, I did strength exercises for 30 minutes. Crunches, pushups, planks, calf raises. You name it, I did it. It didn't look pretty, and it wasn't as fun as hitting the pavement. Not even close. But if I want to maintain a healthy relationship with running I need to include other activities in my life. That is why, from now on I'm going to make a point of including more swimming, dancing, yoga, and rock climbing in my life.

I am not going to be a one-sport girl any longer.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Baby

Happy day folks!

Once again I am in North Carolina with my mother's family. We've been having too much fun spending time together and eating and drinking. And drinking...
I ran up this hill

I managed to sneak a quick 4-miler in yesterday, and today I have done nothing.

Nothing but take pictures! That's right. I got a camera. From my lovely parents Debbie and Boxie. They're too sweet. I had asked them for a refurbished (cheaper) Canon Rebel XS, but was surprised with a beautiful new Canon Rebel T3!

 Get ready for some more photos. Such a long way I've come from the phone photos.

But now its time to shower and prepare for Christmas dinner! Happy Holidays to all! I hope your day is super great. Pinky promise to add more recipes soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Half Marathon Training

So last Monday I began my official training for my first Half Marathon! Or so I thought... I had decided to follow Hal Higdon's Novice 2 plan. I hadn't run much the previous week, and I took Sunday off after racing on Saturday, so I decided I would skip the included rest day on Monday and run. 

Monday's run went as planned. I had planned on running Tuesday as well, but I ended up spending the day in Chattanooga. I ran Wednesday, but since then... Nothing. I ran 6 miles this week. What???

This break has been far busier than I expected it to be. I feel like I am stretched to the limit trying to spend time with my friends that are in town for the holidays. My days have been full of shopping and lunches and coffee with friends while my nights have consisted of birthday and Christmas parties. I NEED SLEEP. 

Yes, I realize it is ridiculous to complain about "having" to go out every night. In 4ish years, when I am out of school with a real job (fingers crossed) I will be looking back on this time of my life with envy. But for now I will be whiney. At least for a little bit. 

But though I will whine I will also run. I must run. For the sake of my sanity. So beginning tomorrow: I train. 

I tried to make that sound intense. Did I succeed? Maybe?

Anyway, here is a schedule of my training for the next 15 weeks. As you can see, some of the weeks are doubled. This is because Hal Higdon's plan is only 12 weeks. I figured that 3 extra weeks couldn't hurt me. I also had trouble finding a prescribed 10k race in my area so I settled for an 8k. I apologize for the size of the plan; I battled with the computer for over 30 minutes, and lost. 

tiny, tiny
In addition to Half-Marathon training, I am also beginning my journey towards doing 100 consecutive pushups! Tomorrow's plan calls for sets of 12, 10, 7, 7, max (>9) with 60 seconds rest between each set. That's at least 45 pushups! I can do it

That's all for this week's fitness goals. Tomorrow, I'm waking up early to bake these brownies. And then I'm going to Dollywood. Yeehaw! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Irish Soda Bread


I've been insanely busy this past week. Insanely...

But somehow I found the time to bake bread.

I found this recipe while perusing through my edition of Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against healthy fats. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have picked out this book for myself (it was a gift); however, its lead me to some really great recipes.

Besides, I think I eat enough peanut butter to justify cooking or baking with less fat. But enough about that.

Irish Soda Bread. This recipe caught my eye because of its rustic appeal. Okay, bullshit. I'm still new to bread baking, and this recipe looked less intimidating that other bread recipes. Plus it looked pretty simple.

But seriously, this bread was yummy. Perfect for breakfast. Or tea. If you're into tea. I am. Health wise it is pretty amazing as well. Whole wheat pastry flour, very little butter or sugar. And currants, which add sweetness and plenty of nutrients.

Currants are like raisins, but cuter.

Anyway, the bread:

1½ cups unbleached flour
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup currants

First preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix in the brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or food processor cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture until it appears crumbly.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the egg yolk, buttermilk, and currants, and mix until homogenous. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, stirring until the dough is evenly moist. Turn out the soft dough onto a floured board, and with your hands all floury gently need for 30-45 second. Do Not Overknead!

Form the dough into a 9-inch dome and place on an oiled baking sheet. With a knife cut a X ½ and inch deep.

X Marks the Delicious Spot
Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

 The only modifications I made to the recipe was the inclusion of the egg yolk, for added moisture. This bread should be eaten quickly. After a couple days it will harden up a bit. It is served best warm and buttered with a cup of tea.