Monday, March 29, 2010

Power Protein Bars

In an effort to rid myself (and my kids) from eating lots of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), trans fats, and other yucky things, I am always experimenting with lots of clean eating recipes.

I found this one from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook and with some modifications, it is well worth the effort. They are not hard to make...just need to find some ingredients and make a yogurt cheese (sounds weird but harmless, i promise). My kids really like these as well and I hope they replace mr. quaker's so-called healthy bars every so often (sometimes you gotta give in to convenience!). A lot of these ingredients, if you don't use them often, can be purchased in the bulk sections of your health food store so you can just get what you need. And don't let the list of ingredients scare you...once you have them on hand you can make these again and again.

Power Protein Bars w chocolate and cranberries

1 cup whey or soy protein powder (I use Arbonne's Vanilla Protein Powder)
1/2 cup wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup oat bran (bulk section of health food store)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup whole flax seed (bulk section health food store-cheaper!)
1/2 cup wheat germ (by oats in Meijer or bulk section at health food store-cheaper!)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup Sucanat, agave nectar, or honey (i used Sucanat which I found at the health food store)
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (or you can use nestle choc. chunks)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup yogurt cheese (see below about how to make this)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp EVOO
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Coat 9x13 with cooking spray
In large bowl mix protein powder, flour, oats, oat bran, flaxmeal and flaxseed, wheat germ, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, Sucanat. Stir in chocolate pieces and cranberries.
In another bowl mix yogurt cheese, oils and vanilla. Mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. You may have to use your hands (coat them with a bit of EVOO to prevent sticking).
Place mixture in 9x13 and press down to even out top. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Cut into bars. Place these bars on a cookie sheet lined w/ parchment or a Silpat and bake again for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to cooling rack. Once cool, place in airtight container and store in fridge 2 weeks. Makes 20-24 bars, depending how big you cut them!

Calories per serving: 290
Protein: 15 g and Fat: 8 g
Yogurt Cheese
-place 4 layers of damp cheesecloth in a fine mesh sieve or colander. Place colander over a bowl.
-add low fat plain yogurt (for this recipe about 1 1/2 cups) and let it drain overnight in the fridge (i covered it all with seran wrap)
-discard water from bowl

The result of draining will leave you with soft creamy-cheese like product (Tosca says you can even use as cream cheese. not sure about that one).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Divas kick it with Ronald McDonald

Lisa, me and Peg at a chilly pre-race

Well, friends the first 5K of the season is behind us: The Ronald McDonald House 5K (Run for the House). It was great, albeit a bit of a hectic start to my morning. I get a bit OCD when I run races. I lay out my clothes neatly the night before. I also get the coffeemaker geared up for my pre-run cup of joe (you know, a girl's gotta make sure she hits the bathroom before she runs...). I put my D-tag (timing chip) on my sneakers (yes, i call them sneakers. back off.) and be sure my bib with my race number is pinned to my shirt.

This way, when I wake up, I just need to worry about the weather (it was a beautiful sunny crisp worries there), drink my coffee, eat my banana w/ peanut butter (another ritual) and hit the loo (what am I, British?) before I head out the door. But there was a kink in my plans: 5 minutes before I need to pick up my girls (and Tom!), I do a final check. Sneakers-check. Race bib-check. After race attire-check. Ipod. Ipod? Where is my ipod? Where is my freaking IPOD?!?!

I frantically search and it is nowhere to be found. I see Zach's but mine is gone. Could he have mistakenly grabbed mine when he went for his 11 mile run earlier? I am cursing him under my breath as I grab his instead. I have GOT to have music. Unfortunately, it will have to be Zach's bang-your-head-against-the-wall-and-say-the-F-word music instead of the carefully laid out playlist with the likes of Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas that I had qued up for this race. *sigh*
Needless to say, I am jammed up. At least I have an excuse if I totally blow this run...

We waited patiently for the run to was a bit chilly to say the least. We had a few gals join our crew that have not run a 5K before (so proud of them!!!) so it was fun to feel their excitement. I lined up at the start and scrolled through Zach's interesting assortment of music to find a 5K playlist with some stuff I could handle. We set off and 2 minutes into it Lisa tells me we are at a 7 min mile pace. Whoa...we need to slow this train DOWN if I am going to last 3 more miles.

me (white) and Lisa (green) early in the race (Kim! Open your freakin eyes!!!)

But I pressed on. And on and on and on. I'd once over the person in front of me and if it was a female and she looked as if she was in my age group, I'd try to pass her. I claim I am not competitive but...maybe I am just a liiiiiiitle bit...

At the finish there were a couple of men and I decided I'd try to smoke them too (gotta give it up for girl power!!). I had the juice to get past one of them, but couldn't quite take the last guy on. I was so busy focusing on beating the boys that I was shocked to look up at the finish clock and see 23 minutes (i didn't even focus on the seconds). WHOOT WHOOT! I am under 24 minutes!!!

All I have to say is the Divas cleaned house at the Ronald McDonald 5K. Peg won the Overall Female Grand Masters runner (and I think a PR? or darn close!) and Lisa got 2nd place female in her age group and a PR. The other gals got automatic PRs since it was their first 5K and I hope they come out for another one! As for me, I was just so happy to rock it under 24 minutes, which was my goal. Officially I finished 23 min 38 seconds which got me first place female in my age group and a medal from Mr. Ronald McDonald himself (I have to say...he was a bit freaky...). All and all, it was a most successful day.

Now if I can only find that darn ipod...

Lisa, me, Sarah (a first 5Ker), Peg, and Danielle and Liam (our cheerleaders)

Me (a bit too excited) and Ronald McD at the awards ceremony

Thursday, March 25, 2010

another one bites the dust

I am just a posting fool this week, huh? I guess I have lots to say! (and unfortunately lose track of the time my 4 year old is parked in front of Nick Jr.)

So the prep for the 11 mile run was well worth it. We took it a bit slower (average (9:30 on my Garmin). I guess we get gabbing (or in the Peg speed vacuum) and don't realize how fast we go. I felt great, just a little bit tired towards the end (I guess running 1 hour 40 minutes does that to you). Switched it up to a PowerBar Gel instead of GU. MUCH better. I had the chocolate flavor and it DID taste a bit like chocolate frosting...with a chemical twist. Not bad, though.

But, these long runs are never without event. We had the first fall of the season. And, wouldn'tcha was me.

So we are speeding up Old 27 (the 4 lane highway we all sort of freak out running on) and turn on Dill Road, the quiet side street our water is parked on. Remember a few weeks back and our water incident? That was on Dill Road too.

I don't think I want to run on Dill Road anymore.

Anyway, as we turn onto the side street, this dog come flying out of nowhere. He is a Golden Retriever, so you know it's not Cujo or anything, but nonetheless a bit alarming when barrelling right at you. The owner is yelling for him to come home and he is NOT having any of that. I picture the dog thinking "OH BOY! OH BOY! We are going on a RUN! OH BOY! OH BOY!" as he wedges himself between Peg and me.

After that, "Non-Cujo" and I have a little dance. And at the end of this dance, there is no romantic kiss...just me kissing the road. "Non-Cujo" gets in front of me and I lose my footing. Then I am in slow motion. You know that slow motion feeling where you know you have no control over the situation at hand? It reminds me of every time my kids get hurt. Anyway, I know I am going down and I feel my ankle turn in the process. In that split second I am a little concerned about twisting my ankle, but much more concerned that my new Athleta capris will get ripped. So I put my hands down (hard) and then my knees follow, avoiding landing on my ankle. I stumble back up oh-so-gracefully and I am sure the view from the back was quite a sight. Immediately I scan the damage to the pants. Not ripped! Whoo hooo! Now, I can't say that for the palms of my hands or my knees. But at least I am still intact.

Thankfully our water stop was a few feet away and I can catch my breath and wash the gravel out of my road rash. We make it through the rest of the run incident free. I showed my "boo-boo" to Sam and he nursed me back with a little TLC and a Transformers bandaid.

Next week we bump it up to 12 miles and if I have anything to do with the route, Dill Road will not be a part of it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

speedy gonzales...

Do you remember the old Looney Tunes cartoons with that little mouse with the big sombero on his head? That old Slyvester the cat would try to catch him and POOF! there he would go...speeding away.

That's sort of how I felt last Friday in the beginning of our 11 mile run. Only I wasn't Speedy G. It was Peg and Sara, with their invisible somberos on their heads, shouting "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!", and me panting like Slyvester in the back (Lisa hanging with me). When it was all said and done we averaged around a 9:20 pace for 11 miles...a little too fast for this cat (considering your long runs need to be 1-2 min per mile slower than your 1/2 marathon race pace). Now get me on a 5K and I'll ¡Ándale! my little butt super quick to the finish. But sista has to take her sloooooooooow on these longer jaunts.

And I also felt pretty darn awful after that run too. A bit sick to my stomach, a bit Gut Rot-esque and not wanting to eat (which you really should have some sort of recovery snack/drink post long run). Just BLECH. There are always so many factors to consider. Did we run too fast?(probably) Did I eat enough pre-run?(probably not) Did I drink enough water before?(that would be a no) Was it the GU I tried?(probably not)

We are doing our long run today (Wednesday) instead of Friday because most of us are racing in the Run for the House-Ronald McDonald 5K on Saturday morning (where I am planning on uttering a little "¡Ándale!" action for sure. Dare I say this race I try to break 24 minutes????). I am paying close attention to what i am eating pre run: I had a banana w/ PB (my fav pre run snack) for breakfast and a big bowl of Irish Steel Cut oats mixture (see below) for pre-run lunch. And I am drinking lots of H20. Also, I premade a protein smoothie with Arbonne chocolate protein powder (my fav), milk, banana and ground flaxseed and stuck it in the freezer so it will be ready for me to drink when i am done.

Now ladies...let's take it nice and sloooooooow :)

Kim's Steel Cut Oats

Cook Irish Steel Cut Oats according to package directions. In last 10 or so minutes of cooking, add a handful of raisins, a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseeds and one grated apple. When finished cooking add 1 handful of toasted walnuts and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Challenge Food #2

OK-admittedly I think I have the adult version of ADD. I am one of those people that has multiple tasks going on at once, all in the midst of completion. Take this morning as an example. I start in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast dishes. I go into the fridge to put back the milk and notice some old leftovers. So I begin cleaning out the fridge. As I clean the fridge I notice we are out of OJ. So then I sit down with the paper so see what else is on sale and start my shopping list. Then I realize I don't know what's for dinner. So I start perusing through cookbooks to find something yummy. Something in the cookbook reminds me to email a friend about a different recipe. Before I log into my email, I remember that I was bidding on something that ends today on eBay, so I open another window to check that. As I am doing that, I look out the window and wonder what the weather will be like for our long run tomorrow, so I check I think about running, and I think of this blog, so I open that up too. Which reminds me that I haven't done another challenge food on here. And here I am. I am sort of like that mouse in the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie...

Anyway, I can promise you, based on the example above, that I will not be as consistent with the challenge food of the week as I had hoped. So let's just go for doing a challenge food anytime I think about it, OK? So....have you ever tried jícama (pronounced HEE-kah-mah? It is actually a Mexican potato and you can find it by the regular potatoes in our grocery store. You just peel it with a paring knife and chop or slice it up. If you have ever eaten the BBQ chopped chicken salad at California Pizza Kitchen (YUMO)they put jícama on top. It adds great crunch to salads, slaws and salsas, or a nice change of pace added to raw veggies and dip. It doesn't have much flavor...sort of takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with. A very common way to eat jícama is to slice it like fries, sprinkle it with chili powder and salt and squeeze with some fresh lime...a yummy refreshing easy snack. Nice change from carrots and celery.

Here's a black bean salsa recipe from Cooking Light that I jazzed up with our challenge veggie. I'd better get going. I've got 9 minutes to bid on my eBay item and I still have a table full of dirty breakfast dishes, a half cleaned out fridge, and a decision to make about dinner! Oh! And an email to send...and a...and a...

Black Bean, Avocado, and Jícama Salsa

2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1 cup diced peeled avocado
1 cup diced peeled jícama
1/2 cup chopped red onion
handful chopped fresh cilantro
juice of one squeezed lime
1 to 1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
few pinches salt
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Combine and chill 30 minutes before serving.

Cumin Chips (serve with above)

4 tsp lime juice
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
12 6 inch tortillas (corn, flour, wheat)

heat oven 375. Combine first 3 in a bowl. Brush tortillas with mixture. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges. Arrange on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 30 minutes or so until crisp, rotating pans and turning chips every 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My life is one big lottery

I am impatient. My mother and my husband will attest to that. For example, I can't go to the grocery store during "busy times" (i.e. Saturday or Sunday afternoons). I hate navigating my cart around people deciding if Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms would be a better choice or the ladies having a casual conversation in front of the spaghetti sauce. I scan the checkouts looking for the least possible amount of people and items, only to ALWAYS pick the wrong line and get the person with 9 thousand coupons and most of them not scanning ("Did you really buy 5 boxes of cereal?"). In fact, on the rare occasions we do go to Meijer as a family (or anywhere that requires operating a cart for that matter) Zach doesn't allow me to drive the cart, for fear I will either 1. take someone out with it or 2. get into a fight.

So when I signed up for the New York City Marathon, in NOVEMBER, I mentally prepared myself for a bit of a wait. I studied the site, learning that 100,000 of my closest friends and I will be putting in an application in hopes to run 26.2 on November 7th 2010. Application deadlines are March 15th and our numbers get put into a lottery, which I assume (and read somewhere I am sure) will be drawn end of March. So I wait. And wait. And wait. March 15th comes (the IDES of March). Good. Now no one else can sign up for the race and the lottery will be drawn. For good measure, I check my stutus online, just in case they have chosen and haven't told us yet:

Welcome Kimberly
Marathon registration status: In Lottery
Entry number: 448421

Well, I suppose they'll draw in the next few days.
Not so much.

I get on NY Marathon Facebook Page where some dude named Ed Fortune (he is the site Admin. I wonder if he gets guaranteed entry into the race...sucker) posts one little sentance: Big news: The marathon lottery drawing will be held beginning on April 7, 2010.
Big news???? Are you freakin' kidding me? I have to WAIT another 3 weeks to find out? Good thing I am not in the grocery store with Ed. I'd run over his foot with my cart for sure.

The other waiting game encompassing my life right now is Kindegarten round up. A bit different than the marathon, but equally important to my sanity as a mother. We have decided to sign Sam up for the full day Kindegarten option for school next year. Our district offers 3 full time classes (the rest would be 1/2 day), so that's about 75 slots. And what happens if more than 75 kids sign up for the full day option? You guessed it people: Lottery time. Which would be held April 30th. More waiting. Grrrr. And heaven help Keith Cravotta (the principal) if he pushes that date back into May. He's getting mauled with the shopping cart too.

Well, one lottery at a time. First I'll concentrate on *patiently* waiting for April 7th. Sara and I decided that since that falls on Spring Break, we'll let the kids play and we'll stare at the computer all day. And depending on the outcome, we'll either celebrate, or commiserate, with a few cold beers. Maybe in the meantime I should play Powerball or something.

C'mon lucky number 448421.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To GU or not to GU?

So last week we fretted about weather for our long run on Friday. This week I have a different dilemma (although the projected 17-19 mph winds are a bit concerning for tomorrow afternoon. wishing that changes but we all know how well my wishes come true when it comes to the weather...). The conundrum (i SO love that word) is whether to fuel up mid-run with the tried-and-true (but pain in the ass to use come race time) Sport Beans or switch it up and try a GU.

For those wondering what in the heck I am talking about...
It is recommended if you are running (or cycling) for an hour or more you should take in some kind of energy every 30 minutes (and hydrate along with it). Old school would be the leather-like Powerbars (you know, the ones that you'd rip out your back molars trying to eat). Now there are more types of gels, beans, blocks, gummys, etc. than you can shake a stick at (that phrase is a shout out to my Pop-Pop in heaven). Since I've been running long, I've stuck to the beans. Now this is OK for the little water stops during Diva training. But trying to consume these suckers while you are actually racing (not that I am ever really "racing", but I like to think I pick the pace up a little during races...) is another story. You either try to suck the whole package down (approx. 10 beans) and wind up chomping and slopping, and drooling out your water, because your mouth is full of...well...a crap load of mushed up jelly beans! Or you drag it out by popping a few in your mouth at a time. Regardless, they stick in your teeth so you are losing your breathing trying to toungue them out, all the while your mouth gaping open. Not so pretty for that mile 8 photo-op!

The GU is in a little packet and its...well...GU I suppose. Let's just say I don't want to think about what it is because it has been described to me as something that about puts my gag reflex into overdrive (sorry Mom). There are a variety of flavors, from fruity to candy. I have heard the chocolate one tastes just like chocolate frosting. HIGHLY doubtful. But, I think the ease of getting one of those puppies down would be much easier than doing the Sport Bean "chompy chomp" (as my 4 year old describes my 6 year old at the dinner table).

So. *They* say you should experiment while training, never while racing. So the big test will be tomorrow. To GU or not to GU? I'd better bring a packet of beans just in case...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A 10 mile run full of mystery and suspense...

I am sorry I didn't get to post this's been a crazy few days around here!
Before I get into my story, I wanted to post a recipe for the "breakfast cookie" that I ate for breakfast before the run. It was yummy!

Chocolate Cranberry No-Bake Breakfast Cookie
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tbls peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
splash of milk (to hold it all together. maybe 1/8 cup)
1/2 mashed banana
mini chocolate chips (dark choc. if you can find)

Mix it all together in a bowl. Spread on an appetizer/salad plate and wrap. Let sit overnight in fridge. I needed to use a fork to eat mine the next morning but it was super tasty. You could mix in any favorites (raisins, nuts, dried cherries, peanut butter chips).

So after all of our hemming and hawing (would that be the correct spelling?), the weather wound up being perfect for our 10 mile run on Friday. Cloudy, no rain, even a bit warm (we all overdressed...mental note for this Friday when the temps will be in the 60's...can you say SHORTS???). We did our new "normal" 10 mile route and after battling the traffic on Old 27 (which is a 4 lane fairly busy road with a nasty gradual hill) we turned onto Dill Road looking SO forward to the water Sara dropped for us earlier. For every long run, we always have a water stop. Someone typically leaves 4 water bottles in a grocery bag and we are *usually* very good about picking them up following our run. We usually put the water (to appease my girl Sara's neurosis) exactly at the 1/2 way point. We stop, guzzle water, chomp on a package of Sport Beans, and start back to it, waiting for our "bean high" (which I don't think I have fully experienced yet!).

Anyway, we get to the stop sign and lo and behold, there is no Meijer bag filled with our liquid love. We all sort of stare at each other, dumbfounded. Where the F is our water?!?!? Who the heck would have stolen our water? Peg, who does not possess the potty mouth that the rest of us share, blurts out "A$$HOLES!!!!". Peg really loves her mid run water, can you tell ;o) Sara accuses, "I think it was that guy across the street, he watched me as I dropped the water earlier" and she points to an interesting looking gentleman who is missing several of his teeth. So we ask him and he mentions that the woman that lives on the corner where we placed the water may have taken it.

Now that's just not cool. So picture 4 crazy runner women, a tad sweaty, a bit pink in the face, and just a little bit stinky marching up this woman's driveway and standing on her porch. The sign on her front door read something like "NO SOLITICTORS, NO RELIGIOUS PEOPLE, NO POLITICAL PEOPLE. DOORBELL BROKEN". Inviting.

So I pound on the door, ready for confrontation, flanked on either side with the rest of the girls. An older woman answers the door, mildly disturbed (clearly being interrupted from her daily dose of Guiding Light and/or Y and R). We ask her about the water. And she is as nice as can be, explaining she finds everything from whisky bottles to beer/soda cans by that stop sign so she figured it was another round of trash for her to clean up. Why she thought 4 unopened, full water bottles with initials on them were trash I am not sure. She grabs the water for us and returns into her house, probably to see how her "stories" turn out for the afternoon. And we happily gulp our treasured water, hoping it isn't tainted by anything.

The rest our run was full of suspense. I won't get into the details, as it's not really my story to tell. But, let's just say one of our runners had to really go to the bathroom. I mean REALLY go to the bathroom. And it wasn't going to be something that could be done squatting in the bushes, either. So our last 3 or so miles we ran at a pretty quick clip, with our poor running friend wishing her bodily functions away. By the time we got to the entrance of my subdivision, we were at a full sprint for the house.

Needless to say everything turned out just fine that 10 mile run. No rain. Water to drink. A runner that made it successfully to the bathroom. Success on all accounts!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Deja Vu?

I think when you start running you become a junior meteorologist. Checking,, the Weather Channel (which is the same as but you never know if Jim Cantore will say something undisclosed on TV) and Lansing's 11 o'clock news with Andy Pro. You study the Doppler radar like nobody's business and pour over precip percentages and wind direction variables with conviction. Finally, you go with the prediction that suits you and your run best. If says only a 20% chance of rain and the local guy says "definitely rain", well I'm sticking with the weather experts online. What does that local guy know anyway?

It brings me back to a memorable race our group did back in August. The night before we all poured (get it!) over weather reports and none were changing: Rain was imminent for our Mint City 10 mile race in St. John's the next morning. I went to sleep wishing the rain away and woke up to a hammering of water against my bedroom window. So much for wishing. Since this was the beginning of my long distance running stint, I didn't have any fancy rain gear. So thanks to my ingenious husband (brownie points), I grabbed a garbage bag at the last minute. I loved that garbage bag.

The drive to the race was silent (pretty rare for our gaggle of women) as we watched the wind howl, the rain pour down and the sky get darker. The race got delayed a couple of times (due to the cracks of lightening within arms reach from the start) and as we waited, sheltered in the middle school gym, we wondered what the heck we were doing there. And I secretly wished they would cancel the race altogether.
"Pre-race, pre-garbage bag wearing"

l-r Deb, Abby, Peg, Lisa, Sara, me, Danielle, Jenny

But, they didn't. Again, so much for wishing (my fairy godmother must have been busy). So, clad in our Hefty specials, we lined at the start and took off. By the end of the first mile my feet were sloshing in my Saucanys, my ear buds for my Ipod were wet (causing whoever was crooning in my ears to sound like they were underwater), and my hat was soaked through. But, thanks to my black garbage bag of love, my body remained dry and somewhat warm. At that point Sara (who I was running with) and I sort of embraced the weather. We got pelted with rain, heard rumbles of thunder, saw lightening on the horizon, and I swear got hit with some hail at one point and just kept on running, like little Forrest Gumps. We couldn't believe when we hit mile 5...halfway though and we still had the trash bags on our bodies. We shed our protective cocoons and I swear it made us go a little faster. Never in my life did I feel as hard core as I did that day.

We all finished the race, believe it or not, with smiles on our faces. For me, it was the longest race I had ever done. But as I scarfed down post race cookies, bananas and bagels, with my sopping clothes hanging on me, it wasn't about the 10 miles I just ran. I knew I could do that. It was completing 10 miles in a continuous (seriously, it never stopped) torrential downpour-something I would have NEVER done.

Post-race...all smiles (albeit soaked-check out my shorts)

l-r Me, Danielle, Sara (nice towel skirt), Abby, Lisa, Peg and Deb

So that walk down memory lane is because our long run is today and all week the weather people were predicting rain. Our run happens to be another 10 miler. We studied the maps, listened intently to the news reports, going back and forth deciding on what time of day would be best. Or would we be stuck inside on a treadmill? But we settled on just running as planned, outside in the afternoon. Please. If we could endure last year's storm, we can get through a little sprinkle. Besides, now we have fancier rain-wear instead of Hefty specials ;o)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Time to organize (and a good granola recipe)

Get ready for a barrage of new recipes! Zach is out of town again next week which means I get to experiment with random foods and recipes (all while feeding the boys their favorite kid meals of chicken nuggets, noodles and butter and the like. I still slip them a green smoothie every now again to give them some nutrients, I promise...).

BTW-how is the Quinoa tasting going? Anyone try it? I did find it bulk at "Better Health" which was a bit cheaper than at the grocery. It'll be on my menu next week for sure. And, I've got a new ingredient for you to try...but I'll fill you in on that next time. I'll let you hang on the suspense ;o) Ha!

I was wondering how to organize all of my favorite recipes so I have one "go-to" book with all of our tried and true foods in it. It seems I have a binder with loose recipes (rip outs from magazines, print outs from online, hand scribbles on napkins, etc.) and then a shelf full of cookbooks where I consistantly use a few recipes. It would be nice to have them all together. So that is my spring project; putting together a binder of all the Aeschliman best loved eats to avoid leafing through cookbooks and papers ("Now where did I put that Clean Granola recipe? Which cookbook is it in?"). I am slowly going to leaf through my dog-eared cookbooks and make copies of recipes (thanks to my new printer/copier/scanner...LOVE IT). And I have pile of tear outs from various magazines and websites that need going through as well. Who knows, if I get adventurous and anyone is interested I can copy you all the book as well. I'll keep ya posted.

Anyway, I've got a minute this morning before we hit the elementary school book fair (good times...good times...) so I wanted to share another granola recipe I tried from the Eat Clean cookbook with a couple of *Kim* changes. This is a great snack when I am looking for that evening sweet or great for breakfast with skim milk. I am not a yogurt fan, but you could certainly make a mean parfait out of it with fresh fruit.

Granola-The Eat Clean Way

3 cups multi grain cereal (by the oats)
1 cup plain rolled oats
1 cup raw, sliced almonds
1/2 unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 sesame seeds

1/2 cup Sucanat or Rapadura sugar (found Sucanat at Better Health but I think they also sell at regular grocery stores in baking section)
pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp good quality vanilla
1/4 cup honey

at end:
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

preheat oven 300 degrees. in large bowl mix all dry ingredients and set aside

in a small saucepan, place all coating mixture ingredients. gently warm contents and stir until honey is dissolved. pour liquid coating mixture over dry ingredient mixture in bowl. use large spoon or clean hands mix well until all ingredients are well coated. spread granola onto a large cookie sheet (with parchment for easy cleanup). Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so so everything is evenly toasted. transfer baked granola to cooling rack and sprinkle with raisins and cranberries. Let cool completely. When cool transfer to airtight container. Makes a whole bunch and will keep for about a week or you can freeze it as well. Throw in some mini chocolate chips for a tastier treat!
Stay tuned tomorrow - I'm trying out a "breakfast cookie" before my 10 mile run and I'll share our new challenge food :o) I know you are just hanging on the edge of your seat...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The more I run, the more I eat

I had an aquaintance that told me when she trained for her first marathon she actually gained 5 lbs. Impossible, I had thought. How could you possibly gain weight when you are running ALL the time. Well, I'm not sure about the gaining weight part, but I certainly see eating a WHOLE lot more. And justifying it too. For example, Sunday morning went for a nice 6 mile run with the Divas. Came home to Zach making eggs and sausage for everyone. I need protein, I figure, so I grab a small plateful of eggs and 2 sausages. Then I go back for another sausage. Then another. Why not, I figure? I just ran! Or how about after Monday's run? I did what Hal Hidgon calls a "race pace" 4 miler. You are supposed to do it at 1/2 marathon race pace but I am feeling pretty good so I decide to bump it up to a 5K race pace. Sidebar: For those not too into running, runners are really obssessed with numbers. How far, how fast, splits, PRs, etc. I denied it for a while but I am just as guilty. Anyway, I busted that 4 miles out in 32:13 (another thing, gotta be exact) which is a little over an 8 minute mile pace. I have done 3 miles in that pace, but never 4 I was pretty impressed with myself.
Do you know what I was thinking about the whole time? A delicious treat in a brown paper bag that waited for me at home. Peg made a batch of peanut butter cup brownies and gave us all one to try. That's what kept my rounding the 4 corners of Dewitt like a little gazelle. Maybe a little Lady Gaga and Pink kept my pace up too. Anyway, I scarfed that sucker down when I came home...good recovery snack...protein from the peanut butter, carbs from the chocolate ;o) Peg got the recipe from my favorite baking site/blog: Search for "Brownie Candy Cups".

Week 7 training is over. We bumped our long run up to 10 miles and I think we'll stay there for a bit. Spring is coming (i hope) and the layers are shedding. Whoo hoo!

So after 3 cocktails last night and no coffee yet this morning, I'm afraid I don't have anything too clever to say so I'll end it here. I do want to leave you with some recipes to help me with my running hunger. A muffin for your pre exercise energy, a smoothie to recover with, and peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies because you need something to look forward to!

Strawberry Orange Smoothie (serves 1)

3/4 cup skim milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 small banana, chunked
splash orange juice (1/4 a cup?)
handful ground flaxseed

Mix it all up. Very refreshing...I think it is the splash of OJ. Kids loved it.

Zucchini Muffins (from Cooking Light-I added some ground flax and chopped toasted pecans. You could also do mini choc. chips too)

4.75 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine whole-wheat flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, honey, and egg in a small bowl; stir until blended. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add milk mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
3. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over tops of muffins. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks (hands down my fav. cookie recipe)
from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old-fashioned chunky peanut butter (about 9 ounces)
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Mix flour, oats, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, honey, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture in 2 additions. Stir in chopped chocolate. Cover and refrigerate until dough is firm and no longer sticky, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 heavy large baking sheets. With hands, roll 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough for each cookie into 1 3/4-inch-diameter ball. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until puffed, beginning to brown on top and still very soft to touch, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to rack and cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Just a WILD and CRAZY Saturday night

When I was in high school/college, I remember getting ready to go out to the movies, or a party, or a dance club with my friends. My mom would be sitting on her comfy chair, in her PJs, drinking a steaming mug of tea. She'd be watching whatever drama was popular at the time (probably the last season of "Dallas"), curled up with a blanket and her feet in fluffy slippers, our old dog Jingles lying next to her chair (or probably on the sofa). As I was headed out the door in my pegged jeans and flannel shirt, ready to dance to the techno beat, I felt sad for my mom. How awful, I thought. She *has* to sit here, all bored and lonely, while I am headed off to be shoved around in a stinky sweaty dance club with wall to wall people and beer being spilled all over me (and perhaps even some spilling into my mouth! And down my throat!). I get to stay at this club until the wee hours and then finish off the night at the Pleasantville Diner with a dish of "Disco Fries" (OMG. You don't know what Disco Fries are?!?! They are a New York/New Jersey diner staple. It's a plate of greasy, salty french fries topped with melted American cheese and brown gravy. And I wonder why i put on 10 pounds between high school and college?!?).

Then I couldn't fathom the fact that my mother was up at the "crack of dawn" (probably 7:30 am), putzing around the house doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms, running out to the grocery store, working out at the gym, etc. while my lazy butt remained in bed until at least 11 am. And if I didn't have anything to do the next night? UGH! I was SO bored!! How could someone possibly sit home on a Friday or Saturday night and do NOTHING?

Fast forward almost 20 years (Jeesh, does that make me sound OLD or what...yikes...).
OK. Let's be technical here because that is really making me feel old.

Fast forward 17 years (ah. much better). It is Saturday night at the Aeschliman household. After a fun filled day of morning karate and the elementary school carnival (my head is still reeling from that one, Lisa!), Saturday night is upon us. Our evening officially began with homemade guacamole with chicken fajitas that I was thinking about since 2 pm. Promptly after dinner, around 6:30, I threw on my PJs. No use keeping these jeans on. I hummed happily as I set the coffeemaker for 7:15 am for my Sunday morning jolt. I laid out my clothes for the 6 miler the girls and I are doing at 8:30 am. I kicked the husband out for his neighborhood poker game (of which he left in sweatpants and a running shirt. I said to him, "Jeez, you really get dressed up for these things, don't you?" and he replied, "Kim, it's just a bunch of guys drinking and farting...". Good times...). Once he leaves, I tuck my little boys into bed. Thank God they are not old enough to be driving off to techno clubs or college bars. At this point all I worry about is when SpongeBob says "Stupid" or Mr. Crabbs calls Patrick an "Idiot".

Now I sit in the office with a steaming cup of decaf green tea, typing this. After I am done here, I will head into the living room and switch on the TV in hopes of finding some sappy Lifetime movie, or an episode of "What Not to Wear". I can't wait to just sit down, curled up in a blanket with my slippered feet sticking out. Other than my old yellow dog farting beside me (she should go to the poker game), I will be totally alone. And the stillness of the house will be utter and complete bliss.

All these years later, Mom, I can relate.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are you up for a CHALLENGE?

As most of you know, I am addicted to cooking, especially finding good, healthy recipes using fresh, whole ingredients. Don't get me'll find the occasional box of Lucky Charms and Cheese Its in my pantry (all for the kids, I swear!) but for the most part we try to play it pretty healthy around here. Steer clear of the transfats, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and anything with more than 50 different ingredients. I am queen of pouring over different "Clean Eating" cookbooks and experiment with my family and friends (which I KNOW they SO appreciate). So here is my challenge to you, me and anyone else bored enough to be reading my blog consistantly (which I hope there are some of you out there b/c it can get kind of lonely!). Let's try a new FOOD every week. You know, going down that aisle of Meijer (insert your favorite grocery store) that's labeled "International Foods" and wondering what in the heck some of that stuff is? Or actually checking out the section of produce that is "exotic" fruit? Not buying it? OK, how about this? I will try the mystery food first and give you the bottom line. Then you can decide if you want to check it out. Fair enough?

And this is active participation...I want you to comment about what you've tried on this post. So. My first challenge food for you is QUINOA. According to Body and Soul mag: "Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) isn't a true grain but a plant related to chard and spinach (it is the seed). It has more protein than most grains (5 grams per serving) and is gluten- and wheat-free. Quinoa is also a good source of dietary fiber, packing 5.2 grams per 1 cup serving. In its unprocessed state, quinoa is coated with saponin, a bitter substance. Most quinoa has been "desaponized." However, it's still a good idea to rinse it under running water in a fine-mesh strainer before cooking to remove any remaining residue." You can find it easily at Trader Joe's by the rice, but for those of us not priviledged to be near TJs I found in good old Meijer, also near the rice. I also found in the bulk bins at Better Health.

Below is a recipe I tried. My kids wouldn't even look at it and my husband was a bit leary. But, I think it was b/c it had red peppers in it and he doesn't care for those. But...I LOVED it. It is a perfect replacement for rice. I wound up eating the leftovers all week for lunch. I even threw it cold on top of a bed of spinach.

Quintessential Quinoa (from Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno)
1 tbsp EVOO
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 cups water
1 veggie soup stock cubes or low sodium chicken-flavored cubes

add chopped onion, garlic and salt to EVOO and saute until onions are slightly brown. Add chopped red pepper and continue to saute until onions are caramelized. Add water, stock cubes and rinsed quinoa. Bring mixture to simmer for another 35 minutes or until water has been cooked in. Fluff mixture with fork.

Here is another one (from the same book) that I want to try:

Sweet Inca Porridge
1 cup quinoa grains, soaked
1 cup rolled oats, not instant
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 cups water
1/2 cup chopped dates (might try raisins instead)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Place first 4 ingredients in pot with tight fitting lid. Cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer 30 min. Add remaining 4 ingredients and mix together well. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for five minutes. Serve for breakfast with berries.

Or, feel free to find your own recipe out there. I love, or or (if you find a good one, post it!)