Saturday, July 24, 2010

New things turn up

There's a fruit and veggie challenge of sorts going on at WW. The first week, we were asked to fill half our plate with veggies and divide the rest between protein and carbs. Last week, it was adding more color.

This week? Try a new fruit or vegetable.

While the other two were quite easy because, well, I already do those things, this new challenge was just that. A challenge. I like to think that I have a diverse palate and have tried a lot of fruit and veggies, most of which I at least like if not love. Seriously. I love Brussels sprouts, asparagus, lima beans. As far as fruit, as long as it's not cantaloupe, I'll eat it. I wasn't so sure there would be much available for me to try as I headed out to the grocery after the meeting.

Turns out, I was wrong.

I was looking for ginger root when I saw a turnip. Turnip, turnip, turnip ... where had I seen those? Oh, yeah. Over at Peanut Butter Fingers, Julie makes turnip fries.

"I could make turnip fries," I thought to myself, and I picked up the root vegetable.

Once home, I peeled the turnip and sliced it into "fries." I sprayed them with olive oil spray and added a generous sprinkling of Old Bay. I figured that my love of Old Bay would mask any unpleasantness that I might find. I baked them at 415 degrees for about a half-hour or so until they looked a little brown on the edges.

I roasted some zucchini alongside the turnip and served it with a cold chicken quarter (leftover from a rotisserie chicken I bought the other day).

I have to say, I was pretty impressed. I did taste a lot of the Old Bay but the "fries" were a bit crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Considering that a medium turnip has about 35 calories, I'll be eating these again. I just wonder whether I can slip them by my husband ...

What vegetable did you take a chance on and like?

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Temptation island

I'm so excited. For the first time in two weeks, I will get to see my husband and, for the first time in four weeks, he will be home for more than 18 hours.

Cue happy dance.

In an effort to prepare for his arrival, I decided to head out to the Historic West Main Street Farmers Market after work rather than hit up the Barr Street Market tomorrow morning. I was hoping to pick up some more tomatoes (yum!) and some peppers for the quesadillas on the menu for Meatless Monday.

I have never been to this market, which is held in a parking lot on the far edges of downtown. There were a decent amount of booths but no more than the Barr Street Market, and it definitely lacked the charm of the Saturday location. Plus, there was no Farmer Joe!

I did a round around the market before making purchases, the first of which was a giant cabbage and a jar of cherry preserves.

Denali thoroughly approved of the purchases.
Too bad he doesn't remember that he doesn't like cabbage.

The table was manned by an Amish dad and his child, and I couldn't resist the preserves. Operation: Clean Out the Pantry be damned! Amish preserves are the shiz.

I also picked up some zucchini, squash, tomatoes, spinach, green peppers and peaches.

After leaving the market, I was off to the devil mart to pick up dental floss and hopefully some Diet Snapple that I've been unable to find. One problem: I was HUNGRY. I passed a Dairy Queen, and I wondered whether I could eat ice cream for dinner. My 29-year-old self said, "No."

I passed a Lee's Chicken, then a Taco Bell, a coffee shop and, horror of all horrors, Steak 'n' Shake. You see, back in the day, I would eat me some Steak 'n' Shake. Double steak burger, fries, chili and a shake. So good and oh so bad.

I resisted, though, remembering that I had picked up peaches at the farmers market.

Please ignore how old I look in this photo. I had no idea a crow had nested on my face. UGH!

I grabbed one out of the bag and bit into the beautiful ripe fruit. It was so juicy that with each bite I had liquid dripping down my arms.

It was no mint Oreo shake but a fresh, uber juicy peach on a hot summer day is definitely a treat.

Heat index

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and Amaretto Cream roast coffee
Workout: Ran 4.07 miles in 38 minutes, 46 seconds; average pace, 9:31.

I never thought I would say this but I miss winter. I miss bundling up and running in the snow. I miss ice-crystal covered eyebrows and eyelashes. I miss being able to wipe my face without risk of sweat burning my eye. I miss coming home with dry clothes.

I miss ... well, I miss not bitching about the heat.

Excuse my language but I'm near my breaking point. Seriously, at 8 p.m., it's still 92 with a heat index of 103. I have know idea how hot it was this morning but I knew it was bad when I took out the dog for his morning business. Suffocatingly hot.

It wasn't just the heat, though - my legs were heavy after yesterday's mile repeats. My mind wasn't in it, either. But I got out there. I ran ... and that's enough for today.

This weekend, it's supposed to rain and "cool down" to the mid-80s. Pair that with the begin of taper, and I should be a more comfortable (less whiny) gal. Hopefully.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Firsts Edition

Pre-workout fuel: 1/2 of a PB&J made with whole-wheat bread, reduced-fat Jiff and apricot all-fruit spread
Workout: Ran 6.67 miles in 58:27, average pace, 8:46. Walked the dog for a mile to cool down and followed it with 15 minutes of upper body strength training.

1. Week 2 of the sub-2:00 half-marathon plan from Runners World had me slated to do mile repeats - 2x1 mile at 8:25. I have never done mile repeats with any real intention, and I was a bit nervous about hitting the pace. I jogged to the middle-school track (another first), which is a bit more than a mile from my house, and I began the first repeat. 8:18. Not too shabby, Kim. A bit fast but not overly so. I took two laps around to recover and went off on the second repeat. 7:51. Uh ... where did that come from? I have never ran a sub-8:00 mile. Ever. I took another two laps to recover and decided to do a third repeat for a) the fun of it; b) to get in a solid 6 miles total; and c) because my favorite song, "Bulletproof" came on the iPod. 7:55 -- another sub-8:00 mile. Once I knew I could do it, I wanted to do it again. I only wonder what Runner's World would tell me ...

2. The middle-school track is a bit sad. Just a shabby asphalt circle in the middle of a field - no trees, no shade, no scenery. And on a day like today, it's hot. With a capital humid. I ran the first mile repeat and paused to take a sip of water when I made a decision. "To hell with decency! I'm taking off my shirt!" (No worries, I did have on a sports bra.) This move is very uncharacteristic because a) I hate my abs; b) I've never done it before; and c) I hate my abs. However, no one was around and I believe running 10K before work gives me license to do things like run without a shirt.

3. A few weeks ago, before the launch of Operation: Clean Out the Pantry, I picked up a bag of Pirate's Booty. It's sat in the cupboard, unopened, because I've been trying to eat things I had purchased earlier and things that were already open. Well, today, I finally tried it. I am glad I portioned it out and only took one serving to work. Yeah ... totally DELICIOUS. I could eat the whole dern bag. (By the way, it was Aged White Cheddar.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pop a wheelie

Pre-workout fuel (0f sorts): Cold steel-cut oats with banana "soft serve" and blackberries. Oh, and cinnamon roast coffee. Of course.
Workout: 2.5-mile walk with dog and 30 minutes of P90x yoga

Goodbye, Green Envy ... for now.

This morning, my Trek Hybrid 7100 WSD went into the car and off to the bike shop. For a tune up ... or maintenance ... or repair job -- I'm not really sure. All I know is that the last time I rode it, my husband (then-boyfriend) noticed the rear wheel sort of wobbled. And I got sort of scared that it would come flying off and kill someone, namely me, in the process.

So for two years, I let it gather dust in the apartment. I would, on occasion, look at it longingly, wishing to hop on its seat and go off for a ride. Fear kept me home, though. And so it sat.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to get into the shop. It took just a few minutes to load in the car once I remembered how to get off the front wheel, and the shop said bike repairs are generally less than $50.

I do know why I decided to take it in now: I hate swimming.

I hate the whole process -- the limits of the pool schedule, lane restrictions, the other swimmers, the locker room. Oh, then there's the limits of my ability. But when it comes to cross-training, I don't have a lot of options without a gym membership. Walk, swim or a lame cardio video on OnDemand. And when your cable decides to stop working, like last night, and the cable can't come to fix it for two days, then the options are down to walk and swim.

A good-working bike will fix that ... I hope. A short walk with the dog and a moderate bike ride before work sounds like a pleasant way to spend the rest of summer and fall. Especially once I no longer have a half-marathon schedule to abide by.

How do you cross-train?

Great danish?

It was supposed to taste like a danish. A sweet, rich, indulgent danish.

Instead, it tasted like cottage cheese on an English muffin with a drizzle of eff-nasty sugar-free syrup ... because, well, it was.

My WW leader mentioned in a meeting not too long ago that you could putt cottage cheese with a bit of jam on a semi-toasted English muffin, put it in the toaster oven till it looked good and eat it. Just like a Danish, she said.

Yeah. Right. "Danish, my German butt," I told my grandma. Except she agreed with D. Apparently, in the 1960s, when Grandma led a diet workshop, cottage cheese for breakfast was all the rage. Grandma even remembered how she made the breakfast - mix a bit of sweetener, cinnamon and vanilla in the cottage cheese and then put it on the muffin.

Remembering I had a lone cinnamon-raisin English muffin in the fridge (Operation: Clean Out the Pantry), I decided to see if Grandma and D. were right. I put the muffin the toaster and proceeded to make a cottage cheese mixture. Into a mini food processor, I put a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and cinnamon. I blended it until it was more like ricotta than cottage cheese and scooped equal parts onto the muffin. The little Danishes went into the oven, under the broiler, until the outer edges began to bubble.

I didn't even put it on a plate before taking my first bite I was so, err, excited. Or hungry. Whatever. I chewed and swallowed and waited. Hoping for this moment of serendipity where the bite I just took reminded me of heaven.

It never came.

The only thing I was reminded of was the fact that I forgot the sweetener and I was eating cinnamon-flavored cottage cheese. Let me tell you, there's a reason that's not on your grocery store shelves. I opened up the fridge and drizzled the last of the sugar-free syrup over the top. It was a definite improvement but not fantastic.

What could have made it better? Sweetener, obviously. Leaving the muffins in the oven long enough that all of the cottage cheese mixture bubbled. Drizzling the syrup on top before broiling (I think it might make it creme brulee-ish).

I'm anxious try it again but first I have about two boxes of cereal and a schload of oats to work my way through before new breakfast options come around. Stupid, Operation COP.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sweatness and light

Pre-workout fuel: Half slice of whole-wheat toast with apple butter and cinnamon roast coffee (I seriously can't wait for this coffee to be gone. Note to self: Buy only a half-pound at a time.)
Workout: Ran 5.04 miles in 46 minutes, 59 seconds; average pace, 9:19. Run followed by 20 minutes of upper body work and Tour de France viewing. had said it was 71 degrees and 91 percent humidity outside. Surely they were wrong, I thought to myself, as I walked out the door. It seemed a bit cool and breezy. The air ... well, it couldn't be cut with a knife.

"Silly meteorologists don't know what they are talking about," I said to Denali.

And so we set off, as if it was spring and the air was a mild 50 degrees and 20 percent humidity. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I started to feel the sweat dripping into my eyes as I rounded the 1.5-mile mark. By 2.5 miles, I was starting to bargain with myself as to whether 5 miles was really necessary. At 4.6 miles, I told myself to shut up, suck it up and get moving. The faster you go, the faster you finish.

A dead sprint to the house, and Denali and I called it a day. Well, Denali called it a day. I turned on the Tour de France while checking e-mails and opted to complete my arm workout on my own with Lance for motivation rather than turn on "No More Trouble Zones" or "Tank Top Arms."

Using 5-pound weights, I did 3 sets (12 reps in each set) of: bicep curl, alternating bicep curls, wide-grip curl, bentover row, tricep kickback, upright row, overhead press, alternating lateral raise, tricep extension and chest press. I even threw in some crunches for good measure.

I have to say it was kind of nice not listening to an annoying instructor go through the same routine over and over. Do you enjoy workout videos or prefer a solo attempt?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meatless Monday, Grandma-style

The trio salad ... it's the quintessential "healthy" option at many an old people restaurant. You know, the family-owned joints that you visit when Grandma wants to go to lunch and she's paying.

Oh. Wait. Maybe that's just me.

Back to lunch. My meal for this Meatless Monday was inspired by the trio salads that my grandma used to get back in the day. (Now, we just split a meal and add a salad. We're cool like that.) The salads usually came with tuna salad, cottage cheese and either egg or chicken salad. One of the salads was inevitably served in a scooped out tomato and there was a bed of pale-colored iceberg for the rest.

Having purchased the most-delicious tomatoes from the farmers market, I didn't want to waste any of the meat by scooping it out. Sliced tomatoes for me! I also had some bell peppers on hand and decided that they would be a nice accompaniment for my salads - low-fat cottage cheese and egg salad.

I don't want to brag but this egg salad was pretty awesome. Simple flavors but good flavors. I hard-boiled two eggs and three whites. Once the eggs were cool, I chopped 'em up and added dijon mustard (~1 teaspoon) and some low-fat mayonnaise (~1.5 tablespoons). Seasonings were fairly simple - just white pepper and salt. This batch makes two decent-sized servings or three baby servings. (It's a baby serving in the photo.)

My only regret with this meal was not having any toast, a wrap or some crackers to eat with it all. I did have some roasted chickpeas (Operation: Clean Out the Pantry!) for crunch but you can't exactly scoop some egg salad on a chickpea. At least not daintily. And that, my friends, would not make Grandma very happy.

Can it

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with apple butter and cinnamon roast coffee
Workout: 20 minutes yoga with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders (OnDemand) and 2.2-mile walk with Denali

I learned my lesson last week. An easy day should be an easy day - not 30 minutes of yoga, a 2+ mile walk and 30 minutes with Jillian Michaels. So I skipped Jillian, ate some Nutrigrain waffles with toasted nuts and enjoyed my coffee.

All the while, I laughed heartily at a portion of stage 14 of the Tour de France I recorded. You see, one of the cyclists was drinking a Coke. He was straight up climbing the Pyrenees with a can of Coke in his hand.

"I'd totally run a marathon if I could drink Diet Coke the whole way," I told my husband after calling him immediately when I saw it for the first time yesterday.

OK, maybe that's a lie but I can tell you that on Aug. 1, at mile 9 of the RnR Chicago, I'll be wanting a Diet Coke. And I'm sure if I got my way, everyone would straight up stare at me if I cruised along the lake with a can in my hand. Sort of the way I stared at that cyclist.

Side note: Some Tour de France teams REQUIRE the cyclists to drink Coke. Two cans, to be exact. Lucky dogs!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Unmask the beast

When your husband is away, you can do things like:
  • Eat cereal for dinner.
  • Indulge in black bean burgers and have no worries.
  • Fall asleep on the couch.
  • Eat the vegetables you like and not just broccoli. Hello tasty squash from the farmers market.
  • Hang out at the swimming pond/pool with friends for hours and hours.
  • Watch hours upon hours of "House Hunters."
  • And do things like this:

A face mask that smelled like chocolate. Thank goodness the post-long run hunger had subsided or I might have tried to eat my face.

Half a chance

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with apple butter and cinnamon roast coffee
Mid-workout fuel: Powerbar chew at mile 3, Gu at mile 6 and another Powerbar chew at mile 9
Workout: Ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 58 seconds; average pace, 9:45.

Whoever said the smell of coffee could get you out of bed in the morning was lying. Straight up lying.

I had my alarm set for 5:15 a.m. and had the coffee pot on delay start for the same time. What time did I get up? 5:45, 6 maybe. Getting out for a run before the sun rose ... epic fail.

Nonetheless, I was out shortly after 6:30 a.m. on a breezy, not overly hot, morning. My course took me along the Greenway, through downtown, down south and past some of the city's most amazing houses. Nothing gets the running mojo going like passing houses that I'd love to live in but never will.

My game plan or this long run, my last before RnR Chicago(!!!), was to start off super slow for the first four miles, maybe 6, and let it go from there. And, once again, it worked. I did feel tired for mile 11 but I think it was more of a mental challenge than anything. Once I got myself to relax, let my shoulders fall, I felt better.

I even felt good enough to take the drunk girl's way home (zig zagging between streets) to make the run that was going to come in a bit over 12 to an even 13.1. What didn't feel so good was my dripping wet clothes and having to smell myself that last mile. I guess no one said running is glamorous.

Now it's off to my friend's to hang by the pool and relax. Happy Sunday!