Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday love

Pre-workout breakfast: Cinnabon Cream of Wheat with sliced banana

Workout: Ran 4.3 miles; average pace, 8:34.

Let’s just say the longest week ever? Not only did I have to recover from the POM Wonderful party but I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the one … the only … “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”

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Holla! I’m am so going to see the flick Saturday morning and, hopefully, avoid the crowds. Sometimes it totally rocks to be an old lady!

Now onto some well-deserved Friday love.tea

Food. While it’s not technically a food, I’ve been enjoying more than my fair share of Lipton’s Ginger Twist Tea. It’s tasty. It’s decaf. And it’s soothing on these cold days in the office. I find that it has a light, refreshing flavor that I don’t get tired of. Sometimes hot teas leave a weird feeling in my mouth or have an after taste, and this one does not. The flavor can be found in Lipton’s herbal tea samplers or purchased in bulk on Amazon. Can you guess which one I do? Yep. I get it in bulk. And, sadly, I’m down to one box at home and one box at work. Time to reorder!

Fitness. Vindication. I’m not sure if it’s really fitness love but who can feel bad about a little vindication. Mark finally tried out my Jackie Warner DVD and posted this on Facebook: Just did a very hard workout. Perhaps harder than 90x. Jackie W. You suck.

Cue devilish laughter.

Mark even said that he had to drop down to 5-pound weights for some of the moves and he was still sore this morning. Poor baby.

Life. T-minus 5 days until I see my grandma. Oh, sweet Grandma. I haven’t been back home since the Fourth of July and it feels like these four months have been LONG. I just can’t wait to hug her and squeeze her and annoy her by playing with her hair. She hates it when people touch her head. She also hates it when I beat her in Scrabble but I think she would hate it more if I let her win. Or so I say.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! And good luck to “L” at the Women’s half marathon. Rock it!

What are you doing?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Pre-workout breakfast: Sliced banana with blackberry yogurt
Workout: Jackie Warner DVD and 2.2-mile walk with Denali

1. This morning, it was shockingly mild as I took a beautiful walk with Denali. My fingers never started to hurt from the cold, I didn't have to wear a hat and a work fleece was just enough. I couldn't help but appreciate the morning - and dread the days of snow, ice and double-socking it.

2. I've been trying to play around with my workout schedule, easing it up a bit and finding something that I can do all winter. I've decided to move Jackie Warner down to two days, eliminating a double day of run and strength. I'll be running four days a week, hoping to keep a base at 20 miles a week, but keeping the runs at 5 or so miles each. I want to stay in 10K shape but not go so far that Mark complains. (He's a fast 3-mile kind of guy.)

3. I'm starting to get excited for my Thanksgiving Day 10K. My cousins and I are organizing caravans and planning to start the race together. I am hoping to stick with them the whole time and not worry about going fast or getting a PR. I want to enjoy the race, the sights, the sounds, my fantastic family whom I don't see often enough. I think it will make for a fantastic experience.

What's your favorite racing experience? Was it a PR or being with a good group?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shake your pom poms

It’s the last installment of our POM Wonderful series: How to open a pomegranate. (After all, we all learned how not to open a pomegranate.)

Step 1: Get the attention of your students. Even if it means interrupting the football game.

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Clearly, Denali was upset that he didn’t have a clear view of the Colts action.

Step 2: Gather the proper tools.

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Newspaper (to help absorb splatter), a cutting board, a sharp paring knife, water-filled bowl and, of course a pomegranate.

Step 3: Score and remove the top of the pomegranate

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Step 4: Score the pomegranate into wedges

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Step 5: Remove the arils in a bowl of water, allowing the white pithy parts to float to the top.

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By the way, this works better if you use a bigger bowl and not a dessert dish in an effort to impress manic Colts fans. It also helps if your dog isn’t staring you down, waiting for you to drop any morsel of something resembling edible fare.

After you finish removing the arils, you can pick out the pithy parts with your fingers (which I did) or use a spoon to skim them off the top (which POM Wonderful recommends).

Word of warning: This is a messy job. You can cut the mess by removing the arils in the water but a mess there still will be. But it’s a tasty one :)

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Cuppa goodness

Pre-workout breakfast: Life bar, banana and yogurt
Workout: Ran 5.51 miles; average pace, 8:57.

Great fall morning - a bit brisk but not cold. A bit damp but no rain. Leaves crunching underneath my feet. Birds chirping as I made my way around the river greenway. No near-death experiences. Just a fantastic day for a run.

And I felt good, too. I listened to my body for pacing cues and enjoyed the scenery and quiet of the early morning.

◇ ◇ ◇

After a good day or two of self-loathing, I'm starting to feel better. More in control. I feel like I am making good decisions, listening to my body for hunger cues and not allowing myself to feel guilty.

My saving grace? Eating more at dinner and limiting myself to one "treat" at night - not the ice cream, popcorn and hot chocolate that had been the norm. And that treat has been a guilt-free hot chocolate. (No worries, I'm still eating ice cream. I usually enjoy it on my lunch break when I go home to take out Denali.)

Guilt-free Hot Chocolate

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or 1/2 c milk mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 package fat-free hot chocolate mix (I prefer the Kroger brand, which has added calcium)
1 to 2 drops mint, peppermint or coconut extract (or your favorite flavoring)

Warm milk in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for about 1 minute, 45 seconds. Meanwhile, put packet of hot chocolate and flavoring in the bottom of the mug. When the milk is hot, add about a quarter-cup to the mug with the mix and stir with a fork. Yes, a fork. Stir until most of the lumps are gone. Add the remainder of milk and stir till it's completely combined. Sit on the couch, turn on last night's "Parenthood" and enjoy! After all, made with 1 cup of milk, this has two dairy servings and less than 75 calories!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet success

dessert

The most awesome sundae. Ever.

 

Healthy Strides’ tips for party success

Stay hydrated. Mark tried to sneak bites of guacamole, and I stuck with Diet Pomegranate 7Up and a delightful Pomegranate Cooler.

7up cooler

Pick a theme. I started to build my menu with the help of POM Wonderful's recipe section. So many of the recipes appealed to me, and I had a list the length of a pomegranate orchard. I had started the editing process when I invited Mark's friend, R.

"It's on a Sunday?" he asked. "We better be watchin' some football. Who's playing that day?"

And so the game-day menu was born.

Details matter. To say I was a bit obsessed with wedding planning would be the understatement of the century. I thought about everything from name cards to labels on wine bottles to a Scrabble game in the parlor (Mark proposed using the game board). And though we were eating chicken legs and watching football, I wanted the details to matter. I drew inspiration from pomegranate orchards – the wide dirt rows separating green trees. I imagined pomegranates just falling off the trees in a beautiful, organic way. I put a green cloth on  the table and used burlap that I found at the fabric store as a runner. I made menu cards, which I put in a homemade burlap napkin (which matched the runner). I hung the POM Wonderful gift bags on the chairs. I even managed to create a pomegranate candle holder.

candles menu bag

Have a plan. I made a list of things I needed to do and put them in order of when I could do them. Brownies and pistachio bark could be made Saturday. The barbecue and caramel sauces could be made in the morning. Marinate the steak and then eat lunch (preferably not the raw steak). Take a nap on the couch while watching “Harry Potter.” Get up at 3 p.m. and make the dips. Clean. Gouge out the center of a pomegranate to make a candle. Preheat the oven. Have a drink … of 7Up. Well, you get the drift. I was never once stressed or acting manic and all because I had a plan.

Enjoy. Sit on the couch with your guests and watch the game. Eat a brownie. Or two. Laugh as your dog goes from person-to-person as if the living room is a love buffet. Put your feet up and let your husband clear plates.

Toot your own horn

Pre-workout breakfast: Pumpkin-banana oats
Workout: 30 minutes with Jackie Warner and 2.5-mile walk with Denali

Pet peeve No. 1,436: Motorists who honk at me while I'm walking/running with Denali.

I don't get it. I just don't. At least once a week, though once a day is more like it, a driver finds it necessary to honk his horn as he passes. These are drivers whom I don't know - or at least don't recognize the car. These are drivers who seem to have no reason to honk as I'm not at an intersection nor am I within range of the hood of their vehicles.

Oh no. It's just a sport. Let's honk at the girl and the dog. I won't go as far as to say pretty girl because I more often than not look like a hot mess. This morning, for example, I was in black sweats, an undershirt, my W.O.O.F. shirt and an Old Navy fleece vest. My hair sort of resembled Pebbles from "The Flinstones." Definitely honk-worthy ... NOT!

I just wish people would keep their urges to themselves. Look at yourself in the mirror and honk. Don't look at the girl being pulled down the sidewalk by a dog and honk. Mmmkay. Thanks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Main event


Gather round, gather round. It's time to eat!

Spinach Pomegranate Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts
(I used macadamia nuts because I couldn't find hazelnuts.)


Rice Pilaf with POM and Pine Nuts
(I used slivered almonds.)




Pomegranate-Feta Sliders

Up next: The Grand Finale and parting thoughts

A fresh start


  • Easy Red-Pepper Dip, featuring POM Wonderful juice reduced to a syrup and blended with roasted red peppers (duh!), walnuts, spices and olive oil. Served with pita bread.
  • Guacamole, with pomegranate arils threatening to outshine my beloved avocado
  • Chickpea and Mint Crostini, packing a ton of flavor with chickpeas, mint, scallions and more arils
Three. It's such a great number. I really feel like life is better when things come in threes - unless it's anything to do with traffic violations or bathroom stops in a race.

For my POM Wonderful party, I knew I wanted to have some munchies for the guests to nosh on while I prepared the game-time eats. I nearly went with just two - the Easy Red-Pepper Dip and POM Wonderful's recipe for Pan-Toasted Brie but the brie seemed a bit fussy for football and our crowd. Three dips would be better. For the guests and my time.

And, between you and me, I made it even easier on myself by using pre-made guac, stirring in the arils before setting out the bowls. Sue me. Of course, Mark had to tell me just how great the guac was and then snub his nose at the chickpea crostini. He's lucky he got to sleep anywhere but the couch last night.

Up next: Side kicks and the main event.

Sound advice

Pre-workout breakfast: Cinnamon Chex with skim milk and a banana
Workout: Ran 5.5 miles; average pace, 8:36. Twenty minutes yoga to stretch.

"When all else fails, just go out there and be bad ass."

My cousin posted those words on Facebook, and they were just the words I needed to see as I sipped my coffee and got ready for my run.

I've been in a 24-hour tail spin of self-loathing. I haven't been eating the way I like. My legs haven't been moving like they used to. My mind hasn't been in it. It was as if I met my goals at the W.O.O.F. and waved goodbye to everything else. And the scale ... well, it showed the downhill slide of the week.

But when everything else has failed, all I had to do was go out there and be bad ass.

I gave my iPod, which hasn't joined me on a run in four months, a mediocre charge. I changed my route from 4 miles to at least 5, preferably 6. I put my mind into it, leashed up Denali and walked out the door. We were going to do this.

The Garmin, well, was not.

As Denali was doing what he needed to do, the Garmin showed a low battery. FAIL. I let him finish, went back inside and gave that a charge - hoping it would be enough to get me through.

Fifteen minutes later, iPod blaring Eminem's "Not Afraid," we were out. I just went. I didn't work to go particularly fast as my main goal was to not feel like I have been the past couple runs. Distance > Pace. We looped around the campus and caught up with an ROTC group out as well. They helped give me a pep in my step. We went to the park where the main goal was to get to a certain spot before the Garmin crapped out. Another pep in the step. Got to the stretch home and ready to be done. Pep in the step.

5.5 miles and we were done. It would have been nice to do 6. Seven would have been bad ass. Just like my cousin said. So maybe I'm just 75 percent bad ass but I'm already starting to feel better about myself. And, hopefully, that will translate to some better choices this week.

How do you rebound from over indulgence?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's get this party started

Pre-workout fuel: Too Healthy Pumpkin Muffin and a banana
Workout: Ran 4.75 miles in 41 minutes, 18 seconds; average pace, 8:41.

You could say that I was a bit antsy this morning. I was up at 6 a.m. I was eating breakfast at 6:20.

At 6:45, I was a bit surprised that Mark wasn't awake so I decided to open (successfully!) two pomegranates. By 7:15, I almost woke him and had he not strolled out of the bedroom at 7:30, he would have gotten a nice wake-up call from Denali.

Why so harried so early in the morning?

Well, I wanted to get in my run, eat a real breakfast and get to work preparing for my oh so Wonderful day.

Yes. Today is the day. The day of my POM Wonderful dinner party. I was supplied two cases of pomegranates, coupons for POM Wonderful juice, an apron, cutting board and gift bags for my guests as part of my selection as one of 100 hosts.

My party tonight will showcase the wonderful versatility of that stain-creating monster superfruit we know as the pomegranate. And football. It is Sunday, after all.

Pomegranate barbecue sauce, left, and pomegranate caramel sauce

Game-day barbecue chicken legs
Adapted from Fotocusisine

1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces tomato paste (half a small can)
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds chicken legs

Pour POM Wonderful juice into a large saucepan. Add garlic, tomato paste, molasses, mustard powder, cumin and honey. Whisk together and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to let the sauce simmer until it thickens and reduces by a about a third to a half. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse chicken in cold water and pat dry. Season chicken with salt and pepper and put chicken on cookie sheet. bake for 15 minutes. Turn chicken and cover each piece with barbecue sauce. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes.