Saturday, December 11, 2010

Obsessed

Pre-workout eats: Banana Nut Cheerios with 1 percent milk and sliced banana
Workout: Ran 4.02 miles; average pace, 8:33.

I am watching "Sarah's Holiday Party" on HGTV. I am obsessed with these holiday decorating shows in a masochistic sort of way. I see these amazing ways to style the home for Christmas and then I look at my sad tree with its mismash of ornaments and my console table with the fake evergreen and cranberries. It just feels college apartment and not adult entertaining pad.

It's OK, though. Mark said I can buy grownup ornaments if I can find 'em 75 percent off after Christmas.

Dec. 26, my obsession will be the holiday sales at Target.

Other obsessions:

◊ Wrapping gifts
◊ Warmer weather
◊ Crying over December's slowing paces
◊ The best salad ever (from a local restaurant) - mixed greens, red beans and rice, diced tomatoes and a sprinkling of cheese. O.M.G.
◊ Clementines

Source

Things I'm not obsessed with:

◊ Shorts over running tights. I just don't get it.
◊ Cheap vodka
◊ Barking dogs
◊ Snow
◊ The hole in my Nikes. Come on 500 miles and sale at the running shop!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday love: It’s a heat wave

Pre-workout eats: Cinnamon-raisin English muffin with cinnamon sugar

Workout: Ran 6.21 miles; average pace, 9:13.

31 degrees. 31 degrees!

That was the temperature – outside – when I departed for my run this morning. It was a solid 20 degrees warmer than my two other runs this week. It was like the gods were telling me to not sleep in just because Mark had a two-hour delay (he’s a teacher) and to go out and run. Of course, I could have done without the fresh inch or two of snow but how could I complain when it was 31 DEGREES!

Thank you, universe, for finally giving me some Friday love. And now for mine …

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Food. Lemon-Poppyseed Pancakes. Say it with me. On the count of 1 … 2 … 3 … YUM. I saw an idea for the pancakes yesterday when I was fumbling around on the Internet. The dish called for a from-scratch pancake, lemon extract and poppyseeds. Seeing as I don’t make from from-scratch pancakes when it’s just for one, I decided to add lemon extract and poppyseeds to some “add water only” pancake mix (I use Fiber One). I put in maybe 1/8 teaspoon extract and 1/2 teaspoon seeds. I’d probably add a little bit of more in the future but with warm syrup, it was awesome. It might have been turbo awesome if I tried the lemon yogurt the original site suggested.

If you wanna do it for reals, here is a recipe I found:

Lemon-Poppyseed Pancakes

Serves 4

1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs separated
1 cup flour
dash salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon poppyseeds

Beat together buttermilk and egg yolks until well-blended. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda into the milk-yolk mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, along with the lemon zest and juice, and the poppyseeds. The egg whites should be blended, but somewhat distinct from the rest of the batter.

On a nonstick griddle, or large pan, lightly greased with butter or oil if necessary and heated to medium, add the batter by 1/2 cup ladlefuls. Cook until lightly brown on the bottom, and bubbles begin to rise to the top, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until brown on the second side.

Pancakes can remain in a warm oven until ready to serve, but then should be eaten immediately. Sprinkle pancakes with additional poppyseeds if you like, and serve with pure maple syrup.

Fitness. The other day I told you about my boulevard. The fancy street with its fancy houses where I can run on the road, do mile loops and feel fairly safe during inclement weather. Well, I discovered something better. A little bonus. There’s a city park adjacent to this fancy boulevard that has a walking path – about a half-mile. As it turns out, the city parks department does an amazing job of clearing the path for citizens. I can run from my place to the end of the fancy boulevard (1 mile), loop the park (.5 mile), loop the boulevard (1 mile), loop the park (.5) and repeat until I reach my distance goal and then run 1 mile home. Seriously awesome. The park helps break the monotony of the street, and I feel a bit safer because the path is 100 percent clear of snow, ice and moving vehicles.

Life. I’m trying to think of something super exciting from the week to make me love life but it’s hard to nail down just one winner. Was it Mark turning on “Property Virgins” last night even though I told him that he could watch what he wanted? Was it the resolution to our issues with the apartment/duplex? Was it scoring some fantastic cookbooks at the work charity sale?

Or, or, was it the planning of this weekend’s anniversary celebration?

I just don’t know. Wishing everyone a fun and safe weekend! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three Things Thursday

Pre-workout eats: Thomas Everything Bagel Thin with light cream cheese
Workout: 20ish minutes upper body and 2.25-mile walk with Denali

1. After such a Debbie Downer post yesterday, things started to look up last night. Mark and I got the answers we wanted from the owner of the duplex, and it should make things better. It was all because I put on my big girl panties. I'm not one for doing that (in fact, my grandma would say that I don't own any) but sometimes you have to look out for No. 1. In this situation, I was definitely No. 1. Ha!

2. It's so easy to underestimate a 20-minute workout. Twenty minutes - that's nothing. Yeah ... until your inner thighs are so sore you can't carry your body up the stairs. The combination of Jillian Michaels' "6-Week 6-Pack Abs" and it's stupid lunges plus the toning video with Brooklyn Decker (from OnDemand) had me in such a state of pain yesterday. Who am I kidding? Today, too. So if you don't think you have time to exercise, bust out 20 minutes of lunges at your desk while on a conference call. You won't walk for days. Promise.

3. Mark has decided that last week's Thursday night TCBY and Kroger date was such a success that we should do it again tonight. Three cheers for grocery shopping ... or just one. Whatev. It did put me in a bit of a bind because I had to throw together a menu for next week. Yes, I plan our menus. It helps me save money, for one, and it keeps Mark from getting pasta every night - his one true wish.

So what did I pick? A couple things are a surprise for Mark (we'll be celebrating our anniversary Monday) but I am excited about this recipe: Chicken Paillards with Tomato Sauce and Couscous. This girl loves some couscous!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Run, run away

Pre-workout breakfast: Sweet potato oats

Workout: Ran 5.03 miles; average pace, 9:12.

The days you don’t want to run, the ones where you to curl under the covers and forget about the world.

Those are the days you should run the most.

You might not be able to clear your head. You might not be able to forget. But, for a brief moment you might find clarity. You might be able to organize your thoughts. You might be able to form a sentence.

While there’s nothing really wrong in the Healthy Strides household, there’s been some things keeping us down. Unhappy with our living situation is No. 1 on the list. Weather is right behind that and a general winter fatigue is a close third.

I chose to run this morning – despite those things coming together for one bad cocktail this morning. It felt good. Not pleasant, not great. But good. I found some sense in things. And for that, I am thankful.

I am also thankful that there is no photographic evidence of my running outfit this afternoon. Being intimidated by 11 degrees on Weather.com inspires me to dress like a goon. Think leopard print ear band on top of an over-sized purple crocheted cap.

◊ ◊ ◊

So, onto happier things. Did anyone watch last night’s “The Biggest Loser”? It was the marathon episode, after all.

The final four contestants are challenged to run a marathon about four months after they started the journey. I’m not sure I could train for a marathon in four months so to go from couch potato to marathoner in that time frame never ceases to astound me.

And the great part is there always one contestant who runs the course that goes above and beyond to amaze me. Last night, it was Ada. She ran the marathon with a goal – to beat the female record for the show – and she came in at an 4:38, besting the time by 18 minutes.

But it’s not just that that impresses me. She did that with a 6-minute No. 2 break. That the producers actually showed. It might be the only real part of running that they have ever shown. Seriously, do these people fuel? Where’s the Gu station and the Gatorade? The bloody toes? The ice bath?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Use your noodle

Pre-workout breakfast: Cinnabon cereal with 1% milk

Workout: 25 minutes toning, 15 minutes abs and 2.2-mile walk with Denali

Source

I made this for dinner last night. It’s Mushroom, Sausage and Spinach Lasagna. It was good. Mark liked the way the mushrooms complemented, ummm, something. He likes to act like he’s a foodie when he eats. It might be mean but I think it sounds kind of phony, especially when I used a jar of Ragu instead of the crushed tomatoes and fresh basil the recipe called for. But that’s history. In the present, I’m telling you that you should make it.

Now.

Mushroom, Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

8 ounces whole-wheat lasagna noodles

1 pound lean spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (see Variation)

4 cups sliced mushrooms (10 ounces) (I only used 8 ounces)

1/4 cup water

1 pound frozen spinach, thawed

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably chunky (Nope. Try Ragu.)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (See above)

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound part-skim ricotta cheese (2 cups)

8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray (I didn’t do this). Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Cook noodles in the boiling water until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain; return the noodles to the pot, cover with cool water and set aside (I didn’t do this, either).

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray (Again, I didn’t do this) and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and water; cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage more, until the sausage is cooked through, the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Squeeze spinach to remove excess water, then stir into the pan; remove from heat.

Mix tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. (Thanks, Ragu. You saved me a step.)

To assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the tomatoes (Ragu) in the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, trimming to fit if necessary. Evenly dollop half the ricotta over the noodles. Top with half the sausage mixture, one-third of the remaining tomatoes and one-third of the mozzarella. Continue with another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta, the remaining sausage, half the remaining tomatoes and half the remaining mozzarella. Top with a third layer of noodles and the remaining tomatoes.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and heated through, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (or 55 minutes if you are really hungry). Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on the lasagna. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is just melted but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes (5 minutes if you are really, really hungry). Let rest for 10 minutes before serving (or don’t let it rest because “Wheel of Fortune” is about to start).

By the way, did you know a Blow Pop has 60 calories? And eating one to curb your sweet tooth and avoid raiding the vending machine doesn’t always work?

Yeah, me neither.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter wonderland

Pre-workout breakfast: Cinnabon Cream of Wheat and half of a banana

Workout: Ran 4.15 miles; average pace, 9:11.

I’ve been bemoaning winter running as if I had actually been running in the winter. No siree Bob. I had just been running in the cold. This morning, I got my first real taste of winter running.

P1000306 

It was 17 degrees, wind chill of 4, and at least a couple of inches of snow on the ground, with more falling to the ground as we speak.

But it was so pretty. And Denali needed some exercise, regardless of the weather. So I suited up to the best of my abilities, leashed him up and left the house.

We headed the half-mile toward the fancy boulevard near our house, where the homes have garages bigger than my living space. It’s the ideal street for winter running because you can run in the road, which is more likely to be cleared than the sidewalks, the lane is wide, there’s very little traffic and a full loop is close to a mile.

Plus, there are really pretty things to look at.

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I couldn’t help but smile every time we passed the yellow house and laugh at the lions with their wreaths. I’d say it helped me forget that I was running in crap weather but I honestly didn’t care that much. It wasn’t that slick, it wasn’t that cold and the snow wasn’t that deep. I simply adjusted my pace so I felt comfortable in the conditions. Denali and me, we’ve seen worse and ran in worse.

Not that he cared. He loved it every friggin second. He would prance alongside me with this look on his face as if he was thinking, “Mom. MOM! This is so great. Can we do this all the time?”

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By the way, if you need motivation to run in the snow, Denali is available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. His fee is nominal – just some kisses and an apple (or a carrot or half a tub of margarine).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday ramblings

Pre-workout snack: Slice of multigrain bread with peanut butter and raspberry jam
Workout: Ran 5.51 miles; average pace, 9:07.

I ran this morning. By myself. Well, sort of. Denali ran with me but Mark did not. He proclaimed that he doesn't like to run in the cold. The air, it burns his lungs. I think he is a weenie.

The run, cold air, wasn't so bad. I was slow but who cares about that. Except for Denali. He nearly pulled me down a wood bridge covered in snow that connects the greenway. I was none too pleased.

I got my revenge, though. I made sure he didn't see the recently dead squirrel on the side of the road where we were running. Denali likes to put dead squirrels in his mouth. Don't ask.

I came home, took a lukewarm bath (thanks, Mark) and ate some off-tasting banana-walnut pancakes. I listened to the dog upstairs bark and bark and bark. It's a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and its bark is FIERCE.

I tried to distract myself by watching HGTV. I have a new found love for Bryan Baeumler, the tell-it-like-it-is host of "Disaster DIY" and "House of Bryan." I wish he would come to my apartment and fix the door and window that my landlord seems reluctant to remedy. After all, she says, it's an old house.

An old house in which you can hear everything. Like that big dog running across the floor because it's being chased by children. I turned up "Waitress" on the Blu-Ray player to try to drown out the noise. I can only do that because Mark is out Christmas shopping with his mom. He tries to be considerate but if no one else is considerate, I don't see the purpose in doing so.

And would it really hurt the kids to hear some good dialogue?

"Hiya there, Earl! We all just agreed that your hair is super attractive! Hooray for you!"

Yeah, hooray for you Earl. Now bring some peace, quiet and a slice of pie.