Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday morning breakfast: Pancakes two ways

I see things. I see them everywhere. Recipes for this, DIY projects for that. The only problem is that I can never remember where I saw the idea. (Note to self : Must use Pinterest more.)

So when I decided that I wanted to have Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes for breakfast, I found myself in a  bit of a conundrum. I knew the idea didn't come to me from the food gods but I didn't know just which food blog I had seen the recipe on. I searched Google and, as it turns out, there are lots of blogs with lots of recipes for Pineapple Upside Down  Pancakes.


I looked at a few but as it always seems to go, I decided it would be much easier to do it myself. I had the idea of what I should do down from reading, and I could just adapt one of my standard pancake recipes. Even better: I could adapt my standard recipe mid-cooking because Mark wouldn't touch a pineapple with a 10-foot pole and promise of a baby-free weekend.

Healthy Wheat-Oat Pancake recipe

Standard Saturday Morning Pancakes for Mark.

Healthy pancake recipe

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes for me.

And a little bit of both for Miles.

Healthy pancake recipe

I topped my pancakes with homemade coconut almond butter and a couple cherries for good measure but I saw lots of good ideas for rum sauces and the like. No matter how you plan to enjoy them I promise that you will. This recipe is the right blend of dense and fluffy without being overly healthy.

Saturday Morning Pancakes

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
3 packets stevia or 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon applesauce
Scant 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Canola oil for the pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, applesauce, almond milk and egg. Add wet ingredients to dry, gently combining with fork or whisk until just mixed. Let batter sit for 10 minutes so oats can soak and batter can rest.

Heat oil in large skillet or griddle over medium to medium high heat. Add the batter by 1/4 cup fulls to the pan. Allow the pancakes to cook until they look dry on the edges and bubbly in the middle; about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

For Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes:

Replace 1/4 cup of almond milk with pineapple juice. Melt 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or butter with 1 teaspoon brown sugar in the skillet. Place a pineapple ring or pineapple pieces in skillet and scoop batter on top. Cook pancakes until they look dry on the edges and bubbly in the middle; about 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Top as desired.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three Things Thursday: Out with the big, in with the small

I hated to disappoint the producers of the "Today Show" but I just couldn't give them what they wanted.

The ubiquitous pair of fat pants.

We've seen Jared on Subway commercials with his jeans and Weight Watchers ads with a person standing in just one leg of her old pants. Maybe they had the foresight to know that they would lose all the weight and would want that memory or they had a significant attachment to their clothes - regardless of the reason, they had kept a physical reminder of how big they used to be.

I had not.

I barely have photos of the time - much less the clothes. Once I felt comfortable that I wasn't going to be a size 24 or a size 18, the clothes were donated.

So you can imagine how ill equipped I felt when I was asked on Twitter what to do with "fat" clothes. Alyse wondered whether keeping them would give her permission to go back to the old her but yet she had an attachment to her clothes. I quickly told her to get rid of them but the more I thought about it, the more ways I came up with to repurpose old clothes.

Take it to the tailor. I had this pinky-mauve pinstriped skirt from Lane Bryant that I absolutely loved (though thinking back I'm not sure why). My grandma was able to put elastic in the waist band so I could continue to wear it as I lost weight. It was more of a "make do" solution than a permanent one but there are other things you can do. A shirt could be taken in at the shoulders and be turned into a fun, flowing tunic to wear with leggings. A long dress or skirt in a beautiful fabric might make for a great scarf. If you lose enough weight, a pair of pants could make for a great pencil skirt ... or not.

Patch it up. We've seen runners and sorority girls alike turn their T-shirts and memorabilia so why not turn your old clothes into a quilt. Obviously, it would be great if you liked complementary colors and patterns but it would be a great way to keep part of your old self with the new self.

Bag it. If you are particularly crafty, you can make a tote bag from a shirt or a pillow case even. You could make appliques and put them on your new pair of skinny jeans.

If you don't want to shred the clothes, here are a few more ideas.

Selective admissions. It's OK to really like some of your old clothes. There are pieces that might have made us feel particularly beautiful or sexy, and it's hard to get rid of those items. Pick 10 things that you really like and put them in a storage bin, which goes in the scary depths of the attic. As they aren't convenient to get to, there won't be the temptation to get back into them. Also, you never know when they'll come in handy - I wore some of my favorite tees when I was pregnant.

For sale. Some of my more "gently used" items that were from better brands - like all of my clearance Banana Republic - dresses were taken to Clothes Mentor, a consignment shop. You might not get a lot of money - if they accept your items - but something is better than nothing, and you can use your "earnings" for new items. (Note: I actually bought a lot of my in between clothes there because I didn't want to spend a lot of cash until I got to goal.)

As seasons change. It's still been bloody hot, or humid at least, in these parts but as you get ready to unpack the sweaters and boots, try things on. If it fits, put it in the closet. If it doesn't or you didn't wear it last season, sell it or donate it. If you are having a hard time getting rid of things, make a deal with yourself: for every three items you get rid of, you get one new item. I did this recently with purses and it was amazing how much I was able to get rid of.

Final thought ... You have to do what feels right and do it when you feel ready. It felt right for me to donate my clothes/sell them because I don't like the reminders of who I was. For you, it might serve as a cautionary tale.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Looking forward

"After I get through the marathon, I’m looking forward to doing some shorter races and regain some speed I lost since pregnancy. (Sadly, I’m not one of those mothers who has a baby and magically runs 7-minute miles.) I’d love to PR the half-marathon."

I said that. I said that in my "Follow This Mother" interview. And, it's true. I want to run a shorter race and PR the crap out of it.

Now, if I can just pick a race.

With the Columbus Marathon just 47 days away, my attention and focus should be on the 26.2 miles ahead. Yet, I can't help but dream of what's to come. I've been adding race after race to the Pinterest board I've created for my running bucket list. There's Hood to Coast and the Louisville Derby Marathon, as well as the North Country Run trail race and a Napa to Sonoma half. Nike Women's is adding a D.C. location in the spring, and I am curious if Grandma's lives up to the buzz.

Most of these events are racecation worthy and more than likely once in a runtime opportunities that I will have to wait to experience. And that's why I found my conversation with Todd, the director of the Carmel Marathon at the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon expo so interesting. It goes without saying that he was there to promote his event but he talked about the Carmel race with the same enthusiasm that he did about running. Period. And let me tell you he's got enthusiasm - gunning for Marathon Maniac status and running three of the big five marathons (Berlin, Chicago and Boston - New York and London are waiting).

The Carmel Marathon offers a marathon, half, 8K and a 1-mile event for kids. There's a post-race party in the Center Green, and I even heard talk of an after-party. The best part, though, isn't mentioned on the flier - it's within a two-hour drive of Fort Wayne, and we could go down the day before the race and come back after we relax and grab a bite.

Amen to that.

And that's when I realized that I don't have to pick some big race to PR at. I don't have to compete with other people in terms of the quantity and size of races they are running. I can pick the races that are right for me and not break the bank.

Mark has first dibs on the next training cycle. And he has earned it - I've completed two half marathons, a 50K relay and a handful of other races and he's only had one big outing, an Olympic-distance triathlon last summer.

Regardless, I'm still eyeing some local-ish options for next spring. Here are my best picks for affordable Midwest half-marathons.

Notre Dame Holy Half Marathon, South Bend
Organized by Notre Dame students, this is a low-key race with a low entry fee ($55). It winds through campus, and Kim at Girl Evolving ran it in 2012 with a stroller!

Cincinnati Heart Mini, Cincinnati, Ohio
March 17
The Flying Pig Marathon was my first half, and it holds a special place in my heart. It's a big race, though, with a big price tag. I think it was $80 when I wanted to register in 2012 (if you want to do the Pig in 2013 - decide now as the half is currently $65). The Heart Mini gives you some of the same scenic views and peace of mind that you are helping a good cause.

Carmel Marathon, Carmel, Ind.
Saturday, April 20
Entry fee: $50 (until Dec. 31)

Martian Invasion, Dearborn, Mich.
Entry fee: $49 (until March)
Boasts a fantastic finisher's medal, fun tech shirt and great crowd support. I ran this race in 2012, and I loved the scenic course that winds through beautiful neighborhoods and Hines Park.

Egg Shell Shuffle, Shaumburg, Ill.
Entry fee: $55 (2012)
If you are looking for a novelty medal, this race is it. The finisher's prize is - no shocker - a bright and colorful egg. Enjoy a race in the Chicago 'burbs where hotels are much cheaper and take the train into the city for brunch at Yolk.

What else would you add?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Marathon Monday: Revived

I am training for the Columbus Marathon and following a schedule based on the "Train Like A Mother" finish it plan. These posts document my training.

The week, in running:
Tuesday: 6.5 miles, tempo (+stroller)
Thursday: 8 miles, easy (2 parts, separated by coffee break - 5.2 miles + 2.8 miles)
Saturday: Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon
Sunday: 3 miles, easy

◊ ◊ ◊

Most marathon training plans schedule a half marathon eight to 10 weeks out from the big race. The half experience allows a runner to test the fueling strategies that have been practiced, try shoes and clothing and feel the energy of a crowd. The race experience also allows for a shift in focus, to have attention diverted and a re-dedication to training.

And that's exactly what the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon provided.

I arrived at the race hotel, the Hyatt, just after 6 p.m. I was tired and frustrated, having been dumb enough to take the ass backward GPS way to the city and getting stuck in a good 45 minutes of traffic. Thankfully, the excitement of seeing my busy friend L for the first time in weeks melted away the bad feelings, and I settled in for what would be a good 24 hours.

The drive had done a number on my appetite, and I told my friend in the friendliest way possible that I would no longer be her friend if we didn't get something to eat. Immediately.

We walked a few blocks to the delicious yet deserted Coal Pizza Co. The restaurant bakes its pies in a 900-degree coal oven and offers a great number of toppings, including goat cheese (which I considered a compromise in my dairy-limited existence).

L was gracious enough to split the pesto pie that featured olives, tomatoes, pesto and goat cheese. The crust was thin and crisp and the pizza felt overwhelmingly light, unlike so many other pizzas you find. We also shared an arugula salad with goat cheese (again, for the win), walnuts, poached pears and balsamic vinaigrette. 

It was wonderful food and an even more wonderful experience. It felt like the first time in a long while where I could go to a restaurant and enjoy myself. There were no green beans to cut or food to pick up off the floor. I didn't have to walk around while my tablemate finished her meal, and I didn't feel rushed in the slightest.

After we filled our bellies, we headed back to the hotel to wander the expo during its last half hour. The expo  was decidedly small and there were no freebies to be had but we had a great time chatting with the race director of the Carmel Marathon (more on that later), running into Penny and Laura and solidifying our post-race brunch plans.

Cafe Patachou dubs itself as a student union for adults but I would dub it a Chicago-caliber restaurant in Indiana.

The menu features omelets (a favorite of Bon Apetit magazine!) made with free range eggs and local ingredients; gourmet coffee made with filtered water that you refill on your own; and cinnamon toast.

"Cinnamon toast?" you ask. "You mention cinnamon toast?"

Yes. I. Do.

Thick, buttery pieces of sourdough with cinnamon-sugar on top. It was out of this world. I would have never thought to order it but Todd from the Carmel Marathon told us to order the omelet of the day and the cinnamon toast. He's a smart guy. And I listened.

Sort of.

The omelet of the day featured chicken, arugula and Parmesan - very delicious sounding - but I couldn't resist the California Dreamer, filled with avocado and jalapeno and topped with sour cream. It was spicy and delicious - just like me. I also got to try the Hippie with a Benz (mushrooms, spinach, tomato and feta), courtesy of Laura who took up my offer to split two things we both wanted. I liked both but preferred the Hippie (the jalapenos were a tad too much), and I loved that the dishes were served with fruit or a mixed green salad. There was no temptation to get greasy, fried potatoes.

Of course, what I loved the most was the experience. We were out on the patio, in a big city, and I felt a million miles from home. We ate. Drank. Talked. Even though Mark delivered the bad news about our dishwasher and garage door while we were waiting for food, I felt renewed and thankful for the experience the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon provided. I feel ready(ish) and excited to take on Columbus in 48 days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Girl power: A race recap

76 degrees, 90 percent humidity and a red flag at the start.

The days leading up to the Women’s Half Marathon were spent worrying about Hurricane Isaac, and runners were posting “what if” scenarios on the races Facebook page -- What if it rains? What if it rains a lot? What if there’s thunderstorms?

The what if we should have asked: What if the humidity smacks you across the face when you step outside the hotel.

Healthy Strides

L and I stayed at the race hotel, the Hyatt, and were happy to discover that the starting line was just outside the door. In its second year, the race is still relatively small (a couple thousand runners between the half marathon and 5K) and the start is very informal. It was actually more like herding svelte cattle into a corral and then getting them to move.

Healthy StridesHealthy Strides

I am not a fan of these starts but understand that a corral system might require more logistics than the race can handle. Nonetheless, I will pause to make a public service announcement: Race directors, if this is your start MO please advise walkers and slower runners to move to the back. While I am by no means fast, I will admit to letting race excitement get the best of me and (mentally) curse people not going at my pace.

Back to the recap …

Miles 1-3 (9:10, 9:02, 9:09)

Just before the start, the race director announced that because of the temperature and humidity that the race was red flagged. Runners were participating at their own risk and should take care to go slow and hydrate.

The gun went off, and I moved excitedly across the line. I quickly found myself dodging groups of walkers and slower runners. I wasted a lot of energy as I tried to find in a space where I could go my own pace.

I knew that I was probably going too fast as we made our way past Lucas Oil Stadium and Indiana’s capital monuments. But I am me, and I knew my splits were on track for a sub-2 so I decided to hold on and focus on form.

Miles 4-6 (9:27, 9:40, 9:38)

I was so excited to finally get to arrive at the Hyatt on Friday night that I forgot my pre-race breakfast in the car, and I ended up buying a cinnamon raisin bagel at Starbucks pre-race to split with L. It sat heavy in my stomach but even still I was committed to fueling as I have been through training. I took two Swedish fish at mile 2 and another two at mile 4.

My fueling attempt at mile 4 went a bit awry, though. I ate my fish and a quarter-mile later I sort of ate them again if you know what I mean. It was quite obvious that the heat was already taking its toll on me despite my efforts to hydrate before and during the race – I stopped at every water stop, walking through to make sure I actually got water in my mouth.

And from there, well, things got a bit dicey. As we ran through the Old Northside District, an area of beautiful homes and tree-lined streets, I felt my stomach begin to grumble. It seemed like it was something that might ease so I took a chance and ran past the portable bathroom near mile 5.

We rounded toward the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds, and I cursed myself for passing up the bathroom. I gave real thought to turning around and finding it but pressed on, sure that there had to be another opportunity.

Miles 7-9 (11:55, 9:48, 10:14)

As we ran down a busy street, lined with retail such as Family Dollar and Walgreen’s, I eyed a portable bathroom just across the street. I looked for a break in traffic and darted toward it.

I have never had a scarier experience than using that bathroom. It must have been on uneven pavement because it shook as I stepped in and I had to brace myself as I sat down.

I made a conscious decision not to stop my watch because I didn’t want to know a split that might have been had my stomach been kinder. I’m pretty sure I managed to get myself together in about 2 minutes, which wasn’t going to make or break my time at this point.

And mentally, I knew that. If I hadn’t realized it before, I knew it then: This race was not going to be my race. My goals that I posted Friday were shoved aside and my hopes became to finish, not walk and, if at all possible, complete the course at a sub-10 pace. I relaxed my shoulders and did my best to stay strong as I saw woman after woman begin to walk and form suffer. I eyed a couple people to stay with and used them as motivators.

We were heading back to downtown Indianapolis when I saw Kim with her race buddy/college roommate. Kim has been doing some insane mileage – 50-mile weeks and 10-milers with her cutey patooty Leo – and had hoped to go sub-2. Like me, though, the weather had taken its toll. I chatted with her for a bit and then went on my way.

Miles 10-13 (9:45, 10:02, 9:58, 8:55)

The great thing about a women’s only race is that there are lots of male supporters out on the course. I saw lots of dads with kids, and I couldn’t help but think of seeing Miles and Mark along the course. The thought of Miles’ excited face, the one he gives me when I come home from work, gave me a needed boost as we went through the IUPUI campus and IU Medical Center.

Of course, my favorites were the younger guys – more than likely out supporting girlfriends – and their clever signs. “Go, Stranger, Go (& Courtney)” and “Worst Parade Ever.” I offered to throw that guy my remaining Swedish fish but thought best to keep a couple for mile 12.

Mile 12 was kind of a marker for me. I had mentally allowed myself to relax those last few miles under the pretense that at mile 12, I would kick it. I made myself do strides – sprinting to one light pole and relaxing till the next until we came into the final half-mile.

As we were about to head into White River State Park, I spotted a girl in a tutu about a tenth-mile ahead. I decided a tutu could not beat a Team Sparkle skirt. Not today. Not ever. And so I kicked it. Kicked it hard, apparently, because I found myself passing her far earlier than I anticipated. I then picked another woman, looking strong-ish, and chased.

I was nearing the finish line when I heard L and my new friends, Penny and Laura, screaming my name. I dug deep, channeling their energy, and pushed harder than I thought across the finish line. The final 500 feet were at a sub-7 pace.

Final time: 2:09:12.


Healthy Strides

I moved a bit slowly, grabbing water and a banana, trying to gauge whether my final effort would come back to haunt me but thankfully the nausea eased. Finishers were given a medal and a rose, and I found myself happy for the amenities of a women’s only race.

I met up with my cheering section, and we ambled over to the post-race party. I admit that I don’t usually stick around for these sorts of things and my only frame of reference is Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans. That said, this race brought it, and I think it will take something big to live up to the party.

MimosasHealthy Strides mimosas


Fruit trayFlowersOaken Barrel Brewing Co.

There was chocolate milk, fruit, a taco-flavored warp, shrimp and beer.

Oaken Barrel Brewing Co

And I’m not talking Bud Light. There were Indiana craft brews, and I celebrated making it through a somewhat disappointing but inspired 13.1 miles with a Razz-Wheat from Oaken Barrel Brewing Co.

It might not have gone the way I wanted but I’m already planning to go back next year.