The Tipping Scale

The bad news after my surprise long weekend (work was closed secondary to power outages), is that there was a lot to do at work this week.  Since I had tipped the work/life balance scale towards life last week by getting in some intense workouts, house cleaning, hot yoga, and baking, it was only natural that the scale would tip towards work this week.  I have put in some long days, including two aquatic sessions and leading a coworker lifting session.  I was happy to be able to maintain my workout schedule this week.  In the past, exercise has been the first thing that gets neglected during a busy and stressful week.  This morning, I was all set for a ~7 mile run.  The perfect remedy for this kind of week!

So last night I prepared breakfast.  Doesn’t that sound crazy?!  I had some left over sweet potatoes and wanted to try a Sweet Potato Dough Boy Smoothie.  Sweet potatoes are great in everything else, why not breakfast????

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I began by piling the usual ingredients into the blender…1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup oats, 2 Tbsp chia seeds, and vanilla.

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Then I sliced up the sweet potato and because I was worried about texture, I added 1/2 of a banana.

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I placed the blender in the fridge overnight.  This morning, I woke up, ran my 7 miles and came home ready for breakfast! 

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My smoothie was nice and thick and you could really taste the sweet potato (and not the banana which was great).  It was orange and black…the colors reminded me of Halloween!  Now, how can I incorporate the other sweet potato slice into tomorrow’s breakfast?  Yummy!!!

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Something New Sunday Take II

With plenty of fresh produce in the house, it was easy to put together a fun and fresh dinner.  I made Chicken Parmesan Burgers with fresh mozzarella.  I have two new foods to try tonight, the kohlrabi and dandelion greens from the CSA this week.  I had no idea what to do with them, so I searched the internet for some ideas.

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I started with the kohlrabi.  I cut off the leaves (although I have heard you can use them).  I peeled and sliced the vegetable and took a taste.  It is crunchy and tastes better than I expected…kind of like jicama.

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I roasted the kohlrabi on a cookie sheet with Cavender’s at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  YUM YUM!  Kohlrabi is surprisingly good!  It has a great crunchy texture with some nice flavors.  I hope I get one (or two) again next week!

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I washed and dried the dandelion greens in the salad spinner.  I saw a recipe that sautéed the greens with olive oil, garlic, and then tossed in currents and pine nuts.  I used garlic olive oil with some extra garlic powder.  I couldn’t find pine nuts at Target today, so I just tossed in some Craisins. 

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I tried the greens and they are SO BITTER.  They were pretty bad and I didn’t add them to my dinner plate.  If they are in the CSA next week, I’ll have to find something else to do with them…more research for sure. 

Any ideas???

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Dinner turned out great tonight!

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By the way, check out this fantastic new wine I found at Trader Joe’s.  It is reasonably priced and DELSIH!

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NOW…for the perfect summer dessert, I recommend a banana blueberry ‘soft serve’.  Just place a frozen banana and frozen blueberries in the food processor with a dash or two of milk.  Process until smooth.

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I ate my fresh soft serve with some Redi Whip on top. 

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It is so refreshing…you won’t believe that it is ONLY frozen fruit!!!

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But, you could also add some Cookie Dough Balls from Oh She Glows! if you’re looking for a tasty no-bake topping!

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These are phenomenal!!!  They taste just like cookie dough!

What a successful day of fresh new foods and flavors.  I am full and ready

to unwind before a busy week.

Hello Sunshine!

Finally!!!  A little sunshine around here.

Right Now
Next 36 Hours

 Sunny
Sunny
78°F
Feels Like: 78°

Perfect weather for the BRICK I had planned for today.  I didn’t set an alarm this morning because I haven’t been sleeping much past 7AM anyways. I wasn’t surprised when I woke up around 6:30AM, but was super surprised that I was able to fall back asleep until 8:30AM.  I had a slow start to the morning, enjoying a dough boy smoothie with my homemade Almond Butter and chatted with the BOY’s college roommate who is in town for the weekend.

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Eventually the BOY emerged around 9:30 and the two of them went off in search of bacon, while I packed up my car and headed west to the Fox River Trail.  The trail is one of the longest in Illinois and spans from McHenry (in the north) down to Aurora (in the south).  I can pick up the trail in Carpentersville which is only 15 minutes west of us.  It is one of the positives (along with a garage, washer/dryer, and backyard with a grill) of living in suburbia. 

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Last summer, I rode the trail north and this morning, I was set to go south.  The town was alive with markets and shops and tons of families enjoying the beautiful day on the trail.  I had quite the adventure as I passed an antique market, casino, an entire field of cows, and almost got attached by a flock of geese.  Luckily, I didn’t fall off my bike, but I did almost tumble into someone’s back yard when the aggressive goose lunged at me.  I had lots of opportunities to practice clipping in and out of pedals along the trail!  Unfortunately, I was unable to bring my camera.  It didn’t fit in my back pouch along with everything else and for safety reasons (I was riding alone), I figured I needed my cell phone and a spare tire more!

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However, when I dropped off my bike at the adorable old fashioned bike shop along the trail, I picked up my camera for some pictures during my run.  I was exhausted after the 2 hour (28 mile) bike ride, so I was happy to pause and take some shots.  Here are the sights of the Fox River Trail (at least the small section where I ran this morning).

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Who wouldn’t love a trail with a Dairy Queen?   After this LONG workout, I was hot, sweaty, and starving!  I was happy for the apple and protein bar (even if it was a bit melted) that I had stashed in the car.  On my way home, I swung by the market for more tomatoes.  At home I had a late lunch of leftover fish (with my fresh dill) and couscous salads from WF.  I was still hungry so I had some Greek yogurt with fresh berries and my new millet puffs.  Kind of a random combination, but it definitely hit the spot!

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I hopped in the shower and then packed up a plate of homemade goodies to bring to a get together with friends! 

They were a huge hit!

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After this busy day, I am heading out back to enjoy a glass of wine and this gorgeous weather!

 

Triathlon Countdown

          2 weeks until TREK SPRINT TRI

          7 weeks until BANGS LAKE OLYMPIC TRI

(Run—>Swim) And CSA Week 2

Back to the training schedule…I had a run or bike AND a swim to get in today.  I was planning to meet my mom for lunch at Whole Foods, which is right by the pool.  So, I hit the pavement in my running shoes for a 60 minute run (a little over 7 miles).  It was a little chilly and PERFECT running weather.  I came home to rehydrate, refuel (sprouted raisin bread with Swiss and an apple), and then hit the pool.

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Everything seemed to take a little longer than expected (I was moving slowly after those 7 miles), so I only had time for 15 minutes in the pool.  About 3 laps in, the fire alarm went off…and it was LOUD!  I definitely considered calling it a day and heading to lunch, but the staff said we could stay in the pool.  And although I was tired and a little hungry, I stuck with it and finished my 15 minute swim, with time for 5 minutes to relax in the hot tub.

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Then, I met my mom for lunch and fun at Whole Foods.  By fun, I mean exploring, sampling, and buying.  For lunch, we split a 12 grain fresh crab sushi roll and we each grabbed some of our favorites from the salad bars.

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Check out some of the fun new snacks we found!  I’ll let you know what we think!!!

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After our adventures in the WF, we met in the parking lot for a food exchange.  I brought my mom some maple AB and vegan zucchini bread, and she had this week’s CSA greens and fresh strawberries.

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I don’t even know what this one is?!

With the afternoon ahead of me, I’m looking forward to a SYTYCD marathon (I am so far behind I’m still on auditions) and then a fresh green salad for dinner.  Happy Friday!

A Warm Oven cures a Slow Start to Summer

Another dreary morning here.  It has possibly been the worse spring weather-wise in a long time, but I know us Chicagoans are holding out hope for signs of summer.  While life looks gray outdoors, things in my kitchen are HOT!  I have been baking up a storm…some desserts to bring to friends and others just because I’ve wanted to try the recipes.  I’ve stocked up our freezer with delicious treats (because when they are laying around, I feel the need to taste test every hour just to make sure nothing has gone bad).  Everything turned out wonderful and I am looking forward to putting together plates to take with me this weekend.

Oat’N’Toffee Grahams

This recipe is from a magazine. I have had it so long that I don’t remember which one.  I happened to have graham crackers on hand and I was looking for an easy recipe.

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I lined up the grahams per instructions and spread my oat mixture over the top.

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Baked until bubbly, this took closer to 30 minutes for me, but I checked it often.

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Layer with chocolate chips…now I have a confession…I have a GINORMO bag of chocolate chips from Costco, so I did not measure out the chocolate.  In the end, I had a thicker layer of chocolate than intended, so next time (and there will be a next time), I will use fewer chocolate chips. 

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Put the dish back into the warm oven for 2-3 minutes.  Then spread chips with a spatula.

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The recipe says to decorate with sliced almonds.  I was too lazy to slice almonds, so I used pre-chopped walnuts (yum!) and of course some sprinkles to add color!

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I froze the bars to keep them fresh, which worked out really well.  This simple bar has a fabulous flavor combination with the graham crackers, toffee, and of course chocolate.  The walnuts were the perfect addition and I think I liked them better than almonds!

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Oil-Free Zucchini Walnut Raisin Loaf

From Angela at Oh She Glows!

 

Have you ever made a flax egg?  It is seriously the most interesting thing!  You just combine 1 Tbsp flax with 3 Tbsp water and let it sit for 5 minutes…Ta Da!  A vegan egg perfect for baking breads and muffins!

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Before                                                                                 After

 

I love this time of year when there is an abundance of zucchini.  I stock up at the farmer’s market and bake zucchini breads, muffins, and cookies.  It is always fun to find a new recipe to try, especially something different like an oil-free vegan bread.  I followed Angela’s recipe except that I didn’t make the topping.  I made mini loaves and baked them at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  They turned out perfectly!

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This bread definitely moves to the top of my favorite zucchini recipes!  The texture is perfect, especially with the walnuts and raisins.  You won’t even miss the oil and eggs!  I’m sure you’re hoping one of these mini loaves is for you!

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All in a Day’s Work (Without going to work)

I have gotten so much done today…it feels amazing!  The upstairs is looking so much better and the second bedroom will be ready for company tomorrow night.  Look who even helped out with the dishes.

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I am waiting for the BOY to come home from work to eat dinner.  I made a hodgepodge dinner with my remaining spinach, Chard, and bok choy…along with whole grain couscous and grilled chicken. Quite the combination!

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Meanwhile, I have spent my post-cleaning time in the kitchen.  Remember the yellow cake with chocolate chips the BOY requested for this weekend.  Well, I frosted the cake AND added sprinkles…because really, what is a cake without sprinkles???

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Initially, I had trouble finding the frosting in the pantry, which is where I KNOW that I put it.  I found it hiding out behind my canned pumpkin in the fridge with a few scoops missing.  This is what happens…when I am away for one night…the BOY eats frosting for dinner?!

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My cake turned out cute…beautiful frosting has never really been my strength, but I am sure it will taste great!  It was tempting to try some frosting, but because of the HFCS I decided against it.  See my June Eat Clean Pledge HERE.  I didn’t even lick off my very frosted fingers.

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I also made my first ever batch of homemade almond butter.  I found Ashley’s recipe for Maple Roasted Cinnamon Almond Butter on her blog Edible Perspectives months ago.  Apparently she has updated it since then because my version was slightly different.  I love grinding my own almonds at the WF and knew I had to try it at home.

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My mom supplied the almonds.  I doubled the recipe and began with 2 cups.  I added 3 T maple syrup and baked for 15 minutes, stirring often as recommended.

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I let the almonds cool for 10 minutes before adding them to the food processor.  I can not tell you how loud the noise was initially.  I see now that Ashley recommends only cooling for 5 minutes.

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I poured myself a glass of wine and waited patiently!  Check out my new wine glass.  I stole borrowed it from the Flying Saucer in Memphis to help me with portion control.

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I stirred occasionally and watched the butter become smoother. After 10 minutes, I added a dash of kosher salt, cinnamon and  more syrup.  5 more minutes in the food processor and then I streamed in Safflower oil (that’s what I had in the kitchen) to make a smooth butter.

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All I can say is OMG!!!  This almond butter (which is still warm from the food processor) is absolutely positively UNBELIEVEABLE!  You have to try this!  I have been licking the spatula, bowl, and blade all evening.

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After a busy and productive day, the BOY surprised me with flowers.  They’re from Honduras!  He has a client who brings them to the office and then I benefit when he brings them home.

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Although we don’t often keep flowers around for this reason…

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Luckily, they are hiding safely now!  Well, it’s been a busy day and I am heading off to bed!  Good Night!

Finding Balance

I think that we are all striving to find some balance in our lives.  Each day deciding between the things that you have to do and those that you want to do.  Balancing friends and family, work and social lives.  Every day is a challenge to find the perfect balance that keeps each of us sane and in a good place.  For everybody this is different.  I have found that time outside of work to exercise, bake, socialize, etc. keeps me passionate and focused while I am at work.  For this reason, I make time for ‘ME’ activities and with my 4 day work schedule, it usually leaves one day during the week to play and focus on myself (and then blog about it).

(Source)

Over the summer, my work/play scale typically gets shifted in the direction of work.  We have a lot of fun programs (aquatic therapy and a sports/fitness group) that keep me busy and require extra time. I love these activities and am thrilled to participate, but it makes carving out time for tri training or friends a little more challenging. Because of that, I was happy to discover this morning that my office was closed another day since we are still without power, although equally saddened for those families that have not yet had their power restored.

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With a WHOLE DAY of ‘found time’, I knew exactly what I needed to kick start my day.  So after a slightly chaotic morning of touching base with coworkers and calling families, plus getting the BOY out the door for work, I grabbed my yoga mat, new awesome yoga towel and headed to a HOT YOGA class at Tribalance Yoga.  I was pleased to find that Joy was teaching this morning’s class and knew that I was in for a killer workout.

(Source)

We began the class seated and Joy encouraged us to take the next 90 minutes to focus on ourselves…to leave other obligations outside of the room.  I set the intention for my practice towards inner strength and balance and allowed only positive thoughts throughout the class.  I sometimes find myself comparing or criticizing my body in the mirror instead of praising it for its physical and emotional strength and flexibility.  What I like about HOT YOGA and specifically Joy’s class is that she focuses a lot on core work.  I sweat like crazy and worked deep into the poses.  I left feeling great about myself and thrilled to know that the entire day was ahead of me.

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Feeling super healthy, I was craving a green smoothie.  At home, I found that my greens were getting slightly wilted.  I washed them off and used some Chard (stems and all) as the base of my smoothie.  I added mixed berries, Greek yogurt for protein, skim milk, and mango.  I really do think I am getting better at cutting mangos!

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With the fear of wilted greens,  I think I got a little carried away and used too much Chard.  After a taste test, I added in ice and some more mango making a wonderfully refreshing, although completely odd sounding, FRUITY GREEN MONSTER. 

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With an overcast day and the threat of rain, I am now ready to tackle the upstairs post-carpet disaster. 

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Only one question…Where do I begin???