Tidbits of Saturday

Wake up (kind of), roll over, open eyes, blink at alarm clock, 9:30! No Way!!!

Consider going back to sleep, see the BOY smiling next to me, realize that I really should get up.

Stare at pantry considering breakfast, based on options, decide to make pancakes, sprinkle them with cinnamon.




Change into biking clothes, apply sunscreen, fill water bottles, prepare fuel for BRICK.




Don helmet, reset watch, reset mileage, ride out towards the path.

Ride north towards Barrington, enjoy the fresh air, smile and nod at fellow bikers, turn around and head back towards home.




Enjoy the green trees and cool breeze. 




Ride 16.75 miles in 70 minutes, which is longer than expected.

Arrive home, ditch helmet, change shoes, head back outside.




Adjust 30 minute run to 20 minutes for time’s sake, return to the path, legs feel tired, but body feels strong.

Finish 20 minute run covered in sweat, drink cold water, cool down, take a shower.

Make lunch, lucky to have random leftovers of turkey burgers and lentils.




Drink lots of water, pack up a snack (cantaloupe), and drive to the movie theater.

Order an iced tea, get comfy in seat, remember why I love this theater.




Watch Star Trek movie, this is a GOOD movie, you should go see this movie!

Movie is over, must use the bathroom after drinking huge iced tea, pick up wine of the month at Cooper’s Hawk.

Drive home, take a few minutes to chill out, get ready for dinner, watch the Preakness, get excited about seafood.




Decide to wear white before memorial day, haters need not comment.

Drive to Bob Chinn’s, get excited about no line, sit down, order dinner, and chat with the BOY.




Love every bite of dinner, drive back home, crack open wine, and sit out back listening to music and chatting with the neighbors.




Is there any better way to end the day?





Share a tidbit from your Saturday!

Five for Friday IV

1. Thanks for your amazing comments on my Why I Love Triathlons Post.  That was such an easy and fun post to write, and I hope that I inspired at least one person to give the sport a tri!



2.  The BOY made turkey burgers on the grill for dinner tonight.  Can I tell you how awesome it is to walk in the door after a long week of work (and a bad commute) and have him heading out to the grill to make us dinner?!





3. Things have been a little crazy around here, and I currently have a pile of clothes from turtlenecks to shorts and tanks on our guest bed that needs to be addressed this weekend.  The BOY and I have a day of closet cleaning and clothing donation ahead of us.  Sounds like fun…right?



4. This week in workouts, I went swimming for 30 minutes on Tuesday (then sat in the hot tub for a good 10 minutes) and continued to break in my new running shoes with a 40 minute run on Thursday.  Weather permitted, I have a BRICK planned for tomorrow.  I am digging my new shoes and hoping they are ready for the Soldier Field 10 Miler next weekend.





5.  I booked our next trip to Door County (in August), and I seriously can’t wait!  We enjoyed our dinner with some wine from our favorite winery in DC.  It was soo smooth and delicious!  We need to get back and restock!





Tell me something about your Friday!

Why I Love Triathlons!

If someone had asked college Jen to do a triathlon, she probably would have laughed in your face or called you ridiculous…most likely both.  Although I have always been a runner, I hadn’t owned a bike since elementary school and my swimming skills consisted of sitting on a float at the indoor lazy river on Sundays with my hungover friends. TRUE STORY!


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If you read my running history, then you have some idea of how college Jen grew into a half marathoner and eventually a triathlete over the last 10 years.  I’ve completed 4 sprints and 1 Olympic distance triathlon since falling in love the sport in 2010.  Truth be told, my initial motivation was…well, if my younger brother can do, so can I.  And last year, I beat him in a race (sorry kid!). 




The idea for this post came to me during Monday’s BRICK workout.  With my first triathlon of the season rapidly approaching (less than 4 weeks away…yikes!), I was excited to get back into my training schedule.  As I was riding, I started thinking about what makes a BRICK workout so exciting and why it is I keep sign up for these demanding races. 

So without further ado…


The Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Triathlons


1. They make me feel strong and capable

If you can swim, bike, then run with a smile on your face, then can’t you take on anything?




2. I remember to treat my body well

This means eating right to fuel long workouts, getting plenty of rest, and dealing with stress.


3. They challenge me both physically and mentally

Anyone who runs knows that it is as much of a mental challenge as it is physical. Rising to that challenge is an indescribable feeling!




4. Triathletes are a warm and welcoming crowd

I love meeting other athletes, especially during local races.  Before my first triathlon, I went swimming in Lake Michigan to face my fear of open water.  After 15 minutes of wrestling into my wet suit, I was beyond intimidated before even sticking a toe in the water.  The nicest man (and fellow triathlete) talked me through it, gave me tips, and gently encouraged me.  That was the day that I learned that finishing just one race makes you part of a supportive community.


5. Training makes for good dinner party conversation

People are amazed to discover my triathlon hobby.  I think because they don’t realize that anyone can complete a sprint triathlon, you just have to train.  Before I knew anything about tri’s, I was always interested in what motivated someone to try this race and what the training looked like.  There’s always a lot to talk about in regards to equipment, workouts, and chaffing stories.


6. They give my weekends direction

I am motivated to get up and at ‘em Saturday morning when I know that I have a scheduled workout to do.  They get my day started and the weekend started right! (See Number 1)




7. Cross training prevents injuries and boredom

Each day is a different combination of running, cycling, and swimming.  For me, this prevents burn out because if I don’t want to swim, I can grab my bike and head outdoors and if I’m not in the mood to run, I know where to find the pool.  Cross training (along with yoga) keeps my muscles balanced and prevents overuse injuries.


8. It’s a healthy hobby that gets me outdoors

I’ve never been very crafty and don’t collect coins or stamps.  It’s good to have something non work related that interests and challenges you.  It’s even better if it supports a healthy lifestyle!




9.  I learn something new each time

I am a total rookie at the sport and love soaking in the knowledge of experienced triathletes and learning tips and strategies along the way.  In every race, I face a new fear (hi, open water!), overcome an obstacle, and push myself farther.  Although I still haven’t learned to braid my own hair : )


10. My entire family gets involved

My brother and mom have both done tri’s and my dad is the best photographer out there.  The BOY is the first one to put my bike on the car in the morning and has the strength to take it off after the race when I am heading straight for the shower.  There’s always someone to celebrate with me after a nap.  This upcoming triathlon will be really fun when the BOY and I host our families for a Father’s Day BBQ after the race.






Have you ever done a triathlon?

Do you want to?

What do you love about your hobbies?

Meal Planning with Tony’s and the Grill

It’s the BOY’s first real day off all semester and so no surprise he headed straight for the grill!

This afternoon, he made us a healthy lunch!  After which we drove off to check out the latest new grocery store in town.  We are so spoiled with a newish Whole Foods, the brand new Mariano’s, and now a Tony’s!




I’ve heard only great things about this store which is located throughout the Chicago area, and we now have one of our own.




Their produce is extensive and well priced.  The BOY found himself lost in the meat aisle and the seafood had my mouth watering.  Speaking of watering mouths, this expansive pastry counter was filled with rich, colorful, and decadent sweets.






It didn’t take the BOY long to pick out a few of the 79 cent treats for dessert tonight.


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We left will a full cart for a more than fair price!  The BOY went straight to the back yard to prepare tonight’s pulled pork in his smoker.  I got comfortable in the sun with a new lighter book by one of my favorite chick lit authors.




It was a successful start to the week, and meal planning is a cinch now that the BOY is doing most of the work on the grill!  Although sadly tonight, his smoker yielded smoked pork instead of pulled pork.  I had an easy substitute frozen veggie burger, but I could tell the BOY was disappointed at he at his smoked pork sandwich.  Next time, I will go back to this crockpot pulled pork recipe which was incredible!


This Week in Meal Planning…

Monday: Smoked Pork (made by the BOY) Veggie Burger

Tuesday: Stirfry at my parents

Wednesday: Grilled Seafood (that we picked up at Tony’s)

Thursday: Dinner out

Friday: TBD



Have you ever been to Tony’s?

What is your favorite grocery store?

Banana and Quinoa Pancakes

During the week, breakfast is usually a make ahead option or something pretty quick.

Luckily, I have complied a list of easy and delicious healthy week day breakfast options…


Breakfast Stirfry

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Dough Boy Smoothie

Hot Banana Breakfast Quinoa

Overnight Oats in a Jar


So on the weekends (and Mondays), I like to do something a little more fun.  For example…Pancakes!  Yes, this blog is full of them.  Mostly because they can be made quickly, offer tons of flexible options, and fuel a morning workout.




This morning, I went with a twist on the 2 Ingredient Pancake adding in some leftover quinoa for protein and texture and cinnamon because that just makes everything taste better.




I ended up with a plateful of tasty mini pancakes that I couldn’t wait to devour!




There’s just something about starting off your day (and week) with a warm breakfast that just feels fun!








By 10am, the weather had gotten about as warm as it was going to get for the day.  At 57 degrees, I was slightly disappointed, but it was time to climb onto my bicycle.  Over the last week, I didn’t get in all of my workouts (because it was busy AND because I was recovering from my half marathon), so I knew today needed to be worthwhile!




I was happy that I added a long sleeve shirt before going outside because on my bike, the wind was chilly!




I had the most peaceful and enjoyable 11 mile ride this morning.  The 45 minutes whizzed by as I soaked up the sunshine.  All of the water from the flooding is gone, and I swear that the grass and trees look even brighter than a week ago.




I finished up my ride, returned my bike to the garage, and headed inside for half a Larabar and to change my shoes.  I have retired my original Pure Cadence shoes after the half marathon, and thought that this morning’s BRICK would be the perfect slow and steady run to start breaking in my new shoes.




BTW, I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to have purple running shoes!  Although the same shoe (Brooks Pure Cadence) this is the second generation so it did feel a little different on my feet.  I ran for 30 minutes and this time took off my long sleeve layer to the heat and sun.  As I was walking out the door, the BOY started talking about lunch.  When I arrived home, he had a rich beer on the container with chicken prepped for the grill.




I showered and got started on laundry, and the BOY excitedly manned the grill out back.




He made himself a colorful Buffalo Chicken Wrap.




And I stuck with simple grilled chicken, a sweet potato, and veggies.




He made extras so I’d have lunch for the week.  AWESOME!




The sun is calling my name, so I am heading out back to hang with the BOY.

Happy Monday!



Banana and Quinoa Pancakes



1 overripe banana, mashed

1 egg + 1 egg white

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Cinnamon to taste



Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.

Preheat skillet or pan over medium/high heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Drop batter onto skillet with 1/4 measuring cup.  After ~5-7 minutes flip pancakes if ready.  Let sit another 4-5 minutes. 

Serve warm with fruit, syrup, nut butters, coconut or your favorite toppings.



What is your favorite easy week day breakfast?

What do you like to make for breakfast on the weekends?

Superb Sunday {And Saturday}

Happy Mother’s Day!  How’s your day going?




I spent the most fantastic day with my parents.  We started with a long walk through the forest preserve following some paved and some off roading paths.  Then devoured a delicious lunch before stumbling into the GAP outlet.  We finished the afternoon with a grocery cart filling trip to Woodman’s.  With the sun shining and the conversation flowing, it really doesn’t get much better than this!


Unless of course you count yesterday’s fun family BBQ!


Sadly there are no pictures of the event but plenty of stories that will be circulating for months : )


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The day started off early and innocent enough with the first of two trips to Starbucks for tea (me) and a breakfast sandwich (the BOY).  Then I boarded the train for the city.




When I arrived, I was nose deep in almost finishing this book.  When I exited the train station, I saw this spectacular view of boats cruising down the river. 


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It was amazing to see the passengers bundled up and sipping their morning coffee while we watched and waved from the bridge.




A few blocks down, I spotted this colorful 2 wheeled three dimensional art work.




I loved it!


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I continued walking towards Soldier Field enjoying the views along the way!






And stopped for another warm beverage before arriving at my final destination.




Since I was early, I had an extra fifteen minutes to sip and read (this time really almost finishing my book).  I ended up reading the last 15 pages this morning.  This dark, twisted, thriller is a good read, so definitely add it to your summer list!




A few weeks ago, my brother and some friends and I decided to volunteer for St. Jude at the American Beer Fest.  As my brother said, ‘this is combing two things that I like…beer and volunteering!’  It really was a win-win!




We arrived at 10:30am, so the venue was still pretty quiet. 








Well into the afternoon, the sun came out from behind the clouds and the stadium was packed with beer drinkers.  Our job was to promote St. Jude while having fun, playing games, and handing out prizes.




I spent most of my day at the football toss.  I couldn’t figure out why I woke up so sore this morning.  I don’t think it was spending 4 hours of my feet, but squatting repeatedly to retrieve the footballs from the floor.  I probably did hundreds of squats yesterday! 


When we were done volunteering, we had time to actually check out the beer fest before heading up to Lakeview for a pre Mother’s Day BBQ with our families and friends.  The entire evening was a blur of eating, drinking, talking, sharing stories, catching up, and just enjoying being together!  It was a BLAST!


This weekend was an awesome way to quick off the summer season.  Luckily, I have tomorrow to recuperate : )



What was the best part of your weekend?

Baked Apple Breakfast Quinoa

People are always shocked to hear that I eat quinoa for breakfast.  I mean, I don’t eat it every morning, but as this post shows, there is no meal (including dessert) that quinoa can’t participate in.  For the people who are curious along with surprised, I often share with them this recipe.




Last night as I was pulling it together (you can prep ahead to save time in the mornings), it occurred to me that my bananas weren’t ripe enough.  Like that ever happens…usually I am overloaded with overripe bananas (hence all of the banana bread).  I knew that I could follow the recipe without banana, but that the nuttiness of the quinoa needed a little something sweet to balance the flavor.




The only thing available in my house was some natural applesauce, so I decided to give it a go.  I also added in apple pie spice and then placed my concoction in the fridge overnight.  This is totally not necessary but helps speed things up in the morning.




This morning, it took just 3 minutes and breakfast was ready.




I topped my quinoa cake with almond butter which was delicious (although not so colorful).




It was quite a filling breakfast that kept me moving almost until lunch (my stomach started growling around 11:30am), which was only slightly embarrassing.




The Baked Apple Breakfast Quinoa was good, but my favorite remains the banana!   Although if my bananas are still green, this will make a good stand in for tomorrow’s breakfast.




So now that I showed you how I started the day…let me also share how I finished it (in terms of food anyways…there was some Downton Abbey involved as well).  Another easy and healthy dinner…turkey taco salad!  Even easier because the BOY had the turkey done before I  got home : )



Do you eat quinoa for breakfast?  What’s your favorite recipe?



Baked Apple Breakfast Quinoa



1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1 egg + 1 egg white

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

Chopped apple (optional)

1 tbsp ground flax

Apple pie spice



Combine all the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Stir well.

Microwave for 3 minutes until center is set and cake like.

Cool slightly before eating.

Top with jelly, nut butter, coconut, maple syrup, etc.

Home before 8pm

I got home a little after 5pm tonight and almost didn’t know what to do with myself…




Except I knew exactly what I wanted to do!   I must admit even the neighbors were confused to see me home so early as I hopped on my bike and headed for the forest preserve path.  Note: this is a bad sign that your work/life balance is off!




The trail was bustling with bikers.  I saw at least 10 in my first 3 minutes and there were certainly WAY more people out biking than walking or running.  It was exciting for me to be on the trail with my peeps (as opposed to first thing in the morning), and of course, I was thrilled to get in another outdoor bike ride.




The main goal of my ride was to enjoy being outside with a secondary goal of working some lactic acid out of my post-race legs.




It was incredible to see the lush green grass and the trees and flowers beginning to bloom.  I wasn’t sure how much of the path was still flooded and was bummed to see this section still covered.  I debated turning around, but in the end slowly forged ahead.




It was a little deeper than I expected, but nothing my hybrid couldn’t handle.  While riding, I made a mental note to make an appointment to take in my road bike for new tires.




Back home, I have a quiet evening ahead of me.  Although it is stunning outside (74 degrees and sunny), the BOY is currently taking a final, so he was not available to grill me up some dinner.  I had to resort to my trusty oven.




I was able to make a simple and satisfying dinner that was hands off enough for me to check some emails and make some phone calls.  I had a sweet potato too, but I messed up my timing, so I ate that when I finished my fish.




Check out tomorrow’s lunch leftovers (there’s fish under there too)!



Easy Week Night Dinner Option…

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place precut broccoli on pan and drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle garlic powder and sea salt.

3. Scrub sweet potato and pierce with a knife.  Place sweet potato in the oven first.

4. Place broccoli in the oven about 10 minutes later.

5. Take two tilapia fillets and place them in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the fillets and sprinkle with seasoning (I prefer Cavender’s Greek seasoning).

6. Bake your fish for about 15 minutes, your broccoli for 35 minutes, and your potato for 40 minutes*.

*All times are approximates


Dinner is served!


My go to fish is salmon, but this fresh tilapia was a nice change…it got me thinking about how amazing a pistachio or pecan crusted tilapia would be…maybe next time!



What do you like to do when you get home early during the week?

Weird Week Ahead

Good Afternoon!




It’s been an odd start to the week as I have to go in to work for a few hours this afternoon/evening.  Then tomorrow, I have the morning off before spending my afternoon as a teaching assistant.  After a few weekends of work/travel, I was looking forward to getting back into my meal planning groove.  However, between my schedule change, the BOY’s late night finals, and a sushi date with my girl friends on Thursday, there’s not much planning to do.




I did finally make it to the grocery store this morning in order to restock our house with food…specifically fresh fruits and veggies!  We were in a sad state as evidenced above by the lone garlic.




With the start of May, I am excited to detox my diet.  I mentioned this in my May goals, but didn’t have the energy to elaborate.  My plan is to return to a cleaner way of eating that includes no processed foods and tons of fresh produce.  I know that spring weather, farmer’s markets, and the BOY’s love of BBQing make this a much easier task.  I also know that I have exciting races and a fun trip abroad (details coming soon) planned where I will want to look and feel my best.  Now, that’s what I call motivation!




I kicked off the week with a colorful salad with tuna.  I picked up some fish for dinner tomorrow night and decided on simple and easy to prep turkey tacos for dinner on Wednesday.  That’s about as far as I got with this week’s meal plans.  I know the BOY is excited to work through his last few finals so that he can get back to the grill and his new smoker.


This morning I treated my tired body to a much needed day off.  After yesterday’s PR, it deserved some rest, but I am looking forward to getting back into my tri training groove later in the week.  My official race results from yesterday were posted, and I was spot on with my own self timing…

30-34 Female Jennifer 1:49:46.54 Streamwood, IL


What’s fun is that I placed 11/40 in my age and division and 205/850 in the entire race!  Combined with a PR, I am proud of my early season effort! 


Quick question for ya’ll before I head off to work…I am looking for some healthy and easy to prepare ideas for lunch…maybe even salads that can be made ahead.


Any suggestions?  Please post your links!!