Brackets and Bars

It has been a bit of an odd week!  The time change, full moon, and impending spring break have had the kids (my patients) in a mood!  In our house, Cooper has been falling asleep in my arms each night, and the BOY has been super busy at work.

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Basketball has returned (my bracket has my cortisol levels rising!) and so have the energy bites.  Except this week, we are leaving the world of bites and bringing on the bars!

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A healthier option than the amazing Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies, I made earlier this week, both the BOY and I have been chowing down on these bars!  Ok, we have been devouring the brownies too : )

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With the ingredients as written, my bars didn’t come together into a dough.  Luckily, I am no rookie when it comes to these things, and so I knew that I could add honey, agave, or maple syrup.  I went the syrup route and my bars pulled together quickly.

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I tell you this in case you have the same problem when you make them, and I highly recommend that you do!

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I love the mixture of coconut and almond butter, and they will power you through even the craziest of days…don’t ask me how I know this!  Thankfully, I got out of work early on Wednesday and instead of going home to clean my house and do responsible adult stuff, I went to a hot yoga class.

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It was a new-to-me instructor, and the class was absolutely incredible!  None of my bracket teams are winning by enough tonight for me to sleep sound, but I might as well give it a try since I have an early morning of work tomorrow.  Looking for more ‘raw’ recipes, check out my very busy Pinterest board!

Do you have a favorite raw recipe?

Who are you cheering for in the NCAA tournament?

Almond Coconut Energy Bars

From My Sequined Life

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of whole pitted dates (approx. 12 dates)
  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter 
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Maple Syrup (if needed)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend for one to two minutes, or until everything is evenly combined and just about smooth. You may still have little crunchy pieces of almonds remaining.   If a dough does not form, then add in maple syrup (or another sticky ingredient like honey) and continue to process.
  2. Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan (or a small dish) with parchment paper or cooking spray and press bar mixture evenly into about half of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes so the mixture sets. Once chilled, cut into bars and store in the fridge

Welcome Spring!!!

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I finally got around to making these protein balls last week, but never got around to sharing the awesome recipe. 

Note: You will want to make a double batch of this recipe because it is awesome but the servings are NOT plentiful enough!

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Saturday morning, I was up again early and at the gym.  I had another kick butt workout, making it my 5th of the week (way to go on that March goal!).  Then it was a quick change and off to my last yoga class of the session.  The kids were really energetic and fun and dove right into all of the partner work and poses.

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I stayed a little after to fill in our life size bracket hanging on the wall in the gym.  From there, it was back home where the BOY scooped me up for lunch and shopping.  Believe me when I say that I was MORE surprised when the BOY wanted to go to the mall for updated work clothes than I was last weekend when he wanted to clean : )

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We had a successful trip to Nordstrom and arrived back home minutes after the Indiana/Kentucky game started.  We watched on the edge of our seats as Indiana pulled away to make it to the Sweet Sixteen.  Saturday night, we had dinner with my bestie, her hubs, and two amazing kids!  I dove right into the play dough while the BOY initiated a pre-bed time sword fight.

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Sunday morning was a unique treat!  We set no alarm and I didn’t have anything on my schedule until 2:30pm!!  I woke up around 8:30am feeling refreshed.  I ate a bite of breakfast (with my espresso) and drove off in the sunshine to the yoga studio for a hot flow class. 

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On the way, I realized I forgot my water bottle.  Luckily, there is a Walgreens in the parking lot of the studio, so I was able to quickly grab a Smartwater.  When I arrived, the room was PACKED!  I was able to find a small piece of real estate in the front row (not my favorite).  It occurred to me as I transitioned to my mat that this was a PERFECT example of finding peace in the present moment.  The front row is tough because it is up against the wall. I find it harder to balance that close to the wall, and I am more self conscious about my movement with other bodies close by.

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But the benefit of being that close to the wall is easily transitioning from standing splits to handstand with the support and confidence boost of the wall, which is exactly what I did a few times this morning.  Slowly working off the wall as I practiced my strength and balance on two hands.  Our teacher continued to remind us to embrace the awakening of spring as we moved through tough transitions in the hot room.  The morning class was a sweaty one and no one (including me) moved quickly out of savasana, like we usually do, taking the time to cool down before arising from our mats and refilling our water bottles.

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I changed out of my wet clothes for a lunch time trip to Whole Foods.  The BOY requested a sandwich and I ended up with a Whole Foods Hodge Podge (basically what happens at the whole foods salad bar when you are starving after hot yoga!).  I had big plans to glue my side view mirror on, but realized that it was going to take an hour, which I didn’t have.  Instead, I drove my car into the city, carefully merging at all times, to hang out with a friend/old coworker of mine.  We walked throughout the city, making a special stop at the Family Matters house, which she just discovered was in her neighborhood (and I just learned was in Chicago).

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We had coffee and walked some more, swinging by Athleta to scope our the scale items.  On our walk, we caught up on life while appreciating the sunshine on this first day of spring!  I left the city a little before 6pm with plans to swing by the grocery store to pick up my dinner (which I forgot that morning at WF) since the BOY had dinner plans with a friend.  I was also hoping to be home before dark since along with a busted mirror, I also seem to have a head light out on my car.  Ugh!  I will definitely be doing some car maintenance tomorrow!

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I made salmon and brussel sprouts for dinner with a glass of crisp white wine, while watching tonight’s March Madness games.  I was feeling torn between cheering on the Big Ten (out of support for the conference) and Xavier, out of support for my ailing bracket and loved all the close games and over times!

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And that’s a wrap for my weekend (and start to spring), which means that I really should tell you more about these protein balls.  The original recipe calls for cranberries, so feel free to go that route.  I actually had cherries in the house, so decided to use those along with a scoop of protein powder for some added flavor and muscle building goodness.

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Like I mentioned way back at the start of this post, these energy balls are fantastic and well worth doubling the recipe.  They make the perfect afternoon pick me up and even the BOY has enjoyed taking these energy balls as a snack to the office.

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How did you start spring?

Any famous TV landmarks in your town?

 

Cherry Vanilla Protein Bites

Adapted From Recipe Runner (makes 9 large energy balls***)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped medjool dates, about 6-7 dates
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

***I would recommend doubling if you have the room in your food processor!

Directions

  1. In a high speed blender or food processor add the cashews and almonds and pulse until they are finely ground, careful not to turn them into nut butter.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and blend or pulse until everything starts to come together.
  3. Scrape down the sides several times and add up to 2 tablespoons of water.
  4. Form into balls, rolling between your hands.
  5. Store the energy bites in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Monday Motivation and Meals

Good Day Monday!

I slept many, many hours last night and I think I could have slept longer if the BOY and Cooper weren’t so eager to cuddle : )  Breakfast is usually the toughest meal for me during Passover because I am used to toast and oats.  Luckily, the TJ’s finally opened near by and I scooped up some of their frozen quinoa with Passover in mind.  This morning, I revisited an old favorite breakfast…

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Hot Banana Breakfast Quinoa

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After breakfast, I was off to the gym for an intense strength session (my poor arms are too sore to type…ha ha!) and then ran a few errands at the Costco and grocery store, plus dropping off 4 huge bags of clothes at the Goodwill after yesterday’s cleaning.

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Some Gym Motivation

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon doing paperwork and watching TV.  You know I love a day to catch up on Scandal and emails!  And snacking on some delicious cheese and nuts.  Now I am mostly just trying to stay up late enough to watch the Wisconsin game tonight.  The BOY and I are both dressed in our red Wisco shirts ready to cheer on the Big Ten.  I just hope I can stay up late enough to see the entire game!

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I didn’t really plan for as much baking/cooking as I thought this week but will rely on the BOY and his grill…hey, there are worse problems to have : )

Good Night!

 

Meal Planning 4/06/15

Monday: Grilled Chicken and Veggies (hooray the grill is back!)

Tuesday: Steak and Salmon Night

Wednesday: Burgers (sans buns)

Thursday: Matzah Pizza

 

What are you eating this week?

Mornings Called…They Want Their Workouts Back

I go through phases with my AM wake up call.  Sometimes, I am a snooze monster staying in bed until the last possible minute.  And then other times, I get myself into the groove of early bed times and early morning workouts.  I struggle to get into the routine but once I am there, I feel good and I like it!  Last week was transition week, and this week was GO week.  Since I spent Sunday morning at the salt cave, I didn’t get in a workout.  I was eager to get in some exercise Monday morning before my doctor’s appointment, and I’ve been craving a yoga class.  Especially since kids yoga begins this upcoming weekend!

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I was already dressed and ready to go when I realized that the weather people were actually right, and we got some serious snow.  It was still snowing on my sloppy drive to the yoga studio, but I was rewarded with a fabulous wall yoga class.   The most exciting part was attempting this variation of side plank with our bottom foot on the wall.  I am not sure what I looked like (although I am confident it was not as graceful as this), but I LOVED the unique and awesome challenge!

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Wall yoga is always a special treat, and my muscles were shaking by the time I relaxed into ‘feet up the wall’ pose.  Post yoga, I sipped on bubbly coconut water.  They were sampling it at Costco this past weekend, and I am a sucker for samples.

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The rest of the morning was a snow filled mess!  But the highlight was a lunch date with my BFF.

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Tuesday morning, I was reunited with the gym…specifically the indoor track.  I have been holding onto my gym membership because it has an indoor pool and track, both of which are necessary for tri training, but really spending more time (and money) at the yoga studio.  I told myself if I don’t go to the gym, I will have to give up my membership.  So off I went for a short run (see below) and a few minutes of ab work.

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30 Minute Speed Workout

5 minute warm up

30 second sprint/ 90 second recovery

Repeat 10 times

5 minute cool down

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Wednesday it was back to the yoga studio.  My schedule has changed a bit for the next two months.  Because I am working Saturdays (aka teaching kids yoga), I get to go in later a few mornings (this means 9am instead of 7am).  Which really means…Wednesday pre work hot yoga!  Then Thursday…it was back to the gym to try out one of their 6am strength classes.  

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The truth is that I love the Tues/Thurs am strength class (and the people) at the yoga studio but if I am going to keep my gym membership, then I have to use it.  I am always skeptical of park district classes, but was pleasantly surprised with the efficient and challenging class and the friendly instructor.  With all of these super early workouts, you know I’ve been crashing in bed early…often with this guy!

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After this week, Friday morning is all about sleeping in. I tried to convince the BOY to go swim sit in the hot tub with me after work, but he wasn’t so interested.  We both ended up working late tonight, so dinner was Portillo’s, wine, and basketball.  We had a surprise guest.  My future SIL stopped by and had a glass of wine with us which was fun!  Yes…that is the mint chocolate cake shake in the picture below.  If you haven’t tried it, I HIGHLY recommend it!

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We stayed up WAY to late watching basketball and although my abs are a bit sore when I move, laugh, or breathe, overall it was a GREAT week.  I am not planning to maintain this schedule, but was happy to 1) get back into the routine of early morning wake ups and workouts. and 2) try out a few new classes.  Both of which will help with tri training in the weeks to come!

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Are you a morning or afternoon exerciser?

Tell me your thoughts on the chocolate cake shake!

Run It…Run It…

Test Over…Training Begins!

Well kind of : )  End of May is my first race of the year…the annual Soldier Field 10 Miler.  One of my favorite races because I usually run it just for fun, we finish in the awesome Bears stadium, and it is the kick of summer weekend!  After that, I am hoping to get myself signed up for a summer triathlon.  I was not able to do a tri last year, and so I came into this year with the thought that once the test was over, my next goals would be signing up for a tri and starting to train.  My bike needs a little work before the ‘season’, but my running shoes are good to go.

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The weather is starting to warm and so Tuesday morning, I hit the path for a short 30 minute pre work run.  It was windy, but I was thrilled to be outside running for the first time in…who knows how long!

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Then I was off to work in more green gear for St. Patty’s Day.  I had plans to get in another good cardio workout Thursday morning.  But, I stayed up WAY too late finishing off season 1 of the Blacklist to get up and workout.  Should I be embarrassed to admit that?!  If you watch the show, you would totally understand and not judge me : )  Thursday night was all about March Madness (as was Friday night + some wine).  But, this morning I had a running date with my friend that was totally worth dragging myself out of bed for.

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What better way to celebrate spring?!  We had much to catch up on and a triathlon to plan for!

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Confession: After my run I had a chunk of time before my facial, so I ate a snack in my car and listened to Serial.  I know I’m the last to the Serial party, but I am diving right in.

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At noon, I had the most amazing facial with my favorite esthetician.  My mom was scheduled after me again so the three of us had tea and cookies in between our appointments.

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When I got home, it was family nap time. 

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On a totally different (and random) note, did you see Cooper’s look alike in the Lowes Glow in the Dark Cat Hat TV commercial?

It makes me laugh every time. Is it possible that March Madness has better commercials than the Superbowl?

We have an exciting Saturday night at home planned (most likely with more wine and basketball) and now that we have worked out some of the triathlon details, real training will begin REAL SOON!

 

How is your Saturday going?

Are you watching March Madness?

Since We Last Spoke…

I got to catch up with my old coworkers at a continuing ed course and even bumped into a student of mine from 4 years ago.  Man, I am getting to me an old timer in this profession : )

The BOY and Cooper spent the day (while I was in class) building a fort.

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I am feeling almost back to my pre-cold self.

I’ve sent about 100 emails in an attempt to get my life back in order.

Indiana won their basketball game against Maryland!

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I went to the dentist.  No cavities!

I taught three yoga classes.

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I planned next week’s yoga classes.

I went back to the the library…it’s so hard for me to be here and not reading and checking  out every book.

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I drank gingerbread tea.

It snowed (just  bit).

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I met my mom and a friend at hot yoga.

Then did post yoga lunch with my friend at Protein Bar.

Followed by an almond milk berry smoothie.

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I finally made it to Sunday!

Counting Down Until the Weekend {aka Sunday}

This is the week that never ends…it just goes on and on my friends…

I mean, I get that I am spoiled.  Few people work a 4 day work week (although I stuff in a good 10+ hours each day), but when you do only work 4 days a week and have for over 6 years, you get yourself into a nice smooth rhythm that involves 3 long days of recovery.  So a week like this week…is a struggle!  I worked Monday through Wednesday my typical days with two great workouts.  I came home from work last night and crashed onto the floor with Cooper and couldn’t find the energy to arise.  10 minutes later (with encouragement from the BOY), I was able to motivate myself off the floor and into the kitchen to make dinner.  I went to bed nice and early last night, and I slept in a bit this morning which was delightful, had a light work day, and was then off to the local elementary school for their After School Enrichment program, where I teach kids yoga.

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I have an energetic group of nine K-1st graders in the class.  Today, we went on an African safari.  They got really into it which makes the afternoon so much fun!  (Note: above is recycled picture from summer on similar Air Africa flight).  Since my work day ends after the class at 4pm, it gives me a nice opportunity to hit the books.  With the busy start to the work week combined with my not feeling 100% status, I haven’t been studying as much as I had hoped.   Thankfully, my cold/sinuses seem to be (slowly) getting better.  I debated finally going to the doctor today, but decided that I was better…just really run down.

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I planned to go straight from work to the library and actually chose the library in the town over, which is on my way home (as opposed to our library which is past our house).  I worked 3 straight hours and felt great about all that I accomplished.  And as I left at 7:20, felt super hungry.  I swung by the grocery store to grab us some dinner.

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Decisions…decisions?!

The BOY was craving ramen and requested that I bring home the best cheap ramen that I could find.  Which I did!  And then cracked open a bottle of red wine.  After the week I’ve had (and because I finally feel better), I needed a glass two glasses while we watched the Indiana game.

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Red wine + a new box for Cooper + an awesome IU basketball game…life doesn’t get any better in this house.!!!  Which leads me to this moment…savoring my last sips of wine, babbling on my blog, and planning for Saturdays 3 yoga classes.  Tomorrow, I have an early morning and a long day of learning at a continuing ed class.  Then Saturday, it’s back to work for my jam packed kids yoga classes.  Like I said…this is the week that doesn’t end!  But Sunday is right around the corner and then my real weekend begins!

How do you count down until the weekend?

Winter Workouts

Hello Friends!

I have not forgotten you!  In fact, I started this post over a week ago and life has been so crazy that I never had the time to finish it and share it.  Today looked like it was going to be another day of madness.  Mondays are usually a tough day for me to get to work but even worse after a busy weekend.  I worked Saturday morning and taught two kids yoga classes.  This group is so sweet and so much fun! 

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Then we immediately jetted into the city to celebrate my younger brother’s 30th birthday.  We spent Saturday watching Illinois take a football victory and then drinking tons of prosecco into the night.  On Sunday, we met my family for brunch and pizza.

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Needless to say I was wiped when I got home and confused and depressed when my alarm went off early this morning.  But since I didn’t want to work Friday, I decided to work today.  It looked like it was going to be a rough start when I got stopped by not one, but TWO trains on my way to work.  But some icy snow and parent teacher conferences led to a bunch of last minute cancels, allowing me to be home by 6:30pm to eat dinner and watch Indiana Basketball with the BOY.

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So what have I been up to these past few weeks???

Lots of working and working out.  And in between?  Sleeping, reading, letting the BOY make dinner, and obviously not blogging : )

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Homemade pizza night (from Chef BOY)

When you live in a city like Chicago, your workouts change with the weather.  For the past few years, I’ve fallen into a cycle of spending the summers outdoors as a cardio queen, biking and running, and trying to get to a weekly hot yoga class.  Once the weather turns colder and the sun rises later, my outdoor morning runs turn into spin or strength classes at the gym.  My weekends consist of shorter (due to the cold weather) runs as able and strenuous hot yoga classes.  My motivation wanes a bit and it takes some extra incentive to get me out of the house and into the cold.

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Which is where friends come into the picture!  I met a friend last weekend at a forest preserve path in between our houses for a run through the snowy woods.  An hour of catching up on life is always a HUGE motivator for me.  In the mornings, I am back to speed workouts at the indoor track.

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Most recently, I gave this workout a go and was a big fan…

10 minute warm up

30 second sprint/90 second recovery x8

10 minute cool down

On top of running, I have been attending a weekly hot yoga class and a weekly strength class.  It’s early in the morning but I really like the people and every workout is unique and challenging.  Some morning I come home and some mornings its breakfast and a shower at the gym.

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The early morning wake ups (think pre 6am) are always an adjustment to all of us.  Even Cooper gets a bit out of whack.

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But despite the exhaustion, lack of sunshine, sore legs, and limited free time for fun stuff (like reading and writing blogs), I always feel really good when I am more active and building strength.  This week ahead is an exciting one, so I will hopefully have some new Thanksgiving recipes, fun family stories, and of course Cooper shenanigans to share when I return.  It won’t be so long this time, I promise!

 

Do your workouts change for winter?  What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Five for Friday XX

1.  Thank you guys for all of your awesome brussel sprout suggestions!  The BOY and I will definitely be eating more sprouts this spring!

 

 

2. The BOY and I had our second Friday night tennis date tonight.  We played from 8-9pm and instead of practicing strokes with the ball machine, we warmed up, practiced serving, and then played a few games.  Although I’m still not as good as the BOY, I did beat him in 2 games and was in the process of beating him in a third when we ran out of time.

 

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3.  I have a new Starbucks obsession.  It’s Chai tea with steamed soy milk.  It is creamy, filling, and takes care of one of my servings of dairy every day.  Ok, so I don’t have one every day, but I wish I did : )

 

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4.  Cooper created a new game this morning.  I call it Ice Cube in a Box, and I totally went along with it because it meant that I could eat my breakfast in peace without him stealing my eggs.

 

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5.  I have watched basically none of March Madness this year.  Usually, I am way more into it, but with Indiana not making the tournament and my weeks being really busy, I just haven’t turned on any games.  I’m hoping to catch up on some basketball this weekend…starting right now.

 

Does your pet steal your breakfast?

Are you watching the tournament?

Running Date, Leftovers, and a Smoothie

Sunday Funday began EARLY today with a running date.

 

Ya’ll know that I am a mostly solitary runner, so I get excited at the chance to run with other people, friends or strangers : )  Which is why despite staying up a late for dinner and drinks last night, I set my alarm for a Sunday morning run.  Ok, I woke up at 7:30 which isn’t that early, but I usually sleep in later on Sundays.

 

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Breakfast was a running staple…TJ’s oatmeal with banana and pecans.  I met up with the trainer and two other friends at my old gym for an outdoor run.  The weathermen were predicting snow, but we were about to get out and begin winding through the neighborhoods before any foul weather.  It was around 35 degrees and at one point, we had to stop to delayer.  We ran at a steady pace for about 50 minutes before taking a good 20 minutes to stretch and roll out.  After making plans to run again next Saturday, I made my way over to Whole Foods for a few groceries.

 

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I was back home in time for lunch, laundry, and a second straight day of college basketball.

 

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For lunch, I baked a small sweet potato, smothered it with leftover pulled pork, and some cubed avocado with a side of mushrooms.  I didn’t get any great pictures of the pork last night, so I was hoping today’s pics would get your mouth watering.

 

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Mine certainly was as I dug into this BBQ Pork Baked Sweet Potato!

 

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One thing that caught my eye at Whole Foods this morning was their new line of juices.  They are made with just fruits and veggies, no water or sugar added.  The Green-Aid reminded me of yesterday’s invigorating green smoothie.

 

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I tried a new to me smoothie ingredient that added tons of flavor.

 

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Cucumber!

 

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I made a total mess in my clean kitchen with this smoothie, but it was worth it.  This sweet smoothie was one of the most refreshing I’ve ever made.  Cucumber may be a new stable in my homemade smoothies!

 

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After swimming on Thursday, spinning on Saturday, and running today, my legs are pretty fried.  It’s a great day to put up my feet and watch some basketball.  I’ll probably make another one of these incredible green smoothies too!

 

 

How are you spending your Sunday?

 

This is the IronGirl triathlon that I have been thinking about this June.  Has anyone done an IronGirl event before???

 

Refreshing Green Smoothie

 

Ingredients

1 large handful of spinach (I fill the bottom third of my blender)

1 cup of coconut water (I used flavored)

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 medium sized cucumber, chopped

Splash of fresh lemon juice

1 cup frozen mango

 

Directions

Place spinach, coconut water, apple, and cucumber in a blend.  Pulse or chop until veggies are broken down.  Then blend on low-medium.  Add lemon juice and frozen mango.  Blend on high for a few minutes until smooth.

Sip and Smile

Note: I am learning with my new blender that the longer I let things blend on high, the frothier and smoother my smoothies are!