What Was I Thinking???

Waking up before the sun to go for a run!

 

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The thoughts that actually got me out of bed at this crazy hour…

1. It is much more fun to run with people than alone.

2. At least I will be beat the heat.

3. There will be plenty of time for a nap (or two)

4. It’s a good thing I went to sleep at 9:30 PM last night!

 

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Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting two friends to run on Saturday mornings.  This morning, one of them was headed out of town and requested an early start time.  I wasn’t 100% positive that I would make it when I agreed to a 6AM run, but somehow dragged myself out of bed, into running clothes and out the door.  There wasn’t a car on the road!

 

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The nice thing about getting your workout in early is that you have an ENTIRE day ahead of you.  And since the semester is over and summer school hasn’t started, the BOY and I have a list of things to do today, mostly prepping to host our families for tomorrow’s post-Mother’s Day/End of the School Year BBQ.  To fuel up for our big day of shopping, I went with a smoothie.  It is a refreshing way to hydrate with the protein and carbs needed after an 11 mile run.

 

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This morning’s PURPLE SMOOTHIE included:

Spinach

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup raw oats

1 Tbsp flax seed

1/2 banana

Frozen mango

Frozen berry mix (a new TJ’s find)

 

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I was excited to try something new and throw the berries into the mix.

 

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The result…this ugly-ish purple color that tasted super sweet (maybe I didn’t also need the mango).  But, I loved it!  This smoothie exceeded my expectations. I don’t know how I have never thrown in berries before!  It reminded me of the mall smoothies that we used to get in high school that were loaded with sugar.  I never would have believed that there were handfuls of spinach and flax if I hadn’t made it myself.

 

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The oatmeal gives the smoothie a thicker texture with an almost-nutty taste which is great. Purple smoothies may just be my new favorite summer drink!

 

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It’s 9:30AM on Saturday morning, and I seriously can not believe that I have already ran 11 miles, showered, eaten 1 1/2 breakfasts and am now heading out to the store.  I definitely foresee a nap in my future!  And probably some caffeine!

 

 

Do you wake up early to exercise?  What is our alarm clock cut off?

 

I typically won’t wake up before 6AM unless it’s race day and hate to set my alarm clock ANY time before 6:00!  Hopefully, I won’t be making this into a habit : )

Running and Randomness

It is currently 11:20AM, and I am sitting on the couch sipping a smoothie in my comfy clothes watching the DVR.  Sounds like a lazy morning…right?

 

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Not quite!  Hint: check out the running shoes in the background.

 

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This morning, I was scheduled for my longest pre-race run, a 12 mile run.  I packed my typical essentials and met two friends on my driveway for a sunny morning run around the forest preserve path.  For breakfast, I made a Strawberry Dough Boy Smoothie.  Sadly, I was too lazy to cut strawberries last night, so I only soaked everything for ~15 minutes this morning.  Hence, the runny breakfast smoothie.

 

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We headed out along the path on this sunny, but chilly morning.  It was fun to run with other people and the 11.5 miles went by quickly.  We finished in 1:38 which is a little slower than race pace, but I felt strong enough to get in another 2 miles if I needed wanted to.  A quick shower later, and I was in comfortable Saturday clothes and ready for a snack.

 

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Post run, I refueled with this refreshing green smoothie.  I used coconut water as the base and added in a little Good Belly along with spinach, 1/2 banana, mango and ice.

 

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Not a lot of protein in this recovery beverage, but it is definitely rehydrating and refreshing.

 

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Luckily, the BOY is going to make us a protein packed lunch on the grill in just a few minutes.  You may have noticed that since Passover, I have been eating more meat.  I am eating chicken, the grass fed organic kind.  With summer and grill season fast approaching, there will definitely be more meat in my diet.  However, I am planning to choose higher quality meats and decrease my frequency of meat consumption.  Which makes the timing of this gift that I got yesterday PERFECT!

 

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Doesn’t this look like fun???  The book is packed with vegetarian and vegan options.  You can bet there will be tons of recipes from this cookbook this spring/summer!!!

 

 

I am off to help the BOY prep veggies for our fajitas and then I SHOULD do some serious closet cleaning.  Good bye turtle neck sweaters!  I told you it wasn’t a lazy day!

 

 

Are you having an active or a lazy Saturday?

Get Lucky Green Smoothie

I started my morning with a Green Smoothie.

 

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They are always so refreshing.  Plus, I figured since I was heading to the ‘city the doesn’t sleep’ (wait…maybe that is New York), heading to the ‘city where people never sleep’, a healthy breakfast was the perfect way to start off my day.

 

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With coconut water to keep me hydrated, spinach and fruit, this smoothie will give me the energy I need to survive a weekend in SIN CITY!

 

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I ate it with an egg for some extra protein which made for a filling breakfast as I powered through my morning at work before heading off to the airport.

 

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Get Lucky Green Smoothie

A healthy way to start a sinful weekend

 

Ingredients

Big handful of spinach

1 cup coconut water

1/2 cup oats

1 banana

1/3 cup frozen mango

Handful of ice cubes as needed

 

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Adjust ice for desired consistency.

Enjoy!!!

Snow Looks Better with Sunglasses On

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Doesn’t the snow just look more beautiful under a radiating sun.  My alarm woke me this morning, which was okay, because the sun was shining and I was meeting my mom for a much needed hot yoga class this morning.  For 2 weeks, I have been looking forward to my favorite weekend workout class.

 

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This morning’s intention was to decrease stress and feel more relaxed.  Although I wasn’t totally relaxed as I was balancing on one foot between high lunge and warrior III, by the end of class, I felt calm, peaceful and a little bit tired.  My mom and I both agreed, this class was a tough one!!!  I was starving by the time I got to my car and happy to have packed a post-yoga snack.

 

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Although it looks a little messy, this almond butter and apple pita totally hit the spot!

 

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I headed out to pick up some groceries for the week.  There’s nothing like a crowded Costco on Sunday to kill your Yoga Buzz!

 

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However, after a green smoothie, the Yoga Buzz was RESTORED!

 

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In the blender:

A handful of spinach

1/2 frozen banana

1/3 cup frozen mango

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup oats

 

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This green smoothie is soo refreshing.  I love the mango…between that and the banana, no added sugar or sweetener needed!

 

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Now that I have a stocked kitchen and a full tummy, it’s time to chill out a bit and play in the kitchen!  With a window cracked and the sun streaming in, I am digging this SUNday!  Now, what’s for dinner???

 

How did you spend your Sunny Sunday???

From a Snowy Start to a Sweet Surprise

With all of the excitement about the big storm heading our way, I was upset not to have a snow day today.  I had never thought snow days were possible once you were out of elementary school, but after last year’s Snowpocolypse and getting snowed in for almost 2 days, I am a big fan of ‘Adult’ Snow Days!  Sadly, today was not one of them.  I knew last night driving to my parent’s that it was too good to be true.  Our office was too prepared, with a phone tree and everything.  Plus, I’m just not lucky enough to spend the day lounging around on my couch as opposed to powering through my 12th STRAIGHT DAY at work.  I woke up absolutely exhausted, and not quite sure I’d make it through the day!  The snow was beautiful, and I did enjoy the view of my parent’s backyard as I ate breakfast (my wonderful mom made me veggie eggs).

 

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Although this view is never quite as beautiful!

 

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I did enjoy the quick commute to work and the gorgeous iced tree branches.

 

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10 hours later, my work day was over.  I was as sore as if I’ve been tri training, yet I haven’t worked out all week and I don’t feel like the best version of myself.  On the BRIGHT side…it was a successful weekend of class and I was able to apply all my new knowledge with my patients this week.  The BRIGHTER note…we have a mostly quiet weekend ahead.  I drove home with no traffic (I guess some people DID get a snow day), and I was happy to finally be moving out of my car.

 

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I walked into a super clean house (thank you cleaning service) and a BIG SURPRISE

 

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A beautifully set dinner table and stunning flowers!

 

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And guess who made a vegetarian dinner???

 

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Spinach and garlic stuffed Portobello mushrooms,

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With potatoes, broccoli, and onions,

 

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And some extra cheese for the BOY.

 

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He even treated us to a fancy desert.

 

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It is soooo good to be home!

 

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11 Miles and Spinach Dip

Saturday mornings were meant for outdoor runs, and I am thrilled to finally have a running buddy, my trainer.  When she suggested last night that we go for a longer fun (~90 minutes), I was a little nervous.  I haven’t been keeping up that kind of mileage, running no longer than an hour these past few months.  With a half marathon approaching (I am all signed up for the Great Western Half Marathon on May 6th), I know I will be increasing my distances again soon, so I was up for the challenge. 

I stated my day with my usual pre-long-run breakfast: Hot Tea

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TJ’s frozen oatmeal with 1/2 of a banana, cinnamon, and chia seeds.  I also added a 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin this morning.

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And a scrambled egg (1 egg + 1 egg white).  I found these beautiful farm fresh eggs at Whole Foods and was so excited to try them this morning.  My conclusion…well worth the extra 50 cents!

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I also fixed up a post-run Almond Butter and Banana (using the other 1/2 from this morning’s breakfast) sandwich and tried out a new brand of coconut water.  I debated taking my water pack, but ended up not running with it.

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We met up at the gym parking lot at 9AM.  I had a little bit of time to stretch my legs before heading out.  It felt much colder than my driveway, which is crazy because the gym is only15 minutes away.

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We headed east towards the forest preserve path, slowly warming up as we went.  The path is nice and flat and there were plenty of people out walking and running and one brave woman cruising along on her bike.  The path is almost 8 miles long making our round trip just around 11 miles.  I really had no idea, but my trainer has run here often enough to know the mileage.  We finished our run in just under 1 hour and 45 minutes, which is not too far off of my next half marathon goal.

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I was proud to have just run 11 miles and surprised at how good I felt when I was done.  I felt some fatigue during the last two miles, but mostly, I just needed some water when I finished. I stretched my legs a bit and hopped back in my car before catching a chill.  I was happy to have my snack for the car ride home!  By the way, when you work with kids, it is totally OK to have a Toy Story sandwich holder!

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I have an amazing group of girlfriends from college and I was super excited about getting together with them tonight, especially since one of our friends has just moved back to the Chicago-land area and another was in town to visit. 

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We met when we all joined the same sorority at our small private school in central Illinois.  We have been friends for 10 years and although life has changed from those ‘Cornerstone’ days (with the addition of husbands and babies and moves to different states), we are as close as ever.  During RUSH in college, our sorority used to make spinach dip.  It was so unbelievably amazing, I swear it is how we got the major of the girls to join.  Since then, most of our get togethers have included spinach dip and Hawaiian bread.  Although Portillo’s would be providing our dinner, appetizers were a must, and I volunteered to make the spinach dip.  It is a simple recipe.  I follow the Knorr recipe, with an important addition…I use FRESH spinach!

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This four ingredient dip always turns out amazing and is a crowd favorite wherever I go.  I have used light mayo and light sour cream in the past, but never ventured into the land of fat-free!  It always amazes me how these foods which I despise on their own (sour cream=yucky!) can make the tastiest dip EVER!

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The fresh spinach is a bit of a pain to cut, but totally worth your effort.  It helps to start with baby spinach and it is really helpful to have a good pair of kitchen sheers. I try to leave out the stems because nobody wants to eat them, but this dip is so tasty that if a few get buried in the pile, nobody will notice.

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I have been known to get lazy towards the end of my cutting and in the past a full leaf or two have even made it into my bowl.  My backup method for chopping involves plunging the sheers into the bowl and chopping away.  It actually works quite well!

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All of the ingredients get stirred together in a bowl.

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Cover the dip and place it in the fridge for 2 hours, allowing the flavors to mix together.

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Stir and serve in a Hawaiian bread bowl.  Trust me, it’s the only way to go!

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Like I said…this spinach dip recipe is always a favorite.  You won’t be taking any leftovers home with you!!

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It was such a fun night hanging out with my friends!!!  We always pick up right where we left off and the spinach dip brings back some of our favorite college memories.

 

Sorority Spinach Dip

1 package (10 ounces) of fresh baby spinach, chopped well

1 16 ounce container of sour cream

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 package of Knorr vegetable recipe mix

 

-Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Stir well.

-Cover and place the bowl in the fridge for two hours.

-Stir again.

-Serve dip with Hawaiian bread

What Do You Get?

When you mix whole wheat pasta…

With sautéed garlic spinach….

Some grilled mushrooms and scallops…

With a splash of olive oil and a dash of parmesan?

My pre-race dinner!

Back in the day when I lived in Evanston, I LOVED going to Dave’s Italian Kitchen for pasta.  I’ve always liked pasta, but never really loved it.  I don’t crave it like other people I know and usually only eat it a few times a year.  When I lived alone, I didn’t even have any in the house.  But before a race, I truly enjoy a bowl of whole wheat pasta.  At Dave’s, I used to create this shrimp and scallop dish with Aglio Olio and added spinach. It was phenomenal!  Almost as good as their chocolate mousse!  Now that Evanston is a hike, I make my own pre-race pasta dinner.  Since today was the first real warm day of the spring, the BOY was in full-on grill mood.  So he grilled the scallops and mushrooms and I made my pasta.  All I can say is DELISH!!!  I don’t know if it’s because I forgot how good grilled seafood is or if I am just getting better with my seasonings in the kitchen, but tonight’s pasta was the best I’ve ever made!

Now, if only I had some chocolate mousse for dessert?!

Wish me luck tomorrow!