Shakn’ It Up

So I’ve decided to change up my workouts a bit…adding in more strength and perhaps a HIIT workout or two.  I think that these components have been missing from my fitness routine.  Mostly because I HATE them they are not my favorites, and I’m not motivated to do them on my own.  I’m a distance runner/cardio queen…intervals make my legs shake : )

I decided to seek out some morning motivation.  So…Tuesday morning, I went to a run class.  It was raining and without the class, I definitely would have hit snooze and then hit snooze again. But I got myself there and we ran inside and out.  I was a bit wet when we were done but I was reminded that running in the rain can be refreshing!

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For breakfast, I planned ahead and made a Sweet Potato Flax and Chia Bowl.  Mmm!  It was fantastic!

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A great mix of taste and nutrients to power me through the rest of my day.  Wednesday was a rest day, but I was still up early for work.  Thursday morning, I was on my own.  My goal was a 15 minute HIIT and 15 minutes or so of ab exercises.  I snoozed and then waited for the BOY’s alarm, then cuddled with the BOY and Cooper, and then got out of bed.  I only had a wee bit of time and although a relaxed, quiet breakfast sounded like a good idea, I did lace up my sneaks for an interval run.

It looked like this…2 minute warm up followed by 30/30 sprints recovery x 12 and then a 1 minute cool down.  Let me tell you, my legs felt like I was running in quick sand.  This workout was short but REALLY tough!  Sprints just are NOT my thing!

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This morning, I was back at the gym for a fun and challenging class.  I was able to do a free week at a boutique gym 5 minutes from our house.  The classes are both inside and out (LOVE THAT!) and they are tough but don’t leave me too knocked out to get through my work day.  This morning’s class included, amongst other things, a mix of kettle bells, resisted running, and planks.

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After a week of tough workouts, it’s my legs that are shakn’!  The only thing missing from this week was yoga, which I was able to do this afternoon when I taught two amazing kids classes. I had some new faces in my younger group and 11 yogi’s eager to try stretches and exciting acro poses in my second class.  I loved every minute!

I’m hoping that some of these new pieces can find their way more permanently into my weekly workouts.  I know that my sore legs will be more than happy resting on the couch catching up on the Tour de France : )

Do you ever shake up your exercise routine?

 

Sweet Potato Flax and Chia Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 small sweet potato, cooked with skin removed
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 dates
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate over night.

In the morning, blend until desired consistency.  I prefer a thicker smoothie.

Top with fruit, nut butters, or maple syrup.  Or just eat plain…it’s delish on it’s own!

Not Enough Hours

I ran out of hours yesterday…not just to write a blog post but to do a few other important things, like get my oil changed.  Ugh! I dread car maintenance and more because of the time than the price.

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Monday morning’s breakfast was another variation of 2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes (this time I added in flax and pumpkin pie spice).  They were delicious!

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Then I hit the gym for a seriously intense strength session.  After Sunday’s double workout, I was feeling pretty good and proud of myself…that was until my trainer suggested jump squats: )

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I drove back home, windows down and blasting the Governor’s Ball on Alt Nation, where I scooped up the BOY for our weekly grocery store run.  Before we left, I whipped up a smoothie.

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Into the Blender

1 cup almond milk

1 apple

~1/2 cup beet juice

Handful of Spinach

Few ice cubes

 

I drank my refreshing smoothie as we wound our ways through the aisle of Mariano’s figuring out our meals for the week.  I planned to make curry for Monday night’s dinner using my new French curry powder.

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And planned to let the BOY grill up the rest of this week’s meals.  He ended up doing a lot of the work for the curry, for which I was grateful, as I scrambled around unpacking groceries, prepping lunch, and switching laundry.

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I planned to make a few adjustments to this recipe, but misread the instructions and added in the coconut milk right away.  I will leave the recipe as intended below but note that if you want to make it ahead or are feeling lazy, it works this way too.  I had about a million things running through my head but needed to shower and get out the door.  Meanwhile, my printer wasn’t working and the BOY required my assistance on a cover letter…leaving me to feel that there are just never enough hours in the day.

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I drove into Chicago, battling rush hour and Hawks traffic, for a neat opportunity that you will have to wait to hear about…Sorry Friends!  But there were clear streets and clear skies ahead when I flew back home to suburbia.

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The BOY had just dug into the curry and I was excited to try it.  I have to tell you that this veggie combo is awesome…I’ve never done cauliflower in the crockpot before, but I am a fan.  I think that the recipe could use a bit more spice, but I’m not exactly sure which one.  I had leftovers for lunch today with a a sweet potato and it totally hit the spot.

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I did stay up to watch the Hawks game but was pretty tired by that point, so most of my to do list didn’t get done (and might not until next weekend).  Because today was an extra long work day, which left me thinking…there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

 

What spice do you use in your curry?  Do you run out of hours?

 

Meal Planning 6/08/15

Monday: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Curry

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Scallops (chef’s decision)

Thursday: Pork and Veggies

 

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken Curry

Adapted from Le Creme De La Crumb

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped

SAUCE

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or one 14-ounce can + ½ cup chicken broth)
  • 3 tablespoons yellow curry powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • optional: corn starch slurry (see note)

Directions

  1. Add chicken pieces, peppers, cauliflower, and onions to the slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together chicken broth, curry powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper if using. Pour mixture into slow cooker and stir to coat chicken and veggies. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low 4-5 hours.
  3. About 10-15 minutes before serving, stir in coconut milk. Stir just before serving and top with cashews and freshly chopped cilantro.

The Forgotten Weekend

Did you have plans this weekend?

Most of the people I spoke with didn’t, and I think it’s because this was a hidden weekend tucked between Memorial Day and June.  So rare!

The BOY and I started our weekend Friday with date night at Cooper’s Hawk followed by an uneventful game of Monopoly.

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We slept in Saturday morning and woke to a cool, stormy day.  I planned to go for a run and figured that I’d wait for the sun to come out in the afternoon.  The day progressed slowly with a trip to the grocery store, lunch at home, LOTS of wedding talk and decisions, baking a beautiful banana bread (recipe below), and a trip to Kohl’s for more outfit options for engagement photos.  It is so hard to figure out what to wear so that we don’t match but don’t clash for a 52 degree spring day. Ugh!

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By the time we left Kohl’s after 4pm, my stress levels were elevated.  Sadly, the sun never showed up and the rain was still pouring so an outdoor walk was out of the question.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to head to the gym to burn off some negative energy.  The combination of a long and exhausting work week with wedding plans and lack of exercise/yoga had be feeling edgy.  I knew I’d feel so much better after some laps around the indoor track!

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And I was right!  I did a track ‘Tabata’ workout consisting of 6 minute runs and 3 minute intervals (10 seconds on/20 second recovery x6 times).  Each sprint got faster and faster as I felt better and more energized.  When I got back home, the BOY was making beer can chicken for dinner, which turned out fantastic!  We had a quiet night at home watching the Blackhawk’s game (which they won…woo hoo!).

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Sunday morning, I was excited to go to yoga. I haven’t been in a few weeks due to illness and scheduling, and I knew I needed a tough physical and emotionally cleansing class.  For breakfast, I used the leftover sweet potato from last night’s dinner to whip up some 2 Ingredient Pancakes (+ flax). 

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I was winging the portions a bit but they turned out absolutely delicious!

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My yoga class was positively fantastic!  The teacher talked a bunch about giving to ourselves so that we can give to others and slowing down to connect with our breath.  It was exactly what I needed to feel more grounded and ready for the day ahead.

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When I got back home, the BOY and I made breakfast for lunch (brunch?), and then I tried on no less than 23 outfits for our engagement pictures.  I ran out of time to make a decision because I needed to run out the door for my scheduled mani/pedi.  When I got home, it was time to finish my hair and get my make up done.

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Man, I wish I had someone to do this every weekend!  The BOY and I took our pictures at the park near our house where we play tennis. We took a few fun ones on the swings and tennis courts and then the more ‘serious’ ones near the prairie at sunset.

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After freaking out about these pics all week, I ended up in jeans and a white shirt I’ve had for years.  Go figure!  Although it was freezing, we had a lot of fun!  Afterwards, we grabbed a late dinner of beer and pizza.  I couldn’t let that awesome make up go to waste : )  It was another wonderful weekend, and I can’t wait to see ALL of our engagement photos!  And…I can’t believe that our wedding is just 131 days away!

 

What did you end up doing with your forgotten weekend?

 

Chocolate and Walnut Banana Bread

From Hoosier Homemade

Ingredients

  • 2 cups MINUS 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Oil (I like Safflower oil)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 very ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ½ cup Walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add oil and eggs, one at a time. Beat after each addition. Add mashed banana and vanilla, beat well.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into pan.  Bake at 350 degrees – regular loaf 50-60 minutes or mini loaves 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes (with flax)

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato (about 100g)
  • 15g ground flax seed

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor or blend in bowl with hand mixer (this is what I did) until mixed well.

Pour onto preheated skillet with coconut oil or cooking spray.  Cook about 5-6 minutes.  Then flip for 3-4 minutes.

Top with nut butters, syrup, or fruit!

Citrus Honey Glazed Vegetables

So yesterday, I went to every grocery store in town and then a few in other towns.  I arrived home with a car full of food, to which the BOY replied.  ‘Why do we need all that food?  It’s Passover…won’t we just eat my mom’s leftovers?’

 

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Welcome to my world people!

Last night, I got started on my Passover baking with some Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies and Banana Bread.  The banana bread just might be how I survive the week!  I also made a batch of Date and Almond TrufflesAnd let’s not forget a large batch of Matzah Toffee.

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That left the heartier foods for today.  I started with everyone’s favorite Fruit Compote and then got started on the veggies.  I was considering roasting a huge batch of asparagus, but instead decided to try something a little different.

 

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I went with Citrus Honey Glazed Vegetables, a recipe I found online.  This recipe has a few of my favorite veggies (sweet potato, carrot, and parsnips) and a new (to me) veggie, orange beets.  I found these guys to be super dirty and challenging to transport (they made a huge mess in my shopping cart), but in the end I had a beautiful, yet fairly monochromatic, array of diced vegetables.

 

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I followed the directions for my glaze and since I didn’t have a big enough bowl, I used a huge Dutch oven.

 

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Unfortunately, I don’t think that I am a good tosser and did not get everything coated evenly.  This left a lot of citrusy honey on my second baking sheet, which not surprisingly burned, instead of glazed.

 

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My other and luckily larger pan turned out well though and so there are more than enough veggies to share at tonight’s dinner.  I did toss the veggies with Kosher salt throughout as I felt they needed a little extra flavor.

 

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I’m hoping that everyone likes this new Passover side!  If not, I also made a Matzah Kugel with addition of some of my Israel seasonings!

 

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This is the kind of recipe that you can easily add into your rotation of sides year round and you certainly don’t have to be celebrating Passover to enjoy!

 

 

Citrus Honey Glazed Vegetables

From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

    Ingredients

    2 large sweet potatoes – about 2 lbs total

    3 large yellow beets (about 1 1/2 lbs total)

    1 lb carrots

    1 lb parsnips

    1/2 cup honey

    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    1 tbsp orange juice

    2 tsp grated orange zest

    Salt and pepper

    Kosher salt

     

    Directions

    Place racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil. Cut the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch chunks.

    In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, orange blossom water or orange juice, and grated orange zest.

    Place the cut vegetables into a large mixing bowl and toss them with the honey mixture till evenly coated.

    Spread the vegetables out evenly across the two cookie sheets, making sure to leave space between the vegetables. Don’t overcrowd the pans. Sprinkle the vegetables lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper.

    Cover both sheets with another layer of foil. Place the sheets into the oven. Let the vegetables cook for 35 minutes. Halfway through cooking, uncover and stir the vegetables, recover, then switch the baking sheets on their racks.

    After 35 minutes, uncover the baking sheets and stir the vegetables again gently. Allow the vegetables to roast another 10-15 minutes till they are glazed and caramelized.

    Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm. These vegetables can be made ahead early in the day, then reheated in the oven or microwave just before serving.

Day Light Savings Monday

One of the best things about the blog world is learning that I am not the only one who is struggling with the time change!  I slept until 9am on Monday morning (and was in bed by 10 last night) and I should confess that the BOY isn’t even awake yet (as of 10am).

 

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Sleeping Early Sunday Night

 

Cooper on the other hand seems to be adjusting just fine and was more annoyed than anything as he pounded his 11.2# body against our door this morning in request of breakfast, which eventually I provided.  To him and to myself…

I ate a quick breakfast of rye toast and an egg with spinach and then changed into these awesome new workout tights that I bought at the GAP yesterday.  I mean, yes they are awesome because they are bright and obnoxious, but even more so because they only cost me 5 dollars and some change.  I like the GAP workout clothes and I got two other adorable long sleeve shirts on major sale too!

 

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This morning’s workout was another tough one, but I think my arm muscles are starting to emerge.  Woo Hoo!

The rest of the afternoon was jam packed.  I met a friend and her little one for lunch and then raced back home for the BOY and my 3pm court time at the tennis gym.  It was great to try out my new racket and I learned that in tennis, like biking, the right (and possibly more expensive) equipment can help a beginner look better : )

 

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The BOY and I followed up tennis with our weekly grocery store run.  I swear I spend way more when he comes with me than when I go alone.  I had a plan, but apparently the BOY had a different plan for this week.  I had totally forgotten that it is his spring break, so I picked up some things that he could make for dinner while I was working.  When I got back home, I was starving!  I snacked on some cheese and crackers while unpacking our groceries and putting chili in the crockpot for this week’s lunch.

 

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I cheated a little bit and bought pre cut sweet potato, and it made this recipe come together really quickly!  We had the most beautiful day today, finally, and so I almost didn’t want to make chili.  I eat chili all year long, but just like everyone else, I am craving some warm weather and spring foods! 

 

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That being said, I like having a healthy and tasty lunch and knew that this would do the trick.  While my chili simmered in the crockpot, the BOY made an awesome dinner tonight.

 

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We had our first taste of spring today and with the time change, there will be more sunshine ahead (I hope!)

 

Did you have trouble adjusting to the time change?

 

Meal Planning 3/10/14

Monday: Shrimp and Pasta

 

Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken Pesto

 

Wednesday: Salmon (for me) and Lamb Chops (for the BOY) + Veggies

 

Thursday: Pork Tenderloin with Broccoli

 

Lunch: Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili

 

 

Crockpot Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili

From Iowa Girl Eats

 

Ingredients:
1lb ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
28oz can crushed tomatoes
15oz can beans (I used black beans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 large sweet potato (about 1lb,) peeled and chopped small
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

 

Directions: 

Add ground turkey and onion to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no longer pink, breaking turkey up as it cooks. Add garlic then cook for 30 more seconds then add to a 6 quart crock pot. Add remaining ingredients, except toppings, into crock pot then cook on high for 3 hours, or low for 5-6 hours, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Surviving the Mondays (in a Polar Vortex)

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So one of the things that the BOY and I have been figuring out is adjusting to a new schedule.  We adapted when I started my new full time job in December, but then shortly after he began winter break.  Now, it’s a new semester with a new schedule and that changes meal planning.  Especially since the BOY had 2 night classes this semester, which means 2 nights that I am on my own.  The other thing going on this week is we are back in extreme temperatures with cancellations, cold cars, and frost bite warnings.  Even the BOY’s law school classes got canceled today and tomorrow.

 

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The good thing about today is that after a busy, rather sleepless but super duper fun, weekend, I had a quiet Monday.  I was so tired that my eyes were closed and I was passed out with Cooper on my face (no joke!) last night at 9pm.  I slept blissfully until after 8am this morning, at which time Cooper returned to pouncing on me.  The BOY got dressed and headed off to work. I made some breakfast and threw the first of 2 recipes into the crockpot, trying to avoid hitting a curious Cooper with my knife.

 

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This recipe for Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry is really easy and was in the crockpot before 9am.

 

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So I had some time to warm up before having to leave the house.  I had an 11am workout scheduled with my new trainer.  As I was getting out of the car, I realized that I totally forgot my shoes.  After 2 days of yoga, I didn’t even think about bringing along gym shoes.  My trainer is creative and it worked out just fine.  My arms were tired after this weekend and we worked my back hard.  I’m hoping for improved posture!

 

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I had to make a return at the mall, so I decided to try Protein Bar for lunch.  I’ve heard wonderful things about this place from everyone who gets to go there in the city.  I was excited that we finally got one in the suburbs and extremely impressed with my Spinach and Pesto Quinoa bowl for lunch!

 

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I braved the mall (filled with kids since there is no school today) to make my return and in the mean time picked up a few pieces of Gap Fit workout wear on sale (including running capris for only 15$).  When I got home my lentils were soft and fragrant.

 

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I made this for lunch for the week ahead, and it was a quick turn around as packaged away the lentils and threw tonight’s dinner into a cleaned crockpot.

 

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Meanwhile, Cooper kept himself busy and out of trouble (yea…right?!)

 

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Cooper and I then curled up for an hour and a half nap before having just enough time to get ready and head out the door for tonight’s tennis lesson.  It was hard to determine if it was still on, but I was excited to find out that we were.  I think I’ve learned a thing or 2 and am getting maybe a wee bit better…maybe!  Tonight was cold but fun and I learned how to serve, which is exciting!

 

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We came home and had dinner (recipe coming tomorrow) before relaxing back on the couch with some tea and a new TV show called Black Sails.  Has anyone seen it?  The BOY is off tomorrow and I am crossing my fingers once again that my car starts.  The brutal cold has already rolled in and we can hear the wind howling through the trees.  We have plenty of warm food for the week ahead…perfect to beat any case of the Mondays!

 

How do you survive Mondays?

 

Cooper’s Answer: With warm, cozy naps!

 

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Meal Plan 1/27/14

Sunday: Turkey Tacos

 

Monday: Crockpot Cashew Chicken

 

Tuesday: Burgers (premade from Mariano’s) with mushrooms and asparagus

 

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: TBD

 

Lunch: Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

From Hello Little House

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp curry paste

2 cups low sodium chicken or veggie (to keep vegetarian) stock

1 tsp minced ginger

3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Spray your crockpot with cookie spray.

Add in potatoes, onions, and lentils to crockpot.

Stir together stock, ginger, and curry paste until well combined.  Pour over sweet potato mixture and stir.

Set crockpot to high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

Sweet Potato and Banana Baked Oatmeal

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So even though the blog world is alive with Pumpkin Love, I have sweet potatoes on the brain.

 

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And of course breakfast!  Plus also, some brown bananas!  One banana went into this recipe while the other two turned into these incredible muffins!

 

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I used one of my favorite baked oatmeal recipes for inspiration.  However, I didn’t have any flax seeds in the house.  Instead, I decided to try baking in some chia seeds.  I always love chia seeds before a run, and I’ve never tried baking them into my oatmeal before.

 

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I accidently got involved in the Bear’s game and missed the timer’s beep, so my oatmeal was almost overdone.

 

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But ended up JUST RIGHT!

 

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Although pumpkin is all of the rage, don’t forget that left over sweet potatoes make an incredible addition to breakfast bakes AND eggs!

 

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And an awesome pre run breakfast!

My September goal was to focus on my nutrition…specifically to enhance and support my running.  I created a few tasty and filling breakfasts, which have been fantastic and as always my crockpot has provided some healthy week night dinners.  I completed two 20 mile runs…woo hoo!  And overall had a fantastic fall month.

 

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Moving forward…my October goals are such:

 

1. Stay Healthy

2. Sleep Often

3. Run Smart

4. PR!

 

I received my official packet pick up ticket in the mail and it is finally starting to look and feel like fall.  Chicago marathon…here I come!  I am trying to use these next two weeks to get my body and mind ready for the race, without over thinking things.  It’s not an easy balance!  I am also trying to calm my nerves.  And, for those who asked…my shoes are totally ready for the race : )

 

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Did you set goals for October?

 

 

Sweet Potato and Banana Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from Pumpkin Banana Baked Oatmeal Bars

 

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats

4 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Dash of cloves

3/4-1 cup mashed sweet potato (1 medium sweet potato)

1 cup almond milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 banana, mashed

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 9×9 baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine oats, chia seeds, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl.

Whisk egg, sweet potato, almond milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Stir in dry ingredients until well combined.

Pour oatmeal into your baking pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, until edges are just starting to brown.

Let cool and cut into 4 bars.

Store in airtight container in fridge or freeze for later.  Thaw and reheat in microwave.

 

 

A few more of my favorite sweet potato breakfasts…

Sweet Potato Dough Boy Smoothie

Sweet Potato French Toast

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Chia Bowl