Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Winter Running Wants

Amazingly, today is the last day of August and after I put together my training plan I realized that there's only 13 weeks left until November. For some that means slightly cooler temperatures (silly California!), but here in New England it means Sarah needs to invest in some new winter running gear so she doesn't freeze her butt off this winter. I think I might be losing it, but I'm actually ...excited for winter this year.

I prefer running in the icebox temperatures that NE will reach come winter. It's easier to run faster and I always feel more energized in the cold. Probably because I spend most of my runs chanting "cold, cold, cold, cold." After successfully surviving last winter without any of the common winter weight gain, I'm excited to tackle this one, but I definitely need some new gear.

1. Saucony ViziPro Pink Tights and Top
I love Saucony's ViziPro line for the winter months. As you can see, I already own their orange version of this:
I'd love to have some variety...maybe I can even mix the two colors and look like a running Dunkin' Donuts advertisement. *shifty eyes*

2. Saucony Women's ProGrid Guide 4
I had the previous model of this shoe for last winter and loved it. It was heavier than I normally like in a shoe but I think I prefer heavier shoes in winter time. They make me feel more stable.
Besides...I need the pink shoes to match my pink ViziPro gear from the previous item!

3. YakTrax Pro
This one is pretty straight forward. More traction means less chance that I slip, fall and break something. Simple, no?

4. Zumba DVDs

I've completely fallen in love with Zumba and I would love to do it more come my winter off season. I want these DVDs so I can dance around in my living room. :)

5. Snowshoes
Last year I happened upon an article about speed snowshoeing, or rather, running in snowshoes designed for ...running! I detest skiing and I'm not big on ice skating... so snowshoeing definitely appeals to me as the winter sport I was destined for. Unfortunately most snowshoes run roughly $200 a pair and I'm not sure I'm ready to invest into them yet. I think I'll have to find a place that allows me to try out snowshoeing first. That shouldn't be difficult since this is New England and there's plenty of ski lodges who might offer that exact thing.

What are your favorite winter sports? If you're a runner, do you pack it up and take it indoors come winter time? Let me know in a comment down below! :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ouefs en Cocotte

I love eggs....(from my head down to my legs!) But after a few months of eating them like this:
I was starting to get a little bored. So, with my copious amounts of free time these past three days, I went a-hunting for a new recipe and found this:
Ouefs en Cocotte
Or, roughly translated, eggs casserole. Please correct me if that's wrong, French speakers! This is a super simple recipe and can easily be baked up on a weekday morning while you go about your other morning chores.
Ouefs en Cocotte
1 ramekin, 4-6oz
Boiling water
2 tablespoons (34g) half and half
2 tablespoons (17g) herbed feta cheese, finely crumbled
2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Pour the half and half into the ramekin and set the ramekin in a pan. Fill the pan with boiling water, covering half of the ramekin. Place the pan and the ramekin into the oven.
3. When the cream is hot (there will be little bubbles around the edge of the ramekin), add the feta cheese and then the two eggs.
4. Bake the eggs until just set. They will still be wiggly when you gently bump the ramekin. Remove the ramekin from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

I accidentally let mine cook in the oven too long this morning because I hopped in the shower as soon as I put 'em in the oven. They were still really quite delicious, and the best part is that there's endless options of things that I can add in. You can be sure I'm going to be putting some avocados in there when mine are ripe this week!

Have you ever had ouefs en cocotte? If you haven't, would you try them? If you do, I'd love to hear about it! Lemme know in a comment below. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turkey Trot Training: Week 0

It's been just over a week since the PUMA 5 miler migraine experience. I'm feeling sufficiently rested and ready to hop right into my next training plan.
The 2011 Turkey Trot 5K Training Plan!
Can you believe that it's a mere 13 weeks until Thanksgiving? At the rate my weeks have been passing recently, Thanksgiving will be on top of me in a flash. After my last couple races, it's become abundantly clear to me that I'm not in the kind of running shape I was at the beginning of the summer. I've selected what I believe to be the most accurate set of training paces:
The paces aren't set in stone, so I'll easily be able to modify them over the course of the 13 weeks. I already expect that I will have to modify them after my 5K tune-up race in October. I'm planning on running the same Turkey Trot I ran last year so my goal is to beat my time of 27:44. Seeing as how I've already beaten that time with an earlier race this year, I think it's completely reasonable to expect that I will beat last year's PR.

The training plan lasts a total of 13 weeks and can be found, in its entirety, here.  This is just week one:
This week's meal plan is also a PDF in Google docs and can be found here. There's a smattering of new meals that with any luck, will be good enough to share on the blog throughout the week.

Are you currently training for any races? How's it going? Lemme know in a comment below!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mmm...tapas!

I spent most of my day perusing my cookbook and Cooking Light magazines to create this. I've finally got some variety in my meals, which should hopefully help keep me on track during the weeks. Just like my training plan, I'm going to print it out and stick it on the fridge. It makes it so much easier to pack my lunches each day when I have a clearly defined list of what to put in my lunch box. We still had power at the Omni Hotel when I was finished, so I hit up the gym.
The gym was pretty packed. I suspect, that like myself, many people were feeling trapped and had a lot of extra energy to get out. The A/C wasn't working very well, so the gym was pretty humid. I think I sweat out a hurricane's worth of water. I went back to the room and took a shower then spent the rest of my day reading this:
The Kinshield Legacy

It was a steal for the Kindle, a mere 99 cents! It's alright so far, but it hasn't really drawn me into its story yet. The main character isn't quite compelling enough yet.  I'll keep reading though, in the hopes that it becomes more riveting.

Around dinner time, we finally left the room to head down to the hotel buffet. Eric and I weren't thrilled with the offerings so we decided to take a walk around the block.
Yay! The outdoors!
Everything was already dry and not all that windy, so we wandered around until we came upon what appeared to be an unmarked little restaurant.
Barcelona New Haven
It turned out to be a lovely little tapas place.  I haven't had tapas since 2008 in Norway of all places. I only remembered to take a picture of two of our plates, being that I was ravenously hungry.
Roasted Chickpea Puree 

Farm Egg
We also got the Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs, Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Puree, Herbed Goat Cheese and Mushrooms and Corn basket. I rather enjoyed the figs, so much so that I think I might have to incorporate them into my regular eating habits.

What's your favorite style of ethnic cuisine? My favorite is absolutely Mediterranean cuisine, generally with a focus on Greek. Lemme know in a comment down below!
 

Stuck

If you saw my post yesterday, you probably noticed that Eric and I were headed down to New Haven, CT for a wedding today. We checked into the Omni @ Yale in New Haven around 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
It hadn't started raining yet, but it sure looked crappy out.
I immediately sought out the fitness center so that I could do a much needed 30 minute PSP workout.
I totally forgot to bring my watch with me but I found out my fancy smartphone has a timer app. There were actually a couple of people in there that could possibly have been from the Jersey shore with their accents and 'tudes. It was pretty entertaining to listen to them.

Afterward, I headed back to the room and spent the entire rest of my night working on this. It's still missing my pace chart, but I'm quite pleased with it. I'm going to print it out and keep it on the fridge along with my weekly meal plans. I've also spent last night working on coming up with some new recipes to flesh out my weekly meal plans.
As I was sitting on the bed, reading through my recipes, Eric's phone made a the "I got a text message" noise and I just knew. It turns out his poor friend Corey had to reschedule the wedding from Sunday to Monday. That stinks, because now we can't go and we're stuck in the Omni until the hurricane blows over. :( I'm also sad because I don't get to wear my pretty new purple dress from Nordstrom:
Last night shortly after we got room service, the hotel staff slid a paper under the door to inform us that they weren't offering any warm meals from room service due to the possible power outages.  That still held true this morning, but when I called to ask what they were offering, I found out they still had a continental breakfast with warm food. We got dressed and went downstairs.
<3 White House|Black Market shopping
spree clothes :)
I was pretty psyched to see that they were offering delicious steel cut oats!
Fresh Strawberries, Dried Apples, Almond Butter &
Soy milk steel cut oats!
Now Eric and I are lazing around the room, trying to figure out what to do today. I'm hoping the power stays on long enough to allow me to get in a treadmill run in the fitness center. Besides that I'm still working on writing up my weekly meal plan and thinking about actually working on the new CSS for my blog.

So what's up with you guys? Anything fun? Do you even have power? Lemme know in a comment below!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Me, myself and Irene

Weight: 126.1
Body Fat: 20.5% + 3% = 23.5%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"
----------------------------------------------


Have you heard about Irene?
I don't think there's a soul on the eastern seaboard who hasn't heard about Irene at this point. But seriously, look at this hurricane:
CREDIT: NASA/Ron Garan
The reports are saying that this might resemble Hurricane Bob of '91 because it's following a similar track. I vaguely remember Hurricane Bob (I was 6 at the time), and all I recall is being without power, wrapped up in an afghan watching the winds rip the trees to pieces. However this hurricane, I'll be in Connecticut. Near the coastline, for a wedding. I'm totally questioning the prudence of a wedding in a hurricane but the show must go on I guess.

Eating under pressure
I've been feeling a ton of pressure at work these past weeks and it's been affecting my sleeping, my eating and my working out. I've been slipping and eating (a lot) mindlessly more often than I'd care to admit and as evidenced by my weigh-in up there. It's showing up on the scale over the last few weeks as an ever so slight but definitive upswing in my charts. I believe that part of maintenance for me is staying aware of these upswings and working actively to prevent them. I'm going to take the following measures to remedy the upswing over the course of the next month:

  • Bring back the weekly menu to my weekly training posts.
  • Strive to create more variety in my lunch time meals; boredom is becoming my enemy with these.
  • When I feel myself beginning to buckle under pressure and contemplate eating peanut butter straight out the jar, take a quick break and step away from the computer. 
    • If that doesn't work, chew gum and drink a lot of water.
  • Make sure that I wear my goal weight bracelet as a reminder every day.
  • Lastly, I must remember that money is on the line to stay under my ceiling weight. I still have a Stickk contract to stay under 127 and I don't want my money to go to my Mom. (Sorry Mom!)
In truth, I just have to make it through the next month and a half and work will let up, allowing me to return to the regularly scheduled squirrel activities.

So! Are you affected by the hurricane this weekend? What are your plans? If not, what's the weather going to be like where you are this weekend? Lemme know in a comment below! :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Speedy Dinners


Between work and working out these past few weeks, I've been getting home so late that making a time-consuming dinner hasn't been an option.  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received a coupon to try a free sample of Bird's Eye Viola! and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Usually, I'm reticent about purchasing frozen meals; they usually don't taste very good. However, since when I make stir-fry, I usually grab a package of Bird's Eye stir-fry veggies anyhow, I figured that it couldn't be too bad.
I added some edamame that I had in the fridge and it was an excellent meal in a short time frame. You can't beat 7 minutes of prep for dinner post-Zumba! :)  Bird's Eye has many different Voila flavors and I'm definitely looking forward to trying some more.

Want to try out Birds Eye Voila? I've got bogo coupons to share with interested readers! Send me an e-mail!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Break up with the couch!


Are you currently involved in a sordid love affair with your couch?



Do you often find yourself uttering the words "meh exercise" when faced with the prospect of physical activity?

Remember when you were a kid and you ran around all day, throwing a ball, jumping rope or shooting hoops? That was exercise, but it sure didn't seem that way.

If you're looking to end your love affair with the couch, studies show that it pays to be selective with your exercise choice.  As a child, you chose activities that you enjoyed doing and they didn't seem like exercise, so take a tip from your youth and be choosy.

When you select an activity that you enjoy, it's more likely that you will feel better, both mentally and physically, while engaging in it. And when you do something you enjoy, time seems to fly by, right? Apply that principle to your exercise! You'll fatigue less quickly and you may even be inclined to extend your sweat session.

Haven't found an exercise to fall in love with yet?

Don't worry, just shore up your courage and try something you might not normally try.

Hate running? Try signing up for a spinning class at your local health club! Stationary bike not quite your thing? Check out a local zumba class.  Be creative and you might just find the exercise that fits you best.

You might just break your couch's heart!

I have a love affair with running and now Zumba. What's your favorite exercise? Let me know, leave a comment! :)

Source: An Easy Way to Fall in Love with Activity by RealAge

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feeling Light

Oh hi there blog readers! Happy Hump Day!

Training
I'm wicked happy to be back to my 5Ks. In fact, for the first time in months, I left work on time last night to come home and go for a run. 3 miles on a lovely not humid nor hot evening was just the way to get rid of some work stress.  
running apps
My next race is going to be the HipHipHerRace 5K in October. I took a look at the course map on MapMyRun and it seems like there's some hill training in my future!

Blog Gear
A couple months ago, I bought some silly blog gear:
Mouse Pads, a note book, some sticky notes
and some round labels for baked goods

I didn't expect that my family and a couple friends would actually want them, and now I'm out of mouse pads. I'm planning on ordering some more in the next week and I'm also considering selecting one of these designs:

Which one is your favorite? I can't decide whether I like the front and center option or the left justified option better!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday! Do you think getting your own bloggy gear is dorky or cute?  I'm leaning towards a mix of both. Do you have your own gear with a logo on it? Lemme know in a comment below!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kitchen Adventure: Pizza Dough

I love pizza. Who doesn't, really? But when I started using CalorieKing, I realized that I couldn't justify a slice of pizza from most of my favorite pizza places.  There were simply too many calories, and the toppings weren't customizable enough. I did some basic research and realized that I could make a good pizza at home.  All I needed was a good dough recipe, a peel and a pizza stone.

I tried several different recipes to no avail; the results were either too chewy, too doughy or just not very tasty. So when I received a copy of Baking Illustrated for Christmas two years ago, I tried out their recipe.  What a success! It is my favorite pizza dough recipe to date. It freezes well and cooks to just the perfect amount of crisp chewiness for my tastes. They provide three methods of kneading the dough: by hand, with a standing mixer, and using a food processor.  I find the standing mixer method preferable since kneading by hand is rather tiresome.  I've recently modified this recipe to use my sourdough starter instead of instant yeasts, and have been quite pleased with the results.

Please note that I use a kitchen scale to bake and most of the measurements will be listed by weight.

Basic Pizza Dough (makes 3 medium or 6 personal pizzas)
4 fl.oz. warm water (approximately 110° F)  AND 1 envelope instant yeast
OR
240g sourdough starter
10 fl.oz. room temperature water (between 68° and 77° F)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for oiling the bowl
22 ounces of bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting work surfaces and hands
1.5 teaspoons salt
The Tools and Ingredients
You'll need your standing mixer with both the paddle and dough hook attachments. I've tried a couple of different bread flours but my favorite is King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour. You'll also need a thermometer, preferably a digital one for ease of reading.

Once you've gotten your supplies together, the first thing I like to do is measure out my flour and salt.  I do this directly into the mixer's bowl.
22 ounces of King Arthur Bread Flour

Add the 1.5 teaspoons salt to the flour and attach the bowl and the paddle attachment to the mixer. Turn the mixer on low and allow to run for a few minutes.
 
While the flour and salt are mixing, measure out 4 fl.oz. of warm water.


Sprinkle the package of yeast into the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, measure 10 fl.oz. of room temperature water and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the yeast mixture and give it a quick stir.

With the paddle attachment and mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast mixture in a slow, steady stream. Mix just until the dough forms a cohesive mass.  Switch to the dough hook.

The dough formed a cohesive mass. Time to switch to the hook!

With the dough hook attached, set the mixer to low speed and allow to run for 5 minutes.


Note that the dough may be kneaded enough before the 5 minutes is up. I always like to give the dough a poke around the 2.5-3 minute mark to check the springiness.  The dough is done when it springs back at your touch. While dough is kneading, pour a tiny amount of extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl and rub the oil all over the sides of the bowl.


Fill your liquid measuring cup with about two cups of water, put it into the microwave and allow to come to a boil.  The dough should be done in the mixer by now; take it and shape it into a ball.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Ensure the the plastic wrap is tight; you don't want any moisture escaping.
It's hard to see, but there is plastic wrap on there!
Take the bowl and place it into the microwave with the measuring cup full of hot water. The microwave is being used as a proofing box, to allow the dough to rise unhindered.  Allow the dough to rise 2 hours or until doubled in size.

2 hours later...
Punch the dough down and allow to sit for 5 minutes. After, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into the correct number of portions.  At this point, I divide my dough into six separate balls and place the dough that won't be used into Ziploc storage containers. You can store these containers in the freezer for a couple of months.  Just allow them to completely defrost in the refrigerator before using it.  

For the dough being used now, allow the dough to relax under a damp cloth for no less than 10 minutes but no more than 30 before shaping.  Top as you see fit. :)

Basic Nutrition Information
(based upon 6 personal sized)
139 calories
5g fat
0.7g saturated fat
20g carbohydrates
1g fiber
4g protein