Monthly Archives: February 2011

Attitude adjustment

It is no secret that I hate winter. I have actually broken up with Mother Nature and will not consider getting back together with her until she decides to stop ruining my life. By my life I mean running. I had an 18-miler on the schedule for Saturday morning, and what does she do? Dump more snow over the land, that’s what.

What did I do? I woke up, looked outside, and decided to give myself an attitude adjustment. Instead of dwelling on how awful my run was going to be, how long it was going to take, and how many times I might take myself out on the ice, I decided to be at peace with the situation. I loaded up my audiobook, laced up my trusty trail shoes, and hit the roads for what I already knew would be a very long time. And slow going it was. Almost no one had bothered to shovel their sidewalks, and much of the way there was a layer of ice just underneath the fresh snow. I pressed on slowly, and did not allow myself to get frustrated. The good news was my legs never really got tired because I was running at a much slower pace than usual. 18.66 miles and nearly three hours later, I was home.

Yesterday afternoon we attended my little cousin Nora’s 5th birthday party. Of course I made some treats for the occasion.

The first were called Secret Promises Cookies. They were peanut butter cookies with Dove dark chocolate promises baked into the middle. And yes, they are just as amazing as you might imagine.

The second treat was called Sweet, Salty, Frito Candy, but I like to refer to it as white trash toffee. I came across the recipe at the last minute, and I instantly knew it would be a hit. I mean come on, it has fritos and chocolate. And Reese’s pb cups and pretzels. How could this not be good? I am not kidding when I tell you that the plate of these was attacked in a serious manner. Everyone was raving about it and asking what was in it. So if you want to be a hit at your next party, I suggest you make these. They’re super easy too!

There was a delicious dinner which eluded photographs on account of I was busy stuffing it into my face. The birthday girl blew out her candles and it was time for ice cream cake.

Isn’t the princess cake adorable?

Yay! Ice cream!

Sorry about the creepy weird smile I have here. I was getting irritated because I couldn’t take a picture of myself and get the cake in the shot. It took a few tries, and I just wanted to eat it already!

At some point a butt load of deer came into the yard for a snack. There were a lot more than this, and they were fighting with each other over the food. At one point two of them were actually standing up on hind legs swatting at each other. Deer are scary.

By the time we got home last night I was so exhausted I fell asleep approximately four minutes into an episode of The Office. This morning I woke up only to have to try to motivate myself to get out and run all over again. I made it 10 miles with a not quite as positive attitude, but at least I got it done.

Tonight is homemade pizza night. It shall be the perfect ending to a pretty darn good weekend.

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Filed under Baking, Family, Food, The run

Gut feelings

My week has gotten away from me. I have been working on a video project all week that has sucked up all of my blogging time while simultaneously turning my brain to mush. I have been enjoying a coconut smoothie every morning, and I still have quite a bit of coconut paste left. I am starting to have visions of coconut banana bread. The smoothie I made on Tuesday was the bomb diggity, and I made a variation of the exact same thing for three days straight.

Oh yes, I broke out the hershey’s special dark cocoa powder. Tuesday’s smoothie contained almond milk, chobani cherry greek yogurt (protein!), coconut paste, frozen banana, frozen berries, and some spinach that eluded the above photo.

All mixed up into a chocolatey concoction.

Mmmmm. Chocolate cherry coconut, is there a better combo?

I had the small glass before my killer treadmill interval workout, and the big one was slurped up post-run on the way to work.

Don’t worry, snapping a self-portrait while driving on the freeway in traffic in the snow and drinking a smoothie is in no way dangerous. My camera hand was on the wheel the whole time.

Yesterday and today I recreated the same smoothie, except sans greek yogurt because the chob is pricey and I would rather eat it straight up. I added some peanut flour for protein instead and it was yumtastic. I kind of wish I didn’t just say that.

Ok, I need to tell you guys about my run this morning. I had a tempo on the schedule, specifically a treadmill tempo sandwich as I like to call it. That would be a 2 mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo pace, and a 2 mile cool down to make a nice little breakfast sandwich. When I woke up this morning I was highly unmotivated, and I convinced myself that this workout wasn’t going to happen. My legs were still a little sore from the 10 lunges and squats I did on Monday (yes, really), coupled with a killer 12×400 interval workout on Tuesday and a 6 mile jaunt through the slushy snow yesterday.

I made a deal with myself that I would go and do the warm up, and if my gut was telling me that today was not a tempo day, I could bag it and cross train on the elliptical. After all, I listen to my gut when it tells me to feed it a half a pint of chubby hubby and a peanut butter cookie, so why should my gut feeling during a workout be any different? I pretty much resigned myself to the elliptical scenario before I even started.

Then something happened. As I warmed up, I felt ok. I nudged up the speed bit by bit, and I felt ok. I made a new deal that once I hit two miles I would try tempo pace. If I wasn’t feeling it, I could stop. So I cranked up the speed to a 7:03 pace. Guess what? It felt ok. I played mind games and didn’t allow myself to look at the display until 4 songs had passed. By the time I looked I only had 3/4 of a mile to go at tempo pace. Though my legs were a little more fatigued than normal, I still felt ok. Before I knew it, time was up. I cranked the speed down to goal marathon pace (8:00) and ran it out for two more miles before I cooled down. An hour had gone by, and I still felt ok.

What is the point of this long-winded story? It is important to listen to your gut when it tells you your body needs a break (and also when it tells you to feed it cereal and chocolate for dinner). But it is important to listen even more closely when it is your mind telling you you’re not going to accomplish what you set out to do. Though my mind wasn’t in it today and would have ditched this run before it even started, my gut knew that my body could do it. Now I have the confidence boost that comes from knowing I can still hit goal paces during a workout on less-than-fresh legs. Win!

Right now my gut wants salad and hummus with peanut butter pretzels. Who am I to argue?

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Filed under Food, The run

Smoothie time

I woke up this morning so excited to make a tropical smoothie. It almost made the fact that I had to go swimming not suck. Almost. At least I knew I would have a delicious treat waiting for me after my workout. Obviously coconut would be the main ingredient in today’s concoction. When I pulled the container out of the fridge I discovered it had turned from coconut mush to coconut paste overnight.

Into the Vitamix went approximately:

1/2 cup coconut paste

1/2 cup So Delicious Strawberry Cultured Coconut Milk (I bought this on a whim because it was on sale at Whole Foods. It’s good, but really sweet. Perfect for this smoothie)

1/2 cup almond milk

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup pineapple chunks

huge handful of baby spinach

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

good shake of cinnamon

After about 30 seconds I had a green smoothie.

It made a ton, and it didn’t all fit in my smoothie-to-go cup.

I drank the small glass pre-swim and had the big one for breakfast afterwards.

Let me just say, the fresh coconut has a very distinct flavor. I was a little taken aback on the first sip, but once I got used to it I really really liked it. I think maybe 1/2 cup was a bit excessive though, maybe I’ll do 1/3 or 1/4 next time. It was hard to find the correct nutritional value of blended up coconut meat online.

Also, this smoothie definitely counts as a meal. I added up the contents for fun and found it packs nearly 500 calories, 25 grams of fat (20 just from the coconut), and 16 grams of fiber (woah!). I was disappointed in the protein content however, coming in at only around 6 grams. I ran out of my hemp protein powder, or I would have added that too.

I am already dreaming up my next concoction. I am thinking chocolate coconut banana strawberry!

My swim today was mediocre and only lasted 40 minutes because I just wasn’t that into it. I am going to try to get to the pool once more this week to make up for it. BUT, I did 30 minutes of strength training today! Yes my friends, it’s been way too long, several months I believe. I need to start incorporating weights again so I can impress you all with my gun show. Trust me, my pipes are huge.

I’m already excited for my treadmill intervals tomorrow morning. Time to make a playlist!

What’s your favorite smoothie recipe?

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Filed under Food, The swim

Crackin’ the coconut

Friday afternoon I stopped at Kohl’s Department Store because I had a gift certificate to use up along with a coupon. I found some cute birthday presents for two of my little cousins, and then browsed the kitchen department to find something fun for myself. I ended up with a rolling pin and two silicone baking mats. How exciting, right!? So naturally I had to test out the baking mats yesterday with some peanut butter cookies.

The verdict? Love the baking mat! And the cookies were pretty darn good too. I am also very excited about the possibilities for my rolling pin. Can you believe I have never owned one before? On the agenda for this week is definitely some homemade crackers.

I won’t bore you with the details of my running this weekend because I have more important things to share. I had two great runs (13 miles on Saturday morning and 10 miles on Sunday). Luckily I was up early this morning and finished my run before this happened:

Just when all the snow had melted and I enjoyed two glorious runs on dry paths and sidewalks. Dear Mother Nature, I hate you right now. Sincerely, Laura

Since the yucky slushy snow had me dreaming of the tropics, I decided there was no better time than the present to crack open some coconutty goodness.

I could hardly contain my excitement.

I let Steve take care of the manly tasks involving hammers and nails. He hammered in two holes so we could drain out the water.

I couldn’t believe how much liquid was in there. It ended up being two full cups.

Then I had to try it. Did you know some people just lop off the top of the coconut and stick a straw in to suck out the water?

Here’s what it tasted like:

Blech. It was nasty pants. A while back I bought a can of coconut water from the store and it tasted awful. I thought surely it must taste better straight from the source. Wrong.

Then it was time to crack the sucker open. Again, I left this part to Steve for fear of causing bodily injury. Please don’t look at the messy counter or pile of dishes in the background.

Viola!

Removing the flesh was kind of tricky and involved prying with a knife. I left this part to Steve as well. Hmm…I guess Steve really did most all of the work here. After much prying and cracking, we had a plate full of coconut meat. It tasted better than the water for sure, but not quite as great as I thought it would.

See how there’s still some brown stuff on the outside of the pieces? My wonderful husband peeled the back of each piece with a potato peeler for me while I snacked on peanut butter pretzels. Now that’s love.

Then came the question of what to do with it all. I decided to freeze a few chunks whole for future use in a smoothie, then I threw everything else in the Vitamix including the water.

After a few minutes I had a bunch of creamy coconut mush for lack of a better term. All mixed up it tasted delicious.

It made about four cups, which is now sitting in the fridge.

Steve was running to the grocery store, so I asked him to pick up some pineapple, bananas, and a mango. I am having visions of the best tropical smoothie ever for breakfast tomorrow. I also think the creamy coconut mush might be good as a soup base, so I’m going to look into that as well.

So there you have it. Now I am off to look up tropical vacations that we will never go on just to torture myself. Summer, are you here yet?

Do you like coconut? Have you ever bought a whole one?

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Filed under Baking, Food, The run, weather

Funky funk

I’ve been MIA from the old blog this week. I just haven’t been feelin’ it. Truth be told, I’ve been in kind of a funk all week. Monday and Tuesday I felt really run down and tired, and I thought I might be coming down with something. I think it was just from lack of sleep and lots and lots of running. My training plan right now is pretty aggressive, as I’m training for Boston but would also like to run a 50 miler three weeks after the marathon. So I’ve been incorporating lots of speed work, but my weekly mileage is high because of the 50 miler. I am trying to stay on the healthy side of the fine line between doing enough and over training.

One thing I also need to address that I now know is most certainly affecting my mood and energy levels is my diet as of late. Way too much sugar, and just way too much. Last winter, I was coming off of training for Ironman WI, and I just kept right on eating as if I was working out 15 hours a week. I ended up gaining 14 lbs and felt horrible. It took me until late summer to get back to my normal weight that I feel good at, and I swore up and down that I would not let it happen again this year. Well, as of today, I am 10 lbs heavier than I was in the fall. So there it is.

Thankfully my running is still going well, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel heavy and weighted down during most of my workouts. I need to make a real effort to get things under control if I want to perform my best in Boston. Fear not, this does NOT mean that you are going to stop seeing cupcakes and other delicious treats on this blog. I would never cut all of the treats out of my life because I love them and they truly make me happy.

What it DOES mean is that if I eat some dark chocolate with fruit for dessert after dinner, I will not follow that up an hour later with four handfuls of pretzel M&M’s and a half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Seriously, have you tried Chubby Hubby? It shouldn’t be allowed.

In case you can’t read that it says Fudge Covered Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels in Vanilla Malt Ice Cream with Fudge & Peanut Butter. See what I’m dealing with here? I know, I know, just don’t buy it you might say. But I’m telling you, it just hops right into my cart when I’m not looking. I swear!

Now I am going to show you two extremely nutritious and delicious things that I ate today. First up, breakfast!

I followed this recipe for Carob Buckwheat Bake exactly, except I omitted the walnuts. I topped mine with homemade coconut butter, peanut butter, blueberries, and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was amazingly good and filling. I was working from home today, so it was fun to make a special breakfast that I normally wouldn’t have time to make before work.

Now on to lunch. The other day when I was at Whole Foods, I spied some blood oranges. I snatched two up right away just because I love the way they look.

I made a big salad with spinach, blood oranges, carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, green onion, avocado slices, and blueberries. Of course I topped it with my all time favorite Newman’s Own Pineapple Salsa. Talk about a plate full of nutrients! On the side I had half of a cranberry walnut roll from WF toasted and topped with homemade coconut butter. Yes, I am obsessed with it. Hopefully taking the time to make more healthy and balanced meals (along with decreasing sugar intake, boo.) will help to stabilize my mood and energy levels. I want to snap out of this funky cold medina and return to my spunky old self.

And no, in case you were wondering, we have not yet undertaken the task of opening the coconut.

It will happen this weekend for sure, and you better believe I will have my camera ready.

Do you like putting fruit on salads?

I love it, yet I rarely remember to actually do it.

Weekend plans?

Running, napping, cooking, maybe some cleaning. The usual.

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Filed under Food, Miscellany

Coconuts ‘n cupcakes

I know you have been anxiously waiting to see what kind of cupcakes I ate this weekend, and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. I know I wasn’t. First off, dinner on Saturday night. Steve and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early, because let’s face it, Mondays are lame. We went to Ward’s House of Prime, a steakhouse in Milwaukee. We had a Groupon and a gift certificate that we needed to use up.

I was very excited when I saw butternut squash ravioli on the menu, because that is always one of my favorites. I ordered it up with a strawberry fields salad. The salad was the bomb. It was mixed greens, fresh orange slices, fresh berries and candied pecans with a strawberry vinaigrette that I could have bathed in. Steve ordered a special filet that came with portobella mushroom ravioli, a baked potato, salad, and a side of cajun mac and cheese to share. It was a regular old carb fest at our table. When all of the food came it literally took up the whole table like it was a buffet, and I asked the waitress to snap a photo of us with all of the food. Here’s the photo she took:

At least we look good. I am really disappointed that the food did not make the photo, but oh well. Speaking of disappointed, my butternut squash ravioli was barely mediocre. It was very bland, and came in an even more bland white creamy sauce that was just not good. I guess that’s what I get for ordering ravioli from a steak joint. Steve said his steak was really good, and the portobella mushroom ravioli that came with his was amazing. I ate one and wished that I could have had that for my meal instead. The cajun mac & cheese was yummy as well.

We passed on dessert at the restaurant because of the special cupcakes that were waiting for us at home. Without further ado, I present the chocolate strawberry cupcakes, topped with chocolate ganache and a strawberry.

We were able to cork our wine from the restaurant and take it home to enjoy with dessert.

This picture is actually a lie. Before I ate the cupcake I did take the wrapper off and you know I also had some vanilla ice cream on the side. It was as delicious as it looks.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the two amazing achievements in cinema we watched over the weekend.

Breakin‘ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

How I missed these the first time around in the 80’s is beyond me, but I am so thankful to Netflix for allowing me witness filmmaking at it’s finest. In case you are like me and had never heard of these two gems, they are breakdancing movies from the 80’s and you must watch them immediately.

After all of the wine, carbs, cream, oil, break dancing and cupcakes, I was not feeling too enthusiastic on Sunday morning when I woke up for my 10 mile run. I had to force myself out the door, but once I got going, it was fine. Not the greatest run ever, but the temperature was pretty warm (like 40!) which made it a little better. I also knew that another cupcake was waiting for me tonight, and I better get all of my miles in if I was really going to enjoy it.

Steve and I did some running around in the afternoon, including a stop at Trader Joe’s which was a huge mistake. I have never seen a grocery store so crowded, it was unbelievable. We stopped at one other grocery store where I bought this:

A coconut! I am beyond excited about it even though I have no idea how to go about getting it opened. Hammer? Chisel? Machete?

I think I will wait for Steve to get home tonight and help me with it before I cause some major damage.

Lastly, you didn’t think I’d end this post without a picture of last night’s cupcake did you?

That would be The Snick. Oh yes, it is indeed a Snickers cupcake. The chocolate cake part had chunks of peanuts and caramel, and the frosting is caramel buttercream topped with a Snickers slice. Oh my word. It was so indulgent that I couldn’t finish the frosting. Sacreledge, I know, I just couldn’t do it. And now I know why I never get a good night’s sleep on Sunday nights. The sugar must build up over the weekend until it courses freely through my veins and resistance is futile.

What was the best thing you did this weekend?

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Filed under Food, Fun, Holidays, The run

Cupcakes ‘n brunch

Brunch is my favorite meal of all time. There is nothing better than rolling out of bed on the weekend, bumming around the house, and then enjoying a leisurely brunch at a local restaurant. When I found out yesterday that my cousin Kelly and her husband Sean were planning to have brunch this morning at the restaurant down the street, I was really bummed that they were planning to go early (like before 10am) because I had a 17 miler on the schedule. I told Kelly I wouldn’t be meeting them, but then the wheels started turning in my head.

If I’m out the door by 7am I could do the 17 miles, take a 3 minute shower, and be to brunch before 10. That’s really early. I would like to sleep in tomorrow. But I would like brunch even more. It would be worth it. It’s settled.

And that is how I came to set my alarm clock for 6am on a Saturday morning. I slammed my coffee, shoved a banana and some dates down my throat, digested for a few minutes while I got dressed, and was out the door by 6:50. I was impressed. I was also worried that the sidewalks would be a sheet of ice because they looked kind of wet and it was still dark outside, but they weren’t too bad.

I did my first 10 mile loop as the sun came up over the lake, which was gorgeous. I was really wishing I had my camera along to snap a photo. The first few miles were really slow, but as I warmed up I was able to settle in on a comfortable pace. Before I knew it, I was back at home for my water/gel stop. I stash the goods in the mailbox in the lobby so I don’t have to go upstairs. At least the mailman wasn’t there this time. I was back out the door in a flash for 7 more miles.

The second loop went by pretty fast as well, which is all thanks to my audiobook. I was able to run the last mile fastest in 8:06, but I think that’s just because I was so excited to get to brunch. I slammed some chocolate almond milk, took a super-fast shower, and drove down the road to meet Kelly and Sean. Yes, I drove to a restaurant that is literally a 5 min walk away, but I had a little errand to run afterwards. And I just ran 17 miles, so give me a break please.

Brunch was fantastic. I started with a coffee with steamed milk, chocolate, and cinnamon.

Their coffee comes with a Ghirardelli dark chocolate square, which is an excellent bonus. I had a lot of trouble deciding if I was in the mood for savory or sweet, but I finally settled on the black bean cakes.

They were topped with poached eggs, salsa verde, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. Right after I placed my order I wished I had gotten the banana coconut pancakes, but when I tasted these babies all was right with the world. They were delicious. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t come with potatoes, but Kelly gave me some of hers so it was all good.

I mentioned that I had a little errand to run after brunch. You’ll have to wait to see the pics, but I stopped at the Milwaukee Cupcake Company to pick up some special Valentine’s day cupcakes for dessert tonight. Steve and I are going out to a fancy dinner (using a groupon and a gift certificate of course!). I may have bought four cupcakes so we could each have one for tonight and one for tomorrow. It is taking all of my willpower not to eat one right this second.

What is your favorite kind of cupcake?

Mine is the chocolate peanut butter one from Milwaukee Cupcake Company, but I branched out and am trying something new this time.

What is your favorite meal to eat at a restaurant?

Brunch!

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