It's Summer Grilling Season

Hello All. Hope you had a great afternoon. It was gorgeous outside, but, unfortunately, I spent most of the afternoon inside – working – blah! I headed to Barnes and Noble’s cafe to plug in and use the free WiFi. I was able to crank out at least 2 hours of work there, but was still bummed that I wasn’t outside. To cheer myself up, I treated myself to a tasty frozen beverage….

Starbucks

It was yummy and so refreshingly cold – I loved every sip of it. I headed back home around 5:00 PM. My husband fired up the Weber Grill to cook our stuffed chicken breasts. My husband got his baby last year and we grill on it a ton, especially in the summer. It makes dinner and clean up a snap, which I love of course.

Weber Grill

Stuffed Chicken

We bought the chicken breasts from our local all-natural Fresh Market. My chicken was Venetian chicken, stuffed with goat cheese and roasted red pepper. My husband’s was stuffed with ricotta and spinach. We paired the chickens with a side of fresh cut green beans and some Trader Joe’s couscous made with chicken stock, and sprinkled with feta and grape tomatoes.

July26dinner

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Couscous-feta

Couscous is a great alternative to rice or potato dishes and it’s high in fiber. It’s also a little high in calories (220 calories per 1/3 cup) so I try not to eat too much at one sitting.

And for dessert – fresh and juicy watermelon!

Watermelon

This was truly an awesome summer dinner. Now, I’m off to do more work.

Have a great night everyone!

Heat and Humidity Can Zap a Runner's Energy

Good morning all. I ran a 5-miler today and it was rough. I was really tired and it was warm and muggy – not a good combination for a runner. Heat and humidity can really zap a distance runner’s energy and cause dehydration. To fend off dehydration, runners should really take water with them on a run, or at least know where they can quickly get a drink of water on their route. In my case, my route is so close to the house, that I can return anytime and grab a few drinks.

I always know when I’m dehydrated because I start getting a headache. If I don’t drink a ton of water immediately, then my headache will change into a migraine – not fun. So, I was sure to drink at least a bottle and a half of water when I returned home. I was also super hungry when I returned from running, so I quickly made breakfast…

Cereal bowl

As my mom used to say, I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach because I made a huge cereal bowl with homemade RWC Tropical Granola, Cheerios, and fresh blueberries. It was so good and helped me recharge after my calorie-burning run. Yes, I ate the whole thing.

Cereal spoon

I also had a little all-natural OJ. And I do mean little – it was just more than a double shot glass full! But it was enough to give me a little taste and replace some of the sugar I lost during my run.

Juice

I was still really tired after breakfast, so I just hung around the house, picking up a few odds and ends. I actually have to work this afternoon, reviewing more video footage and revising a project strategy for a meeting I have this week. So, before I headed out, I had a little sandwich to carry me through my long afternoon…

Sandwich2

I made a 1/2  low-fat salami sandwich with aged white cheddar from Vermont, and dijon mustard, all on one piece of 12-grain bread. I also threw in a few grape tomatoes and bright orange carrots.

Ok, I’m off to work at my office away from the office – Barnes and Noble. I just hope I can find a plug to keep my batteries charged. And as for my own tired battery, I’m predicting a little frozen coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up.

How Yoga Instructors Affect Our Practice

Starting my day with yoga is usually a very uplifting experience. But, today’s class did not energize me as much as usual and the main reason was because of the instructor. I really feel that the yog or yogini can make or break your yoga experience. Some may argue this point, but I’ll give you a first-hand example.

Yoga PoseMe, working on my yoga balance in my backyard. 

I am use to a very centered, down-to-earth instructor who is quite challenging but also helps you as much as you need during each session. My usual yogini, we’ll call her Kate, always has a positive attitude, a smile on her face, and seems to really love teaching yoga classes. Her positive energy really flows to the class too. This is obvious when you see the many relationships she’s built with her students and her class is always full. So, each week when I attend class, I know that I am going to leave feeling even better than I did when I walked in the door.

At last week’s class, “Kate” mentioned that she would not be teaching the class today and that she would arrange a fill-in yoga instructor, we’ll call her “Lori”. So, I headed into class today, still very sleepy, but ready for a super-charged class. The class was unusually bare, only about 4 people in there other than myself. When 8 AM rolled around and there was no instructor to be seen, I began to wonder if there would even be class today. But then, in walks “Lori”. I took one look at her and my heart sunk. She was the yoga instructor I had about 5 years ago when I first started practicing yoga. She is not at all upbeat and seems to always be distracted and in a bad mood.

Yoga Reflections: www.flickr.com/photos/43546466@N00/409030787How I wish my yoga class looked !

Today, she looked even more rushed and distracted than I had remembered. She said that she was finishing up with another client (apparently she had a personal training session right before class) and that she’d be a few minutes late, then walked out of the room. I debated on whether I should walk out right after her but began talking to a fellow classmate and couldn’t make my tactful escape.

“Lori” finally started class at 8:05 AM and took us through a series of basic sun salutations, not very challenging, yet somehow her pattern seemed disjointed. She would leave us in poses for what seemed like forever, while she fiddled with the music or looked out the window. And, not once did she come over to me or anyone else in the class to help with poses, which really seemed odd to me. I stuck with it through the entire class, making myself do extra deep stretches and take extra deep breaths. After 50 minutes of sneaking peaks at the clock, class was finally wrapping up. We all went into savasana and Lori promptly left the room! I assume she had more important things to do. She came back in, literally, five minutes later to sit and say Namaste.

Now I know that every yoga class can’t be an out-of-body experience, but I expect a little more from my yogini than what I got today. I am debating whether I want to let my usual yogi know that her temporary replacement was less than professional. But, after I thought about it, one of the principles of yoga is that you should always think positive and keep a positive attitude. So, I think I will keep my negativity to myself for the time being. But, if “Lori” walks into my Saturday class again, I’m walking to the nearest exit.

Chocolate-filled Breakfast

Afternoon everyone! I’ve had a very busy day so far. I’ve already been to yoga, went grocery shopping (yeah Trader Joe’s!), and just finished lunch about  an hour ago.

I started out with an unusually sweet treat for breakfast and was so happy that I did!

Coffee Cake2

Hmm…a chocolate coffee cake, courtesy of my father-in-law, who came over today to help us with some house repairs. I typically do not have coffee cake or high starch foods for breakfast, just because they don’t seem to give me the energy that I need to last until lunch. But I was so wanting this cake this morning! Having a pastry or piece of coffee cake for breakfast isn’t a bad thing, as long as you don’t do it all the time. When I do have a special breakfast treat, I always try to balance out my day with healthier foods.

The cake was from a very popular local bakery – so popular that if you don’t get there by 9:30 AM on a Saturday, you’ll be lucky if even see crumbs from your favorite coffee cake. I enjoyed my chocolate-layered coffee cake with some yummy Harney and Sons English Breakfast loose leaf tea, outside on the porch. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing. A great way to start the day!

Tea and cup

After a very unsatisfying yoga class (see my additional post about how yoga instructors can affect your practice), I headed to the local grocery store and then to Trader Joe’s. I just love browsing TJ’s and similar natural food stores. It sounds so corny but you can just feel the love whenever you walk into one of those stores.

Greek Yogurt Display

I purchased my usual TJ’s Greek yogurt in vanilla, plain, and blueberry. I also bought something new…

Three-layer hummus

TJ’s three layer hummus dip! My husband and I LOVE hummus. TJ’s hummus is made with all-natural ingredients, like all of their products. And, we’ve always had good luck with TJ’s basic flavor hummus, so I thought I’d give this one a whirl. I personally love trying new flavors. So, this version is perfect for me because it gives me three yummy flavors to try all at once – zesty cilantro, traditional, and red pepper. Can’t wait to dig into these layers!

Hummus Layers

After a couple  hours of grocery shopping, I was ready for lunch. I didn’t want to eat too much, though, because I’m heading over to my sister-in-law’s tonight, along with a couple other girlfriends, to have pizza and chat about a potential couples cruise in 2010.

Sandwich

I opted for a 1/2 sandwich made with low-fat salami and lean ham-off-the-bone, topped with lettuce and dijon mustard on whole-grain bread. I also had a few grape tomatoes on the side. Just enough to satisfy my hunger and give me extra room for this evening’s pizza!

Have to get a few more things done before heading out tonight. Chat with you all later.

Super Spinach = SuperFood

Boy, did I have a little scare this afternoon. I was going through some of my blog photos and ended up deleting a bunch of them. I didn’t even notice that they were gone until my husband sent me a message from work saying that a bunch of my photos were missing from my posts. Panic set it. But then after I collected myself and got to the root of the problem, I calmed down a bit. Luckily, I had saved all of my photos in a folder on my computer and was able to reload the ones that I lost. Whew, that was close!

Aside from that, I had a pretty decent afternoon, catching up on reading and blogging. Oh, yeah, I had a little lunch too!

Spinach Salad

I had a wonderful spinach salad with homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing. This was my first time making and eating a spinach-based salad. It was also my first time making the vinaigrette.

My husband and I have really been getting on the spinach bandwagon these days – if there is such a  thing. It’s been said time and time again that spinach is one of the superfoods, packed with everything healthy under the sun. Ok, that’s exaggerating a little, but spinach really does have tremendous health benefits. It’s full of omega-3s and folate, while it also prevents against heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Spinach also contains lutein, which is known to fight the ageing process. It’s just crazy that one food can provide so many health benefits – I guess that’s why it’s a superfood.

Wanting to eat more spinach, I have purchased probably 4 bags of spinach in two weeks. I try to add it to everything, sauces, risotto, etc. But, it goes bad pretty fast. So when I saw that we still had nearly 2 full bags left, I thought I should try to make use of it.

For my salad, I used:

Spinach-Walnut Salad

About 4 cups of baby spinach

1/4 chopped cucumber

1 carrot

1/2 cup grape tomatoes

2 tbs walnuts

1/4 cup feta cheese

Dressing:

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbs sugar

splash of olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a blender and pour over salad. Dressing makes 4-6 servings.

Both the salad and dressing turned out fantastic. And, the combination of flavors made this salad amazing. I will definitely be making this salad again. Too bad my husband didn’t get to try it – sorry honey!

Spinach Salad close-up

In spite of the overcast day, it was still hot and humid. To beat the heat from inside the house, I spent about 2 hours outside this afternoon in a tank top, without sunscreen (except on my face). So later today, as I felt a twinge of pain on my shoulders and back, I looked in the mirror and saw an unexpected sunburn. Serves me right for not protecting my skin!

Because Saturdays and Sundays are grocery shopping days, Fridays are usually a little light and unpredictable when it comes to dinner. We usually have leftovers or something quick – whatever is in the house that we can whip up fast. Tonight was no exception.

Pasta-marinara

I made tomato-basil marinara with a side of steamed broccoli. I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat organic pasta, which has higher fiber than white pasta. Trader Joe’s pasta is also surprisingly less expensive than typical grocery store pastas – so we buy most of our noodles there.

TJ whole wheat pasta

For the sauce, I used Newman’s Own, Tomato & Basil Bombolina sauce. Newman’s Own sauces are all-natural and many are also organic. Although my husband and I usually make our own pasta sauce and freeze it, Newman’s is our go-to sauce when we run out of our own.

Newman's Tomato Basil

So, it was not the most exciting dinner, but it was still a low-calorie, all-natural, and nutritious one. 

Now I’m debating what I want for. Hmmmm…homemade cookies or chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I’ll let you know tomorrow!!!

Oatmeal: A Healthy and Inexpensive Breakfast

It’s going to be a hot one today. Even at 6:00 AM, when I started my morning run, it was already hot and humid. Weather like this makes for quite the sticky run.

After losing a ton of water from sweating, I made sure to drink plenty of H2O to replenish. I then made a breakfast that I hadn’t make in quite a while:Oatmeal1

Oatmeal made with old-fashioned whole-grain oats. Today, I made tropical-style oatmeal which had:

Tropical Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh coconut flakes
  • 2 tsp dried pineapple
  • 2 tbs dried banana chips
  • Handful of walnuts
  • Handful of fresh blueberries

Combine the first three ingredients and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, watching it carefully so it doesn’t bubble over. Top with remaining ingredients.

Oatmeal2

The oatmeal tasted awesome – even without added sugar – and it was so filling. It was also a nice change from yogurt and cereal. Oatmeal also has a ton of health benefits. It’s an excellent source of fiber – and who couldn’t use for fiber in her diet! – as well as antioxidants that help slow the process of aging by helping protect the skin. Not to mention, it’s very inexpensive and fills you up with just one serving. So many reasons to eat oatmeal – why not try it? Plus, when you add fruit and nuts to it like I did, you get additional fiber, protein, and other important nutrients.

Oatmeal Bowl

I enjoyed my awesome oatmeal outside on our huge front porch. I even had a little Tazo calm tea, which has chamomile, rose petals, and other soothing herbs. Just the thing I needed after a long hard week at work.

Have a great day everyone!

Mission Possible: Eating Healthy At Work

Wow, what an afternoon! I reviewed more videotape timecodes, had a meeting, and gave a presentation to about 35 people. All in a day’s work! Luckily, in all of the chaos I was able to stop and take a break for lunch – and it was catered again – yeah for me!

Lunch salad

Lunch was salad and wraps for today. I was not in the mood for a messy wrap, so I opted for salad. It was kind of a make-your-own salad, so I added tons of greens that had carrots, peppers, and cucs mixed in, plus I added cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, and chopped chicken, all with a little Italian vinaigrette – delicious. But, my lunch didn’t stop there…

Strawberry

There were also fruit kabobs for dessert – I just love where I work. My kebob had pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and a huge strawberry on the end. Between the fruit on a stick and the salad, I had at least 4 servings of fruits and veggies – all in one sitting. I guess this shows that you really can eat healthy while at work.

By the time I arrived home around 6:30 PM, I was still not very hungry. However, I knew I had to have a little something to eat.

Dinner

My husband was working late, so I made a turkey burger for myself (only ate about 2/3 of it) with a side of grape tomatoes. It was just enough. And, because my husband and I have both been working very hard this week, I decided to surprise him and make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Won’t he be surprised? Well, he won’t be that surprise, because he knows that oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my favorite cookies to make. I make them so much that I know the recipe by heart and can make them in 45 minutes flat.

Plate of cookies

Now for the close-up…

Chocolate chip cookie

Hmmm, so goood!

Now that I have a tummy full of cookies, I’m going to catch up on my reading – my new Shape magazine just arrived! – and then I’m hitting the sack.

Have a great night everyone.

There's Always Time for Breakfast

Good morning! I was back on schedule today with a 4 mile run. It was kind of hazy and humid outside today although it was really not all that hot. You couldn’t tell though by the way I was sweating – uck!

Have another meeting to prepare for today so I was rushing out the door. But, even in a harried state, I always make  time for breakfast – no matter how small or simple it may be.

Peanut butter-Kracker

Today, I had a quick, yet nutritious breakfast – a Dr. Kracker flatbread with a smear of all natural peanut butter. The ultimate peanut butter and crackers! This may sound like more of a snack but both the peanut butter and Kracker are loaded with protein, not to mention good fat. And after a long, sweaty run, protein and good fat are just the things a girl needs to refuel. 

Tazo Chai Tea

I also added some spice to my breakfast with Tazo Organic Chai tea. It’s not my favorite flavor – a little too exotic for me – but it was very smooth and satisfied my tea urge. I usually prefer Tazo’s Awak tea – it really gets a girl moving in the morning (or anytime really). Although I don’t mind the spicy flavor of Chai on most days, combining the spice with peanut butter and a cheesy cracker was probably not the best combination. Oh well, what can you expect from a girl on the run. 

Overall, my light breakfast gave me about 200 calories to start my day. I just hope it holds me through lunch. If not, I brought another juice Granny Smith apple, just in case.

Have a great morning everyone!

Feta Makes Everything Taste Better

Hello All. Hope you had an awesome day today. We’re having quite a few meetings at work this week, of which I’m only involved in one. But in our office, where there is a meeting there is always FOOD! And today was no exception. 

I originally brought leftover chicken stir fry for lunch, but was actually glad when I discovered we were having a catered lunch today. Hmmm…so many choices…what did I have?

Sandwich

Surprisingly, I chose a make-your-own sandwich over the salad. For some reason, a sandwich just sounded better today. I packed my sandwich with oven-roasted chicken, huge beefsteak tomatoes, and a couple of thin slices of cheddar cheese, all on rye bread (it was the best option available). I also added a few veggies as a side dish…Roasted Veggies

Char-grilled veggies to be exact. The veggies, including red and green peppers, asparagus, and carrots, were extremely flavorful. The sandwich was also very tasty but I ended up only eating half. I was starting to get pretty full so I thought it was best to stop.

And, I wanted to leave room for an afternoon treat…

Choc chip square

A chocolate chip square! It was about the size of a golf ball (3-4 bites) and had mini chocolate chips, finely chopped nuts, and even caramel mixed in. It was a cross between a blondie and a chocolate chip cookie. Super yum, and super sweet! I enjoyed it with some peppermint tea to balance out the sugar.

After viewing video timecodes for most of the afternoon, I decided to call it quits around 5:15 and head out. Tonight was a fast dinner. One that doesn’t take a lot of preparation or thought. But, it was still homemade and still quite tasty.

Sausage and Risotto

I prepared Italian sausage on our indoor grill (I still can’t seem to figure out how to use our Weber grill- my husband’s pride and joy). I also made a side of spinach risotto and threw in a few cherry tomatoes for myself. My husband does not care for chunks of tomatoes (yet he likes salsa, so that’s just weird) so he gives them all to me.

I added a little Trader Joe’s feta cheese to my risotto which really gave the dish some tang. Feta, a popular Greek cheese, has a ton of flavor so you don’t have to add very much to enhance your dish. And, I have to hand it to the Greeks. Feta seriously makes everything taste better. I add it to just about anything I can – salads, pastas, rice, veggies, and more. It’s also loaded with calcium which is very important for a runner – especially one who has osteoporosis running in her family.

Ok, enough with my feta fetish, I have a few more things to accomplish before bed. See you in the AM!

Not a Tea Snob…Yet.

Good morning friends! Today was my off day from running so I slept in until…6:00 AM! I know, that’s not really sleeping in, but when you’re used to getting up at 5:30 AM, an extra half hour is a nice change. Because I did get up so early and had not planned on running, I had some extra time on my hands. I also have a doc appointment this morning so I’m going into work a little later. With all of this extra time, I decided take an hour or so just for me. First things first, breakfast…

Granola Bowl

I had more of my awesome RWC Tropical Granola on top of Trader Joe’s vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt. I also topped my creation with a ton of blueberries (still trying to make a dent in my jumbo size Costco blueberries!), and a few raspberries for color. I enjoyed my breakfast outside on the front porch on a little bistro table. It was so peaceful sitting there on a Wednesday morning knowing I didn’t have to rush to get anywhere.

My slow breakfast also included, what else? Tea.

Tea pot

Because I’m usually running late in the morning, I typically just make tea using a tea bag. But today, I was able to slow it down a bit and actually make tea in my very sunny teapot from Origins. I know, isn’t that strange to hear – a teapot from Origins? I walked in there one day to check out their new products and bing – a bunch of little teapots caught my eye. I ended up buying this daisy yellow tea pot for only $6 and it came with it’s own loose leaf tea strainer.

HS English Breakfast

For today, I enjoyed Harney and Sons English Breakfast loose leaf tea. A well-deserved treat during my very hectic work week. I prefer specific brands of tea, like Taylors of Harrogate, Harney and Sons, and Yogi tea. I also like some of the flavors from the Trader Joe’s line – not bad for a store brand. I can honestly say that I am not a tea snob, but I’m well on my way to becoming one. Maybe a closet tea snob? There’s just something a little more refined about drinking tea, especially in a lovely tea cup. Besides, there are so many benefits to drinking tea, there’s really no reason not to drink it.

Have to run now…chat with you all soon.