A Childhood Favorite

Evening everyone. I had a super productive afternoon at work reviewing a bunch of health and medical studies that will be coming out next week. I also edited a few product videos that will be released in the next month or so. See – you can accomplish quite a bit on a Monday – even without Starbucks!

Late this afternoon, i snacked on some yogurt that I brought from home…

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I had Trader Joe’s nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberry flavor. I swear this yogurt tastes like blueberry muffin batter – no joke!

I didn’t get home from work until nearly 6:15 PM (again – ugh!). Even though I was pressed for time, I was able to make the fastest turkey tacos ever. They were on the table, ready to eat by 6:45 PM. Snappy, snappy!

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They were also really tasty. My taco consisted of a bunch of chopped roma tomatoes; at least a cup of red leaf lettuce; Tillamook Vermont white cheddar cheese; taco meat made with ground turkey, yellow and green bell peppers, onions, and taco spices; and a big dollop of Wholly Guacamole – all on a whole wheat soft tortilla – so YUM!

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For dessert, I made a childhood favorite, Rice Krispy Treats..

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I like to make them using about 3/4 of the butter that it calls for in order to cut down on some of the unneeded fat. I also added a few red and blue sprinkles to this batch just to give the krispies some color and add a little fun!

Now, I’m headed to bed…need to be up by 6 AM for my very cold run – it’s supposed to be 45 degrees tomorrow morning. There may even be a frost…I can’t believe it will only be September 1!

Also stay tuned tomorrow as I start my own daily shot of wellness with Zola juice shots. 

Have a great night everyone.

Kickin' It Up a Notch

Afternoon all! Hope your day started off great. My run was fantastic this morning. I had so much energy (despite only getting 6 hours of sleep – blah!) so I kicked it up a notch with some speed intervals. It feels sooo good to run FAST because I’m used to running at a moderate pace. I’m really hoping to increase my pace some over the next few months and actually enter a Fall race – maybe a Turkey Trot – gobble, gobble!

Since I was running late again this morning, I grabbed a quick, but high fiber and protein cereal mix…

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I mixed 3/4 cup of Cheerios Multi-grain with about 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean Crunch, plus about 1/2 cup blueberries for extra fiber and antioxidants.

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Breakfast kept me feeling satisfied for the entire morning. I wasn’t even tempted by the new birthday treats (coffeecakes, donuts, etc.) in the staff lounge – ha ha! I was really tired around 11 AM though and had to pop open a can of diet coke for a quick wake-me-up drink.

For lunch, I enjoyed more of my homemade split pea soup that I froze almost one month ago today. Wow, time flies when you’re eating good food. I only have one more bowl left out of this batch, so I guess it’s time to make more!

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Today’s soup was still as tasty as the day I made it. It’s really filling too because of all of the fiber, so I’m hoping it carries me all the way to dinner.

OK, back to work for me. Have a great afternoon everyone and I’ll chat with you tonight.

A Panini Novice Makes Good

Hey Everyone! Sorry for the late post, but I’ve been gone for most of the day. I went to see my brother-in-law compete in the Chicago triathlon, which was awesome! But, I’ll get to that in a minute. 

Before we headed to the city, I did my typical long Sunday run of 6 miles. It was perfect weather for running – really cool and no wind. After my run, I chowed on a protein-packed breakfast because I didn’t know when we would be eating lunch…

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I had a container of Trader Joe’s vanilla Greek yogurt mixed with blueberries, walnuts, and a big dollop of MaraNatha all-natural creamy peanut butter. I wasn’t sure how the pb would taste with blueberries but it was fantastic!

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So creamy and yummy – like peanut butter fluff! I also had a little more of my Zola Energy smoothie…

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After breakfast, we headed downtown for the event. Traffic was really light going downtown and thankfully, parking was a breeze. We met up with my in-laws and my sister-in-law and her three children near the finish line.

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Isn’t this an awesome photo! I am definitely not the triathlete type – I can swim to save my life, but that’s even debatable. But, I saw the finish line and all of the spectators and it so made me want to run a marathon. We only waited about 30 minutes before my brother-in-law came into view. And, while he was running his last 100 yards,  his youngest son ran on the course with him and they jogged hand in hand over the finish line – so cute!

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This is the triathlete’s medal of honor – how cool is that!

After the race, we all chatted for a bit while the kids ran around. I started to get hungry so I munched on a Luna bar I had stashed in my purse.

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This is my first ever LUNA bar and it was pretty tasty, although it had a slight aftertaste.

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I had the peanut butter flavored bar which had 180 calories, 3 g of fiber, and 9 g. of protein. I’m sure this bar would make a great post-run or post-workout snack.

As it turned out, it took over an hour before we actually sat down for lunch at an outdoor cafe in Millenium Park. By this time, I was so hungry that I could have eaten fish – ok, not that hungry.

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I did split a chicken sandwich with my father-in-law. It was good, but not worth the $12 we paid for it. After lunch, we all said our goodbyes and we headed back home. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get home (way longer than it should have) so we stopped at Barnes and Noble for a Starbucks refresher. I had my typical Frap and enjoyed every sip (sorry, no photo!)

For dinner, we decided to use the panini maker that we borrowed from my in-laws. I made a Greek-style panini…

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This was my first time making a panini – a panini novice of sorts – so I was not sure how it was going to turn out. I made my panini with red pepper hummus, sauteed red and green bell peppers, spinach, hot peppers, and feta cheese. I topped it with a homemade cucumber-yogurt sauce. It was absolutely outstanding! I actually made the sandwich for Mezzetta’s sandwich contest, so I don’t want to give the recipe away just yet! But you may find it on my other blog – Bistro Chic – pretty soon!

Now, I really need to get to bed. All of this fresh air has made me exhausted. Have a great night everyone!

Good Luck Chicago Triathletes!

Hello All. I just arrived home about an hour ago from a very busy afternoon and evening. I’ll try to make this brief because I have an early day tomorrow – you’ll see why at the end – he he!

After breakfast, my husband and I headed out to run errands, go to Target, etc. Then we stopped for lunch at a Chicago favorite – Portillos! I do not eat fast food very often, in fact very rarely. But, I do love Portillos. I usually get an all-beef, Chicago style hot dog, but today I went the semi-healthy route…

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I had a gourmet garden salad with mixed greens, green peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, and cubed cheddar cheese, topped with raspberry vinaigrette. It wasn’t the best salad that I’ve had, but I needed something healthy to balance the other thing that I ate…

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Yummy crinkle-cut French fries! I try to avoid eating French fries for the most part, because when I eat them, I just can’t seem to stop. And, Portillos fries are some of the best I’ve had – thank goodness they are not bottomless like Red Robin!

After lunch, we headed home to do a little work. My husband did paperwork for his consulting business and I did research for work and answered a few emails. I then became so sleepy that I dozed off for about 30 minutes. It was a perfect cat-nap to keep me going for the rest of the day.

Around 5 PM, we headed to a local fair/car show near our house. It was located on the grounds of a school and they were raising money for charity. I am not a car person, whether the car is old or new. But, the fair also had many local vendors displaying their products/crafts, which were fun to browse. 

Dinner was a quick one at TGI Fridays. When my husband and I first moved into our house, we went to Fridays nearly every week. I have no idea why we were such loyal patrons other than, at the time, there were very few good restaurants in the area. After doing that for a couple months, I became burned out on Friday’s and never wanted to go there after that.

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Tonight, we did a double split – splitting both the appetizer and the entree. We started with one of our old favorites – the Tuscan spinach dip. It was really good and tasted just like I remember. Next, we split the parmesan-crusted chicken with 3-cheese tortellini and a side of caprese salad.

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I had so much spinach dip that I seriously could have not eaten a bite of the entree and been fine. However, I did end up eating about 1/4 of the chicken, 1 bite of the tortellini, and scoop of the caprese salad. The meal was good but I will probably not be heading back to the restaurant anytime soon. There are too many other restaurants to choose from to rely on Fridays for my meal.

After dinner, we headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few staples, like feta cheese, yogurt, and whole almonds. I was so surprised to see how busy the store was and it was after 8 PM! 

Well, I am now off to bed. I know, 10:15 PM is so early for Saturday, but my husband and I are headed to downtown Chicago tomorrow to watch the annual triathlon! I’m so excited because it’s the first triathlon I have ever seen in person. My brother-in-law is racing in it and he starts around 8 AM. I don’t plan on getting down there that early, but we want to see at least one transition and see him cross the finish line. I can’t wait to cheer on all of the athletes. I remember running in the 1/2 marathon and feeling so appreciative of all the people who came out to cheer for us.

Because Sunday is my run day, I need to get up extra early (like 6 AM) in order to be done with my run and ready to leave for the event by 8 AM. We’re driving down there and parking somewhere near the finish line, which is probably a mistake because it’s going to be a madhouse down there. Oh well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Good night!

Almost like "Hot" Yoga

Good morning friends! It’s another unseasonably cool and crisp day outside. I actually had to wear a jacket to yoga this morning. Yoga was fantastic today! The yogini really took her time with the class. She was also very patient when 24 people showed up to a class that is supposed to be maxed at 20. But, in true yoga fashion, we all just picked up our mats and moved as close as we could to one another without getting into each other’s personal space. With the extra bodies in the room, it was VERY hot – almost like bikram yoga, which I am not used to. People were actually sweating, which I almost never see. But we managed.

After yoga, I tried out a new organic health drink that was sent to me in the mail….

Zola Energy Smoothie

The makers of Zola drinks sent me a big box of juices, smoothies, and a juice-shot drink.  The juices and smoothies are made from a Brazilian recipe and contain superfruits like Acai berry. 

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I had an Tropical Blend Energy Smoothie made with Caja Fruit, Acai, and a bunch of different kinds of fruit purees and juices, like pear, apple, and pineapple. It even has green tea in it.

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I usually shy away from fruit smoothies and juices because they can be loaded with calories and even fat. This smoothie is 125 calories a serving and has 2 g Fiber – not bad for a smoothie drink. The drink itself has a great flavor, although is not as thick as a typical smoothie.

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Would I buy this smoothie at the store? Yes, I would definitely buy the juice, particularly for the great flavor and the fact that it is loaded with healthy ingredients. But, because I’m not really a juice drinker, I think I would save this drink for times when I needed an extra boost of energy or vitamins, like when I feel a cold coming on.

Aside from the juice, I also made a small bowl of Strawberry-peanut butter oatmeal…

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I started with 1/4 cup whole oats mixed with 1/2 cup skim milk. After I microwaved that for 2 minutes, I added 2 strawberries, 2 tbsp of walnuts, and dollop of MaraNatha all-natural creamy peanut butter. Hmm…so good..

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I think we’re now headed out to do a little site-seeing downtown or maybe just do a little shopping. 

Have a great afternoon everyone!

Thanksgiving in August

Evening everyone. Because it has been raining for most of the day, I didn’t feel at all guilty about deciding to stay home all afternoon. I had a great afternoon catching up on emails and on reading. However, I did make a special trip to the market to prepare for our “Thanksgiving in August” dinner. Confused? Let me explain…

For the last few weeks, my husband has been going on and on about wanting turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. He gets like this around this time every year – where he craves Thanksgiving dinner in the summer. Well, Thanksgiving is over 3 months away, but I thought I’d humor him…

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For dinner, I went to Fresh Market, a gourmet market near our house, and bought a white wine and herb rotisserie chicken. I paired the fresh white meat chicken with mashed red potatoes and super sweet carrots. I also made a little homemade chicken gravy on the side.

Everything tasted fantastic but the mashed potatoes were especially good. After I boiled them, I added a little butter, a little skim milk, and a bunch of chicken broth to make them really creamy – soo goood!

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My husband, of course, loved the meal, and even offered to make dessert – double chocolate Ghirardelli brownies.

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He also added some walnuts for extra MUFA. These are by far our favorite brownies because they are so full of chocolate. I’ve tried several times to make brownies from scratch, and they either turn out really dry or really mushy. If anyone has a great recipe for brownies, I’d love to get it!

Ok, I’m off to bed now. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow, that all begins with yoga at 8 AM!

Night all!

Running in the Rain

Well, it is raining for the third day in a row. I know we need the rain but come on! When I woke up this morning, it was just drizzling a bit, so I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. It was chilly so I wore running capris and a light rain parka with a hood. I was determined to not let the rain stop me – although I’m sure my ipod had other ideas. I actually don’t mind running in light rain. It definitely keeps me cool. A light misty rain also seems to clean away all of the dirt and grime from the ground and leaves things smelling fresher than before. And, somehow, everything just seems quieter, maybe because there are fewer people outside milling about. 

After my wet, but awesome run, I made a quick breakfast parfait….

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It almost looks like ambrosia salad in the photo! But really, it’s not. I mixed one container of Trader Joe’s nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt with strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts. 

Seeing as it is my day off, I leisurely got ready and then headed out the door to the mall to see if there were any end-of-summer deals. Well, no real deals to speak of, but Lucy’s Fall line of running gear looks very promising.

On my way back from the mall, I met my husband for lunch at our favorite Italian hot spot…

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I had a personal pizza topped with (very few) black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese – oh my, this was gooood!

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I also had a small Misto salad, made with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, topped with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

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It’s time to clean up the house and do a little more reading before heading back out into the rain this afternoon.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Think Green, Live Pink: Free PINK Body Lotion

Ok ladies – it’s time to Think Green and Live PINK!

PINK, the bath and body store from Victoria’s Secret, is giving away 1 oz containers of PINK Energizing body lotion. Click here for the coupon, then just print it and take it to a PINK store by September 7. Hurry, the offer is only good while supplies last. I was able to pick mine up on Monday this week…

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The lotion has a fantastic citrus orange-mint scent and is just the right size for your car, your purse, or as a travel-size cream. Plus, it’s made with 100% organic and vegan ingredients, so it’s good for you and the environment.

Hope you’re able to take advantage of this GREEN opportunity!

Catching up on some reading…

Hey there! Boy, do I have a lot of reading to catch up on. This week, I not only received the Full Plate Diet to review, but I also received two of my favorite fitness magazines – Shape and Fitness. And, you all know how I love my magazines!

Magazines

For today’s breakfast, I had a big bowl of Cheerios Multigrain topped with 1/2 cup blueberries and 2 tbsp walnuts. But, when I went to go pour in my skim milk, I realized that the milk was 6 days past the expiration date – ugh!

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If there’s one thing I hate, it is smelling and tasting sour milk (although I love buttermilk – so I that’s odd). I smelled the milk and it didn’t smell bad but it didn’t smell fresh either. So, not wanting to take any chances, I dumped out the cereal and started over. What a waste of a good bowl of cereal.

Once again, I arrived to work on time at 8:30 AM. This start time is my personal goal and not mandatory due to our awesome flex time option. As Fridays are my day off from work, Thursdays are always jam packed with things to do before the weekend. And, today was no different. I had so many things to do today – review medical studies (because that’s what I do for a living) and also work on a staff training program that I, along with 6 other people, will be implementing in the next few weeks. Luckily, I was able to take a quick break for a snack that I had stashed in my drawer…

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A Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bar – mildly sweet and tons of crunch!

I didn’t end up eating lunch until after 1:30 PM, because I seriously was not even hungry and I was really engrossed in what I was doing. I made myself leave the building – even though it was raining – to get something to eat.

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I had a simple, but filling bowl of minestrone soup that I picked up from a little Italian cafe near the office. Can you tell I love parmesan cheese? I also had a big diet coke – mainly for the caffeine.

Lunch kept me going through the end of the day which was 5:30 PM for me. But, due to rain and the traffic, I didn’t get home until 6:30 PM. So, I made a quick, healthy meal for dinner….

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It was a sample platter of sorts. I had a grilled Polish sausage, about 1 oz of Tillamook Vermont white cheddar cheese, black grapes from Costco (I didn’t even know there was such a thing as black grapes), grape tomatoes, and a 1/2 of a nectarine.

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These tapas-like dinners are great when you don’t want to make a big meal or you don’t have enough food to make a big meal – ha! Tapas also remind me of Barcelona where my husband and I practically lived on tapas.

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Now, I’m so tired I need to get to bed, but not before reading a few pages!

Take care everyone and see you in the AM.

Addicted to Running?

As many of you know by now, running is one of my passions and when I am not able to run, I get anxious and sometimes, downright cranky. This morning, it was pouring down rain again so I opted to not run. But, after making that choice, I began to feel guilty and anxious once more. Luckily, this feeling faded after I reminded myself that I have already run 3 times this week and have 2 more days left in the week to get in my runs. But, there was a time, a few years back, when missing a run would have devastated me.

Race the World

I am definitely not alone when it comes to feeling this need for running. New research from Tufts University shows that the endorphin rush of a “runner’s high,” can also provoke feelings of anxiety and despair when something prevents avid runners from getting in their daily running fix.

I know this feeling all too well. A few years ago, when I was training for the Chicago marathon, if I would even miss one run or have to shorten my workout I became very upset. When I look back at that time, I could have been addicted to running – and not in a good way.

After doing some research, I learned that there are definite signs of running or exercise addiction, including:

  • Missing important obligations (including work) to run
  • Giving up interests, like friends, to run more
  • Feeling depressed or irritable if you can’t run or workout
  • Running through illness or injury
  • And more

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I think, at one point, I had the majority of these telltale signs. Thankfully, something happened that woke me up from my addiction – I became completely burnt out from running and decided to scale back my workouts. I also took up cross-training in the form of yoga. Both of these changes helped me tremendously, mentally and physically.  I am much more mellow about running now. If I miss a run, I may get a little irritated, but I know that there’s always tomorrow.

If you think you might be addicted to running or exercise, try slowing things down a bit by reducing the length of your runs or the number of times you run per week. Or, talk to a health-care professional, a personal trainer, or even a trusted friend about your potential addiction. Talking things out, might actually help you to find the root of your fixation and help you change your addictive attitude about running.