Summer Days, Drifting Away….

Apple in a tree

Tomorrow marks the first day of September and there’s only 5 more days left until the unofficial end of of summer. Where did the time go? Although I will miss swimming in our pool, I am truly looking forward to many things about the Fall:

  1. Pumpkin spice lattes and toffe mochas from Starbucks
  2. Big Ten Football
  3. Apple and pumpkin picking
  4. Donuts from the cider mill
  5. Crunchy leaves
  6. Listening to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits, Tori Amos, and Sarah McLachlan (their music reminds me of Fall for some reason)
  7. Watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
  8. Cooler temperatures so we can finally turn off the AC!
  9. Thanksgiving – when I get to go home to Michigan and see my parents and family
  10. Fall running – you knew I couldn’t leave that out!

What are you looking forward to most about the Fall?

Benefits of Watermelon

(photo source)

I did something today that I haven’t done in weeks, maybe months. Instead of eating a sugary, calorie-filled dessert, I opted for a bowl of watermelon. Why the change? After being outside all day yesterday in the heat followed by this morning’s hot run, I’m pretty sure I’m dehydrated. Not only have I been drinking water like crazy, but I’ve also been craving cold, watery things like fruits and vegetables, per my temporary watermelon addiction.

Although you don’t want to eat huge amounts of watermelon at one sitting (or you may wind up in the bathroom all day), regular portions of watermelon can provide many health and nutrition benefits, including:

  1. Hydration Station – Watermelon is approx 92% water so it is great for hydration. No wonder they served it at the Chicago Triathlon yesterday!
  2. Protects Our Organs – Watermelon is full of antioxidants which help neutralize the free radicals in our body that can damage our tissues and organs.
  3. Cancer Fighter – Watermelon also contains these two powerful antioxidants that have been noted to help prevent cancer.
  4. Low-Calorie Snack – Watermelon tastes super sweet but it is very low in calories – less than 50 calories per cup!

Although many people know watermelon as a summer fruit, it actually peaks here in the Midwest in August and September. And further South, watermelon can grow all year round, making it easy, albeit expensive, to enjoy this juicy fruit well into the Fall and Winter months.

Have a hankering for watermelon? Try one of these cool and crisp watermelon recipes from The Food Network.

Enjoy!

A Swim, Bike, Run Weekend

My husband Scott did the Olympic distance Chicago Triathlon this morning. But before I get to that, let me rewind a bit. We headed downtown early yesterday to check into the hotel and check out the Tri-expo. I headed straight to the Larabar booth to pick up a bunch of swag…

I love these bars and they came┬áin so handy today while waiting for Scott to finish. The kids and I didn’t get to eat lunch so it was Larabar to the rescue! After the expo we walked around for a bit in downtown Chicago. I had heard the Eiffel Tower was making an appearance at Macy’s on State so I just had to stop in to see it for myself…

The girls at the Lancome counter probably thought I was crazy – or at least a tourist. I am neither, thank you.

After dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy, we attempted to go to bed at a reasonable hour, considering Scott needed to be up at 3:45 AM in order to get his bike to the transition area. But on our way back to the hotel, we heard the familiar sounds of Chicago’s Summer Dance Festival – Puerto Rican salsa music, definitely one of our favorites. Since the festival was literally right across the street from our hotel, we decided to stop for a few minutes – it was a beautiful night to listen and dance to music under the stars!! On nights like those, I really miss living in the city.

We ended up not falling asleep until after midnight, then both woke up at 3 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. Ugh!!!. Not fun for either of us.

In spite of our unintended lack of sleep, Scott was out the door on time. I even managed to get the kids up, ready, and out the door in time to see Scott shove off for the swimming portion which started promptly at 7:52 AM. The rest of the morning was spent walking around the race area and tracking Scott on his bike and run portions. Runkeeper is very cool in the iPhone – when it works – and really helped me pinpoint Scott in the last 20-30 minutes of the race. Toward the last stretch, I was able to see exactly where he was on the course. So, when he came into view, Mr. C and I ran out to jog with him for a minute – Mr. C was so excited to run with his Dad! I was so happy and proud of Scott that I almost cried!

It really amazes me that Scott trained for the last 6-7 months and accomplished a full swim, bike, and run – something I have no interest in doing at this point in my life. He and the other triathletes are truly inspirational. They trained so hard and you could see the deep emotion in their faces as they ran along the last stretch of the race – excitement, exhaustion, determination, pride – you name it, every emotion was there. Scott ended up finishing in about 3.5 hours – that is amazing to me, especially considering it’s his first race AND he was racing in 90+ temperatures! I’m actually surprised we didn’t see more runners pass out from the heat, but I’ll consider that a blessing. By the way, if you want to know how many calories he burned for his 3.5 hour workout – that magic number would be 3,500 calories! Yes, he definitely deserved that huge piece of chocolate cake tonight.

Congratulations to Scott and Ryan (Scott’s brother who also raced) for a fantastic triathlon today! Just let me know when we’re headed to St. Croix for the next one! ­čÖé

Headed to the Chicago Triathlon

This morning, I went out for a fast 5-mile run, which was fantastic! It’s been really cool the last few mornings – around 60 degrees with no humidity. Yeah, Fall is coming! About halfway through my run, I noticed one of those speed monitors sitting in the road up ahead. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen one while running, but it’s the first time I saw one and had my iPhone with me to take a photo!┬áAs you can see, I was running approx. 7 miles per hour, which is roughly 8.5 minute miles – not bad!

On another note, I want to send a huge thank you to Life After Bagels – I was the winner of her Terra Chips giveaway! Yesterday, I came home from work to find a big box waiting for me. Ooooh, who says good things come in small packages ­čÖé I tore open the box to find 4 large bags of Terra chips…

As well as chip clips – always handy -, a recipe book, and a martini serving bowl for the chips – how clever!

Terra chips are super yummy and they DO really taste like veggies. The sweet potato ones are my favorite but I’m dying to try the Mexican and the Mediterranean flavors.

I may be out of pocket on Saturday and at least part of Sunday. Scott is doing the Chicago Triathlon on Sunday so we’re heading downtown tomorrow to check into our hotel and do “race stuff”.┬áI might be doing some live tweeting from the event on Sunday -so stay tuned!

FYI – if you’re wondering why I’m not doing the triathlon, it’s because I do not swim or bike – I run and that is what I do best. But I give HUGE amounts of credit for people who can do all three back to back! Good luck to all of the Chicago Triathletes!

Chip and Dip Bowl Giveaway!

When I attended the Healthy Living Summit, I was fortunate enough to go on a tour of the Frito Lay plant in Wisconsin. I learned so much about Frito Lay chips and was quite impressed at all of the steps they are taking to make healthier and greener products.

Now, you all know I’m a chip addict. But I also love dips! I love dips of nearly every kind – bean dips, fruit dips, taco dips, veggie dips, chips dips, etc. However, I’m quite aware that dips often contain high amounts of calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. That’s why I was so glad the girls at Frito Lay sent me a fantastic dip recipe made out of plain Greek yogurt. ┬áTake a look at the recipe – it’s so much healthier than most dips. Hint – it only has 45 calories per serving!

Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Dip

Serves: 8; Serving Size: ┬╝ cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 1 ┬Ż cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Cumin to taste

Directions:

  • Grate cucumber halves by hand or chop in a food processor until coarse, but not mushy. Place grated/chopped cucumber in a strainer and cover with a paper towel to squeeze out the excess juice. You may need to change the paper towel a few times.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, chives, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Fold in the cucumber and season with salt and pepper. Add cumin to taste.
  • Refrigerate until chilled, about an hour.
  • Nutrition Information (per ┬╝ cup serving):

    45 calories, 5 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 2 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 91 mg sodium

    The other day I was craving something crunchy and salty, so I promptly made this dip and paired it with some Frito Lay SunChips. Fantastic! The creamy, spicy dip was a perfect combo with my SunChips, although I probably ate more chips than the dip! But hey, they have 18g of whole grains per ounce!

    Frito Lay Giveaway

    As I mentioned last night, I will be doing more giveaways in the future. And guess what? I have another one for you right now! Frito Lay has graciously offered to give one of my readers a fabulous Crate and Barrel┬áchip and dip bowl, with┬áextra dip bowls. Plus, they are throwing in┬áa bag of LayÔÇÖs, SunChips, and Tostitos Scoops!. And all of this just in time for Labor Day weekend! I sooo wish I could enter this giveaway myself! But because I can’t, I’m giving it to one of you.

    How to Enter

    All you have to do to enter is either:

    • Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Frito Lay product OR
    • Tweet/retweet this post on Twitter

    You must enter the giveaway by 9 PM Eastern on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. After that, I will pick a random entrant and post the winner on the my blog. Easy peasey, don’t ya think?

    Good Luck! Now, let’s get snacking!

    Why Am I Smiling?

    So why am I smiling? Well, mainly because I have big things on the horizon. Let me explain….

    As most of you know, work has been crazy busy and will continue to be that way until the end of the year. I’m in charge of a $3.5 million project at work that will hopefully lead to many good things in my career. But that’s only part of the reason why I’m smiling. I also am smiling because:

    Fitness – I can honestly say I am in the best shape in my adult life. Quite honestly, I’ve never been out of shape in my adult life, but this summer, I have really been ramping up the running and yoga, which makes for great toning!

    Blogging – I have major things in store for Running With Cake and Bistro Chic which will include site redesigns, several giveaways, food, travel, and more! I wish I could share more with you but mum’s the word for now.

    Travel – Although my job is very stressful, it is about to take me to some wonderful cities, including San Francisco, Vancouver, and possibly NYC. I’m looking forward to meeting up with Annelies from Attune Foods, One Healthy Apple, and Suki, who all live in the San Fran area. It will be like our own mini Healthy Living Summit! By the way, if there are any HLS or Fit Bloggin attendees from Vancouver, drop me a note – I might have time to meet up!

    Family – I have an incredible┬áhusband who is not only tech/social media savvy, but he is also very understanding when it comes to blogging and trying to reach my goals. Mr. C and Ms. M are also wonderful and very patient when it comes to their blogger mommy. And my in-laws are a God-send for all the help they provide with the kids and the house. I couldn’t do all of these things without you!

    So as you can see, things are moving very quickly in my life. I hope you stick around and find out what happens on my personal “reality show”!

    And on that note….

    Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

    – Ferris Bueller

    Life-Long Marathon

    (Photo source)

    Today, I woke up intending to walk instead of run. I’ve been toying with the idea of only running 4 days a week, walking 1 day, and then doing yoga on the 6th day. Why the change? Oh, many reasons. I’m starting to feel the impact that running has had on my body for the last 20 years – sore hips, tight hamstrings, etc. But more than that, I want to expand my fitness regimen – try new things, work out different muscles in my body. But let me tell you, it is hard to stop running, even if it is just one day a week.

    Case in point…my morning walk didn’t turn out how I had planned. It appears that my body does not know what walking is and that, try as I might, it is programmed to run after all of these years.┬áI started out with a fast walk which turned into a fast trot, which turned into 45 minutes of interval running. Every few minutes, I told myself – just go 2 more minutes and then walk. Obviously, that didn’t work. I ended up running 4.2 miles at about 8:10 minute miles. Fast? Yes. My intention? No. Why is it so hard for me to walk or “not run”? It’s almost as if I’m in training for some imaginary race. Or maybe it’s that I’m having a competition with myself – running a constant race in my head.

    It’s funny how running reminds me of my job. I “run” all day long and even when I want to stop (ie. take a break), I keep running in order to reach a deadline, prepare for the next day, or just look good in front of my boss. In work terms, walking means just getting by or performing my job at a slower rate compared to the rate I would go if ┬áI was “running”. Having a good “run” means I finished my task before deadline or exceeded expectations. Walking means status quo and running means getting ahead.

    Only in my case, I feel like I’m running a never-ending race – the rat race – my own life-long marathon.

    And on that lovely note…good night.

    What Inspires You To Run?

    It’s hard NOT to be inspired or motivated to run when you have a view like this every morning. I’m very fortunate indeed.

    What inspires or motivates you to keep running, day after day?

    Spice Girl

    What’s an easy way to add flavor to a dish without adding calories or fat? Spices of course! Scott and I regularly cook with spices, herbs, and rubs. Although our spice drawer is far from being complete, I think it would stand to impress any Food Network Chef.┬áFrom exotic curries to fragrant chili powder to cracked peppercorns, our spice drawer is quite a site and one of the best aspects of our kitchen.

    But our spice drawer didn’t start out this way. I remember a time when our spice drawer wasn’t even a spice rack. It was no more than a jar of garlic powder and cinnamon – those were rough times in the kitchen. But over the years, we’ve built a stock of many of our favorites like oregano, Italian seasoning, and cumin. In fact, we have so many herbs and spices that they can’t all fit in one large drawer – we keep the overflow in the cabinet!

    Aside from adding taste without calories, spices can also turn an ordinary meal into something extraordinary. Seriously, a full spice drawer can do wonders for a pound of meat, poultry, fish, pasta, or even tofu.┬áLemon pepper chicken – no problem! Spicy turkey chili – coming right up! When it comes to spices, the possibilities are endless.

    If you’re just building your spice drawer or would like to expand it, start with your basic spices and then build from there, depending on your tastes and favorite recipes. Good Cooking also provides a great guide to herbs and spices and their suggested uses. Go on, add a little spice to your life – your tastebuds will thank you for it!

    Hmm, I think if I had to be a Spice Girl – I’d be Chili Spice – what about you?

    The Power of Fairies

    Hey all! What a morning – and what a day for that matter! My day started with a fast 10K run – 6.2 miles at a pace of 8 min 20 seconds. I love when I have a good run, it puts me in such a good mood. The run was followed by a very relaxing breakfast outside – Mighty Leaf Organic Breakfast, a huge bowl of watermelon, and vanilla Greek yogurt with strawberries and walnuts. How did those Italian lemon wafer cookies get on my plate? ­čÖé Ahh, Sunday breakfasts in the summer – I will miss you come December!

    After breakfast, we headed out for the Bristol Renaissance Faire – or as the kids call it – the place where they see the “kings and queens”. We thought it was going to be a cool day – a high of 75. But it turned out to be HOT, especially in the sun.

    We were sweating like crazy so we hopped onto the DaVinci flyers ride just to cool off a bit. The DaVinci ride, and all of the other rides, are completely man-powered, as if they were rides back in Medieval times. Very cool. Then, it was time for the fairies!

    Mr. C and Ms. M were captivated by the forest fairy. She didn’t say a word but would take sticks, rocks, and leaves that the children gave her and carefully add them to her special artwork pile. It was actually quite relaxing watching the fairy at work – it’s amazing how she remained silent and kept the kids quiet as well. Seriously, who needs a nanny when you’ve got a fairy. Oh the power of fairies!

    Now, it’s time for dinner – a spicy sausage, bell pepper (from my own garden!), and leek dish with pasta!