Spinach Kick

Morning! I finally got some sleep last night – a whole 7 hours! Of course, after reading a few pages of Eat, Pray, Love the other night, I just had to read a few more pages last night – it’s getting so good! Despite getting a full night’s sleep, I woke up with a headache, as if I had been grinding my teeth all night. I’m sure some of you know what I mean. I also felt like I had a fever. Even Ms. M and Mr. C who were pretending to take care of me, said I felt hot. So, no running for me today, not even a walk. Hopefully, I’ll feel better for yoga tomorrow! It’s been two weeks since my last session – oddly, that sounds like I’m going to confession.

You may remember last month I was on a spinach kick, eating spinach at least twice a day. It seems that spinach kick is back! Really, there could be worse things than going on a spinach kick. I remember hating – loathing – spinach as a kid. I probably hated because it was always served in a creamed form with onions or something.

So last night, I made a HUGE spinach salad – soo good! It was made with baby spinach from the store, but then I added tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers – ALL from my garden! Woo hoo! I love that my garden is starting to actually produce – except for the spinach which has been eaten by rabbits.

Then this morning, I made a two-egg omelette with white cheddar, salsa, and spinach…

Tomorrow, we have two events to attend: a 75th anniversary party for our subdivision and a Renaissance Festival at our local library. Both things are so townie, but I’ve been living here for 9 years – I guess that makes me a townie.

Do you consider yourself a townie? What things do you do that are townie-ish?

Gotta run – Barnes and Noble Cafe is beaconing….

FroYo and Shakespeare

Yesterday morning started with a fantastic 6 1/2 mile run – about 8 min 20 sec miles. Then, it was on to another patriotic breakfast of Kashi with red raspberries, blueberries, and milk – holy fiber batman!

After the late breakfast, Scott and I took the kids in the pool until it was time for lunch. We needed to make it a quick lunch, in order to pack the car for a mid-day excursion to the mall and then onto Shakespeare in the Park.

Before heading to see the Bard, we stopped at my favorite local tart froyo place – Red Mango! I have been craving a tart frozen yogurt since May when I was in DC for a week. Tart yogurt, oh how I miss thee – sigh…

I had an original flavor – plain, with no toppings. Well, sort of. I planned ahead and brought two of my favorite toppings (from home) in a baggie – walnuts and dark chocolate chips. The California Walnut Board was not kidding when they suggested that walnuts are great for the summer – especially on my summer froyo! My husband said I was being cheap by bringing my own toppings – I think I’m being frugal. I saved $1 and it was sooo worth it!

Once we had our fill of shopping with the kids or rather, I had had my fill of Anthropologie (I just can’t seem to find anything these days) – we headed over to Scott’s parents’ house to pick up my father-in-law. We all headed to Shakespeare in the Park where we saw a fantastic rendition of As You Like It. It had most of the same verse/prose from the original play, but it had modern music throughout (ie. Jason Mraz, I’m Yours.) Very creative! The kids liked it too – Mr. C was captivated by the actors and Miss M kept telling me who all of the “bad guys” were.

Fast forward to this morning – I’m taking a personal day to stay home with the kids while Scott teaches a class. We’re taking the car in for an oil change – how exciting. Well, it’s better than sitting in my cubicle!

Leisurely Friday Breakfast

Very soon, my 4-day work week will be coming to an end. I have 6 more weeks, or until September 1, to enjoy having my Fridays off. It’s hard to complain too much about this. I’m actually surprised it lasted this long. But still, I will miss my consistent long weekends.

Ironically, this weekend I’m having an even longer weekend. I had off from work yesterday and Monday I’m taking a personal day. The kids will be home with me, but it will be hot, hot, hot! And ya’ll know what that means – POOL! Even my 5 year-old knows P-O-O-L! Seriously, it is sooo hot here, even as I’m writing this at 6:30 AM, that I had to go into the basement to cool off. And yes, we do have central air, but for some reason my husband turns it down (or is it up?) to make it warmer in the morning.

Anyway, after my awesome 5 1/2 mile run yesterday, I kept with my semi-tradition of having a leisurely breakfast on Fridays (oh, how I will miss those too). It just happened to a French Friday breakfast, where I enjoyed:

  • a mini croissant with Trader Joe’s raspberry jam with all-natural peanut butter for added protein
  • 1 cup of ice cold, juicy watermelon
  • 3/4 cup of blueberry yogurt with walnuts, again, for added protein

I’m never able to eat my entire breakfast when the kids are home. At least one, if not both of them, want to taste mommy’s breakfast. Even though they’ve already had their breakfast, somehow mommy’s looks and tastes so much better when she’s eating it.

Ok, as we say in these here parts – I have to get on my horse now. We’re heading to another local Farmer’s Market – the first one for the kids. Then we’re hosting a BBQ/pool day at our house. I have a feeling there will be drinking involved.

Red, White, and Blue Breakfast

I continued my quest to be the ultimate weekend warrior. Well, it’s not really a quest, but I seem to be doing a lot of weekend projects lately. I knew the day was going to be a busy but good day. My 7-mile run was kick-ass, ended up running it with 8:10 minute miles, woo hoo! That is faster than I ran on Friday when I ran a 5-miler. I felt so energized after my run too, probably because of the cool mist that followed me on the road.

Next was breakfast – a bowl of 16 g of fiber! In other words, I had a cup of Kashi Go Lean crunch with a full cup of raspberries and blueberries. It was a very patriotic breakfast, don’t you think? Plus, I finally got to open my brand new box of Mighty Leaf tea! After trying the citrus flavor last weekend, I’ve been on a mission to find Mighty Leaf’s version of English Breakfast. I went to both of my local grocery stores, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and Target – no luck. But yesterday, after I met Anne B for lunch, I made my way to Nordstrom for shopping. I just happened to pop into the cafe where, there it was – Mightly Leaf Organic Breakfast in a box!! Who would have thought I would find my treasure at Nordstrom?

So anyway, back to the tea. The tea, when brewed as directed, is a moderate to strong black tea, much like English Breakfast. I added a little milk and I was well on my way to tea bliss. What I really love about this tea, aside from the bold but not bitter taste, is the cute little sachet bag that holds the full tea leaves. Harney and Sons tea sachets are still favorite, but this new sachet is a close second.

I spent the rest of the day outside. Seriously, I was outside from about 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I weeded our never-ending mess of a garden (actually a combination of 5 gardens) while Scott mulched all over the place. I was not practicing the “bend at the knees” way of gardening, so I know that my back will be killing me tomorrow. But a little back pain is worth it when I know I’m going to have an awesome garden in the end! Really, just wait until you see the before and after photos!

See you all tomorrow!

Tea Forte for Breakfast

Morning everyone! I missed yoga this morning. I literally walked in the door 5 minutes before class and the guy at the front desk told me they were full – blah! Come on people, it’s a Wednesday! Oh well, I’m on vacation. Relax and breathe.

Lack of yoga allowed me to get a jump on the home cleaning I need to do today. But first…breakfast! I had an awesome almond croissant that I picked up from fresh market last night – super light and fluffy. I also tried a new bagged tea – Tea Forte’s Forte Breakfast – good but not as good as Tazo Awake – but is anything? And, just because they filled with fiber and they taste good – I had a full cup of fresh blackberries – holy 8g of fiber!

I’m off to do more cleaning then trimming the trees and bushes.

Lumberjack Jen

Michigan Road Trip – What No Peanut Butter?

As you may have guessed, I’ve been away the whole weekend. This time I was on a road trip – to Michigan. I will be the first one to admit that 6-7 hours in a car with a 5 year old a toddler can get a little dicey. But what’s even more challenging is finding healthy things to eat when I’m on the road.

Because we left so early on Friday morning, Scott wanted to stop for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. I am not against CB, but I’ve been there so many times that I’m barreled out.  Nonetheless, he was the driver so he got to choose.

In my college days and even pre-kid days, I would love to stop at CB for their cheesey potatoes and their biscuits. But now, I have absolutely no desire to eat those things, especially for breakfast.  As you know, I normally eat yogurt, oatmeal, or Kashi cereal for breakfast. I also like to incorporate some type of fresh fruit and/or peanut butter. As I casually looked at the menu, I saw “fresh fruit” and oatmeal on the menu, and thought, this couldn’t be that bad. But then I noticed that the “fresh fruit” included sliced bananas and fried apples – ugh! When did we start labeling fried apples as “fresh fruit”? This is a total Jamie Oliver nightmare.

The server came to our table and the conversation went a little something like this…

  • Me – Do you have any fresh fruit other than bananas and fried apples?
  • Server – No, that’s it
  • Me – so no fresh berries or melon?
  • Server – no that’s it
  • Me – Ok, then I’ll take the oatmeal
  • Server – we stopped serving oatmeal at 10 AM
  • Me – But it’s only 10:10 AM, you don’t have any left?
  • Server – no, it’s all gone.
  • Me – Do you have yogurt?
  • Server – No, we don’t serve yogurt. We tried serving it years ago but it didn’t go over well.
  • Me – OMG!!! Well then I’d like an English muffin with peanut butter
  • Server – We don’t have peanut butter.
  • Me – What is with Cracker Barrel? You guys need to get with the times!

As this point, I was so frustruated, I forgot to ask what cereal they served. I would bet money that they didn’t have Kashi. My server then explained that, like me, she was surprised that CB didn’t have these items. But she said that the restaurants were trying to keep with the authentic country or “down home” type of food. I could see that she wanted to help me, but it was beyond her control. My husband said, “there’s plenty of things to eat on the menu” to which I replied, “yeah, if all I want to eat is CARBS!” Ugh, I was not happy. I settled for one poached egg an English muffin with jam. I wonder if they considered the prepackaged jam a fruit as well?

Cracker Barrel, if you weren’t so convenient on road trips, I would avoid you like the carb-laden plague.

Early Summer Breakfast

It’s summertime in Chicago! Well, almost 🙂 This week it has been near or above 80 degrees, which definitely makes it feel like summer. There are so many things I love about summer – swimming, running outdoors, wearing cute sandals, and….dining al fresco!

Whether I’m eating at home or at a restaurant, I love eating outside. There’s something about being among nature that makes the food taste better. And so, to celebrate this early arrival of Summer in Chicago (at least by temperature’s standards), I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast outside. It included:

  • French bread spread with brie and Trader Joe’s raspberry jam
  • 2 cups of chopped fruit (for the fiber) topped with a dollop of plain nonfat Greek yogurt (for the protein)
  • Tazo Awake tea with skim milk

Ahhh, breakfast perfection! Now, if I could only find some new cute sandals – Nordstrom 1/2 yearly sale for women, here I come!

5 Easy and Healthy Weekday Breakfasts

Hey Everyone!

In my last post about why breakfast is so important, I mentioned my Fab Five breakfast ingredients that I try to include in my breakfast each day: protein, monounsaturated fat (MUFA), fruit/veggie, dairy, and fiber. As an avid runner, mother to two young children, and a full-time communications professional, I also need breakfast to be EASY and FAST! Although there are days when I can’t seem to fill more than one of my criteria, I make the best attempt that I can. So, let’s see how I did this week:

5 Easy Weekday Breakfasts Under 300 Calories


  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats (fiber)
  • 1/8 cup skim milk (dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 chopped strawberries (fruit and fiber)


  • 5 oz. Dannon fat-free blueberry Greek yogurt (protein and dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 1/2 cup Galaxy Granola low-fat vanilla granola (fiber)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 5 oz Dannon fat-free strawberry yogurt (protein and dairy)
  • 2 tsp walnuts (protein, MUFA, and fiber)
  • 2 strawberries, chopped (fruit and fiber)


  • 2 oz sliced baguette
  • 1 1/2 tbs all-natural raspeberry preserves (fruit)
  • 2 tsp all-natural peanut butter (protein and MUFA)
  • 1 slice all-natural, nitrate free bacon (protein)
  • 3/4 orange, medium (fruit and fiber)

In addition to eating a combination of my Fab Five ingredients, I try to avoid eating the same breakfast two days in a row. This forces me to change things up a bit with my nutrition and keeps me from getting bored. I also try to keep my breakfasts under 300 calories. This is usually enough fuel to get me to lunch, with or without a 100-150 calorie snack if I need it.

And the QOTD (Question of the Day) is: what is your go-to healthy breakfast?

Why Is Breakfast So Important?

Most people have heard the saying, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a runner and personal trainer, I truly believe in this piece of wisdom and try to follow it as much as possible. Honestly, I can’t imagine running 4-6 miles in the AM and not eating breakfast before heading out to work. I think I’d pass out!

So, why is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Many of you who are reading this already eat breakfast daily, but probably out of habit more than anything. When you eat breakfast, you’re more likely to eat more vitamins and minerals, eat less fat and cholesterol, have better concentration and productivity in the morning, and control your weight. According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, breakfast helps us lose weight by doing the following three things:

Breakfast and Weight Loss

  1. Breakfast reduces hunger – Eating breakfast reduces hunger later in the day, making us less likely to overeat.
  2. Breakfast helps us make better choices – Eating breakfast gets us on the right track for making healthier choices the rest of the day. People who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier throughout the day. Breakfast skippers tend to also skip fruits and veggies the rest of the day.
  3. Breakfast gives us all-day energy – Eating gives us an energy boost all day long. When waking after 7-8 hours of sleep, our blood sugar levels are low. If we do not refuel and replenish our glycogen stores that supply blood sugar, we may feel sluggish all day and, consequently, decrease our physical activity.

Although I am not trying to lose weight, I still think breakfast is important. But I also believe that what you eat for breakfast is just as important as actually eating breakfast. Breakfasts come in all shapes and sizes. So it is unfair for me to recommend one specific breakfast over another. However, as runner, I tend to make sure my breakfast includes a combination of the following Fab Five Breakfast Ingredients:

RWC Fab Five Breakfast

  • Protein – This gives us energy in the morning and all day long. My protein usually comes in the form Greek yogurt, nuts, or peanut butter, but could also include lean ham, sausage, or bacon.
  • MUFA – Monounsaturated fats, or MUFA, are healthy fats found in nuts and oils, among other things. Research shows that eating MUFA at every meal can help us reduce fat storage in our stomachs.
  • Fruit or Veggie – With respect to my age, gender, and activity level, the Centers for Disease Control says I should be eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies per day. I find that if I can sneak in a cup or two of fruit/veggies at breakfast, I’m more likely to do the same later in the day. To find out your recommended intake for fruits and veggies, check out Fruits and Veggies Matter.
  • Dairy – I love eating dairy in the morning and late at night. A small glass of milk (or milk in my cereal) leaves me feeling refreshed and takes the edge of my hunger.
  • Fiber – This is usually in the form of whole grains, like oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, granola, etc. Fiber keeps us feeling fuller longer and helps regulate the digestive system.

And there you have it. Breakfast – the most important meal of the day. It keeps us energized, productive, and at a healthy weight. So, if you’re not eating breakfast on a regular basis, as yourself, why?

And, what did RWC personal trainer eat for breakfast this week? Stay tuned to find out!

PBJ – French Style

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago today I was just starting my week-long vacation in Florida. How time flies! This morning, I jump-started my day with a 5 mile run outside. Woo Hoo! I love running outside! My calves are killing me though which is so weird since the terrain is pretty flat.

After running, I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast…

I cut a few slices of the French bread I bought last night and topped them with all-natural creamy peanut butter and Bonne Maman raspberry jam. This breakfast was so awesome! I even gave some to Mr. C and Miss M who asked for more. I guess I wouldn’t normally put peanut butter on a baguette, but I really wanted the protein and MUFA. I wonder how the French would feel about peanut butter on a baguette!

This morning was a first for me – the first time I ever ate a fresh plum (that I know if anyway). It was pretty good too – tasted a little like a peach that was not fully ripe. I would definitely buy plums again though, just for a change.

Scott and I took the kids out for lunch today – surprise, surprise. Fridays during Lent are also a little iffy when it comes to meals. I don’t like any type of seafood, so I’m pretty limited on what I can eat. Today, we headed to Go Roma for a veggie panini made with red peppers, spinach and basil, and goat cheese..

Great sandwich, as always. I was in charge of dinner tonight and had no clue what to make. You may find it hard to believe but we did NOT go out to eat again for dinner. I cooked up some whole wheat pasta and mixed it with Newman’s mushroom marinara…

…meatless and adequate – so it met the requirements for today.

I’m contemplating what to do tomorrow…shop for new clothes for Fitbloggin and/or head downtown for a little fun – we’ll see!