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…


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!

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

Jen-grass cropped

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.

Running With Cake Welcomes Foodie BlogRoll!

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a great evening. I want to say a special hello and welcome to all of my new, way cool foodie friends at Foodie BlogRoll! It’s so great to finally be a part of a community dedicated to food blogging. I’ve already had so many of you come to my site and I’m so thankful that you did!

If you’re still curious what Running With Cake is all about, check out my Q&A section, or read a few of my more popular blog posts, including:

Please feel free to leave a comment on my site – I’d love to hear from you!

As for my day, I’ve had this strange anxious feeling all day. We are just 8 weeks away from our huge meeting and I’m feeling so overwhelmed because I still have so much to do. It’s not much fun going to work these days when I’m so stressed. I need to find my calm, happy place – Om, Om….

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For lunch, I had a simple sandwich made with about 1 oz of low-fat salami, sliced ham, and piece of Swiss cheese, all on a slice of Brownberry Double Fiber bread. This bread has 6 g. of fiber in just one slice – that’s more than 20% of the recommended daily fiber for the average adult! I also threw in a few grape tomatoes on the side.

Later in the afternoon, I was getting very tired and had that sinking feeling in my stomach that I get when I’m stressed. I needed to get out of the office for a bit, so I headed to Barnes and Noble for a quick browse of the latest magazines. And, I also picked up one of these babies on my way out the door…

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Ahh, just what I needed to keep me awake all afternoon.

I didn’t get home from work until almost 6:30 PM and really didn’t feel like making a big dinner. My husband was working late, so I just made a simple homemade turkey-veggie burger…

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First, I sauteed a bunch of veggies – like carrots, yellow peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes. Then, I mixed all of the veggies with about a 1/2 pound of lean ground turkey meat and added salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic and onion powder. From this mixture, I was able to make 4 nice size turkey patties and froze 3 of them.

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Here is the finished, and cooked, product – so yummy!

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Because I really wasn’t planning on having a burger tonight, I didn’t have any real burger buns in the house. But, I made due with another slice of the Double Fiber bread.

Now, I am so zonked that I need to call it a night. Tomorrow is my off day for running, so I feel like I should either take advantage of the free morning and sleep in, or get up just as early and get to work before 8 AM. Stay tuned to see how that one turns out!

Night everyone…

Blueberries Fight Belly Fat

Good morning everyone! It’s another great day in Chicago land! I had an awesome 4-mile run in the beautiful sunshine and crisp, cool air. After my run, I drank a ton of water while sporting my new Lucy wristband…

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Because I’m on Lucy’s email list, I received an email with a coupon for a free bright pink wristband. How fun! I know, I know, I wasn’t actually wearing the wristband, but I’m not really in to wearing wristbands while I run or exercise. But it does make for a cute water bottle cover. And, it’s great for soaking up all of the condensation from the bottle. 

After my run, I enjoyed a fantastic breakfast…

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I had a cup of Cheerios Multigrain and topped it with 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (yeah- I’ve replenished my Costco supply!) and 2 tbsp chopped walnuts.

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The blueberries are so plump and juicy and full of antioxidants. Plus they have tons of vitamins, including C, A, and E. A recent study out of the University of Michigan (Go Big 10) has even shown that blueberries can help fight belly fat – so how can  you not love this little blue fruit!

OK, enough blueberry babbling for me, gotta get some work done.

Catch you all later!

A Pepper Trifecta and Stevia Review

Hey Everyone! It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Chicago! It’s about 70 degrees and sunny. The exceptionally cool weather really helped my long run this morning. I was able to do 6 miles (that’s long for me!) with no problem. I think I am ready for summer to be over – bring on the Fall!

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For breakfast, I had the new Oikos Greek yogurt I picked up from Whole Foods – it was strawberry flavor. It was a first for me and it was just yummy with a tablespoon or two of walnuts (for extra MUFA) sprinkled on top.

8.20 OIkos-strawberry

I also tried a new product that was sent to me in the mail – Stevia In the Raw 100% natural sweetener.


I actually tried it a few weeks ago in homemade lemonade and thought there was a weird after taste to it. My husband just raved about it in his homemade iced tea, so I thought I’d give it another try in my hot tea this morning.

Tea with stevia

I brewed Harney and Sons whole leaf English Breakfast tea and added 1/2 a stevia packet. I’m sorry to report that the sweetener still has a weird taste and after taste that I just can’t get used to. I haven’t given up on it completely though – I may try using stevia as a replacement to sugar during baking. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

After breakfast, I was just lounging around the house, checking emails, etc. I put on my comfy yoga pants from the Gap (my new favorite pants) and my brand new running/yoga shirt from LUCY.


The shirt really describes how my life goes on most days – I’m up and running with the sun!

Lunch was leftovers – the other 1/2 of the chicken sandwich/burger that I ordered from Red Robin on Friday…

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I paired it with some fresh grilled red, green, and yellow bell peppers and grape tomatoes…

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A perfect pepper trifecta!

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Finally, I had a few Cape Cod low-fat potato chips. My husband and I love Cape Cod chips because they are made from all-natural ingredients and have an awesome flavor.

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As you can see, they are made with potatoes, oil, and salt – can’t get any more natural than that!

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Now, we’re both relaxing on our deck before heading off to our nephew’s birthday party.

See you all tonight everyone.

Eggs – They're what's for breakfast

Good morning everyone! I had a great yoga class this morning. I have to admit though, the class was rough because I had missed two weeks in a row. I wasn’t as flexible as I had been in the past and I found myself looking at the clock wanting it to be over. Not a good sign. But, by the end of class I was feeling quite refreshed and was very glad that I decided to go.

When I arrived home, I was so happy to find a beautiful omelette waiting for me…

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My husband made me a 3-egg omelette (1 egg and 2 egg whites) with red peppers, broccoli, and white cheddar cheese – so yum!

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Eggs are a welcome change for breakfast since I don’t eat them very often. However, I am trying to eat them more because they are considered a superfood for runners. Contrary to popular belief, eggs, when  eaten in moderation (1 egg a day) account for less than 1 percent of the risk of heart disease in men and women. They are also loaded with protein and vitamins.

After a protein-packed breakfast, my husband and I are heading out to a local Renaissance Festival. I’m so excited because this is my first ever Renaissance Festival.

See you tonight!

Top 15 Foods Runner's Should Eat

Good morning! Yes – I’m actually at work right now and it’s only 8:15 AM! All the stars and planets seemed align this morning so that I could actually get to work early rather than late. It helped that it was raining this morning so I didn’t end up running. I’ll be out there tomorrow though – bright and early!

For breakfast, I changed things up a bit. I have been eating cereal quite a bit, mostly because we bought industrial size boxes of Cheerios and Kashi so I feel like once they’re open, I have to finish them before I open anything else. I decided to change things up today….

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I had a Thomas Multi-grain English muffin. These little muffins only have 100 calories and are packed with fiber – 8 g, that’s a LOT for a bread product. I topped my muffin with the last of my all-natural raspberry preserves and a couple dollops of all-natural creamy peanut butter. Too bad I didn’t run this morning, because this would have make an excellent post-run breakfast.

8.20 Breakfast

This got me thinking…as a runner, what exactly are the foods I should be eating to stay healthy and increase my performance? After doing a little research, I found 15 superfoods that Runner’s World recommends runners eat, at least on a weekly basis to improve performance and maintan overall health. I then assessed these superfoods to see if I was incorporating them into my overall diet. Let’s see how I’m doing….

Top 15 Foods Runner’s Should Eat

  1. Almonds – I definitely eat these on a weekly basis.
  2. Eggs – Hmm, I’m not much of an egg person, but I can try to eat more.
  3. Sweet Potatoes – Love these! But I don’t find them as convenient to make as other side dishes.
  4. Whole-grain cereal with protein – This is practically a staple for me!
  5. Oranges – Could definitely eat more of this, but oranges are so expensive so I find it a challenge to eat them every day.
  6. Canned Black Beans – Not a big fan of these unless they are part of another dish.
  7. Mixed salad greens – No problem in this area.
  8. Salmon – I do not eat seafood – so this is a big dilemma. 
  9. Whole-grain Bread – Yes, this is an every day food for me.
  10. Vegetables – Are you kidding me? I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t eat at least one vegetable.
  11. Whole-grain pasta – At least weekly, but I try not to overload on carbs.
  12. Chicken – This is a no brainer, I will likely turn into a chicken soon.
  13. Mixed Berries – Hmm, I definitely eat these when they are on sale, but I could use more.
  14. Dark Chocolate – At least weekly, if not daily. Now that I think about it, I probably eat a little too much of this!
  15. Low-fat Yogurt – Oh my – how could I not eat this weekly?

As far as the ideal runner’s diet, it seems that I’m not doing too bad. Although I do need to increase my intake of eggs, sweet potatoes (actually have these in the pantry right now!), oranges, and seafood (not gonna happen).

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to make some Tazo Awake tea – too bad that’s not on the Runner’s World list!

Have a great day everyone!

Exercise Alone Won't Help You Lose Weight

Hello All, 

I just read a fabulous article in TIME magazine how exercise alone might not help people lose weight. Yoga Ball

The article reviews several studies that show exercise alone does not lead to weight loss and may actually lead to weight gain, and here’s why:

TIME, August 2009: 

“The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.”

This is known as The Compensation Problem. You workout 5-7 days a week and feel that you are either 1) entitled to having that quart of ice cream a night or a few donuts each day or 2) So hungry from your hardcore workout that you eat everything in site. In reality, the calories that you are consuming greatly exceed those that you are burning. This is why cardio fanatics might have a hard time losing weight. 

I won’t get into all of the details of the article, but I will tell you that from experience, this article does have some very interesting points. I for one have seen how too much exercising, followed by too much eating, can backfire on you, either making me gain weight or taking a toll on my overall health.


A few years ago, when I was training for a marathon, I followed a marathon training program to the letter for probably 3 months. Even though I had already been running for several years, I had never done a marathon. After doing a little research, I kept coming across two main tips for marathon training: 1) follow a marathon training program, and 2) increase your carbohydrate in take. I followed both of these tips. 

Right around the third month of training, I had a few family photos taken at a wedding. When I finally got the pictures developed (back when digital cameras weren’t very popular) I was absolutely shocked at how puffy, bloated, and heavy I looked. How could this be? I was running a ton – so wasn’t I burning a ton of calories too? I realize now that in addition to the massive amounts of carbs I was consuming, I was also so ravenous during my training that I was eating gigantic portions of food. Point Blank – I was taking in way more calories than I was expending, and most of those calories were from carbs.

Pasta: www.flickr.com/photos/22198928@N00/2437917039

After running a 1/2 marathon (as part of the full marathon training program) I decided not to run the full marathon. For me, that was the best decision I could make at the time. I still continued to run, but decreased my milage dramatically and went back to eating a normal diet and a normal amount of carbs. Low and behold, my appetite went back to normal, I was less tired and cranky, AND I lost weight. I had another picture taken (actually my engagement picture) taken a couple months later and was so happy that I looked normal again, no bloat, no puffiness, just a thinner and healthier me.

Although I do still hope to run a marathon some day, for now I’m content with running my 20 miles a week with the occasional 5 or 10K thrown in.

I personally don’t advocate forgoing exercise and relying on calorie intake alone for weight loss or maintenance. Your body needs exercise, especially for cardiovascular health. And, it’s really all about balance. Just like the saying goes, too much of a good thing – whether it’s exercise or food –  can hurt you…or at least not help you.

If you can find a balance between regular exercise and healthy and proportional eating (based on height, weight, calorie expenditure) you should be able to reach your healthy weight and fitness goals without having to resort to excessive measures.

A Sandwich for My Solo Dinner

Hola Everyone. Hope you had an awesome day. I was off to a slow start this morning, but then I made a steaming cup of Tazo Awake tea, and I was good to go…at least for a little while.

I ended up having a pretty good day. I had a very long meeting on a project I’m heading and it went fantastic. Now I have even more work to do, but I’m so psyched about it.

For lunch, I had a very healthy salad with a bunch of goodies added in…

8.4 spinach salad


Chopped Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad

  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 oz chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2 oz mixed cheese (I used cheddar and feta)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

The salad was fantastic and very refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. Although the salad was pretty filling at the time, I did end up having 2 Dr. Kracker flatbreads later in the afternoon.

I was really hoping to take a walk after lunch but my husband’s car battery died and I had to be on stand by to help him. Luckily, a few nice people stopped to give him a jump. We now have a shiny new battery, but the radio doesn’t work. It needs to be “reset” – it’s a built-in security thing. I ended up taking a walk after dinner instead.

Dinner was on my own tonight (hubby working late) so I didn’t feel like making anything elaborate:

8.4 sandwich

I made a 1/2 peppered turkey and low-fat salami sandwich with cheddar cheese on multi-grain bread from the bakery. Caution, this sandwich looks much bigger in the picture than it really was! I also had a few sour cream and onion chips and a few slices of a granny smith apple on the side.

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Some people need a huge dinner or at least a hot dinner to be satisfied. I literally grew up on sandwiches – they were a necessity in my house with 5 kids all active in team sports. So now, I actually find sandwiches comforting. You can also create so many different and healthy masterpieces with a sandwich. I love experimenting with them, seeing how I can make a better, tastier, and more healthy sandwich. 

And, another great thing about eating a light sandwich dinner – aside from no clean up – is that you have room for dessert!

8.4 chocolate pb

Just like the sandwich, the ice cream looks bigger in the photo because I served it in a very small “dipping bowl” dish. It was actually equivalent to about 1/2 cup.

I have an early morning tomorrow. I’m waking up at 5:45 Am tomorrow to run because I didn’t run today. Night everyone!