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? 🙂 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!

“Taste of HLS” and Swag Bag Giveaway

As you all know, I’ve been at the Healthy Living Summit in downtown Chicago for the last 2 ½ days. As many of you know, Chicago hosts the “Taste of Chicago” every year in June/July. It’s essentially a HUGE taste festival of the many restaurants in the Chicago area. Seeing as I’m from Chicago, I thought I would offer you a “Taste of HLS” – a short recap of all of the things I experience and “tasted” at the conference. In just 2 1/2 days, I managed to:

1) Take a tour of Frito Lay in Beloit, WI, with about 25 HLS attendees, including Pickley Pear. Frito Lay products are awesome and healthy!
2) Hug Chester Cheetah – I know you’re jealous!;

3) Attend a swanky cocktail reception hosted by OpenSky where I took some crazy pics in the photo booth with Fervent Foodie and Training To Live;

4) Take an early AM walk with some wonderful women around Chicago’s “Bean” and even caught a glimpse of morning tai chi! Thank you to A Girl and Her Mutt for arranging! Sadly, I am the one taking the picture so I’m not in it 🙁

5) Enjoy a wonderful breakfast by Quaker Oats and Stoneyfield yogurt. 6) Listen to some amazing sessions about nutrition for athletes, food photography, and time management;

7) Have a fantastic lunch provided by Arnold and Oroweat breads;

8) Actively participate in a kick-ass flow yoga session (my head is still spinning from trying to keep up!);

9) Munch on some super yummy Athenos products – OMG, everything is betta with feta – seriously, it is!;

10) Get a little too friendly with some salad that ended up on my head. Thanks Chiaseedme!;

11) Go on a very cool 3-hour tour by Tastebud Tours sponsored by Arnold and Oroweat – Lynn, you rock! The tour included stops at the Bergoff and the Billy Goat Tavern (Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger, no fries, Cheezborger);

12) Run a fairly decent 10K on Sunday AM along the lake shore; 13) enjoy an outstanding farewell brunch by Thomas’ bagel thins where we were encouraged to make a new cream cheese creation. I made a walnut, pineapple, and raspberry mix – fantastic!

14) And, last but not least, say goodbye to some fabulous bloggers – I hope I will all of you again next year!

Thank you to all the sponsors and especially to the HLS planning committee for all of your hard work in making this a conference of epic proportion.

Now, for all of you non-attendees…The Healthy Living Summit Swag Bag Giveaway!

Before, during, and even immediately after the event I read about so many of you who wanted to come but could not due to work, school, finances, etc. I hope that you can all attend next year because this conference was truly worth the money.

And for all of you who could not make it to the Healthy Living Summit this year, you have a chance to experience a little piece of HLS via Running With Cake! As you probably heard, HLS attendees received some very hefty swag bags thanks to the many sponsors and the HLS planning committee. There’s no way I’m going to use all of my swag so I’m giving some of my goodies away to you!

That’s right – I’m giving away two HLS goodie packs to two fortunate readers. Here are some of the items that will be divided between the bags:

  1. A reusable grocery/gym bag by Frito Lay or Oroweat
  2. Oroweat travel coffee mug
  3. $4 and $1 coupons for Arnold/Oroweat products
  4. $10 giftcard to subway (only one of these, sorry!)
  5. Free Stoneyfield yogurt coupon
  6. Frioto Lay Chips
  7. Quaker Granola Bar
  8. Free Attune food coupon
  9. Oh Nuts! cashews or peanuts
  10. Arnold and Oroweat recipe cards and measuring spoon
  11. A surprise gift from me!

How to enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite product/brand is from the ones I mentioned above. OR…
  • Tweet/Retweet this post over Twitter

Do either of those things by 9 PM Eastern on Thursday, August 19, and you will be automatically entered. I will then randomly select the two winners and let you all know who won!

Sound fun? OK, let’s go!

No, That's Not a Wild Animal On My Head

(Photo Source)

This morning I woke up extra early for my run to find it sprinkling outside. After about 30 minutes, it seemed to be clearing up so I laced up and headed outside. About 3 minutes into my run, it started to downpour. And in those 5 minutes (3 minutes out and 2 minutes back – since I was sprinting) I became a huge wet mess. I’m sure with my thick wavy hair, it must have looked like a complete mess!

I normally like running in the rain, but not in a downpour. It’s really hard to see with all of the rain in your face. So, I hopped on the treadmill for about a mile, then went back outside to test Mother Nature. Thankfully, it had completely stopped raining. I was completely soaked, but I managed to finish the last 4 miles of my 5 mile run. On my cool down, I walked by a woman from the neighborhood who walks every morning. She looked at my hair and just smiled – I’m assuming she understood my rain episode. No, that’s not a drowned animal on my head.

That’s me, muddy legs and all! I actually don’t look that muddy in the photo, but I had mud all over the front and back of my legs. I didn’t even realize I was that dirty until mud started dripping off of my legs on the floor. No rain in store until late Sunday night – yeah!

On another note, I realized about 1:30 PM that I had already consumed 1,200 calories for the day -OMG! I don’t count calories every day, but today I was making a mental calorie note and realized my huge intake. Between the Starbucks’ Frap, the potatoes and chocolate pastry from lunch – I nearly maxed out – ugh! I didn’t eat any thing else until I arrived home around 6:30. Ok, I may or may not have had a mini-Twix, but those are only like 45 calories 🙂

Everyone has a bad day when it comes to eating and calories. Today, was definitely a bad day. But really, how can any day be bad with a Starbucks in hand?

Mom Always Said, Eat Your Vegetables

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Most moms, at some point in time, struggle to get their children to eat vegetables. Even the sneakiest of tricks, like adding shredded veggies to stews and sauces, don’t always work. But new research shows that the ongoing veggie struggle may now be over!!

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that kids will eat their veggies if they are served them prior to a meal. Let me clarify – they will eat their veggies before the actual meal is served, not with the meal. Apparently, if we give kids a vegetable snack or first course prior to the actual meal, they will gobble it up. Hmm…a bit skeptical? Think about it, after bringing the kids home from a long day of school, followed by soccer/baseball practice, they are likely to be so hungry while waiting for dinner that they would eat anything, including their vegetables.

This strategy hardly seems sneaky, but I am convinced it works – at least most of the time. While in Michigan last weekend, I attended a family BBQ at my sister’s house. Around 5 PM, the natives (aka the 5 kids) were getting restless and hungry! We were still waiting for several family members and friends to arrive to the potluck dinner, so we were hesitant to start without them. Instead, we set out chopped fruit and crudites of raw veggies and dip. It was almost comical to watch the kids dash inside from the backyard, grab handfuls of carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, and pepper strips, and then quickly run away as if they just snagged a bag of candy. Within a very short time, most of the vegetables had been eaten by the kids, so much so that we needed veggie reinforcements. Thank goodness that the one vegetarian person in our group arrived and brought another veggie tray!

At first, my sister and I were amazed at how fast the veggies went and even more surprised that they were being eaten by the children at the party. But it really makes sense. If you’re kids are hungry enough, they will eat whatever is put in front of them. And, as the “mom”, your job is to make sure that what’s put in front of them is something healthy.

So the next time your little ones are begging you for a snack before dinner – offer them an assortment of veggies – what’s the worst that could happen? They could become too full from vegetables to eat their dinner….we should all be so lucky!

To Market, To Market…

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Since we were out of town in Michigan for the weekend, we’ve had no time to grocery shop. So, it is not surprising that our fridge and cupboards are bare. I don’t mind when our grocery supply dwindles but it drives Scott crazy. As a result of having very little food selection for lunch, I opted to stop at the grocery store this morning to pick up a can of soup and a few other things for the day. As a rule, I try to avoid eating soup from a can because canned soup is typically loaded with sodium and is definitely processed in some way – no matter what the label says. But in my world, having a can of soup is slightly better than having a frozen dinner (can’t even remember the last time I had one) and cheaper than going out to eat.

To off-set my sodium-filled lunch, I also bought a banana and a HUGE orange to snack on throughout the day. I loved the feeling of knowing that I was buying fresh, whole fruit from the market rather than going out to eat. This practice of stopping at the market on your way to work or even on your lunch break is a way of life for many in Europe, but is not as ingrained in American culture. Think about it, when was the last time you just stopped at the market or bakery to pick up a loaf of bread for your lunch or fresh fruit for your afternoon snack? When given a choice, I assume most Americans would choose to eat at a restaurant for lunch rather than stop at the store to pick up a little something.

If you needed to grab lunch at work, what would you do – go out to eat or stop at the market to pick up real, fresh food?

Call Me Popeye

Hello all! Hope you all enjoyed your long weekend. My weekend has been extra looooong – I was on vacation today and I’m taking another day off tomorrow! Because today was the better of the two days (83 and sunny as opposed to tomorrow 75 and rainy), I spent a great deal of time outdoors. My day started with 5-mile run – of course – followed by cleaning up the house then heading out the door.

I ran several errands – all before 12 PM – including trips to Costco and the grocery store. I really do NOT like running “errands” on vacation, but sometimes you just have to suck it up.

Inspired by Fruit Not Fat, I came home from the store with loads of fresh fruit. Seriously, I think people were looking at me because of all of the fruit in my basket:

  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

The blackberries looked fantastic. I wasted no time washing off a handful and making them disappear. Not the most glamorous way to eat, but hey, it was at least 6 g of fiber plus a ton of antioxidants.

For lunch, I made a huge spinach salad – I easily had 4 cups of spinach, as well as 1 hard boiled egg, 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, and a few cucumbers. When I totaled all of the fiber it came out to 17 g! As you can tell from the blackberries and spinach, I’m still on “fiber watch 2010” so I’ve been trying to incorporate as much fiber as I can at each meal. Although I can usually knock off around 10-15 g of fiber at breakfast (love you Kashi!), lunch and dinner are a little harder to fill with fiber. After reading The Full Plate Diet, I learned that spinach is fairly high in fiber for a vegetable – 4g per cup. And anyone who has made spinach knows that 1 cup of the greens does not go very far. More than likely, you’ll eat 2-4 cups at a serving – especially if it’s in a salad. Now I’m addicted to spinach salads!! I think I’ve eaten 5 in the last week – no joke – but I try to make a “different” salad each time. Spinach salads are very versatile – you can either add the normal veggies, or you can spice it up with raspberries, walnuts, various cheeses, etc. I also change up the dressing – sometimes it’s balsamic vinegar with olive oil, other times it red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon mustard – all home made of course!

The rest of the day was spent in the garden and the yard. I would love to go on a rant about how much I detest those spinner things that fall from the trees (which now have made a thousand little trees all over my vegetable garden), but I won’t.

OK, must get to bed. I’m off to yoga at 9 AM followed by a ton of “spring cleaning” – fun, fun, fun – can you believe I’m on vacation?

Fitbloggin: Saturday in Review

Hey All! I’m back from Fitbloggin and had a fantastic time! Saturday morning was the official start of the conference. Instead of going through every detail, here are the highlights. The morning started with a 5K run that was attended by about 50 women. Although it was not a competitive run, I am very happy to say that I was in the top 6-8 of those who finished first!

The run was followed by a fab oatmeal breakfast sponsored by Quaker and then two sessions – one on SEO and one on how to get noticed by traditional media. The morning sessions were followed by a fabulous lunch spread…

We had small sandwiches, fresh fruit, and some awesome mushroom bisque!

After lunch, my husband Scott (who was the Fitbloggin speaker on SEO) and I took a walk around the harbor in Baltimore. We even tried out our new New Balance running shoes…

His and her shoes for his and her bloggers – perfect! My husband is a loyal New Balance customer. I, on the other hand, have been loyal to Nike for YEARS. I’ve been running for a very long time and have been through many brands and styles of running shoes. Years ago when I tried New Balance, I felt that they were clunky and didn’t really offer much support for runners – hence my loyalty to Nike. However, I may be a changed runner! New Balance so generously gave away a pair of their 740 shoes to all conference attendees -woo hoo! They were much lighter than I remember and had more cushion. I really like these shoes and will definitely consider the New Balance brand on my next running shoe purchase. Thanks New Balance for letting us try out your shoes!

On our walk, we headed to the Italian pastry shop in the harbor area…

My obsession with patisseries/bakeries has enable me to sniff out any that are in a 1 mile radius…

I just had to sample a few of the homemade Italian cookies – naturally.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped off a the historic lighthouse…

The afternoon sessions and keynote by nutrition author Dave Grotto went by so fast! Then it was time to let loose a little with some Jell-o shots!

Ok, not really Jell-o shots, but it was definitely a reception sponsored by Jell-o. There were several flavors of Jell-o as well as their new mousse in caramel, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate – so good!

Scott and I left the reception early to make our dinner reservations at the Mediterranean/tapas restaurant Pazo. We were really torn between restaurants. This one actually had mixed reviews – some people loved it and some people didn’t like it at all. When I first walked into the restaurant I knew I would like it. It had a strong Spanish feel to it which I love!

After ordering some vino, we perused the menu, which was a mix of traditional and modern tapas and main entrees. Scott and I love to eat tapas style, so we focused on the small plates…

We had eggplant puree with some super yummy and salty bread followed by a salad made with hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, and vinaigrette.

I almost forgot to mention the fantastic sunflower flatbreads that we had for a starter…

This is by far the BEST flatbread I have EVER tasted!! We liked it so much we took two containers of the bread home with us!

We opted not to eat dessert there, but instead, walked around Fells Point to scope out the bars and desserts places. I loved Fells Point! The cobblestone/brick streets gave the area so much character. Although there were many dessert places to choose from, we decided on gelato from Pitango and we were not disappointed in our choice…

They had at least a dozen flavors of gelato on display. It was so hard to decide! But the staff were great and were very open to let you test any or even all of the flavors. Thanks guys! Loved the bourbon vanilla and milk chocolate with chocolate chips! We also enjoyed some authentic Italian hot chocolate…

Seriously, this is NOT your mother’s hot chocolate. The consistency was thicker than cream and had a mild, milk chocolate flavor – wonderful! The only thing I would recommend is to have cookies or biscotti in the cafe for purchase so that customers can dunk them in their chocolate!

Ok, that’s all for now. See you all tomorrow with a recap of Sunday – Exploring Baltimore!

Live From Fitbloggin – It's Friday Night

Hey All! I made it to Baltimore for Fitbloggin! Scott is here with me which is so awesome – kind of like a mini-break sans kids. The weather here is fantastic – 70-75 degrees and sunny all weekend. That’s warmer than it was in Orlando when I was there 2 weeks ago! I was so excited by the warm weather, that as soon as we checked into the hotel we went for a walk around the harbor area.

We stopped off at a restaurant on the water for some fruity drinks (ok, I had the fruity drink 😉 ) – a mango-pineapple smoothie…

We also had a few “snacks” for lunch, including a small Greek salad, cheese quesadillas, and cheese stuffed mushrooms…

We continued to walk all around the harbor and just soaked in the gorgeous day. Then, it was time to head back for the first Fitbloggin event – the POMtini cocktail reception. Even though we arrived about an hour late for the reception, there were still so many bloggers (yes, mostly women) there and plenty of martinis too! I’m not a huge pomegranate fan, but the martini was actually very good.

Next, it was off to dinner in Little Italy at Cafe Gia…

Cafe Gia serves old school Italian food. The building looks a little shady, but the inside decor has a lot of character. The “boss”, an older Italian woman, was completely charming to all the customers, including us. She was very sweet, but looked so tired – obviously working too hard 🙁

Seeing as it was a Friday during lent, I was limited on what I could order – so it was the Penne Primavera for me. The pasta was good, but nothing spectacular. But, there were many other chicken and meat dishes on the menu that sounded really good – guess I’ll have to head back there sometime to try them!

Ok, time to hit the sack. The 5K run around the harbor is going to come awfully early – 6:30 AM (but that’s 5:30 AM Chicago time).

Have a great night everyone, especially all of the Fitbloggin ladies (and the 3-4 gents that I saw) 🙂

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!


Hey All!

I had such an awesome day downtown with Anne! We met about 9:45 AM at the train station downtown and cabbed it to 1154 Lill in Lincoln Park. If you’re not familiar with 1154 Lill, it is a boutique store where you can design your own purse, handbag, or a bunch of other accessories.

As you can see from the wall of purses, they have ready-made bags to buy on the spot, but you can also design your own – which I think is so much more fun. Anne and I arrived at the store just a few minutes after it opened (how’s that for being punctual!) and then we were heads down for the next hour designing our purses. I originally went into the store wanting to design a laptop bag, but I had a difficult time figuring out what bag would actually fit my laptop. I decided on a bag called ERIKA…

1154 Lill Custom Handbags - The ERIKA Bag

I am still not quite sure that this will fit my 15″ laptop, but it was my favorite out of the choices. Now that I knew the bag I wanted, it was time to start designing! This meant throwing ourselves into the large and very colorful selection of fabrics on hand…

For the ERIKA bag, you have five areas on the bag to choose fabric – the main bag, the horizontal stripe, the straps, the inside bag, and the inside pocket. Oh, decisions, decisions! Because I want this bag to be a more professional work bag, I decided against doing pink or anything too frilly for the main fabric. I also wanted a darker color because I’d be using it quite a bit for travel.

I decided on a deep shiraz color for the base. Now, it was time to decide on the horizontal stripe. This I had a little more trouble with. I am very much going through a leopard print phase right now, but was not sure if I wanted to show it on the outside of the bag. I opted for a velvet/satin blend of pink, tan, and brown Queen Anne’s Lace fabric. The straps and inside pocket were easy – I knew I wanted a dark color to hide the wear, so I went with a dark brown. And finally, I went with the leopard print for the inside of the purse. This is really going to be a one-of-a-kind bag! Who knew that picking out a purse could be so fun and so overwhelming all at the same time!

After making my laptop bag, I was extremely tempted to make another purse. But then frugality got the better of me – I was not so sure spending another $150 was wise right before vacation. So, only one bag for me today.

After our purse-making adventure, Anne and I walked about 15 minutes to her favorite little crepe place – Icosium Kafe in Lincoln Park. The cafe specializes in Algerian-style crepes, so there were a ton of influences from Greece, Moracco, Turkey, and Africa. It’s amazing what you can put in a crepe these days!

I had the Carthage crepe that was filled with mixed greens, peppers, mushrooms, walnuts, and feta cheese – soo good! I am a little embarrassed to say that I ate almost ALL of this huge crepe – but I justified it because I had a very light breakfast 🙂

After lunch, it was back on the train for both of us. But, we are already talking about heading back to 1154 Lill in the spring or summer to make another purse! By the way, if you’re wondering what my final laptop bag looks like, check back after March 6 to find out! 

Now it’s time to study – have a great night!