Wake up newbies; it ain’t all glam glam

I know, I know-I said this would be all about the food but I just can’t help myself today. I woke up in a tizzy this morning over people just not honoring my sport. Everyone knows how personal running is to me. Even when I’m not doing it as much, even when it feels harder than anything I have ever done before, even when I am starting from scratch, there is a love there that is unparalleled. I love running more than I have ever loved anything or anyone in my life. (I guess my children come in as a close second, KIDDING) And it’s not because the actual movement itself-it’s because of the relationships built around the sport, the moments I only had because of the sport and the sweating and the bleeding, the sacrificing we all do to participate in the sport. You can swim, spin, play tennis, whatever–there is nothing in the whole wide world like running. There is a reason a majority of the population hates it–its fucking hard work. If you want to be good at it (in my case super amateur good) you have to work hard. You have to get up early. You have to go to bed before other people. You have to eat a certain way. You have to give up lots of things. Sure, you can be cavalier about it, but please, don’t fuck around with pretending. Show some respect or don’t bother.

This may sound harsh. I know. But I gave up a lot when I trained for the Boston Marathon so I take offense when people say things on the great wide internet that just sound ridiculous. Miles was 3, almost 4 when I trained for Boston. Emma was 8. I had young kids who needed things. Needed me on cold, snowy Saturday mornings. Needed me to be present after school. I had a husband who wanted time, love and attention. Meals to be prepped and cooked. A house and a job, both of which required a ton of work. I think it is interesting when people think that runners just find time that falls out of the sky. When people don’t realize the things we turn our back on when we make a commitment to the sport. There is a lot more to this than just showing up for the race. It is spiritual. It is emotional. And it’s worth it. Every single day of the week.

Saturday mornings my running group meets. Rain or shine. Snow or extreme sun. These people are there waiting for one another so that miles can be smushed in before most of the world even wakes up. There is a women who has three young children who qualified for Boston last year. Another women has three teeny tiny boys, she popped out a baby 8 months ago and now has better times than she ever had prior. There are runners who work till 8 PM every night, there are runners with teenagers, runners who are 80, runners who have never thought about doing anything else except showing up. I look at Allison, who just had her son in September and wouldn’t take no for an answer-she was raging to get back to running as soon as she was given clearance to do so. The love is real but don’t get it twisted, so isn’t the juggling. There was no fear upon her return, she showed up ready to get shit done.

You have to have a deep talk with yourself before you enter down this road. Do you want it? How bad? You willing to fight for it? How much. When it gets hard, guess what, you better go harder. You’re tired? Guess what, me too. This sport waits for no one and it doesn’t take days off. That’s what makes it so beautiful. There is a sacred vow we take when we enter into each mile. The finish line is never just a casual encounter, it is always, I mean always, earned.

Banana Bread + Other happenings

I’m feeling all kinds of inspired lately which is really surprising considering a) I’m not running much at all, b) I had horrid mouth surgery on Friday and c) it’s cold as a goat’s balls outside. With my mouth being in the condition it’s currently in; I have craved only comforting foods. Over the course of the weekend I made black bean soup, tons of chicken noodle soup (with the most flavorful broth, mmmm, it was so soothing) and banana bread. When I am not feeling 100% I just like to curl up with a cup of coffee and something familiar. This weekend’s food just felt so bountiful that it helped me cope with the enormous amount of pain I was in post surgery. (p.s. I better look like a fucking model when this is all over, like these teeth better resemble small diamonds)

I have been designing and tweaking and designing and tweaking. I am currently in the midst of trying to troubleshoot a friend’s 2nd floor renovation which has been a little more challenging than previously assumed. I called in my father-in-law this afternoon to come and take a look at the project. Four years ago if you had told me he and I putting our heads together would lead to problem solving and major moments of illumination–I would have fucking laughed hysterically. Now, when we collaborate, really great shit happens and the end solution trumps anything I could have come up with solo. Today was about sketching, details and conquering some serious obstacles. I’m always nervous about telling people my ideas. I think confidence develops over time. This early in my career; everything is fresh. (including the mistakes). I have already learned the hard way: the devil is in the details. Pay the fuck attention.

Anyways, tomorrow is sure to be a shit show on the roads. Stay home with your kiddos, light a fire and make this banana bread. I promise you, it will bring you loads of warmth and happiness all over.

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Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used some locally milled flour which I picked up at Pineland Farms)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3-4 bananas, super ripe and all smushed up
2 tablespoons plain yogurt, sour cream or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (I use a variety of sizes depending on how thick I want this loaf to be) Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs together on medium-high with a stand mixture until super light and fluffy. (don’t rush this step, you want all that good air) Slowly drizzle in the oil, SLOWLY. This should take at least 30 seconds. If you dump it all in, you’ll deflate all that air you worked to get. Add in the sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and mashed up bananas. Slowly fold in the flour mixture followed by the walnuts. Pour into loaf pan and bake about an hour or until you stick a fork in the middle and it comes out clean. (not the classiest but it gets the job done, lol)

What is healthy anyway???

*I wish healthy looked like this–life would be so good. JUST KIDDING. 

Last fall, I officially began backing off the running. I fell badly while out gallivanting with my 11 year old daughter Emma and lesson fucking learned–those pre-teens will school your ass every time regardless of experience on the road. (well, this wasn’t a road, it was a cross country trail but whatever) Something just went hay wire and before I knew it, I was on the ground, bleeding from both knees thinking: “am I crawling home or what because this skinny chick can’t carry me up this ginormous hill” I did go to the doctors and was given an unsatisfactory answer but I have been lax in seeing a specialist. I still can’t put weight on it and when I fell off the chairlift Monday night (yes, that happened); I busted the same knee all over again. Lack of activity became immediately noticeable. I went from running 30+ miles a week to running like 12. The weight I lost from running like a god damn maniac came back very quickly. I can’t imagine why, Dairy Queen is calorie free—is it not??? I could feel it piling on and the more weight that trickled on; the worst I began to feel about myself. I was in such pristine shape last year that I actually liked every single race photo I was in. (except those Reach the Beach pics, those are always shameful, ugh, like here I am on a 24 hour bender and you caught me with my mouth open and half a butt cheek out)

Last month I decided that it was time to give myself a break because the likelihood was; I would never again train the way I did last year. The scale said I was good but internally; I didn’t feel good. And lets be honest, healthy starts in the kitchen right? Getting your body moving is essential but it’s really the icing on the cake. A friend of mine wrote about this recently; modifying the expectations you set for yourself. It was an excellent reminder that a change of strategy isn’t always a bad thing. In fact it can be very, very good.

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For me healthy used to be pushing myself until my breaking point. Getting up at dawn, running a bunch and then going on full throttle the whole day. It would be to shove into my mouth whatever I could get my hands on. Post race, it was sitting on the couch and eating the rest of the day. I was strung out, disconnected from my body and not as happy as I should have been considering all the great things happening around me.

I’ve really put food into focus the last month. But that does not mean that I haven’t made a million mistakes. Yesterday, I had a banana for breakfast and no lunch which means by 2; I laid into Roland’s candy drawer like I was saving a child from a small fire; consuming 4 fun sized Nestle Crunch bars. I mean, you would have thought I hadn’t seen food in a month. It happens. I went home and I made better choices. My lack of meal prep for the day caused me to slip, whatever, who gives a shit. I don’t.

Healthy for me is nourishing myself from the inside out while realizing I will fuck up from time to time. I am trying to listen to my body more and how it reacts to certain foods. (case in point, I feel all kind of fucked up after returning to sugar) Sleeping is key. Working out 4-5 times a week hard is necessary. Working out for me right now is a couple of short runs every week until I begin my new training plan and some rides on my Peloton. Good enough. You know? Healthy is realizing the journey is paved with stones in which I will wobble. Maybe even fall. (if its a chairlift, I’m fucking falling) Trying new things is good. (i.e. skiing) Spitting out food is perfectly fine. (i.e. french yogurt that looks like vomit) Saying no to some foods (kale) while readily embracing others (spinach) is cool. Bread, yea, from time to time I will polish off a loaf. (probably solo–dipped in olive oil) Concessions are good, sure. Deprivation, no fucking way. Healthy is also not allowing the scale to rule my life. Right now, the scale says I am 10 lbs. heavier than I was last year but I feel really good. I’m targeting different muscles, I have different goals. That number is infantile to how my body is telling me I’m doing. When I look in the mirror, I’m not upset at what I see. And I think that is positive change all on its own. Healthy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Life, with its mountain of temptations, makes it too hard to do it right all the time.

Healthy is whatever you can give your best to every single day. It doesn’t look like what Gwenyth Paltrow is posting because lord knows we can’t meet her expectations. Whatever you want for yourself, whatever you can strive for with excellence, whatever little victories you can scoop up–that’s healthy. We have to learn that this world is harsh and bold; every day holds its own challenges. The key is to rise above them, take a deep breath and give yourself a break.

vegan mexican torta with homemade “quick bread”

Listen you guys. This picture kind of looks like a pile of shit but I promise you, it is absolutely delightful. The crunch of the cabbage, the zesty zing of the lime and the tangy pickled jalapenos totally contrast with the texture of the black beans. The homemade “quick bread” takes no joke like 5 minutes to prepare and then BOOP, you stick it in the oven and you have this hearty goodness at your fingertips. There are a few little steps required to make all the toppings but I find this to be relatively easy to whip up on a week night. The best part–you can easily pack up the components for a scrumptious lunch the next day. There is nothing better than taking a moment in the midst of chaos to enjoy a healthy home cooked meal.

In other news, life is busy busy right now. I have design work being flung at me left and right. (not a bad problem, I know) My career is still in its fledgling stages so a part of me is a little nervous as to how I will pull this all off. (this is not due to lack of skill–simply time management) I’m in my last year of school so I just need to maintain supreme laser focus. Graduation is literally 10 months away!!!! Last week, I revamped both companies websites and gave my logo a little facelift. I am feeling really positive about the future. Things feel like they are really coming together. I feel like the roots of my life are finally being placed and with each passing day; I take shape. It’s very exciting.

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I really encourage you all to give this a whirl. You won’t regret it. The recipe is healthy, filling and as I said, not super challenging to make on a week night when the kids are yelling and you are starving. For the record though, my kids, who eat mostly everything, will not touch this shit. I made them breaded chicken and a veggie. This recipe serves four but I simply cut it in half for my husband and I. Enjoy!!!

“Quick bread” Recipe
3 cups whole wheat flour (you can also do a mix of half white and half wheat. I use a locally milled flour that is a heirloom wheat; the taste and texture is to die for)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of warm water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with hands until a dough forms. Knead until smooth and elastic, dough should come together in a fairly easy to handle ball. If too dry, simply add water a little bit at a time. Divide into 4 portions. Press out each dough into a 2 inch thick round and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden on top about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool a few moments prior to cutting in half and serving.

Bean Filling
1/2 an onion, chopped finely
2 cans black beans
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the onion. Put a skillet on medium heat and toss in the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, throw in the onion and sauté until translucent. (about 4-5 minutes but definitely watch the heat, you don’t want these to burn or brown even). Drain and rinse the beans, add to the skillet. Throw in the cumin and mash with a fork until the mixture is the texture of refried beans. Simply cook until hot.

Toppings
Avocado, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Cilantro, fresh, just as much as you care for taste wise
Fresh lime, squeezed
Red cabbage: 2 cups with a drizzle of lime, salt + pepper
Pickled jalapenos: Slice 2 jalapenos and toss in a pan with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of water, a hearty dash of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.

 

 

Crockpot shredded chicken tacos

Two things in life I have always hated: crockpots and leftovers. I grew up scavenging the fridge after school for left over Chinese food post cross country practice so I’m not sure where the aversion started but as an adult–no way, no how. Throw it in the trash, I don’t want it. (horribly wasteful, I know) And crockpots, those are for lifeless, boring folks who can’t bother to be creative. Then my life became insanely crazy and it became painfully obvious why the general public embraces the crockpot. Coming home to a prepared meal is pretty amazing. Using leftovers from that same meal for lunch–the holy grail. Now let’s not get it twisted people–I will not be one of those people who throw chicken, a can of pineapple and BBQ sauce in the crockpot only to feed my family sugar laden mush. The crockpot is not an excuse for bad behavior. So, I have done a little digging and decided this week–I’ll be sharing you some of my latest and greatest crockpot successes. They include: lo mien (which was *amazing*), healthier beef stew, tomato basil soup and as of last night: chicken tacos with fresh pico. (the pico does not go in the crockpot, sorry but you can’t have it all)

image1I threw this in the crockpot yesterday morning (took two seconds, literally) and came home to a fiesta in my nostrils. My lovely husband packaged everything up for me so I could enjoy it again for lunch today. And let me tell you, it was even better the second round. I tried out these new grain free tortillas which were incredible. 195 calories for 3 tortillas (typical tortillas can have 130 for ONE, yikes) and made from coconut flour. I broiled them for a couple minutes until they had “grill” marks which was just the icing on the cake. You will have to cut up the pico de gallo when you get home but I swear, it is so quick and easy. I don’t serve this with a side dish because, who needs it??? My kids also ate this right up. They chose some shredded cheese, corn and hot sauce rather than the pico but that is the nice thing about this dish–it really can be anything you want.

img_4052FOR THE CHICKEN:
3-4 chicken breasts (I did 4 and that was enough for my family of 4 plus leftovers for lunch today)
1 box of Pomi tomatoes (the crushed version)
1 can of green chilis (you can find them in the Mexican area with the taco ingredients, etc.)
2 teaspoons of cumin
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
A hearty dash of salt and pepper

Simply place all ingredients in the crockpot, turn on low and let it do its thing till whenever you want to eat. The chicken will literally shred without any effort.

FOR THE PICO:
6 fresh tomatoes (I buy roma this time of year, they seem to be a little better)
Handful of chopped cilantro (this is really a taste thing)
1/4 diced red onions (finely diced)
1 jalapeno finely minced (1/2 if you have an aversion to spice)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt + pepper to taste
Simply chop, combine, enjoy.

Other items you may want for this recipe: tortilla shells, corn, sour cream, maybe some shredded cheese. I like to keep it simple, fresh and healthy. The more complicated you make it, the less useful the crockpot element feels. Enjoy!!

P.S. These are roughly 492 calories for 3 tortillas with the grain free shells, 1- 1/4 cup of shredded chicken, and 1/2 cup of pico