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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Zucchini 'Pasta" and Quinoa

I constantly have to remind myself that running is not a reason to eat anything and everything I want.  I need to fuel my running schedule with healthy eating habits.  

3 Miles doesn't make me entitled to a Big Mac or an ice cream cone on the go if you are this guy.

And hey... 
every pound I can lose from here to May 
is one less pound  have to haul around for 26 miles. 

Over the past few months I have been doing a better job with healthy eating- with a few slip ups here and there.

I also have to remind myself that I don't need large amounts of pasta rice and breads to fuel my runs.  While I don't cut this group out completely, I have been looking for some low carb alternatives that can satisfy my love for everything carby. 

Up this week:
Zucchini instead of pasta and Quinoa instead of rice.  
And that is how Zucchini "Pasta" and Quinoa was born.  

1 Red Pepper
1 1/4 C Quinoa
2 Zucchini 
1 Lemon
1 Onion
(Chicken breast and Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs Optional)

Caramelize Onions
Cook Chicken
Cut and Cook Zucchini
Roast Red Peppers
Cook Quinoa

I am super impatient so caramelizing onions is always a struggle.  
I cooked 1 sliced onion low and slow for about 40 minutes
 until they looked brown and gooey.  Or close enough to that.

They probably could have gone a little longer
 but I was hungry and bed time was approaching. 

Next I threw the chicken in the oven.
  I dipped chicken breast in whole wheat bread crumbs (used a little bit of water instead of flour and egg)  and baked them at 400 degrees until they were cooked through.  

I was pretty excited and terrified to use my new mandolin.  I used it to cut the zucchini into strips to fool my brain into thinking it was pasta.  I used the guard and managed to slice two zucchinis unharmed.  
No phalanges were harmed in the process. 

Once they were sliced up, I threw them in a pan (onion pan) for about four minutes with olive  oil salt and pepper.  I like them crunchy and I knew they would cook a little longer when I threw them back in the pan later.

I have an electric burner 
so I decided to roast the red peppers under the broiler.  
I sliced them up and arranged them on a baking sheet.  
I turned them every few minutes and roasted them until the skin was starting to blacken.  
Keep an eye on these or you will forget about them and burn them.  
I do that with bread... often. 
I am my mother's daughter.  

Once you pull them out of the oven, throw them right into a sealed tupperware container for about ten minutes.  The steam will make it easier to take off the blackened peel. 

I had no idea how to cook quinoa and thought it would be pretty complicated.  To my surprise it tasted like rice, was healthier, and easier. BAM  

 I followed Whole Foods instructions:   add 1 1/4 cups quinoa, to 2 1/2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until quinoa is tender but still chewy and a white spiral-like germ appears around each grain, about 15 minutes. 

Once again I used the same pan (I hate doing dishes) and some zucchini snuck into the quinoa- oh well.    I diced up my red bell pepper and some cheese, and threw everything back into the pan.  

I cooked it for another minute or two, until everything was warm and the cheese had melted.  I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

The colors and textures and freshness really made the dish for me. I added some of the chicken on top to make the meal a little more filling.  But the chicken didn't really add anything and the dish would have been just as delicious without it.  

I am super excited to make this again 
and maybe even try some different veggies.

Healthy, simple ingredients, and I got to use Quinoa for the first time!
  I am obsessed with Quinoa- it is delicious-
 Thanks Jill.

All of these food pictures and my run this morning 
are making me so so hungry. I wish running didn't make me so hungry all the time.  It can be pretty counter productive. 

I started off my morning by taking the dogs out for a nice and slow 6 mile run in the rain before work.  
Thankfully my Lulu coat kept me nice and dry.  

I love my Garmin and I love that it is water proof.  
Nice feature for a New England Spring. 

It was 34 degrees out but I am stubborn 
and wanted to wear my new shorts. 
My thighs were numb and red. 
A runner can never be too colorful 
or have too much neon.  

Olive ran 6 miles while the 11 year old 
Great Dane joined us for the last mile.
A good run and some sleepy pups will make for a good day at work.  
I am really starting to enjoy this change in my running routine.
Except for the super hungry mornings. 

What is your favorite Quinoa recipe?

Anyone know any Great Danes who are 11 years old and can actually run? 
 I was quite impressed.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rise and Shine.... and Run - Tips On Becoming A Morning Runner

I always thought you could split runners into two  main categories.

 A.  People who can run in the morning

B.  ....and everyone else.

  I always envied the people in Category A who got their workout in before the rest of us even consider getting out of bed.  I could never make it to the 5 am spin class, or the run before dawn.  I tried over and over to become the girl hitting the pavement instead of the girl hitting the snooze button.   

Every night I told myself I would wake up and get my run in before work, but every morning I turned off the alarm and went back to bed.  The very rare occasions where I did wake up for my run, my body was on a whole different level.  2 miles was a struggle, my legs felt like bricks, and I couldn't figure out when and if to eat breakfast.  According to some research.. it takes 21 days to make or break a habit.  So I am dedicating the next three weeks into forming a new habit.  

A 6:00 am workout routine. 

I finally decided to make more of an effort to become a morning runner. 
Why not just accept defeat and run in the afternoon?
Well read on.  

First off, 
I never run through the summer because of the heat and humidity.  
My "running season" extends from October to May,
 and my "horse show season" takes June July August and September.
  If I can commit to waking up and running in the morning before it gets too miserable out, then I can continue running throughout the summer and avoid the starting over period in October.  Every time I stop running and try to start up again it gets 10 times harder.

Maybe I will even re-introduce the sweat bands for those humid sweaty mornings...

Secondly, I have been having a hard time fitting running into my afternoon schedule.  By the time I work a full day, ride my horse, ride my trainers horses, and get home I am exhausted and starving.  If I make dinner its game over for my running schedule that night..... and if I wait until 9pm to eat dinner, someone in the house may lose their head due to hanger.. I also like to have a social life so if I can meet up with friends instead of running after work.. I am happy.

Lastly, I bring my highly energetic 2 year old dog to work every day with me.  If I can get a workout in with Olive before work, I am guaranteed a perfect office dog who snoozes under my desk for most of the day.  

Without a good morning workout, Olive has the ability to drive me absolutely crazy and guarantee I get as little work done as possible.  A tired dogs makes for a happy Katie.

With all that being said... How am I making the effort and changes to become a morning runner?  

Here are my tips.  
And PLEASE let me know if you have any others.

It is a lot easier to blow off a morning run if you are going out alone.  Get a group of runners together that you commit to meet a few mornings a week at the same time.  You are less likely to skip that run if it means bailing on your friends too.  If you don't have any running buds close by, form a virtual running club.  Find a friend who will commit to running the same mornings as you, and call each other to make sure you are both getting out for that run regardless of your locations.  I have incorporated both of these "techniques" into my morning schedule routine. 

I made a facebook group called the "Morning Marathoners" where we organize and communicate our runs for the week We rotate between the three towns we live in, and knowing two other people are waiting for me every morning really helps to get my butt out of bed and into my Newtons.   A change of running scenery is always helpful too.  

I meet Stacie and Tracy  (the three of us are in the middle)  
on Tuesday and Thursdays before work to squeeze in a run.

 My friend Liz who lives all the way in D.C., saw my group and wanted in, even though she now lives in a different state.  I promise to call her every morning run I go on, and we share pictures/Garmin shots to prove we are both out there getting our runs in.  I am much more likely to get up and run knowing someone is waiting for a phone call and a little motivation down in DC.

Prep the night before so you don't over think it in the morning.  The night before, I pack my lunch, lay out my work clothes, running clothes, riding clothes, and what ever else I might need for the day.  

(I strive to be as organized as this person). 

By prepping everything the night before, I can sleep in a little later and just throw on my running clothes and go before I give my brain enough time to come up with enough reasons why I can't.  Some runner suggest sleeping in your running clothes if you have to.  I am not super into this idea but if it works for you- power to you.  

My final tool to becoming a morning runner: Start low and slow and save breakfast for after your run.  My body doesn't function as well in the wee hours of the morning, and saving breakfast for after my run is a nice little post race treat. I don't want to feel weighed down by breakfast, and the quicker I get out the door and run the quicker I can get back and eat..... and isn't that the reason we all run anyway?  
For the guilt free meal after ;) 

Can't wait to share my successes and failures with this new running schedule.

Rise and Shine and Share your morning secrets with me! 

Happy Running Rising!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Colchester Half Marathon- the RUNdown

Saturday marked my third attempt at 13.1 
and my first time running the Colchester Half Marathon. 

 Some of my "running friends" talked about Colchester and how hard/fun of a half marathon it was.  This concept of hard and fun always confused and scared me so I never signed up for this race. 

Until I saw the price.

My goal for the West Haven half coming up in March (which was supposed to be my third half) was to run a sub 2 hour half marathon.

  I ran the Niantic Bay Half Marathon (my second) basically untrained in 2 hours and 54 seconds.  But... this was a really flat course with good weather, and I was fairly certain I was going to collapse and die the last three miles. 

After running Niantic in 2:00:54 with little to no training...
 I figured West Haven should be doable. 

 However, the West Haven half has some pretty brutal hills, so I decided to use the Colchester half as a great training tool for finally getting my sub 2 hour half at West Haven.  I told myself "it's fifteen dollars.... pre and post race massages, it's close, and you can do it nice and slow and use it as a training tool" 
$15 dollars and good food had me convinced so I signed up stepped up my treadmill incline and hill workouts.  

Friday night, the night before the race, I met my picky and large family for dinner.  While my mother wanted Brazilian or Mexican, I reminded her that I was running a half marathon in the morning and would prefer to cross the finish line without feeling the urge to expel this lovely dinner we were about to share. 

When I think of Brazilian all I can picture is the scene from Bridesmaids where they all have food poisoning while dress shopping.  
No thanks..... 
This movie may have ruined Brazilian food for me for eternity. 

After a serious debate via text messages, we settled on Alforno's Italian Restaurant in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  I decided on a simple ziti dish for some delicious "night before the race carbs".  

While the inner fat kid in me thought my plate should have been twice the size, the runner in me was glad it wasn't.
And the sauce was d e l i c i o u s . 

After a plate of ziti and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and I was ready for an early bed time and 13.1 miles.

What I wore:  
With a forecast of high 30's/low forties and a wintry mix, it took me a bit to decide what to wear.  Initially I wanted to wear shorts and my lime green compression socks, but I didn't want to ruin my socks on the muddy course, or get too chilly.   I finally settled on capris, a tank top, my light Lululemon coat, Asics socks, Newton Gravity sneakers, and Lululemon head/sweat band paired with my Nike arm band and Garmin :) 

What I ate:
For breakfast I decided on a bagel with two eggs and an avocado, with water and coffee.  Next time I am going to try half an avocado.  Burping up avocado for 13 miles sucked.  Another one of my favorite pre race breakfasts is just an english muffin with peanut butter and a banana if you are a little turned off by the avocado. 

Directly after crossing the finish line I grabbed a banana and some water. 
 A few minutes after I quickly grabbed two different types of pasta, bread, and green beans.  
The food was absolutely delicious and much needed.
I certainly embraced the carbs.... 

A few hours after the race I was still starving so I had a roast beef sandwich, cheese-its, a pickle, and half an apple.  After I made it and had to rush out the door....I decided I could not wait a second longer to eat it so I attempted to chow on this sandwich while driving.  This poor choice resulted in some nice grease stains on my new blouse.  

A few hours after that I was... surprise....still starving.... 
Running longer distances turns my stomach into a bottomless pit.
Everything I ate seemed to just make me hungrier so I ended the day with an abundance of pizza.  
Messages like this one will make a tired runner very very happy.  

What number

Last name beginning with an A has some serious advantage- Single digit race numbers!

What the course was like

Going in to the race I knew this was going to be a challenging course.  I knew there were going to be a lot of hills (sigh) and I knew it was going to end up hill (grunt).   I will admit the hills and the different terrain broke up the monotony of running for two hours, and made the course challenging yet enjoyable.  Miles 2, 6, 8, and 11 had some tough inclines and I even included my thoughts for your reading pleasure below.  

The race was everything they promised.... dirt roads, lots of cows, lots of hills, and an awesome bunch of runners and volunteers.  

When I finished

After a really hard hilly course, I finally got my sub 2 hour half marathon.... with a minute to spare!  My miles averaged a 9 minute per mile pace.  I was averaging 8 to 9's on the flat stretches and downhill and about 10 on the up hill.  I know its not as fast as most of the other bloggers....but given the course and my training... I was really happy to finally cross that finish line in under two hours :) 

Who showed up

At first I was kind of bummed about going to the race alone.  I have always had a running buddy or two to at least drive and start the race with.  To my surprise it was pretty awesome doing everything on my own and at my own pace.  I got there early enough for a pre race massage (heaven) and met some nice runners along the way.  

After the race an older gentleman stopped to congratulate me.  He said his goal the entire race was to try to keep up with me.  He had even knick named me Yipes Stripes in honor of my new striped coat.  He shook my hand with a smile and told me that I kept him going and kept a good pace for him.   Why are some runners so dang sweet.  This old sweaty man and his kind words really made my day....along with all of the nice text messages and notes from all of my friends like this one :)

What I did after

Earlier in the week, I had a really bad toothache that would not go away.  I called the dentist and guess when their soonest appointment was? Yes.. you guessed that correctly....  Two and a half hours after the start of a half marathon that was at least a half hour away, and that would take me at least two hours to finish. 

So much for my leisurely slow training run.  I had to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, and keep running to my car just so I could make it to the dentist to be poked prodded and x rayed.  

The awkward finish line photo. 

(serious sloppy heel striking going on here...oops....)

And the best part?  
After driving to my dentist appointment like a (sweaty) bat out of hell they found the problem.   That pain wasn't going away until all of my wisdom teeth were yanked out of my jaw.  

Needless to say, finish line celebrations lasted about 25 seconds and was crushed by the idea of having to make an appointment for a gross dental surgery and days of recovery.  
This is seriously going to cut into my marathon training.  

Anyone had their wisdom teeth out?  
Was it as bad as they say and how long were you out for?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetable Flat Bread

Happy Friday !

I am really excited to share this delicious recipe
 that I "reinvented" Wednesday night.

Whenever I send Thatcher to the co-op to buy vegetables .. he gets a little carried away.  The co-op we shop at is called Fiddleheads and is located in New London, Connecticut.  They specialize in regional, natural and organic foods and products and everything is absolutely amazing.  After finding places like Fiddleheads, farm stands, and local farmers markets, I avoid the tasteless grocery store produce like the plague. 

All of this is after one shopping trip.... 
and most of the veggies aren't even in this picture.

Food co op trips provide us with organic ingredients- some of our favorites  are quinoa, lentils, peppers, mushrooms, lettuce, rutabega, beets, carrots, parsnips, bok choy, tomatoes, avocados, bananas, apples, oranges, fresh bread, granola, and chocolate.  We have been experimenting with some new root vegetables and I will admit I was kind of intimidated by them.  

What does one do with a Rutabaga?

The root vegetables Thatcher bought were on their last leg because I wasn't sure what to do with most of them.  I googled recipes with Beets (who cooks beets?) and came across Eating Well's Galette Recipe that I altered to make my flat bread.  I was really turned off by the idea of making my own dough so I just grabbed a bag of pre made garlic pizza dough at the grocery store.  I also altered some of the ingredients to use up some veggies I had laying around.   If you are good at baking- unlike me- make your own dough and then show me how!

Root Veggie Round Up: 
**  you could half this recipe and make enough for the flat bread. 
 I wanted left over roasted vegges for homemade Raviolis next week :)

Beets are so ugly on the outside but once they were peeled and sliced, they had this amazing deep red/purple color and a really cool swirl pattern.  Oh and they also stained my hands and everything around me including my butcher block counter tops. I peeled and diced three beets and threw them in a mixing bowl. 

Next was the scary Rutabaga.  I only had one... and it was strange... so I just peeled and diced it, threw it in the bowl, and hoped for the best.

Next I took three parsnips, peeled and diced those and threw them in the bowl.  Parsnips are delicious and strange...
 are you a dis formed carrot? 

What are you?

Speaking of dis formed carrots.....
  I guess this is what real carrots look like.  
I peeled and diced 3 of these and threw them in the mixing bowl.  

Next I peeled and diced some butternut squash 
that I had left over from earlier in the week 
and added them to the veggie bowl.  
Its a pain in the butt to peel but worth the effort. 

Once I had everyone in the mixing bowl,
 I added a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary,
gave them a good mix, 
and threw the veggies on two foil lined baking sheets.  

I also took a head of garlic, cut off the bottom, wrapped it in foil, and threw it on the baking sheet to roast.  Cook your veggie trays for 30-35 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the veggies are starting to brown.  They will bake for another 10 minutes on the flat bread so don't leave them in the oven for too long. 

While the Veggies were roasting, I rolled out my pizza dough
 onto my silpat non stick baking sheet, nice and thin. 

I decided to use the silpat after

Once the veggies were done, I let them cool for a few minutes while I put my dough in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. 

 Once the flat bread had started to rise a bit, I  pulled it out of the oven and spread a little bit of browned butter, carmelized onions I had made earlier in the week, and low fat shredded motz on the dough. 

 Next, I threw on my Veggie mixture with some extra salt and pepper and scattered my roasted garlic all over the flat bread.

I added a few chunks of local Mystic Melville cheese I had kicking around as well as another handful of shredded motzarella, and tossed it back in the oven, on the bottom rack, for about 10 more minutes at 400 degrees. 

 Pull it out of the oven when your dough looks golden brown and crispy.  
I even took it off the silpat and threw it right on the rack for a few minutes to make sure mine was extra crispy on the bottom.
  No more pizza dough falling through the oven rack for me...  

I cut it up like pizza and served it with a side of bok choy.  
The combination of the roasted veggies was absolutely amazing. 
 Sweet, savory, rich, and satisfying.  
Not to mention the beautiful colors from the beets and squash.
we saved half of it for lunch the next day and it was even better.

This flat bread requires a good amount of prep for the root veggies, but worth all of the effort.  This is high on my list of one of my favorite recipes. 

I am running the Hilly Colchester Half Marathon tomorrow. 
 Wish me luck and let me know how your flat bread turns out!

Enjoy and Happy Running Eating!