Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Windy City Running + Breakfast On The Go

You would think after living in Chicago for a year and half that I would get used to the wind, but nope. We are expecting 50 MPH winds today and 25 foot waves in Lake Michigan. I actually contemplated going for a run, but...

     1. The Lake Front Trail is closed because it's a bit dangerous to run with 25 foot waves crashing over the wall.
     2. I can barley fight the wind walking to work, so running may prove to be difficult.

I guess that means I'll stick to the treadmill and cross training until these winds subside. Speaking of winds, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you on the east coast!

I know most of you who are runners were thinking this upon hearing about the storm.
I cannot believe it's almost November! That means the Holiday's are right around the corner. If this stresses you, sorry that I reminded you. I'm actually pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year because I will be hosting for a small group. Over the next month, I will be testing out some healthy Thanksgiving recipes, and sharing them with you. Who said Thanksgiving had to be dominated by unhealthy food?

In the mean time, I made some delicious Cinnamon Vanilla Overnight Oats for breakfast this morning. I love to make overnight oats because in the morning I can just grab them on the go. That's right, you can skip the McDonald's drive-thru because these oats are even more convenient and 100% healthy.

I'm sure throughout the life of this blog, I will share several overnight oat recipes with you because they are so versatile. This is a very basic recipe, but feel free to spice it up with mix ins like berries, nut butters, etc. You really can't go wrong.

                                                 Cinnamon Vanilla Overnight Oats
                                                                      Serves 1

1/2 C Old-Fashioned Oats
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 T Flax Seed
1 tsp Honey
1 T Vanilla Protein Powder
1 C Vanilla Soy Milk (or milk of choice - if you use regular milk add 1/2 tsp of vanilla) [If you want your oats more thick, reduce the amount of milk]


1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a Tupperware container or jar.
2. Seal and refrigerate overnight.
3. In the morning you can add other toppings like: berries, banana, nut butters, etc.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Always Happy Hour At Work

It's National Pumpkin Day!! I know, the whole month of October has looked like National Pumpkin Day on my blog because every recipe includes it, but that's just because I love the ingredient. I think I'll celebrate the day with pumpkin lentil soup. Don't worry, I'll report back with a recipe this weekend! In the mean time, celebrate this day with some of my other pumpkin recipes:

Pumpkin Banana Muffins
Pumpkin Quesadillas
Pumpkin Oats 
Pumpkin Butter

Yesterday at work we had our monthly cocktail competition. Every month 5 people concoct the best cocktails, and we have a happy hour. This month I decided to participate with Apple Pie Punch. A couple years ago, the Coleman family knocked me off my feet (literally) with this drink at a tailgate, and since then I've been obsessed.

I'll admit, I don't drink a lot since it throws me off of my training and because I'm a health freak, but I do enjoy a fine glass of red wine at least once a week and a good tequilla on the rocks. (Thanks for making me a wine snob mom!) Anyway, this drink is one exception I make during the fall because it tastes like straight apple cider, and it's perfect for tailgates!

I won this nutcracker trophy. I fits in well on my bookshelf with my Butler stuff. 
Well, I knew they would be a crowd-pleaser for the competition, and I was right. I won!! I know many of you have tailgates and Halloween parties coming up, so I figured I'd share the recipe with you as well. Let me warn you now, be careful drinking these!! You cannot taste the alcohol, so they will creep up on you quickly. A little goes a long way.

                                                                  Apple Pie Punch
                                                        Inspired by the Coleman Family

1 Gallon Apple Juice
1/2 Gallon Apple Cider
4 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Liter Everclear


1. Combine the apple juice and cider in a large pot. Add the cinnamon sticks and cook on a medium setting for 2 hours. Make sure not to boil the mixture, just let it simmer. Stir occasionally (every 30 minutes or so).
2. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Add 1 Liter of Everclear and cheers!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday Chobani!

Good news, my vision is coming back. It's not 100% yet, but I can see a lot better! What makes being able to see even better is that the weather here in Chicago is abnormally warm. It's supposed to be 76 degrees today. That means I can run in my shorts along the lake and not worry about a thing. I can't believe I get to look at this while I run despite living in a massive city!

Running here is therapeutic. 

I just found out that I missed Chobani's 5th birthday last week! How dare I miss such an important birthday. I may have missed out on giving them an official blog worthy birthday wish, but you better believe that I celebrated by eating some. 

Around 4 o'clock everyday I treat myself to a Greek yogurt (usually Chobani). There are so many different flavors, but I enjoy buying plain and adding my own mix-ins. Next time you are in the mood for some Chobani/Greek Yogurt, give one of these versions a try:
  • Vanilla Honey - 1/2 T Honey + 1 T Vanilla Protein Powder
  • Chocolate - 1 T Sugar Free Pudding Mix
  • Pumpkin - 1 T Pumpkin Butter + 1 tsp Honey
  • Fruity - Add any fruit you want! It's a natural sweetener. Some of my favorites include: berries and bananas
  • Nutty - Slivered almonds + Granola or Kashi Go Lean Cereal + 1/2 T Honey
The combinations are endless. What is your favorite yogurt mix-in?

You can also use plain yogurt as a sour cream substitute. It may sound like an odd alternative, but it doesn't alter the taste at all. Not only is it lower in fat, but it also will increase the protein in your dish. Give it a try. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Running Blind

Monday Night... Football Night!! That's right everyone, Monday's just got 100% better because I get to end my evening with the Bears and this guy:

No, he did not buy the hat... yet.
Random update for all of you. Remember last Thursday how I thought I had a sinus infection. Well, I stand corrected. I actually have Iritis in both eyes. Because of this, I am really sensitive to light and have to keep my eyes dilated for at least a week maybe 2!! Needless to say, I spent the weekend inside for the most part and tried to think of different ways to continue my everyday life despite being visually impaired. This involved:
  • Running on a treadmill with my head down for the majority of the time to avoid the lights
  • Taking Pilates class, but closing my eyes through the majority of it
  • Having Kyle cut all of the vegetables for our meals, so I don't sever a finger
  • Watching the Lorax with sunglasses on 
  • Watching Sunday Night Football with both my sunglasses and glasses on (Yes, I know you need to see how awesome this looks, so I'll provide you with a picture)
Mom, I told you I would make this a fashion trend!
Thankfully I can still see my computer, and managed to get to work this morning without too many problems. Cheers to the next week or so of being partially blind. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall in Love with Pumpkin Butter

Happy Thursday! Last Thursday greeted me with strep throat and this Thursday decided to top that with a sinus infection. I can officially say that I now hate Thursdays! I'll admit, sinus infections suck, but I did get the chance to use a neti pot for the first time today. I was apprehensive about using it, but what a life saver that thing is! While doing research about the neti pot I even found that a lot of yogis (people who do yoga) use them for inner purification. I love yoga, but not sure I am going to go to that extreme with my neti. Pretty neat to learn, though.

Well, enough complaining, I have another pumpkin recipe for you - Pumpkin Butter! It has a similar consistency to apple butter, but of course, it's made with pumpkin. Just imagine the taste of pumpkin pie in a jar. It's pretty close to fall paradise!

There are a lot of pumpkin butter recipes out there, but most are loaded with sugar. I cut the sugar in half for mine, so it's not too sweet and the pumpkin flavor really comes through. If the natural pumpkin flavor is too strong for you, you can add up to a cup of sugar. Just add it wisely. 

The best thing about pumpkin butter is that you can pair it with so many different things! Try it on: pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, toast, rice cakes, yogurt, etc. I even enjoy peanut butter and pumpkin butter sandwiches. They seem to complement each other well. Let me know what you plan on eating it with, I am always up for suggestions.

                                                                 Pumpkin Butter
                                                                  Makes 2 Jars

3 1/2 C or 1 29 oz Can Purred Pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie spiced filling)
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1 C Apple Cider
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 tsp Cinnamon


1. Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Stir often! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Game Day Snacks

My Monday involved doing one of the coolest heart tests yet, the stress echo. Prior to yesterday, I had done a cardiac MRI, 2 echos, 2 holter monitors, 1 catheter ablation, and 1 echo bubble test....I think that touches on everything. Oh, did I mention that's all been done since March? Crazy, I know. Well, yesterday I did my last heart test. I must say, it was my favorite so far since it required me to run. How many times do you actually get to workout in the hospital?

The stress echo is amazing because it shows you how your heart looks after exercising. Thankfully, the doctor liked what she saw, so that means I don't have to go back there for a long time (fingers crossed). This whole heart experience, despite being frustrating at times,  has led me to become totally fascinated by my heart and how it functions. Such a small organ does so much, and it deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. AKA- eating right and exercising. 

I promised you in my last post that I would return this week with new recipes. I know, it's been a while. Well, last weekend I spent 5+ hours in my kitchen making pumpkin butter, sweet potato dip, tamale pie, and apple dumplings (clearly not for the blog... just to spoil my husband since I lost a bet with him). Needless to say, get ready to wow your palate this week! 

I'll share all of the recipes with you eventually, but today let's focus on the Smoky Sweet Potato Dip. I originally found this recipe on The Professional Palate, and just had to try it for a Sunday football snack.I love this snack because it takes 10 minutes to make and is filled with vitamin C. I also love it because you can serve it as a dip, or just serve it by itself with dinner. Either way, you'll be fueling strong.

Give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think in the comments box below. You can pair it with pita, vegetables, or baked tortilla chips to make the perfect snack. Enjoy:)

                                                         Smoky Sweet Potato Dip
                                           Inspiration from The Professional Palate
                                                                   Serves 2


1 Medium Sweet Potato
1 Canned Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce (Find in Mexican Aisle)
Juice of 1 Lime
2 T Salsa
1/4 C Low Fat Cheddar Cheese (or Pepper Jack)


1. Poke holes in the sweet potato and microwave it for 3-5 minutes, until it is soft.
2. Let the potato cool, then peel and chop.
3. Place the potato and remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature with veggies, crackers, pita, or baked tortilla chips.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Soup Season + Good Bye Tight Hips

Sorry that I have been totally MIA for the past week. We had friends in town for 13 days and then I came down with strep throat. I'm still battling it, but thankfully I am able to go back to work despite the fact that I am completely exhausted. I haven't been able to work out for 3 days! For those of you who know me, you know that this never happens! I usually work out even through sickness, but I figured if it wears me out to do my hair it's going to totally wear me out to run. In the mean time I'll just dream about my next run.

While I've been sick, I've been eating a lot of soup. I am not a big fan of canned soups because they have a lot of unnecessary sodium and scary ingredients, but recently I came across Amy's Kitchen soups. I'll admit, I am absolutely obsessed! They are more expensive than a lot of other soups, but trust me once you taste them you will realize your money is well spent. For those of you who haven't heard of Amy's Kitchen, they focus on making natural and organic prepared foods aka you can understand every word on the ingredient list! The two that I can't stop eating are: Low Sodium Lentil Vegetable and Low Sodium Minestrone. I highly suggest giving them a try!

Well, as I said I am already dreaming about my first post-strep run tomorrow morning. I'm sure it'll be a little rough getting back into after being sick, but I am ready for the challenge. I can bet you that my hip flexors will be sore on Sunday. Guess that means I'll have to to my favorite stretch! For those of you who have tight hips, give this stretch a try.

Lay on your back and lift your hips like you are doing a bridge. Bring one knee into your chest and hold it for about 20 seconds. Remember to keep your hips high and to keep pulling that knee in. You will feel a nice deep stretch in your hip, and you will even feel a slight burn in your glutes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I promise, I will have some new recipes this weekend/next week. I know, I've been slacking! Cheers friends!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Racing Bucket List

This morning, Kyle and I woke up and headed down the street to watch the Chicago Marathon. Our house is around mile 7, so the runners were still running strong and smiling! Watching the runners was inspiring, but I found myself even more in awe of the fans. There were thousands of fans lining the streets cheering for each and every runner who ran by. It almost brought me to tears, and I cannot wait to be one of the runners that they cheer for next year.

One thing that did bring me to tears during the race were the handful of blind runners. They were led through the course via a rope attached to a pacer. Talk about amazing. They were not able to enjoy the sites of Chicago, but I know they were inspired by all of the cheering. 

After cheering for a while, Kyle and I went to Starbucks to warm up. While there, I decided to start my "Race Bucket List." There are so many amazing races, so why not travel the country to run them? I'm sure my list will continue to grow, but so far my top choices include:
  • Napa Valley Marathon
  • Disney Half (or full) Marathon
  • Chicago Marathon
  • Boston Marathon
  • Chicago Triathlon
  • A Half Iron Man (Destination TBD)
  • Country Music Half Marathon 
  • Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon (ends with wine tasting...sign me up)
 Trust me, this list will continue to grow, but this will do for now. Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! Congrats to all of the Chicago Marathon runners! Wear your medals with pride!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Introducing Turkey...

I have learned so much in the mere 5 days that Glenn and Amelia have been here. In case you missed my last post, Kyle and I have friends from Australia living in our living room for 13 days. We have enjoyed showing them around Indiana and Chicago, but what we love most is hearing about where they live and the differences between Australia and the US. For example, high fructose corn syrup is ILLEGAL there! Every health freak's dream! That means all products with it are banned (ie. Pop Tarts). I personally have enjoyed watching their faces as they browse the candy aisle at the grocery store. Amelia is amazed by all of the different kinds we have. I'm sure by next Wednesday she will try a lot of them, or take them back with her.
We introduced Amelia to fro-yo. Her life has changed.

I also introduced Glenn and Amelia to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I couldn't believe that they don't eat them in Australia! Don't worry, they instantly fell in love with the combo, and made me feel like I was a gourmet chef for introducing them to America's go-to sandwich. I'm sure in the next week we will open their eyes to even more different American foods.

In Australia they don't eat a lot of ground turkey, so I decided to make Burrito Bowls (my favorite ground turkey dish). A lot of burrito bowls that you see on menus rack in a ton of calories because they are made with beef, a lot of cheese, sour cream, and heaps of rice. You don't have to worry about that with this meal, though. In my burrito bowls I use quinoa to boost the protein content and lean ground turkey to reduce the total fat. If you aren't a big fan of meat like me, you can also make this with tofu! It is equally delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

                                                                         Burrito Bowls
                                                                             Serves 4


1 lb Ground Turkey
1/4 C Salsa (Medium or Mild depending on your desired heat)
1 T Chili Powder
1 T Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Green Pepper, Chopped
1 C Quinoa
3 C Water
1 Can Black Beans (Drained and Rinsed)
1 T Chopped Cilantro

Additional toppings: Cheddar Cheese, Low Fat Sour Cream, Hot Sauce, Salsa, Baked Tortilla Chips

Start Cooking

1. In a medium skillet, brown the turkey. Once it has been cooked all the way through, add the salsa, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder.Add salt and pepper to taste.Set aside.
2. In a medium pot, cook the quinoa with 3 C of water over medium high heat until the grain has spouted and all of the water is absorbed. Set aside.
3. Saute the peppers and onions over medium high heat until they are caramelized. This will take 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
4. Now it's time to make the bowls. Grab 4 bowls and divide the quinoa equally between the bowls. Layer on top of the quinoa with the turkey, onions/peppers, and black beans. Top each bowl with a little cilantro, and add additional toppings if you desire.
5. Mix the bowl up and enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Aussies come to visit + Staiblity Tricep Dips

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend. Our friends from Australia came to visit us, and are staying on our couch for 12 days. Oh, did I forget to mention that they are on their honeymoon? Ha... It's been great so far! It's always great to reunite especially since we have not seen Glenn in almost 3 years! They are doing everything they can to convince us to move to Australia...running on the beach, sand volleyball, and fresh fish. Hmm... this may not take a lot of convincing.

The love birds.

Even though we have been driving between Indiana and Chicago a lot, I always find time to get in some good workouts. Try starting your week off with my Stability Ball Tricep Dips. Normal dips are great for toning the back side of your arms, but I love to add a stability ball to engage the core and make the workout harder. Trust me, you will feel the burn, but you will love the results.

                                                        Stability Ball Tricep Dips

Equipment Needed: 
Stability Ball
Bench or Chair

1. Sit on the bench or chair with the stability ball in front of you. Place your hands next to your hips on the bench and carefully put your feet on the stability ball. You want the ball to be close to your heels.

2. Tighten your core and glutes, and lift your butt off the bench with your arms. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle and push back up. Make sure to keep your core engaged to prevent you from falling and to keep your body as close to the bench as possible. Repeat this motion for 15 reps and do 3 sets. 

Sorry this post is so short. We have to head out to South Bend. Until next time my friends. Keep fueling strong! And embrace the burn!