Friday, March 30, 2012

Roasted Asparagus, Tomato, and Quinoa Salad

Did you buy your Mega Millions lotto ticket yet?  I have yet to buy one and have never actually played the lottery except for scratch-offs, which I love.   I usually don't play because I figure it is a waste of money and the odds of winning are so slim, and instead, I spend my money on tangible things like coffee and shoes.  Did you know you are 50 times more likely to get struck by lightning than to win the jackpot?  You (assuming you are an amateur golfer) are more likely to hit two hole-in-ones on consecutive par-3's than you are to win the lottery.  Let's just say, the odds are not in your favor.

But, I think I might as well go ahead and buy one anyways.  Just in case.  It's a record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot and I want to participate.  

I have a great recipe for you today that would make for a great side dish for any upcoming spring barbecues.  I've heard it is also a great main dish for a very hungry girl after a long workout.  Not that I would know or anything...

But first a random story about asparagus.

In high school I was involved in a lot of extracurriculars and each of those extra activities often included long bus rides to games or competitions.  This was back in the day before everyone and their brother had an iPod and most people were still sporting personal CD players.  Well the battery in those things weren't great and on bumpy country roads they didn't fair so well and so, my peers and I often found other ways to entertain ourselves on long bus trips.  We played a lot of card games and Never have I ever.  Many new games were also invented on these trips.  One of these games was the vegetable game.  The rules were simple--each person picked a vegetable, one person would start and say their vegetable and another person's vegetable, then that person would say their vegetable and then someone else's vegetable, and around and around it would go.  Kinda like this

"Potato, tomato"
"Tomato, zucchini"
"Zucchini, beet"
"Beet, carrot"

And so on, and so forth.  The part that makes the whole game fun was that you couldn't just say the vegetable.  Instead you had to take both your hands and squeeze your cheeks and mouth together so it was a little hard to talk and gave everyone's voice a lisp.  

The funniest vegetable to have was asparagus.

Go ahead and try it, you know you want to.  Asparagus.

It always brought out a few laughs.  

Pretty sure there was never a winner or loser in this game but it was darn fun and entertained us for about 15 minutes.

And asparagus is stealing the stage again in this tangy delicious salad.  

Now, you might be thinking, "Salads are so boring" but this one is not.  Yes, some salads with plain lettuce and one tomato are boring, but it is all about the toppings!  This salads doesn't even have any lettuce and instead is based on quinoa and there is nothing boring about it.  

It's equal parts tangy, sweet, and scrumptious.

If you haven't tried quinoa yet, I am begging you to try it.  It reminds me a lot of rice but has much more flavor.

Helpful hint: always rinse your quinoa before cooking because it contains a bitter outer coating.

Roast up some asparagus with a little drizzle of olive oil and sprinkles of sea salt.

Chop up a few tomatoes.  Campari tomatoes just happened to be on sale at my grocery store this week.  

Then it is basically a throw together recipe from here.

Combine the cooked, now fluffy quinoa with the asparagus, tomatoes, goat cheese, and cranberries in a bowl.  And mix together the dressing of reduced balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt.  Dump it over the veggies and voila! it's done.  

I personally prefer this salad after it's been chilled in the fridge for a few hours.

The flavors all blend together that way.

Quinoa provides a complete source of protein to help this meal stick to your bones, while the goat cheese adds in a tang. The cranberries along with the tomatoes give the dish a hint of sweetness. And the veggies will help fill you up as well.

This dish would be perfect to take along to a cookout this summer!

Roasted Asparagus, Tomato, and Quinoa Salad

Time: about 25 minutes
Servings: 2-3
1/2 pound roasted asparagus
extra virgin olive oil and salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/4 cup water
3 campari tomatoes
1 ounce goat cheese
1 tablespoons cranberries
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Mix asparagus with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and roast in oven set on broil for 12 minutes, flipping halfway.
Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa with cold water (very important step to remove the natural bitter coating!) and add to pot with 1 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or till water is absorbed.
For dressing reduce balsamic vinegar over medium heat till slightly thicker.
Combine in a large bowl tomatoes, goat cheese, cranberries, olive oil and sea salt. Add in quinoa, asparagus, and balsamic reduction.
Dish can be served hot immediately or chilled (my preference is chilled!).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday [on weekend bike rides, new gym, and the library]

Well, hello there.  It's already 10:25 pm and I need to get to bed by 11 pm to meet my bootcamp goal for the week.   And I still have some things to pack for the weekend, but more on that below!  Right now it is time for Thankful Thursday.  Thanks to Ali and Lauren for the inspiration!

I'm thankful for nice weekend days for bike riding.  For a while I swear the weather had it all wrong.  It would be nice during the week and the weekends would be a rainstorm or a snowstorm.  But lately, that has all turned around.  The weekends are beautiful and warm and sunny.  Which make for perfect long bike rides outside with this guy.

Yes, I love you bicycle.  Even if the bike ride wasn't all that great, it makes me happy just to be out there.

I'm thankful for friendly people at my new gym.  I joined a new gym because I was tired of the dirty pool and always over-crowded free weights section.  It is more money per month but I think it is going to be totally worth it.  I've been going to spin classes and both the instructor and the other spinners are great.  Both of the instructors I've had teach have introduced themselves and asked for my name and have chatted with me.  I never really got to know anyone at my old gym even though I went there for a whole year.  

I'm thankful for the library.  I know all you cool kids out there with your fancy pants e-readers are scoffing at my love for the library.  But the library is a wonderful, wonderful place.  I sometimes enjoy just going to the library and taking my sweet time to browse the shelves.  The reading possibilities are endless.  Tonight I picked up two new books to read--Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult and The Shack by William P. Young.  I've heard great things about The Shack  and Jodi Picoult is a favorite author of mine.  I also have The Hunger Games on hold and I should get to it in about a year after the 68 other holds in front of me read it.  I figured I might as well by into the trend and read it, although I am a little leery of doing so since the last book trend I picked up was the Twilight books.  And I was not a fan of those books.   But I have a lot higher hopes for the this series. 

I'm thankful for my fun weekend plans.  I am traveling to Milwaukee this weekend to hang out with a high school friend.  I am excited because I've never had a chance to explore Milwaukee and it's been a long time since I've seen this friend. 

What are you thankful for?

Remember that one time my stuffed giant bear

Sometimes I come up with these really great ideas to write about for "Remember that one time when" and then when I sit down to type, I can't remember any of them.  That is what is happening today.  I should get smart and start writing these ideas down when they come to me, but they usually strike randomly and I don't have my idea notebook with me.  I guess instead you suffer through whatever random memory I squeeze out at the moment.

Remember that one time you wanna buy this giant stuffed bear?  This past summer my friend non-engineer friend Laura came to visit me.  It just so happened that her visit coincided both the Taste of Chicago and Arlington Heights Frontier Days.  You can read all about our sweaty, sweltering heat adventures at the Taste of Chicago, but what I didn't tell you was the rest of the adventures that night.  The band Kansas was playing at Frontier Days so after some much needed showers we decided to trek down to the big ole' Frontier Days.  It was quite late when we arrived and the show was already started so it took a little bit of searching before we found a place to throw down our blanket and rest our weary legs.  The show wasn't really all that impressive mostly because it wasn't loud enough for us to really enjoy it.  Don't get me wrong, I really love me some Carry on my Wayward Son but it wasn't as awesome as I hoped it would be.

Once the show was over we decided to head back to the car.  Because I had parked at another parking lot a ways away, the option to get back was either to walk back in the dark or take the shuttle.  We opted for the shuttle because our legs were tired.  Or we were just being lazy.  So as we are standing at the corner where the  shuttle pick-up was located and up walks this very inebriated middle-age man.  He was hammered.  Right away he started asking questions, "Is this the shuttle stop?" "Does the shuttle pick us up here?"  "Where's the shuttle?"  We humored him for about two questions and then ignored him.

Approximately 5 minutes later some rowdy young boys show.  I'll guess about age 15 as they were definitely not old enough to drive.  One of these boys had a giant stuffed teddy bear that he won at one of those stupid fair games that are a waste of money.  I guess this kid decided he no longer wanted the over-sized bear.  He began trying to convince people around him to buy the bear off him.  Laura and I were having none of it, but drunk guy, well, drunk guy was really pondering it.  At first he offered him all the money he scrounged up out of his pocket which amounted to about $6.  But the kid wasn't having any of it.

Once the shuttle arrived the kid continued to take bids for the stuffed bear.  He even convinced the shuttle bus driver to join in on the bidding.  In the end, I was sure that the kid was stuck with the bear.  But just as we were pulling up to the parking lot, drunk guy decided to purchase the bear off the kid for $20.  Yes, $20.  He totally got ripped off.  He mumbled  something about giving the bear to his daughter.  In an ironic twist, the kid with the bear actually went to school with his daughter.

The drunk guy stayed on the bus with his $20 bear and was getting off at the next stop.  I sure hope he was walking home after that...with his bear.  And as Laura and I were pulling out of the parking lot I noticed the bear kid with his friends riding too small bikes.  No wonder he didn't want his giant bear.

The moral of the story is never buy a stuffed animal off a kid for $20.  Ever.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bootcamp Recap Week 3 - Tired legs and a fueling fail

It's Monday once again.  I am attempting to start this Monday off with a positive attitude and hope that it carries me through the week.  When I wake up on Monday dreading the day the week seems to drag on.  I have some fun things planned for the coming weekend--visiting my friend in Milwaukee!--so I have a lot to look forward to.

Of course, my workouts will definitely keep me busy this week as I continue to add volume for the half Ironman training as well half marathon training.  This is a peak week and next week will be a bit of a recovery week!

Onto the week 3 recap!  This week was the start of Phase Two of Best Body Bootcamp with the focus changing from stabilization to muscular endurance.  The strength workouts also incorporated my favorite tactic in strength training--supersets.  Basically a superset is a small group of exercises (usually 2-4 for me) that you complete one set of each move back to back, take a short rest, and then start at the top again. For example you could do squats, step-ups, and lunges, take a 30 second break and then again do squats, step-ups, and lunges.  Usually by the third set my muscles are getting tired and the moves are difficult.

This is what my workouts looked like for the week.


  • Monday - 1 hr spin class, 1.25 mi run, 1600 yd swim
  • Tuesday - Off
  • Wednesday - 4.5 mi run, BBB workout A-legs
  • Thursday - 45 min spin class, BBB workout C-arms, 1350 yd swim
  • Friday - 5 mi run w/ 8 x 400's @ 5k pace
  • Saturday - 11 mi run
  • Sunday - 28 mi bike
I took an impromptu rest day on Tuesday and spent the rest of the week playing catch up.  I managed to squeeze in all the biking and running workouts, but missed a swim session.  I did, however, make both swim sessions a little longer so I sort of made up for the missing session.  I also skipped the full body strength session because my legs were still a little sore from workout A and I didn't want to fatigue them further with an 11 mile run on coming up on Saturday.  

Speaking of fatigued legs, completing a speed work session on Friday night before a long run on Saturday morning was possibly not the best decision.  I really wanted to get 3 runs in so I did it anyways.  When I started my long run on Saturday morning my legs felt heavy.  As I already do my long runs at a pretty conservative pace, I decided to just take it easy and see how I felt.  Fortunately the run went pretty well and I finished without any walking for an average pace of 9:58/mile.  That's pretty good in my book for tired legs.  

Sunday was a different story.  As soon as I got on my bike my legs felt trashed.  Holding a good speed was difficult and the many stops and starts were not doing me any favors.  The plan called for 30 miles and eeking out those 28 miles was torture.  I also did a really poor job fueling for this workout.  I ate a hearty breakfast (oatmeal bake) but didn't drink enough water and did a crappy job refueling after Saturday's run.  I felt weak and my pace showed it.  I quit a little early but I was starting to feel a little too light-headed and wobbly and with no food or Gus with me on the bike, I just threw in the towel.  Part of training is getting nutrition nailed down so I will be paying more attention to this now.

Daily Goals

The other part of bootcamp is daily goals for each week.  My goals for the week were to
  • Pack a healthy lunch the night before
  • Do a plank
To be entered into the prize for the week, you need to meet these goals 5 out of 7 days.  I managed to knock out each of these goals and even held a plank for 1 minute and 45 seconds!  

I have been starving this week!  Not sure if it is a just in my head or because of my increased training volume, but by the time I get to dinner I am about ready to eat my arm off.  To combat this I am working on eating a larger afternoon snack to power me through the gym session after work.  And I am also focusing on getting plenty of protein in my meals since that seems to have a large effect on my hunger levels.

I am still in need of some goals for week 4.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday [On sweaty friends, Chobani, and spinning]

Heyyyyyyyy! I must make this Thankful Thursday short and sweet because I spent a lot of time tonight at the gym (spin, arm workout, and swimming!) and then making a delicious new recipe that I will be sharing soon. 

I’m thankful for friends who will sweat it out with me. While Laura was here this weekend we ran 10 miles and bike 19 miles.  Sometimes when I have friends visiting or I am visiting friends I do not get to squeeze in any exercise.  Then I regret not getting in a workout after indulging all weekend.  But with Laura, we almost always make working out a priority.  It puts us both in a better moods and we get a lot of time to chat and catch up.  While we were in Iowa City, exercise dates were a regular occurrence and now I miss having her as a workout buddy. 

I’m thankful for Chobani!  Guess what?!  I won a giveaway of Chobani over at Life with Lauren this week.  I am getting a case of Chobani!! If you come over and visit me I will share.  This means I will also get to try the new flavor I’ve been searching for—Blood Orange.  I love Chobani!  I used to only eat light fruit flavored yogurt and at first I did not  like greek yogurts at all.  But I tried it a few times and fell in love with the thicker, creamier texture and the tangy kick.  Now regular yogurt seems so boring. 

Okay, I will stop professing my love for Chobani.  But I have no promises when I actually get my case and eat it every day.  I’ll be singing its praises again.

I’m thankful for spin class.  It’s hard to find good bike routes in the area that I can ride on, but I can just head into spin class any day of the week.  Spinning classes are not the same as outdoor cycling but it is still an awesome workouts and my leg muscles still burn.  It also makes me sometimes think I am the sweatiest person at my gym.  My shirt is usually completely soaked by the end of my workouts.

Like I said, short and sweet tonight! Toodle loo!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Remember that one time when…I’ll sell you this pizza

I couldn’t decide what to have for a snack after dinner tonight but I was definitely hungry.  After staring in the fridge for a minute I just decided on a beer, a Fat Squirrel to be precise.  It was a good decision.  I really hope beer is a good recovery drink for workouts because it’s kind of becoming a staple in my post workout diet. 

I spent the weekend with Laura and we did a lot of reminiscing about our college adventures.  Although we only were really friends for about the last year and a half of college, we had a lot of fun together.  That may be an understatement.  This is one of those times.

Remember that one time when…I sold Laura a pizza out of my fridge.  One night Laura and I were out partying it up at the bars.  I believe it was a Thursday which is a very popular night to go out in college.  I can’t remember the details of that night but I have a feeling we ended up at Fieldhouse to dance.  Honestly, no matter how many times I claimed to hate that place I secretly loved it.  It was the best place to go dancing and boy, did I love dancing.  So I was always dragging my friends there. 


So anyways, I am guessing we closed down the bar that night and were heading home around 1:30 am.  Of course, after a night drinking we were a little hungry and wanted a mega-snack.  For some reason our go-to pizza place, Falbo Bros Pizza had a super long line so we skipped it.  Apparently sometime between the time we passed that and the time we got back to my apartment I decided I wasn’t hungry anymore.  But Laura had not decided that and she was still hankering for a snack. 

I was super tired by the time we got back (and maybe slightly drunk, or more than slightly) and really, really wanted to go to bed.  Laura decided that she needed to find a snack and then I remembered a frozen pizza in my freezer.  At first the pizza was to be made at my apartment but I quickly announced that I was going right to bed.  And so Laura decided to buy the pizza off me for approximately $3 and take the pizza home with her.  Meanwhile, my roomie, Staci, was observing this conversation the whole time.  Imagine her looking back and forth the whole time in silence while Laura and I banter. 

In the end, I sold Laura the pizza and made sure to tell her no less than 3 times that she needed to not fall asleep while the pizza cooked in the oven.  And then before she could even walk out the door I went into my room and got into bed.  I didn’t even bother to change my clothes. 

The  next morning I was confused when I found $3 in my pocket, but then I remembered the shenanigans from the night before and texted Laura to make sure she didn’t burn down her apartment. 

Have you ever forgot about a pizza in the oven?

There was one incident where I forgot about a calzone I was cooking up for leftovers in the oven.  Turns out it didn’t actually burn to a crisp!

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 Race Plans

The racing season are quickly approaching.  Which is both exciting and frightening.  I love racing but I have set bigger goals for myself this year and it is going to be a challenge.

Here is the schedule so far:

April 28, 2012      Illinois Half Marathon                    Champaign, IL
June 8-9, 2012     Ragnar Relay                                 Madison to Chicago
June 10, 2012      Capitol View Triathlon                   Madison, WI
July 15, 2012       70.3 Racine                                   Racine, WI
August 5, 2012    Camp Couragous Sprint Triathlon   Monticello, IA

Planning races was a bit of a challenge this year because I have approximately 1 million weddings to attend this summer.  Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but there are seriously about 10 I will probably be attending.  I  have a very busy summer coming up that will include lots of weekend traveling.  I'm not sure how all this training on weekends when I am traveling will work out but I hope I can come up with a solution.  Most of my long workouts are on Saturday or Sunday so those are workouts I really don't want to skip.

I'm kicking the racing season off with my second half marathon at the Illinois Half Marathon.  Originally I wanted to go sub-2:00 on this race, but that seems a little ambition now.  Instead, I am just attempting to PR this race and shoot for 2:10.  I am running this with my friend Laura and she will probably kick my butt.  And that is okay with me.

My A race for the year is the  70.3 Racine-my very first half Ironman!  This will also be the most challenging but the one I am most looking forward to.

The  Capitol View Triathlon is mostly just a warm-up race for the half Ironman.  I really wanted to get in an Olympic distance before tackling the half Iron and this one seemed to fit the bill.  I also signed up to do a Ragnar Relay with my coworkers the two days before this triathlon.  That could make for an interesting race.  The relay is an overnight relay with a 12-person team where each runner has 3 legs to run with approximately 3 to 8 miles each time.  Let's just say it should be an interesting bonding time for all of us being crammed into a van for 24+ hours.  Doing the triathlon on Sunday will give me plenty of practice for racing on tired legs and a not well-rested body.

I am doing the Camp Couragous Sprint Triathlon again because I loved it so much last year.  I am just hoping to beat my time from last year.

I am tempted to sign up for another Olympic distance triathlon after the half Iron and possibly another half marathon.  But I don't want to sign up for too much after the half Iron and I am just going to wait to see how I feel.  I have a feeling I might need a break after that one.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bootcamp Week 2 Recap

How was your St. Patrick’s day?  I managed to avoid drinking any green beer or getting pinched!  But sadly, I didn’t get to drink any Killian’s Irish Red either.  And that is my favorite Irish drink.  I also took a green shamrock shot.  It was delicious if you were wondering. 

How did I indulge so much without feeling guilty?  Oh yeah, I also woke up at 7 am on Saturday morning to go on a 10 mile run with my favorite training buddy, Laura.  It was a difficult run, but it was also great!  It wasn’t super speedy, but it got done.  And I am one step closer to running a half marathon in April.

Week 2 of bootcamp is over and that means the program is one-quarter finished!  Week two workouts were the same moves from week one except the tempo changed for these workouts.  The movements were slow, but that definitely did not make them easy.  I ended up only doing the first two strength workouts and skipping the third because Laura was here and we had other workouts and plans to attend to.  I also haven’t been following the assigned cardio workouts and have just been doing my own thing with half marathon training sessions. 

This week also marked the start of my half-Ironman training plan!  In 18 short weeks I will be racing my longest triathlon yet!  I’m excited but also a little nervous about the training volume and actually completing the race.  But hopefully training will go smoothly and I will have no problems.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed. 

My workouts for the week looked like this

  • Monday:  15 minute elliptcal warm-up, Bootcamp workout A, 1000m swim
  • Tuesday: 1 hour spin class, 3 mile tempo run
  • Wednesday: 20 mile bike, Bootcamp workout B
  • Thursday:  no workouts, busy cooking up a storm
  • Friday:  5 mile walk
  • Saturday: 10 mile run (1:40) + bonus: lots of walking around in the city
  • Sunday:  20 mile bike ride, 3 mile walk

So I didn’t get in near enough swims this week (only 1! eek!) and only got two runs in when I should be getting three.  I am hoping to be a little better about that in the coming weeks. 

I didn’t get nearly as sore this week from the strength training workouts as I did last week.  Just a little soreness in my shoulders and back and that was it.  Overall, I am noticing I am much more hungry this week, which is probably due to the increased volume of training.  My workout motivation mojo has been continuing this week and I’ve been excited to get my workouts in each day.

Phase Two starts tomorrow which means different workouts this week! 

Do you have your workouts for the week planned?  Or do you just wing it?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday [on daylight savings, friends, dresses]

Yippee Thursday!  My friend Laura is coming up tomorrow for the weekend.  We are going to go check out the green Chicago River and meet up with our other friend Laura.  I know, it’s confusing, lots of Laura.  Then we are all going to see Blue Man Group
But before we do all that, it’s time for Thankful Thursday!
I’m thankful for daylight savings time.  Hmm, never thought I thought I would be happy about losing an hour of sleep, but the daylight after work is wonderful.  Yesterday I managed an hour and a half bike ride after work.  I was so used to driving home in the dark or as the sun was setting that I almost forgot what the sunlight was like.  It also doesn’t hurt that we’ve had 70-80 degree weather here the last few days.
I’m thankful for friends to talk to.  So the Farmer got a new job and I am a little bitter about it.  I was sulking most of last week, but I got to talk to a friend this weekend.  And just talking about it, and admitting that I was mad and sad, made me feel better.  She probably doesn’t even know how much better talking made me feel, but I feel so relieved to get it out of my system.
I’m thankful for my foam roller.  It still hurts but it is helping me recuperate my legs. 
I’m thankful for dresses.  It’s warm and I don’t need to wear pants to work every day anymore.  Pretty sure I wear the same 5 pairs of pants to work each week.  I glad it’s warm again so I can wear skirts and dresses again.  Because, seriously, I was in a clothes rut.
I’m thankful for How I Met Your Mother. This show is awesome and I am watching it right now.  It’s hilarious.  My favorite is the young, college, goth Lily Aldrin. 
Happy Friday tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Remember that one time when…scavenger hunt

Record high temperatures here in Chicago today!  I celebrated with a long outdoor bike ride.  How did you enjoy the weather today?

I’m recovering now with a New Glarus Moon Man Ale which usually is not my favorite because it is very hoppy, but tonight I am enjoying it with an orange wedge.  It is a good recovery drink, right?

Onto my story for the day.  Since I spent part of Sunday evening hanging out with my friend Rachel, I thought I would do a remember that one time when story that involves her.  Here goes.

Remember that one time when…Rachel and I went on a scavenger hunt. Back in the day when Rachel and I were living in the dorms our freshman year at Wartburg, our residence hall hosted a scavenger hunt for charity.  The theme was an “ABC” type of thing where the goal was to get at least one item from every letter of the alphabet.  For the winners, a $50 gift card to the bookstore was up for grabs.  Rachel and I decided to team up.  She warned me that she is a very competitive person, but me, also being a competitive person, I wasn’t too worried about it. 

So at precisely the start time we took off from Volmer Hall to scour the residential neighborhood for scavenger hunt alphabet items.  Rachel almost immediately found an abandoned bike and tried to pick it up and ride it.  So we could go faster on the scavenger hunt!!  Turns out the bike had a flat tire so we couldn’t take it along with us.  We got some strange items including a pencil eraser.  It was quite strange to knock on random people’s doors and asking for canned food and old clothes items. 

When we finally got tired of the begging for goods gig we returned to the residence hall and spread out our loot.  We had in fact achieved our goal of getting at least one item for each letter of the alphabet.  And apparently returned the quickest and won the prize! 

We each received a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore which I used to buy my mom a Wartburg sweatshirt.  It was quite cute.

Thank goodness for all the extremely generous people in Waverly for not slamming their doors in our face.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healthified Peanut Butter Bars

How are you all adjusting to the springing ahead?  I accidentally woke up a little late this morning, but still made it to work (relatively) on time.  I also had a little time mix up at the gym this evening.  I hadn’t set my watch ahead yet so I thought it was only 6:20 when I was going to get in the pool, but really it was 7:20.  Then I glanced at the clock after swimming a few laps and realized it was already 7:45.  I quickly hopped out of there so I could come home and make dinner before heading out to get groceries. 

I really must not have eaten enough earlier in the day because I was starving.  I made a little mish mash of garbanzo beans, garlic, tomatoes, and rice heated up with a little bit of olive oil and drizzled with lemon juice.  It was delicious and somehow I ate about 3/4 of it.  Oops. 

I have a great recipe to share with you today.  I made these way back on Fat Tuesday for my coworkers.  I originally planned to make chocolate chip cookies, but I didn't have any chocolate chips in the house and was not going to the grocery store again.  So I started flipping through a cookbook I had in the cabinet.  This cookbook happened to be a compilation of recipes from my mom's coworkers.  I just love cookbooks like this.  They have great recipes and use "normal" everyday ingredients that I have around the house or can easily pick up at the grocery store.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with fancy chef's cookbooks, but sometimes the ingredient lists are a little out there.


As I was flipping through the cookbook looking for recipes for which I already had all the ingredients for,  I came upon a recipe for peanut butter bars.  On a whim, I decided to "healthify" this recipe.  I think most people would tell you that you should start with a tried and true recipe to healthify, but I took a leap of faith and attempted to make some modifications to this one.

First substitution was unsweetened applesauce in place of half the butter.


Cream together with the delicious peanut butter, vanilla, and egg.  


And now for the second substitution.  The recipe called for 1 cup white flour but I replaced half of it with whole wheat flour.


Want to know one of my baking secret shortcuts?  Whenever a recipe calls for mixing the dry ingredients together and then adding to the wet ingredients, I just dump the flour on top of the wet ingredients and dump the smaller quantities of dry ingredients on top of that.  In this case, I added the baking soda and salt on top of the flour.  And then I mix those together with a spoon before folding into the wet ingredients.  Saves me a dish or two!


Next up my favorite ingredients, oats!


Mix all those ingredients together to get this batter.


Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and pop in the oven. 

While waiting the bars are busy baking away, the glaze can be easily whipped up.

Just whisk together some peanut butter...


with some powdered sugar and milk...


until it's nice and drippy.


When the bars are done baking pull those babies out of the oven and poke the top with a fork.  Then pour the glaze over the bars.  

Then, and this is the most important part, sample a corner.


The corner piece was Alyssa approved and the rest were allowed to go to work with me.


Nice and light, but not overwhelmingly sweet. 


And they were transported to work in this nice new pan.


I was a little worried that the bars would not set and fall apart but they held together very well.  

Healthified Peanut Butter Bars
1/4 cup butter 1/2 cup wheat flour 
1/4 cup applesauce 1/2 cup white flour  
1/2 cup white sugar  1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar  1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1 egg  1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/3 cup peanut butter 
1cup powdered sugar 6 Tablespoons milk
1/4 cup peanut butter

Beat together butter, applesauce, brown sugar and white sugar.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and peanut butter.  Slowly mix in flours, salt and baking soda.  Stir in rolled oats.  Pour into greased 9"x13" pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
While bars are baking, make glaze.  Whisk together powdered sugar, peanut butter and milk.  Once bars are done, remove from oven.  Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the bars.  Pour glaze over bars.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bootcamp Week 1 Recap

Well I survived week 1!  There was a little snafu near the end of the week when I decided to lose all motivation for exercise.   But I eventually recovered and made it back outside for a Saturday long run. 

Out of respect for the paying participants and the bootcamp creator, I won’t be sharing many details of the workouts with you but I wanted to share some of the general set up with you. 


Monday: 4 mile tempo run, Workout A

Tuesday: 1 hour Turbokick class

Wednesday: 45 min. spin class, 1 mile run, Workout B

Thursday: Off

Friday: Off

Saturday: 9 mile run

Sunday: 20(ish) mile bike ride

Bootcamp also had a Workout C which I missed this week.  Originally I intended to fit Workout C in on Friday.  A scheduled interval run also got skipped on Thursday.  You win some, you lose some. 

I am not following the plan exactly because I also need to mix in training runs for my half marathon.  And, starting this week, also need to start half Ironman training! Hench the 9 mile run and 4 mile tempo run.  Next week will also see some swimming and more spinning/bike rides.  For bootcamp, I am mostly just focusing on getting in the strength training workouts and not worrying too much about the assigned cardio workouts. 

One of the other aspects of bootcamp is setting goals for each week.  We were asked to pick two goals to strive for each day. My choices this week were:

  • Drink 80 oz. of water each day
  • Foam roll for 10 minutes each day

To be entered into the weekly prize, I needed to meet the goals 5 out of 7 days this week.  The water goal was relatively no problem, although, it did mean more bathroom breaks for me this week. 

The foam rolling goal took a little more work, but I managed to scarp by and hit 5 days.  I am going to choose this goal again because I want this to become a regular part of my routine.  Foam rolling really seems to help my IT band issues and knee pain. 

Overall I feel great this week.  I was a little sore from Workout A on Tuesday and Wednesday, but I still managed to power through Workout B.  This week I am hoping to be more consistent with my workouts and not skip planned workout days. 

I also took some baseline measurements for comparison purposes at the end of 8-week bootcamp. 

Chest 39.5
Right Arm 12
Left Arm 12
Waist 32.5
Hips 41
Right Thigh 24.5
Left Thigh 24.5

I will measure again at the end of 4 weeks and again at the conclusion of the program.  Hopefully I will see some changes.  I am also really looking forward to seeing more muscle definition. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thankful Friday [On weather, adventurous boyfriends, and new challenges]

So I missed Thankful Thursday.  I was having one of those crappy, emotional days and writing about things I am thankful about was furthest from my mind.  BUT those are the kind of days when I most need to focus on the good things in my life  So instead I'm doing Thankful Friday.  And hopefully, it will kick me out of this funk soon.

I'm thankful for the warm weather.  Okay so today is markedly colder than earlier in the week, but the weather has been awesome.  I thoroughly enjoy not having to scrap any frost off my car windows in the morning and wearing a light jacket instead of my winter coat.  The coming weekend looks beautiful as well--temperatures are supposed to be in the high 50's/low 60's.  I can't wait for my long run on Saturday!

I'm thankful for a boyfriend who will eat my crazy foods.  Last weekend the Farmer visited and I made him try several of my new creations - those black bean burgers and sweet potato fries I already told you about and an oatmeal bake kinda like this one.  I"m glad he isn't a picky eater and will try anything once, especially since I make strange-to-him foods at times.  I should also be thankful for the fact that he doesn't get angry with me when I post things about him.

To be fair, it was a Friday in Lent, so he couldn't eat real hamburger anyways.  But, as you can see, his friends were slightly repulsed by the fact that he would even try a non-mean burger.  I thought this whole banter was quite comical.

I'm thankful for new challenges in workouts.  Best Body Bootcamp is rockin'.  It is nice to have a new challenge in the gym.  The extra motivation seems to be just what I needed to get back into the workout routine.  I better have some killer muscles by the end of this!

I'm thankful for phone calls.  I talked to a lot of people in the last week on the phone and it's just a bright spot in my day.

I'm thankful for peanut butter.  I may not be eating any chocolate but at least I can enjoy this stuff.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Remember that one time when…t-pee.

Did you get outside and enjoy the nice weather today?  I can’t say I really did, but I didn’t wear my coat to the gym!   I also accidentally spent 2 hours at the gym today.  Oops.  I really wanted to go to a cycling class and after that still needed to do my strength training workout for Best Body Bootcamp.  This workout was much harder than my first workout and took me a while.  It didn’t help that I am still a little sore from Monday’s strength training workout.  For some reason my soreness is always worse the second day after exercise.  It really doesn’t help that I sit at a desk for most of the day because my muscles get even more sore throughout the day.  Oh well, hope they loosen up soon!

Remember that one time when…let’s go t-peeing.  Okay so I don’t know about you, but one of the pranks we liked to pull on each other back in the middle/high school age was to t-pee each other’s houses.  We would take cheap toliet paper and wrap it around bushes, throw it around trees, etc.  Actually now that I think about it, this was the only time I have ever t-peed anyone. 

Anyways, back to the story.  On her 14th birthday (I think this is correct?), my friend, Lacey’s, sister decided to give her a birthday present of taking her and a few of her other friends out to t-pee.  Very awesome birthday gift, I know.  Imagine a bunch of very excited 14-year-old girls ready to go t-pee.  The first friend’s house we chose was a complete bust because we remembered once we got there that they had a dog.  Ironically, the dog was also named Lacey.  I’m not kidding. 

So onto the next house we went.  This time we chose a classmate of ours.  Although we weren’t really close friends at the time, we had a very small class so we definitely associated with this girl.  Well, we went t-pee crazy and really toliet papered-up their yard.  We thought our work looked pretty darn good, although we couldn’t really see it since it was dark.  The next morning we wanted to drive by and admire our work, but when we got drove by, everything was already cleaned up.  Imagine our disappointment to see all our hard work gone! 

About a month later the subject of t-peeing somehow came up at school.  The t-peed girl slyly remarked to me something along the lines of “Like that one time you guys t-peed my house.”  Of course, I tried to deny my way out of it, but I guess it was pretty obvious from my face. 

And this whole time I thought we had sneakily got away with it.  Darn it.

Karma definitely came back to kick me in the a** later though.  Many pranks were directed towards me throughout the rest of high school.  But I never t-peed again. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March Goals

I'm not quite sure what is going on with the weather, but I will take it!  We reached a high of 67 degrees today and I am only sad that I was stuck at work for most of the day and missed it.  Unfortunately it is supposed to dip back into the 40s by this weekend so I won't be able to enjoy the nice weather then either. Is it nice where you are?

A new month means a new set of goals around here.  If you've never tried setting monthly or weekly goals for yourself I highly recommend it.  It gives you something to work towards and improve about yourself.  I try to pick something I know I can achieve if I put in some effort.  If I chose something impossible, I won't even try.

With that, here are my goals!

Goal 1: Stick with less sugar consumption goal

I successfully navigated through the end of February with this goal and now I just need to keep it up throughout March.  I know I mentioned this in my February recap, but the cravings do seem to be dwindling.  However, after dinner is definitely the hardest time for me.  It's a good thing I don't have any sweets in my apartment (save for a hidden jar of dark chocolate peanut butter) because I doubt I would have been able to resist.  I try to curb these cravings by having a small snack, like a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese, but I still have ice cream on the brain.  I am hoping these go away soon because otherwise it is going to be a long month.

This goal is definitely an exercise in will power, but I am very proud of myself for sticking to it.  I was even able to frost some cupcakes for my mom two weekends ago without licking any frosting off my fingers! It was HARD, but I did it.  It was also really difficult to resist punching the Farmer when he ate said cupcake in front of me and told me how delicious it was.

Goal 2: Do Best Body Bootcamp!

My motivation to workout has been slightly lacking lately.  Actually, I took last week off from exercise--a real rarity for me.  For about the past month, it has been a struggle for me to go to the gym every day after work.   I tried bribing myself with promises of new workout gear,  bringing a snack for after work/before gym, telling myself all the great benefits of exercise, pumping myself up for my favorite class, getting more sleep, but nothing seemed to work.  So last Monday, after debating heavily over going to the gym or not and attempting to force myself to go and failing, I gave myself permission to take a week off.  A little reverse psychology, if you will.   The rest of the week, I drove straight home from work without guilt.   And you know what?  It worked.  I returned to the gym yesterday refreshed and ready to go.  Sure I missed some training runs, but I don't feel my training suffered overall.

For a little extra motivation and to mix up my workout schedule, I signed up for Tina's Best Body Bootcamp.

It's an 8 week workout program including strength and cardio workouts.  Of course, it isn't individualized or anything but it will be a nice change of pace to my usual workout plan.  This plan will also give me a little accountability as it requires a check-in each week to keep up with workouts and 2 healthy goals set each week.  I'm looking forward to pumping some iron!

Goal 3: Participate in the March photo a day challenge

I first noticed this photo a day challenge popping up my Twitter feed and again over at Jenn's blog.  The #marchphotoaday challenge is being hosted by fat mum slim.  For each day in the month of March, there is a prompt for a photo.  I'm looking forward to this challenge as it will give me a reason to put use to my camera and work on my photography skills (seriously lacking).  More often than not, these will probably be taken with the camera on my "dumb" phone.  Hopefully these photos will make it up on Twitter, but since I don't have an iphone or smartphone like the rest of the world (okay, I know I am not the only one), it may not happen since I have to upload to my computer first and then onto Twitter.  No Instagram for me.

It's already the 6th and I've only taken about 2 photos, but I am determined to remedy this starting today..

Goal 4: Stick with grocery budget and expand budgeting to other areas of spending

This isn't the first time you've seen this goal around here.  In fact I tried it and failed badly.  But this time, this time, is different.  Why?  Because this time I have already been following the budget for a few weeks.  I've seen how it works and know what to do, and now, I just need to follow through.  My budget is $150 for the whole month, but I am trying to limit spending to $30 a week.  I am very lucky to have a grocery store close to my apartment that has cheap, fresh produce and good prices on lots of other staples in my diet.  Of course this kind of budget does require a little extra work including meal planning around sales and specials of the week and making thorough lists before grocery shopping.

Now that I feel I have grocery budgeting somewhat under control, I want to spread my budgeting plans to other areas of spending including shopping money and any entertainment or "fun" money.  My plan to make this happen include limiting the number of times I eat out at restaurants, finding cheap or free things to do with friends, and paying more attention to shopping and spending habits.

My overall goal in terms of budgeting is to save more money for a "rainy day fund" and also to save up for bigger purchases.  Not that my spending habits are out of control but I think this will make me more aware of where my money is going.

Goal 5: Make weekend plans

Relaxing weekends are great for the mind, but sometimes my relaxing weekends turn into super lazy, not-leave-the-house weekends.  These aren't really relaxing as much as they are depressing.  Don't get me wrong, it is nice to be lazy every once in a while, but watching endless Netflix episodes with no human contact for 24+ hours is bad for my mental and physical health.  I find that on weekends where I at least have one thing planned with another person, I am much less likely to unglue myself from the couch and be productive.

So my goal is to make at least one plan with another person every weekend in March.  It can be anything from as simple as meeting up for coffee to as big as visiting a friend in another state.  The first weekend in March was already a success--the Farmer was visiting and I met up with a blog friend for tea.  Other events already include visiting my friend Kate in Milwaukee and hosting Laura who is coming to visit from Champaign.  Hopefully those plans will also include meeting up with my Arlington Heights friend Rachel!  We've been trying to hang out for about a month now, but one of us is always out of town.

Now I just need to make some plans for this weekend!

Friday, March 2, 2012

February Goals Recap

I can hardly believe it, but it's only the second day in March and I am already doing the February recap.  Seriously may be a record for me.

Happy Friday! I celebrated the day by leaving work a little early because of the quickly accumulating snow.  Then I made dinner for me and the Farmer that consisted of these black bean burgers and these crispy sweet potato fries.  The burgers turned out splendidly but the sweet potato fries still weren't crispy.  Hmmph.  I have a few more ideas for next time though.

I asked the Farmer to write a blog post for me and this is what he narrated.
Dear Blog, 
Tonight I had black bean burgers and beer with my boyfriend.   They were good.

The end.
Very well written post, don't you think?  Too bad you guys are stuck with me.   

Onto those goal recaps.  The original goal post is here.

Goal 1:  Complete a craft project.

I'm awarding myself 3 out of 5 stars on this one.  I scrapbooked 2 pages this month which means 2 more events done.  I only have a few pictures left so I am nearing the end.  Yippee!  Unfortunately, none of the other craft projects received any attention.  I did order some supplies for a new craft project I have in mind, which was probably a bad idea.  I am just adding more projects to the started-and-not-finished project pile.  These projects are taking up space so maybe I can wrap up a few soon!

Goal 2: Incorporate morning workouts!

I just couldn't do it.  Even with going to bed earlier, dragging my butt out of bed early the next morning seemed impossible.  I know the great benefits of hitting the gym in the morning but at 5:30 am that didn't matter at all.  I might attempt this again sometime but for now I am just going to embrace after work exercising.  Once triathlon training picks up, I fear I will have no other choice than to get up early, but until then I will keep sleeping. 

Goal 3: Visit the Farmer in Wisconsin

Well, obviously, this already happened.  The weekend was great and filled with beer drinking and eating delicious food.  That, my friends, is one of my favorite kinds of weekends.  He may not be living there much longer so it's a good thing I got up there to visit when I did.  

Goal 4: Limit sugar intake

I have successfully avoided two rounds of office donuts.  Go me! Of course, I didn't  start this sugar restriction until Ash Wednesday (February 22), but a week and a half in and I am still doing great.  I did send out my sweets eating with a bang on Fat Tuesday--a concrete blizzard from Culver's with Twix and hot caramel.  Delicious and incredibly sugary.  I had a nice sugar coma sleep that night. 

I've found that I am craving sweets less since I've cut back.  Occasionally I will get a real hankering for dessert, but I just try to drink some water and distract myself with something else (like blog reading).  And if I still am wanting something after that I will eat a piece of fruit like frozen grapes or raspberries.

I am continuing this goal in March!

And because I am participating in the March photo a day challenge, here's my picture for today.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday [on family, clean sheets, and La Croix]

Welp, it’s Thursday once again.  Thursday is becoming one of my favorite days of the week.  Of course it will never overtake the weekend as my favorite days of the week.  But it may be my favorite day of the work week.  Thursday includes all the anticipation of the weekend without dragging on like Friday sometimes does.  It is also my designated day to be thankful!

I’m thankful for weekends with my family.  I spend last weekend back in Iowa.  It always seems like the weekends fly by when I am there and this one was no different.  It was a great weekend though!  On Saturday, my mom and I spent 2 hours in the morning taking exercise classes then grocery shopping.  Next up was an interesting family reunion where I only knew a handful of people.  And I wrapped up the night by going out for dinner with the Farmer and his mother’s family.  Sunday was a little more low-key but still kind of busy! 

I’m thankful for clean sheets.  I love the smell and feel of clean sheets.  I put some on my bed and I’ve been enjoying them thoroughly.  It makes it even harder to get out of bed in the morning.  And that’s a problem.

I’m thankful for La  Croix.  So I decided I am giving up pop again.  It’s been about 2 weeks now.  And the cravings are lessening, but sometimes when I really, really have a hankering for a fizzy pop, I just drink a La Croix instead.  Almost as delicious, almost. 

I’m thankful for new recipes. I tried cauliflower pizza crust this week and it was surprisingly good.  You should check it out if you are looking for a low carb option to pizza.  I just tried it because I had a head of cauliflower.

Have a happy Friday tomorrow! 

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