Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Five - Blog posts

I hope that everyone's week is ending well!  It's Friday again and I'm excited to be linking up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney again for the Friday Five link up since I missed it last week.  This week's theme is blogs to follow but I have so many blogs I love reading that I don't think I could pick only 5.  Instead, I'm going to post about 5 blog posts I've read recently that I feel have been really helpful.

1.  My feet have been starting to fall asleep in my older pair of running shoes and I will probably be retiring them soon.  *Sniff* But I was doing some research and came across this great post about different ways to lace your running shoes to help alleviate problems.  I had no idea that lacing your shoes differently could have so many results! I found this post to be super helpful and I'm going to try a couple of these out to see if it helps.

2.  In addition to being one of the hosts of this link up, Courtney gives great blogging tips and I really enjoyed her recent post on tips for avoiding writer's block.

3. I'm always looking for tips in order to try to run smart and increase my mileage in such a way as to minimize chances of injury.  This post from Runner's World last year has great tips and details.  It doesn't just say to strength train but provides lots of specific exercises to try.  It doesn't just say improve your form but provides lots of information on specific things to look for in your form. I've really been trying to make an effort to pay attention to my form and I think it's helping, though I definitely slip toward the end of my runs.  Always a work in progress :)

4.  I'm not at the point where I'm really concentrating on speed.  I'm working on increasing mileage and improving my endurance at the moment.  But I found this post from Merrell on improving your speed to be really interesting.  I like that it's not just about speedwork but also talks about things like motivation, planning and rest.

My kitties definitely have the rest part down!

5.  Lastly, Nicole at Fitful Focus has a fun series on finds from around the web that I really enjoy.  She always has great finds to share. 

I hope that you all have a great weekend ahead of you :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Plantain Moqueca

I am so happy to be back to a relatively normal routine and being able to cook again.  I'm taking full advantage of it since I don't know how long I'll have a kitchen since we'll be in renovation mode soon. So here's a recipe I made this week for the Tasty Tuesday link up with Lean Lena.

I enjoyed my trip to Brazil but I was a little worried about the food since I know it tends to be a meat heavy cuisine.  I wasn't sure what I would be able to eat as a vegetarian.  Thankfully I never went even close to being hungry but there was one dish that really stood out and I knew I wanted to try to recreate it.

Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew.  One of the restaurants I had dinner at served a vegetarian version that used plantains instead of fish. Here is the description of moqueca from Wikipedia:  "Moqueca is a Brazilian recipe based on salt water fish stew in coconut milk, tomatoesonionsgarlic, coriander and some palm oil (dendê)." 
There are two versions, one from the state of Bahia and one from the state of Espírito Santo.  My understanding is the Bahia version has coconut milk and the other one doesn't. I looked at several recipes for vegetarian moqueca online but none really spoke to me or seemed similar to what I had in the restaurant. So I decided to experiment and make my own version.  It's not authentic but it is delicious! 
Makes 6 servings
4 ripe plantains
2 tbsp vegetable oil (it's traditionally palm oil but I didn't have any)
Crushed red pepper (The seasonings are all to taste since I was playing it by ear)
Smoked paprika
1 onion
1 bell pepper
3 cloves garlic (I used garlic powder but fresh garlic would definitely be better)
Chopped broccoli (I just threw this in because I had broccoli that needed to be used and the recipe is versatile enough to just add in veggies that you have on hand)
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can of cannelini beans
1 15 oz can of light coconut milk
Juice of one lime
Chopped parsley (supposed to be cilantro but Mike hates it with a passion so I use parsley instead)
Salt and pepper to taste
I started out by chopping the plantains into approximately 1 inch thick slices and searing them on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side. You want them to be nice and carmelized. I actually did this the day before putting the rest of the stew together.

I heated up the vegetable oil in a large pot with crushed red pepper flakes and smoked paprika over a low heat to make kind of a flavored oil.  Next, I chopped the onions, peppers, and broccoli. The vegetables in the stew I had at the restaurant were fairly substantial sized pieces so I did the same. It was a rustic style dish. I sautéed the veggies in the flavored oil (the garlic would go in here too if you use fresh garlic) for about 5 minutes over medium heat. I then added the can of tomatoes and the beans. It looked like it needed more liquid so I filled the empty can of tomatoes with water and added that in as well.  I added in salt, pepper and garlic powder.  I brought it to a boil and let all of that stew together until the brocolli was tender, about 10-15 minutes. 
I turned the heat to low and added in the coconut milk and the plantains back in.  I cooked it on low heat and stirred until the plantains were heated through again.  I finished the dish with squeezing lime juice on it and throwing in chopped parsley. I served it with rice.

The dish was a hit with Mike and while it wasn't a perfect recreation of the restaurant dish, I definitely enjoyed it. Have you ever tried to recreate something you ate at a restaurant without a recipe?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekly review

I'm back from camping and back from Brazil and ready to get back into blog world a bit :) I had a productive time in São Paulo but it was mostly work. I had one day free of work and managed to take a city tour that day as well as hang out a bit by the pool. The travel was exhausting though as it was around a 14 hour flight and included an overnight on the plane.  Therefore, I only got one run in while I was there and it was pretty short.

Monday - rest day, left to go to Brazil

Tuesday - rest day but I got some walking in on the city tour

Wednesday - treadmill at the hotel gym.  It confused me a bit since it was in kilometers and not miles so I was kind of guessing at speed.  This is around 1.7 miles so around a 16 minute per mile pace (I think).

Thursday - rest day as it was a full day of meetings and then another overnight flight home.

Friday - rest day since I was exhausted by the time I got home around noon.

Saturday - DDP yoga plus an extra core workout video. I still feel it in my abs whenever I laugh or cough!

Sunday - it was a recovery week on my training plan so it was a 7 mile run.  I can't believe that I almost said "only" 7 miles.  Who am I?!?  This run went really well.  We started at 6:30am so it was fairly cool. I forgot my knee brace and was a little worried when I began to feel twinges in my left knee and hip, but after the first mile I felt good and was able to do the whole run with my planned intervals and no extra walk breaks.  I feel like the core and leg PT exercises have really helped with this!  I was really happy with today's run and pace, even though it was a hilly route and there was a tree across the road at one point.  I'm feeling confident going into my first double digit run next weekend.

I hope everyone has a good week ahead of them!  I'm going to be playing catch up at the office but hoping to do yoga on Tuesday, run on Wednesday and Thursday, yoga on Friday, walking at the Renaissance  Festival in Saturday and my 10 miler Sunday.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly review

It's been a busy but good week and leading into another one.  I'm just stopping in for a quick update on my workouts last week.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - track workouts.  I couldn't quite figure out the right pace for this weeks speed work.  It was supposed to be 2 sets of 2000 (or 5 laps around the track) with 2 to 3 minutes of rest in between. I definitely went out too fast on the first set and couldn't really finish the second set.  I ended up doing 1 set of 2000, 1 set of 800, and 1 set of 400.

Thursday - yoga class.  The teacher started the class by saying she was pushing her boundaries and making herself uncomfortable so she planned to do some of her least favorite poses in the class!  It was definitely an interesting class.

Friday - this was the day we left for our camping trip so there was some hiking in the afternoon.  I met and exceeded my goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Saturday - quick run around the camp ground with a friend in the morning plus lots of walking during the day.  This was a super hilly run.

Sunday - did my long run with a friend at a trail at Susquehana state park.  It was a fairly easy trail that went along the Susquehana river.  It was mostly flat, dirt and gravel or wooden boardwalk.  This was around 9 miles and I'm excited to say I felt pretty good both during the run and afterward!

I'm on a work trip this week so am not sure how my workout are going to go.  I'm going to try to at least get 2 runs in during the trip and will be back in time for my long run on the weekend.  Hopefully I can fit in some yoga during the trip too.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday five - Fall preview

Wow, it seems crazy that it's already Labor Day weekend! The summer has flown by and this week has flown by too.  It's already time for another Friday Five with the DC Trifecta, Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.  This week's theme is a Fall Preview.

1.  More camping!  We're going to have a weekend away camping with friends.  One of the people joining us is a running buddy so I'm excited to have a run planned along a state park trail while we're camping.

2.  I have a work conference coming up and it's in Sao Paulo.  That's right, Brazil!  I am mostly there for work so I won't have too much time to play tourist but hopefully I'll get to see a little bit of the city.

3.  One of my favorite things about Fall in this area is the Renaissance Festival in Maryland.  We enjoy the opportunity so spend the day outside with friends checking out the fun shows and shops.  Of course, there's always great photo opportunities and food on a stick!

One of the fun shows we saw at last year's Renaissance Festival.

4.  My first Run Disney race, my first 10 miler (my longest race to date), and my first racecation! I am so excited for this.  I'm doing 9 miles this weekend so I should definitely be ready to finish this race but there are still some nerves.

5.  Lastly, we're getting a new kitchen.  We picked out cabinets and counter top last weekend and we're in the process of choosing appliances.  The work will start in a couple weeks and then we won't have a kitchen for a while.  It will be an adventure trying to eat healthy during that time.  If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them.  We'll have a microwave and grill but no refrigerator.

I hope everyone else has a wonderful Fall ahead of them!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly review

Sorry the blog has been light on posts last week but the same will probably be true for the next couple weeks too.  Work and personal life are a bit busy at the moment, all with good things. I did get in my workouts this past week but not all quite the way I wanted to.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - yoga class

Wednesday - this was going to be a track workout but it rained so I just worked out on the elliptical at home.

Thursday - I ran on the treadmill at work and did my speed work from Wednesday. I had a bit of a treadmill problem in the middle so there are two different records. By a bit of a problem, I mean I knocked my phone off the stand onto the moving part of the treadmill and it went fling off the back of the machine.  Thankfully neither the phone or any people were hurt! But I did have to stop the treadmill to retrieve the phone.

Friday - rest day

Saturday - I meant to get up early and do yoga but that didn't happen.  However, we were meeting up with some family in Philadelphia and I got some swimming time in with the kids.  I was racing them in the pool and that was definitely a work out! We also walked to Dave and Busters and back after some fun games for about a total of 2 miles.  I reached my 10,000 step goal for the day and then some with the extra walking.

Sunday - I was supposed to run 9 miles but it didn't happen.  I had left my running shoes in my cousin's room by accident and wasn't able to get them until they awoke.  At that point, I didn't have enough time before check out time to do the full amount.  However I got in 4.5 outside and did some more on the treadmill in the hotel gym once it got too hot for me outside for a total of around 6.5 miles.

We had a great time hanging out in Philadelphia with family.  It was a great mix of family time with the kids and adult time for us to catch up.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bestowed subscription box

Argh... I've been behind on blogging this week and I apologize.  Just catching up on things from my little staycation last week and preparing for some upcoming trips has made things a bit busy.  This was meant to by a Tasty Tuesday post but instead it's Tasty... Thursday?  Thankfully Lena keeps the Tasty Tuesday link up open all week! There are some great recipes being shared so definitely check it out.

Instead of sharing a recipe this week, I'm sharing my opinion of the Bestowed food subscription box I received.  First, a bit of background on how I got this box.  Stacey shared a post about a new fitness tracking website/app called EveryMove.  It's interesting because as you earn points for being active, you can use them toward deals on various products.  It also syncs with other apps like fitbit, garmin, fitocracy, etc. so that's pretty convenient.  I feel like I'm getting deals with no extra work :)

One of the deals was a discount on a food subscription box called Bestowed.  I've been hearing about various boxes and decided that I might as well give this one a try at the discounted price.  From their website... "Join Bestowed and each month we'll send 7-10 of the best healthy snacks, beverages, and lifestyle items straight to your door. Every product we feature is carefully selected by our team of experts led by nutritionist Heather Bauer."

 Here is what the box looks like when it arrives.  It is $20 per month but if you sign up for three months or 6 months at once, you receive a little bit of a discounted price. The discount I received was 3 months for $36.
I opened it up and it also comes with a pamphlet explaining the items in the box and why they were chosen.

Here are all the goodies that it came with.  In addition to the food samples, there were several coupons such as a free cup of Maia brand yogurt.  And there was a bottle of sun block and a bottle of dishwashing soap, which I though was a bit random.

Back to the food... it was kind of a mixed bag.  I really liked the Peeled Apple Clusters.  They only had three ingredients, apples, apple juice concentrate, and potato starch, all organic.  They tasted healthy, which sounds bad but isn't.  It had a really intense apple taste which was nice.  There were two bags of Funleys Super Crackers and they were pretty good too.  The good greens bar is a raw, vegan and gluten free protein bar that was delicious!  I ate it for breakfast before my weekend run and it was a great source of energy.  The fruit mashup was fine.  But the Halo Seaweed Chips were horrible :( I could only eat one and Mike said the same.  We ended up throwing the rest away.  I didnt try the Orgain's healthy kids shake since Mike drank it but he didn't love that one.  He said it had a sort of gritty texture.

Overall, we liked more things then we didn't.  I'm definitely going to use the coupons to try the Maia yogurt and get more of the Peeled products and Funley's crackers.  I don't think I would have been happy with the value of this box if it had been full price but it's not bad at the discounted price.  It was a nice way to try out healthy snacks from companies that were new to me.  Also, I don't like the lack of flexibility.  I don't see anywhere on the site where you can customize or input any dietary restrictions.  For example, I saw that one of their past boxes had chicken broth which would have been a waste for me.

Have any of you tried a subscription box service in the past?  I'd love to hear what you thought of it.