Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Hello Fresh

A while ago, I received a coupon for Hello Fresh.  I also saw that there was a groupon available for them.  I thought this was a sign that I should give them a try and since the groupon was a slightly better deal, I went with that.  What is Hello Fresh?  It is a weekly subscription box service that delivers ingredients to you for three meals.  You can choose if each meal serves 2 or serves 4.  You can also their traditional box or the vegetarian box.  I chose the vegetarian box for 2 servings.  This is regularly $59 per box ($29 with the groupon) and that price includes shipping.

I like that the recipes are posted in advance so you can know what you will be getting in the upcoming week.  If you don't like the recipes for that week, you can even pause your delivery and skip a week.  If you choose the "classic" box, each week you will have 5 recipe options and you can choose the three out of the five that appeal to you the most.  Unfortunately, the veggie box doesn't have any options.

So I received my box last week and I was very impressed with the delivery process.  I received an email notification when it was shipped and when it was delivered.  You can choose the day of your delivery but not the time.  It was delivered in the morning and I was a little worried about it sitting out all day but when I got home and unpacked the box, everything was still cold from the ice packs and insulation in the box.



You can see that everything was packed pretty tightly in the box.  When I unpacked it, there were 2 bags for each recipe, produce being separated from the non-produce items.  There was also a random protein bar thrown in as a sample.  It was very clear what items went with which recipe from the labeling and it was very convenient to just put the produce bags in the refrigerator and the other bags in the pantry.  The unpacking process was quick and easy. The ingredients included everything you needed except for oil, salt and pepper.


In addition to the food, there was a recipe booklet.  The recipes were cards that tore out of the booklet and were very easy to use.  The front of each card had a description of the dish, a photo of the ingredients, a list of the ingredients and the nutritional information.  The back of the card had the cooking steps.  I thought the recipes were packaged attractively and easy to read.  The steps were also easy to follow for the most part.  I also liked that they were written in a way that avoided excessive use of extra pots and pans.  I have cooking something and then having a ton of dishes to wash afterward.

Recipe number 1 was a kale and mushroom quesadilla with an apple salsa.  We ended up loving this dish and felt it was kind of unique.  I wouldn't have necessarily thought of this on my own.  But there was a lot of chopping, especially considering the salsa ingredients all had to be chopped finely. I think this one took around 45 minutes.


So step one was tons of chopping.  I chopped the apple, onion and pepper and tossed them into a bowl with lime juice, salt and pepper. Then I cooked the kale, mushrooms, onion and garlic.


Once that was done, the tortillas were layered with the cooked veggies and mozzarella cheese and put into the oven to bake.


And here is the finished product!  Delicious and pretty.  Not bad for 45 minutes at all, even if most of it was active prep time.

Dish #2 was a fall vegetable soup.  I was a little disappointed in the taste of this one.  It just wasn't that flavorful or unique.  I could have come up with this easily myself. It was nice that the garnishes of parmesan cheese and fresh parsley were included.  Also, this dish took about 45 minutes but a lot of that was passive time since it was just cooking on the stove for about 20 minutes. Though this made much more than 2 servings for us.  It ended up being 4 servings so that was nice to have leftovers for later in the week.


Dish #3 was a vegetarian chili.  It was flavorful but again, not creative and absolutely something we've done on our own often.  It was nice that it had the garnishes of cheddar and sour cream for the top, and it had nice little single serving packages for the spices.  Though the recipe called for a package of stock concentrate and it was missing from the items we had.  I put in some extra spices to compensate for that.  It took about 30 minutes, so the quickest of the three recipes.  That was probably because this one didn't have that much chopping, just an onion, pepper, and taking corn off the cob.


So what did I think?  I don't think I'll necessarily get the box again.  The meals still took a lot of time and all the vegetables still had to be chopped so I don't feel like it was a time saver for me.  We still have to go grocery shopping to get things like lunches, snacks, breakfasts, etc. And I enjoy cooking and fiddling with recipes to adjust them for my taste. Plus, the price comes out to a little more than $9 per serving (less for the soup since we got 4 servings out of it) and I think I can generally cook our meals for less than that amount. A big downside for me was that there was no option to choose your meals for the vegetarian box.

But I think for someone who is new to cooking and can feel overwhelmed by having to find recipes and shop for them, this could be a good option.  It's also great if you don't have a full pantry of spices, canned items, cheeses, etc. since this allows you to get just the amounts you need for the recipe.  It is definitely more cost effective than eating out and a good way to learn and become a better cook. It was great that everything was pre-measured and that all the ingredients were packaged together.  It was also great that the nutritional information was easily available.  The ingredients we got were all really fresh and great quality.  Mike felt that if he was still single, this would be an option he might be interested in since he wasn't that familiar with cooking before we met.

Have you tried anything like this before or is this something that you think would work for you?

I'm linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and I'll be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Weekly Review

I kept up with the yoga this week but no running and you'll see why below.

Monday - Restorative yoga from the Runner's World website

Tuesday - Yoga fundamentals from the Runner's World website

Wednesday - Rest day

Thursday - 45 minutes on the elliptical instead of running since my left foot still hurt.

Friday - Rest day.  I already had an appointment for some routine tests so I figured I'd have the doctor look at my foot.  And he said I had a muscle strain in my foot :( and that he was almost positive it wasn't anything like a stress fracture.  So a good news/bad news scenario.  But he suggested I wrap it and ice it and he gave me some prescription strength anti-inflammatory pills to take.  I'm supposed to rest it for 7-10 days and then we'll see if it's better.  This meant no running on the weekend :( I asked if I could walk the 5k under the lights but he advised against it.  He pointed out that this is only 7-10 days but I could be out of commission longer if I push too much and it gets worse.


Saturday - Rest

Sunday - DDP yoga and an abs video.  I figured I could still do those without impacting my foot.

The doctor also gave me some feet exercises to do starting today so I'll be working on those and continuing to do the other things he suggested.  I think I'll also go for walks this week as long as my foot continues to improve.  And I'll ramp up the yoga and strength training.  That should be easy enough to keep up over Thanksgiving too.

Hopefully it will be better by the weekend and I can get back to running next week!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Five - Favorite Fall Foods

It's Friday and that means it's time for a Friday Five link up with Courtney, Mar, Cynthia and a host of other awesome bloggers!  The theme for this week is Favorite Fall Foods.  Well, I always love talking about food and Fall foods tend to be among my favorites as I bring out the heartier stuff for the impending colder weather.  And boy is it already needed this year! For recipes I've posted about before on my blog, I've included a link to those posts.

1.  Dal or Indian style lentil soup - This has always been a comfort food for me because I grew up eating it.  And it's hearty, healthy, economical and still tasty!  What's not to like? I tend to serve it over rice and with greek yogurt for a complete meal.


2.  Grilled cheese - I love the ooey gooey meltiness of a good grilled cheese sandwich and enjoy experimenting with different varieties.  One of my favorite varieties is sharp cheddar, spicy mustard and thinly sliced apple.  The colder the weather, the better the sandwich tastes, I promise.


3.  Roasted fall vegetables - I love roasted brussel sprouts or winter squash.  I keep this one simple and don't even really have a recipe.  Just olive oil, salt and pepper in an oven hot enough to carmelize the veggies.  Yum.  A perfect side for an autumn meal.

4.  Stuffed baked potatoes - Why are potatoes so comforting?  One of my favorite cold weather meals (and one of the easiest) is a potato (or sweet potato) just cooked in the microwave and stuffed with veggie chili and topped with cheese.  Yum!  And it can be as healthy or not as you want it to be.  Load on the cheese and sour cream if you're indulging or stick with a just a flavorful veggie chili and extra vegetables if you're trying to keep it healthy.  Either way is super tasty.  And it's easy to make this for a crowd if you're doing some low key indulging.  I did it as a baked potato bar for a party and it's easy for people to customize toppings, vegetarian or not, and can be gluten free to boot.


5.  Homemade bread - I have a bread maker and homemade bread is so easy!  The smell of cinnamon raising bread baking on a cold morning is wonderful and the taste of the warm bread once it's ready is even better.  I haven't perfected a recipe for this yet but I've been enjoying the trials.

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead of them!  I'm excited to be watching the Hunger Games movie tonight and doing a 5k at a State Park under their holiday light display tomorrow evening.  And hopefully lots of resting before Thanksgiving week begins. And if you have any favorite Fall foods, I'd love to hear about them :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Richmond Half Marathon

I've already mentioned that I had a great experience at the Richmond Half Marathon and it was my first half so I may be a little biased.  But I'll do my best at a neutral recap :)

The weekend started for us on Friday afternoon.  We left the DC area around 2 and didn't get to Richmond until and 6pm.  This was pretty much double the time it should have taken because of the amount of traffic. There was a back up on the highway for the ramp to get off to go to the expo and I was worried that meant it was really crowded, but we had no problems finding parking.  And while the expo was crowded, it didn't feel too bad. The bib pick ups were separated by bib number and there was no one in line for my section. Score!

I got my bib and then we had to head to the back of the expo to pick up the shirt.  I loved the shirt, it's long sleeved and black, which is cool.  I wore it the day after the race and it was super comfy. I also picked up some bondi bands since I'd heard so much about them.  I wore the one below for the race and loved it.


We drove to the hotel we were staying at, the Richmond Marriott.  It was located right by the start line, which was awesome.  The hotel was great.  They had a special pasta dinner deal, as well as free bananas, bottles of water, and granola bars if you wanted to grab them for breakfast. The restaurant and Starbucks also opened early race morning, even with an outdoor outpost for coffee. The marathon start line was right outside the hotel and the half marathon start line was only 2 blocks down the road.

I slept surprisingly well and woke up at 6am the next morning.  I had brought a peanut butter sandwich from home for breakfast so I ate that and got ready. I made a last minute decision to go with a long sleeved shirt due to the cold.


I left at 7 as the half marathon started at 7:30. My wave wasn't until 7:50 but I was nervous enough to want to get in place early.  The corral was pretty empty when I got there so there was some room to warm up.


You can see the space in the corral in the photo above as well as everyone in their throw away warm clothes.  

Things seemed to start on time and we were shortly off. The corrals seemed to work well for me and I never felt too crowded or like I was weaving too much (unlike Disney). Here's the map of the race.


The first couple miles were straight down a Main Street downtown and there was a decent amount of spectators cheering. After mile 2, we turned right while the full marathoners turned left. This section seemed a bit industrial and there really wasn't much here.  There were some signs taped along the side of the road which were cool.  It was also a bit windy. I'm not sure why but I struggled a bit here.  But I felt better once I passed the 5k mark and we turned into a nice neighborhood.  There were spectators on this stretch again and it was nice.  I also ditched my gloves around this point but later regretted that. We ran through the neighborhood to Bryant Park.  This part seemed to get windy again and it felt a bit lonely.  But it was beautiful with a lake and lots of fall foliage. The park felt hilly.  None of the hills were long but several of the up hills felt steep for the time they lasted.  There was a DJ around mile 7 which was fun and then we ran out of the park where there were spectators again.  Around mile 8, I saw some port-a-potties with only 2 people in line so I decided to stop.  I think I only waited 2-3 minutes.

When I was done, I got out just in time to see the marathon leaders zoom past.  That was kind of cool to see, and also amazing that he had alread run more than 20 miles and I was at mile 8!  I kept on going and it really felt like the crowd support and entertainment really stepped up at is point.  There was some sort of music at every mile it seemed like.  There were also spectators handing out food (I took a star burst from an adorable kid) and beer.  Since we had been near the beer spot while spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon, I thought I'd give it a try here.  I was surprised how delicious that shot of beer was! There was a junk food stop and I took some gummy bears there. There was a drum line at one point, as well as Santa and people dressed up in Christmas outfits.  This part of the race felt like it went really fast for me which was great given that it was toward the end when I was tired. There were also some hills in this section and I do remember there was one that I had to take an extra walk break on (I was doing my usual 4/1 run/walk intervals). The crowd support just kept growing until the end of the race and it was wonderfully loud at the end when I finally crossed over the finish line at my first half marathon!  There was also a steep downhill toward the finish which felt fast but my quads sure were sore the next day. Mike saw my run by here but I missed seeing him because there were so many people.


My goal had been to finish the half marathon under three hours.  I was a little worried that my bathroom break would cause me to miss this time.  But I made it with a net time of 2:57:33!


I crossed over the finish line and was handed a medal.  And a hat.  And a blanket.  And water.  All of which was awesome but my hands were getting full. My blanket was still wrapped in plastic so I tore a hole in it and stuck the water in there and stuck the hat on my head.  There were lots of photographers after the finish line so I also stopped for some photos.



I then wandered over to find some food and took a banana, a granola bar and some trail mix, which I also put in the plastic wrapping with the blanket.  I kept going to the family meet up area where I found Mike who thankfully had some warm clothes for me.  I was rapidly getting cold at this point and I felt so much better once I stretched, ate the banana and put on the extra clothes.  We hung out a bit listening to the music and then walked back to our hotel.  It was probably about a mile away.  There was a shuttle but I thought the walk would be good for my muscle recovery.


I'll wrap this up since it has gotten so long.  I loved this race!  It was really well organized, the spectators and volunteers were amazing.  The cold was a downside but that wasn't in anyone's control. One downside that Mike dealt with is that the runner tracking didn't work well at all.  He just kept getting multiple texts that I had started the race (the 8k for some reason) but no texts about the finish or 10k split. I also heard that they had begun running out of food for the marathoners at the back of the pack :( 

This was a phenomenal half marathon and I would recommend it to anyone, especially for a first half.  They had a really generous pace requirement, plentiful water stops, and it was super friendly!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Armpocket giveaway winner

The giveaway for the armpocket is over and the winner is Lisa J!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Congratulations, Lisa! You should have received an email from me requesting some information.

And if anyone else is interested in buying an armpocket, the company has provided a discount code you can use on their website. The code is 5OFFCS. It is valid for $5 off orders of $49.95 or more. It cannot be combined with any other offers and must be redeemed at www.armpocket.com. It is valid through November 24, 2014. I really love this armband and hope that you do too :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekly review

I hope everyone had a great weekend! It seems like there were a lot of races this weekend between Richmond, the Avengers race at Disney Land and RnR Vegas.

I had a pretty good week, though it was full of nerves being the week before my first half marathon. So as not to bury the lead, I had a great time at Richmond and met my time goal :)

Monday- Rest day

Tuesday - 45 minutes on the treadmill at an easy pace


Wednesday - Some gentle restorative yoga and stretching

Thursday - The treadmills at work were all taken up so I did an easy 30 minutes on the elliptical


Friday - Rest day and driving to Richmond for the expo

Saturday - 13.1 miles at the Richmond Half Marathon!


Sunday - Rest Day.  I felt good for the most part but I have a place on the bottom of my left foot that's a bit swollen :( I've been icing it and resting it so hopefully it goes away soon.

The workout plans for this week are going to depend on my foot.  I think I'm going to try to do some gentle yoga and strength training Monday and Tuesday.  I might try to run on Thursday if the foot is ok.  I'm signed up for a 5k Saturday night but it's a run under the holiday lights at Seneca Creek State Park so it's going to be at an easy pace and not a race for time. In addition to wanting to enjoy the lights, it's a hilly area.

I hope you all have a great week ahead of you.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

What to wear for a cold race?

The countdown is almost over and it's 2 days to my first half marathon!  I'm finishing up with packing tonight and leaving tomorrow afternoon to head down to Richmond.  I've been checking the forecast every day in order to try to be prepared and this is what it seems to have settled on for the weekend. 







 

 Yay for no rain on Saturday!  And it will be sunny, with just a light wind.  So not bad.  But that temperature will be interesting to deal with.  I've run in cold weather before but I'm just not sure how to deal with the quick increase in temps that morning.  The race website indicates that it will be around 32 when I start and almost 45 by the time I finish.  So do I dress for the start or the finish?

I checked Runner's World and their recommendations are pretty different from 30 degrees to 45 degrees.  They recommend pants and a long sleeved shirt for 30 and shorts and a short sleeved shirt for 45. So I think my plan is to split the difference.  I'm going for a short sleeved shirt with arm warmers and capri running tights with compression socks.  I'll have gloves, a head band with ear warmers, and sun glasses as well. I will have a trash bag and throw away clothes to try to stay warm at the start.

What do you think?  Will this plan work or should I change something up?  I welcome any and all recommendations given the varying conditions!