Monday, April 27, 2015

Typical Dinner & the Day Off!

I'm pretty happy that I'm writing this post from my couch at 11 a.m. on a Monday morning because I have the day off! I've come to realize that I am very fortunate with my work schedule because as long as I'm there for visits and meetings, nobody really cares what I do with my hours! I just have to meet 40 hours a week which means I can often shape my work day however I please. It just so happens that the two other people who work on my study have the day off so there wasn't much for me to do at the office. I have a couple late visits this week which means I'll be able to make up a lot of the PTO hours I'll be taking today! 

I'm also happy that I had the day off because it meant I could take as long as I pleased with my workout. It so happened to be leg day which is the epitome of a love/hate relationship. I love working legs but then I'm sore for days afterwards. I texted Margot this morning and it says it all haha!

It was a killer workout but I loved it! It was great to be able to really focus on hitting the muscle groups, taking my time with form, and feeling my legs work without the rush of getting to work. After lunch, I'm going to take Layla for a nice long and slow walk to stretch my legs out. Then, I have a date with the foam roller! 

Okay so rewinding to last night, I wanted to do a typical dinner night post since I think a lot of people might think that healthy dinners might be too time-consuming, too difficult, or not so tasty. Well, I hope this dinner post might change some minds! 

Dinner yesterday took less than 30 minutes, and is packed with protein and nutrients! My go-to choice for dinner is always a lean protein and lots of veggies. Whether that be in the form of a salad, protein bowl (my own random invention), or a baked dish, it doesn't matter! I'm not one to pick a very carb heavy dinner like pasta or breads. I prefer to spread my carbs throughout the day, that just works better for my body! If I want something starchier my first choice is sweet potatoes or a wrap, something like that. 

So yesterday was pretty typical since it was chicken with a side of two veggies! Roasted kale sprouts and roasted butternut squash. I've talked before about how I pan-roasted the kale sprouts, but this time I roasted them in the oven to make them more like kale chips. I liked them better baked in the oven but Amanda likes them better pan-roasted so the vote is split! Our mom doesn't like them period haha so her vote didn't count. 

For the kale sprouts this is what I did: 
1 bag of kale sprouts
1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil 
sea salt & pepper

You can use any light oil to roast them, it's just to help them brown and crisp up properly. I'm not sure how much salt and pepper I used, I just eye balled it. I definitely put on probably double the amount of salt compared to pepper. 

Then, pop them in a 400 degree oven on a greased baking sheet for about 10 minutes, that's it! 

For the butternut squash, I wanted to change it up from the typical savory route and went with a coconut-sugar glaze. I also sprayed the pan with coconut oil instead of olive oil. 

The sprouts only took about 10 minutes and the squash about 20-25 minutes. 

While the veggies were roasting, the chicken cooked on the stove. It was just four chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley until cooked! I made sure to brown both sides, and then added some pesto to my chicken at the end. I go crazy for pesto chicken haha! 

I ended up throwing it all together in to a "protein bowl" which is exactly what it sounds like-- a bowl full of protein! I like to add in lots of veggies because I'm a volume eater. I was able to have all those veggies for under 100 calories but they filled up my entire bowl. You can't beat that! 

What's your favorite typical dinner?!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday Workout & Post-Workout Parfait

Hi guys! I hope you're all enjoying your weekend so far. I know I am, the weather is absolutely gorgeous! It's still on the chiller side, about the upper 40s to mid 50s but honestly that is my ideal range. Call me crazy but I like cooler weather! But you also can't beat the sunshine we're getting and all the green as the trees are filling back up!

I just wanted to do a quick post about yesterday because I'm heading out the door soon to enjoy the sun some more! I'll probably meet up with Hannah and Lola for a walk, and then Amanda wants to do some yard work. I don't ever really end up helping that much because she always tries to collect all the dozens of sticks in our yard buuuut I just throw them around for Layla to fetch hehe :)

Anyway, yesterday morning I did one of my at-home workouts since I'm still resting my foot. I went for a run this past week, and it was okay but felt strained the next morning. So, we'll see how things go! I usually take it easy during the summer anyway because I'm not a big fan of running in the heat and humidity.

After my workout, I did 30 minutes of incline walking on the treadmill to target my quads and abs. All I do is walk at a brisk pace (3.5-4.0) and at the highest incline possible, my treadmill only goes to 10% but the ones at my gym can go that much higher. Since I can't run that much, I substitute my cardio with lots of HIIT sessions and incline walking!

For post-workout, I've really been in to parfaits. The one I made yesterday had:
7 oz plain Chobani greek yogurt
1/4 cup oat flakes
1/4 cup grapes, halved
stevia to sweeten

A lot of people ask the question of what to eat after a workout and honestly I think this is something that varies so much between people. I personally find that it also depends on what I did for my workout. If I lift, I find that I just want straight up protein like in a protein shake but if I run or do HIIT I like a little bit of carbs added in. Which is why I love greek yogurt because it has a ton of protein but also more carbs than my protein powder. Plus, then I add in toppings which are more carb-based and my body is happy! You just have to experiment around and see what works best for you. 


Oh! My dad also stopped by today, and him and Amanda have just about finished up the chicken coop! Here's a little sneak peek because I know Amanda will be doing a post about it on her blog, which of course I'll share on here. 

Okay, well I'm heading outside because I keep getting pout-y looks like this since she's dying to be outside too! Layla definitely has the puppy-dog eyes down. She was supervising/helping my dad earlier with the chicken coop but now she's ready to go back out and help spread around, um I mean "collect" the sticks for Amanda haha! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favorites #14

Happy Friday everyone!

I promised Margot that I would get this post up this week so that she would love me forever hahaha. There's a story behind that because I've been spending a lot of time developing a workout program of my own, and since Margot is family she gets to be in on it! Well, the leg day ended up being killer and it took both her and I about 4 days for our legs to finally recover, I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not! I ended up making some changes afterwards and adding in more exercises so she said that we couldn't be friends anymore. Which broke my heart, obviously, and I promised to make sure to post Friday Favorites every week for the rest of my life if only she would love me again. She was totally kidding anyway (I hope), but since Friday Favorites are her favorite post and I don't want to take any risks, I made sure to get them up this week! 

1. Special K Barbecue Chips 

I usually don't like Special K products but let me tell you, these chips are spot on! It was completely random that I even got them but I'm glad I did. My friend at work and I were on our usual afternoon caffeine run, where she was telling me a story about how she was randomly craving barbecue chips when they're not usually her go-to (we like to talk about food a lot haha). Right before I was about to check out with my iced tea, these chips caught my eye. Hearing her story about barbecue chips really made me want chips! I figured if I was going to indulge the craving, I should choose a lighter option. I'm officially in love because they were thicker like how it says crackers but still have the crunchy and flaky texture of chips without being too greasy. And the seasoning and barbecue flavor were perfect! I was very impressed, and pleasantly surprised by this find. Now, it's going to be hard to turn them down most afternoons when we stop for our caffeine fix! 

2. Kale Sprouts

As I've mentioned countless times on this blog, I'm obsessed with vegetables. My parents never ever had trouble getting me to eat vegetables while I was growing up. Seriously to the point where parents would ask my mom and dad at restaurants how they got me to eat certain things haha! True story, parents would gawk at me and Amanda eating vegetables, sushi, salads, etc. Well, I'm always willing to try new veggies that I come across so I immediately snagged these kale sprouts the second I saw them! I whipped them up in a side dish, and fell in love! My next thing with them is to roast them in the oven to get kale sprout chips like what I usually do for kale chips. I'll let you know how it goes! 

3. Find Me Gluten Free App

Amanda downloaded this app last week since she's had to go gluten-free the past couple months. It doesn't benefit me personally since I don't have to avoid gluten but I think in general the app is a really good idea! What it does is you can plug in your location and it'll tell you gluten-free friendly restaurants in the area! I think it'd especially be great for when you're traveling and don't know the area. But it still comes in handy even if you're not because there might be a place that you didn't know was gluten-free friendly. Like the Double Wide grill for example! When we went last week, Amanda was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a lot of gluten-free options or can alter the regular dishes to be gluten-free. Overall I think apps like this are a really smart idea, and helpful for people who can't eat gluten. I thought I'd mention it in case it would help anyone else out! And if you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment or email and I'll pass it along to Amanda!

4. Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)

I've been going to BSF for two years now. I started in September 2013 with the Matthew group where we studied the book of Matthew from September until the end of April. Then, this year we studied the life of Moses so we covered Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The way the study works is you go from September until the end of April/beginning of May covering a specific topic of the Bible. This coming September we'll be doing Revelations which everyone is super excited about since it's a totally new lesson plan and study, they've never done it before! The great thing about BSF is it's international. There are classes that meet all over the world, and we all get the exact same lesson plan and study the same passages each week. Which means you can probably find a class that meets in your area! You can check the website here. You can join the study at any time, it's not like you have to start in September so there's always new women showing up every week. It's divided in to men's and women's groups, they meet on different nights. Then, within the women's class you usually get divided up by age so you can be around women close to your own age. It's great for meeting new friends, and making meaningful connections with the women in your group. I absolutely love my group this year, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I knew most of them last year so I felt we've really grown together especially this past year. My group leader is fantastic and we like to have breakfast dates some weekends! I would highly recommend checking it out because I definitely have learned a ton the past two years! 

5. Quote of the Week

"Worry is believing God won't get it right" - Todd Wagner

This quote hit me hard because I am THE biggest worry wart. It's just in my nature, and I can get very worked up and anxious over things. I often need to remind myself to take a step back, take a deep breath, and give it over in prayer before working myself up in to a panic. It doesn't help that the rest of my family are worry warts too, and we can just feed in to each others' anxieties. I felt very convicted with this quote because I had never really thought of worrying that way, that I'm doubting God's sovereignty or plan. One area in my faith that I really need to work on is just letting my worries go and giving them over to God. It is so much easier said than done but something that I try to work on little by little. Things like making financial decisions about school, career choices, or even the safety of my family members. Like I can get myself so worked up if I know Amanda has to drive a long distance to get somewhere because I'll worry about accidents, car troubles, etc. The scenarios that can pop in my head are endless. I wish it was as easy to stop like when someone tells me to calm down, but it's not. So it's definitely something I struggle with, but it's manageable and I try to work on it constantly. Quotes like this really help me to put it in perspective so I wanted to share in case there's anyone else who struggles with worrying! 

Okay so now that I have this posted...MARGE PLEASE LOVE ME AGAIN

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pan-Roasted Kale Sprouts

I love brussel sprouts and I love kale so I should love these right? Right! I found them on my last Trader Joe's run, and picked them up since I know Amanda loves kale too. I have no idea if they're new but I've never seen them before so I was pretty excited. I love finding new things to try at Trader Joe's. I mean, I just love Trader Joe's in general! 

I didn't do anything fancy with the sprouts, just put them in a medium-sized sauce pan and drizzled them with some sunflower seed oil, sea salt, and pepper. That's it! 

I cooked them on medium-high heat until the outsides were browning and getting crispy. Then, to make sure they would fully cook, I covered them and turned the heat down a bit to medium. I let them steam for a couple more minutes until the inside layers of the sprouts looked cooked through. 

That's all it took! Less than 10 minutes for a tasty side dish. 

When I pan-roast brussel sprouts (or any vegetable really) I like to have the outsides really browned and crispy so if these look too dark to you then you can definitely brown them a little less than I did. That's just my personal preference!

I topped my salad off with the kale sprouts and grilled chicken. The sprouts were the perfect addition! I'm thinking the next time I get kale sprouts, I'm going to bake them in the oven like I do to make kale chips! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Step-by-Step Koala Bear Cake Tutorial

After getting requests, I decided to put this little tutorial together! Warning: I made this cake simply to surprise my sister for her birthday, and it is not supposed to look professionally done or impressive. So if it looks silly to you, well that's how it's supposed to be! Just a homemade cake done out of love! 

I decided to make the cake in the shape of a koala since Amanda has been obsessed with them her entire life. I had no idea how it was going to turn out but everyone loved it and thought it was super cute. Amanda's reaction was priceless! 

I honestly did not have much of a game plan and was flying by the seat of my pants through this whole thing so this may not seem like the best tutorial, I wasn't really planning on people wanting to know how I made it. The only reason I have pictures is Amanda asked that I take step-by-step photos since she knew I was up to something! Anyway, with my lack of planning it's amazing that the cake made it through the process at all haha! I also realize that koala bears are not naturally pink, but that happens to be Amanda's favorite color. Plus, I thought it'd be even more ridiculous if it was pink! 

As I've said before, Amanda has had to go gluten-free for health reasons, so I made this a gluten-free cake. I used this recipe here from Yammie's Gluten Freedom, and it did not disappoint! You can obviously use any cake mix you want for this. 

It's hard to tell from this picture but I used two different sized pans. The smaller one (the top pan) was the standard size cake round (9x13), and the larger pan shown on the bottom was a size bigger. I put about 2/3 of the batter in the larger pan since I needed that to be thicker as it was the main part of the cake. The smaller pan I made thinner since that's what you'll be using to cut out the ears. I knew I'd be stacking it on top of each other so it was okay that it would turn out thinner. 

This also means you'll have two different cooking times so be careful! The smaller cake will cook faster so make sure you adjust the cooking time to accommodate that so it doesn't burn. I put it in for 15 minutes and then kept checking every couple minutes to make sure the smaller cake was cooking okay. Once it was done I took that one out and waited til the larger one cooked. 

I let the cakes cool completely before I started the decorating. I took them out of the pans after 10 minutes of letting them sit, and then they cooled on plates for probably 45-60 minutes. I had other stuff to do but I waited until they were totally cool to the touch. You don't want any of the frosting to melt off the cake! 

Okay, so to cut out the ears it was pretty simple! I wasn't all too sure how I was going to cut them out at first (like I said I'm brilliant at pre-planning) but then while wandering around the kitchen, it clicked! I took a standard glass cup from my cupboard and first used the mouth of the cup since it was the wider end. I knew that I wanted to use two stacks of cake for the ears so I needed the bottom to be a bit wider and to taper the top layer to make it more of a mound shape for the ear. 

I had just enough cake to cut out two bottoms for the ears and the two top pieces. All I did was hold the glass over the cake, and cut around the glass with a knife. Once I had the two bottoms of the ears cut out, I flipped the glass around and used the bottom of the glass for the top parts of the ears. Since the glass tapers, it was narrower down at the bottom and the perfect size that I needed for the second layer of the ears!

I don't think I mentioned this but I used the smaller of the two cakes to cut out the ears.

Just a quick tip: I kept the cakes on wax paper because I knew that I'd have to move the ears around when I got to the icing part. I figured the wax paper would make my life a lot easier! 

All cut out! Like I said, the edges were a little rough on the ears but I knew I'd be shaping them up a bit later when I carved them more. Plus, I would be adding a lot of icing! That covered up a lot of any imperfections. 

Another side warning: this was a bit of a messy project. There was tons of icing all over me and crumbs everywhere. Of course, you can take the easy way out like I did and just wipe all the crumbs off the counter so they fall on the floor. The resident clean-up crew (Layla) took care of it for me. I swear I've gotten lazier since having a dog haha!

I used red food coloring to get the pink frosting for the main part of the cake, and then black for the features of the koala. I also needed white for the fluff in the ears but the buttercream icing was already white which saved me some work! 

Oh! And in case you were wondering what to do with the scraps left over from the ear cake, make a little trifle! There was leftover cool whip and berries in the fridge from the crepes at lunch so I asked Amanda if she wanted a little treat. So I put this together for her as a surprise! 

All I did was cut the cake scraps into little square chunks which I layered in a glass. The bottom layer was cake then cool whip and blackberries then another layer of cake, cool whip, and topped off with more berries! And a small dollop of the icing :) it was the perfect serving for one. 

Next, reserve some of the icing in two small bowls. One will be for the black and the other will be left the original white color. You'll make the icing for the main part of the cake in the mixing bowl. To get the light pink color, I used about 5 drops of the red food coloring. I added it in very gradually, drop by drop, because I didn't know how much I'd need. So I added the first drop then mixed it til it was all incorporated and then repeated that with the second, third, etc. drops. It took awhile but I didn't want to accidentally end up with firetruck red icing. 

Okay so now for the fun part: decorating! I've seen enough of Food Network to pick up some cake decorating tips so I was happy to put what I've learned to the test! What I did for this cake is I put a giant clump of icing in the middle of the cake, and then spread it out towards the edges. I spread the icing so that it even fell over the edge of the cake and down the side a bit, which is what you want. Then, that made it easier with icing the sides. Otherwise, you can end up with a lot of crumbs coming off and getting in the icing! 

I smoothed out the icing on the top of the cake before moving on to the sides. I first just spread out whatever icing was already on the sides before figuring out how much I would need to add. I slowly worked my way around the edges of the cake until it was fully covered! I just used a simple butter knife, nothing fancy. Once I was happy with the smoothness of the main cake, I moved on to the ears!

These took a lot longer to ice than the main part of the cake believe it or not! Like I said, I was winging it so at this point I said to myself "let's put a giant clump of icing on top and see what happens". I figured it could either go a) wonderfully right or b) horribly wrong. Well my gamble paid off! If you have a more thought out method than me please feel free to let me know! I will not be offended in the slightest since this was all new for me haha. 

So, all I did was essentially the same method as what I did with icing the koala's head. I took a giant blob of icing, probably the amount the same size as the ear itself. Kinda kidding but not really. It was a heaping amount of icing! I knew that I'd need more to fill in the gap between the top and bottom layers so that it would be a smooth mound. I didn't want anyone to be able to distinguish between the top and bottom layers of the ear but look like a single cohesive piece. 

It took a longggg time but I slowly worked my way by pulling the icing down from the giant clump on top of the ear. I smoothed the clump out so that it went slightly flatter and the icing would fall down the sides of the top layer. That was good because then it would sit on top of the bottom layer and fill in the gap. I had to be really, really careful with crumbs since the ears were cut out and there were already crumbs around the edges. But, since I used plenty of icing it covered up any imperfections! 

I still didn't have the ears completely in their final position which is why they look kinda weird and the cake looks like a bear-rabbit hybrid at this stage. You can definitely move the ears whenever you want but I decided to allow the icing more time to set by moving on to the face. 

So to ice the face, I took the black icing and the white icing and placed each of them in icing bags. If you don't have an icing bag, you can just use a ziploc bag and cut a very tiny piece of one of the corners off. Then you can either insert the piping piece you'll need or just use the hole you created in the corner of the bag. To make the face, I used a regular open tip and a star tip. I was hoping we'd have a different tip than the star one but it made due just fine for this. 

First what I did was mark out with a single black dot of the icing where I wanted the two eyes and nose to be. That way I was able to keep myself centered without worrying about one eye being too far to the left or something. After marking the spots, I started with the eyes. Again this would be easier since starting too soon on the nose without figuring out the size of the eyes could throw the proportions off. 

I started with one eye and all I did was take the icing and move it slowly in a spiral around the dot a couple times, adding in rings. Then, I'd pause and do the same amount on the other eye to get an idea of what size I wanted them to be. After I was done with the eyes, I took the tip of the icing tube and used it to smooth out the lines so it didn't look like a black spiral for an eye. 

I used the exact same method for the nose. Instead of making circular rings, I made them more like ovals since koala's noses aren't perfect circles. 

The white fluffiness for the ears is what you'll need the other tip for. Originally, I was hoping for the kind of tip that has multiple of the little narrow openings so that you can create that look of grass that you sometimes see on cakes or cupcakes. Like this one because I'm probably not making any sense by trying to explain it on my own haha! 

But we didn't so I made due with the star tip which nevertheless had sort of the effect I was aiming for. I first put the icing around the ears to make it look like the fluffy inside of a koala's ear. Well, since the icing was coming out in more of a star shape, I had to sort of mess it up so it didn't look like a perfect star. I would also put more icing in between spots so that it might be on top of two stars to kind of blend it together in to a more fluffy look. To mess it up, I would just take the icing bag still with the tip and press the tip down in to one of the stars or two, and then pull it back out. That way it created more little strands of fluffy hair. I hope I'm making sense with all of this! 

To finish it off, I moved the ears down in their place and then gave him a little smile! I wanted it to be a happy koala :) 

It took me a couple hours but it was so worth it to see Amanda's reaction! She absolutely loved it and my family did too. I was nervous how she'd like it or even if she knew what it was so I kept taking pictures and sending it to all my friends frantically asking if they could tell what it was! Fyi they all could tell even without me saying anything which gave me some hope. That's what happens sometimes when you're friends with me-- you randomly get pictures like a pink koala cake asking "what is this???". 

I hope that this answers all of your questions and that I was able to fully explain what I did! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best Ribs Ever & Third Day!

I am usually not a ribs person at all, but when I go to this one restaurant it is literally the ONLY thing I get. In fact, I couldn't tell you for the life of me what else is on the menu because I don't even glance at anything else. I just know which ribs I'm going to order.

My freshman year of college my dad and I found the Double Wide Grill by accident. He had stopped down to visit me and take me to dinner, and we were looking for a place but everything was packed. We saw this little grill on the corner and figured hey why not!

Like I said, I'm not a ribs person so I have no clue how I ended up ordering these. Maybe it was the waitresses' recommendation or I was strangely craving ribs. I don't remember but that's not what's important. I like to think that it was fate because these ribs are AMAZING! On Tuesdays they have all you can eat ribs which meant that pretty much every Tuesday for awhile you could find my dad and me at the Double Wide Grill! In fact, they often sell out of these ribs by the end of the week since they're that popular.

And guess what?!?! They just opened up their doggie patio which is dog friendly so I cannot think of a better dinner out than eating these delicious ribs with my sweet girl Layla!

...did someone say ribs?
We were going to see Third Day on Saturday night, and the venue was in Oakland which meant there was only one place we were going to go to dinner! My dad also had a groupon which Amanda got him like two Christmases ago so that was the other reason. But first and foremost-- ribs.

The ribs come with your choice of cole slaw, cornbread, and fries. It's a ton of food, but don't be fooled I can put away a lot of food haha! Especially if it concerns one of two things-- these ribs or froyo. I actually didn't eat all of this, though. I had some help because in my family if you show a split second hesitation someone will go "hey, are you gonna eat that?" and then take your food without waiting for your answer. My fries kept mysteriously disappearing, and Amanda snagged my last couple ribs. I also gave my dad the other half of my cornbread so he could take it with his lunch the next day. I'm not complaining since I was stuffed! 

It was a perfect night to sit out on the patio, and eat our dinner before heading over to the concert. My step-mom got us the tickets so we had no idea what the seats were going to be like. Well, they ended up being awesome! We were right in the center, and one row up from the floor. It was a pleasant surprise! We were even looking for the seats but couldn't find the section because we didn't think they'd be that good, and so close to the floor. 

Aaron Shust opened for them, and I found out he's a native Pittsburgher! He lives not that far away from me, and leads worship in the church he grew up in. I thought it was cool since I had no idea he was local. He was really good, and played all of my favorite songs!

Third Day was awesome! I have yet to be disappointed by any of the Christian bands when I see them live. They sound just as good if not better than how they sound on their albums! 

They're my dad's favorite band so I knew when I heard they'd be coming to Pittsburgh he would definitely snag us tickets. It was great spending time just the three of us! 

Here's a clip of one of the songs they played God Of Wonders. Sorry for the bad iPhone quality! 

Hope you all have a great start to the week! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Two 20-Minute HIIT Routines

I've been so excited that my back has finally been feeling better. My body definitely needed the break but I'm ready to get back to it! Last week, I took it on the lighter side with some yoga and pilates. The week before I just took the whole week off as rest and it was awesome! I feel very refreshed, and definitely more motivated to workout this week. Sometimes you just need a break and it's so important that you listen to your body.

Friday morning, I did a HIIT circuit and let me tell you my legs were still sore yesterday morning when I went to do the second one! I really love doing HIIT circuits, especially shorter ones that I can add in after a run or lift. I've just been doing the circuits on their own since I'm easing back in to it this week.

They only take about 20 minutes but boy do you feel it!

You can repeat it as many times as you need. If you want the workout to be longer then add more rounds! I rested about a full 15 seconds between each round but I definitely took a couple second water breaks here and there. 

 This is the circuit that I did yesterday morning. It's pretty similar with some of my favorite basic go-tos like high knees, jumping lunges, pop squats, and jumping jacks. I honestly love doing them and always try to incorporate them! I wanted to hit some other muscle groups, though, so I switched up some of the moves.

For the pulsing split squats, I did 5 mini pulses at the bottom of the rep. I would go down as far as I could (make sure you don't lean forward!), and then come up about halfway before going back down. I did that 5 times for each rep, and a total of 10 reps on each leg. 

I actually timed myself for that one and it took me a little under 20 minutes. Again, I rested about 15-20 seconds between rounds, and took a couple fast water breaks. 

Today, I have a run on my schedule and I can't wait to see how it goes! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Goodbye 2015 Marathon :(

I hate that I have to write this but Amanda and I decided that it's in both of our best interest if we call it quits for trying for the full marathon in May. She's been battling some serious ankle pain, and I still have my issues with the stabbing ache in my foot so it puts both of us out of the running-- literally.

We both originally thought that the injuries were minor enough to just rest from time to time and keep an eye on them, but it turns out there's a little more to them. I had hoped to push through the rest of training but foot pain is something I have never contended with, and something that I greatly underestimated.

I'm not proud of it but I have pushed through many painful injuries in the past when I probably should not have. Again, I'm not proud but I figured I could do the same with my foot pain. Dumb idea, I know but I really, really, really wanted to run that marathon.

I've dealt with leg muscle pain like in my quad or hamstring, knee pain, an IT band injury, shin splints, as well as stress fractures in both shins. Well, let me tell you that this foot pain has put me out of running more than any of those. Turns out, you can't really run through a pain in your foot. I thought I could push through but that hasn't worked out so far. It's not that it's more of an intense pain than any of the others (IT was definitely the worst, like I would limp during runs) but it has to do with the location of the pain.

In case you didn't know this, but you really need your feet to run. Surprising, right? Anyway, since my foot takes a majority of the pressure and absorbs the impact during the run, any pain there really seems magnified. It was too much to try to push through, and that little voice of reason in the back of my head kept growing louder saying it wasn't a good sign that I had pain to push through in the first place.

It comes down to one simple fact. A choice more like it. Either I can choose to sacrifice this chance to run a marathon or I can choose to sacrifice a lifetime of running. I'm not saying that running this marathon with my foot injury could potentially never let me run again, but it's those kind of choices that can. I wanted to run that marathon, I really did. But it's not worth risking a much worse injury.

I'm a runner to my core. I didn't know it until about five years ago but now that I've found it, I will never let running go. I need to make the best choices for my body, and that marathon isn't it. I'm able to handle shorter mileage runs (under 5 miles) once or twice a week that don't aggravate my foot, and I can do other workouts like HIIT, spinning, and lifting. So for now, I'll focus on those and some day when I'm ready, that marathon will still be waiting. 

Gluten-Free Crepes

So on Friday since it was Amanda's birthday, I planned out a menu of some of her favorite foods! For breakfast I made a baked chocolate chip oatmeal dish which was good but I think I'm going to tweak the recipe a bit. Once I get it finally right, I'll make sure to post that too! For now, I'm just going to share the gluten-free crepes I made for lunch. 

Amanda recently has had to go gluten-free at her doctor's recommendation which means you might be seeing more gluten-free recipes crop up since I try to make things that she can eat so we can enjoy it as a family. A lot of the times it can be as simple as swapping out regular flour with the gluten-free flour mix Amanda found at Sam's club since it substitutes cup-for-cup which is great! 

That's all I had to do with these crepes. Easy peasy!

The batter is also super simple to make. What you'll need: 
1 cup GF flour (or regular)
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1 packet of stevia (optional)
pinch of salt 

The vanilla and stevia are totally optional, and if you're making savory crepes then you might not want to add them. We always do sweet crepes at my house so I like to include the vanilla and stevia just for a hint of sweetness! 

It's a very thin batter so don't be alarmed if it seems really runny. It's even thinner than pancake batter but that's what you need so that the crepe will spread out in the pan nicely. 

To cook the crepes, take a 1/4 cup of batter and spread it out in a small-medium pan. I always rotate the pan around to make sure it spreads out properly. You'll want to grease the pan after each crepe so they don't stick or tear when you try to flip them. I used a coconut oil spray but they don't come out tasting coconut-y. 

It only takes less than 2 minutes on each side. I can tell they're ready to flip when I take the pan and give it a shake and the crepe slides around without sticking. I have no idea if that's accurate but that's just what I've learned from making them on my own haha! 

You should get around 8-10 crepes from this batter. I had two, and then Amanda and our mom each got 3, and Layla got the leftover one! It wasn't a full-sized one since the batter was nearly gone so I gave it to her as a treat. 

Then, use whatever fillings you want! I picked up fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries along with a cocoa almond spread which is bomb! I've never had it before, and I honestly like it better than nutella. I found it at Trader Joe's and it's amazing! I spread a little bit of it on the crepe then added the fruits, whipped cream, and sprinkles of course! 

It was a light and tasty lunch! Each crepe only had about 80 calories, depending on how many you get out of the batter. And of course the toppings :)

Quick question: would anyone be interested in a post of a mini tutorial of how I made the koala cake for Amanda's birthday? Some people seemed interested in how I made it, but just wanted to see if anyone would actually read it haha! I have all the pictures since Amanda asked me to take step-by-step pictures so she could see what secretive cake I was making for her (I wanted it to be a surprise). I can definitely put that together for you guys if anyone is interested! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Strawberry Parfait & a Morning Hike

Good morning everyone! I've had quite the productive morning and it's not even lunch yet! I love weekend mornings like that. I can never sleep in (i.e. past 7am) so I'm always up early.

So this morning I could no longer ignore the itch to run. I've been taking it very, very easy on my foot and trying to do other workouts like yoga, pilates, and spinning but I can't stay away from running for that long. My back is feeling much better too, and I was able to do a HIIT workout yesterday morning with zero pain! I'll post the circuit I did later on.

Anyway, back to this morning! I did 3 easy miles and it was just what I needed! I planned on doing 2 but once I got out there, there was just no stopping me. I felt great so I kept going, and it ended up being the perfect run.

I had plans to meet up with my cousin Hannah to go to the woods by our house with the dogs to hike. So I made a quick post-run strawberry parfait, and it hit the spot! We had plenty of fresh fruits left over from the crepes I made yesterday (I'll get that recipe up soon) so I took full advantage of that. 

This strawberry parfait had: 
1 container of strawberry greek yogurt (I used Oikos)
couple of diced strawberries
handful of blueberries
1/4 cup cereal

Oikos is always a great yogurt option that I like because it uses stevia to sweeten it, and doesn't use any artificial sweeteners. I mostly just use plain Chobani but Sam's club has a box of Oikos for pretty cheap and I like having small containers of yogurt on hand! It's always a great option for a snack on the go or throwing something quick together like this parfait. 

Around 10am, Hannah and I headed up to the woods with Layla and Lola (Layla's half-sister). My other cousins, Ben and the twins, came too! Layla of course was in heaven because she loves playing with the twins. I joke around about them being the same age since they're 8 and if you're going with dog years then Layla is technically 7 haha! As soon as we got to the woods and the twins were running up ahead on the trail, Layla was just itching to run around with them. She does really well off the leash so as soon as she was free she took off to be with them! 

It was a gorgeous day! The kind where it's almost a crime to stay indoors and not enjoy it. We hiked around on the trails, and I knew it was going to happen but Layla made a beeline for the creek as soon as she saw it. She absolutely loves the water! 

Layla got completely wet and filthy so I walked her home since it was beautiful out. The temperature was perfect! "Not too hot, not too cold. All you need is a light jacket." 

Once we got home, the first order of business was to get Layla cleaned up! I don't mind at all because she's super easy to bathe plus she had such a ball running around in the creek and woods. It was worth it to see her so happy! Layla has a lot of thick fur which can take awhile to clean but she's really good about just standing there in the tub while I wash her. She hopped right in when I told her to and stood there until I finished. I swear this dog will do anything as long as she gets to be with her people haha! The little weirdo even loves going to the vet because there are more friends there for her to meet! The best thing about the hike this morning is she's completely crashed out now. Her head is passed out on my lap even now as I type this and I doubt she'll be much more active for the rest of the day..

Now I'm off to make some lunch, work on a couple other posts, and do some writing!

Hope you all have a wonderful Saturday! :)