Simple Kale and Quinoa Salad

I adapted this recipe from one I found online at nourishmovelove.com. The original recipe was delicious, but I found it a little one dimensional and needed something. What it needed was meat and a higher fat content. 😉

Also, this recipe was converted to make a really enormous amount of salad because I was meal prepping.

Mix all of this in a large bowl:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups broccoli kale salad (I bought bagged salad from Super Target!)
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup avocado, diced

Combine:

  • 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Toss the salad with the dressing. Top with 3 ounces of grilled chicken or tuna fish and a handful of sliced almonds.

This literally took only a few minutes to prepare once the quinoa had been made the night before.

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Medal Monday: Cane Field Classic 2017

OK, it’s not exactly Monday, but it’s close enough, right? So, let’s jump right in.

I had a planned trip this past weekend to sherpa for my son at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, so when I saw that the Cane Field Classic was the day before his race, I kind of jumped on the registration. You see, last year my friends, Susan, Erika and Kim, did this race and had such a great time, they insisted that I put this on my list for consideration in the future.

I believe it was kismet that the races were on the same weekend.

So what is the Cane Field Classic? It’s actually three races. The first is called the Sugar Mile and it’s a one mile race on a dirt path. The second race is a four mile race on trail, a little more technical and really pretty through tall sugar cane stalks. A little more technical, but nothing bad. The third, and final, race is called the Rows of Hell and is two miles through very tight, shoulder-high sugar canes. The sugar cane stalks are sharp and the dirt between the rows are rutted out and only wide enough to put one foot directly in front of the other, otherwise, your ankles are rolling in the whole time. When you complete all three races, you earn a machete!img_6906-1

Packet pickup was pretty standard. A bib and a shirt. The shirt was a super soft cotton that came in a variety of colors. I chose the blue shirt and Sean chose a red one. The car dealership gave out reusable water bottles and made sure there was plenty of water for all of the runners each time we went through the start/finish line.

img_6834Because they are three back-to-back races, I was worried about maintaining a pace that would allow me to finish in time to start the next race. I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Come to find out, the group didn’t start the next race until the last finisher came in from the previous race! It was such a great experience to see all of the runners, including the fasties, cheering on every single finisher. This was truly more of party than a competitive race, which was evidenced by the fact that the kegs were tapped before the first race began. LOL We received a dog tag at the finish line of the last race, and then turned in our wristband for the customized machete.

img_6830The post-race party was a blast! They had jambalaya being made while we ran, so there was delicious food to be washed down by the beer. The weather was actually really good Saturday morning and didn’t rain, as had been predicted a few days earlier. I understood why they recommend a pair of long pants for the last race. My legs were torn up a little bit and stung like crazy. Note to self: seriously, wear pants. On the plus side, I did put on a pair of knee-high compression socks that morning. Despite the fact that I thought I looked a little dorky, they were a godsend out there because the tall grass squick me out. 

Verdict: I had a great time! The Rows of Hell was truly the hardest 15 minute miles I have ever run, but it’s hard not to laugh and sing the whole way with the rest of the runners. I would totally do this race again if I find myself in Baton Rouge on race weekend. I met some great people out there and decided that I *might* need to buy a pair of trail shoes soon. Uh oh! I hear some dirt calling!img_6844

 

 

What’s Cooking: Cookie Balls

It’s no surprise that I love food, specially snacks and sweets, I mean, even the ol’ Instagram name is “erinrunsforcake.” LOL

So I have spent the last year or so testing out all sorts of recipes that would be nutritious and help me fuel for long training sessions, but also satisfy the sweet tooth and watch my calories. This has been my go-to snack.img_6237

Cookie Balls

  • 1 c. raw oats
  • 1/2 c. oat flour (I use raw oats and grind them up)
  • 1/2 c. ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

I seriously just dump all of the ingredients in a big mixing bowl, and with clean hands, mix it up and then make little 1″ balls. No baking, no cooking, nothing for me to screw up. Easy-peasy! They sit in an airtight container for several days, although truth be told, they don’t last that long because everyone in the house will walk by and grab one to snack on.

I usually pack two of them in a small container for my after lunch snack and that keeps me away from the candy machine at 3pm. They will seriously fill you up!

If you give this recipe a try, let me know how you like them!

Planning Ahead: Staying fed while training

imageCoaches will tell you that a big factor to success in marathon and half-marathon training is fuel. While the fuel we consume during the run is important, the more important fuel is what we eat when we aren’t running. It can certainly be daunting to plan out all of your meals, but the alternative is grabbing something from a drive-thru or skipping your run because your kids are screaming that they are hungry and you have to run to the grocery store. I was asked recently how I make training work with my full-time job and kids and all of the other crazy I have going on in my life, so I am outlining my meal-planning process for you.

Meal planning begins every Sunday afternoon when we have the most down-time. My favorite tool is this weekly planning calendar from Post-It that I got from the local office supply store and includes post-it notes that fit in the box and stick completely on the page.

imageThe process begins with writing out any events for the family that might be a factor in meals, such as run nights or school events, down on the bottom of the calendar. Next, I make up post-its for meals I won’t have to cook, including Sunday dinners with parents or eating out at our favorite taco joint for post-run tacos with our running groups. From there, I begin planning out breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. For the most part, we have a handful of recipes that are fast, easy and family favorites, so we stick with those and add in new recipes to try. Most of the process is just using the stickers I had on the previous week’s menu. My lunches usually are left overs of dinner the previous evening and I always include two or three different small snacks because I love to graze literally all day long.

There are a handful of benefits to planning out an entire week at a time:

  1. I can make sure I eat enough protein or increase my calorie intake on days in which I have a hard workout planned.
  2. I can look at an entire week and make sure I have a varied diet that includes different proteins and carbohydrates to keep me interested.
  3. It’s an opportunity to see if I am including lots of different colors in my menu on a daily basis, rather than just relying on green beans!

imageI love that this process lets us go to the grocery store once a week, which saves at least a few hours every week by staying out of the store throughout the week. It also saves a significant amount of money on a weekly basis (can we say “race fees”???) and, most important, I’m not feeling the pressure at 6pm when the kids are asking what is for dinner.

My Weekly Focus: Eat More Color!

I feel like it’s been a million years since I last posted, but life sometimes happens. Spring semester for the kids hit with a vengeance on the calendar and it has been everything I could do to keep running and fueling my body as it should be rather than hitting a drive-thru. I can happily report, though, that I’m tackling it well. I finally got into the habit of fruit-infused water (for real! No more crystal light packets or Nuun tablets to make it all more palatable! LOL). My next challenge to myself (and you as well!) is to bring more color into my food. It’s not just about making sure you get a side of broccoli on your plate at dinner, either. I hate taking pills, including vitamins, and know that I can achieve quite a bit just by being more mindful of the food I eat. This is about eating from the entire color spectrum!

  • imageReds – This can include beets, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, red bell peppers and tomatoes. I plan to add frozen cherries to the chocolate oatmeal I eat some mornings to bring in the red family. I really have to be in the mood for tomatoes, but I like the little grape tomatoes and will also include those and some red bell peppers on an arugula salad that I adore!
  • Oranges – This includes sweet potatoes, carrots, peaches and butternut squash. I actually love orange vegetables. Sweet potatoes are so good in place of regular potatoes and carrots are a great snack in the afternoon when I need that crunch factor that sometimes leads me to eat a bag of chips.
  • Yellows – Pineapple is the first that comes to mind for me when I think of yellow foods. In Dallas, I can usually find a pineapple at the store for under $3, so I get it home and cut it up immediately into chunks. It is a fantastic afternoon snack because of the sweetness. Other foods you could incorporate include lemons, yellow squash (mmmm… roasted yellow squash) and pears.
  • imageGreens – Broccoli, kiwi, spinach, green beans. These are all the old standbys. There are a zillion green veggies to incorporate into a diet. But have you tried arugula is you like your salad a little spicier? How about sugar snap peas? These are fantastic with a mix of colorful bell peppers lightly sautéed so they are still very crisp.
  • Blues/Purples – This was easy for me as well because I love blueberries and eat them on yogurt, with whipped cream as a dessert with other mixed berries, etc. You could also try plums and eggplant, purple cabbage, and even purple asparagus!
  • Whites – You have the standard white veggies including cauliflower, garlic and onions, but have you tried parsnips or turnips? My husband makes a really tasty mashed potato mixing half potatoes and half parsnips. This gives it a little more depth in the flavor and the kids love it!

So, my big goal is to make up my menu plan for next week and then challenge myself to add one additional color to each of my meals. I’m thinking my first order of business is to add a bowl of mixed berries with a little whipped cream (fresh of course!) as an afternoon snack in lieu of hitting my co-worker’s candy dish a few doors down… Wish me luck!

My Weekly Focus – More Water!

Some of my favorite fruitI know that a handful of my in-person friends are making a renewed commitment to shedding some pounds, so I wanted to start a weekly check-in with some tidbits to take away. Weight Watchers helped me so much, but the biggest helper of all was the in-person meetings. The lessons I learned from many on the path stay with me to this day. I know that for various reasons, some people don’t do in-person meetings, so I am attempting to bring those tidbits virtually! The added benefit is it will help me reinforce some healthy behaviors for myself.

This week my focus is increasing my water intake. On Sundays, we have a tradition in which my family and my sister’s family all meet at my parents house for dinner. Yep, we still have a big traditional Sunday dinner. It’s pretty casual and can be pretty raucous at times. The conversation turned to all the things you could use a can of Coke for, like reducing the corrosion on a car battery and cleaning a penny. I immediately turned to my sister (she was drinking her soda from the can) and exclaimed, “Why are you still drinking that? You are willingly putting a chemical in you that takes corrosion off of a car battery terminal!!” It was a good laugh, because that’s the kind of overbearing big-sister I am (ha ha ha!), but there was a bit of concern as well.

Truth be told, I drank Cokes back in the day. A LOT. My modus operandi was to drink the fully-leaded one because I believed that the diet soda was terrible for you. That went on for most of my life. When I first started Weight Watchers, I calculated the points for one Coke and nearly stroked out. I only got 26 points and I decided I wanted to use those for food. I went cold turkey. No sodas at all. No diet, no regular, no zero, no nothing. It was hard the first week, but one of my “rewards” that first week was a big Starbuck’s cup that I could fill with water or iced tea. I won’t lie – the second week is worse than the first, but if you can just get it out of your system, it’s worth it. More than three years later, I can still be seen with that cup in my hands almost every waking moment. The cup is 20 oz, so I am in the habit of refilling at least four times a day for 100 oz.

image“But water tastes awful…” I get it. I thought so too. There’s only so much water you can drink before you want to tear your hair out. It’s both tasteless and has a funny taste all at the same time. What to do? Infuse it! There are so many options that you can find on the internet like at http://www.fruitinfusedwaters.com/, but I have my simple favorites:

  • Orange slices – they lend a tasty sweetness to the water when you are having a sweets craving
  • Lime wedge – I ask for limes instead of lemons at restaurants because they have them in the bar and they are something different
  • Lemon wedge – they are ok, but they tend to make the water bitter if you add to many
  • Mint leaves – I love to grab a handful and muddle some of the to really give it a strong infused flavor; the best way to do it is to put them in a small amount of hot water to steep for a bit, then add cold water and ice
  • Cucumber slices – this is the most refreshing way to drink water and is so very tasty on a hot summer day
  • Strawberries – these impart just a hint of flavor and is a great way to get that lightly

So, my challenge to you is to get a cup that you want to carry around everywhere and give this a try. It’s your choice if you want to give up sodas or wean off of them slowly, although I am a big fan of getting it over with quickly. Have I told you that I have an insane amount of energy, even in the mornings, now that I don’t drink sodas???

 

Brunch for a Cause

Cafe MomentumThis morning my family and I had the privilege of dining at a Café Momentum event. Café Momentum is a group of amazing people who are providing culinary training and life skills to some of Dallas’ at-risk youth in detention. These are great kids that maybe took a wrong turn, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn from it and become stronger and better through this program. The group is currently building a restaurant in downtown Dallas with classroom facilities and everything, but in the meantime, local chefs are opening up their restaurants for monthly pop-ups to raise funds for the program.  Tickets are tough to get – you have to be fast when they go on sale – but we have been able to attend a couple of events.

granola parfaitThis morning was the first brunch event for Café Momentum and it was held at Chef John Tesar’s restaurant Knife. The meal was truly amazing. We began with croissants and muffins, Bloody Marys and Mimosas. The second course was house made granola with vanilla yogurt and a blackberry and raspberry parfait.  The vanilla yogurt was tart and mixed beautifully with the natural sweetness of the pureed berries and was beautifully presented in a stemless wine glass. The next course was a watercress, goat cheese and walnut salad.  I will confess now that none of the ingredients are usually what I go for. However, it was scrumptious and I ate every.single.bite. Yep, it was delicious and I hope Chef recreates this dish at the house (hint, hint!).watercress salad

The main course was off the charts! Truffled scrambled eggs, house made sausage, biscuits with sausage gravy, and bacon! You could literally smell the beautiful, savory scent waft from the open kitchen. The sausage was house-made and had a sweetness that made it difficult to not devour. My son was hilarious.

Ohmygod truffled eggs and sausage gravy, also known as heaven

Ohmygod truffled eggs and sausage gravy, also known as heaven

He is firmly in “camp bacon” and was disappointed when the menu did not include bacon. His outburst of glee when he saw perfectly crisp, likely house-cured bacon on his plate was hysterical and those around us couldn’t help but laugh. That being said, seriously, even the bacon was perfect. The biscuit was divine and the sausage gravy was the best I’ve ever had. The final course was banana “pudding,” which was a layer of custard, a layer of caramel and a lighter than air layer of banana flavored mousse, topped by house-made miniature vanilla wafers. Literally, I force-fed myself those final bites despite my being full. I might have needed a moment by myself after that, I definitely needed a nap… hahaha.

Café Momentum’s new dedicated space will be open in December and to kick it all off, Rachel Ray’s show is featuring this program on her show next month some time. While banana puddingwe dined, there was a film crew interviewing the guests, the workers and the dreamers behind this vision. One of the things I am most impressed with is the commitment to pay each of the interns in the program a living wage. In Dallas, a living wage is calculated as $9.17 per hour. A living wage guarantees someone clothing, food and shelter. It doesn’t guarantee someone a new iPhone or the latest $200 sneakers, but the necessities.  Because of the donations, they pay the interns $10 per hour!

The program has unequivocally been a success and it would be amazing to see this movement throughout the country. I have to believe that it would lead to a sea-change on how we view and treat at-risk youth. They are worthy of second chances and a shot at dignity. We just have to offer it.

Alex makes sure to thank Chef Tesar for the amazing breakfast, and get him to sign his menu. :)

Alex makes sure to thank Chef Tesar for the amazing breakfast, and get him to sign his menu. 🙂