I Miss Summer

I miss summer.  I had a request for Katrick Photography to submit  summer photos for a magazine. Looking through all the crazy fun adventures my partner and I had brings the biggest smile to my face and makes me miss the warm summer days and crazy weekend plans we’d make.

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Soon enough, summer will return, right? Even though there’s snow in the forecast for this weekend?!

Training this week has been going well. My next half marathon is a week and a half a way, but it will be a training run for me as I have two races in  May that I’m looking to run well in and hopefully will be better prepared once the negative temperatures, ice, and snow disappears!

This week’s training:

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: 7 miles

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 6 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles, row, and strength train

Thursday: 8 miles

Friday: Row, strength train, yoga

Saturday: 9 miles, yoga

I’m not really tapering this race all too much although I will cut back on mileage and intensity next week. I’m trying to come up with a solid training plan for the next few races coming up so stay tuned!

My goal for the next week and a half is to work on my hydration and adequate nutrition throughout the day. Work has been so busy that sometimes I forget to even take a sip of water until mid-day – not good at all! So that will be my focus. Hydroflask to the rescue!

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Meal Planning: Step 1

It’s Friday! I hope everyone here has a fun weekend! Things around here will be pretty low-key with running, schoolwork, certification work, and of course Sunday Funday. It’s supposed to be gloomy and rainy so I’m not sure hiking will be the adventure of the week, but I sure hope it is. I need to soak in some a good dose of nature.

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Among my health coaching clients, one of the most popular goals I hear is that they want to get better about meal planning and having healthy meals throughout the week. They also tell me it’s one of the most intimidating goals, but one that could make the most impact on leading a healthy lifestyle.

What a difference having a meal plan can make! When I don’t have a meal plan, my already chaotic week feels nearly impossible to manage. Being a long distance runner and ridiculously hungry when I finally get home at 7:30 pm, the last thing I want is to look in the fridge and have no idea what to eat. There may have been some “I’m hangry” melt downs in my past before I discovered the importance of meal planning.

Because meal planning can seem overwhelming. It’s best to break it down into steps instead of just diving in all at once. So I’ll do a series of blog posts with some steps you can take to incorporate healthy meal planning into your own life.

Step 1 is to look at your week ahead. Be realistic with what kind of meals you can tackle. How much time do you really have to spend on preparing food? Another 1st step is to look in your cabinets and fridge to see what you already have on hand. Maybe you’ll even get a few meal ideas based off of ingredients you already have at home. The last part to this is to think about what meals sound good to you! If a meal doesn’t sound good to you when you’re planning it, it probably won’t sound good the night you’re supposed to eat it either.

This brings me to a step 1 tip. Start building a recipe book of go-to recipes. These are your recipes that are healthy, taste great, and you don’t feel overwhelmed by the thought of making them. If you don’t have these recipes now, don’t worry – you eventually will! The more you try new recipes and cook, the easier it is to realize what these go-to meals are. Read health and food blogs, check out recipe websites, and go through some of those cookbooks you have on hand. This will help you start compiling some easy go-to recipes for those weeks that are just too crazy to even think about cooking and elaborate new meal.

And that’s the first step. Not too overwhelming, right? I’ll be talking about the next steps next week. For now, just work on step one!

Healthy Maple Granola

This granola makes for a great snack or breakfast. Sprinkle some on top of yogurt for an added crunch, replace your cereal for a serving of this and some almond milk, or sprinkle some on top of an apple slice with peanut butter (yum!).

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raw nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and chopped dates)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey (or a combination of both)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add everything together in a bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Spread out the mixture on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20-24 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to stir about halfway through.
  4. Let the granola cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  5. For an added treat you can add a few dark chocolate chips to this!

Enjoy!

 

Sunday Funday

Oh my goodness, is there anything nature can’t cure? Sunday funday was absolutely the best.

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We spent half the day on a winter hike with the sun shining on us and spectacular views.

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Finn bounced around, wagging his cute little nub of a tail, and having a blast listening to all the sounds in nature.

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One thing I know I can count on when I’m sad or stressed is the fact that nature makes me feel like me again. It brings me back to a calm, centered, and mindful state. This Sunday wasn’t necessarily a “No Phone Sunday” which we’ve done in the past, but it was a Sunday Funday for sure – only thinking happy good thoughts and staying in the moment instead of focusing on work, school, and everything else.

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It’s the last few weeks before my first race of the year. As you may know my training has been all over the place with the winter weather and long work days, but I’m going into it to have fun and get back into my groove with racing. I’m officially signed up for 2 other races after this, but that will likely turn to 3..maybe 4 or 5… You know how it goes if you’re a runner! Here’s the training plan for this week!

Fitness Plan

Now that Spring is officially here and it’s lighter in the evenings, it feels a little easier to have running goals in mind. Sunshine is a magical thing, is it not?

 

 

Good Morning Muffins

I would love to say I have the time to make and sit down to eat a healthy filling breakfast every day, but that’s just not true. I think the only day I have time to do that is Sunday. So, I wanted to create something that I could bring to work that’s healthy, filling, and tastes good. I worked on these muffins for a few weeks (my freezer is stocked) and came up with what I think is a great version of these muffins. I grab these to bring to work for breakfast as I’m always in a hurry in the morning. I also eat them to fuel for workouts either in the afternoon for an evening run or in the morning before a longer run.

They’re so good and healthy – packed full of zucchini, carrots, and almond flour. These are gluten-free too! I highly recommend doubling up the recipe and putting them in the freezer.

I plan to create some new versions of this that will add even more of a nutritional punch to these so stay tuned!

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Good Morning Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 3-4 carrots)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (coconut oil could also be a replacement though I haven’t tried this yet)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of chopped almonds and pecans
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and chopped dates)
  • Optional: These would be great with a few dark chocolate chips sprinkled in, but I haven’t added them into my muffins yet. I find they’re perfectly sweet already.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Add the almond meal, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, add the zucchini and carrots and stir. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, and melted butter and continue to stir until well mixed.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed. Add in the chopped nuts, dried fruit, chia seeds and if using the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into lined and greased muffin cups (I recommend greasing the liners because the muffins do stick to them).

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Or if using large muffin tins it may take 35-45 minutes. Make sure a toothpick comes out clean and then you’ll know they are ready.

Enjoy! These went fast the first time I made them so I learned my lesson and the following week doubled the recipe. These freeze well.

Enjoy!

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Sub-8’s

This weather has been brutal. As a Vermonter, I know that we are not truly past winter until the end of April. However as a runner that’s kind of over the icy, snowy, negative temperatures, I’m disappointed every time I look at the weather forecast. It hasn’t been pretty lately… Okay so maybe it has been visually pretty, but really unappealing for running.

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We had a tease of 50-70 degree days and then it went back to snowstorms, ice, and negative temperatures. So, it has been a matter of accepting it and just trying to work around what winter is throwing at me. I try to run 5 days a week and sometimes only get in 3-4, but I make sure those runs count. I include speed work, a long run, interval/hill training, and 1 easy pace day on the weeks I can’t make it outside 5 times.

I’m happy to say though the speed is finally coming back. I finally did two entire runs this last week at a sub-8 minute pace. One was a 10 miler and the other was an 8 miler. The 8 miler I got closer to an average of 7:30 while the 10 miler was closer to 7:55.

I haven’t been able to do that since my knee injury in October, but I’ve been signing up for races and training, so it was time to get out there and get closer to the pace that I want to race at. Despite the fact my training has been allllll over the place for this first race, I’m feeling like I’ll run a decent time. Maybe not a PR, but we’ll see on race day! It’s less than 4 weeks out so I’m trying to make the next 2.5 weeks count before tapering.

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Here’s the plan for this week! We’re supposed to get hit hard Tuesday/Wednesday with a snowstorm, but I’m hoping to get out early in the morning on Tuesday and then late in the evening on Wednesday. Then we’re supposed to get more snow Saturday and Sunday (winter please stoooooop…please). I need to get that 14 miler in though so hopefully it’s not too brutal.

Dear Vermont, Finn would like it to be summer already too. How can you say no to that face?

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Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Back over the summer, I had quinoa cakes with a roasted red pepper sauce at a restaurant and knew I wanted to recreate them. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I made these last weekend and they were a big hit at our house! I made an avocado salsa on the side in addition to sautéed spinach.

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Ingredients:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 cup almond milk (I bet this would be great with coconut milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Quinoa Cakes:

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked
  • 1/2 zucchini shredded
  • 1/2 carrot shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 500.
  2. Cook red peppers whole for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and wrap in foil for 10 minutes to soften.
  3. While the red peppers are cooking, saute the shallots and garlic together until golden brown. Add to a blender.
  4. Remove the skin and seeds from the red peppers and add to blender with the shallots and garlic. Add in 1 cup of almond milk, corn starch, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Then pour into a sauce pan and heat until thickened.

For the Quinoa Cakes:

  1. Add together all the ingredients (cooked quinoa, zucchini, carrot, parsley, eggs, almond flour, garlic, and salt and pepper) into a bowl and stir until everything is well mixed.
  2. Heat up oil in a large frying pan. There should be enough oil in the pan to fry the quinoa cakes.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out the mixture and drop it into the frying pan. Cook about 5 minutes on each side.

For the Avocado Salsa

  1. Mix together the avocado, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro.

 

To serve, spoon the roasted red pepper sauce on top of the quinoa cakes and add the avocado salsa on the side. I added sautéed spinach to my meal for added veggies!

Enjoy!

To Work or Play

Can we all just agree that adulting is a little ridiculous sometimes…most of the time? I’m constantly in go-go-go mode so it’s really hard to break free from that. I accept that because of all the extra things I’ve taken on in my life, I will be busy more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t and shouldn’t designate time for fun.

So when Tuesday was a holiday off from work, I knew that it needed to be fun day despite the rainy gloominess. I started off with a relaxing morning drinking coffee in my pajamas before taking Finn pup for a looooooooooong walk. He had a blast running around and wore himself out – so proud of this pup for working on his off-leash skills. We weren’t sure he’d ever get to this point when we first rescued him, but as always – he surprised us with his mad skillz.

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He also has mad napping skillz.

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Then after stopping quickly at my friend’s apartment to take care of her plants, I did a long yoga session.  I generally just have time for 10 minutes of yoga here and there, but it felt so good to take an hour and a half to really stretch out and then do some meditation on top of that.

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After spending some time signing up for two of three certifications I’m working toward this year, it was time for a run in the rain. It actually was kind of nice despite the crazy wind and rain along the lake.

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After that, Finn pup was up and ready for another walk so we headed out again for a second hike. I’m so lucky to live in such an incredibly beautiful place.

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I decided to relax a little under an electric blanket while I ate a chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl with homemade granola on top and worked on school work.

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And then after a couple hours, I made dinner (Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai).

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Unfortunately on Tuesdays, I don’t see Damir until 9 at night so I put his dinner in the fridge, packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for tomorrow, and cuddled up on the couch with the pup while doing some more school work. Then when Damir got home we all cuddled up together until I crashed into bed. The perfect way to end an active, relaxing, and fun day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything we “have” to do. Both my work and home to-do lists are miles long and never-ending, but that makes it even more important to take time to yourself. Sunday is designated as fun day in our house and sometimes no-phone Sunday which is incredible. Then when I have a random holiday or day off from work, I often just work through it, but taking the time to just enjoy the day was the right call. I highly recommend it!

Happy Wednesday!

 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Remember how I threw out my running plan last week? Yeah I still don’t have one and I’m okay with that. This Vermont winter has been unforgiving with the snow, ice, and negative temperatures and while I run in it as much as possible, I also recognize when it’s not safe for my health to be out for extended periods of time. This has meant it’s been really hard to follow the running plan I designed for this first race of the year.

My training has been all over the place, but that’s okay. It’s the first race of the year and the first race helps you get back in the swing of things and remember what’s it like to race 13.1 rather than just run it leisurely.

Once the warm weather hits, it’s going to feel great to train again. Until then, I have a solid base of mileage that I’ve been maintaining. This week will be a 45 mile week! Crazy! Here’s the plan for the week that I literally decided two minutes ago (I had to move last Saturday’s 14 miler to the beginning of the week due to a wind chill advisory over the weekend).

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Sure, I’m going to want a PR in this first race of the year, but let’s be real… If you want to race at a certain time you have to train at that time too and I have not been until the past couple weeks. Recently, I pushed myself for about 5-6 miles of an 8 mile run to go at a fast pace I haven’t done since last year before my knee injury. It DRAINED me (shh don’t tell the fast people in my running group that… because you know… runner’s ego).

It felt great at the same time though. I miss speed work and pushing beyond my comfort zone with my running. The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned with running is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As soon as I embraced that (and it took me quite awhile to embrace it), my times started dropping considerably. If you don’t push yourself to that point, you’ll never know what you’re capable of in a race.

Of course, that being said. You should never push yourself through injury, sickness, or if something just doesn’t feel right. There are limitations and taking care of yourself is more important than a PR.

Happy happy Monday!

Nutella Banana Muffins

My partner loves Nutella. Actually, that sentence is an understatement. I do in fact have to keep it hidden sometimes, but some days call for a special treat. I leave for work a couple of hours before my partner gets up, so on valentine’s day I left these on the counter with a little note. Unfortunately during the week, it seems we see each other very briefly before crashing into bed for the night, but little sweet gestures such as these are commonplace in our house and it’s truly the little things that make my heart melt.

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These are by no means a health food, but everything in moderation. If I’m making these for myself, I use applesauce instead of butter, whole wheat flour, oats,  and a homemade or natural version of Nutella. However, my partner can always tell when I make these “healthy” so when I make them specifically for him, I use the good stuff (aka butter and white flour).

Nutella Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 4 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (can substitute applesauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can substitute honey or maple syrup and/or reduce to 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup Nutella (or homemade Nutella/natural hazelnut spread)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.) Mix together bananas, butter, eggs, and sugar in a bowl until well mixed.

3.) Add flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir until everything is well combined.

4.) Spoon batter into lined muffin tins.

5.) Add Nutella to each muffin and cut through with a knife to make sure it mixes well into the batter.

6.) Put muffins into oven and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Enjoy!