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Happy Memorial Day!!

I hope everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather and enjoying the company of family and friends! I also hope that everyone takes a moment to pause and remember the meaning of this holiday. I want to send a big THANK YOU to our troops and all of those who have devoted their lives to our country. You are constantly in my thoughts, and I am so grateful for your commitment.

Today has been a patriotic day for my food. One of the reasons why I love coming home is to use my mom’s dinnerware. I swear she has plates, cups and place mats themed for every major holiday. The summer months are all about the stars and stripes!I woke up this morning around 7:30am, and geared up to go for on a “Memorial Day Run” with my dad. Before heading out the door I had a light breakfast that consisted of 1/2 of a large banana, strawberries, sunflower seed butter and coffee (in my themed mug!) while reading my horoscope and completing the easy Monday sudoku puzzle in our local paper. Fun fact: I’m obsessed with sudoku. Every time I am home I retrieve the newspaper from our mailbox as soon as I wake up so that I can do the puzzle while watching the news and having breakfast.

My dad and I ran a surprising 5.5 miles (it has been an EXTREMELY long time since I have done this distance, 3 is usually my max.). The sun was hot during our run and we were BEAT by the time we returned home. My dad, aka The Breakfast Man, whipped up some omelets for brunch. My omelet was made with  Swiss cheese, basil, mixed cherry tomato and broccoli with a glass of orange juice and a large carrot on the side (don’t ask, I was craving a crunchy vegetable haha). We had brunch outside on our patio and it was fantastic!  I don’t want to be repetitive, but I LOVE COMING HOME! There is something distinctly  special about family time and good food.The run took a lot out of me, and I decided that I needed a bit more protein. I extended this brunch with a 1/2 cup of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, strawberries, a handful of roasted almonds and cinnamon.The sun was out in full force today, thus the shadows in many of these pictures.

I’m off to do a few tasks before heading back to school my apartment later today. WHOA! I actually typed school and it took me a minute before I realized that I just completed college and now am in the working world. So the song goes, times are a changin’. I think we will have an early Memorial Day barbecue before I head back. I have to take advantage of our charcoal grill while I can because it’s back to a cast iron grill pan when I return to my mini apartment!

Always Remembering,

Nora

What are your plans for Memorial Day?

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It has been quite a hectic day FILLED with food. I didn’t end up finishing my paper last night and went to sleep around 3am! This meant I had to wake up and finish it this morning. I HATE procrastinating. I usually keep a calendar and schedule when I know I have projects due so I don’t feel rushed and anxious. Quite frankly, when I try to do things last-minute I know they wont be my best effort, and I always want to be proud of my work. Recently my mind has been elsewhere trying to dream up my life after college. I want to contribute and dedicate myself to healthy living, food and wine on a much larger scale than I do now. I am searching for a career and a purpose.

When I do “crunch time” work, I get really antsy. I feel like I’m moving 100 miles a minute and am never focused. I fall into snacking habits to keep me calm. I’m not sure why, but I have it set in my head that I need snacks to complete my task. Every time I finish one, I have to run to get something else. I found that I had only written a few pages after breakfast (another green monster and granola bowl with an Amazing Grass Wheatgrass packet added today…interesting texture and made me feel energized!) before I ran back into the kitchen to grab a Jonagold. As soon as I finished my apple I ran back to the kitchen and had to make toast. Okay you get the picture. Basically write/read 1-2 pages grab a snack is my pattern. I literally sat in bed with my laptop from 8:30 am-1pm paper writing and snacking. A few snack highlights: 2 slices of multigrain bread (the dense bread from my bakery!) with cinnamon, almond butter, organic raspberry jam and more cinnamon on top. As soon as the bread popped out of the toaster I sprinkled it with cinnamon. I couldn’t decide if I should top my almond butter with jam or pumpkin butter, so why not both? I finished it with more cinnamon and I kid you not, the second I finished one slice I needed another it was THAT good.I also tried the Kardea Lemon-Ginger Bar. The texture/visual appearance reminds me of oatmeal cookie dough batter! I smelled lemon when I opened the package so I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, I couldn’t taste the ginger and the lemon flavor was pretty mild. For a while I was in a Lemon Zest Luna Bar phase (It is such a refreshing flavor!) and I love the potent flavor of those, so I do have a slight bias. I also loved the Kardea Banana Nut Bar so much that the others I have tried are hard to live up to it.

I’m not complaining, the food was good and I got my paper done but I was still in my pjs at 1pm with a belly full of food. I handed in my paper and needed fresh air! I decided to go for a run and soak up the blue sky and sunshine. It was exactly what I needed. As I walked back to my apartment I had a heartfelt phone call with my mom about life and what I’m going to be doing next year. I feel so fortunate to be able to talk to my parents about anything. They are my allies and my best friends.

When I got back, it was highly apparent that I had been cooped up in my room paper writing for two days. There were piles of clothes, scattered papers and books, and plates everywhere. I needed to clean. I restored my room to normal order and took a relaxing shower to refresh myself. For dinner I decided to continue with the “clean” theme and made Pan-seared Lemon-Thyme Tilapia with Asparagus and a Berry Salad. So light and refreshing after a day of snacks! I love adding berries, light green veggies (cucumbers and celery), feta cheese and nuts to spicy arugula. It is so light and packs a punch of flavor!

While waiting for my laundry to dry(when I clean…I CLEAN!), I had some dessert. I was going to go for more Chocolate Bunny for dessert but decided to keep it classy with mint cookies and cream with a frozen cherry on top  in a wine glass. Everything is more fun to eat when you serve it in a wine glass! I felt elegant ;).

Job Searching,

Nora

What are little things you do to “treat” yourself? (**If I’m having a bad day I always make myself something really nice and plate it up using fancy dishes. I love sharing my cooking with others but sometimes it’s fun cooking for one!**)

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Could it be nicer outside? It is currently a sunny 74 degrees and I am on top of the world! I was able to go for my favorite river-side run (~4 miles) a few hours after my pancake digested (so filling but delicious!). I went a bit slower today just so I could soak up all of the beauty that surrounded me. After my run I happily skipped to our campus Starbucks and picked up a post run recovery drink: Odwalla Superfood blended with protein. This was a monster drink in a Venti sized cup that took me a while to finish. It was delicious, cool and refreshing; exactly what I needed after my run. I’m really sad that my blender exploded, because this weather has me craving smoothies galore :(.

The nice weather also has me craving fresh produce for lunch so off to the dining hall I went for a big ‘ole salad and an apple. This was fresh and delicious, but I thought I needed some form of carbohydrates and peanut butter so I ran to the campus store to purchase a Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Bar.I haven’t had one of the these in a while, and usually prefer other types of fruit/nut bars for snacks, but the crunch and flavor really hit the spot.

I have a bunch of school work to do this afternoon but hopefully the nice weather will be motivation to complete it so I can get outside! Tonight my room mate and I are going to a Japanese Kimono exhibit at a local museum and sushi for dinner. I can not wait, I love when culture meets food!

Living Life,

Nora

What are your favorite “nice weather” meals? Do you change your dining to outside venues and enjoy grilling when the weather calls for it?

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I started today a little bit off routine. I’m a creature of habit, so when I wake up late I feel rushed and unbalanced. It was almost 9am and I still needed to pack, shower, get ready, and more importantly HAVE BREAKFAST! I wasn’t very hungry this morning or in the mood for anything particular but I really do not like starting my day with out breakfast (if you read my blog you will see that it is my favorite meal of the day). I wanted a loaded green smoothie (1 cup almond milk, 1 frozen banana, handful of spinach, ice, chia seeds, and Amazing Grass Chocolate Superfood) topped with  Galaxy granola but being the good room-mate that I am, realized my room-mate was still sleeping and my noisy blender going off would be a rude awakening. I decided for the next best (and easiest) thing: 3/4 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt, 1/4 Cup Vanilla Soy Milk, 1/2 TBS Chia Seeds, 1/4 Cup Galaxy Vanilla Almond Granola (my new OBSESSION!!! LOVE THIS STUFF!), a handful of blueberries and cinnamon.

When I stepped out the door the rain was gone, the clouds had parted and there was nothing but blue skies and sunshine! This changed my mood immediately, and after class I had to go for a leisurely riverside run. It was a little bit cold with mild wind in the 50’s, but there is one thing I do not do when we have a sunny day: waste them. I have to take full advantage of the weather, and it always lifts my mood. I ran for about 40 minutes (plus time for pictures, because it was TOO beautiful).

While I was running I started to think about getting a juicer. (My foodie mind is in perpetual motion)Since it is getting to be farmers market season (BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!!! IT’S PRODUCE CHRISTMAS EVERY WEEKEND!!!) and the weather is getting nicer, I think that a juicer might be a great addition to my kitchen. I love fresh juice, but it is SO expensive at almost $6 a bottle and how refreshing would it be to wake up in the summer and have a glass of fresh juice with breakfast or in the afternoon? I have looked at a few online, and was wondering if anyone had suggestions? I was thinking about getting a product from Breville, I have read about them and when I inquired about juicer advice, the company quickly responded and made suggestions based on the level of use I was looking for.

Since breakfast was a little lame, I had to make up for it with a good lunch. Warm Lentil Salad with Beets and Hazelnut Coated Goat Cheese and of course an apple. When I make warm lentil salad, I usually serve it with a walnut coated goat cheese. I actually had this in mind last night but then was having a Dijon craving and didn’t want my plate/flavors to be TOO busy. I love the way the goat cheese medallion slightly melts when it is placed on the lentils. The combination of the spices and the texture of the lentils with the creamy goat cheese is phenomenal. It is simple, but so luxurious.

Dinner tonight will have to be something fast; I’m doing my usual shift at the bakery until 9pm. I love it there :)! I might be feeling creative with my “lunch box” dinner so I’ll be sure to post later!

Reinventing Leftovers,

Nora

What are your thoughts about purchasing a juicer?

I received some comments about what I do for work outs/ what snacks etc I eat through out the day. I don’t always post everything, so I was wondering what you would like me to blog about more. I would love to hear some feedback! 🙂

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KEEP ON ENTERING MY GIVEAWAY!!

ENTER MY BIRTHDAY CHOBANI GREEK YOGURT GIVEAWAY3/1-3/8: https://livelifeeatright.wordpress.com/chobani-give-away/

A few exciting things have happened since I last posted, so I thought I would do a little midday report. After my first class I went to the gym and completed a 4.22 mile run on the treadmill! I was so proud, and had to add the .22 in honor of my birthday. I was supposed to have lunch after with my best friend, who ended up over sleeping (yes, I am the only one that wakes up before noon in college). I had class in an hour so I grabbed a quick PB&J Larabar in honor of National Peanut Butter Day, an apple and a Vitamin Water. I was extremely excited after class because I had a notification email saying that a package was waiting for me at the post office!! What could it be, a birthday surprise?

A World of Antioxidants

It was indeed a pleasant surprise, right in time for my birthday! A sample of Crofter’s Superfruit Spread featuring 4 continents and 10 superfruits, “A World of Antioxidants”. Thank you JJ at Crofters for making my day even more special, I can’t wait to try these!!!

I came home after class to another surprise. My remorseful roommate who bailed on lunch had made me a cake and decorated our apartment.I guess I’ll forgive her. Knowing that a LaraBar and fruit is not a substantial lunch, I made a small mixed veggie salad and had a red pear when I got back. Yes, I did want to dig into the strawberries and chocolate frosting, but dinner is in a few hours,  and I don’t want to spoil my appetite. Plus cake probably is not a very substantial lunch either, and there will be plenty of dessert eating later :).

That’s All For Now,

Nora

KEEP THE ENTRIES COMING!!!


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I swear if I had to pick 5 things to live off of for the rest of my life they would be: Granola, Greek yogurt, almond butter, bananas and ice cream. Wow, that was actually a really hard decision, there are so many favorite foods I’m leaving out. 😦  Yes, today was another granola yogurt morning …but  not just any old granola and yogurt! I had homemade granola from my yoga studio and Chobani 2% plain. I left this out of yesterdays post because I wanted to write about it once I actually tried it. I had to buy it, it was love at first sight. This granola essentially looked like a culmination of all my favorite things (again this is a guess on ingredients since they didn’t list): toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds, whole almonds, whole cashews, walnut pieces, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, dried cranberries, dried banana in what tasted like an agave/honey/maple mixture? Basically it was heavenly, and really good granola needs really good yogurt. I didn’t want to outshine the granola with a flavored yogurt, but I wanted something a bit better than just average yogurt, the consensus: Chobani 2% plain. I prefer 2% to non-fat because it is decedent and extra creamy; it really holds the granola well, and is much more substantive than non-fat yogurt. I love the Chobani 0% plain so my excitement to try the 2% was through the roof.

yoga happiness granola 🙂

As I peeled away the Chobani cover, I noticed the yogurt didn’t move an inch…not even a slight jiggle. This solid appearance told me that this was going to be thick, and a bowl worthy breakfast.

Solid.

I carefully sliced a banana and sprinkled it with cinnamon at the bottom of my bowl, added the yogurt (which looked like a mound of scratch made whipped cream) and doused it with my new granola.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Breakfast of champions!! The granola was toasty and slightly sweet which was a nice contrast to the tangy Greek yogurt. I love the sweetness that banana gives to the yogurt (This Greek yogurt has only 7g of Sugar) and adds another textural element, almost thinning the intensely dense  yogurt. The Chobani 2% is one of my favorites, though I think it would be best enjoyed as a dessert with frozen berries. I find that adding frozen berries to such a thick yogurt generates a frozen yogurt taste and feel, perfect for a warm summer night treat. For my granola breakfast, I think I prefer the Chobani 0% plain.

This was followed by another big juicy Jonagold (not pictured), I swear I cant get through my day with out an apple. Maybe I should reconsider my top 5 favorite foods? I’m planning on doing a 3 mile run later, which means another “pre-workout fuel” product review!! Stay tuned!

Happy Monday,

Nora

What is your favorite yogurt (doesn’t necessarily have to be Greek) and why? How do you like to eat it?

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Over the past year, my crazy schedules have lead to a demise in my work outs. Every now and then I would sneak in a 30 minute elliptical session or a 30-minute at home yoga video, but that was the extent of my physical activity. Going from a full-time swimmer to a hobbyist  runner and then nothing definitely made an impression on my body. I noticed a decrease in my strength and muscle mass…so goes the old saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it.” Now that my schedule is a bit more concrete I have been trying to incorporate weights and a mixture of light cardio activities to help build myself back up. I think that it is important to mix up a workout regime so that you can work different parts of the body and allow time for rest and recovery. It also keeps you from becoming mentally burned out from repetitive activity.

I boiled down my “workouts” to afford myself down time, and do things that I truly find enjoyable. I decided to start my weeks with a run on Monday, take a yoga class Wednesday and end my week with an activity of choice on Friday with the weekends off, since that is when I work and catch up on things. In between my active days, I am going to do strength training with weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

HOT YOGA: I took my first Power Vinyasa Yoga class this past Sunday, and I was in love. It was conducted in an 85-90 degree room and the constant flow of motion allowed my muscles to relax and be at their optimum flexibility. I woke up a bit sore the next day too, because I typically can not stretch that much on my own. I have taken some yoga here and there over the years, and found this to be the best for me. The classes at the studio I attended were  a bit expensive, but I am going to try to do this once a week.

RUNNING: I ran 3.25 miles today and it felt like I was revisiting my long lost friend. My endorphins were through the roof , and I was ALL smiles for  the rest of the day. I love the release and stimulation of running; it is freeing and serene. After my half-marathon in September 2009, I stopped running regularly due to weather conditions and lack of time,  but it will always have a special place in my heart.  As much as I hate treadmills, I am going to try to run for a half-hour at alternating intervals so I can slowly get back into it.

After committing to all of this, I began to wonder the BEST way that I can fuel and replenish my body to gain back my muscle?  I always eat something pre-work out but often times when I hit the gym, lunch or dinner is about an hour away so I usually just wait until then. This got me thinking…should I have something right after my work out to replenish? What is the best type of food for pre and post work out? Should I add more protein to my diet on days that I work out? Naturally my curiosity lead me to conduct some research.  I found a lot of information all that pointed to similar things, the most informational was this about.com link–CLICK HERE. In sum it is important to eat something carbohydrate rich, and low levels of fat and protein about an hour before you work out. You should never exercise on an empty or completely full stomach. Post work out it is important to eat something that is composed of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates within 2 hours.

I’m still contemplating whether or not I should immediately drink a protein shake or have a bar right after my work out, even though I will most likely be eating a full meal within an hours time. I tried a small protein shake out today

Don't Judge By Looks...It Was Good

(1/2 cup soy milk, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 scoop organic vanilla whey protein powder, 1 scoop of green Amazing Grass, a dash of cinnamon and Ice) and was still hungry an hour later for lunch.  SO my conclusion: What you eat and when you eat before and after working out DOES matter, especially if you are looking to build strength. I’m going to continue to experiment with pre and post work out food options to see what works best for me.

Live Strong,

Nora

What is your pre and post work out routine? In terms of strength training, what have you found to be the most effective and efficient exercises and nutritional staples?

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