Thursday, April 28, 2011

A day with the little guy

My son goes to daycare three days a week, something we've continued even though I'm no longer working on those days. The other two (week)days have become known as "Mommy and Caleb Days," and they are usually the highlight of my week. I love spending time with this tiny person, who has such big ideas and conversations for a person his age--of course, since he's my first and only, I'm sure I'm highly biased!

Today we shared a little snack of raw almonds, fresh apple, and cheese while he played in the kitchen.
After snack time, inspired by how much he enjoyed a decently clean snack with me, I assembled a handful of "snack bags" that we can easily grab and toss into my purse, his stroller, or The H's lunch bag when we're in need of a munch. These bags contain a serving of almonds, dried apricots, and a half-serving of chocolate-covered roasted edamame. The little guy calls them "choklit beans."

We had some time to kill before lunch, so we did some coloring and informal letter-learning. He's great at recognizing (and sounding out) capital letters, but lower case needs some work. Good thing he's only two, and we have plenty of time for that.

Here is a video--the first I've ever posted--of an impromptu ABC concert. Perhaps my favorite part is the "cheeeeze" at the end; think he's had a camera pointed in his face a lot lately? :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First there was snow...

...and today we got slammed with some of the craziest weather I've ever seen, and I've lived in this state my entire life.

The day started out rainy, but the sun made its way through the clouds several times--in between sudden, harsh downpours. When The H got home from work, the sky was clearing and in one of its sunny moments. However, we were under a tornado warning. That did not stop us, little guy included, from setting out for a quick run. Yeah. I know. My mom wouldn't have liked that.
The sun stuck around for the first mile, though we were getting showered with ever-so-few raindrops along the way... and then, we hit Mile 2. Thunder. Lightning. Darkening sky. Must run faster! Just about 3/4 of the way through that second mile, the sky opened and down came the rain. Big, fat, juicy plinky drops. Those were followed quickly by skin-stinging hail. Ack!

Just shy of three miles, I dashed home ahead of The H and little guy (yes, we had the decency to cover the jogging stroller with a plastic rain cover, and he had his raincoat on) and opened the garage for them. The three of us stood there in awe of the loudest and largest hail I've had the privilege of seeing. The H caught some pics on his phone, then went to grab the camera when it let up for a minute.

And what was I doing during that minute?
Who wants to leave her Garmin at 2.83 on a day that was supposed to be *3* miles? ;) You can kind of see the hail in the grass behind me. And my super-cute Nike Tempo shorts. Clearance, baby.
Here are some pics of the hail, and our rain-flooded yard:

After we were all warm and dry, we had a family picnic in the basement, watching Wall-E as the tornado sirens (for a different part of the county, thank goodness) went off twice. Oh, and today happens to be the first day I've seen my tulips beginning to open.
 Ah, Michigan!

Who invited winter?

Two weeks ago (April 10th) it was 84* here in my corner of the mitten state. Last week (8 days later), we got 3 inches of snow. How is that fair?! The H took this picture out our upstairs bathroom window in the morning:
My poor blooming daffodils and hyacinths.

It melted by mid-afternoon, but this non-winter-lover wasn't very excited to see everything covered in white again.

Last Tuesday, the day after the snow picture above, was gray, blustery, and drizzly--even a little sleety--so the planned quinoa and black bean salad, which is quite summery tasting, got shuffled to later in the week in favor of a hearty, warm bowl of bean-and-potato soup. That's one of the (many) nice things about having a meal plan--you have everything you need to make your chosen recipes, so your plan can be adjusted as the day dictates.

This is one of those "no real recipe" meals. I started (around 1:30pm) by putting three pieces of bacon in a skillet to brown while I set to chopping whatever else struck my fancy: two medium red potatoes, two fat carrots, a handful of organic celery, three green onions, a medium sweet onion, a handful of baby portobello mushrooms, and two cloves of garlic. Once the bacon was crisp, I drained it, trimmed the fatty edges for the dog, and finely chopped the rest. I tossed it into a 4-quart slow cooker crock with the veggies, added four cups of organic chicken stock and a small jar of bean-cooking liquid from last week, and set it on high.

Before we left for running group (5:00pm) I tasted it, seasoned a bit using sea salt, pepper, and an herb blend from Penzey's, added the home-cooked equivalent of one can drained, rinsed navy beans, and switched it to low. When we got home (7:45pm), I tossed in a handful of German Tilsit cubes I had left from a party last week. It provided a nice extra bit of full flavor and creaminess. Of course, it would have been just fine--and a bit more clean-friendly--without. Either way, coming home to this in the CrockPot after a *super* windy, rainy run made me happy!
The leftovers made a great lunch, along with some gorgeous green grapes and veggie crackers. That book on the left is one of the many I'm currently reading, Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money, and one that I so far highly recommend. I won it in a Goodreads giveaway and have really been enjoying the author's insights. A good book + a good lunch = rainy day perfection!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marathon training update *with pictures*

8am, ready for our 19-miler... we go!
(I'm the green goober on the right who looks like she's about to drop a deuce on the trail. No, I do not really run like that.)

DONE! And still smiling.
SplitMoving TimeDistance

Yes, I realize we slowed down quite a bit after 14 miles. But we felt so good at the beginning, it was easy to keep up our (super awesome and  fantastical for us) pace! Now if only we can learn to run more even splits in the next five weeks, we could be looking at a pretty sweet race.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beef & Snow Pea Stir-Fry

Ever since we bought a half-of-a-half of beef this past winter, I've been thrilled to find new clean-eating ways to use it. This stir-fry from Clean Eating Magazine (March 2011) appeared in front of me at just the right time!

Beef, Snow Pea, and Shiitake Stir-Fry
from Clean Eating Magazine, Vol. 4, Issue 3
serves 4

1 cup brown rice
12 oz top sirloin beef, trimmed of fat and sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 cup low-sodium tamari sauce (if you are gluten-free, make sure your sauce is, too!)
1/4 cup water
2 tsp tapioca starch (I used arrowroot powder)
1 Tbsp raw honey, local if you can find it
1 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
2 cups sugar snap or snow peas
2 cups small fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (I used baby portobellos)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
8 sprigs fresh cilantro (optional--for garnish, or chop and add to dish before serving)

1. Cook rice according to package directions; while it is cooking, prepare the rest of the meal.

2. In a medium bowl, combine beef, salt, and five-spice powder until evenly coated; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk tamari, tapioca starch, honey, and 1/4 cup water; set aside.

4. Using a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat half of the coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Transfer beef to a clean large bowl. Add remaining half-tablespoon of oil to wok, followed by peas, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger. Saute 2-3 minutes or until peas are crisp-tender. Add veggies to beef bowl.

5. Heat tamari mixutre in the wok over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened--about 30 seconds. Return beef and veggies to wok and stir to coat.

6. Divide cooked rice between serving bowls and top each portion with beef-veggie mixture. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve hot.

I've mentioned before that soy sauce is not one of my favorite flavors, and it is fairly prominent in this dish, so next time I make it I will decrease that slightly; perhaps using some beef broth in its place would lend a rich, but not as salty, flavor.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What I'm making this week

Monday -- pesto-sauced GF pizza with locally-made nitrate-free beef pepperoni, black olives, and artichoke hearts

Tuesday -- quinoa and black bean salad with avocado

Wednesday -- white bean (or potato?) and bacon soup, OR breakfast dinner (waffles)

Thursday -- burgers on the grill (looks like it will finally be warm/dry enough again!) with roasted red potatoes

Friday -- chicken and rice, specifics TBD (this is a good, safe pre-long-run meal)

Saturday -- out with friends, or similar... this is my 19-mile day and I will want easy!

My snacks/lunches -- roasted beet and feta salad, shrimp noodle salad, cantaloupe and cottage cheese, green smoothies, anything I can justify roasting brussels sprouts for... ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Slump-busting soup

The other day I was slumping around the house after a few days of not-so-hot eating habits, bemoaning the fact that I "had nothing to eat" in the fridge. Yeah, right.

I may not have had any frozen meals, junky snack foods, or leftover portions from previous dinners staring me in the face, but I had more than enough ingredients at my fingertips. I can't remember what led me to my Google Reader, or whether I searched for a certain term or just happened upon this post from Cook, Pray, Love, but that is immaterial now. The point is, I was inspired by the ingredients in this soup and got off my duff to make my own version. You can see the original recipe at the site I linked; it gave me a great start that I otherwise would not have thought of. Lame, right? You'd think by now I'd be a pro at throwing this, that, and the kitchen sink together. Ha.
How I Made My Curried Lentil Soup
inspired by Cook, Pray, Love

First I sauteed half a chopped onion, garlic (2 cloves), celery (2 ribs), and a big carrot in some olive oil. When the onion looked softened, I added curry powder (1 1/2 teaspoons) and cumin (1 teaspoon), then stirred in green lentils (1/2 cup), chickpeas (1/2 cup), water (3 cups?) and chicken stock concentrate, and some quick-cooking brown rice. Once it came to a boil I turned the heat down and covered it while I went to clean up after my run. The rice took 35ish minutes to cook, which was just perfect for the lentils, too. I tasted a bit of everything and added a dash more curry and cumin, as well as salt and pepper to my liking.

At the last minute, I thought I'd really put my veggie intake over the top for the day, and crammed in several cups of fresh spinach.

One sliced lemon (2 wedges for me, thanks) and a sprinkling of grated provolone later, I sat down to my lovely, hearty, made-from-nothing lunch. Don't you love my Polish Pottery soup mug? I used to work at a gourmet cooking store and PP shipments were *big* news. And big bucks. I got mine at TJMaxx on clearance. :D

I ate leftovers for two more lunches in the days following, and even convinced The H to take a portion to work. But I didn't tell him it had curry powder in it (surprise, H!) because 1) he thinks he doesn't like it and 2) he had a cold that day and likely couldn't taste anything anyway. He said it was good, so he was either lying to spare my feelings (which he doesn't usually do regarding food, or he knows he'll be stuck with it again), couldn't taste it, or really did enjoy it. I'm telling myself it was a combination of the last two.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Marathon training update: 18 miles!

This weekend I ran 18 miles for the third time in my life (here is the first, and the second was last October) and I'm happy to say it went as well as can be expected; maybe better. I didn't really feel like I hit my usual mental slump after seven miles--I was very careful to fuel and hydrate early and often. Here are my splits:

Split Time
1 0:08:32
2 0:08:56
3 0:08:48
4 0:09:02
5 0:08:54
6 0:09:03
7 0:08:47
8 0:08:46
9 0:08:46
10 0:08:44
11 0:08:42
12 0:08:43
13 0:08:30
14 0:08:58
15 0:08:41
16 0:08:54
17 0:08:58
18 0:08:41
Not incredibly even, but I had my Garmin covered most of the time so I just ran by feel. It actually felt better than the previous week's 16 miles. Seems like my legs are pretty happy in the mid 8:40-8:50s. Sweet! I'm still stopping more than I'd like in the last three miles (to drink, stretch, gripe...) but things could be worse. For the last marathon my strategy was to walk every water station and run the rest (which I did) so maybe that's what I will aim for during my last few long runs.

My training plan has six more weeks of heavy training, then one week of significantly decreased mileage leading up to RACE DAY! Translation: Memorial Day is 7 weeks away! Can you believe it? Seems like spring just got to Michigan (today, actually--temps in the 80s with glorious sun all day long), and already in less than two months, the summer season will be here--and with it, the farmers market! Fresh corn...non-mealy tomatoes...crisp fresh beans... Yum! :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late-breaking meal plan

Yikes! So it turns out when I have my Google Reader open (under one email account) I cannot have my Google Blogger blog (registered under another email) open at the same time. Thus, when I was catching up on my GR, I was falling behind in my own posts!

So here's what we've been eating this week:

Monday - I had planned on breakfast dinner, but The H took me and the little guy to our favorite local place instead. Hectic afternoon!

Tuesday - CrockPot salsa chicken; nothing to write home about.

Wednesday - the breakfast dinner from Monday, which was Clean Eating Magazine's spinach-ricotta frittata and homemade chicken apple sausage.

Thursday - OUT for my birthday! The H is taking me to a place that has a lobster dinner special. Yum.

Friday - beef and snow pea stir-fry from Clean Eating Magazine; during the day I will also slow-cook a whole chicken from the co-op so we can have meat for sandwiches, wraps, or salads this weekend.

Saturday - party at our place! My bro-in-law, a Philly native, is cooking up cheesesteaks for our guests. I'm making caprese skewers and German potato salad; friends are bringing sides/dessert.

Sunday - out with friends for lunch, and over to the in-laws for dinner. The H's bday is Monday!