Thursday, February 24, 2011

Almond Joy

Photo courtesy of Google image search

Eating almonds, yet again.

And I forgot to bring my lunch.

Double Fail.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work Food

I know I'm not alone when I express my difficulty finding healthy, transportable foods to take to work. A girl can only eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And I've done my best to put a dent in that 10lb. bag of raw almonds I got at Costco two months ago, really I have. But if I have to snack on one more almond...well I don't know what would happen. I might develop an allergy. Or an aversion, at best. Who know? I don't, and I don't want to find out. I also don't want one more bloody almond.

I'll happily have one more ginger molasses cookie from the coffee shop, but I am running out of justification for the cost and caloric intake.

And so here I am..vegetable-less, cookie-less, and drowning in almonds. it's a pretty sad state to be in. For me and everyone else looking for better lunch options, here's a brief list of easy, healthy lunch ideas, and some uber-healthy snack options as well.

-Veggie Wrap: Whole wheat tortilla, smeared with mustard or hummus, filled with shredded carrot, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, jicama, onion, and any other veggies you like!

-Pizza: Either leftover or homemade, pizza loaded with veggies and tomato sauce is a great lunch option. Wrapped in foil it transports easily.

-Stew: Made with low sodium veggie broth and any vegetables you like. Add beans and/or tofu for protein.

-Sandwich: Whole wheat bread, cheese, mustard and veggies. the variations are endless, and really, can one ever get sick of veggie sandwiches??

-Burrito: Veggie wrap with beans, rice and cheese. Mexi-Goodness.

-Leftovers: They can be tricky to transport, depending on what dinner was, but sometimes leftovers make for a healthy, quick, delicious and cheap lunch.

-cherry tomatoes
-carrot sticks
-jicama (my favorite!)
-celery, snap peas, radishes (ok, these are my favorite!)
-bell pepper
-cut-up fruits such as oranges and melon
-dried fruit
-baked veggie chips
-Giant Ginger Molasses Cookie (because we all deserve one now and then!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weekly Workouts 2/15-2/21

2/15 Tuesday

No Workouts.

2/16 Wednesday

Run: 30 minutes at lunch

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

2/17 Thursday

No workouts.

2/18 Friday

Bike: 60 min. trainer ride*

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

2/19 Saturday

Run: 10K Race: 46:06

2/20 Sunday

Bike: 60min. trainer ride

2/21 Monday

No Workouts.

Weekly Hours: 6.5

* I can't remember if I did that trainer ride on Thursday or Friday

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lemon Butter Cookies with Lemon Glaze

I try to bring cookies to work on Mondays, because I've had all day Sunday to bake, and because this way I can try out new recipes without getting fat. If there are cookies in the house, I will eat them. The same goes for cake, candy, ice cream, chocolate and chips. Because of my total lack of self control, I've been baking a lot less lately. But now, with a new audience to pawn my cookies off onto before I have the chance to gorge myself to the point of a stomachache, I'm able to test all sorts of recipes risk-free.

I've been craving lemon cookies lately, and found a recipe for slice-and-bake cookies on noneother than Smitten Kitchen. One of the variations for this adaptable recipe involved lemon zest, and I thought that sounded just perfect. I didn't have any poppy seeds, however, and I was worried that the cookies might be a little boring without something besides lemon zest (which inevitably turns invisible during baking). so I baked up the cookies sans seeds, and created a light lemon glaze to top them with. The result was amazing. the cookies are tiny, about 1 1/2 inches wide, melt-in-your-mouth delights. The icing adds just a touch of sweet, crunch and lemon pop, and the cookies themselves turned out beautifully--soft yet firm, just as a buttery cookie should be. I will be making these again, and saving a few for myself next time. But only a few.

Lemon Butter Cookies with Lemon Glaze

2 sticks room-temperature butter
2/3c powdered sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt (about 1/8t)
1t vanilla extract
2c all-purpose flour
Finely-grated zest from 2 lemons

Cream the butter using your stand mixer and the paddle attachment. When smooth, add the powdered sugar and beat until blended. Add the yolks, then the salt, then the zest and vanilla. Finally, add the flour and mix until just blended. Any remaining flour can be mixed in using a spatula. Turn the dough onto a smooth surface, divide in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Working with one section at a time, roll the dough into logs about 1 1/2'' tall. Make them uniform and straight, but don't overwork the dough. Rewrap logs and refridgerate for two hours.

After two hours, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchement paper. Remove cookies from fridge and unwrap. Slice cookies so they're about 1/3 to 1/2'' wide. Arrange them on the baking sheets with 1/2'' space between the cookies. They can be fairly crowded--they won't spread at all.

Bake cookies for 14-16 minutes, rotating sheets around and from top to bottom halfway through. Cookies are finished when they are firm and only very slightly golden around the edges. Careful not to overbake them! Let cookies cool on the sheets for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once the cookies are completely cool, they're ready for their glaze.

For The Glaze:
Whisk 1 1/2c powdered sugar with 3 1/2T lemon juice*. Using a small brush, paint the tops of the cookies with a generous layer of glaze. It will dry quickly and smooth. Allow cookies to dry for two hours or overnight, until glaze is completely set.


Note: I had about half the glaze leftover when the cookies were frosted. Make a half batch of the glaze if you don't want leftovers.

Magnuson 10K #2 Race Report

Saturday I raced the second race in the Magnuson 10K monthly series. I wasn't feeling very confident going into the race for a number of reasons. First off, I feel like my training has somewhat suffered since I started working full time. Each week I'm getting better at managing training with working 40 hours (though between commuting and my lunch break I'm actually 'at' work for 10-11 hours a day!). But come race morning, I felt like I hadn't gotten in the training I would have liked, since I really wanted to PR at this race again.

I was also discouraged by the outrageous wind I woke up to. Gusts of about 15mph had been blowing all night, and didn't seem to be weakening as the morning went on. The race started pretty late--10am--but the wind didn't die down until much later. Windy racing is always a struggle..but as I reminded myself at the start line, weather affects everyone in a race equally.

I tried to keep that perspective as we all shuffled towards the start line, hugging our arms and hopping up and down. The sun was out, but with the wind chill it was pretty darn cold. In fact, I was one of the only people out there in shorts. I was just glad I remembered to bring my gloves!

The gun went off, and I started out at a comfortable pace. My plan was to run the race like last time: comfortable for the first 5K, and push it in the second with whatever I have left. The first mile was cold and windy, so I made sure to keep the pace slow but steady. At the 1 mile marker, I felt great. Mile two was the hardest mile of the race. I kept expecting to see the mile marker but never did, and at one point I decided I must have passed it without realizing it. Well of course then a ways down the trail I actually did pass the mile 2 marker! That was rough, but I kept on. The third mile went a little better..smooth and fairly comfortable. I felt tired due to a poor night's sleep, but fine otherwise.

About 400m from the 5k point there is a short hairpin section that allows runners to pass each other and see who is running in front of them. At this point I saw a girl in a white scarf running about 45 seconds ahead of me. I thought maybe I could catch her, and hoped I could. But when I reached the hairpin and looked ahead, she was nowhere in sight.

At the 5K mark I deliberatly looked away from the time clock. At this point I still believed there was no way I could PR. But about a minute after passing through the halfway point curiosity got the better of me and I glanced at my watch to see 25:59. I couldn't believe it! I knew I was running slowly, but had no idea I was running that slow. I realized I had more left in my tank than I probably should, and had simply paced the first 5K poorly. I immediately picked up the pace. The fourth mile felt great--strong, fast, light. I passed a few guys and kept speeding up. the fifth mile I told myself 'just one more mile' and went for it. The girl with the white scarf was still nowhere to be seen, but I charged ahead, determined to at least finish in less than 50 minutes. At the hairpin again I saw her--finally!--only a few meters ahead. I tried to pass her going my pace but realized it would take too long. Then, as though I remembered I could run faster, I switched into a higher gear and sprinted past her, hoping to discourage her from trying to catch me. I held the sprint as best I could for the last 400m, got passed by two guys in the final meters, but was shocked when I saw 46:06 on the clock. a 40 second PR from last month, with limited training, 15mph winds, and a horrendously slow first 5k time. I must have run the second 5K in about 21:00-21:30, which would be a 5K PR for me. I was the first female finisher and 10th overall out of 96.

I'm pleased with my race overall, although it was probably one of my worst-paced races to date. I learned some good lessons and am excited to fight for another PR at the 3rd race in this great series!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weekly Workouts 2/9-2/14

2/9 Wednesday

Swim: 40 minute OYO before work

Run: 30 min. at lunchtime

2/10 Thursday

Bike: 50 min. trainer ride

2/11 Friday

-No Workouts

2/12 Saturday

-No workouts

2/13 Sunday

Swim: Master's Swim Workout

Run: 40 min., 3x mile repeats (7:30>)

2/14 Monday

Bike: 60 min. trainer ride

Weekly Hours: 5

Rough Waters

Every now and then I have one of those 'I have completely forgotten how to swim' swims. Where I spash and kick and choke on water, and the only direction I seem to be able to go is down. Or sometimes backwards. The kind of swim where I am at the back of the rotation in the slowest lane, and am still getting lapped during 150 IM sets. The kind of swim where I shorten my 100m cooldown to 50m, because I truly don't think I can swim the last 50. I wish I was exaggerating.

It was just a bad swim, and they happen sometimes to everyone. From the novice flounderers like myself to speedy pros to you, your mom and everyone else. So I try not to let it get to me...but of course it does, just a little. Or sometimes a lot.

Did I want to give up? Yes. Did I want to jump out of the pool and hurl my pull bouy at the workout whiteboard? Yes. Did I want to yank my coach into the water by his ankles and yell, "If it's so easy, let's see you do it!" Yes.

But I didn't. Because I'm trying to be an adult.

When I'm frustrated about a workout, especially a swim workout, I try to focus instead on what I can do right, in the moment. So during my workout when I was swimming slower than I maybe ever had before and couldn't seem to get my flip turns right no matter what I tried, I decided it was a good time to focus on rotation. And high elbows. And high hips. And all those other little technique elements that get so often overlooked by self-taught swimmers like myself. If I'm going to swim slow, at least I can swim right. So I splashed on, throwing my hips around with each stroke, and scraping the ceiling with my elbows. Almost. Good technique did not make me swim faster. I know it won't until I put it all together, correctly, and learn to swim properly.

And if even that fails, there's always chocolate.

And if chocolate fails (as if!) there is this fantastic article on swim technique. I can't help but hope that reading it in bed with chocolate will make me faster.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I Like: Mizuno Wave Rider

photo courtesy of Google Image Search

Welcome to the first installment of Things I Like. I like many things, and wanted to share some of my absolute favorite things with you.

I started running in Mizuno Wave Riders about a year ago. At this point, I cannot imagine running in anything else. Everyone says that once you find 'the shoe' nothing else will compare, and I believe it! The Wave Rider is light, which I love for speedy track sessions, yet durable enough for long runs. It's low profile, too, which I really appreciate. I don't like feeling like I have bricks strapped to my feet while I run, and the minimalism of this shoe works well for me. However it doesn't sacrifice support, and as someone with a history of planter fasciitis, I am pretty particular about a good support system in my running shoe. I've never experienced arch pain in a Wave Rider. I'm on my second pair and am about due for a third. I'm excited about the new colors, too-Mizuno does a great job with their shoe design. They're neither too boring or too bright, and they'll look good with any running wardrobe (what--it never hurts to have speed and style!).

I'm not getting anything by writing this review, nor does Mizuno even know I'm writing it. I only want to share my opinion on my favorite running shoe. Every runner and every runner's feet are different, and this shoe might not be 'it' for you. It's the one for me, however, and I'm never running in anything else!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

When Your Valentine is Inedible..

I suppose this confirms the existence of superstition. I should've known better than to write a glowing post about my amazing heart-shaped whoopie pies before actually tasting one. They taste like the kind of cookie you would give to someone as a valentine if you were really mad at them. They're anti-valentine cookies. They're deceiving, to be sure: bright red, appropriately shaped, and filled with the best frosting ever created. But one bite and oh no! you realize it's the opposite of a sweet valentine. It's a chalky valentine that tastes like all-purpose flour.

I reread the recipe, and am pretty sure I followed the recipe exactly. However, obviously, somewhere along the way I did something very wrong. Perhaps I added too much flour, or maybe I miscounted the brown sugar amount. I have no clue, and I will likely never know. All I know is I have some lovely flour cookies, and lots of cream cheese frosting (which I will certainly eat with a spoon for dessert). Ah well. There's always next year..Red Velvet Whoopie Pies Round Two!

Will You Be My Valentine?

I have never been that into Valentine's Day. Well, that's not true. I am very into the day-after-Valentine's-day chocolate sales. And I have, in years past, been very into making myself sick from excessive boxed chocolates. All of them. I even eat the gross fruity-moussy ones eventually, when all the other good chocolates are long gone. But other than overdosing on Whitman's and See's, I am usually pretty ambivalent about February 14th.

Except..for some reason, this year I am all about Valentine's Day. I think it's because, for the first time I can recall, I actually have a valentine! And not like when I was in third grade when I got heart-covered cards from the boys in my class. Because in third grade everyone gave everyone valentines, and Valentine's Day was nothing more than an excuse for another class party. Nope, this year I have a real valentine! And it's got me all mushy and sappy and gag-worthy. The only sad part? We can't actually celebrate Valentine's Day this year. I have work all day tomorrow, and a trainer ride to plow through once I get home from work, and then by the time I'm done having a quick shower and some dinner, it'll be bed time. Because we are 80-year-olds at heart, and since when is 8:30pm not a legitimate bedtime for 20-somethings anyways?

So instead of celebrating this loving day with my lover, I have decided to share my enthusiasm with my new co-workers by bringing them valentine cookies. Yes, this could potentially be seen as bribery. But honestly it's not. It's an excuse to try out some recipes, rid the final results from my self-controlless hands, and spread some Valentine's cheer, all at the same time! It's win-win-win!

So in honor of Valentine's Day, and in honor of finally, actually having coworkers (and even better, coworkers I can pass off baked goods to!), I am baking Red Velvet Whoopie Pies courtesy of Annie's Eats, and another batch of my favorite snickerdoodles, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. The snickerdoodles will be rolled in red sugar, of course!

(Confession: I wasn't planning on making snickerdoodles for the office, but the red velvet recipe only yielded 10 sandwich cookies, plus one lone cookie. I know I made them too big, and if I hadn't run out of red food dye making the first batch, I would've made many more of these cookies. They turned out great! But since I can't think of anyone who doesn't like red, glittery snickerdoodles, they will be plumping up the cookie platter tomorrow.)

Happy Valentine's Day!