Archive | January, 2014

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings

31 Jan Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

More heart fun at our house!  Baby Bird is all about making Valentines for people right now.  If she had it her way, art time in our home would be extended to a 10 hour daily paint and glitter fest until February 14th but sometimes I need a little break from all the mess.  Tissue paper painting satisfies Bird’s desire to paint without making a huge mess or necessitating a trip to the craft store to purchase special supplies.  Plus, the end result looks far fancier than you could ever imagine!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

I guarantee you have all of the materials for this one floating around your house already: printer paper, parchment paper, scissors, a paintbrush, and colored tissue paper squares.  Whenever we are given a gift with tissue paper inside, I stash it away and cut it down into squares for craft projects galore!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Cut a heart stencil from the parchment paper.  Depending on how heavy handed your kiddo is with water and paint, you might want to cut several heart stencils as overly saturated parchment paper has a tendency to roll up which would be a problem if you want to make multiple heart paintings.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Lay a piece of printer paper over a placemat and cover with the heart stencil.  Anchor the stencil (we use awesome triangle crayons).

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Let your little layer tissue squares over the stencil and paint away with water.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

Peel the squares from the paper- Baby Bird loves to help with this step and it’s excellent for her small motor skills.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Once you remove all of the tissue squares, pull up the stencil and lay out to dry.  Et voila!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

Baby Bird decided to transition to a free form project after making several hearts.  Though she covered the entire page with squares, she only decided to paint a few.

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

She enjoyed inspecting her work in the light!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

I’ve claimed one of the hearts as my own Valentine’s gift from my little sweetheart!

Heart Watercolor Mosaic Paintings- Paint free tissue paper paintings for inspired little minds at Go Running, Mama!

 

 

 

I’ll Be Your Strong

29 Jan I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

There is a story I’ve never told, and honestly I never intended to tell it.  It was just going to be one of those little things I kept inside to call upon in the moments I needed it.  It’s a story of struggle and strength.  It’s a story that simultaneously breaks me down and builds me up.  But it’s a story that I was satisfied to keep inside until this weekend.

But now it needs to be told.

I ran my first marathon in October of 2012- Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  When I registered, I only had one half under my belt at which I had scored a pretty severe IT band injury, but I told myself I could do it.  I could do anything because I’d made it through the bumps and challenges of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth and beyond as a mother.  26.2 miles of hilly terrain would be a worthy celebration of all the peaks and valleys I had triumphed through on the road to motherhood.

As I trained, I steeled myself with those thoughts.  I was powerful, determined and equipped with the greatness of unconditional love for a tiny little being.

That was enough.  That got me through.

I could do this.

When The Hubs and I made it San Francisco for the race, he had to go into the office to do some work so I ventured over to the expo myself.  I was immediately overwhelmed.  I was there alone… doing this big thing…  all for me?  Up until that moment, every step I had run was about me- which was fine- but it just didn’t seem like enough anymore.  And though I was venturing into my first marathon with my Team Victorious sisters, that suddenly didn’t seem like enough either.  It wasn’t a feeling I could understand or explain- but later I would understand it as my inspiration paradigm shift.  An understanding that my moments within my miles were far bigger than myself and my little world.

On race morning I dressed methodically, carefully adjusting each item.  When I reached my bib I paused, overwhelmed.  Without much thought or understanding of what I was doing I took  pen out of my bag and scrawled one word on the back before pinning it on my shirt.

One word.

A name.

Carter.

Carter was the husband of a mama acquaintance of mine.  We weren’t exceptionally close, but our children were in the same play co-op and she and I had run together several times with a mutual friend.  Over these runs, I learned a lot about her, her family, and her astounding love for her husband.  We had connected through facebook after that and in the two months leading up to my race I gained miles of hope- and shed buckets of tears- over the raw beauty in her status update about Carter’s battle with stage IV metastatic sarcoma.

For a moment I considered snapping a picture of the back of my bib to send to my friend one day but I quickly shook off the thought feeling simultaneously self conscious and confused- I hadn’t really even fully considered why I had so unconsciously written Carter’s name inside my bib.  After all, I had never even met the man.

I didn’t give it much thought for most of the morning.

At mile 21 I discovered why it was there.

The half marathon runners had peeled off 7 miles before and the course was quite lonely, greatly compounded by the solitary trek around Lake Merced with no spectator encouragement.  The air was heavy with chilly fog, my legs ached, and I had already exhausted all of my “I’m a mom and I’ve done things much harder than this” pick-me-ups because at 21 miles into my phenomenally hilly first marathon I hadn’t done anything harder than that.  And when you’re by yourself and in pain by a drab lake in dense fog you realize really quickly that you aren’t enjoying yourself anymore and you just might start to doubt that you even had the strength to complete such a silly task.

And that’s when I thought of Carter.  Carter was fighting a battle that was far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And regardless of his prognosis, he was winning.  He was winning because he kept fighting.  He was winning because his fight gave those he loved hope.  He was winning because that hope inspired the most transparent love and devotion in his family.  He was winning because that transparent love allowed his wife to share her soul with the world in a way that sent this inspired spirit into the world like a floodlight.

It was certainly bright enough to cut through the fog on a desolate stretch of road beside the Pacific Ocean.

And that got me around Lake Merced back to the Great Highway where The Hubs- glowing with encouragement and his own transparent love- waited to help pace me to the finish.

As I packed to fly back to Austin after the race, I kept my number with the intention of sending it to my friend after sharing how her family so inspired me from afar.

I never really got the chance.

Carter passed away on November 10, 2012.

Then it seemed strange to send such an insignificant thing to her so the bib found a place on my desk and it became my own private story of inner strength derived from the most graceful pain I’d ever witnessed from afar.

How do you tell someone “I didn’t know your husband but your authentic, beautiful expression of his strength has inspired me to keep moving when things are difficult”?

Maybe you say it just like that.

Or maybe you just keep it to yourself until someone needs you to help be their strong.

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

This weekend, I was visiting my parents when Baby Bird spiked a high fever that we couldn’t control.   As a child with a history of febrile seizure, it meant a trip to Children’s Medical Center and- as is always the way in motherhood- my phone was near the end of its battery life and I had no car charger.  As we checked in at the hospital and I went to switch off my phone, the screen opened up to display my facebook feed topped by a post from my friend Loriana Hernandez.

Loriana and I became friends when I brought Bump Club and Beyond to Austin in 2011.  She did a segment for the news called “Get Fit for Free” in which she connected the community with complimentary opportunities to stay fit and, since she was pregnant at the time, she did a segment about BCB’s monthly Beautiful Bellies and Beyond the Belly fitness classes at lululemon.  As likeminded, healthy mamas we hit it off and became friends.  I even invited her over to my house so she could see me do a load of cloth diapers and learn the in’s and out’s- that’s committed green mama bonding!

I'll Be Your Strong- Loriana's WIn

Loriana, Jamie Grayson, and me at a Bump Club Austin event

Loriana recently left her position as a news anchor for Austin’s Fox News station to finally join her husband on the east coast, and I knew she was thrilled to soon get on a plane to permanently have her family in one place so I grazed her post quickly expecting a little pick-me-up of happiness as I situated Baby Bird for what could be a long night at Children’s.

The news was very much the opposite.  From a blood test for an embryo transfer surgery, Loriana received the news that she has acute leukemia.  And she had to start treatment immediately.

Instead of getting on a plane with her son to join her husband in her new home, she now found herself scrambling to book a solo flight to check into Johns Hopkins in 48 hours time.

The news sat like a rock in my stomach.

Shit.

I texted Loriana to see what I could do.  I may have limited funds, but there is no limit to my positive intentions.  And, as I’m continually discovering, there aren’t many limits on the miles in my legs so I asked if I could run my races during her treatment in her honor.

OMG Yes.  Please help me.

I was choking back huge sobs from a 5 word text.

While Loriana is in chemo, I’m going to wake up everyday knowing that I’m keeping myself moving in honor of an active woman who is currently out of commission.  I’ll gladly be her legs.  I’ll run with joy for her.

I’ll harness all of the Carter strong I’ve saved in my heart and share it with her.  I know she will replace it tenfold with her own brand of tenacity that will help to fuel me for my next thousand miles and beyond.

Regardless of the work I might put in in her name, I know that she is fighting a battle that is far more physically strenuous on a daily basis.  And she is going to win.

Loriana, I’ll be your strong.  Just like everyone else who loves you and is championing your cause.  Because your strength and humanity are already giving us more than we could ever repay in any other way.

Friends, cancer is expensive.  Beyond treatment itself, Loriana is fighting for her life in a city with no friends or loved ones and her family will incur considerable expenses as her husband joins her as her support.  If you are able, please consider donating to help fund her treatment.  If you are unable to donate, please share Loriana’s story through your blog or social media.  If you’re a runner, please consider running a race in her honor.

Homemade Gummy Hearts

26 Jan Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

We’ve got a toddler in the household, so our home runs on the currency of stickers, kale chips, and fruit snacks.  The Hubs hates stickers.  They end up on everything and are a beast to peel off of the tile after he unknowingly grinds them in place on the way out the door for his 5 am run.  I have fingernails, so stickers aren’t my adversary.  I, on the other hand, am opposed to fruit snacks.  Even the organic, naturally flavored ones are just concentrated nuggets of sugar- and that’s not even visiting the food dyes and preservatives in  the supermarket variety.  (Why are these things called “fruit snacks” anyways?  Let’s be real.  Actual fruit- fresh or dried- should be called “fruit snacks” and everything else should be correctly labeled as gummy treats.)  But Baby Bird love both stickers and fruits snacks, so there aren’t getting eliminated- we just needed to find a way to make them better!  Happily, I discovered this homemade gummy bear recipe from Taralyn over at Undressed Skeleton and was eager to give it a try.

Since Baby Bird loves Valentine’s Day and we are on a heart shaped treats kick at our house (check out our amazingly healthy heart shaped cherry kale pops), I though it would be fun to make little gummy hearts that we could also use as better snacking options to give to friends in place of the go-to red dye 40 laden store bought treats (I’ve totally got my good friend Evin and her struggles with food dyes on the mind).  We stayed pretty true to Taralyn’s recipe and the results were fabulous- sugar free gummy treats packed with fresh fruit!

We had lots of great local citrus on hand thanks to our CSA box, and it was nice to intimately know the source of our ingredients!  We had lots of oranges, Meyer lemons, and lovely key limes so I opted for a citrus medley for the strawberry snacks (1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup key lime, 1/4 Meyer lemon) that would be delightfully tart next to the banana snacks (made with a bit of orange juice) with would naturally be very sweet.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

The process is insanely simple- simmer the fruit, juice, and -in the case of the strawberry snacks- local honey until very soft.  We opted for local honey in place of the stevia in Taralyn’s recipe for two reasons: a) anything to help with Cedar Fever in the ATX, and b) the jury is still out on stevia in this household.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Once the fruit is softened, you pop the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.  Remove the blender cap to allow the mixture to cool slightly and then add the gelatin and process in the blender once again.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Pour the mixture into a pan and pop into the fridge to cool for an hour.  The size of the pan you use for cooling with dictate the width of your gummy treats.  I didn’t want ours to turn out too thin, so I chose containers that would give us thicker treats.  The strawberry recipe also makes roughly double the treats of the banana which I feel is an ideal balance of tart to sweet when tossed together!  Baby Bird strongly prefers the strawberry citrus flavor as she tends to enjoy more complex flavor profiles in her foods.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

For nice tiny hearts, I used a fondant cutter to cut our shapes.  Once you cut the shape, you have to give it a little jiggle to detach it from the bottom of the pan and it will lift up easily as you remove the cutter.

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Needless to say, they were a huge it!  It was tough to snatch pictures of them before they disappeared.  Baby Bird figured I had momentarily lost my mind because I was allowing fruit snack consumption without even the slightest frown on my face and she was determined to exploit what she assumed was a lapse in judgement as long as possible.

The simmer process was slightly longer with the strawberries than the bananas, of course.

The texture is nice a firm- far more similar to an actual gummy bear than a jello jiggler- which is awesome.  Before we tried these, I was a little afraid that they would be more like amped up jigglers.  They have also given me high hopes that I can tweak this recipe to make homemade energy gels for our long runs.  Heck, if I can figure that out I may be able to add another distance race to my schedule from all the savings!

Now if I can only figure out how to make homemade stickers that don’t require Mommy’s nails or a putty knife to remove them from the tile…

Homemade Gummy Hearts- sugar free and packed with fresh fruit from Go Running, Mama!

Strawberry Citrus Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh citrus juice (at least 1/2 cup orange juice + additional citrus juice of your choosing to create 1 cup)
  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 1 tbs local honey
  • 5 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions: Combine juice, fruit, and honey in a small pan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until strawberries are very soft.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 200+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

Banana Gummy Hearts

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatin

Directions:

Combine juice and banana in a small bowl.  Mash banana with a fork and stir to combine with juice.  Add mixture to a small pan to simmer for 3-5 minutes until banana is very soft and slightly golden in color.

Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.  Remove lid from blender and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Once slightly cooled, add gelatin packets and process in blender once more.

Pour into a pan (the size of the pan you select with affect the thickness of your gummy treats- I chose 8×8) and place in fridge to set for at least one hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into shapes.

Makes 75+ gummy hearts (will vary based on size of pan and size of shapes)

*These can easily be toted as lunch bag or diaper bag snacks, but since these are made with fresh fruit and no preservatives, store in the fridge until you pack them up to send as a treat.

Race Recap: Houston Half Marathon 2014

24 Jan Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Last May I encouraged two of my closest friends to throw their names in with mine for the Houston lottery.  At the time, I imagined myself toodling along the course with my friends for an easy run in between target races.  Fast forward to race day- “easy” pace, yes… toodling, not so much.

Houston isn’t foreign to me as a former resident (it’s where The Hubs and I met).  The course topography wasn’t foreign to me because my urban nomad of a husband- then boyfriend- had uprooted me every six months to move somewhere newer and more interesting within a 5 mile radius in the city (so, as you can imagine, the course just became a guided running tour of “places Jenn used to live” for my running partners).  What was foreign to me was actually running the terrain since when I lived there I avoided running at all costs because I thought it was horrible… and painful… and boring… and crazy.

So at 4 am on Sunday morning, The Hubs and I got up to do something that I had previously deemed horrible, painful, boring, and crazy ( and have since classified as sanity saving, painful, euphoric, and crazy)- we were going to run around it while most of the people we still knew who were living there were sound asleep or nursing killer hangovers after celebrating at a friend’s going away party.  Guess who didn’t make it to that party… Any guesses? Yes, the couple with the long flowing locks and adorable little toddler who had a race to run.  That’s me and The Hubs for the sake of clarification.

By 5 am we were joined by my brother in law Derek (running his first half marathon), Rachel (looking for a PR at this race), Casey (running her first half marathon and who I have already established is no freaking joke), and Casey’s husband Jasen (a former steeplechaser who is also, as you might expect, no freaking joke) ready to make the trek from where we were all staying in the ‘burbs into the city.  If you were doing mental math, you may have noticed there were six of us.   So we logically took one car.  What else would six full grown adults do?

Jasen, Casey, Rachel and I folded ourselves into the back seat before I had a chance to actually put my shoes on which quickly became problematic for me because it was far too packed in the back for me to put them on en route but wearing no shoes in the car dramatically interfered with my habit of checking my shoelace tension from the third to the last eyelet obsessively every 10 minutes only to untie them every third time to try to fix a nonexistent wrinkle in my sock having to reboot to entire process and start over from the laces once again.

I have a few rituals I like to adhere to- the shoelace thing, peeing at least three times before a run, and wearing an unnecessary number of “backup hairbands” around my wrist.  It’s a process of self soothing.  Calming nerves.  Obviously I know nothing bad is going to happen if I don’t do those things.  Yet I didn’t check my shoelaces multiple times and The Hubs ended up with an untied shoelace less than two miles into his run so obviously the universe was punishing me.  Not really.  But it’s not a totally crazy thought…

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Meet Team Clown Car- the focus is just as blurry as my mind felt at the time.

When we made it into Houston- and the four of us unfolded ourselves from the origami chain of slightly antsy arms and legs we had inevitably created in the backseat- I got a moment to focus on my shoes.  Unfortunately, in the process of testing the tensile strength of my laces, I forgot to put an assortment of items I was carrying in the trunk so later I would have to deal with the fact that I was holding onto ear warmers (it was not cold) and enough chews to fuel the entirety of B corral.

While I’m making fun of my unnecessary pre-run habits, it’s worth mentioning the major score of hanging out in the lobby of the Westin pre race since we had arrived downtown so early.  I can’t even begin to describe how much better this was than standing in a windy line for a porta potty.  Three times.  It also provided us all a place to sit and decompress momentarily before heading to our corrals and getting a nervous energy contact high. Thanks, Westin!

Houston Half Marathon- Go Running, Mama!

Relaxing in the lobby of The Westin prerace

This would also be the perfect opportunity to own up to the fact that I broke another cardinal rule- “Nothing New on Race Day”- by wearing and entirely new outfit that I had picked out at lululemon with Casey the day before the race.  I’m continually on the hunt for the perfect sports bra and, although I’ve found several almost perfect options, I haven’t married myself off to anything as of yet.  Lulu recently introduced the Bitty Bracer which is an awesomely fitted and supportive sports bra for those of us who are… ahem… modestly endowed.  I was pretty obsessed with the Ta Ta Tamer when my DD nursing boomies kept me in the appropriate size, but once I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding anymore I shrunk out of the size range of my fave sports bra.  I had a Christmas gift card to burn and was itching to give the Bitty Bracer a try (Thanks, Bro.  You unwillingly bought me a bra for Christmas.  Sorry!) so I decided to go ahead and break the race day apparel rule and wear it to run. After all, what’s one more broken rule for a girl who forgot to train for a race?!

Around 6:35 we all parted ways for our corrals.  The Hubs was in A, Jasen and I were assigned B, Casey and Rachel were in C, and Derek was in D.  I corralled myself back with Casey and Rachel and the three of us began a game of “beef spotting” to pass the minutes until gun time.  The Texas Beef Council has a team of ambassador runners that all wear shirts that say “Fueled by Beef” which always cracks me up.  Maybe it’s the former raw vegan in me, but I just end up picturing someone blending up a steak smoothie post race every time I see that shirt.  It’s funny- omnivore or not- and it’s a slogan that sticks with you so that marketing team has earned its gold star.  It’s also one of those things that can help break you out of long run delirium- there were several times when one of us was mentally withdrawing and hearing your friend shout “Over there… Beef!” was a welcome distraction.  Beef spotting.  It’s a thing.

With Rachel wanting to better her 2:24:55 half time, Casey claiming to only care about running the whole time and staying under 2:30, and the fact that my training has been laughable the plan was to run with the 4:45 marathon pace group until the turn off at mile 8 so I could take it easy without having to think much until I took over pacing duties for the group.  No such luck.  We discovered that the 4:45 pace group were run/walkers which meant my dreams of a mindless early 8 miles were shattered and I’d actually have to think the whole time because staying consistent requires thinking for me.  Because we don’t walk. And because I’m consistently inconsistent when running.  Realllly inconsistent.  Like, this is my most consistent run in my history as a runner until Houston…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Look at the pretty curvy green line! Wait… what? It’s supposed to be a straight line? Crap.

Houston Marathon did a great job with the corral organization, and the three of us passed over the starting line only 13 minutes after gun time which seems pretty quick for a large race.  Even though the first four miles aren’t very scenic or interesting, the streets were nice and wide and the pavement was even at that point which was a good way to start so I only had to focus on being consistent.

Looking back at our 5k, 10k, etc splits after the fact makes it seem like I did a pretty good job of pacing this one… like we almost pulled off negative splits until the 20k mark.  Seems pretty consistent:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Pretty good attempt, huh?

Knowing Rachel’s goal, I wanted us to start super easy and keep it under 10:55 per mile to get us in at 2:23 or better.  Looks like I did a great job, right?  But this is what it really looked like mile by mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yep… that’s more like it. It looks far less consistent.

But wait… it get’s worse.  Check out our first mile broken down by half mile:

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Here is the first mile as it played out in my brain: ‘Why are we running this pace…Quick… Slow the sprinter down… Wait… Now why are we going so slowly!?’  Clearly the kind of thoughts you want the person pacing to be thinking instead of being in some overrated Zen-like state in which your feet simply propel you forward at the correct speed.

So I think we have established that the fact that Rachel refers to me as her “pacer” is completely outlandish.  Moral support… just call me moral support.  It wasn’t a perfect even run, but it was a fabulous improvement for me which was my personal goal- to run more consistently.  And look y’all, I’ve got a new “most consistent” race…

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yay! Only teeny squiggles.  (See the aforementioned dip in our pace early on)

Run wise, this was a pretty good race.  The miles were well marked and , although they were manned by volunteers shouting out “current” paces based on the gun and corral start times which is totally useless and distracting if you don’t start on the gun or at the front of your corral, I appreciated that the flags and clocks were so easily visible.  The water stops were also well manned by a surplus of friendly and supportive volunteers and there were lots of spectators- all in all a great showing for the friendly people of Houston.

Being a remarkably “average” runner who spends the bulk of her time amongst the cattle drive that is the median speed distance runner on race day, I’m pretty used to having to navigate around others with poor running etiquette.  Tutu runners jogging arm in arm who corralled themselves ahead of where they should have been, mid-race mid-course instagramers and tweeters, walkers on the left, and the shoelace tiers who dead stop in the middle of the course with NO VERBAL WARNING.  Houston?  You had no problems!  Congratulations for hosting a race that attracts people who are more interested in running than marathoning through a town dressed as a condom or some such nonsense while live tweeting photos of themselves with spectators at every mile marker.

The three of us ran a relatively quiet race aside from the beef spotting, momentary outbursts of song, and my half mile check in’s with Casey.  “How we doing Casey?  You okay?”  When she said nothing, I knew she was fine; when she said she had a side stitch or the like, I knew she was surviving; and when she answered with “good…good…” I figured she was hating me for convincing her to do this.  I know her code.  I mostly got silence and a nod, so I knew things were going really well.  Then I got quite a few good’s in a row so I started to get a little concerned.  And that’s when the hip flexor talk started… a very dangerous game.

If you’ve given birth without a c-section, your hip flexors are a constant problem.  Even sleeping with your hips stacked incorrectly can lead to a miserable day, so when three moms start checking in with their hip flexors at the midpoint of a half marathon things can get dicey.

Luckily, we were due for a pick me up at mile 9!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

Yes, sir. Your Mommy is insanely fast!

At just the right time we heard a happy little voice… “Go Mommy!  Go Miss Jenn!”  Casey’s son and parents were there to cheer her to through the end of her first distance race- which for me is always tear inducing.  There is nothing that can motivate me the way that my child can and knowing the impact her love has on my well being makes me feel warm and fuzzy anytime I see a kiddo cheering on a parent at a race.  I can still remember vividly how sad I was on the marathon leg of last year’s Goofy each time I passed a point where I just might have seen my little one but she wasn’t there.  Main Street Magic Kingdom?  No.  Polynesian Resort? No.  And I remember even more clearly how overwhelmed with happiness I was when I rounded the bend into Epcot World Showcase at mile 25 and I heard an unexpected, exuberant “Mama… How is your run!?!”  So when we passed Casey’s son I may or may not have shed a tear… and picked up the pace just a bit.

By mile 10 our group seemed steady once again so  I made the mistake of mentally checking in with myself to see how I was holding up with my lack of of training and I realized that my IT bands had quickly trumped my hip flexor pain.  It’s something I should have expected because for me under training = immediate IT band problems.  I decided to hyper obsess about our pace to take my mind off of it, but I needed an outside push.

As we reentered downtown at mile 12, Rachel stared inquiring about where we were in terms of her goal time.  I reported that we had been running slightly slower than our actual pace because I knew what would happen and that it would give me the push I was looking for that everyone else could totally handle- Rachel instinctively picked up our pace with her PR in question.

And just like that I wasn’t leading anymore, thankful to pass off motivation duties to a friend.  When my watch rolled over to 12.5 miles, I let everyone know and all of a sudden we were pulling 8:38 per mile.  Then, for some stupid reason, I let them know when we were 2/10ths of a mile out (as though it is some important milestone) and Casey took off.

Awesome.

The choice at this point was chase the fastest white American female sprinter in history for .2 miles or miss the opportunity to cross the finish with my two dearest friends.  She knew which one I would choose, because she wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise.  We worked our way through an insanely narrow finisher’s chute, weaving our way to the finish through a difficult to navigate maze of slowing runners.  Casey was all smiles and Rachel looked happy but still hadn’t realized her finish time.  2:19:12.

We made our way into the reunion area to find mine and Casey’s husbands who had finished long before us (1:23:27 and 1:28:50 respectively) and to wait for Derek to cross the finish as well.  Everyone felt good.  No injuries.  And my new sports bra was still feeling amazing.  You can’t ask for much more than that!

Houston Half Marathon 2014- Go Running, Mama!

And I’ve received a gentle reminder of why we continually train in the form of a slightly achey IT Band.

Excuses are uncomfortable.  Continual effort feels so much better in the end.

Hooray for the return of race season!

Aramoco Houston Half Marathon

Race/Course Highlights:

  • The corrals are organized and efficient.
  • Water stops were well staffed with friendly volunteers.
  • Great race etiquette from the majority of runners.
  • Shady course.
  • Finishing beside Discovery Green is a lovely ending.
  • Well organized post race and reunion area.
  • Well known race with well know elites- a great dose of inspiration!

Race/Course Challenges:

  • Several water stops at course narrows leading to excessive bottlenecks.
  • The pavement is harder here than elsewhere.  (All six of us felt this way- there is no way we are all crazy.)  Plan your footwear accordingly.
  • Volunteers at most mile markers were shouting out “pace times” in an attempt to be helpful… but those paces only hold true for those who started with the gun.  While this isn’t a problem for people with a pace group or using a watch, it could be very misleading and discouraging for novice runners.
  • Quite a few stretches of course with uneven pavement and potholes.
  • The finish line chute is WAY to narrow for runners who come in at the median finish time- it felt a little unsafe trying to maneuver around those who had slowed down.

Following the Leader

17 Jan

Following the Leader- My first run back after a break; Go Running, Mama!

Sunday I’ll run my first race for the year- 13.1 miles through the flat streets of Houston.  In my short time as a runner, this is the longest I’ve gone without running an organized race.  It’s also the least I’ve ever trained for a race.  It’s incredibly disappointing.

It’s disappointing because I’ve basically nullified all of my progress from last year.  It’s even more disappointing because I know that, despite all the challenges, I could have just gotten up one day and said “screw it, I’m doing this for me again.  Now.” But I didn’t.  It’s most disappointing because I encouraged two of my good friends- Rachel and Casey- to run this one with me, confidently assuring them that I would get them through the entire race.

When we put our names in the lottery for Houston in May, I was on a major training binge and doing fabulously.  They both expressed concern that they would hold me back on such a flat, fast course.  Over and over I heard “just run ahead if you need to” and over and over I assured my friends that I would run with them and encourage them the entire way.  That I would sing songs or tell jokes.  That I would keep a slower pace if needed.  That I would pee my pants instead of stopping at a porta potty so that we didn’t run a step apart.

Each time they said it, I know they knew it was pointless.  I would never take off on my own.  I wanted to be there for Rachel’s inevitable PR and the first time Casey crossed the finish line of a half.  But they would say it anyways.  And I knew that they meant it just as much as they knew I would never do it.

Here we are two days before the race and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they are both now better trained for this race than me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one holding everybody back.

And that feeling sucks.

Rachel has drastically improved as a runner and ran her second half in December pacing a friend at a much slower pace.  I know she would like to put her training to good use at this race.

Casey, despite her insistence that she is slow and undertrained, paced the end of my PR half last year like it was no biggie after running a 5k… and is “undertrained” enough that she ran 10 miles last weekend (which I’m pretty sure is a reverse taper)… and, oh yeah, holds arguably the fastest 100 meter time for a white American female ever (thank you, internets).  So no big deal at all there.

So on Sunday I’ll tell them to just run ahead of me if they need to.

And I’ll mean it too.  But I already know that those words will be wasted words.

They aren’t going to leave me.

They are going to run with me and encourage me the entire way.

They are going to sing songs or tell jokes.

They are going to run a slower pace for me.

And they’ll probably pee their pants with me just so we don’t have to stop running.

But they wont leave me.  No matter how many times I say it.

All three of us are teachers, moms, and runners- it’s a trifecta of humanity that breeds a Soldier’s Creed mentality.  No one is getting left behind.

Until the final stretch that is.

Because Casey is going to smoke us on that last 100 meters.

I’m looking forward to it.

#BetterGoodThings: Healthy Kale Heart Pops

16 Jan Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama! A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

So there is this blogger in the Austin area that I’ve been following for about two years now who writes Food Good, Laundry Bad.  Her name is Evin.  And obviously you know right off the bat that she is pretty solid because, yes, food is really really good and frankly laundry stinks!

Evin and I are opposites.  The kind of opposites that matter for some reason before you have kids and you actually spend time neatly packaging “the sort of person” you are into a neat box as though it somehow makes life easier.  She’s a country gal; I’m about as urban as a Southern hippie can get y’all.  She swears openly in posts; I swear in the closet.  She hates pumpkins; I think pumpkin flavored everything is one of the best parts of fall (Plus, it’s nature’s appetite suppressant… good to know if you’re ever bitten by a Copperhead, prescribed Prednisone to fight your reaction, and are consumed by an unrighteous desire to eat all the things made from carbs.  All of them.  Ever.)  I’ve seen her rail against the perky, the matchy-patchy, the tragically hip, both the over and under informed, and the awkwardly cute (who rightfully need railing against at times because… seriously) and as a former NFL cheerleader turned yogini foodie yupster I’m pretty sure I fall pretty squarely within one of those categories… or many… but I probably deserve some railing against as well in my Moonbeamesque Causehead moments (PCU reference, for the win!)

Basically, as Evin managed to so simply express it via email to me, she is the Duck Dynasty to my Portlandia.

Verrry different programing.

But a funny thing happens when you become a parent.  All of those things that don’t really matter about who you really are start to not really matter when evaluating who someone else is as well.  As a mom, I have plenty in common with Evin.  The most important things.  Compassion.  Love.  Family.

And we both like to prepare and eat really great food.

More than that, we both feel convicted to feed our families the best quality food our budgets allow in the manner that best suits their individual needs.  (So I guess we are both railing against the FDA and Monsanto.)

Evin is dairy free for part of her family and has banished artificial food dyes from her home.  Additionally, as someone who has lost 180 lbs since 2006 (that’s hero worthy stuff right there) she is focused on trying to keep things healthy and unprocessed without having to drive into Austin for unconventional ingredients that are prohibitively costly compared to mass market processed junk that is readily available.  If you don’t know my story, I’m a vegetarian turned carnivore turned raw vegan turned accidental omnivore turned struggling locavore.  Our house is soy, peanut, GMO, and HFC free. We go organic when financially viable, and dye free as much as possible.  We strive to support our local farmers and ranchers.  And we keep things nutrient dense (because I’m feeding a future olympian and a future CEO- you decide which is which).

Together we made a plan to take a kitchen adventure each month to “better up” something our families found to be desirably good things in ways that better meet their nutritional needs without having to spend more than $5 on ingredients we don’t normally stock in our own kitchens. With that, Better Good Things was born.  We’ll be sharing our experiences the Third Thursday of every month which will seriously challenge my inconsistent habit of writing on whim.

This month, with health vacuum of Valentine’s Day celebrations looming ominously in the coming month, we decided to tackle sweetheart treats to provide some better options for our little ones to snack on and share this holiday.  Evin went with this Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothies- Better Good Things

and I created  Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

Pick your poison.

And enjoy!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Here’s a little more about how I landed on making Healthy Kale Heart Pops…

About six months ago I discovered a cookbook filled with homemade energy bar recipes- Power Hungry by Camila Saulsbury. Camila also has a blog- by the same name- which is super awesome because fabulous food bloggers are really helping me to keep my cookbook purchasing in check by making their creations easily accessible online but when I find a cookbook that is really something special I like to own it to indulge in the cathartic experience of dogearring, thumbing, and page annotating.  And this one is certainly something special! It’s like someone followed my family around to see what we like doing and the sat down to make recipes that would specifically support our frequently snacking, high energy, healthy, on-to-go, gotta run tendencies with no complaints.

Just as any good home cook will do, I adapt even the finest tuned test kitchen recipe to better meet the specific taste of my family (oh the page annotations!) which is what I’ve don’t with the Crispy Kale Bars from Power Hungry that have morphed into my Healthy Kale Heart Pops.

One of the things I love about Power Hungry is that the recipes rely on ingredients that exist natively in my hippielala kitchen.  In sticking with mine and Evin’s pact, I knew I had to work with things I normally have on hand and spend $5 or under on special additions- I needed lollypop sticks ($1.50) and puffed millet  cereal (which I far prefer to puffed rice, $2.49)… $1.09 to spare!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Pretty basic stock ingredients for a yupster kitchen.

Now here’s the true true on this one… please don’t try to pass it off as a lollypop.  It just wont work.  These are totally delicious but they taste nothing like high fructose corn syrup laden bulk treats (thank goodness) and if you’re little one is used to that and you try to pass this off as “the same thing” then everyone is in for disappointment.  Healthy choices start with healthy conversations with honest and positive positioning!

Because, for goodness sake, they obviously contain a green veggie!  And that is a good thing.

Preparing the kale is one of the most important parts of getting this right.  You need to start with fresh, dry kale or else your kale chips end up wrinkled, wilted and sad.  I find that rinsing my kale the night before so it can dry thoroughly and then putting it in a vase the night before ensures it is properly hydrated and full- we’re going back to fourth grade biology, y’all… making sure those vacuoles are full so that the cell walls don’t collapse!

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Kale is just gorgeous. In the background? Yep, those are my veggies that make up my “flower arrangements.”

Prepare the kale by cutting it off of the tough ribs and tear it into small pieces then arrange it on a baking sheet to dehydrate fully.  The baking/dehydrating is the second key kale step- you want it completely crisp but not terribly browned.  Kale chips are high art!  This method makes fool proof seasoned kale chips as well- just modify by adding the seasonings of your choice.

Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

While your amazingly perfect (seasoning free) kale chips are cooling, toast the grains and then mix with the dried sour cherries and millet cereal.  And here comes the fun part…

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

KALE HANDS!  It’s a great activity for the little ones if they aren’t running around in the nude banging cymbals and singing the Little Einsteins theme song.  Dehydrated kale basically crumbles into kale powder which allows you to easy pull out any remaining tough stems. Stir gently to combine.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

After combining the liquid ingredients on the stove and mixing them with the dry, press them into a prepared baking pan and compact them very firmly.  Pop ’em in the fridge to set so that they hold their shape when you cut them.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Cutting the shapes with a cookie cutter uses some decent muscle if you’ve compressed the mixture well.  I like to place a small cutting board on top of my cookie cutter so I can really lay my weight on it without cutting hearts into my hands!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Because the mixture is tightly compacted (as you’ll realize when you tackle the heart shapes), trying to insert  a lollypop stick would just cause it to crumble.  Using metal barbecue skewer gives you a solid starting point.

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

From that point, it’s super simple to add the lollypop sticks and wrap it all up!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Et voila!  Eat your heart out, y’all!

 Better Good Things: Healthy Kale Heart Pops from Go Running, Mama!  A better Valentine's treat filled with kale, grains, and cherries!

Healthy Kale Heart Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of curly leaf kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tbs olive oil + more for pan
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup raw pepitas
  • 3 tbs flax seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened puffed millet cereal
  • 1/3 cup dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond)
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • generous 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the kale to bake. Rinse and dry very well. Cut leaves from stem and tear into small pieces.  Toss kale pieces with with olive oil and spread into a single layer across a baking sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake the kale for 15 minutes.  Toss kale, rotate, and return to oven for 12 more minutes.  Check the kale for dehydrated crispness before removing from the oven.  Return from oven for one to two minutes if needed, watching carefully, to ensure they are crisp but not browned.  Gently remove to a bowl to cool completely.

Return oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper covering the bottom and sides and treat with olive oil.

Spread the oats, pepitas, and flax seeds on the baking sheet lined with new parchment or foil and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, shaking halfway through, until fragrant.  Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the cereal and cherries.

Using your bare hands, crumble the cooled kale leaves into the bowl, picking to remove any fibrous stems that may have remained.  Gently stir to combine ingredients.

Combine the almond butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, stirring frequently.  Heat 5-8 minutes until sugar has dissolved and mixture begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.

Immediately pour into the oat mixture and mix with a spatula until well coated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.  Press the mixture into the pan to spread into an even layer.  Flatten and firmly compact the mixture.

Refrigerate for at least an hour until firmly set.

Remove from fridge and lift out of the pan, using the parchment liner, onto a cutting board.  Using a 3-inch diameter heart cookie cutter, cut into heart shapes.

Using a metal barbecue skewer, poke a hole in the base of each heart.  Using the skewer hole as a guide, insert lollypop stick.

Makes approximately 15 heart pops.

Breakfast on the Run: Baked Egg Cups To Go

15 Jan

The The Hub’s new Team Rogue schedule is a bit of a game changer in our household (not just because they’ve lead him to finally accepting that he has insanely loud feet).  He’s now out the door for the day pre-workout instead of our old routine in which he ran the neighborhood/area, came home to eat breakfast and get ready for work, and then left for the day.  Because it was routine, I found this slightly easier in my mind because the dirty laundry made it in the bathroom immediately and I could worry with his morning nutrition on the spot.  In reality, I’m realizing that it made me less strategic- and also meant The Hubs often made his own eggs while balancing a business call if and when I managed a morning run for myself.  We’re multi-taskers ’round here, y’all!

I’m realizing that pre-prepped breakfast to go is a thing of beauty.  It forces me to be strategic and also means I don’t feel like a lazy bum on the mornings that I sleep in a bit later than I meant… because I was up later than intended… because I took extra time to stop and smell the roses with the little one during the day… (You see the cycle right?)

Last week I created Mango Recovery Muffins for The Hubs to tote along for breakfast and this week I’ve added baked egg cups into the mix.  They are easy enough that you could bake them the morning of if you prefer, but I’m streamlining our morning shenanigans (read as: I’m not waking up at 4:15 am for someone’s track practice until it’s because I have to get up to drive Baby Bird to the track) so I’m baking them the night before and packaging them up neatly for the next morning.

Breakfast on the Run: Bake Egg Cups, fruit skewers, Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins, and Raspberry Refrigerator Jam from Go Running, Mama!

As you can see- via the beauty that is my late night Instagram snapshot- The Hubs left this morning with two baked egg cups, fruit skewers, a Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffin, and a generous scoop of raspberry chia refrigerator jam.  The kiwi blueberry skewers made it easy for him to eat his fruit quickly without having to use utensils or picking up each piece with his fingers.  A little box of balanced, satisfying, premade nutrition designed for him to consume quickly in the transition from workout to work.

Now that is a productive start to the day!

Baked Egg Cups To Go

Ingredients

  • 2-4 jumbo eggs
  • i slice of thick cut bacon; cooked, fattiest part removed, and diced
  • truffle salt
  • butcher’s cut pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

“Grease” silicone muffin cups with olive oil.  Place muffin cups on a baking pan or sheet.

Crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each egg with diced bacon, truffle salt, and pepper.

Place baking sheet and muffin cups in oven and bake for 16-19 minutes, rotating pan each 6 minutes.  Remove when eggs are white and yolks still have a slight wobble.

Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins with Raspberry Chia Jam

14 Jan

Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins with Raspberry Chia Jam- Go Running, Mama!

These muffins were born of the need to provide The Hubs with a homemade “recovery” food that was portable for his early morning runs.  I can make a batch, toss them in the freezer, and pull one or two out each evening for him to take with his very portable breakfast. The jam only has to be made once a week and a generous scoop in a small Wean Green container makes are great muffin accompaniment.

I needed an easy, freezable non bacon and eggs protein option for The Hubs to easily reach for in transit post workout since I keep having to stress over and over and over and over that he needs to start consuming protein within the first half hours after a hard workout (which, given the fact that I’ve spent countless hours ensuring this is the best nutritional plan for him, means that I will soon discover is completely incorrect in the next major nutrition paradigm shift). These muffins pack in a little extra protein and TONS of nutrients thanks to the addition of both Vega protein and Amazing Meal.  I love the chia jam as an addition (Thanks to Family Circle for this idea… OMG.  That statement really drives home the fact that I’m a middle aged mom.)  because it assists with hydration and provides a hefty does of Omega-3s.

Most importantly… they are darn tasty.

No more morning excuses.  Put the PopTarts down.

Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins with Raspberry Chia Jam- Go Running, Mama!

Mango Macadamia Recovery Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango, coarsely chopped
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup vanilla rice milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 30 g Vega Sport Vanilla Performance Protein
  • 30 g Amazing Meal Pomegranate Mango Infusion
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • generous 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 1/3 tsp baking soda

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine egg whites, maple syrup, and rice milk in a bowl and mix well to combine.

Add rolled oats to a food processor and pulse to create a fine textured oat flour.

Combine oat flour, wheat bran, baking soda, Amazing Meal, and protein to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine well.  Make a well in the center and add wet ingredient mixture; mix to combine.  Add mango and macadamia nuts and mix well once more.  Gently stir in the coconut oil.

Line a 12 well muffin tray with baking cups.  Fill each well almost to the top.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven to a cooling rack.  Cool in muffin tray for at least 10 minutes before removing liners from the tray directly to the cooling rack.

Cool completely before enjoying.

Raspberry Chia Refrigerator Jam

Ingredients

  • 3 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Directions:

Combine raspberries, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes until raspberries are defrosted and beginning to cook down very slightly.

Stir in chia seeds.  Continue to cook over medium low heat for 8-15 minutes until thickened and and slightly gelatinous (the consistency is a judgement call here).

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Store in a tightly sealing jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

13 Jan Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Last week I intended to post about my goals for this year.  Actually, I planned to post within a few day of my recap of last year’s goals but I just hadn’t seemed to settle on measurable parameters quickly enough to do so.  Then I meant to get them typed up this weekend.  And again today…

Maybe one of my goals should actually be typing up and airing my goals?

In reality, two of my very huge goals for this year are putting my family (That include ME!  I’m a part of that family so my needs are going to become more important too!) ahead of everything else and being honest with myself about each day’s “must do’s” as opposed “like to do’s.”  Guess where my goals blog post falls?

What was a “must do” today were some household responsibilities and then allowing Roomba to do my vacuuming while I enjoyed some crafting and  outdoor time with Austin’s most natural gardener.

Go Running, Mama!

Seriously.  That adorable little one wins every time.  And I’m not allowing unnecessary responsibilities to make me feel bad about that anymore.

And, of course, dinner was on that “must do” list as well.  After a day of play and a later than expected work evening for The Hubs it really became a “must do quick” sort of task.  So I kept it quick and dirty easy and healthy.

Quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, mashed avocados, and grapefruit… in a pretty little pile on a plate. Done and done.

And now I’m off… because sleep is topping my “must do” list right now!

Bonsoir!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can Eden Organics BPA free black beans
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a sauces pan with vegetable broth and  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.  Set quinoa aside to cool.

Drain and rinse black beans.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with a fork.  Add juice from one lime, diced yellow bell pepper and salt to taste.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix kefir, juice from one lime, cilantro, green onion, and salt to taste. Set aside.

Cut the pith and peel from the grapefruits.  Using a paring knife, remove each grapefruit section.

To serve, assemble ingredients in a bowl- quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, guacamole, and grapefruit sections.

If storing, keep ingredients separate and assemble when serving.

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

6 Jan Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

It’s a new year and, as I focus on finalizing my goals for 2014 by adding quantifiable terms, I’m also focused on creating meals that are quick, cost-effective, and- most importantly- nutrient dense as The Hubs kicks it into gear for his racing streak.  This orzo dish is super simple and packs a serious nutrient punch from broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, kefir, and pine nuts.

There is the issue of the bacon.  It certainly doesn’t get the “healthy” label and totally isn’t necessary to the integrity of the completed dish.  But I add it.  Because The Hubs specifically asks for it.  And because bacon.

Whether you enjoy it sans-bacon or fully loaded, I’m sure you will enjoy it on a busy night where you are still crazing nutrient rich, homemade fare.  And you’ll continue to enjoy it the next day because it makes a stellar leftovers lunch as well.

Enjoy!

Healthy Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto- Go Running, Mama!

Orzo Pasta with Broccoli Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 4 cups raw broccoli cut into small florets and stems
  • 1 cup cauliflower cut into small florets and stems
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cups pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + more for pasta water
  • 1/4 cup plain kefir
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • sea salt

Directions: Spread bacon in a single layer in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until browned, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Prepare the orzo according to directions, adding a glug of olive oil to the water to help keep pasta from sticking together.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well once more, removing to a separate bowl.

Add 3/4 cup water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Add a large pinch of salt to the water and stir in the broccoli and cauliflower.  Cover and cook for 1 minute to soften ever so slightly.  Quickly drain the veggies in a strainer and run under cold water to stop them from cooking.  Drain well.

Grate the zest of one lime and set aside.

Combine two cups of the cooked broccoli (avoid the cauliflower florets for texture reasons), the garlic, 1/3 cup of the pine nuts, the parm, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 2 generous tbs of lime juice in the food processor.  Add the olive oil and kefir and pulse until smooth.

Toss the orzo, bacon, and remaining veggies.  Add the pesto and lime zest and toss to coat.  Fold in the avocado gently before serving.

Makes 6-8 adult dinner portions.