Monday, January 30, 2012

Kale Parsnip Potato Soup

Week 3 of my Organics to You Box! This soup was inspired by three of the start ingredients: Kale, Parsnips, and Potatoes (hence the post title!)

Also used: onion and leeks.

I love being inspired by fresh, local produce. Having beautiful local greens and veggies almost demand that you make something healthy with them. I just wouldn't feel right about frying or microwaving this food - it's just too clean and pretty!

Hence the soup! What a fabulously healthy recipe. I left my dad and step-mom a giant tupperware bowl full with very demanding instructions that they eat it because it "is good for you."

There is almost nothing more satisfying that a BIG bowl of homemade soup. It has to be one of my top favorite comfort foods (also making the list: creamy polenta and any kind of berry pie).

Kale Parsnip Potato Soup
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1.5-2 hrs (mostly inactive)
Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced (use all parts!)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly (you can add more if you love garlic like me)
  • 2 medium white potatoes, cut into chunks (I didn't remove the skin but feel free to)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 large parsnips, cut into chunks
  • 4 cups (one box) of your favorite veggie broth (I use Pacific or Trader Joes)
  • 4 additional cups of water + 2 bouillon cubes
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp curry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce of your choice
  • 1 LARGE head of kale, chopped
Heat olive oil in a large soup pan (very large - as large as you can muster) over medium/low heat. Add in onion and leek and allow to soften up for about 5-10 minutes. 

Add garlic, potatoes, carrots and parsnips and saute for another 10 minutes or so (add in veggie broth to keep veggies from sticking/help to soften as necessary.

Dump in veggie broth and water and bring everything to a boil.

Add in bouillon cubes and spices, cover pot, reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on your time frame.

Ten minutes before the soup is ready, stir in your chopped kale and allow to reduce for the final ten minutes or so (you want it to be soft but not soggy).

Serve up a HUGE bowl (or two in my case) with freshly baked bread of your choice and enjoy a healthy and satisfying local meal :)

Live long and prosper!

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Training Log Sunday 1/22 - Saturday 1/28

    1/22 - Sunday
    9 Mile Run!

    Woo! Longest in the training session so far :) Felt great, especially since it was raining and cold out.

    Didn't feel any kind of discomfort or irritation - all that base training is paying off! Plus I felt so good by the end that when I had like 2 miles to go and one of my favorite songs came on ("Bass Down Low" by the Cataracs) I literally booked it for the entirety of the song.


    1/23 - Monday
    Easy cardio and easy strength
    • 25 minutes elliptical
    • 25 minutes stair stepper
    • 500 meter row for time
    • 3 X 10 bicep curls on incline bench (15 lbs)
      • Alternating with over-head tricep press (15 lbs)
    •  3 X 10 Chest press (22.5 lbs)
    1/24 - Tuesday
    Got up early to go to the gym. Didn't want to so I went after class instead.
    • 5 miles, broken up a little bit. Feeling kind of tired so I just went with the pace my body felt like going which was slightly slower than my usual.

    1/25 - Wednesday
    • 25 minutes eliptical
    • 20 minutes treadmill - easy easy (2.25 miles)
    • 30 minutes stair climber
    1/26 - Thursday
    • 45 minutes on the stationary bike (Fast!)
    • 20 minutes on the stair stepper (135 steps per minute)
    1/27 - Friday
    HIIT run today! - 7 miles total (on the treadmill)
    • Mile 1: 6.5 speed, .5 incline
    • Mile 2: 6.5 speed, 3.5 incline
    • Mile 3: 7.5 speed, 0 incline
    • Mile 4: 6.5 speed, 3.5 incline
    • Mile 5: 7.5 speed, 0 incline
    • Mile 6: 7.0 speed, 0 incline
    • Mile 7: 6.5 speed, .5 incline
    Felt really really good! Very happy :)

    Also did a PM workout because I really needed to do some strength!
    • 20 minutes stair stepper (150 steps per minute)
    • 500 meter row for time (2:05)
    • 3 X 15 kettle bell swings (15 lbs)
      • Alternating with 3 X 10 squat thrusters (15 lbs)
    • 100 reverse sit-ups with hip-ups (each sit-up/hip-up combo is one)
    Then I went out dancing! I don't know whose idea that was but needless to say my legs are KILLING me as I write this on Saturday!

    1/28 - Saturday
      Legs were super sore today but Colin convinced me to do some core work.
      • 20 minute warm-up on the stationary bike
      • (High) standing trunk rotation tower machine - 3 X 15 on each side (17.5 lbs)
      • (Low) standing trunk rotation tower machine - 3 X 15 on each side (17.5 lbs)
      • (Medium) standing trunk rotation tower machine - 3 X 15 on each side (17.5 lbs)
      • Standing reverse V-pull - on tower machine 3 X 10 (10 lbs)
      Then we did a 3-part medicine ball workout that targeted the core and it was brutal.

      Ended w/150 crunches (100 middle, 25 each side)


      Weekly Mileage: 23

      Tip for the Week: Half the battle of working out is your mental state. Studies show that people are nearly always able to out perform their personal expectations when put in the right situation.

      Remember that - it's mental as much as physical!

      Now get going!

        Sunday, January 22, 2012

        Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

        Happy 3 Year Vegan Anniversary to Me!
        Goodness, I can't believe it has been 3 years already. I am proud to say I am 100% confident in my decision and continue to love and appreciate veganism every day.
        I NEVER thought I would be this healthy or happy of a person (both physically and mentally) and I know a large part of that is the foods I choose to put into my body.

        Anyway! To the cupcakes! These cupcakes are a fully original recipe inspired by the quickly aging bottle of Kahlua that has been sitting in my cupboard (I know what you are thinking - Yes, Kahlua is vegan!)

        And to me - nothing pairs better with Kahlua than chocolate and nothing pairs better with Kahlua and chocolate than coconut!

        I brought these cupcakes to a law school party and they were a hit if I do say so myself. One gentleman told me they were the best cupcakes he'd EVER had (a few beers in, but flattering nonetheless).

        Also Colin said they were the best cupcakes I've ever made - and I know I can rely on him to tell me the truth:)

        They turned out perfectly Kahlua-y - not too overpowering and the coconut frosting was to die for (I was eating it with a spatula out of the bowl. And I don't even like frosting. So good.)

        Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes
        Makes 12 cupcakes!
        • 1/4 cup soy milk
        • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
        • 1/4 cup cold coffee
        • 1/2 cup Kahlua
        • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
        • 3/4 cup sugar
        • 1/4 cup canola oil
        • 3 Tbsp coconut oil (softened)
        • 2 tsp vanilla extract
        • 1 1/4 cup flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached and it was KILLER - in a good way!)
        • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
        • 1 tsp baking soda
        • 1 tsp baking powder
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tin

        Start by whisking together apple cider vinegar and soy milk in your main mixing bowl and set it aside for about 5 minutes to curdle. Then whisk in the coffee, Kahlua and flax seeds and place bowl in the fridge for an additional 5 minutes.

        I know this seems like a lot of whisking and setting aside but for some reason this combo makes the cupcakes so light and fluffy and has produced the best texture of any of the cupcakes I have made. So just be patient and do it and I promise it will pay off in the end!

        Pull the bowl out of the fridge and mix in sugar, oils and extract and beat until the mixture is slightly foamy (I just used a fork and it works great!)

        In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

        Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until fully combined (little lumps okay but I usually beat the mixture together in my mixer for 3-5 minutes)

        Pour mixture into cupcake tins 3/4 of the way full!! Don't overfill them!!

        Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes (Don't overbake!!)

        Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool while you prep the frosting!

        Coconut Kahlua Frosting
        • 1/3 cup non-hydronated shortening (Earth Balance)
        • 1/3 cup non-hydronated butter substitute (Earth Balance)
        • 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese (Trader Joe's has their own brand now!! Or Tofutti - classic)
        • 3 cups powdered sugar
        • 2 Tbsp raw unsweetened coconut + 2 Tbsp toasted over low heat on the stovetop
        • 2 Tbsp Kahlua
        • 2 Tbsp Coconut Milk
        Beat shortening and butter together until totally combined and fluffy.

        Add cream cheese and beat for another 2-3 minutes

        Slowly add in sugar and the first 2 Tbsp of coconut and beat for 3-4 minutes

        Add Kahlua and Coconut Milk and beat for 5-7 minutes or until light and fluffy and frosting-y!

        Pour into a piping bag and pipe onto fully cooled cupcakes! Sprinkle toasted coconut over the top :)

        Enjoy this recipe - a definite favorite of mine and may it be a reminder that you don't have to give up delicious baked goods to be vegan! All you can do is make them better AND good for animals/the environment :)

        Live Long and Prosper!

        Saturday, January 21, 2012

        Training Log Sunday 1/15-Saturday 1/21

        1/15 - Sunday
        Cross-training cardio and weights
        • 20 minutes fast stationary bike
        • 20 minutes stair-stepper at 150 steps per minute
        Followed by (alternating sets, 3 times each!)
        • 20 Kettle Bell swings (15 lbs)
        • 15 Squat Thrusters (15 lbs)
        Did those back to back and they were SO killer. I love workouts that can get your whole body and work nearly every muscle in a condensed amount of time. Phew!

        1/16 - Monday
        A little sore today from those kettle bell swings/thrusters yesterday but still got some good cardio and abs in.
        • 15 minutes stationary bike as fast as I could possibly go on 8 resistance
        • 4 fast miles - 7.4 speed
        • 15 minutes stair stepper - fat burning circuit beginning at 100 steps per minute
        Abs! Wanted to get a quick ab workout since I just did over an hour of cardio and got in the gym late so I did 4 high intensity workouts back to back without stopping (except in between the V sits)
        • 100 crunches, legs raised
        • 50 oblique crunches, alternating each side
        • 3 X 20 second V sits with 10 second rests between each set
        • 30 full reverse sit-ups with hip ups (each sit-up/hip-up combo is one)
        1/17 - Tuesday
        Such a long class day today. Needed to get contracts done early so I didn't make it to the gym until 4:30 pm which was probably good because I was sooo sore from the Kettle bell/Thruster combo from Sunday.

        Pretty easy workout, all running
        • 3 miles at 7.2 speed (8:20 mile)
        • 2 miles at 8.0 speed (7:30 mile)
        Those last two miles felt really good! Felt like I could have easily done a 5K at that pace but I didn't want to overdo it on my sore leggy muscles.

        Followed by a fairly touch ab/pushup circuit
        • 100 crunches, legs raised
        • 50 oblique crunches, alternating each side
        • 3 X 20 second V sits with 10 second rests between each set
        • 90 seconds middle plank
        • 15 push-ups
        • 30 full reverse sit-ups with hip ups (each sit-up/hip-up combo is one)
        • 15 push-ups
        • 50 side crunches (right)
        • 15 push-ups
        • 50 side crunches (left)
        1/18 - Wednesday
        Having major problems sleeping the past few nights so I was up at 5, chomping at the bit to burn off some restless energy

        Did a killer cardio combo
        • 20 minutes elliptical (hill climber, 10 incline)
        • 20 minutes stationary bike (9 resistance, fast as sustainable)
        • 20 minutes treadmill (7.2 speed, .5 resistance) - 2.5 mi
        • 20 minutes stair climber (fat burner circuit, starting at 100 steps per minute)

        1/19 - Thursday
        Strength (chest and back)

        • 3 miles on the treadmill
        • 15 minutes on the stationary bike
          Chest and Back
          • 3 X 8 Chest Press on Bench w/free weights (22.5 lbs)
            • Alternating with overhead tricep press 3 X 10 (15 lbs)
          • 3 X 15 Low Row (on tower machine) (17.5 lbs)
          • 3 X 15 High Row (on tower machine) (17.5 lbs)
          • 3 X 10 Standing Chest Press (on tower machine) (17.5 lbs)
          • 3 X 15 Lat Pull Downs (seated on the little green balance thingy) (25 lbs)
          And then did an easy ab circuit!

          1/20 - Friday
          Shorter work-out than I would have liked today but somebody (Colin) gets bored when we are at the gym for too long
          • 40 minutes on the stair stepper at 135 steps per minute
          Abs (all back to back, no breaks)
          • 100 legs-raised modified crunches
          • 50 oblique modified crunches, alternating sides
          • 50 side crunches (left side)
          • 50 side crunches (right side)
          • 30 full reverse sit-ups with hip ups (each sit-up/hip-up combo is one)
          • Plank 60 seconds, then 15 seconds left leg raised and 15 seconds right leg raised
          1/21 - Saturday
          5 mile run! Felt really good - it was a beautiful morning. Taking it at a slow pace to prep for my long run tomorrow!

          Total Mileage in Week 3: 20.5

          Tip for the week: You don't always have to take an off day in your training schedule but if you don't make sure that at LEAST 2 of the days are super super easy and don't involve any running! Stationary bike and stair stepper are great alternatives!

          Live long and prosper fitness friends!

            Tuesday, January 17, 2012

            Mushroom Chana Masala with Cheesy Rice

            As part of upping the rigor of my training schedule I have been trying to incorporate more varieties of protein into my diet. I have never believed that I have been protein deficit, but let's just say I've always gone a lot heavier on the veggie and grain portions of my diet and now that I am training at a higher capacity, I find myself craving proteins a lot more.

            Fortunately, there are tons of creative and delicious ways to get proteins at all means and - aside from picking up a new protein powder which I love - I have been consciously trying to create recipes that are packed full of plant-based proteins.

            Also making an appearance in this dish was broccoli! Not because I thought it was a particularly necessary ingredient but because it came in my second box from Organics to You!

            Along with the broccoli was kale, lettuce, beets, carrots, leeks, garlic, tangelos, oranges, tangerines, 3 different varietals of pears and pink lady apples! I love these boxes beyond words. Thursdays are my favorite days of the week!

            Nothing makes my week like fresh produce!!

            Anyway, back to the food...

            This recipe, adapted from a traditional chana masala, utilizes mushrooms and broccoli and coconut milk for some new flavor combinations.

            I served it over steamed brown rice with 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast stirred in (Cheesy rice! So easy - 2 ingredients!)

            Mushrom Chana Masala
            • 2 tsp coconut oil 
            • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
            • 8 oz. crimini mushrooms (or baby bellas) washed and sliced
            • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
            • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped
            • 1 can chickpeas
            • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
            • 1/4 cup veggie broth 
            • 1 tsp paprika
            • 1 tsp dried basil
            • 1 tsp tumeric
            • 2 tsp garam masala 
            • 1/2 tsp salt
            Start by sauteing diced onion in coconut oil until it begins to turn translucent.

            Add sliced mushrooms and saute for an additional 4 minutes.

            Add garlic, broccoli, chickpeas and saute everything for 3-4 more minutes.

            Then add in the coconut milk, veggie broth and spices and allow the mixture to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

            Spoon over cheesy rice and enjoy the vitamin, protein, fiber and flavor power combo!

            Live long and prosper!

            Sunday, January 15, 2012

            Easy Weeknight Dinner Idea - Calzones!

            Being back in school means I have a lot less time to prep weekday meals but that does NOT mean I will sacrifice flavor OR nutrition - especially with the amazing box of produce that is shipped to my house every two weeks!

            I often post more in depth recipes but calzones are simple, satisfying and (if you do them right) healthy weeknight meals that have become a staple around my house.

            You can stuff a ton of veggies inside and with all the pre-prepared whole wheat pizza dough availability out there, calzones come together in a snap.

            For these calzones I bought the whole wheat dough and pizza sauce from trader joes and then stuffed them with  spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, heirloom cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Field roast sausages and daiya are also excellent additions if you happen to have any on hand.

            Calzones can be tricky to put together at first but a couple tricks are 1) to stretch the dough out as much as possible without causing rips for maximum flexibility 2) to not fill the calzone too full (especially if you have never done it before - most common mistake that will cause you to not be able to close your calzone properly! and 3) to make absolutely sure all seams are sealed (otherwise you will have calzone juices all over your pan and oven.

            Otherwise go crazy!

            Live long and prosper and enjoy this easy weeknight meal idea!

            Training Log Sunday 1/8-Saturday 1/14

            January 8th - Sunday
            Strength Day
            • Easy 2 mile warm-up run - 8:30 mile on .5 incline
            • 10 X 3 seated reverse wide grip pull downs -  17.5 lbs (on the tower gym)
            • 15 X 3 standing decline press with the all-purpose bar
            • 15 X 6 seated bicep curls at the bench - 15 lbs (alternating arms - 3 sets each side)
            • alternating with 3 sets of 15 close-grip push-ups
            Tough Ab Circuit
            • 100 legs-raised modified crunches
            • 100 quick counts of power boat pose with rapid arm alternation at each side
            • 60 seconds center plank on elbows, 30 seconds each side plank
            • 100 total single leg raises (keeping lower back perfectly flat - I do 25-25, 15-15 and then 20 alternating)
            • 30 reverse sit-ups
            • 50 lying side crunches on each side (100 total)

            January 9th - Monday
            Cardio cross training
            • 25 minutes elliptical on hill climber, high resistance
            • 15 minutes spinning bike, moderate resistance, fast
            • 15 minutes treadmill, moderate pace (8:30) (I cheated and did 2 miles b/c I prefer mileage to time)
            • 15 minutes stair-stepper, fat burning circuit beginning at 100 steps per minute
            January 10th - Tuesday
            Moderate run

            6 am - 5 mile treadmill run at an 8:30 pace

            6 pm - Strength training (Chest and back) followed by abs

            January 11th - Wednesday
            Cardio-Cross Training (easy day)
            • 25 minutes bike (hill climber)
            • 25 minutes stair stepper (fat burning, beginning at 100 steps per minute)

            January 12th - Thursday
            Rest day! Take Wyatt on a long walk day :)

            January 13th - Friday
            Cardio and Strength Double

            5:30 am - 6 miles on treadmill at an 8:30 pace, .5 incline

            10:30 am - Strength (Arms)
            • 3 X 15 Seated overhead dumbbell tricep extensions - 15 lbs
              • Alternating sets -10 X 3 Bent-over one-arm dumbbell tricep extension - one arm at a time - 8lbs
            • 3 X 10 Standing deltoid row  - 17.5 lbs (on the tower machine)
              • Alternating sets - 10-15 X 3 Standing dumbbell flys - 8 lbs
            • 3 X 20 Bicep curls on the incline bench (10 on each arm, alternating) - 15 lbs
              • Alternating sets - 7 low bicep curls, 7 high bicep curls (standing) X 3 - 15 lbs
            Do sets as close to each other as possible - killer!

            Modified ab routine
            • 100 legs-raised modified crunches
            • 100 quick counts of power boat pose with rapid arm alternation at each side
            • 60 seconds center plank on elbow
            • 100 total single leg raises
            • 50 lying side crunches on each side (100 total)
            January 14th - Saturday
             Today was supposed to be my long run outside day but it was really cold and rainy so I went to the gym instead. That turned out to be the best decision ever because the olympic trials were on (talk about motivation) so I watched those for the duration of my interval training run.

            Workout: 7 miles on the treadmill
            • Mile 1: Warm-up, 6.5 speed on zero incline
            • Mile 2: 6.8 speed, bump the incline to 3
            • Mile 3: 7.5 speed, reduce incline to 0.5
            • Mile 4: 6.8 speed, bump the incline to 3.5
            • Mile 5: 7.5 speed, reduce incline to 0.5
            • Mile 6: 7.0 speed, reduce incline to .5
            • Mile 7: Cool down, 6.8 speed on zero incline
            Love this work out! Took exactly an hour (almost to the second) and went by so fast.

            That's how to make a treadmill work for you!

            Feeling great and ready for the week ahead.

            Total Mileage: 22

            Tip for the week: Try to incorporate an interval training workout into your routine - it's a great way to train muscles you don't use as much plus it goes by really fast!

              Sunday, January 8, 2012

              Stuffed Acorn Squash and Kale-Broccoli-Carrot Slaw


              Part of my Christmas present this year (so exciting) was a bi-weekly subscription to a local farm CSA-type food distributor called Organics to You.

              This gift is so right up my alley and I was ecstatic when my first box arrived!

              They literally dropped it off right on my door step! It was wonderful :)

              Full of everything from parsnips to pears to carnival squash to garlic, onions, avocado, oranges, collard greens and more! 

              I have been slowly working through the plethora of ingredients and trying to use each of them in a new way.

              This recipe was inspired by the leeks and squash that came in the box and by the leftover kale that I have been trying to use up.

              Stuffed Acorn Squash with Leek Pilaf
              Serves 2
              • 1 full acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
              • 1 cup rice/quinoa/rice and quinoa mixture - prepared as directed (if in bulk it's usually a 2:1 water to grain ratio)
              • 1 full leek, diced (I try to use all parts of the leek)
              • 2 tsp oil (I used coconut)
              • 1/2 tsp salt
              • 1/2 tsp cumin
              • 1 tsp italian or other seasoning blend
              • 1 Tbsp veggie broth
              Preheat the oven to 425 degrees farenheight

              Place halves of squash face down on a pre-greased cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes (or until lightly browned)

              While squash is roasting, prepare rice/quinoa

              In a separate pan, saute diced leek in coconut oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes or until leek is translucent and beginning to caramelize

              Toss rice, seasonings and veggie broth into the pan with the leek and cook everything together for an additional 5-6 minutes, adding more veggie broth if it gets too dry

              When squash is done roasting, remove from oven, spoon pilaf into each half and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.

              Remove and enjoy!

              I paired by squash with a kale-broccoli-carrot slaw which is simple to make and is a great way to get greens on your plate without reverting to a traditional salad cliche'

              Take 2 cups chopped kale and steam it lightly in a large pan (for no longer than a minute - you don't want to wilt it down too much but you still want to get rid of the bitter edge)

              Combine with 1 cup shredded broccoli and carrot (I buy the pre-shredded combo from trade joes in a bag)

              Then add 1/4 cup shredded Nori or seaweed (I use the wasabi seaweed snacks and cut them into the mixture with kitchen scissors)

              Then add your favorite dressing or make a vegenaise base - this is where you can be creative!

              My slaw dressing had the following ingredients in it:
              • 1 Tbsp cilantro hummus
              • One handful chiffonaded fresh basil
              • 1 small jalapeno, minced
              • 1 Tbsp cranberry sauce
              • 2 tsp sriracha
              • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
              • 1 tsp maple syrup
              But feel free to mix it up with citrus, agave, your favorite prepared sauce or any other dressing! And add some dried fruit or chopped nuts to give it an extra layer!

              This is a great and totally approachable way to prepare kale - Colin said it was one of his favorite things I've ever made and he doesn't even like kale!

              Yay for greens!

              What a power meal!

              Live long and prosper! And get inspired by local fruits and veggies! They exist, even in the winter :)

              Saturday, January 7, 2012

              Training Log Sunday 1/1-Saturday 1/7

              January 1st - Sunday
              Today was a bit of a rough day, unfortunately, as I would have liked to get the new year off to a good start. I was completely hung over and sore from the 7 mile run I did yesterday. Although I would have liked to put in a great workout to set the tone, I really just laid around a lot. But it has been a good reminder of why I don't drink like this and what it can do to my body. No Bueno!

              On the bright side - I registered for the Eugene Half marathon so now I have a goal to keep me going!! Yay!

              **Edit** I subsequently realized that the Eugene Half is half way through my finals. I'm still going to do it but it is going to be a struggle. Good one, Taylor. More on that in the weeks to come...

              January 2nd - Monday
              Put in a double work out today (Making up for yesterday? Probably). 6:30am went to the gym did my 20-20-20 (like Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan only without the tax cuts...and the crazy):
              • 20 minutes elliptical, set to 10 resistance on hill climber
              • 20 minutes treadmill, upping the speed from 7 to 8 throughout the course and the incline from 0 to 2 (I'm only running at 8 speed and incline 2 for the last minute or so - up the speed and incline gradually to avoid injury)
              • 20 minutes Stair Stepper, fat burning circuit (I find this course to be the most interesting) starting at 100 steps per minute
              Then I threw in some basic abs and called it a morning. Still felt a little rough from the day before but I absolutely adore this workout. Goes by so fast AND has me sweating through my shirt by the end (charming visual, I know).

              At around 6pm Colin convinced me to go to the gym with him AGAIN and do weights.

              We did chest and back (uggh...I need to get my upper back in better shape and I know it so I hate these workouts - thankfully I have the best personal trainer EVER :)
              • 3 sets of bench press (20 lbs - 10 per set)
              • 3 sets of seated incline chest press (15 lbs - 10 per set)
              • 3 sets of cable decline chest press on the tower machine (15lb resistance on each arm - 10 per set)
              • 3 sets of outside grip chin-ups on the Assisted Chin-up machine (I do my full body weight but it still hurts my shoulder at points so I have to switch to inner grip which apparently favors my biceps more which is why I like that grip more)
              We ended with my full ab routine
              • 100 legs-raised modified crunches
              • 100 quick counts of power boat pose with rapid arm alternation at each side
              • 60 seconds center plank on elbows, 30 seconds each side plank
              • 100 total single leg raises (keeping lower back perfectly flat - I do 25-25, 15-15 and then 20 alternating)
              • 50 lying side crunches on each side (100 total)
              This was a lot of workout in one day. I was starving but I made lots of snacks for the duck game so I was basically eating the entire day!

              January 3rd - Tuesday
              A little sore from yesterday so I didn't do my normal 6am workout but instead I went for a run around noon. Did a solid 5 1/2 miles at an 8:40 pace (I LOVE my new running watch!) and it felt great. One of the better runs I've had in a while AND it was a hill run so even better! The weather was perfect for running and my half marathon goal was in my brain the whole time.

              Plus I discovered Pandora's electronic cardio mix station and let me tell you it is fabulous. Definitely kept me going!

              January 4th - Wednesday
              Somehow Colin convinced me to do a double workout AGAIN. Goodness. This will all stop when school starts up again next week so I guess I should be happy to be building a solid base! I'm just so hungry when I work out like this...I ate a giant burrito at the food carts for lunch today though...that helped :)

              AM workout
              • 35 minutes hard stair stepper
              • 2 easy miles - speed: 7.2 incline: 0.5 (I read in my runners magazine that running with the incline at .5 or 1 more closely simulates running a flat course outdoors so now that is what I do!)
              Pulled blackberry bushes for like 2 it was kind of like a triple work out

              PM workout
              • Arms. UGH. 3 sets seated bicep curls (20 lb weights) alternating with resistance band bicep curls (between sets)
              • 3 sets seated overhead dumbbell tricep press (15 lb weight) alternating with resistance band overhead tricep press (between sets)
              • 15 close grip push-ups immediately after the prior sets
              • 3 sets standing dumbbell shoulder flys alternating with 3 front dumbbell shoulder raises (10 lb weights)
              • 20 dumbbell squat thrusters with heavy weight (I was supposed to do 15 lbs but I did 10's instead because my arms were really fatigued - oops!)
              Ended with my full ab circuit (modified)
              • 100 legs-raised modified crunches
              • 100 quick counts of power boat pose with arms alternating at each side
              • 60 seconds center plank on elbows
              • 30 reverse sit-ups
              • 50 lying side crunches on each side (100 total)
              January 5th - Thursday
              Right hamstrings were really sore today.

              Was going to go for a morning run buuut I decided to sleep instead (7:30 is sleeping in for me)

              It actually worked out well because I got to run with Colin in the afternoon. Except that I had Sweet Tomatoes with my dad for lunch and then coffee so I felt like I was going to puke for a good portion of our easy 3.5 mi run. Oops!

              But we ran to footlocker on Fremont and I checked out the CEP Compression socks I've been pining over. I want them - they are adorable AND practical. But $60 a pair? Eesh.

              And I got a sample of this electrolyte tablet called Nuun. It's like a runners alka seltzer only it tastes tons better. I really liked it and will probably be back in for some more! I tried the Fruit Punch but it also comes in banana! So many flavors, so little time to drink electrolytes.

              January 6th - Friday
              Damn hamstrings. Almost put me out of commission today. I really wanted to go do hot yoga but we couldn't quite get it together and Colin felt great so I reluctantly went to the gym and did 30 hard minutes on the stationary bike followed by 15 minutes of stretching a partial ab circuit.

              Upside: I remembered why I like stationary bikes - they are so much easier on your joints and muscles and you can still get a great cardio workout. Excellent easy day cross training tool and, after that and the stretching, my right hamstrings felt worlds better.

              January 7th - Saturday
              Was planning on an early morning run but I felt like enjoying one of my last days of sleeping in before going back to the school grind.

              Plus it was cold and I am a baby.

              Fortunately, because I didn't run early I had enough forethought to head down to the waterfront for a run which was a beautiful and inspired idea.

              I did 7.5 miles at a moderate pace, stopping every 15 minutes or so to stretch my hamstrings and calves. Because there aren't many hills along the waterfront it was a lovely run and it was perfect to avoid any additional strain to my hamstrings. Timed the whole run perfectly, paced behind a nice gentleman who lived in a gorgeous waterfront apartment for a couple miles (I wasn't speed ghosting him, don't worry) and ran over two beautiful Portland bridges.

              All in all a win and a great end to week one of my fitness log :) I feel great about my half marathon training already and the week ended a lot more gracefully and optimistically on the exercise front than it began. Cheers to week one of the new year!

              Total Running Mileage for Week 1: 21

              Tip for the week: If you need motivation to work out, just put on your favorite workout outfit (or if you don't have a favorite, just put on your exercise clothes). It's a lot harder to justify not working out or going for a run when you already have your clothes on! Added pressure :)

              Live long and prosper! And, whether it's registering for a race, promising yourself a special treat, trying a new workout or even just putting your workout clothes on - do what it takes to get moving!

                Thursday, January 5, 2012

                BumbleBar Product Review

                The owners of BumbleBar, a wonderful little company out of Spokane Washington sent me 2 bars in their new flavors - Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mint - and since they were so delicious I thought I would do a little product review!

                First off, BumbleBars are always vegan, gluten free, and organic and they source 60% of their ingredients from local farmers. They utilize the ethical sourcing model to work with small, sustainable farms to promote things like, oh I don't know, worker and environmental safety, food quality and community support.

                It's still rare to see a company grow to the size of BumbleBar while maintaining awesome values and a commitment to good ingredients (I mean, they carry BumbleBars and Whole Foods now) so I was just so excited to get these two delicious morsels in the mail.

                And man are they good! Normally, I stay pretty true to Luna Bars when I need a pick-me-up but I swear every time I look at the package they have added a new ingredient. Bumblebars have an almost identical nutritional index but with far less ingredients and with a much more warm-and-fuzzy business model (Not that ClifBar and Co is bad...but it's like buying from Whole Foods vs. your local produce market where you know the farmer...just more warm and fuzzy).

                BumbleBars have (average) 190 calories with 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 11 grams of fat

                Not too shabby! In addition they contain calcium, iron, vitamin E, vitamin B6, copper and magnesium (just to name a few!) which makes them a great meal replacement or snack.

                But how about the taste?

                I was pretty skeptical about the way BumbleBars would taste since I generally don't like sesame and that is why, even though I had read about how kick ass the company is, I hadn't bought a bar on my own. To my surprise and delight, these bars do not have an overpowering "sesame-ey" taste but rather taste smooth and nutty and light, with delicious chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and mint undertones. They are a perfect snack or breakfast on the go and are not nearly as sugary as some other energy bars.

                I really love these bars.

                About to break into some chocolate mint (although I think I liked the peanut butter better because I LOVE peanut butter - I couldn't decide!) Can't wait to try the Chai and some of the other non-chocolate flavors.

                Live long and prosper! And support your local, sustainable energy bar company :)

                Wednesday, January 4, 2012

                Christmas Brunch

                Christmas morning brunch is in my family (as I'm sure it is in many) a tradition that has taken place since I can remember.
                When I was little, my mom would get up in the morning before us kids and start prepping cinnamon rolls. Then, after we got up and saw the load we had received from Santa, we would open stockings, eat breakfast and then move to presents. 

                The routines of holidays and what they mean for families are what make these occasions special and so now, every Christmas, I get up at 6am and prep cinnamon rolls and brunch stuff - my way.

                Last year I made giant, Cinnabon like cinnamon rolls and this year I decided I would take a little lighter approach. I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls with pumpkin filling and pumpkin glaze. Because pumpkin is such a gooey, moistening ingredient to begin with, these cinnamon rolls taste a lot naughtier than they really are. 

                Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
                Adapted from Eat, Live Run

                •  2 Tbsp earth balance
                • 1/3 cup coconut milk (So Delicious or similar brand - not canned)
                • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin 
                • 1/8 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp Agave
                • 1 Tbsp Flax + 3 Tbsp cold water, whisked together and placed in the fridge for at least 5 minutes
                • 1/4 oz yeast (1 package)
                • 2 cups flour
                • 1/2 tsp salt
                • 1 tsp cinnamon
                • 1 tsp jamaican or other all spice
                • 2 Tbsp canned pumpkin
                • Scant 1/4 cup brown sugar
                • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance, softened
                • 2 tsp cinnamon
                • 1 cup powdered sugar
                • 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin
                • 1/4 vanilla or almond extract
                • 2 tsp almond/coconut milk (IF NEEDED)
                Heat the coconut milk and earth balance in a small saucepan over LOW heat until just melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding in your yeast (I didn't let it cool enough the first go-around and I killed the yeast so I had to re-do it - the milk should feel like bathwater and the yeast should get all frothy when you add it in). Whisk in yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes.

                Whisk together your dry ingredients before adding the pumpkin, agave, flax and finally yeast mixture (I added the last four ingredients with my KitchenAid Mixer on low speed).

                Knead the dough with the dough hook attachment on the mixer for about 5 or 6 minutes

                Then, cover the bowl with a warm, damp dish rag and place somewhere warm-ish to rise for an hour and twenty minutes (I put my oven on low for about 10 minutes, turn it off and then put the dough in the warm oven to sit).

                After the dough rises, remove from the warm place and roll out into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface
                Whisk together pumpkin, softened earth balance, brown sugar and cinnamon and (using a spatula) spread out over the entirety of your dough rectangle

                Gently roll the dough up lengthwise so that it forms a long log shape

                Using a very sharp knife or twine (to form a circle around the dough to pinch pieces off) - form 8-9 slices and place in a greased casserole dish (9 inches square)

                Cover with your dishcloth and allow to rise for an additional 45 minutes.

                Then, uncover and bake for 20-25 minutes.

                While baking, combine the ingredients for the glaze in the mixer using the paddle attachment and beat together for a few minutes or until you get a satisfactory consistency. Add more powdered sugar or coconut milk as necessary.

                Remove rolls from the oven, let cool slightly and then, placing your glaze in a plastic ziplock bag, cut off one corner of the bag and drizzle over warm rolls

                Serve immediately!

                I paired mine with mojito fruit salad, spicy field roast sausage and Crispin hard apple cider (better than a mimosa!)

                Happy Holidays!!

                Live Long and Prosper. And remember there is always a way to adapt traditions to a vegan lifestyle :)

                Tuesday, January 3, 2012

                New Years Resolutions

                A lot of people have been asking me as of late about fitness, food and about my journey to lose nearly 30 pounds in the past year and a half.

                As part of my New Years resolution, I plan to make this blog a place where I can speak a little more candidly about that journey and hopefully offer some insight and advice to those attempting the same journey in the new year.

                For the past two years in review - here is a little photo montage.

                This was me in December of 2009 - so just over 2 years ago.

                I weighed around 155 and was barely exercising - maybe once or twice a week.
                 This is me in April/May of 2010 - a little over a year and a half ago just before I started exercising and attempting to make positive changes in my diet. I weighed about 150 in this picture.

                Notably, this is also just as I met Colin who has been a huge influence in my diet, nutrition and fitness goals.

                Although we still have very different ideas, having a partner who can keep you motivated is so important!
                 This is me in December of 2010 - about a year ago.

                I weighed about 135-140 in this picture so I had taken off about 15 or 20  pounds since May.

                These are all photos of me in the recent months. I am now stable around 120 pounds and have gained a significant amount of muscle. I exercise 5-6 days a week and maintain a plant-based diet low in refined and processed products. I eat real, whole foods and I never starve myself. Ever. I absolutely adore food, adore cooking and the experience of food. 

                It's all about making it right and treating your body right in the process.

                Please note that this is the one and only time you will hear me discuss my weight on this blog. I think weight is arbitrary and that if you do all the right things for yourself, your body will stabilize at a weight that is healthy and normal for it. I will never weight below 115 because my body would never be happy there - I would not be doing the right things for it. Everyone's body is different. Don't have a "goal" weight in mind - just make changes to your lifestyle that will help your body be where it is supposed to be and find a way to be happy with that.

                Additionally, as part of my New Year's Blog I am going to start logging my exercise patterns as I train for races throughout the year that will - hopefully - culminate in running the Portland Marathon in October. As many of you know, I was not born a runner and becoming someone who actually enjoys running has taken me about 3 straight years of ups and downs now. But I do believe it IS possible for anyone to enjoy running and I think that, with the right motivation and support, anyone can start to run and eventually, complete the goal of running a half or full marathon.

                That being said, without paying attention to nutrition I think it is impossible to treat your body well while running.

                You have to know how to fuel, how to put the right things into your system, and how to recover. I will have been vegan for 3 years on the 22nd of this month and I promise you, it IS possible to maintain a healthy vegan diet while being a distance runner or extreme athlete. For more evidence on this, check out Brendan Brazier's Thrive diet. It's really amazing what one can accomplish and how healthy and happy you can feel maintaining both an active lifestyle and a plant-based diet.

                It has taken me well over 2 years to understand what it will take to make my diet and my lifestyle healthy and nearly a year and a half to get to a place where I feel confident about myself, happy with my body and ready to take on a challenge of a feat like running a marathon.

                So here is to a New Year! Commit to making healthy LIFESTYLE changes. This is not a "diet". This is your life and your body so treat it the best you can. Start now.

                Live long and prosper in the new year!!