Who Are You Running Against?

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It has been so long since I have written a post that my blog page fell off my commonly clicked sites. Hmm…Time to write. My lack of writing has not meant lack of living, thinking, or cooking. Just distracted with new developments.

Recently we discovered that I am pregnant…again with our now third child. This has been an exciting curveball, as I also signed up for my first half marathon. My swollen feet will be lined up at the starting line in just 2 weeks, 6 days, 22 hours…etc. This is not how I imagined things would be happening, but here we are. It has been a real challenge to keep up my regimen for training. Honestly it has dwindled down to a few strength and agility exercises here and there, along with the occasional run. Never have I felt more disappointed in my efforts. What only helps is when my eyes pass over a story about a 9-month pregnant rock star who runs a marathon and delivers a few hours later. What human strength and perseverance!

Then something occurred to me. A new perspective was brought about after a recent 5k. The crowd was huge and people of all sorts of fitness levels came out for the fun run, but for me I pay to compete with myself. Or so I thought. All this time of training and years of hitting the pavement I have been comparing myself to the best I know. Their performances push me to achieve as good a performance. When I fall short of whatever unrealistic expectation I set, the belt tightens and more rigorous guidelines apply. Perfection has kind of always been something I knew I could never be. I’m too ____(You name it)___. However, I somehow deceived myself into thinking that if I were only ___(You name it)___ I would be able to meet these ridiculous goals.

Before you get worried that I am a highly demanding person, you have to know that I am only this way with myself. When it comes to others my eyes are pretty accurate and I tend to extend others far more grace. My husband says that when I look at myself it is like looking into a fun house mirror. The races I have been running up to this point have been races against myself by comparing myself to unrealistic expectations. For this race I decided to change my mentality. This race I accepted that I am pregnant and haven’t been at my best. The race I run needs to be against the self I am now and not the person I wish I could be.

Crossing the finish line of the 5k, an amazing feeling swept over me. My eyes glanced at the timer and it said a time of 23 minutes. This was not my fastest time, but somehow it was acceptable. The old me would reprimand myself all the way home and come up with a solution to fix it for next time. This time being healthy and carrying a baby was success enough.The other runners began to fade from my concern and being strong in the moment became at the forefront of my mind during the run.

One friend reminded me in a conversation recently that you never know how you will feel on race day, and that feeling is a big indicator of your time and performance. Sometimes training your mind is an important factor forgotten in race prep. To be healthfully competitive, you have to race against who you are today. Maybe in a session you had a 5:30 min/mile, but the day before the race you sprained a muscle or became ill. Is it fair to beat yourself up for not performing as well as your best training time? Think of the successful races as a reward for your training and not just what you run for.

No matter if you are running a race, striving for weight loss, or are working on other health-behavior changes, we all need to cut ourselves some realistic slack. When we beat ourselves up, we are not helping, but hurting progress. We all have a bad day or fail a meal (or several). It is not about where you messed up, fell short or even if you won. The important factor is how you ran towards your goal. So, be strong in the moment and hold on the best you can. Let less than perfect be okay. Each moment is a new opportunity to improve and enjoy the journey you are on. The end result will take care of itself.

Mama Mia…It’s a Pizza!

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Pizza Dough- (1,12-inch pizza)
-3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour -3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour -Flour for dusting surface -1 ¼ tsp or ½ packet Active Dry Yeast – 1 tsp Salt -1 tbs Corn Meal or Grits *Optional -1/2 cup Warm Water -1/2 tbs Olive Oil or Cooking Spray (to grease bowl)

Beginning with the Pizza Dough, pour the Warm Water in the bowl and then sprinkle in the Yeast. I like to give it a swirl or two, ever-so-gently, as to get the two mixed without disturbing the process. When in doubt, leave it still. After 5 Minutes is up, slowly add the Flours and the Salt, using a wooden spoon to incorporate everything well. Once the dough has formed a ball- like form, sprinkle your surface with reserved dusting Flour, and put Dough on surface. Work the dough as a mass, pulling a bit and pushing with the heels of your hands, getting the dough nice and elastic. Fold over and continue to work the dough for 2-5 minutes. Coat the bowl with the Oil or Cooking Spray. Return dough to the bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm place for 30 minutes or dough doubles.

Mushroom and Greens with a Shallot and White Wine Sauce.
Pizza Topping:
– 3 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms – 1 shallot -1/2 tbs Olive Oil/Canola Oil -2 tbs White Wine – ¼ cup Baby Spinach, Chard, Kale, and Mizuma mix (Just baby spinach could work here too). -1/4 cup Parmesan, grated -4 ounces Fresh Mozz -1 tbs Fresh Rosemary -Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

While the Dough is rising in a warm cozy spot, we can work on prepping the toppings. In a small bowl (sometimes I just use a toddler snack bowl if it is handy) mix the Oil and White Wine. Set aside. Using a wet paper towel, wipe the Baby Bella Shrooms and then slice them thinly. Set aside in a medium bowl. Take your washed Greens (Spinach and Kale mix) and wind then in a bunch tightly. (Occasionally I Use a leaf of one of the greens to hold the bunch in place.) Take a sharp knife through the bunch perpendicularly, slicing it thinly. If you have toddlers, you may want to also want to cut down the center of the bunch. Add the greens to the bowl with the Shrooms. Still waiting on the dough to rise, peel your Shallot and put the shallot on the cutting board on its flattest side. Run you knife perpendicularly from tip to hairy end, discarding that hairy end. Put your shallots in the bowl with the veggie mixture as well. Lastly in prep, you can chop your Rosemary and sprinkle it in the bowl of veg. Mix the bowl so that each veg is incorporated.

Once the dough has risen, uncover and place dough on a floured counter or on lightly greased (if necessary) baking surface. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Dust the rolling pin with a touch of flour. Roll out the dough to desired form. Flip over the crust to the side you want to be the bottom. Sprinkle the Cornmeal or Grits over the surface evenly, if you opted to use this. Turn it back over and onto the baking surface. First sprinkle an even layer of Parmesan cheese. Next toss your Veg Mix over the Dough and then drizzle the top of that with you Oil and Wine mixture. Tear apart the Fresh Mozz and scatter evenly. Finish it off with Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 9-13 minutes. Cheese should be melty and golden to your liking when done.

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Pepperoni and Fresh Mozz Pizza with a Bite:
Pizza Toppings-
– 1/4cup Parmesan, grated -1/2 Red Bell Pepper or 1 -2 whole Peperoncino peppers (for more heat), – 4 ounces Fresh Mozz -2 tbs Fresh Basil, chopped – ¼ cup diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (Add pinch of sugar if you use regular diced tomatoes or tomato sauce) -Pinch of Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste -1/2 tbs Olive oil/Canola Oil -18 slices of Turkey Pepperoni

Now that the Dough is rising, let’s do some prep work for the toppings. First we will work on the Red Pepper. Cut the top and bottom tips of the Red Pepper off. Slice the Pepper in half and place it on the cutting board insides up. Use the knife to carefully remove the white bits on the inside and the seeds. Discard. Thinly slice the Red Pepper working your way from one side to the other. Set aside on a plate or small bowl. Next chop your Fresh Basil into thin strips or tear into pieces. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled, roll it out onto the floured surface. Transfer to baking surface. Preheat your oven to the highest setting. Flip to the rear side to sprinkle Cornmeal or Grits if you opted to do this step. Flip back over. Layer the pizza evenly in this order: Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Red Peppers, and Turkey Pepperoni. Tear Fresh Mozz over the pizza and drizzle the Oil to finish. Sprinkle on the Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake for 9-13 minutes depending on what your oven is like and preference on doneness.

Michael Symon’s Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti Recipe Review

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      Every area of the country has a specialty that shows off local flavors and inspirations. In Cincinnati, it is all about the Chili Spaghetti. It is a sweet and spicy sauce made with ground beef over a bed of pasta topped with wonders and magical sharp cheddar. Many natives that move away miss this taste. Micheal Symon from The Chew shared a recipe that comes pretty darn close to the real deal. I made it myself and found it absolutely delicious. Here are some tweaks for a healthier twist so you can still enjoy this dish in your own home.

1.  1 lb of extra lean ground beef and 1 lb ground turkey instead of 2 lbs of beef it calls for.

2.  Whole wheat pasta or Dreamfields spaghetti in place of regular enriched semolina pasta.

3. A vegetarian option could be to use portobello mushrooms or extra beans in place of meat.  

4. Go lighter on the cheese. Use good sharp cheddar and simply use less of it. Great flavor does not need to be in great volume to be treated fairly in a dish. 

5. Choose a smaller plate.

6. Use fresh organic when possible

7. Drain any meat fat after browning! (The excess fat can actually detract from the flavor)

   This recipe can feed a crowd of 6-8 so feel free to invite some friends. You could always reuse the chili sauce for a quick meal later. This meal makes for a great late Sunday Lunch without the cost of eating out.  Plus it is full of fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients that can help you feel good about what you are eating. Your tummy and wallet will thank you.

Here is the link to the original recipe: 

http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/Cincinnati-Chili-Spaghetti-Michael-Symon

Over all Rating: 8/10

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad on the Food Network

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad on the Food Network.

If the heat is getting to you, this recipe may be just what you want to add to your menu. You don’t have to heat up the house to make it. A refreshing way to cool off. More reasons to try? This salad is packing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin B-6, and Calcium. I have tried it and loved it!

Help! Leftovers Are Taking Over!

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Do you have leftovers from Easter lurking in your fridge or freezer? When I host a dinner I tend to make too much food, because the worry of not having enough haunts me. Besides, who wants to waste? When I think about all the time and energy spent making each dish, I feel obligated to use them. I also hate eating the same things over and over. Here is what I am doing with my leftovers. Hopefully you will be inspired to do something with yours.

Leftover: Hard-boiled eggs and Ham (maybe a green veggie)

Fix: Ham, Egg, and Cheddar Gratin (Inspired by Williams-Sonoma Casual Entertaining)

Ingredients:

-6 Hard-boiled Eggs (split in length-wise halves)     -1/2 cup low-fat Cheddar or Velveeta if you prefer     – 2 cups of trimmed & diced Ham    -3Teaspoons Tarragon       -1/4 cup Onion, diced       -1 stalk Celery (or other leftover green veggie), diced     -3 cups reduced-fat Milk (room temperature)       -1/4teaspoon Nutmeg               -dash of Hot Sauce    – 3 tablespoons Cornstarch  -3 tablespoons water or broth    -1/4 cup low-fat Shredded Cheddar       -1 Tablespoon Butter (or substitute)       -Salt  – Pepper

Directions:

1.Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

2.Heat Butter in saucepan over medium heat. Once melted add the Onions and Celery until translucent. Add the Ham and heat through.

3.Once mixture is warmed, add 1 teaspoon Tarragon and stir. Pour Ham mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish.

4. In the same suacepan, pour Water and Cornstarch and wisk quickly. Cook over medium-low heat until boils and then pull it off the heat and turn stove off.

5. One cup at a time add the Milk, whisking in. Over medium heat whisk until thickened. Once the sauce thickens, add the 1/2 cup of Cheddar. Stir so that the Cheddar melts smoothly.

6. Take 6 halves of the Hard-boiled Eggs and dice them up. Add them to the Cheddar Sauce. Add the Nutmeg, Hot Sauce, and Tarragon. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Pour Cheddar sauce into the baking dish.

7.Place remaining Hard-boiled Egg halves yolk-side up in the pan, distributing them evenly. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top.

8. Place baking dish in oven for 10 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

9. Serve and enjoy.

Tips:

-If for some reason the sauce is a little soupy, add toast to soak up. It is still super yummy!

-You can make  a roux with equal parts flour and canola oil if desired, instead of the corstarch slurry for thickening.

 

Leftovers: Ham Hock and Carrots

Fix: Soup Beans

Ingredients:

– 1 Ham Hock          -3/4cup Carrots (diced)          -1/2 onion diced       -2 cloves garlic minced

-2 cups Great Northern or Pinto Beans          -4 cups low-sodium Broth or Water    – Black Pepper

Directions:

1. In a dutch oven (or pot)  heat Onions and Garlic over medium heat ntil translucent. Add the Carrots and Ham Hock. Cook until warmed. Pepper to taste.

2. Stir in Beans and cook until warm. Add the Broth and bring to a boil.

3. Once at a boil, simmer for at least an hour. Serve.

Tips:

-You could transfer the ingredients into a crock-pot on your way to work, and put it on a medium low setting and come home to some good eats!

-Serve with cornbread.

-Freeze leftovers for a cold, rainy day.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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Great for a cold day or when you want to have something on the table in less than a half hour.

Ingredients:
1 jar of Roasted Red Peppers(drained)
2 cups of low-sodium Chicky Broth (Chicken Broth)
3 cups of low-fat Milk
2 cloves of Garlic (peeled)
2 tablespoons Butter/ Butter substitute
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons whole wheat Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: Fresh grated Parmesan

How to make it soup:
1. In a blender combine the jar or Roasted Red Peppers, Garlic, and Chicky Broth. Puree until smooth.
2. While Red Peppers puree, heat a medium sauce pan to medium heat. Add the Butter and Olive Oil.
3. Once butter and oil are melted together, add Flour and whisk quickly and cook until mixture is thickened. Slowly, one cup at a time, add Milk until it becomes thickened and then add the next cup. Continue whisking lightly with each added cup, scrapping the bottom.
4. Add the Red Pepper puree to the sauce pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir until warmed through.
5. Serve.

Tips:
-You may want to serve with a toasted Italian Cheese sammy on whole wheat bread.
– Fresh grated parmesan makes a wonderful garnish, as does a little fresh cracked pepper.
-This also makes a great foundation for a pasta sauce.
-You may want to use vegetable broth in place of chicky broth for a vegetarian dish.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
1/3 cup Sugar
1tablespoon Splenda Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/3 cup Hot water
4 cups Low-fat Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Optional: Whipped Cream and Cinnamon for garnish

Directions:
1. In a medium sauce pan combine Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cayenne Pepper, and Ground Cinnamon. Wisk in Hot Water.
2. Turn the stove to medium heat, and heat until you reach a low boil. Continue wisking for 2 minutes.
3. Add Milk in 1 cup at a time, bringing it slowly to warm. Turn down heat if the mixture starts to boil.
4. Remove your sauce pan from the heat and add Vanilla.
5. Ladle into mugs and top with whippy if desired. You may even want to sprinkle Cinnamon on top for looks.

Tips:
You can turn this delicious dessert into a special memory by packing it and heading outdoors for a scenic walk or planned adventure.