I just have to start off by saying that this was an amazing weekend! I hope that you all had great weekends, too and got to do something fun outside. In Tahoe, it was absolutely gorgeous this weekend, minus some high clouds, but I’ll take it. Yesterday, I got a good long run in the morning and then spent a few hours on the lake paddle boarding. Today, I did something that I have never done in the 25 years I have lived here. I summited Mt. Tallac. It was a challenge, but the views were worth it. I am putting together a video blog post for you on it, so make sure you subscribe to my blog in the right side of the page to see my adventure. In the meantime, the top image is of me on the highest point of the peak.

A well-earned brew at the top of Mt. Tallac.

A well-earned brew at the top of Mt. Tallac.

I can’t believe that there are less than two weeks left till my first big race of the season! Lots of fun things are going on and I am glad that I have spent the past four months really training to make sure that I am ready. This past week, I was really concentrating on quality runs (both speed and length). Here’s the week-end rewind:

  • Monday 5/25 – No work for Memorial Day. I took advantage of the day off and got a long run in the morning, since I skipped it over the previous weekend. 8.5 miles at 10:36 pace.
  • Tuesday 5/26 – It was a cool afternoon with some thunder clouds in the distance, so I decided to take my pup to my favorite trail for a fun 3.5 miles. Didn’t bring a watch with me, so I have no idea what my pace was.
  • Wednesday 5/27 – I had an appointment for torture in the afternoon (aka the dentist), so I ran in the morning before work on my treadmill. 30 minute tempo run at 4:30 am. Fun. Not.
  • Thursday 5/28 – Cross-training was a long paddle board session in the afternoon. I am totally obsessed with my new board. Being on the lake is amazing, and man, is it a killer workout for your arms, back, core, and legs.
  • Friday 5/29 – After hitting it pretty hard all week, I decided to take today off and gear up for the weekend.
  • Saturday 5/30 – Woke up early for a 12-miler. The temperature was perfect and I even ran into my boss, who was also on a run. We ran together for two miles and it was a great pick-me-up in the middle of my run (2 miles at 9:30 pace). The benefits of living in a small town… My final mileage was 11.7 miles at 10:36 pace (I have no idea how my pace was exactly the same as my run on Monday, weird). After my run, I went paddle boarding for a few hours.
  • Sunday 5/31 – Woke up and tackled Mt. Tallac. The total mileage was about 10 miles out-and-back with 3,000′ of elevation gain. I’ve included a picture of the amazing view here, but stay tuned for more to come. I’m just too tired tonight to get anything else together. What a day!

Total Running Miles: 26.7

Total Hiking Miles: 10

Total Paddling Miles: 6

I’m exhausted, but ready to tackle another week. What did you do this past week to feed your soul? What goals do you have for next week? One of my goals is more sleep. On that note, goodnight!

It’s the weekend! I don’t know about you, but short weeks after a long weekend are always rough. There is lots of work to be done, fewer days to cram it into, and everything just feels out of whack. I’m so looking forward to this weekend and spending some quality time outside. And the weather finally isn’t crap anymore!

Tomorrow I have 12 miles to run in the morning and paddle boarding after. Then on Sunday, some friends and I are hiking Mt. Tallac. So, what does that mean? Better fuel up! One of the things that has been the hardest for me while following a primal lifestyle, is trying to find good carb options to keep me fueled on my long runs. Grains, pasta, bread, and all the other traditional carb sources for runners are off the table. It has taken some adjusting, but I have finally found what works for me to keep me going, and doesn’t contribute to inflammation and make me feel like garbage. Enter, sweet potatoes. They are a great complex carbohydrate, have a low glycemic index, and are packed with vitamins. When I have lots of activity planned, I make sure that I eat at least one sweet potato a day. My favorite way to make them is cutting them into fries, tossing with olive oil and spices, and oven roasting. The result is a slightly sweet, salty, and deliciously nutritious side dish or snack.

I have gotten quite a few questions on how to make sweet potato fries. While they aren’t very hard to make, there are a few things that you want to make sure you do to get the best results. Here is a simple way to cook them up and a wonderful sauce to dip them in on the side. So, whether you have a super active day or just want a healthy alternative to regular fries, give these sweet potato fries a try.


IMG_9991Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes (generally one small per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and seasoning of choice (I love Arty’s Party Rub on these!)
  • 1/4 cup homemade mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Annie’s dijon
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos

Directions:

  1. Scrub the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them. There are a lot of nutrients in the skin and you don’t want to miss out on those!
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks 1/4 inch wide. I find, the smaller I cut the fries, the more evenly browned they get.
  3. Place the sweet potatoes into a large bowl of ice water and allow to sit for 1-2 hours. While you can skip this step (and I often do), it results in a wonderful texture that is slightly crisper.
  4. Drain the sweet potatoes from the water and toss in a large bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per potato.
  5. Add seasoning (chili powder is great) and salt. I also like these with just salt as the seasoning.
  6. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. It is very important that the sweet potatoes do NOT touch. If they touch, they will steam and be soggy. No one wants soggy fries so take your time and line them up all neat and perfect.
  7. Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  8. While the sweet potatoes are baking, mix all remaining ingredients to make your sauce. Let chill in your fridge until the sweet potatoes are done.
  9. Dip the golden brown potatoes into your sauce and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite ways to cook sweet potatoes? Comment below and then go get outside this weekend!

Season with whatever you like, but I highly recommend Arty's Party Rub. See how you can get your hands on some.

Season with whatever you like, but I highly recommend Arty’s Party Rub. See how you can get your hands on some.

Take time and make sure that they are NOT touching. Don't just throw them on the pan.

Take time and make sure that they are NOT touching. Don’t just throw them on the pan.

Dip a little, or dip a lot.

Dip a little, or dip a lot.

john

One of my favorite heroes, my brother.

It’s Memorial Day and I would be totally remiss if I didn’t say thank you to all the service men and women who put their life on the line to protect our freedom. I have many friends and family that have served and I am proud to know each and every single one of them. They made the ultimate sacrifice and deserve more than one day a year to be recognized as heroes. I also want to give a big shout-out to my brother, John, who served for 10 years in the Air Force flying F-15s. After two tours of duty to Afghanistan and a couple of close calls (some of which he will never tell us, his family), he was able to walk away in one piece… for the most part. Some aren’t as lucky and I wish that they, their family, and friends know just how much I admire them. Thank you for everything.

Most have this day of remembrance off and if you do, you might be planning a BBQ like 99% of Americans. I absolutely love anything grilled, but let’s be honest, everything, and I mean everything, is better when it is topped with a delicious sauce. When that sauce is healthy…bonus! If you’re looking for a way to incorporate more greens into your diet, or you just want a delicious sauce that will be the star of your next BBQ, this chimichurri sauce is for you. This recipe is a spin on the traditional chimichurri sauce from Argentina and incorporates kale and lime. It is delicious on steak, chicken, shrimp, or whatever else your heart desires. So, fire up those grills and get this chimichurri sauce going to drown your grilled meat in love. Not to mention, it is just a really fun word to say. Say it with me. Chimichurri!


whole30-dinnerKale Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packed flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup packed baby kale
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh oregano leaves (they must be fresh!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • Roughly 1 cup good olive oil (this is a no-cook sauce, so use extra virgin here)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the olive oil into a food processor (or a blender).
  2. Pulse until well combined.
  3. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the top of the food processor or blender while it is on. Once the sauce has come together and is the consistency you like, you know it is done.

Give this a try and let me know what you think. Is there anything else you like to put chimichurri on?

IMG_9840

SUP Sunday

It must be a weekend for cross training, because that is all I have been doing. I went to spin class yesterday morning and had an amazing workout. Then I ended up having to shuffle my 11 miler till tomorrow, so I took advantage of the beautiful day and went for a ride on my new paddle board. Paddle boarding has a rightful reputation as being a great all-around workout, but is especially good for your core and arms, which I can definitely afford to work on.

Another day in paradise.

Another day in paradise.

I landed on Wai SUP a couple of weeks ago and absolutely love it. Because of all the rain we have been getting, today was the first time I was finally able to get out on the water. The board is great. It is light weight, has a comfortable grip, is pretty (#1 priority, duh), AND to top it off, is locally made in Tahoe, which I love supporting.

Since I am new at all of this, I have to tell you that it is a little harder than it looks. Having been a snowboarder for the last 20 years, I thought that it would be a little easier. The first time I tried to stand up, I landed in the water. I am definitely no expert on the subject, in fact, I am a straight up amateur, but here are some of the things that I have found help keep me out of the water:

  • When you first get on your board, kneel and get some speed going before you stand up. The board is much more stable when it is in motion.
  • When you are transitioning from kneeling to standing, make sure to plant your feet wide and have them where you want them. It is difficult to move around on the paddle board after you are standing.
  • Engage you core and take long, full strokes to get the most stability and efficiency (and to work those abs).
  • Don’t look behind you. No matter what. If you are paddling with someone and they say something, don’t look behind you or you will end up in the water.
  • Keep your knees bent to absorb any waves and maintain balance.
  • Don’t lean backward or forward. Just don’t do it.

I have been wanting to buy a paddle board for a while and am so looking forward to a fun summer on the lake! It is great to work the parts of the body that runners can sometimes ignore, and to do it in a really fun way that doesn’t even seem like working out. There is just something so peaceful about being on the lake. Do you paddle? Any tips you have found for me?

As a side note, there are only three weeks left till my first big race of the season, the Lake Tahoe Relay. Eeeek! Do you have any first-of-the-season races creeping up on you?

Let me start off by saying, I am not a huge proponent of the run-walk. Because I ran competitively throughout high school, I come from the school of thought that there is NO walking in running. No walk breaks. No stopping to get a drink. No walking up hills. No stopping or slowing down. Period. If you walk at any point during your run, it is not a successful run. Not to mention, it can completely crush your momentum when you stop to walk.

That being said, I may be softening my edge in my older age. I did a run yesterday that made me start to rethink this whole run-walk thing. It may have just been because I had someone to run with (which never happens), or that it was slightly drizzling (which made it fun), or that I really did like the concept of the run-walk.

I knew at the beginning of the run that it would be more of a run-walk. My coworker I was running with is visiting from Florida, so I didn’t blame her for wanting to take some walk breaks. Going from sea level to 7,000 feet can be a little bit of a shock, to say the least. While I was excited to run with her, I didn’t think that I would get in a real workout by run-walking. Well, I could not have been more wrong! I couldn’t believe how sore I woke up this morning. Let me introduce you to what she calls, BOGO.

The Buy One, Get One, which is really B4GO (Buy Four, Get One), goes something like this. Run 1 mile and walk a quarter mile (or five minutes). By the time you have done four intervals of 1 mile running/quarter mile walking, you have run four miles and got an extra mile with walking (bonus!). Before I knew it, we had done 6 miles! Now that could be because there was a lot of good conversation and laughing, but it definitely felt like it made the time go by a little faster. In the moment, it also felt a lot easier. I felt like I could go forever. Suddenly, mileage wasn’t intimidating and hills were nothing to fear, because you knew that a walk break was right around the corner.

According to Jeff Galloway, almost everyone can finish a marathon with some training and following this method. My coworker has followed his programs before from anything from full marathons to 5Ks. She has also been incredibly successful, and uninjured, in doing so. While I might not incorporate walk breaks into most of my runs, I do think that it is a good alternative for those that might have physical reasons for not running the entire distance. This method takes the intimidation factor out for those wanting to get into running, those wishing to cover lots of distance with reduced stress on the body, and those wanting to take it a little easier on a recovery day.

If you have been wanting to lace up those running shoes and hit the road, this could be the perfect way to dip your toe in the water. Don’t be afraid to walk if you need to and even schedule intervals so you have a roadmap for success. Remember the BOGO or B4GO to get the most out runs and increase the mileage without even trying.

Do you run-walk? What do you think about taking walking breaks while you are running?

Before I get to the favorite recipe I have ever made, I have some exciting news. I crossed into the double digits this morning! I haven’t run over 10 miles in at least two years and breaking through that barrier was a huge accomplishment for me mentally and physically. Overall, the run went really well. I felt good, had a good mixture of hills and flat, and the last 4 miles I was running in a light drizzle, which was actually kind of fun. Good thing I got it in when I did. The skies just turned really dark and I think we’re in for a pretty good storm this afternoon.

I can’t believe that 3 months ago all I could do was run/walk 3 miles. I have gone from sucking some serious wind to getting my stride back and it feels so good. When you first start running again, it can be the most depressing thing ever, especially if you are someone who has a couple of marathons under your belt. After coming off my hiatus, there were many days where I felt like I would never be able to run over 3 miles. With one foot in front of the other day after day, I am finally starting to feel like a real runner again. Success comes to those who work their butts off for it! Don’t ever give up.

Now on to the fun stuff…melt in your mouth pulled pork! I can’t remember exactly how it came up, but last week I was speaking with a coworker about flavor combinations and pork with pineapple came up. They’re a match made in heaven and compliment each other so well. So, when I received a package from US Wellness Meats on Thursday with a delicious pork shoulder, I knew I had to find a way to make something delicious with pineapple. What I didn’t expect was how downright amazing it would turn out. I don’t think there is another way I will ever cook pork again. It is seriously that good.

The pork is braised in a delicious sauce that would be good on its own, but then when you add the pineapple BBQ sauce, it brings the pork to a whole new level. The BBQ sauce has the perfect amount of spicy, tangy, and sweet. This sauce would be good on chicken, too, so you might want to make up a double batch and keep it in the fridge to use all week.


IMG_0007Pulled Pork with Pineapple BBQ Sauce

Cooking time: 1 hour prep/active cooking, 8 hours in the crockpot

For the pork:

  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/3 cup Annie’s dijon
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 diced pineapple, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons dijon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoke paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Directions for the pork:

  1. Pull out your crockpot and line the bottom with your sliced onions and garlic. Add the pork on top of the onions and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  2. Mix the beef stock, dijon, maple syrup, and coconut aminos in a small bowl. Pour over the pork.
  3. Turn your crockpot on low and cook for 8 hours.
  4. At the end of 8 hours, remove the pork and place on a cutting board.
  5. Allow the pork to sit for about 10 minutes and then shred with a fork or finely slice with a knife.

Directions for the sauce:

  1. About an hour before the pork is done cooking in the crockpot, get started on the sauce.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil and shallot to a medium sauce pan. Cook on medium-high for about five minutes until it starts to soften.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add the pineapple and salt to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2-3 minutes while stirring regularly.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the vinegar, and stir to incorporate.
  6. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend on high till smooth (about 2 minutes).
  8. Add the sauce back to the sauce pan, stir in the vinegar, and taste for seasoning. At this point the sauce can stay warm on the stove until the pork is ready to be smothered in its love.
  9. Toss about 3/4 of the sauce with the shredded pork and serve the extra sauce on the side.

Baked sweet potato fries and coleslaw really round out this meal. The pork would also be good in egg foo young, salad, tacos…just about anything. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Saute the shallots and pineapple until soft and just starting to brown.

Saute the shallots and pineapple until soft and just starting to brown.

Blend the BBQ sauce until silky smooth.

Blend the BBQ sauce until silky smooth.

Toss the sauce with your pulled pork and then drown it in even more sauce.

Toss the sauce with your pulled pork and then drown it in even more sauce.

Serve with baked sweet potatoes and coleslaw for a perfect post-run meal.

Serve with baked sweet potatoes and coleslaw for a perfect post-run meal.

Golfing a few winters ago when we had no snow.

Golfing a few winters ago when we had no snow.

It wouldn’t be Mother’s Day if I didn’t take a moment to share with you how amazing my mom is. But, before I get to that, I have to share a story with you. I was looking out my window this morning, from which I can see the parking lot of the golf course. As I was looking out, I saw an older man and woman loading their golf clubs onto their cart. At first I thought, “How cute. He’s taking his wife golfing for Mother’s Day.” Then I noticed something about this man that filled my heart with inspiration. He only had a left arm. I began to watch him more intently as he took care in loading his bag onto the cart, putting his golf glove onto the only hand he had, closing the back hatch to the car, locking it, and then driving the cart to the starting area. I was overcome with emotion as I watched this entire orchestrated process. Long after he left, I found myself continuing to look out the window. I imagined the struggles of his every day life, if he was born that way or lost his arm in an accident, and how in the world he swings a club with one left arm. I struggle with two perfectly good arms! I wish I could have joined them for 18 holes to witness his strength and determination in action.

It is times like this that I realize just how lucky I am. Thank God I have never had a disease, serious illness, or anything worse than two broken wrists from snowboarding (not at the same time, thankfully). There are so many people in this world that are faced with adversity, yet still make the best of every minute they have. The person in my life who inspires me every single day is my mother. She is the prime example of how to make lemonade out of lemons. The past two years have been a roller coaster of diagnoses, chemo, radiation, drugs, tests, and surgery.  Through all of it, she has had the most amazing attitude, been an image of pure strength, and handled the whole thing with more grace than anyone could. Not only has my mom taught me a lot in these past two years, but throughout my whole life. It is hard to verbalize everything she has taught me, because that is practically everything I knowbut here are the top ten that come to mind:

  1. Cook with your heart.
  2. Prepare a green salad AND a vegetable with every dinner.
  3. Keep your head down and eye on the golf ball!
  4. Buy fresh cut flowers for the house, just “because.”
  5. Finish every dinner with something sweet.
  6. Garden and have houseplants for a nicer home.
  7. Life is more fun when you have dogs.
  8. Appreciate nature, get out in the sun, and explore the outdoors.
  9. Fight the good fight with grace and strength.
  10. Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain.

I am so lucky to have the mom that I do, and I know that you probably feel the same way about your mom, too. Think about some of the things your mom has taught you.

Happy Mom’s Day!

Pecan Berry-Pear Crisp

It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow! If you are like most, you might be looking for some last minute ways to show your mom how much she means to you. Every year I struggle with this, because I know that there is absolutely nothing I could do to show my mom just how much I appreciate everything she has done for me and how much I love her. There are no words, no gifts, and no gestures that could do that justice. I know all that stuff doesn’t matter to parents and one day I will understand why. But if you are looking for a way to show your mom how much you care, one of the best things you can do is make something from the heart.

What says “I love you, Mom” more than a nutty, slightly sweet, healthy dessert? Let me know if you have any ideas. In the meantime, if you live close to your mom, or even if you don’t, get to making this delicious dessert that is sure to please. Even if you aren’t a natural born Julia Child, this recipe is super simple and will make you look like a rock star in the kitchen.


IMG_9986Pecan Berry-Pear Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Bartlett pears, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • juice from one lemon
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 8 dried dates, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, chilled
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350°F.
  2. Toss the pears, blueberries, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place all other ingredients except pecans into a food processor and pulse until mixture represents bread crumbs. Add the pecans and pulse just a couple more times to incorporate. You want to keep some pecan chunks for good texture.
  4. Transfer your fruit to an 8×8 glass baking dish or individual ramekins.
  5. Sprinkle the nut topping on top of the fruit and press down slightly to form a crust.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown and fruit juice is bubbling up. Depending on how full your baking dish is, you might want to place a cookie sheet under the pan to save your over from fruit juice dripping down.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use any fruit combination that you like. Apples and raspberries, mixed berries, strawberry rhubarb, and the list goes on. Let me know what you come up with!

IMG_9985

I can’t believe this weekend is almost over. It has been a beautiful weekend in Tahoe and is definitely starting to feel like summer. So what is mandatory for a beautiful weekend and lazy (or not so lazy) days? Grilling, of course! This recipe is perfect for any occasion. It is slightly spicy and sweet, and when the skin gets crispy on the chicken, it makes a perfect combination. I wish that I could take credit for this recipe, but I found it online several years ago and have slightly modified it to my preferences since. It is a snap to put together and can be made with lots of different flavor combinations. For example, when I first started making this recipe, I could’t find mango jam anywhere, so I substituted it with apricot and it was just as delicious. Be creative and let your imagination go with lots of different modifications you could make with this recipe.

But, before we get to the recipe, let’s talk running. Last weekend, I struggled through my Sunday long run. I was hot, I had a side-stitch, my phone died (and with it, my GPS and music), and it was just a downright ugly run. I am happy to say though, that today’s long run could not have been any more different. I made sure that my GPS and music was charged the night before, I wore the right clothes for the beautiful weather, and I didn’t get any side-stiches. My run this morning was a beautiful 8 miles and I felt as good as I could pretty much the whole way. I finished my run with a sense of accomplishment and am really looking forward to getting into the double digits soon! Today was definitely a run that I was proud of. Looking back at how far I have come since the beginning of the year, when I could hardly run 2 miles without walking, I am feeling really good about where I am headed. My post about the first step still rings true, and I am so happy that I made that first step and stuck with it. One day at a time, and one foot in front of the other. I have a long ways to go, but I am a heck of a lot closer than I was 4 months ago. Hard work does pay off.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s get to grilling!


IMG_9973Mango Sriracha Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2/3 cup mango jam (or whatever other flavor you think might be good)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha (I like Sky Valley by Organicville)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat up your grill on medium.
  2. Combine jam, green onions vinegar, and sriracha in a bowl. Set 1/4 cup of glaze aside for after the chicken is cooked.
  3. Brush both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Brush one side of the chicken with the glaze.
  5. Place the chicken, glaze side down, on the grill and reduce heat to medium low. You don’t want to cook the chicken on a hot grill or the glaze will burn. This recipe is best cooked low and slow.
  6. After 10 minutes, brush glaze on the other side of the chicken and flip. Repeat this process every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Before you flip every time, glaze the chicken. Depending the heat of your grill this should take 40-50 minutes.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove and brush with the 1/4 cup glaze that you set aside at the beginning.
  8. This is the kind of chicken you eat with your fingers. So grab some paper towels and dig in!

Let me know if you try this recipe with any other variations and what you think. Happy grilling!

IMG_9970

IMG_9972

IMG_9973

When I was in San Diego last week, I had the most amazing short ribs at the restaurant, Urban Bar and Grill. I’m not usually a big short rib type person, but these looked great and I was not disappointed. They fell right off the bone and were covered in the most delicious sauce. Ever since I had those short ribs, I have been thinking about how to recreate the recipe at home.

Now, I’ve never cooked short ribs before, but I do have a love for my crockpot. I figured they would be a match made in heaven and did some research to see what others have learned. I found that searing the meat first is essential, a bed of veggies on the bottom adds flavor, and some sort of liquid helps keep the meat nice and tender. These are all things that are pretty commonsense to anyone that has ever cooked with a crockpot. From there, I let my imagination run wild and used some of my favorite flavor combinations. The result? What I think is a perfect balance of Eastern and Western flavors.

These ribs are super tender, fall right off the bone, and will leave you wanting seconds. The sauce, that is a combination of the veggies and liquid that cook in the crockpot, completes the ribs. Pull out your crockpot, go buy some grass-fed short ribs, and get cooking. The best part? On a busy work day, you can make this in the morning and the short ribs will do their thing all day long and be waiting to eat when you come home.


IMG_9967East Meets West Crockpot Short Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 3 pounds grass-fed bone on short ribs (about 1/2 – 3/4 pound per person)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or coconut oil for searing
  • Salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 celery stocks with tops on, cut into chunks
  • 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Annie’s dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Start by pulling out your crockpot. Place the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and ginger in the bottom of the crockpot. Turn on low.
  2. Grab a cast iron or enameled cast iron pan (something heavy for even heating) and melt the bacon grease or coconut oil over medium-high heat. (Note: I think some fancy crockpots these days have a searing setting. If yours does, you can sear your meat in the crockpot first, remove, add the veggies, and then add the meat back in. My crockpot is treasured hand-me-down from my grandparents circa 1970, so I don’t have that option..)
  3. While the fat is melting, liberally salt the short ribs on all sides. This is your best chance to season the meat directly. Don’t skimp on salt! Place the short ribs in the heated pan and sear on each side until golden brown. You aren’t trying to cook the short ribs at this point. You just want to create a nice sear which will add flavor and seal in the juices.
  4. Once your meat is done searing, place it on top of the vegetable bed in your crockpot.
  5. Combine the beef broth, dijon, coconut aminos, and balsamic in a bowl and pour over your short ribs.
  6. Cover the crockpot and walk away. You want it to cook on low for 8 hours.
  7. When you come back after 8 hours, remove the short ribs and set on a plate.
  8. Remove the veggies from the crockpot and transfer to a blender with about 1/2 cup liquid. Discard the ginger. Blend the veggies with the liquid until smooth and then return to the crockpot. Mix with the remaining liquid in your crockpot to create the sauce.
  9. At this point, you can dig in if you are impatient like me. If you have a little more patience, add the short ribs back into the crockpot with the sauce and let simmer for a little while longer.

What are some of your favorite things to cook in a crockpot? Leave a comment and share!

Searing the short ribs creates a bit of smoke. Make sure to turn your hood fan on or get smoked out!

Searing the short ribs creates a bit of smoke. Make sure to turn your hood fan on or get smoked out!

Ribs hanging out on their bed of veg.

Ribs hanging out on their bed of veg.

Fall-off-the bone delicious.

Fall-off-the bone delicious.

"But Mom...! It's not THAT bad."

“But Mom…! It’s not THAT bad.”

No matter how much you prepare for a long run, or any length run for that matter, there are things that will inevitably happen that can throw you off course. Yesterday I set out for my Sunday “long” run (it was only 7 miles, but good for me in my current state of fitness) and there were so many times where I just wanted to throw in the towel and walk back to my car. I stuck with it and have to say that it wasn’t pretty, in fact it was downright ugly, but I did it. I am stronger because of it. I have more confidence because of it. So, what can put a kink in your stride and what do you do to keep on truckin’?

iPod/phone or GPS/watch dies mid-run. This is the most annoying thing, and yes, both happened to me during yesterday’s 7-miler. I hadn’t prepared the night before for my run and charged my iPod and Garmin like I should have. I figured, “no problem, I will just take my trusty iPhone 4S that is almost 3 years old…” I left the house with an 88% charge on my phone and was using it for my music and GPS (through RunKeeper), when it died before I even hit the three mile mark. Now I had a phone in my pocket that was worthless and ear buds that weren’t doing anything but driving me crazy. After cursing at my phone for a few minutes (how was I going to keep track of my pace now!?), I decided to use the opportunity to enjoy the run for what it was and not worry about my pace. I was also forced to run without music, which is something I usually only do on trails to be more in tune with my surroundings, and it was actually kind of nice to be left alone with my thoughts on the beautiful Sunday morning. I can’t say that I will chose to run like this often, but in the event your gadgets die, don’t let it kill your run. Look at it as an opportunity to run without being plugged into the modern world and enjoy the time to yourself.

You get a side-stitch that won’t go away. This can be so painful and distracting and also happened to me around mile 3 while I was cursing at my phone for dying. Luckily I have learned what works well for me and keeps me going. The trick that I always use to recover from a side-stitch is to breathe out HEAVILY (big burst of air, think blowing a whistle as hard as you can) when your opposite foot strikes the ground that the side-stitch is on. For example, if you have a right side-stitch, like I did, I would blow out forcefully every other time that my left foot hit the ground. Don’t worry about spraying spit everywhere as you do this. It’s inevitable. It is impossible to breathe out heavy like this every time, unless you are going really, really slow, so every other time, or every third time works well. Concentrate on bringing your breath into your belly and exhaling it all with one powerful force. I was back to my stride in about 5 minutes of doing this.

You over- (or under-) dressed for the weather. When I left the house at 10:00 am, it was 40°F. When I got back home at 11:20 am, it was 52°F. That 12° change can make all the difference in the world when it comes to being comfortable in your running gear. I thought that I would need a sweatshirt on my run, but then it got so hot that I was baking. Not thinking straight when I left the house, I failed to layer properly so I couldn’t shed the sweatshirt without risking being too cold in the tank top I had on underneath. This is one thing that I have learned time and again, but never seems to sink in. Take it from me, always layer (for warm or cold) and remember you can take off (or add) layers as needed. If you’re not prepared, then you are going to be incredibly uncomfortable and it can make for a struggle of a run.

There is literally a detour in your running route. This was the one thing that didn’t happen to me yesterday, but it did happen to me today on a 4-miler. Whether it is snow on the trail that makes it impassable without risking injury (my situation today), road construction, or a bear blocking your way (yes, this really did happen once), it is always good to have an alternative route mapped out in your mind before you head out on your run. When this does happen, I always sing in my head “Take the long way home“… gotta love Supertramp. I look at it as the universe telling me I need to get more miles in and just go with the flow. After all, we should just be happy that we are fortunate enough to run in the first place.

What are some of your least favorite detours that can sidetrack a run? What do you do to make the best of it? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

It’s the weekend! …and my first day off in 12 very long days. As mentioned in my last post, this past weekend I was in San Diego for an annual industry meeting. It was a great meeting and it is always good spending time with coworkers that I don’t see on a regular basis. But let’s be honest, it’s nice to be home and relaxing for the first time in two weeks. The best part of coming home is always getting back to a routine, and puppy kisses aren’t too bad either.

I was a little surprised when I woke up this morning to see six inches of Sierra cement on the ground. The snow meant I probably wasn’t going to be doing anything outside today, but I did get a good spin class in this morning. At one point we were doing tabata intervals and I must have pushed my heart rate a little too hard because I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. I got through it though and felt really good after class. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’ll keep telling myself that anyways…

So with the snow outside and no chance of going hiking or to the beach, what’s a girl to do on a day like today? Bake of course! Since I was doing Whole30 for the past couple of months, I haven’t baked anything in a really long time. Today it just sounded right. It was then only a question of what to bake. I decided to bake something that brings me back to my childhood. When my parents would let me take over the kitchen and make a total mess when I was a little girl, there were two things that I used to make, lemon bars and snickerdoodles. Back then, I used to make them both from the classic Betty Crocker cookbook. I am pretty sure that every household in America has had one of those red cookbooks at some point. I still have mine and the pages are stained and falling out, but there is no way that I could ever part with it.

Since I try to completely avoid all refined sugar and grains these days, I needed to find a way to revamp one of my favorite recipes. I had just bought a bunch of lemons and decided that lemon bars would be the experiment of the day. I was a little surprised when these came out as good as they did. I only wish that I would have saved this recipe to make tomorrow, so I could bring the leftovers into work on Monday morning. Now, the deliciously tart, slightly sweet bars are just sitting in my fridge beckoning to me. These are seriously that good. If Betty Crocker was an actual person, she would be rolling over in her grave when I say this, but I think I prefer mine over her’s. Give them a try and let me know what you think.


Honey Lemon Bars with Blueberry Jam Swirl

IMG_9946Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons palm or vegetable shortening (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour

Ingredients for blueberry jam:

  • 10 ounces of fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Directions:

  1. Start with making the blueberry jam. Rinse your blueberries and place them into a small saucepan. Mash the berries with a potato masher and then add the honey and lemon juice. Place over medium-high heat and allow to boil for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken. Set aside.
  2. While the jam is cooking, you can start making the crust. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Combine all the crust ingredients in a large glass bowl and work it with a wooden spoon until it creates a dough. Depending on how thick your honey is, you may or may not want to warm it first over the stove to make it easier to incorporate.
  4. Grease the bottom of an 8 x 8 glass baking dish with shortening and spread your dough in the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Pop it in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until slightly puffed up and lightly golden brown.
  5. While your crust is baking, get started on the filling. Whisk together all ingredients for the filling until well-combined. Once again, depending on the thickness of your honey, you may or may not want to warm it up first.
  6. After your crust has come out of the oven, let it rest for about 5 minutes before pouring on the filling. Letting it rest will allow the crust to sink in the middle and naturally create edges.
  7. Pour in the filling and then top with dollops of the blueberry jam and swirl it around with a toothpick to make pretty designs. The leftover jam can be stored in your fridge and used for everything from smoothies to just eating it with a spoon. It should last for a couple of weeks in your fridge.
  8. Place the baking dish back in the oven for about 15 more minutes until the center is set. Don’t worry if there is still a little bit of jiggle, it will solidify once you take it out of the oven. Let it rest on a wire rack for about 15 minutes and then cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
  9. IMPORTANT: You must let this sit for about two hours in the fridge before serving. I couldn’t help it and tasted mine right out of the oven. It was still delicious, but after it sat in the fridge for a couple of hours it was amazing. If it’s just you, go ahead and dig into the warm lemon bars, but if you have guests to impress, believe me, be patient and let it rest.

That’s one of my favorite childhood sweet treats recreated to be healthy. What is one of your favorite childhood treats? It might just be the next thing that I try to recreate!

Honey Lemon Bars with Blueberry Jam Swirl

Honey Lemon Bars with Blueberry Jam Swirl

Well, that recipe name isn’t a mouthful or anything…

Do you eat bison on a regular basis? If not, you should. It is one of my favorite proteins.  Not only is it usually organic and grass-fed/grass finished, but it tastes amazing. The flavor profile is slightly gamey-ier than ground beef, but it almost has a subtle sweetness to it, which makes is great for burgers, chili, and bolognese. The nutritional profile is pretty amazing, too. First of all, because of the way it is raised, it is far less likely to have growth hormones or antibiotics injected into it. Additionally, bison has more protein and vitamins per pound when compared to beef. For those watching your waistlines, it also has less calories, fat, and cholesterol. You can read all about the other benefits here. And if you are looking for a great place to buy it from, I strongly recommend US Wellness Meats. An insulated box arrives at your doorstep a couple of days after ordering and the quality of all their products are absolutely amazing.

So, what could make delicious bison even better? Piled on top of sweet potato fries, of course! To me, this is the absolute perfect post-run meal…or a perfect meal anytime for that matter. The sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and good carbohydrates that don’t spike your blood sugar. Combined with the heart-healthy protein in bison, you have a match made in heaven. I may or may not be known to eat this chili cold by dipping sweet potato fries into it, while standing in front of the fridge. You will never know… But what you should know, is how amazing this recipe is. Try like I make it or add your own variations to spice it up.


IMG_9928Home on the Range Bison Chili Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients (seves 4):

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stocks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat (or you can use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of good balsamic (this ingredient makes this recipe, don’t skip it!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Scrub your sweet potatoes and cut into fries about the size of your pinky finger. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sweet potato fries on it in a single layer. This is very important. If the fries are not a single layer, they will not brown the way you want them to. It is probably necessary for you to use two baking sheets to do this.
  4. Bake the sweet potatoes for 25-35 minutes until golden brown. Check on them after about 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Depending on how big your fries are, they may be done sooner.
  5. While the fries are baking, get your chili ready. Melt the bacon fat (or olive oil or coconut oil) in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Saute until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the ground bison to the vegetables and break it up with a wooden spoon. Stir regularly and continue to break up the lumps of meat until the bison is cooked through.
  7. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine.
  8. Add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and balsamic.
  9. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer the chili for about 30 minutes. Check the chili for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Your fries will probably be done a little before your chili, but let them hang out till the chili is ready and then smoother away.
  11. Add whatever other toppings to the chili that you would like. Avocado and green onions hit the spot for me.

Give this a try and let me know what you think. I also want to hear if you make any variations. There are thousands of different ways to cook chili, all of which are great!

Sweet potato fries ready to be smothered in deliciousness

Sweet potato fries ready to be smothered in deliciousness

Home on the Range Bison Chili

Home on the Range Bison Chili

Chili fries ready to be devoured

Chili fries ready to be devoured

Another week is in the works and what could make it better than some good ol’ comfort food? Growing up, do you remember eating those delicious single-serving chicken pot pies from the freezer section? I sure do, and they were amazing. On the special occasion that my dad, aka “Mr. Mom,” was feeling fancy, he would make up chicken pot pies from scratch and those were even more amazing. I always felt like it was a real treat when we got chicken pot pies, whether they were from scratch or the freezer. I mean, who doesn’t love dessert and dinner combined into one delectable dish?

Ever since I have given up less-healthy foods in favor of more-healthy foods, I have been trying to figure out how to recreate some of the comfort foods that were a staple in my childhood. I first made these a couple of years ago for my now ex-boyfriend. I was amazed when he gobbled the pot pie down. He was the type of person that if you told him something was healthy, he would have a natural bias against it. Guess these were the exception and not the rule.

So, if you want comfort food that reminds you of your childhood, or just to satisfy a picky eater, these pot pies will do the trick. The topping is light and nutty, and when mixed with the molten chicken and veggie mixture, it creates a seriously winning combination. They are also moderately easy to put together, making a satisfying and delicious weeknight meal in no more than an hour.


IMG_9907Paleo Childhood Chicken Pot Pies Ingredients (serves 2):

Crust

Filling

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 celery stocks, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice (I prefer bacon fat, but extra virgin olive oil works, too)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken thighs (if you prefer white meat, you can use breast meat)

Directions:

  1. Pull out your food processor. Add the almond flour, coconut flour, 1/2 of a beaten egg (save the other 1/2 to brush the top of the crust before it goes in the oven), ice water, and salt. Pulse until mixture has just started to come together (about 30 seconds).
  2. Dab shortening around the food processor bowl and pulse until incorporated. The less mixing you do, the better.
  3. Remove the mixture from the bowl and divide into two balls. Place the balls of dough in the refrigerator on parchment paper while you are making your filling.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  5. Pull out a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil, shallot, celery, and carrots. Saute until they start to soften, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle tapioca starch on top of veggies, stir in, and cook for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add chicken stock, thyme, salt, and pepper. Taste to make sure that your seasoning is on point.
  8. Let the mixture simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about five minutes.
  9. Add the chopped chicken to the mixture. Try not to eat the mixture at this point. I know, it is that good, but it is even better when it is in the form of a pie.
  10. Divide the mixture in to two oven-safe bowls (french onion soup bowls or ramekins work well for this).
  11. Pull the dough out of the fridge and roll each ball out in between two layers of parchment paper. You do not want to roll the dough too thin. Roll it just enough so that it is large enough to cover the tops of your of bowls.
  12. Carefully peel the top sheet of parchment off and flip the dough onto the bowl. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. Pot pies are supposed to be rustic. Repeat with the other ball of dough and the other bowl.
  13. Brush the top of the pies with the remaining egg you have left and cut a couple of vents into the top of each.
  14. Place both bowls on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
  15. Dig in and try not to burn your mouth! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I hope that this recipe brings back good childhood memories for you like it has for me. Do you have any other recipes that remind you of your childhood? Those are some of the best so please share below.

Chicken pot pie filling before going into the bowls

Chicken pot pie filling before going into the bowls

The types of bowls that I use for the pies.

The types of bowls that I use for the pies

Ready to go in the oven

Ready to go in the oven

Dig in!

Dig in!

Sunday morning reflection

Sunday morning reflection

This past week was definitely a challenging one for me. There was a lot going on at work and a ton of school work to be done before I leave for San Diego next week. There were so many days where I just felt like throwing in the towel and saying “nope, not going to run today.” I’m proud to say that even though I thought that way constantly throughout the week, I didn’t skip a single workout and I feel a million times more accomplished because of that. I am also feeling super accomplished with a video I made to go on my About Me page today. I definitely don’t have any editing skills so it was a complete learning experience. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Below is what else I was up to from a running standpoint this week:

  • Monday 4/6 Rest day.
  • Tuesday 4/7 – Treadmill intervals. This is the first time I have done intervals in a really long time and I actually enjoyed it. I did 6 x 400 at 6.5 mph, which always seems much faster on the treadmill than it is in real life.
  • Wednesday 4/8 – 6 mile run at an 11:00/mile pace. This is the first time that I have run this far in years and it went really well. I would like to be a little (a lot) faster, but I’ll take it for now.
  • Thursday 4/9 – Rest day.
  • Friday 4/10 – Hit the Flume trail for 3.5 miles with the pup. We had fun and took some video along the way, which you can see here.
  • Saturday 4/11 – Made an appearance at spin for the second week in a row. My butt is still sore from last week and hope that goes away soon as I start going more regularly. Who invented the bike seat anyways? Could they have invented anything more uncomfortable? Seriously.
  • Sunday 4/12 – Easy 3 mile run this morning after I took the pup down to the beach for some self-reflection. Glad I got it in because I have been slaving away on the computer ever since.

That sums up my training for the week. I can’t believe that I only have 9 more weeks till the Lake Tahoe Relay and 10 weeks till the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon. That is like nothing in runner-time!

I’ve got another busy week on tap for next week, but am really looking forward to it. On Thursday I am heading to San Diego for the ASCRS/ASOA Annual Symposium and Congress with some colleagues. It will undoubtably be another go-go-go week, but we should find time to have some fun along the way. I am also running my first race in … I don’t know … over 2 years. It is only a 5K and definitely nothing I am taking too serious, but it will be fun to be back on the starting line.

What are your goals for next week? Comment below.

Growing up as a runner in high school, I always followed the philosophy that runners should eat lots of carbs. Pasta, bread, rice, pizza, you name it, I ate it. At that point in my life, I didn’t worry about gaining weight or my metabolism, so nothing was off limits. However, I’ve learned that as I grow older, I can’t pull off the same stuff that I did in high school. Not only is it true that your metabolism really does turn into a slug as you get older, but I also sit behind a desk for 8-12 hours a day (depending on if I have school or not). As much as I wish I could be more active throughout the day (not just on afternoon runs), there just aren’t enough hours to get everything done and still have some time for homework and sleep.

So, what is a girl to do that loves carbs, but carbs don’t love her? Find healthy substitutions that trick you into thinking you are still being naughty. Sweet potatoes, cauliflower “rice”, plantains, zoodles, they all fit the bill. As a girl who loves to cook and eat, I love them all equally, but I have to say that cauliflower rice is one that will make you do a double-take. Say whaaaat?

I first discovered cauliflower rice a year ago and always had okay feelings about it. It was mushy, tasteless, and just kind of … whatever. I would “rice” the cauliflower and then steam it over the stove. I definitely wasn’t impressed. But then I discovered how to roast it in the oven and my whole world changed. Seriously. This is the most genius way to cook cauliflower rice. Ever. It is light, airy, nutty, flavorful, and will convert even the most skeptical person. If you’ve never had cauliflower rice or had bad experiences with it in the past, this recipe is for you.


Roasted cauliflower "rice"

Roasted cauliflower “rice”

Asian Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cooked protein (I like to use leftover chicken for this, but shrimp or pork would be good, too)
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and papper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. You will need a food processor with a grating attachment to “rice” the cauliflower. You can also grate it by hand on a cheese grater, but this will take a really long time and gets really messy. I don’t recommend it.
  3. Cut your cauliflower into large segments so that they can fit into the feeder of a food processor fitted with the grating attachment. Grate your cauliflower in batches until it is all done. It will look like rice.
  4. Transfer the rice to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste it for seasoning before putting it in the oven.
  5. Spread the rice in an even layer on the baking sheet and pop it in the oven. You want to roast it until there are a few brown spots starting to form and along the edges, about 25 minutes.
  6. While the cauliflower rice is roasting, get the rest of your pilaf ingredients ready. Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are turning slightly golden brown. Add the green onions and protein of choice. Heat through.
  7. By about the time your veggies and protein are ready, your cauliflower rice should be about done. Fluff your cauliflower rice with a fork and add to the saute pan.
  8. Add the coconut aminos, sesame oil, salt, and pepper to taste. A heavier hand with the coconut aminos is good here.
  9. Toss everything together and eat up!

Try this out and let me know what you think. Do you have a favorite way to cook cauliflower rice?

Cauliflower "rice" before going in the oven

Cauliflower “rice” before going in the oven

Roasted cauliflower "rice"

Roasted cauliflower “rice”

Finished product - Asian Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

Finished product – Asian Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

SpringI hope you all had a great Easter weekend! It didn’t snow all winter here in Tahoe and then it was a blizzard yesterday. Go figure. Oh well. We’ll take whatever we can get in the form of liquid falling from the sky these days. With it snowing yesterday, I opted to forego my 6 mile run and reschedule it for this week. I am sooooo over my treadmill and the thought of doing 6 miles on it yesterday made my eye twitch. I also wasn’t about to freeze my butt off running in the snow. I managed to get a few miles in on the treadmill, but that was all I could stand. If anyone has a fool proof way to make treadmill time more enjoyable, please let me know.

All in all though, I felt like it was a great week for training. I got in some good runs and I even made it to a spin class on Saturday. It’s been over a year since I went to spin! Following is what my training plan looked like for the week:

  • Monday 3/30 – 5 mile run on a little exercise course we have in town. I like this course because it is flat and all dirt, which my legs are really appreciating these days. Only problem, it is only .75 miles long, which means I go around and around and around… Overall felt pretty good and averaged 12:00 miles, which I’ll take at this point in my training.
  • Tuesday 3/31 – Rest day.
  • Wednesday 4/1 – 30 minute tempo. I ran this on the golf course and had a great run. Although I was sucking some serious wind, it felt good to get my legs moving fast again.
  • Thursday 4/2 – Rest day.
  • Friday 4/3 – Ran 3 miles on my favorite trail. You can read about it here.
  • Saturday 4/4 – Went to spin class for the first time in over a year! It felt great and I am so excited to start spinning again. You can read my review on Yelp here.
  • Sunday 4/5 – Ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill.

Something else super exciting, I had my first beer (if you can call Bigfoot that, ha!) yesterday with Easter dinner in over 2 months! To tell you the truth, I didn’t really miss it. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to indulge a bit (I even had a little bit of cheese, cream, and the best tart ever that my mom makes), but it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it would be. Except for the tart. That was a big, delicious deal. So good. Anyways, coming off of my Whole30 experience, I thought that I would have all these emotions going “off plan,” but it was kind of anticlimactic. Maybe it’s a sign that I really have finally created a good relationship with food and alcohol.

I am looking forward to another great week ahead and increasing my mileage. I also have an interval session (6 x 400) on tap for tomorrow morning with my treadmill. I actually don’t mind intervals on the treadmill, just distance. What are some of your training goals for the next week?

Why do you run? If you are like most runners, you have more than one reason. It might be to relieve stress, accomplish a goal, improve your health, lose weight, etc. All of these are absolutely wonderful reasons to run, but one of the reasons at the top of my list, is to get outside and enjoy my surroundings.

One of the patches of snow we found about .6 miles on the trail from the start.

One of the patches of snow we found about .6 miles from the start.

Although I wish that the running trails were still covered with five feet of snow, like they should be this time of year in Lake Tahoe, I am definitely happy that I can get back on my favorite running trail, the Lake Tahoe Flume Trail. Today, the pup and I had a great 3 mile out-and-back run and played what I call “doggie fartlek.”

Fartlek means speed-play in Swedish and it is a fun way of getting speed training into your run in the simplest form. Basically, you run fast for periods of time followed by slower periods of jogging. There is not much structure to it. Doggie fartlek means that I just try to keep up with my little Jack Russell. She will run fast (trying to chase squirrels, shadows, or whatever) and then slow it down from time to time. I basically just follow her lead and she always seems to kick my butt. We definitely had fun today.

This trail is like an old friend to me. I have been running it for 20 years and know every twist, turn, root, and rock. Today was the first time this year that I have braved it, as there tends to be some shady spots that can remain covered in snow well into Spring. I only came across a couple of these spots today and for the most part, the trail is absolutely runnable… Reunited and it feels so good!

This section of the Flume Trail is mostly flat and you can go as far or as short as you would like. When I run it, I usually do an out-and-back, as leaving my car at one of the outlets, Diamond Peak Ski Resort or Tunnel Creek Cafe, can be a hassle when you are trying to find someone to drop you off at the trailhead.

Here’s how you can get to the trailhead that I access:

About 1.25 miles from the start of the trail on the way to Diamond Peak.

About 1.25 miles from the start of the trail on the way to Diamond Peak.

  1. Coming from Incline Village, head up Mt. Rose highway as if you were headed to Reno.
  2. Just outside of Incline Village, you will go around a very large hairpin turn with a major lookout over Lake Tahoe on the right. You shouldn’t be able to miss it.
  3. After the lookout, about a quarter mile up the road, you will see a small dirt area on the right that can fit a few cars.
  4. You can either park in the dirt, or there is also a big pull out directly across the highway from the dirt lot where you can also park.
  5. At the end of the small dirt area, there are some medium-sized boulders and a trail that begins directly through them.
  6. Follow the trail about 25 yards and take a slight left. You will then be on a pretty well traveled single track trail.
  7. Continue to follow the trail and go as far as you would like.
  8. If you are interested in going all the way to Diamond Peak Ski Resort or Tunnel Creek, there are a couple of forks in the trail that you will have to navigate. At about .5 miles you will see a trail that goes down a hill to the right. Go down this trail and then left at the bottom of the trail. You will then cross a small stream and start going up a hill. At the top of this small hill, take the trail to the right. The trail will wrap around the side of the mountain and take you all the way to Diamond Peak (about 4 miles) or Tunnel Creek (about 3 miles further to where that trail meets up).
The other small patch of snow that we had to navigate. This spot was pretty sketchy.

The other small patch of snow that we had found. This spot was sketchy.

No matter if you decide to take the trail out-and-back or go from point-to-point, you will enjoy the serenity of the trail and the beautiful views of the Lake and mountains along the way. This is also a great trail for mountain biking and if you aren’t from the area, you can rent mountain bikes and take a shuttle to the various trailheads, all of which will eventually lead you to Tunnel Creek.

What are some of your favorite trails where you live? Comment below! I’m always looking for new trails when I travel.

Who’s ready to seriously kick some butt this week? I am! To be honest, last week was a little rough for me. I had a lot going on at work, it was the first week back at school after Spring Break, and I just didn’t have any motivation to run. None. I got in two runs the entire week. Neither of which were over 3 miles and both of which were without a care in the world for pace. Now, I am not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. From time to time and I think it is important for runners or anyone who works out regularly to take a week of easier workouts so you can come back the next week stronger than ever. There are two key things in that last sentence. First, a week, as in only one week. If a break goes any longer than that, it can be hard to get back on the running wagon. Secondly, easier workouts, as in you are still doing something, but just not at the same level as your normal training. If you take a complete hiatus, it is that much harder to get going again. Remember, My First Step in the Hardest post. That is exactly what I am talking about.

So my training plan wasn’t exactly on point last week, but I did have some very special things happen that motivated me to take on this next week stronger than ever.

For starters, I had a nice little weekend getaway to see some amazing athletes race. These athletes are the fastest, strongest, most beautiful creatures I have ever seen race. Although they have a mind of their own and aren’t always the most predictable, they are respectable for the sheer determination they put into each and every race. Yes. I am talking about horses. I was invited to Los Angeles for the weekend to watch some family friends’ horse race at Santa Anita. We were lucky enough to go see some of their other horses workout in the morning, and then went to the races for the afternoon. The entire time I was watching these beautiful thoroughbreds run, I couldn’t help but think about the parallels between runners and race horses. We both run because we can. We both put our heart and soul into every workout. We both sweat like crazy. We both want to win. And we both get put out to pasture when our glory days are over. It is humbling to think that racing is all these amazing animals live for and even then, they still have setbacks. But with will and determination, both species can pull through. That is what is on my mind this next week.

IMG_9877The next motivating thing arrived in my mailbox on Friday. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time and it might just be the best medal hanger to ever be created. I ordered this about a month ago and have been checking my mail every day in hopes that it would be waiting for me. Maybe it took so long to come for a reason, because when it did, was exactly when I needed it. Going through all of my old medals and hanging them up one by one on my shiny new hanger, reminded me of every race and the story that went behind it. Whether it was a story of victory, a story of defeat, a story of training my ass off, a story of traveling to a destination, or a story of being with family, friends, and motivating people, each medal was a flashback to why I have loved running for so many years.  Not to mention, I really do have a thing for beer (maybe not PBR, I prefer a craft IPA, but in a pinch… PBR fits the bill). I thought it was fitting and reminds me that I can have an occasional beer, and drink it, too, when I balance it with a solid running plan. So now my medals are out of the drawer they were in and hanging on my bedroom wall for me to see and be inspired by everyday. I can’t wait to put some 2015 bling on it!

How do you get motivated when you need it most?

The OPTP Pro-Roller on the right is what I use. Image credit.

The OPTP Pro-Roller on the right is what I use. Image credit.

The foam roller and I have always had a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I just want to roll around on that guy all day long, other times I hide him in the laundry room, not to reappear for weeks at a time, but it is mostly the latter. Earlier this week I was doing laundry and saw the old guy shoved away in the corner. I decided it was time to give it a try again and was quickly reminded why I stashed him in the laundry room in the first place. That sh*t hurts! Who ever came up with the foam roller is obviously sadistic. The only problem is, I know how amazing it is supposed to be for recovery and want to make this relationship work. This old body can use all the help it can get. So, what is a girl to do?

I have been seeing some social media buzz lately from other runners who have committed to the “30-Day Foam-Rolling Challenge.” The general consensus is that dedicated rolling really has improved their recovery, flexibility, and sore muscles. The action of rolling your tight muscles back and forth on a dense roll of foam is supposed to resemble a deep tissue massage and help break-up scar tissue and improve flexibility. The fancy term for it is self-myofascial release. (Here is a great article on what exactly it is and how it works).

Since it is touted as one of the best ways to recover and heal sore muscles, what is there to lose? After talking it out with my foam roller, we decided we are in this together. 30 days. That’s it. If I still want to throw the guy off my deck at the end of the 30 days, at least I gave it a fighting chance. Here’s the plan in a nutshell:

  • 10 minutes of foam rolling every single day for the next 30 days.
  • Spend 1 minute rolling each side of the following:
    • Quads – this one I actually like
    • Glutes – this one isn’t too bad either
    • Adductor – this is where I start to cringe
    • IT Band – more cringeworthy
    • Hip Flexors – most cringeworthy (which probably stems from an old running injury I had in high school)

It’s been a whole 2 days since I started and unfortunately, I am not seeing any changes in my attitude toward this torture system yet. I’m going to be consistent with this and will give you a recap of our relationship at the end of each week in the Week-end Rewind. In the meantime, let me know how you roll. Do you love or hate it?