Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

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Want to know what’s special about these cupcakes???

Well for one, they are my first batch that were ordered and SOLD! EEEEEK!!!!

Susan ordered them for her Niece’s graduation party, along with a bunch of candy cups to contribute to my fundraising goal!

So, confession: I was ridiculously nervous about this! Sure, I love to bake and share my recipes, and invite people over to help me not inhale 7 servings of my food enjoy my food with me, but am I really good enough for someone to pay for it??? I honestly still don’t even really consider myself a cook, or a baker, or much of anything, other than someone with a sweet tooth the size of Canada. This was a big and scary step! The good news? They came back to rave reviews!!

Everyone I know goes crazy over chocolate covered strawberries. Me? I don’t like strawberries. Not a bit. However, my taste tester said they were delicious, soft and fluffy with the perfect strawberry flavor. The perfect strawberry flavor for me would be not, but I kind of liked that because it meant I consumed way less batter during the process. The frosting…well that’s an other story. It’s my favorite.

You know what else? I took all of these photos myself! Check out my rude husband taking all the credit with his signature ;) To be fair, he did help me get everything set up, but then it was all me! I’m learning, and I’m really enjoying getting better at the photography!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

yield approx 2 dozen

For the cupcakes:
adapted from Eat Live Run

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 1/3 cups pureed fresh strawberries (from about 2 cups whole strawberries—puree in a blender until smooth)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • zest from one large lemon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 3 more egg whites)
  • 4 egg whites
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
barely adapted from How Sweet It Is
  • 3 x 8 oz blocks reduced fat cream cheese (you could also use fat free, I just had red fat on hand)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz grain sweetened chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkles for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins, and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pureed strawberries, lemon zest, milk and vanilla. Also set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, sugar and egg substitute. Add egg whites one at a time, beating after each, until combined. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the wet strawberry ingredients to the sugar mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  5. Evenly divide batter between prepared cupcake tins (I used a cookie scoop). Bake for 25-27 minutes or until golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer immediately to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl , beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla extract.
  7. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed, followed by cocoa powder.
  8. Increase to medium speed and add melted chocolate. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl often.
  9. Frost completely cooled cupcakes, then top with sprinkles if desired.

 

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

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So I’ve been really mad that it’s summer time. Lots of whining and complaining about the heat, and how it affects my running, and blah blah blah. But I forgot how much I LOVE some things about summer! Like burgers!

And swimming!

Tuesday evening, Jason came over with my dog niece and nephew, and we seriously had the best time playing around outside with the puppies. They got so hyped up about the pool!

Nico and Winston have a love connection. They will play for hours on end.

Every time Jason was in the pool and would make eye contact with Nico, she would immediately go crazy and start barking, and then all the other dogs would start going crazy too.

Clementine is hiding under the chair. She wants to play, but she’s scared. It’s hard to be a Clementine.

Anyway, before all the fun dog playing, there were seriously amazing, delicious burgers.

Made with extra lean ground turkey, and homemade Thai peanut sauce.

Savory and spicy, with just a hint of sweetness.

Have I ever mentioned how much I also love Thai food? Give me some take out Chicken Pad Thai with extra cilantro, and I am a happy girl. I used to eat it all the time because someone told me Thai food was healthy once. Now, I figure out my own ways to use the flavors that are actually healthy, and not 7 servings of noodles ;)

Also, if you are one of those people who loves a beef burger, and thinks turkey burger are dry and gross (ahem…Steve), try these turkey burgers. I haven’t always loved the ones I’ve made at home (why do they never seem to turn out like the one at Zin Burger??), but I absolutely freaking love these. Like I can’t wait to make them every day for the rest of the summer my life kind of love.

Thai Peanut Turkey Burgers

yield 5 servings

  • 20 oz ground turkey breast
  • 1 tbs egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup diced onion + more for topping
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper + more for topping
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro + more for topping
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 tbs Better’n Peanut Butter (or pb2, or more regular peanut butter)
  • 1 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce (use gluten-free is applicable)
  • 1 1/2-2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tbs fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2-1 tbs Sriracha
  • 5 100% whole grain hamburger buns (whole wheat, brown rice, etc.), toasted
  • crushed peanuts, sliced scallions, and bean sprouts for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey breast, egg substitute, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, Better’n Peanut Butter, soy sauce, chili paste, lime juice, and honey. Pour 2 tsp of sauce mixture into turkey mixture, and set the rest aside.
  3. Thoroughly combine turkey mixture and sauce (I recommend getting in there with your hands!), and form into 5 even patties. Press lightly in the center of each patty with your thumb, so they are slightly thicker on the edges to ensure even cooking.
  4. Send your husband outside to Grill until cooked throughout (approx 5 minutes per side). Meanwhile, add Greek yogurt and Sriracha to leftover peanut sauce, and mix until well combined.
  5. Place cooked patties on toasted wheat buns, then top with yogurt peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, sliced scallions, bean sprouts, and extra onions, bell peppers and cilantro.

Work It Out 5/21-5/27

So maybe I didn’t hit 100 miles this week (or anything close to it), but my workouts, specifically my runs this week have been some of the best ever! I had my first date with the track, I ran a new PDR, and I took full advantage of most likely the last of the gorgeous weather we’ll be seeing for a while. Here’s how I worked it out this week:

Monday: Rest. After 7 straight days of working out, I was more than ready to take the day off. It was fantastic.

Tuesday: 4ish mile run. I met up with Stacey for a short, easy paced run. We started a little late in the morning, and it was already really warm, so we ended up just walking the last half-ish mile, but it was nice to get to hang out and get a short run in.

Wednesday: Track–8×400’s @ 5k pace & 1 mi @ HMGP. What does that even mean??? I *think* I’m figuring it out. Kind of. Wednesday was my first day at the track. I met Susan and the rest of the group at 5:30am, we did a little over a mile warm up lap, then 8×400’s–400 meters (.25 mi) at 5k pace with 200 meter (.125 mi) rests in between, then a mile at 1/2 marathon goal pace. I kept the 400’s between 8-8:10 min/mi, and my goal pace mile clocked in at 8:48! I love the track. Like really, really love it. I was so intimidated, and I stayed away for so long, but right now I am wishing it was Tuesday night so that tomorrow could be track day. I cannot wait.

Thursday: Off. I planned to go to spin, but had a ton of baking to do (so many candy cups, and cupcakes being sold–yes!!), and it was just one of those days where I knew my time needed to be spent differently, and that’s okay.

Friday: 800 yd swim. I swam!! YAY!! This was only my second swimming work out, and my first one solo. I went twice as far as I did the first time, and it felt great to be in the water! I’d really like to take some lessons, and kind of figure out what I’m doing!

Saturday: Long Run–15.16 miles!! Okay, so my PDR (personal distance record) was 15.01, so it’s not like I went much further, but I don’t even care. It is the farthest I have ever run, and it was a freaking fantastic run! The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we started off early at 5:30. Before we started, Susan asked how long people were planning to go, and of course not a single other person was even planning on running double digits (they’re almost all running San Diego next weekend), and here I was saying I was planning on 15. Oy. I planned to run with Stacey for as far as she wanted to go, and then go back out to run the rest solo. Near the end of my run with Stacey (almost to mile 8), Doug came up and introduced himself, and asked if I was still going to go back out for more miles. He told me he’d be willing to do a few with me, and I was beyond grateful. Well, he ended up running the entire 2nd half of my run with me, and pushed me the whole way through! He’s run tons of marathons (including Boston….*sigh*), and he had really great advice. He talked to me about my breathing, training, etc. Towards the end, he started adding some pick ups, and then pushed me to finish mile 15 in 9:40! Then, the last .16 happened at an average pace of 8:03. Ummm, who am I??? 15.16 miles at an average pace of 10:19. When I finally looked through my garmin and saw my pace, I started to cry a little. I am finally starting to see some improvement from this training cycle. I’ve been working really hard, and it is amazing to finally see it pay off. At the end of the run Doug told Susan that I had the mind of a marathoner. I think it’s more that I’m stubborn, and prideful, but having the mind of a marathoner sounds a lot better to me ;)

Sunday: 4 mile bike ride. Yeah….that’s it. My legs felt like they had been run over my a truck. And if you’ve been around me at all this weekend, that is probably the 9,984,985th time you’ve heard me say that. Sorry, I whine.

How did you work it out this week?? Have you set any new personal records lately, or surprised yourself with your progress? Tell me your awesome things too!!!

White Chocolate Nutella Crunch Cups

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Remember these? And these? Well, as part of my Chances for Children fundraising, I am selling homemade candy cups. They’re actually doing pretty well, and people seem to be loving them! I’ll gradually be putting up all of the recipes on here, but if you’re anxious in the meantime, you could purchase some for your very own ;)

These cups are silky and chocolatey with the perfect crunch in the center.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hear the word “Nutella” I am pretty much shoving the food in my mouth before you can get the rest of the title out. Lord help me if someone ever offers me something gross like Nutella Sock Lint. That could be bad.

Do you know there are people out there that have actually never experienced this chocolate hazelnut amazingness? For you people, I am sad, and I also I want to feed you Nutella with a spoon. Is that weird?

Wait, do you mean to tell me you don’t like to be fed new foods by strangers on the internet whom you’ve never met in person? That just sounds silly. I think it’s time for an intervention. Or a Nutellavention. Okay, that wasn’t funny at all. I’m really sorry. Let’s look at more pictures of delicious candy cups, because clearly that is my strength, and not clever wit.

 

White Chocolate Nutella Crunch Cups

yield 24-30 cups

  • 2 10 oz bags all natural white chocolate chips
  • 1 scant tbsp coconut oil
  • approx 1/2 cup Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut butter)
  • approx 1/2 cup crisp brown rice cereal

Directions:

  1. Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, melt white chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted.
  3. Spoon enough chocolate to cover the bottom of each baking cup. Add 1-2 tsp Nutella, followed by 1 tsp brown rice cereal. Top filling with white chocolate until Nutella is completely covered and top is smooth.
  4. Freeze to set. Keep in freezer or fridge.

**It’s too hot here in Phoenix to send these through the mail, but if you’re local, and you would like to contribute, or you just really like chocolate cups, I’m selling them for $1 a piece. And, really, how often do you get to use dessert as a tax write off? ;)

Ari + Track, A Love Story

Gosh Ari, stop cheating, and get your butt down!

Why, oh why was I so intimidated by the track for so long??? It is so wonderful!! This morning, I joined coach Susan and her group (including a couple people from my NYC team) for my first track workout! Wednesday has been my speed work day anyway, and I was grateful for the opportunity to go run with a group, and have a coach telling me what to do, rather than a computer program. I am a little over my smart coach plan for Seattle, but that’s an other story.

My alarm went off at 4:25 am, and I was out the door by 5 to meet at 5:30. We did a 1 mile warm up from our meeting spot over to the track, and I was kind of a nervous wreck. I was totally intimidated, and sure that everyone was going to be running 6 min miles, and I was going to be the lame-o in the back. However, everyone was really nice, and as it turned out, once you get on the track, it’s impossible to tell where anyone else is at anyway. Plus, honestly, who has time while doing their own speed work to worry about anyone else? It’s just silly to think that anyone there is going to be judging you.

We did some running drills that I have never done before, and I looked pretty ridiculous, but only slightly embarrassed about it, haha. Then Susan announced that we were doing 8x400s @ our 5K pace with 200 meter recoveries, then 1 mile @ half marathon goal pace. Okay, so as it turns out, I’m pretty unsure of what my 5K pace should actually be. My pace for South Mountain averaged 8:52, so I was guessing around 8:45. Well, I paused my garmin during the rests because I didn’t have a chance to set the intervals up before we started, and my first 4 averaged an 8:00 min pace. Probably a little too fast, but definitely enough to make me feel like 8:45 was most likely too slow. The next 4 averaged 8:12, with a total average for all 400s of 8:07. Then I ran my HMGP mile @ 8:48.

Who am I??? It didn’t feel easy, but it didn’t feel as tough as I was expecting. I still don’t know about doing a whole half marathon at a sub 9 pace, but it was a little bit of a confidence boost! The time flew by, and I didn’t even end up using my music. I was nervous because no one else brought any music, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the workout without it, but the constant changes kept my mind busy, and I didn’t feel bored at ALL, and even my heavy breathing didn’t freak me out.

So, the thing is, I’m totally head over heels for the track. And I don’t think after NYC I will ever want to train without a group ever again. I feel so totally spoiled by the whole situation already, but I’m just trying to soak it up to it’s fullest while I can!

On my way home, Devon tweeted me about our plank promise that I had totally been lame and forgotten about, so the second I got home, I turned on the TV to distract me, and got my plank on!

Gosh Ari, stop cheating, and get your butt down!

You see, ever since Ali completed her 5 min plank challenge, I’ve been determined to do the same, and Devon is super amazing and working on her planking too, so we’re keeping each other accountable. Clearly, she’s doing a much better job at the accountability part than I am ;) My first try, I held it for 2 minutes, last week (try #2) was 2:20, and today…

Whhooooot! Okay, now I desperately need a shower.

Track: Love or hate?

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes

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Yup.

.

That happened.

You guys…I don’t even know what to say. These should have had like a zillion calories. With the name, and the deliciousness, and the whole eating dessert for breakfast thing. But really, a little dark chocolate is good for us, yes?

Okay, so I’m not about to switch out my Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, chopped apple weirdness and turn bacon chocolate chip pancakes into my staple breakfast, but on a Sunday morning? Hell, yes.

I’m really sad you weren’t here to share in the fun. Although, I bet Steve and Jason are not in the least bit sad, because it meant more pancakes for them.

Sweet, salty, fluffy, melt in your mouth pancakes that will satisfy every single breakfast craving you’ve ever experienced. And just a little hint: whole wheat pastry flour is the secret to perfect whole grain pancakes. Do not used regular. Do not use white whole wheat. And please, do not think you need to add in bleached out white flour.

Oh, and my final instructions: Save that middle section with the most chocolate for last. It will be the best bite.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes

yield 6 servings

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2 tsp sugar free maple syrup (or honey, agave, or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 slices center cut or turkey bacon, cooked, chopped and cooled
  • 1/2 cup all natural dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently mix in syrup, egg substitute, milk, and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Then fold in cooked bacon and chocolate chips. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat a large pan over medium heat, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour approx 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until top forms small bubbles and bottom is golden brown. Flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden.
  3. Serve topped with any combination of Greek yogurt/syrup/light whipped butter

French Onion Pizza

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Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!?!?!

Why, yes, I would like some of the most delicious pizza ever made by me at home in about 20 minutes. Thanks for the help TJ’s!

So a couple of weeks ago I told Steve that I wanted to make french onion grilled cheese sandwiches. I was so excited about this brilliant idea. Obviously no one has ever done that before. Then the next day pretty much every popular food blogger out there stole my idea. Not cool, people. They clearly read my mind, and took my brilliance to claim as there own. Suffice it to say, I didn’t make those sandwiches.

Instead, I made pizza. Delicious, sweet oniony, garlicy pizza that I wanted to scarf down in one sitting. I seriously can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make my own pizza! I already have approximately 500 more pizza ideas that I want to create now. I may have a problem, but once you try it, you will see! You will be hooked, and there is no turning back!

French Onion Pizza

yield 6 servings

  • 1 package refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough (I used the Trader Joe’s kind, and would highly recommend it!)
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 tbs beef broth, divided (you could also sub veggie broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated part skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, cook onions and garlic in 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs beef broth. Season with pepper and cook until onions are browned and caramelized (about 15 minutes).
  2. Spray a medium cookie sheet with nonstick spray, then roll dough out using a rolling pin to fill out the sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tsp olive oil, 2-3 tbs beef broth, and 1 tbs balsamic vinegar. Brush onto rolled out dough, then top with cooked onions and garlic, and cheeses. Top with extra ground pepper if desired.
  4. Cook according to instructions on the prepared pizza dough package.

Work It Out 5/14-5/20

Well, after a pretty mellow week with 3 full rest days, I definitely kicked it into gear last week! By Sunday afternoon my weekly mileage on daily mile reached 100! No, I did not ride extra miles on my bike just because I wanted to see a 3 digit mileage number. Who does things like that? Crazy, number obsessed people. I just happened to ride exactly 17 miles when my daily mile was at 83. Obviously. ;)

Monday: 3 miles with Jason. Remember when this guy ran like 12 minute miles? Umm, our average pace was 10:06. He’s amazing, and I’m starting to really get a lot out of our weekly runs together!

Tuesday: Spin, Strength & Swimming. I kind of felt awesome after completing 3 workouts in one day. I mean, sure, my strength training was all of 15 minutes, but I was still sore the next day from it! I am working on getting up to a 5 minute plank like this girl, and Tuesday I got to 2:20. Obviously, I have a ways to go. Spin class was awesome as usual, then I had my first swimming work out with my fav triathlete! I swam 400 yards, and it was hard and awesome.

Wednesday: Tempo run. This run was not fun. I had 6 miles on the schedule with 4 tempo miles @ 9:03. Well, my last tempo run was the same thing with the tempo miles at 9:07, and it was hard, but I killed it, and even had my last mile below 8:50. This run felt entirely different. I was struggling .5 miles in, it was 80 degrees out, and I left my ipod at home, so I could literally hear myself grasping for air. I stayed on pace,  but had to stop after the second and third tempo mile to catch my breath. As frustrated as I was by this run, I feel like I learned a lot from it. I had a great talk with my coach about it, and realized that I’m really not hydrating well enough, and that as it gets hotter, I need to be okay with slowing down. It won’t be this hot in Seattle or in NYC, so I need to focus on how I feel rather than what my garmin says. This is especially hard for me since my focus on running numbers has been such a huge aid in taking my focus away from scale numbers. I am number focused. It’s how I measure my progress, and when the numbers don’t reflect my effort, I get frustrated, discouraged, and whiney. That’s okay. I don’t think I will feel that way forever. I’m not going to beat myself up about the way I feel or react to things. I am simply going to note it, try to be more aware, and do my best to not let it get me down.

Thursday: Spin. Sweaty, hilly love.

Friday: 20 mile bike ride with Nicole. We had a great time, and chatted the whole 20 miles. Perfect way to start the day!

Saturday: Long run. Our team training runs for Chances for Children don’t officially start until I leave for Portland, but Susan invited us to come run with her, and the group she coaches, so I jumped on the opportunity! My alarm went off at 3:55am (yikes!), and I headed out to meet the group. Unfortunately, the park bathrooms were locked, and so when Stacey arrived, we went in search of a restroom and ended up starting closer to 5:30 than the 5:00 start time. We started off running with Susan’s husband bill who was so nice and went slow with us to show us the path. Around mile 2.5, we separated from Bill because my stomach is still a mess, and I had to stop at this resort to use the bathroom. Even considering that, I was feeling the best I have on a long run in weeks! We were maintaining around a 10:25 pace, which is right on target for my plan, it wasn’t too warm out yet, and I just felt really into the run. By the end, though, I started fading a bit, and Stacey was pushing me through, then at the last mile, we saw Susan who had waiting for us long after everyone who had started on time was already gone, and came up to run the last mile with us! Having a coach is freaking amazing, let me tell you. That was the push I needed, because I finished the last mile in 9:26, and ended 13.06 miles with an average pace of 10:16, which, for me, is pretty awesome! I had serious runners high all day long!

Sunday: 17 mile bike ride with Steve and Jason. I wanted to go on a bike ride, and I wanted to hit 100 miles, so that’s what I did ;)

What a great week! Even with a crappy run, I still feel like it’s one of the best training weeks I’ve had in a long time!

How did you work it out last week? How do you stay motivated and track your progress when the numbers start to kind of suck??

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

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I am such a sucker for anything with buffalo sauce.

I guess I am just a person who loves strong flavors. Spicy food, sharp cheeses, anything really with bold flavors. I do not like plain pasta with olive oil. I am easily bored in life and food, so I need flavors that do a little performance for my taste buds. Is that weird?

Wait. Don’t answer that. I already know I’m weird. Anyway, I’ve never made meatloaf with chicken before. In fact, I’ve never even used ground chicken until now. It’s pretty awesome, and opens up a lot of flavor combinations! You know I love my ground turkey, but who ever heard of buffalo turkey? That doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

I made kale with it. I’m sure you’re shocked.

This meatloaf was full of bold buffalo flavor, and was different than any type I’ve ever tasted! I wonder just how many more foods I can put buffalo sauce in? ;)

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

yield 5 servings

  • 1 1/4 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2/3 cup raw oats
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • generous pinch ground pepper

For the buffalo ranch sauce:

  • 2/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2 tsp ranch seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a medium loaf pan with tin foil, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg substitute, almond milk, buffalo sauce, and pepper. Mix in onion and oats.
  3. Add meat **this is the fun part!!** and use your hands to thoroughly combine.
  4. Transfer meet to prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, until cooked throughout.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients.
  6. Serve meatloaf topped with buffalo ranch sauce.

My First Swim

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Okay, so yesterday I was a little cranky. Sorry about that. You guys were so nice, and left me some really amazing comments that made my day, and made me feel 10 million times better. Thanks for being awesome! The day before I got cranky, something amazing happened! Well, amazing to me anyway ;) My super awesome triathlete BBFF Nicole taught me how to swim! I’m pretty sure it looked something like this

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

source

Except I forgot my floaties, and swim coach Nicole didn’t bring me any. Rude. She obviously doesn’t care if I drown on her watch. Okay, so I know how to swim in theory. I love swimming in the summer time, and by swimming I mean standing in the shallow end, staying cool in the 110 degree heat, and occasionally dunking my head under my water if I decide I’m willing to get my hair wet. OH!! And water slides!!! I LOVE water slides!!

I’ve wanted to learn how to actually swim pretty much since I got my bike. I fell in love with riding right away, and it was about .5 seconds before I started dreaming about doing a triathlon. I even had one in mind to register for, but I chickened out, and the swimming has felt so intimidating to me, but yesterday I bought a cap and goggles, and went over to the Kiwanis wave pool (the waves were off, sad, that would have been fun!) with Nicole for my first lesson.

Nicole was a great teacher! She was super patient, and made me feel totally comfortable while I’m sure I looked ridiculous. She taught me how to put on my swim cap and goggles, breathe, kick, stroke, and most importantly take awesome locker room photos.

Or maybe I taught her the last one? ;) We ended up swimming 400 yards in probably a ridiculously long amount of time, but I didn’t care! I LOVED it! Okay, let me say that this was tough. I felt ridiculously out of shape, I inhaled about a gallon of water, and I looked more like Dumbo than Ariel, but again I didn’t care in the slightest! I love the feeling of being in the water, I love the idea of a new challenge, and I love pushing myself and expanding my fitness capabilities. I loved it so much, that I am ready to shell out the money this weekend for a real fitness swim suit. Not because I want to fit in, but let’s just say mine was not cutting it, and it definitely was not a kids show in my lane. Yikes. I’ll spare you the deets. You’re welcome.

This seems like really great timing to start too, because the weather is just getting too hot to run or bike outside (although I will have to keep it up for my Seattle and NYC training), and it will be something I can continue while I’m in Portland this summer! I’m also pretty sure some amazing, hilarious, speedy swimming lifeguard might be able to take me under her wing in exchange for pushing her with some running. Ahem, Laurel. This will be your summer “Laurel, help me swim! Laurel, help me swim! Laurel, run 15 miles with me!” You will be so ready to go back to Detroit ;)

Okay, I’m off track. For a change. I loved swimming! I can’t wait to do it again, and I can’t wait to take more locker room photos with Niole while the other swimmers watch us in judgement.

What’s the last new work out you tried that you fell in love with?? Do you like swimming? Are you good? Want to help me become good?? ;)

Caramelized Onion Rosemary Biscuits

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Soft and fluffy whole grain biscuits stuffed with caramelized onions and fresh rosemary.

I remember when I was living with Heather in Moscow, and she made roasted garlic and rosemary bread. It was pretty amazing. So amazing that when I was deciding what type of bread to make for Mother’s Day to go along side my Skinnified Fettucine Alfredo, it was the first thing that came to mind.

Let’s talk about these biscuits, because I really cannot get enough of them. You would expect a 100% whole wheat biscuit to be dense and heavy, right? Well these babies were fluffy while still full of hearty wheat flavor.

Aren’t they pretty with butter? Honestly though, they don’t need any.

I would eat them in a boat. I would eat them with a goat.

I will eat them here or there. I will eat them anywhere! Yes, I just quoted Dr. Seuss. Don’t judge. Okay, but seriously, carmelized onions, sauteed garlic, and fresh rosemary? You can’t go wrong. These biscuits are full of flavor, and taste like the bread basket from a fancy Italian restaurant. My mom was super impressed. She kept calling them professional. Thanks mom! ;)

Caramelized Onion Rosemary Biscuits

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 1 dozen

Serving Size: 1 biscuit

Caramelized Onion Rosemary Biscuits

Soft and fluffy whole grain biscuits stuffed with caramelized onions and fresh rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs light whipped butter
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Sauté onions and minced garlic in the butter over medium heat. Cook until brown and caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Pour warm water into a bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Add the honey and olive oil. Stir gently with a fork until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt. Add cooked and cooled onions, rosemary, and water mixture, stirring gently until dough is combined.
  4. Knead in stand mixer using hook attachment (or by hand 15-20 times on a floured surface) until bread sticks together on the hook when lifted.
  5. Spray a separate bowl generously with nonstick spray, then add your ball of dough, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (I put it outside--it's 105 in Phoenix).
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into twelve round biscuits. Place on a baking mat or parchment paper, then cover with a towel and allow to rise for 15 to 20 minutes. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until brown. Brush with beaten egg white halfway through.
http://arismenu.com/caramelized-onion-rosemary-biscuits/

 

Doubt and Expectations

Those two funny things that come creeping in when they are the least welcome. Last friday I ran 12 of the slowest miles of my life. I took a lot of breaks, and my legs felt like I was asking them to run at an 8 min pace rather than the near 11 min pace I was actually maintaining. I finished, felt proud that I didn’t give up, told everyone I was fine with it, and did my best to pretend I wasn’t lying.

This morning was my first speed work out in 3 weeks. I didn’t do speed work the week before or after Whiskey Row, trying to be smart and give my legs a break. Today I had 6 miles on the schedule with 4 tempo miles at 9:03. That’s actually what was on the schedule for last week, so I didn’t skip, I’m just picking back up where I left off (since the plan didn’t account for an other half marathon in the middle of it).  After the first 2 tempo miles, I kind of thought I was going to die. First of all, I had forgotten my ipod, so I had no music, and I think part of what really got to me was hearing how out of breath I was. It’s bothered me before on easier runs where I haven’t used music. It freaks me out, and makes me feel like I need to stop, or like I’m more tired than I am.

Second of all, I had already stopped in the warm up, but by the end of the second tempo mile, I needed to stop for the bathroom again. The truth is, my body has felt off for the entire last month, ever since I had what I thought was the stomach flu around the time of Pat’s Run. I am going to finally make a doctors appointment to get myself checked out, but that’s an other story. Anyway, I stopped to use the bathroom and get some water after the first 2 tempo miles, then made it through the third before having to stop to catch my breath. Honestly, I felt like I was going to need to do that after the 2nd one, and needing the bathroom was kind of a convenient excuse. I mean, I really needed to go, but I was not cursing the stop. So I stopped and stretched after the third one, which kind of makes me feel like I kind of cheated the whole work out, but whatever. I finished the 4th just barely, walked the first 200 meters of my cool down, and then resumed to jogging the rest.

My paces were mostly on target–9:04, 9:01, 9:03, 8:59, but it felt soooo hard, and I just felt frustrated and discouraged. I’ve been asked no less than 15 times in the past 2 weeks if I’m over training. No M, not just by you ;) The truth is, I have no freaking idea. I read all these amazing, inspiring running blogs, and they don’t take time off unless they’re injured. I’m following my plan, with the exception of adjusting the step back weeks around Whiskey Row, but maybe I haven’t had a legit easy week because of it? Maybe the temperatures have all the sudden become 20 degrees higher while I’m running, and I’m not used to it? Maybe I’m still not recovered from WR? Maybe taking spin, lifting weights and swimming the day before was a bad idea? I don’t know. All I know is that I’m feeling frustrated. I’m feeling like I can’t do it, and a little bit like a failure.

Let me say, I know this is irrational. I know there are people who would be thrilled to go out and get through six miles, or even .6 miles! I was that person, so I get that I’ve come a long way, and I have a lot to be proud of. I also get that there are people out there with way bigger problems than a bad run, and that given my body’s tendency towards injury, I should just be thrilled that I have been running relatively pain free. And I am!!! Beyond thrilled, actually. I am so grateful for what my body has been accomplishing, and the determination that has allowed me to grow so much these past few months.

I am also a person who is rarely satisfied, sets big goals, and doesn’t believe in not meeting them. I love this about myself. Even days like today, where it is hard to be that kind of person, I am grateful for the drive and determination I possess, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know that I just need to keep pushing, and eventually I will start logging work outs that I feel great about again. I just need to be okay with being frustrated today. And I am. Mostly.

Luckily, I also have the world’s most supportive husband that tells me things like “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but you’re doing an amazing job. How many other training runs did you meet your goals on? I am not going to sit here and let you beat yourself up over 1 bad run.”  I know he’s right. I need to get the F over myself. Also, reading this post helped put things in perspective.

I had my pitty party. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it. It was really a lovely event, even with a small party of 1. Next time I’ll be sure to put your invitation in the mail, but for today, it’s over. I’m moving on, and I’m going to try to take this run as a learning experience.