Eighteen

And just like that, my second longest training run is complete. It’s so bizarre. My second longest training is 8.2 miles short of the marathon??? WHO CAME UP WITH THIS CRAP??? It definitely makes me nervous, but I’m sure people much smarter than me came up with “this crap” so I’m going to try to keep my doubts to a minimum ;)

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at the wonderful hour of 3:50am. I actually woke up surprisingly chipper. I had woken up an hour earlier thinking it was time to be up, and when I realized I had an extra hour to sleep I got so ridiculously happy that I think by the time I did have to wake up I was like “I’ve got this!!!” I got ready, got my pre run breakfast ready (uggghhh why is it always so hard to eat before a long run???) and was out the door to meet Stacey at Kiwanis Park for some extra miles before the rest of the team got there. We ran 3 loops of the lake totaling just over 2 and a half miles, and then we were right on time to meet the team and hear some words of encouragement from Coach Susan before heading off for the rest.

Our first few miles were ssssllllloooowwwww. Like the slow that leaves me questioning if I’m actually running or just walking with hutzpah. But ya know what? That seems to be what works for me. It leaves me with energy to push it at the end, and it makes me a super awesome negative splitter, so I’ll take it.

Mile 1–11:40
Mile 2–11:40 (weird)
Mile 3–11:16
Mile 4–11:29

Around that time Tim caught up to us and ran with us for the next couple of miles. It was nice because no matter how much you love the person you’re used to running with, it’s always nice to have someone new around to chat with. It seems to make the time go by faster. It was great to talk to Tim–he told us about some of his previous marathons and his fancy sub 4 hour PR (jealous). He also told us about when he did two marathons about 2 months apart and said it actually went pretty well which was good to hear since I am planning on doing the same thing. Around this time my body started to get warmed up and we started making our way into less turtle-like splits.

Mile 5–10:58
Mile 6–10:45
Mile 7–10:50

These miles were pretty uneventful. We kept trucking along down the same canal path we’ve run a million times, stopped a couple of times to fill our water bottles, and fueled after mile 5. I brought along black cherry shot blocks which I’ve had before and really liked, but this time they seemed so hard to chew! I was not a fan, and was really wishing I’d brought my watermelon gu chomps instead. I’m glad I figured it out then though and not on race day! The next few miles were more of the same…

Mile 8–10:41
Mile 9–10:35
Mile 10–10:18

We turned around just before mile 10 (which I discovered later was too early–lame), and that’s when I felt myself starting to get in the game. We fueled again at mile 10. More obnoxious chewing of less than desirably textured shot blocks. We also ran into Tara and Jamie several times over these few miles. They were killing it with getting in a PDR of over 15 miles! Anyway, I started to feel myself getting into the zone.

Mile 11–9:58
Mile 12–9:57

For some reason mile 12 is where it always starts to feel challenging. I know I can keep going, but it starts to feel like more work at this point. It was also starting to feel HOT. I decided to turn on my music for some extra motivation. I’ve actually been running a lot without music lately. And I am the girl that brought headphones to my first track session, so that is a BIG change. I’ve noticed it really is so much more helpful when I don’t have it on mindlessly at all times, but only turn it on when I start to feel like I need it. Then I actually listen to it, and it pumps me up! I actually had a blast the next few miles singing loudly on the canal with Stacey who seemed surprisingly not embarrassed by me as I sang Call Me Maybe at the top of my lungs to other runners and cyclists passing by. They seemed entertained by me too. I like to think acting a fool is more entertaining than annoying to the rest of the world ;)

Mile 13–9:50

And here’s where I messed up my stupid splits by accidentally hitting the lap button in the middle of mile 14. Lame.

Mile 13-13.26–9:40
Mile 14.26–9:44
Mile 14.26-15 (I fixed it and set it back up on even miles)–9:44

This is where I started to feel really tired during my last long run. I remember miles 15-17 seeming impossible, but today I felt STRONG. Yes, it was starting to feel harder and harder, but I knew I still had the energy to make it happen, and I felt so incredibly happy. I kept repeating the things that Susan tells us about running form in my head, and I repeated a lot of mantras, and had many the emotional moment about how far I’ve come (for a change). I continued singing along really loudly to my bad music that only I like.

Mile 16–9:53
Mile 17–9:44

The last half a mile was the hardest. I was ready to be done, and I was hot and tired, but I just kept pushing.

Mile 18–9:19

18 miles, 3:08:19, 10:27 average pace.

I still don’t know how I did it, but I did it. And at the end, instead of wanting to die, I felt only happy. The long runs have always been my favorite (no matter how much I really do love the track). There is nothing like tackling a new distance, and pushing so far beyond the point where you want to stop. Every week in this training, I continue to surprise myself. I always get nervous that I won’t be able to do it, and that I will never live up to my previous good runs, and that some day I will just finally realize that I can’t do it, but I continue to go above and beyond my own expectations, and it is an amazing feeling.

People ask me why I want to run a marathon. I ask you: why would you ever want to stop yourself from fulfilling your capabilities? That doesn’t mean everyone has to run a marathon, but it is a theory we can all apply to our lives as a whole. Why stop yourself? Why not push to your limits? I think we’d all be amazed at what we can do.

What’s something you’ve done recently that surprised you?? Share your happiness!!!!

 

Skinnified Sunday: Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Skinnified Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes via Ari's Menu

Every day is a pumpkin day in the blog world this time of year. Luckily (for me, maybe not for you), I am obsessed with pumpkin. I buy canned pumpkin year round, and eat it almost every day. Weird? Well, yes….I am, but pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, plus it has tons of health benefits and is a great substitute for oil in baked goods!

I confess, I’ve already started adding pumpkin to my coffee drinks, and cheating on my beloved Dutch Bros with Starbucks because I know *exactly* how I like my flavor pumps at Starbucks and I prefer their pumpkin syrup…

You know what, though? These cupcakes are, like, 5 billion times better than either version. That’s an exact number based on factual evidence. Like surveys, and stuff. Things that people with grown up jobs do to test things. If it were me, they would each do an audition, which I guess they kinda did. The cupcakes get the lead fair and square.

The pumpkin makes them perfectly fluffy and soft, while also adding the perfect fall flavor. And don’t even get me started on my serious love for ground cloves. Ummm, best spice ever maybe??? I love me some cumin, but lately I cannot get enough of the cloves. In my yogurt, in my cupcakes, straight out of the little shaker…

Combine that with cinnamon and nutmeg, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Brushing the coffee on after they’ve been cooked makes a huge difference. It keeps them soft, and brings out a bold coffee flavor that usually gets lost during baking. You can also control your coffee intensity. I sit there and brush those things over and over and OVER because I have a mild ridiculous wallet blowing obsession with my little caffeinated friend, but if you feel less in love with coffee, you can use less. Just never, ever tell me about it. I can’t handle it.

This is actually not the first go around for these bad boys. They first made their appearance on the blog about a year ago, and they looked a little like this.

Womp womp.

Oh the things you learn in a year. I’m still not an excellent cupcake froster, not like this girl, but I’ve certainly learned a thing or two.

The original recipe for these muffins (which includes all the smart brushing with the coffee, and all that goodness) comes from one of my very favorite recipe blogs Annie’s Eats.

Original recipe

My Swaps:

  • Half the recipe (-temptation)
  • White whole wheat flour for all purpose flour (+fiber, +protein)
  • Apple sauce for oil (-fat, -calories)
  • Egg substitute (ie: egg beaters, liquid egg whites, flax egg, or corn starch egg) for whole eggs (-fat, -calories, -cholesterol)
  • Lighter cream cheese frosting for whipped cream (-fat, -calories)
  • Caramel sauce (-fat, -calories, -sugar)

Skinnified Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

yield 1 dozen

  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tbs espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee or espresso for brushing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer if you have one (if not you can use a hand mixer or your muscles!) combine pumpkin, sugars, and applesauce. Add egg substitute, followed by dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
  3. Fill lined muffin tin 3/4 full with batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Pierce each cupcake 2-3 times with a fork, then brush with coffee. Wait 2-3 minutes, then brush again.
  5. Cool completely on wire racks and then top with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz package reducated fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In an large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in honey and vanilla. Top cupcakes, or store in the refrigerator.

 

One Year of Running

A year ago today, I took my Garmin on it’s first spin. I’d done 2-3 runs outside before that using my phone to track my distance/pace, but found the tracking to be really inconsistent, and quickly ordered a Garmin, hoping it would help me with my goal of completing a 5K. So, I took it out for a spin. I ran 2 miles at about an 11 min pace with multiple stops to “stretch” and I felt like I was going to die. One of my favorite things about my Garmin is that I can look back and see that this was my first logged “official” training run.

Since that day, I have completed 13 races including 4 half marathons, and in exactly 39 days (omgomgomgomg commence FREAK OUT because that is soooclose) I will cross the finish line of my dream marathon. It seems almost unreal, like I have never had a life without running, and like I just started yesterday, all at the same time. I do know that I can’t imagine my life without running. It has given me happiness, crazy runner’s high endorphins, friendships, and a crap ton of pain and frustration, but most of all, it has given me freedom. I am beyond grateful that I developed this passion, and for the journey that has just begun.

Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane to celebrate, shall we? ;) Here’s some of my favorite running moments from the last year:

  • Completing my first race.

    Those 3.1 miles seemed so long. I’ll never forget the first moment I discovered what it felt like to cross the finish line. Ummm, addicting.
  • My first “speedy” run with Kara followed by our first trip to Bosa Donuts!

    It was our first training run at a sub 10 pace. We were OMG-SO-EXCITED, and it was the first time I caught the “I WANT TO BE FASTER” bug. Also, donuts are awesome.
  • My first double digit run.

    It was the first long run (other than when 4 miles was my long run) that I did solo. It was Thanksgiving day, and I had so much to be Thankful for. I finished strong, shed a few tears, then hosted one of my favorite holiday for many of my favorite people.
  • My first half marathon

    I love this girl sosososo much!!! I could never have gotten where I am in my running journey without her to carry my through our training. Kara, I really really miss you. I don’t think you understand how weird it is to do this without you! MOVE BACK TO ARIZONA!!!!

    Training for PF Chang’s was one of my favorite experiences of my life, and as it gets to be that same time of year again, and I am training for an other huge goal, it’s really nice to step back and look at the beginning of my journey such a short time ago. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes, took out my phone and it was ringing. My best friend said “Where are you?” “I’m at the finish line. I did it.” Then I cried more, and wore my medal around for about a week.

  • My favorite half marathon. 

    Look at my speedy friend Lisa juuuuusssst up ahead of me. She is a machine and somehow dragged me along to a 9 minute PR!!

     The stars aligned. I had the perfect race on the perfect day with the perfect friend. I loved 2 hours 4 minutes and 59 seconds of it.

  • My first track work outGUESS WHAT!!! The track is awesome. It’s become my new favorite.
  • An amazing, probably best run of my life time trial with Tali and Camille. This was the first run in oh so long that I got out of my head, trusted in how my body felt, and just ran. I had amazing company that kept me going, and I ran faster than I have in any long run, or long race for that matter. A perfect day in Portland to wrap up a summer of marathon training with people not actually training for a marathon :)
  • The first new distance of marathon trainingNew distances are the only thing I love more than track. I have 2 left to tackle before the marathon, and unless I die, they will also be in my list of favorites. This was a particularly awesome run with Nicole and Stacey that was exhausting, but incredibly rewarding, and a big step in the direction of 26.2.

What’s your favorite running memory?

Gingery Beef & Broccoli

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I know I’ve already said it, but my best friend Bethany got a new job, and at the company she’s been wanting to work with for a very long time. I’m so happy for her! She works her butt off, and she deserves every bit of it! Of course I show my love by shoving food down people’s throats cooking for people, so along with some super delicious non dairy ice cream, I also made her this delicious dinner.

 

Sometimes cooking for other people, especially for a special occasion, makes me so nervous! You never know if people will like it, and even if you love it, that doesn’t mean they will, and if you’re trying a new recipe, what if it just turns out horrible??? Sometimes, it’s hard to be inside my brain. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not used to crazy ;)

 

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain?? I would LOVE it, just for a day. I always try to understand the thought processes that make other people act/say/feel certain ways. Sometimes, I do not understand people at all.

For instance, the people who feel like their facebook wall is the place for them to post all the rude things they think about other people’s political parties. What exactly are they hoping to accomplish? Even if I agree with them, I still find it SO annoying. I’d like to get inside their head and understand what they believe they’re gaining by this. Also, people who don’t like chocolate. I’d like to understand that too.

Anyway, back to being inside my head which probably looks like an episode of horders. Cooking for people is one of my favorite things, and all of my favorite things make me nervous–acting, singing, dancing, teaching (first days–eeeeek!), races, interacting with other people and trying to resemble some form of social grace…

 

Luckily, this dinner was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe, and still had not a single bite of left overs. That’s how you know. People can say they like things, but unless they go back for seconds and lick their plate, sometimes it’s hard to be certain. It’s just a little spicy, and totally packed with flavor with the ginger, coconut, and flavorful meat and veggies. I hardly ever cook beef, but this cut was pretty lean, and I trimmed the excess fat. I was surprised with how much I liked it because I almost always prefer chicken. I also loved how all of the veggies bulked it up to be super filling without being heavy.

I used this recipe from Paleo Plan that I found via Carrots ‘n’ Cake almost exactly. I added a bit more veggies, halved the oil, then added a little sriracha for some spice. It was one of my favorite things I’ve made in a long time, and I would highly recommend it! Click over to Paleo Plan for the full recipe!

Cheuvront

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Friday night I went out with some of my favorite AZ Blogger ladies to Cheuvront for restaurant week.

Arizona restaurant week is one of my very favorite things! When I was growing up, we didn’t have a huge restaurant scene, but ever since I moved back after college, it seems like new, indie restaurants are popping up like crazy! Or maybe I’m just finally starting to get into the scene? Either way, there are lots of amazing options for people who love food in this city, and I (obviously) really, really love food. Each restaurant has a special restaurant week menu with a set price and a few options for each course–you can choose to order off this menu, or stick to the regular menu.

This was my first time at Cheuvront, but I was super excited as soon as I looked at the menu. I had a really tough time making up my mind because everything looked amazing, but the one thing that was easy to decide was the first course. Goat cheese is one of those items I always immediately scan a menu for, and then I usually choose what I order by which options come with it. Obviously, I started with the goat cheese salad.

It was delicious! Fresh greens, the perfect amount of slightly sweet champagne vinaigrette, and of course the star of the plate–the fried goat cheese! For the second course, everything looked good and I had a hard time deciding, but ultimately went with the half roasted chicken because it came with cranberry apple stuffing.

That stuffing!!! I just kept digging underneath the chicken to try to get more of it out. It was probably my favorite thing I ate all night. The chicken was great too–perfectly cooked and tender. I asked the waiter what his favorite dessert option was and he pointed me towards the chocolate bouchon which is a small, lava-like chocolate cake that was served with dulce de leche ice cream.

Okay, maybe this was my favorite thing I ate all night. The chocolate bouchon had a slightly crisp outside, but the entire inside was gooey, like a half baked brownie, and it paired perfectly with the ice cream which was aaaaaamazing.

I absolutely loved Cheuvront, and will definitely be returning! It was also so great to spend time with some of my favorite ladies, and meet a couple of new ones!

Remy, Emily, me, Megan, Robin, Nicole & Jenn

Thanks for an awesome evening ladies!! Can’t wait to do it again soon!

NYC Marathon Training Week 14?

If you’re training for a marathon but don’t run a single step, does the week still count? If a tree falls in the forrest… Okay, but really. Our bodies are funny, funny creatures. Up until this week, I think I had skipped one track work out (my honeymoon) and two recovery runs (tech week, and one week with no good excuse other than I didn’t do it) in 13 weeks. I’d say I’ve been getting little marathon training gold stars. I’d give myself an A on the whole “following the training plan” thing. The whole “listening to my body” thing? Well, I certainly haven’t been failing, but I am definitely the type of person that when someone tells me to do something, I want to do it, and do it flawlessly. I’m a total people pleaser, and having a coach that I admire and respect so much makes me really want to do all my training runs and do them “right” and show Coach Susan what an exceptional little coach-ee she has in me. COACH SUSAN, I NEED GOLD STARS!!!!

Anyway, I’ve ignored aches and pains, chalking them up to being part of the training process, and while 90% of the time I would say I made the right choice every single time I went out to run, I think I have some things to learn about the rest of the whole training process, like you know, sleeping, and taking care of myself in other areas. It’s a hard to come to the realization that marathon training is about so much more than the runs. It’s about me. It’s one of the only things I have ever committed myself to that literally requires me to put myself first, which I actually think is maybe why I wanted to do it in the first place. Not that I am this amazing selfless person that only cares about others, but I often feel guilty about putting myself first.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job battling that guilt, and taking the reins in my life, but I realize  that I’m not quite there yet, and that’s okay. I’ve made time for my runs, for the part of training that someone else sees and can check me off for following instructions, but my mind and body were begging for a ditch day. In college, I called them “mental health days”, where I just called in sick to school for absolutely no reason, and went shopping. They didn’t happen all too often, but they were so necessary, and worth it. I didn’t take a mental health week, and I wouldn’t have, so my body stepped in, and forced me to take some much needed rest.

Let me back track to last Sunday. I ran with Jason in Prescott, rolled my same ankle for the billionth time, and it hurt. It hurt all day, and it was scary, so I woke up Monday and rode my bike in exchange for the easy run scheduled. Then Tuesday I woke up with what my doctor later described as “the same bacteria everyone else has right now”. Actually, that was the nurse practitioner. I feel like my doctor may have been slightly more descriptive. Anyway, I uncharacteristically listened to my body. I rested.

Clementine assisted in the resting process. She’s real good at it.

I even called out of my afternoon classes/rehearsal on Wednesday. I slept and laid around my house in the mornings instead of running while my super annoying body waited all freaking week to get it’s act together.

I did an easy bike ride on Friday with Nicole, and then today when I woke up for the first time all week feeling on the rode to not feeling like crap, I did a more challenging bike ride with Steve (where we averaged like 20 mph for a good 6 miles straight–speedy for this slow poke!!). I went out to dinner one night with some of the AZ Bloggers, and I got through the rest of my work week, but otherwise, I stayed in, ate lots of soup (some cooked by my awesome and sweet husband), and recharged.

I have to admit, it’s not easy mentally to take an entire week off this far into the training, but I am grateful that this was a cutback week anyhow, and I am not missing any of my key runs. It may not be what I would view as “ideal”, but more importantly, I feel like it’s what my body viewed as “necessary”. Bodies are smart. It’s probably best not to argue. I mean, what do I know anyway? ;)

I plan to take the start of this week slow while I’m still getting better, but I have 18 miles waiting for me on Saturday that I plan to tear up! After the week off, these legs are ready for some action!

How do you deal with illness while training? Run through it? Time off? Cry? Tell me awesome things about your training, so I know that somewhere out in the world people are having awesome runs that I can live vicariously through!!

Skull Valley Challenge

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Last weekend was a super special weekend! It was the first time Steve and I got to switch places, as I went to cheer him on for his first “race”. I call it a race, but it was untimed and they called it a “ride”. Well, he goes for a “ride” like, umm, every day so that doesn’t sound quite fancy enough for me. There was a starting line, and a finish line, so in my mind it was a race. Steve left for Prescott to get acclimated with the elevation on Wednesday. Remember how us Phoenix folk do with mile high elevation? I had to work, so I left with Jason on Saturday afternoon. On the way up, we decided to get married.

Sorry Steve. I know I’m supposed to be coming to see you, but Jason and I are in ring pop love.

We arrived just in time to head over to the bib pick up with the boys.

HE HAS A BIB!!!

Cycling besties. They’re in like, straight man friend love.

After bib pick up, we headed to The Raven Cafe for dinner.

Raven Cafe  is a super cute restaurant in downtown Prescott with a unique menu, coffee bar, and big beer and wine selection. Jason and I ordered a couple of beers to start.

Mine: Nut brown mmmmmm

Jason got this super intense Black Butte with a bunch of roman numerals after. It was DARK, and definitely a sipping beer, but we were both fans.

Look! It also comes in a fancy glass. Sorry bar tender lady, you’re on the blog, but it’s just your hand. Apparently I couldn’t wait until we sat down to start photographing. I’m a little impatient ;)

They have a really cool outdoor upstairs patio, and the weather was perfect, so we enjoyed dinner up there.

I’m a proud wife. And that lady in the background is apparently REAL freaked out by us taking a picture. CALM DOWN WOMAN!!!

I ordered a turkey sandwich that came with cranberry sauce, cream cheese, avocado and tomato–ohhhhh my gosh, it was so delicious! I got tortilla soup for my side which was also good, but the sandwich was definitely my favorite part!

After dinner, we went back to Dan’s and turned in early so the boys could get some sleep before the race ride. The next morning, Steve and Dan rode their bikes down to the start while Jason and I ran down to meet them.

Before we knew it, they were off, and I was pretty much the only person yelling and cheering like a crazy fool. Once they were out of site, Jason and I finished our run and ended out 3.5 miles at breakfast at The Sweet Potato Cafe. After breakfast we walked around, got coffee, and went back to work on a big obnoxious sign to hold at the finish.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t end up having the best ride. The course was ridiculously tough and had about 4,000 ft of elevation gain over 54 miles. Around mile 37, the constant uphill just got to be too much, and he had to drop out. Bike races are serious business, man. If I get tired during a race, I just walk, but what do you do on your bike? You can’t walk it up the hill. I mean, I guess you can, but if you don’t do it all on the bike, does it really count? Anyway, he did the best he could at this point in his training, and I was still a proud lady! It just means next year he’s going to kill it!

Steve actually had a really great attitude about the whole thing. Of course he was disappointed, but he truly knew that he had done the best he could on that day. I really admire that about him. I spend a lot of time beating myself up and crying in the car after not performing the way I had hoped, and he just understood where he was that day, made some goals moving forward, and moved on. I absolutely feel like he still succeeded, and I feel beyond proud that he set out for such a challenging course on his first race ride!

How do you handle not living up to your expectations on race day? Ever done a bike race? What do you do if you can’t pedal up the stupid hill anymore?!?!?!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

icecream-9

What? It’s fall where you are? I’m really sorry, but the high here today is still in the triple digits, so I bring you ice cream.

Special creamy coconut milk ice cream that I can share with all my vegan and no dairy friends, because I really like them. This was made special for Bethany who recently gave up dairy and is taking a more paleo approach to eating. This ice cream isn’t paleo–it has sugar, but it is dairy free, and about a billion times more delicious than any soy ice cream I’ve ever tried.

Have I ever mentioned that ice cream is my very favorite thing? Okay, I know I have a lot of very favorite things, but ice cream has been on the list since I was like 1. And I’m kind of old, so that’s a long time. To be honest, light ice creams are tough to make at home. I’ve made a couple I like, but it’s really tough to get the right texture. Coconut milk is so perfectly creamy–it worked as an amazing base, plus the recipe was so simple!

The flavor combination of coconut milk + brown sugar with dark chocolate was ridiculously good. In fact, I ended up having to give the leftovers to my mom and step dad because I knew I couldn’t be trusted. I got the empty container back about 3 days later. I guess they liked it too ;)

Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1x15 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (if you want to keep it vegan, make sure to buy vegan chips)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl or blender, combine coconut milk, brown sugar and vanilla.
  2. Freeze mixture according to ice cream maker instructions.
  3. After finished churning, fold in chocolate chips before transferring to storing container.
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Skinny Mini Corn Dogs

Skinny Mini Corn Dogs via Ari's Menu

Last Thanksgiving, I made and posted these Skinny Mini Corn Dogs. Well, you may have noticed that since then, the photography on the blog has gotten…umm…better.

Then

Now

Although Steve takes most of the photography, I’ve learned oh so much about food styling since I started this blog. It’s still a challenge for me, as I’m not a visual person, and I have always identified with the “I don’t care what it looks like if it tastes good” way of thought, but I’ve definitely come a long way, and I definitely no longer throw my food on the plate and hope for the best ;)

Now, I employ hand models. Thanks Jas ;) Anyway, THESE CORN DOGS!! I think of all the food I’ve made in my life, these and my cake batter dip are the two things that ALWAYS disappear. What’s even better is they are so easy!! It’s maybe 15 minutes of working time to make a huge amount perfect for any party, or tailgating if you do that sort of thing (says the girl who despises football).

These babies are dangerous. I could easily go through a dozen without even thinking twice! The good news is, they really are healthy–baked, no oil or butter, and the leanest hot dogs around. In fact, you could probably eat the entire mini muffin tin full for the same amount of fat and calories as 1 regular corn dog!

Skinny Mini Corn Dogs

yield 24-36

  • 1 box cornbread of choice (use gluten-free if desired)
  • Fat free plain Greek yogurt (amount depends on box)
  • Unsweetened almond milk (amount depends on box)
  • 1/2 small can medium green chilis
  • 8-10 98% fat free turkey dogs

Directions:

  1. Mix cornbread according to package instructions replacing butter/oil with yogurt and milk with almond milk (reduced fat buttermilk or skim milk would also work), and adding green chilis.
  2. Pour batter into sprayed mini muffin tins, filling only about 1/3-1/2 of each tin.
  3. Divide each turkey dog into 6 equal pieces.
  4. Press a piece of turkey dog into each muffin tin.
  5. Bake according to package instructions until golden brown.

 

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 13

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Okay, before I get to telling you about a week of training full of lots of amazing firsts, I just need to discuss the season premier of Glee that I embarrassingly watched last night. Do you watch Glee? Despite how truly awful the writing has gotten, I always continued to watch. Why? Well, you wouldn’t believe how many of my teaching jobs are named “Glee” or at least inspired by/modeled after the TV show. And, if I’m being totally honest, at the end of last season, I really did find myself caring about stupid Rachel Barry and if she would be able to pursue her dreams and major in musical theatre in a fancy NYC conservatory program. However, last night I watched the newest season premier, and while Rachel cried in the rain, only to turn around and find her BFF Kurt standing behind her rescuing her from her slutty roommate, I kind of felt like I might need to break up with Glee.

Sorry, I just needed to share that with someone, and Steve didn’t seem particularly interested. Shocking, right? He did go see Step Up Revolution with me though, so he earned himself a night off from discussing musical theatre for the moment ;) Okay, anyway, let’s talk about last week’s training! Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 7 mile run. Ran with Nicole, and the weather was awesome! It’s finally starting to cool down (although this week, it’s back to the 100’s, so maybe I should knock on wood?) and I noticed a huge difference effort wise. After a 3 mile warm up, we ran the last 4 miles in 9:22, 9:15, 9:18, and 8:10. I died a little on the last mile, but overall the run felt amazing, and the first 3 working miles felt so much easier than they have been!

Tuesday: Rest. I just mentally wasn’t really feeling it this morning. I needed some me time, and decided it was better to take the day off from spin than to miss a running day.

Wednesday: Track. I guess my day off was a good idea, because I had the most amazing track work out! I did a 1.2 mile warm up, then we did all those silly looking running drills (dear b skip: you are not my favorite), then we got to work. The plan for the day was 1600 @ 10k pace, 1200 @ 5k pace, 800 @ mile pace, 400 sprint, with 400 recoveries in between. As soon as we started the first mile, I started to get into a bad mental place. I was on pace, but I just kept watching all the faster runners whizzing by me, and I started to get really down on myself. Around the third lap, I was right on pace with 2 faster guys on the team. They had passed me, but then I was sticking right behind them, and my coach yelled to me not to let them get away, so I spent the 4th lap awkwardly pacing them from behind before finally asking to just join them, and try to keep up. They told me their pace goals, and it definitely made me nervous, but I committed to holding on for as long as I could. Well, I stuck it out the entire work out, felt what it was like to actually think I was going to puke, but not stop, and ended up with some of the speediest running I’ve ever done!

As you can see, the recoveries got slower and slower as the working laps got faster and “OMG IS THAT A 6?!?!?!” fast. Actually for the first 200 of that sprint, my watch said 5:41 but that’s when the puke feeling came, and I slowed my role into what is still BY FAR the fastest lap of my life. Holy freaking accomplished feeling. I love the track :) Also, by the end, I couldn’t remember who had passed me, and I couldn’t have cared less. And I realized how much more I push myself when I keep up with other people I *think* are faster than me. I need to step it up, stop doubting, and give 100% more often.

Thursday: 10 mile bike. This was the weirdest day. I set off with Nicole on our usual easy ride to coffee. On the way, we saw a UFO. Okay, actually some people say it was a missile from New Mexico or something, but I still say it was a UFO.

Then as we were getting to coffee, Nicole’s bike got pissed, protested and threw her off. What a jerk. Luckily she was okay, but it didn’t stop me from having some choice words with her bike for messing with my friend like that. Not cool.

Friday: 17.03!!!! Check out my novel length in depth recap because I’m in the “OMG can’t talk enough about running” phase. What?? You can’t go on without seeing the splits from this run too? Oh okay, if you insist ;)

Ignore “lap” 19 and 20. I accidentally hit my start…twice.

Saturday: Rest. I wanted to get an easy bike ride in, but time wise it just didn’t work out. After running the longest distance of my life the day before, I wasn’t too concerned.

Sunday: 3.5 mile run. I still had a recovery run left to get done, so I ran with Jason up in Prescott. It was hilly, and there was that whole elevation thing, but we averaged about a 10:30 pace after I had to insist to speedy that we slow the F down because “RECOVERY RUNS ARE SLOW!!!!” The last time I ran with him, he ran closer to an 11 minute pace. Stupid boys get fast so quickly. The run was mostly good, but I rolled my same ankle for the 89th million time, and it hurt the rest of the day. Lame.

Total running mileage for the week: A new high for me of 32.6 miles!!!! My first time hitting 3o in one Monday-Sunday week!

Your turn! Tell me about your training!!

Seventeen (point zero three)

Friday, for the first time ever, I ran 17 miles. 17.03 to be exact. I’m still going to post a recap of all of last week’s training, but I felt like this run deserved it’s own separate post. I ran with my two favorite Phoenix runner/bloggers Nicole and Stacey, and we started at the lovely hour at 4:30 am, which meant falling asleep well after 11, I woke up to my alarm going off sometime that started with a 3. My first night before a new distance in over 6 months brought back all the feelings and craziness I would get during PF Chang’s training. Anxious, restless sleep, nerves, and dreams of worst case scenarios. Somehow I still woke up with a weird amount of energy, and was excited to get running!

Stacey arrived at my house at 4:30 and we began the 1.5 mile run down to meet Nicole at Starbucks. From Starbucks, we headed down to the canal and just kind of strolled along. Our pace was slooooooowwwww for the first several miles. My mind was going back and forth between “This pace is so nice! It genuinely feels easy! I can keep this up alllll day.” and “OMG you’re so slow. PICK UP THE PACE!!!” Luckily, we were all smart, straight A running students, and we just let it be easy, knowing we had a long way to go.

Mile 1–11:16
Mile 2–11:18
Mile 3–11:26
Mile 4–11:18
Mile 5– 11:03

Along the first few miles we chatted, and made a running friend along the canal that ended up sticking with us for about half a mile or so before picking up to his actual pace, which shockingly was not an 11 minute mile. Finally, I started to feel warmed up at this point. The weather was perfection–the sun was barely coming up, it was in the high 70’s with a nice breeze, and I was feeling pretty optimistic about the run. We started to pick it up a little and slowly find our way closer to normal long run pace.

Mile 6–10:49
Mile 7–10:55
Mile 8–10:38
Mile 9– 10:32

At mile 9.25, we reached our turn around point. I started to get really excited knowing we were turning around and more than half way through! It seemed like the end was actually in sight (even though it was almost 8 miles away), and I started pushing to pick up the pace. I was getting into the groove, and feeling really great.

Mile 10–10:24
Mile 11–10:11
Mile 12– 10:00

This is where things started to get tough, and also where I started to get some serious runner’s high. It was a combination of really starting to feel the run, but also being so freaking excited about running. I had run without my music up until this point, but as my legs were starting to feel tired, and sweat was starting to drip excessively from my body due to the now 80 degree with full blazing sun weather. It was amazing how much more helpful my music was having saved it for when I really needed it.

I started singing along so loudly at the top of my lungs, dancing around, and acting a total fool. I started thinking about how far I’ve come, and how in less than a year, I’ve gone from a 3 mile PDR, and here I was about to complete 17. I started t get all sappy about this marathon crap, and almost cried in true emotional silly Ari fashion. Apparently being ridiculous, emotional, and singing badly while running lead to really excellent paces…

Mile 13–9:39
Mile 14–9:26
Mile 15– 9:36

This is where shit got hard. My legs were exhausted. I was feeling overheated, and tired, and my ankles were really started to hurt. In fact, my whole body ached. I leaned over to stretch while waiting for a stoplight, and legit almost just fell on the ground, but we were all determined to finish this run strong, and thankfully, when my attitude and mental state took a turn for the less than happy, my amazing friends were right there to pick me up, and encourage me until the end. How do people do this crap on their own?! Seriously.

Mile 16–9:38
Mile 17– 9:11

And just like that, all 3 of us achieved a distance well above our previous PDRs. There was so much love and sweat outside that Starbucks.

17 down. 9 to go. Onward.

Butterscotch Pecan Butter

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It’s official. I’m never buying nut butter from the grocery store again.

Making my own is so ridiculously easy, and the flavor combinations are endless. You imagine it, you throw everything in the food processor while you read all 900 unread posts on your google reader empty the dishwasher, and voila! NUT BUTTER!!!!

Guess what! It’s also way less expensive this way. It would be…ummm… uncharacteristic of me to not mention saving money ;)

And can we talk about how butterscotch is one of those flavors that never disappoints? Please, tell me a time you’ve eaten something with butterscotch in it, and then thought “Well, that was disappointing.” It doesn’t happen people. Butterscotch can save the worst cookie, and it can take the most delicious pecan spread to the next level.

 

Butterscotch Pecan Butter

yield 1/2 pint

  • 8 oz pecans (I used raw, but roasted would be amazing)
  • 1 1/2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips, melted
  • heavy pinch sea salt
Directions:
  1. Add pecans to a food processor and blend until a thick nut butter forms (be patient, this takes several minutes). Stream in oil with the processor on, continuing to run it until the mixture is smooth (about 3-4 minutes).
  2. Turn off processor, add melted butterscotch chips and sea salt, and turn processor back on. Blend until smooth.