Veggies, Friends, and Pizza

About two months ago, I started to look up options for CSA’s in my area.  I’ve wanted to join a CSA for a while, but my life the past few years hasn’t been conducive to a weekly fruit/veggie delivery.  This was the year and when I found Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia, I knew I had found a winner.  There were three options for pick-up/delivery.  One, you could go to the farm and pick up your share yourself…this wasn’t for me.  Two, you could pick up your share from specific drop off points in the area…again, not for me.  Three, you could have it delivered to your door…which was perfect.  It was the most expensive option, but the most convenient for me.  I signed up and then anxiously awaited June 5th for my first delivery.

Getting home last night and seeing the package in front of my door was like waking up on Christmas morning!  I was so excited to see what I received!  My half-share had a big bag of kale, some radishes, squash, spring onions, sweet cherries, a basil plant, a garlic scape, and a bag of unidentified greens.  I’ve never been so excited to clean veggies in my life!

I took the cherries to work today and munched on them all day long.  I will be eating them tomorrow too…so good!  Cherries are for sure my favorite fruit right now.  I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest, but luckily the farm emailed us about this shipment and they provided a recipe.  It looked simple, used three of the items in my share, and sounded delicious.  I was game.  I invited my friend Sarah over and set out to make some Greens Pizza!

This pizza was delicious!  I took the garlic scape and sautéed it in some olive oil.  To that, I added kale and salt.  Once the kale was softened, I added fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes.  I spread the kale mixture over a thin crust Boboli shell and topped it all with some shredded mozzarella cheese.  Baked it until the cheese was golden and melted and delicious.  This was a winner of a recipe and I will definitely utilize the farm’s recipes in the future!

Overall, I am super happy with my CSA membership so far!  I know it has only been a week, but I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer brings…I know it will be tasty!

 

Race Recap: Historic Half

Well, this is about a week overdue…

Last weekend, I ran the Historic Half in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  I’d been looking forward to this race for a while.  Not because I was looking forward to running 13.1 miles, but because I had convinced Aaron to run with me.  He wasn’t excited about it and I might have had to twist his arm to agree, but he did and I was so excited to run the entire thing with him.  (This was our 2d race we had done together, the first being the St. Patrick’s Day 8K this year)

I had originally told Aaron I wanted his help in pushing me to try and break the 2 hour mark on this race.  But as race day got closer, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I was working a lot and was not getting the miles that I needed to be ready to break 2 hours.  I had two late nights leading up to the race and a lot of time on my feet.  To say I had fresh legs for this race would be a complete lie.

Race morning arrived and I seriously contemplated just bagging this race.  But I had convinced Aaron to do this and didn’t want to go back on it now.  We hit up a gas station for some breakfast (I got a donut…and realized it was the only thing I had eaten since lunch the day prior…oops) and then headed to Fredericksburg.

The race was set up well.  The shuttle buses from parking went smoothly but we cut it REALLY close getting to the start on time.  I guess on a good note, we didn’t wait at the start for it to begin.  We moved pretty slow, but kept trucking.  I did okay for the first few miles.  Aaron took a Jello shot around mile 5…which was hysterical.  Around mile 7, I told Aaron I needed to walk.  It sort of went downhill from there.

I hated that this race was going to crap, but Aaron was a trooper and stayed with me (I may have held his beer ticket for the finish hostage to keep him with me, though).  At mile 10, we encountered the horrific Hospital Hill.  This thing was no joke and I walked the entire thing.  There was a lot of swearing at this point and I think I told Aaron I hated myself for wanting to do this.  This cracked him up and he skipped next to me for a while…yeah, you can just imagine how that made me feel.  Ha ha!

Finally, we made it to the finish.  Our time was not spectacular at 2:21:49, but we averaged 10:41 min/miles.  We walked through the finish and ran into some Marines I work with who offered us some beer.  We took them up on it and then headed to the beer tent for even more beer.  Even though it was far from my best half marathon, I have great memories and am so glad that Aaron was there with me.  I would have walked a lot more if he hadn’t been there pushing me and I don’t think he realizes how much I appreciate that.

Race Recap: Pittsburgh Half Marathon

Yesterday, I completed my 10th half marathon.  I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and it was a great, great time!  It wasn’t my fastest…it wasn’t my slowest…but it was awesome!

I started my day early.  Really early.  I left my Mom’s house at 4:15 am and drove the 45 minutes into downtown Pittsburgh.  The website and the emails that had been sent said that street closures were going to start at 6:30 and since I wasn’t sure where I was going to park (there were a bunch of options), I decided to leave super early.  I ended up in the exact garage I wanted…by 5:15 am.  Yeah…so I watched a few thinks on Netflix on my phone and took at 45 minute nap.  Finally, I walked toward the start line.

I just thought this picture was cool.  The below picture was what the white in the above picture was made out of…all the names of the runners.  Anyway…the start was very well-organized.  And they had something I had never seen before.  Flushing port-o-potties.  The best thing ever.  The start was in waves and went smoothly.  Best part of the start was that Ryan Clark was there.  I am pretty sure he smiled and waved at me when I ran by.  He is very, very cute!

The race was the largest race to ever be held in Pittsburgh with 25,000 runners.  The 5K had been held the day prior, but on Sunday there was the half marathon, the full marathon, and the marathon relay taking place.  The spectators were awesome as well.  Lots of signs with some sort of “Yins can do it!” type of phrase, lots of people in Steelers and Pirates jerseys and lots of enthusiastic Pittsburghers!  I think we ran over every bridge in Pittsburgh and the hills and heat were annoying at times, but I found myself running with a smile on my face a lot.  The last mile of the race was very similar to the last mile of the Great Race, which means it is all downhill!  Best way to finish a race, in my opinion.

Before I knew it (okay, that is a lie…it felt like forever!), I was running up to the Point and the finish line!  Again, great crowd support down the Boulevard of the Allies into the finish.  One of the marathon finishers FLEW past me as I was finishing the half…it was impressive!

The official results have me at a 10:10 pace (which makes sense since my Garmin clocked a 1/4 mile extra).  I finished 5,443 out of 12,207 half marathon runners and 2,625 out of 7,488 female runners.  I can’t complain about that!

I ran with a charity for the first time with this race.  One of my college alumni groups coordinated to run as a group for Running for Laptops.  After the race, I hung out at their tent in the Charity Village and waited for the rest of our group to finish.

But before I did that, I headed to my (very conveniently parked car) and traded my running shoes for flip-flops.  Best post-race decision I made!

Since I had some time to kill, I did something I don’t normally do after a race.  I took advantage of the post-race massages.  It was great to have someone work on my legs after that run.  It was only about five minutes, but it was totally worth it!

After the race, I headed to my college alumni lunch.  It was held in a great location (it was the patio off a law office of one of the dad’s in the alumni group).  We chilled, ate, and enjoyed our successes!

The views of Pittsburgh were incredible from the balcony.  It was such a gorgeous day!  You could see all of the bridges.  You could see PNC Park and Heinz Field.  It was awesome!

We even had a cake that celebrated Elizabethtown College taking the Pittsburgh Marathon!  It was yellow on one side and red velvet on the other…a perfect post-race treat!

Here is all of the E-town alumni that participated.  It was a relatively small group, but it was nice to feel connected to my alma mater in Pittsburgh (considering that our college is about four hours from Pittsburgh).

There was a Pirates game going on at the same time of the party and even though you couldn’t see anything but the outfield, you could see the jumbotron screen and it was fun to see the stadium buzzing with activity.

The best part of running a race in Pittsburgh?  Smiley cookies at the finish!  I was so happy to get this cookie but couldn’t eat it at the finish.  It came in handy as I was battling all the street closures in Pittsburgh, trying to get to my Mom’s house after the race.  Don’t know what it is about these cookies, but they are my favorite!

All in all, this was a great race.  Running for a great charity, enjoying running through a great city, and feeling the E-town love all added to the experience.  I can’t wait to run it again next year!

Recipe: Tropical Banana Bread Mini-Muffins

A few weeks ago, I picked up a few champagne mangoes at Whole Foods because they were on sale.  I grabbed a few and enjoyed how delicious they were.  Then two weeks ago, I bought some bananas.  Those bananas just hung out on my counter and got brown.  So I wouldn’t waste them, I decided to make banana bread.  But when I started to think about those champagne mangoes, I got inspired.

There is a lot going on with this banana bread, but it totally works.  Pineapple, banana, mango, and coconut make it a tropical treat.  I used a blender to really emulsify the wet ingredients and they mixed into the dry ingredients easily.  The chunks of mango changed up the texture of the muffins just enough.  And the coconut…really?  I don’t think you can go wrong with coconut.

I decided to make these into mini-muffins since I will be taking them into work.  Mini-muffins are much more office friendly…like the cousin of the cookie.  One – two bites that don’t required anything else.  I hope everyone enjoys them!

Tropical Banana Bread Mini-Muffins

Makes:  48 mini-muffins

By: Sarah Armstrong

3 eggs

8 oz crushed pineapple, drained (reserve juice)

3/4 c canola oil + reserved pineapple juice

5 medium bananas

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 c ground flax seed

1/2 cup white sugar

1 t baking soda

2 pinches salt

2 t cinnamon

2 champagne mangos, diced

1 cup shredded coconut

coconut for decorations

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender, combine eggs, pineapple, oil/juice, and bananas.  Blend until smooth.

Combine flours, flax, sugars, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Pour banana mixture into the dry and mix to combine.  Fold in 1 cup coconut and the diced mango.

Generously grease a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill muffin tins and top the muffin batter with a bit of shredded coconut.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are set through.  Let cool and keep in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Mini Challenge #3

Yeah.

This week blew.  Really no other way to put it.

I didn’t work out.  Once.

I ate when I could, but didn’t care what it was.

I fell asleep on my couch more times than I care to count.

Basically, this week was a giant fail.

But, how did you do?

Better than me?

I have plans to make this week better.  I need to make working out a priority this week because it makes me happy and puts me in a better mood.  I’m pretty stressed at work right now and need that in my life.  So this week, my challenge is pretty simple.  Do something everyday that could count as a work out.  For example…today I walked to the grocery store and then lugged my groceries back to my apartment.  It isn’t that far of a walk, but carrying home milk and a watermelon, along with all of my other groceries, was a bit of a workout.  My other challenge is to work on increasing my protein consumption.

Easy goals, but that is why this is a mini-challenge.  It should be called a gentle reminder of what I should do anyway.  Good luck and have a great week!

Mini Challenge #2

Week 1 of my mini-challenges are complete!

So, how did I do?  Well, I was able to incorporate more veggies in my day-to-day eating.  Once I became more aware of it, eating more veggies wasn’t that hard to do.  The workouts are were more of a challenge.  I could blame one thing or another for why I fell short, but I just didn’t get it done.  I got three of the five workouts in, for about 20 miles.

How did you do?

Now…on to next week.

Trying to keep up with the challenges from last week, I have two things I’m going to work on now.  First, I’m going to work on incorporating at least three days of strength training in this week.  I have rekindled my love for my TRX, so I’m going to work on that for this week.  Second, I’m going to work on getting more sleep.  I’ve been averaging about six hours a night.  While that might be plenty for some people, I’m a lot better off if I can get closer to eight.

There you have it.  My mini-challenges for the week.  Want to join me?

Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

Another month, another race.

Still working on my “at least one race a month” goal and April’s race was taken care of early…on the 1st day of the month!  Bright and early this morning, I headed out to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in Washington, D.C.  I haven’t been running much since the Rock’n’Roll half marathon, so I didn’t have any great expectations for this run (not that I ever really have expectations for any race).  I just wanted to run the entire time and have an average pace of under 10 minute/miles.  I was able to accomplish both goals, while having fun, so it was a win in my book.

This was one of the best organized races I have run in a while.  The Metro worked really well for me today getting there and home, the weather was perfect for running, the support on the course was great, and the course was generally flat.  All the makings of a good race!  Right before mile 5, my Garmin lost satellite reception and it was almost mile 7 before it picked back up again.  At that point, my stats were shot (did you know according to my Garmin I ran ACROSS the tidal basin?  I’m awesome.).  I’m not a huge fan of running without my Garmin, especially during a race, so that got in my head a bit, but not too bad.

According to their website, I ran the 10 miles in 1:35:30 for an average pace of 9:33 min/miles.  Not too shabby!  I was also pleased I chose to participate in two of the “upgrades” that were offered to participants.  First, I upgraded my shirt.  Instead of the cotton t-shirt, I paid a bit more and got a tech tee with the same logo on it.  Well worth the cost!  Second, I upgraded my entry to get a medal at the end.  Again, well worth the cost because a race with a medal is a better race!

Overall, I was very happy with this race and I hope to be able to participate in it again next year!


Mini Challenges

I’m in a rut.

I’m not working out like I want to be.  I’m not eating like I know I should be.  And I sort of feel like crap about myself.  Something needs to be done.  It is a known fact I suck at training plans.  And when I give myself goals, I have a tendency to get so motivated and involved in my goals, there is no way I can accomplish them.  So I just quit.

I have an idea though.  It is a six-week “get back on track” kind of idea.  But it isn’t a six-week plan.  It is six mini challenges, broken up into one week increments.  More manageable, right?

So, my plan…

Week 1:  At least 5 workouts of 45 minutes or more and increase veggie consumption.

Yup, that’s it.  Nothing crazy.  Nothing not attainable.  One week with two very easy goals.  My week will be a Sunday-Saturday type week.  Next Saturday I’ll look at how I did and give myself the next mini-challenge.

Want to join me?  Little steps to remind yourself to take care of yourself.  Life is hard and it is easy to let yourself fall to the back burner.  Let’s stop the excuses and bring on the veggies and workouts!

Recipe: Cranberry Granola

I have an expensive addiction to Udi’s Gluten Free Cranberry Granola. The stuff is AWESOME but at $6 for a small bag, it is an indulgence. When I took a look at the ingredients (gluten-free oats, dried cranberries, walnuts, wildflower honey, and canola oil), I knew I could make this at home…and for a lot cheaper. This wasn’t a flawless evolution though.

The pictures above show my journey. The granola on the top of the picture is the Udi’s. On the bottom right is the finished product. On the bottom left…yeah. Let’s just say that it took me a bit to figure out the baking time on this.

While my finished product isn’t exactly the same, it is close enough for me. A tasty breakfast. And I love knowing exactly what is in my granola. Enjoy!

Cranberry Granola

By: Sarah Armstrong

4 c oats

1 c walnuts, chopped

2/3 c wildflower honey

1/3 c canola oil

1 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the oats and walnuts. separately, mix the oil and honey. Add the oil/honey mixture to the oat/walnut mixture and stir to combine. Fold in cranberries.

Spread in a thin layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring the granola every ten minutes to prevent burning.

 

Recipe: Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

My baking seems to be largely dictated by my cravings and what I have in the fridge.  It often results in some creative recipes.  I have had a big container of blueberries sitting in my fridge for almost a week.  I knew I was in a “use it or lose it” situation.  Blueberry muffins sounded good, so that is where I went.

Then things got interesting.  I had no eggs (this seems to be a bit of a trend for me…), I had no milk, I had no butter.  Basically, I had none of the traditional baking items.  Who am I?  I used to have all of these things on hand ALL THE TIME!  Anyway, I had to improvise, and it sort of worked.

These muffins are really good if you like a lot of blueberries (which I do).  They were really…I can’t type it so it is a five letter word that starts with m and ends in oist.  Ha ha!  But they were!  Not a cakey muffin at all.  They didn’t rise very high, but they taste really good and aren’t that bad for you.  Each muffin has 118 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 3 grams of protein.  They aren’t your traditional, bakery-type blueberry muffins, but a nice addition to a Sunday morning breakfast.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

By:  Sarah Armstrong

1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 c white sugar

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 T ground flax seed

1 T chia seeds/3 T water

1 c plain Greek yogurt

1/2 c water

1/2 c applesauce

1 t vanilla

1 1/3 c blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray in the insides of a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix chia seeds with 3 T water and set aside to make your “chia egg.”

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, and flax seeds together.  Set aside.

Mix the yogurt, applesauce, vanilla, and water with the “chia egg.”  Then combine your wet ingredients with your dry and mix until combined.  Fold in the blueberries gently.  Portion batter into muffin tin.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin tin for about 5 minutes and then remove from muffin tin to complete cooling.  Enjoy!