Monday, March 31, 2014

Easy Herb Focaccia (great for sandwiches!)

For a while, I've been making homemade bread for our sandwiches every week, alternating between honey wheat, sundried tomato parmesan, and jalapeno cheddar. On New Year's, Joey decided he wanted focaccia, and made it for snacking. We made one round loaf and one square loaf, and realized that it was pretty great for sandwiches. It was really light and fluffy, but still very sturdy.

The past month, we've been making two square (8x8) focaccias for sandwiches for the week. We just cut each one into quarters, and then slice them in half. You can even make sandwiches for a crowd - just add all of your fillings, press them down a bit, and then cut them up however you want. I've found that any combination of herbs works well. We like putting some dried rosemary into the actual dough, as well as putting a combination of herbs on top.

Recipe: Easy Herb Focaccia
Slightly adapted from Older Mommy Still Yummy
Yield: 2 loaves (enough for 8 sandwiches)

1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 F)
3 tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1.5 tbsp honey
4.5 tsp active dry yeast (2 packets)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus more if needed)
2 tsp salt
Fresh or dried herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary all work really well)
Sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, oil, honey and yeast. Give it a stir so the yeast is mixed in. Let sit until really foamy. (If that doesn't happen, you'll have to start over. Either your yeast is expired, or the water was too hot and killed it.) Add the flour and mix on low-medium speed, then add in the salt. Mix for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, but not sticky. Add more flour as necessary, 1-2 tbsp at a time.

Grease a large bowl, and put the dough in it, turning to coat with oil. Cover, and let rise in warm place for 50-60 minutes. Punch down, and divide dough into two pieces. Grease two 8x8 or 9x9 square pans. Put each half of dough in the prepared pans, and push down so it fills the entire pan. Cover pans, and let rise for 30 minutes. Using your fingertips, push down and "dimple" the dough. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and top with herbs and a sprinkle of sea salt. Cover and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes of rising, turn the oven to 400 F. Bake bread for 20-30 minutes - you want the internal temperature to register at least 190 F, and you want the top to be golden brown. Once done, immediately remove the bread from the pans - otherwise the heat creates steam, and the bottoms get soft/soggy. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

If planning on using within 2 days, it can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen (well wrapped) for longer storage.

One serving = 1/4 loaf, or 1/8 of the entire recipe
265 calories
6.8 g fat
44.5 g carbs
1.9 g fiber
3.2 g sugar
6.8 g protein

Monday, March 24, 2014

10 Miler Training: Weeks 14 and 15

Week 14:

This has seriously been the week of pain, specifically, calf pain. I thought that my new calf sleeves would be the answer to everything, but of course they were not magic. I don't think it's their fault, they're probably helping as much as they can. I just think that something is stressing out my legs, and it's resulting in lots of pain in my calves. The pain is worst in the morning, when I first get up. Then, even walking is painful. And it's at its worst when I'm going up/down stairs, and of course, when I'm running.

Tuesday, March 11th:
This was a pretty tough interval run, and I had to adjust it slightly to include some walk breaks. I still managed to complete all of my running intervals!

Thursday, March 13th:
This run should not have been tough, but it was. My calves have been so sore, that all of my runs have been extremely painful, from start to finish. This was basically a 5 mile easy run on the treadmill. I believe I kept the pace around 5.6-5.7 the entire time, since I couldn't go any faster through the pain.

Friday, March 14th:
For this run, I was supposed to do 3x2 miles - Joey suggested that for my warmup and first interval, I do a 3 mile run outside, and just rest and stretch after the first mile. That way I could take advantage of the beautiful weather. Then I would finish up inside on a treadmill. Even though I was in pain for most of the time, I managed to do the two mile interval pretty quickly. I came inside the gym, and could only force myself to do two sets of 1 mile at a time, at 6.0mph.

Sunday, March 16th:
I took the weekend off from running. Joey suggested that a few days off could help out my legs, and that I was far enough in my training that it wouldn't make a difference. Instead of running, we went down to the gym and did some strength and stretching. I did three times through of 10 pushups and 10 forward lunges per leg, then I stretched for a while. Then I did three times through of 1 min wall wit and 10 lat pull-downs, then I stretched some more. I ended with some crunches on the decline bench, with of course, more stretching!

Week Total:
Tuesday: 5.2 miles (treadmill)
Thursday: 5 miles (treadmill)
Friday: 5 miles (3 miles outside + 2 miles treadmill)
Weekly Total: 15.2 miles

Week 15:

Monday, March 17th:
To continue with the theme from Sunday, I did a strength workout that wouldn't cause more distress for my legs.

Tuesday, March 18th:
This was my first run in well over a week that wasn't painful the whole time, I can't even describe how relieved I was.

Thursday, March 20th:
This was another nice feeling run. The first half mile was a bit painful, but the rest was fine. I stepped off after the first mile to stretch, then got back into it. I increased the speed slightly with each mile, until I got to a 10 min/mile pace. The run was supposed to be a "tempo run," with a warmup and cool down sandwiching 4 miles at "marathon pace." Considering that first, my marathon pace is probably the same as my warmup/cooldown pace, and second, I can't stand going the same pace for miles at a time on the treadmill, I was much happier this way.

Saturday, March 22nd:
Today I had a great run. I planned on switching days, and doing a 6-7 mile run today, then doing a shorter run on Sunday, only if my legs felt up to it. I planned a run that could range from 6.15 to 7, depending on which ending I chose. Since I pushed the pace throughout the run, I chose the intermediate ending, which put me at 6.29 miles.
One thing that's strange with the tracking of the run - I walked a small portion of a giant hill, just because it felt silly to basically be running vertically. The watch definitely stopped for that portion, otherwise my pace would have been a lot slower. But when it shows a map of the course, there isn't a break in the red path. I stopped at the very bottom left of the map. I just thought it was strange that it connected the path.
Oh and obviously, you can see how gorgeous the weather was.

After I finished my run, I did a drive through and partial walk of the 10 miler course. It's in only 1 week!! I'm pretty familiar with most of the course, but I didn't know the downtown portion at all. That's the part I walked. I figured while I was out, I should drive through the rest of the course. So I started in front of JPJ, then drove the course in order. Once I got downtown, I parked where I could find a spot, and did the ~2 mile loop. I didn't realize at first that the street I parked on was the street where it started, so you can see where I had to backtrack a bit. There were definitely some ups and downs, and I'm glad that now I'll be at least a little familiar with this portion.

By the time I got home, my feet and legs were pretty tired, so I spent the rest of the night on the couch. As the night went on, my knees, especially my left knee, started to throb. I made a decision late Saturday night that if I was going to run at all on Sunday, it would just be at the gym, so I wouldn't be stuck somewhere if my legs really started to hurt. I ended up sleeping in pretty late, and although I didn't have any serious pain in my legs, I decided to stay off them the rest of the day.

Week Total:
Tuesday: 6 miles (treadmill)
Thursday: 5.5 miles (treadmill)
Saturday: 6.29 miles (outside)
Weekly Total: 17.79 miles

Some non-running notes:
Lately, my lunch hasn't been filling me up enough. I have my breakfast sandwich when I get in, then my oatmeal an hour or so later. At lunch, I've been so hungry that my sandwich alone doesn't cut it. I usually break into my trail mix right at lunch time, which leaves me starving, and without a snack, later in the day. The past week I've been bringing in raw veggies with light ranch dressing, and although I still have hunger pangs sometimes, it's been a lot better. I have issues with raw carrots and celery, which are the easiest raw veggies to snack on, so that makes it a bit more difficult. However, there are still tons of veggies left that taste good raw! I bought a big bag of cut broccoli florets, and Joey got a big bag of mini peppers. I also cut up a head of cauliflower. I've been using 1.5-2 tbsp of light ranch, which makes my total snack maybe 100-150 calories, but with tons of protein and fiber.

Also, I didn't mention above, but my run on 3/20 was pretty rushed. I was invited to a birthday party at the store anthropologie! That is seriously one of my favorite stores, but I can only afford to shop there every once in a while, and even then I can only buy one or two things at a time. I usually wait until my birthday, since I know I'll be getting my 15% off coupon from them. I hadn't been there yet this year to use my coupon, but I got an email from them last week, saying they were having a birthday party for all March babies, and would be providing cupcakes, macarons and cocktails! I wasn't sure if I really believed the email, but then I got a phone call telling me the same thing! I decided that I had to go! It was supposed to start at 6, and I didn't make it there until 7, even with rushing my run. I think I was expecting an actual party, with people mingling, so it wasn't quite that. It was more like an excuse to shop, with lots of snacks throughout the stores, and extremely attentive salespeople bringing you champagne cocktails. Definitely not a bad time, just not the opportunity to make friends I was hoping for. I bought a beautiful shirt - it makes me so happy!
I can't wait until I have an excuse to wear it. I think I could dress it up or down, although I tried tucking it in, and the material is so light that it doesn't work so well. I'll probably just wear it out, with nice jeans. I tried on a dress that was just beautiful on the mannequin, but thankfully didn't fit me all that well, since I have absolutely zero reasons to justify buying a dress that is $150+. I swear, I've looked online 3 times to find a picture of the dress, and either my memory is really bad, or you can't find it online!

Also exciting news - I have a conference in Toronto at the beginning of May, and Joey is going to meet me there so we can turn it into a mini vacation! I've never been to Canada, so I'm really looking forward to it. Anyone know of fun things to do in Toronto? We're planning on taking a day trip to Niagara, and hopefully Maid of the Mist will be open by then! Tentative opening is May 1st, but it's still TBD because of the harsh winter.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekly Finds - 3/16/14


Irish Cheddar and Vegetable Bread Pudding This would work for brunch, or even for a light dinner


Rum and Brown Sugar Banana Muffins Roasted bananas!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips Banana bread with lots of cinnamon sugar and mini chocolate chips throughout


Roasted Garlic Chipotle Sweet Potato Burgers These sound like really flavorful veggie burgers


Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa This sounds really easy to make, and packed with flavor

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole So yummy - and I always trust Smitten Kitchen

Shiitake and Napa Cabbage Gyoza I'm on a dumpling making kick (recipe coming soon), and this version sounds really flavorful, and healthy, due to the tofu hiding in there!


Espresso Martini Panna Cotta Such a beautiful and elegant dessert

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake Who doesn't like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? Plus, I love that this recipe uses crushed peanut butter filled cookies instead of the classic oreos for the crust.


Yoga for Love Handles in the sense that it makes them disappear

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekly Finds - 3/9/14


Caramelized Onion and Spinach Egg Casserole This is perfect for brunch, and you can make it in advance


Mashed Parsnips and Potatoes with Chives and Parsley A really cool way to use parsnips, which are a very yummy vegetable. Make sure to remove the cores of really large parsnips, since they can be tough.


Brown Butter Double Chocolate Walnut Brownies These look so chewy and rich. Double chocolate because they use both cocoa powder and chocolate chips.


The Academy Awards Workout (and/or) Drinking Game This is pretty hilarious - you can use this for either a workout or a reason to drink. Probably not the two of them together...

Butt Exercises that Aren't Squats 13 Tush-Toning Moves

82 Pushup Variations I didn't even know there were that many different ways to do pushups! This list is great because it categorizes the pushups based on the difficulty level

The Ultimate Staircase Workout Here are some old fashioned stair workouts, and these can be done on any set of stairs. There are two versions, for both beginners and more advanced athletes.

The best IT-band exercises I'm going to have to try these out for my own IT band problems!

6-Minute Arm Workout This quick workout will help tone your arms

Cooking Tips:

How to Freeze Cookie Dough Instructions for how to portion out cookie dough and freeze it, so you can have a freshly baked cookie whenever you want!

10 Miler Training: Week 12 and 13

Week 12:

I had planned on doing yoga on Monday, but that just didn't happen. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 25th:
I did a pretty difficult interval run on the treadmill. I basically did the same as what I did 2 weeks ago, but instead of 12x 400m intervals with 200m jog, I did 6x 800m intervals with 200m jog. The 800m intervals were done at the same speed as the original 400m intervals, which was my 10k pace (6.6mph). I did the jogs super slow, at 5.0mph. This is not a speed I would ever be comfortable with on its own, but it was a good recovery jog.

Joey advised that I skip KBs this week, since they basically wrecked me last week. He said that once I'm done with my training, I can get back into that, but right now it's too much on my body.

The one day off on Wednesday turned into two days off, since I wasn't feeling well on Thursday. Thursday's run was just an "easy run," so I felt a little better skipping it than I would if it were one of the speed runs. I decided that I would stick with the "cut down" run on Friday, and that if I felt up to it, would fit in a few miles Saturday morning. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, so if I have the energy, why not?

Friday, February 28th:
Like I mentioned, this is a "cut down" run. That basically means negative splits the whole way through. Joey advised that I start out with my typical warmup, and then each mile, increase the pace by 0.2. Then end with a cooldown mile at my starting pace. This is how you're actually supposed to run a race, but it's hard to mentally push yourself to go faster as your body is getting tired.

I started with a 1/2 mile warmup at 5.6mph. I took a couple minutes to stretch out and loosen up, then I did another mile at 5.6. From there, I increased 0.2mph every mile until I ended with the 5th mile at 6.4. I did a cooldown 1/2 mile at 5.6mph, for a total of 6 miles.

Saturday, March 1st:
A run did not happen today. I had to be in lab for most of the day. I first came in around 8:15, for just a little while. Then I had to be back in at 1:30, and was there the rest of the day. I took the time in between to do a lot of well needed relaxing. I also met Joey out at Old Navy and Bed Bath and Beyond to get new jeans and sparkly nail polish.

Sunday, March 2nd:
I did not time my run very well on Sunday. I was supposed to do 8 miles. Since there was a snow storm predicted for Sunday night/Monday morning, I figured this would be my last chance for a while to run outside. It also started off as a beautiful day. When I woke up, I was just starving. I decided that I had plenty of time, I would just start off the day with breakfast and coffee and run a few hours after that. A few hours turned into most of the day. Joey called me a little before 2, warning me that the nice weather was leaving. I got up and got ready to go, picked out an 8 mile route, opened the door and...saw that it was pouring. I was so pissed. I didn't know how long the rain would last, and didn't want to risk getting my phone soaked, so I headed to the gym.

For the first couple miles, I felt good. I didn't start out feeling as tight as I have been, which was nice. I decided to switch up the pace every mile, just by a little. I did mile 1 at 5.6, mile 2 at 5.7, mile 3 at 5.8, and mile 4 at 5.7. I was halfway through mile 4 (I believe at 5.6 again) when things became less fun. I wasn't really hurting, so I'm not sure what the problem was. I think I may have just gotten really bored? Especially thinking about the fact that I wasn't even halfway through the run. I told myself I could walk for a few minutes once I hit 4 miles, and I feel like that 4th mile was the longest one. After walking for a few minutes, I started up again. I had just hit 4.5 miles, when I realized I needed to use the bathroom. The women's bathroom was undescribably nasty, so I had to lock myself inside the men's bathroom. Which, btw, didn't have any toilet paper. And then, I had some bathroom issues myself. I felt really sick after that, and decided to call it a day. I was frustrated, pissed off at my landlords because of the bathroom situation, and feeling sick.

Week Total:
Tuesday: 5.5 miles (treadmill)
Friday: 6.0 miles (treadmill)
Sunday: 4.5 miles (treadmill)
Weekly Total: 16 miles

Week 13:

Monday, March 3rd:
After a disappointing end to the previous week, I tried to make things up this week. Monday ended up being a snow day, and after hanging around the house most of the day, Joey suggested that we go to the gym for a bit. He mostly wanted to go so he could use the hot tub, but I decided to make up for some of my missing miles. I ran 3 miles on the indoor track, and even managed negative splits! I ran mile 1 in 10:31, mile 2 in 10:13, and mile 3 in 9:25. From there, I decided to try the assisted pullup machine again. I did 3 sets of 10 at 100 lbs assistance, and did some wall sits in between the sets. Next time I'll try to do them with 90 lbs assistance.

Tuesday, March 4th:
I was planning on doing my intervals on Tuesday, but I got home late, and I knew we had to run some errands after dinner. Joey told me that I should switch Tuesday and Wednesday, which meant doing a light strength workout on Tuesday. That's when he surprised me with a kettle bell! He bought me one for my birthday, and couldn't wait to give it to me :) So I carried my brand new 25 lb kettle bell down to the gym, and did a short workout there.

First, I did a 10-2 KB ladder. Then I did 30 pushups (6 sets of 5). I ended with a lot of crunches, which really made my abs sore!

Wednesday, March 5th:
Today is my birthday! I had to come in early for lab meeting, but the rest of the day was pretty nice. The lab celebrated my birthday with apple pie and ice cream (I specifically mentioned at the last lab birthday celebration that I didn't like birthday cake, and they listened!), and then headed home. There, I did the run I was supposed to do on Tuesday. It was hard! This was my "alternating tempo" run, which alternated my 10k pace with a little over my goal pace.

Thursday, March 6th:
I had a pretty nice run today. It was just a 5 mile easy run, which really takes off the pressure. I can go as slow as I need to, since that is what I'm supposed to be doing. One thing I've noticed with all of this running, is that my slow pace is getting slower and slower. I think that my legs are just more fatigued going into each run than they used to be, and it takes longer to get them loose and happy. I ordered calf compression sleeves, and I can't wait until they get here! They're so sore post-runs.

For this run, I started out super slow at 5.5 mph, and then increased the pace each mile. Yay negative splits!

Saturday, March 8th:
This began my giant weekend of running. I slept in, so I didn't actually leave for my run until close to 10. My plan was to do 6ish easy miles, with zero focus on the pace. I knew that Sunday's run would be a doozy, and didn't want to wreck my legs by pushing the pace too much. (Note - that was my plan 2 weeks ago, and I ended up going way too fast. I also was really hurting after Sunday's run, so this time I decided to stick to my plan.) Joey came up with a route for me, including a side path he showed me last weekend. The path worked out really well - it was nice and quiet, and gave me some extra miles. It was a bit muddy from the melting snow, but not enough to make my pretty shoes too dirty haha.

When I got home from being out all day, I had a package waiting for me! I ordered calf sleeves from amazon, and I was so excited they came in. My calves have been dying lately, and I was really hoping they would be a magic fix. So far, I can't tell if they're completely fixing things, but it feels nice to have them on. 

Sunday, March 9th: 
I can't even begin to tell you how much I did NOT want to do this run. Joey can definitely attest to the whining I did Saturday night, basically saying over and over "but I don't WANNA!!!" My other 11 mile run was so painful 2 weeks ago. I also had to work in the time change, since I wanted to get plenty of sleep, but still wanted to not be out on the run super late. I think part of the problem last time was that I didn't even start until 11:30, meaning it was 1:30 when I got back, and well after 2 by the time I was showered and could eat. I planned this time to leave by 10:30, which would still feel like 9:30 to me. Surprisingly, I made it in time! 

The route that Joey came up for me wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It included the giant hill down by the river, but in reverse. I also had a stop built in once I hit the transit station at just under 7 miles - I went in there for a few minutes to use the bathroom, eat some GU, and drink some water. I ended up going slow, but not horribly slow. I also felt okay the rest of the day, which was not the case last time! In the end, I made it through, I'm just glad that this is the longest I'll have to run for at least the next few weeks! 

Week Total:
Monday: 3.0 miles (indoor track)
Wednesday: 6.5 miles (treadmill)
Thursday: 5.0 miles (treadmill)
Saturday: 6.09 miles (outside)
Sunday: 11.16 miles (outside)
Weekly Total: 31.75 miles (new weekly record!)