Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Review and Things to Come...

Tazer turns 10 - hard to believe... 

Kovas I started Women's Endurance Gear blog

Little A Bomb's first eye surgery :(

...followed by a road trip out to Breckenridge with the kiddos + my mom, where we met up with my 2 brothers (+one nephew), sister and cousin for a week of warm, sunny spring skiing
Munchkin gets his first new set of wheels for his 4th birthday
(hectic) end of school...and beginning of summer vacation:)
video
Little A Bomb's second (hopefully final) eye surgery and new adventures 

- lots of time spent at the lake:)
family trip to Lithuania for Kovas' parent's 50th anniversary - family, touring, mushrooming, swimming and paddleboarding





...and some R&R on the Baltic
Munchkin started preschool - ahhh...with only one at home I get to lounge by the pool and eat bonbons
Tazer and Gaigai, along with a bunch of friends compete in their second Chicago Kids Triathlon
completed my 1st half marathon with my best friend of 35 years
soccer, soccer and more soccer...and another torn meniscus for me:(
knee surgery
 Kovas, Tazer and Gaigai keep up our Thanksgiving tradition by running the Bonfield 5k 
PT for me and glasses for Little A Bomb, which hopefully will mean no more surgeries...any tips for keeping them on??
Goals for 2012...

- lots more running and racing, hoping to up my mileage (and keep track of it - 1000 is my goal); so far have only signed up for one race - the Warrior Dash with Kovas; I would like to add some Columbia Muddy Buddies and distances leading up to another half that I am planning for TNF in the fall (where hopefully Kate will park her RV next to us and watch Kovas complete his first ultra);

-contemplating a return to work (gasp - only super part time (registry)) to fund all the races and more vacations:);

-finally and most importantly working on being more patient with the 4 most precious little people (+1 big person:)) in my life...

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, wonderful 2012!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Manna Organic Bread Review

I was super excited to win Haley's (of Climb Run Lift MomManna Organics Bread giveaway - thanks Haley!

What is Manna bread? It is a cake-like, sprouted bread, yeast free bread, organic bread, free of salt, no oils, no sweeteners, no leavening agents. Manna is moist and delicious, high in protein and fiber. Available in 9 delicious flavors in your favorite health food store, and most Whole Foods markets, in the USA and Canada.


For my prize pack, we chose Multigrain Flax Sourdough, Sunny Sourdough, Millet Rice and Banana Walnut Hemp.
Denser looking pieces are the sprouted Millet Rice and Banana Walnut
For each type of bread, we tried a non-toasted and toasted sample.  For the last type, Banana Walnut Hemp, I also include toasted with sunflower butter (delicious combo).   Here are my kiddos'  tasters' remarks:

Multigrain Flax Sourdough (ingredients and nutrition facts):
Tazer (10) - not toasted - ok, sour, toasted - better;
Gaigai (9) - not toasted - sour, tart, little chunks/seeds; toasted - a little better than non-toasted, still has same taste
Munchkin (4) - not toasted - sour and sweet; toasted - awesome
Little A Bomb (18 mos) - ate both,  "dar" (more in Lithuanian) along with hand sign for more:)

Sunny Sourdough (ingredients and nutrition facts):
T - not toasted - good; toasted - better;
G - not toasted - dry, little chunks/seeds, more sour than multi-grain; toasted - not really tart
M - not toasted - sour; toasted - pretty good
A - ate both

Millet Rice (ingredients and nutrition facts):
T - not toasted - slightly sweet; not toasted - mmmm...better
G - not toasted - soft, really moist, big chunks; toasted - crunchy, smoky flavor
M - not toasted - good; toasted - chewy, crispy
A - didn't try

Banana Walnut Hemp (ingredients and nutrition facts):
T - not toasted - can taste the banana; toasted - chewy, delicious; toasted with sunflower butter - flavors mix well
G - not toasted - banana jumps out, sweet, moist; toasted - crunchy, sweet, moist, chunks of banana; toasted with sunflower butter - tastes different, weaker banana taste
M - not toasted - don't like; toasted - chewy and crispy; with sunflower butter - I like it!
A - didn't try not toasted, ate both toasted and toasted with sunflower butter (in other words, he like them:))

I truly enjoyed all 4 types of bread - the 2 sourdoughs were not only delicious and perfect for sandwiches, they also have at least 5 g of fiber and 5 g of protein (...and did you know sourdough is a probiotic?).  The sprouted grain breads were moist, dense and sticky, plus have no salt, yeast, flour, oil or sweeteners.  I preferred these toasted - chewy, crunchy and delicious, especially with spread or a nut butter!

Healthy, organic, delicious... and local -  Manna Organics is located one town over from us - we'll have to try more of their flavors, and possibly the trail mix!




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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits - New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again when many of us are thinking about our goals for the coming year.  Do you want to eat healthier?  Run more?  Run faster?  Put more money into savings?  Here are some tidbits on resolutions and tips to help set obtainable goals.






Almost 50% of American adults make some sort of New Year's resolution, most of which are about weight loss, exercise and quitting smoking.




The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
- past the first week: 75%
- past 2 weeks: 71%
- after one month: 64%
- after 6 months: 46%


While a lot of people who make new years resolutions do break them, research shows that making resolutions is useful. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions.




For greater probability of success, a resolution needs to be specific, measurable, and have a solid deadline.  In addition focus on a couple goals, not 20.






Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.   Mark Twain


tidbits from WebMD, Runner's World and Women's Health


What's your goal for 2012?

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Humor



To tattoo different parts of Santa's body with your own phrases, check out http://www.rga.com/holiday07/


Joking aside, sincerely, wishing you the best...



Happy holidays!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three for Thursday

Last night Kovas and I had a wonderful dinner at Glenview House, a gastropub which serves fresh locally sourced, organic and delicious cuisine.  Nice atmosphere, attentive staff, personable chef, delicious food and wine (although more known for its beer and whiskeys) - and great company!  Keep an eye out for a full review at 50 States of Wine sometime next week.

Ahi and wonton appetizer 
We signed up for Warrior Dash - a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme 5k run from hell. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and celebrate with music, beer and Warrior helmets. SuperKate - want to join us?  Sounds like something right up your alley:)



I can't believe Christmas is this weekend!  With the kiddos at my aunt's house for a couple days, my intent was to finish up the holiday prep - didn't happen.  Instead I've been painting their rooms, relaxing and having nice dinners with Kovas.  All I need to do now is finish up my shopping - hopefully not dealing with crowds like this...



Are you ready for the holidays?  
Any suggestions for last minute gifts :)?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Meatless Monday - French Onion Soup

What's better than a guest post?...a guest chef!  For this week's Meatless Monday, my husband, Kovas cooked up some French onion soup.  Super delicious and easy to make (especially for me:) -


Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking:
Heat in soup pot over medium-low heat until butter is melted:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs olive oil
Add and stir to coat:
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
Pinch of dried thyme




Cook onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, watching they don't scorch.  As soon as they start to brown (about 15 minutes), reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, covered, stirring more often, until the onions are a rich brown color (about 40 minutes).  
Stir in: 
2 Tbs dry sherry or cognac
Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly until sherry has cooked off.  Stir in:
3 1/2 c vegetable stock (beef or chicken can also be used)
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.  Season with:
1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper




Place 8 ovenproof soup bowls (K had enough for 4 ramekins) on a baking sheet.  Ladle the hot soup into the bowls and top each serving with:
1 to 3 slices French bread, toasted if fresh
Sprinkle each bowl with:
3 Tbs grated Gruyere cheese 




Broil or bake in a 450 degree oven until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Serve immediately.
Bon appétit!
The whole family enjoyed it, even Little A Bomb and Munchkin.  The two older were surprised how well the ingredients (bread, cheese and onions) went together in a soup, and Gaigai is excited to help make it next time.  


Thanks for a delightful dinner Kovai!


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Columbia Windefend Half Zip Review

More Columbia gear!  In addition to the Key Three Softshell and Talus Ridge Mid Outdry, I was lucky enough to receive the Windefend Half Zip as part of my Columbia sponsorship.  

Columbia Windefend Half Zip worn under the Key Three Softshell
Grueling speed sessions may help you develop the snap to out-kick a rival, but they also mean you’re generating a pretty brisk breeze. Luckily, the über-soft and incredibly flattering Windefend Half Zip has a wind resistant front panel so the faster you go, the more it protects. 


Semi fitted and flattering the Windefend is functional with ample body and sleeve length.  The long cuffs and thumbholes provide warmth and comfort.  Long front zipper allows you to quickly dump heat when needed.  Other notable features include reflective detailing for safety and two deep back pockets for convenience - ideal for cycling and running.  

Ample sleeve length, cozy cuffs and thumbholes
I have worn this shirt a lot - from running errands and spectating at windy soccer tournaments, to hiking and biking.  It is soft, wicking and super comfy.  I love the cozy cuffs and thumbholes!   Perfect to block the wind during any outdoor adventure - on the mountain or in the city!

Sneak peak at my next Columbia review...yes - there's more!

For more information, click on their logo on the side bar, check out the Columbia website, read their blog, like on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.  To read my reviews of the Columbia Master of FasterDrainmaker and Bug Shield Long Sleeve Top, check out my posts on OutdoorHub.com and more gear here.    Check out Kovas' Columbia reviews at Midwest Multisport Life also! 

Click on the sponsor logo in the right sidebar to check out the Columbia website.

From front yard to forest, Columbia keeps you comfortable and protected 
so you can stay out longer. 

(Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for sponsorship purposes, courtesy of Columbia Sportswear. I was not compensated in any other way, am not obligated to give them a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this post is taken from the company website.)


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wine - A Probiotic?

Probiotics for Peak Performance 


In addition to my public health and nursing background, I am constantly researching ways to keep my family healthy naturally.  Exercising, spending time outdoors, getting adequate sleep and eating well are part of our daily routine.  One component of eating well is adding probiotics to our diets.


Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be beneficial to the host organism. According to the currently adopted definition by FAO/WHO, probiotics are: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host". 


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics; but certain yeasts and bacilli may also be helpful. Probiotics are commonly consumed as part of fermented foods with specially added active live cultures; such as in yogurt, soy yogurt, or as dietary supplements. 


At the start of the 20th century, probiotics were thought to beneficially affect the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance, thus inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. Today, specific health effects are being investigated and documented including alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, prevention and treatment of pathogen-induced diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic diseases (Wikipedia).




An article in the November issue of Ultrarunning magazine, Probiotics for Peak Performance, asks can probiotics promote a winning advantage for endurance athletes?  


Immunity
Intense training is hard on your body, including your immune system.  Evidence shows probiotics may cut down the frequency of illnesses in athletes as well as decrease the duration of sickness in runners.  This translates into fewer days off due to illness, which can significantly enhance training.


Gastrointestinal Upset
Investigators evaluated the use of probiotics and gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps) in endurance athletes over a 3 month period while they were training for a marathon.  The probiotic consuming group had as many episodes, but they lasted a shorter amount of time compared to those who didn't have probiotics.  In addition probiotics have been shown to be helpful in decreasing symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which are similar to the effects created during intense endurance training.


Decreased Respiratory Illnesses
The British Journal of Medicine (2010) published a study which showed a significant decrease in the number of respiratory "sick days" and overall level of illness in runners who consumed probiotics routinely.


Training and Recovery Enhancement
Studies indicate athletes that consumed probiotics were found to have much higher amounts of antioxidants in their blood stream compared to a control group.  Higher levels of antioxidants translate into quicker recovery and healing during intense training.


Source:  Ultrarunning Magazine


Probiotics are found in many foods including yogurts, kefir, miso and sauerkraut.  Different strains of probiotics have different benefits.  For example, several studies evaluating respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in endurance athletes focused on the probiotic strain Lactobacillus, which is found in most yogurts and fermented foods such as sourdough bread, wine, beer, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and more.  I knew that probiotics come from fermented foods, but I never made the connection that wine is a probiotic.  All the more reason to have a glass of wine!  


In summary probiotics may improve athletic performance on race day by reducing fatigue and regulating gastrointestinal function and may reduce the number of days off from training due to respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.


 À VOTRE SANTÉ...and your next marathon!
Source:  Ultrarunning magazine

What's your favorite probiotic?




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