Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three Things Thursday

people tapas lounge

Last week Kovas and I had the pleasure of dining at People Tapas Lounge, a Spanish restaurant and world music lounge located in the heart of the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

There was not a single misstep during our dinner. Food was outstanding and varied, wines far-ranging and tasty, service and decor spot-on. For a casual dinner, especially in a larger group, you can't go wrong with tapas, and People Lounge is a great option in Chicago -- I could definitely see us dropping in with friends if we lived in the neighborhood!

Great food, wine and atmosphere - check out Kovas' full review at 50 States of Wine!

fogo de chao

This week we dined at Fogo de Chão (fo-go dèe shoun), an authentic Brazilian steakhouse in Chicago.  I enjoyed the delectable fire roasted meats which included Picanha, Filet Mignon, Beef Ancho, Alcatra, Fraldinha, Costela, De Porco, and Lombo, brought to our table, sliced, and served by their gaucho chefs.  For non-carnivores such as Kovas there's the new Fresh Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, which was flat out delicious! Limitless service of pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized bananas are included with the meal.  Also included is an extensive salad bar which has over 30 items: gourmet salads, fresh vegetables, imported cheeses, artisan breads, cured meats and more.

Service is above and beyond, with a seemingly endless parade of servers bringing meat, refreshing side dishes, pouring wine and water, and generally making sure the experience is as perfect as can be. Fogo de Chão is obviously aimed at carnivores, but don't overlook it when dining with the plant-based set; plenty of non-meat options means that everyone can dine happy (50 States of Wine).

top fitness and health sites

Congrats to Midwest Multisport Life and Miss Zippy (amongst others) for being chosen as one of the Top 25 Sites for Fitness and Health in 2012!!  

It seems as though people all across the globe are eating worse, dealing with ever-increasing amounts of stress, and living sedentary lifestyles. This has contributed to rising healthcare costs, obesity epidemics, and more. 

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to healthy living. There are many people exercising, eating with an eye on nutrition, and reducing stress in positive ways. Even better, many of these people share their stories and tips on fitness and health through their own Web sites. 

Whether you are a student in an MHA program, a professional in the healthcare field, or just someone thinking about your lifestyle choices in a critical way, the following 25 sites are the best when it comes to fitness and health. We selected sites that focus on healthy eating, exercise (running, cycling), and stress relief (yoga). Our hope is that our readers benefit from exposure to these fantastic sites (!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bonfield Race Recap

Each Thanksgiving morning our family runs the our local 5k - the Bonfield Express.  It is a great way to get the family out and moving before sitting down with our relatives for a huge feast.

Bonfield 5k
Bonfield 5k Start
This year Tazer and Gaigai met up and ran with their friends.  Munchkin wanted to do the same, but at 5 years old and with 6000 people running, we figured that was not the best idea.  So Kovas and I lined up with Munchkin and Little A in the stroller with the other strollers and walkers.  Since we were planning to run, this was not a good idea.  It was difficult for Kovas to maneuver with the double stroller and Munchkin wanted to run, so we split up.  The course starts and finishes in our downtown and winds through a couple neighborhoods.  Being 3 feet tall and super speedy, it was easy for Munchkin to dart between the walkers and runners - not so much for me.  During the last mile, Kovas caught up to us with the stroller - just in time for Munchkin to take a little break and muster enough energy for the final sprint to the finish.  At the finish we found Tazer and Gaigai as planned, had some goodies and headed home to get ready for the rest of the day.  It's so much fun to start Thanksgiving with family, friends and a run. :)

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Meatless Monday - Soy Nog

As we decorated our tree yesterday, I kept thinking of a delicious soy nog recipe that Kovas (of 50 States of Wine) made a while back...

soy nog

Extra-firm tofu
Maple Syrup

Ground cloves

Add ingredients to desired sweetness, texture, and amount, adjust spices accordingly. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate before serving.

We made a few slight adjustments to the recipe, in that we used extra-soft tofu, which is what we had on hand and we did not refrigerate before trying. The nog may have been thinner in consistency versus one made with extra-firm tofu, but tasted great pre-refrigeration, as well as post. Super simple recipe just in time for the holidays!

Recipe from

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

The number of people who've finished a half-marathon (13.1 miles) has more than tripled since 2000, and a whopping 59 percent of finishers are the sports-bra—wearing gender, according to Running USA's 2012 State of the Sport report (Women's Health Magazine).

ZOOMA Great Lakes
ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon and 5k
Suffer from asthma?  A new review found running, cycling, walking, swimming and weights made those with asthma fitter without causing problematic attacks.  Just talk with your doc before getting started (Women's Health Magazine).

Waterfall Glen cycling

Women who exercise regularly spend as much time sitting as women who don't, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study. Emerging research shows that prolonged sitting has significant health consequences---and the new study suggests that being a dedicated exerciser doesn't prevent women from spending too much of their day sitting.  Good solution may be the treadmill desk - build your own for $39 (not including cost of treadmill).

Ever tried a treadmill desk or a standing desk?

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: Simple Vegan Broth (with Onions)

For this week's MMAZ, our ingredient is onions.  Delicious and super healthy (properties include anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, and may help prevent osteoporosis), we eat a lot of onions in our household!  Here's a simple vegan broth/base for soups or a hearty veggie chili:


Heat large pot over medium heat, add:
2 Tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil

1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned.

broth base
I added a red and yellow bell pepper for vegan chili...
Continue with ingredients and spices for soup, chili or other flavorful meal.

Check out other great onion recipes today at!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aspaeris Pivot Shorts

Aesperis Pivot Shorts
"Aspaeris™ was created because women's sports are evolving at a lightening place. In just a few generations after TitleIX, the moms who once played competitive sports like lacrosse in the 70's now watch their daughters play a much different game. Young women athletes push their bodies to their limit. They jump, turn and pivot with ever-increasing determination and drive. An unfortunate result is that these athletes suffer a wide range of injuries. 
Our first product, Aspaeris Pivot Shorts™, was developed because currently in the U.S. alone, over 200,000 female athletes injure their ACL each year. That's a lot of hurt, physical therapy and lost seasons. Aspaeris Pivot Shorts™ have been specifically engineered to help developing women athletes. The patent pending technology uses Dual Sensory Compression™ in key compression zones that guide knees into the proper position, acting as a guide that creates muscle memory. This, coupled with a second layer of overall compression leads to proper joint, 'loading,' to help you avoid injury and improve performance as your legs move more efficiently."
After two medial menisci tears leading to two knee surgeries, any product that can help prevent further injury is always of interest to me.  I have to say, when I first pulled the Pivot Shorts out of the bag, my first two thoughts were - super soft and super tiny.  I didn't think they would fit...

aspaeris pivot shorts
Little A trying on my Pivot Shorts
Surprisingly, by following the instructions of donning like tights, I put them on successfully and they fit!  I wore them for tempo and track workouts and for recovery after my last (extremely hilly) half.  The double compression layers provide a snug, supportive fit through the thighs, hips and glutes which feels great when running and for recovery.  The Dual Sensory Compression Bands help guide muscles into proper alignment which is important in achieving an efficient form (without having to think about it too much) and in injury prevention.  The compression also helps increase circulation to speed up recovery after a hard run or race.

Whether you're a beginner runner or marathoner, the Pivot shorts can help your running performance, promote recovery and prevent injury to keep you running longer and stronger.

In addition if you wear the Pivot Shorts and PR in a half or full marathon, Aspaeris will donate $1/minute you take off your time to the charity of your choice.  How cool is that?!

More info on the Aspaeris website (use promo code ADVOCATE25 to receive $25 off), Facebook, Pinterest, and on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Aesperis. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Midweek Motivation

Women's Health Magazine asked Olympians: What motivational quote, advice, or personal mantra helps get you through a challenging time?  Here are some of my favorites:

zooma henry ford motivation
Love this Henry Ford on ZOOMA's Facebook page

"'Falling in life is inevitable—staying down is optional.'"
-Carrie Johnson, two-time Olympic kayaker

"'Breathe, believe, and battle.' My former coach, Troy Tanner, told us that before each match. Breathe—be in the moment. Believe—have faith that you can rise above it. Battle—you gotta be prepared to go for as long as it takes."
-Kerri Walsh, two-time beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist

"'If you think you can't, you won't, and if you think you can, you will.' When I'm tired at practice, I tell myself that I'm not tired, and I can push through. If you tell yourself you're tired or if you tell yourself you're sick, your body is going to follow the mind."
-Kellie Wells, 2011 USA indoor and outdoor 100m hurdles champion

"'Keep calm and carry on.' A challenging time is just that—a period in time. Taking a few deep breaths and knowing that it won't last forever really allows me to focus on the present moment and task at hand."
-Betsey Armstrong, 2008 water polo Olympic silver medalist and goalkeeper for 2012 U.S. Women's Olympic Water Polo Team

"I always tell myself to 'man up.' Growing up beside my brother [2008 Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey], I was never allowed to whine. He wouldn't let me then, so I don't let myself now."
-Paige Railey, four-time sailing world champion and first-time Olympian

"'My competition isn't resting!'"
-Kim Rhode, five-time Olympic shooter

"'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"
-Jessica Long, nine-time Paralympic swimming medalist

"I ask myself, 'Can you go any harder? Are you hurting enough? Are you going hard enough?' I keep asking myself: 'Can you go any harder?'"
-Kristin Armstrong, 2008 road cycling Olympic gold medalist in women's time trial

Read more at Women's Health:

What's your mantra?

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

Club soda is a dirt-cheap fix for the dull, brittle hair you may have after swimming in a chlorinated pool or the ocean.  The sodium in the bubbly stuff helps remove buildup for added shine.  Club soda also works wonders as a spot treatment for carpets!

club soda

Looking for a natural acne treatment?  Researchers at Leeds Metropolitan  University in the U.K.  found that thyme steeped in alcohol worked better on killing acne causing bacteria than benzoyl peroxide.


Clean but not pure - A recent study found that certain fabrics - wool, cotton, and polyester retain high quantities of perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry-cleaning solvent that EPA identifies as a potential carcinogen, reports Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.  (Silk, however, seems to be resistant).  You can inhale the chemical or absorb it through your skin.  Safest strategy?  Wash nonsilk garments by hand, or find a "green" dry cleaner who uses safer alternatives.

dry cleaning

Do you love slicing and chopping on wood cutting boards?  Best way to keep them clean is using the sun to dry them.  First wash with liquid soap and warm water, then place in a sunny spot to dry.  The concentrated heat will help get all the moisture out.

Tidbits from Women's Health Magazine and Shape

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Meatless Monday - Vegan Pumpkin Nutmeg Muffins

I started with the "Muffin Madness" recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook, and modified it to be vegan and to include pumpkin and nutmeg.

Vegan Pumpkin Muffin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For egg substitute for eggs, in small bowl mix together and let sit for a minute:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs water
3 Tbs ground flax seeds (or use 2 large eggs)

Vegan Pumpkin Muffin batter
egg substitute

In a large bowl, mix together
1 cup applesauce
16 ozs canned pumpkin
1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil
1/2 - 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Add in flax seed mixture.

In separate bowl combine:
2 cups wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps nutmeg
1 tsp clove
1 tsp allspice

Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined.  Fold in
1 cup chopped walnuts

Vegan Pumpkin Muffin batter

Spoon into standard muffin tin (use liners or grease with coconut oil or spray).  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes, check out

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Veterans Day!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

honoring all who served
Honoring all who served...
Thank you!

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Gold Toe AquaFX Liner Sock Review

A little while ago I received a 3-pack of Gold Toe® AquaFX® Liner socks to try out.

Gold Toe® socks are made from the finest, most innovative yarns available.  The AquaFX® Moisture Control keeps your feet drier and more comfortable all day long.  The toes are reinforced for longer wear and durability.

As you can see from the pictures, these socks have lots of cushioning in the heel and toes. The 50% AquaFX® Polyester, 40% Cotton, 9% Nylon, 1% Spandex provide a nice fit and keep the socks in place.  They are super comfortable for wearing all day long with casual shoes.  I thought they would be good for running, but they are a bit too thick for any of my running shoes (GoldToe Sport Liner may be a good option to try).  

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of GoldToe. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Greene Valley
Tazer and Gaigai running ahead during our family run...
We had a great family run on Saturday.  Tazer and Gaigai took off ahead and ran the entire loop (all their soccer has really increased their endurance) - and Munchkin surprisingly ran most of it also.  It was a good prep run for our Turkey Day 5k!  

Halloween candy

Today we are getting rid of the remaining Halloween candy in our house (except for the 5 pieces each of the older 3 kids were allowed to keep).  This is the second year, our children's school is collecting candy and sending it overseas to the troops.  Maybe not the best thing for our troops - but definitely good for me:)

International Tempranillo Day

In 2011, Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) organized the first annual International Tempranillo Day: A celebration of the Tempranillo grape with all its regional synonyms.

Today, November 8th, is the 2012 date.  Open a bottle of Tempranillo, enjoy the fun, and share your experiences online with the hashtag #TempranilloDay!


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