Thursday, January 31, 2013

Three Things Thursday

Thursday evening Kovas and I went to Wickets Bar and Grill for dinner.  A fun place to hang out and catch a game, but definitely not your typical bar experience - great food (beyond just burgers) and drinks and excellent friendly service.  Read all about it at 50 States of Wine.

Whether you are headed to the mall, to the cinema next door, or even in the general direction of Schaumburg, make sure to make time to stop in. A welcoming atmosphere, great service, food for everyone's taste and diet, along with a winning bar menu make for an amazing experience.  

wickets bar and grill
Wickets Bar and Grill
Our kitchen is almost done!  At least it's has been usable for the past week and a half.  Now only touch-ups, hood, blinds and one piece of trim remain to be finished...and our fridge needs to be brought up from downstairs.  Anyone have any tips on how to get a fridge up stairs?

kitchen remodel
Kitchen remodel almost complete:)
In honor of Tazer's, our oldest son's 12th birthday, I made hot fudge for the ice cream, brownie and mint O's dessert he requested (we've started a tradition of "anything goes" bday desserts).  Turned out amazing - recipe coming soon!

hot fudge
Home-made hot fudge for Tazer's bday celebration
What's your ultimate bday dessert?

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Monday - French White Bean Asparagus Stew

While our kitchen is being remodeled, I've turned to the slow cooker for easy healthy dinners.  As mentioned previously, Kovas is trying to eat vegan, so the Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking cookbook has been a great resource.  Here's another delicious vegan slow cooker meal that the whole family enjoyed...

In slow cooker combine:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry navy or other small white beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (I doubled this amount for thicker stew)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Cover, set heat to LOW and cook for 8 hours, or until beans are tender.  Remove bay leaf.  Partially blend using immersion blender until stew is thick and creamy.

1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 pound asparagus, hand ends removed, cut into 1/4 inch lengths

Cook for 1 hour, or until vegetables are still tender but still vibrantly colored.

Make slurry with:
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Add to stew and stir until it thickens, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve over brown rice or potatoes.  We added slivered almonds and/or pine nuts for a little added crunch.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits - Flu Season

What's the best defense against getting sick?  Proper hand washing, but according to a new survey, 57 percent of Americans wash for a mere 5-15 seconds.  To clock at least 20 seconds, as recommended by the CDC, sing "Happy Birthday" twice.  A hand sanitizer containing alcohol is fine in a pinch, but soap and water are ideal.  Wash hands often and keep hands away from your face.


Disinfect surfaces.  The average desk is host to 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat...the phone, chair armrests and computer keyboard are the worst offenders according to research from San Diego State University and University of Arizona.  Run a disinfectant wipe across surfaces at least weekly.

Eat your greens.  The antioxidants boost your resistance to viral infections.  Aim for at least 2 serving of greens a day.


Get enough rest.  Clocking less than seven hours a night makes you three times more likely to catch a cold than if you get eight hours or more.

Moderate exercise helps boost immunity by increasing the movement of immune cells, which seek and destroy viruses, but if your sweat session is long or intense, your risk of catching something, for up to 72 hours afterward, is as much as six times greater.

To run or not to run? David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, and has run 58 marathons and ultras, uses the "neck rule." Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don't pose a risk to runners continuing workouts. 

Take extra caution when training with anything worse than a minor cold because it can escalate into more serious conditions affecting the lower respiratory tract and lungs. 

If you're still in doubt about whether it's safe to run or not, take your temperature. If it's above 99 degrees, skip your run. "Some people think that they can 'sweat out' a fever by running," says Nieman. "That's wrong. Running won't help your immune system fight the fever."

(Women's Health, Runner's World, Shape)

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Meatless Monday - Creme of Broccoli Soup

While remodeling our kitchen, we've had to get creative with our meal-making.  Instead of take-out or frozen microwave meals every day, we've been trying to prepare healthier meals...slow cooker to the rescue!  When I think about the slow cooker, I always think of a roast with veggies or chili, but with Kovas trying to be vegan, I turned to Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking for some ideas.  One recipe that caught my eye was the Creme of Broccoli Soup.

Creme of broccoli soup in slow cooker
Creme of Broccoli Soup
In slow cooker combine:
1/2  medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 large white potato, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch pieces *
1/2 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
Red lentils and cauliflower
Red lentils and cauliflower (instead of potatoes)
Set on LOW and cook for 6 hours.

1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

broccoli soup in slow cooker
Slow cooker - broccoli soup in the works...
Cook for 2 hours longer.  Remove bay leaf, then using immersion blender, blend to desired consistency adding more broth if needed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Before serving I added some olive oil for flavor and creaminess.

* I substituted cauliflower for the potato because Kovas is avoiding night-shades.

Ever use the slow cooker for something other than roasts or chili?  
What's your favorite meatless slow cooker meal?

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Newton Lady Isaac Review

Newton Lady Isaacs
Newton Lady Isaacs
Newton running starts with good posture, an athletic position and continues with an efficient cadence of 170 to 190 steps/minute. Done properly, running feels easier and your feet seem at one with the ground. You are making better use of the proper running muscles and the elastic component of running. The end result is a run that feels more efficient, intuitive, relaxed, natural and less stressful. HELLO BETTER (

Supportive and light, the Lady Isaacs were a great introduction to the Newton running experience.  Even before getting my Newton Lady Isaacs, I was not a heel striker so I feel the transition was pretty easy.  By keeping some simple tips in mind including an athletic stance, efficient cadence and "land, lever, lift" and starting out slowly as recommended, I had no pain or problems.  For me Newtons make running feel easier and more efficient.  By following the "land, lever, lift" technique in the patented Newton shoes, I feel I have a more natural form resulting in a more efficient run with less stress (and hopefully) no injuries...we'll see if the efficiency also translates into quicker race times:)

Newton Lady Isaacs
Newton Lady Isaacs

For more information check out the Newton website, follow them on twitter and like them on Facebook.

(Disclaimer: I was sent these shoes for free to review - I did not pay for the items, receive payment for the review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

What to eat...

onions yogurt apples

Antioxidants in onions may block the formation of compounds that harm the brain's protective barrier during a stroke.

The healthy probiotic bacteria in yogurt, cheese and other fermented dairy products may help slash type  2 diabetes risk.

Scientists at the University of Iowa found that a compound known as ursolic acid that is found in apples and other fruits increased metabolism-revving muscle mass and upped levels of brown fat (which burns other fat) in lab mice.

What not to eat...

A study in Public Health Nutrition says 96% of entrees sold in American chain restaurants contain more than a third of the USDA's daily recommended amounts for calories, sodium and total or saturated fats.

Sugar is bad for your teeth and may be bad for your mind too.  Maze-trained rats ran a course much slower when they's been fed sugar-spiked water daily for six weeks.  Researchers also noted that effect was more pronounced if diets were not supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.

from Women's Health Magazine

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Micro Monday

Normally I would say I am not a big fan of microwaves, but since Christmas I have changed my mind.  Christmas day Kovas started the major demo on our kitchen, and so we've been with a stove for a three weeks - and one to go.  Instead of eating out or eating prepared microwave meals (which Trader Joe's has a great healthier selection) every day, we figured out how to make some standbys in the microwave.

Aside from steamed veggies, three of my favorite finds are long grain brown rice, old-fashioned oatmeal and scrambled eggs.

microwave rice
Microwave rice
Rinse rice 3 times.  Using 1 part rice to 4 parts water, combine in microwave safe bowl, cover and cook 10 minutes or until boiling; then 20 minutes uncovered or until water is absorbed.

microwave oatmeal
Microwave oatmeal
Combine 1 cup oats and 1 1/2 cups water, microwave 2 minutes.

microwave scrambled eggs
Microwave scrambled eggs
Spray microwave safe mug with cooking spray, combine 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons milk in mug, beat.  Microwave 45 seconds, stir, microwave 45-60 seconds more.  Top with cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Have any healthy microwave recipes?

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Plans and a New Under Armour Hoody Giveaway Winner!

Chicago Marathon
Chicago Marathon countdown
2013 is going to be a big year for me, especially the fall.  I'm turning the big 4-0 in September and Kovas and I will be married 15 years this October!!  In celebration of these huge events, Kovas and I will be running the Chicago Marathon - which will be my first (kind of cool coincidence - the Chicago Marathon was Kovas' first many years ago).  We'll make a weekend of it of course and actually celebrate our anniversary.  Before the fall I would like to run 2 half marathons - maybe one late spring and another early fall.  I really enjoyed the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon in Madison so that is definitely one I will look into.

Ua Storm Full Zip Hoody

I have a new Under Armour Full Zip Hoody giveaway winner...
M. Louise Cunningham of!  
Please email me your mailing address and size at  Congratulations!!

Any racing plans for the year?

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Meatless Monday - Green Smoothie

One of our favorite after school snacks is a green smoothie.  For awhile Gaigai's lunch box came home with the veggies not eaten, so this was one way to make sure she was consuming more vegetables - especially greens!  Over break I had the pleasure of using my aunt's new Vitamix.

Vitamix It's Easy Being Green
Vitamix - It's Easy Being Green
We used the "It's Easy Being Green" recipe from the Vitamix cookbook to show my aunt how to use the Vitamix.

1 cup green grapes
1 medium orange, peeled, halved
1 medium banana, peeled, halved
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 medium apple, seeded, quartered
2 cups fresh spinach, lightly packed
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
3-4 cups ice cubes

Add all ingredients in order.  Set Vitamix to smoothie setting and hit start.  If needed, push down ingredients.  Enjoy!

yields 5 cups

Vitamix smoothie ingredients
It's Easy to Be Green ingredients ready to go!
Obviously you can use pretty much use any ingredients you want.  At home we always start with a green (spinach, kale, romaine, broccoli, cucumbers) and some sort of liquid - unlike a Vitamix, my blender doesn't work if it's too dry, or too chunky, or too thick, or too...

TJ's power to the greens
Great new TJ's find...
Then I let the kids choose some fruit - frozen fruit can take the place of ice cubes plus it's convenient and easy to always have on hand.   Frozen over ripe bananas are great as a sweetener - so are mangos and pineapples.  More of our favorite ingredients include coconut milk, flax, chia, sunflower butter, protein powder, soy milk, blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, kefir, etc.

What are your favorite green smoothie ingredients?

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Goals for 2013

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

Do you make New Year's resolutions?  Instead of resolutions my goals this year (and after) is to focus on what is truly important to me and also to bring more balance into my life.  So in order of importance to me - family, fitness and food (sounds vaguely familiar, right?)

WEG - family, fitness and food
Women's Endurance Gear:  Family, Fitness and Food
Family - I want to be truly present when I'm with them (no blogging in the morning which is prime kiddo time for me).

Fitness - be more consistent in running and cross training (make time despite what else is going on).

Food - eat more veggies (have washed, cut veggies prepared at all times).

I will focus on these changes and re-evaluate monthly:)

How about you - do you make resolutions or set goals?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year and a Giveaway Winner!

35mm Happy New Year!
Happy 2013!
Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. ~Helen Keller

...and the winner of the Under Armour Full Zip Hoody is Dawn Ganey - CONGRATULATIONS!

Dawn, please email me at 
with your size and mailing address by Sunday January 6.

Wishing you all health and happiness for the new year!

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