Friday, June 28, 2013

Health Consciousness-10 changes I am making

Becoming a mom and being on maternity leave have both given me a renewed focus to be as healthy as possible.  For the past years I've increasingly eaten less processed foods and foods with added sugar especially those with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners and I've bought organic fruits, veggies, dairy and meat when possible.  With more time to cook from scratch and more time to read, I've been learning about new ways I can improve further in the quest for health, however I've also learned that you can totally stress out to try to get it all right and there is a lot of conflicting info on every single detail of what is "healthy" or "safe."  So I've decided I'm going to feel great about focusing on a set of healthy changes, these are the 10 I am currently working on:
1.  Buying in season fruits and veggies and local meat from the Farmers Market and supplementing the rest of what we need at the grocery.  These were 2 dinners from our trip last Sunday: 
Lamb Chops, Polenta, and Turnips/Squash/Spring Onion saute

Pork Chops, Rosemary Potatoes, and Pea/Turnip/Spring Onion Saute
2.  Adding healthy fats from Chia seed in daily.  Can drink mixed in water or add to smoothies and baking.
"They're [Chia] the absolute best source of omega three fats on the market, hands down, when you consider the ratio of omega three to omega six.": 
I made this smoothie this week with a Tablespoon of Chia and Hemp:
3.  Reading ingredient labels, buying products that have fewer preservatives and artificial colors in addition to added sugars
4.  Making dressings and sauces such as barbeque from scratch.  These are super easy to make in a food processor with simple ingredients like oil, vinegar, garlic, spices and lemon.
5.  Making baby food from scratch in a food processor as well.  Saves money and allows baby to eat what we eat.
6.  Choosing nitrate free lunch meat.
7.  Aware of food packaging.  Using more glass (vs. plastic) for at home storage.  Buying less canned food unless I know its BPA free, such as beans in bags and some soups come in a carton now.
8.  Buying Plain yogurt vs. sweetened yogurt.  In addition to less sugar it's also more versatile because you can also use as sour cream, to make tuna salad and in baking so it's more cost effective to buy a large amount rather than individual containers.
9.  Baking with honey and maple syrup rather than white sugar when possible.  I'm also trying Virgin Coconut Oil rather than Vegetable and Canola Oil in baking.
10.  More aware what is in products beyond food, such as sunscreen:

What are some of the health choices you are focusing on?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Stroller Workout

Another gorgeous morning for a stroller workout in the park, I love it when I start my day working out outside.  I've been going to these stroller classes since my daughter was 5 weeks, we go 1-2x each week and what I really love about the workout is it's different than the straight running that I normally do; we get cardio by jogging with the strollers, running stairs, running up hills, and strength mixed in by using weights, resistance bands, or even a bench and we finish up the workout on the mat with abs and stretching.  Not only is it a fun workout but I enjoy meeting and chatting with other moms, discussing baby eating and sleep patterns, family vacation destinations, recipes etc. Now my daughter is starting to enjoy watching the other kids ranging in ages especially when we get them out on the mats with us at the end of class.  There are so many creative ways to get a workout in with a baby, why not in your favorite park?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hill Repeats-Making Progress

Yesterday I had planned with my husband to do a family run after work but it was so hot in the evening, ~90  degrees, that we decided to bail on that plan and let him get a little Daddy daughter time.  I headed out for a solo run and given a decent amount of track workouts lately and the heat, I wanted to change it up so I ran for a neighborhood hill.  1.5 miles easy to the hill and when I got there decided to try to make it through 6 repeats, the hill about a quarter mile, to get me to ~5miles total workout.  I charged up the hill on a street with beautiful homes, driving my legs forward motivated by the big race I've been working toward at the end of June.  I could feel my legs tiring, getting stronger and once I crested the hill I jogged back down easy.  After the last repeat I went over the back side of the hill to jog easy home.

I was interested to look back at when I had done a workout on this same hill in April to see if I had improved and by how much.  When I got home I looked at my Garmin workouts to find the last workout, only 4 repeats over a minute/mile slower pace, I am making progress!!

Looks like summer weather is here which means finding a way to get out early or later but mid day runs will be getting a little steamy for stroller runs.  Even more reason to get my daughters sleep schedule more regular, that's another topic...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Rainy Day Run

Today was one of those days I wasn't sure if a run would happen, it was storming in the morning and we had evening dinner plans.  After the morning storms rolled through and morning nap time was over we headed out to the park before the next round of rain. The rain had cooled the temperature off about 20 degrees from past days and the skies were grey and gloomy but we've had plenty of sunshine lately so it was a nice change of pace.  The park had more birds than people and was more peaceful than usual as the playground was empty.  We got sprinkled on a bit, but no thunder so we just enjoyed it.  As I got going I felt so good we did an extra 2 miles and I may have kept going if I had not brought our dog.  So today I ended up doing 6 easy miles, my longest stroller run to date.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Memories

One of my favorite summer memories is going strawberry picking with my mom and making homemade jam and pies with her. I don't remember how old I was or how much help I actually gave but I sure remember how delicious the strawberries were and how amazed I was that we could make our own jam and pie.  So when I saw strawberry picking season was wrapping up and some gorgeous cool sunny weather this week I decided it was time to get picking.  Together with my sister n laws and their kids we picked about 10 pounds each of beautiful strawberries.  Picking lived up to the memory and was fun to see my 7 nieces and nephews have so much fun, we may have a new family tradition.
Back at home I got to work on strawberry pie and the next night made an appetizer recipe both are below, the rest will go for cereal, snacking with yogurt and also some for the freezer.

Strawberry Glace Pie From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
1 baked pastry shell
8 cups medium strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
Fresh Whipped Cream
1.  Remove stems from strawberries and cut any large strawberries in half.
2.  For glaze, in a food processor combine 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup of water.  Cover and process until smooth.  In a medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in blended berry mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture is thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Cool for 10 minutes without stirring.
3.  Spread 1/4 glaze over bottom and sides of Baked Pastry Shell.  Arrange half of the remaining strawberries in the pastry shell.  Spoon half of the glaze over fruit covering each piece.  Arrange remaining fruit over first layer.  Spoon remaining glaze over fruit.  Chill for 1-2 hours and garnish with fresh whipped cream.

Cool Balsamic and Strawberries with Warm Mozzarella Flatbread From Everyday Dining with Wine
1 pint strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
2T balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Six pita or flatbread rounds
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella                                            
5 fresh basil leaves
1.        Preheat oven to 400F or grill.  Combine strawberries, vinegar & few grinds of pepper in mixing bowl and stand @ room temp for 10-30 minutes
2.       Brush flatbread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides.  Place on baking sheet and heat in oven or place directly on grill for 2 minutes to toast lightly.  Remove, cut in quarters and return to baking sheet.
3.       Slice mozzarella into ½ inch thick slices. Place on pita and return to oven or grill until cheese is puffy ~2 minutes.
4.       Add finely chopped basil to strawberries.
5.       Remove pit from grill and spoon strawberry mixture over cheese and serve immediately.
6.       Pairs with Dry Rose or Rioja Reserva

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Track Meets

Running on a track never fails to bring nerves and a good workout.  I love running at the track and every summer in our town for about 6 weeks the local running store puts on a low key and free track series.  Basically anyone of any age (2 to 80 as long as you can walk) and ability can show up and jump into any of the events going on that night.  Last night I wanted to get some speed work so I decided to see how fast I could run the mile.  The mile is a challenging event because with 4 laps, go out too fast and you can have a pretty miserable last lap but it still requires a fast pace since it only lasts roughly 6 minutes.    I did 1.5 mile easy warmup with some 100 meter strides. I just wanted to push myself to run hard and see how fast I could go, I started out pretty steady 1:35 laps picking it up on the last lap finishing 6:12. It was scary, it was fun, everything I love about the track and now I'd like to go sub 6:00 this summer.  I felt so good after the mile I did a few cool down laps then jumped in for the 800 as well, a better event for me, running ~2:50.  Welcome summer running!