Saturday, September 27, 2014

Marathon Training and a Detox Mango Avocado Smoothie

Here is what you think about when you sign up for a marathon:
1. I'm young, I'll probably be fine.
2. This looks really cool.
3. It's a bucket list thing.

Here is what you think about during training:
1. Geez this is a lot of running.
2. I'm so hungry all the time.
3. My knee hurts.
4. Am I sure I can do this?

And here is where I am at now:
1. I'm totally ready.
2. I'm totally excited.

Last weekend, I ran the Magellan Ready to Run 20 miler.  I was so nervous leading up to the event, but when I finished I was truly amazed.  I ran the whole time at my 10 minute mile pace.  Therefore, I ran 20 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes.  It was amazing.  I have never felt such relief and excitement at accomplishing anything like this before. I have been training with CARA (Chicago Area Running Association) and it has totally paid off.  If someone told me 5 years ago that I would be running a marathon, I would have thought they were completely insane.  And yet, here I am.  Last year, I went and watched some of the Chicago Marathon and decided that I should do it.  Now, I am two 2 weeks away!!!  I feel totally ready and completely amazed at what I can do.
Today, was the first "taper" run.  After 20, you taper (run less and less) until the race.  Today, I ran 12 miles and it was the first time in 6 weeks that I ran less than a half marathon during the weekend.  How insane is that???

Throughout training, I have tried to focus on my health as well as my running and teaching.  However, all this running really does just make me want to eat everything in sight!  To try and avoid eating a ton of junk, I have discovered various healthy recipes.  Today, I am sharing one.  This is one of a few smoothie recipes that I have tried over the course of my marathon training and it really is delicious as well as nutritious.  I highly recommend it as a great way to get your veggies and feel amazing.  If you are running a ton, you will need more than this, so maybe have some peanut butter with toast in addition to the yummy smoothie.

Detox Mango Avocado Smoothie

1/2 cup chopped fresh mango
1/2 cup sliced avocado
1 cup orange juice (I used Tropicana 50)
2 tbsp lime juice

1. Put everything in blender and blend until smooth.  This makes 2 large smoothies.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies

I can't believe I am a month away from race day! I just finished an "easy" 14 miles.  You may be wondering...easy?  Well, after running 18 last week, today seemed like a breeze.  Plus, the weather was chilly and beautiful.  This made the run a whole lot more pleasant than those others that were in 80 degree heat with crazy humidity!  I feel great right now! I can't believe that next week is the 20 mile run! 20 miles is the longest run before the actual marathon and I am only one week away!

I am running for a charity called Access Living and if you would like to read more about the charity and my running journey, you can find all info here:  Jodie-Team Access Living.

Today I figured we should celebrate!  I am pumped about my running going so well, but I am also grateful for an amazing start to the school year.  So far classes have been great, I love my co-workers, and my students have been a joy so far!  (Let's hope it stays that way!)  I'm also excited about the fact that I have finally finished reading all the current Game of Thrones books.  This was a HUGE project as each book is about 1000 pages, but I finally finished and I can't wait for the next book to be released!  All in all, a celebration is in order and what better way to celebrate than with delicious brownies?  I made my typical Dark Chocolate Brownies, but then I topped them with a layer of cookie dough frosting.  YUM!!!! Bri has already asked that I make these for his birthday this year and thats not for another 3 months!

Cookie Dough Frosted Brownies
Brownie Recipe
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp skim milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp low-fat cream cheese
pinch of salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Make brownies according to directions (or make your own favorite recipe). Let cool completely.
2. In a large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar, and melted butter until well combined and sugar starts to dissolve.  Beat in the milk, vanilla, cream cheese, and salt until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Spread the frosting over the brownies.  You will have a very thick layer.
3. Cover in tinfoil and place in fridge for a few hours to ensure that the frosting sets.  Once chilled, cut into squares.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sea Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookie Cups

I feel like I've been slacking.  I know I don't post as much anymore, but what I really mean is that I've been totally skimping on sharing my amazing Chicago experiences.

I've been living in my apartment in Chicago for over a year now, and I really haven't shared all the amazing times I've had around the city.   I will be at an event thinking, "I should totally post about this," and I'll even take pictures so that I'm ready for the post.  But then, I forget, or get busy, or just get lazy.  So, I have ended up with tons of photos of amazing times that have never ended up here.  

This issue ends today.  I am going to start actually informing you all about how great Chicago is.  Starting with: Breweries.  Bri and I are huge fans of going to various breweries to take tours and sample beer.  Chicago is a fantastic place to do that!  So far, we have hit up two spots: Revolution and Half Acre.  Both breweries have great beer and we even had dinner at Revolution which was also fantastic.  If you are ever in town, try to find a brewery tour to take.  There are so many in Chicago and it is a really fun way to spend an afternoon.  

Today I also have an amazing dessert recipe to share!  I made these, brought them to school, and was told they were the best thing I've ever made.  Now, I get told that a lot, but truly these guys are delicious.  They also go along with the theme of amazing things that I am currently into because I am currently obsessed with carmel and sea salt.  I can't get enough.  I just ordered some dark chocolate sea salt caramels to support the school's band, and I bought the Dove ones from the store to keep in my desk.  I can't get enough! Sweet, salty, and delicious, these Sea Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookie Cups are just divine!  

Sea Salted Caramel Brown Butter Cookie Cups

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 egg white
2 cups mini chocolate chips
24 caramels
sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a mini muffin pan.
2. Place butter in a small sauce pan and melt over medium heat.  Continue to swirl the butter around over medium heat until it browns.  Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  
4. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, sugar, and browned butter until well combined.  Beat in the egg and egg white until combined and then the vanilla.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture until just combined.  
5.  Fill each muffin well about halfway with cookie dough.  Press a caramel into each well and sprinkle sea salt over the top of each caramel.  Scoop cookie dough on top of each salted caramel and press into the muffin well.  
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookie dough just starts to brown. Let cool and remove from muffin pan.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

I'm writing a blog post at school! Well, sort of...

Today is a testing day for the students, so I am sitting here, bored out of my mind, watching students take a practice ACT.  I decided that a great use of my time (after I did everything I needed to do for school) would be to write a blog post about some amazing Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups I made.  My only fear is that this post is going to make me drool or that the students will hear my stomach rumbling! I hope you all enjoy this random, mid-week post about one amazing dinner idea!

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

1 box lasagna noodles (the kind you have to boil)
your favorite tomato sauce
16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained completely
16 oz light ricotta cheese
8 oz, plus a few tbsp light mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cook the lasagna noodles according to directions until al dente.  Drain and lay each noodle on a damp paper towel.  Cover the noodles with another damp paper towel.
3. In a bowl, mix the spinach into the ricotta cheese.  Mix in the egg using a fork and then mix in half the mozzarella, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan.  Uncover the noodles and, using a spoon, spread a layer of the spinach-ricotta mixture over each noodle.  Then, tightly roll up each noodle and place seam down in the pan. When all noodles are done, spread more tomato sauce over the tops of the rolls and sprinkle with some mozzarella and parmesan.  Place in oven to bake for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Homemade Baked Cheese Fries

Alright, so I know that I am usually all about being healthy and running and all that jazz.  However, when I let my true colors show, I am a person constantly craves either cheese fries or cinnamon rolls.  Since neither of these really fit into my "eating healthy" plan, I try my very best to avoid both.

Until, I found this recipe for Cheese Sauce from Serious Eats:

Cheese Sauce

8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp cornstarch
2-3 tsp hot sauce

1. Toss shredded cheese with the cornstarch and then add to a medium saucepan.
2.  Add evaporated milk to saucepan and heat over medium until melted and thickened.
3. Add in hot sauce to taste.

Game over! This is too easy! Plus, I can totally use "light" cheddar and "light" evaporated milk.  So that totally makes it healthy...right?

Then, I found a recipe for baked french fries and I was set.

So, go make that cheese sauce and then make these baked fries and you have yourself some "healthy" cheese fries!

Baked French Fries
(adapted from Purple Foodie)

8-9 garlic cloves, minced
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 lbs of potatoes, cut into 1 inch wedges
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. In a bowl, combine the oil with the garlic.  Heat in microwave on 30 second intervals until garlic is fragrant.
3. Take about 4 tbsp of oil from the bowl and spread on the baking pan.
4. Place potato wedges in bowl with garlic and toss.  Cover in plastic wrap and microwave for 4-6 minutes or until potatoes start to look translucent.
5. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne.  Sprinkle over the warm potatoes and toss to coat.
6.  Lay potatotes out separately on the oiled pan.  Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through baking.  Potatoes should be golden and crisp.
Veggie Burger with Cheese Fries

Enjoy :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Healthy Falafel with Feta Dip

I started school! I can't believe that summer is truly over now that it is after Labor Day and school is back in session.  Truly, I started last week, but it was only a 3 day week and it was followed by a 3 day weekend.  Now, I am really back to the grind.  I am still teaching Geometry and Algebra Advanced and its great because I have all my stuff from last year.  Being a second year teacher instead of a first year teacher definitely has its perks.  Not only do I know what I'm doing, but I also have past students saying hi to me in the hallways.  I'm still exhausted, but I am having fun.

Being a teacher is exhausting, but being a teacher who is in the peak of marathon training is ridiculous.  Yesterday, after teaching all day, I came home, laced up my running shoes, and went for a "short" 9 mile run.  The worst part, was when I came home I was too tired to make dinner, but I was starving.  So, here is a recipe that I found, loved, and had a ton of leftovers for those nights where you just don't feel like doing anything besides sleeping.

Baked Falafel with Spicy Feta Dip

Check out this blog because it is one of my favorites and this recipe is fantastic!  I made a couple adaptions so here they are:

I used whole wheat flour, light feta cheese, and non-fat, plain Chobani greek yogurt.  I also ended up using 5 garlic cloves because I just love garlic.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe and it came out amazing.  If you want to make this recipe gluten free, just use gluten free flour!  I had this for dinner with a pita and for lunch on its own.  Either way, the falafel is super tasty and that spicy feta dip just sends it over the top!

Enjoy :)