Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Friday Friday!

Good Morning all! Today should be a great day, aside from a dentist appointment I have this morning. Apparently I need to do more yoga, because I think I have TMJ, I have an incredible pain in my jaw whenever I open my mouth. Hopefully I will get it figured out today. The rest of me is also pretty sore, my kickboxing class was a blast last night, there was more energy in the room and I felt much better than last week. I had a bowl of Raisin Bran an hour before class and that seemed to give me plenty of power without making me feel full. That will probably be my go to snack before that class from now on. Since I  have a longer run tomorrow (7 miles) I will probably take it easy today, yoga or strength training. More to come!

Breakfast was a few spoonfuls of fresh pomegranate seeds and a pumpkin pie smoothie. Delicious! I got the recipe from my very favorite blog, "Carrots N Cake."

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
  • 2/3 cup frozen canned pumpkin (I used it at room temp, and it was yummy!)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 1.25 cups soy milk (I used 2% cows milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Sip and enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blackberry Crepes

Good Morning! I feel elated, proud and shocked. My grandmother and aunts will never believe me. I should have called all my friends and had a camera documenting this moment.

I made blackberry crepes. From scratch. And they were fluffy, soft, fresh delicious.

I woke up early to surprise my husband and to see if my baking streak could hold up for some crepes. One of my favorite blogs, "Confessions of a Young Woman" had the recipe on her profile, and I couldn't help but think about the blackberries sitting in my fridge and the fact that I somehow had all the ingredients waiting. It must have been meant for me to try! The original recipe called for strawberries, but I figured I needed to use what I had. It was so simple! I put the blackberries, sugar, fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract in a pot to boil, and then let it simmer into a thick syrup which, when cooled, was a fresh, tangy jam. The crepes were simply eggs, flour, milk, water, salt and butter. I suppose this sounds quite simple to a person who has been cooking for awhile, but this was quite exciting for me. I have never made pancakes without the instant mix (Just add Water!), and have for sure never made crepes. Jason was raving. I loved the homemade jam with the lemon juice. I added a little extra for a refreshing bite. The recipe also for the seeds to be strained out of the jam, but I liked the authentic touch. What a great way to start a morning!

Today is going to be pretty laid back. I am working until five on a nonprofit capacity building grant project here at home in my warm, comfy office, with free coffee and hot tea! Lunch was again very colorful. I had some of my leftover ginger carrots along with a sweet potato with cinnamon, pepper and olive oil, and half an avocado. For dessert I am planning on having a pomegranate and a square of some delicious dark dark chocolate (72%). The darker the better for chocolate in my opinion! The wind has died down some and I may have to get out and walk around the neighborhood while the sun is still shining. Enjoy the afternoon everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A dinner date with my favorite veggies

I must say I impressed myself with dinner tonight. After reading through Tina's blog "Carrots N'Cake," I saw a yummy looking recipe for Coconut-Ginger Carrots. The ginger sounded like a wonderfully sweet option for dinner, so I ran to the store to pick up the rest of the ingredients, including fresh shredded coconut. I also grabbed a pound of asparagus to steam on the side. The result was a delicious array of colorful, rich and refreshing veggies. The asparagus was perfectly steamed and only needed a bit of olive oil to give it a perfect, warm finish. The carrots were soft but crisp, and the fresh lemon juice gave it a refreshing pop that didn't fill me up. The recipe called for just lemon juice, but I included the bits of the lemon flesh from the juicer in the pan, and grated some zest to mix in with the coconut for a finish. To finish, I had a few glasses of Pinot Noir and Italian coffee, along with a slice of Cranberry Apple Crisp my husband made yesterday. Again, I with I had a picture. I am going to work harder to take some photos of the meals I am most proud of. But instead, I am putting in a picture of me with the asparagus scones I made a few weeks ago to prove that I am indeed learning to cook and bake:

I am going to include the recipe for the Coconut-Ginger Carrots in the "Food" section of my blog. Please check it out and try it! More to come tomorrow. I am in for a world-altering turbo kickboxing class...wish me luck!

Beers and pasta=great run to make up for it!

Hello!! Today is so windy I had to do my 2 mile run indoors at the gym. I didn't mind, however, because I was able to keep track of my speed. I also have the sorest thighs on earth from my workout yesterday, so conquering Omaha's hills would not have happened! I also did ten minutes of abs using a variety of plank moves. It burned, but I kept up until is going to feel good tonight!

Yesterday was a cross training day, so I did pyramid squats of 135 pounds. Pyramid workouts are fantastic for building strength with many reps and in little time. This workout took me less than half an hour. You start with 1 rep, then do 2, then 3, and so on up until 8. Then you work down, 8 reps, 7 reps, 6 reps, etc. It may sound easy but it is brutal, especially since this was my first time using this much weight! I also do the pyramid workout with dead lifts and bench press.

Last night was great, I wish I would have had my camera to take some photos of the amazing food and beer I had at Dario's. Penne pomodoro (pasta with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes) with an extra side of sauteed veggies tossed in. There were zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and fresh cheese. It was hot, delicious heaven! I also had a draft Stella. Tuesday night is half price draft beer night at Dario's, and considering our Belgian collection is incredible, it is a pretty great deal. After my dinner, I had a Trois Pistoles, a dark draft with a foamy head and a nutty, earthy taste. It was a delicious after dinner beer, and even better that I got to share happy hour with my co-workers. Throw in some of our delicious and hand cut pomme frites, and it was a pretty fantastic night of gastronomic delights!
Stella Artois

Trois Pistoles

(photos from Google Images)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Perfect Running Weather

Today is beautiful out here in Omaha! It is overcast but still in the lower 70s and there is a great wind, perfect for cooling off and for resistance up hills. Today was a 3 mile scenic run through my neighborhood, up to UNO, through Memorial Park and back. 3 miles sounds easy enough, but the hills in Omaha are enough to knock you out...I hope I am building up some stamina as I attempt to tackle these things! I made it around in back in about 25 minutes, upping my speeds just slightly in an attempt to move me to racing pace. I think I am going to register for the Papillion Half Marathon next spring! And it is on my 27th birthday! It will be my first birthday in two years taking place in the United States, so a half marathon sounds like a perfect way to celebrate!

Jason and I got to spend some quality time together today. He has been exhausted over the last few days working nights. It is difficult to spend time together when we are both fully conscious. For brunch we made great BLT's with fresh tomato and avocado, plus olive oil mayo and peppered bacon. We also had a side of low-fat cottage cheese and water. It was a great lunch and good fuel for my hilly run. Tonight is hopefully a date with Jean and some yoga! More to come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Banana and Nutella Honey Wheat Pitas...

...are all I can think about right now. After a great party at my dad's house (and after a restless night, due to some drunk friends and rowdy kids), I had a quick breakfast with my in-laws before heading off to work at Dario's. I was quite tired and not in the best of moods (my apologies to my coworkers) but I soon felt better after an amazing brunch at 1 with Jean. A crepe filled with scrambled eggs, parisian ham, gruyere cheese and asparagus....holy delicious. I also had a side of fresh made home fries. I wish I had a photo to share with you! This meal gave me plenty of fuel for some thrift shopping. What a great Sunday!
After coffee with Jean and Jason, I ran to the store to pick up some Nutella and croissants. Then I saw the amazingly cheaper Kroeger brand Hazelnut Spread. I know what you are thinking, how can ANYTHING be a replacement for Nutella? I'm telling you, I can't tell a difference...and only at a $2 for a container! I bought some bananas and honey wheat pitas instead of croissants for a healthier alternative. I grilled the pitas for a bit in the toaster, and put half a banana in each pita with a generous helping of hazelnut spread. The result? An amazing melt in your mouth snack...I am resisting the urge to go back for another!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

6 Miles! Only 20 More to Go!

These were the words of encouragement from my father-in-law after a finished a great six mile run today. So my enthusiasm was cut a bit short, but I am still pretty proud of myself! It was a great run, no tummy problems, no side stitches. I am convinced it was the apple and peanut butter wrap I made this morning that gave me plenty of energy! This will probably be my long distance run breakfast for awhile. The tortilla was whole wheat so it filled me up nicely.
The run took me a little while (a little over an hour), but since it was only my second time running the distance, no hard feelings!

I came home and refueled with a great lunch! Stir-fryed veggies with tuna and brown rice. I sauteed some veggies in olive oil and added the tuna and brown rice after about 10 minutes. I also added yellow onion and garlic. I also made a peanut sauce with warm water, peanut butter, flour and brown sugar. It was pretty much to taste with all the ingredients and it was great with the dish. I also had to refuel with two of my peanut butter cookies...thank God I am getting rid of these things when I take them down to my Dad's party this evening. He turned 50 last Saturday but the party is tonight. I am disappointed because my husband can't make it (work) but it should be a good time. More later!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hamstrings and Peanut Butter Cookies

Good evening! I have just finished making another amazing batch of Mama Pea's "Peanut Butter Cookies." These turned out so well on Wednesday that I decided to make another huge batch for my dad's birthday party tomorrow! The recipe is below!

I worked tonight at Dario's Brasserie in Dundee. For any readers who are in the Omaha area, PLEASE check this local restaurant out (4920 Underwood Ave.) Local meats, produce, 80 Belgian beers, and a genuine Bosnian genius in the kitchen make this place a must for anyone looking to have a great dinner experience! I love seeing how satisfied people are when they get done with a meal at Dario's. I was so inspired that after my shift I had a cheese plate and a Stella to celebrate! :)

As for a workout today, I rode my bike to school and was preparing for a long bike ride when my hamstring tightened up so abruptly it felt as though someone had me by the marionette strings! OUCH! I decided to take today as my one rest day this week (minus the few miles on the bike) in order to prepare for my 6 mile run tomorrow. I have saved my last apple for a peanut butter and apple wrap tomorrow morning before the run. It is only my second time running this distance, so wish me luck!

Please please make these incredibly easy cookies, they are soooo delicious! Here is the recipe straight from Mama Pea's blog:

Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 20-24 cookies
  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance)
  • 1 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. organic sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy or organic milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
For sprinkling:
  • 1 T. organic sugar
  • 1 T. coarse ground sea salt

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
Beat together margarine and peanut butter.
Add sugars, milk and vanilla and mix. 
Add in dry ingredients and mix. 
Drop dough by spoonful onto a cookie sheet and press into a cookie, then cross with a fork.
Sprinkle the cookie with the sprinkling and bake at 350 for about 13-14 minutes. 

Happy Friday and Why Everyone Should Elope

Hello all! This week has absolutely flown by, hard to believe it is the weekend! I was woken up this morning rather rudely by my cats wanting their breakfast. It was an ungodly hour (I am NOT a morning person), but it gave me the opportunity to wake up a bit before Jason came home. Breakfast was nothing spectacular this morning, a bowl of Raisin Bran and fresh coffee with natural cane sugar and milk. Enough to fill me up!

As we are coming down from wedding season, I wanted to share a little note as to why EVERYONE who is planning on getting married should elope. My husband Jason and I eloped in Jerusalem on March 15, 2009. It was an incredible experience, and we were able to combine the wedding and honeymoon in a beautiful location. I'm telling you, eloping is the only way to go.

Jason and I the morning of our wedding day!
Everyone knows about the stress of a wedding. The planning, the invitations, the family, the photos, the reception, etc. Jason and I had NONE of these worries. We even eloped during the Gaza/Israeli war! Logically speaking, this means that eloping in a war zone is easier than planning a traditional wedding! Not to say that we didn't have a few traditional elements during our wedding. We got married in the Church of the Redeemer, the oldest Lutheran church in the world and in the heart of the Old City. I also did wear white (I can hear some of my friends laughing) and Jason wore a lovely tux.

Wedding Day!
However, there were no flowers. No bridesmaids. No music, no crying children no yawning grandparents. It was magical. Just my husband, the pastor, and a photographer friend of ours named Ronan. It was hauntingly beautiful how quiet the church was. It was a solemn joy that preluded Jason and I's marriage. I believe it set the tone for a beautiful union. And it was so easy, and worth the travel.

Why would you NOT want to get married in a place like this??
So for all you future brides out there, here are my top reasons why you and your mate should elope:

1) Experience another country with your spouse. There is no other way to get to know one another than to be pushed outside your comfort zone with the person you love.

2) Save money on a wedding ceremony and buy plane tickets. Our tickets to Israel only set us back about $1,800, MUCH cheaper than anything at a wedding. Plus, we had plenty left over to explore the country with.

3) Enjoy your wedding day without the mad hustle of a traditional ceremony. I am very close to my family, but not once during the ceremony did I regret the way we decided to get married. Not having my family there was not a huge loss. My family completely understands my love for travel and the fact that I am not very traditional. Having their support while we had a  once in a lifetime wedding was incredible!

4) IT IS SO EASY. We were able to live quite well for two weeks in Israel because of the strength of the dollar in currency.

5) Make lasting memories with your spouse. We explored every corner of the country, took a five hour bus ride across the desert, went to underground concerts in Tel Aviv, rented a car and drove to Haifa to explore gorgeous gardens, tucked a prayer in the Western Wall, and so much more. Believe me, it is worth the minimal hassle and have a unique wedding story and memories to last you forever.

What about you? Have you or do you know anyone who has eloped?

Jason and I in Jerusalem

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Feeling full...

Today started off great! Breakfast was a delicious breakfast cookie, typically served after it has been in the fridge overnight, but I ate it an hour after I put it together. Whole oats, peanut butter, cinnamon, milk, dried cranberries and Cadbury chocolate straight from England. Yum! I am trying not to waste so much coffee anymore so I reheated a pot made yesterday. Tasted just as good after I put a little milk in it! 

After breakfast I went for a two-mile hike to campus to have lunch with my good friend Jean. Since I had already eaten a filling breakfast just two hours before, I took some Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas and Greek honey yogurt. A bottle of water made the walk and lunch very refreshing! We sat outside and enjoyed the perfect fall weather. The weather has been amazing here, making being active outdoors fun and necessary. 

After I came back home  I promptly put collars on our cats and sat outside with them and read a bit of my newest book, “Born Standing Up” by Steve Martin. I didn’t get too far into it because I had to constantly run after my cats to make sure they didn’t go into the street. It is too gorgeous outside not to let them enjoy the weather as well!

Before I knew it, lunchtime rolled around! I boiled two small potatoes and sautéed some Italian style veggies and sardines. I threw some rosemary and olive oil on the concoction and voila! A delicious and healthy lunch! The sardines have a perfect, earthy flavor that was complimented by the sting of the onions and the softness of the potatoes. Good thing it was so filling, because in two and a half hours I have a brutal (but fun!) turbo kickboxing class to attend at 24 Hour Fitness. Can’t wait!

My running schedule has been great all week! I have had three running days so far this week (one on the treadmill, two outside). Sunday’s elliptical/treadmill workout was more of a rut breaker than anything. I can’t remember the last time I used the elliptical but it was a nice change of pace. Total miles were about 3. Plus it was rather late when I finally got to the gym, and therefore too dark to run outside. Monday was a four-mile run, and Wednesday was a two-mile run, both outdoors. My times were pretty good (43 minutes for four miles, 15 for two), but I know I can up my game. Plenty of time! I am gearing up for a long run on Saturday (6 miles!) and am excited to see how I feel afterwards. That is one of my favorite things about running. Even though it hurts and may suck during the actual run, the way I feel afterwards (for the rest of the day!) is worth the pain. For cross training on Tuesday I did a pyramid style dead lifting set (138 pounds). Even though I only go up to 8, I am so stiff and sore the next day that I know I did something right! Turbo kick tonight will hopefully stretch me out a bit.

Today was not very productive from a work point of view, but it was a lovely, relaxing day. The weather was too perfect to spend much time indoors anyways. After my lunch I got a nap and some cuddle time in with Jason before I forced myself out of bed and to the gym. Tomorrow feels like a yoga day, and an early yoga day since I have to work at 4:30. I need to pick up some bananas to make a peanut butter and banana wrap before my 6 mile run on Saturday morning!

As I figured it would be, kickboxing was great! I still felt pretty full from my lunch however, so I think I may need to take it down a notch next Thursday. I started to feel pretty sluggish by the end of the workout. I came home to my hubby running out the door for work, and my kitties wanting some love. My post-workout snack was a great fruit smoothie. Blackberries, one banana, one apple, honey, orange juice and milk. Super yummy! Smoothies are a great way to revamp after an intense workout when you just don’t feel like eating anything heavy. I also had one small cookie from my batch of homemade Peanut Butter Cookies. Heading to bed soon, my cats are already waiting!

Very first blog post!

Hello! Welcome to my blog, "Life in the Middle: Staying Fit in Nebraska." I've been a writer for quite some time, as well as a fitness freak, and I wanted to find a fun way to combine the two! After reading some existing fitness blogs for inspiration, "Life in the Middle" was born! I hope you enjoy as you follow me as I work out, learn to cook, eat right and love life in Nebraska!