Refreshing Watermelon Smoothie

Today I’m sharing another new favorite smoothie recipe – a refreshing watermelon smoothie!

Watermelon smoothie

Don’t you love the pretty pink color?!

When I first started seeing recipes for watermelon smoothies this summer, I was a little skeptical. First, I’m not a huge melon fan. Watermelon is the only melon I really enjoy. Second, the idea of watermelon in a smoothie just didn’t sound like it would work. Clearly, I eventually tried it and found a combination that I love! The strawberries add a little extra sweetness, the yogurt adds the perfect amount of creaminess to make it more like a smoothie and less like an icey drink, and the watermelon and ice make it very refreshing on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Smoothie

Watermelon Smoothie
Serves two.

Ingredients:
• 2.5 cups of watermelon (cubed)
• 1 cup strawberries (de-stemmed)
• ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 tbsp. honey
• 1 cup ice

Directions:
1) Place all of the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. With a Vitamix, start off on a low speed and gradually increase the speed.
2) Enjoy!

*Note – you can use vanilla greek yogurt instead of plain, just omit the honey.

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes, Smoothies | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Orange Carrot Smoothie

Hello again! Life has been busy lately. In the last three months, I:

• Got married!

Wedding
Wedding 2
• Graduated with my Master of Public Health

MPH Graduation
• Became a Certified Personal trainer (through NASM)
• Became a Certified Health Education Specialist
• Went on my honeymoon to Istanbul and Santorini!

Istanbul
Santorini
• Moved out of my house in Houston and drove a Uhaul truck to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where my husband is going to Wake Forest Law School

And I’m flying back to Texas tonight after spending two weeks in New Hampshire and Maine. Whew!

I wanted to pop in and share a recipe I’ve repeated many times this summer, in large part due to the addition of a Vitamix to our kitchen (yes, they really are that good)! One of my favorite things to do with the Vitamix is mix up my usual green smoothies and use vegetables that I couldn’t necessarily throw into my old immersion blender smoothies. This smoothie is simple, refreshing, and gives you a good serving of both fruits and a veggie. It’s also a bright and summery color! With smoothies, nothing is too exact, so add more or less of any ingredient as you see fit. I hope you enjoy!

Carrot Orange Smoothie

Orange Carrot Smoothie
Serves two.

Ingredients:
• 2 large carrots, peeled
• 2 small oranges, peeled (and de-seeded if necessary)
• 1 banana
• 1 apple (I use pink lady)
• Approx. ½ cup of water or milk
• A few ice cubes

Directions:
1) Place all of the ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. With a Vitamix, start off on a low speed and gradually increase the speed.
2) Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes, Smoothies, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

8 Lessons from a Second Half Marathon

This post is a little late, but better late than never! Last month, I completed my second half marathon and set a new personal record of 2:23:40!

Rhythm and Blues Half
I loosely followed the Disney Princess Half Marathon Training Program and ran with my usual walk/run method. I ended up running most of the race with a 4:1 run/walk ratio.

After running two half marathons, I’ve learned a few lessons:

1) Find a pace you’re comfortable with and stick with it as much as possible. For me, that’s usually a 3:1 or 4:1 run/walk ratio. For you, it might be a steady run. Test different methods out, and stick with what works! If you need to go off your pace for a few minutes or take a longer walking break during training, that’s perfectly fine.

2) Bad training is not necessarily indicative of a bad race! I had some of my worst long runs ever during my training for this second half marathon. I had multiple runs where I needed to sit down on the side of the path and take a break for a few minutes. Because of this, my goal for this half marathon was just to finish it, knowing that I likely wouldn’t PR or even finish close to my time from my previous half. Not the case! Train the best you can and on race day – don’t sell yourself short! I am so glad that I decided to at least try my 4:1 ratio and not settle for a slower pace on race day.

3) A training plan is just that – a plan. Sometimes you have to adjust your plans, and that’s okay. If you miss a scheduled long run, just run it as soon as you can fit it in. Even if it’s a week later. Being off schedule by a week or two will not ruin your training as long as you’re still running at least a couple of times each week.

4) Training through the holiday season is hard. I love to train in the winter because in Houston the weather is generally great for running in the winter months. But the holidays are often busy and involve going out of town. I thought I would be able to continue my training when I flew to New Hampshire for a week. Snow really got in my way! Most people also tend to eat more unhealthy foods during the holiday season, which can make it hard to wake up and run in the morning. I’d suggest planning for training interruptions if your training plan includes the month of December. If you get off schedule, just don’t give up!

asics gt2000

5) If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My Asics GT 2170s successfully took me through my first half marathon. When I was long overdue for new running shoes, I figured, why not try something new? I fell in love with pretty turquoise and pink Mizunos and the running store told me my stride was great in them. Then I got shin splints. Luckily I ordered the shoes from an online running store that allows you to run in the shoes for up to 90 days and return them if you don’t like them. I ended up buying another pair that, yet again, did not work for me. Then I tried the successor to the 2170s, the Asics GT 2000s. Bingo! No problems. Sometimes, it’s even worth buying multiple pairs of a shoe that works for you in the case that they discontinue the model. When the GT 2000s went on sale in hot pink (my favorite color), I bought a second pair. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

6) Compression socks and compression capris work for recovery. Wearing compression socks while running does not work for me and makes my legs cramp up. But, wearing compression socks and capris after a long run helps my muscles recover so much faster. Every time I run more than 6 miles, I come home and put on my compression socks and CWX Stability Tights (or as Luke refers to them, my alien pants!). I often even wear them to bed. They work!

7) Long runs are almost never very fun, but there’s nothing better than knowing you just finished a long run. Long runs can make even the worst days better, because hey, you ran 10 miles that morning and that’s something to be proud of!

8) After you run your first half, you will feel incredibly accomplished but may think you will never run another. A few days (or hours) later you will likely change your mind!

If you have any questions about running a half for the first time or are more curious about my training, feel free to contact me or comment!

Posted in Running, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

Pumpkin Butter Salmon – The Simplest Fall Recipe!

I’m back from my brief blogging hiatus (okay maybe not so brief!) to share with you my favorite new fall recipe. I’ll be posting a running update soon, but for now I wanted to start with the simplest recipe in my book this season!

It’s no secret that I love all things pumpkin, and pumpkin butter (recipe here) is a staple in my fridge all fall.

pumpkin butter

A couple months ago, I saw an intriguing salmon recipe that only included two ingredients: fruit jam and salmon. I thought it would either be horrible or surprisingly good, and it ended up being delicious. When pumpkin butter started making its rounds into everything in our kitchen, I thought – why not try it on salmon!

Pumpkin Butter Salmon

It may sounds strange, but the flavors combine perfectly. You just spread pumpkin butter on salmon and broil or bake it for a few minutes. You can’t get much simpler than that!

IMG_0618

Pumpkin Butter Salmon

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

• 3-4 tbsp. of pumpkin butter (adapt to your taste!)
• ¾ lb salmon
• salt to taste

Directions:

1. Spread the pumpkin butter evenly over the salmon.
2. Broil the salmon for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through (you can also bake it).
3. Enjoy!

Posted in Fish, Gluten-free, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Zooma Texas Half-Marathon – I did it!

13.1 HILLY miles – check!
It’s official – I ran my first half-marathon!

half marathon

In May of last year I ran my first 5k. When it was over, I thought I was going to pass out. It happened to be a 5k/10k race and I remember sitting on the curb at the end thinking, “How can people run double what I just did?!”

In December, after committing to be a Zooma ambassador and run the Zooma Texas half-marathon, I ran my first 10k as part of my training for the half. Again, I felt like death at the end of the race and couldn’t imagine running over double the mileage in a few months. I couldn’t believe I had signed up for a half!

On Saturday, I ran my first half-marathon through the Texas hill country. And thirty minutes faster than I had hoped for! I crossed the finish line at 2:28:43. I was fairly confident I could finish the race, but coming in under two and half hours when I hadn’t trained on ANY hills was beyond my wildest dreams!

So how did it go?

The race is known for it’s hills. While I knew that going into it, I live in Houston where there are absolutely no hills, so I trained on completely flat terrain. The first three miles were really hilly and I remember beginning to question if I could really finish the race. The second three miles were even more hilly. Driving into the resort, my car had trouble getting up some of those hills! I took the hills one at a time, ran when I could and walked when I needed to. After the first six miles or so, the course went onto a long flat road with just a couple hills and I was in heaven (well, not really, because I had run 6 miles and was already exhausted!). It then ended with a couple miles through a winding and subtly hilly golf course.

I honestly felt pretty good throughout the entire race. I never had any major pains in my calves, and I only had to stray from my 4:1 run to walk ratio a couple times when the hill was just too steep to run. I realized about halfway through the race that I really had a chance of coming in under two and half hours if I kept up my current pace. When I was still set to make it with two miles left, I knew I had to give those last two miles everything I had – and I did! However, one of the most remarkable things was not feeling like I needed to lay down when I crossed the finish line. On all of my long training runs, I could hardly make it through the last half mile. On race day, I sprinted through the finish line and began intently searching on where to pick up my medal!

half marathon finish line

It really seemed like luck was on my side on Saturday. The weather was supposed to be surprisingly hot with a high of 90, and instead the entire race was a perfect 60 degrees. The humidity was bad, but I’m used to that from training in Houston!

Zooma put on a great half-marathon. The Hyatt resort was beautiful (though I don’t think I’d ever pay that much to stay there again!) and it was SO nice being able to wake up and walk right down to the start line. The pre-race festivities on Friday night were fun and everything was well organized. My only real complaint was the traffic on the road at the beginning of the race, but I’m not sure anything could have been done about that. I loved receiving both a finisher’s necklace and a medal for achieving a personal record (my first half), and I also loved being able to look up your time on the computers in a tent after the race. They also had a notification system that would text updates to family and friends when you crossed 6 miles and finished the race, which I thought was pretty cool! The race swag was awesome too – a tech shirt (that actually fits!), a cute water bottle, and a yoga mat. Not counting all the cool stuff I received for being an ambassador!

Zooma race

I’ll be writing another post explaining my training and tips that I picked up in these last few months. I will say this – training for a half-marathon is not easy! It takes a lot of dedication and pushing yourself. There was a time around Christmas when I truly almost backed out of the race. I am SO glad I didn’t!

After finishing the race, more than anything I’m truly grateful to have been healthy enough to run a half-marathon. I also strongly believe that if I can run a half-marathon, anyone can run a half-marathon with enough training and personal commitment.

Will I run another half? If you asked me a week ago, I would have said no. I wanted to finish this race, be able to have said that I ran a half-marathon once in my life, and be done with long runs. Today, I admit I may have officially been bitten by the race bug. Although I really did hate some of my training runs, the accomplishment on race day makes it all worth it. I love the phrase, “Run because you can”. If I’m healthy enough in a few months, I think I’ll be signing up for another half!

A special thanks to Zooma for giving me this opportunity, and to the other ambassadors and Muscle Milk Light Challenge Participants for continually inspiring me to keep going!

IMG_0368

Posted in Fitness, Half-Marathon Training, Running | 10 Comments

Brazilian Cheese Bread {and Big News!}

Happy New Year! New year, new blog look! A special thanks to Holly of the Healthy Everythingtarian for giving away a blog header design and to Lindsay for hosting the giveaway!

Besides a few wordpress issues that prevented me from posting, a lot has happened in the past few weeks…

First, I ran my first 10k!

10k

Then I aced my finals for my first semester of grad school and hopped on a plane to New Hampshire.

After packing up all of Luke’s things to move him down to Texas, we drove up to Kennebunkport, Maine for a couple days. And then this happened…

Engagement

Engagement Kennenbunkport

We’re engaged! It was my dream proposal watching the most beautiful sunset we’ve seen in Maine. Talk about the best (early) Christmas present ever!

The day after the proposal we unfortunately had to leave Kennebunkport so that we could begin a week long road trip from New Hampshire to Houston, with stops in NYC, Virginia and Nashville. However, on our way back to New Hampshire, Luke insisted we stop at a new restaurant in Newmarket, NH – the Pao Cafe. Their speciality is sandwiches made with Brazilian cheese bread. If you’ve never heard of Brazilian cheese bread, it’s sort of like a popover but way better. I’ve had it many times at Brazilian steak houses and have always loved it.

What I didn’t know was how easy it is to make and the fact that it’s gluten-free. The secret ingredient is tapioca flour. Luke and picked some up and got baking!

brazilian cheese bread

Success on our first try!

This is seriously my favorite bread ever. Five ingredients and salt. Five minutes (or less) prep and 20 minutes in the oven. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to discover this in my kitchen! You won’t regret it.

brazilian cheese bread food processor

First, preheat the oven to 400 and put all of your ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well combined.

brazilian cheese bread pre baked

Then pour them into a muffin pan (about 2/3 full) and pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.

brazilian cheese bread cooling

Let them cool for about 5 minutes.

brazilian cheese bread

And enjoy!

Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2/3 cup grated cheese (any kind, fontina and cheddar work great)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into a greased muffin pan and fill each cup about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.
  5. Let cool for five minutes or so and enjoy!
Posted in Fitness, Gluten-free, Half-Marathon Training, Recipes, Running | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

The Christmas countdown has officially begun! I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, but I’m one of those people who likes to skip right over Turkey Day and move onto the most wonderful time of the year! I proudly admit that my decorations have been up for a couple weeks already. December is my most favorite month!

Though I’m not sharing a Christmas recipe today per say, it is green and would make a great side dish to bring to your holiday party…

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Bacon – yum!

It’s no secret that I love brussels sprouts, but this has definitely become my new favorite way to make them. I often make brussels sprouts shredded and sautéed (as opposed to simply roasted). While it is time consuming, I almost always prefer shredded sprouts to whole or halved sprouts. This recipe came about while I was experimenting in the kitchen. I decided to add a little brown sugar to the brussels sprouts to see if they would end up with a sweet and salty caramelized flavor.

It worked! The caramelized onions and bacon add just the perfect additional amounts of sweetness and saltiness. If you think you don’t like brussels sprouts, this is one of those recipes that might change your mind! Feel free to add nuts or dried cranberries – I think they would add some good flavors to the dish as well.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t the quickest recipe. Shredding brussels sprouts takes time and patience, but I find it worth it. I’ve also been told you can throw them in a food processor instead of shredding them by hand. I haven’t tried it yet, but if I do I’ll let you know if it works.

Again, if you don’t think you like brussels sprouts, try these! And if you do, well, you don’t need any convincing do you?

First, cook your bacon. Tear it into small pieces and set it aside. Then, dice an onion.

Use a little of the leftover bacon grease (or olive oil) to caramelize your onions. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and cook them over medium low heat for about 20-25 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your brussels sprouts! First, wash them, trim the ends off, and peel off the outer leaves.

Then, shred them! I cut mine in half first, and then slice as finely as I can.

Increase the heat on the onions to medium heat and add the shredded brussels sprouts and a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir everything around. Then add two tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt and the garlic powder. Continue stirring the sprouts around for about 5 minutes.

Then add the bacon bits and stir for another minute.

Enjoy!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • About 15 large brussels sprouts
  • 1 onion, diced and caramelized
  • 5 slices of bacon (turkey bacon works great too)
  • 2 tbsp and 1 tsp of brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. First, cook your bacon. Tear it into small pieces and set it aside.
  2. Dice an onion.
  3. Use a little of the leftover bacon grease (or olive oil) to caramelize your onions. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and cook them over medium low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, prepare your brussels sprouts! First, wash them, trim the ends off, and peel off the outer leaves.
  5. Then, shred them! I cut mine in half first, and then slice as finely as I can.
  6. Increase the heat on the onions to medium heat and add the shredded brussels sprouts and a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir everything around. Then add the remaining two tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of garlic powder. Continue stirring the sprouts around for about 5 minutes.
  7. Then add the bacon bits and stir for another minute.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
Posted in Brussels Sprouts, Gluten-free, Recipes, Sides | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

Good morning! I feel like I haven’t written a recipe post in ages. I’m back today with a super easy and healthy breakfast recipe that encompasses everything good about the fall season.

Pumpkin Oat Pancakes! (I had a bit of a photo failure here… Poured way too much maple syrup and the cinnamon came out super fast. I couldn’t wait to share the recipe though, so these photos will suffice for now!)

These gems are made from old fashioned oats, greek yogurt and pumpkin. As I said, healthy and delicious! In addition, they’re gluten-free. I made them on a whim last weekend and will definitely be making them again. There are many ways to add pumpkin to your breakfast, but this may just be my new favorite!

If you’ve never made oat pancakes, they’re a bit denser than regular pancakes – not as light and fluffy.

But equally tasty and as easy as 1, 2, 3!

First, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Then form the batter into desired shapes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, flipping every minute or two.

Top with maple syrup and cinnamon and enjoy!

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Pancakes

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Spoon the batter into desired shape and size onto a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Flip a few times until cooked through.
  4. Top with maple syrup and cinnamon and enjoy!
Posted in Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Half-Marathon Training and Giveaway Winner

Good morning! October has been a busy month. Last weekend was all about this lady’s wedding in Las Vegas:

Congrats again to Avigail and Charlie!

One big sister’s wedding down, and one to go – my sister’s wedding is in less than two weeks!

In between these weddings I’ve been writing papers like crazy. And running!

Speaking of running, it’s about time for an update on my Zooma half-marathon training.  After lots of googling and reading, I decided to follow one of Jeff Galloway’s training plans, specifically the Disney Princess plan (even though that’s not what I’m running). It seemed like the plan I could both best manage as a beginner and fit into my schedule. My major concern with the plan is that it only has you do a long run every other week and the distance jumps are a little high from week to week. I may modify the plan by doing a long run every week (for example, adding in a 4.5 miler in between the 4 miler week and 5 miler week).

My cross-training will be mostly yoga and barre classes this fall. I bought an amazon local deal for barre classes and I’m loving them! I’m always sore the next day. They also remind me of ballet and being a kid, making the classes more fun!

I skipped the first two weeks of the training program because I had been running consistent with those weeks already.  I began in week 3 which called for two 30 minute runs and one 4 mile run.

I would like to increase my speed a bit during the 30 minute runs, but my focus on the long runs is just to finish them. 4 miles was the longest I’ve run outdoors yet and I was very happy finishing in just under an 11 minute pace! Cooler weather definitely makes my runs easier. We got a cool front this weekend, so I ran my 4 miler with temperatures in the low 50s. I even busted out my long sleeves! I’m hoping the fall weather finally sticks around in Houston as it’s almost November.

10k Race

I signed up for a 10k (my first) in December to give me a “stepping stone” goal to work on before the half. On December 1st, I’ll be running the Trafigura Home Run. My goal will be to finish – and to finish in under a 12 minute pace would be great (but we’ll see!).

That’s about it for my training right now. I’ll try to update sporadically!

Handana Giveaway Winner

Lastly, the winner of the Handana giveaway is Jill! Jill, email me at afterdinnerdance@gmail.com with your mailing address and I will get your Handana out to you!

Posted in Fitness, Giveaway, Half-Marathon Training, Running | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese and WIAW #24

It’s time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday – I’m pretty excited to share my latest fall recipe this week!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Before we get to the rest of my eats, here’s the star of the show:

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese!

So delicious. And so easy to make. No need to get it from Dunkin Donuts or Trader Joe’s! What’s the secret? Pumpkin butter! It’s basically a two to one ratio of cream cheese to pumpkin butter and a bit of pumpkin spice. Here’s the recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese

Makes enough for 2 bagels.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin butter (recipe here)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Let cream cheese soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes (makes it easier to mix).
  2. Add the pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie spice and stir to combine.
  3. Enjoy!

Breakfast

Breakfast was a delicious sesame bagel from New York Bagels topped with pumpkin spice cream cheese. It was amazing after my 3.5 mile run! (By the way, if you missed Monday’s running post, check it out and enter the giveaway!)

Lunch

Lunch was a chopped spinach salad with apple, cheddar cheese, chicken, and walnuts. The first salad that I ever liked was from this place called Chop’t in DC. Basically, they chop up all of the ingredients really small so that you get a piece of everything in each bite. My recreation wasn’t quite the same, but it was decent.

Snacks

I had two afternoon snacks. The first was really good grapes from Central Market.

Later I had an apple topped with some pumpkin butter.

Dinner

Dinner was a soup made by my Mom with zucchini, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, sausage and quinoa. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was good!

Finally, I ended the night with a glass of sauvignon blanc and the presidential debate. And that’s what I ate Wednesday Tuesday! I’m off to Las Vegas tomorrow for a fun filled wedding weekend and, knowing the bride, lots of delicious food!

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes, WIAW | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments