Wednesday, November 3, 2010

4 months later

It's been four months since my last confesion...

Well I'm not catholic, but it certainly feels like I have some confessing to do.  I have been working too much, eating too much and not exercising enough. 

I'm turning 29 in a couple of days and I would like to make sure I'm my healthiest self by the time I'm 30.  So I really need to make my health a top priority. 

All your blogs are super motivating, so step one for me will be to start back up reading your posts. 

I'll be back later with hopefully an exercise update. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recipe: Crunchy Granola

Over that past few years I have been playing around with different breakfasts.  One of my favorite is yogurt with fruit and granola.  The problem with granola purhcased at the store is often pricey and loaded with fat and sugar.  Making it at home gives you the freedom of controlling the sugar and fat and including exactly what you want. 

I found a recipe on the New York times website over a year ago and have been modifying it ever since. 

I made a new batch of this granola this past weekend and have been enjoying it for breakfast all week. 

This batch included:
- 3 cups of rolled oats
- 1 cup of nuts and seeds (I just take a measuring cup and added random nuts - this batch had almond slivers, walnuts, pumkin seeds and sunflower seeds). 
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons agave
- salt
- vanilla
- cinnamon

Step 1: Mix all ingredients together

2) Bake at 425 for 40 minutes or so.  Stir midway.  Watch carefully because it can burn quickly.

3) Store in a dry cool place.  This will be good for a month or so. 

4) Enjoy!
This is really tasty and it is fun because you can mix up the ingredients any way you like it. 

What are your favorite ingredientes for granola?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One step back

Hello to all my loyal reader.  I'm sorry I haven't posted in the past week.  I was hit by the trifecta of blog road blocks: super stress at work, a broken camera and a barrage unhealthy choices.

After missing a couple of posts, I noticed my choices get worse and worse.  So I really think the blog has been helping keep me motivated.  My plan of attack is to take Friday off from work and enjoy a fabulous four day weekend, fix my camera or purchase a new one, and get back to posting! 

Even more importantly I'm going to get back on track with my running program  and make sure to eat lots of fruits and veggies. 

Thanks for being here wonderful blog world! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op

The ten o'clock news on abc last night had a segment on"environmentally sustainable" restaurants.  The Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op just announced the initial group of restaurants.  This co-ops mission is to group together to make sustainable options more feasible for local restaurants. 

This is the list of restaurants currently in the co-op:

Big Jones
Bleeding Heart Bakery
Blind Faith Cafe
Dining Room at Kendall College
Frontera Grill
Keefer's Restuarant
Poag Mahone's
Roti Mediterranean Grill
Simone's Bar
Sopraffina Marketcaffe (5)
Trattoria No. 10
Uncommon Ground (2)

Amazingly one of the restaurants on the list, Sopraffina is in the lobby of my office building and Roti is just one block away.  Both of these lunch places are super tasty, but I could never get out without spending at least $10.  Knowing they support environmentally sustainable practices, I will be more willing to drop a little extra mullah! 

I'm really excited about this news and think I need to visit the Frontera Grill and sample some Rick Bayless cuisine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fleet Feet's Women's 5K, 10K & Festival

It's been a little over a week since my half marathon and I am ready for a new challenge.  I really want to get faster and while the long races to give me a great sense of accomplishment, they deter me from the speed training I need to do if I want to get faster. 

I signed up for the Fleet Feet's Women's 5K which is on July 18th.  So I have about a month to train to try and get my speed up.  My first and only 5K time was 34:28.  I really want to get my 5K time to under 30 minutes.  This might be agressive for this timeline, but there will always be another race.  A PR would be fantastic!

I also joined a Summer Hockey Mixer, so I will be playing hockey 1-3 times per week for the next couple of months.  Hockey is a very sprinty sport and after doing mainly longer runs the past couple of months, I have noticed that I am a bit slower on the ice than ussual.  So speed work should help more than just my running.  I also want to incorperate a step class here and there because they are so much fun and a great workout.   

Knowing I wanted to play hockey and do step, I was worried that I wouldn't have time to run enough to get my speed up.  Bobbi at NHerShoes just posted about how she trained for a marathon and got a Boston qualifying time while just 3 running days a week, so I'm going to try to incoperate some of her tips.   
This is a rough outline of a schedule.  The Hockey nights are pretty set in stone, but the other nights might switch around a little.  I'm also going to try to fit some weights in.
Basically in addition to other workouts I am going to try to have 1 sprint workout, 1 tempo run and 1 long run per week. Sprints will be a good warm up and cool down with 1-2 minute followed by 1-3 minutes recovery with probably 4-10 total sprints. Tempo runs will be 3 miles at a fast pace - hopefully they will get faster and faster. Long runs will be 5-6 miles.

Have you increased your speed as a runner?  How?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cedar Valley Sustainable Meat Share

After seeing Food Inc, I knew I wanted to purchase meat that didn't come from the large CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations).  I looked on the Internet and found several meat CSA's that deliver locally.  I ended up choosing Cedar Valley Sustainable because they raise chicken, pigs and cows, so we'll get a nice variety. 

I picked up our first package from Cedar Valley last week, which was perfect timing because I was just finishing reading Omnivore's Dilemma, which really left me wanting to support local sustainable farmers.  This is what we got in our first month's share. 
1 dozen eggs
2 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 lb Italian sausage
1 package bacon
1 large chuck roast
2 half chickens
1 whole chicken

I was really excited to try this meat because I had heard that farm raised/ free range/grass fed meat tasted better.  First off this weekend I made some meatballs.  I used the pound of ground pork and mixed it with 3/4 of a pound of ground turkey.  These turned out great, but meatballs always taste great to me. 

For dinner Saturday night we had one of the half chickens marinaded in BBQ sauce on the grill.  I think we might have cooked these on too high heat, so they ended up a little oddly cooked.  I'm hoping the next chicken we make comes out better because this was a little disappointing.

Yesterday morning, I broke into the bacon and eggs.  I like my eggs cooked hard and these were tasty but no super fresh farm taste.  The bacon was different looking out of the package, but it was super tasty (although I think all bacon is super tasty). 
TJ liked his breakfast too. 
So while I have yet to try all of the different sustainable farm meat, I have to say I don't think the taste is much different than what we are used to.  Well the chicken was different, but definitely not better.  I think we are so used to the commercially raised meat anything that taste different will take some getting used to.  So for now we can be happy that we are supporting local farmers.  Perhaps our taste buds will change to enjoy these meats more. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: Omnivore's Dilemma

I have been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma for the past couple weeks, and I think everyone should read this book.  I'm going to be giving several of these books out for Christmas or maybe forth of July because this book is seriously eye opening and everyone should know this stuff. 

Michael Pollan takes the reader through the American food industry examining the inputs to four separate meals:
1) McDonald's fast food
2) Organic dinner made from purchases at Whole Foods
3) Dinner made from locally & sustainably produce food
4) Dinner made from foods personally grown, foraged or hunted

Most of us 'aware' consumers know that the food that goes into McDonald's empire is not ethically raised by any sense of the imagination.  Unfortunately I don't think the masses understand the extent to how unethical the production of this "Food" is. 

The entire perfection of nature is turned inside out to make things "cheaper" and quicker for right now.  The true cost of production is not taken into account.  Following the meat for a McDonald's hamburger was one of the most upsetting things in this book.  Cows are forced to eat corn which makes them sick and in need of constant antibiotics because corn is cheap(thanks to government subsidies).   

Surprisingly, when Michael starts tracking back the organic food people purchase at Whole Foods, the reader sees that consumers aren't getting what they expect.  While no(or very little) pesticides are used in producing their food, the practices are not sustainable at all when production is at such a massive level.  Whole Foods does not buy from the local farmer, but from the massive farms in California, Chile and Argentina (for example). 
The way Michael explains why massive organic farming isn't sustainable is by sharing his experience spending a week at a very sustainable farm Polyface.   Joel Salatin, one of the farmers of Polyface, shows Micheal's the ins and outs of his farm.  He explains how the cows and the chickens and the pigs all work together over the same land to create a perfect equilibrium. 
While the cows eat the grass, their manure fertilizes the fields which produces grubs that feeds the chickens who spread out the manure to better fertilize the fields.  It is all a big circle and becomes hard to see which piece is feeding the next.  Over a generation of farming Joel, his father and his son have developed movables chicken coops and cow pastures to optimize the symbiotic relationship. 
While reading this book, I became so upset with myself.  I understood how terrible the mainstream meat production was, but I still wanted this food.  My brain doesn't want to support this, but my stomach is still hungry for convenience.  I love to eat out, but I know 99.9% of the restaurants are buying antibiotic pumped meat and pesticide covered produce. 

I am working on changing my families habits so we can support local farmers.  After watching Food Inc, I felt it was important to vote with my dollars.  This book made me understand where I really want to put those dollars.  I don't feel like I have given this book justice, so please just read this book.  Michael is so good at explaining everything. 

Please support your local farmers.  There are more and more of them and with more demand, this 'opt out' option will get bigger and bigger.  Check out to find local farmers and CSAs. 

Have you read this book?  If so, what did you think?