The party never ends, but sometimes it pauses

The week after birthdays is usually a much-needed return to normalcy when it comes to food. I enjoyed every minute (and bite) of my birthday weekend, but with extra sodium, alcohol, and fried food, you couldn’t have paid me to try on my jeans on Sunday.

On the bright side, after all that indulgence, lots of greens and fruits and lighter fare taste all that much better now!

Also, since I worked from home today, I got to do a workout I haven’t been able to get to in a long time: indoor cycling! Man, what is it about cycling classes? You can be in great shape in every aspect of fitness, but after a month without a class it still kicks my butt every time.

AND I got this baby in the mail today!

This was one of my birthday presents to myself. Normally I just can’t bring myself to spend $15 for a jar of nut butter, but I’ve been pining over this for so long, and finally I gave in thanks to a sweet September discount in Kath’s Open Sky store. Thanks, Kath!

I tried a spoonful and it is as divine as she and Emily claim. I’m going to use it with breakfast tomorrow but I can’t decide with what! It had to be quick and something I can eat on the go, so I’m thinking drizzled over toast with banana slices will be my best bet.

Today was rainy and cozy, partially driven by the fact that I got to work from home Starbucks and curled up in my sweats with a cup of coffee all day. ❤ telecommuting.

And without my normal 1.5 hour commute home, I had time to cook a real dinner! Given the weather, chili seemed appropriate. After consulting a few recipes, and hoping they’d taste as good vegetarian, I just went with the spices and veggies we had around and came up with this:

Vegetarian White Bean Chili

White Bean Chili

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 seeded jalapeno pepper, finely minced (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

No special directions- just sautee your peppers, onions and garlic about five minutes or until soft, add your spices, then the beans and broth. I brought it to a simmer, then mashed up the beans and reduced the heat to medium. Easy peasy.

But these babies are my secret ingredient.

I don’t really know what they are; some kind of dried chili I think? I don’t know, I spotted them at the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market last spring and immediately saw their potential to spice up any Mexican recipe. I was right- a few of these ground up into any chili, taco mix, burrito, whatever, and my Mexican-in-another-life taste buds are happy.

Wish I knew what they were called, or else I’m in real trouble when I run out…

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Never an anti-climactic birthday

Well, that about wraps up an epic three days of birthday celebration. And let me tell you, it was a strong three days.

So, Friday afternoon: after work and a mini-workout, I showered and got ready for my birthday night in the ladies’ locker room and headed straight into DC. I met up with friends at Busboys & Poets, which was such a great choice.

The place had an awesome menu and an even better atmosphere. It’s actually a  “restaurant, bookstore, fair trade market, and gathering place” according to their website, and the decor included drawings of various civil rights leaders and revolutionary figures all over the walls.  They also have lots of vegetarian options on the menu. Basically Stephanie, in restaurant form.

We ate in the Langston Room, here’s a picture from their website since you can see the decor better than in my picture, which is packed with people.

Since birthday dinners are always a no-guilt splurge meal, my friend Melinda and I shared an order of sweet potato fries to start. They were heavenly. Seriously, best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. If you’re in DC, go here and order them, thank me later. I’m sure the side of sour cream for dunking didn’t hurt 😉

For dinner I got a poached-pear salad topped with crab cake, also delicious and uber filling. I was already over-the-top full when this little surprise came out:

I know, “Happy Bradday”? The waitress explained the mix-up but I didn’t really follow, or care, I was just escatic about the cake. We passed it around the table and everyone enjoyed a few bites- with something this rich, that’s all I could handle.

The restaurant is in the heart of the U-street corridor, which also has a lot of bars and clubs. It was a long, fun night, and somehow the half a sleeve of Ritz crackers I ate upon getting back to my friend’s apartment at 3 am killed a potential hangover!

The next day we headed out to Virgin Mobile Festival at around 11 am for a full day of non-stop music, dancing, and general fesitval-ing.

The whole day was amazing and I saw some amazing performances, but the completely unexpected event that made my birthday came at around noon when a friend-of-a-friend, whom I’d never met before, handed me a VIP pass. In the VIP area, we got to hang out with the artists and their crews between sets, and enjoy FREE, unlimited alcohol and food. Thanks, Naomi! Happy birthday to meeee

Around 6 pm, between shows we stopped back into VIP for water and drinks. All of the sudden, we see pounds and pounds of Alaskan King Crab legs thrown on a table, ours for the taking. I’d never seen crab legs like this- huge chunks of delicious crab meat the size of a golf ball, that you barely had to work for. I can get used to this sort of crab picking!

We left the VIP zone for good after that- live music was our #1 priority, after all. Luckily you can take VIP swag to-go.

We particularly enjoyed the “Dance Forest,” which is what they called the stage where all of the DJs/ dance music artists performed. Look, it really does look like a forest!

Finally around 11pm the day came to an end and we dragged ourselves home. We all compared notes on our “festival feet”- i.e. the layer of dirt and muck caked over your feet from dancing in fields all day. I’m so mad at myself that I forgot to take a picture of my feet before washing them off, because they were quite a sight.

Between walking in 4 inch heels for literally 21 hours straight on Friday (6 am- 3 am Saturday morning), then getting trampled over in concert crowds and busting all of my running and high-heel induced blisters, my feet are still in laughably poor shape.

At least now they’re clean, but I’m still rocking the open blisters and torn toenails. Thank goodness I decided against a birthday pedicure until after the festival- what a waste that would have been. But I am now fully ready to have un-funky feet for the first time since… well, a long time ago. I trained for and ran a half-marathon, give me a break!

If the birthday weekend was any indication, 22 is going to be a good year.

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Birthday dinner, round one.

I am officially 22 today. Yikes!

Determined to avoid an anti-climactic 22nd birthday, I have a fun-filled weekend planned. I hope to report back with lots of photographic evidence by Sunday, but for preview: Friday night dinner at Busboys & Poets. U-Street bar hopping. Rounded out by a Saturday filled with live music at Virgin Mobile Festival. Not bad, right?

Also, I’d like to thank the IT gods for breaking my desk computer yesterday, because I got to work from home today. Actually, Starbucks, but close enough.

No commute = three extra hours to myself on my birthday?! I’ll take that. Gave me time to do some of the lame girly grooming things I’ve been neglecting- e.g. eyebrow waxing appointment, bang trimming. And I actually got to enjoy one of my all-time favorite past times that I have missed so much since I started working: wandering aimlessly around the grocery store!

AND one of my nomadic musician friends who works at Starbucks once in a blue moon while he’s in town happened to be working- for the first and only day in months! So I essentially got to hang out with him all day while I worked.

AND the weather is hot and sunny, just how I like it, end of summer say what?! I tell ya, the universe was really looking out for me today.

For the family birthday dinner, instead of going out, we decided to order in from a casual Middle Eastern DC-area chain called Moby Dick’s. What a great choice, look at this spread:

I got the fish kabob (swordfish) over salad. The fish was awesome! My dad claims it was too salty, which is probably why I liked it. And why I’m always full of water. Such is life.

But the best part of eating Middle Eastern is drunking yummy bread into various unidentified, unpronouncable sides. In this case, homemade hummus (that one I can identify AND pronounce), plus various yogurt sauces (Mast-o Kheyar), and an incredible eggplant one (Kashk-o Bademjan)- definitely had to consult the menu for those.

And that bottle of red came from the Northern Virginia Wine Festival last weekend, some sort of blend from the Cardinal Point Winery called “Autumn Red.” Super fruity and *almost* too sweet for my taste, but actually delicious! Good choice, Pops 😉

I was pretty stuffed afterward but made room for a (semi) light dessert of angel food cake. My mom topped hers with whipped cream and strawberries, but I thought the batch of strawberries looked pretty lackluster, plus we have a few almost-past-their-prime peaches hanging around that I desperately want to use, since the season is now over 😦

So… compote!

I just cooked down a peach with some sugar, then threw it over the angel food cake with some whipped cream. Perfect!

I’ll report back after this weekend’s eating, drinking, and musical festivities. I really love that calories don’t count on your birthday, don’t you?

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Egg Connoisseur

The spring of my 3rd year of college, I studied abroad in Ireland. Dublin, more specifically, though I travelled all over the country.

Long story short, (and there will be many long stories about my semester abroad in future posts), between the euro-dollar exchange rate, and my desire to travel anywhere and everywhere in Europe that semester, I was broke. My food budget was extremely minimal, and I simply couldn’t afford the amount or type of groceries I bought in the states. So long, 100 calorie packs. Adios, frozen dinners. Avocados, see you in the states.

Ironically, for the most part, this budget made me a much healthier eater. I couldn’t afford any of the “convenience food” I had in the states. But even more so, eating in Ireland, and living abroad in general, clued me into something: simple food tasted better in Europe.

But again, that is another post for another day.

I first noticed this phenomenon with eggs. I had never been a huge egg eater in the states except on occassional weekend mornings, but eggs were the ultimate Irish budget food, so I tried them out for dinner.

Oh. my. word. They were so good. I ate eggs every which way, probably 2-3 times a week for an entire semester and was perfectly content.

So imagine my surprise when, about a month after I returned to the states, I craved an Ireland-style egg dinner. For some strange reason, these scrambled eggs left me unsatisfied. I thought maybe I had just overdosed on eggs while abroad. I didn’t try it again for months.

Then, back at UVA, I solved the mystery. A friend of mine, a Charlottesville native, had a farm house out in the mountains that we visited one weekend. Before we left he gave all of us a dozen eggs from the family’s chicken coup. I made some for dinner that night and realized THESE were the eggs I had been missing! Farm fresh eggs obviously taste better than the ones from the grocery store, but in Ireland, ALL of the eggs are farm fresh. I was so spoiled.

I should have realized this when I saw that eggs in Europe don’t require refridgeration. I only just found out that when eggs travel less than a certain distance from their farm, they don’t need it. Freshness = taste, duh!

So now, some people call me an egg snob. I prefer “connoisseur.” I pretty much only eat eggs that I buy from a farmer’s market, otherwise they’re just not worth it to me. This is why it’s so upsetting when I can’t get to a market for a few weeks in a row, because if I run out of eggs, I can’t just run to the store to get them!

Thankfully, that wasn’t the situation this morning. I prepared some delicious farm eggs in one of my favorite styles: poached!

Now, I’ve never understood the need for an egg poacher, unless you’re cooking a lot of eggs at once. I am not the best at handling eggs (every omelette I attempt turns into a scramlette) but this fool proof method works every time.

Steps to perfect poached eggs:

1) Boil about 5-6 inches of water, enough to cover your egg.

2) Crack 1 egg into a bowl

3) when your water is boiling, pour in about a teaspoon of vinegar- this makes the egg cook together

4) Set your timer for 2-3 minutes; 2 if you like a runny yolk, 3 if you want it firmer

5) While the egg cooks, toast a piece of bread

6) When your timer goes off, remove the pot from the burner and drain into a colander or remove with a slotted sppon.

Now, today I had a slight hiccup during step six. Look at this beautiful runny yolk, just running down my kitchen sink 😦

But, I am repeatedly convinced that everything happens for a reason, because when I dried my tears and cracked another egg, look what happened: DOUBLE YOLKS!!

It’s going to be a good day.

After I repeated the above steps with the superior egg, I completed the steps: place the poached egg on a piece of toast (some people butter it, I don’t think it matters, to each his own), top with black pepper, and if you’re like me and you have a problem with hot sauce addiction, top with tabasco.

Too runny? Not for me!

You know, all this egg talk has inspired me to do something I always say I’m going to do, and never actually do. Since I have no time to sit down for breakfast during the week and am confined to smoothies or pb&j on toast that I can eat on the way to work, the only way I could eat eggs for breakfast Monday-Friday is to hardboil them ahead of time and take them on the go. I’m going to do that now.

Wowie. I think this means I’m an adult now. What’s next- chopping veggies for the week to save time on dinner? Planning my weeknight menus ahead of time ? Going to the grocery store with a list instead of meandering around Whole Foods for an hour?!

Yikes, I’m growing up.

… But not quite. I did spend all day yesterday at a wine festival with unlimited tastings, and instead of snapping pics of what I actually ate, just marveled at the 18 inch corn dogs and frisbee sized funnel cakes for sale.

Thankfully, some things will never change.

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Leisure sweat

So I’ve been referencing my complete and total lack of free time, e.g. leaving the house at 6:15-6:30 AM and returning after 8 PM. Then this afternoon I realized: I have not had a workout shorter than 90 minutes in the last three weeks. Between half training and 1.5 hour yoga classes at a studio 40 minutes from my house,  no wonder my days are so long, sheesh!

As a result, it felt so amazingly good to have a simple, short workout today. One where I was sweaty but not drenched, heart rate up but not gasping for breath. A “leisurely sweat session,” if you will. I think anyone who considers themselves an athlete at times feels pressured to push themselves intensely during every workout. Today, when I completed an easy 35 minute jog with no mileage or time goal in mind, it felt WONDERFUL. Sometimes I need to ease up on myself and appreciate what a 4 mile run and 15 minute ab session is: a good workout! Even if I’m not exhausted afterward.

Anyway, the quick workout got me home a precious 45 minutes earlier, which meant I actually had time to help throw together dinner! It was a good one, too.

It’s squash season again!! Even though I’m sad about the summer fruits that are going out of season- R.I.P. til next year, peaches 😦 – I do love me some squash, and PUMPKIN! Pumpkin is definitely my fall/winter version of peaches: a favorite, a staple. a go-to, an obsession.

Tonight we made squash fries, which are really just strips of squash tossed in EVOO, garlic gold nuggets, pepper, and I think some cumin? Baked at 400 degrees, then broiled for the last few minutes of cooking.

I read somewhere (I think in a kale chip recipe) that when you’re baking or roasting veggies, you shouldn’t season with salt before they’re cooked; apparently it draws out the water and makes them soggy? It makes sense, it just seems like such a common thing to season with salt beforehand so I’m not sure.

The shrimp had great flavor (another simple marinade of EVOO, red pepper flakes, and garlic pepper) but the texture was a little off. It is so hard to keep shrimp from getting dry or chewy! Usually grilling is pretty fool proof, but we did these in the oven using a grill basket and I still think they were a little over done. Maybe 30 seconds less next time.

Oh, and some morrocan couscous too, with slivered almonds on top. Made from a box- I know, I know.. shameful.

Oh, also, Tine forgot to send me these gems from the half marathon

That’s me limping zooming across the finish line!

Not sure when this was.. maybe an announcement at the finish line while we were running.

I added them to the race post, and also edited the language. Who WAS that person who couldn’t seem to construct a properly spelled, grammatically correct sentence in that post? I swear I have an English degree. I promise it wasn’t the Starr Hill, I only had one! Oh well, maybe one shouldn’t blog on the brink of exhaustion. Also my “o” key is broken so you’ll see a lot of “oo” typos until I get it fixed, sorry!

Return to yoga tomorrow night, perhaps? Gotta get my $$’s worth from that 30 day pass while I can!

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Not a half-marathon, just a 13.1 mile foot cruise

It’s really no big deal when you think of it like that, right?

Alright, here’s the lowdown:

My day started bright and early at 6 am- ahh, nothing like sleeping 45 minutes later than usual for a relaxing Saturday.

I fumbled around very haphazardly and got dressed, emailed my Pops and sister the race location, got my eats together, and hit the road. After a lot of deliberation about the best pre-race fuel, here’s what I went with:

Ok, why is it that every running blog or article I read mentions a banana as part of a pre-race meal? I know bananas are great- full of vitamins, sugary enough for a lot of energy but still a fruit, etc- but seriously, I wonder what percentage of runner’s in the New York City marathon eat a banana the morning of the race. I bet at least 50%, min.

I succummed to the hype, but obviously smeared mine with PB. (Wegmans Organic- good, cheap, but not my fav).

And a Ginger CCNO bar. I’ve already documented my belief that these bars have legit super powers because of how energetic they make me feel during runs, and today was no exception.

Plus coffee-to-go, obviously. Had to scale down from my usual 21 oz though, couldn’t have all that sloshing around in my stomach- not to mention wasting time with pee breaks!

Now, the race. The location was beautiful- straight up and down the C&O Towpath along the water in Georgetown. Scenic, flat, and perfect weather to boot.

The actual race was called the Abebe Bikila Day International Peace Half-Marathon, sponsored by the High Cloud Foundation.

Abebe Bilika day also coincides with the anniverary of September 11th, and they rang a bell 184 times before the race for each victim of the Pentagon plane. As a native New Yorker and a current DC-area resident, I appreciated the gesture.

And then, we were off! The first mile or two were so crowded I could barely run. I figured I could easily make up the time later, but I guesstimate my first mile took 11 (!!) minutes- that’s a lot of time to recover.

As a first time half-er, people constantly warn you about starting too fast and crashing later. I was super paranoid about this , and I ran the first five miles far too slow- my first half was about 10 minutes longer than my second half. Also, next time I’ll start closer to the front, as it wastes a lot oof time just getting around people (it was a pretty narrow trail).

Luckily the trail was flat and very scenic. I love the DC waterfronts. My life will be infininitely better once I move into the city. Sigh.

Things got tough around mile 8, after I finally worked up to my race pace, albeit a little too late.  Whenever you tell a marathoner that you’re running your first half marathon, they swear that you’ll get “the bug.” “Oh trust me, you’re not going to want to stop at a half- soon you’ll have to do a whole one!”

Now, that might be true for some. But after I ran about 12 miles, I can’t say I had a strong desire to run 14.2 more. Sorry.

I cruised over the finish line at 1:51:20. 20th out of about 150 females!

I heard my Dad cheering from me from the bridge as I finished, which felt great. He, my sister Christine, and her fiance Ian came to see the finish. And brought me sunflowers!

My “No Meat Athlete” shirt just arrived on Wednesday. I wasn’t sure if I should wear it to the race or not; I pride myself on not being one of “those vegetarians” that push their beliefs onto others. But I emailed Emily about it since she’s run a ton of races, asked a few enthusiastically carnivorous there opinion on the shirt, and everyone gave it a thumbs up. I’m glad I went for it.

We all went for breakfast at an adorable little french bistro on M street in Georgetown, but I’m not even going to talk about it because I had zero appetite and was very unhappy about it. I’ll just go back.

But, I did have grand plans for dinner that night. I’ve always thought pizza and beer sounded like the perfect “reward meal” after a race, even more quintessential than the pasta dinner the night before. But, let’s be honest, I can do better than Domino’s and Bud Light. So I made a very Stephanie-esque “pizza and beer” feast myself 🙂

On the way home I made a rare stop at an out-of-the-way Great Harvest (hey there, KERF!) because I thought they sold pizza dough, but no such luck. Got a free slice of some delicious feta and spinach bread though, so not a total loss. Oh well, onward to TJ’s for their whole wheat dough.

I made a recipe I read on Jenna’s blog awhile ago that I thought looked delicious, Cheesy Zucchini Pizza. I wasn’t wrong. Jenna, thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this pizza into my life. It was divine and totally hit the spot. Note the red pepper flakes on my half, none on the other- my dining companion couldn’t take the heat.

Topped off with an old favorite, Starr Hill Jomo. Partly because I was sad about missing Top of the Hops in Cville, partly because I love this beer- brings back good college memories. I don’t know whether it was the race, or the fact that I haven’t had a good beer in awhile, but I don’t think a beer has ever tasted so good.

Note the sunflowers that Tine and Ian got me in the background 🙂 Thanks, guys!

Here’s her recipe, altered very slightly:

Cheesy Zucchini Pizza That Will Rock Your Face

2 large zucchinis
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
sea salt
8 oz. spinach
pepper
red pepper flakes
ground flax (for baking sheet)
Trader Joe’s pizza dough: either regular or whole wheat.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Either dust flax on a baking sheet (or pizza stone–even better!) or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Grate the zucchinis and press with paper towels to soak up the liquid.  Grate the mozzarella and mix in the zucchini, add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and garlic. Julienne about a cut of baby spinach and stir into the cheese mixture.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Work the pizza dough into whatever shape your heart desires. Spread the ricotta cheese on top and then top with the zucchini mixture. Add some pepper flakes if you like spice in your life. Reduce oven temperature to 450 and bake pizza for about 12 minutes, or until the crust begins to turn golden and the cheese has started to bubble.
Pizza & beer with a gourmet twist = perfect post-race dinner. Happy tummy, happy tummy.

All in all, I was happy with my time, but I think I culd have pushed myself a little harder, especially in the beginning. But with any first event there are rookie mistakes, so I’m confident I can improve pretty easily. I admit I don’t have the marathon bug yet, but I know I’ll do it sometime in the next few years. For this race season, 13.1 is ok with me 🙂

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The last supper

Getting nervous!

Luckily the post work bike ride was exactly what I needed to calm down, get outdoors, and just MOVE a little bit- no running while sitting at a desk all day makes me feel like such a blob. I didn’t want to tax my muscles this week, but I still wanted to use them 🙂

So me and my old buddy Curt hit the W&OD trail for a quick 8ish miles.

Sadly still no bike of my own (I’m working on it…) but luckily I have wonderful neighbors.

Curt is also one of my first friends to know about the blog- hope he’s not judging me too hard, he does think I’m a bit of a nut though 🙂

When we got home I cooked a solo dinner for myself. I don’t think carbo-loading is really necessary before a half-marathon, so I just planned a normal dinner. I was going to make salmon burgers, but when I saw the produce options in the fridge, black bean burgers made much more sense:

I’ve tried many a black bean burger recipe in my time, but really, I’ve learned there’s not much method to the madness. You need to know the basic process, but you can alter the spices and sauces however you want to suit your taste. But here’s my technique:

Black bean burgers (2):

1/2 can black beans

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

2 tbsp bread crumbs or panko

2 tbsp chopped chili pepper

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

To taste:

Red pepper flakes

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Hot sauce

Cumin

…. etc.

First, start with a can of beans and drain out all that unnecessary sodium- see the ugly yellow colander in the background?

Next, chop your onions, bell pepper, and chili and add those. Squeeze in some fresh lime juice.

Mash everything up with a potato masher. Looks super ugly, doesn’t it? Yours should too.

Next, form two patties and grill on a Pam-ed or olive oil-ed skillet. While I normally vouch for outdoor grilling as the superior method to cook anything, bean burgers are notoriously delicate and is there anything sadder than having your dinner fall through the grill grates? For these,  stick to the skillet, my friends.

For the finish touches, I toasted an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin and threw on some sliced avocado. Then, at the last minute I remembered I had this stuff left over from my venture into Peach Paradise aka the Eastern Shore of Maryland!

So. good. I must find a version of this that I can buy year round. Preferably sold somewhere slightly more convenient than an Eastern Shore farm stand.

With some of last night’s butternut squash-

As much as I would like to write all about my plans/strategy/excitement/anxiety about tomorrow, I think it would be better for me to just relax, unwind, and fully update you all tomorrow. See you (well) after the finish line!

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Tapering shmapering

Ahh, a rare peak into my lunchtime eats. Documenting my weekday breakfasts and lunches probably wont become a pattern, for various logistical reasons. But, I bring some version of this guy for lunch approx 3x a week. Sometimes I get crazy and use some chick peas instead of tofu- only if I’m feeling extra spunky that day.

Today’s bowl (tupperware?): Baby spinach, red onion, orange bell pepper, baby carrots, Indian masala tofu (!!)

Isn’t that tofu crazy looking?! I got it last weekend in Cville at Integral Yoga Natural Foods (oh how I miss you) while I was stocking up on Twin Oaks tofu. It was pretty pricey, $3+ for this package compared to the $1 something I paied for a big old block of Twin Oaks garden herb (<3), but it was yummy! And gotta love when you don’t have to season or press it at all.

This was my first time using raw tofu, but when I stood at my fridge at 10:30 last night, teetering with exhaustion and soo tempted to just go to bed and pack a lunch in the morning, anything that required sauteeing-baking-roasting-microwaving was clearly out of the question. I spotted this stuff, unopened, and saw “enjoy raw on salads.” Ding ding ding, we have a lunch!

… and my Lululemon water bottle, just for fun. My coworkers know me too well- they got me this guy at the end of my internship last summer. It’s secretly why I came back to the company once I graduated 🙂 But seriously, who doesn’t love daily inspiration on their water bottle?

And now, my grand plans for getting my race packet a day in advance, cooking a nice dinner, and resting have gone out the window. Tapering, shmapering, it is too nice to stay in doors! I don’t think a short bike ride will hurt my half marathon time too much, and if it does- well worth it. Off to hit the trails via two wheels!

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And the winner is…

*** Dancing Mind Yoga! ***

After being a self-proclaimed nomadic yogi in the last month or so since I left Charlottesville, I have “auditioned” several different yoga studios in NOVA and I’ve found a winner.

Well, for the next 30 days, at least.

As I wrote on Friday, I tired this place out for the first time on a whim and really liked it- it was the most torturous best workout I’ve ever gotten from a yoga class, and it’s super cute. But what sold me ono the next 30 days is their intro month deal- $50! For a studio that charges $18 for a drop in, that is a steal.

I decided this deal presented itself at the perfect time. Both Kath and Emily have blogged recently about really commiting to a more frequent practice, at least for a short period of time, to see if I notice the alleged benefits of a daily practice.

Well, I don’t know if I can make it daily. I would miss running too much. But that’s another reason I want to try this.. a fear that has held me back from really committing to yoga is that I would gain weight from substituting yoga for cardio. But, hot vinyasa flow is such a good workout that I’m willing to give it a try. After the half marathon, my body c ould use a break from cardio now more than ever.

So, no promises on a daily practice (the studio is also oretty far from my house and I have soome busy weekends coming up), but still- I will get my money’s worth from this inro month if it kills me.

Another result of the timing/location of Dancing Mind classes: I don’t get home until aroound 8:30, soo dinner was another five-minutes-of-cooking-time-or-less sort of affair. Forgive me.

BUT, as far as frozen meals go, I gotta say… Amy knows her stuff. This is the absolutely only brand of frozen dinners I eat not just out of convenience, but because they actually taste really good. Obviously eating fresh is a million times better, but the ingredient list is  not at all scary (all-natural, organic everything). The Indian flavors are the best.

Oh Amy, I can’t tell you how many times you’ve saved me from a dinner of PB&J… not that there’s anything wrong with that. But really, I (and my tummy) appreciate it.

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the second commandment of half-marathon training is..

2) Thou shalt taper.

And do lots of yoga in the process 🙂

As hard as it is for me to take multiple days off from running, I know it’s necessary before the race.  After rest days my legs always feel amazingly energized, and that’s the feeling I need to have on Saturday.

More on the yoga-tapering strategy later, but for tonight, another quickie dinner post: breakfast for dinner! Protein pancakes are one of my personal faves any time of day- they’re quick, filling, healthy, and fun! PAncakes always bring back good childhood memories of making mickey mouse cakes with my Pops, or good college memories of  ordering pancakes during brunch while nursing a wicked hangover and cursing my lack of self control the night before. Moving on.

Regular IHOP-style pancakes are great, but they’re pretty much empty carbs and sugar, so if I want healthy pancakes (and, of course, sometimes I don’t- in which case Bisquik works quite well), you gotta add some protein! There are recipes for theseguys all over the internet, but I’ve experimented with a bunch and here’s what I like best:

Potein Pancakes

1/2 cup egg whites

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp. sugar or slenda

1/2 cup frozen, warmed berries with their juices as a topping OR sugar free syrup OR a dollop of low fat whipped cream 🙂

Directions
1. Blend first four ingredients until smooth (I use the magic bullet)
2. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto heated griddle
3. When pancakes bubble in the middle, flip and cook the other side
4. Top with frozen fruit, warmed and sliced and poured over the top with their juices.

You can get creative with the toppings. Light whipped cream is one of my all-time favorite food products, so often I jst whip out a can of that instead of syrup or fruit. Greek yogurt mixed with a little honey and smeared over top also does the trick. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

Please, go make these if you haven’t tried them before. I won’t say you’ll never miss IHOP (sometimes you just need the real thing), but I eat these pretty regularly and guilt-free pancakes are a handy weeknight meal.

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