Starting Over…Again

You heard that right…starting over…again.

Starting Over...AgainI think if you have not hard to re-start or change gears while doing what you want, you are a lair. I really do. Sorry! I think that we all face challenges in life that hold us back and tell us “It will happen, just not going this direction.”

 

I always get so pissed when that happens, and I need to take a step back and think about things. Sometimes I end up thinking way too much and never actually try again until it hits me and I think, “man, I have not done anything and you can really tell.” The other thing that makes me mad is that I am probably the last one to notice. Enter me just being pissed at myself.

So here I am, once again, starting over. I can honestly say that I have not, not done anything. I have gone for walks, I have joined the kickball team, and I have taken a run here and there. The problem is I have not been consistent with anything.  I hate not being consistent more than anything, but it is so hard to be consistent.

I get tired of all the people out there with the “no excuses” bull shit. I mean I am not coming up with excuses, it is legitimately hard. I am not trying to run during the day when I have two kids with me. They don’t want to be confined to a stroller, and honestly one is heavier than I would care to push in a stroller. I know there are other things that I could do, but I want to run.

I hate running with my kids. Yes, that is what I said. One gets twenty steps in and wants to walk. The other starts crying and whining about half a mile in. I can’t just leave them on the road we run on. I don’t feel that is my best parenting move.

I like it when my husband runs with me, but everything is on his terms. I have to be ready right when he gets home, and we never really know when he is coming home, so there is no real way to plan for it. Also if I am not 100% ready he is in a bad mood then, which translates to me being a bad mood because my crystal ball wasn’t working that day to realize I needed to start 20 minutes earlier than I did. I mean really?

I would love to run in the mornings before he goes to work. That is where I have found most of my success in morning running.  It is extremely dark here in the morning ( or at least is seems) to run before he goes. Plus if I go run, who does his breakfast and coffee? He might argue I don’t do it every single day, so it shouldn’t matter, but I do like to do it. I would love to get the girls up and run while they are getting ready, but I fear they don’t actually get ready, and if something were to happen and they are at the house alone….Ugh…I hate this. Can someone buy me a treadmill? That would solve this all.

Not really.

I have a horrible mind set that is easily defeated, and I am working on battling my way back – “excuses” and all, because I am sorry. Everyone that is spewing the “no excuses” bull shit, give them also. We are all human.

Anyone interested in joining me?

Get Happy – There’s An App For That!

Welcome 2013 – and To Getting Happy!  With the new day and age of so many things to make like easier it seems like people have become less happy – say what?! How does it happen?  People forget to be happy is what I think!  No worries though – need a subtle reminder? There is an app for that – it is called Get Happy!

I have been using this app for about 5 days and I love the fact that there are 4 different areas that you can use this app for – relationships, personal growth (my favorite), leisure and work/education.  There is definitely something for everyone within these four areas.

Within these groups you can rate where you feel you are at to start and from there it will give you different tasks to do, questions to ask yourself, or motivation for the day through regular push notifications. They come once a day so it is nothing that is overly annoying and actually makes me take a moment to remember that I want to Get Happy and this is my minute if getting happy and staying there!

Another great thing about the Get Happy app is that you can share it or email it with all your friends and share some happiness with the rest of the world.

To me the Get Happy app has brought a smile to my face with the fun reading and great insight to simple things that might have escaped me before. I can’t wait to see where I can get with the tips and tricks it brings! Now couldn’t use some help in Getting Happy?

Winter Delight: Easy Vegan “Beef” Stew

 With the weather cooling down here in the California desert (well, it’s only about 70 outside right now, downright chilly compared to the 85 of a few days ago), my mind tends to turn to comfort food. Soups and stews are among my favorite winter meals. And, because we are in the midst of the holiday season, the word “easy” becomes one of my favorites too. Not a whole lot of time to spare these days.

The “beef” in this vegan stew is seitan, which is made from wheat gluten. It has a wonderful meaty flavor and texture. You can either make it yourself (here’s a good recipe), or buy it pre-made.  I added a little spice to the stew by chopping up a Serrano chile, but feel free to skip it for a more traditional meal.

vegan stew

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 Jalapeno or Serrano chile (optional), seeded and chopped

2 cups seitan, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup red wine (optional, you can use more broth if you’d like)

1 teaspoon sea salt pepper to taste

1 cup kale, chopped or broken into bite size pieces

vegan stew

Directions

Preheat the oil in your skillet over med-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook and stir for two minutes.

Add the yellow pepper and serrano. Continue to cook for several more minutes until the veggies are soft.

Add the seitan and potatoes, and cook until both are slightly brown (about five minutes).

Add the broth, wine, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium. Add the kale and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by about 3/4 and the kale is tender.

Makes four servings.

Serve alone or with some warm crusty bread, seated by a roaring fire…well you get the picture. Perfect for a winter’s meal.

Stop by my website, Live from La Quinta, for vegan recipes, workouts, reviews and more!

Crock Pot Cooking: Healthy Black Bean Soup

It’s winter in Connecticut and that means it’s soup time! I love soups and stews of all kinds, but bean soups hold a special place in my heart. I love a good bean soup. The only problem – most recipes require overnight soaking of the beans. And, let’s face it, I’m just not that organized. Planning a whole day ahead for a meal doesn’t always work for me. To solve this problem, I’m always in search of bean soup recipes that don’t require pre-soaking the beans. I found a great one for black bean soup, but the flavor wasn’t quite right. A few tweaks, and my favorite black bean soup recipe was born.

It’s a great recipe for a few reasons. First, it’s customizable. It can be modified to accomodate a vegan or vegitarian diet. The soup is Cuban style, but not fully Cuban. Spiciness and flavor can be adjusted. It also isn’t terribly sensitive in terms of time. Leave it in the crock pot a little long and it will just have slightly mushier beans. This black bean soup keeps nicely in the fridge and can be frozen. Finally, the same method works for making great black beans to put over rice (yum!).

Without further ado, Rachel’s Crock Pot Black Bean Soup:

1 bag (16-oz) black beans, sorted and rinsed (but NOT soaked, dry)

1 cup finely chopped ham (and I mean really, really finely chopped. It’s going to turn black and you don’t want big black lumps. Also, this is totally optional. Eggplant and some types of squash make a great substitution.)

1 cup (or more if you like onion) finely chopped onion

1 large tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 medium, yellow or red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups broth of your choice (I use beef, but vegetable works fine)

1 3/4 cups water

1/4 cup dark rum or apple cider (I use apple cider and have even used an apple juice box and it didn’t seem to matter)

2 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

If you’d like a spicier soup, add in 1 finely chopped spicy pepper of your choosing. I like jalapeño, ancho, and adobe, but all have slightly different flavors. If you’re pressed for time, you can also toss in a little can of chopped green chiles.

Mix all the ingredients together in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Put the lid on. Cook on high for 6+ hours.

Simple, right?! I love it and hope you do, too.

 

4×4 Recipes for the Holidays

It’s officially November which means we are on the cusp of holiday season. Whether for your holiday party, your child’s coach, a cookie swap or just because, we all seem to enjoy baking during the holidays. As a very active person, I am always looking for ways to simplify my life, especially during this time of year. I’m guessing you are too, which is why I’d like to share with you my favorite four 4 ingredient dessert recipes. These aren’t just any desserts, though, they all have one added bonus for the health conscious.

Peanut Butter Cookies (Bonus: Gluten Free)

ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla

instructions:

-preheat oven to 350

-line large baking sheet w/parchment paper

-mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla on low speed (or by hand) until well combined

-scoop dough on baking sheet, flatten the dough balls w/fork, making a cross pattern on the cookies

-bake for 10-12 minutes until golden around the edges

-let sit for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Nutella Brownie Mini Muffins (Bonus: Great Recovery Snack)

ingredients: 1/2 cup nutella, 1 large egg, 5 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

instructions:

-preheat oven 350

-put liners in mini muffin pan

-combine nutella and egg in bowl, wisk until smooth

-add flour, wisk until blended

-spoon into muffin tin and sprinkle with hazelnuts

-bake 11-13 mins (tooth pick will come out w/ wet/gooey crumbs)

-cool on rack

Spice Cake (Bonus: Lycopene)

ingredients: spice cake mix, 10 3/4 ounce can tomato soup, 1/2 cup milk or water, 2 eggs

instructions:

-preheat oven 350

-grease and flour 9×13 pan

-mix ingredients on low speed just until combined

-mix additional 2 minutes on medium to high

-pour into pan

-bake 25 mins or until tooth pick can be removed clean

-cool on wire rack for 10 mins

-frost (optional)

Three Musketeers Bars (Bonus: Vegan)

ingredients: 4 cups (diary free) semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 carton (dairy free) whipped topping-thawed, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon flavoring of choice (almond, amaretto, mint, etc)

instructions:

-line 8 inch baking pan w/wax paper

-melt 2 cups chocolate chips in microwave (1 minute, stir, continue at 15 min intervals until melted)

-whip whipped topping according to directions

-add whipped topping to melted chocolate and beat until combined and fluffy

-spread into pan

-put in freezer for 30 mins

-remove from pan, cut into squares, return to freezer for another 30 mins

-melt 2 cups of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl (as instructed above)

-add coconut oil and choice of flavoring, stir until smooth

-dip frozen chocolate squares into melted chocolate mixture

-place finished bar on wax paper lined baking tray

-put tray in freezer and allow to set

 

Vegan Recipe: Avocado with Curried Beans, Kale, and Quinoa

After recent blood tests revealed that I have hypothyroidism and an elevated cholesterol level, a dietician suggested some changes that I could make in my diet to improve my health. As a vegan who tries to eat healthily, and as an athlete who runs, rides, and strength trains on a regular basis, I had felt somewhat confident that I was doing everything I could to ensure my excellent health. However after a long consultation, where I was asked about my current diet, supplements, and my exercise level, I was encouraged to try a few things.

vegan recipe

The dietician suggested that I reduce starchy carbs in my diet (okay, I love my potatoes and pasta), and add more vegetables. In addition to adding a couple of supplements, the thing that really knocked my socks off was her suggestion that I try going gluten free for a few weeks!

Carbs and gluten all gone in one swoop. My cereal, my rye toast, not to mention my beloved seitan, a vegan meat substitute that is made from wheat gluten. But, the RD thought that trying a gluten free diet for three weeks might help my cholesterol level as well as my thyroid function. But what really convinced me was that she said that it might help my migraines. Sign me up, I’m in!

I’m only on day two since my consultation. I’m still researching and looking for good sources of information and recipes that are vegan and gluten free. I decided to take a first step by making  a few small changes, like cutting out the cereal, reducing the amount of bread, and starting to read labels. I mean, I always read labels, looking for hidden animal products, but now I’m also looking for wheat, rye, and the other grains that contain gluten. I need a dictionary!

This recipe is my first purposely gluten-free dish. It’s pretty simple, but it turned out delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Avocado with Curried Beans, Kale, and Quinoa

vegan recipe

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (dry), prepared according to package directions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup kale, torn into small pieces, packed loosely

1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 or 2 medium avocados, halved

Directions

While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the spices, then add the kale. If the beans seem too dry, add a little water or vegetable broth. Cook until the kale has softened and the liquid is absorbed.

To serve, spoon quinoa onto plate.  Place one or two avocado halves on top. Spoon the curried beans on the avocados, then top with the cucumbers and tomatoes.

vegan recipe

 Now my questions for you, since I’m really new to this. Do you have any resources for gluten free and vegan information and recipes? Those of you who eat gluten free, do you have any suggestions?

Bra-mazing: My Epic Quest for the Perfect Running Bra Part 2

Need to catch up? Click here to read My Epic Quest for the Perfect Running Bra Part 1.

Not to be dissuaded by the mounting evidence that my boobs are just not runner-friendly, I continued my search. After reading about a million reviews online, I finally settled on the Moving Comfort Women’s Maia bra. The high cut seemed promising, and I figured the under wire support probably couldn’t hurt.

Three miles – check. Six miles – check. Ten miles – check. Twelve miles – EPIC FAIL.

Never has a bra injured me so much. While the straps stayed in place for the most part, leaving my shoulder blades relatively unscathed, the clasps in the back bent and started digging into my back so much that they ended up drawing blood. I was also chafed to the point of bleeding in the front, where the right under wire was rubbing. While I still take it on runs under 10 miles, this is the first bra that’s actually caused me pain while I was still running.

So close, though!

I felt defeated. I resigned myself to the fact that running is pain, and while others deal with bad knees and IT band syndrome, DD band syndrome is just my cross to bear.

Then, my running buddy recommended the Lululemon Tata Tamer II. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. I ordered a size up in the band because a lot of reviews complained that the fit was too tight, and waited for my latest investment to arrive. I happened to be heading out on a 13 miler the day after the Tata Tamer showed up at my doorstep, so I decided to take it for a test.

At mile three I met up with my running buddy, and I asked her to adjust the straps for me, just to be sure. Thirteen miles later, I arrived home pain-free. When I looked in the mirror, though, I noticed the familiar red marks on my shoulder blades. They looked and felt less severe than the Champion bra, but I was still doubtful that the Tata Tamer could get me through the marathon unscathed.

As I was reading through some more reviews about the bra, I realized that the straps could be crossed to have a sort of racer back effect. I caught my breath. Could this be it? The boob solution I’d been waiting for?

I had a 17 mile run and no better options, so I decided to test it.

The bra was a little difficult to navigate with the straps crossed, but once I wriggled into it, it felt comfortable and secure. I finished getting dressed and headed out for my run.

I have to admit, I was nervous, and not just because this was the longest distance my legs had ever run. This was the longest distance my boobs had ever run. I got inside and peeled off my running clothes, then went to the bathroom mirror to inspect the damage.

Nothing.

Not. One. Mark.

My shoulders were a little sore where the top of the straps pressed into them, but it was nothing a nice shoulder massage wouldn’t take care of. I stepped gingerly into the shower, anticipating a surprise sting.

Still nothing.

Could it be? Was my quest finally over? And had it really ended with a brand I had written off as more-trendy-than-functional women’s sportswear?

Yes.

Lululemon: You were right. I was wrong. And thank you for taming my tatas.

Bra-mazing: My Epic Quest for the Perfect Running Bra Part 1

I have boobs. And curves. And I love them.

One thing I don’t love is the stinging raw skin that results after a long run: chafing. I’ve written a bit about my battle (and tentative victory) over chafing here, but I still haven’t scaled the final “summit.”

Lubed to the max, I still returned from my longest runs chafed under my bra straps, a stinging surprise as I stepped in the shower. My boyfriend started calling them my “battle scars,” but I could tell he was not too thrilled with the price I was paying on my new fitness journey.

Thus began my epic quest for the perfect running bra.

I started simply enough, narrowing the field down first to sports bras for running (read: maximum support), then bras that come in bra sizes (not S,M,L), and finally, bras that come in my bra size.

My first pick was the Champion Double Dry Full Support Sports Bra. It was relatively inexpensive, looked pretty comfortable, and I’ve had good experience with Champion as far as moisture wicking. The bra did not disappoint … at first. My boobs were held in place, and the bra was pretty comfortable. But after about 8 miles (6 on a hot day), the straps started sliding around. When I got home, my back looked like a particularly mean cat had attacked my shoulder blades. The back of the band where the clasps are also rubbed against my middle back, although the damage

I tried tightening the straps, but to no avail. Either the weight of my boobs as I ran kept pulling at out the straps or they just couldn’t handle the sweat, because toward the end of my first marathon, one of the straps actually kept slipping off my shoulder. After that race, it was more about letting the skin on my back heal more than my leg muscles.

Then, while perusing the selection at a local running store, I came across the Moving Comfort Juno sports bra. ‘Ah ha!’ I thought, ‘Racer-back – that’s the answer to my prayers!’ I remembered reading somewhere that racer-back sports bras are good for bigger busts, so I grabbed my size, took a moment to appreciate the fact that the store actually had the bra in my size, and headed home for a test run.

I started off slow, just taking it out for a three-mile easy run.

Ouch!

I didn’t even need to break a sweat before the straps put giant welts on my shoulders. Again, I tried adjusting the straps (which was a little more difficult because they were Velcro), but to no avail. The seams on the inside of the straps were extremely rough and dug into my skin almost immediately. It doesn’t chafe if I tuck the collar of my shirt under the straps, but that’s just uncomfortable (although less uncomfortable than giant welts in my shoulders).

This wouldn’t be much of an epic quest if it could be summed up in one post, would it? Stay tuned for part 2!

 

Coffee Ice Milk

Coffee Ice Milk

Ingredients

2 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons instant coffee granules

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (4-ounce) carton egg substitute

1 cup evaporated skimmed milk

1/2 cup 2% low-fat milk

 

Preparation

Combine boiling water and coffee granules; stir well. Cover and chill.

Combine sugar, salt, and egg substitute in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add coffee; beat 2 minutes. Add milks; beat well.

Pour mixture into the freezer can of a 2-quart ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for at least 1 hour.

 

Amount per serving: Calories: 103, Fat: 6g, Saturated fat: 4g,Monounsaturated fat: 2g, Protein: 4g, Carbohydrate: 21g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 76mg, Calcium: 107mg

Tip – place 1 scoop of protein powder into the recipe and make it a protein ice cream.

Source: Cooking Light

Homemade Chocolate Protein Bar

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 scoop Action Whey Protein powder (or other organic PP)

2 TBSP Natural Peanut Butter

3 large egg whites

2 medium bananas, mashed

1 TBSP honey

7 TBSP almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Instructions:

Pre­heat your oven for 5 minutes at 350.

Mix the oats, the whey and the cinnamon.

Add the peanut butter and stir in thoroughly.

Add the egg whites, mashed bananas and the honey.

Add the almond milk slowly, while mixing thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into a greased lined cake tin and level with a knife.

Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting to reduce stickiness.

 

Cut into 8 bars.

Nutri­tional Info: Calories: 154 Protein: 10g; Carbohydrates: 21g Fat: 4g

 

 Source: Recipe: Total Body Fitness & Nutrition Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/reid-bee/5373946101/