It’s National Running Day!

Hi, friends!

Happy National Running Day! In honor of today’s holiday, I thought it would be fun to share some of my running faves. From shoes and fashion, to pre-run eats and motivational mantras, check this out before you lace up your your next run!

Sneakers

Prior to my latest pair of running shoes, I was a diehard Saucony fan. I believe my last 4 pairs of running shoes were Saucony. It’snot to say that I have gone completely to the other side, but after my curiosity about Brooks got the best of me, I finally caved and gave them a try. And, survey says…I really, really love my Brooks Ravennas. They are super lightweight, very comfortable and the perfect fit for my mild pronating, stability-needing feet.

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Fashions

Does anyone else think there’s just something super fun about running in a skirt? Maybe you runner guys don’t, but I sure do! I far prefer running in one of my adorable running skirts, like this hot pink number, than any of the running shorts I have. It swings with my movements, doesn’t ride up and simply adds a little spring to my step. This was the “outfit” I rocked during the NYC Marathon. Love, love, loved it!

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Pre-run Eats

My go-to pre-run snack or meal, pretty much anytime of day, includes just 3 ingredients—whole-grain toast (or English muffin), almond butter (or PB) and a banana. I eat this about 1 hour before lacing up, and it has never left me down. If I’m tackling a longer run, I eat this and re-fuel as needed, but for an every day, mid-distance run, the balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat in my nut butter-banana sandwich does the trick.

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On the Run Eats and Drinks

By trial and error, I discovered that the best long-run fuel for me is plain ole’ water and strawberry Clif Shot Blocks. This is the formula that fueled me through my marathon training routine and much of the race. On race day, I also ate a few half bananas toward the end of the race. For water, I use this Camelbak hydration pack rather than staging water everywhere and/or planning my runs around every gas station and supermarket in town. I can’t deny that I was skeptical about how comfortable it would be, but after completing one very well-hydrated run with it, I was hooked. Too bad I wasn’t able to use it during the marathon and had to learn to drink on the run the hard way. The hard way = sloshing water in my face AND up my nose at the first hydration stop. Ha! :)

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Race Memories

I’ve completed an array of races in my history including countless 5 and 10Ks, 2 halfs and 2 sprint triathlons, but nothing compares to the New York Marathon. It was my first marathon and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that tested me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. In a word, incredible.  Check out my race recap, here.

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Jams

Nothing quickens my pulse and gives me a burst of energy than hearing one of my all-time fave songs on a run. Yes, I am one of those people that relies on a very well-orchestrated playlist while running. I probably have a few too many favorites to count, so I have narrowed it down to my top 3.

Stronger-Kanye West

Titanium- David Guetta and Sia

Empire State of Mind- Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

Motivational Mantra

Can’t say it any better than this…

The hard is what makes it great

And there’s the small sampling of my fave running things. If you are a runner, I hope you got out today to celebrate this wonderful sport! I clocked an early AM 6 miler! :)

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Run happy!

Beth

Chat with me!

How did you celebrate National Running Day today? What are some of your favorite running things?

In case you missed my other running-related posts, check them out!

How to Love Running Again

NYC Marathon: Mission Accomplished

Pre-Training Run Rituals

Saturday Long-Run Prep

Bring It On: NYC Marathon Training

#MoveItMay

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Hello friends and Happy Tuesday! We hope you kicked off the unofficial start of summer with a bang this weekend.

We are excited to announce that we are this week’s Ambassadors for the #MoveItMay challenge!

What is Move It May, you ask? It’s a fun way for women across the country take extra good care of their hearts during the month of May. This challenge is centered on physical activity and healthy eating, since May is National Physical Activity and Sports Month, National Blood Pressure Education Month, and National Women’s Health Week.

If you read our blog regularly, you know we love to move it! Here’s more on our unique approach to fitness, which is just one part of our 5-to-Thrive guiding philosophy.

 

Be true to your exercise personality.

Ditch the stigma of conventional workouts and consider: What invigorates you?  What do you look forward to doing?  Recognizing what you enjoy and what motivates you is the first step to sticking with a plan.

HOW TO THRIVE:
-Do what you love and incorporate activities that energize you.  The right exercise is one that leaves your muscles pleasantly tired and your mind refreshed.
-Find your best time of day.  When do you feel most awake?  Are you more likely to stick with your goals in the morning, over lunch, after work?
-Stay interested and keep your body challenged by trying something new each month.  Find a new yoga class, take dance lessons or try indoor rock climbing.

Schedule yourself time to move.

Exercise does more than burn calories.  It helps lowers your risk for disease, builds healthy bones, improves immune function, relieves stress, boosts mood and promotes cognitive health!  To reap these benefits, we need at least 150-200 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.  But let’s be real—you likely already know getting enough exercise is important.  The challenge is keeping it a priority when life gets hectic.

HOW TO THRIVE:
-Make a specific goal each week.  What?  When?  Where?  How?
-Plan ahead!  Review your schedule for the upcoming week and make a nonnegotiable appointment with yourself.
-Have a back-up plan.  Life has a habit of getting in the way so be prepared with at-home express options if you’re short on time.

Move your booty to shake a bad day.

When you’re stressed, depressed or just downright moody, what do you turn to?  If life has got you down and it’s hard to get up, exercise may be just what you need.  Regular physical activity helps battle depression, reduce stress and anxiety and boosts self-esteem.

HOW TO THRIVE:
-When you know you have a rough week ahead, find an exercise buddy who can give that little nudge you need to get going.
-Venture outside your normal routine and plan something fun!  Find your inner kid and go ice-skating, play kickball or whatever makes you smile!
-No matter what you accomplish, pat yourself on the back and know that it’s a step in the right direction.

Join the Challenge

Hopefully we have inspired you join in the fun of the Move It May challenge along with us! During this entire week, watch for our #MoveItMay posts on Facebook and Twitter and start moving during the month of May and every day! We invite you to keep us updated on your progress and successes too! For a sneak peek of each day’s challenge, check out the calendar at the beginning of this post.

Beth & Mandy

“Healthified” Cranberry BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Minneapolis Weather

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. This is a joyous occasion for Minnesotans after what was one of the worst Minnesota winters in three decades, according to The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Winter Misery Index.  Yes, the Winter Misery Index is a legit tool to quantify the torture-factor of our winters.  Ha!

After adapting to 120° temperatures during my year in the Middle East and more mild Pennsylvania winters over the past few years, this first winter back home was BRUTAL!  Needless to say, I will be soaking up every possible minute of sunshine this weekend now that we finally have some nice weather.

Whether you’re at a backyard party, camping or just grilling out at home, I hope you do the same!  Save time for sunshine and add these quick-and-easy “Healthified” Cranberry BBQ Chicken Sandwiches to your weekend menu.  Repurpose leftovers with this recipe for Pulled Cranberry BBQ Chicken Tacos that Beth posted last week.

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Cranberry BBQ Sauce
Makes: 1 cup

1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup minced yellow onions
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. chili powder
1 ½ Tbsp. tomato paste
1 ½ cups cranberry sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. dark molasses
¼-½ cup water, if needed

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard and chili powder; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 more minute. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar and molasses and bring to a simmer; whisk often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a covered container and refrigerate. Reheat before using.

Modified from the Cranberry Institute.  

Looking for a naturally-sweetened cranberry sauce? Make your own! Check out this homemade Sugarless Cranberry Sauce.

Pulled Cranberry BBQ Chicken Sandwiches 
Makes: 10-12 servings

1 cup prepared Cranberry BBQ Sauce (recipe above)
1/4 cup water
2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts
One-minute muffins (recipe below), lettuce wraps, or bun of choice

Optional Sandwich Fixin’s:
Shredded coleslaw
Boston lettuce
Sharp cheddar cheese

In the base of a 5-quart slow cooker, combine cranberry BBQ sauce, water and chicken breasts, coating chicken evenly with sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until chicken is fork tender. Using 2 forks shred chicken and stir it into the sauce to evenly coat.  Spoon onto One-Minute Muffin or lettuce wrap and top with shredded coleslaw, lettuce and cheese.

One-Minute Muffins 
Makes: 4 muffins

4 large eggs
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup almond flour
2 Tbsp. golden flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. baking powder

Whisk eggs and slowly drizzle in melted butter.  Add almond flour, flaxseed meal and salt; mix well.  Add baking powder and mix one more time.  Coat four 4-inch (8 oz.) ceramic ramekins with cooking spray and spoon in mixture.  Microwave each ramekin for 1 minute. Remove with dish towel and invert on a cooling rack. (You can also bake them in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes.)  Split in half, toast, and create your sandwich!

Modified from healthylivinghowto.com.

image001Disclosure: We received free recipe ingredients from the Cranberry Institute mentioned in this post. We were not compensated for our time and all opinions are honest and are our own.Enjoy!

Mandy

Let’s chat!

What’s your favorite Memorial Day tradition?



 

 

Pulled Cranberry BBQ Chicken Tacos

Disclosure: We received free recipe ingredients from the Cranberry Institute mentioned in this post. We were not compensated for our time and all opinions are honest and are our own.

image001When the Cranberry Institute contacted us last month and invited us to be Cranberry Bog Bloggers, we jumped at the chance! While you may only think about cranberries around the holiday season, this versatile fruit can add flavor to your favorite recipes year-round as I so pleasantly discovered with this recipe for Pulled Cranberry BBQ Chicken Tacos.  But first, here are a few new and different ways to add a splash of crimson to your diet with cranberries:

· Sprinkle dried cranberries on cereal, yogurt or in your overnight oats
· Puree frozen cranberries with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes or other veggies
· Add dried cranberries to muffin, scone and quick bread mixes
· Combine cranberry sauce with sharp cheddar cheese or brie for a sweet and savory quesadilla filling
· Blend frozen cranberries into fresh fruit smoothies
· Stir cranberry sauce into homemade, do-it-yourself bbq sauce recipes (you know how much the Duo loves to DIY!)

That’s right, Cranberry. BBQ. Sauce. Brilliant, right? And oh-so perfect for summer picnics, beach parties and more! Read on…

Cranberry BBQ Sauce
Makes: 1 cup

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup minced yellow onions
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. chili powder (I used Hot Mexican Chili Powder for a little heat!)
1 ½ Tbsp. tomato paste
1 ½ cups cranberry sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. dark molasses
¼-½ cup water, if needed

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onions and sauté 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, mustard and chili powder; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 more minute. Add cranberry sauce, vinegar and molasses and bring to a simmer, whisking often until mixture becomes smooth. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until mixture reduces and thickens. Add water to mixture if it gets too thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Reheat before using on sandwiches, grilled chicken or pork, the pulled chicken tacos below or any other time you’re craving a sweet and tangy kick of flavor!

 

tacos 2Pulled Cranberry BBQ Chicken Tacos
Makes: 10-12 servings

1 cup prepared Cranberry BBQ Sauce (recipe above)
1/4 cup water
2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts
10-12 soft or crunchy taco shells or lettuce wraps (Boston lettuce or Collard greens work nicely)

Optional garnishes:
Shredded coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrot blend)
Shredded low-fat Mexican or cheddar cheese
Light sour cream or 2% plain Greek yogurt
Fresh lime wedges

In the base of a 5-quart slow cooker, combine cranberry bbq sauce, water and chicken breasts, coating chicken evenly with sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until chicken is fork tender. Using 2 forks shred chicken and stir it into the sauce to evenly coat. Serve with soft or crunchy taco shells and desired garnishes.

 

tacos

Not only is this recipe full of bold cranberry flavor, it’s also a source of proanthocyanidins (PACs), or flavonoid antioxidants that are unique to cranberries. PACs may help reduce the incidence of certain infections, improve heart health and temper inflammation. Cranberries may also improve blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. So many health perks packed into this small crimson berry!

Now that you have a few good health reasons and seasonal cranberry recipes, give them a try!

Enjoy!

Beth

Let’s chat!

Do you eat cranberries all year-round? What’s your favorite way to use them?

 

Grilled Egg, Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Cheese Sandwich

 

2014-04-06 11.15.12When there’s a day to celebrate one of my favorite foods, I can definitely dig it!

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Day (April is actually Grilled Cheese Month!), I’m pleased to share with you a grilled cheese sandwich that triples as breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don’t you love versatility when it comes to recipes?

Enter my Grilled Egg, Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Cheese Sandwich. Not only is this sandwich a delicious deviation from the classic, I have also ‘healthified” it for you by using whole-grain bread, bold-flavored feta cheese (lower in calories and fat than other cheeses) and adding some colorful veggies. I also opted to brush the bread with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, instead of butter, before grilling.

You can thank me later. :)

Grilled Egg, Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Cheese Sandwich
Makes: 1 sandwich

2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 slices whole-grain bread
1/8 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup spinach-kale mix (or any variation of leafy greens you like)
1 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
2 tsp. feta cheese crumbles

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper until blended. Spray an 8-inch skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Add eggs and cook until the edges begin to set, about 1 minute. Slide front edge of spatula between eggs and pan, gently lifting edge of eggs and tilting pan to allow uncooked egg to come in contact with pan. Continue cooking until center is just set, about 2 minutes. Flip eggs to opposite side and cook until just browned, about 1 minute; fold eggs in half (like an omelet), remove from the pan and set the pan aside. Cut the eggs in half to get 2 pieces.

Brush one side of each slice of bread lightly with olive oil. Return skillet to medium-high heat. (Side note- You can also create more dishes for yourself and use a grill pan like I did to achieve those oh-so beautiful grill marks. The choice is yours!)  Add 1 slice of bread to the skillet, oil side-down, and layer with eggs, greens, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, oil side-up. Grill until the cheese has softened and the bread has browned, turn and brown on opposite side. Slice and eat!

How can you resist this sandwich?

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 Have a wonderful National Grilled Cheese Day!

Beth

Let’s chat!

Are you celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day today? How do you make grilled cheese with a twist?

How to Love Running Again

Hello and Happy Wednesday!

Can you believe it’s April and the 2nd week of spring already? My how time flies!

So, I’m writing today to confess something with you. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that running is my thing and that I completed my first marathon back in November. However, since this race, something completely unanticipated has happened; I have fallen out of love with running. While I have continued running on the treadmill a few times a week, with a weekend outdoor run here and there, the passion and enthusiasm I felt at the peak of my training is missing. Sometimes I find myself making excuses not to run when before, I would make excuses to go running. It makes me feel a bit frustrated and sad that I feel this way because I don’t intend to stop running and in fact, I really want to get myself back on track.

Since I love setting new goals to kick off the start of a fresh month, I plan to nip this anti-running phase in the bud here and now. If you’re in a runner’s slump yourself, hopefully these ideas help rekindle your lost running love too!

Run Happy
One major obstacle for me has been that lately when I have gone running, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to reach a certain pace, distance or feel a certain way. So much so, that I often get nervous and feel butterflies in my stomach before heading out for a run. In short, I have turned running into something that causes me stress instead of a fun way to unwind and stay fit. Since keeping a positive attitude and repeating motivational mantras got me through many tough training runs, I will approach future runs the same way, remembering the enjoyment and pleasure that I get from running in order to tame the pressure. I’ll also stop dwelling on my watch and run based on how I feel, rather than the numbers. In other words, I will:

keep-calm-and-run-happy-3 Image source

Reflect on Running Past
During my training for the NYC Marathon, I could not have been more infatuated with running. I thought about it all the time, felt giddy while pondering my next long run and was on cloud 9 after completing my training runs. If looking forward to getting up early on a Saturday morning to run 20 miles isn’t love, what is? To help me remember how exhilarating and rewarding I once found running, I recently looked back through some of my previous posts about marathon training and flipped through the photo album my brother-in-law surprised me with this Christmas, and guess what? It really gave me a boost! Whether it’s looking back through race recaps, running photos or pulling out old race bibs, doing so is sure you take you back to fond memories.

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Buddy Up
Many people find that running with a buddy or a group helps keep them accountable, motivated and committed. If you’re like me and prefer to tackle runs solo, try this tactic. Identify a fellow runner with whom you can share your weekly running successes and challenges.  I chose a runner friend from work who had also expressed feeling ho-hum about running over the past few months. Our plan is to strive for at least 20 miles per week for the month of April.  This may not sound like much, but after averaging 15-ish miles a week lately, 20 is a reasonable and achievable goal for both of us.  It sounds basic, but with the elements of accountability and friendly competition in place, I’m sure it will keep me inspired. Plus we have a fun celebratory reward to look forward to! :) If you would rather not share details about your weekly runs with someone, try an app like RunKeeper or Endomondo to push yourself.

Change is Good
Since I often run from my house, instead of driving to a starting point, I have become pretty bored with my running scenery. Moving forward I plan to change up the views and try 1 new route a week. When training, I loved using MapMyRun to plan long runs in advance so I was sure to reach my target mileage without having to run in circles at the end. Don’t you hate when that happens? I have a good idea this tool will come in pretty handy now too.
I’m also going to spice up my running style from the same ole mid- to longer-distance, even-paced run to runs that include sprint/jog intervals. I used to do this a few years ago and not only did my runs go faster, they challenged me in a different way and greatly improved my overall long distance running pace. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Indulge in Retail Therapy
So what does shopping have to do with getting re-inspired to pound the pavement? Well, if you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to put something new into action! If you’ve been rocking the same sneakers, running shorts or watch for quite some time, treat yourself to some new gear! As sad as it made me to retire the beloved Sauconys that I wore in training and during the marathon, I finally took the plunge.  I have been a loyal Saucony wearer for my past 5 pairs of running shoes, but chose to shake it up with Brooks Ravennas and couldn’t be happier with my choice.  I also traded my gigantic Garmin Forerunner 205 (a.k.a. my Inspector Gadget watch…haha) in for the Garmin 10, a much smaller and lighter watch with just as much functionality. I love it and no, not just because it’s pink and stylish! ;)

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Ready, Set, Register
The last race I completed was the marathon. Of course nothing drives me more to train than when I have had a race to look forward to.  So far I have filled my running schedule with a half marathon in September, and possibly one later this spring, and a 5K this summer. Take the plunge yourself and sign up for a race in the next few months. Maybe up the ante and register for a race that’s longer than your longest race for the added challenge. Once registered, find a training plan that works for you and just do it!

Happy Running!

Beth

Let’s chat!

Have you ever experienced a runner’s slump? What did you do to overcome it?

Almond, Oat & Sea Salt Balls

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Hello friends!

I. Love. Snacks. That said, I’m always looking for ways to shake up snack time. As much as I enjoy diving into tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole, carrot sticks and french onion dip (totally obsessed with the new Heluva Good Greek Yogurt Dip!) or cheese and crackers on the weekends, I usually opt for something healthier during the week. The snack also has to be portable since I eat it at work or while on-the-go, which takes my fave. weekend snacks out of the runnings.

I sometimes grab a whole-grain, higher protein granola bar, but have recently been bored with the flavor options I can find. Since I have seen countless DIY granola bars, and the like, on pinterest, in magazines and on my favorite blogs, I decided that it couldn’t be that difficult to come up with one of own. So I did and you’re gonna love it! :)

Almond, Oat & Sea Salt Balls
Makes: 16-18 balls

1/2 cup almond butter (or any natural nut butter)
1/4 cup light agave nectar (or honey)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)

In a large microwaveable bowl, combine almond butter, agave and vanilla. Microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and microwave for 20 seconds more or until nut butter has melted slightly. Stir in the oats, almonds and sea salt to combine. Using your hands or a cookie scoop, shape the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. Place balls on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet or tray and place them into the refrigerator for one hour. Once set, transfer them to a glass reusable container and store.

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I love how you can see all of the energizing and healthy ingredients in each bite!

Do you like my festive & fun Valentine’s Day polish? :)

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I just made a batch of these this morning to take along for tomorrow’s snowboarding fuel! Our PA winter has delivered more snow than I can ever remember so the snowboarding conditions have been FAB-ulous! Check us out a few weekends ago for a snowboarding weekend getaway at Bear Creek Ski Resort. We had a blast!

View Bear Creek

 
 
 
 
Make it a great weekend!
Beth
 
Let’s chat!
Have you ever made your own granola bars or snack balls?
Are there any outdoor winter adventures on your weekend schedule?