Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barefoot Running on the Beach


Greetings from Litchfield Beach, SC! I'm vacationing with my family this week, but it's been more like a sports camp so far. Instead of wasting away the morning waiting for lunchtime to get here, we all go our separate ways and do our respective activities. My husband, dad, and brother go cycling for 20-40 miles, my sister and I go running, and my mom rides her bike or takes my nephew for a stroll.

On Saturday evening I got in a quick 2 mile run to stretch out my legs after our having not run for two days and being stuck in the car all day long. On Sunday and Monday I ran 4 miles and on Monday I tacked on a 13 mile bike ride after my run.

Yesterday I decided to try something different and went for a barefoot run on the beach. Dumbest. Idea. Ever. It was fun and all and my joints felt great, but after I had run for about 2 miles (and still had 2 more miles to get back home), I realized why everyone else was wearing shoes. The bottoms of my feet burned like FIRE because I'd essentially rubbed them with sandpaper for 4 miles. Today my lower calves are super sore because I was running on the balls of my feet more since I rubbed all of the skin off my heels. Note to self (and others): never do that again. Or at least wear some of those weird looking Five Fingers shoes when you do.


So needless to say, my exercise for today consisted of hobbling around the outlet malls buying more running clothes. SO disappointing ;)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Foodie Friday: Black Bean Love!

It's true what they say...

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart
The more you eat, the more you fartlek
The more you fartlek, the better you run
So eat your beans, and let's have som fun!

Sorry...I just had to.

Obviously this week's recipes (yep, you get two again...luck you!) involve black beans. I found some great information about black beans from this article by Molly McAdams.
  • Black beans are high in protein and fiber, low in fat, and rich in several essential vitamins and minerals
  • A cup of cooked black beans provides 227 calories, 15 g of protein, 1 g of total fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 41 g of carbohydrate and 15 g of fiber. One cup of black beans also provides 20 percent of the daily value for iron and 5 percent of the daily value for calcium. Black beans also provide significant amounts of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, and the B vitamins thiamin and folate, or folic acid.
  • Black beans help reduce blood cholesterol, maintain normal blood sugar levels and prevent constipation. As a result, black beans in the diet help prevent heart disease, diabetes and diverticulitis and other gastrointestinal disorders. Black beans also contain phytochemicals, substances found only in plant foods that help fight cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Good to know: There is no significant difference in the nutritional value of cooked dried and canned beans, with the exception of the sodium content due to salt added during cooking or processing.
  • From a nutritional standpoint, black beans are a very good meat substitute because of their high protein, iron and B vitamin content. This is especially important for vegetarians, who may not get enough of these nutrients that non-vegetarians get from meat.
  • Black beans, like all dried beans, are high in protein but they are missing an essential amino acid the body body needs to build complete proteins. Rice, tortillas and other grain foods contain the amino acid necessary to complete the protein.

Black Beans and Rice

This recipe comes from the September 2010 issue of Southern Living, and it's way more than just stirring together a can of beans and some rice. It's such a simple, yet super filling and delicious meal. It doesn't take too long to prepare, either, and the leftovers are just as good the next night...and the next.

I add a little more cumin powder to spice it up a bit, and this time I also added a can of drained petite diced tomatoes. I also find that we like to eat a little more rice than it calls for, so I usually end up using 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups of rice (for 6 servings). Otherwise, I follow this recipe almost exactly:

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
3 15 ounce cans black beans, divided
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Additional optional toppings: cheddar cheese, sliced radishes, chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, green onions, jalapeno peppers (I stick with cheddar cheese and green onions).

To make
Prepare rice according to package directions

Drain and rinse 2 cans of black beans, but not the remaining can.

Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in hot oil (in a really large pan/pot/dutch oven), over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until tender.


Stir in the drained and undrained beans, chicken broth, tomato paste, cumin, and dried crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.


Serve over hot cooked rice and add desired toppings.


Black Bean Brownies
(say, what?!?)

Before I get into the recipe, let me just share with you how extremely skeptical I was that this recipe would even be palatable, much less taste extremely amazing. I was entirely prepared to throw the entire batch away. If you follow this recipe exactly, I promise you will not taste beans in these brownies. In fact, they really taste like legit brownies, and they don't have that weird it's-actually-good-for-you-but-I'm-trying-to-hide-the-fact-that-it's-good-for-you taste to them at all ("good for you" being relative in terms of brownies, that is).

This recipe comes from food.com. This recipe is also noted to be gluten free, and while I am not gluten free, this recipe is one I definitely wouldn't mind making on a regular basis, but that's more so for the chance to shove brownies in my face without feeling as bad about it.

I read some of the reviews of the original recipe and made a few changes based on what people said worked/didn't work, etc. Some people who tried to reduce the sugar or use a sugar substitute reported mixed results, so I can't guarantee that your brownies will turn out as tasty if you change anything. Also, the teaspoon of instant coffee is supposed to mask the flavor and smell of the beans. While the original recipe didn't call for it, I can't vouch for what it tastes like without it, so I would recommend adding it just in case (just FYI, you can't taste the coffee in there, if you're not a fan of the coffee bean - HA). Here's what I came up with:

Ingredients
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
3 eggs
3 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 (heaping) teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or nuts (optional, but I added some chocolate chips)

Mr. James was helping me drain and rinse the beans...uhh, Mom, why are you putting beans in your brownies? That's weird.

To make
Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips and/or nuts) in a blender or food processor until pureed. Make sure there aren't any bean chunks!!


Pour into a greased 8x8 cake pan. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts, or leave plain. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Don't get too concerned if it smells like a fart doesn't really smell quite like your Betty Crocker brownies while they're cooking. They'll still taste good, I promise.


Let them cool before you cut them. I think they have a richer taste after they have been chilled in the refrigerator overnight, but they still taste yummy when they're fresh out of the oven.


mmm

If you're interested in the nutritional facts, check out the original recipe on food.com. Let me know if you try this and what you think!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running Off Some Steam

Warning: mild ranting ahead.

I really don't like to complain about my job because I am very thankful for it. It was the only job I applied for when I got out of college, and unless something totally unforeseen happens, I'll probably stay there until I retire. The work I do is satisfying to me because I know I'm helping somebody who deserves it, it pays pretty well, the people I work with are nice, and it's a job that I don't ever have to "take home" with me.

But today...well, it was just one of those days. I needed guidance on something that I couldn't figure out on my own, but it was on an issue that should have been pretty black and white; yes, or no. I had two people telling me completely opposite things. This type of thing is totally frustrating to me, and my day was pretty unproductive because of it, which further aggravated me.

<end rant>

I was planning on just going to the gym this afternoon to get a few miles in on the treadmill since it was 90 degrees and humid, but I felt like I might be in a better mood if I got some fresh air (I also worked through my lunch today, when I usually go outside for a little walk).

So I decided to go back to the place where I first started to actually like running. It's at a park that is about a 2 minute drive from my house (yes, I drive...but only because the road to get there is a 35 mph with ZERO shoulder). There is a 1/2 mile gravel path going around grassy fields, softball fields, tennis courts, and a playground. Oh, and these beautiful mountains and wildflowers that make me happy:



The gravel path is a really nice change from asphalt, even though it can get a little dusty. There always seems to be people there, though there were considerably less people there today since it was so hot.

Since I was a little flustered from my day at work, I decided to plug into my iPod, hoping that it would give my run a little extra umph. I usually don't run with headphones when I'm outside, purely for safety reasons. I definitely like to have some music when I'm running inside though! Since the path isn't close to the road and it's circular, I figured it would be safe enough to crank up the tunes today.

I didn't mind running with my music outside, but I realized how much I really like hearing the noises around me. I love to hear the birds singing, the kids playing at the playground, the wind rustling the leaves, the cicadas whining in the trees, my feet hitting the ground...I even like hearing myself being out of breath! I don't think my music made me any faster or feel any stronger, and honestly I feel like I might have been a little more refreshed after my run if I hadn't run with music.

I definitely don't have anything against people who run with music - to each her own...but I realized today that I'm really rejuvenated when I can just have a little peace and enjoy nature without being distracted by music.

Do you prefer running with tunes, or would you rather listen to nature?

Speaking of nature...this little thing was on the path, and I have no clue what it is. Anybody know? It was about 2 inches long.


I think today's run might have been the last one of the week for me (unless I can squeeze one in on Friday) because I'll be packing for vacation! I hope everybody has a good rest of the week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Turning Back

It's official. Last night I nervously clicked the "register" button to sign up to run my very first marathon on November 12, 2011.


I'm so excited yet so scared all at the same time. I'm excited because I know that I can do this, but I'm nervous about the the physical and mental challenges I know I am going to face along the way. It's going to require commitment in all areas of my life, and I know I'll be counting on the support of my husband, family, and friends over the next 5 months. Let me just go ahead and apologize in advance if I occasionally act like this:



I hope you understand.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My New Favorite Socks

A few weeks ago I'd had enough of the blisters and burning calluses I was experiencing on my feet every time I would run. I decided that since my shoes didn't have that many miles on them, it must be time to replace my socks. They do eventually wear out too, you know!

It was time to listen to my feet...


Although I didn't know much when I started running, I did know that cotton was bad. So I began my running journey last year with a 6 pack of Under Armour Socks. They really did a decent job of keeping my feet feeling good while training for and running in two half marathons (one of which was during a torrential downpour). But sadly their time had come and it was time for them to be retired, kicked to the curb bottom of my sock drawer, and replaced with some big girl running socks.

Based on a recommendation from my brother, I went to my local Fleet Feet and bought two pairs of Balega Hidden Comfort socks. They felt like they would be so comfy and cushioned, but at $11 a pop, I wanted to try them out first before committing to buying any more pairs.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

What a difference these socks made! Within a few days, my feet were happy again and blister free! The next weekend I bought two more pairs, and honestly I'd buy more if I could get away with it. The comfort that these socks provide is really worth every penny, and they are now my new favorite sock!


These socks are solidly constructed, so I feel like they'll last me a lot longer than my old ones did. The sole of the sock is well-cushioned without feeling way too thick in your shoes, and the top is made of a breathable mesh that helps to keep your feet cool and dry. These socks are low-cut, and they have a deep heel pocket and a tab on the back to help keep your socks in place and keep your heel from rubbing against the back of your shoe. I have had absolutely no problems with these socks falling down or bunching up in my shoe, and they look great!



Balega originates from South Africa and they are really passionate about making a great product. "Balega" is a Zulu word that means "to move with speed." While I don't consider myself speedy and I don't expect that these socks will really make me any faster, I do know these socks will definitely help me to run long as I train for my first 26.2!

So if you're in the market for a new pair of socks, check out Balega's website (and listen to some cool music while you're there), check out Balega on Facebook, or head to your local running store and pick up a few pairs! Your feet will be happy that you did!


Balega did not ask me to say these nice things...these socks are just that awesome.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Star City

Those who are visiting or traveling through the city where I live probably all ask the same question:

Is that a neon star up there, and what the heck is it doing on top of the mountain?!?

Why yes, that the world's largest freestanding illuminated man-made star, isn't it beautiful? Originally built as a seasonal (yet permanent) Christmas decoration to light the valley, the star has been on top of Mill Mountain since Thanksgiving Eve in 1949. It lights up every night and it's just one of those things that makes me smile.


The course of the Blue Ridge Half Marathon winds up the back of Mill Mountain, past the Star, and down a steep road with hairpin turns. While we were training, we tried to incorporate running up the mountain into our long runs so that we'd be prepared for the race.

Call us crazy, but even though marathon training hasn't really started (and the one we're doing is flat), we decided to do a 7 mile run and go up the mountain today, just for fun. The heat/humidity combined with having lost a little bit of our hill running abilities made it a little more difficult than when we were training, but really it wasn't bad. We stopped to walk a few times, but we did that in training and during the race, too.

You get a real sense of accomplishment when you're standing at the bottom of the mountain, looking up at the Star, and you can say, "Yeah. I ran up that. What?"

This is the "view" of Mill Mountain (complete with the Star, as pictured above), courtesy of my Garmin and Google Earth. The red line is where we ran (we go around and up the back of the mountain and down the front).

And not to mention the beautiful views you're rewarded with on the way up and at the top:

This was taken earlier in the year...it's not still Winter

And of course, what goes up, must come down...for two miles straight! I always really like this part because it gives me a good chance to catch my breath and we can talk without being out of breath, even though it can sometimes do a number on the knees.

This is the road coming down the front of the mountain (no longer accessible to cars). Again, this picture was taken earlier in the year.

Elevation profile of today's run

Do you like running up mountains?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foodie Friday: Tomatoes Galore!

Lucky you...this week you get not one, but two recipes! They are kind of similar and both involve yummy, juicy tomatoes.

Let me first confess that I used to be a big time tomato hater. I think it was just one of those foods that I decided to hate for no reason when I was a kid. Thankfully, I've grown out of that for the most part. I still don't prefer tomatoes on sandwiches because I think it waters them down too much...but oh man, do I love a good tomato dish!

If you're not aware, tomatoes are really good for you...

They contain lycopene, an antioxidant that helps reduce your chances of developing prostate, colorectal, and stomach cancer, and can slow the growth of cancerous cells. Tomatoes also contain calcium and Vitamin K, which help to strengthen bones. Vitamins A and C can also be found in tomatoes, and work as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals in the blood. Vitamin C helps in maintaining a healthy immune system while Vitamin A also helps keep your hair shiny and strong, and also helps your eyes, skin, bones, and teeth! The Vitamin B and potassium found in tomatoes are effective at reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. For diabetics, chromium in tomatoes helps to keep sugar levels under control. (source)

Enough with the health lesson - onto the recipes!

Pizza Margherita

This first recipe comes from the Kraft Foods website. I mean, who doesn't love pizza?

I generally prefer to make my own pizza crust, but I'll admit that it's not as quick and easy as popping open a can of Pillsbury's thin crust pizza dough, which is exactly what I did for this recipe. I like the taste of this crust, but honestly it does sort of taste like their croissants (again, not a bad thing, but not necessarily what you might be going for in a pizza). For this pizza, though, that taste really did go well with the tomatoes.

When I do make my own crust, here's the recipe I use:

2 and 1/2 to 3 cups of all purpose flour (OR half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour)
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (120°F - 130°F)
2 tablespoons cooking oil or olive oil

In a large mixing bowl combine 1 and 1/4 cups of the all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flower as you can (here is where you would add in whole wheat flour).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (knead for about 6-8 minutes). Divide dough in half and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes.

For thin crust pizzas, preheat your oven to 425°F. Grease two pizza pans or large baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired. Roll each dough half out until they are the desired thickness and shape. Place the dough onto the pans and form a crust. Prick the dough with a fork and put into the oven for about 10 minutes. Decorate your pizza and bake for another 10 or so minutes or until it's as brown as you want it!


I haven't frozen this dough (though I have read it's okay to freeze it), but I will save one half in the refrigerator for the next night and it does just fine!

On with the recipe...

Ingredients:
1 can refrigerated pizza crust (or pizza dough above)
1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
4 sliced tomatoes
1/3 cup sun dried tomato vinaigrette dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400°F. Place the pizza dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Combine the dressing and garlic and spread about half of the mixture onto the crust.


Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the tomatoes and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.


Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted.



mmm...I think I'm drooling on the keyboard.

Pizza is really not all that bad for you when you make it at home and try to keep the fattening toppings to a minimum. Here are some other pizzas I've made at home:

Toppings: pizza sauce, sliced zucchini, sliced tomatoes, red onions, corn, mozzarella, basil, and oregano

Toppings: crushed tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, broccoli, green peppers, mozzarella, Italian seasoning

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

The next recipe is pretty similar, and comes from the June issue of Real Simple.

I took pictures while I was making it, but I just now managed to permanently delete the entire folder of pictures on my camera...thankfully there wasn't anything else important on there that didn't make it onto the computer first! Anywho, sorry for the stock photo, but it really did look pretty similar to this, except I didn't have any fresh basil so I just sprinkled some dried basil on there instead...


Ingredients:
12 ounces spaghetti
3 large tomatoes cut into 4 thick slices
3 table spoons EVOO, plus more for the baking sheet
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for the pasta, if desired
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
basil (fresh or dried)

Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package, drain, and return to the pot.

Arrange the tomatoes on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet (cover with aluminum foil to make cleaning up easy!). Season with salt and pepper, and cover with mozzarella and parmesean. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and browning (3-5 minutes...keep an eye on them because they can brown up fast!)

In a pan, warm the oil with the garlic and red pepper over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the oil and add additional salt and pepper to taste. I also stirred in a little Parmesan and dried basil with the pasta.

Serve the pasta topped with the tomatoes and sprinkle on some more Parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy!

What is your favorite way to serve up tomatoes?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Made My Day

After 3 straight days of no running (or much of any physical activity, for that matter), I was more than ready for today's run. Whatever issue I had with my glute/leg/nerve was all cleared up...I'm so glad it's gone, and I hope it never comes back (yeah, right)!

Today's run went great. The weather was perfect, the greenway wasn't crowded, and I felt really good. I managed to run negative splits, which made me even happier. For some reason I have found trying to run negative splits over several miles is a lot harder when it's hot outside. I think it's because I don't realize how much harder the heat will make my run when I start out, so I start out way too fast.


Another win from today's run was that I think I finally figured out where and how tight to wear my iFitness belt to keep it from riding up and bouncing. This time I tried wearing it at the top of my shorts under my shirt instead of over top of my shirt, which I think is the secret. I'm pretty sure the slick, moisture-wicking material of my shirt was letting it ride up too easily, and for some reason my shorts kept it from riding up. But today, no bouncing, and no riding up!! WIN!

Do you want to know what else made my day? Seeing this truck.


I jacked this picture off their Facebook Fan Page, but this is a local company and it totally cracks me up every time I see their truck around town (why yes, I do have the sense of humor of a five year old, thank you very much). My favorite thing is what it says under their number...

If you're knee deep in poo poo you know what to do do

And of course the evil turd is great, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

EA: Endorphins Anonymous

Hi, my name is Lauren and I’m addicted to endorphins.

On Saturday, I ran 10 miles (you know, just for fun, because I’m crazy), and that may or may not have been a little too much for me. You see, I’m a little stubborn. I push myself farther than I think I can go, which can be great in some situations, but detrimental in others.

All day Sunday and Monday I had this weird pain in my lower back and the right side of my butt that seemed to be radiating down the back of my right leg to my knee. I would particularly notice it when I would squat down, or (TMI alert) when I would go to the bathroom and the seat would hit the back of my leg just right. It wasn’t a constant sharp pain, just the kind that was really annoying, uncomfortable, and made me walk a little funny. It sort of felt like I needed to pop my lower back and it felt really good to stretch it out.

It actually felt better to stand up, which is GREAT because my job requires me to SIT at a desk all day. Thankfully my job also entails a lot of medical information, so I could try to self-diagnose myself without being too obviously unproductive for 10 minutes. I decided that I’m experiencing something similar to piriformis syndrome or some kind of mild sciatica (yes, I know that I'm not a doctor and if I was really hurting that bad, I would go see one...but in my opinion, it's not bad enough for me to pay someone to tell me to take it easy for a few days).

I was going to go to cycle class, but I read somewhere that cycling can also aggravate piriformis syndrome, and I wasn’t sure I could handle another boring cycle class in my injury-induced misery. So, off to the pool I went!

It was quiet and relaxing like this for about 2 minutes until some super whiny kid showed up.

I really enjoyed relaxing at the pool, but whenever I have a spare minute, I feel like I have to be doing something, whether it’s exercising or just crossing something off of my never-ending to-do list. I don’t know why I can’t just sit on my butt (no pun intended with my whole butt injury thing I’ve got going on) and be okay with it. I feel lazy and subsequently disgusting, and my sense of worth just plummets. I get whiny, moody, hungry, tense, and squirmy when I don’t get my workout in, and lets not even talk about what happens when I feel like I have a million things to do and no time/energy/motivation to do them (thank goodness for my husband who talks me down from these ridiculous delusions on a regular basis…).

Does this happen to anybody else? Please tell me I’m not the only one…

I know my endorphin withdrawal symptoms are going to be worse tomorrow before it gets better. I went for a little walk on my lunch break today (probably the only thing keeping me from going CRAZY), and I was feeling much better. There’s no more pain, but I still experience some sort of click or something in my hip/thigh when I walk, so I decided I need to take one more rest day in order to not give in to my stubborn self who wants to go running today just to be safe. I thought about going to the gym and doing some weights, but honestly it’s a little too nice outside today for me to subject myself to that. And I figure the sunlight and vitamin D might help in boosting my mood a little bit, too. I’ll definitely reassess the situation tomorrow, but for now, I am going running tomorrow.

I’ve also kind of fallen off the 100 pushups bandwagon last week and this week…so I think I’m going to do a few push ups this week (again, this is me being afraid that my arms are going to turn to jelly between now and then) and restart week #3 next Monday.

For now, I'm off to the pool. Here's to being human...and endorphins!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Double Digits

I know I already said this last week, but I don't really have any rhyme or reason to my runs right now since training hasn't "officially" started. I always get a lot of satisfaction out of my weekend long runs and I sort of wanted to get in 9 or 10 miles in today just to boost my confidence a little bit.

This morning I hit the greenway for 10.26 miles in 1:45. This was my longest run since my last half marathon. I purposely tried to take it nice and easy, and it really helped me not to feel completely drained halfway through. I tried to keep about a 10 min/mile pace and I also took 1 walking break to eat some Gu Chomps. I know that's really not fast at all, but as I was thinking on my run today, going fast is overrated. It's so much harder for me to enjoy a run when I'm out of breath and in pain. I'd much rather run longer and slower than shorter and faster. I guess that's why I'm training for a marathon, not a 5/10K, right? (Nothing wrong with those distances, of course).

Anyways, my run was pretty good today. It probably could have been better, but considering that I was running 10 miles "just for fun", it was a really good run. There's just something really satisfying about running double digits.

I've been running with my new iFitness belt on my last few long runs. I haven't quite figured out how to wear it so that I don't notice it yet...I can tell that it will be fine once I figure out how tight/loose to wear it, and whether I should try to run with it up high or down low on my hips. Anyways, once I'm a little more comfortable and familiar with it, keep your eyes peeled for a review! One of the main reasons I've started running with a belt is so that I can keep my cell phone with me. Unfortunately, there are just a lot of kooks out there and I really feel like I should have a phone with me. A phone would also come in handy if I ever got injured, got caught in bad weather, or just ran too far away! I know I emphasized this in my Road ID Review, but you really never know when something might happen.

Another perk of having my cell phone with me is that I can capture some of the beautiful scenes I get to see when I run! Below are some of my favorite spots along the greenway from this morning. I know I've said this before, but I really love how beautiful everything is early in the morning (and the fact that it's not a million degrees yet).




Friday, June 10, 2011

Foodie Friday: Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I love love love summertime fruits and veggies! They are so delicious and there are so many different things you can do with them. This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on the Kraft Foods website. I always serve it as the main dish when we're having our "veggie only" nights, but it could also be served as a side.

Ingredients:
4 zucchini
20 whole wheat Ritz crackers, crushed
1 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, well-drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for on top
1/4 cup Parmesan (grated or shredded works)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano

To make:
Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Parboil the zucchini. I didn't know what this meant the first time I made this...just boil the zucchini in water for 6-8 minutes or until fork-tender.


While it's boiling, combine the crushed Ritz crackers, well-drained can of tomatoes, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp basil, and 1 tsp oregano in a large bowl.

Once the zucchini is done, remove it from the water and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides and chop into smaller pieces.




Add the chopped zucchini to the bowl and place the zucchini halves on the baking sheet.



Distribute the mixture among the zucchini. You might have to pack it down quite a bit to get it all to fit, and it will be heaping!


Top with additional mozzarella cheese.


Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned on the top.


This week I served these with some corn and edemame sautéd with some EVOO, garlic salt, and pepper, and some fresh watermelon (another one of my favorite summer fruits. I could probably eat watermelon until I got sick.)



A pretty tasty and healthy dinner, if you ask me!