Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vegetarian Week

Vegetarian Week

Every once in awhile I like to have a meat free week! I love the way it makes me feel, and I plan in advance to make sure I get plenty of protein for the week. Is a week too long for you? I also practice Meatless Monday. Check out the Meatless Monday website!

On average, Americans consume 8 ounces of meat per day – 45% more than the USDA recommends. Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help limit your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Multiple studies have shown that periodic health prompts lead to positive behavior change. Monday is the beginning of the week, making it the perfect time to reevaluate our choices and set our intentions for the coming days. With a Meatless Monday, you have a scheduled, recurring reminder to start your week off on a nutritious note. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another opportunity to focus on health!

Here are two recipes I made this week:

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
6 yellow bell peppers (any color will do)
Organic quinoa (I used red quinoa this week)
2 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
3 shallots, diced
1/2 bunch of kale, chopped, stems discarded
1 tbs. olive oil + extra for drizzle
Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350. Make quinoa according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large pan and saute shallots and mushrooms. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste. After they are cooked (15-ish minutes) add kale and cook down.
While that is cooking, cut tops off bell peppers and scoop out seeds and ribs.
When quinoa is finished, add to large bowl and then add in mushroom mixture and combine thoroughly. Fill bell peppers with quinoa and mushroom mixture and place in pan. Drizzle tops with olive oil.
Place pan in oven and roast for about an hour.

I made this in advance, let it cool, wrapped it with aluminum foil and refrigerated for later in the week. I then reheated it on 350 for about 1/2 hour.

Baked Sesame Tofu


  • 2 containers firm or extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds 


Slice each block of tofu into 4 or 5 slices.
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Pour mixture over each piece of tofu in a shallow bowl or pan, and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Carefully place each slice on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the sheet, if needed and drizzle with more marinade. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until liquid is almost dry.
I put this over a salad and it was amazing!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Apple Pie Breakfast

Apple Pie Breakfast

My friends ask me for this recipe often. It is one of my favorites for a couple reasons. I do most of my cooking for the week on Sundays. This recipe is great to put in the crock-pot Sunday and eat all week long. Also, I love steel-cut (Irish) oats! These are the least processed type of oat cereal. The toasted oats are simply chopped into chunks about the size of a sesame seed. Steel cut oats will also keep you fuller longer than regular rolled oats. Here is a picture of two brands I use. You can find both of these at any grocery store. 

1 cup of steel cut oats
3 diced apples (I use Gala)
1 cup apple juice (Mott's makes a natural apple juice and low sugar apple juice)
3 cups water
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a crock-pot and cook for 2-4 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low. Make sure you stir every hour or so. You can cook longer without stirring, but you have to add more liquid and it comes out mushier. Top with another dash of cinnamon before eating. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Atlantic City

Atlantic City

One of my dad's favorite spots for a day trip in the spring was Atlantic City. We had a very specific tradition. When we got down to Atlantic City we would have lunch at Rainforest Cafe for my little brother Luke. Then we would go to the Pier Shops at Caesars, and get Starbucks. At the top of the pier are chairs in sand that give you an amazing view of the ocean. We would sit there and drink our coffee while Luke played in the sand. Before leaving we would stop at the best candy store ever IT'SUGAR. For my dad's birthday this year my brothers Denny, Luke, stepmom, and I all went down to Atlantic City. We enjoyed all our traditions and had an awesome day! It helps to have positive things to look forward to and great memories to hold on to for tough days. Here are some pictures.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Raw Thin Mint Brownies

St. Patrick's Day Treat

It's a clean version of a thin mint girl scout cookie! 

Raw Thin-Mint Brownies

  • 1 cup walnuts (120g)
  • 1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates (230 grams) (I recommend Sunmaid, because they’re softer.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • A few drops pure peppermint extract (depending on how minty you want them… Start with less; you can always add more.)
  • Optional: for even more chocolate flavor, add chocolate chips. Or add cacao nibs.
Directions: Combine all ingredients, using a food processor or high powered blender. (No need to blend the dates first; I just blend everything all at once. If you use a Magic Bullet, you might want to do it in batches.) Form into brownies or balls or bars. Put in fridge for one hour.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Yoga & Meditation

Yoga & Meditation Workshop

The MHWTC hosted a yoga and meditation workshop. I have to admit neither of these are things I enjoyed in the past. My mind was always racing and I was constantly staring at the clock. I don't think I was ever able to stay in the moment and relax. This time it was different. One of our members, Laura, owns Fitness Yoga. She gave me a new outlook on yoga and meditation. During the meditation part of the session I was amazed at how calm I felt. Not once did I think about the emails I had waiting for me when I got home or the lesson plans I needed to finish. Laura recommended signing up for a Oprah & Deepak's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. (Oprah&Deepak) I have listened to a couple of their online guided meditation sessions  before going to bed, and I really notice a difference in how I sleep and my stress level. 

The yoga session was just as beneficial. I learned some great new stretches and was reminded how challenging some of the popular poses are. Like a lot of runners I have very tight hamstrings, so I know I would really benefit from incorporating yoga into my exercise plan. Besides improving flexibility, strength, and balance yoga has also proven to be effective in helping people deal with anxiety and depression. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Sometimes I have to give myself credit when my recipes turn out awesome, and this one did! I make shredded chicken in the crockpot every weekend. I keep it in a separate container in the fridge, and add it to the top of my salads or in my soup during the week. To make the shredded chicken all you have to do is put the chicken in the crockpot with onions and fat-free, low sodium chicken broth. After cooking for four hours, use a hand mixer to shred the chicken. It's super easy and will make your life easier all week long. Here is the recipe for the chili:

Buffalo Chicken Chili
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large carrots
4 stalks celery
1 large red pepper
1 large onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 cup Franks Hot Sauce
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can chili beans in sauce (do not drain)

Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and cook onions, carrots, pepper and garlic for about 8 minutes. Put veggie mixture in crockpot. Add all the other ingredients and mix together. You can put shredded chicken in now or wait and add it when you are ready to eat. Cook on low for several hours until hot and flavors have come together.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sweet Tooth

Clean chocolate?!

I have a piece of candy everyday, and some days I eat a box of Mike and Ikes before 8:00 am! (oops) With jellybean and coconut egg season coming up, I have to make sure I have some better options available. These chocolate turtles are awesome and won't give you the crash that processed sugar gives you. They're also really easy to make. I'm going to try to make clean chocolate peanut butter eggs later this month, so check back!

Clean Eating Chocolate Turtles
(Makes 18)

  • 4 squares unsweetened baker's chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 108 raw almonds (I use 6 almonds for each turtle)
  1. Melt chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes. Stir.
  2. Continue melting chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one.
  3. When you have very small clumps left, stop microwaving and just stir until the chocolate melts completely.
  4. Stir in brown rice syrup and honey.
  5. Portion out 6 almonds for each turtle on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Pour approximately 2 tsp. chocolate over each cluster of nuts.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Storage: Keep in refrigerator.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Green Monster

Green Monster... My favorite green smoothie

This makes a great breakfast, and I promise it will put you in a better mood right away. You need a high power blender to make this smoothie. I love my Ninja! There are tons of vitamins that will give you lots of energy, and the chia seeds will keep you full all morning long. 


  • 1 apple, cored
  • 1 banana
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 2 large handfulls spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Water – enough to get the consistency you want.


  1. Place all ingredients in your high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add as much water as you need to get the smoothie to a consistency you like. You don’t have to add any, but it will be thick enough to eat with a spoon if you don’t.

Bring Change 2 Mind

Check out the MHWTC's cause page:

Imagine if you were blamed for having cancer,
 if you were called weak for Multiple Sclerosis, 
or if you were told your diabetes was all in your head.

One in four adults are affected by mental illness, and one in ten children suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition. Yet, the stigma surrounding mental illness keep all those who are affected whispering about their diagnosis in shame, ignoring their symptoms due to fear, and avoiding treatment out of embarrassment or denial. 

Bring Change 2 Mind is a national anti-stigma campaign founded by Glenn Close. Here is their mission statement:

To emerge as the world's most effective organization working to eradicate the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through widely distributed Public Education Materials based on the latest scientific insights and measured for effectiveness.
To act as a portal to a broad coalition of organizations that provide service, screening, information, support and treatment of mental illness.

The tri club will host multiple educational workshops throughout the year along with several fun events to help raise money for Bring Change 2 Mind.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kale Chips

Kale Chips.... third time is a charm!

I tried making kale chips twice before and they did not turn out at all. I think the key is to really make sure the kale is dry. After I washed the kale, I put it in a zip lock bag with paper towels over night. Wegmans sells cleaned and cut kale in a bag. Below is the recipe; I tried the garlic ones this time. You won't need potato chips after trying these!

Clean Eating Kale Chips


  • 1 cup kale (approximate)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (approximation of what comes out of the oil sprayer)

  • Variation
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Wash and dry your kale.
  3. Using an oil sprayer, spray the kale with a light mist of oil. If you don’t have an oil sprayer, simply drizzle it on as evenly as possible.
  4. The above two steps will give you the basic kale chips. If that’s what you want, put them in the oven now for about 15-20 minutes. But keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn. They go from perfect to charcoal very quickly.
  5. If you want flavor, either sprinkle on garlic (after spraying the oil), or sprinkle on vinegar (for a “salt and vinegar” chip flavor). Then place in the oven as directed in step 3.

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Biggest Fan!

Below is a blog I wrote for my tri club's website. We have asked members to share their stories related to mental health. The bravery and courage of so many women encouraged me to finally write my story down. It took me a long time to write this, but it was a huge step for me!

My Biggest Fan

My dad was always my biggest fan. He supported me in each and every aspect of my life. Some of my best memories, however, are being on the soccer field with my dad on the sideline. He actually paced the sidelines cheering, “Let’s go Skate!” My dad traveled hours for games that I played in for five minutes. He woke up very early, after working all night, to be at the first whistle of every game. Vacations were scheduled around soccer tournaments. In college, I had to convince him it was crazy to drive two and a half hours to watch me play an intramural soccer game. He was always encouraging and supportive. No matter what the outcome of the game, or how I played that day he always welcomed me with a smile and a hug. And of course, like most parents, his favorite past time was bragging about his children. And of course, like most children, I would always turn red with embarrassment. I could never bring myself to stop him because the look of pride on his face filled my heart.
                  August 20, 2010 I lost my dad to suicide. I have never spoken those words out loud. Not a day has passed that I have not thought about that horrific day. It is still something I am struggling with, and I am not writing this because I have found any answers or peace yet. I am writing this because I want to play a role in ending the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. I want to be comfortable talking about these issues, and I want people who are struggling with these issues to be comfortable admitting it and seeking help.
                  I wanted to share some of my thoughts that keep me company during my long runs, bike rides, and laps in the pool. Five years prior to his death, my dad suffered a major stroke that took my family on a five year rollercoaster of ups and downs. He suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety at times. Knowing that he needed serious help he checked himself into a crisis center once. My dad tried countless counselors, psychiatrists, neurologists, and medication over the years. He fought hard. As his daughter, it was awful to see him hurt so bad, and not be able to help him. I felt helpless. I drove him to appointments, visited often, and helped out in any way possible; but I always left like I never had the right thing to say. So I didn’t say anything. That is something I regret. I was uncomfortable talking to my dad about depression and anxiety. My advice to people in a similar situation is, speak up! Speak up about your feelings, even if it is just to say you are scared. Speak up to medical professional by asking questions. Then ask more questions. Continue asking questions until you get a clear answer. There are so many people who devote their lives to helping others cope with mental illness. I believe silence helps perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. People do not want to talk about these topics, but we need to. We need to so that we can learn, discover, heal, cope, and survive.
                  When Lydia announced the charity for the year I knew it was an opportunity for me to step up. I cautiously joined the charity committee to help plan for how we would raise awareness and money to end the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. I am so proud to be a part of this worthy cause to finally get my chance to speak up! I know this is a journey that is just beginning for me, but like all athletes I know the first step is always the hardest.
                  I have heard many people say that they notice I smile during triathlons. There is a simple reason for this; it is because I know my dad is with me. I know my dad is with me because he would not miss an opportunity to cheer me on. My dad is still my biggest fan.