Meatloaf with Veggies & Flax

I am for real fast-tracking this recipe because so many people have commented for it, texted me, pm’d me (which thank you by the way, you make me feel so fancy).

This is a recipe where the original inspiration came from Cooking Light, but in the spirit of being extra I kept playing around with it to see if I could add even more fiber/plant power.

So as many of you already know we take fiber very seriously in our household, so this is something that we keep in our arsenal of recipes to help out with that.

A few things to know ahead of time, Flaxseeds are little nutrition powerhouses, they contain plant based Omega 3 fatty acids (ALA), they also contain manganese, magnesium, and B vitamins, and FIBER. So there’s one caveat to this – yes, they are nutritious but I would advise using them in their ground form, when you have whole flaxseeds, your body has to work soooooooo much harder to potentially break them down and get the nutrients on them; and that is actually normal because the goal of a seed is to essentially stay in it’s form and make (reproduce?) more seeds- when you have them already sprouted and/or ground your body can access those lovely nutrients a little better.

To add to this, I have started adding vegetables to this recipe (mushrooms, and chopped spinach) to beef up the nutrition and fiber content.

So, I mean without further adieu here is the recipe:

  • Difficulty: easy
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You can use mushrooms, and or spinach, or both, you can use a variety of ground meats as well – such as grass fed beef, or bison, etc. You can also use ketchup, but we are partial to using our favorite Trader Joe’s basil tomato marinara, if you want spice I would recommend ketchup, and adding sriracha, or hot sauce of choice.

Ingredients

-2 lbs ground meat of choice

-1/2 cup ground flax

-2 eggs

-salt & pepper to taste

-1 – 1 1/2 Cup diced Mushrooms

-1/2 – 1 cup chopped spinach

-1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

-1/3-1/2 cup sauce/ketchup

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375
  2. In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients together, and combine everything with your hands (it’s just easier that way)
  3. Pack into a loaf pan, and bake until 165 internally

This is something that is so easy to make, what I usually do, is throw this together at the end of our meal prep, and get it in the oven before our other food/dinner is ready and let it bake while we are eating. Pat, seriously raves about this – and it’s one of his favorite recipes. It wasn’t until the 3rd, or 4th time I made it, that he realized/found out that I put ground flaxseed in it. But by then, he really liked it so there have been no complaints.

Using the vegetables and flaxseed is also a good way to get away from using breadcrumbs – while they bind the meatloaf they really don’t add any nutritional value, where here the flax does – therefore making this recipe NATURALLY gluten free. If you’re doing Whole 30 you can use a “compliant” red sauce or ketchup. I hate the word “compliant” to describe food, but I also support it here in the sense of – get some ketchup or red sauce (or make your own) that does not have added sugar in it, there’s really just no point, in my humble opinion.

Oh, do you want to make this with a Mexican twist?! Add some roasted salsa in the mix, and on top instead of red sauce/ketchup.

Last point – you can also use muffin pans to make mini meatloaves instead of one big one.

Now, go out, prosper, and make this recipe. And send me/tag me in pictures if you do!

Bayshore Half Marathon

If  you’re not familiar with Traverse City, Michigan let me just tell you that it is one of the most beautiful places ever.  To add to that there are a ton of great hotels, things to do, restaurants, and breweries/bars.

It’s also host to the Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10k, or as a majority of Michiganders refer to it: “Bayshore”.

The half marathon is a hot ticket item, for the last 2-3 years entries have sold out in MINUTES.  Sign up is in December (I think?) you seriously need to be logged in, and ready to register and pay at 9am sharp.  Last year all 2700 spots were filled by 9:04-ish.  And you can get on the waitlist, but good luck.

The 10k sells out quickly as well, and the marathon does fill, but I can’t tell you if it hit capacity.  My point for saying this is, there is a GOOD REASON why it fills up so quick.

The race is the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend (MDW), so it’s in late May- so TYPICALLY, cooler temps, which is helped by the fact that most of the course is along the bay (hence the name).  For the half you start on the north end of the peninsula, and run straight down, and finish on the track of Traverse City Central High School.  The marathon is an out and back, so you start and finish at the high school.

If you do the half you’re shuttled up to the northern part of the peninsula to the starting area.  I stayed at a cute little hotel called the Beach Haus kind of old, however it was super cute, and clean- I had a beach front room, with a walk out patio.

Also, there was a pretty good sized group of us from my running group that did either the full or half, so we were all in good company, and one of our friends- has super super nice parents and gave us a ride up to the start line from their house.

The starting area is essentially a large field, with porta potties, and you line up, and go.  It takes about 2-ish miles for you to get out to where you can see the bay, and then you run along the bay until finish.  It is a GORGEOUS race, I’ve never done a race so scenic and beautiful.

On top of that, the race is just really well executed, there a lot of aid stations, and lot’s of goodies in the finishers area (chocolate milk and ice cream!).  The only con is packet pick up, it was kind of a shit show, and I’m not sure I’d feel that way if I had had to pick up just MY packet, but my friend Ashley and I picked up like 10 packets, and that made it a shit show.

In terms of swag, you obviously get a medal, you also get a tech shirt, and anyone who did the marathon also got a pair of running socks.

On top of that Traverse City is one of my all time favorite cities, so it’s a FANTASTIC place to go out it in and celebrate those miles!  A few of my favorites are:

Rare Bird, The Fleet (Food Trucks), Harvest, Red Ginger, North Peak, & 7 Monks.  If you’re unsure about what to eat pre-race there is an option for a spaghetti dinner, however, I can’t recommend the food scene in Traverse enough.

In short, I can’t recommend this race enough, it’s beautiful, it’s well executed, and the crowd support is also fantastic, the roads were lined with spectators for the majority of the course with spectators, signs, and goodies from everything to vaseline, candy, coke, and beer.

Are Resolutions Worth It/I’m back(ish)

If you’re a usual reader you know I’ve been MIA from this space for awhile. And for a few reasons – 1) Pat and I got married at the end of 2017 (NYE) – so a lot of planning was going into that, plus the holidays

2) The beginning of 2018 for me, personally has been a bit of a f*ckshow. 3) Honestly, I go through phases with blogging when sometimes it’s just not that fun – the same with running – and it just so happens that at the end of 2017 blogging and running were just becoming something that I did, versus something I enjoyed.

So. I took a break, from both, and now a few months have passed, and I am really ready to be back for both.

Running for me has picked back up in February, and even though I haven’t been posting, blogging over the past month has picked back up too.

And now that it’s February, I want to kind of check in how those Resolutions are working out, and see if it is maybe time to re-tool them, check in on them, and potentially adjust expectations, etc.

First of all, I guess a natural first question here is, do resolutions work?

Many dietitians, in fact many people in general are against resolutions – the argument being – don’t use the first of the year as a one and done time to change that.

But what about the people who really take the first of the year as a way to light a fire under their own asses to make change, make it last, and achieve the things they want?

I see both sides here – but I think I am 60% in the camp of: You don’t need Jan 1 to make change.

I fully acknowledge that change is hard, (in fact I really dislike change).  That being said when you’re making change – use the ‘SMART’ method for goal setting

S-Specific

M-Measurable

A-Achievable

R-Result Focused

T-Time Oriented

An example: By December of 2018, I want to lose 50 lbs, that is an average of 1 lb per week, which will be measured on every/every other Monday.  I will do this by: exercising for 150 minutes per week, and consuming half my amount of usual pop.  I will also consume my daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables each day by preparing my meals and snacks ahead of time.

I will journal each Monday about successes and struggles I had the previous week.

Another:

By October 2018, I want to be ready to run the Detroit Marathon, I have never ran before, so I am going to start with a couch to 5k program, upon completion of that I will move up to 10k, half, etc distances.  I will run with a group 1-3x per week, and follow my training schedule.  Each Sunday I will look at my upcoming week, and running schedule so that I can be prepared for times I may need to go to the gym, and/or adjust my running plans to a different day.

I think there should be two R’s in the ‘SMART’ framework – the second R standing for reflection.  I think this is an important step, in understanding how you tick, and how you’re responding to your plan in terms of making changes.

I have learned over the years, that I respond to:

  • Planning ahead – for instance I hate meal prepping but, the weeks I do it, I save more money, and I eat out less.
  • Early morning workouts, that wake me up, and that involve accountability/class setting.
    • I am the person that will meet you at 6am to run, to go to a 5:30 work out class because she said she would.  What I won’t do is roll out of bed that early to run alone on the treadmill.
  • Financial commitments,  if I register for a race, I will show up to that race fit enough to race it, same thing for workout classes.

These are things that PERSONALLY help me, because if I pay for something I find that on days when I’m not wanting to go run, I will. Also if I rsvp to a run, or sign up for a class, I will be there, because internally I think “well I said I’d be there, and if I don’t go I am not doing something I said I would”.

SO. It’s February, how are those Jan 1 resolutions going? Is it time to re-adjust? Are things going well? I think goals are also fluid, meaning it is ok to adjust, ultimately strive to continue to improve, and work on things. Ultimately what I hate to see is when people get frustrated and just give up.

For instance – it has legitimately taken me YEARS to get to the point I am with meal prepping, and running, and also eating the way that I currently do (stay tuned for a separate post) on this.

Hard Cider 5k

I run with a group of friends who LOOOOOOVE trail running.

Like love it.

Who needs asphalt? Not them.

Wellllll it has taken me a good long while to warm up to the idea that maybe I don’t hate running trails.

In fact, maybe it’s kind of a new challenge?

Bearing that in mind that’s not why I signed up for this race. This year I signed up for two reasons:

1) (and most importantly) to spend a morning with my family

2) Redemption.

Last year when I did this race I had just come off of a bike injury. I had barely ran in a month let alone ran any trails.

The race itself is held at Uncle John’s Cider Mill in Saint John’s Michigan, very near to where myself and my cousins (who also ran this) grew up.

The course runs around the property of the Apple orchard and Cider mill- so you get a mix of grass, hard packed dirt, and sand/loose dirt. The course itself is also quite beautiful, and considering it’s in late May, the mornings are usually on the cooler side.

One really nice aspect of the event is that it places an emphasis on just being active. The race is chip timed, however they do not award places for age group, and they run it in waves. Meaning there’s a wave of people at 9, 9:30, and so on. Ultimately those who want to run are encouraged to a) go in and he earlier waves, and b) start at the front the wave. Overall the event encourages people to come out and participate whether they run, or walk- which I think is nice, everyone needs to start somewhere.

This year they added a 15k option as well for people who REALLY love trails.

Your race entry gets you a Tshirt (of the super soft cotton variety- the shirts were really cute this year), a medal, a commemorative glass and a pour of cider or hard cider upon finish.

Ultimately I did run really well, and took a few minutes off of my time from last year, and overall had a really fun morning.

Broccoli Tots 

One of Pat’s favorite vegetables is broccoli, so broccoli is an easy fallback to get him eating vegetables and more fiber (it doesn’t hurt that I like it too).  However, unlike Pat I can’t just eat steamed broccoli forever and ever.

We recently tried the Broccoli & Cheese Tots from Green Giant, and we both genuinely loved them, I mean they tasted really flipping good.  However, looking at the nutrition facts, and ingredients, I set out to make something a bit more well rounded and to see if I could reduce the sodium, and maybe up the fiber.

broccoli tots nutrition facts

A serving is roughly about 6-7 “tots”.

Broccoli Tots

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients


1 bag frozen, steamable Broccoli (I use Private Selection)

2 eggs

1/2 cup parm cheese, or bread crumbs

3 slices toasted ezekiel bread, pulsed into crumbs

1 cup black beans, rinsed

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
Pulse the toasted ezekiel bread in a food processor, leave in the processor

Steam broccoli following directions on bag, drain excess liquid from bag, and from broccoli (cheese cloth is ideal for this)

Add broccoli to food processor with egg, parm, salt & pepper, and black beans

Pulse until everything is combined

Spoon your broccoli mix into small balls, onto a greased baking sheet

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are brown

This will yield anywhere from 30-40 “tots” or nuggets, adding the beans adds a little protein, and also helps up the fiber, the parm, and broccoli mask the taste of the beans, and the beans help with texture as well.

Pat loves these, to be fair you can make these a few different ways, the way I shared in the post has the most fiber, and that is what I make most frequently.  You can absolutely make these without the black beans, and if you’re so inclined you can use just parm and bread crumbs- which will cut the fiber in half.

These are fantastic for making a big batch early in the week, and munching on throughout the week.  The also, obviously work out well for food prep, and hold/reheat well throughout the week.

If you have allergy concerns, you can use gluten free bread/bread crumbs, or almond flour.  To get rid of the eggs, you could increase the beans to help bind.

You could also sub out the broccoli for other veggies like cauliflower, or sweet potatoes and make little tots that way!

Cloud Eggs

Let’s be real, avocado toast is so 2016.  And I’m not a fan of smoothie bowls.

So cloud eggs are food sensation this girl can get behind.


Cloud eggs are basically just a different way to serve an egg, however, they are a bit more involved, you have to whip the white until it forms a stiff peak.  What does this mean?

It essentially means you’re beating the hell out of the whites (actually you’re whipping in more air).

A few tips:

Fresh eggs will separate more easily (separate the yolk from the white), however, room temp eggs will form the peaks easier.  So for baking (i.e. making meringues), etc if you can let the egg whites site at room temperature for a bit, this will serve you well.

You can whip the whites several ways, with whisk and a bowl (and a bit of elbow grease), a hand mixer, or a stand up mixer.  Since I just got a stand up mixer for my bridal shower (thanks mom) I used this!  AND I WAS SO EXCITED AND PLEASED WITH THE RESULT!

 

Cloud Eggs

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

2-4 eggs separated

salt

pepper

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 450, in some prep bowls or ramekins, separate your yolks from your whites.  For ease, I put one yolk in each ramekin.
  • Add your whites together, I added a pinch of cream of tarter, and a pinch (literally a pinch) of salt
  • Beat your whites until you form stiff peaks (see below)
  • Spoon your whites into mini coccettes, or onto a baking sheet lined with silpat, or parchment paper.
  • As you spoon them on, create a little well at then spoon each yolk into their little wells.
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes for runnier eggs, and 8-10 minutes for a firmer yolk


How do you know if you have stiff peaks?  They hold their own- I’ll explain.  

Egg whites are fairly temperamental, and you need to be patient with them.  Soft peaks mean if you pick your whisk up, they will stand up, and droop over, and may even drip.

You don’t want that.

Firm peaks will stand and and droop a bit.

You still don’t want that.

The way I learned how to understand what a stiff peak is, is from baking (or watching my mom) lemon meringue pies.  She would lift the whisk from the whites, and pull it straight up, and turn it over (whisk goes from bottom to top, vertically).  If the whites, hold their form the entire time, and preferably even make a little wave- this is perfection.

This is what you’re trying to get. 

Here I used a spoon- and flipped it upside down, where the peak holds its form


I used my mini coccettes to make mine, by again you can use a baking sheet with either parchment paper or silpat. 

To be completely honest, this is just another way to prepare and egg. If you wanted to get really wild you can always put a cloud egg on avocado toast. 

I also opted to try it because I had the time and I have a new stand up mixer- and wanted to see how fast I could whip the whites with that. 

(Side note: it was awesome).

Fifth Third River Bank Run 25k

Let’s run a 25k they said.

It will be fun they said.

Woof.  Just, woof.

In case you’re wondering, a 25k is 15.5 miles.  Which is a little more than a half marathon, and significantly less than a full marathon.

After training for a marathon, it SEEMED easy.  Except that I wanted to run it aggressively with my friend Anne.  This was the first race I did after Nashville went to hell in a hand-basket, so I had strong legs, a running buddy, and great weather.

This race is the second weekend in May, which for Michigan can promise cooler weather, but also warm up quickly.  I also signed up for this race prettyyyyyy last minute.

I can’t really comment on packet pick up, because I didn’t go, I had my friend pick up my packet for me.

In terms of why I signed up, it was mainly because I heard great things, and time wise it just worked out well; AND I heard that if you did the 25k and Gazelle Girl you got a THIRD MEDAL!!!

A THIRD MEDAL!!!

The River Bank offers a few distance options: a 25k, a 25k relay, 10k, and 5k, and the 25k actually draws some pretty notable elite runners (people who race for cash money), which I didn’t realize, but ultimately thought it was cool!

I spent the night before at my in-law’s, and drove part way in, and uber’d the rest of the way to the start.  I was very pleased with the amount of indoor space that was available pre-race – including indoor bathrooms. Honestly if it were up to me to “rate” a race, I would give one start just for having indoor bathrooms.

My one and only gripe was the start corrals.  They were an absolute mess, bottle necked, congested, faster people couldn’t move forward, slower people couldn’t move back.  Fortunately as we started moving forward things evened out, the first few miles were a bit congested, but I’ve definitely ran in worse.

The course was A LOT different from Gazelle Girl, which I was relieved about, because if it’s not yet obvious, I really didn’t research this race at all (don’t worry, my lack of research is a common theme for this race), which leads my next point, the course is MOSTLY flat.

I heard there were “some” hills, I ignored this.  That was a terrible idea, in case you were wondering.

Around mile 7 you are at the farthest point away from the finish, around mile 8 you get a few hills.  Problem is, in my mind I thought “just a few hills”, and I kept barreling on at my goal pace.  There were more hills.

So, it would behoove anyone planning to do this race, to plan for some hills in the second half of this race. I say it’s hilly because I run in Lansing, which is flat as pancake, realistically I think it’s only mild-to-moderate elevation gain, and the location of the hills is what presents the problem- they come in the second half.  The second half of the race is also less shaded, so you get a combo of more fatigued legs + more sun exposure.

BUT the race is MOSTLY flat, and the hills stop around mile 11-12.  The on course support and aid stations were AWESOME!  We were mostly on trails, and kind of felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, but it was nice to still see a fair amount of spectators- which was both welcome and impressive.  And the trail system in the Grand Rapids area is also very nice – so when I say “trails” they were nicely paved, and shaded bike/running paths.
Also, the aid stations had BLUE electrolyte drink, which is always an awesome change up from lemon-lime (I don’t ask for a lot you guys), and there were PLENTY of aid stations too!!

I was so happy to be done with this race, but I would also do it again.

I’ll fast forward to the post race party, and swag! The medal was pretty cool, and the beer selection was pretty fantastic, both domestic, and local craft brews which was super nice.  So if you paid a little extra (I think it was ~ $20) you got a Saucony tech shirt, which is what I opted for, and was pleased with, I think if you didn’t upgrade it was a regular cotton shirt.  I also got that extra medal because I did both Gazelle Girl, and the 25k.

L-R: Gazelle Girl, 25k, and combo medal

Ultimately I would recommend this race, but I’d also recommend a few other things:

  1. If you live in a flat environment do some hill training
  2. Mentally prepare for the fact that you are running MORE than a half marathon (personally I went into it thinking I was doing a half “and some change”, so I went after my half goal, and the last two miles took a lot of mind games from to get through)
  3. Do it with a friend!  One of the best parts of this race was the post race party, so it was really nice to hang out afterwards with someone, sip a beer, and enjoy the sun!