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
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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!

 

Savory Salmon Cakes

A big thing that has been happening in our house is trying to get Pat to eat more fiber on a regular basis.  As a dietitian I thought this would be fun, as a dietitian who lives with her patient….well it’s been work.  A labor of love if you will.

Habits are hard to break and for the last 7 years Pat has been following a low fiber diet because he thought it was something he HAD to do.  As we have found out in the last year- that is not the case, so now we actively work on getting more fiber in his diet.  And while oatmeal and whole grains are helping I have been working pretty diligently incorporate all types of fiber into his diet – which means increasing his intake of whole grains, and also vegetables.

 

As anyone who has tried to make lifestyle changes knows- CHANGE IS HARD.

While he has his favorite foods, I have been working away to sneak fiber into our main entrees and into recipes, and do it with real food as opposed to using supplements.  This recipe started off originally as something I made relatively “paleo” for us prior to our pro-fiber revolution, as I didn’t use bread to bind the cakes- I used sweet potato- which is an option in this case as well.

Also, please note you DO NOT have to use salmon fillets, you can totally use canned salmon, or even tuna for this recipe as well.  It just so happened that as I was working on this recipe our Kroger had a HUGE (YUUUUGE) sale on salmon, so it was super budget friendly to actually buy a crap load of fillets!!!

Savory Salmon Cakes

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 lbs Salmon fillets

2 diced red bell peppers

4 slices toasted Ezekiel bread

2 eggs

1 Finely diced jalapeño (optional) or sriracha

Directions

  • Toast your slices of Ezekiel bread (you can use gluten free bread or no bread at all if that is your preference)- sweet potato works well too if you prefer the grain free route
  • Once your bread is toasted, throw it into a food processor and pulse it until you have your bread crumbs- at this point I suggest adding salt, pepper, garlic, and Old Bay, pour into a bowl and set aside
  • Preheat your oven to 375
  • Clean your bell peppers, and seed and dice finely- set aside
  • Toss your salmon into a food processor and pulse until you have small little chunks of salmon, remove and place into a large mixing bowl (feel free to skip this if you use canned salmon)
  • Add your bell peppers, and two eggs into salmon and add bread crumbs until everything starts to thicken and you’re able to easily form your cakes (you can do this w/o bread- just add one egg or some mashed sweet potato!!!)
  • I used a #8 portion scoop – that means I am getting consistent 4 oz portions


So a few things about this recipe:

1) You can make this recipe grain/gluten free- you can either toast 4 pieces of gluten free bread, and follow the same steps outlined above, OR

2) You can microwave a sweet potato and use the sweet potato as a binder with the egg to get your desired consistency

The above recipe yielded 12, 4 oz cakes, each “cake” was 158 kcal, 8 g of fat, 8 g carb, 2 g fiber, 15 g protein, and a good source of Vitamin C!!!

In terms of nutrition value there would be very little change in the macros if you swapped out tuna for salmon or used canned versus fresh.  Both salmon and tuna are going to be amazing sources of protein, but they will also be filled with those super helpful heart healthy fats!

We ended up pairing these with some quinoa and steamed vegetables to really amp up the fiber!

This recipe is also perfect for meal prep, because you can easily double up the recipe and make a ton of these for the week.  You can also freeze any leftovers for up to 3 months and thaw any extras in the refrigerator when you want them!!!

Gazelle Girl: Race Recap

So CLEARLY I am way behind on recapping races I’ve done (about 5 months behind).

I’m also out of chronological order (my OCD told me I had to mention that), because technically I did the Gazelle Girl Half the week before Nashville.  When I signed up for this race it was purely to do it as a training run, and enjoy a race that had great word of mouth.

This was to be a dress rehearsal, my race plan for Nashville was to run a 2:05 first half (well that didn’t happen) but I did that during this race, and I felt really good at the end.  Because my goal was to run very consistently throughout the entire race, I ENJOYED this race SO MUCH!

The best part was I had great company!!!  My friend Whitney came up from Chicago so we made like a little reunion out of it, and stayed at an AirBnB with my friend Anne, which allowed us to be very close to the start line, and packet pickup the night before.

Packet pickup was well organized, we saw a few more familiar faces at packet pickup as I had another friend who was a pacer for the race.  I love a well organized packet pickup, I also love it when race directors pick smart spaces, and what I mean by that, is if you’re anticipating thousands of people, and you rent out a tiny ballroom packet pickup is zero fun when you’re shoulder to shoulder with strangers.


Additionally the day of was very well organized, the bathrooms were a bit congested, but we got there kind of close, and well, what do you expect.  The course is pretty fast, and mostly flat, it what I would call a modified out and back, a hybrid of a loop and an out and back.  My point here, is that you don’t end up seeing a lot of the same stuff twice.


Post race party: it was solid, but it was pretty crowded, the layout wasn’t open considering the amount of people there, we got our wine/cider/beer, and hung out for a minute or two, but then ultimately migrated down the street for a gigantic cinnamon roll (and breakfast).


Swag: The medals were pretty, the shirts were a nike dri-fit t-shirt (so they were pretty nooooice).

In short, I highly recommend this race, I would do absolutely do it again.  Plus it’s at the end of April, so in Michigan it’s pretty prime weather to run a pr (but again it’s Michigan, so the weather will either be perfect or frigid).

 

 

Rock N Roll Nashville: Race Recap

As many of you know I unsuccessfully ran a marathon in Nashville in April. This post is not about my lack of success but rather the race itself.

First of all, you can expect a pretty solid experience from any event in the Rock N Roll race series, some of the races can be pricey, but I have found that 1) if you sign up early enough you can decrease costs (and typically use/find coupon codes), 2) the price is still worth it. 

Well it’s worth it if you enjoy big races with a ton of spectators and people around you. If you’re more a fan of local small races… well these are usually bigger. 

In a lot of the larger cities (Chicago, Nashville, etc you will find a lot of the entry is going towards permits for road closures, etc.

Also, these event are well organized and usually have apps you, family, and friends can use to a) get more info about locations/events b) runner tracker/tracking c) check results, and d) get Event Updates

Now, living in the Mid West I’ve never really needed to rely on the Event Alert System where color/colored flags are used it indicate the general safety of an event. Again living and running in Chicago and Michigan, it’s always been green, maybe yellow in August. 

Never red, never talk of an event being cancelled. However, as I rolled into Nashville with Pat and the in-laws, I was getting inundated with emails reminding me of the hot forecast, to hydrate, and run smart. Over the next 24-36 hours these emails evolved from that to encouraging participants to drop down to the half. 

Even at the expo, I was able to easily move up my start corral to start earlier and beat the heat. This was a huge bonus in my opinion, as some of you know changing a start corral can be darn near impossible for some races. 

Speaking of the expo, it was typical of a race that size, it was very large, there were a ton of booths. I had Pat and my in-laws with me, and they were totally blown away.  I’ve been to my fair share of expos and I have to say this was really nice- there were a ton of people, but there was also a ton of space. 

Again at the expo there were plenty of people reminding you that you could drop down to the half, or any shorter distance, and providing points for the marathon runners on how they could get finish earlier if they needed to.

So my one and only “complaint” was the gear check on race day, and the general traffic jam of humans it caused trying to get to the start line. Gear check consisted of moving trucks as we started downtown on Broadway, but finished at Nissan Stadium. Depending on the direction you came from you had to pass the start, drop your gear, then back track back to your corral entrance.
This is where things got tricky. 

There were so many people, and there was just bottleneck after bottleneck.

Fortunately I reunited with my friend Lizzy and we were able to commiserate together, and ultimately find our friends. 
The race itself (despite the heat) was awesome. The crowd support was fantastic, my favorite was the 12 South Neighborhood – where people where brunching and boozing as we went by. In addition to the crowd support was the immense number of police officers and first responders on the course. 


It was a hot day, and the race directors and city of Nashville were prepared. In addition to this there were added misting, and sponge stations, to at least attempt to get cooled off. 

Unfortunately these officers and first responders had to move into action quite a bit, as I saw far too many people pass out. But countless volunteers and first responders were jumping to action.

The course itself is a bit hilly- especially as you run away from the start line (so away from the river) as you return it’s more downhill, and as you approached the stadium you had one last hill.

In terms of swag: if you finished the marathon (and bless your heart if you did) you received a water resistant Finishers’ Jakcet, everyone got a Brooks tech T, and the medals were pretty awesome too (they light up)!!


The post race finishers area was very spread out, which was nice, the beer tent was very large, and there were options for food in the form of various food truck vendors. 


In closing, this was a great race, I don’t feel it’s fair to say a race is bad or not fun because of the weather. The city of Nashville and the race directors brought their A-game to ensure a safe and fun course. In fact kudos to whoever came up with where the marathon and half split- it was ideal at least for me, because by that point I was a) able to make up my mind that 13.1 was all I was up for and  b) I was able to position Pat and the in-laws nearby to let them know I’d be dipping out early. 
My only advice would be, maybe not make this a “goal race” and plan to make a fun weekend out of the race as opposed to running a specific time- especially if you live in a cooler climate!! 

And also, in case you didn’t know, there’s A LOT to do in Nashville. So I’d recommend this race as well as a trip to the city.