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This is a little spot to call my own. I'm here to blog about what is on my mind and my plate! This is a place to share my journey to becoming a healthier and stronger me!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Big Move...www.Knackfornutrition.com is born!

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely Sunday.

I have some very exciting news. Over the past several weeks I have been working tirelessly to revamp my blog to make it more of a home for me and you. Today, I finally completed the overhaul!

So with no further delay, I present to you all my new home at

www.knackfornutrition.com.

I hope that you will continue to follow my journey of healthy living on my new and improved blog!
(This will be my past post from this address, so please update your google readers!)

I can't wait to share this with you all.

Please let me know what you think of the new layout!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The First Long Run and a Disappointing Farmer's Market.

Tomorrow morning marks the first long run of my 1/2 marathon training schedule. I have been mentally preparing for this event all week.

To some, 4 miles is a joke. To others, it is unfathomable. To me, well I suppose I will just have to get back to you on that one.
(1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 scoop of chia seeds, 1 tbsp almond butter, sprinkle of cacao nibs.)

The first week of training has been tolerable. I ran two 3 milers back to back on the dreadmill and participated in a cycling class and hour of weightlifting yesterday. It makes perfect sense why my body is absolutely exhausted today, and although it took an hour and a half to muster up the strength and determination to go to the gym, I got there. 30 minutes later, I was gone. That is all the schedule dictated and I was glad to be done. (Yes, this is a breakfast. 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup of organic strawberries, 1/4 cup organic blueberries, 1/4 cup raw oats, 1/2 scoop of chia seeds, 1 black bean brownie square.)

Tonight, I will prepare as if it were a race night because tomorrow I face a new hurdle...the heat. Seeing as the forecast states it will feel like 86F by 8AM I intend to get my butt moving once my feet hit the floor. The goal is to be out the door no later than 6:45AM. That means I am being a cool kid tonight and going to bed super early. But it is fine by me. I am thriving off of the challenge.
(Mixed green salad with hummus and salsa. 2 slices Ezekiel bread with hummus, pineapple tomato, and avocado. All topped with salt and pepper.)

I am looking forward to reuniting with an old friend that has been collecting dust on a shelf in my room for one to many weeks. The beast and I will find our groove in this weather because well, we have no choice. (Roasted sweet potato with cinnamon, Dr. Praeger's vegetable burger with ketchup.)

Hopefully, my clean eating habits of the past two weeks will fuel me through the run.
~~~~~~~~~
I restocked my vegetable supply at the local farmer's market today, so I will be able to stick with the idea that "food is fuel" in the coming days.(Downtown Little Rock aka The Rivermarket.)

Although the heat was blazing today (the car monitor read nearly 100F!) I still made my way to the market because my dad offered to come along. We had a great time, but by the time we got back to the car we were both drenched in sweat. We agreed, never again at 11AM. Show up at 7AM or do not show up at all.
(My sweet dad picking out tomatoes.)

On a slightly different note, I was rather disappointed in the selection and size of the market. I went religiously last year and I just remember it being, for lack of a more appropriate word, better. (The crowd. The heat. The crowd. The heat!)

It was clear that some of the produce was not local. Moreover, when I asked someone at a booth if his cucumbers were organic or sprayed with pesticide killer, he did not know the answer. He actually looked at me as if what I was asking was completely bizarre. I think I will be researching other markets with more knowledgeable vendors to buy my produce for the rest of my time at home. (Organic blueberries [I bought them!] and blackberries.)

In the end, we purchased quite the load of fruits and veggies. Among them were corn, peaches, blueberries, tomatoes, and cherries.(Non-organic Arkansas tomatoes.)

I've gotta go get my game face ready. See y'all tomorrow!

Question: Do you ever "try to get to know your farmer" at farmer's markets? By this, I mean asking questions about what you are purchasing?
Normally, vendors are eager to talk to customers. I think I just ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. People are really friendly in Arkansas, I promise. :)

~Jenn

Friday, July 16, 2010

The best Green Monster I have ever made.

Yes, that is a bold statement.
I mean, let us be real, Green Monsters are no joke amongst bloggers.
They are an addiction for many, a cure for some, and a frightening sight for outsiders.
In all, Green Monsters have developed into quite the movement.

I swear by them. Since the day I began blogging I have been posting about the power of the green smoothie.

Today something magical happened in my blender. It may have been a combination of heat and post-work out endorphins kicking in, but I created something special that I must share.

The Recipe
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 frozen banana
3 cups organic baby spinach
1 cup freshly chopped organic mango
1 scoop chia seeds
1 scoop Amazing Grass green superfood powder (berry blend)
1.5 cups ice
1/2 cup water

That is it. Really nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, it was truly extraordinary.
~Jenn

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How Sweet Muffins

Instead of following my normal routine of working out first thing in the morning I decided to forgo exercise and bake. After scouring the web (okay, just my google reader) for a recipe, I landed on one that made my taste buds salivate. I adapted this recipe from Jessica at How Sweet It Is.
Her recipes make me drool on the regular, so I knew I could do no wrong attempting to recreate one of her treats. Originally based off of the Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Bread Muffin recipe, I made a couple of alterations based on what I had in the pantry.

The bananas I had lying around were ginormous so I only used 3 instead of the recipe's recommendation of 4.

I also used baking powder instead of soda because I don't actually believe there is a difference.
I tasted the batter, because c'mon who doesn't, and I did not think it was sweet enough. So on a whim, I added 1/4 cup of light brown sugar, unpacked.

Finally, strawberries have hit their peak in Arkansas so I had plenty to spare. I switched out the 1/2 cup of blueberries for 1 cup of freshly chopped strawberries.
Because of all the adaptions I made, I was a little nervous as to how these would taste. Let's just say, I was pleasantly surprised. They are dense, chewy, and not overly sweet. In otherwords, my perfect muffin.

The only thing I would change for next time is I would pre-grease the muffin tin or use some sort of non-stick muffin cup because mine stick to the paper.

Happy Baking!

Why I Dislike Wal-Mart

There are many things I love about America. After living abroad for 6 weeks, I have come to appreciate modern conveniences like dryers, air conditioning, and iPhones in a whole new way. I am proud to be an American in every sense, but I cannot move beyond my extreme dislike of Wal-Mart and what I believe it is doing to this country.(Breakfast: 2 slices Ezekiel toast, 1 tbsp almond butter, 1 banana, cinnamon)

Seeing as the company represents an ever increasing share of the consumer market, I find myself in a complex place between sadness and anger that this is the direction our country is moving toward. Allow me to explain...

Yesterday, I accompanied a friend to our local Wal-Mart Supercenter to help her shop with her 90 year old grandmother. Her grandmother is completely immobile and therefore needs a wheelchair. Wal-Mart had 1 in the entire store and it had no basket on top. So my friend had to push her grandmother while trying to carry everything she needed to buy. When this was explained to a store employee, they simply responded that it was not their problem.

We spent over an hour in the store weaving in and out of the countless aisles. Product after product lined the shelf with price tag's claiming to be the lowest in the city. Indeed, the products may be cheap for you and I to purchase, but what is the real cost hidden in your $5 sleep shorts or $1 plastic dog toy?
(Lunch: 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg {all cage free}, 1/2 de-cobbed corn, 1/2 pineapple tomato, spinach, onion, 1 La Tortilla Factory whole wheat wrap, salsa).

The answer: an entire exploited market of demand driven suppliers that are forced, in a sense, to exploit workers (mostly abroad) to produce products under harsh and often dangerous conditions with no concern for their well-being. You see, in America, Wal-Mart is king, and all others must bow to him to play in his domain.

The story continues as I walked through the frozen food section of the store. There are no less than 5 industrial sized freezer laden aisles stuffed to the brim with "ready in 2 minutes!" meals that contain a slew of unpronounceable ingredients and are just shy of a days worth of caloric intake. As I took it all in, I noticed a common trend. The bright colors and beautiful pictures appear to parallel cheap prices.

The food in the store is cheap. Plain and simple. And at those prices, many American's feel as though they do not have an alternative but to shop at Wal-Mart. They must provide for their families, which in this economy is increasingly difficult. I understand.(Dinner: 1/3 cup teriyaki tofu, 1/2 lentils, oven roasted broccoli, carrots, onion, 2 tbsp hummus).

You and I (I assume) are in a different position than the average Wal-Mart customer. Sure, you may drop into a store every once and a while to pick up an item to save some money. But overall, we have a choice. We are educated in the ways of healthy eating, and know that although fresh, organic, and local produce and meat may cost more, you are paying for what you receive. There are no hidden costs in the form of agricultural subsidies and antibiotic laden meat. Furthermore, we are able to see the long term investment in our health by purchasing what is often labeled "health food."

Going back to the employee's response that the situation "was not her problem," I am left with a host of questions. Who's responsibility is it then to provide for those unable to help themselves? Where do we draw the line at what is marketed toward our families? Should there even be a line, or should people take responsibility for their own lives and decide what to buy and eat for themselves?

Moreover, big companies in general are composed of people. People like you and I. So how did a company full of individuals come to the point where the dollar was more important than the health and safety of the consumer? Is that somewhere they would want to shop?
(Mom's dinner creation: Portabella Mushroom Pizza: portabella mushroom, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, crab meat, and onion).

I do not believe Wal-Mart is entirely at fault for these problems. Americans are the demanders and at some point down the line it was a smart business tactic for the company to respond to demands and provide the products that were asked for. The fact that they are able to edge out the competition by offering the lowest price is simply sound economic principals.
(Dessert: 1/2 cup So Delicious Soy Peanut Butter organic ice cream, 6 black bean brownie bites).

There are no easy answers. I am not sure that regulation (governmental or otherwise) is the right solution. All I know is that I do not like what I see when I walk into Wal-Mart. I do not care for the atmosphere, the products, nor the prices. I would rather pay more and sleep soundly at night knowing my dollar went to someone who needs it and values it.

If you have any opinion, at all, on this topic, please leave it in a comment below. I am very curious to read about how others view Wal-Mart and what it represents.

~Jenn

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Independence

Like so many other bloggers, I often find myself stuck in breakfast ruts. Obviously, the current meal of choice it oatmeal. I really did try to make a change today but it just did not happen. Despite prepping a bowl of overnight oats last night, I just don't care for cold oats, so I ended up microwaving them and adding all of the fixings in a hurry. It's not pretty, but it sure tastes good.
I actually had to transfer my oats into a plastic cup and eat them on the road so I could check on the dog I am watching.
Friends meet Jill. She is the cutest little waddler I have ever seen. :) Apparently, those little legs move awfully fast because I couldn't even capture a still shot of her!

Anyways, I made my normal portion size (1/2 cup) and washed it down with a cup of coffee and then immediately started drinking water in preparation for my first 1/2 marathon training run!Did I mention the Bondi Bands I ordered arrived?! Because they did, and I decided there was no better time to test it out than with a 3 mile run. The run was hard, no lie, but the headband stayed in place the whole time! I was a sweaty mess by the end, but I think it prevented some of it from getting in my face (TMI?). I have a 2 miler planned for tomorrow, so I will test out the other one I bought and report back.

I refueled with a bucket salad for lunch.
(3/4 head of baby spring lettuce, Mary's Crackers, carrots, 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup hummus, 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette, 1/2 pineapple tomato, and leftover corn on the cob [decobbed]).
It was delicious and filled a large portion of my vegetable quotient for the day.

I pretty much worked on schoolwork all afternoon. So nothing exciting to report there. Dinner was composed of some unpictured fruit and sweet and savory wraps. Yes, two wraps.

(Savory: hummus, spinach, and carrots)(Sweet: 1/2 tbsp Dark Chocolate Dreams and 1 tbsp Marshmallow Fluff)
Gah, I miss marshmallow fluff. It's like being transported right back to childhood.

So, I just booked my flight back to school. I am actually going to Buffalo to stay with a friend before we head up to Syracuse. This is in lieu of a road trip with my parents. Honestly, after all of the traveling I have done over the past year, I am just tired of living out of a suitcase. But apparently, I hurt some feelings in deciding to go right to school.
And now, I feel awful. That was not my intention at all.

Which leads to my question of the day...where do you draw the line between being independent and doing what you want and compromising yourself for others?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Busy Busy Bee...

I really don't know how in the world I became so busy all of the sudden. I think it is just one of those things, ya know, where you either have nothing going on or everything suddenly gets piled on your plate at once.(Dinner last night: grilled veggie burger, corn on the cob, and skewered broccoli, carrot, onion, and mushroom.)
You see, today officially starts Day 1 of my 1/2 marathon training plan. I am following this plan for 13 weeks. I have thrown in an extra week as I like to err on the side of caution. Luckily, Monday calls for strength + stretch so I was able to attend my normal yoga class. Problem was I could not stop my mind from wandering back to all of the things I have to do!
(Breakfast: same as yesterday only with an extra 1/2 tbsp of almond butter to keep me fuller longer.)
Today started bright and early at 7AM. I was up way to late last night working on a project (more details to come...) so I only snagged 5 hours of sleep. I took a friend to the airport and checked on her dogs who I will be babysitting for the next week. Luckily, she lives close by so it is not too much of an inconvenience. Then I rushed off to the dentist, where I received a clean bill of health. Yay for no cavities!

As a reward, I went to Drug Emporium to browse their organic section. Did you know their prices are significantly lower than Whole Foods??
I bought a bunch of new things to try including apple chips, a new (cheaper) brand of dried mango, Mary's cookies, and shotblox for when my runs require fuel.

As mentioned earlier, I have taken on a major project for the remainder of my summer. So far, I am very pleased with the results. I can't wait to share with all of you, but it will take some time as it deals with a completely new field to me. But, I know it is worthwhile.

Moving on to lunch, which did not happen until nearly 2PM. That means my morning oats lasted almost 6 hours! Gah, I cannot explain to y'all how much I love when that happens. I find it difficult to tame my hunger for extended periods of time.
(Lunch: Whole wheat wrap with hummus, salsa (made in Syracuse!!), lettuce, and carrots).
(Lunch: with a side of hard boiled eggs, only the whites, for protein.)
My thought's on Mary's cookies...well I was all excited because the serving size said 2 for 120 calories and not much fat...and then I opened the box. Look at how tiny they are! The flavor is a little wonky as well. Can't win them all I suppose.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon reading for my exercise physiology summer course. I am taking it online and there is a lot of work! I am surprised by how demanding it is. Also, I am by no means a science person, so learning the intricacies of muscle fibers is proving challenging. I think once I get the hang of the terminology I will really like it.
(Dinner: Oven roasted broccoli and carrots.)
Dinner occurred post-yoga. The class was by no means my best. I just wasn't able to concentrate and zone out like usual. Yes, that is ketchup on my grilled broccoli and carrots. Don't knock it until you try it. I think it tastes delicious.

I also wanted to mention a new bar I picked up at Whole Foods the other day. I saw Averie's post about the brand a while back so I thought I would try it out for myself.
I loved it! The bar is almost double the size of a Lara Bar and has a similar flavor profile. It is not overly sweet and had a nice chewy texture. I wish it did not cost so much, but I do understand the price somewhat because of the high quality ingredients used.

Alright, time for me to go check on my friends dogs once again and catch up with my BFF over a bottle of french wine. Not too much though, as I have 3 miles on the schedule first thing in the morning!

Have a nice night everyone!
~Jenn
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