Ah-mazin Craisin Muffins

Could this title be any cornier?

…sorry I’m not sorry…I love puns and corny jokes…

Anywayssss, as you can tell by the title, today involved craisins.  And raisins.  I wanted to bake some raisin bran muffins and this morning was the perfect day to do so.  Usually I like to wake up early to get in a workout, but today I switched it up.  I slept in and baked all morning.  Booyaa.

As much as I love raisin bran muffins, they are usually loaded with fat and are approximately a zillion calories.  One muffin isn’t worth all those calories to me (froyo > muffins).  After much googling, I was able to find a recipe that looked pretty solid.  I mean, a recipe that has 5 stars and 829 reviews, and ingredients that aren’t completely terrible?  I think I’ll take it.  🙂

I used this recipe, but changed a few things around (like using whole wheat flour instead of regular, soy milk instead of buttermilk, etc).  Here’s my take:

Craisin Raisin Bran Muffins

hello, delicious

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 cups Cascadian Farm Organic Raisin Bran Cereal
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup Trader Joe’s whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup craisins (I used some from Trader Joes)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease muffin pan.  Mix together cereal and soy milk.  Let stand for 10 minutes (or longer…I kinda ate breakfast and did other stuff while baking 0:) )

warning: if you make this recipe in the morning, it’s incredibly tempting to eat this as normal cereal instead of using it to make the muffins. good luck.

Beat oil, egg, sugar and vanilla together.  Add the oil/egg/sugar/vanilla to the soy milk/cereal.  Mix together whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Add craisins (yum!) and pour batter into muffin tins.

ready for bakin’

Bake 15-20 minutes (my oven took 15) or until toothpick comes out clean.  Enjoy!  And try to not eat the entire pan.

check out the inside of the muffin! omnomnom

These muffins were so incredibly moist and delicious.  Honestly, they are the best-textured muffins I’ve ever had.  And, not completely unhealthy.  Wanna know some facts?  186 calories. 7 grams fat.  1 gram sat fat.  2.5 grams fiber.  I think I’ll be making these pretty often…and before races!

I even got my Mom to eat a muffin (she pretty much never eats muffins) and she said she’d be eating some more this week.  Winninggggg (remember when everyone used to say this?)

Well I’m off to go camera hunting with Joe!  So many awesome cameras, so little money time.

Have a great night!

Question for you:
What’s your favorite type of muffin?

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Egg Salad-less Sandwich

Hey there!

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!  My day began with the usual breakfast: toast with pb & bananas.  This is pretty much my standard pre-run breakfast.

Unfortunately my run today was “only” 8 miles because I’m tapering.  Since I’ve only been running for two years, it still strange for me to think that 8 miles isn’t a very hard run.  What’s even crazier?  The fact that today’s run is less than 1/3 of the distance of my run next Saturday.

One week ’til the Bayshore Marathon! 🙂

Anywaysssss, after my run (and chocolate milk) I decided to make my first “egg salad sandwich”.  Please note I’ve never had an egg salad sandwich before.  I’ve had my mom’s ham salad and her chicken salad before, but never egg salad or tuna salad.  Although I’ve been curious to try egg salad, the idea of all of they mayo grossed me out.  I’m definitely not a big mayo girl.  So I decided to do what every person would do- make their own copycat without any type of recipe, and without ever having the “real” thing.  Oh wait, that’s not normal?  Woops.

Well, this may or many not taste similar, but I can say it tastes delicious.

Egg Salad-less Sandwich

Ingredients:
1 Egg White
1 Egg with yolk
3 Gherkin Pickles
Dash Onion Powder
Dash Ground Mustard
Dash Black Pepper
Sandwich Thins

Directions: Scramble egg white, egg white with yolk, and seasonings in pan.  After it’s nearly cooked, add chopped gherkin pickles to the mix.  Once eggs are fully cooked, put eggs (& pickles) onto sandwich thins.  Then put eggs + sandwich thin into pan until sandwich thins get slightly crispy.

I made mine with sour gherkins (not really a fan) so next time I will definitely use my favorite sweet gherkins.  However, I absolutely loved the ground mustard in the eggs!  It added an unexpected flavor that I enjoyed in every bite.  I will probably incorporate ground mustard into my eggs on a regular basis.  Let me know what you think! 🙂

After my egg salad-less sandwich, I had Chobani Raspberry Greek Yogurt and some pretzels.

Best Enjoyed Poolside

Time to take a break from recipes, and give a yogurt review:

First of all, I’m in love with Chobani Greek Yogurt.  Are they paying me to say this?  No (I wish).  But seriously, it’s so good.  My favorite flavor is Pomegranate.  I love how it’s non-fat and has delicious pieces of pomegranate at the bottom.  Raspberry and Strawberry are other ones I enjoy, and Vanilla is pretty good too.  One I don’t love: Blood Orange.  I had blood orange froyo from a neighborhood place and thought Chobani’s would be a huge hit….but no.  It tasted like orange medicine (gross).

The fact that I love Chobani so much threw me, because I’ve never been a big fan of yogurt.  I also hate the taste of plain Greek yogurt (including Chobani’s plain yogurt).  But, I’ve always been a sucker for sweets… so maybe that’s why I love the fruity yogurt flavors?  Or maybe it’s because of the nutrition facts..

One package (like I had earlier) has 140 calories, no fat, 23 carbs, and 14 grams of protein.  Helloooo!  Lots of carbs = prime for me while I’m carbo loading.  My leg muscles are also a big fan of the protein content after long runs.  Basically, it’s perfect.

And now that I’ve written a small love story about Chobani, I think it’s time for me to go to bed.  And probably dream about yogurt.  ❤

21 Miler: Complete!

Hey there!

I have officially completed my hardest week of marathon training!  Yesterday was my 20 mile run, and…well… it was rough to say the least.  I started off running in 70-degree weather with 100% humidity.  I was feeling warm and strong, but Joe’s knees were acting up, so we decided to head back and I’d finish up on the treadmill.  Once on the treadmill, I realized I hadn’t been drinking enough.  Apparently trying to conserve water because it’s hot out isn’t a good idea?  I guess drinking water is necessary?  Ugh.  So the remaining 14 miles on the treadmill were painful, but I got through it!  I decided to go over 20 miles because of my start-and-stop (of moving indoors).  In total, I went about 21.34 miles.  Although it wasn’t my prettiest run, I was glad to have been able to finish it.  I feel slightly unprepared for the upcoming marathon because I don’t know how fast/slow I can run it, but I’m hoping come race day my body will know what to do.

Thankfully my body feels pretty good today.  I’m not too sore and considering I ran a little over 21 miles… I’ll consider that a success 🙂

After my run, I ate about a million things like always to re-fuel my body after a long run.  Immediately after my run, I had chocolate milk and a peanut butter Cliff Bar.  I’ve learned from other runners that it’s important to re-fuel quickly after a run.  They’ve said that chocolate milk is the “perfect” re-fueling choice.  Apparently, it has the best combination of protein and carbs.  Considering it has a bunch of both listed on the nutrition facts, and that my friends are pretty experienced, I’ll accept that.  I’ll also accept it because, well, it tastes so good 🙂

Later on, I ate a Subway Turkey Sandwich filled with veggies.  This was the best after having carbo-loaded the past few days and limiting my veggie intake.  I’m a veggie-aholic, so trying to cut down on fiber was hard.  I was so glad to finally get veggies in my life again (yes, “finally”, because 3 days really is that hard for me).

Usually after runs, I like to relax by watching some tv and laying out on the couch.  Of course I did that yesterday but I also wanted to do some baking.  I decided to make PB Finger’s Peanut Butter Energy Bites.  I made these a few weeks ago and loved them.  As did all of my friends, who keep asking me to bake them some more.  This time I decided to change the recipe slightly, and still received rave reviews.  Hopefully you enjoy them as well!

PB Energy Bites (adapted slightly from PB Finger’s recipe)
2 Cups Natural Peanut Butter
1 Cup Wheat Germ
2 Eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
about 10 teaspoons mini chocolate chips (should have 1/4 tsp mini chocolate chips per cookie)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients together (dough will be thick and very different from traditional chocolate chip cookie dough).

See what I mean? Super thick

Roll tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough and place mini chocolate chips on top.

Uncooked PB Energy Bites

Place onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until bottom is slightly golden/browned.  Made approximately 43 cookies.  Share and enjoy!

Note: the original recipe contained 1 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup sugar to make approx 15 cookies.  I doubled this recipe so that I could share it, but I cut down on some sugar to make it slightly healthier.  I also added the chocolate chips for some fun and extra flavor 🙂

more cookies = more to share?

…maybe not

After baking, I enjoyed a delicious salmon dinner.  I purchased the salmon from a nearby restaurant and baked my own sweet potato fries.  I enjoyed this with my tomato-mozz creation 🙂  Ignore the broccoli…I managed to burn it during the steaming process.  Stupid broccoli.

salmon is my favorite

I ended the night with a double date with Joe, Antho, and Marta.  We saw The Avengers and it was great!  Such a fun night.  I also may have had some cereal, Goldfish, and another PB cookie before bed.  After the long run, I’m anything but sorry.  Food = fuel.

Questions for you:
– Do you ever do your runs half inside/half outside?
– How do you keep yourself motivated after having to pause a run?

My answers:
– Yes! Never really on purpose, but it happens.
– I keep myself motivated by thinking about everything I will eat after my run (which is everything).  I also like to distract myself by watching TV if I’m running inside.  Yesterday, I watched the Food Network for a bit and then Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Hope your next run goes well and has less starts-and-stops than mine!

Carb-y Comfort Food

Hey there!

I don’t know about you, but my go-to carb meal is always pasta.  Always.  Even though I’m Italian (and should be okay with eating pasta 24/7), I get tired of having it several days in a row sometimes.  This week was jam-packed with projects, tests, and all of that other end-of-they-year-stuff.  How do I de-stress?  As I mentioned yesterday, eating is mandatory- so we might as well make it a study break.  🙂

Wednesdays are my long mid-week run, so Tuesday’s dinner needed to be filled with carbs.   Because I was also going through a crazy-busy week, I  needed to have a dinner that was filled with comfort foods.  I had pulled pork in the fridge and, because I’ve loved pulled pork & BBQ ever since I can remember, it seemed like the perfect choice.

So Tuesday was pulled pork night.  I turned it into pulled pork sliders, served with a side of roasted sweet potatoes and an asparagus salad.

my kind of comfort food

This dinner was perfect for a busy night- it involved hardly any work.  Here’s what I did:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Pulled pork (as much or as little as you want for a sandwich)
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
Brownberry Sandwich Thin

The pulled pork was already cooked and came from Q-BBQ in LaGrange, IL.  I love this place and highly recommend that everyone in the area check it out!  Unfortunately, it’s too far for me to go to while I’m at school (3+ hour drive with no car = impossible) buttttt buying it and freezing it definitely makes enjoying this a possibility 🙂 Because it was already cooked (and fully thawed)  I only had to heat it up in the Sweet Baby Ray’s for a few minutes.  Put that on a toasted Sandwich thin and… you’re good to go 🙂

smoky + saucy

Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Diced Sweet Potatoes
2 TB of olive oil
Salt, Pepper (to taste)

Heat oven to 375.  Put diced sweet potatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil in a ziplock bag and seal.  Shake until sweet potatoes are evenly covered in oil and seasonings.  Take sweet potatoes out of the bag (hang on to the bag- don’t throw it away yet!) and place sweet potatoes on cookie sheet.  Bake for around 25 minutes, or until slightly brown.

sweet + salty

Asparagus Salad– definitely the highlight of my night!
1 Cup Chopped Asparagus (about 1 inch pieces)
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 Mozz Cheese Stick
1/8 lemon

Heat oven to 375.  Put chopped asparagus and olive oil into ziplock bag (use same one the sweet potatoes were in!- take advantage of that leftover olive oil in there 🙂 ).  Shake until asparagus is well coated in olive oil.  Bake for about 5 minutes, or until a fork can easily enter the asparagus.  While this cools slightly, slice mozz cheese stick into small slices (about 1/2 cm thick).  Add cheese stick slices and cranberries to asparagus.  Squeeze juice from 1/8 of a lemon over salad.  Enjoy!

asparagus + craisins = ❤

Hopefully my comfort dinner helps give you ideas for your next carb-night…or whenever you’re  craving  tasty, comforting (and quick!) food.

Gotta go run!  Later ‘gators 🙂

Illinois Half-Marathon: Completed (again!)

Hey everyone!

Yesterday, my friends and I completed the Illinois Half-Marathon!  It was scheduled to be below 40 degrees, windy, thunderstorm, and downright miserable.  Thankfully, only the 40-degree-temperature-part came true! 🙂  It was a beautifully overcast and cool day AKA perfect running weather!

Elise and I after the half- we did it!

Many of my my friends PR-ed…but that was also because it was their first race 😉  Either way, it counts!  I also PR-ed yesterday, and am extremely excited about it.  My 2011 score was 2:06:01, and this year it was 1:44:53!  I am ecstatic.  My dream goal was to run at 8:12 pace (which I had thought was probably unattainable for the full 13.1 miles), and I ended up going around 8:00 min pace!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Mother Nature (for cooperating), John Mayer (for singing to me the whole race), and Uncle Jim & my mom (for texting me) 🙂

It was such a great day and I cannot wait to run it again next year.  I learned some valuable tips post-race, too, that’d I’d like to share:

1) Although you burned a lot of calories, don’t stuff yourself.  Case in point: I ate a couple of bananas and two slices of pizza post-race.  I was feeling good for a few hours until I was starving.  What’s best for a hungry stomach?  Well, Chipotle sounded good.  Huge and delicious servings?  I’m in.  However, eating an entire burrito bol with some chips was not the best idea.  I had asked for 1/2 chicken and 1/2 steak, but ended up getting almost 3/4 serving chicken and 3/4 serving steak.  Although I got way more than my money’s worth, I went from full to uncomfortable throughout the evening.  Definitely try to avoid this for yourself by eating smaller meals.  This doesn’t mean to eat one small meal and call it quits; rather it means to eat a few small meals throughout the night.

2) Learn from #1.  I decided to cross-train during my usual lunchtime, so I was starvingggg post-workout.  We have a million Subways on campus, so it seemed like a perfect quick-and-healthy meal.  After eating that (+2 cookies 😉 ) extremely quickly, the stomach ache settled in.  Will I ever learn? Haha 🙂

Even with the crazy weather forecasts and tummy aches, this was one of the best weekends of the year!  Time with friends (and a new PR) always outweighs any negatives 🙂

Hopefully the next post will come with a delicious recipe- I’m experimenting tonight!  Cross your fingers for me 😉

“So, it’s race day…now what?”

Hello again!

Two posts in one day?!  Yep, things are getting crazy over here. 😉

My bus is leaving around noon tomorrow to head to Champaign and I am so excited! 🙂  Before I leave, however, I want to share tips on what to do on race day because…you’ve been working so hard for this day to come!  Now that it’s finally (almost) here, you’ll want to know all the tips and tricks to make it run as easily as possible 😉 (yes… pun intended).  So, here we go, I’m going to starting at the beginning of my race day and go up until the gun goes off!

Waking Up
“I wake up, in the middle of the night…” (okay, so these aren’t the exact words sung by Cyndi Lauper, but if you can start off your morning singing…you know it’s going to be a good day.  Anyways, because most races are early in the morning, you will most likely have to wake up early.  We’re talking earlyyyy, people.  Even though I’m a morning person, it still seems a little odd waking up in the pitch black “night” and hearing silence.  No birds singing…because even they’re still sleeping!  Set your alarm as early as possible, but also be sure to let yourself get as much sleep as you can too.  It’s hard running 13.1 miles or 26.2…and it’s even harder with no sleep.  Trust me, I’ve run a half-marathon on 4 hours of sleep.  It’s completely do-able, but do you really want to do that?  Didn’t think so.  If you’re staying at a hotel near the race, I’d recommend waking up about 3-4 hours before the race.  If you’re driving that morning, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to drive there.  Also, give yourself time to get lost.  Sometimes streets are closed around the race route and you’ll be forced to go down random streets.  This all takes time, so wake up early!

Eating
It’s important to eat a solid breakfast a few hours before the race.  But it’s really important to know how your body handles food.  You should eat how you always do before long runs.  For most people, it’s helpful to eat 2 hours (or more) before a race to allow your body the time it needs for proper digestion.  You should also eat foods your body is used to.  Is today the time to try that frozen Chinese dinner for breakfast?  Uh no.  (Save that for after the race!)  Instead, focus on foods that your stomach can easily handle.  I usually like to eat a peanut butter sandwich and a small banana.  I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches almost every day of my life, and they’re almost always my pre-run meal.  However, this does NOT mean you should make this your pre-run meal on race day.  Are you used to eating plain bagels?  Stick with it!  Protein smoothies?  Stick with it.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from foods that have an excessive amount of fiber.  Certain fruits, veggies, and other tasty things may cause you to get cramps and run to the bathroom if you eat them before a race.   It’s probably your best option to avoid them if you can.

Another misconception is the belief that you need to eat everything and anything to help keep you fueled up during the run.  If you do this, you can say HELLOOOO to cramping, bathroom breaks, and general discomfort.  Eat a normal sized amount of food.  You’re going on a run, and you’ll fuel on the run with GU, so you’ll be a-ok with your normal pre-run meal.  Think back about your other long runs…you survived it!  You ate a normal-sized meal and were able to successfully complete your run.  Today is just another long run day…except that there are more people watching you succeed.

Drinking
Start drinking that H2O as soon as you wake up.  I’ve heard that it’s good to stop drinking about an hour before the race and then to drink a small glass right before you start running.  This strategy will hopefully prevent bathroom breaks, so feel free to use it if you think it will help your race day performance.  It’s important that you are hydrated, so listen to your body.  If you’re thirsty, you’re thirsty- drink up!

Clothes
Wear comfy running clothes!  You’re going to be running for a while, so you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible.  This is also when you should use your Body Glide to help prevent any chaffing.

But wait, what if the weather is weird?  Maybe it’s windier than usual.  Or it’s raining.  Here’s a helpful website, made by Runners World, to help you decide what to wear on race day.

Bathroom
Use it before you leave your hotel.  Use it when you get to the race day location.  Use it before you get to the starting line.  If you don’t, you’ll regret it.

Flashback: At the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I decided I didn’t want to wait in line to use the porta-potties before starting the race.  What if they start the race while I’m in the extremely long line?  News flash: You probably won’t miss the start.  And, if for some reason you do, at least you won’t feel the need to go to the bathroom… for the first 7 miles…until you finally decide to give in.

Warm-up/Stretch
Some runners find it helpful to do a warm-up run and stretch before the big race.  I have never done a warm-up run, and instead take a fast walk around.  This is how I always warm-up before my training runs; I do a five-minute speed walk and follow it with stretching.  Remember: do what you always do.

Shoe Laces
Extremely important: make sure your laces are tied tight enough/loose enough.  It’s always terrible when you start a run and then have to stop to fix your laces.  Re-doing your laces while running a race would be even worse.  I like to do a couple second jog to “test out” my laces before game time.

Fix your hair
As your walking toward the starting line (before the gun goes off) or as you’re standing near the line with your friends, now is the time to make sure your hair is exactly how you want it.  Fixing a ponytail when running?  Forgetaboutit.  Only do this if you have to, don’t rely on it.

Get pumped
Hello, it’s RACE DAY! 🙂 Get out there and get going!

Those are my pre-race tips!  🙂

However, once there are a couple of words of advice I’d like to give for what happens after the gun goes off…

1) Races are crowded.  Watch out, or you may be run over.  Or you may run over someone else.  Look around and behind you before running diagonally.  This is especially important to remember when running to the water cups.

2) It’s okay to walk when drinking water.  If you walk while drinking, it allows you to drink it easier, faster, and…drink more of it!  This is the part of the race where I allow myself to (speed) walk and hydrate.

There’s much more I could say, but that’s enough for tonight! 🙂

Questions for you:
1. What are your pre-race rituals?
2. What do you like to eat before a race?

‘Twas the Day Before The Half…

Hey guys!

Hope you all are having a great week.  I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday!  This week has been extremely busy, starting with my birthday celebration and followed by numerous group meetings, running, and eating.  Lots and lots of eating. When I am training, I feel like I’m always hungry…so I’m constantly bringing snacks with me everywhere I go! 🙂

Speaking of being hungry/always eating, a few of the girls I am running the Illinois Half-Marathon with have been asking what to eat the night before race day.  Although I am not an expert, I do have some tricks and tips I’ve learned first-hand from running a half and full marathon in the past.

Day before a half marathon:

  • Eat pasta for dinner.  I would recommend eating it with a mild sauce, and one that is not creamy.  You really want to avoid anything that can be hard on your stomach.  Extremely spicy sauces and creamy sauces may give you tummy troubles the next day, so avoid them to (hopefully) bypass these problems.  Also, do not over-eat.  Before my first race, I thought it was necessary to eat as much pasta as humanly possible to “help” me with the race.  Thankfully, my stomach didn’t kill me (I’d like to give out a shout-out to my Italian genes here and say THANK YOU!), but I have found from talking to people and doing some research that it is not necessary to overload yourself with carbs the night before a race by over-eating.  (Note: although you will eat more carbs before a full marathon than before a half, you should never over-eat).  Over-eating can cause extreme discomfort and unnecessary trips to the bathroom during the race, so only eat until you are full.
  • Avoid anything overly spicy or a “new” food.  Why risk eating something that could possibly mess with your stomach?  Just avoid it!
  • Avoid eating whole nuts, corn, and anything that has a lot of fiber.  This is something I’ve learned from a fellow runner, Rem, and it definitely makes sense.  You don’t want to eat anything that can cause you to run to  the bathroom when you should be concentrating on the finish line.  Note: smooth peanut butter is A-OK, because it’s not a “whole” nut…but don’t use crunchy peanut butter!
  • Drink lots and lots of water.  It’s important that your body is nice and hydrated.  Bring a water bottle with you everywhere and anywhere (you should always be doing this though! 🙂 ).
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, and anything that can dehydrate you.  This is something that I personally think is important, but others may disagree.  I have heard in the past that it is good to avoid alcohol before a marathon and I am assuming it is also helpful to avoid it before a half.  The coffee part is my own idea; I am in love with coffee (but not coffee-flavored GU) and also feel that it is best to avoid it the day before race day.  I find it to be very dehydrating so I replace it with water whenever it is around race time.

Hopefully you find my list helpful!  Please let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to address them 🙂

Happy running!

Questions for you:
What do you like to eat the day before a race?
Do you avoid coffee around races?

Here are a couple of websites related to fueling that you may find helpful:
What to Do the Day Before Running a Marathon or Half Marathon
What Should I Eat Before and During My First Half-Marathon?