Wife of the Year

This kitchen gadget came into my life as a wedding gift, but has made me feel like wife of the year [over and over again].

At least that is how I have felt every single time my husband comes home from work and praises me for the delicious smells coming from our kitchen of a hot cooked meal ready to eat.

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I feel like a rock star, but the beauty of it is– that it only takes minutes of preparation. Oh sweet Crock Pot,  how I love thee.

I honestly spend more time searching for new recipes and buying ingredients than I do actually cooking in my kitchen these days.

Here is a peek at this week’s meal plan.

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So the method to my madness is to spread the Crock Pot love throughout the week. Because one of these meals will typically make leftovers, I don’t necessarily have to plan a meal for the following night.

When planning my dinners for the week, I also try to leave room for a random night out. So by having a few leftover or free nights, we don’t waste money or food. I will also try to buy in bulk, hence why we are having two chicken dinners in a row.

Please note that I’m still planning the veggie that goes with each meal. I wait until I’m at the store to see what vegetable jumps out at me.Also, I don’t always have so many Crock Pot meals in one particular week, but it’s so freaking easy I couldn’t resist!!

Link Love:

Here are link-ups to the three recipes I’m cooking up this week.

So wife of the year or not, I’m just happy to know that we have a menu of eats ready to go  and  no worry of what’s for dinner.

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Do you use a Crock Pot? If yes, what are some of your favorite recipes? I’m always looking for easy and yummy ideas.

A Family Favorite

After spending a year abroad in Italy in 2003, I came back bursting with Italian traditions to share with my family back home.

One being indulging in the ever popular Panettone bread during the Christmas holiday.

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You’ve probably seen this box of bread when strolling through Cost Plus or in any specialty market and wondered what the heck it was all about.

It can be best described as a sort of sweet muffin cake bread.

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For the first few years after my arrival back home from Italy we would buy this bread at Christmas time and eat slices with our coffee on Christmas morning.

But then my brother saw Giada turn this bread into a breakfast masterpiece.

Panettone French Toast!

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If you follow Giada’s recipe, you will be sure to fall in love with just as our family did. Though, it’s not healthy by any means.

Every year we now adapt some sort of panettone french toast into our Christmas morning breakfast. And it’s as glorious as it looks.

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It’s funny how traditions start, but I’m happy to carry this one through…because it’s really that good!

What are your family Christmas meal traditions? As I wrote about yesterday, we always do lasagna for Christmas Eve, and now panettone french toast for christmas morning!

Aunt Patty’s Christmas Cookies

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When I think about Christmas, I’m always brought back to fond memories of me as a child making these cute Christmas cookies with my mom.

It was a yearly tradition, until I got too old to ask about them. But since my visit home we were randomly sparked with inspiration to dig out Aunt Patty’s Christmas Cookie recipe and bake them for old times sake.

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Complete with matching aprons [mine was from when I was little], we were excited to start baking.

As we were reading over the recipe card, we remembered what makes these cookies Christmas-y is the obvious red and green colored dough.

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We thought it would be a fun challenge to see if we could make these same cookies without using food coloring, but using something more natural and healthy to color them instead.

After racking our brains for a few minutes [don’t freak out], we came up with these two ideas for red and green.

BEETS  and  SPINACH

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We weren’t sure what the outcome would be, but felt pretty confident that we could pull off a Christmas cookie that would even make Aunt Patty proud.

So we gathered our ingredients and quickly got to work.

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Aunt Patty’s Christmas Cookies

adapted by Linzi Alabama & Mama Lotus

  • 3 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Natural green coloring: 1 bunch of fresh spinach
  • Natural red coloring: 1 beet

Step 1: Make the natural red food coloring

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Cut off skin of one beet, and add it into juicer. Easy natural red food coloring!

Step 2: Make the natural green food coloring

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Throw one bunch of fresh spinach into your food processor and chop until the spinach is shredded into small flecks.

Step 3: Prepare dough

  • Cream butter & sugar
  • Add egg and vanilla & almond extracts –beat until fluffy
  • Blend in flour and salt

Step 4: Split dough in half and separate into two bowls.

Step 5: In one bowl add your the spinach flecks to dough and continue to beat until dough is well mixed.

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Step 6: In the other bowl add beet juice to dough and continue to beat until dough until dough is well mixed. 021

Step 7: Roll the dough into small dough balls

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Step 8: Take the small dough ball and roll it out into a snake like form.

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Step 9: Then twist the two colors together and shaping into a candy cane, Christmas stick or Christmas reef on pan. 027

Step 10: Brush the dough with egg white and sprinkle with sugar before putting into the oven. Bake at 350 10-12 minutes.

Step 11: Set on wire rack to cool

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Step 12: Don’t forget to leave some for Santa, accompanied by a glass of his favorite wine. ;)

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The aftermath: These cookies are naturally a little dense and not as sweet as a regular cookie anyway. But we were hoping that the natural food coloring wouldn’t influence the taste too much.

Only one way to find out…

We did a little taste test on my dad, brother, and even J. Alabama to see what they thought of the cookies. [We did not disclose the beets & spinach until after they told us their opinion].

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They all said they tasted pretty good, and reminded them of a biscotti. They liked the cookie because it wasn’t too sweet and said they would be perfect paired with a cup of coffee in the morning.

When we told them about the spinach and beets they laughed and said they would have never even known.

Our healthy and naturally colored Christmas cookies were deemed a success! :)

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Hope you all enjoyed our twist on Aunt Patty’s Christmas cookies, we sure did.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Something to dream about…

A dream of a smoothie…more specifically, an orangesicle dream!

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Today’s post is guaranteed to have you whipping out your blender.

I kind of loved the wedding gift spotlight I did a few weeks back, so I thought I would show off the next newest addition to my family.

The Breville Blender which I have named Blendy-kins.

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This lovely beast of a blender, blends, chops, shaves ice, folds laundry and even has it’s very own smoothie button. It was love at first blend!

This gift was actually pooled together with Macy gift cards, and we ended up saving 20% off since it was on our gift registry. So what if it was a wedding gift to myself? I was in desperate need people!

Back to the Orange Dream Smoothie…

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I was actually digging through old boxes and found this to-die-for smoothie recipe that I received during the Nike Women’s Marathon Expo last October.

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It felt so appropriate to make it now, since I am coming up on my second marathon and almost the year anniversary to my first marathon.

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I made a few alterations to the ingredient list to fit what I had on hand.

The Orangesicle (Marathon) Dream Smoothie

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Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)

  • 6 oz Peach Chobani Greek Yogurt
  • 1 peeled tangelo or orange
  • 1/2 cup 100% Orange Juice Concentrate
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 3 ice cubes

Throw all the ingredients into Blendy-kins and blend away!

The tangelo ended up being a great alternative to orange in this smoothie, and it reminded me of a delicious orange julius.

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Now once I had a glass of this yummy-ness I knew I wanted to save the excess for another day.

And since it’s Tipsy Thursday after all…I have another great tip on what to do with your leftover smoothie sludge.

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Why not poor it into an ice cube tray to use later as another smoothie?

I poured the excess smoothie into the ice cube tray and froze overnight.

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By the next morning I was already jonesing for another one.

So I plopped the smoothie cubes into the blender, added a 1/2 cup of almond milk and blended away.

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It tasted just as delicious as it had the day before. A super easy smoothie, and all I had to do was blend and add milk!

This smoothie was definitely something to dream about. But there is no need to dream, you can make one too!

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And now that I’m traveling on the road for work this week all I can do is dream about this delicious treat.

You know what I’ll be making for my post 20 miler recovery run tomorrow. ;) But I will probably add a scoop of protein powder for good measure!

Happy Tipsy Thursday Friends!

8 mile hot dog

 

Last Saturday I met up with a new group of running friends to complete my 8 miler.

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The temps were in the freezing digits and my route called for an out and back, which meant that a big nasty uphill climb was also involved.

I tagged along with my TNT friend Maricela for the first 4 uphill miles.

We ran through dirt, pavement, ice, snow… you name it we ran through it. Such an adventure!

Now here is where a pair of Yaktrax would come in handy! :)

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It was a little different running on packed snow because it was slippery in some spots. But we just took it a little slower and managed through it.

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After 4 miles I said goodbye to Maricela and turned back around (she continued on to run 16 miles!).

I was a little worried about the run back by myself. But it seemed that around every turn there were some other crazy people running this trail training for Robie.

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At one point I went for a sip of my water and realized that it had started to freeze! I couldn’t believe it was that cold that my water actually froze!

I was happy to get out of the Canyon though just to get where it was warmer and to witness these gorgeous views of the city.

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Okay, it was still cold (as you see through the forced smile) though I’m sure it felt warmer once I was not running on snow.

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But I finished my glorious 8 mile run in around 1 hour 43 minutes and felt AMAZING afterwards!

This was one of the better runs I have had in a l-o-n-g time. Not sure why, because I was dreading it so much and it turned out to be quite fun!

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After my run it was time to celebrate my brother “J-Bomb’s” birthday.

We celebrated his birthday by serving a family favorite we have dubbed “Mexican Hotdogs”.

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Now the meal I’m about to share with you is by no means healthy and running 8 miles prior to eating this meal should be a pre-requisite (I joke).

I almost didn’t post it on the blog at all because I like to consider Beyond Destination 26.2 a healthy living blog, but this family favorite could not go un-documented due to its deliciousness. Please also note that this meal is only indulged in about once a year as a “special occasion” meal.   

Mexican Hotdogs:

You start with the real deal regular hotdog, make a little slit down the center and stuff with a small piece of cheddah.

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Then you will take your hotdog and roll into a corn tortilla securing it by using toothpicks.

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Ahh, then you fry it up in a vat of butter Crisco. I warned you it was bad!

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Easy as that! But what makes these babies beyond amazing is by topping with a spoonful of homemade guacamole.

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I know what you are thinking… but it really is quite an interesting meal.

But J-Bomb requested it as his birthday meal which you can’t argue with that! And you also can’t argue with mom’s amazing lemon bars served instead of cake (holy yum!)

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Happy Birthday bro!

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What’s your family favorite “special occasion” meal?

 

Runners Yoga & A Healthy Super Bowl

Last night I ventured out and tried the Body Flow class at my gym.

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No, I didn’t actually wear my vibrams, but I have heard that you can for yoga.

Body Flow is a combination of Yoga, Tai chi, and Pilates, but I’m just going to refer it for now on as Runner’s Yoga.

We set our mats up in a sort of cross shape. And needed two.

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Which gave me a clue that we would be moving around a lot.

The class felt like a fast paced yoga/stretch session. We would move around from pose to pose quicker than you would in a normal yoga class.

The music was a lot more upbeat and each pose felt like just the right amount of stretch for me.

And holy hip flexors! We engaged in the most amazing hip opener poses that calmed my running soreness.

There were also some ab routines thrown in there, and some moves that worked our core. Needless to say, this morning I am SORE!

It was the perfect combination of yoga and other routines that left me feeling stronger, stretched, and relaxed. Brilliant I tell ya!

I forsee a Thursday tradition of Runner’s Yoga in my future. :)

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Now onto my Healthy Super Bowl Segment!

With the big game coming up on Sunday I knew I needed to have some healthy snacks on hand to help keep myself in check.

So here is what I came up with, two appetizers and my healthy mocktail!

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First we will start with the Kale, because if you haven’t tried Kale Chips yet because you were scared I completely understand. I know I was, but figured now was as good a time as ever to try it out.

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To make Kale Chips, just take the bunch of Kale and rinse.

Then break the leaf off the stem into about 2 inch pieces and toss in a bowl.

Then drizzle about a tbsp of olive oil and massage into the leaves. And sprinkle a dash of salt!

Throw the leaves onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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I added a sprinkle of paprika, and honestly you could add what ever spices you want to “jazz” it up.

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The end result was a bunch of crispy leaves.

They were fun to eat because of the crunch and had a nice flavor to them.

I honestly believe they would be fun a side dish to any super bowl party.

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Now the Healthy Mock Tail!

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  • One glass of S. Pellegrino Sparkling Water
  • Half lime squeezed
  • a few ice cubes
  • a slice strawberry

I just threw all the ingredients together in a glass and made it look fancy. It tasted really refreshing and the bubbles made me feel like I was drinking a gin and tonic.

Sometimes a Super Bowl Party can just be loaded with not so healthy items to eat and drink so I think it’s okay to bring your own healthy snacks to share too. And drinking a mock tail can be fun, but you just have to take the time to make it look pretty!

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And last but not least, you can’t ever go wrong with a bag of Edamame. :)

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Just heat these babies up and sprinkle salt and serve.

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So I’m wondering what your favorite healthy appetizer is?

I have been on a serious hunt for healthy appetizers and really struggled to come up with these two.

But I do hope if you have not tried Kale Chips yet, that you will give them a go. They were actually pretty darn good. I ate half the bowl last night like it was popcorn!

Happy Friday, and hope you all have a great weekend!

Happy Panda Christmas

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend full of good food and family fun. I know I sure did!

As I mentioned last week, the cooking commenced bright and early on Christmas Eve morning.

We had glasses of red to inspire us through the lasagna making process. Aka as “WINE AT NINE!”

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We were busy cooking and prepping for our Christmas Eve feast all day.

We snuck in a little Veg-Nog break around 3pm just before the guests started to arrive.

If you haven’t tried Angela’s Vegan Nog, you are surely missing out on a delicious and delightful treat.

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Veg-Nog is a cross between a smoothie and egg nog. As it has an egg-noggy texture but a rich smoothie taste. But there was not a trace of eggs. Crazy!

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Let’s just say that we went for the full bourbon addition and enjoyed every last drop of this drink.

Then we put out the spread and waited for the fam to arrive.

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It was hard not to over snack as the lasagna was coming up next.

Before:

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After:

MMMMMMMmmmmmMMMMM! :) Look at those layers!

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It was as tasty as it looks. Another Lasagna success!

After dinner we opened presents and enjoyed each other’s company. Here are a few gifts that I received.

I can definitely see a lot of use out of this gift. I seriously cannot wait to crack into it and whip up some hummus or something!

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Now onto my cork board. Not just any corkboard, but one made purely from wine corks.

And not only does this look pretty bad ass, but my Aunt actually made this herself. She placed and glued every cork.

100_4515 I was absolutely in love with this gift. It screams “The Linz” for sure!

One last gift to showcase, because I love J. Alabama and he loves me. He loves me enough to go to Build a Bear and make me a panda!

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If you didn’t know this about me, I LOVE pandas.

Like LOVE LOVE LOVE them. They are the funniest and cutest animals. When I’m having a saaddd pandaaa kind of day, I YOU TUBE baby panda videos and can’t help but laugh at how darn cute they are.

So J. Alabama bought me a panda and recorded his voice into it. So when I’m having a bad day I can click his paw and he will say..

I love Linzi! And I’m tasty and almost extinct”

Don’t worry, I don’t eat panda and never will. That part is supposed to be funny because J.Alabama and I are funny like that. He teases me that panda bears are tasty. I say no, no they are not.

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Okay, one more recipe to showcase and rave about.

I changed Christmas morning tradition and made Mama Pea’s Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

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To. Die. For.

I prepped them in between making lasagna and veg-nog and was so excited to just pop them into the oven on Christmas morning.

I will share with you later this week, our traditional Christmas breakfast, but I think the cinnamon rolls are a fun addition.

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Did you get to test any new recipes? How’d they turn out?

I was very impressed with the Vegan-Nog and Cinnamon Rolls and would definitely make them both again. When looking for fun Christmas recipes I went straight to the blog world in search of the perfect recipe. I think I done good! :)

Happy Monday Friends! Make the last few days of 2010 the best as a new year is almost here!

Tipsy Thursday

 

With the Christmas holiday just days from our grip, I thought it would be fun to post a delicious and healthier version of one of my favorite drinks.

I’m always looking for ways to healthify my food, but was jumping out of my chair with ecstatic joy when I came up with this one.

Because see, I’m a HUGE white russian fan.

Love them.

But sometimes all that half and half can scare me away from ordering one.

So I got the brilliant idea to try Almond Milk instead.

BRILLIANT, I tell ya!

So please enjoy this yummy holiday healthified drink and don’t get mad if you drink like 50 because they are so darn delish! :)

Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I present to you the Healthier, Lactose Friendly White Russian!

The new & improved White Russian:

  • 1 shot of vodka
  • 1.5 shots of Kahlua
  • 5 ice cubes
  • Fill the rest of the glass with Almond Milk 

 

And there you have it folks! A delicious and healthier version of an all time favorite. (Okay, it’s hard for me to put any kind of White Russian in the healthy catergory, but you get what I mean).

If you are going to drink one anyways, why not do your tummy a favor and sub in the almond milk.

I hope you all have happy holiday weekend!

I start my Christmas tomorrow morning bright and early. If you remember back to last year (for those of you that have been following me that long!) we have a lovely tradition on Christmas Eve at the Beyond Destination 26.2 household. Wine at Nine!

Yup, you will know where to find me tomorrow morning….in the kitchen cooking up the best lasagna you’ve ever had and doing so with a big cup of old red to inspire us! (So there may or may not be some blogging going on tomorrow. It’s still too early to tell!).

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Friends!

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What is your favorite holiday drink? 

(My mom called last night to inform me she was making homemade hot buttered rum, I think that could be a new favorite! Will let you know!).

Early mornin’ sweat sesh

 

Due to the time change I was all messed up time wise and ended up going to bed at 9:30 pm last night. Which left me wide awake at 5:00 am ready to start my day.

What can a girl do so early in the morning? Might as well hit up a Body Pump class right? :)

So here I am ready to pump some iron in the wee morning hours.

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As you know I have been going to the gym with J. Alabama and have been working on building my strength up to keep my mind off of not running.

Now today’s Body Pump class was going to be a good indicator of testing how strong I am becoming.

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I had been taking this class on and off and was always very intimidated of adding too much weight.

But today I felt confident. In a couple exercises I even bumped up my weight.

I could definitely feel certain exercises were easier and that I may have still gone a little conservative on the weight, but all in all I was proud of my accomplishments.

I was amazed at how much improvement I have made in a few weeks time.

It made me think of when I started running and how each time became just a little bit easier. And how 1 mile turned into 2 miles turned into an easy 5k.

Weight training is the same thing! It just takes patience and a willingness to push yourself a little past your comfort zone. But in a little time you are lifting weights you never imagined and feeling good.

I touched on this a bit last week, but I have already noticed huge changes in my body.

I assume it has something to do with the fact that I am just switching up my workout routine in general. I was hitting a plateau in my running so now my body is reacting to the new workouts.

Strength training actually tightens things up and I can feel the difference.

And I have also added new forms of cardio back into my day-to-day routine. With the fight fit kick boxing class and plans to hit up some spinning classes I should be looking good by the end of the month!

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Now onto a whole different topic, I am STILL eating apples from my apple picking adventure! And they are as delicious as ever.

I threw together a salad last night that I thought was scrumptious and worth sharing. I had never really thought to add apples to a salad, but needed to eat these apples up.

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In the Mix:

  • Bowl of spinach
  • 2-3 small yellow apples diced
  • Half a package of craisins
  • 5 oz package of sliced almonds
  • 3/4 a container of blue cheese crumbles

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I used a poppy-seed dressing on my salad. But if I had more time, i would have actually made my own poppy seed dressing. As there are some easy and fairly healthy recipes out there.

Yum! This salad was a fun switch up on your regular old every day salad. And I typically do not like fruit on my salad but decided if it is paired with the right dressing and other ingredients it can be pretty darn good!

Do you like to eat fruit on your salad? If so, what are you favorite fruit salad combinations?

Fun with Apples

 

Last Saturday the ladies of the family (Cousin, Mom, Grama & Aunt) + my cousin’s boyfriend decided to go on an apple picking adventure!

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We went out to Anderson Apple Ranch in Emmett, Idaho to pick apples.

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I think my favorite part about this apple ranch is that it’s actually someone’s back yard. She kindly opens it up to the public to pick and lets you buy as many apples as you want.

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These are quite honestly the most delicious apples I have ever tasted! We were encouraged to snack on “samples” as we picked.

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There was also a great selection of red & yellow apples. The yellow apples were so sweet and delicious!

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And some apples were “snack” size! Loved that!

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Destination 26.2 Mom is having a blast!

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Then it was time to climb the ladder to get the really good ones!

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Once we decided we had enough apples we went into the lady’s garage and she weighed them.

My bag o’ apples clocked in at a whopping 12 lbs. And at $.50 a pound, I gladly handed over my $6.00!

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Now after purchasing 12 pounds of apples, I was left a little unsure of what I was going to do with all these babies. Then I had visions of cranberries and ginger in my head and immediately googled an applesauce recipe that included the two.

 

Cranberry Ginger Applesauce:

My applesauce is basically this recipe plus a dash of cinnamon.

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Omigawsh, you guys…. this was so TASTY!! I’m not even sure I would have considered myself an “applesauce” person until I made this.

It’s sweet & tangy and smells sooooooooooo good!

What I liked about this recipe is that it was super easy to make. Except for the skinning the apples by hand part, it was super simple.

Now, I still have 6 pounds of apples left! Any ideas on what else I can make with them??

Thanks again for all the encouraging words on my “tissue issue” yesterday. Crossing my fingers that all will be as good as new.