Category Archives: food

Healthy Habits of the Traveler in {MCM} Training

Fact: it’s a challenge to keep up with your daily habits while you’re traveling, no matter what category they fall into. The layers of difficulty can quickly pile up depending on where you’re going, for how long, why, how you’re getting there, and you know, any other life things you may have going on at the time!

I never turn down an opportunity to travel, simply because it means branching out of the norm and getting some sort of experience. But as of late the travel has been frequent, so I’ve had to get creative in maintaining some sense of normalcy for my system-in-marathon-training.

Last week I got to head up north to Seattle for four days to conduct a few coaching trainings. I love that city. Love it. But in those four days my schedule also included three runs – one of which would be over 3 hours. I wanted to eat healthy for those runs, to avoid being the girl in Seattle seen frantically searching for public bathrooms in her running attire. And I wanted to keep stress levels low so that my heart wouldn’t decide it had its own plans for those miles.

Here’s how that stay-on-track strategy looks, in my world….

1) Bring what you love (and what you need*)!

I packed peanut butter, fruit, homemade trail mix (pepitas, almonds, cashews, dried blueberries and raisins), Larabars and a refillable water bottle. I also packed my Long-Run *essentials: handheld water bottle, hat and fuel.

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I’ve learned to pack nut-butter in tupper-ware, as the TSA deems the ‘jar’ a liquid in some cases. And that’s been confiscated. And that was a bad day.

2) Shop for the rest!

Once I got myself to the hotel, I immediately looked up a grocery store. As you might assume, the Seattle area is saturated with healthy options! So, this one was easy. I headed straight to Trader Joe’s after lunch (see: leftover Thai food, ‘Thank you!”) and stocked up on the good stuff:

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Obviously that tiny tupper-ware of peanut-butter wouldn’t suffice for the whole weekend. The other things: bananas, salad for lunch the next day, organic peaches and apples, plums, (not pictured) sparkling water and sea-salt + almond dark chocolate.

This was one of three grocery-store stops in 4 days.  Just trying to do my part for the health food store economy!

3) Use the web to plan ahead! 
  
  It’s full of (mostly good) information. Exhibit A: MapMyRun.com

MMRbellevue run_MMR

Friday morning had “3:10 // 20 miles” on the schedule (i.e. run for that amount of time, as prescribed, and don’t exceed 20 miles). I did a quick search of the hotel’s zip code with a mileage filter and found a ton of options. This search also led me to quite a few park trails in the area, which would be ideal for many miles during the Friday morning commuting hours.

Another vital MapMyRun tool while running in Seattle? The elevation chart. It took me a while, but I finally mapped a route that only included approximately 1,000 ft of climbing over those three hours. That’s skill.

4) Stick to your workout ‘plan’ (make one, first).

Exploring new cities with a run is always fun, but I rarely feel motivated to do so before tying up the laces and convincing myself to GO. As soon as the legs get moving, I’m happy. In three runs I discovered crazy-hilly neighborhoods, a cute little park near my hotel and a lovely downtown area to return to for some afternoon sun-soaking and planking.

Having a plans works wonders; I don’t do as well with the “we’ll just see what happens!”. On this trip I wanted to check a few training boxes and, of course,  stick to the plank challenge!

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When on vacation, attempt a new plank-hold record. At least when your arms and legs start shaking, no one’s watching your craziness…or judging your continuous plank-selfies…

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5) Head back to the grocery store!
I.e. Take advantage of the Whole Foods (
or similar available option
) hot + cold bars.

In four days I managed to only eat “out” twice. I was lucky to have stayed in the Hyatt House Hotel, where each room is stocked with a few kitchen supplies and a full-sized fridge. But even a mini one would have sufficed here – there’s luxury in having a real plate to eat off of, along with real utensils. Bliss!

Thursday afternoon I went to Whole Foods and picked up the following from the buffet bars:

Dinner (Pre-LR): honey-ginger salmon, steamed kale, roasted vegetables (squash, onions and peppers), roasted cumin sweet potatoes.

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Breakfast (Post-LR): two hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes (from the salad bar), plain roasted sweet potatoes, 1 avocado (from produce section). (I already had my pre-run banana + Peanut-butter ready to go – see picture above.)

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Before heading to the airport on Saturday, I made my third trip to WF in as many days. I wanted to make sure lunch was full of fresh deliciousness, since dinner in an airport is rarely promising…

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From the WF salad bar: mixed greens, grated carrots, marinated mushrooms, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, diced celery, Italian dressing and a side of roasted sweet potatoes. To drink: lemon-flavored sparkling water.

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All-in-all, pretty successful trip. I eased right back into training – thankfully with the new pair of kicks that finally arrived on my doorstep. The only thing that’s different is I’ll be right back to running along the bay this week, jonesin’ for that PNW sunshine and already-cooked, ready-to-eat meals.

For those who travel often – work, or wanderlusting – what are some of your must-dos to keep things feeling somewhat normal?

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Filed under challenges, food, health, marathon, Nutrition, training, travel

One-Dish Meal: Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant Recipe

If there’s one thing I’m confident with in the kitchen, it’s a one-dish meal. I’m all for efficiency, simplicity and easy clean-up! While I love home-cooked meals, and don’t mind cooking them myself, I steer clear of complicating things.

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Here’s the deal: I do not love eggplant. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, it can be very tough on the jaw, and it dries out very quickly.

But every vegetable deserves a fair chance in this world! I DO love ordering the eggplant dish at Thai restaurants, and that just flat-out baffles me. How do they do it?! It’s always soft, and edible, and flavorful (read: spicy!), and delicious. I order it without reserve; I know they’ll nail it and I’ll want another plateful for leftovers (because no, there are no leftovers).

I’m growing basil plant #5 in the backyard and it was begging for an excuse to be harvested. I picked up an eggplant at Trader Joe’s and thought, “Okay, let’s do-si-do one more time…”

Spicy Thai Basil Eggplant
Makes ~4 servings, or 2 big ones

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 eggplant, chopped into cubes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Basil, to taste (~3/4 cup fresh leaves, chopped)
1 can(15 oz)  fire-roasted tomatoes
2-3 cups fresh greens: arugula, spinach OR kale (optional)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Red pepper flakes, to taste (if you really like that spice!)
Optional: top with sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a large sauté pan (or wok). Add garlic, stirring for 1 minute. Add red onions; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add eggplant, tomatoes, sesame oil and seasonings (cayenne). Continue cooking this mix until the eggplant softens (8-10 minutes); add 1/8 – 1/4 cup water if it looks dry. Stir in the basil and greens; cook until softened.

Top with seeds for extra crunch, flavor and healthy fats!

2014-08-10 19.07.22Suggested summer pairing: Water + Watermelon Ale (not mixed together), to quench the spice and your thirst.

Eggplant, you’ve redeemed yourself! I think you have basil, spices and tomato juice to thank. But we’ll take it.

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What’s your favorite one-dish meal?

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Filed under dinners, food, Nutrition, recipes

What I Ate Wednesday: RD Edition, Tagged & Delivered

There are a few reasons why I rarely, if ever, share food log-type posts, but there was once a time that you would see a few recipes here n’ there, some meal recaps and a lot of LGF love. In what was now probably more than a month ago, Anne asked if I would put up a “WIAW” post if tagged, and I said “sure!”. She tagged.

Dear Anne,
I apologize for severe procrastination here. Let’s still be friends!

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Without further ado: we breakfast.

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(Melissa, 10 points if you can name this exact location!)

This photo is a few weeks old, but mirrors what most mornings look like. I have a huge glass of water before anything else – but then it’s right to the coffee (usually black or with a splash of almond or soy milk), and the peanut butter. Banana? That’s just a peanut-butter vehicle. I do love me some potassium and fiber, though.

Grab a spoon, a napkin, and a healthy appetite for nut butter!

On occasion you’ll see oatmeal + cinnamon here, too. On another occasion, you might see scrambled eggs + avocado + veggie(s). Sometimes things get fancy!

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Now that I work from home, nothing has changed about my lunch routine. I chop up a variety of fresh vegetables, aiming for at least 2-3 colors in the mix, toss in some pumpkin seeds and sliced avocado, and when I’ve planned ahead, a hard-boiled egg.

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One big difference of this work-from-home business? My home came stocked with a lemon tree in the backyard. So lovely, so California. This beauty’s dressing came courtesy of this tree’s abundant supply – freshly squeezed juice, and a few chopped basil leaves.

Top this off with some Farmer’s Market strawberries and a piece of dark chocolate. Perfecto!

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On the dinner menu: Tuna steaks and cooked vegetables.

There is no shortage of greens in this house!We usually snack on kale chips and/or carrots + hummus while we cook – un-pictured, but you know what snacky foods look like.

WIAW_fish dinner

Poor photo, great foods.

This colorful plate came together courtesy of fresh-from-the-farm asparagus and tomatoes. Summer is the only time you’ll see fresh heirloom tomatoes in my rotation – I’m not sorry for being a tomato snob. After placing tomatoes on the “never eating!!” list for 21 years of life, I take their new spot on my “favorites!” list seriously. Dice one of these babes up and sprinkle some salt, pepper and balsamic on there? It’s simply the best.

Smeared on that fish you see a spicy green curry paste, courtesy of Trader Joe’s.

Dessert: usually another piece of dark chocolate, perhaps a handful of walnuts (my fave) and maybe some dried fruit. And maybe a peanut-butter dip. Maybe.

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What was on your menu yesterday?
Taking tips for fish-grilling, as we put together the Weber today!

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Filed under about me, food, Nutrition, what to eat

Eat The Green Spoon: Whole Food, GF, Home-Delivered Meals (DC, VA)

If someone offered to deliver a locally and sustainably sourced, gluten-free, chef-cooked meal to your door, would you turn that down?

Yah, I didn’t either.

eatgreenspoon_Meals

Hanson, owner and founder of The Green Spoon, personally reached out to see if I had any interest in taste-testing their meals. His pitch needs little to no pizzazz. The company’s values speak for themselves, and they speak loudly to the target demographics!

Do I want a gourmet meal prepared by a trained chef, that happens to also be gluten-free, sourced locally and sustainably, nutritionally balanced and, of course, full of flavor, delivered to my doorstep? Well, sir, I can’t think of a person who would say “No” to that question. So, yes, absolutely!

I was anticipating one meal. If the Chef was feeling generous or the kitchen had leftovers or some other luck-of-the-universe situation happened, maybe a meal for him, too.

I provided the address and he gave me a time of delivery; perfecto, I’ll be there! What I wasn’t expecting when I opened the door was a bag FULL of meals (see above). We didn’t need to cook for the rest of the week!

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thegreenspoon_infographic

Our sample meals included:

Mahi Mahi Napa Salad | Salmon with Mango Salad & Brown Rice | Grilled Rib-Eye with Tomato Relish & Balsamic Steak Sauce over Mashed Sweet Potatoes | Almond-Crusted Fish Sticks, Broccoli & Carrots (steamed) with Cauliflower Mash | Seared Halibut with Citrus “Soy” Sauce, Brown Rice with Bok Choy, Sweet Peppers & Cauliflower Mash | Chicken with Zucchini (GF) Waffles with Mixed Berry Agave Compote & Vegetable Medley

The Details:

Sources are listed for all foods.
Meals are organic.
Meals are gluten-free.
Produce is determined by seasonal availability.

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eatgreenspoon_fish

eatgreenspoon_fishsticks

A few of these were dinner, while a few were a very handy, healthy packable lunch. They’re easy to reheat and taste like they were freshly cooked, no matter how you warm them up (instructions included). Flavors between the protein, vegetables and starches were all very complimentary and we enjoyed the meal’s variety of textures and colors. Each sample received two-thumbs up from the respective taste-testers (my pescetarian tastebuds & the meat-eating fiancée).

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If you’re in the DC area, check these guys out! Order something. Branch out of your dinner-eating comfort zones!

They specify delivery zones and, as I’ve mentioned, bring it right to your door. While I’m not one to order weekly meals, I think this could be a creative solution to small dinner parties, or a date-night “in”, or perhaps fooling the family while they’re in town?

You decide how you’d like to enjoy your Green Spoon plate, but just know that you’ll be happy to support this crew.

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eatgreenspoondc.com

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Full disclosure: All meals were provided free of charge.

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Filed under DC, dinners, food, health, lunches, Nutrition

Lunch’n Vegan: Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

This recipe post is brought to you courtesy of Instagram and the attention that a lunch bowl can garner while people are hungrily browsing social media! All I did was calculate the leftovers in the fridge into amount of time I wanted to dedicate to lunch-packing after the Superbowl. I’m no chef, and “easy but healthy” could describe most, if not all, combinations posted in this space!

This came together easily, in approximately 5 minutes (thanks to Friday night’s dinner menu), and pleasantly surprised the taste-buds. And as it turns out, it’s ringing “healthy” bells:

pom   pumpkin seed lunch

Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup Sautéed kale
1 cup Roasted Brussels sprouts

Salt/pepper to taste. On the side: guac.

The measurements are estimates, since I rarely measure things but rather toss them in and give it a good look and think “Yep, that fills the Pyrex bowl”.

On the side you see some leftover guacamole from our game-watching party contribution (if you could call that a game?), which added a nice spice to the mix! It’s not intentionally vegan and gluten-free, but it is.

The Perks:

Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels! Feisty little things. They can also be a good source of vitamins C and B5.

Pumpkin seeds make frequent appearances in my lunch, as they’re a complete protein and great source of manganese and magnesium, and an excellent source of zinc and iron. All good things in general, but especially for the veg-heads!

The seed-powered salad takes the win, here.

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Filed under food, gluten free, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian