Sunday, May 25, 2014

Meal Plan and Grocery List #1

For the longest time I would search for a website or blog that had an easy and delicious meal plan and grocery list adequate for endurance athletes so that I could just head to the grocery store with my pre-made list in hand and be done with it.  I eventually gave up because I didn’t find much and what I did find was never quite what Anthony and I wanted.  Since we put together a meal plan and list each week...why wouldn't I share with you all?!  I am going to do my best to provide a meal plan and grocery list every few weeks to help all of you active folks out there that don’t want to take the time to come up with a meal plan and grocery list for the week.  Whether you are endurance athletes, busy moms, workaholic health nuts, or just trying to eat healthier and don't want to have to spend hours searching for recipes and meal plans each week...these plans should work for you!! 

Most of our meals are pretty quick and easy and they are all delicious!  We try to focus on a plate with lots of veggies accompanied by whole grains and protein to go along with it.  Some meals are more nutritious than others and we often cater to our training schedule (if tomorrow is four hours of training starting at the crack of dawn we might do plain pasta with some lean protein and low fiber instead of a plate full of broccoli and whole wheat pasta or barley...).  You can swap meals around based on your life schedule, but hopefully this gives you a good place to start and saves some time during your busy week!  

After we shop and restock the fridge...Brutus shops!

While we do our best to save money at the grocery store and use lots of tricks, food is the one place in our life that we do not compromise, ever...this is not necessarily a budget friendly meal plan and list.  But remember - it is so easy to swap fresh veggies for frozen to save a buck and there are lots of other tricks out there if you want a to eat healthy, wholesome food on a budget (google can help with that)!!  Hopefully this helps to save some time in your week so you can focus a little more of your time on family, friends, training, and having fun in the kitchen!!  Our meal plans usually start on Saturday because that's the day we do a big shopping trip!  Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments and we are always available to answer questions (! :) 

I will note that in the coming weeks I am only going to post the grocery list that goes with the dinner meals…. obviously along with this we always get the following staples plus or minus some depending on what our pantry looks like and what our needs are for the week ahead:
almond milk
yogurt (large fage 0% for Peg, large Stoneyfield Strawberry for Anthony)
Organic preserves/jam
fresh bakery bread
ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread
frozen gluten free waffles (trader joes - we love the texture of the g-free waffles they have)
triscuit crackers, pretzels, wasas, tortilla chips…etc
lots of seasonal fruit! and veggies to much on (carrots, celery..etc)
spinach for eggs and smoothies
natural PB
almond butter
maple syrup
fresh salsa
oatmeal and fixin’s (raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, coconut, pecans, almonds,…..etc)
earth balance
whole wheat flour (pancakes are a weekend staple!)
orange juice/apple juice
block of cheese
pistaccios and other nuts for snacking

Last Weeks Menu
(Note: the weekend meals catered to what sounded good to Anthony's belly - he had a training camp weekend with LOTS of hours of training!) 
Saturday - Homemade pizza & salad
Sunday - Breakfast for dinner (egg/spinach scramble, fresh toast, roasted red skin potatoes)
Monday -  Chopped salad and mini wonton cupcake lasagnas
Tuesday - Chicken and veggie pitas and black bean soup
Wednesday - Dr appt went longer than anticipated - whole foods take out
Thursday - leftover veggies + brocoli and chicken loaded sweet potatoes
Friday - Healthified orange chicken 

Grocery list
-Pizza Dough or crust (we bough a pre-made Organic Whole Foods Pizza Crust which was delicious!  Trader joes and Whole Foods both have fresh dough as well if you are up for pressing it out!) 
-pizza sauce (we love whole foods fresh made sauce!)
- shredded mozzarella
- peppers (for top of pizza and salads)
- Sun dried tomatoes
-chicken (x 3meals)
-whatever other pizza toppings you prefer 
- bag of lettuce and/or spring greens/spinach
-cherry tomatoes
-fresh bakery bread 
-red skin potatoes
-wonton wrappers
-jar of red sauce (we love classic sweet tomato basil)
-ground turkey
-ricotta cheese
-parmesan cheese (optional)
- zucchini
-red pepper
- whole wheat pitas
- 2 cans black beans
- 2 cans or 1 box of veggie broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)
- poblano pepper
- garlic 
- broccoli 
- sweet potatoes
- orange
- chile powder
- cumin
- Your favorite salad toppings


Homemade pizza & Salad - Doesn't get much easier than this!
         Pre-made Organic Whole Wheat Crust (we used WF 365 brand)
         Pizza Sauce (we used fresh WF sauce - delicious!)
         Shredded mozzarella
         Peppers (we used orange and yellow)
         Sun dried tomatoes
         Any other pizza toppings you prefer
         Salad toppings of your choice for salad - celery, peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, & carrots..etc

Instructions: (self explanatory... like I said doesn't get much easier than this meal!)
         Put together pizza to your liking and bake! 
         Put together salad to your liking

         Enjoy!! You can put a slice or two of pizza on top of your salad or enjoy them separately.


Breakfast for dinner - another super easy meal!
         Peppers, tomatoes, or any other goods you want in your egg scramble
         Mozzarella (or cheese of choice)
         Fresh bakery bread
         Red skin potatoes
         Garlic Salt

      Instructions: Roasted red skins:  Cut potatoes in quarters, chop shallot and mix with EVOO and garlic salt to taste.  Bake at 425 for 45-60 minutes.  Keep an eye on them and stir/mix as needed. 
         Egg Scramble - self explanatory.  Scramble with all of your favorite veggies!
         Serve with your favorite fresh toast & "yum" away!


Chopped Salad and Wonton Cupcake Lasagnas (for the little kid in all of us!) 
         Romaine lettuce (and any other mixed greens you prefer in chopped salad)
         Block of white cheddar
         Orange/Yellow Peppers
         Dried Cranberries 
         Sunflower seeds 
         Almond Slivers
         Dressing of your choice
         Wonton wrappers
         Jar of pasta sauce (we prefer Classico sweet tomato basil)
         ~3/4lb Ground Turkey Breast
         Shredded Mozzarella
         Dried Oregano
         Dried Basil 
         Garlic Salt

          Salad: Chop toppings in large chunks.  Place harder toppings in food processor and pulse a couple of  times.  Add lettuce, mixed greens, and rest of softer toppings (excluding cranberries, seeds, and nuts).  Pulse a few more times until chopped to the right texture for you... and that is an easy chopped salad!! Serve in bowl topped with cranberries, sunflower seeds, almond slivers (and any other favorite toppings!) 

          Lasagnas:  Heat oven to 375 degF.   Brown turkey - season with garlic salt and pepper.  Drain and let cool a bit.  Spray cupcake pans with olive oil (or other cooking spray...coconut oil...whatever cooking spray you have handy!)  Layer cupcake tins - start with wonton, add a little ricotta, meat, red sauce, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Add another wonton wrapper and repeat. Add one more wonton and repeat but without the ricotta.  Sprinkle top with basil and oregano and bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Feel free to add some parmesan in the mix!  ENJOY and "YUM" away!  


Veggie and Chicken Pitas with Black Bean Soup
(I wouldn't complain if this was a weekly..or daily meal...YUM - my favorite of the week!)

 Black Bean Soup
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
2-3 Medium Carrots
2-3 Ribs Celery
1 Small Onion
1 Poblano Pepper (seeded)
2 cans or 1 box Vegetable Broth
2 cans low sodium Black Beans
Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Dry Oregano

Instructions:  Place celery, carrots, onion, and poblano pepper in the food processor and pulse a few times.  Warm up olive oil in a stock pot over med-high heat.  Add vegetables and garlic.  Saute for about 4 minutes.  Add rinsed black beans,  vegetable broth, and seasonings.  Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to create your desired consistency.  SO EASY!! (Tip: If you don't have an immersion blender, you could easily blend the soup in a few batches in a traditional blender.) 

Veggie and Chicken Pitas
Red Peppers
Grilled Chicken
Whole Wheat Pitas
Kalamata Olives

Instructions: Grill or bake chicken with seasonings of your choice (I think we just used some garlic salt and pepper).  Heat oven to 425 degF.  Chop veggies (excluding spinach, olives, and sprouts)  and lightly coat with olive oil and garlic salt.  Roast veggies in oven for about 30 minutes.  Cut pita in a half and fill with a mixture of spinach and mozzarella - use these as your sandwich bread and fill stack away!  Anthony also added sprouts and kalamata olives to his sandwich (not pictured).


Go out! 
Wednesday was a lost night for us - Anthony joined me at the doctor and the appt ran much longer than anticipated.  We enjoyed a delicious dinner from our local whole foods.  I love that we have this as an option - they have fresh food and they always list all of the ingredients so you know exactly what you are putting in your body!! Plus they have live music and great beer on tap (we skipped those options this time around!) So for Wednesday - treat yourself!  Head to the local whole foods, Chipotle, or a local restaurant for a delicious, easy, happy belly meal! 


Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Left over veggies from Tuesday
Cheese of your choice

Instructions:  Grill or bake chicken to your liking (we used left overs from Tuesday that was simply seasoned with garlic salt and pepper).  Heat oven to 450 degF.  Place cleaned sweet potatoes that have been poked with a fork on a rack (we place aluminum foil on the rack first) and let back for about an hour - may take longer depending on the size of the potatoes.  Steam broccoli and reheat left over veggies.  Cut open potatoes and stuff with chicken and veggies!! Top with mozzarella or cheese of your choice.  This meal is SO easy and so full of flavor.  


Orange Chicken
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Salt
1 Orange
Red Pepper
Brown Rice


Instructions: Bake chicken seasoned with garlic salt and pepper.  Heat just a splash of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop baked chicken and sauté with 1tsp minced garlic and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your taste buds!). Add ~ 2 cups broccoli and a splash of water.  Cover and let steam for a few minutes to soften the broccoli.  Uncover and add 1-2 chopped red pepper(s) and cook for about 3 minutes more. In a small bowl, whisk together 2-3Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp honey, 1teaspoon sesame seeds, and juice of 1 orange plus a touch of orange zest. Add to skillet and cook 1 minute. Serve over 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.

 Enjoy!! Have a wonderful and delicious week!! 


Saturday, May 17, 2014

We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.

The other day Anthony told me I was like a drug addict going through withdrawal this week.  I have been really struggling.  Smiling and laughing one minute and in tears just miserable the next...Embarrassing.  While I was given the "ok" to ride easy for maintenance, coach Marni just had me swim and walk a lot this week.  I am happy to give my body the opportunity to heal while still allowing it to move, but it is used to moving A LOT more.  Tomorrow is my first ride in what feels like FOREVER!!  Wow, did I have a week of UPS AND DOWNS!! One minute I am hopeful about getting back to training and getting to Placid happy and healthy and the next minute I think the doctor is going to tell me NO WAY.  I feel really good and then my glute is in pain and my leg is tingly.  It's terrible and I am SO ANXIOUS for my follow up doctors apppointment on Wednesday.  Anthony thinks I am crazy for self diagnosing myself, but I am pretty sure it is NOT a disc herniation or bulge, but rather "just" piriformis syndrome...we will see... (clearly I am qualified to make this diagnoses..... ;))  In the meantime, I am doing my best to not be defeated by this set back.

I am a VERY positive person but even being so optimistic and positive, it is easy to get down in situations like this where I have no answers and no control over the situation.  All I can do is try to listen to my body and move it as much as I can without hurting it more until the doc gives me a true diagnoses.  The moment during the Monticelloman race when my glute first had such bad pain and my leg started tingling and going numb was a heart-breaking moment for me.  I have since slowly changed my thought process a bit.  I was starting to have really high expectations of myself for Raleigh which would surely turn into me having really high expectations of myself at Placid.  Kind of crazy to have high expectations during your FIRST Ironman.  Perhaps this is the Universe's way of telling me to take a step back and remember why I am doing this and to enjoy the journey with less focus on numbers and expectations.

I love endurance sports.  I love all the training days and I love race day.  I love challenging myself and getting to know myself better along the way.  I love how mental endurance sports are.  And so I am trying to respect the ups and downs of this journey.  I have SO many more training seasons ahead of me to be healthy and uninjured, so if I can mentally get through this one, that will make all the others that much easier.  And if I can manage to get to the start line on July 27, this obstacle will make IMLP so much more special.  I may finish an hour or an hour and a half slower than I would have if I didn't lose this training time, but those 140.6 miles will be so well earned and the journey that I will have to reflect on will get me over all of the ups and downs that are bound to happen during an Ironman.  

It is not easy, but I am learning to dance in this rain.  I have never had to drop a race from my schedule and in order to keep a smile on my face I have had to search for and remind myself of all the positive things that are coming out of this injury.  There aren't many, but I have found enough to get me through.  I will stare this injury in the face and I will come out on the other side stronger than ever.  I have 10 weeks to get 100% healthy and get some serious training under my belt for Lake Placid, so assuming the doctor gives me the go ahead to start training hard again (with a few more weeks off running) in conjunction with PT (which I already have scheduled out through July!), I am SO ready to reset my focus and get back in gear.   FINGERS CROSSED that the doctor has some good news on Wednesday.

IN OTHER NEWS:  Anthony and I coached my BFF, Nicole, for the Brooklyn Half.  We could not be more proud of her race execution today.  She negative split and finished "hungry for more"!!  Going into training, one of our main goals was to come out of this race wanting to keep running, not burnt out and "over it" and that was a huge success!  I am so so so proud of all the work Nicole put in with a really hard training plan and a negative split!!! It takes a smart and patient runner to negative split a race... Nicole you rocked and you should be so proud of all of the work you put in and the outcome!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

10 things I saw while I was walking...and walking...and walking this past weekend

With my weekend training consisting of "walking Brutus....a lot" I had plenty of time to just take in what was going on around me.  When I am training outside - whether it's cycling or running - I am usually aware of my surroundings enough to be safe, but certainly not very focused on them.  It was nice to people watch and really just 100% enjoy nature (although I would have MUCH rather been training), and during my Saturday and Sunday loooong walks with Brutus, I saw a lot! Here are the top ten things that come to mind:

10.  WOW!  Since when do so many cyclists wear headphones?? Am I the only one that thinks this is totally crazy?!  I mean sure it was on the W&OD trail where I noticed this, but regardless there are still tons of walkers, runners, kids, dogs, OTHER CYCLISTS, and STREET CROSSINGS!  Other than when I am inside on the trainer, it has never even crossed my mind to listen to music while riding.... this blew me away!  

9.  Kids being rude to their moms... ON MOTHERS DAY! SHEESH

ok...the rest of the things I saw were positive!! :) 

8. Kids running and walking with their moms on mothers day with a smile on their face, yay!! 

7.  Senior couples - still clearly in love - walking, holding hands, and enjoying nature together. :)

6.  Happy dogs...sniffing! 

5.  RUNNERS!! Runners in sweet new gear, runners in old beat up gear, fast runners, slow runners, skinny runners, large runners, old runners, young runners, friends running together, couples running together, solo runners, I even saw a runner in jean shorts!! They all had one thing in common.. they looked so happy to be outside in nature running on a beautiful trail on a gorgeous weekend!

4.  Mama Geese and their babies!

3.  Kids exploring nature - free of technology!

2.  Families on bike rides together!

1.  STRONG, FIT, HAPPY MOMS running with strollers!! This always makes me so happy to see!!  :)

Taking a step back from training to focus on healing my body so I can complete IMLP gave me a chance to just enjoy a weekend of nature with my dog.  While I am SO ready to heal and get back to training, it was nice to get some extra Brutus time and take in my surroundings.  I saw soooo many heart warming sights during the hours Brutus and I spent walking!!  

Happy Tuesday! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hurdles are there to jump over, not to stand in front of and wonder....

I grew up a gymnast and made a quick and happy transition to a sprinter and hurdler in middle school.  I loved hurdles - specifically I loved the 300m hurdles.  It's one thing to sprint 100% for 300 or 400 meters, it's another to gracefully get over 10 hurdles in the process.  I also ran the 200m and 4x400m, but there was something so special about a really good 300m hurdle race.  It took more patience to become good at racing hurdles... you have to learn not to "stutter" before the hurdle, you have to have no fear and trust that you will get over that hurdle without a problem.  You have to focus on more than just running form but also on form while getting over the hurdle.  That patience I learned while working to become a good hurdler is something I am re-learning today as I struggle with a different kind of hurdle - an injury just 11 weeks out from my first Ironman.  

Hey Nicole Kaes...remember these days?!

A few weeks went by with my back and glute feeling a bit off, but I truly just thought I was just tight from lack of good stretching and dealing with a lot of stress and less than optimal nutrition.  We were in the midst of deciding to move, signing papers and making plans to move, and trying to fit in training all while Anthony was out of town for work for a few days.  Ohhhh and preparing to race in a week...  So when Friday of race weekend came around neither Anthony nor myself were feeling particularly in the "race mindset."  Saturday morning we picked up Anthony's younger sister, Heather and we headed to Charlottesville with a full car (the 3 of us plus Brutus!).  We spent Saturday afternoon/evening checking in and getting our packets, driving the bike course, and then exploring the UVA campus a bit with Heather.  Wow, Charlottesville and UVA are GORGEOUS!! 

Come race morning I was not really feeling particularly nervous or excited which is 100% unlike me on race morning.  Normally I am jittery, nervous, anxious, excited, and just super duper curious as to what my body will allow me to do in a race setting!  This morning was not like that - I was just calm and not a confident calm, just an abnormal calm.  It was a beach start and it took me about 10 minutes to start to find a rhythm in the water...after I found my rhythm I was a happy camper, but I had a bit of the swim where my right leg felt a little tingly which I found odd but attributed it to it being my first wetsuit swim this year...On to the bike. 

I came out of the water feeling really good and energized - I definitely didn't push it on the swim... I just wanted to feel good when I got out so I could race the two legs that I was strongest.  I was soooo ready to hop on my bike and get to my happy place riding.  I knew the course from driving it and I was SO excited to ride it - it was a really pretty ride!  The half to 2/3 of the ride felt really good I was holding my goal normalized power without a problem.  Somewhere along the way my legs just stopped feeling strong.  I knew I wasn't pushing too hard, I was pacing well, but something felt off.  I kept pushing as best as I could knowing that I could make up a lot of time on the run where I am the strongest.  

I got to transition and I was ready to run.  I started off and I had to slow myself down in order to keep the goal pace of 7:45-7:50 for the first mile.  First mile - 7:45 and felt great.  Took a 10 sec walk break to reset and get ready to pick it up for the next 5 miles.  About half way through mile two, I started getting on and off sharp pains in my right glute.  By 2.5 or 3 miles in my right leg and foot were going numb and the on and off sharp glute pains continued.  The rest of the run was a run/walk. I was so disappointed, but the glute pains were not something I could push through, so I walked when I got the sharp pains and jog/ran nice and easy when I could.  So much for 7:30 average and a sub 7:00 last mile........ I am glad that I pushed through as best as I can, but Monticelloman Olympic distance race did not turn out nearly like I had imagined... 

And so after a day of being in denial that anything was really wrong, I made a doctors appointment after searching for the perfect orthopedic.  I will say that I LOVE the doctor that I found - a super fit former Division 1 swimmer and a female!  What I didn't like...her diagnosis.  After looking at x-rays and lots of talking, she is having me get an MRI and believes that I have a herniated/bulging disc.  There is no way to know whether she is correct until I get my MRI on Wednesday night, but in the meantime I am only "allowed" to swim and cycle easy for maintenance.  

My amazing coach has me walking Brutus a lot, swimming, and re-focusing my left over energy by getting creative in the kitchen.  The hope is that I will be able to get back on the saddle for an easy ride this coming weekend.  I am SO bummed that I will not be able to compete in Raleigh 70.3 (I was SO excited to ROCK this race), but I am trying to look at all of the positive things and I am so so so excited to cheer on Anthony at Raleigh!  

Views from todays 4 mile walk at Burke Lake Park with Brutus

I had a great weekend full of lots of long walks with Brutus in the amazing weather, but it was SO hard to see all the cyclists and runners out on the trails.  If there is one thing I am totally ok with, it is being patient in order for my body to get healthy and happy again, but man is it frustrating.  I am not trying to get out there and run or cycle hard, but I am so envious of those who can.  I have never been injured so close to a key race and it is truly a mental battle.  Staying positive and trusting that my coach has a plan that will get me to IMLP happy and healthy is really hard.  I have accepted that my goal may truly have to be "just to finish happy and healthy" with no set time or place in mind, but just knowing that it is only 11 weeks away and I will not be running for at least four of those is really hard for me to wrap my head around.  

In the past few days I have learned a lot about the mind and getting over hurdles mentally and learning to just trust the plan and your body.  Life gets bitter sometimes, but I am thankful that I have a body that is as healthy and strong as it is and I am going to grow a lot from this experience.  There is always fall to rock a 70.3 and in the meantime I am focusing ALL of my energy on getting healthy enough to cross the Lake Placid finish line on July 27.  I am learning that my mind is a lot stronger than I thought and getting over this hurdle is teaching me a lot about myself....I will have quite the journey to reflect on during those 140.6 miles in July!

I can't thank my support system enough as I get over this bump in the road... you have all been so amazing and your positive energy has really helped me stay optimistic and keep my eye on the prize of IMLP...hey until there is an MRI to give a true diagnosis, for all I know it's just a big knot that a massage will fix...right?! ;)