Friday, May 29, 2015

Celebrating #NationalBeefDay with Buona Beef

May is National Beef Month, and while it might be over, the best is yet to come! Check out the promo Buona Beef is offering tomorrow only:

Buona has officially named May 30 as National Beef Day, and all locations will have throwback pricing on sandwiches! All day, guests will receive half-priced seven-inch Italian beef sandwiches, Italian sausage sandwiches and/or a combination of both (Prices of each individual sandwich total $2.87 for a beef, $2.25 for sausage, and $3.25 for a combo). The original location in Berwyn will also feature free swag, a spin-the-wheel promotion where customers can win free beef for a year, and more! 

I learned about this momentous day this week when I spent a lovely evening at Wrigley Field with the family behind the Buona Beef empire. It was super cool to see a multi-generational family business thriving in our own backyard, and several generations joined a couple bloggers to explain the history of the business, the process of preparing the food and all the different ways you can enjoy Italian beef.

We arrived and were served up a few delicious beverages while the assorted family members and chefs explained how their food is different - the beef is seasoned, seared and the slow cooked. Nothing is added or injected, and the beef is served in gravy, meaning it's all-natural drippings, not inject broth.

Buona Beef Recipe

After that whole process, the beef stews in its juices and veggies before its ready to serve. Buona has a gluten-free option, but most sandwiches start with a soft roll that is piled up with slices of beef. I opted for the skinny sandwich, which removes some of the bread but is still essentially the same as the original. 

Buona Beef

There's a ton of different ways to order an Italian beef sandwich: dry (no gravy), standard (one ounce of gravy on top), dunked (both ends in gravy) or baptised (the whole thing goes into the sauce). You can also choose sweet or hot peppers and cheese. 

Buona Beef

We tried a few different iterations and I know mine was the best - original skinny Italian beef with both peppers and cheese. And a beer. It was a delightful pairing made in heaven by angels themselves.

Finally, we took in the rooftop view of the Cubs v. Nationals game with desserts from Buona. The view was great, the weather was pleasant and the company was unparalleled.

I have to say that the brownie ranks in the top-five desserts I've had. It was so fudgy and amazing.

Best part? I and every other Chicagoan can repeat this whole experience tomorrow for #NationalBeefDay. Bring on the cheap sandwiches, please!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. I re-arranged the pain cave to better accommodate the treadmill/TV/bike combo now that I'm logging more miles and it has Napoleon downright perplexed. For the first time, he roused to watch me bike indoors. He watched me for almost the entire hour for reasons unbeknownst to me. He has a confused.
I had to stare at this face for the entire hour of indoor cycling

2. I've been working from home more and more now that I've been at my new job for a while and the difference in lifestyle is astonishing. I'm getting more done, both at home and at work, and getting more in, physical fitness wise. I got a new Misfit Shine a few weeks ago because I managed to ruin mine swimming in Austin. The data between a day at the office and a day at home is pretty startling:
Work at Work
Work from Home
They say that it's better to be moving throughout the day instead of just a burst of energy in your morning workout. I have no idea, but I'm guessing my nominal motion throughout the day when I'm in the office is not enough.

3. I'm having quite an issue with my Garmin as of late. It stopped syncing to my computer last week. I tried everything: different computers, uninstalling it, deleting old data, using the USB import. I called Garmin twice and the end result was I had to hard reset the thing, losing 10 days of workouts and all my custom screens. To add insult to injury, I pressed stop instead on lap on this morning's swim. I give up, Garmin. You win.
650 yards is not worth getting up at 5 a.m.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Win it Wednesday: Spartan Race Entry Giveaway

Who wants to get down and dirty? Spartan Races are everywhere and luckily for the winner of this giveaway, I'm raffling off an entry to a race of your choice. The company's mission is to provide the best obstacle races in the industry hands down, with options for every level of fitness. From their website:

Spartan Race is a true adventure that anyone can do, and everyone should try. With course lengths of 3+miles (Sprint), 8+miles, (Super) and 12+miles (Beast) each course is filled with mud, water, and signature obstacles designed to help you discover your inner Spartan. Athletes of all fitness levels will enjoy participating in a Spartan Race and the feeling of accomplishment that comes at the finish line.

Spartan Race even has events for kids. We believe that fitness and adventure should involve the whole family. Come out and watch your kids run, jump, and climb like children were meant to do all in their own Spartan Kids race.

There are 102 race options on the books presently, including the Chicago Sprint Aug. 16.I'll use Rafflecopter to randomly select one winner on June 3. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Training Tuesday: One Year Later

I can't believe it's been a year
I've been thinking a lot this week about where I was a year ago. The Vermont City Marathon was my best race to date, hands down. I bested my personal record by more than 20 minutes, removing a total of 41 minutes from my first marathon time. It was magical, the perfect day. And I have no idea how to recreate it again.

I set out to run a half marathon Sunday morning and could not hack it. Granted, it was after a 42-mile bike ride on the Ironman Wisconsin course (it's famously challenging) and a 1.2-mile pool swim. But still. It was all I could take to run to mile 10 before run/walking back to the car. I'm ahead of my training plan, sure, but some days I think about how I used to be fast.

The only picture I took in Madison
What buoys my spirits (see what I did there?) is my swim performance. Thanks to the Garmin, I can tangibly quantify my improvements. I only got the Garmin 910 last summer, well into my Ironman training. Now, I'm getting obsessed with the swim data. It's easy to see how much time each 50-yard sprint takes, how many strokes it took and what your swim efficiency was. Last cycle, I sort of did swim workouts. But without a watch or pace clock, I had to improvise. Now, it's reassuring to see that I can complete the workouts as written and am actually seeing improvements.

Also, my love of biking was renewed over the weekend while biking the IMWI course from Verona. After riding the 62-mile Arlington 500, I was totally wiped out and pissed off. My eyeballs hurt from my contacts, my legs were sad and I was just spent. I felt completely different post ride this weekend. Maybe it was the nostalgia, or perhaps remembering that I am in fact an Ironman, regardless of how I feel today, but it was awesome. There is no better ride out there. It's well-marked, you get hills and 35 MPH decents, there are farms and historic sites - Madison has it all.

I know what's required to get back to fast. Less beer, more veggies, more intervals and fewer excuses. So here's to making it count. Pigman or bust.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Cooking with Kelly: Coconut No Bake Cookies from NOW Foods

Healthy No Bake Cookie Recipe with peanut butter, cocoa, coconut and oatmealIf you've checked out my NOW Foods giveaway, you know I have a ton of products from them at home. In fact, the prize pack I'm raffling off and took home from the NOW Foods immersion last month with FitFluential is valued at more than $500!  That means I've got a lot of new kitchen items and supplements to try in my house.  Lucky me (and lucky whoever wins later this week).

Since it's been a toasty weekend, I didn't want to bake at all. But I needed a treat to take to a party, so I got busy in the kitchen doing my damnedest to not turn on the oven.

Healthy No Bake Cookies with peanut butter, cocoa, coconut oil and coconut sugar

These no bake coconut cookies combine some of my favorite ingredients and flavors: peanut butter, chocolate, oatmeal and coconut. I wanted to try the butter infused coconut oil I tasted at NOW Foods, and the coconut sugar is a healthier option because it has a lower glycemic index.

I'm not saying these are healthy, BUT there are way worst things you can consume. Plus, there's about 10 minutes of actual work. Wait a half hour and then you're dessert ready.

Coconut No Bake Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
3 Tablespoons butter infused coconut oil
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Combine the coconut sugar, almond milk and coconut oil in a small sauce pan, then heat until boiling. Allow to boil for one minute, then remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients.

Turn out tablespoon-sized cookies onto wax paper and allow to set up for a half hour before consuming. If you can wait.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm still getting my monthly RawSpiceBar subscription and fall more in love with this service every month. I made the April Japanese box for Sunday dinner this week and was very impressed by the result. The matcha and chia mochi cake sounds weird, and it looks kind of strange, too. It comes out of the oven with a greenish tint and comes together so quickly that I had my doubts. However, now I want to re-purchase the entire box. The pork tenderloin was amazing, and the noodle salad was delightful with the addition of a handful of peanuts. 10/10, will do again.

2. If you're on the fence about signing up for a Spartan Race, there's a discount code valid this weekend only in honor of Memorial Day that nets up to $40 off a race entry. Just use "MEMORIAL" to get the cash off.

3. In sad news, I lost my Yelp Elite status this year. I've tried without any luck to avail to the powers that be, but I'm guessing this little corner of the Internet caused some friction with the Yelp overlords. I scored an invite to an awesome elite party last night at Top Golf as a plus one, which was a small miracle and super fun. A local distributor brought it all types of craft beer for sampling, which was so much more delightful than my golfing. I'll stick to running and triathlons.


And yeah, my hair is in that awkward in between stage of growing out right now. I can't help it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Win it Wednesday: Amazing NOW Foods Giftpack from #NowGetFit

It's the giveaways to end all giveaways! This one is truly epic. I hung out with some pretty amazing people at NOW Foods a few weeks ago and had a blast learning about all the science and care that goes into their supplements, foods, personal care items and snacks. It was amazing to see the production, as well as the company culture.

Oh, and the swag. There was so much swag that they send the out-of-towners stuff home via UPS.

Lucky me, I'm the local gal, so all three bags of snacks and supplements came home with me

And now, they can come home with you. Just look at the sheer quantity of this prize:

 NOW® Solutions Faux Wooden Oil Diffuser
 NOW® Solutions Lemongrass Oil
 NOW® Solutions Cheer Up Buttercup Oil Blend
 NOW® Solutions XyliWhite™ Neem & Tea Tree Toothpaste Gel
 NOW® Solutions XyliWhite™ Neem & Tea Tree Mouthwash
 NOW® Solutions Sweet Almond Oil
 NOW® Solutions Cocoa Butter Lotion
 NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Manuka Oil Gel Cleanser
 NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Acai Berry Toner
 NOW® Solutions Vitamin C & Sea Buckthorn Moisturizer
 NOW® Solutions Citrus Moisture Shampoo
 NOW® Solutions Citrus Moisture Conditioner
 Ellyndale Foods™ Premium Avocado Oil
 Ellyndale Organics™ Coconut Infusions™ Non-Dairy Butter Flavor
 Living Now® Organic Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
 Living Now® Tri-Color Quinoa
 Living Now® Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
 NOW Real Tea® PomeGreenate™ Tea
 NOW Real Tea® Slender Chai™ Tea
 NOW Real Tea® Women’s Righteous Raspberry
 NOW Real Food® Organic Triple Omega Seed Mix
 NOW Real Food® Organic Freekeh
 NOW Real Food® Honey Roasted Pecans
 NOW Real Food® Organic Coconut Sugar
 NOW Real Food® Nuts About Berries
 NOW Real Food® Slender Sticks™ Acai Lemonade
 BetterStevia™ Pomegranate Berry Liquid
 BetterStevia™ Organic Packets
 NOW® Sports Pea Protein Vanilla Toffee
 NOW® Sports Sprouted Brown Rice Protein - Chocolate
 NOW® Sports Plant Protein Complex
 NOW® Sports Recovery Factors
 NOW® Sports MCT Oil
 NOW® Sports Energy Extreme
 NOW® Sports Arginine Super Power Stack
 NOW® Sports ZMA
 NOW® Sports Whey Protein Isolate Packets
 NOW® Eve™ Women’s Multiple Softgels
 NOW® Biotin 5000mcg
 NOW® Probiotic 10™ Packets
 NOW® Instant Energy B-12 Packets
 NOW® Effer-C Acai Berry Sticks
 NOW® Vitamin D-3 5,000 IU
 NOW® Cranberry Mannose Packets
 NOW® Ultra Omega-3

Now I've had this prize pack in my sweaty little hands for enough time to try a huge variety of the products. In addition to employing them to recreate my favorite NOW Foods recipes we enjoyed during the #NowGetFit Immersion, I've been experimenting with the various products. The avocado oil is amazing for grilling, since it has a high smoke point at the primary flavor note I detect is creamy. I used it in my chipotle lime grilled chicken recipe last week with great results.

I've also found the toner to be a great post-workout refresher for my face now that it's warmer and I'm training more. I've been adding the brown rice protein powder to greek yogurt and the pea protein to oatmeal with great results. And finally, the wood diffuser and wake up essential oil live on my desk at home. It might be all in my head, but I find it very soothing.

But you can decide that for yourself. One winner will be chosen at random via RaffleCopter in one week, and I'll announce the winner here. Good luck!