Kelly the Culinarian: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Congratulations to the winner of my Today's Miles giveaway: jill! You have until 8 p.m. Friday to e-mail me and claim your prize. You'll get your pick of shirts from Today's Miles, which includes their new ladies pink shirt. Want.
2. Do you ever have a run so awesome that you want to RUN ALL THE MILES!? After my successful double run yesterday that included a 5K PR, I really want to run an organized 5K and take it all.  I'm looking for a small, local race to really push myself at. I want a win!
You would think he earned it himself
3. I haven't been as diligent at tracking my Weight Watchers points in the past week. I think I'm in for a reality check with tomorrow's weigh in. However, I'm feeling better about my weight in general because my clothes are fitting better, I posted an awesome 5K PR and I'm more in control around food. There's leftover cake at work and I only ate one small slice a few days ago before deciding it wasn't worth the calories - it's a yellow cake and I'm far more of a chocolate gal. I think this is exactly what I need to adjust the way I behave around food, even if I don't lose a ton of weight (because I don't have much to lose).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Firsts Two-Day

Today I tried two new training approaches: running at lunch and running twice in the same day. I know I'm going to have to learn to run in the middle of the day for Ironman 70.3 Racine, probably in the heat. Although there's no heat this time of year, I thought I'd tackle a few miles at lunch to get in the habit of runch (running + lunch).

It was awesome.

I changed clothes and headed out to run in the business park, which was quite peaceful. Sometime before the first mile clicked off, I decided to run a 5k for time.  It was tough in the cold, but I posted a new 5k PR of 24 minutes flat. I think that the idea of getting back to my desk quickly pushed me to move my feet faster.

I scurried back into the office and followed all of Kelly and Erin's advice for work running: toweled off, blow dried my hair, added fresh deodorant and re-did my make up. I then hydrated and had a late lunch at my desk. From start to finish I was back at my desk in less than an hour and I must not have looked as bad as I thought because no one said, "Gee, Kels, you look like you've just hauled ass around the office for a half hour."  I felt super productive and focused at work this afternoon too. Perhaps a placebo effect, but I'll take it.

When I left work, I decided to my it a double and go for my second run of the day, this time, at the gym. Because I'm doing the Ragnar Relay this summer, I need to get used to running on tired legs after resting for some time. And what's the different between sitting at a desk and sitting in a van?
I watched an episode of some crappy of TrueTV and finished 4.6 miles in in 44 minutes. I actually felt good doing it, too.

And to cap off a banner day, I came home to a mysterious package. Fresh LUNABars in peanut butter chocolate protein. I like protein, and I love both peanut butter and chocolate (as well as free), so this is pretty awesome.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Handful bra

Every now and then, I win an awesome contest and get super excited about it. Last month, I won a Handful bra through the ZOOMA ladies race series (remember that awesome blogger getaway I organized last fall for this half marathon?).

Napoleon really wanted to show off his shoulders on the Interwebs, too
When Tricia sent me an e-mail informing me that I won, I was excited to get shopping on the Web site. I expected the bra to be similar to this bra I bought when I was in Korea based on the photos. Since I'm not going back to Korea anytime soon, I hoped this would be a suitable substitute.

This one is even better. Full disclosure: I'm not particularly well-endowed, so heavy duty support isn't a priority. I frequently purchase cheapo bras and do just fine with it.
But this is a step up from my typical $15 model. The bra I chose was the small adjustable handful bra in purple, naturally. I learned via Twitter that the company fondly refers to this color as "Purple Mountains Majesty." So clever. This particular model is $44, which is quite a bit more than I would normally spend on a bra. The original bra is $42 and the tank is $48.

The bra arrives in a mesh bag, which the instructions recommend that you wash it in. Smart.  It has removable pads and the lining is interesting in that it's kind of like a tech shirt. It's soft and breathable, which will be nice during the summer.  I found it to be quite supportive as well as flattering, which is a tough combo to find. I've been wearing it to bum around the house and to work out in, so I know it's versatile, too.

Disclosure: I got my bra free from a contest, but no one asked me to review it. Just thought you'd enjoy a product I'm really fond of. And I guess I really want to take more Sports Bra Challenge-inspired selfies.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Post Long-Run Ritual?

The stretch tools
A post-run treat from the running past
After my glorious long run yesterday, I skipped one of my post long-run rituals: snack time! I usually down some food immediately after finishing a run, which in the past has included rice cakes, edamame, egg whites, an apple or a protein shake. I like to switch it up.  I've noticed that if I don't eat right after running, I find myself ravenous and snacky later one.

Xaarlin's post about forgetting the basics resonated with me because I think I've gotten cocky and stopped doing the things that worked for me in the past. I was hungry before I even started, so that was a mistake that I'm still paying for today, still.

Another step I missed was stretching. What was I thinking?! I own a foam roller and I know the stretches I need to do, and yet, I skipped all of that.  During my marathon training, I also took an ice bath after most of my long runs (while eating oatmeal or my recovery drink). And after the marathon, I took a day off of work to rest and recover.

What is your post long-run ritual? Do you have a routine you follow every time?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Today's Miles Shirts

This has been staring at me for a few weeks now.
But I just haven't been up to it until today.  I e-met the people behind Today's Miles on Twitter and have been chatting with them every since. The business offers short and long-sleeved tech Ts in myriad colors advertising how far you're running today. When I started talking to them about potentially sending me a shirt, I joked that if the shirt says it, I'll have to go that far. They assured me that the shirt will do the work.
So I suited up today and hit the streets. I had to go to a nearby ritzy suburb, so Tim and I drove there and ran around looking at mansions until we could run errands.
Let me tell you, this shirt is magic.  I wanted to quit, but I couldn't because my shirt said I was running eight miles, and come hell or high water. And eight miles I covered.
When I got back to our car, Tim was waiting for me with coffee, made exactly how I usually order it. I love that man so much.
I wore the long-sleeved eight mile shirt in blue, but you can win your choice of shirt in this awesome giveaway!
To win, go to the Web site for Today's Miles and leave a comment about what shirt you would order if you win.
This contest closes at 6 p.m. Wednesday. I'll use to pick a winner and announce it that evening. The winner has 24 hours to claim their prize, so stay tuned!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baseline Bike Testing at Vision Quest Coaching

Teresa working hard
Today I met up with Teresa, the director of Venus de Miles, for a training session at Vision Quest Coaching in Highland Park. I started working with her on the ride's blogger outreach program and she invited me to a baseline assessment session.

I didn't know what to expect - I've been to spin before, but never something with a CompuTrainer. And I've certainly never done any type of testing or metric for my cycling other than what I can see on my bike's computer.

This is what I imagine cycling on a spaceship would be like. Cutting edge, state of the art and fully integrated doesn't even start to describe this place.  It's situated in the back of an amazingly spacious and well-stocked Trek bike store. You enter through a massive hallway with members' bikes every which way. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I captioned this photo with "What and expensive hallway .... " It was fascinating because there were bikes will Ironman number bibs and all sorts of accessories that I've only seen on the Internet. Of course, I looked and did not touch. Those bikes are worth more than my car.

I got there incredibly early so I could pump up my tire, buy a skewer for the trainer and get set up. An employee helped me get my bike on to the trainer. Each trainer is hooked into a computer that's measuring Watts, power, cadence, miles, speed and who knows what else. I was there for baseline training, but they have all sorts of race courses programmed into the system so you can ride the course. Your trainer simulated the elevations you'll experience on the ride. I'd love to come back and preview the Racine 70.3 Ironman course another day.

Once everyone arrived, we all calibrated our bikes together and warmed up for 15 minutes. While we peddled, out data displayed on a screen with all the information about our output. Next, we cycled as hard as we could for 20 minutes. We were encouraged to watch the screens and try to increase our average Watts as the time went on. My lunch
was starting to let its presence be known by then.
We cooled down and recovered for 10 minutes, then did a full-out sprint test for four minutes. Again, it was nauseatingly hard, but that's the point. These tests were used to establish a baseline for training, in case we wanted to come back and work on improving our times through guided cycling classes. Since the computer now saved our max output, we could do a 12-week session designed to make us stronger cyclists, then retest to measure our progress. We each walked away with a detailed report about our athletic performace

It was such a cool experience and I wish I lived closer to this facility. It's more information than I've ever had about my cycling, and I'm sure that I could get stronger at this place. It's crystal-clear to me that my bike itself needs a few upgrades, too. Here's the plan of attack:

1. Get a tune up.
2. Buy cycle shoes.
3. Get properly fitted.
4. Peddle my heart out until I'm really fast.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guest Post: Kate's Better Than Takeout Orange Chicken Crock Pot Recipe

Hi readers! I'm dealing with car issues and have a jam-packed weekend, so here's another guest post from Kate. If you recall, she's sharing her tips and experiences feeding her family using the freezer to crock pot cooking method. Catch up on her past posts here.

Tonight we tried out a Paleo version of orange chicken.

Frankly, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. When I hear orange chicken, I think of fried nuggets of chicken in a syrupy sweet orange flavored sauce. You know, delectable fried fatness with sugar on top, sometimes garnished with something green that I might consider a vegetable.

However, this recipe:

1) Involves no frying

2) Follows basic “Paleo” principles (of which I gained a little experience when my husband went on a Paleo kick. Frankly that phase of his was a pain in my butt because it meant separate, specific food for him since he wouldn’t eat most of what the rest of the family was eating. This also meant that I very soon declared that he could make his own dinners.)

3) Is quite a bit more work than most of the other recipes I put together as part of this “40 Meals” Freezer Crockpot experience. Next time I’ll probably try a few shortcuts, like using orange juice instead of squeezing oranges myself. Note – the recipe calls for two oranges worth of zest. Make sure you have a zester, or at least a grater if you’re planning on following this recipe as prescribed.

4) Also Note – the recipe says to cut the chicken in to bite sized pieces, but since you’re cooking in the crock pot, that’s not necessary.

5) As most things made in the crockpot – the resulting food isn’t quite as beautiful to look at as the recipe intends, since the colors of everything wind up just blending together.

So after a lot of prep work for this recipe (remember – I just dump everything in the freezer bag together, but the ingredients were work-intensive) and overall low expectations – I was pleasantly surprised in the flavor.

It tasted appropriately orange-y without being overpowering, the chicken was nice and tender (I’m discovering a trend – dark meat chicken does very well in a crock pot), and the sweetness and spicy hotness were just exactly right. I served it with white rice I had left over from Chinese takeout we had over the weekend, and I also nuked some broccoli to round it all out.

Now for the bummer – this meal left us HUNGRY. Holy cow, whoever thought one pound of chicken (works out to about one chicken thigh per person) is sufficient for a meal is either a teeny tiny person or they’re starving.

Next time I’ll be at least doubling the meat for this recipe.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 (this would have been 5 stars, but I was so dang hungry afterwards that I had to deduct something for it being more of a light lunch than a dinner.)

Kate Appelman is a couples and portrait photographer trying to keep up with two toddlers and keep everyone fed and relatively clean. Besides photography, Kate daydreams about actually making something from Pinterest and sometimes fitting in a CrossFit workout.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. I signed myself up for Instagram. Feel free to follow KellyCulinarian for all the food, Yorkie and wetsuit selfies you can handle.
2. I got a very exciting care package today from Tri-Eva, the ladies triathlon apparel company from across the pond whose blog I occasionally update. They sent me arm warmers and a neck warmer, which are really sleek and soft. I hope it warms up a bit soon so I can try them out!

3. In addition to searching for sponsors for my Ragnar Relay Chicago team, we also need volunteers. If our team doesn't provide three volunteers, we have to pay an additional fee.  Are you available June 8 and 9? I pay in cookies. The best chocolate chip cookies in the world, to be precise. Contact me for the details.
Look deep into the cookie and repeat after me: I will volunteer for Kelly's Ragnar Relay team

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Training Tuesday: New Tri Gear

I'm excited about some new acquisitions to triathlon prep team. Thanks to some coupons, deals and guest blogger Jenny, I have some tri-rific tools in my arsenal. Behold!
Clockwise from the top:
1. Blue kickboard on loan from Jenny.
2. Finis Freestyler paddles from Aquagear. I won a $25 gift card from Steve in a Speedo and finally cashed it in. I tried the paddles Monday and they are awesome! It really forces you to use an efficient stroke.
3. Black swim cap from my sister, Katie.
4. Speedo Vanquisher goggles from last season from Amazon.
5. Cycle shoes on loan from Jenny. I need to adjust them because when I used them in spin last week, the front of my ankle got smooshed.
6. Pull buoy from Aquagear. Also tested out on Monday and works like a charm. I'll be a dolphin instead of a manatee soon enough.
Another fun toy:
A bike trainer on loan from Jenny. I have to get the pin that will attach my bike to it, but my bike is getting its annual tune up right now anyways.  Soon enough, I shall be logging miles indoors to my favorite films while I prep for the 70.3 Ironman Racine!
I also got a special delivery in the mail tonight. I bought a Huub Aegis from ActiveGearUp for $130. I read the reviews on this suit and thought it was a great deal, so in my cart it went and on my doorstep it landed.
I decided to try it on, even though it looked impossibly tiny and felt tight everywhere. I can inhale comfortably and get my hands over my head, but it seems to cut into the front of my neck and feels quite tight in the shoulders. I think this is how it's supposed to fit, but it's note like I could exchange it anyways, so here's to making it work!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Guest Post: So Much Chocolate, So Little Time

Do you dream in Chocolate? Elizabeth and I do. On a recent trip to French Lick, Ind., we stumbled upon what every child dreams of - a real life room full of chocolate just like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Valentine’s Day had been and gone but the small town decided to hold a Valentine’s Day Chocolate Festival last week at the Event Center of the French Lick’s Resort Hotel. Slightly overpriced at $25 per head, the event was held in a beautiful candle lit room adorned with balloons and hearts, white chairs and crisp white linen. When we entered the room the smell was mouthwatering.
The room was set up with six chocolate stations and a refreshment table. The first table had cute little fancies all lined up on beautiful silver platters: chocolate dipped strawberries, white chocolate covered truffles, heart shaped delights and a few surprises; chocolate covered bacon (not too obnoxious), chocolate dipped jalapenos (pass) and chocolate covered bleu cheese (not one of my favorites).

Table 2 was created for the pastry lover. Fruit based pastries all delicately hand dipped and totally bite size 

Table 3 included cupcakes in heart shaped papers and cookies all lined up like soldiers. Each tray had beautiful silver tongs to use to pick up the sugary treats, but most of the guests were too impatient and used their fingers (one for their mouths and one for their plate).

Table 4 was a delightful chocolate shake, which tasted heavenly and was extremely moorish.
Table 5 produced a chocolate flavor waffle, which lashing of toppings such as whipped cream, raspberries, chocolate chips and syrup. I was feeling a little unwell by this point but as a true professional I soldiered on.

Table 6 was the pièce de résistance, and by far, mine and Elizabeth’s favorite, the chocolate fountain. Four tiers of warm, gooey, chocolate heaven, which towered wayyyyyy above our heads. The choice of dips was many and surprising. Mini doughnut holes, strawberries, pineapple, marshmallows, chips, pretzels and Elizabeth’s particular favorite, Twizzlers!  On the other side of the table lay huge slabs of chocolate which you chiseled to take a piece of. I loved it.

A five-hour drive from Chicago, I’m sure there are closer chocolate festivals to me, but I would definitely take a trip to this one again. (see Kelly’s blog on The Chicago Fine Chocolate Show).

My girls and husband really enjoyed our time there. The entry is for three hours, but it was clear everyone felt a little nausea after 20 minutes. Thankfully, the soft drinks, water, hot cocoa and coffee on offer took the edge off the sickness but we were still in and out in less than an hour. Definitely worth a look if you happen to be in the area at the time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ragnar Relay Planning Run

Do you do you best thinking while running? I do. It's a great way to work out problems and come up with new ideas.

Sara and Maggie deep in thought
Today, I met some of my teammates from the Ragnar Relay Chicago in New Lenox for some running, planning and noshing. First I met Maggie, Kate and Suzanne for a few extra miles. We knocked out four before picking up a few more people for another three. I had a 9:14 overall pace for the seven-mile total. Not bad, considering I couldn't shut my mouth while we ran. I love to talk running with runners while running.

Then, we went to Panera to refuel. I got my favorite chicken noodle soup and the classic salad with a baguette and a coffee. It hit the spot, but I also stopped for a banana and a Snapple after our meeting.

We had so much to discuss: who wants to run when and how far, the myriad odds and ends we'll need for the transportation cars, if we will have drivers, how we'll find sponsors, who is going to volunteer and most importantly, what is our team name and theme?

I volunteered to run in the middle of the day. If there's anything I've learned from other bloggers and athletes about preparing for the Ironman 70.3 Racine, it's that you need to prepare yourself to run in heat. So prepare I will, and run in heat I shall.
After an hour of chatting and plotting, we decided we need to rent a cargo van, but we'll use my SUV or my dad's truck for the other follow vehicle. Every team needs to provide three volunteers or else we have to pay for volunteers, so we're working on that (and I can pay in cookies, if you want to volunteer for our team). I'm also working on getting sponsors to help us defray the costs, so if you have a business and would like to help us out in exchange for social media traffic, I'd love to hear from you.

As far as themes, we're thinking either something patriotic or a zombie theme.  So either Team America, which would be awesomely easy given the Fourth of July and Memorial Day decor available everywhere, or Running Dead, which would be oh so on trend right now.

I've never done Ragnar, but now I'm so excited to cross this off my running bucket list!

If you're up on these things, what companies do you suggest I contact about sponsorship?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The New Job is Going Really Well

So I bought a car!

Totes joking. Tim and I had a glorious date day that started with a leisurely breakfast, then we went to the Chicago Auto Show. I took this photo to text to Jenny. The caption said "I loved your Merc, so I bought my own." She immediately texted back "which door did you have to drive that out of at the show?"  She knows my cheap ass.

Tim and I had a great time wandering around and checking out cars. I sincerely hope we don't have to buy a car anytime soon, but I do love looking at them. I was surprised at which cars I actually liked. I figured I'll either get a micro mini energy efficient "WE HAVE NO KIDS" car, or a small SUV that can accommodate our bikes. Not really a middle ground there. I liked the Scion iQ, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Mitsubishi MiEV.

After I had my fill of crowds and cars, we went to the garage where we rent a weekends/evening spot for Tim's car for when he goes to class downtown. We swung by campus because Tim got an e-mail from the business school bookstore about a liquidation sale that specifically mentioned cycling jerseys. I got this Kellogg jersey for $8.72!  They only had ladies small and x-small and guy's 2XL, so I got a 90 percent off jersey, but Tim didn't. I feel silly wearing a jersey for a school I don't go to, but our money goes there, so it's kind of the same thing, right? And purple is my favorite color

We also had a pretty amazing dinner at Markethouse. I didn't take any photos because I wanted to enjoy the evening, but trust me when I say this place is a hidden gem. It's in Streeterville across the street from the parking deck and inside a DoubleTree Hotel. I would have never stopped there if it wasn't for the Yelp reviews.  I'll post a review on my Yelp account tomorrow, but the short story is that the ambiance is lacking, but the food is banging. Dessert was mediocre, but the mac and cheese, burger, bread and homemade pickles were so good.

Early to bed, early to rise. Those miles won't run themselves!