Kelly the Culinarian: June 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm bunking with my parents this week and have been helping out around the house. They have a roomba, and if I lived in a single-story house, I'd get one in a minute. How dreamy is it to come home to fresh carpet lines every night? That said, I don't understand why this thing is so loud. It sounds like a stand mixer barreling blindly through every room all day long.

2. I got a delicious care package from Wild Garden featuring their Mediterranean line of marinades and pilafs. I can't wait to try this alongside some healthy grilling options. I'm hoping to get some pork tenderloins on the grill with veggie kabobs and some of these side dishes.

3. I know I've reached peak healthy living blogger status by the mere fact that I tried and enjoyed groats. The hotel I stayed at served a made-to-order organic and vegetarian breakfast every day, along with a manager's reception nightly. Groats are one step closer to nature than oatmeal, and very filling. I had a bowl with milk, local honey and peanut butter daily. I'm expecting my membership card to the HLB society any day now.

Complete with chalkboard signage!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Life in the Lone Star State

I'm a week into a 12-day jaunt in Texas, visiting my family and enjoying a little summer vacation with the small ones. I've had so much fun sharing one of my favorite cities with my favorite people. There were nature walks:

 Couch cuddles:

A bat-watching party:

 Feasts aplenty (Franklin's is worth the time, money and heartburn):

And happy hours!

So in case you wonder where I've been, I'm safe and sound. Training in the heat the best I can, wearing tons of sunscreen and working remotely thanks to my dear friend Wifi. More to come!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cooking with Kelly: Healthy Cookie Oatmeal Bake Recipe

I recently got a ton of new-to-me products to try out in my DeGustaBox shipment. It's a surprise subscription box service based out of Barcelona that send full-sized treats and products you might not have had before right to your door. You can see my unboxing video on my Facebook Live page. I'm an ambassador, but the opinions are always all mine. If you'd like to give it a try,  you can get 50% off your first Degustabox using the code: DEGUSTA10

The cinnamon-flavored peanut butter really caught my eye and I decided to make something sweet. I've been on a healthy streak and oatmeal bakes are so easy for accelerating your morning. I made this oatmeal bake with some of my favorite healthy ingredients like smashed bananas and egg whites, which let the flavor of cinnamon shine through.

One of my secrets for baking with raisins in any context is to let them slightly rehydrate before baking. In this instance, I soaked the raisins in vanilla extract for 10 minutes before baking. This ensured the raisins weren't tough or chewy, which would have detracted from the soft and fluffy texture of the oats.

Also, I baked my oatmeal in a pie tin, but that's only because I can't seem to find my 8x8 inch pan. Either form will do.
Healthy Cookie Oatmeal Bake Recipe
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup skim milk
2 egg whites, beaten
1 banana, mashed
1/4 cup cinnamon peanut butter

Combine the raisins and vanilla in a small dish and set aside. Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder and salt, then set aside. Beat the egg whites together, then add the milk, banana and peanut butter. Add the wet ingredients and raisins into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into a well-greased pie plate, 8- or 9-inch cake pan or an 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the oats are set and the top is golden brown.

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 Esprit de She Naperville Triathlon Race Recap

Six-word summary: A solid race in perfect weather.

Disclosure: I race for free with Esprit de She as part of their ambassador program, but the opinions are all mine.

This is my third Esprit de She triathlon (read about 2015 and 2014), and my fourth event with the group (read about my first year as an ambassador). The weather this year was by far the best of all the years I've attended. A new addition to my racing kit was the Zipp 808 wheels we bought a few months ago. I had never ridden on them but no time like the present, right? And throwing all race advice to the wind, I also decided to wear new daily contacts to this race instead of my regular lenses on the advice of my eye doctor. I'm positively living on the edge.

I woke up at 5, had breakfast and coffee and drove the half an hour over. By the time I got into transition, the rack for the first wave was already full. Those elite ladies don't mess around and told me I should find another rack. Whatever. I race elite to make my day shorter and less crowded, knowing full well I will be the last elite with consistency, so I racked my bike nearby, set up quickly and returned my stuff to my waiting sherpa/bike mechanic/photographer (thanks honey!).

I timed it pretty well and had just enough time to hit the port o pottie, walk down to the beach to warm up, then get into my wave. There were 11 people in my wave, and I realized listening to the National Anthem that I forgot my Garmin. Better to leave that at home than my goggles, but it was annoying to not have a gauge of how I was doing all day long. The swim was uneventful - I kept up for the first lap and was falling behind by the second turn buoy. No big deal, just keep swimming. I was the last elite out of the water and got a healthy round of applause from the waiting triathletes. My transition felt long because the people in the relay wave were waiting for their swimmers and I had to jostle to get my bike. It also took me forever to click into my pedal.

The bike was interesting in that on my first loop, I was completely alone. I saw no one, and felt like I was flying on the new wheels. I learned why you don't use 808s in wind - every gust felt like it might be my last. On the second loop, the relay and survivor waves hit the course and I had a slightly more difficult time navigating around other athletes. This race is roughly 25-35 percent first-time racers, and there aren't course marshals, so I would say there is a lot of rule-breaking cycling going on out there. I nearly hit a spectator on my way out of transition because they weren't paying attention crossing over the course.

When I hit T2, I knew I had pushed it on the bike as hard as I could. My legs were tingly, but I easily settled into a pace. I decided when I hit the 2-mile marker I'd try to push as hard as I could to the finish. This resulted in nearly bowling over more spectators, but also ensuring that I was spent when I crossed the finish line. I kept reminding myself to push harder because training wise, I should've been out riding a century or running like 15 miles, so I had to make this race count.

In all, I was roughly two minutes slower than last year. I lost time in transitions, my run was 30-seconds slower and my swim was also slightly slower. I gained speed in the bike portion, thanks to the Zipps, and can see that I need more time in the pool. It was a great tune up race, and gave me confidence for the season ahead.

Time: 1:23:03 for a sprint triathlon

Price: $80 if you registered early

Pros: Lots of swag (Moxie top, shorts and skirt), unique medal, really posh post-race party, beginner-friendly course, no need for a wetsuit

Cons: The bike course gets super clogged up because athletes don't follow the "bike right, pass left" rule, the swim requires several turns, transition doesn't appear to have enough room, the jerseys aren't as cute this year as previous year's

Would I do this race again? I'm reluctant to stop, since I'm a Founding Finisher, but also, it tends to conflict with my longer-distance training plans. We'll see what date it falls next year, and if they'll have me as an ambassador!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. The whole getting white-dress ready plan is well underway. The shopping starts next week and I'm already down four pounds, so here's hoping I can keep it up when I'm on vacation.

2. Dude, working from home is the best thing ever. Napoleon and I spend the afternoon on the balcony taking calls, filing reports and enjoying not having to wear real pants.

3. Another accolade for the resume: I'm pretty excited that my company won Best LinkedIn Campaign in the 2016 Social Media Awards from PRNews. It's awesome to be recognized in a venue that also highlighted household names with big budgets.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

3-Month Post Bone Marrow Donation Update

Tomorrow marks three months since I went under the knife to donate bone marrow. The short summary: I feel the same as I ever did. My uncle feels the best he has since he was diagnosed with cancer. In fact, he's at home with his kids, resuming his life.

"Thank you for saving my daddy"
And that is the tale I want people to know about donating bone marrow. I'm going about living my life as always while making it possible for another person to do the same.

The nitty gritty: I have a few small scars that haven't faded quite yet. They look like acne scars but you can still feel a knot of tissue underneath where the incision and extraction took place. They don't impact me at all. Even in a bikini, only one of the seven incisions is visible. I feel no pain, soreness or aching, my endurance is the same was and my energy levels are great.
Still got it

Looking back, I would say it was two weeks after the procedure before I felt well, and probably four weeks before I was back to baseline me. My Ironman training is well underway with zero ill effect from having 1.5 Liters of my very essence removed.

What's insane to me is how quickly it made a difference for the recipient. Three months isn't long at all; just ask any kid on summer break. It's 1/3 of a pregnancy, a single season on the calendar or three house payments. You can train for an entire marathon in three months. And yet, my uncle has gone from living within two miles of the hospital with daily visits and constant tests and procedures to being back at home with his twins and contemplating returning to work.

I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Only one in 540 people on the bone marrow registry ever donates, but those who do literally cure cancer in the process. I've been on the registry for 10 years, and sign up was easy. You can start the process online here. You never know whose life you may save.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Training Tuesday

This weekend, I worked out nine hours. I feel zero bad about the Taco Bell, fried cheese curds and froyo I savored after biking the Ironman Wisconsin course three times and doing a transition run.

Good job, legs!

We drove up to Verona and biked two loops (84 miles) in right around six hours. It was not fun for me. On the very first loop, I was dropped almost immediately. I was perplexed why it was so hard for me to pedal. In the first hour, I only went 12 miles and I even stopped early on to see if I had a flat. It was only after I scaled Mt. Horeb and stopped for water that I found the culprit: my brakes we closed. I biked 19 miles with my brakes on. I was so annoyed, but also relieved that I didn't somehow lose athleticism overnight.

A note on where I stopped: Big cheers to the Mt Horeb Methodist congregation on putting out free, ice cold water for cyclists. It's a perfect midway point when you start in Verona, and just a very nice Christian thing to do. Also, their social media game is on point. I commented on their Facebook page and got a reply 1 minute later.

After shredding my legs on loop one, the second loop felt so much easier. I was in no mood for a transition run, though, and saved that for Sunday. After just one loop (42ish miles), 15 minutes of my feet still felt not great, but better than it would have the day before.

Last night, we did a fun open water swim practice at Centennial Beach in preparation for Esprit de She this weekend. The water is warm, but I still wore my wetsuit for practice. It's damn tight but it works.

I also took myself on a morning run today. It was tough. I'm cutting back on foodz to try and drop some weight before I buy a wedding dress, so I feel like I'm running on empty. At mile three, I was tired. At mile 6, I had to walk. At mile 7, I was overjoyed I was home. That said, I do miss running in the morning because it was so nice and cool and fresh outside. More, please.

Up later this week: two sessions of CrossFit, two turbo trainer sessions, a swim and Esprit de She!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Outtakes from my latest food photo shoot. Napoleon wanted to be in the shot/eating the food, so it was all kinds of fun trying to capture my baked blueberry oatmeal recipe in the midday sun. I should've done it in the morning, but oh well.

2. If you're not busy this weekend and like to get your buzz on, the Caffeine Crawl looks like a great way to spend a morning. Sadly, I won't be able to attend this coffee-soaked celebration, but maybe someone can go and tell me how it went?

3. Now that the venue is booked and I've got a white dress to stare down, the slim down is on. So far, I've eaten a half of jar of pickles in one sitting and stared longingly at a plate of mac and cheese. We'll see how long I can hold onto this idea of shedding for the wedding.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The week in training

What a fun week! On the not great side, our Crossfit gym's power was out last night, so no go there. I'm starting to really enjoy my current Crossfit gym and look forward to the challenge. Instead, we went home and had a positively killer bike trainer workout. Lots of cursing was involved doing this YouTube video. I hated every damn minute, but I suppose that's what training is for.

One training session I loved this week was riding through the vacation towns of Michigan during the holiday weekend. We did a 62-mile ride around Torch Lake, which features every cutesy tourist cliche ever, and was absolutely adorable. Plus, the elevation was no joke. In looking at the data, we topped out at 35+ MPH plus on the downhills, and had about the same total elevation gain as the Ironman Wisconsin course. Coupled with the previous day's half-marathon run in ridiculous humidity, I'm feeling pretty good about my cardio.

This morning's swim also felt pretty good. It's been a few weeks since I took a swim lesson that completely changed my stroke, and I feel like I'm finally starting to reap the benefits. Basically, the coach told me I need to reach wider to engage more muscles in my back, and focus on keeping my hands flat rather than rotating my wrists. It felt awkward at first, but now the movement feels a bit more smooth.

Next up is a double loop of the Ironman Wisconsin bike course, which will be a big weekend workout prior to Esprit de She Naperville June 12. I've been an ambassador for the program (you can still use GEDS16AMB068 to save $5 on registration) from the start and am looking forward to my third year competing in the sprint. I'm hoping for better weather than last year!