April Showers – Coconut Water as a Sport Drink

15 Apr

As I begin training for my Half Marathon in June, I’m doing some homework to get my nutrition in order as that has been one of my main struggles with previous long races.  And as I’ve started my studies as a Health Coach, I’ve been working to improve my nutrition overall and stick to real food and clean eating.  Which got me to thinking…  Gatorade and other sports drinks are not natural.  In my quest for a more natural sports drink, I recently crossed paths with Coconut Water – there were free samples of Zico at the Whidbey Island 10K I ran in last weekend (Race Debrief coming soon):

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Here are three things I’ve learned about Coconut Water:

  1. It has 5 times more potassium than other sports drinks – potassium can help prevent muscle cramping
  2. It is found in young, green Coconuts found in the tropics – it is best straight from the source, but for those of us who don’t live on an island, we can find many different kinds in bottles and cans
  3. It has less sodium than other sports drinks, which can be a problem for intense exercise when you will sweat a lot – in those cases, add a pinch of salt to your Coconut Water

Here are an Infographic with some other health benefits of Coconut Water found in Pinterest:

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I’m going to experiment with Coconut Water during my training.  Due to the temperate Pacific Northwest climate, I don’t think the lower sodium will be an issue for me here…

Question for you:  Have you tried Coconut Water?  What do you think?

Cheers³

Reni

PS – I now have a Facebook page, where I’ll be linking my blog posts and sharing other health and fitness tips (and even occasional Greyhound photos).  Check it out!

Two Hound Tuesday – Road Trips with Greyhounds

8 Apr

It has been a while since I’ve posted about my Greyhounds Lucie and Buddy, so what better time to re-visit Two Hound Tuesday than during April, which is National Adopt a Greyhound Month!

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One of the things Matt and I like to do with Lucie and Buddy is go on weekend road trips.  They are great in the car and also love to meet new people and experience new places.  With a little research and planning to find dog friendly hotels and scout out local parks and trails, we always have fun on the road with our dogs.  Here are 3 adventures we have had with our fast friends:

1)  We climbed a mountain!  Here we are with our Hounds on Mount Hood.  Luckily it was the middle of summer, and while there was still snow on the ground, it was quite warm.  None of us would have been so smiley in the middle of winter up there!

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2)  We go to the beach!  Although we have to keep our Hounds on leash, they love the beach and we take long walks and even some runs together whenever we head out to the Coast:

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3)  We go wine tasting!  Here we are in the Yakima Valley, a Wine Region in Eastern Washington known for being very dog friendly:

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As the weather warms up, we are looking forward to more road trips with the dogs and doing lots of fun outdoor activities together.

Question for you:  Do you travel with your pet?

Cheers³

Reni

PS – I now have a Facebook page, where I’ll be linking my blog posts and sharing other health and fitness tips (and even occasional Greyhound photos).  Check it out! :)

April Race Debrief – Bridge to Brews 10K

7 Apr

Matt and I ran in our first 10K of the season yesterday:  Portland’s Bridge to Brews.  We ran the 8K race last year and had a blast – especially at the post race party that boasted Widmer Beer and Brats!

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The race itself was great, with several highlights worth sharing:

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  • The course ran over the Freemont and Broadway Bridges, so lots of great views of the river and photo opportunities.  I liked that we got to run on both sides of the river we got to see several different neighborhoods in Northeast and Northwest Portland.
  • There were lots of hills, including 2-3 toughies right before the finish – which was a bit of a rude awakening after doing too much flat treadmill work over the winter.  Note to self:  start hill training ASAP!
  • The race organizer made some changes to the post race party to include several local breweries, including Widmer, Laurelwood, Storm Breaker and Burnside Brewing.

While I think in theory the changes to the post race party were a great idea, in reality it didn’t pan out.  After running 6.2 hilly miles, we got to stand in line to get our IDs checked.  Then waited in line for our (pretty cool stainless steel) beer cups.  Then waited in line for beer.  Then waited in line for food, which was sadly lacking in Brats.  Oh, and all of this line waiting was done in a muddy park, so my new road racing shoes are now caked in mud.  So I think there are some kinks to work out with the post race brew fest concept for next year.

Either way, my first 10K is under my belt for 2014.  My time of 71 minutes is very beatable for my next race – I can hopefully keep getting faster as race season progresses!  Especially if I can find a route with less hills :)

Question for you:  Are you ready for hill training?

Cheers³

Reni

PS – I now have a Facebook page, where I’ll be linking my blog posts and sharing other health and fitness tips (and perhaps an occasional Greyhound photo).  Check it out!

April Showers – Jump Start Your Day with Lemon Water

6 Apr

For years I had quite the morning coffee habit.  When I had a long commute, I’d often motivate myself to get up early and beat traffic by stopping at Starbucks for a Venti Carmel Macchiato.  This was not only hard on my wallet, but starting my day with a giant cup of espresso and sugar was not great for my health, and I was usually crashing by the time I actually rolled into the office.  I was able to cut back to plain old coffee brewed at home with a splash of almond milk, but recently challenged myself to see if I could kick my morning habit after reading about the benefits of drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning.  Here are a few of my favorite reasons for making the switch:

  • Boosts your immune system due to their high amounts of Vitamin C and Potassium
  • Helps with digestion – clears the digestive track and flushes toxins from the body
  • Clears Skin – Vitamin C will help decrease wrinkles and blemishes

There are many more great reasons to make the switch, as shown in this Info graphic from Holistic Voyage:

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Warm Lemon Water in the Morning

Warm Lemon Water in the Morning

Directions:

  1. Lightly heat your water – not too hot or it will kill the helpful nutrients in the lemon.  I microwave my mug for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Squeeze the juice from a large lemon wedge into the water and stir with a spoon.
  3. Drink on an empty stomach before your balanced breakfast.

Tips:

  • Watch out for seeds!
  • If working to replace this process for your typical coffee, I would have my lemon water first, and then about 30 minutes later have some coffee, gradually decreasing the amount of coffee until I no longer had any at all.  You can try cold turkey, but might end up with a headache by mid morning.

I’m happy to report that while I still will enjoy a cup of coffee now and again, usually on weekends as a treat, for the past 2 months I haven’t been tied to my morning coffee during the work week.

Question for you:  What is your morning beverage of choice?

Cheers³

Reni

PS – I now have a Facebook page, where I’ll be linking my blog posts and sharing other health and fitness tips (and perhaps an occasional Greyhound photo).  Check it out! :)

 

March Greens Wrap Up + Simple Kale Salad Take 2

30 Mar

I said it before and I’ll say it again – I love kale.  My final recipe for my month of March Greens is a twist on the original simple kale salad I posted to kick off this theme.  But first, here are is a re-cap of the top 3 posts in March:

1)  Simple Kale Salad

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2)  Green Smoothie

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3)  Shamrock Run 5K

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And now for the Kale!

Simple Kale Salad – Take 2

Simple Kale Salad - cheers3.wordpress.com

Ingredients / Nutrition Information:

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Directions:

  • Slice the radishes
  • Cut or rip kale into bite size pieces, removing the thick stem in the middle of the leaf
  • Wash the chopped kale by dunking it in cold water
  • Dry either with a towel pat down or salad spinner
  • Put kale into salad bowl
  • Spritz with olive oil and sprinkle just a little salt over top
  • Gently massage the olive oil and salt evenly into kale
  • Top with sliced radishes
  • Wash the salty oil from your hands and enjoy your salad!

As you can see, I swapped out lacinato kale for red kale and added some radish slices, which are popping up everywhere now that they are in season here in Oregon.  There are several different kinds of kale – if you don’t like the first one you try, find another type and you might like it better.  Then once you’ve been eating it for a while, go back and try that first kind of kale – it may have grown on you!

Next month’s theme is “April Showers” for obvious reasons.  I will post about the benefits of drinking water, and how to jazz it up if you find plain old water boring.  I’m also ramping up my running and starting to train for a Hal Marathon in June, so hydration is very important as those miles start to increase.  If you have a favorite way you like to spice up your H20, post a comment and we can make you a guest blogger!

 

Cheers³

Reni

 

March Greens – Arugula and Goat Cheese Chicken Pesto Pizza

23 Mar

One of my favorite foods is pizza. When we lived in Chicago and first starting dating, Matt and I bonded over our love of deep dish pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms.  When we moved to Portland, we were initially disappointed that there were no good deep dish pizza places.  And then we both dropped a couple of pounds.  While I’m not sure if that was due to giving up our deep dish, or simply being more active in the temperate Pacific Northwest environment, we had fun learning to make pizza at home with more healthy and fresh ingredients.  This particular recipe is one of Matt’s best, with a little bit of goat cheese, a pesto sauce, and chicken and then topped with tomato and fresh Arugula.  It’s like having a pizza and salad all in one!  Before we get to the recipe, here are three fun facts about Arugula:

  1. It’s also known as Salad Rocket.
  2. It has a peppery flavor, which offers a natural cooling effect for the body which makes this a great food for summer picnics.
  3. Arugula is a source of certain phytochemicals linked to fighting cancer-causing elements;  it’s also one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin K to boost bone and brain health.

Arugula and Goat Cheese Chicken Pesto Pizza:

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Ingredients

  • 1 ball of unbaked pizza dough (you can find these at Whole Foods / Trader Joe’s, and sometimes your neighborhood pizza shop will sell them to you)
  • 1/2 cup Arugula pesto sauce (use the Chard Pesto recipe from earlier this month, but swap Arugula for Chard)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh Arugula
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1-2 poached & shredded chicken breast

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Roll out the pizza dough into a circle
  • Place in oven and bake for about 5-10 min – then take out and start to add toppings
  • Divide the pesto, dab one part of the pesto onto the center of the pizza base, and spread toward the outer edges.
  • Mix the other half of the pesto with the shredded chicken breast and then spread on top of pizza dough
  • Place in oven and bake for another 10 min
  • Take pizza out of oven and crumble the goat cheese across the pizza. Arrange tomato slices over goat cheese. Sprinkle with garlic. Brush the crust edges lightly with olive oil.
  • Place pizza directly on preheated oven rack. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust edges are golden.
  • After taking pizza out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes so that the cheese has time to set.
  • After a couple of minutes, cover the pizza with a few handfuls of arugula.
  • Cut, serve, and enjoy!

Questions for you: Do you even make pizza at home?  What is your favorite pizza toppings?

Cheers³

Reni

March Race Debrief – Shamrock Run 5K

19 Mar

On Sunday March 16th I ran in Portland’s Shamrock Run 5K.

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*Note:  The kale did not come with my race packet, but I was able to pop into the PSU Farmers Market while waiting for the train to the race expo.  Gotta have my kale!

This was my first race of 2014 and my first time running in this event.  Here are my top 3 for the a Shamrock Run:

1.  This race was huge:  about 36,000 runners participated across multiple races – 15k, 8k, 5k run and 5k walk as well as a 1k kids race. The 5K race actually had start corrals to space out the runners just like my last Half marathon.  I always wondered where Portlanders celebrated St. Patrick’s Day – I think there is only one Irish bar on the whole city!  Well I finally figured it out:  Portland wear green and go for a run!
2.  My time finish time offered lots of room for improvement during the season @ 34:26.  I suppose that is a positive swing on saying I ran slowwwwww, but I had fun :)  I also had a 2 mile run to the start line once I determined the Street Car was delayed due to the race route.  I was running a little late since Lucie, my Greyhound alarm clock, let me sleep in later than usual, so those first 2 miles were at a fairly brisk pace.  In total, I clocked in 5.1 miles in 53:10.
3.  The weather was perfect for running.  Mid 50s and cloudy, with a little rain at the start that cleared up by the end in time for the post race festival with live music, smoked salmon chowder and beer.  And so much better than the snowy Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago that Matt ran with friends Mandy and Mike a few years ago:

Shamrock Shuffle 8k_032909_004

Questions for you: Did you kick off racing season this past weekend with an Irish themed race? How did you do?  When is your next race?

Cheers³

Reni

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