July Race Debrief: Manzanita Beach 5K

I recently spent a wonderful weekend in Manzanita, Oregon, participating in the Manzanita Beach Race while enjoying a relaxing visit to “The Coast” (in Oregon, we don’t go to “The Beach” – we go to “The Coast,”  possibly because there are amazing coastal views, but it is too cold to swim and play as you would at the beach unless you wear a wet suit and / or a jacket).  Although I originally planned  to run the 10K, I decided to switch to the 5K  so I could run with Matt and the dogs;  Matt opted to run the race at the last-minute and since this is a smaller / local race, they allow dogs to participate (on leash).  I figured with two Greyhounds leading the way, we had to win – ha!

Manzanita is my favorite Oregon Coast destination – -  there are great local restaurants and the Greyhounds absolutely adore walking (and running!) on the wide, hard-sand beach.  In a way it feels like my “home” on The Coast as I’m always so happy and stress-free in Manzanita.  Here are the top 3 moments from my most recent trip:

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1)  The Manzanita Farmers Market – We arrived in time to visit the local Farmers Market, which was great!  I picked up some fresh berries to make smoothies for breakfast and some green leafy goodies to make salads for lunch. 

2)  Walks (and runs) on the beach in cool weather – Rain or shine, the weather at The Coast is always cooler than Portland.  We had more foggy days than sunshine, but both were a relief from the unusual heat wave hitting Portland at the moment.  Matt and I enjoyed many walks with the dogs as well as the 5K race, which we ended up running for 2 miles and then walking the rest after the pups got tired out (I cut Buddy some slack – he is now officially a senior at 7 years old).  While we did not win the race, we had a great time and still got in a good workout.

3)  Relaxing outside on the deck – The room we stayed at had a lovely balcony with a view of the main street and if you leaned out over the rail, you could see the ocean.  Despite our lack of a direct ocean view, it was great to sit outside and enjoy “happy hour” drinks.  Lucie especially loved lounging in the sunshine as you can see from her smile in the photo collage.

Questions for you:  Have you enjoyed a weekend get-a-way this summer?  Where did you go?

Cheers³

Reni

 

Grilling July – Veggies Packets and Chicken Sausage

With summer in full swing, it’s a great time to enjoy cooking and eating outdoors – it’s time to grill!  Full disclosure:  All the grilling is done by my husband, Matt.  I help with the prep and the eating, but leave the heavy lifting to him.  Here are the top reasons I enjoy grilling:

  1. More time outside enjoying the sunny Pacific Northwest summer.
  2. Less clean up in the kitchen.
  3. Matt does all the grilling!

Today’s recipe is very simple, but very tasty so we have been making it about once a week.  Plus we’ll usually grill extra veggies and then I can enjoy them for lunch the next day.

Grilled Veggie Packets and Chicken Sausage

grilled veggies and chicken sausage

Ingredients / Nutrition Information:

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Directions:

  • Wash and chop all veggies into bite size pieces
  • Place each pile of veggies onto their own piece of foil – spritz with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Wrap up the ends so nothing will fall out making foil packets
  • Let the grill pre-heat for about 5 minutes or until it reaches about 450 degrees, but every grill is different (coal vs propane vs electric), and some grills (especially electric) lose their heat soon after you open the cover
  • Put the sausage on the grill and turn the burner down to medium; this will cook for approximately 15-20 minutes; you don’t want to burn the meat, but you do want to make sure it’s fully cooked
  • Set the veggie foil packets off to the sides so they’re not getting direct heat and turn the heat down to medium-low; cook veggies for approximately 15 minutes
  • Use tongs or an oven mitt to remove the packets from the grill and let them cool slightly before opening them
  • Scoop veggies into a bowl, top with sliced chicken sausage and fresh cilantro or parsley (optional) and enjoy!

Question for you:  What is your favorite grilling recipe? Please post a comment to share and you can have a chance to be a guest blogger!

Cheers³

Reni

June Farmers Market Finds Wrap Up + Intro to PiYo

June just flew by and now that the 4th of July is behind us, it is officially summer in Oregon!  Here is a quick look back at the top 3 posts from June:

1)  Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad - cheers3.wordpress.com

2)  Blueberry Almond and Goat Cheese Salad

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3)  Straw-Ban-Kale Protein Smoothie

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During the month of July, I have a lot going on…  One of the activities I’m most excited about is my 30 Day PiYo Challenge  After running in the Vancouver USA Half Marathon in June, I was ready to mix up my training plan.  I still need to stay in shape for the 10Ks I’ve signed up for throughout the summer and fall, but I wanted to do something new, something besides running, something that would help with strength and flexibility.  Enter PiYo.  Have you heard of PiYo?  I hadn’t until I signed up for my 30 Day Challenge, so let me outline the top 3 about PiYo:

  1. PiYo uses moves from both Pilates and Yoga
  2. It is low impact, high intensity, without weights and / or jumping
  3. It promises sculpted muscles, a strong core, and increased flexibility…  I’ll let you know!

Based on the great experience I had working with a coach during my Half Marathon training, I decided to sign up with a coach again for my PiYo challenge.  It’s an on-line, group training program that is very focused on accountability.  We have daily posts and check-ins on Facebook and there is a lot of interaction and encouragement across the group members. For example, I need to take a “sweaty selfie” after each workout and take pictures of healthy meals and snacks and post them to our (private) group’s Facebook page.  Here are my pics from Day 3:

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So far, the Challenge Group has been fantastic!  I’m keeping detailed notes and will share details about my journey here in the blog.  I’m already anticipating that I’ll be running my own challenge groups soon, incorporating what I am learning at the Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching Program and including the fitness components of PiYo and other workouts or training options.  Stay tuned for more information!

Last but not least, the big reveal on the new theme for July:  I’ll be sharing recipes focused on grilling while continuing to get ingredients from the local Farmers Market.

Questions for you:  What do you like to grill?  Have you done a PiYo workout?

Cheers³

Reni

June Farmers Market Finds: Baked Purple Potato Fries

Do you ever just crave fries?  They are the perfect side dish for a burger and as we approach the 4th of July weekend with and many people have hopes of grilling some burgers, here is my recommendation for a healthier fry.  I picked up some Peruvian Purple Potatoes at my local Farmers Market along with some zucchini and braising greens:

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While you can substitute red or Yukon gold potatoes in this recipe, here are 3 reasons to stick with purple:
1)  Purple potatoes are higher in anti-oxidants than other varieties.
2)  They can help strengthen your immune system, regulate blood pressure and prevent certain types of cancer.
3)  Purple spuds have a nuttier flavor and a creamier texture – they are great mashed too!
Baked Purple Potato Fries
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Ingredients / Nutrition Information:
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Directions:

  • Set oven to 350
  • Wash your potatoes
  • Slice into quarters length-wise and place skin side down in a glass baking dish
  • Peel and chop garlic, sprinkle garlic over top of potatoes
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper
  • Spritz with olive oil
  • Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes (check and stir after 20)
Question for you: Will you be grilling for the 4th of July?  Let me know what’s on the menu!

Cheers³

Reni

June Farmers Market Finds: Strawberry Spinach Salad

Have you ever made your own salad dressing?  Do you think it’s too hard?  I just learned it is so easy to make Balsamic Vinaigrette, I will never buy a bottle from the store again! It’s as easy as one-two-three:

  1. Pour equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a jar with a screw on top
  2. Add a dash of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt a pepper
  3. Screw on the top tightly, shake until well mixed, and enjoy on your salad!  More detailed on ingredients / portions are below…

This dressing goes great with one of my favorite summer salads – the Strawberry Spinach Salad with ingredients fresh from the Farmers Market.  Now that strawberries are popping up at all the Oregon markets, I’ll probably be eating this salad once a week.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad - cheers3.wordpress.com

Ingredients / Nutrition Information:

Salad:

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Dressing:

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Directions:

  • Mix up the dressing as noted above and store in the fridge until you are ready to use
  • Wash and place spinach into a big salad bowl
  • Slice strawberries and avocado and put on top spinach
  • Top with almonds and goat cheese
  • Add cooked chicken on top
  • Add 1-2 spoonfuls of dressing
  • Dig in!

Question for you: Have you ever made your own salad dressing?  Please post a comment and share the recipe!

Cheers³

Reni

June Farmers Market Finds: Kale, Blueberry, Almond and Goat Cheese Salad

Another trip to my local Farmers Market and this time we went right when the market opened. Since it wasn’t too crowded, Lucie (one of my Greyhounds) tagged along. Lucie LOVES the Farmers Market – meeting new people and getting lots of pets. Buddy (my other hound) isn’t much for shopping, instead preferring to stay in the park and lounge on the grass, so after my purchases were made, we picked up Buddy and went to relax in the park to enjoy the sunny day:

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My purchases at the a Farmers Market:

1). Yukon gold potatoes; I plan to roast them with some fresh garlic.
2). Kale – 2 kinds – because I can never get enough kale.
3). A 3 pack of berries with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – yum!

For dinner I made a very simple, but tasty salad as a starter with some of the goods from the Farmers Market:

Farmers Market Salad: Kale – Blueberry – Almond – Goat Cheese

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Ingredients / Nutrition Information:

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Directions:
-Wash and chop the kale
-Spritz on the olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt (optional) and massage evenly onto the kale
-Top with blueberries, almonds and goat cheese
-Enjoy!

Variations:
-Any kind of berry that is in season at your local farmers market works great
-Swap almonds for walnuts or hazelnuts
-Try feta cheese instead of goat cheese

Question for you: Do you have a favorite berry?

Cheers³

Reni

June Race Debrief: Vancouver USA Half Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the Vancouver USA Half Marathon, and completed goal #3 for 2014!  Since I’m extra busy this year with school and work, I decided to hire a Running Coach to help me with my training plan and to help me work on the challenges I faced last year with cramping and stomach aches in the last 3 miles of the Half.  The goal I identified with Coach Jennifer was to finish my Half Marathon feeling great.  I wasn’t too focused on time, but I wanted to feel good and enjoy the post race party and not have to curl up in a ball and not talk (which is exactly what happened after crossing the finish line last year – just ask Matt).

Here are my top three for the Vancouver USA Half and my experience training with a Running Coach:

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  1. I am THRILLED to report that not only did I have a smile on my face for the last three miles and I crossed the finish line feeling GREAT, but I knocked off 13 and 19 minutes from last year’s Half Marathon times!  I finished in 2 hours 26 minutes, about 5 minutes shy of a PR from a race in fast / flat Chicago.
  2. It was awesome to have someone email me my training plan every 2 weeks and hold me accountable. I didn’t have to think about developing a training plan, I just focused on getting motivated to go out and run.  I knew my coach would check in periodically to see how things were going, so I was very motivated to stick to the plan.
  3. With my Jennifer’s help, I learned I wasn’t eating enough the day before, the day of, and the day after my long runs.  Since I gained some weight during my first Half, I was micro-managed my diet last year – evidently too much!  By adding around 200 calories of protein and carbs a day around my long runs, I improved my energy levels during my long runs without requiring a snack during the run and increased my recovery time after a long run as well.

I would definitely recommend working with a coach to new runners or busy runners looking to accomplish a specific goal, but without a lot of extra time to do research and trial / error of different methods.  I am on the fence about running another Half in the fall…  I’m actually looking forward to a break from long training runs.  It will be nice to run a few miles here and there and mix up things up with strength training and more yoga. But if I do decide another Half is in the works this year, I will work with Coach Jennifer again.  I am signed up for a 10K each month thru October, so I suppose I can’t slack too much….  :)

Question for you:  Would you ever want to work with a Coach?

Cheers³

Reni