Winter Nature In NYC And a Delicious Meal

A little winter running tour of NYC nature (yes, for anyone feeling snarky, there is nature in this city, although you do have to actively seek it out):

It was nice to break up my running with picture-taking. Confession: I have been majorly bored by running lately. Anyone have any fun workout boredom solutions?

I came back and cooked up a giant meal for myself:

Apple-smoked bacon, two sunny side up eggs, mushroom/sweet potato hash cooked in bacon fat, half a grapefruit, and flax quinoa bread (from WF.  I think I’m in love) with coconut butter.  For some reason this was the only meal I really wanted today.  I had some snacks, but didn’t want anything else substantial.  And I didn’t want any other foods either.  Just this.  Maybe I’m going through a food phase.

I think I like this phase.

I am hoping to migrate my blog to caronae.com tomorrow! Fingers crossed!  I am also hoping to figure out how to design some of my own layout and make it smooth and professional looking. If anyone has any tips, feel free to share. 🙂

I just feel like I’m finally ready to move into the “serious” blogging world.  I have this feeling in my center that it’s the right thing to do at this point in time.

See you all tomorrow my loves (hopefully)!

We Can’t All Be Julia Child

Today’s Happy Note: Meeting my new students!  I volunteer with high schoolers in NYC public schools and love it.  Some of them told me that I have really strong arms and legs, randomly.  I guess all my strength training and running pay off (although in reality the benefit for me is mostly mental — I want to look fit, but I don’t have a pathological need to “look good” — I’m past that stage, thank God)!

Marathon Training: During my hilly 9-miler this morning, I realized that my half-marathon on Saturday is not gonna be easy.  I have already run 39 miles this week and will probably do 3 or so tomorrow.  Saturday will include the half-mary plus an extra 5 for a grand total of 18 and 60 for the whole week. Wow.  Holy crap.  That’s a lot of miles.

I need new shoes just thinking about it.

Today was another super busy day of running, classes, therapy, more classes, volunteering and….law school fair! This probably sounds really boring to you, but applying to law school is actually something I’m genuinely excited about. Every time I find a new school that seems fun and vibrant and has good programs in the areas I’m interested in, I add it to The List. The List is getting bigger every day.

I haven’t felt so thrilled about most big changes or decisions in my life.  But, like my decision to leave school in the second half of my sophomore year, this is just something that I feel clearly and simply right about. In my heart.

All this is to say that my life is crazy busy right now, just like so many of your lives!  And I want to share with you my favorite easy dinners (and easy dinner-making tips) for when life gets like this.

Sometimes I get home at 8 or 9 and I. Do. Not. Want. To. Cook.

Chopping vegetables and coming up with complicated fish marinades can be relaxing.  But not when you haven’t eaten in six hours and you’re ready to eat the damn non-stick pan you’re cooking with.

Speedy-but-healthy weeknight dinner tips:

  1. Do not fear the afternoon snack. I always have one between three and five.  Usually something relatively large.  A good afternoon snack means that you’ll have the time and energy to prepare a tasty, healthy dinner.
  2. If you can, prep your vegetables on the weekend.  I like to either make a giant stir-fry over the weekend or just cut up a few cups of sliced carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, or whatever is in season and in my fridge!
  3. Simple does not necessarily mean bad.  When you’re pressed for time and money, fancy is rarely an option, in fact.  Pick simple proteins and fats. Don’t buy a live lobster or a 10 pound complicated rack of lamb.  Some of my favorite choices: eggs, hummus and cheese, salmon (cooks quickly!), natural/organic deli turkey, canned beans, canned tuna, quinoa, frozen pre-cooked shrimp, extra firm tofu, and nut butters, of course.  You can spice up a simple protein relatively easily and quickly.
  4. You don’t need a lot of equipment but the essentials are, well, essential.  A cutting board (or a very sturdy plastic plate that I may or may not use as a cutting board), a good knife, a measuring cup, a glass mixing bowl or two, a good spatula, a wooden spoon, a pot, and a non-stick pan.
  5. Invest in some spices and sauces that you can throw into a dish to take it to the next level: salsa, hummus, peanut vinaigrette, green chiles, lemon pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, seedy mustard, guacamole, etc.

And without further ado, easy weeknight dinners in pictures!

I tend to go for easy stir-fry comobs.  This was the one I mentioned yesterday — broccoli, onion, sweet potato, tofu, and peanut sauce.  I paired it with some TJ’s carrot ginger soup.  Soups, provided that they’re low in sodium and don’t have crazy ingredients, can be great sides or main dishes if you add in some fillers.

Sweet potatoes are really easy to steam in the microwave!  I topped mine with turkey here, but you can also use beans, greek yogurt, nut butter — whatever.  Paired with a side salad, dinner was good to go.

Sometimes you just need a Smoothie In A Bowl for dinner.  Throw on some granola and nuts for toppings to make it heartier.  And pair it with a side salad if you’re weird like I am and don’t mind veggies with your smoothie.

Omelets or egg scrambles are always a good choice! Tonight I had one stuffed with broccoli, green pepper, and cheddar, with a bowl of oatmeal on the side.  Breakfast for dinner is usually quick and always tasty!

These have all been dinners from just this week.  It’s easier than you think to be creative but tasty.  Inexpensive yet healthy.

Some of my other favorite weekday dinners include quinoa with beans mixed in, salmon baked up with soy sauce, ginger, maple and roasted veggies, whole grain pasta with marinara and local grass-fed ground beef, wraps with avocado, hummus, spinach, and tuna…the list goes one.

Your favorite quick and easy dinners?

Because let’s face it.  We can’t all be Julia Child all the time.

I have more exciting (and important) things to do than cook dinner.  BUT I still want to be nourished and satisfied. These tips and dinners fit the bill.

Risk Taking Anxiety/Vulnerability

Today’s Happy Note: Piers.  Who thought these up?  Seriously.  A long platform extending out over the water affording better views and a nice breeze?  I’m all over it.  I love the piers that extend out over the Hudson all along Manhattan’s West Side.

Sorry for disappearing on you last night!  I genuinely wanted to blog (which is why I am apologizing) but didn’t get home until 1:00 AM!  This is veeeerrrrryyyyy late for me for a weeknight when I have work/school the next day.  I pretty much collapsed into bed and had to supplement with a nap after work. 🙂

Mental Health Note: I am really glad I went out.  I am NOT a bar/club/crazy party girl at all but I do deserve to have a little bit of fun (whatever that might entail) once in a while.  I saw a movie, then went to a restaurant/dancing.  It was the best evening I have had in a long time and I am so very happy I went for it.  This may sound like a typical weekend night for most of you, but my anxiety does not often allow me to do that sort of thing.  It’s days like this when I know how much therapy with L has affected me.  It is really exciting to watch (and feel) myself growing emotionally and socially.  Letting myself have fun and letting people into my life has been such a rewarding experience thus far.  I am looking forward to a lot more of that in the next few years.  So, going out last night was a “risk” of sorts for me — I made myself vulnerable — but it turned out beautifully.  Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith with something or someone and sometimes you have to hold your heart in your hands and let someone else touch it and sometimes it pays off.

That’s all I’m saying for now.

What “risk” have you taken lately? I don’t care if you think it sounds silly!  Everyone’s experiences are different — people have varied anxieties and likes and hurts and dreams and fears.

Marathon Training: I did indeed get my 12 miles in bright and early yesterday morning!  I felt surprisingly good, although I was a little bored.  I love the way running makes me feel, but even the most dedicated, passionate runner will admit that once in a while, it gets boring.  I tend not to get bored on trails, but doing laps around CP is, well…not the most scenic thing in the world.  I never listen to music while running — just a personal preference.  I like that it gives me time to think though.  I did 4 miles with 5×100 strides thrown in tonight plus 40 minutes full body strength training.

Today’s Eats (I think this is everything, minus two spoonfuls of Mighty Maple PB and a few more cashews than are pictured):

That’s oatmeal with vanilla soymilk, a wee bit of vanilla protein powder, and sunbutter in the first picture.  Skinny vanilla latte in the second.

TJ’s cashew/dried hibiscus trail mix.  LOVE, by the way.

I ate a little over half of this smoothie and froze the rest.  Score one for intuitive eating!

I went in and added chocolate PB and honey to the yogurt to make it a little more filling/dessert-like.

Another day of deliciously healthy eats.  I typically find that I have several days in any given week where I am unintentionally vegetarian/vegan.  I am fine with that.  I like my meat and my dairy just fine and have no intention of giving them up.  But I also enjoy non-animal protein sources too.  A lot of times I am just plain old too lazy to cook meat.  I want to get some deli turkey, although I am afraid that might be ethically questionable….

I feel like tomorrow shall be a good day!

And just realized school starts in two weeks.  Crap.  I don’t want to go to class.

Any other students about to start?  Looking forward to it?  If so, why, might I ask?

Workout/Eating Habits

Today’s Happy Note: I’m in tune with my body!  I noticed a lot of other women in yoga class really struggling to connect with their bodies and realized how close I am to my own body.  I wasn’t judging them or anything, just noticing.  I know where my joints are, the way things move.  I have years of gymnastics, running, swimming, and now yoga to thank for this.

Workout: Thought about kick-boxing, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I skipped it and did 30 minutes of seriously heavy arm weights and an hour yoga class at the gym.  I really enjoyed the yoga class at the gym, actually.  Sometimes the studio feels a  little pretentious and tiresome and elitist.  Also walked a mile or two.  I have a hard speed workout for tomorrow so I’m conserving some energy. 🙂

Workouts are not always going to be joyfully fun, but you shouldn’t ever force yourself to do something that you just don’t want to do.  I have so many friends who ask me things like, “how are you so healthy when you’re so busy?” or “how do you make yourself workout all the time?”

Well, first of all, I think we need to change the way we look at “working out” or “exercising.”  For me, it is not an hour of my day where I drag myself to the gym, force myself to get through a boring routine, and then come home and watch TV.  Working out is a part of my life.  It’s as integrated into the way I live as eating or writing or going to class or work.  Further, I would get pretty tired of working out too if I spent an hour on the elliptical at the gym everyday. I think it’s actually pretty easy to work some movement into your day: it might be an hour and a half walk in the evening or an early yoga class or half an hour of dancing in your room.

It takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to form a habit.  I am lucky in that I was very active in high school and carried that pattern relatively easily into college,so I didn’t have to start from scratch (like I have had to with my emotional eating patterns).  Many people struggle to workout in college — but I think of it as a little escape from the schoolwork.  When you look at it as an important part of your day that will help you focus better and think more clearly, you’re less likely to skip out.

Eats:

Look!  My lentils are crawling on my tofu like ants.  I couldn’t help but share my adorable lunch find with my coworkers.

Probably didn’t need the small bowl of granola pictured above right but whatever.  I have found that eating 4-6 (depending on my activity level) meals of about 400 calories each.  A 100-200 calorie snack is always too small for me, while a 600-700 calorie lunch or dinner feels too big.  I am really enjoying this way of eating — I don’t follow any rules or plans and don’t deny myself if I’m hungry.  This just seems to work, for now.  And when it doesn’t work, I’ll change things up.

Goodnight goodnight goodnight!  Time for me to sleep.  Even though I took a nap like five hours ago.  Don’t judge.

Happy Tuesday!

All Grown Up

Today’s Happy Note: An excursion to the new Trader Joe’s in Chelsea!  It was awesome; spacious and calm and totally the opposite of the Union Square Trader Joe’s.  Not frenetic and crazed.  Loved it.

Pretty good day.  Busy but not overwhelmingly so — those are my favorite kind of days.  I won’t lie though: I may be 20 years old, a senior in college, and holding down two “real” jobs, but there are moments when I wish I was twelve again, reading in my backyard and running through the sprinkler all summer long.  I used to have the house all to myself everyday of summer from when I was about twelve on.  I would make brownies, reread the whole Harry Potter series, and dance outside when it rained.

I kinda want that back.  Being an adult is hard.

Today started with a brunch for Second Job, which ended yesterday.  I feel really sad about it actually.  Organizing and overseeing within the framework of a non-profit has been something I have truly fallen in love with.  My students are my babies, my coworkers are heroic.

Also: I love huevos rancheros.

Cookie the size of my head.

That is oats topped with chocolate and peanut butter.  I know many bloggers have said this before so it kinda isn’t original but: PB and chocolate is my favorite food combination in the entire world. No questions asked.

Other favorite food combinations: hummus and cheddar cheese, carrots and almond butter, mango and coconut, salmon and asparagus.

Your favorite food combos?

I ended the day with a nice little workout: 20 minutes of arm strength and a 6 mile run with lots of hills.  Currently watching movies, snuggling in bed, and thinking of fun things to do this weekend.  Any suggestions?

I need an Adventure!  This is my first free weekend in a while.

What are your plans?

Long Run Eats

Today’s Happy Note: Got in a really good balance of friend time and relaxation time.  This balance is always hard for me to find, so it’s encouraging when it works out and I get to see people I love without feeling overwhelmed.

And see the people I love I did! Starting bright and early this morning…

Bloggers!  Left to right in the picture above (taken in a weird digital window thingy): Jess (Fit Chick In The City), Kath (Kath Eats Real Food), Tina (Carrots ‘N Cake), Me, and Roni (Roni’s Weigh).  Tara (Tall Tara) also ran with us but left before the pictures.

We set out for 6 miles in CP (the main loop, hills and all).  These girls are fast and I had to work!  It was good for me though.  I did another two and a half afterwards for an 8.5 mile long run, plus a mile walking.

Came home and made a giant blueberry-banana SIAB topped with a crumbled blueberry muffin (I had half on the smoothie and half as a snack in the early evening).

I read and relaxed in bed for a bit then met up with my friend Joy for yoga.  It was a good class — a lot of leg work but not too much.  Lots of binds and stretchy poses too.  And the teacher used the most amazing lemony-citronella lotion or oil when she massaged our faces at the end.  Best part!

Time for lunch with my cousin.

We went to a pretty good macrobiotic place  — I was craving some simple veg, brown rice, and tofu.  I rolled with a tofu scramble with tempeh bacon.  It pretty much made my macrobiotic lunch dreams come true (what, you don’t have those dreams?).

Got back to the apartment and rested/watched netflix.  In other words a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon.  Also prepped veggies, went for a little walk, and chatted with my parents.

Afternoon snack was big:

Chocolate-peanut-caramel protein smoothie with extra PB and a clif mojo bar.  So I wasn’t too hungry for dinner.  In fact, it had been over four hours and I still wasn’t hungry so I freaked out a little bit.  I have been practicing listening to my body and eating intuitively while I lose weight (and I think it’s a good habit in general), but didn’t want to skip dinner altogether.  I got a wee bit panicked, actually.  I made a light dinner and dessert which seemed like a good compromise.  What do you do in this kind of situation?

I am, however, proud of myself that I am getting better at understanding when I am hungry and what that feels like and what I need to satisfy it.  That’s an accomplishment.

Two scrambled eggs and lots of scrambled veggies (yellow squash, green pepper, and avocado squash) with a bit of cheese melted on top.  Nice and delicious.

I’m munching on a pear with maple PB and a few squares of dark chocolate right now.  It’s an amazing combination!  If I could only eat one food for the rest of life, it might be PB; it’s got great taste, fats, protein, and carbs.  Pretty wonderful if you ask me.  What food would you choose?

So here we have another full day of (long run) eats.  I think it was probably a good amount but I just kind of feel full.  Maybe it’s just hormones/bloating?

Whatever.

Busy week ahead.  Things to look forward to:

~Lots more running

~Celebration/graduation for the students (my babies!) in second job

~Time to cook/bake/experiment in the kitchen in the evenings

~Top Chef

~Lots of magazines and books to read

What are you looking forward to?

Revelation: Balance

Today’s Happy Note: Discovering wood sculptures along the river during my morning run!  There were quite a lot of them, made from tree stumps and driftwood; they were really artistic.  I wonder who did them?

I was proud of myself for getting  up to run this morning.  The humidity was practically deadly and my legs were tired from yesterday’s workout (hello squats and lunges!) but I made it through 4.5 miles.  I also walked about 4.5 miles throughout the day.  So I ended up getting in 9 miles without even trying to! Weird.

Work was productive at both jobs.  Busy busy busy day (although I did get a break from 3-5).  I’m now watching Bethenny Getting Married (aka the best reality TV show ever).

I had a revelation on the way home from work this evening.  I have been feeling a lot of anxiety about the weight loss; I have gained and lost the same 10 or 15 pounds several times in the last three or four years, each time ending up weighing a little more than when I started.    Every time I would weigh myself and see a number close to the overweight range, I would freak out and go into “extreme thinking” mode for a few days — I would not eat anything at all, then eat a big meal, then starve myself the next day.

On my walk home, there was a beautiful cool breeze blowing into my face.  I relaxed and loosened up for a moment. And I said to myself: this time it is not about starving myself or having rules.  It’s about finding the balance.  For the first time in my life, I am approaching weight loss (however minimal) in a balanced way. It’s about finding real, healthful, satisfying foods that nurture my body and my soul.   I have never thought of weight loss like this before.  Certainly I have had a good grasp of healthy eating, but I have always reverted back to restrictive habits and destructive rules.  And you know what?  It has never worked.

So here I am.  Twenty years old.  Having a little breakthrough.

Enough of that.  Onto my balanced eats from today!

Banana-berry smoothie made with vanilla hemp/whey protein, soy milk/kefir, and topped with flax AB.

Salad the size of my head with greens, sprouts, cucumbers, eggplant, and leftover meatballs.  Diet peach iced tea snapple.

Farmer’s market bounty!

Kinda random afternoon snack, but it was exactly what I wanted.  Half of a cream cheese chocolate chip bread with PB and chocolate AB.  Hey, at least there were some serious healthy fats going on.  I also had a few tiny handfuls of trail mix.

Evening snack (I don’t get home from second job until almost nine so I always pack two or three snacks):

Best.  Flavor.  Ever.  I’m not a huge Larabar lover but these new flavors are awesome.  Peanut butter+chocolate is obviously the best flavor combo ever, as we all know.

I was hangry for dinner!  Good thing I knew exactly what I wanted. 🙂

Greens, cukes, eggs, salt, iced tea.

Can’t forget dessert!

Chocolate-peanut-caramel protein powder blender with a cup of vanilla soy milk, xantham gum, and an entire tray of ice cubes.  Topped with Lindt dark chocolate.  This was really good.  I love the volume factor!

Another day of delicious, clean eating.  I know that I don’t need to deprive myself or get so anxious over the weight.  I am doing just fine.  Not to mention the fact that who I am on the inside hasn’t changed at all.  I’m still my same self: writer, believer, dreamer, dancer, runner, yogini, lover, friend, woman.  Thanks so much to all of you who have pointed this out over the last few weeks while I have struggled over my body image.  You are all such wonderful friends!

Goodnight and happy Friday to you all!

Edited to add: just had some more chocolate and a glass of soy milk.  I think it was actual hunger and my 9 miles just caught up to me.  I feel more satisfied now and I know I don’t want anything else!  Time to close the kitchen. 🙂

Previous Older Entries