About Me...

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Cincinnati, OH, United States
I'm a scientist , yogi, book worm, scifi junk, and I'm a little obsessed with my pup. My life is full of discovery both in the lab and out of the lab. This blog is my place to share my experiences as a person trying to stay happy and healthy in this crazy world.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Granola balls ...

I LOVE granola bars.  They usually combine a few of my favorite things: sugar, oats, sometimes chocolate, and fruit.  

Since so many processed foods, including granola bars, also have a lot of other junk in them as well I've been buying Lara bars and Odwalla bars.  Both of these bars and super tasty but also a bit pricey.  My simple solution is making my own granola bars, well I was inspired by the fit foodie finds blog and a recipe I found on the whole foods website for granola/power balls.  (the funny name helped too)
This week I made a small batch and here's the recipe that I used:
1/4 cup of almond butter (chunky)
1/8 cup honey
1 cup oats
1/8 cup coconut (shaved)
hand full of pecans
palm full of dark chocolate chunks (I know, my measuring is really precise)

Combine honey and almond butter in a sauce pan over medium heat until almond butter is melted with honey, remove from heat

Mix in oats and all the other goodies

you can mix the chocolate in here or you can wait for it to cool a bit depending on if you want it in chunks or mixed throughout.  I chose to have melted chocolate.  

Roll the mixture into about 1 inch balls (sort of like you do for peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies) and let them cool on wax paper. 

My creation from this week, tastes very much like chocolate odwalla bars!  

Give them a try!  Add whatever dried fruit or nuts you like to the mixture to create a custom snack.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics 2012 are here!

The summer olympics combine all the sports that have captivated by attention since a child and cram them into a two week action packed block.  By far, they are my favorite of the two seasons of olympics.  Last night marked the opening ceremonies!

I celebrated by going to a friends house for an opening ceremonies party, where we all wore something to support our favorite country.  Of course, I chose USA ('Merica).

During the opening ceremonies I enjoyed the section with the kids in hospital beds sleeping and the giant villains invading their dreams, and the part where JK Rowling read a short passage from a story.  

The olympics are not only a spectators dream, since they are streaming nearly constantly online this year, but also serve as inspiration.  In the midwest, it's hot and humid and motivation to run or get out there and move is hard to find.  Watching these fine tuned athletes compete provides motivation and inspiration.  I feel a small bit of camaraderie as I'm out early in the morning hitting the road for a run.  

Are you planning on watching the olympics?  What's your favorite event?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Recipe challenge, Ethiopian curry ...

I have an amazing friend who allowed me to have her CSA (community supported agriculture) box while she was on vacation.  The CSA is a great way to change up eating since all you receive is what the farm is growing, in season.

Last week I got a head of cabbage, and I had no idea what to do with it.  The only thing I could initially think of was cole slaw, but I'm deathly adverse to mayo :(  After asking around I got the amazing suggestion from a co-worker to try ethiopian curry.  According to her it was really easy.  At first I was skeptical, thinking curries are for seasoned chefs that actually know what they are doing.  But, after looking at the recipe it looked easy enough, so I gave it a shot.

Here's the recipe that I got from a blog:

1/4 c olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 shredded head of cabbage, small
5 cubed potatoes

Heat olive oil on medium head, then add onions and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then add all the spices and the cabbage, cook for 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook covered for approximately 30 minutes on medium-low heat, or until the potatoes are soft.

Ethiopian curry
The original recipe called for carrots and you add the carrots when you add the onions in the oil.  I didn't have carrots so I left them out, and the recipe turned out amazing.  I got some naan from the market to compliment this dish.  The great thing is that this dish is hearty, delicious, and vegetarian.  An added bonus is the vibrant color of the turmeric in our white dish ware.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marathon training week 1 in review...

photo by lululemon athletica
Last week was the official first week of the 16 week training plan for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  In total I logged 28 miles and the long run for the week was a 12 miler on Saturday.  Thankfully, the weather was perfect on Saturday morning.  I got a break from the heat and humidity and could remember why I love running so much.

Heading out at about 7 am with the temperature around 68F with low humidity was refreshing. I ran through all my favorite areas of town at a nice slow pace.  Since the runs earlier in the week are for time, I've decided that my long runs will be for mileage accumulation instead of trying to hit a goal time.

I've chosen the cool running training plan for beginning marathon, which goes beyond the typical 20 mile long run.  Surprisingly, their plans for beginner are typical of what is seen for the intermediate training plans.

All in all, the first week of "official" training was a success.  Let's hope every week is an encouraging as the mileage increases.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Part-time Vegetarian. Vegging-out!

For about 7 1/2 years I was a vegetarian, and it was primarily because I was deathly afraid of food-born illnesses and bacteria.  I started eating meat again near the end of college, and I've recently been reconsidering this choice.  The last month or so I've taken the meatless Monday challenge a bit further and gone without meat during the week but eating meat on the weekends.  This time my reasons were more environmental and overall health focused.  I still get plenty of protein through hard-boiled eggs and beans, and I've been trying to buy organic veggies for my recipes to reduce the exposure to harmful pesticides used to grow conventional veggies.     

Whether it's meatless Monday, totally Vegged-out Tuesday, without meat Wednesday, or sans-meat Saturday  the single day vegetarian movement is growing faster then ever.  Why would you want to skip one day eating meat?  Well, 1 calorie of meat uses significantly more natural resources then 1 calorie of veggies/fruits.  

There are other important reasons as well, such as overall health.  There is a correlation with decreased overall health and high consumption of meat.  The decrease in overall health is caused by things such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.  It's still not clear whether the meat is to blame or it's the lack of veggies since so much more of the American plate is taken up by protein.  Additionally, there is a correlation of those who eat a plant based diet and overall better health.  Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients and minerals.  

So, how do you get started?  Well, if you are currently a heavy meat eater, then try just one meal without meat.  You will get to try out tons of new recipes!  Once you can handle one meal, then try a whole day.  The meatless monday link above has some great recipes.  It's summer time and the best time to try new vegetables from the local farmer's market!

This is an investment in overall health and wellbeing that will payoff for not only you but also your family.  I'm looking forward to sharing healthy eating habits with my children just as my mother passed on to me.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

'Stache Dash Scavenger Hunt 5K race in Cincinnati, OH in review...

Tuesday was hot and humid here in Cincinnati.  I mean HOT, the heat index was 100F.  The weather didn't stop a few of the girls I work with and I from participating in one of the most anticipated events of this month (besides the olympics), the 'stache dash scavenger hunt!  This event was sponsored by the hyde park body boutique and Lululemon in Hyde Park.

Here's what made this such a fun event:
1. each team had to wear mustaches (Our team name was the "well equipped upper lips")
Our Team! Well equipped upper lips
2. We had a sheet with clues to different stores/parks/areas of Hyde Park and once there we had to perform some kind of task and take a picture.  (We had to leap frog in madison park)
3. It was a small race filled with very enthusiastic participants and a very organized director!

This was a great boost to my running motivation and a great way to change things up during the week.

p.s. our team theme was cops and bandits.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Avoiding running burn out...

It goes without saying that life is stressful.  We all have different things putting pressure on us and creating stress.  Right now my stress is my research and trying to graduate, and I'm trying to manage this stress with running.  

This method of stress management works fine for awhile, then I get to a point where I just don't want to do anything at all and lose the motivation I have.  Basically, the stress wins and running suffers.  I've signed up for my 4th Marathon, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, on November 3, 2012.  This means.....I need to stay motivated and train well.  

To try and avoid this burn out and lack of motivation, I've been changing this up a bit.  I've been actually doing speed work and hills.  This week I went to Ault Park to run the trails and hills.  Image below is the aftermath of this fun adventure.....I fell once, but it was great because I felt tough when I got back to my car.  

Cross-training and building strength has become a priority before the mileage gets too high.  I want to run injury free and feel strong so I've been doing power yoga at a couple local studios.  It's been about 6 weeks of power yoga and I'm already feeling stronger.  Below is an example of Phil-dog doing yoga at home......he's more into the yin yoga style and meditation (aka puppy naps)

I'm still on the search for the perfect training plan.  I have a feeling I may create one that's a hybrid of several plans.  I only want to run 4 days a week, have 1 day off, and 2 cross-training days.  For now, adding in the speed and hill work as well as the power yoga for fun cross-training has helped me stay motivated and avoid the burn out that's easy to experience during the HOT and HUMID summer in the Ohio valley.