Sushi Salad and Beer

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It’s no secret that I love beer… and especially trying new-to-me beers. I’ve even dabbled in the arts of brewing my own beer, which I need to get back to doing. So when the opportunity to try Kirin Ichiban beer presented itself, I jumped at the offer. I mean, what could be better than getting some Japanese beer and pairing it with some Japanese inspired food? Not much if you ask me!

I was sent both the Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light to sample, and really enjoyed them both. Kirin Ichiban is a 100% malt beer and only uses the first strain of malt liquid, which results in a crisp, clean, and refreshing taste. Kirin is one of the oldest breweries in Japan, and their mascot is the mythical Kirin beast (which is on their label), which is believed to bring serenity and prosperity. Since I’m currently in taper mode for my half marathon in two weeks, I’ll take all the serenity and prosperity I can get! I had the first beer pretty much as soon as the package arrived, but saved some to serve as inspiration (and as a pairing) for a light and delicious dinner.

Sushi Roll Salad | FoodosaurusRex.com

My original plan was to make a noodle dish, but after receiving some goodies to help with sushi making (sushi rice, nori sheets, and some wasabi paste), I figured I could put them to good use with some veggie sushi rolls. As I was cooking the rice, though, I had another thought… what if I turned the sushi rolls into a salad?! Serving all of the sushi ingredients deconstructed over a bed of lettuce was genius; it really cut down on the labor (I’m not exactly skilled when it comes to rolling sushi), and was just as delicious. I really can’t believe I haven’t thought of making a sushi styled salad before – it was wonderful! I definitely plan on making this salad a lot more… and paired with a beer it was perfect.

Sushi Roll Salad | FoodosaurusRex.com

Sushi Roll Salad
- Serves 2 -

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup cooked sushi rice
4 cups spring mix or chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 sheet nori, roughly chopped

Dressing Ingredients:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp chili oil [or sesame oil if you don't want any heat]
2 tsp wasabi paste

Directions:
1. Add all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to combine.
2. In a large bowl, add the spring mix, carrots, avocado, cucumber, cooked rice, and shredded nori. Toss the salad with the dressing.

4 Comments

Filed under Beer, Food Blogging, Food Review, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Friday Favorites

Last time I did a Friday Favorites post we were in the midst of some pretty awful winter weather. But I’m happy to report that it’s starting to feel like spring around these parts. We’ve had some days in the 50′s and 60′s, we set the clocks ahead so there’s more daylight, and it’s officially spring! So without further ado, here’s what I’m currently crushing on.

Love & Toast Clementine Body Lotion

This winter has wrecked havoc on my skin, as I’m sure it has for almost everyone. My skin was always dry and itchy during swimming season, which I learned to accept as part of the territory. But this past winter my skin was the driest it’s been in years and I couldn’t seem to find relief. So after trying a bunch of different lotions, I saw Love & Toast at Marshall’s and grabbed a bottle. I figured that at the discounted price of $3 it wouldn’t be such a loss if it didn’t work.

Love & Toast Clementine Crush

Well let me tell you – it was the best $3 I’ve spent in awhile! The lotion smells like you’ve just bathed in fresh orange juice, and it actually left my skin soft and flake-free. It’s parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, mineral oil, propylene glycol, retinol, sulfates, and synthetic color free, never animal tested, and has no animal ingredients. What’s better than that?! I’ve since bought their body wash, and it is equally impressive.

Cookie Dough Oreo’s

I don’t remember where I first saw these or heard about them, but once I did, I knew I had to have them. When Oreo had their limited edition birthday cake filled cookies I bought them, and was pleasantly surprised. I was a little weary of the cookie dough “flavor” that the cookie boasted, though. I mean, could it really taste like cookie dough in between those delicious chocolate wafers? I’m so ashamed for ever doubting Oreo, because they are seriously amazing.

Oh yes

Oh yes

I bought them when I was at the grocery store two weeks ago, and they were gone within a matter of days. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find them again at the store, but I’ve been looking every week! If you haven’t tried this yet, you really need to. I’m yet to talk to anyone that has tried them and hasn’t fallen in love! Now I just need them to make a speculoos version…

Single Serve Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

I love baking, but skip out on it a lot because it makes too many servings. I’m all for having leftovers and like to think I have enough self control to enjoy a cake throughout the week, but a lot of homemade desserts just don’t taste the same as the week goes on… so I don’t make anything. I’ve seen recipes for single serve desserts before, but by the time I am ready for dessert and want something it’s usually around 9pm, and I’m too lazy to get up and put something together. But when I found a recipe for a single serve deep dish chocolate chip cookie, I had to make it.

Deep dish chocolate chip cookie w. cookies & cream ice cream. Yup.

Deep dish chocolate chip cookie w. cookies & cream ice cream. Yup.

This is basically a warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie… which is one of my absolute favorites. Oreos are actually the only type of “hard” cookie I like, as I generally prefer soft cookies. Putting all the ingredients together is really easy; the hardest part about the whole process is waiting for it to bake in the oven! But it is totally worth the wait. I’m definitely going to be making this a lot more.

Motown / 60′s Music

I grew up listening to Motown (and the like) music on Saturday mornings. My dad always had the same radio station on, the Rhythm Review with Felix Hernandez, while he would clean around the house. I have fond memories of dancing around with my sister (she had special pink rain boots that she’d dance in; when she was really little, they oftentimes were on the wrong foot), and loving every single song that came on. So when my mom, sister, and I went to see Motown the Musical a few weeks ago, I was reminded just how much fun that era of music was. The Chiffons, The Marvelettes, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Temptations… you get my drift.

Motown Record

I’ve been listening to it non-stop since last Wednesday, and can’t help but dance in my seat or smile when some of my favorite songs come on. I also love recognizing a song and knowing the words when no one else around me has any idea what it is. If you’re ever in a bad mood or need a pick me up, or just feel like a departure from current music trends, I highly recommend finding yourself a Motown or 60′s music station on Pandora, iTunes Radio, or Spotify. Your mood will instantly improve.

Fancy Oatmeal

While I’m sure there are “fancier” variations of oatmeal out there, I’ve been really enjoying  oatmeal for breakfast recently. It’s perfect to eat before a mid-day run; it keeps me full so I don’t feel like I’m starting my run hungry, but I also don’t feel like I’m going to throw it up while I’m running. And, the possibilities are endless when it comes to combinations! I’ve been enjoying it on the sweet side recently (chocolate chips, shredded coconut, peanut butter, and a dash of cinnamon), but I’ve also had quite a few savory versions, my favorite being with eggs, tomato, onion, and curry powder.

Fancy oatmeal

Fancy Oatmeal

So tell me…
What are you currently loving? 

2 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Life

Meatless Monday: Southwestern Pierogi Bake

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

I’m aware that the title of this blog post may seem a bit confusing; pierogies are typically Polish… so how could I use them in a Southwestern dish?! Well, I’m completely obsessed with Southwestern and Mexican food, so I’ll make it any chance I can. When I was selected to participate in this Mrs. T’s Pierogies campaign, I knew I wanted to do more with them than just serve them as-is with dipping sauce, or with sautéed cabbage. And with 11 different varieties, there’s something for (almost) everyone. Being that I love bakes (who doesn’t like to throw everything into a dish and put it in the oven?) and Southwestern flavors are my favorite, I decided to run with it.

I had visions of this meal the entire time I was running my 15 miler on Saturday, and couldn’t wait to put it all together. It was easy to prepare, and really hit the spot for dinner. Of course I was pretty wiped out after my long run, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on the couch; though I may have even taken a pancake induced nap in the early afternoon. Conveniently, Mean Girls was on (can you believe the 10 year anniversary is coming up?!), so I enjoyed my pierogi bake while watching one of the greatest movies of all time (yes, I said it).

This Southwestern Pierogi Bake is perfect for any night of the week, and can easily be transported for a potluck dinner or party. Plus, it can be made with real chorizo or soy chorizo, so it’s easily adaptable to everyone’s meat preference. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to think outside of the box when it comes to pierogi meals. While I love a good pierogi and cabbage mix, this may be my new favorite way to enjoy Mrs. T’s Pierogies!

Southwestern Pierogi Bake | FoodosaurusRex.com

Southwestern Pierogi Bake
- Serves 4 - 

Ingredients: 
1 box Mrs. T’s Pierogies, any variety [I used potato + cheddar]
1 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced [you can use less/de-seed it if you don't like spice]
6 oz. (soy) chorizo [I used soy chorizo to make it vegetarian, but you can use the real-deal, too]
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup of chunky salsa
1 cup shredded cheese blend
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and cook the pierogies for 10 minutes
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion and peppers for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. 
4. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until combined and fragrant.
5. Turn the heat down to medium, add the chorizo and beans, and cook for another 5 minutes.
6. In a 9×11 baking dish, pour the salsa and layer the cooked pierogies, followed by the sautéed mixture. Top with shredded cheese.
7. Bake an additional 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Feel free to check out Mrs. T’s WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter for more information and to see all the different kinds of pierogies they offer!

Tell me…
Are you a pierogi fan? What’s your favorite combination? 

4 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Shamrocked: A Bird-filled Half Marathon

This past weekend, I took a trip down to Virginia Beach to run the Anthem Half Marathon during the Shamrock Marathon weekend. I’d heard wonderful things about the race, and when it became an option for a Spring Oiselle Team meet-up, I penciled the race into my calendar and set my sights on a PR attempt. But when my IT Band started to act up at the end of December (and it lasted through most of January), I readjusted my goals and figured I’d use it as a training run instead. But, running related things don’t often go according to plan when I’m involved.

I woke up bright and early (actually it was still pitch black) on Saturday morning and after a quick stop at Starbucks, I was on my way. The trip down was uneventful (thankfully) and I made it to the expo at the Virginia Beach convention center in just under 6 hours. The expo was pretty empty, so I was able to pick up my bib, grab my t-shirt, and get my beer tent bracelet in a matter of minutes. After the expo, I checked into the hotel and quickly changed so I could get in a shake-out run before our Oiselle team dinner. As soon as  I changed and realized that the beach was right outside the hotel, I had to make a stop to take some no-snow pictures. It was so great to be outside in a tank top and shorts and not freezing!

No snow!

No snow!

My three mile shake-out run was rather uneventful, but I did have a cyclist come up from behind and stop to tell me I made it look easy. I wanted to reply “Maybe now… but wait until mile 12 tomorrow!” Instead I said thank you, chatted about the weather for a bit, and was on my way back to the hotel with just enough time to shower and head over to dinner with the team. The wonderful Mollie organized our team dinner at Bravo! and I had the pleasure of chatting with Allie (my shoe/jacket/birthday twin), Ellen (my favorite Shittens distributor), and Hollie (who has finally accepted the fact that she lives in NJ now) for the majority of the dinner. We butchered the menu they provided (us runners can be such high-maintenance!), but had a ton of fun telling ridiculous stories and getting to know each other better. At some point during dinner gelato was mentioned, and we were lucky to find a place down the street thanks to Yelp! So never being one to turn down dessert, I got myself a cone with salted caramel and chocolate hazelnut crunch gelato. And yes, it was amazing as it sounds!

Shamrock Half

The post-dinner festivities included heading back to the hotel, getting everything together for the morning, and trying to convince my body to go to bed at 9pm. Of course that didn’t work, but I’m pretty sure I was sound asleep by about 10pm. Unfortunately, the walls of the hotel seemed to be paper thin, and the people in the room next door had very loud, deep voices. They were likely in town to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so it was no surprise when I was woken up around 1:30am by the sound of their voices. After laying in bed angry for the first 20 minutes or so, I realized that when the AC unit kicked on, it was loud enough to drown out their voices. So I got up and set the thermostat to about 60 degrees in hopes of it not shutting off, and tried to go back to bed. The next thing I knew, it was 4:45am and my alarm was going off. Woof!

Race morning was the usual routine, and I made my way to the start (a mile from my hotel) at about 6:15am. I had just enough time to take off all my layers and get in the corral before it was time to start. I spent a few minutes looking around for other Oiselle teammates that I knew would be in the first corral, but I didn’t see anyone (they were likely further to the front, since they’re speedsters!). I also tried to look for the 1:45 pacer, but didn’t see them either. My plan was to run with the 1:45 group for the first 8 or so miles, and then pick it up depending on how I felt at that point, since it was just a training run. Before I knew it the clock was at 6:59am, ad we were counting down to the start… and at 7am we were off!

Shamrock Half

The course was pancake flat, so I knew my only struggle would be with the wind. The winds were around 20mph, but they were pretty light during the first few miles. I usually roll my eyes when people say things like, “before I knew it, we were at mile 6!” but I really felt that way on Sunday. At some moments, I’d be begging for the next mile marker, but for the majority of the race I’d look down at my watch and think, “wow! I’ve gone that far already?!” I have to say it was a great feeling! It wasn’t until mile 7 or so when the wind started to really become an issue. We turned into a Naval Base, and we were right up against the water, with nothing shielding us from the wind. I tried to park myself behind and alongside some other runners, but no one seemed to be keeping a consistent enough pace… and it didn’t really help either. I’d say the hardest miles were miles 6 through 9, mostly because of the wind. My first 9 miles were 7:51, 7:53, 7:48, 7:45, 7:54, 7:50, 7:47, 7:51, and 7:52. Talk about consistency! By the time I got to mile 9 and realized I only had 4 miles to go and that I still had a little energy left, I decided to pick it up. It was a mile later than I had originally planned, but my overall pace was about 10-15 seconds faster than I thought I’d be at that point so I didn’t worry much. I ran my 10th mile in 7:36, and realized that if I could just hold on for the last 5k, I would likely PR. I wasn’t sure if I could keep up the pace, but I figured I’d give it a shot!

Those last three miles seemed to go on forever, but when I saw Rebecca fly by around mile 11, I got the little push I needed for those last two miles. The wind smacked me in the face right after mile 12 as we turned towards the beach to head onto the boardwalk for the final mile, but I happened to see Paulette running by and cowbelling right as as I made that final turn which was a welcomed distraction and boost of encouragement. As she yelled for me and I lifted my hand to wave, I realized that my fingers and hands were basically frozen. I tried to wave but only mustered up a little t-rex arm movement (which I’ve since decided will be my new race photo pose). Miles 11 and 12 were 7:33 and 7:34 respectively.

Bye, boys!

Bye, boys!

The boardwalk was nice and wide (and cement, not wood, thankfully), and I was pretty  much alone for that last stretch. I was in a group of three guys for the last 2 miles or so that were counting down for each other and saying things like “Alright, just one mile to go. This is nothing! You can do it!” and while I was thinking the same thing in my head at the time, it was nice to finally break from them in that last mile. As soon as I could see the finish line arch, I looked at my watch, realized I’d PR, and decided to book it and hope for the best. I ran mile 13 in 7:21, and crossed the finish line with a final time of 1:41:39… a PR of just under a minute and a half! I grabbed my finisher hat and towel (Virginia races have the best swag – fleece blanket at Richmond, and now this!), medal, and some food, and quickly put on all the layers; I was cold!

Shamrock Half

I made my way to the party tent, got myself a Yuengling beer immediately, and roamed around until I found some of my Oiselle teammates! There were a lot of PRs and strong racing by everyone, and after our celebratory beer, we headed to a local coffee shop for some much needed coffee and food. Before I knew it it was early afternoon, and I headed back to the hotel to foam roll, and most importantly, take a hot shower. By the time I was on my way back to my hotel the wind had really picked up, but I was distracted by all the marathon finishers in their final two miles.

Can you tell we're all freezing? And wearing the same sneakers?

Can you tell we’re all freezing? And wearing the same sneakers?

Overall, I absolutely loved this race. All of the volunteers and spectators seemed to be enjoying themselves, the course was flat and fast, and it was in a great location. Getting to meet up with so many wonderful Oiselle teammates that I felt like I already knew was an added bonus. I’d love to do this race again!

9 Comments

Filed under Running, Travel

Souper Simple: Kale, Tortellini, & Bean Soup

Two recipe posts in one week – look at me go!

Whenever I’m training for something, you can assume that I’m hungry at all times. Since my next (goal) race is the Asbury Park Half at the end of April, training has been getting more intense as each week passes. I’m averaging weekly mileage that I’ve never seen before (40+ miles), so it’s no surprise my appetite has grown to match. So when it comes to my meals (especially dinner), I try to get the most bang for my buck. I always want to make sure I’m eating a decently balanced meal that is quick and easy to prepare. On weekdays where I have to run anywhere from 6 to 10 miles, time is of the essence. Plus, I want to make sure I’m fueling and refueling properly.

Enter this Kale, Tortellini, and Bean soup! It comes together in a matter of minutes, has barely any prep, and can easily be doubled (or more!) and frozen. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, and even better for lunch!

Tortellini, Kale, & White Bean Soup | FoodosaurusRex.com

Simple Kale, Tortellini, & Bean Soup
- Serves 2 -

Ingredients:
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups your favorite tortellini [I used frozen]
3 cups chopped kale
1/2 cup white beans [Cannellini, Great Northern, Navy beans, etc.]
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat the vegetable broth over high heat until boiling.
2. Add in the tortellini, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add in the chopped kale, and allow it to wilt for 5 minutes. 
4. Add in the white beans and allow them to heat through, an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt + pepper to taste. 

4 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Creamy Spring Polenta

While it isn’t spring yet, I’ve been dreaming about it since mid-January. I’ve been buying everything I can get my hands on from Oiselle’s new Spring 14 line, staring at cute floral dresses, and giving my snow boots the side-eye. I must admit that I prefer summer and fall to winter and spring, but at this point, I’ll take anything over winter! I’m just thankful it didn’t snow this past Monday morning like they had originally predicted.

So, with spring only being 16 days away (but who’s counting?) I’ve been thinking about all the veggie packed meals I’ll be making as the days get longer and warmer. Since it was still bitterly cold on Monday, though, I opted for a dish that is still hearty, but included some vegetables that I typically associate with warmer weather. I had this as a main dish, but you can easily have it as a side with some protein. As a mashed potato lover, creamy polenta has quickly become a favorite of mine.

Polenta is a relatively new food for me. I think I had it for the first time in 2010, when I bought the pre-made and packaged kind that comes in a log. I’ve used it in that form quite a few times-usually for some type of bake-but never in it’s original, creamy state. There is a little confusion when it comes to what exactly polenta is, since some recipes refer to it as Italian polenta, while others refer to it as grits, or even just cornmeal. Well I’m here to make it simple for you – it’s all the same! You can use any of the three aforementioned ingredients to make your polenta, I promise!

Before you get to the recipe, though, I want to point you to the note at the bottom of the recipe, since it’s helpful to time everything so the ingredients are all ready at the same time. I oftentimes look at the ingredient list when planning on making something, but never the directions. There have been plenty of times I’ve gone out of my way for ingredients, gotten everything together, and then realized the dinner I was planning to make would actually take 4+ hours. I’d like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, but I still make that fateful mistake every so often. So in the interest of time and making it as easy as possible for you, I added this recipe note to make sure this is a quick and easy meal for you to prepare. 

Creamy Spring Polenta | FoodosaurusRex

Creamy Spring Polenta
- Serves 3 -

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup corn grits/polenta
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium red onion
3 cloves roasted garlic [directions below]
1/2 cup smoked mozzarella
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. To roast the garlic: Cut 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch off of the top of the head of garlic, making sure to keep the head intact. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before handling
3. While the garlic is cooking, dice the zucchini, squash, and red onion and combine in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. 
4. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and evenly spread the veggie mixture onto the sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. 
5. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta by bringing the 3 cups of vegetable broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan. 
6. Once the broth is boiling, slowly whisk in the polenta, and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. 
7. Add the veggies, roasted garlic, and shredded mozzarella to the polenta, stirring to combine. Serve immediately.

NOTE: To make this time friendly, start with the roasted garlic. After 15 minutes of the 30 minute roasting time has passed, add the vegetables to be roasted. Once the vegetables are in the oven, begin cooking the polenta. That way, everything will be ready at the same time!

2 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Keeping Warm: Slow Cooker Spicy Beer Chili

Thanks for all the awesome comments and sharing of Monday’s post! I am really glad that it resonated with so many of you since it was something I had been feeling for awhile, but wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to express those feelings. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in those feelings, but at the same time it’s a shame so many of us feel that way. So what better way to follow a post about body image and food relationships than with a recipe?

I actually made this chili last week when the temperatures were tolerable, but now that they’re back below freezing, the timing is perfect. I have to note that I was able to wear shorts on two runs last week and it was pure magic. On Sunday, I was even able to wear a tank top!

See? Tank & shorts! [Proud member of #TeamPurple for the #PickyGames!]

I should provide a little background for why this chili is “spicy” and how you can adjust your spice level based on your own personal preference. As I’ve discussed before, I love spicy foods. Whenever I’m out and a dish can be made mild, medium, or hot, I almost always go with hot. I say almost because there is a Thai restaurant near my parents that makes their hot dishes so spicy I think they’re barely edible. So when I was in the liquor store a few weeks ago picking up some beer, I noticed a lonesome bottle. The title of the beer is what initially drew me in to take a look, and only once I let it process for a second did I realize what it was. The beer was called Ghost Face Killah. At first I thought to myself “oh, that’s a weird name for a beer.” And then a lightbulb went off. This wasn’t just a beer with funny name; it was a beer with chiles. And not just any chili – the ghost pepper chili (along with Serrano, Habanero, Jalapeño, Anaheim, and Fresno). I bought it without hesitation, and after a few fiery sips, knew it would be perfect in a chili. Yes, it’s spicy, but it also has incredible flavor. I realize this beer may  not be available for everyone, so I’ve made some modifications to my own recipe so in case you can’t find the beer, you can still have a spicy beer chili of your own!

Don't let the poor picture quality fool you - it was delicious!

Don’t let the poor picture quality fool you – it was delicious!

Spicy Slow Cooker Beer Chili
- Serves 4-6 - 

Ingredients:
4 (15 0z.) cans of beans, drained and rinsed [you can use any combination here. I used pinto, black, white, and kidney]
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
2 cups beer [I used the chili beer, but any beer will work]*
1 jalapeño, diced [depending on your heat preference, you can leave in or remove the seeds and flesh]*

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker
2. Set the slow cooker on high and cook for 3 hours, or low and cook for 6-8.
3. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, pasta, or other grains with shredded cheese, avocado, and sour cream.
Note: The spice level will depend on the type of beer you use and the jalapeño. If you can’t find the beer but want it to be spicy, add another jalapeño or two (making it 2-3). If you can find the beer but are uncertain about the spice level, you can leave out the jalapeño, or just do 1 cup of the spicy beer, and 1 cup of regular beer. The possibilities are endless!

5 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

On Keeping It Real

I stay away from talking about weight, diet, eating habits, and the like on the blog for a number of reasons. Mostly it’s because I’m not qualified to talk about those things and it drives me nuts when people that aren’t qualified (try to) give advice. I know most of these people are trying to be helpful, but what I don’t think they realize is that they can actually have the opposite effect. I see it rampant in the blogging world, because, as a society, we’re so obsessed with diet, exercise, and “looking and feeling our best” (which really means “looking what we think society sees as the best”). That being said, this post is about how I feel about my own body, and how it affects me not only as a runner, but as a human being.

I actually had this post on the back-burner for awhile because I wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to say or how to say it. But when I saw that Lauren Fleshman posted about keeping it real over on the Runner’s World blog, I knew it was time for me to share.

Growing up I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When I was very young (toddler and pre-school age) I would eat anything and everything, no questions asked. I then went through a phase where I was extremely picky; my mom referred to it as “eating like a bird.” Being naturally thin, I never thought about my weight during those dangerous pre-teen years when girls start to realize society puts a high price on “skinny.” I do remember whining about not fitting into size 0 shorts at some point in middle school—to which my mother quickly shot down with a “you are a woman. You will have hips!” I started swimming in middle school as well and, despite being in a bathing suit in front of people (sometimes hundreds), I was never self conscious. I also ate anything I wanted. Double quarter pounder with cheese, super-sized, from McDonald’s once in awhile? You bet. I always ate a balance of “good” and “bad,” and my parents did a good job of keeping overly processed foods out of our reach. My ability to devour food without any consequences carried throughout college. I did have a period after my freshman swim season ended where I put on a few pounds (I’d say maybe 5-10), but it quickly dropped once I was home for the summer and back to swimming regularly and not spending my weekends at keg parties.

Once I graduated college, though, I realized I didn’t have the type of physical activity in my life that allowed me to eat whatever I wanted. I spent periods throughout that first year worried about putting on weight, but not doing much about it. Eventually, I decided to start running just to give myself a safety net; for some reason, I worried that one day I would just wake up and realize I’d packed on post-college pounds. It never happened and I fell in love with running enough to keep doing it, regardless of what it did (or didn’t do) for my waistline.

About a year into running I discovered social media. Twitter! Blogs! Running and fitness groups! Instagram! For the first time in my life, I questioned my body. I’m the “thinnest” I’ve ever been by almost ten pounds, but, at any moment, I can log on to any social media site and read about how someone just crushed a workout or ate a super healthy meal (also known as “eating clean”). I can see pictures of their ripped and lean bodies and tiny meals. Or they just had a killer long run and are stuffing their faces with mounds of pancakes, but still seem to be extremely fit. I’m sure there are plenty of people who scroll right through those posts and think nothing of it, but not me. When I see these kinds of posts, I tend to have two very different reactions. Part of me wants to be able to be disciplined to “eat clean,” workout hard, and be the epitome of physical fitness, but then the other part of me wants to still workout hard and run fast, while eating whatever I want, whenever I want. I want to show people who are overly restrictive about food and intense about their workouts that you only live once. If I want a second serving, I’m going to go for it!

I find myself thinking about food all the time, but this isn’t new. You can guarantee that as I’m finishing a meal, I’m already thinking (and asking) about the next one; it drives my mom crazy. But I find myself thinking about it in different terms these days. I compare myself to the images people project of their “healthy living” lifestyles on the Internet, and I can’t escape thinking that I’m eating too much and not the right stuff. I find myself wondering if I’m weird for not craving things like salads and fruit and “healthy” things all the time. Or if I just don’t have enough willpower. I’m the kind of person that if given the option between a fruit salad or home fries with my brunch entree, I will always choose home fries. If I go with the assumed healthier option, I may feel better about myself in that moment, but I’m usually not satisfied. If I go with what I really want, I enjoy it, but usually feel guilty afterwards. As you can imagine, that type of internal struggle can get tiresome (and annoying).

When I find myself worrying about food, it isn’t because of its health value (or lack thereof), but rather what it may mean for the image of my body. And that’s a pretty messed up way to think about food, isn’t it? If I’m expecting my body to perform to the best of it’s ability, I should treat it right and fuel it the way it needs to be fueled. And, at the same time, if I want a little dessert after dinner I shouldn’t feel like I “don’t deserve it.”

Life is about so much more than the number on a scale or the number on the tag in your jeans, or how much skin sits over your pants when you’re sitting down. No, I don’t have a six pack and I have cellulite under my butt that, no matter how many squats I do, doesn’t seem to go away. And guess what? I’m still strong and athletic and am able to push my body to get it to perform to the best of its ability. I’ve always compared myself to others in every aspect of my life, but at the end of the day I’m living my life and no one else’s. What good does it do to compare myself to someone in a completely different situation? They say comparison is the theft of joy and I truly believe it. Everyone is different—that’s the beauty of being human—so how can you compare what you’re eating and how you’re working out to what someone else is doing? Sure, it’s easier said than done, but I think, as a society, we need to do a better job of encouraging one another to live our own lives and to support one another in that journey. If we’re all open and honest about our struggles and try to keep it real, at the end of the day I think we’ll all feel a little bit better. I know I will.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Life, Running

Meatless Monday: Personal Mexican Pizza

Last week while on Twitter, I jumped into a conversation with Ashley and Dori about pizza. The next thing I knew we had plans to grab pizza the following week (tomorrow!), and all I could think about was having pizza for dinner. I toyed with the idea of ordering some, but then figured it’d be nice to save a few extra bucks (and calories), and so I made  beeline for my refrigerator. I didn’t think I had all of the ingredients to make pizza, but with a few creative adjustments wound up with probably one of the best homemade pizzas I’ve made to date.

There’s nothing traditional about this pizza, but it combines some of my absolute favorite flavors and is easily customizable. I don’t know why I waited this long to use a burrito sized tortilla as pizza crust. I guess it’s better late than never, because this “pizza” is going to become a regular on my weekly menus, that’s for sure. This is hardly a complex meal and comes together in a matter of minutes, so I feel silly labeling it as a “recipe.” But I thought it would be helpful to include the measurements and cooking temperature/time as a guideline.

Personal Mexican Pizza | FoodosaurusRex.com

Personal Mexican Pizza
- makes one personal pizza -

Ingredients:
1 burrito sized tortilla
2 Tbsp your favorite salsa
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup pepper, chopped (any will do – red, green, yellow, orange)
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Once the oil is warm, add the chopped onion and pepper, sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to become translucent. 
3. Add the black beans and chili powder, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
4. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and lay the tortilla flat. Spread the 2 tablespoons of salsa evenly across the tortilla. Top with 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, followed by the sauté mixture. Finish off with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the tortilla is beginning to crisp. 

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Filed under Home Cooking, Pizza, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

This Weather

This winter’s weather has been the pits, and we have another month and a half left until it’s officially Spring. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready to move!

It's pretty, but I'm over it.

It’s pretty, but I’m over it.

I’ve lived in the Northeast my entire life – born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, attended college in the Poconos, and back to New Jersey. So I’m no stranger to snow, freezing cold temperatures, and minimal daylight. I remember snow days almost every year of school. I specifically remember two outrageous blizzards: one on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I was annoyed that we already had the day off), and another on Valentine’s Day one year (also annoyed because we missed our classroom party). And I can’t forget the snow days in college that turned into snow keg days. Aside from that, the snow and the cold has been manageable. It’s by no means pleasant or convenient, but I’ve been able to deal with it. However, the last few winters have been abnormal; I found myself running in far fewer layers than one would expect for December and January, there weren’t any snow days, and even though it was cold, it was never that cold. It’s pretty clear I’ve lost my cold and snow tolerance, because this entire winter has been pretty miserable.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so miserable this winter is because of running. I’ve only been a “serious” runner for the last 3 winters, and up until this year, they were mild. Trying to get out the door for a run can sometimes be a struggle for me on a good weather day. Throw in snow, ice, freezing cold temperatures, and a combination of it all, and I really don’t want to run. Sure I could drive to the gym and hop on the treadmill, but there are a few reasons why this is usually my last resort. First, the gym is about a 15-20 minute drive away. If the weather is bad, driving is probably the last thing I want to be doing. Second, when the weather is bad and people can’t workout outside, everyone goes to the gym. I belong to a cheap gym that I use solely for the treadmill, and so does everyone else. I went once when there was freezing rain outside, and there wasn’t even a spot to park in their lot. And third, I would much rather run outside if I can. I know, I know, I live in the Northeast and it’s winter. I should expect these conditions. And don’t get me wrong, I do. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy it!

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

Snow piles literally as tall as me. Literally.

So what has running been like in this weather? I think my run yesterday really captured it all. After 10+ inches of heavy, wet snow on Monday morning, we had more snow and freezing rain overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. So when I went out for my lunchtime run of 7 miles, I was faced with three surface options: knee-high snow, puddles up to my ankles, or 2-3 inches of slippery slush. I fluctuated between the three and found the slush to be the least offensive (barely). The entire month of January included either more snow, and/or wind chills that brought the “real feel” temperatures into the negatives. This kind of weather week in and week out has definitely been trying on me as a runner (as it has for all runners!) for more than one reason. Like I said, it’s hard to get out the door when it’s so gross outside, but it’s also sometimes hard to accept the paces that you’re running. Yesterday’s run, for example, was supposed to include 2 tempo miles (which I should be running at or below 7:30), and there was no way that was going to happen. I’ve accepted the fact that on days like yesterday, it’s more important that I was out there actually running, and not how fast or slow it was happening. I mean, there were points where I had to hop over snow piles nearly up to my hip!

I basically looked like this while "running" in the snow

I basically looked like this while “running” in the snow. Also, this picture was from last week, before it snowed another 10+ inches… and was “warm”

I’ve just been reminding myself that getting out there and doing something is better than nothing. I whine before the run, and during the run, but once it’s over I’m glad I got out there. I just keep telling myself that these are the runs that will help make me a stronger runner. I’ve also started to visualize running in warmer weather, and remembering the 100+ hot and humid days where I longed for cooler weather. Grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I really need to move somewhere that has a moderate climate – I’m tired of all of these extremes!

Tell me…
What do you do when the weather is crappy by you? Do you still get out there and run? Hit the gym? Home treadmill?

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