Monday, November 17, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Time for You

Being a mother is a full time job.  Like many jobs, it is both challenging, and rewarding.  But unlike most jobs, there is no "vacation time."

Wanting a break from your children doesn't make you a bad parent.  It doesn't mean you don't love them with every ounce of your being.  But being a mom is not easy, and without some recharge time, you can't do your job to the best of your ability.

It's really important that you find some time for yourself.  This can be an hour during the day when you shut the bathroom door and run a steaming bath.  The weekly dinners with the girls.  The monthly dates with your spouse.  The time where you can just be you - not "mom"  (or in my case - maaaaaaaa-oooooommmm).

I love my weekly runs with my girlfriends.  Yes, it's early in the morning.  And yes I hate getting up early, but it's a couple hours a week where I am just me.  I can focus on me.  I have no one to answer to. 

I love my moms' night outs.  Even if they're not as often as I'd like, the ability to sit around with my nearest and dearest as we laugh and drink and go over all the interesting things that have happened to us over the past weeks.  It makes me feel as though I were in college again.

And this past weekend, when I was part of the Fit Foodie race weekend, I got a hotel room downtown.  Just for me.  Well, at least the first night.  Friday night after work I checked into the hotel and got dolled up for a cocktail party.  After I grabbed a salad from one of my favorite restaurants and ate it on a king sized bed while watching television.  So decadent.  After the race Saturday, I returned to the room for a long hot shower (with no interruptions!) then curled back up in a robe in the bed.    The boys joined me later in the afternoon, but those few hours of respite made me feel like a new person again.

And that's really what every mom needs.  Time to recharge, refresh, renew.  It makes you better able to handle the pressures of motherhood and makes you a better you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fit Foodie Part 1

So in this post I'll cover the cocktail party and the race itself.  Stay tuned next week for the recap on the yoga, brunch, and my thoughts on my ambassador experience.

As an ambassador for the Fit Foodie Race Series, I was given entry to all the weekend activities.  And let me tell you, it was quite a weekend!  I ditched my husband and child and stayed downtown in San Diego which made it an even more fun weekend for me.  No children to feed, no dogs to walk, no husband to clean up after. 

Friday night the excitement began.  The weekend kicked off with a "Light up the Night" cocktail party at Florent.

I have to admit, when I first got there I was completely intimidated by the fact that I was by myself and knew no one, as opposed to everyone else there who seemed to have brought their best friends.  But then I met Haley, and the night just got that much better.  Haley is another race ambassador.  Who was also there by herself.  We also ended up hooking up with some more ambassadors, Kay Lynn, Kellen, and Whitney and we spent the night holding down a table and getting to know each other over wine and so much delicious Sartori cheese.

Saturday morning was the BIG event, the actual Fit Foodie 5k.  It started outside the Hilton Bayfront with a little warm-up for all the runners which included dancing AND yoga.

But let's talk about the part that's helpful to you.  Let's talk about the course itself.  Because it's always helpful to hear about the course if you're thinking of signing up for a race.  This is a really great course, for two reasons.  The first, is that it's really beautiful to run along the harbor.

You are bayside the entire time.  So there's the water, the boats, the bridges.  Very scenic.  But the other reason it's a great course is because it's flat.  100% flat.  Not "flat" which really means there's only one hill, or small hills.  No, it's sidewalk flat.

The course is predominately an out and back course, with side jaunts around little tree-lined inlets.  My only issue is that it wasn't quite a 5k.  So we ran out for a little less than a mile, and then back and through those tree inlets for just around 2 miles.  My gps read 3.05 when I finished, which was .01 farther than some of the women I spoke with as we neared the end.

 Beautiful course aside, what set this race apart from most others was the Finisher's Village.  You've never seen anything like this before!  There were row upon row of vendors/sponsers dying to give you free goodies.  I skipped the super long line at Lexus which resulted in massages and water bottles, but I tried to hit up just about everyone else.

 Cooking Light also had a booth set up with samples of food and treats!

And before you think all the samples were the same old things you find at any race, let me show you the Sabazon tent, where they were making and handing out acai bowls to the runners.  Acai bowls are one of my all time weaknesses.

In addition to the free samples, there were cooking demonstrations!

 I've been very into Greek food lately, so I was especially excited about this pita stuffed with steak, hummus and cucumber.

Throughout the morning there were also Fitness demonstrations led by  Patrick Goudeau and Kristin McGee.

I stumbled back to my hotel with so much good stuff!

That's 2 boxes of quest bars, quest chips, resistance bands, a water bottle, a backpack, water, Zico coconut water, Suja drinks, Bhakti chai, luna bars, skinny girl bars, lara bars, perfect bars, Hawaiian Host chocolate covered macadamia nuts, Sahale snacks, 2 lip balms, moisturizer, sunglasses, and hairbands!

All in all, a pretty good morning. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sunday Runday: Fuel for Your Feet

This post is especially for Thatmom, but it's been a long time coming. 

Think of your body as a car.  Like a car, your body is going going going all the time.  And like a car, your body doesn't run on oxygen.   Which means, if you plan on using it, you need to fuel it.

Thatmom complained to me (many months ago) that she was getting really tired after her runs.  Even though she was only doing a couple miles.  And when I asked what she was eating before the run, she confessed she wasn't eating anything.

Now, none of us would try to drive a car on an empty gas tank, but we are often guilty of trying to "drive" our bodies on empty.  And this isn't just in relation to running, think of how often you or someone you know skips meals.  But it is really important when it comes to running, because unlike sitting stationary at your desk all day, when you're running you're actively burning more calories and using your muscles which are going to be asking for help from the rest of your body.

So as tempting as it is to just run out in the morning, it's smarter to put something in your body first.  It doesn't have to be pancakes and eggs, but a combination of protein and carbs is a good start.  So a slice of toast with peanut butter, a smoothie, or I'm partial to Kind Bars.  If I have a lot of time, sometimes I'll make oatmeal with some egg whites stirred in.

Depending on the length of the run, you also may need to fuel during your run.  I can't give you an exact mileage, because it's going to be different for everyone, but if you feel like the ends of your runs start lagging, or that you're really worn out by the time you finish, or even if you start feeling light headed or dizzy, then you probably need to fuel while you run.  Unlike before the run, you want something that's going to give you some energy quickly, not a long burning type of fuel.  There are loads of fuels marketed for during runs, and of those I personally like Sport Beans.  But you don't have to go out and buy something special.  Gummy bears, M&Ms, jelly beans, almonds, all work really well for mid-run fuel. 

And just because you're done running, doesn't mean you're in the clear with giving your body something to work on.  If you've ever run a race, you probably noticed there's usually some form of food available for the runners after the finish line - bananas, bagels, even beer!  I'm on two complete opposite ends of the spectrum for post-run fuel.  Either beer or chocolate milk.  Beer is great in that it provides electrolytes, sodium, and hydration.  Chocolate milk has a protein/carb ratio that helps promote muscle recovery.

So give your body what it needs, because unlike a car, if you run your body into the ground, you can't just run out and get a new one!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Apple Picking: Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Aioli

I wrote a little bit about apple picking as a great fall activity to do with toddlers.  But I didn't actually tell you about our experience.  And it's been over a month!

We went way back to basics on this one.  L&O introduced me to apple picking in Julian many years ago, and this year we returned with her.  And Little LO. 

The boys were trouble as usual, having as much fun eating apples as they did kicking them. 

The weekend we went may have been the last weekend for apple picking in Julian.  Calling during the week, I only found 2 orchards that were open.  But when L&O arrived before us, she discovered that only 1 was actually opened.  Nevertheless, we managed to do alright and filled multiple bags of apples.

After, we headed in to Julian itself.  Thatbaby insisted in holding his friend's hand as we walked around.

The boys drank apple cider, we ate lunch, and picked up some more Julian goodies to take home.

We brought home honey, apple cherry cider, and lots and lots of apples.

If I were a better planner, this is where I'd share an amazing apple recipe with you.  But the apples are long gone now.  And like usual we ended up eating them plain, mostly.  With honey for Rosh Hashana, grated into pancakes, and lots and lots of slices!

So instead of apples, I'm sharing chicken with you.  A chicken sandwich.  We've been really in to sandwiches lately.  I think Thatbaby likes the bread portion.  He deconstructs his.  I just like how easy they are.  And the bread portion.

 Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Aioli
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
1/2 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 ciabatta rolls
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
cheddar cheese 
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, paprika, and 1 minced garlic clove.
  2. Coat chicken with the sour cream mixture and let stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400. 
  4. In another small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, remaining lemon juice, and the remaining garlic, minced.
  5. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken in the bread crumbs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. 
  6. The last few minutes the chicken is cooking, place cheese on top.
  7. Spread the lemon aioli on the rolls.
  8. Place chicken on the dressed rolls. 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

BA Turns 3: Spaghetti Carbonara

Last year, when talking about our October birthday boys, BA's mom told us she discovered a great idea for a birthday party.  One of the local pumpkin patches had party tents.  It happened to be a pumpkin patch filled with rides.    It was really a brilliant idea.  So I was pretty excited when she decided to go through with it this year.

Thatbaby was most excited about the rides.  As soon as we got there, he rounded up his buddies and headed for the carousel.

All through daycare, we were informed that Thatbaby was more of a follower than a leader.  He must be very comfortable with his friends then, because he definitely took the lead.  Dictating the rides and the order in which they would be ridden.

The cutest was when Lexus, BA, and Thatbaby all scrunched in to the car ride so they could sit together.

When Little Parrot showed up, the party moved to the train.  Which I think was the only ride Little Parrot went on.  Over and over and over.

Thatbaby, Lexus, and BA all ended getting their faces painted.  They were an amazingly cute puppy, butterfly, and tiger.

I think I've mentioned before that BA has a lot of allergies.  So his mom made him a special egg-free birthday cake.  A chocolate egg-free birthday cake.  It looks pretty amazing, right? And based on BAs reaction, it tasted pretty good too.

My only complaint about the party was the fact that it was on a Sunday afternoon, which is generally when I like to be getting ready for the week.  Which meant I had to put together a pretty quick dinner.  Pasta is always my go to for quick dinners.  And carbonara is one of the easiest pasta to make.  You don't even have to heat a storebought sauce!  Just beat some eggs and let the hot pasta do the warming for you!  Thatbaby decided he hated the bacon.  Not to worry, last night he had a bacon grilled cheese and asked for another bacon sandwich for breakfast, so it must have been an off night for him.

Spaghetti Carbonara
8 ounces spaghetti
2 eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 slices bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced 
salt and pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and Parmesan.
  5. Stir pasta and egg mixture into the bacon, and gently toss to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  7. Add reserved pasta water just until desired consistency is reached.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Little Parrot Turns 3: Greek Quiche

It warms my heart that Thatbaby is still friends with his daycare friends.  His core group is completely separated now.  They all go to different schools.  And yet, there is still such joy when we get together.  And in October we get together a lot, because of all the birthdays.

Little Parrot's birthday party was held at a park near our old place.  A park Thatbaby was all too familiar with.  But it's been long enough since we've been there that now he's able to maneuver more of the equipment by himself.  Or with a friend

Thatbaby's favorite part of any birthday party is the cake.  And he wasn't disappointed at Little Parrot's birthday.  They played, they ate, and he fell right asleep on the way home.

This isn't cake, but it's close - we've taken to calling quiche "egg pie" in our house, and pie is cake-like, right?  Okay, I know, I'm not kidding anyone.  A savory egg pie is probably as far from cake as one can get.  But for some reason, having a pie crust makes me feel like this meal is dinner and dessert.  It's a takeoff of my favorite Greek omelet - with spinach and feta.  I like to include Swiss cheese in my omelet to serve as a counterbalance to the salty feta, so Swiss cheese got thrown in here too.
Greek Quiche
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley  
1 tsp minced garlic 
 1/2 tsp salt    
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg  
1 bunch fresh spinach  
8 oz sliced mushrooms  
1/2 onion, sliced 
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese  
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish.
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  3. Combine spinach, mushrooms, onion, and feta in a separate bowl.
  4. Spread spinach mushroom mixture in the prepared pie dish.
  5. Top with half of the Swiss cheese.
  6. Pour the egg mixture over the filling.
  7. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 45 to 50 minutes

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Halloween Wrap Up: Moussaka

Halloween was a success!  We ended up leaving a bowl of candy out front while we took Thatbaby to houses.  It was empty when we got back, but neighbors attest they didn't see anyone dumping the whole thing in a bag. 

Thatbaby had a blast trick-or-treating.  He was reluctant to knock on the doors, but as soon as they opened, he let out a loud "TRICK OR TREAT" and after being told to take handful after handful of candy he rounded out each house with a "THANK YOU AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN."  It was adorable.

He got a very full bucket of candy which, given the speed at which he consumes a single piece, will last until next Halloween.

When we returned home, we sat on the front steps handing out candy until bedtime.

It started raining Friday night, continued Saturday, and now we have the cool fall whether I've been longing for.  Which means lots of homey-comfort foods are making their way onto our menu.  We kicked it off with chili, then some roast chicken, and then a nice layered dish.  Not lasagna, but moussaka.  Which is like lasagna, except instead of pasta sheets, it uses eggplant.  Which is a nice change of pace.

1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, and thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 can plum tomatoes, pureed until smooth with their juices
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut crosswise into 14-thick slices
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup soft goat cheese
1 cup grated Romano
zest of 1 lemon
  1.   Soak the currants in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain. 
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil saucepan over high heat. Add the lamb, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cayenne, and salt and pepper and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Transfer the lamb to a large strainer set over a bowl and drain.
  4. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining olive oil and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the serrano and garlic and cook for 1 minute. 
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. 
  7. Return the lamb to the pan, add the wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. 
  8. Add the tomato puree and currants and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. 
  9. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. 
  10. Heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the eggplant slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the eggplant slices and fry until tender and lightly golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the eggplant slices to paper towels.
  11. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. 
  12. Still whisking constantly, add the milk and bay leaf and cook until thickened. 
  13. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and discard the bay leaf. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes.
  14. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, goat cheese, and lemon zest and whisk into the white sauce until smooth.
  15. Preheat the oven to 400. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.  Put half the eggplant slices in the dish and cover with half the meat sauce. 
  16. Top the sauce with the remaining eggplant slices, and then the remaining meat sauce. 
  17. Pour the white sauce over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. 
  18. Sprinkle Romano evenly over the top, place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake until browned and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes.

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