Foodie Friday: Zoodles with Chicken and Red Pepper Sauce

Because I totally forgot to put up a post for What I Ate Wednesday, it feels a little crazy to still call it that.  Foodie Friday has a nice ring to it.  :) One of the things my girlfriends and I are doing is doing lunch in at one of our houses every few weeks.  We always make some version of zoodles, since we’re always trying to eat as clean as possible.  I had a huge jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge, so I sent them both this recipe from Food Faith Fitness for Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Zoodles.   But my one girlfriend pointed out that she didn’t care for the taste of plain Greek yogurt, or feta cheese, and I’ve been staying away from dairy. So I figured I could adapt the recipe to work without the dairy, and it was simply amazing.  It was a different flavor than tomato sauce but still in that vein.  The garlic made it nice and robust, and all you do to make the sauce is puree it in the food processor.  If you use jarred roasted peppers the sauce isn’t even cooked at all.  I threw in the juices from the roasted chicken breasts I made and it added flavor too.  Here’s what I did:

  • For Noodles:
  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • Kosher salt

I used my spiralizer on four medium zucchinis, salted them with kosher salt, and then put them in a colander to drain over the sink while I put together the rest of the meal.

  • For Sauce:
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c vegetable broth
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh basil, chopped

The first thing I did was drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on the boneless chicken breasts.  I put them in the oven at 350 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes (you may want to go less or more depending on the size of your breasts). Then I put all of the other ingredients into my food processor and pureed them until they were smooth.   Check the salt and pepper to taste. Finally I drizzled olive oil in a large pan and sauteed the zoodles until they were soft, about 7-8 minutes.  You may want to add a little broth in here too if they feel dry.  I put a lid on to have the steam help them cook faster.  Once they were soft, I added the sauce, and a dash of red pepper flakes (optional, but I find a few of them doesn’t add too much heat, but does add flavor).  At this point the chicken was done and resting.  Once it had rested a few minutes, I sliced it up and added it and all of the juices from it to the pan as well.  I just tossed everything together to combine flavors. That’s it!

It was super delicious, super easy and had super healthy.  This recipe made three very satisfying servings. We never did take a picture of our pretty zoodles with red pepper sauce, so I’ll have to make it again and remember to put the picture here.  But it was also a very pretty plate as well as being delish!

Motivation Monday

It was a week of getting back in the groove after a week of kids’ vacation and travel.  I definitely felt much more back in the routine, although it was not a perfect week by a long shot. I had an unplanned rest day on Friday when a last minute client meeting came up.  I had planned to do yoga on Saturday, but my husband was out of town and I didn’t want my son to wake up to an empty house that morning.

This week looked like this:

Tues:  Rest Day
Wed:  2 miles @ 11:53 pace plus 30 min HIIT class
Thur:  2.5 miles @ 11:43 pace plus 30 min HIIT class
Fri:  Rest Day (unplanned; client meeting)
Sat:  Rest Day
Sun:  10K Minuteman Race @ 11:50 pace
Mon:  3.7 mile walk

I had planned on a short run and a strength class today for exercise, but I tweaked my left knee yesterday and I can still feel it today.  I wrapped it in an ACE bandage but I still wasn’t sure putting so much stress on it today was a great idea.  I decided a walk was the best way to not blow the whole day but still take care of myself.  I have another race in two weeks, another 10K, and I don’t want to ruin my chances for making that a good day.

Tomorrow I plan on a short two miles to see how the leg is, and I’ve signed up for a TRX class at my local gym.  TRX is NOT my favorite thing by a long shot.  Every time our instructor brings out the straps, I always need two or three explanations before I finally get it right.  Plus, I find it super hard.  I know that means it is good for me, which is why I have signed up.  These classes are enormously popular at my gym, so there must be a reason, right?

Later this week family is coming into town for my daughter’s communion.  When we have family visits it is always hard to keep up with the workouts.  I’m trying to figure out how to parcel out my runs to still get in some exercise while spending precious time with the family.  Hopefully I can find the balance for both.

 

Minuteman 10K Recap

I feel like I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one.  I haven’t run distances much over 5 miles since my half marathon a month ago, and I purposely signed up for this one to keep me honest and pulling the higher distances.  But when I woke up yesterday morning I was totally thinking, “Why on earth am I doing this?”

It was chilly when my friends and I left for this race, half an hour away at scenic Compo Beach in Westport.  For those who don’t know, Westport is a tony suburb in lower Fairfield County.  By the time we arrived at the race site, the weather had warmed up considerably; I had brought two different running jackets and decided I needed neither.

This race was a 5K/10K combo.  Those aren’t my favorite, because not only am I slow in a 5K field, I am REALLY slow in a 10K field, and it makes for a really lonely race return.  But, I remembered this race was a nice one; beautiful course, well organized, decent swag prior, so I signed up for the 10.  My friends had signed up for the 5.

Pre race on the beach.  Beautiful day.

Pre race on the beach. Beautiful day.

We arrived early enough to get parking but not too early to be bored.  Hit the bathrooms, got some of the decent swag.  The 5K started ten minutes prior to the 10K so I saw my friends to their start and realized I needed a bathroom.  I bid them good luck and went off, figuring that with all the 5K people out of the mix, the line would be short.

Yeah, not so much.  I sprinted to the lonely porta potty on the other side of the parking.  It wasn’t the worst I’d ever used, but close.  Ew.  But it got the job done and then it was go time.

I can’t say enough how glorious the weather had turned out to be.  Sunny, beachfront, glorious, 50 or so degrees, slight breeze.  Perfect running weather in just my short sleeved tech shirt.  Unlike the 5K, the 10K gun went off with zero announcements or fanfare, startling everyone around me in the back of the pack.  I turned on the RunKeeper and tried to not go out to fast.

I have been encouraged by my shorter runs lately being faster, so I didn’t get too alarmed at my faster than normal pacing in the first mile.  I was working, but feeling good, and also hoping to build up some insurance time for when I would lag later.  The views were mostly of the water, which was lovely.  I could feel myself slowly losing pace with the rest of the group.  This was the race that I finished 3rd from last on last year; I had resigned myself to being one of the slowest out there.

I could tell my pacing was still a bit too fast in the second mile, but I was also kind of marveling at it….I had hoped to at least beat last year’s time (1:13:44) or at a minimum be under 1:14.  Worst case I figured was 1:15, a long way from my very first (and disastrous) 1:26:17 10K.

The course was mostly flat in those first two miles, but in the third mile the hills kicked in.  The gently rolling downward slopes turned into upwards ones.  I turned a corner and found the big hill I remembered from last year. It was steep but relatively short, so I ran as far as I could before dropping to a walk and repeated this twice to get through the hill.  I picked off a few people doing this, which helped my morale.  I was sure I was ahead of third from last.

The third and fourth miles were hilly.  The fourth mile ended at the top of a slow, long climb to a freeway overpass.  Last year I remembered I never had to walk this.  This year, I broke a few times into a walk.  I had pushed myself too fast in the first few miles and was running out of juice.  On the plus side I picked off a few more people there, coming very close to the skinny girl who had been way ahead of me up until that point.  She saw me move to pass and picked up the pace, of course.

The fourth mile marker was at the top of the bridge over I 95.  As I stepped up to it I felt my left knee twinge. It has been tweaking on and off lately.  It was not terrible but it was noticeable.  I knew I was going to have to take it a bit easier for the last two miles.

I was still feeling strong but ready for it to be done.  By the time we hit mile 5 the course had flattened out some, blessedly.  My head was telling me to walk but I forced myself to keep moving; the course was flat, after all.  I kept moving, although slower than I would like.  We got back to the water views by 5.5 and I let it pull me back to the finish line all the way.  I got close to the skinny chick again, and one other woman.  We ran one right after the other until the very end where they peeled away for the last little bit.  I had absolutely no steam left to speed up, but was proud of the fact that I hadn’t walked in those last two miles.  In fact I had hardly walked at all except to get through the hills.

My time was 1:14:27.  Off of last year’s time by 43 seconds.  I was surprised considering how good I felt mostly during the race, but when I compared my splits, I definitely went out too fast.  My first two miles were much faster than last year, but then the last four were slower; last year I maintained a much more steady pace in the last half of the race.

Still, I felt really good about not switching to the 5K.  In the end I loved the course and it was a beautiful run.  And considering last year found me smack dab in the middle of half marathon training and this year finds me plodding along a month after my half?  To be 43 seconds off really isn’t that bad.

Also, since the field was larger, I was further from last place.  I finished 7th from the end.  I’ll take it.  :)

Post race beach shot.

Post race beach shot.

 

 

What I Ate Wednesday

So I am definitely still trying to maintain my cleaner eating habits, but I will admit that I slipped a bit last week while I was on break, and the scale shows it.  For the first time I consciously chose sugar (italian ice layered with custard….sugar AND dairy….yum), dairy (no almond milk in the hotel) and bread (submarine sandwich one day, soft pretzel another).  While I wouldn’t choose these options at home on a regular basis, I’m not beating myself up about allowing myself to not make a stink and going with the flow when eating with a group or crowd.

That being said, I’m not happy about the 2.4 lb gain I see on the scale today over two weeks ago.  I did NOT think I strayed that far.  Most of my choices were very solid.  I ate grilled salmon, I never ate french fries, I only had dessert that one time.  It is always shocking to me that even when you think you’re mostly doing OK, a lot of little things can really add up.

Last night, when I found myself out to dinner with a colleague, I was met with the “What Do I Order” challenge.  I was eating with someone who professed to be gluten free and vegan “90% of the time”.  I waffled back and forth between the big salads, all of which seemed loaded with a lot of things that probably weren’t super choices, or what I really wanted.

A burger.

These days I find myself craving hamburgers but I don’t feel guilty about having them.  I always order them the same way:  wrapped in lettuce, rare, with a side salad instead of fries.  This takes care of the craving for that juicy piece of ground beef without it doing the damage of a burger in a bun with fries on the side.

lettuceburgerI’ve ordered this out many times and never really had a problem.  Sometimes they will wrap it in lettuce as above, or sometimes they’ll just serve it on top of a salad.  Either way is fine with me.  I left my dinner full, satisfied, not even missing the bread or potatoes.

My colleague?  She had a turkey sandwich on a ciabatta roll and sweet potato fries.  I know she probably felt she had chosen well with the turkey and sweet potato fries instead of regular, but I honestly think that I made the better choice.  It is no problem ordering something “healthy” when it is also something you love and tastes delicious.

Motivation Monday: The I Have None Version

It’s rainy here today in SW CT and I’m definitely in a funk.  My kids were on their Spring Break last week and we enjoyed a lovely few days away from home with my dad.  I returned home to reality and was definitely not ready for it!  I’m trying to move beyond it but I feel very little motivation to do so.  Today has been a struggle just to get through everything that has needed to get done.  My impulse is to do absolutely nothing.

The break definitely affected my workouts in the last seven days.  It was just too hard with the two kids, no husband and my dad in tow to muster up the energy to get up early and hit the hotel gym.  We did do lots of walking but I know it just wasn’t the same.  Oh well.  It’s time to buckle up and move on.

On the plus side, I did have a wonderful nearly 6 mile run yesterday morning.  It wasn’t fast, it was hilly, but the weather was perfect and it felt so good to just not worry about pace and log the miles.  So I will hold onto that memory as I try to move out of Funkytown.  It’s not my favorite place to be.

Last week’s workouts:

Tues:  4 hours of slow walking around the Newseum in Washington DC (highly recommend)
Wed:  Rest Day (travel day)
Thurs:  4 miles @ 12:36 pace
Fri:  45 min bootcamp plus 30 min strength class
Sat:  60 Min yoga and 3.25 miles @ 12:23 pace
Sun:  5.7 miles @ 12:46 pace
Mon:  2.5 miles @ 13:03 pace (treadmill)

I have a 10K this weekend, which will be my longest run since the NYC Half.  I don’t think I will beat last year’s time, but we’ll see.

What I Ate Wednesday (A Day Late)

I am morphing my “Clean Eating Update” posts into a post each week, on Wednesday that highlights something new I tried that week in my clean eating journey.

This week was a transition week out of my “Lent” promises to promising myself that these lifestyle choices would stay in place.  I did have a very small piece of cake at Easter, and some dip that I made that had Greek yogurt in it, and yesterday I had a headache and had a few handfuls of peanut m & ms, but for the most part I have kept my no sugar, no dairy, no bread, less booze rules in tact.

Surprisingly (or maybe not, I don’t know) even with a big meal on Easter with some cheats, I was still down 1.6 lbs for the week, which made me very happy.

I wanted to make a less guilty treat for myself to reward myself for making it through the entire Lent without one slip up in the sugar department.  I have been reading a lot about “naturally sweetened” foods, and of course I am trying to cut back on the processed stuff as well.  I found a recipe online for maple syrup sweetened chocolate syrup, and decided to try it.

The result was amazing!  The sauce was delicious!  Maybe it is my sugar deprived tastebuds but I only used half of the maple syrup the recipe suggested and the sauce had a wonderful, dark chocolatey taste, with an edge of bitterness, that coupled beautifully with the strawberries I had paired with it.  I have also used it with almond milk in my coffee for a nice mocha, and over my oatmeal this morning for a sweet treat.  I’m in love!  I will make this again and again.

IMG_5692-1Less Sweet Maple Syrup Sweetened Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from Deliciously Organic)

1/2 cup maple syrup
1.5 cups water
1 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Pour maple syrup and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sauce pan. Warm over medium heat until just simmering. Whisk in cocoa powder (it will take a minute or two to get all of the cocoa completely incorporated). Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.

This works well as a syrup at room temperature or as a sauce or dip after it has been refrigerated.

 

Motivation Monday

This was a tough week for exercise for me as I was sick.  I’ve noticed that since I start running I don’t get sick often, and when I do get sick, it doesn’t usually last for that long.  That was the case this week, with just a two and a half day duration nasty cold, but it was enough to take everything down a notch this week.

The sick plus Easter made for a quiet week in the workout department.  But here it is just the same:

Tue:  4.4 miles @ 13:18 pace
Wed:  3.1 miles @ 12:42 pace
Thu:  60 min yoga
Fri:  Rest (sick)
Sat:  Rest (sick)
Sun:  Rest (sick/Easter)
Mon:  3.3 miles @ 12:52 pace, 30 min Zumba trial class, 30 min bootkick drill class

Tuesday’s run last week felt terrible.  Slow, sluggish, cold (the weather still hadn’t warmed up here in the early morning hours yet).  The dog kept stopping to “mark his territory”.  If I had just let that run stand, I would have had such a negative vibe on running.  But the next day I had a fabulous 5K run through similar territory; what a difference a day makes.  I opted for yoga the next day as I could feel the cold coming, and by that night I was miserable.  I spent Friday mostly on the sofa.  Saturday was better but I still rested and kept quiet.  Yesterday I mostly felt better but it was the holiday.

Which left me raring to go this morning.  I ran a nice run with the dog (always guaranteed to slow up my pacing) and then took two trial classes at my gym.  Zumba was tough for me; not cardio wise but coordination wise.  I felt sloppy and slow on the uptake.  But the bootkick drills that followed felt spot on:  tough, hard and sweaty.  It was a great morning and really helped me get back in the game after being sick for a few days.

I plan on a longer run tomorrow, five miles or so.  The rain that is forecast for the rest of the week will likely take me back to the gym and yoga studio before I travel for my kids’ spring break.  Not sure how the exercise will be while I’m away, but I should at least be able to sneak in a run on the hotel treadmill at least twice.  :)

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