New kicks!

23 02 2011

I love Groupons. Especially when it gets you $50 to spend at your favorite running store! I scored this awesome deal a few months ago, and finally got around to using it. The Groupon was to pay $25 for a $50 coupon to Potomac River Running; on top of that, I had a $15 credit from Groupon, so I paid only $10!!! SCORE!! The coupon expired on Tuesday, and it just so happened that I was in need of a new pair of sneaks. So, I bought myself a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires to replace my old ones:

Of course I was excited to try them out but blech! Running on the treadmill is sometimes such a drag! Anyone else feel that way? I mean, c’mon is the end of February; I’ve been doing treadmill workouts for months. I just want it to be warm and sunny and in the 60s so I can run outside and not be bundled up!

But, I wanted to start breaking them in, so I trekked to the gym and did an interval workout. I’ve found that interval workouts are more exciting than running for 45-60 minutes straight, because I manually change the speed throughout my workout. Not only does it make the time go by a lil faster, but it’s an awesome workout, and is one of the ways to improve your running speed! Here’s what I did:

Warmup:

0:00-5:00 Walking @ 3.5

5:00-10:00 Jog @ 6.0

10:00-15:00 Run @ 6.5

Intervals:

5x

0:00-1:00 @ 6.5

1:00-2:00 @ 8.0

2:00-4:00 @ 6.5

4:00-5:00 @ 8.0

On the 5th round, I pushed myself and alternated between 7.0 and 8.5.

Warm down:

5 minutes, slowly decreasing speed until my last minute is a walk @ 3.5

Wave Inspires = awesome.

As I dreamed of warm running weather while running, I was also dreaming of a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook my roommate Carly bought me for my birthday. Though I’ve never been to Moosewood, I’ve heard great things about it. And, after skimming reading this cookbook cover to cover, I definitely want to take a trip up to Ithaca.

I’ve had my eye on this Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin recipe; I haven’t had potato gratin in AGES! And better yet, this recipe is made with sweet potatoes, which I have a serious weakness for…

The recipe looked pretty simple, and I had all the ingredients on hand. So, I got to cookin’.

First, I combined garlic, lime peel, lime juice, cilantro, thyme, salt, pepper, and coconut milk in a small bowl.

Then, I layered some of the coconut milk mixture, sliced sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, and spinach in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

There's some sweet potatoes under there!

Repeat the layers again, and then top it with a cornmeal mixture: cornmeal, vegetable oil, thyme, cumin, and salt.

Pop it in the oven at 350° for an hour, rotating the pan after the first 3o minutes.

When it comes out of the oven, let it sit for 2-3 minutes, so the juices are all soaked up.

Dig in!

I love the combination of sweet potatoes with lime, cilantro and cumin. Cumin is seriously one of my favorite spices. Though I typically think of potato gratin as a side, this was definitely hearty enough to be a meal in itself.

I may or may not have helped myself to several servings…

Adding this to my list of recipes to make again!

Recipe:

(Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

1 garlic clove, minced

1.5 teaspoons grated lime peel

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1.5 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2.5 cups coconut milk

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (I made my slices about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick)

1 cup quinoa, cooked  Original recipe called for rice)

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

1.5 cups fresh baby spinach (I used half of a bag)

topping:

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Steps:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Combine the first 8 ingredients (through the coconut milk).

Pour one third of the liquid into the baking pan.

Layer half of the sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, and spinach into the pan.

Pour another one third of the liquid on top, and then repeat the layers of sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, and spinach.

Pour the remaining liquid on top of it all.

In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the gratin.

Bake for 60 minutes, rotating the pan after 30 minutes.

It’s done when the potatoes are tender, and the topping is brown and crisp.

Let sit for a few minutes before digging in!

Question of the day: How do you stay motivated to run on the treadmill?





To Spin or Not to Spin

23 02 2011

Happy Hump Day!

Today I am going to address a somewhat controversial issue: spinning.

I may be fairly new to the triathlon world, but I would guess that discussions and debates over the value of taking a spin class as a means to continue training when the weather turns cold, your bike breaks or you are just in the mood to let a spin instructor yell at you while you ride to the hopefully good beats of the class are nothing new. I personally love spin classes. I have been to tons of spin classes…some better than others, (if any spin instructors are reading this…Enya and Jack Johnson are not pump up jams) but with an instructor who knows what he/she is doing and a really good playlist, I leave the class feeling stronger, more energized and ALWAYS a sweaty mess.

 

But just because I love spin classes and am a complete believer that they allow me to maintain my endurance on the bike even when I can’t ride outside, doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the case. There is no doubt in my mind that spinning is great exercise, but I have been wondering for a while now, what the experts think about the value of a spin class. I figured that one of the best places to start would be on Lance Armstrong’s website…so I checked it out. And this is what I found…

Benefits of Spinning

  • Indoor cycling eliminates traffic, coasting and stops, making it a safe way to develop strength, technique and aerobic capacity.
  • Spin classes are often high-quality workouts, that are fit into a shorter period of time than riding outdoors.
  • When the weather isn’t conducive to riding outside, a spin class is a great way to get your ride in while feeding off of the energy from the others in your class!
  • Spinning allows cyclists to work on specific drills, such as timed sprints.
  • In the off-season, spinning classes are ideal for developing bike-specific muscular strength, improving pedaling skills and raising lactate threshold.

Sounds pretty good huh! Now check out some of the disadvantages..

Disadvantages of Spinning

  • Spinning is great for developing your cardiovascular and muscular systems, but it does nothing to train the skill-related aspects of bike racing, such as passing, maneuvering around sharp turns, etc.
  • While spin classes include high-resistance riding that most instructors call  “hills,” spin class  “hills” bear little resemblance to the technique of riding up a real incline.
  • While they do build strength, spin class exercises like “jumps” (alternating quickly between sitting and standing) and “running” (standing upright with your hands in the middle of the handlebars) don’t resemble anything you do on a real bike.
  • The workout planned by the instructor does not necessarily fit the workout that you have planned in your training plan.

So with this information, I can see why the debate continues. There are clearly pros and cons to taking a spin class. If you do choose to take a spin class, there are a few things to keep in mind…

Tips for Spinners

  • Make sure that your spin bike position mimics your position on your outdoor bike. Adjust handle bars, seat position etc.
  • Don’t forget…the class might be designed in a specific way, but it is still your ride. Do not participate in exercises that you do not feel are conducive to making you a stronger better cyclist. It is OK to sit and ride while the class does something else.
  • Check out the instructor ahead of time. Make sure that he/she has experience and is a certified instructor.
  • Make sure that your spin instructor has good taste in music (ok, maybe not super necessary, but c’mon…pretty important)
  • DRINK WATER! Spin rooms are often very hot and dry. Spinning.com recommends drinking about 40 oz. water total during a 40-minute spin class

So there you have it! A little insight into the oh so common debate over the spin class. What are your thoughts on spinning versus riding outside? Leave me a message below! I know that until the weather hits at least 50, you will find me in the spin room 🙂

Now onto the next topic of the day: Chloe’s Super Duper High Protein Energy Bread (aka: Banana, Apple, Date, Walnut Bread). This loaf is super high in protein as a result of the use of Greek yogurt and super sweet, not because of the added sugar, because the sugars in the fruit!

Chloe’s Super Duper Energy Bread (aka Banana, Apple, Date, Walnut Bread) (Adapted from Andrea, over at Bella Eats)

makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3  ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup fat free plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple (or pear!)
  • 5 medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lightly chopped walnuts
  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I would have used whole wheat but was out)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan
  2. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, yogurt, sugar, egg, apple (or pear), and dates.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
  5. Fold on the walnuts.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes before slicing or burn fingers and tongue by eating immediately like me.

This bread is a great pre or post workout snack or just a great breakfast bread. Toast it and smear on a little almond butter and you have yourself a super filling, super delicious, SUPER healthy meal!

I’ve got 2 questions of the day for ya! Leave me a message below and share your thoughts!

1) What are your thoughts on spin classes vs. cycling outside?

2) What is your favorite homemade bread to make?