Pinning and Planning – December 30

After a month of trying not to overindulge, I feel like it was a losing battle.  I feel so bloated, globby and lumpy much like the Lumpy Space Princess from Adventiure Time.  “Oh my glob!  Don’t be hating on my lumps!”   

But I truly hate the lumpiness.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been unable to run for two weeks due to a nasty chest cold and I’ve not been able to burn the extra unhealthy calories. 

Well, the party is over!  The sweets and globiness have got to go!  It’s time to get back on the healthy track again; time to cut back on the carbs and attempt to eat better again.

A commitment to healthy eating again starts on Day 1 with our traditional New Year’s meal, a pot of lentil soup.  This tradition was passed onto my mom by her best friend.  Supposedly, lentil represent coins and with a bit of green such as spinach, it brings a promise of wealth in the new year.  Also in the way of tradition, we eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, a Spanish custom that promises a month of good fortune with each grape.  Hey, I’ll take all the good luck I can get!

And thankfully, Publix still has lots of wonderful veggies, fish and legumes on sale to help with the healthy and wealthy part of our resolutions and commitments.  Saving pennies means keeping pennies in my pocket while keeping the calories and carbs off my plate.

S – Lamb Curry (still lots of leftovers in the freezer from Christmas)

M – Lentil and Spinach Soup with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Salad

T – Sweet Potato Crusted Tilapia with Fingerling Roasted Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

W – Skinnytaste’s Chicken Rollatini Stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella with Mashed Cauliflower

Th – Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

F – Dinner out

Here’s to lots of luck, health, wealth and good fortune to you and yours in 2013!

What things are you cooking up this week?  Are you eating less carbs too?  Link up and share the delicious dishes you are pinning and planning to serve this week.

Plan your menu for the week and if you have some favorite food pins, add those too. Then, link up and share your post. If you’re not on Pinterest, send me an email and I’ll send you an invite.



Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup

PhotobucketWhen I planned this week’s menu, I was craving this soup. Maybe with all the icky, sick germs in my house, my body needed the immune-building homemade penicillin that chicken soup always seems to provide.

I first found this ridiculous easy recipe in Rachel Ray Every Day, but over the years, I’ve tweaked it a bit by finding a way to reduce the fat without losing all the creaminess.  I also use less gnocchi than the original recipe.

It’s been a while since I last made it, but one taste and I remembered how much I love it and it’s always a hit with the family too.

With the nasty cold weather expected this weekend, bundle up and stay warm and then get this soup started for dinner tonight.  With this soup, you can prepare it ahead of time and then throw the gnocchi in just before you serve it.  The leftovers reheat and freeze nicely too, so you’ll have it for another cold, winter day.

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup
(Adapted from Rachel Ray)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white and tender green parts split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup non-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
1 package gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 Tbsp dry sherry
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks, celery and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and milk, lower the heat and simmer until the soup bubbles at the edges.

Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and sherry.  Serve hot.

Makes  4-6 servings.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

While here, don’t forget to toss some cookies at The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!



*Also submitted at*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Healthier Holiday Table with Spinach Chicken Sausage Egg Cups

ACS-BadgeWhen the American Cancer Society asked me to contribute a recipe for A Healthier Holiday Table, I was honored.  After watching my aunt lose her life to cancer, it became my goal to educate myself and others about ways to live in a word without cancer and ultimately celebrate more birthdays.

Here are a few easy steps to reduce your risk so that you and your loved can celebrate more birthdays together:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of many types of cancer. Here are ideas on how to eat healthy and get active.
  • Did you know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk? The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Here are two resources filled with ideas for upping your fruit and vegetable consumption through the day.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products. Here are some innovative ways to add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your day while watching your refined carbohydrates, sugar, and fat intake.
  • Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. Some studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meat to increased risk of colorectal and stomach cancers.
  • Drink no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men. Alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and the colon and rectum.
  • Stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry. Keep these foods on hand for fast meals on busy nights.
  • Did you know that being physically active can reduce your risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial, and prostate?  The Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Here are some tips to help you fit exercise into your busy schedule.

However, holiday office parties and last minute marathon shopping can often make it difficult to adhere to the previous checklist.  By preparing quick and easy healthy meals, you can maintain a healthier table during the holidays.

My Spinach Chicken Sausage Egg Cup recipe is perfect for potlucks and since these egg cups freeze nicely, they’re great for quick breakfasts on the go.  Simply store them in freezer-safe food storage bags and heat them up when you want a healthy breakfast bite in a pinch.

Spinach Chicken Sausage Egg Cups
Ingredients
2 slices whole grain bread
½ cup baby spinach
2 Tbsp reduced fat cheddar cheese
1 link al fresco Country Style Breakfast Chicken Sausage, quartered
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1 Tbsp non-fat milk
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut two circles in each slice of bread.  Lay one circle in each prepared muffin cup.

Lay one to two leaves of baby spinach on top on each bread circle.  Add a few pieces of sausage and a few sprinkles of cheddar cheese.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites and skim milk.  Add cayenne, salt and pepper.  Pour a quarter of mixture into each muffin cup.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm.  Serve with avocado slices and tomato like from Pearland TX.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Random Thoughts about a Dirty Girl, Feeling like Alice, a New Challenge and Track Tuesday

It seems people like reading about me being dirty my mud run recaps.  After reading my Pretty Muddy recap, Dirty Girl Mud Run approached me and a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers to race and review how Dirty Girl does a mud run.

Of course, I jumped on the chance to do it and the TBB girls and I already picked our team name: Mud Bloggin’.  But, I have to admit. I’m a little nervous about this one.  I know.  I know.  I said that about the last one, however, I’m not scared of the mud, you see.  That ain’t nothing.  (Spoken like a Dirty Girl gone pro-mud runner.)  I’m nervous about my heels and my reoccurring plantar fasciitis flare-ups.

Dirty Girl Mud Run happens in Tampa on February 9th.  That’s less than a month after the Disney Marathon and a week after the Best Damn Race 10K.  It also happens to be two weeks before my second marathon in Ft. Lauderdale.

Now you see why I’m nervous.  That’s a heavy race load in one month.  The upside: The money I saved on registering for this race can be used to buy a new pair of shoes just for mud runs (because the girlie mud runs seem to be my thing).

And there’s another bonus to choosing to do a Dirty Girl Mud Run.  Much like Pretty Muddy, I can choose not to do certain obstacles.  I can give my plantar fasciitis feet a pass.  And that my friends, is how Run DMT plans to be a Dirty Girl.

If you want to join me in the Dirty Girl Mud Run, all Run DMT readers that register will receive 20% off with the code FLBLOGGUESTThis code also works for the Jacksonville and Miami events too.

Anyone who registers for the Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa Dirty Girl Mud Run between Dec. 5th and Dec. 24th 11:59pm will automatically be entered to win a gym membership of her choice valued up to $500.

Speaking of obstacles, my running partners, Chrissy and Daffodil, prepared a good one for me this weekend.  During our 18 mile run, we took a shortcut to the trail, a worn path parted through shrubs with a slight incline.  I felt like Alice following the White Rabbit as we slipped through the rabbit hole trying not to break an ankle.  It’s all part of my mud run training.

RabbitHoleCollage

For this week’s 18, we ran through Chrissy’s neighborhood and on the trail and it was a welcomed change.  After we finished Chrissy, had a fabulous runner’s tailgate for us.  Apparently, I’ve set the standard.

These 18 miles were much better than the last and I shaved 9 minutes off my last 18 miler.  Plus, I felt great!  We kept a nice steady pace around 10:15-10:30, walked occasionally and my heels didn’t bother me one bit. Isn’t that awesome?!

Sun, 12/2
18.1 miles
Time 3:21: 22
Ave Pace 11:07
Max Pace 8:30

Last week was a perfect running week for me and I believe there are two reasons for the lack of pain.  Every time I ran, I wore the Feetures! PF sleeves which I still LOVE.  Last week, I also ran A LOT.  I ran all the miles necessary to meet hit a comfortable, no strain 18 miles.  For me, the key is to run 4-5 times a week and my mid-week should be half the distance of my long run.

My feet are all better and now my Garmin is giving me grief.  Some is wrong with the charging base and it doesn’t always charge properly.  I swear I did ten miles on Wednesday, but my Garmin died around 5.2 miles.  I just doubled the total.

Wed, 11/28
10 miles
Time 1:39:18
(Garmin died at 5.2 – 54:59)
Ave Pace 10:34
Max Pace 8:41

Thurs, 11/29
5 miles
Time 49:51
Ave Pace 9:58
Max Pace 8:20

On my rest days (Friday and Saturday), I finished off the #Thanks4Planks challenge and on December 1, we unwrapped a new challenge: #fitgift.  Basically, you do something every day during December.  You can read more about it and join the December fitness challenge here.

Today is Track Tuesday which means speedwork.  Here’s how my sprints unfolded today.

1 mile
9:55

Lap 1 – 0.25
Time 1:48

Ave Pace 7:15

Lap 2 – 0.25
Time 1:54.48
Ave Pace 7:39

Lap 3 – 0.25
Time 1:54.15
Ave Pace 7:34

Lap 4 – 0.25
Time 1:56.95
Ave Pace 7:46

1.1 mile
Time 10:34
Ave Pace 9:37

The rest of the week will be light running week as I have the Holiday Half on Sunday.  Friday and Saturday will be rest days, but I’ll do something to keep up with #fitgift challenge.

What’s you running plans for the week?  Got some sprints to share?  What other work-outs are you doing?

I am excited to announce a new Track Tuesday co-host!  Meghan of runMeganrun will be joining me on the track for weekly speedwork.  The “rules” are still the same, so link up and play along with us.

To join our Track Tuesday linky party, do your speed work (at least 4 quarter mile sprints) on Tuesday or any day you that works best for you, blog about your times and remember to add our cool Track Tuesday button to your post.  Then, link up your post at either runMeganrun or Run DMT to share Track Tuesday Speed Work Sessions.  To show support for our other virtual running partners on the Track Tuesday Team, be sure to visit the other blogs listed in the linky party.  Give them a virtual high-five and leave some comment love too.



*Also linking up at*

Stacy

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

December Fitness Challenge: The Gift of Fitness

GiftofFitness_DecChallengeI racked my brain trying to come up with a reasonable and decent, worthwhile fitness challenge for December.

With a marathon next month, I didn’t want the challenge to be anything to strenuous.  I couldn’t take the chance of hurting myself, but I also needed to keep focused and something to prevent me from eating stacks of Christmas cookies.

I didn’t want to do something we’ve already done, such as burpees, planks, push-ups, yoga or  ab exercises even though I could use a push for a six-pack again.  Besides, even after all those burpees, some people still hate burpees, but oddly people love planks.

Then, it dawned on me.  Why not offer a fitness challenge that incorporates a little of everything?  Let my readers decide what they want to do, but keep encouraging them to do it.

So, my loyal Run DMT readers, I give to you “The Gift of Fitness”.  The December fitness challenge is simply a reminder to do something, anything every day.  By doing something every day, we’ll help battle the holiday bulge and kick those extra Christmas calories to the curb.

Anything goes!  Run, walk, plank, core exercises, swim, run, bike or burpee your way through December!  Pick whatever fitness keeps you on track with your fitness goals and do it.

I’m really excited about this fitness challenge and doubly excited because I’m co-hosting it with a truly inspirational and fitness junkie, Jenny of MetamorFit.  Her transformation into a fitness junkie is an incredible story and journey and she’s the perfect co-host because she already does some kind of fitness every day.

If you’re ready to give yourself the Gift of Fitness this December, join us by adding your blog title and url and/or your Twitter handle and url to the linky party below.  Then, follow @denisermt and @JennyMetamorfit on Twitter.  Use the hashtag #fitgift.

Spread the word by regifting our fitness challenge.  Share #fitgift with your readers and followers.  Blog about it and add the button to your sidebar.  Tweet it too.  “I’m giving myself the Gift of Fitness this December with @denisermt and @JennyMetamorFit. #fitgift”

Thanks for playing along and good luck!  Happy holidays!

GiftofFitness_DecChallenge


Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

peerFit Makes Fitness Hit New Heights

Thanks to my friends at peerFit, I can scratch partying on a rooftop off my bucket list now. Last Sunday, peerFit and Fitz Koehler hosted a rooftop fitness party in Hyde Park Village.  After running 12 miles earlier that day, I should skipped out I was primed and ready to go.

A sizable crowd arrived on the roof to get down and funky with fitness, but we had plenty of room on the roof to spread out to shake our moneymakers and spontaneous jazz hands.

To offer a taste of a variety of fitness programs, different instructors took turns leading the crowd.  The instructors’ high energy and enthusiasm about their classes encouraged us to keep moving.

Since I’m mostly a mother runner, I loved sampling a taste of the different types of group fitness classes that area vailable, but CXWORX totally kicked my butt.  My sad attempt at a few planks every day didn’t even come close to prepare me for the beating the CXWORX core work-out delivered.  I was sore for days.  And I loved it.

Admittedly, I’m a runner because it’s easy.  I can just get up and go.  I don’t have to constantly watch an instructor to see where to place my feet and follow along.  Although in more ways than one, there’s strength in numbers in a group fitness class.  The instructors push you.  They stretch you out of your comfort zone.  Their enthusiasm is contagious and every participant succumbs to it.  Plus, if you don’t keep moving, someone will grapevine right over you.

After an intense cardio work-out, we cooled down with some yoga and the long stretches were a welcomed sight.

Word on the street says peerFit plans to host monthly rooftop fitness parties and I hope that’s true.  But next time, how about some butler-served smoothies and protein bars at the party?

Want to make fitness fit your life?  Find a fitness class near you with the peerFit app now available for iPhone.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

A Purple Run to Cure Epilepsy

On a dark, cold early Thursday morning last week, my fellow Suncoast Striders and I officially kicked off our Wear Purple Virtual Run to Cure Epilepsy Marathon.  I was truly touched by the turn-out and the number of people that wore purple to show their support for this cause.  I am blessed to know so many caring, kind people and fortunate enough to call them “my Strider family”.

To show my appreciation to the Striders and their support, I provided a purple tailgate complete with very purple cupcakes and grape Gatorade for our post-run social hour.  Of course, I also brought the typical less purple and sugary runner supplies, such as water and bananas.

Chrissy, Maribel, Jen H and I took an easy pace through the streets of Longleaf.  Although the temperature was cooler than normal, we quickly warmed up and the layers came off revealing our more purple attire underneath.

5.8 miles
Time 58:41
Ave Pace 10:07
Max Pace 8:29

After two loops through Longleaf, we joined the rest of the Strider gang for our purple run post party.  In the daylight, it dawned on me (Ha! Ha! bad pun) I realized just how many people wore purple. It was a truly an amazing sight!

A sincere THANK YOU to David and the Suncoast Striders for making this fun purple run such a success!

If you would like to join the Virtual Run/Walk to Cure Epilepsy, there’s still plenty of time.  Register for a 5K or a marathon and then complete the distance on your own time, but be sure to finish it before November 30.  There’s even a purple bib to print out to wear when you cross that virtual finish line.

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+