Monday, April 22, 2013

We juicin' everything up in here

Last week, I bought a juicer. And not just any juicer, but the Breville Compact Juicer. THE juicer.

I figured it's probably the only way to keep up with my growing addiction to green juice, spurred in large part by the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

Clearly, I couldn't wait to break in my new toy, and if you follow me on Instagram, you've likely already seen these gems:

My first Mean Green juice... a delicious treat post-5k.

Veggies ready to go for three servings of Mean Green and three Apple-Beet-Carrot-Ginger juices for my dad.

This was my first time ever working with beets. I couldn't get over how pretty they were! I mean, seriously, check out the color and patterns!

The prep and finished products of yesterday's juice-stravaganza. I am totally loving the mason jars, and they're fun to drink out of.

So I got onto a juice kick after watching some food documentaries, but I certainly am not planning on juice cleansing. I just like solid food, and I think that it's really up to each of us to develop our own food philosophy. Right now, mine is looking like: limited processed foods, dairy, and gluten, lots of fruits and veggies. Juice fits in, and it certainly can't be doing any harm to up my intake of nutrients. Who knows if detoxing is a real thing or not, but it certainly can't hurt to get more greens!

I figured I'd leave you with the Mean Green juice recipe I've been loving the last couple of days. Taken right from Joe the Juicer, who lost 80 pounds juice fasting!

This is my mean green face.

Mean Green Juice
  • 6 kale leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 celery stalks, leaves removed
  • 2 green apples, (optional, apple of choice)
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled
  • 1-inch knob ginger root
Add all the above ingredients and juice. I juice the green stuff first, then the apple, then finish with lemon and ginger. I also find that by juicing the kale with the cucumber and celery, you get more juice. Just my two cents!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The spirit of running

This morning, I ran the MAD 5K, which was sponsored by the Madison High School Track and Field Team. I registered on Thursday because I got this crazy idea in my head that I would run a race each weekend up until Miss Virginia (if you have one in mind, let me know!).

I am so glad I picked this 5K to kick off my racing "season." It really had it all: beautiful weather, a small but spirited group of runners, a fun course with some hills, and an awesome group of supporters (thank you, Madison Track and Field team!!).

It's been a rough week for runners. The Boston Marathon bombing hit close to home for runners everywhere for a couple reasons. First, the Boston Marathon is pretty much the pinnacle of distance running. If you're a marathon runner, somewhere, deep inside, you would do pretty much anything to earn that BQ (Boston Qualifier time).

The second reason is more important.

If you are a runner, whether you have run a 5k or ten marathons, you have experienced the emotional windfall that happens at a finish line. It's a mix of the joy of accomplishing what you set out to do with the pain in your feet and the eagerness to see those who have come out to support you. It is accomplishment and relief all rolled into one. To be quite honest, it's pretty much unexplainable (although I'm trying very hard to do it right now) if you have never experienced it.

And Boston could have been any race. It could have been any of us. The bombings broke the heart of every runner.

Today, I was reminded of how powerful and special the running community is. Running is amazing in that there are no rules, and, really, it's not about the clock. Runners are young and old, fat and thin, fast and slow. We are runners not because we BQ or don't BQ or because we've run a certain distance, and we're not really competing against each other. Each run - whether one mile or fifty - is about fighting to become the best version of you that you can be. It's about spending some QT (quality time) with yourself, letting go of the self-judgements and negative thoughts, and not allowing the voice in your head to tell you that you can't.

For 20 minutes or four hours, it's just you and the run.

Today was a great run. Runs like the one I had this morning are the reason I fell in love with running. I had a gigantic smile on my face from the first gun to the finish line, and I found myself being paced by an eight year old boy and his father.

They bombed the finish line of the pinnacle of distance running, and we are still running, with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. I think that means that it never was - and never is - about the finish line.

It's about being paced by an eight-year-old, appreciating fresh air and feeling your heart beat, watching as people achieve goals, and celebrating the best that life has to offer. Running is the essence of what it means to be alive -- something violence and hate can never take away. In this way, our hearts may be broken, but the spirit of running is indestructible.

For what it's worth, I was beat by the eight year old boy.

The first thing I had to do when I crossed the finish line was catch up and thank him for helping me to achieve a 26:03 finish -- the fastest 5K time I've ever run in my short running life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You are always wearing your letters (part II)

My blog originally started as a way for me to keep track of my travels around the country for Delta Gamma Fraternity. The year took me all over the United States, from Montana to Texas to California and, you guessed it, Maryland.

I've sat here and tried to pen my thoughts about the negative press DG has been getting today, but I think I'm going to do this instead:

In any and all cases, bad or sensational news spreads more quickly than good. So instead of giving more press-time to the negative, I think maybe it's more appropriate to let you see some of the good our 146 chapters are doing.

Our University of Oregon chapter raises over $30,000 each year for Service for Sight during Anchor Splash:

Then there's our chapter at UNR:

Beta Psi at the University of Alabama will also be fundraising this weekend:

 And each of our chapters also volunteers within their community:

And finally at the University of Richmond:

I've said it in this blog over and over again: Fraternity and sorority life is about way more than partying. Started as a way for women to work together to become educated, sorority life has been, is, and will continue to be an integral and rewarding part of college for young women across the country.

For me, Delta Gamma absolutely played a major part in my development as a leader, friend, scholar, volunteer, and human being in general. My experience was about growing in my studies, service, and relationships and about becoming the woman I am today.

I think as fraternity and sorority members, we have an obligation to protect and spread all of the good things Greek life can be. And really, it just comes down to this:

In everything you say and in everything you do, you are always wearing your letters.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I buy when I go grocery shopping

My biggest trick to keep eating healthy? Only stock your kitchen with food you want to be eating. This way, even when a craving hits, you'll have a variety of healthy snacks to pull from.

Meal planning is really popular in the blogging community, but I'm not really a meal planner. I like having a variety of healthy food on hand so that I can make whatever I'm craving at the time.

I shop mostly at Trader Joe's. I love it because it has most of the foods I need in sizes I need and at prices I like. I don't like to over-buy food, and Trader Joe's does a great job at having smaller sizes of stuff available at really reasonable prices. I still go to Safeway or Whole Foods for some things, but Trader Joe's is my go-to grocery store.

Here's what I bought this week:
 Fruits: I always buy bananas, and then pick different fruits that sound good that week. I already had some grapes and clementines, so I went with strawberries and a pineapple, plus some dates for homemade Larabars.

 Veggies: Spinach and kale (for salads and smoothies), cauliflower, green peppers, broccoli, green beans, and a cucumber.
Other stuff: Egg whites, chicken, peanut butter, vanilla, coconut oil, Larabars, chocolate chips. I still have beans, chia seeds, and almond milk on hand from last week, or I would have bought those too.

Some other words of advice:
  1. I usually buy frozen fruit for smoothies. It lasts FOR. EVER.
  2. Buy bananas in varying stages of ripeness. Freeze them in slices for smoothies or two ingredient "ice cream" once they start getting ripe.
  3. Try to stick to the perimeter of whichever grocery store you choose. This is a sure-fire way to stick to clean, less-processed food.
  4. If you don't want to eat it, don't buy it. If it's in your house, you're going to eat it.
  5. Trying new foods is awesome! But don't get overzealous and buy massive amounts of something you've never tried. Inevitably, you'll hate it, and it will end up in the trash.
  6. When you can, buy in bulk. Things like beans, rice, and oatmeal take FOREVER to go bad, so stock up because you'll save money.
  7. For things that are perishable (like milk or veggies), track how much you consume and then purchase the smallest size possible to meet your needs. For me, I was ALWAYS throwing away milk or yogurt. Paying less per ounce means nothing if you're constantly throwing food away.
  8. Freeze your meat in individual portions. It's easier to thaw what you need at the time.
  9. If you're cooking for one, don't be afraid to cook multiple portions at once, especially if things are going bad. Cook and then store in individual portions so they'll be ready for you to eat.
Happy grocery shopping, and share your tricks in the comments!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kids and new foods (plus a breakfast quinoa recipe)

This morning, I got elementary school girls to try quinoa. And it wasn't even that difficult.

Most of you probably know that I coach a Girls on the Run Team. A couple weeks ago, we were talking about nutrition and discussing what they eat for breakfast.

Kids eat a lot of Pop Tarts these days as it turns out. So, in an effort to expand their palates (and teach them that there are more options than Pop Tarts) I volunteered to cook and bring them quinoa... as long as they ate it.

They promised they would, so last night, I cooked up some breakfast quinoa in my kitchen. First, this happened:

Yep... Victim of putting too much liquid in the pot at once. Whoops.

But then... this happened, and I was able to bring a big bowl of breakfast quinoa for my girls to try. We talked about what quinoa was, and I explained to them how I prepared it (one of my girls even asked me for the ingredients!), and then, I invited them to dig in....

 On top of bringing the quinoa, I also brought a variety of healthy toppings -- chopped apple, pecans, crunchy natural peanut butter, Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon -- and invited them to top the base however they wanted. I think that's the key with kids. When you're teaching them about new foods, it's so important to let them play a part in deciding what they try. That way, they take ownership of what they're eating.. and they learn that healthy can be delicious!

Every single one of my girls tried the quinoa. One thought it was disgusting, but the rest were pretty excited about it, with a couple even going back for seconds.

I'm not saying we should never give kids Gushers or Pop Tarts. What I am saying is that I think we should teach kids about healthy foods and give them the opportunity to experiment and try them. Are they going to love everything they try? Absolutely not. I personally hate olives. By encouraging them to try, they're going to find healthy foods that they DO like, and I think that's the approach we need to take. Praise them when they try something new, and let them throw it away if they don't like it. Let them know that they have a choice. The worst thing that's going to happen is that they don't like something -- so what? Who cares? The best thing that can happen is that they find a new favorite food, and either way, you're encouraging them to experiment and rewarding them for having opinions and preferences. It's always going to be a win-win.

Here's my kid-approved breakfast quinoa. Just make sure you have a big enough pot!

Kid-approved Breakfast Quinoa (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free) (makes 10 servings):
2 cups quinoa
2 cups unsweetened vanilla soy milk
2 cups water
4 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
  1. Combine quinoa, soy milk, water, and vanilla in a large pot. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is light and fluffy.
  2. Once cooked, take off of heat and add cinnamon and honey.
  3. Top with chopped apples, pecans, peanut butter, more cinnamon, honey, or whatever healthy toppings you want! Encourage kids to go crazy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dairy-free, gluten-free, fun free?

Over the last few weeks, I've really been playing with my personal food philosophy. Have you ever done that? After watching several pretty interesting food documentaries (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and Food Matters), I've been focusing on reading how different foods impact my body.

Oh, and I've (mostly) cut out dairy, gluten, and both refined and artificial sugar. I say mostly because, well, I'm human, and if I really want a bowl of ice cream, I'm going to have it. Eating is about enjoyment and you only live once.

I've struggled with pretty bad breakouts for a while, and after learning that adult breakouts can sometimes be due to minor allergies to gluten and dairy or too much processed sugar, I decided it was worth it to me to try cutting these things out to see if my skin cleared up.

Sidenote: I think it's up to each individual to determine their own personal food philosophy. I like knowing what I'm eating (i.e. reading ingredient lists and choosing real food over processed foods) and I would really, really LOVE to have glowing, clear skin. If that means I have to mostly avoid dairy and gluten, I'm okay with that. You might not be, and that's fine too.

Anyways, it's been about a week and a half, and I've seen MAJOR progress on the skin front. Not only that, but limiting those two groups of foods has also increased my fruit and vegetable intake. I've gotten creative and learned to make black bean brownies (recipe coming!), found that I love Larabars, and even tried a few new foods.

I don't find myself craving dairy or gluten, and I feel lighter overall. Like I said, I've had a couple days where I've had a serving of ice cream or a few bites of cake. I think the whole "I can still have these foods whenever I want, but I'm choosing to limit them because I want clear skin" approach has really helped curb cravings.

What's your food philosophy?