Archive | April, 2010

Things I Love

28 Apr

If you’re reading this blog, then you and I are probably pretty like-minded about our interests (ie: food, health, running).  Some days though, the regular ole’ things you love just seem 100x better and you’re reminded just HOW much you love them!  For me, today is one of those days.

Thing #1 I love=running in the morning!  Now I genuinely do LOVE running as a whole- the sound of my feet on the pavement, my breath and heart working harder and harder, my muscles aching feeling great as I stride through mile to mile.  But I love all of these sensations so much more when I am running first thing in the morning rather than in the afternoon or evening, and I just don’t know why!  I completely understand why people – myself included – find it kind of stressful to know that the very first thing you’ll be doing in the morning is rolling out of a peaceful slumber and within 30 min pounding the pavement like a mad man or woman, but for me, it is more stressful to have a run looming over my head all day.  I think I just get nervous that something will come up and I won’t be able to get in the type of run I want, or I’ll get burned out by the day’s activities and won’t want to go, PLUS I do carefully plan my meals around my runs to make sure I am properly nourished before and/or after a good workout, and much more thought has to go into my day’s meals if I run later.  I have successfully gotten into and love a routine of working out first thing in the am, and I think this is just the BEST discovery about myself I could have had!  Getting my run done first thing promises that I will feel energized and happier (thank you endorphins) throughout the day.  I love the feeling of my increased heart rate and flexibility, and even better, the appetite that comes along with a good morning run is just FUN to have!

Item #2 = The state of Pennsylvania!  This is a bit odd, I know 🙂  As a girl born and raised in the great state of New York, I never thought I would feel such loyalty and love for my neighboring state.  I know that part of it comes with being a Penn State grad (DUH), but even after graduating and moving to DC, it wasn’t NY that I missed, but Pennsylvania!  As I drove from my hometown to Philadelphia yesterday to visit my boyfriend for a couple days, I had to pass through a lot of country sides, 2 lane roads, and slower-than-should-be-allowed speed limits, but instead of being annoyed and/or rushing through them, I rolled down my window, turned off the radio, and simply enjoyed all of my surroundings.  One might say, I was actually ‘taking time to stop and smell the roses’ in a sense.  Whatever you want to call it, on my entire ride down to Philly, and since being here, I just realize how much I love everything about the state – from the urban areas of the cities (Hello Temple Law!) to the farms that take up the majority of the state, and of course, to the sprawling PSU campus in the middle…there is just something about PAthat makes me happy, and dare I say, makes me feel home?

Thing #3 I love today = enjoying coffee in coffee shops!  Since beginning my unemployment, it has been my goal to at least once a week enjoy a leisurely afternoon or morning in a coffee shop.  I want to take time to just indulging in a good coffee, cappuccino, latte, chai, whatever it may be, and play on my computer or read a good book.  As easy as this sounds, its been kind of hard to get in because I have been doing a lot of traveling to visit friends and on settling in back home.  Even though I am in Philadelphia over the next couple days visiting Patrick who is at work, I am currently sitting in a Saxby’s working on this blog and enjoying a delic coffee (with a free sample of a cinnamon roll).  Somehow this combination just embodies what true relaxation is for me, and after a windy and hilly run this morning (see below), there is nothing else I want to do 🙂

On to the run I mentioned…  Now it is the end of April and for some reason the Northeast cannot get itself out of March weather!  I decided to go out for a run at about 10 am, after Patrick went to work and my banana was semi-digested, and it was 45 degrees out with wind gusts up to 40 mph – and believe me they went up that high!  I have never run in Patrick’s neighborhood before, so I made a lax route on  to follow so I wouldn’t find myself going in circles and/or LOST in the unknown territory.  I ended up going 5 miles in about 43/44 minutes.  I could have gone longer because after working up a sweat in the chilled air, I felt more than ready to go!  But I had an impending lunch date with the boyfriend that I knew I would be ultra, rather than slightly, late for if I kept going.  So I stopped , did some stretching and core exercises, and was running (again!) out the door in 15 minutes, which could be another PR for me haha!  Now, if you know anything about the Manayunk area of Philadelphia, you also know that it is unbelievably hilly!  The streets are old and narrow, which gives it a great “feel,” but no matter which way I ran this morning, I was always going up one hill or down another.  This definitely kept my body and mind guessing!  I may have been cursing up the insane Green Lane incline, but all in all, it was such a fun and different work out!  Though I won’t be repeating it for a while.

When you travel to a new/unknown place, how do you plan out/go about your runs outside?


Eight Mile Monday

26 Apr

So in case anyone was wondering, Monday’s are NOT just as hard for the unemployed as the employed.  I used to wake up on Mondays and immediately feel my cortisol levels shoot through the roof – I swear! – thinking of what the week ahead held for me…which was a lot of long, mindless days in a very anxious workplace.  I am keeping myself plenty busy and I have a lot on my plate w/ many things that are self – induced, but I can actually breath easy on Mondays for the time being knowing I am so much more in control of my life now 🙂

After 2 days off from exercise and a mini college reunion on Saturday, my body needed a good run today for many reasons!  Now I am not an expert by any means in running terms, but as I was on the treadmill today I tried to remember best I could what I was doing so I could recount them here.  Here is my first shot at this (please excuse the lack of formality).

Today’s Run

  • About 1.5 miles @ warm up pace
  • 1 mile @ 7.0mph
  • 1 mile @ 7.5mph
  • 1 mile recovery
  • 5 minutes @ 7.0
  • 5 minutes @ 7.5
  • 1 minute alternating between 7.0 mph and 8.0 mph (3x)
  • A couple minutes of recovery
  • 1 minute alternates:
    • (7.0-8.0 mph)
    • (7.1-7.9 mph)
    • (7.2-7.8 mph)
    • (7.3-7.7 mph)
    • (7.4-7.6 mph)
  • Cool Down
  • Total: 8 miles in about 1 hr 11 min

I felt great afterwards!  I notice that for me the first 2-3 miles are the hardest, which is probably why I never really ran more than that distance in the past.  When I get up to 4+ miles though, I really feel like I hit my groove or something and I could keep going for so much longer than I imagined.  For now though, I know I can’t push myself too far though b/c I am still working on increasing my distance and I am intent on increasing it in a safe manner so I do not injure or burn myself out.

I rolled out of bed and did this workout first thing in the am… an even better way to start your Monday! So when I returned home, I was pretty ready for a good breakfast.  I knew I wanted to get a run in first thing this am, so I prepped a bfast cookie the night before for immediate devouring!  I added two new things to the breakfast cookie this morning #1 Almond Butter w/ Honey-random TJMaxx purchase (God I love that store!) #2  1/2 scoop of unflavored Whey Protein Powder (I’m not the biggest fan of enhancement supplements like protein powders, but proper nutrition comes first and I knew I would need some extra protein/calories in this morning’s mix after a long run).

Naturally pictured half devoured…

Whey Protein not pictured – I thought that would be ok!

As usual, I followed up breakfast w/ a wonderful cup o’ joe and some Dr. Oz.  My stomach was growling earlier than normal so “lunch” was had in pieces today.  Round #1 Dannon Blueberry Yogurt w dried tart cherries thrown in the mix (have I mentioned these are great for joints!) Round #2 WW Pita stuffed with Turkey and “hummus salad” which consisted of shredded carrots, cabbage, red onion, red bell peppers all mixed up with a couple heaping spoonfuls of original flavored hummus – this is a great fill-in for a mayo based salad.  And Round #3 Homemade fruit salad – strawberries, ultra juicy oranges, and grapes – mixed with some Kashi Go Lean.  I think I covered just about every food group here – Go me!  And everything was ultra satisfying.

This is a semi-ok pic of my pita:

I have some healthified chicken quesadillas on the menu for dinner served with a side of The Blindside.  I still haven’t seen the Oscar winner and am dying to!  Nothing better than a movie for a rainy, rainy evening!

Also, as promised here is my recipe for the Chicken, Peanut, & Slaw Wrap I made on Friday.  I would love to hear if anyone makes it and/or makes some of their own modifications to it!

What is your hardest “hump” to get over/through when it comes to long runs?  How do you manage?

Bulk is the way to go

24 Apr

Happy Friday!!  I’m sure everyone else out there is looking forward to the weekend just as much as I am.  To start my day yesterday, I had stove top oats sans PB!  Do you believe it?  I don’t know what it was but my stomach didn’t want something so heavy.  I opted in banana and strawberries instead and mixed half water and half sweetened vanilla almond milk to give it a creamy fruity taste instead.  It was a good change up for today, but I know PB will be back in circulation soon enough!

Yesterday must have been my day o’ experimental recipes because for lunch I tried up a new Chicken, Peanut, & Slaw wrap.  It was pretty easy to throw together and was a really great fun lunch option.  Though I rarely get bored with the variety of my turkey or tofu salads and wraps for lunch, this one has an asian taste to it which was a little bit more exciting than the norm.  I will definitely make this again for a healthy & PB infused meal though I may make some small changes next time around- I’m not sure exactly how, I’m sure it will just depend on my taste-buds at the time! Pictured below, clearly with srirachi sauce on the side!  I’ll put the recipe up later.

Right after lunch, I received a wonderful little surprise in the mail!  Ok, it wasn’t exactly a surprise since I did order it, but I wasn’t expecting it so fast.  Via Hungry Girl I received a discount code for buying a variety of chocolate VitaTops online.  I have been meaning to try these for months, but my grocery store is always sold out of the chocolate flavors and I wasn’t sooo into buying any of the Bran flavors.  Luckily, I recently bought the last 4 pack of the chocolate flavor at my grocery store, and was instantly hooked!  I found that these little treats were the most perfect guilt-free after dinner/pre bedtime snacks.  When I ran out (which was fast!) I found myself searching the fridge and pantry for something and ending up so disappointed because all I really wanted was a VitaTop!  I decided that buying in bulk was def the smarter, easier, and more economical way to go with the Hungry Girl discount. The package was 4 different chocolate flavors (5 each) and 2 “free” Chocolate VitaHearts for $29.99 w free shipping.  Now I must say the free shipping sold me, so I went ahead and ordered.  Hello deliciousness…

VitaHearts – So cute!

Another successful bulk story…my quinoa!  This grain is going a long way.  In the mix this time around was quinoa, balsamic marinated tofu, LOTS of goat cheese (mmmm), spinach, and a new cherry berry dried fruit blend – it consisted of regular raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries, and craisins.  What a perfect blend of tastes.  This is definitely a combo I’ll return to!

I must run for now!  Dinner with my mom is on the horizon tonight.  We’re trying a rustic restaurant in Pennsylvania tonight which I’ve never been to!  Very excited 🙂

What is your favorite item to make/buy in bulk?!

Hump Day aka Snack Day

22 Apr

I’m not sure if my “day after appetite” is a true physical or just a mental reaction after  a long run.  Like I said, 8.25 miles is a new PR for moi, and I didn’t take in that many more calories than normal during the day.  I have slash am getting better at really listening to my body about when I’m hungry and what it wants.  In the past, I have definitely had issues with eating too much and not eating enough, neither of which is good for anyone, physically and mentally.  So I listened to my body and ate when I was hungry and stopped when I wasn’t, but the calories just did not make it far enough w my revved up metabolism!  I woke up at about 5 am absolutely ravenous.  I laid in bed for a while hoping it would pass and I could just fall asleep, but when an active girl is hungry, you gotta eat!  I sleepwalked my way to the cabinet and pulled out a Kashi granola bar.  These new versions of their granolas are soo delic!  Though the pumpkin isn’t what I want in the springtime, it will be a staple in the fall months.  Next time, I’ll stick to the dark choco coconut ones – seriously, like eating a 120 cal dessert!  Here are the remnants of my mid sleep snacking…

For breakfast I had a solid breakfast cookie (hungry Wednesday Lauren was so happy with night before Lauren) and a coffee, but that just did not hold me over either!  Before noon, I was hungry again, and I just could not tell how hungry…like was I fully-meal hungry, small snack hungry? So I tried an apple…

and trust me that did not work!  So then I tried ww toast w/ PB, which worked for about an hour.  Finally, I realized I just needed lunch!  Today lunch was a ww wrap w/ balsamic marinated tofu (which I made), lots of spreadable goat cheese, dried cherries (great for runner’s joints!), spinach, cabbage, red onions, and some sliced carrots.  I topped it off w more balsamic and some spicy mustard on the side for dipping.

Quite delic!  I have never made this before, but one of the many reasons I love using wraps is the endless amount of weird stuff you can throw in them for a smorgasbord of a meal, all neatly wrapped up for easy eating 🙂

After digesting, I headed to the gym for an easy 4 mile run since my muscles weren’t feeling too ready for another long one.  And actually, I could have gone longer as far as my endurance was concerned, but apparently I did not wait long enough for a full digestion and my stomach was killing me throughout the entire run.  I said that I was allowed to stop at 4 miles and I did immediately!  Next time, I’ll know that after eating that much food before mid-afternoon, digestion will take a little longer than normal.  Tums soon followed my afternoon run.

For dinner, I made Quinoa for the first time.  I have had it before, but I never made it myself, and let’s just say that a little goes a long way when boiling those little suckers.  I have leftovers for a few meals.  In the mix tonight was quinoa, with asparagus, onions, garlic, and tomatoes that were sautéed w some EVOO.  I mixed that all together, threw in more balsamic dressing, and topped w feta!  Cooking the quinoa was the hardest part, and clearly it isn’t hard to “stir occasionally,” the patience is the hard part.  But now that I have this amazing grain base to work with, I’m excited about throwing together fun and easy dinners the rest of the week 🙂

Do you ever find yourself ravenous the next day after longer than normal runs?  How do you satisfy your bottomless appetite?

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

22 Apr

Sign up to help promote healthy eating!!  America needs it 🙂

Play With Your Food

21 Apr

So I have officially been living at home for a couple days now, and though there are some obvious pros and cons, I must say the pros are winning.  For instance…

Pro: No RENT!

Con: Living in Port Jervis, NY (if you only knew)

I know a lot of people say their hometown is boring or there’s nothing to do or no one lives there anymore, but I am slightly convinced that my hometown could, hands down, beat anyone’s hometown at that game.  Coming from a lifestyle where I was working 50+hrs a week in Washington, DC to living in a town w a population of about 8,000, the best place, and arguably only place, to shop being TJMaxx, while not even having a job is a definite culture/lifestyle change!  Its funny though, how past Lauren would have never thought future Lauren would find herself in this position.  Yet here I am living, and dare I say, ENJOYING it!

While I love city life and the fun and excitement about urban living, I have genuinely missed the simplicity of the small town life I grew up with.  Towards the end of living in DC, I was feeling very overwhelmed with the day to day routines of life in a city.  From the public transportation commuting to the crowded streets to the expensive living/eating/drinking – you get the point- it was all just getting to me.  So coming back to the “country,” a simpler lifestyle, and cheaper cost of living is something I know my mind and body were craving!

Already, I can tell how much happier and less stressed I am becoming in my new (slash really old) environment.  Another major pro about moving back in with mom…

SHE PAYS FOR GROCERIES!!  So believe you me, I stocked up on all the expensive health food items I had to ration when living on my own.  And now I don’t feel guilty about picking up the not-so-healthy, but fun and still necessary, food items since I know its not my money being rationed for it!  Lots of great veggies, fruits, legumes, proteins, and grains, and even better snacks!!

So with all this new food, I couldn’t wait to get to cooking and EATING it all 🙂

Breakfast yesterday consisted of 2 over-easy eggs on top of a 100 cal sandwich thin, and the obvious topping of srirachi sauce.  I just couldn’t help myself with the picture below…apparently living in the house I grew up in has reverted me to my 7 year old self, and I am NOT complaining!

I enjoyed it with a fresh brewed cup of coffee–> the only evidence I am only the age of 20.

Later in the day, I headed to the one and only gym in my town.

Pro: Cheap gym membership

Con: The gym is outdated, needs a SERIOUS dusting, and has zero of the amenities we’re all used to in our city gyms

I set out for a good treadmill run.  My IT Band has started to hurt a little, and I saw a physical therapist about it who gave me great exercises for it, so I figured a longer run on the treadmill would be better right now than outside.  All in all I set a new distance PR for myself!! 8.25 miles!  There were days when  I couldn’t even get to 2 miles, so getting to 8.25 without too much exhaustion is such a personal triumph for me.  I know for many runners this distance isn’t too impressive, but no matter the PR, it always feels good when you set a new one 🙂

With all that running, I couldn’t wait to get home and eat some more of my new (and free) groceries.  Since I wanted something fast, I threw together a black bean pita sammy.  One Morningstar spicy black bean burger (TDF), lots of avocado (good fat), red onion, salsa, spinach, mushrooms, full-fat cheddar cheese, all stuffed in a ww pita….HIT THE SPOT!  Clearly, I added plenty of srirachi sauce in the pita and on the side for dipping.  While I waited for this to heat up, ya know the WHOLE 5 minutes, I snacked on 1/2 a delic Fuji apple I had leftover.  The pic doesn’t give my lunch justice, but I was in a rush to eat it.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.  My muscles and stomach were feeling great after this one!

Does setting a PR ever get old?  What’s your fav one?!


21 Apr

So I knew blogging would be a time consuming project, but the upfront time you really have to spend on it has surprised me!  I am a perfectionist so I am playing with all kinds of themes, fonts, pictures, tags, categories, pages, blogrolls, etc.  I really want to write and its too bad the other necessary things that come w blogging are taking up a lot of my time right now!  But once they are all done and i have my blog looking and running the way I want, I will be so pleased with myself and I can just worry about the actual blogging portion of it!

So for a quick recap, I spent two days at Penn State last wk to sit on a student/alumni q&a panel for the College of Liberal Arts.  I absolutely LOVED it!  The parents and students asked terrific questions and I was able to answer so many of them.  Afterwards, I had parents, students, and faculty commend me on how well I did and how all my answers were wonderful.  It was such a good feeling!  I truly love everything about Penn State and my experiences there, so I am more than happy to offer any help/advice to the faculty, students, and prospective families!

Mom and I got in the night before and went to my FAV downtown restaurant The Deli.  They had a great new beer menu with all different kinds of beers from different, smaller breweries around the country.  Mom had 2 Sierra Nevadas (nothing too exciting) and I had a Weyerhopper from Easton, PA?? It was a good IPA beer, which are my favs when I’m just having one (or 2 in this case).  We called it an early night though bc I did have to get up at 7:30!  This was no vacay.

Since we were in a hotel, breakfast was one Fage 0% Yogurt, banana, and Splenda!  On my way to the auditorium though, I stopped at Dunkin Donuts aka HEAVEN for a medium lite latte bc I knew I would need something to hold me over until lunchtime!


The day was gorgeous and I was so busy talking with the parents and prospective students that it just FLEW, and before I knew it, it was time to head home to NY!

Since being home, I have been so productive.  I unpacked all my stuff, brought EIGHT bags of clothes/random stuff to the salvation army that was just sitting around my house – Mom and I did some serious spring cleaning!, I joined the gym here and have not missed a beat with my normal workout schedule (which I was afraid of) so I’m patting myself on the back for that one, and I have done a couple of the recipes that have been on my “to make” list for weeks now!

#1 Breakfast Cookie

Please DO NOT underestimate how wonderful this simple recipe is!  I have eaten it a couple times already, have made it for my mom, and she has since given the recipe to other people- all since Monday!  This recipe is from the wonderful Fitnessista blog and there are many versions you could make of this.  Mine have consisted of 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/2 banana, a liberal tbsp of PB, a couple splashes of sweetened vanilla almond milk, one Truvia, and cinnamon.  All you do, is mash all the the ingredients, except cinnamon, together in a tupperware container or appetizer plate really well.  The milk soaks into the uncooked oats making it really easy to mash together.  I then flatten it with a spoon and sprinkle a ton of cinn on the top as a fun top coating.  Since I put mine in a tupperware container, I then just stick the lid on it, and let it set overnight.

In the morning, just get a spoon out and make sure your taste buds are ready!  This is absolutely TDF (to die for)!!!!  Your life will be changed…

# 2 Grilled Banana French Toast

I took some pics with my blackberry instead of my camera and they are too atrocious to post, so I snagged the pic below from the blog Healthy Tipping Point.  I got this recipe from my fav blog Runner’s Kitchen, but she originally got it from Healthy Tipping Point….don’t you just love word of mouth!  I made some personal adjustments to it, but that’s what recipe swaps are all about!

I enjoyed the banana recipe after a solid 5 1/2 mile treadmill run so my body was craving all of this!


  • 2 slices of Food for Life Genesis 1:29 bread whole wheat bread (great carb)
  • 1 organic Eggland’s Best egg, Shoprite brand, beaten (protein)
  • splash of milk and vanilla extract
  • 1 banana, sliced lengthwise and then into thirds (fruit/carb)
  • Splenda
  • cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Siggis Icelandic Yogurt (protein)
  • 1/8 cup reduced sugar maple syrup


  • Combine egg, milk, and vanilla in shallow bowl and soak the bread
  • Coat frying pan in non-stick spray and heat over medium-high
  • Add bread and banana to pan, sprinkle tops of bread with cinnamon
  • After about 2 minutes, turn the bananas over
  • Flip over the french toast and sprinkle cinnamon on the side now facing up
  • When french toast is cooked to your liking, remove from heat, and place bananas between the 2 slices of french toast
  • Let them sit on the warm pan for about a minute on each side to solidify the sandwich
  • For dipping if interesting:
  • In a separate little bowl, combine the yogurt, syrup, Splenda, and more cinnamon

Cut in halves, quarters, or devour whole.  I enjoyed mine w a wonderfully strong Zarbar coffee!


Enjoy the recipes and please send more my way!  I’d love to hear feedback.  Even though I feel boring sometimes, you can clearly see my affection for banana, carbs, and peanut butter!