Photo Share 12/9

Hi party people! Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I’m so excited to share that I finished my first half marathon this weekend! Derek and I ran in the OUC Orlando Half Marathon, and decided it definitely won’t be our last. I’ll go into a more detailed re-cap of the race in another post, but for now,as tradition calls for, I’ll share the last few days in photos with you all!

I spent Thursday evening with my parents and nephew Parker, drinking almond milk hot chocolate and watching Christmas specials on TV.  This is one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season, and I’m loving the many SNL Christmas Special re-runs that have been airing!

photo 1 (8)

We started the carb-loading off early in the week ( Monday is appropriate for a Saturday race, right?), so my dad was sweet enough to prepare us some tasty pasta with homemade tomato sauce and fresh basil on Thursday night.

photo 1 (9)

After work on Friday, Derek and I drove out to Orlando to check into the hotel we stayed at the night before our half-marathon. We made reservations at 310 Lakeside after verifying that they had some serious opportunities for carb consumption! We shared a zucchini flatbread and both had the Chicken Piccata Pasta and it was all delicious!

photo 2 (7)

carbs!

We had an early wake-up call Saturday morning, and made sure to snap a pic at the hotel before our race began!

photo 1 (7)

We ran the race in 1:59:22, and headed back home to Tampa to watch our two teams play in their championship games!

photo 5 (3)

I’m literally in shock  (but still proud) that Auburn ended up being the team who will face FSU in the National Championship game in January. I’ll be sad to cheer against Auburn, but am glad both of my teams are the top 2 in the country!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics from my firm’s holiday party which took place Saturday evening, but it was held at the beautiful Tampa Bay History Center, and catered by one of my favorite Tampa restaurants, the Columbia.

tampa-bay-history-center(photo cred)

And we passed Sunday morning in typical Sunday fashion, with church, a trip to the gym for a CX Worx class, and some relaxation, before having dinner with my family to celebrate my Nano’s birthday!

nano

I plan to get some easy runs in this week, and I’ve set a goal for myself to continue to drink as much water as I did last week as I was gearing up for my half-marathon.

Do you all have any health or fitness goals for this week or month?!

Happy Monday, keep smiling!

Five Things Friday: Round 3

Hey Hey Hey! I hope you are guys are all smiles over there, because today is FrIdAy! And not only is it just Friday, but it is the first Friday in the month of December! And what is happier and more joyful than a Friday during holiday season? Not too many things! I’m currently a ball of energy and excitement as I countdown the hours to my first half-marathon tomorrow – please cross your fingers and wish me luck! Until then, I’ll leave you with 5 things that are making me smile this lovely Friday!

1. Surprise gifts from neighbors! Our next door neighbors at Derek’s house are so sweet and friendly, and we’re lucky to have them! They brought us this sweet Christmas gift this week, which featured wine glasses from our alma maters, a bottle of wine, and some kitchen essentials! It made me smile from ear-to-ear and warmed me up on the inside!

photo 4 (3)

2. My mom’s gorgeous tablescape for a Christmas party. My mom has a group of friends (most of whom she’s known since elementary and highschool) that have been getting together almost every single month for the past 25+ years. They rotate hosting their “gatherings” and my mom hosted the Christmas gathering this week. I was SO impressed by the table she put together – isn’t it gorgeous!? photo 2

3. Holiday Sweets – I am having MASSIVE sweet teeth lately. I can’t choose which makes me happier, this giant cannoli cupcake my mom brought me from Moreno’s Bakery or the chocolate covered biscotti I made last week
photo 2 (1)

biscotti

4. Holiday Music! The Glee Christmas Albums keep me in the holiday spirit all day at work and every second I’m in the car. I can’t get enough of it, and since the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter than ever this year, I’m jamming in as much Christmas music as possible!

GLEE HOLIDAY2

5. The Wolf of Wall Street. As you may know, the movie adaptation of this bestseller comes out on Christmas Day this year. I’m trying my best to have the book read by then, and I’m really enjoying it so far! I haven’t made it to the end, but from what I’m reading, I definitely recommend it!
the wolf of wallstreet

HAPPY FRIDAY! Anyone have any fun plans this weekend?

Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls because I’m a Nut!

G’day fellow cheese lovers! Remember how I told you how excited I was to attend a “Friendsgiving”  the other weekend? Well, obviously there was no way I was showing up empty handed to the party, and when the hostess with the mostess asked me to bring an appetizer, I had NO idea what I wanted to bring!

A couple of google searches led me to the following Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls appetizer from Eating Well. This featured recipe on Eating Well is actually a recipe from Jamie and Bobby Deen, and it came together like this:

ppp

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened (generous 1/4 cup)
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons drained chopped pimientos
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans

Directions

Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Toast pecans at 350 in oven about 7 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring once during the baking period.

Place pecans in a medium bowl. Roll the cheese mixture into 1-inch balls and coat each ball evenly with pecans.

pppp

Serve the cheese balls at room temperature or chilled!

bbbbbbbbb

I’m glad to say that there were hardly any pimiento cheese balls left when the party was over! Thanks Jamie and Bobby ; )

P.S. – How cute are the Ritz snowflake crackers I served with the cheese? I am obsessed.

Happy Hump Day!

How to Fuel for a Half Marathon

As you guys may know from my recent posts, I’m completing my first half marathon this weekend. I tend to over-anticipate and work myself up over all races, even 5Ks, so you can imagine that I’m feeling anxious/excited for this big race. In addition to putting in the proper training, it’s just as crucial to fuel your body properly for longer races, and that’s what I’m focusing on doing this week. I found the following article really helpful, and thought you guys may too!

“How to Fuel for a Half-Marathon

Three great tips on carb-loading and fueling so you don’t hit the wall during your next 13.1.

Generic Blurry Race Shot

Dear Fuel School, I’m getting ready to run a half-marathon this weekend. If I need to carb-load, what should I consume before the start of the race, and how do I fuel to avoid hitting the wall mid-race?

Great questions! I too am gearing up for a half-marathon this weekend and the Runner’s World Half-Marathon Festival next month, so I’ve been busy planning my carb-load and pre-race breakfast. (When you’re a nutrition nerd, you tend to sleep, eat, and breathe race fueling.)
So first things first—the carb-load. You might be wondering if it’s as necessary for 13.1 as it is for 26.2. Honestly, I think it can’t hurt. A carb-load prior to a half-marathon needn’t last as long or be as intense, but it is still important and will have a positive impact on your race performance. Technically speaking, carb-loading really comes into play any time you are out on the road for more than 90 minutes. Carb-loading tends to lead to a bit of stiffness (because your muscles are fully stocked with glycogen) and weight gain (water retention), so for shorter events it’s really not recommended.
Since most of us take longer than 90 minutes to complete a half-marathon, my recommendation is that you carb-load in the days prior to the race. You can carb-load in as little as one day, but to prevent carb fatigue and the worry of “Am I taking in enough?” aim to start two to three days before the half-marathon. You don’t necessarily need to increase your calories—just make sure the majority of those calories come from carbs, especially at lunch and dinner the day before race day. Given time, your body can digest, absorb, and store the nutrients, and you’ll be able to rely on those fuel stores on the next day’s run. The day before race day, have your main meal at midday and a smaller meal for dinner so you have plenty of time to digest.
The pre-race meal is also very important, as you want to toe the starting line with a tank that’s primed but neither empty nor overflowing. For more ideas on what to consume pre-race, check out this past lesson on how to fuel for an early morning run (since most races are held in the early a.m. hours).
Now that we’ve covered carb-loading and what to eat before the race, it’s time to tackle your final question: “How do I avoid running on empty in those last few miles of the race?” As you may have noticed during your training, when you’re on the road for fewer than 75 minutes, you can usually rely on water, sports drinks, and your body’s own glycogen stores to carry you along. Any longer, and you begin to deplete those stores. Your muscles run out of fuel, and your body — not to mention your attitude — starts to drag. Consuming carbs mid-run can keep your blood sugar steady, so you don’t crash and burn.
Instead of recommending something new on race day, here are some common techniques for fueling which should help you blow by that late-race wall. Since every runner is different, you may want to try one or more of the following tips during training. Maybe all of them will work, and you’ll have plenty of options to thwart the feelings of weakness in those last few miles!
Tip #1: Make sure to take in adequate fuel the day before your long run. While you are at rest, your body will have adequate time and energy to absorb and store those nutrients you ate, and then you’ll be able to rely on this fuel for the following day. And don’t forget to eat a carb-rich, low-fiber, easy-to-digest, familiar breakfast the morning of the race!
Tip #2: Fuel at regular intervals and before you need to. Wait until you’re out of gas, and you won’t be able to recover from feeling hungry or weak. Your muscles will be forced to play catch-up, and you won’t be able to bounce back and finish the run feeling strong. If you’ve ever had a long run that started strong and then got slower and slower, it may be time to consider what you did during the first few miles of the long runs that you didn’t do during the last few miles. Many runners head out the door with a full tank but, feeling great, they neglect to re-fuel over the next few miles. If you don’t start fueling within that first hour, it’s likely that your empty-tank will catch up with you, and you’ll bonk. Not only will you hit the wall, but once your muscle glycogen stores are depleted, it can be very difficult to adequately recover during your run (and you may have to walk or crawl the last few miles). My advice to avoid this whole mess? Aim for 30-60 grams of carb per hour (and start using your chews, gels, or sports drinks early and often).
#3: Don’t be afraid of fuel. Maybe you’ve tried a product in the past and didn’t care for it or it didn’t sit well with you. If that’s the case, know that there are always new products coming out. Try a variety of products and brands. For ideas on the many different fuel options available, check out this post on energy gels and this post on alternatives to energy gels. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different products and see what works for you. Whatever concentrated form of fuel you are taking in, remember to dilute it with adequate water (or else it won’t be absorbed, and you will get nauseous). Lastly, find out what gel/product your race will be handing out. If you can tolerate or like the brand that the race is handing out, you’ll know that you won’t need to pack your own on race day. But if their chosen brand doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to plan ahead. In addition, you might try to find out at what miles the race will be handing out product and mimic that in your training to practice for race day.
Best of luck this weekend! I’ll be thinking of you and other readers as I tackle my own 13.1-mile challenge!”

Turkey Trottin’ and Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Hi friends! How are you all doing?! I spent my whole vacation on cloud 9 –  I spent 2 straight days with my family, enjoyed the latter half  of my break in Atlanta with Derek’s family.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving that began with the Turkey Trot 5K that I mentioned earlier in the week. After waking up in the 6 o’clock hour and enjoying a pre-race cup of coffee, my dad, Derek and I ventured out into the 37 degree Florida weather for our Turkey Trot in Fishhawk, a neighborhood near our home.

photo 1

We went back and forth on whether or not we should keep our jackets on while we ran. That’s how I know it’s really cold – when Derek and my dad run in long sleeves. In the end, we all decided to be wimps and run with the layers. The run never seemed to warm me up so I’m sure glad I kept my jacket on.

We ran with my dad for about 1.5 miles , and then all met up at the finish line. I didn’t pay much attention to my Garmin, and instead just enjoyed running with Derek and my dad beside me. We are all usually focused on trying to do well in our age group, so this was a nice change to run together.

photo 4

We ran mile 1 in 8:48, mile 2 in 8:07 and the last 1.1 mile in 7:54.

It was such a fun race and the turnout was great –  I’d guess about 2,000+ came out! I love seeing races grow from year to year!

After our run, we made our traditional Starbucks stop, and I realized it was my first Starbucks red cup of the holiday season. I’m pretty sure this is pitiful, since this means I haven’t had Starbucks in about a month. What was I thinking???!!!

photo 5

We rounded out the morning by decorating the Christmas tree, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, preparing my contribution for Thanksgiving dinner, and attempting to take a successful Christmas card photo.

cc4

My family always celebrates Thanksgiving at my Aunt Suzanne and Tio Frankie’s home, and since they have the Thanksgiving meal perfected, I was asked to bring just an appetizer. I knew I wanted it to be something in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but couldn’t think of a dish for the life of me. That’s where Martha Stewart and Real Simple came into play. I found this recipe on their list of easy Thanksgiving appetizers, and it was definitely a hit at the get together (as much of a hit as an appetizer can be – we all know what we were really there for!)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

1.5 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small

1 large red onion, diced

1 ½ tbsp. olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, diced

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Lime juice from 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 . Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, and roast diced sweet and onions tossed in olive oil for 20-25 minutes, or until sweet potato is lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

sppppp

Once roasted veggies have cooled, add in tomatoes, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette.

spp

I hope you all had as lovely as a Thanksgiving break as I did, and I hope your week is just as great!

Veggie Packed Chicken Soup Because I’m Freezing Cold

Hi friends! How goes life? I am just cruising along this week, working and counting down the minutes until the holiday season officially begins! I’m so ready to begin Thanksgiving day with a Turkey Trot 5K Race with my dad and Derek. We all decided to run together this Thanksgiving, instead of trying to set PRs. None of us have been training for speed lately (Derek and I have been preparing for our upcoming half marathon), so we thought it would be nice to run together this turkey trot!

Dad

I’m so excited that the weather in Tampa will be chilly this Thanksgiving. Who wants 80+ degree weather during the holidays? Not this girl! As you can see from my picture from last year’s turkey trot, I was sufficiently freezing (don’t let my dad’s outfit fool you – it was in the 40s and that’s cold for us down here!).

Speaking of chilly weather…. As the temperature outside starts to get a little cooler ( in the 60s here in Tampa, and that’s cold for us), I always start to crave soup more than any other time of the year. What warms your heart more than a large bowl of homemade soup? Nothing, that’s what.

Last weekend, I was really longing for some homemade soup, and we had tons of veggies and chicken on hand that I put to use to create this vegetable packed chicken soup! Here’s the recipe, I hope you all enjoy!

Veggie +  Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 28 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons orzo (or another tiny pasta)
  • 3  cups packed baby spinach

 veggie soup

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add chicken to pan, and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. In a large pot, add zucchini, onion, oregano, and salt and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, white wine, and orzo, and cook on high heat until the soup begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Add in spinach and chicken and cook for 2 more minutes.

This soup is the perfect meal for freezing and re-heating on chilly nights or as a special lunch treat at work. I enjoyed the soup 3x this past week and it didn’t grow old once!

veggie soup 4

Buon Appetito! And enjoy your Turkey Day-Week 🙂

A Hungry Girl’s Favorite Week + Photo Share 11/25

Hi strangers! I have missed you all so much the past few days! How has everyone been? I am SO excited that Thanksgiving is almost here – I can barely control myself! Does it get any better than an entire day filled with food, family, and a little bit of football? The special traditions every family has during the holidays is probably my favorite part of it all. My dad and I always run a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, and then go home and watch the Macy’s Day Parade with my mom. It’s one of my favorite mornings of the year, and I’m excited Derek will be spending it with us this year!

This weekend was a wonderful kick-off to the holidays, and I’m grateful to have spent so much time with family and friends the past few days. 

As usual, I’m going to share my weekend with you guys in my favorite fashion – through pictures, of course!

Friday evening after work, Derek and I kicked off the weekend with a short 3 mile run. Derek has been crazy busy working the past few weeks, and our runs have been a great time for us to catch up and have some time to do nothing but talk to each other. One of my favorite parts of running is the time I get to spend with the people I’m running with – whether it is Derek, my dad, or a friend, it’s always great to share that special time with someone!

After our run, when we were having the typical “I don’t care – you pick where we go to dinner” conversations, our indecisive struggle was put to an end when we got a call from Derek’s mom inviting us over for Mexican Soup! I know I’ve said it a million times before, but I love her cooking and could never turn it down. We quickly cleaned up and headed over to spend the evening over there.

aa

Dinner was DEEELISH as usual, and I spent the rest of the night cuddling on Sam…
aaa

And enjoying way too much Yogurtology. Is that even a thing? Too much Yogurtology? Probably not. aaaa

We also had fun watching Ben watch the Season 2 finale of Homeland (the best show in the history of television). If you’ve never watched Homeland, I cannot recommend that show enough. Please, do yourself a favor, get Showtime, and go watch it!! aaaaaa

After a 30 minute elliptical sesh (I really don’t love that thing), and a CXWorx class, I spent the day with my parents and Louie on Saturday! I helped them decorate the house for Christmas, and they returned the favor by helping me at Derek’s house! I’m feeling super thankful for my parents this week (and every week, for that matter)!
aaaaaaaa

bbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

We spent Saturday evening with Derek’s parents and neighborhood friends at a neighborhood shrimp boil! This was only my second shrimp boil (remember my first?) and it really made me wonder why we don’t do shrimp boils more often. We had such a fun night eating too much shrimp + cornbread muffins and drinking way too much wine.
RRR

Speaking of wine.. I was pretty worried that I shouldn’t have had those few glasses of wine the night before the longest run of my life so far. But, surprisingly, our 12 mile training run on Sunday was my most enjoyable long run yet. I’m amazed at what a real training plan can do for you. Each week my body feels more and more comfortable with longer distances – I never thought I would be someone to run 12 miles and enjoy it, but I’m really glad it’s developed that way! Our half marathon is in 12 days, and I’m so excited for the day to finally get here.
aaaaaaaaaaaa

Don’t worry, Louie only came with me the last 1/2 mile – which probably was the most distracting half mile of my life.

I was so excited on Sunday when I got an invite to come to a “Friendsgiving” at our friends’ Gabby and Maggie’s house. The party was a hit, and it was such a lovely way to get in the mood for Thanksgiving. We all love spending the holidays with family, but I’m so happy the “Friendsgiving” tradition has started, because I love that I get to celebrate being thankful for all my awesome friends!bb

The food. was. so. good. I’m going to need a couple of recovery days for my stomach to shrink back to normal size from all the delicious appetizers, turkey, stuffing, potatoes, mac n cheese, delicious salad and corn casserole we ate. Oh and then came dessert. It was really a hungry girl’s dream come true.food food2

I brought a new-to-me dish to the party – pimento cheese balls rolled in toasted pecans. I can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys! bbbbbbbbb

And one of my favorite parts of the party was the “what I’m thankful for” props to take pictures with. Please note: Will Ferrell, Natty Lite, Jameis Winston, Chick Fil A… Not pictured: DVR, Publix BOGO (THE GREATEST). These girls hit the nail on the head with what I’m grateful for!bbb

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! I hope you all have a blessed week with your families, eat plenty of food, and take some time to consider all the wonderful things we can all be thankful for this year and every year!freeendz