Monthly Archives: June 2013

July Core Fitness Challenge

Happy early Fourth of July everyone! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday!

Last month I fell off the wagon a little bit with my Triceps challenge. The last part of the month was hectic with travel and after discovering my hotel gym didn’t have weights – I sort of gave up. It’s definitely something I’m going to have to try again in the future because my triceps are still very weak.

For the month of July I decided to focus on the core – because having a strong core will improve everything from my running to my yoga practice. I also included some graphics from Real Simple so the exercises are clearly displayed. Play along and let’s all use the month of July to strengthen our core!

July Core Challenge

ENERGYbits Review and Giveaway!

I was so thankful this week to be able to get back into my normal routine of working out, cooking for myself, and of course being in my own house! 🙂 I went to Body Pump on Tuesday night and I’m still feeling the soreness a few days later. I guess that’s what happens when you stop working out for a week! But I’m happy to be sore because it means that I worked hard, and that I’m making a change. The one unfortunate side-effect is that I have very little motivation to go running on these sore legs of mine. On Wednesday I did my at home yoga DVD instead. Come Thursday, I knew I had to bite the bullet and get a run in, especially since I just signed up for my first 10k in November.

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Luckily, I had a sample of ENERGYbits to try. ENERGYbits are from a new Boston-based sports nutrition company. They call the product “bits” because it isn’t a supplement – but little “bits” of real food. The bits (which to me look like little green aspirin tabs) are made from 100% organically grown spirulina algae. I love seeing a short ingredient list on a product! 🙂 I’d heard of spirulina before, mostly as an ingredient in smoothies or green juices, but I hadn’t tried it yet so I was happy to be given the opportunity! Spirulina algae (according to the company site) has:

· “the highest concentration of protein in the world and delivers a steady stream of energy, all naturally and all without sugar, caffeine, chemicals, or stomach distress,
· natural antioxidants and Omega 3s which reduce muscle inflammation,
· iron to prevent fatigue,
· chlorophyll to build the immune system,
· electrolytes to replenish mineral imbalances,
· and only one calorie per tab”

The company says the tabs (it’s recommended to take about 30 at a time) can be chewed, but that the taste can take a little getting used to, so they can also be swallowed whole. I went with the swallow-whole route. I took the tabs in groups of about 6 at a time with a swallow of water. They were pretty easy to get down. I did this right when I got home to give myself the recommended 10-15 minutes to start digesting them while I got dressed and ready to go running.

I really wanted to run outside but DC weather had other plans. I settled for running on the treadmill, but of course about an hour after my run the weather was absolutely perfect. Murphy’s Law I guess. The bits provided a steady stream of energy, and they were a convenient pre-run snack. I hate it when I have to eat a quick snack right before a run and I end up tasting peanut butter or banana for my whole run. The bits gave me energy, without leaving any taste in my mouth. I also tend to be starving the minute I end my workout, and this time I wasn’t thanks to the boost of protein pre-run. It was definitely a good thing since I finished my run around 5:00 and I didn’t have dinner with my friends planned until 7:00!

ENERGYbits come in a bag of 1,000 tabs for $115. Assuming the 30 tab serving size suggested by the company, it comes out to $3.45 per serving. I’d say that’s about on par with other high-quality sports nutrition products, but it certainly isn’t cheap. I also wish the bits came in smaller quantities, and therefore cheaper options. Shelling out $115 for a new product to try is a big commitment in my eyes. But I do find the product to be a worthwhile one, if it’s something you’re interested in.

Want to try ENERGYbits for yourself? The company has generously offered to provide a free sample to one Foxy Whole Foodie reader! Just visit the ENERGYbits website and leave a comment on this post to say one thing you find interesting or exciting about the company or product. I will select one comment using a random number generator to determine the winner! 🙂

To earn up to two extra entries in this giveaway, follow Foxy Whole Foodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this post stating that you did so. And/or, follow Foxy Whole Foodie on Facebook and leave another comment on this post stating that you did so.

This giveaway ends on Monday, July 1st, 2013 at 12:00 (midnight), EST. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013.

Also, please check out and follow ENERGYbits on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about their products!

Using Lentils As A Meat Substitute & Burrito Filling Recipe!

One of my favorite discoveries on my journey to healthier eating habits has to be lentils. They are now one of my go-to foods, when a year or two ago I definitely would not have been able to tell you what they were. Lentils are part of the legume family and come in a variety of colors (my personal favorite right now is red lentils). Lentils are a great vegetarian source of protein and are also an excellent source of fiber and iron – all important nutrients for proper health! 🙂

Although I love cooking lentils in dishes on their own (see my Indian-Spiced Vegetable and Lentil Stew), another great use for lentils is as a meat substitute. I’m not a vegetarian by any means, but I do try to take a “meat on the side” approach to eating in which vegetables are the focus. I haven’t entirely replaced meat with lentils in a recipe, but I do use lentils to supplement the meat in many of my favorite dishes. Here’s the general rule:

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Cook the lentils according to their package directions. For my particular brand, this involves boiling them for about 30 minutes. Drain and add to whatever meat you’re using. One cup of dry lentils makes approximately 2 to 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils. For example, when browning meat for tacos, or meat sauce I add the lentils at the point that the meat is browned – just before I add in other ingredients and spices. For dishes such as meatballs, burgers, or meatloaf – add the cooked lentils to the raw meat with your other ingredients before shaping into the final product. Usually I use lentils in a big batch of a recipe as half of the meat component. For example, the Bolognese recipe I use calls for two pounds of ground meat. I substitute one cup of cooked lentils for one pound of meat. This lightens up the final product, without affecting the flavor or texture of the finished dish. I promise you can sneak some lentils into your next lasagna without anyone noticing! 🙂 Some of the recipes that I’ve tried using lentils in so far are: burritos, tacos, Bolognese (meat) sauce, lasagna, and meatballs.

Last night, I decided to make one of my other favorite lentils-enhanced dishes – burritos! I picked up some ground chicken at the store and was once again shocked at how expensive organic meat is. I really should pay better attention and try to stock up when it’s on sale because this pound of ground chicken was $6.50. Phew! And a pound of ground meat just doesn’t go as far as it should, even in my household of one. But that pound of ground meat mixed with cooked lentils…now that’s a feast! I love that the lentils can really stretch the meat portion of your meal, while adding some great health benefits.

Check out how much the lentils bulk up this meal! Here’s a picture of just the ground meat:

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And then the meat with the lentils added:

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What a difference!

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Chicken, Lentil and Bean Burrito Filling
Makes enough filling for approximately 10 burritos.

    – 1 pound ground chicken
    – 1 cup dry lentils, cooked (approximately 2 ½ cups cooked)
    – 3 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning
    – 1 cup chopped onion
    – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    – 1 can pinto beans

Brown the meat with the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked lentils and seasoning to the browned meat and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pinto beans and stir to combine. Allow the beans to heat through (approximately 5 minutes).

Serve in tortillas with your favorite toppings – I went with cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt and some sliced avocado!

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As usual, this recipe made a ton of food so I froze half of the filling mixture in a freezer bag for a later date. This mixture freezes really well and makes having a healthy dinner option on hand a snap! 🙂

Yoga DVD

One of my goals for June was to make yoga a priority in my weekly workouts. One of my plans to achieve this was to buy a yoga program on DVD so that I could practice on days when there wasn’t a class offered at a convenient time, or when the class conflicted with other plans. I’ve found this particularly helpful because most of the yoga classes throughout the week are offered in the 6 pm to 7 pm timeframe, but I get off of work around 3:30 so I can go home and work out with a yoga DVD and be done and free for other plans by 5 or so.

After reading through some reviews on Amazon, I decided on a Yoga for Runners: Intermediate Program DVD by Christine Felstead. I’ve got a good basic knowledge of yoga, so I wanted to find a program that would be challenging – and I also know that you can always use modifications to decrease the difficulty of a particular asana. The Intermediate program seemed like the right pick for me!

I tried the DVD for the first time last week and I loved the convenience of being able to do yoga at home. Although, my cats are very anti-working out at home. Most cats like to head off and do their own thing – but no, I managed to adopt the only two cats that need to be near people and involved in whatever I’m doing at all times. In fact, during plank pose my cat Grace decided that I looked a lot like a surfboard or table or other object that she wanted to climb on and she jumped up onto my back and laid down. Plank with an extra 5 pounds, anyone? I stuck it out – but I’m lucky she doesn’t weigh any more than that!

Overall I found the DVD to be very challenging. Being a DVD for runners, it includes a lot of hip openers (which I absolutely love) and the disc included two of my all time favorite poses – pigeon and “ankle to knee” balance. It also introduced me to some new stretches that I really loved. Also, being a DVD for runners there were a lot of lunges. Lunges are the bane of my existence. I am not good at lunges in any way shape or form. But I guess that means that they are something I should work on, and as much as I hate it I know that they are great for strengthening and stretching my legs. On this particular DVD, the lunges portion is immediately followed by pigeon pose so at least I know my favorite pose awaits after I struggle my way through lunges! 🙂

I don’t have a lot to compare it to, as this is my first yoga DVD but I would definitely recommend this DVD to anyone looking for an at-home option. And for all you yogis out there, here’s a video I found very entertaining (please note there is some instances of inappropriate language in the video below).

Fit-spiration

Sorry for being MIA for a few days! I actually hate saying that, it makes it sound like I assume people notice that I dropped off the grid for a few days 🙂 I was on travel for work last week and then immediately turned around and flew to Florida to visit a friend and as much as I tried to keep up with blogging (not to mention working out, and eating right) I failed miserably. So I was definitely in need of some healthy motivation!

Luckily, a newsletter from Women’s Health Magazine saved the day! If you haven’t subscribed to their newsletter, you may want to check it out as it offers everything from healthy eating tips, fitness tips and tricks, motivational sayings, and lots of other informative articles. It’s one of my favorite newsletters. This particular article was full of motivation fitness quotes. And you know how I love motivational sayings! The quote below is the one that is really speaking to me right now, on a fitness and emotional level. But there are lots more in the article so you can find one that speaks to you too!

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Travel-Friendly Snacks

So on my aforementioned work trip, I was vaguely concerned about starving to death. This happens to me every time I travel. I’m a big snacker, and I obviously love to cook for myself, so when I’m away from my home kitchen and forced to eat on other people’s schedule I tend to starve. Ok, I’m being dramatic. It’s not legitimate starving. Like, I haven’t eaten in three hours when I’m used to eating every two kind of starving. I realize this is a first world problem.

Also, thanks to Murphy’s Law, my work flight ended up on the same week that I was traveling for personal reasons, so I get back late Thursday night and fly to Florida first thing Friday morning. I’m spending less than 12 hours back in DC before heading back to the exact same airport to leave again. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Snacks are going to be needed to power through.

To solve both of these problems, I decided to pack my bag with snacks like a squirrel packing up for the winter.

Therefore, let me share some travel-friendly snacks that I came up with! 🙂

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Protein/Granola-Type Bars
I didn’t want this category to be straight protein bars, as a good quality granola bar serves the same purpose. My personal favorite is Lara Bars thanks to their short-and-sweet ingredient list. Unfortunately, Lara Bars can also be very expensive. Luckily I discovered that Lara Bars are pretty reasonably priced at Target (of all places). The boxes are usually around $4 which is much better than the $2.50 a bar I’ve seen at some places (*cough*Harris Teeter*cough*). They are still a pretty pricey snack, but since they’re not an every day snack for me I accept the expense. It’s worth it to have something healthy in the cabinet in case I need a snack.

Nuts
Nuts are a great snack because they have a ton of health benefits and even though they are high in fat, it’s mostly the heart-healthy unsaturated kind. Also, that fat helps give you that “full” feeling! A handful of nuts is a great healthy snack, but watch the portion size if you eat any more than that. I was particularly excited about the bag pictured above (which I also found at Target) which is unsalted and has a wide variety of nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, etc). I also learned from the package that hazelnuts are also called ‘Filberts’ – what a dorky name for a nut! 🙂

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Nut Butter
Speaking of hazelnuts, I found these individual serving packages of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter! Delicious! They also had packets of almond butter at Target, but I stuck with the chocolate because it looked so delicious. It’s sort of like Nutella, although it does have a slightly gritty texture. I was happy to find individual packets, as apparently peanut butter counts as a gel when traveling through airport security. There’s no need to unnecessarily provoke TSA seeing as on my way back from my Orlando vacation I accidently left a half-drunk water bottle in my carry-on and I swear the guy almost threw me out of the airport. Just a friendly tip! I think it’d be a great idea to pack crackers, or some sliced up veggies to go with the nut butter – unless you’re shameless like me and sometimes eat this stuff straight from the packet. Try not to judge me.

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Sliced Fruits and Veggies
Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, as well as grapes or apples all make great travel-friendly (and TSA-friendly!) snacks. And compared to the fruit and veggie boxes at the airport, you can save a bundle by packing your own. Plastic baggies were definitely my friend for this trip! 🙂

What are your favorite snacks to take with you when you travel? Is anyone else as snack-obsessed as me?

Color Me Rad Race Recap

On Sunday I ran the Color Me Rad 5k in Alexandria. No, this isn’t déjà vu. I ran a color run, called Run or Dye, last weekend also. It just so happened the races ended up on back to back weekends so we rolled with it.

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There were several things I liked better about the Color Me Rad race versus the Run or Dye race. First, you signed up for specific wave times when you registered so there wasn’t the whole “wait in line for 45 minutes” business to deal with. Also, the dye was much brighter and made more of an impact. Please note that at first I thought this was a positive but a few rounds of scrubbing to get dye off of my skin later I wasn’t so sure.

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This race was held in Alexandria, not downtown DC, so it took notably less time to travel to the race. Heather picked me up just before 8 and we were at the race site shortly after, ready to party and wait for our 9:15 start wave.

I really liked the styling of the Color Me Rad race. It was very 90’s. Hence we bought a lot of swag.

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The race itself was a road race down Eisenhower Avenue. They had actually blocked off a section of road. I guess that sucks for the people trying to travel on Eisenhower at 9 on a Sunday morning, but it was nice for us because we were running along an actual road that people could sit along and spectate. This was my first real experience with spectators and what a rush it was! I experienced the same runners high that causes me to high-five strangers that I felt during Run or Dye.

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The very start (and end of the race – as it looped back down the same course) was a hill as we went over a bridge. I think it was a nice challenge at the beginning and end of the race as the rest of the course was very flat. Heather and I jogged a good portion of the race, with the occasional walk, and ending up around 38 minutes. Not bad considering we had to walk a few times to cough and clear our lungs of forcefully inhaled cornstarch dye. Also, my Map My Run app calculated the route to be 2.94 miles instead of 3.1 so either my app or the course was a little off. I need to invest in a Garmin since Map My Run insists on posting my route to Facebook against my will.

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My “R” rubbed off from sweat. Awkward!

Overall, I really enjoyed the run. And knowing that I could run faster than I did means that I’m super excited for my “real” 5k in July where it’s timed and I’m going to run my absolute best to see how well I can do. My hope is that I can run it in 37:20 which would be a flat 12:00 mile but I secretly know I can do better than that. Here’s hoping!

After the race was over we took some pictures and hung out and listened to music. The music choices at Run or Dye were better. I think the Color Me Rad people were in league with Zumba. But they had free Lara Bars so I was a happy girl.

Another genius idea the Color Me Rad people had was to have a trash collection at the end of the event. Personally, I hate seeing trash on the ground and I’m always picking it up anyway, so this was a fun time for me. The MC gave away some big black trash bags and depending on how much trash you picked up, you could exchange it for swag. Heather and I got very serious about this, as in so serious I didn’t think to take a picture of our bag that was so full it required two people to carry. But we got two free t-shirts in exchange so we were happy people!

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I also noticed around this time that there were big decorative First Aid flags with absolutely no first aid station in sight. Seriously, what if I needed aid?

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But overall I have to say that I really enjoyed this race. And it has helped introduce a person who never thought they would be athletic to the world of running.

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Important note that I forgot last time: Heather, who makes frequent appearances on this blog (such as the trip to Florida and the Run or Dye race) has a blog of her own. It’s called One Reader’s Wonderland and she writes some amazing book reviews. Because she reads a lot, like a lot a lot. And I bet she has some book recommendations for you! Please check out her blog.