Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

I always love reading the race recaps on the blogs I follow and I think it is a wonderful idea for writing down how you felt during the race and after then use it to remember that race. Whew… that was a long sentence and probably a run-on but oh well. Anyways. My race day started nice and early at about 4:50 AM. Alex and I decided that we would drive to the race instead of take public transport because it would have taken over an hour and a half to get there by bus/train. Driving=30 minutes=more sleep. I woke up about 10 minutes before we left as I had packed the night before. I drank some coffee while I made my typical pre-run breakfast of 2 whole wheat waffles with cream cheese and chia seeds. My plan was to eat the on the way. Once I was ready, Alex got woken up and we climbed into the car. We picked up my sister on our way since she lives so close. The whole way to the race my stomach was a mess. I was so worried about not being able to finish or getting picked up by the slagging wagon. I had not prepared very well for this race which didn’t help matters. I picked at my breakfast as I drove and once we got there before giving up on it half way through. Once we reached the park where the race started, Alex switched places with me to go park while Amanda and I headed to the port a potties.

After using the bathroom we walked around to warm up my legs a little bit before finding my parents and little brother. . We met up with my Aunt Cathy (who did the half) and Uncle Mike (he did the 5k). After the national anthem my Aunt and I headed to our pacing groups. The weather was a little warmer than I would have liked at the start and the air in the park was thick and heavy

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It took a while before we were moving and the 5K start line was before the Half-Marathon one so everyone started running about a quarter mile early. Once we were off I was feeling good. I knew I would see my family around mile 4 so I just focused on the runners ahead of me to help keep my pace.

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My legs felt really good right off the bat which helped ease some of my nerves. The water/aid stations were well spaced and it seemed that every time I felt thirsty or thought I could use a shot of Gatorade I would see a sign for aid station ahead. My only real complaint with this race is that the drinks are one sided which caused a huge bottle neck at each and every aid station. I tried my best to keep moving but when I wanted to Gatorade I knew I would be walking really slowly before I could grab them. I took a gatorade only at the first three stops then started taking one each of water and Gatorade around mile 6. By mile 10 I was only taking water because the sugar from the gatorade was making my stomach hurt but I am getting a head of myself.

As soon as we turned onto Lake Shore Drive from the park there was a collective sigh. The air cleared, the wind picked up slightly, and we all cooled off significantly. The race from miles 2.5-13 were all along LSD which runs next to the Lake. That lake effect has never felt better. At this point in the race there was great cloud coverage too which helped regulate the temperature. I found my family standing on the median right about 4 miles and gave them a cheesy grin and thumbs up before continuing on. I knew I wouldn’t see them again until the end of my race. Luckily there was awesome crowd support throughout the entire race. Many funny signs to pass the time, people on overpasses yelling down to cheer us all on, and the kids working the aid stations were wonderful! They cheered everyone on as they passed out water and Gatorade trying to say the names of people if they could read the bibs.

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I stayed feeling good until about mile 8-9 when I realized I needed to use the bathroom. I think I had over-hydrated with all of that double drinks at the aid stations! There were lines at all the aid stations so I kept on going until it became too distracting. I found a port a potty spot with no line and was able to get in and out in about 30 seconds which I thought was pretty awesome. I was able to pick my pace up for a little bit until mile 11 hit. Mile 11 was rough to say the least. At this point I could feel my legs getting tired and I struggled to hold my goal pace. I let myself take a longer walking break at the next water station before doing a walk/run combo. I would walk for 1 minute then run the remainder of whatever song was on my Ipod. I found a last wind for the final 3/4 of a mile and was even able to sprint to the finish for the last 0.1 mile.

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The feeling of crossing that finish line was awesome and I felt even better when I realized that I made my goal time! I really enjoyed this race and want to do it again next year. I’m hoping to talk some friends into running it with me!

What was your first half marathon? If you asked me back 5-6 years ago if I would ever run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed in your face and walked away. I cannot see myself running a full marathon but I may just be in love with half marathons now!

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Life Update and Some Soup

Well, last time I posted on my little blog was entirely too long ago. I have plenty of excuses but none are a true reason as to why I have left my space here for over 4 months! Let’s start with an update on my little life. Last we left off, Alex and I had just gotten engaged. We have now set our date and booked our ceremony and reception venues! The planning process is slow due to my moving to full time at work.

Starting in mid-July, I took over the pediatric position at my hospital. I am now the RD for our PICU, peds floor and step-down unit. I am absolutely loving it and cannot believe my first full time job is my dream job! It has been a learning experience to say the least.

Earlier this month I ran my very first half-marathon. It was a wonderful race. I ran the Chicago Half-Marathon. I felt great most of the race and finished right at my goal time which was something of a miracle due to how poorly I trained. I am really going to try writing a race review but I am putting it out there if you love running and half-marathons, run the Chicago Half-Marathon. It is well run, a flat course and has awesome crowd support. Can we talk about what a goober I look like in the below picture? Almost every picture my family has of me running the race looks like this.

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Alex and I celebrated our 6 year dating anniversary this month and I cannot believe that in just over a year he is going to be my husband. I worked on our actual anniversary and he greeted me at the door when I got home my favorite flowers. Wonderful surprise! Speaking of celebrations, we celebrated the two marriages of some of our undergrad friends, family friends and my oldest cousin Matt. It has been a wedding filled summer.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in my wonderful new apartment kitchen but many of the recipes I’ve been making are from other blogs or ones I found on pinterest. I feel like my own personal creativity in the kitchen has diminished some due to “being busy” with all of the changes in my life. It seems that when one thing happens, everything else changes. All in good ways though. It appears that I have now settled into my new routine of living with Alex, being a full time dietitian, managing our own apartment, and planning a wedding. Hopefully this means I can spend more time here on the blog.

To make up for my absence I have a wonderful fall soup for you! Since it is now officially fall and football season, nothing sounds better than soup. I originally found a vegetarian soup on pinterest then took it an ran to make my own version. I added chicken, some other spices, and more beans. This is a protein packed soup that is perfect for a crisp cool fall night of watching football. I made Sweet Tooth Sweet Life’s Cheesy Italian Quick Bread to go along side our soup to round it out.

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Chicken and Bean Soup  (serves 6+, We will probably get 8 bowls out of it which is reflected in the nutrition facts below)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 can white beans (I used cannellini), drained and rinsed

1 can tomato sauce

6 cups vegetable broth (or use chicken)

1/2 cup brown rice

2 cloves garlic

1 yellow onion, diced

6-8 cups fresh spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft

2. Add in all of the ingredients except for the spinach and let cook until rice is cooked. You can let it cook longer if you would like to let the flavors blend together. I ended up letting mine cook for about 2-3 hours but it could be as little as 50 minutes if using uncooked rice. Use 1 cup cooked brown rice to cut the cooking time, all you would need to do is let it all warm up together before eating.

3. Once rice is cooked and you are ready to eat, stir in the spinach and ladle into bowls. Top with some Parmesan if you feel so inclined and dig in!

Nutrition Facts: 1/8 recipe (~1.25 cups soup): 290 calories, 5 grams fat, 23 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber

Hope all is well with you, my internet friends. What have you been up to all summer?

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The Hills Are Alive.. in Salzburg

On to the next installment of my Germany trip. I have a feeling these are going to take me awhile to write up. My mind just wants to wedding plan but I really want to write down our trip before the memory fades. We started our first full day in Salzburg, Austria. We had planned on doing Bob’s Sound of Music Tour but the Salzburg marathon was on this Sunday and it got cancelled.

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Instead we were looking to do a bike tour and on our way stumbled upon Panorama Tours which had a sound of music tour. We decided being able to see way more of the sights would be better than the bike tour which stayed mostly within Salzburg. We were on a coach bus that took us through the country side to some of the main sites of the movie.

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We saw the mountain that was always in the background of the show

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The Abbey

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Some amazing views of cities, countrysides, and mountains

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The church in which the wedding took place along with the organ you hear playing the wedding march in the movie.

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The gazebo

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And, the lake/back of the house from the movie.

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It was quite the experience. There wasn’t as much singing as I had anticipated as all the reviews talked about everyone singing the songs throughout the whole half-day trip. We must have had a quiet group but there was some singing of do-re-mi both the original and a beer drinking version.

After the sound of music tour, we headed up to Hohenburg  Salzburg Fortress. It was quite the hike up a hill/mountain side? It took us about 20 minutes of straight uphill hiking to get to the Fortress.

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We spent about 45 minutes wandering the grounds before heading back down to the Stiegl beer garden about halfway down to the main city. We had a beer and soft pretzel. The beer was delicious.. the pretzel on the other hand? Totally stale. We still ate it because we were hungry but definitely not worth buying a second time.

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When we finished our beers, we headed back into the city to wander, look at sites/buildings, and try to find somewhere for dinner. We used the Rick Steve’s Germany Book to plan most of our trip and I had written down recommendations for places to eat. unfortunately, it was Sunday and most restaurants were closed. We headed back up the hill to the beer garden for dinner. The dishes we had seen coming out of the kitchen looked pretty tasty. We ordered more beer (a theme of the week, more beer!) and two dishes. The entrees were way better than the pretzel we had eaten. It was hard to believe they came from the same place!

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We headed back to our hotel for our last night in the intercontinental before heading out to Hallstatt the next morning.

Whew long one! Still left in the trip are Hallstatt, Reutte/Fussen, Romantic Road, Rothenburg and Munich! Quite the travelling we did.

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My Engagement Story

Hello! Well, as many of you know, I just got back from Germany on Monday. It’s taken me a few days to get over my jet lag. That first night’s sleep was horrible trying to adjust and I’ve slowly been making it back to normal sleep patterns. Alex and I had the best time on our trip. What started out as a vacation turned into an engagement trip.

Let me start out by saying that I was not expecting Alex to propose on this trip. I had been telling everybody that there was no way he would propose. Guess I was wrong! Something which everyone has been telling me since I got back.

We had a horrible airport experience on our way to Germany. Alex’s flight to Chicago from Kansas City was delayed over 4 hours. By the time he landed in Chicago, our flight to Munich took off in 5 mins. Thanks to lots of crying (me) and running (him) we both made the flight and were off.

From Munich we headed to Berchtesgaden, Germany to the Intercontinental Resort which Alex booked with rewards points for our first two night.

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We settled in, ate the little welcome treat, then headed out for a hike. The concierge gave us some ideas where to go while we were out. It looked like storms could come so we stuck close to the hotel in case. The resort is at the top of a mountain and very steep road. We walked all over when Alex mentioned he wanted to go back to a hill underneath the resort that had a great view of the Alps with the storm moving in so we headed back.

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We sat on the slope talking. Made friends with a snail that was huge. While were talking, Alex kept messing with the zipper on his jacket. We got on the subject of the first time he told me he loved me, in which I had told him to shut up as we had only known each other for two months and he couldn’t possibly know that yet. What he said to me has always stuck in my heart. He told me “what I meal when I say I love you is that there is nothing about you that I don’t like.” At this point, he got down on one knee and said that things hadn’t changed from that moment. He pulled out a ring, which is possibly the most beautiful thing ever, and asked me to marry him. I, of course, said yes! It was such a surprise. He picked the perfect place with the most wonderful view. It was something very special and not something I will ever forget.

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We sat talking more before heading to the resort to call our families. We then got ready for a nice dinner at the Bavarian restaurant in the resort. There was a wait for a table so we grabbed a beer at the American Bar by the fireplace and had snacks while we waited.

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Our dinner was delicious. At the end, our waitress mentioned that in Bavaria they mix their light beer with either banana juice or coke and offered us tastes. These tastes were actually 0.4L each! I liked the coke one and Alex liked the banana juice one. Overall a wonderful way to celebrate our engagement. 

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I’ll be back with more from each of the places we visited as I finish the posts!

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Iowa Family Fun

This past weekend my parents and I headed to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to visit with my Aunt Lorene, Uncle Ken and little cousin Zach, My grandparents happened to be driving home from Arizona and joined us there too. Iowa is one of those places that you think corn fields and tractors and not much else. At least that’s what I used to think. My aunt and uncle have introduced me to the fun side of Iowa-wineries, little shops and food. And, of course, my family! When we got in we made our way over to the Czech museum. My mom’s side of the family is Czech and therefore holds a special place in my heart. Czech food, heritage, ornaments, antiques and a love for not letting anything go to waste. Back in 2008, the Czech museum was under water when Cedar Rapids flooded. It was moved from its old location to higher ground and restored. Below is a beautiful crystal chandelier in the museum that was underwater in the flood.

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Our next stop was NewBo market, an adorable indoor market with crafts, food, jewelry and beer. We bought a few different dips and veggies for our lunch the next day. Then, those of old enough to partake, tasted a few different beers before settling on one to enjoy inside. I chose a wonderful brown ale. Delicious.

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Poor little cousin was the only one not able to join in. At least he makes up for his age in height. Kid is tall. 20130427_155617

We went to a little bar/restaurant in Czech Village for dinner after roaming some antique shops in the area. No pictures but trust me when I say the food was good. Mostly traditional Czech food in a little bar was quite interesting. I got a mushroom tart with chicken and a paprika sauce with dumplings and sauerkraut.

Then next day started off with wine tasting at Cedar Ridge Winery. Zach had driver’s ed so he joined us at the second place we went. I had a few different whites and reds and tried 2 of their hard liquors. Both of which were very strong, but tasty. I’ll stick to my wine over plain hard liquor though.

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We headed home to enjoy the sunshine and have some lunch out on the patio. Lunch was a spread of veggies, dips and chips. We had hummus, guacamole, two creamy based dips and salsa. Below is my grandma and grandpa with the spread.

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Once we had our fill, the boy headed out to grab Zach from driver’s ed while the girls went and got Zach an apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Since he couldn’t partake in all of the drinking fun, we figured we could make the pit stop and pick him up something fun to eat while we tasted wines. We then headed to my favorite winery in Iowa that I have tried, Fireside Winery. It’s beautiful and the wines are awesome. Each family/pair got a bottle of wine to enjoy and we drank it outside with some snacks (cheese plate, brie apple dip, and bread) while listening to live music and enjoying the beautiful weather. It was about 72 and sunny. The perfect weather in my opinion.

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The winery re-corks your wine for free if you don’t finish it there which is awesome because the three of us didn’t feel like drinking an entire bottle of wine at 1pm on a Sunday. We drank about half and re-corked the rest to enjoy at home. And, because we never eat enough food, we headed home to make a real meal for dinner. We had pork chops, asparagus and my cheesy mashed cauliflower which got rave reviews from almost everyone.

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I didn’t even come close to finishing this plate. My stomach was still full from our lunch snacks and drink snacks throughout the day. But those pork chops were holy cow amazing. My uncle cooked them on the grill with this awesome seasoning blend. I can’t remember what it was called but I was a fan. We ended the night watching celebrity apprentice. I’d never watched before and I don’t think I would watch another episode but we had fun laughing at it.

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Monday brought work/school for the Iowa residents. Grandma and Grandpa took my other cousin out for breakfast at University of Iowa. Mom, dad, and I headed back to Czech village for baked goods to bring home then went to Amana colonies to shop around. No pics but the weather was great.

Now I am back at home ready to start packing for Germany! Alex and I leave for Germany on this Friday. So, expect me to disappear for about 10-12 days come Friday. I’ll be travelling. Don’t worry. I’ll take a bunch of pictures.

What trips have you been on lately? Any family fun trips?

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Italian Turkey Burgers

Well hello there blog world. I’m not quite sure what happened to all the time lately but let me fill you in on my life the past month! First off, Alex and I found an apartment! No pictures because our phones were dead but it is a beautiful 2nd story apartment of a little duplex in Chicago. Absolutely love it. The kitchen walls are greenish blue which I love and it has a walk in pantry. I was sold the moment I saw it. I can’t wait to start cooking in it!

Alex and I leave for Germany in less than two weeks. I am more than excited for this. We are spending ten days traveling Germany and Austria and plan on seeing many castles, cathedrals and beer gardens while over there. Oh, and doing a Sound of Music Tour. I’m totally going to sing the hills are alive. I’m sure Alex will be extremely embarrassed by me.

Other than that my life has included: zumba, tap, some running, lots of rain (we got hit hard up here last week), and a ton of eating out. I feel like I really need to get back to my roots here and watch what I’m eating again. Even if you work out a ton you really need to watch what you eat. Even fit people can have heart attacks if they eat like crap.

Today, I vow to reignite my love for cooking healthy foods. I promise to myself that I will limit the eating out and eat my leftovers instead. I’ve already started by making some turkey burgers. Dad told me yesterday that he was craving a burger but he would be ok with a turkey burger. I had originally planned to make this soup and cheese bread so I instead took idea behind the ingredients and made turkey burgers. Wonderful, delicious, full of flavor turkey burgers.

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I had bought ground turkey on sale a few weeks ago and it was the perfect excuse to break it out even though I had ground beef in the freezer. I mixed the ground turkey with Italian bread crumbs, an egg, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. I formed the burgers into 6 large patties and one small one that I plan on using on a salad tomorrow for lunch.  I froze two of the turkey patties for future use since we are leaving for Iowa this weekend and I didn’t want them to go to waste. The rest were then grilled on the stove top because the grill isn’t set up yet outside and topped with an Italian 4 blend cheese. The flavors were so good I am already looking forward to my leftovers.

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I served the burgers with a side of baked sweet potato fries. I could have added a salad but I just wasn’t feeling it. One step at a time back into the healthy eating right? For dessert I had a lovely bowl of fresh berries that were supposed to be my afternoon snack but I ended up not needing.  Look at that.. I had burgers and berries tonight! Didn’t even plan it. There is no picture of my pretty berries because I ate them out of an ugly orange bowl.20130422_174224

Italian Turkey Burgers (makes 6.5 patties)

1.25 pounds ground lean turkey

1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary about 1 sprig

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp Italian herb bread crumbs (I used 2 Tbsp regular and added a few dashes each parsley, basil and oregano)

1 egg

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.

2. Form into 6-7 patties

3. Grill for 3-5 minutes per sid  e, until browned on each side

4. Top with preferred cheese and let melt. I used Land o Lakes Italian 4 blend. Soo tasty

5. Serve on a bun. Top with some romaine and tomato. Onion would probably be good too if you like that sort of thing.

Each burger has about 160 calories, 18 gm protein, 1 gm fiber. Not too bad. It’s definitely something I can feel good about eating.

I was definitely a happy and satisfied girl after eating my burger. Cannot wait for leftovers!. Yum. I realized after mixing my patties and forming them that I forgot the salt and pepper and ended up forgetting to add it to the burgers as they were cooking. I didn’t miss either one. Feel free to go salt-less on this one. The tang of the sun-dried tomatoes and zesty cheese gave them all the flavor they needed.

What are you trying to work on this month?

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Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Happy Easter!

Hello everyone, long hiatus again. I got hit with some serious writer’s block,  lack of inspiration in the kitchen and gym and just plain old busy schedule the past few weeks. But, I am now on a four day weekend which means time to refocus and get back in the kitchen. My little break started Friday and I spent it over at my Grandma’s house with my cousin Sara making cake for Easter.

Sara and I make a cake every year. Usually, it is a bunny cake that we make different colors but we decided to make a carrot cake this year. We are decorating it on today as an Easter egg hunt. I’ll make sure to get a picture and put it up here to see. It looks cool so far and it’s only frosted white with a green hill up on top.

The recipe that I have for you today is from a week ago. I had some inspiration in my kitchen but then couldn’t write the post. I think I am back on track with my mindset. I’ve been seeing some recipes like this around Pinterest. Growing up, I loved cheesy chicken casserole with rice or some kind of pasta. The gooey cheese wrapped around the pasta screamed comfort to me. I wanted to make a more healthy, veggie-filled, low carbohydrate (for mom and dad) version of that childhood memory. Thus my cheesy chicken spaghetti squash casserole was born.

It was a little runny when I made it because I forgot a step but I’m adding it here so you don’t run into the same problem. It thickened up when I reheated the leftovers but the first day was a little too runny. But, still tasted awesome. We were all going back for more.

I took my spaghetti squash and cooked it how I showed in this post. You want to do this ahead of the rest to give it time to drain. Set the cooked spaghetti squash noodles in a colander over the sink or a bowl and let it drain off for 10-20 minutes. This will help decrease the amount of liquid in the baking dish and cause a more firm, held together casserole.

Once the spaghetti squash is set to drain. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take diced zucchini, onion, and garlic and sprinkle with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Diced chicken and season with the same 4 seasonings also. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat. Once heated, add the chicken and veggies. Cook 7-10 minutes until the chicken is browned and the veggies are soft.20130323_164729

Next, mix the chicken and veggie mixture with the spaghetti squash. Try and keep most of the cooking liquid out of the mixture. I used a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken and veggies into a bowl with the spaghetti squash. Give it a good mix until all is incorporated. Add in half the cheese and stir well. Pour into a casserole/baking dish. I used one of my mom’s which she got for Christmas this past year. Isn’t it pretty?20130323_171146

Then top the casserole with more cheese and pop it into the oven for 30-35 minutes. I let mine go the 35 because it had too much moisture in the dish and I wanted to evaporate some of it.

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Let it sit 5 minutes to let everything settle and serve in bowls or on plates. Enjoy your slightly less sinful cheesy chicken casserole.20130323_174507

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1 large spaghetti squash, baked and set aside to drain

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb chicken breasts, diced

oregano, basil, salt and pepper

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

2-3 cups cheddar cheese

1. Cook spaghetti squash, scrape out with a fork and set aside in a colander to drain

2. Preheat oven to 350 F

3. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat

4. Season chicken, zucchini and onion with oregano, basil, salt and pepper

5. Saute chicken, zucchini, onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until soft

6. Combine chicken and veggies in a large bowl with the spaghetti squash. Taste and add more seasoning as needed

7. Mix in half of the cheddar cheese and pour into a large casserole/baking dish and top with the rest of the cheese

8. Cook 30-35 minutes until cheesy is bubbly on top

9. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving

Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies

As you know from previous posts, I recently went to a Zumbathon to raise money to send an 11 year old boy with cancer to Disney. I talked to my instructor about a week before the event asking if there were any treats I should make for the bake sale portion of the event. She mentioned that there were some people with allergies (celiac, wheat, dairy) coming. I decided that I would make a couple of gluten free treats. I made these cookies subbing almond butter for the peanut butter. I searched for some brownie ideas.

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Mom had made some black bean brownies last week but something just wasn’t right with the recipe. I took it and tweaked it. I healthified it just a little bit. A couple of kids at the event ate them and loved them! They didn’t even know they were made with black beans and applesauce!

I took a 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed, 1/2 cup applesauce, 2/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 stevia in the raw, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract,  1/2 cup of cocoa powder and about 1 Tbsp brewed coffee (cooled) and blended it all up in the food processor until smooth. The reason I used both sugar and stevia is because I am not a fan of the after taste of the stevia but wanted to cut the calories of the brownies down a little bit. I find using the above ratio of sugar to stevia I cannot taste the stevia but the brownies were plenty sweet.

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I put parchment paper in my pan to make it easier to take the brownies out and cut them. You don’t have to do this but I found it easiest since I didn’t want to kill the brownies taking them out. I took a piece of parchment paper and cut it down to the size of my pan. I sprayed cooking spray onto the pan itself and placed the parchment paper on top. This helps keep it in place.

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Once the paper was down, the batter was poured in and topped with some chocolate chips.

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Let’s take a minute and discuss the fatal flaw of my mom’s food processor. You cannot take the bowl off of base unless you take the blade off. But, the middle hole is really short. Therefore, I lost quite a bit of my brownie batter to the base/hole. Someone didn’t think this through while creating this food processor.

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The brownies were baked at 375 F for about 30 minutes. I took them out and let them sit for about 20 minutes until they were cool enough to pull out. I sliced them into 12 brownies.

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The brownies were packaged into two packages of 4 and a package of 3. The last brownie went in my belly. Had to make sure they tasted good! These are a rich, fudgy brownie just the way I like them. I, also, boxed up my almond butter cookies in some cute containers I found at a craft store.

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Gluten-free Black bean Brownies (makes 12)

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup applesauce

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

2/3 cup white sugar plus 1/3 cup stevia in the raw (you can use all white sugar or other sugar substitute per your choice)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 Tbsp brewed coffee (optional)

2-3 Tbsp chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven 375 F

2. Combine all but the chocolate chips into a food processor and process until smooth. It will be a little runny, don’t worry it’ll cook up firm and fudgy

3. Prep an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (optional). If not using parchment paper, spray the pan with cooking spray or other greasing method

4. Pour batter into the pan, top with chocolate chips, and bake for 25-3o minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean

5. Cut into squares and enjoy

Nutrition Facts per brownie (1/12 pan): 136 calories, 3 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 5 grams protein

Pretty awesome nutrition stats for a brownie!

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Zumbathon Sunday

Happy Sunday everyone! It has been a crazy busy week/weekend! I spent most of my Saturday at zumba and making treats for Dance 4 Disney today. I made some gluten-free treats for the bake sale. I’ll be writing a post on the brownies I made later this week.

My Aunt, Uncle and cousin were in from Iowa for the weekend so we all tried to spend as much time as possible together. The times I get to see them are few and far between, usually only holidays. But, we are planning a trip out there soon. So good stuff there!

I want to say a quick thank you to anyone who donated to Dance 4 Disney since I first posted about the event a few weeks ago. Between money from Pay Pal, donations that Bridgett received and the event today over $15,000 were raised to send Micah and his family of 8 to Disney for 10 days! Any money left over after their trip will go towards their huge hospital bills accrued over the past 5 years from his treatments, surgeries and doctors appointments.

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That is my only picture from the event. That is Bridgett talking and thanking everyone for coming and starting us off. I meant to take more pictures but got too caught up in the dancing.

The event was amazing. Hundreds of people came and we danced for almost 2 hours straight with only a couple of 5 minutes breaks to grab water or check out raffles. Amanda (my big sister) came with me and about half of my Zumba class from my gym was there. We took over a little corner of the gym and knew most of the songs, the perks of knowing the person throwing an event. Such a blast and so happy enough money was raised so that this family can have a wonderful vacation together one last time.

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Taco Night-Tequila Lime Steak Tacos and Chipotle Lime Coleslaw

I am a big Mexican food lover. Chips and salsa, tacos, burritos, and queso. Oh, I love queso. If I go to a Mexican restaurant, I will most likely order some if they have a queso on the menu. But, tonight’s dinner had no warm, gooey queso. Instead, the highlight was chipotle lime coleslaw. The day I was making my weekly menu, Alex said I should make steak tacos. What torture since he isn’t even here to eat them! But, I was sold. It had been months since we had a taco night at home and flank steak was on sale at the grocery store. It must have been meant to be. My next thought was what to serve on the side? I mentioned before that my parent’s are trying to avoid starchy sides as much as possible and I wanted something healthy and fresh on the side. Coleslaw! I didn’t want a mayo-laden, creamy dish though. I thought about what we were marinating our steak in-lime and cumin. We had some pureed chipotles in the freezer from when I made a creamy chipotle coleslaw over the summer. I figured I’d take that recipe and make it healthier to get a fresh, crunchy, healthy side dish to tacos.

Mom was in charge of marinating the steak. Mostly because I forgot about it last night and she was off today. She likes to cook too and misses being in the kitchen so we tag-teamed dinner tonight. She put the flank steak in a baggie with 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 Tbsp tequila (some Jose Cuervo), 4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 large clove minced garlic, 2 tsp honey and 1 tsp cumin. We let ours marinate for only 2 hours. Like I said, I forgot! Ideally, doing this overnight imparts the best flavor into the meat and makes it tender.

While the meat marinated we started on the coleslaw. Mom was in charge of shredded the veggies and I got to work on the sauce. We used 3/4 of a head of green cabbage and 3 carrots.

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For the sauce, I combine about 3-4 peppers worth of chipotle in adobo puree, defrosted plus 1/4 tsp salt, juice of 1/2 lime (we didn’t realize the limes were bad and both ended up with less than we wanted in our dishes, I’d recommend using about 1-2 limes for this dish), 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp cumin and about 2 Tbsp canola oil.

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It was all mixed up and poured on top of the cabbage, carrots, and about 2 Tbsp of chopped cilantro. We let the flavors blend together for a bit to let the heat kick in and the other flavors to brighten.

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I topped my tacos with some taco blend cheese, chipotle corn salsa, avocado and greek yogurt. The coleslaw was piled high next to my tacos to add volume and nutrition to my plate. Yummy!

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Tequila Lime Flank Steak (serves 6)

1.5 lb flank steak (or skirt)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 Tbsp tequila of choice

4 Tbsp lime juice

2 tsp honey

1 tsp cumin

Mix all but the steak together in a large plastic bag. Add in steak and let marinate at least 2 hours. Best is all day or overnight

Grill 4-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat. This will give you a nice medium-rare cooked steak. Cook 2-3 minutes longer per side for well done

Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly

Chipotle Lime Coleslaw (serves 6-8 as a side)

3/4 small head cabbage, thinly slices

3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp canola oil

3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Juice of 1 limes (or 1/2 lime and 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar)

1/2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp salt

Mix together everything but cilantro, cabbage and carrots

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Let sit for 15-20 minutes for flavors to meld.

This was one tasty, flavor-filled meals. So many flavors competing and complementing each other all at once. I cannot wait for all of the leftovers the next couple of days.

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