Creamy Dairy Free Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

EVERYONE loves chicken noodle soup, I mean, really, have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love a hot bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup on a cold rainy day or on a sick day?  There’s just something so soul satisfying about a bowl of delicious chicken noodle soup. 

Creamy Dairy Free Chicken Noodle SoupContinue reading

Half Marathon Training

Half Marathon TrainingGoals

Here’s to half marathon training, sort of.  Ha ha.  I don’t have a race selected, there are none in my town and travel right now is out of the question, but I’m still training.  I’m really trying to improve my speed to qualify for Boston and since I’ve hit my goal for the 5K, I’d like to focus on the half marathon next. Which is kind of a big jump, but I’m going for it!Continue reading

Lessons From Moana

I absolutely loved the movie Moana.  I was so happy that Disney finally made a movie that didn’t involve the parents dying in tragic deaths, they were actually good parents, and it wasn’t a love story.  Seriously, Disney really broke the mold with this one-in a good way.

There were a few things that really stood out to me in the movie that I will be discussing with my kids- love these learning moments.

Find Happiness Where You Are

In the first song, Moana’s parents are trying to teach her to find happiness where she is.  While she ends up leaving the island, I still think this is a good message.  Life doesn’t always happen the way we want it to- everyone has trials and disappointments.  Despite this, we can still find happiness where ever we are.  We can choose to focus on the positive in life, we cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control our thoughts.  This is a really hard concept to teach young kids- to change your thoughts and focus on the positive- so I’ll take any chance to reinforce this concept. (The Trolls movie is another great show that teaches that happiness comes from within, not outside sources).

Along those same lines, when Moana returns the heart, she sings, “This is not who you are, you know who you are.”  What happens to us does not have to define who we are, we can choose who we are.  Again, this reinforces how important it is to have positive thinking and not to dwell on the bad things that happens to us.

Understanding Your Past To Know Who You Are

Can I say Family History?  Ha Ha.  But seriously, it wasn’t until Moana learned about her ancestors that she understood herself better and why she felt so strongly about the ocean.  Family History doesn’t have to be researching back generations ago, it can be learning more about your grandparents.  My kids are always fascinated to see pictures of their grandparents when they were kids or even young parents.  You may find that your kids have similar personalities to their grandparents.  I’ve definitely noticed that my son is a lot like my dad- who knew!!

Follow Through, Never Give Up, And Chase Your Dreams!

Life rarely works out the way we plan, and at some point everyone has to reconcile reality with their dreams, but I still want my kids to have the courage to chase after what is important to them, stick with it, and overcome obstacles. Every child needs to learn to not give up when tasks get hard – like homework, school projects, friendships, relationships etc.

 

What are your favorite parts from the movie?

 

lessons from Moana

10 Mistakes Runners Make And How To Avoid Them

Running seems like such an easy sport, right?  Just grab your shoes and go! But once you get started, you might suddenly realize that it’s not so easy.  What’s that pain in my knee?  I’m so exhausted!  My feet hurt. It hurts to walk down stairs. I get side aches. What’s a runner to do? 

Here’s 10 mistakes runners make and how to avoid them

  1. Too much too soon
  2. Over striding
  3. Bad form
  4. Breathing improperly
  5. Not taking rest days
  6. Not cross training
  7. Other shoes you wear
  8. Not moving post workout
  9. Eating new foods before a run
  10. Starting too fast

Too Much Too Soon

You’ve just signed up for a race, and you start running every day.  You’re so excited and motivated you run more and more miles.  Suddenly, you have shin splints, your IT band hurts, your hip hurts, what is happening?? 

Your body needs time to adjust to running.  Take it slow, slower than you feel like you should.  Most training plans encourage you to be running consistently for 3 months before you start training.  The general rule is to increase your mileage by no more than 10% each week.  Be conservative, take breaks, don’t be afraid to walk!

Over Striding

Over striding is landing heel first with your legs out in front of you.  Unbeknownst to me, I had this problem for years!  I had severe knee pain that I just couldn’t quit.  I finally went to a running coach and learned the cause- over striding.

Over striding wastes energy, adds extra pressure on your knees, can cause runners knee, and shin splints.

The solution, land on your mid foot with your feet underneath your body.  Practice running with light quick feet.

Bad Form

This includes slouching, swinging the arms too much, clenching your fists, over striding, and twisting the upper body.

 Your back should be straight (poke your chest out), and you should have a slight lean from the ankles, not the waist! Your upper body should not twist and your arms should never cross the mid line of your body.  Keep your hands and shoulders relaxed- don’t waste your energy and create tension by making fists and hunching your shoulders.

Photo from topspeedrunning.com
Photo from topspeedrunning.com

Breathing Improperly

This one can be tricky.  Breathing improperly can lead to side aches and lightheadedness.

My high school cross country coach clued me into the secret of matching your breathing to your stride.  It’s a little bit different for everyone.  I breathe in 3 steps and breathe out 3 steps, some runners breathe in 3 and out 2.  Play around with different rhythms and find what works for you.

Take deep breaths from your belly, avoid shallow breathing.

Not Taking Rest Days

Your body NEEDS to rest!  Even if you feel energized, still rest.  Otherwise, after weeks of training, you will have more injuries and less energy.  Be kind to your body!

Not Cross Training

Runners who do nothing but run are more likely to have injuries.  The more you run, the more you strengthen your running muscles.  If all you do is run, this can create an imbalance as some muscles get strong and others get weak, which can cause problems like runners knee. 

The solution, cross train and strength train every week to maintain balance within your body.

Other Shoes You Wear

Hard soled shoes like ballet flats and flip flops are more likely to lead to plantar fasciitis, an enemy to all runners. 

The solution, wear proper foot wear with cushion throughout the day.

Not Moving Post Workout

Keep the blood flowing after a run with walking, gentle stretching, and foam rolling.  This will help with stiffness and soreness!  You may not feel like moving because you are so tired, but remember, motion is the lotion.

Eating New Foods Before A Run

Just don’t, don’t even try. Nothing is worse than having the runs on your run.  Figure out your foods while you train and don’t try anything new on race day.

Starting Too Fast

If you plan to run a certain pace, start at or below that pace.  Don’t let the excitement at the starting line push you to go faster.  My last marathon I started running with the 9 mile pace group- unfortunately they started at an 8:30 pace.  I felt fine for the first 10 or so miles, but couldn’t maintain and eventually fell behind.  Save your energy for the end of the race when you will really need it.

For more running mistakes, check out this link- 25 Runners Share The Biggest Mistakes They Made As Beginners

 

Chocolate Chili

Delicious and Comforting Chocolate Chili

Chili is one of the best foods to eat on a cold winter day, especially if you’ve been out running or driving your kids all over town.  During the winter, we have soup at least twice a week, I love it!  

Delicious and Comforting Chocolate Chili

The Inspiration

I made chocolate chili for the first time a couple weeks ago and was blown away! Why did it take me so long to add chocolate to chili???  The recipe I used was an all meat no beans recipe, so I switched it to all beans no meat.  What’s a chili without beans?Delicious and Comforting Chocolate Chili

The Recipe

For Christmas, I got the book Run Fast, Eat Slow.  The first recipe I made was the Fartlek Chili.  I love how the whole book is based on whole foods and the chili especially is full of vegetables and beans.  Their recipe calls for a hint of cinnamon, and after the first bite, I knew chocolate would be a perfect addition.

I ended up having to change the recipe so much because there was too much heat!  I’m a baby, and I knew my kids wouldn’t touch it.  I combined the Fartlek Chili recipe with my version of chocolate chili to create a master piece every one will love!!


Chocolate Chili
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1½ t salt
  • 3 mini bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t chipotle chili powder, can add up to 2 T if you really like the heat!
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cans no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add carrots, onion, and salt and cook until soft.
  2. Add bell peppers, meat, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir continuously until the meat is cooked. If omitting the meat, add the vegetables and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cocoa powder, broth, tomatoes, and beans. Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Top with sour cream, cheese, or avocados.
  5. *This is a perfect crock pot recipe. If adding meat, cook meat separately. Add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

What’s your favorite soup to make in the winter?

 

 

5 Tips To Drink More Water

5 Tips To Drink More Water

Did you know the average adult body is 50-65% water? No wonder we hear so much about the advantages of drinking water. Even with knowing how important it is to drink water every day, I still struggle to get my 8 glasses.  Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to guzzle more H2O.  Here’s the tricks I’ve found to help:

5 Tips To Drink More Water
5 Tips To Drink More Water

5 Tips To Drink More Water

  1. Drink through a straw- I’m not sure why, but I drink way more water if I sip it through a straw.
  2. Add fruits, veggies, and herbs- My favorite combo is strawberries and lemons!
  3. Take a water bottle with you- whenever you leave the house, bring along your favorite water bottle.
  4. Add flavor packs- I always pick ones sweetened with stevia-no aspartame or sucralose.
  5. Track it- Use an app, mark your bottles, set reminders, etc.

Hydration is especially important if you like to exercise in the morning.  Early morning runners- I’m talking to you!! Your body is dehydrated after sleeping, and proper hydration can improve the quality of your workout.  Warm lemon water is a perfect way to start off the day!

5 Tips To Drink More Water
5 Tips To Drink More Water

Here’s some other benefits to drinking enough water:

  • Relieves fatigue
  • Helps with headaches
  • Improves mood
  • Aids in digestion
  • Weight loss

Here’s to running longer, feeling better, and drinking more water!

5 Tips To Drink More Water
5 Tips To Drink More Water

How I Found ‘Me’ As A SAHM

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much running has helped me keep sanity as a stay at home mom.  And not just sanity, running has helped me feel grounded.  Let’s be completely honest here, being a SAHM is tough, and not just because you are taking care of kids all the time- it’s lonely, isolating, and sometimes unfulfilling- and then there’s the guilt for feeling this way, right?  Because being a SAHM is such a blessing- so where’s the happiness?

In The Beginning….

When my husband and I were engaged, we talked a lot about our future-classic, I know.  We were going to be an unstoppable team that would change the world together.  We were co-captains of our own destiny. We were motivated, we had dreams, and we were pumped!  After we got married, we both worked hard, we both graduated from college, and the world was ours to conquer. 

Then, the most amazing thing happened- I got pregnant!  We were so excited, we made plans for me to stay at home with our new baby- and honestly, it was exactly what I wanted.  I couldn’t imagine not being with my baby all the time.  After the baby was born- it was bliss, and then reality sunk in.  This baby ruled my life.  It was joyful and tiring.  I kissed my husband good bye every morning and watched as he left for an accomplishing and successful day.  He interacted with people.  He had lunch dates.  He helped improve other people’s lives.  HE LEFT THE HOUSE!  I wasn’t used to staying inside all the time but taking a newborn- my very first- out in public was scary not to mention dangerous, I mean what kind of germs would my sweet vulnerable baby pick up out there?  I was hardly getting any sleep at night and sleeping whenever I could during the day.  My house was a mess, I constantly felt groggy and gross.  And nine months later, I was pregnant again.  I’ll be honest here- I cried.  I wasn’t ready for another baby when I already HAD a baby! 

I sat at home and watched as my husband went on to get two master’s degrees.  Of course this left me at home alone even more while he juggled work and school.  Then, the feelings of jealousy came.  I suddenly felt like we were no longer co-captains, I had been sidelined and was suddenly the cheerleader while my husband continued to be the star.  I know life wasn’t easy for him either, working full time and doing school full time, but to me, at least he was feeling accomplished, at least he was working towards something that had an end, and at least he was out in the world achieving his dreams.  Not wanting to seem ungrateful and feeling guilty for my feelings, after all he was doing this so I could stay home with our kids, I kept everything inside.  And then, before I knew it, I had four kids ages 4 and under.

The Early Years

Four kids broke me.  I no longer had any control over anything.  Everyday felt like chaos.  I still struggled with jealous feelings of my husband’s experiences and success while I was at home covered in spit up, with no makeup on, and feeling gross.  I was missing connection with the outside world and then feeling guilty for feeling unfulfilled.  I mean, I had the best job in the world, right?  I struggled with feeling lonely all day even though I was never alone.  I would have all these ideas and no one to share them with.  And the guilt!!  I had been taught that being a mother was the greatest calling God could give a woman.  This was what I was born to do, this was my calling in life, this was my greatest blessing, and it was, it truly was, but I’d look around and think, this can’t be it for me.  I am capable of more!  I can be a mother AND be more!  I can contribute more to the world! I CAN!!  I realized I needed to discover who I really was outside of being a wife and a mother.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want motherhood, I just also wanted me.  I didn’t know how to find ‘me’ in mom.

This is where running comes in.  Running helped me discover me!  I can set and achieve goals, I can be successful, I can push, and I can achieve something amazing.  I can be amazing- amazing to myself and no one else.

Finding The ‘Me’

I’ve always loved running but during the 4 and half years of being pregnant, breast feeding, and then being pregnant again, I never got into a good routine.  After my fourth baby, I was determined to get back into it.  I wanted to run a marathon.  I started running again.  It was hard.  I was out of shape.  I had knee pain, something I had been struggling with for years, I felt awkward, but I kept at it.  I met with a running specialist and fixed my knee.  I ran a 10k- it was miserable! But I did it.  I kept going, I kept running further and faster.  With each step, my world seemed to settle around me.  I felt grounded.  Running became so cathartic for me.  It was my time, my time to think, to ponder, to push, to be.  I started training for my first marathon.  I remember the first time I ran 11 miles.  I felt amazing!  I couldn’t believe my body was capable of such a thing.  Each week I went further, and I was constantly surprised by what I could do!  And then I ran 26.2 miles.  I mean, WHAT?  That is sooo far, but I did it!  I DID IT!!!!  I pushed my body and my mind further than I ever had, and I came out on top.

As running became a routine in my life, I noticed that things started to change.  I no longer felt jealous of my husband.  I felt accomplished.  I felt a connection with people.  I no longer felt lonely, even though I wasn’t necessarily around people more.  I felt me.  I was happy.  I really started to love being at home with kids, and the guilt was gone. I really started to love life.  I had found me.

Running Marathon

Being True To Myself

I started to notice a pattern, whenever I started to feel off or depressed, I’d look around at my life, and think what am I doing or not doing that’s making me feel this way?  I came up with a list that I call my Being True To Myself list.  Whenever I start to feel off, I go to my list and double check that I am living true to myself.  This is what is on my list:  early bedtime, run/exercise, eat healthy whole foods, spiritual study, clean house, and having fun!!  Without fail, every time I start to feel in a funk it is because I am not doing something on my list!  So I adjust and life starts to feel better.  Running is a crucial part of my list and living true to myself.  Running is my me time and my peace time and my kick butt time!  When I live true to myself, I am a better wife, a better mother, and a better person!

Find Your Thing

Running is my thing, but it may not be your thing.  Find your thing.  Find the thing that makes you shine for you.  What makes you feel accomplished? Happy? Peace?  What helps the world shift and settle around you?  Find it and incorporate it into your life.  It will bring you peace, and it will help you find you!  Live true to yourself!

Photo from womensrunning.com
Photo from womensrunning.com

*Don’t get me wrong here, I love being a mother and have loved it since my first child was born.  I have found joy during the whole journey; I was really good at stuffing those jealous and guilty feelings into a deep dark hole and not acknowledging them.  In all honesty I was happy, but I still struggled with these feelings.  I am eternally grateful for my husband and his hard work so I CAN stay home with my amazing kids.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

SAHM running mom

Featured on:apinchofjoy.com via http://www.apinchofjoy.com/2017/01/busy-monday-251/

Running: Mind Over Matter

Running: Mind Over Matter

I recently read an article about Zach Bitter.  Anyone know who he is?  Zach is an ultra runner who set the American 100 mile record.  He ran 100 miles in 11:47:21. This guy is pretty amazing.  What’s even more amazing is that he ran this ON A TRACK.  Talk about mind over matter! He ran 4 hours one direction, then switched directions for another 4 hours, and then switched again.  This guy has some serious mental toughness.

Photo from http://running.competitor.com/2013/12/news/zach-bitter-ran-100-miles-in-less-than-12-hours_91741

Mind Over Matter

What exactly is the role of the brain during running?  Tim Noakes, M.D., author of Lore of Running, has claimed that the brain allows or limits endurance performance rather than the body. His “central governor” theory states that “the brain is there to look after you and to make sure whatever you do, you do it safely.”

Noakes says that the brain holds us back from pushing past a certain point. “There’s a control mechanism to make sure that you reach the finish line not in a completely, utterly wilted state,” he claims. “You always have a little reserve.” In other words, you can always push a little harder. http://www.runnersworld.com/rt-web-exclusive/mind-over-matter

THIS article discusses the difference between mental fatigue and physical fatigue and how we sometimes confuse them.  Researchers in the UK found that when a person is mentally fatigued, the perception of physical effort was much higher vs people who were not mentally fatigued.  In other words, when a runner is mentally fatigued, they will feel like they hit their max effort sooner.

How To Apply This

All this information is fascinating.  Our brain and what we think is so powerful!!  What’s even more amazing is that we can train our brains.  In order to improve running, we have to become comfortable with pushing limits and being uncomfortable.  When I was training for my first marathon, I couldn’t imagine myself running those long distances, but slowly I kept adding on miles, week after week, until I was running 16-18 miles at a time.  I was so amazed by what my body could do. Every time, I proved to myself, and my brain, that I was capable of way more than I thought.  It’s amazing when you reach that point of doing more than you thought.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on speed work.  After my tempo run on Wednesday, I still had about a mile to my car.  I decided to finish at an easy easy pace.  Once I’d settled into a comfortable pace, I checked my watch- I was running about a 9:30 mile.  I remember when anything less than a 10 minute mile was fast for me, and now that pace was my slow easy pace.  It reinforced to me that training hard and positive thinking are both necessary to a successful training plan and conquering those goals!! 

So, memorize those mantras, surround yourself with motivational thoughts, channel the positive thinking, and reach those PRs!

Supplemental Workouts Every Runner Should Do

Supplemental Workouts Every Runner Should Do

 

Supplemental Workouts Every Runner Should Do


This time of year is my favorite in California.  The Fall weather is perfect with highs in the upper 60s and low to mid 70s.  It seriously is the best running weather.  I don’t have to wake up before the crack of dawn to get a run in before the unbearable and relentless heat strikes.  I’ve been able to really focus on my training plan to increase my pace.  In addition to the track repeats and tempo runs, I’ve been working on my flexibility and strength training- both will help improve my running (I hope).

By adding a few supplemental workouts every week, runners can improve their running.  ocusing a few hours a week on non-running activities (like the ones listed below), you can take your running to the next level.  Here’s a few examples of supplemental workouts and how they can boost your running.

  • Hill Sprints (I know, this IS a running workout.)
  • Strength training
  • Yoga
  • Plyometrics

Now, I know, I just named your favorite workouts right? Ha ha, I mean who doesn’t love doing hill sprints?  Hill sprints are a great way to add power to your legs.  There is one hill on the trail close to my house that I dread every run, but guess what?  We’ll be spending a lot of quality time together because it is my new sprinting hill.  Start with a 10 min hill sprint workout once a week and slowly build it up over several weeks.

Strength training is crucial to any running or training plan.  Even just 20 minutes a week can make a difference.  Any runner who logs a lot of miles every week, needs strength training.  My husband worked with an endocrinologist who tried to convince him that running is horrible for the body.  She has treated several runners who had bone loss and lots of other problems.  She said when someone starts to run a lot of miles, the body will do whatever it can to make itself lighter, including trying to lighten the bones.  This can cause major problems later in life.  Here’s the good news- all these problems can be prevented with weight training.  When the body experiences consistent weight training, it makes the bones denser so they can be stronger and hold more weight.  Weight training should be done at least once a week, but ideally three times a week.  And let’s be honest, all pictures of the elite runners shows off their toned bodies.  All that muscle did not come strictly from running.

Supplemental Workouts Every Runner Should Do

According to Matt Fitzgerald, ““Plyometrics, or jumping exercise, is something that every runner should do and that most runners don’t do. Running is a form of jumping. Plyometrics isolates and exaggerates the jumping element in running and thereby improves running performance in a way that running itself does not.”
Enough said.

Now onto yoga.  I’ll be honest here, the only yoga I’ve ever done is the yoga workout in p90x.  Does that even count?  Flexibility is a major weakness of mine.  I know yoga is a workout I need to start incorporating.  Yoga helps to maintain balance in the body- especially in the muscles.  Runners who only run will naturally create an imbalance with some muscles, this can cause problems, like runner’s knee.  I’ve had runner’s knee- it’s no fun, no fun at all.  I’m so not flexible, I’m a little nervous to join a yoga class, but if it will help my running, sign me up.

Supplemental Workouts Every Runner Should Do

As with everything in life, running needs balance.  These activities will help provide balance and as a natural result, more power and endurance.  Happy running everyone! Check out this website for more info.

Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

The BEST And Easiest Homemade Almond Milk

I’ve been making homemade almond milk for the past few months, and I am totally in love!  One of my friends shared this recipe with me and it is amazing!  Super easy, only 5 ingredients, no pre-soaking, no cheesecloth, and this takes less than 10 minutes to make.Almond Milk

We’ve been drinking almond milk for almost 4 years now.  I use it to replace milk in every way-cereal, baking, you name it.  I’ve tried different brands and switched a few times because I didn’t like some of the ingredients used.  I finally settled on Silk, but my homemade almond milk tastes WAY better and is a lot cheaper.  I buy a bag of almonds from Costco for $12, and the bag has 9 cups of almonds.  With this recipe, one cup of almonds makes one half gallon of milk.  That’s equivalent to 9 cartons of Silk for only $12 vs $27.  That’s huge savings!!

Homemade Almond Milk

The Amazing Recipe

  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1 T coconut oil (I actually use just a little bit less than 1 T.)

Blend all the ingredients on high.  I have a Blendtec and blend it through 2 cycles on high, this is equivalent to about a minute and a half.  Pour through a mesh strainer into the container.  I use a 32 oz mason jar and it fills the jar.  Store in the fridge.  This will separate over time and look kind of scary, but do not worry!  Give it a little shake before use and it’s perfect.

The almond pilth that gets strained out can be used for so many other things.  I like to add it into bread dough, smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, soup, really whatever you can think of.

Homemade Almond Milk

For some variation, try roasting the almonds first or substituting some of the almonds for raw cashews.  Add a date for some extra sweetness, seriously, it’s amazing!! 

I bought my mini mesh strainer from Walmart for $5.  So cheap and so worth it.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day, and she commented on what a pain it is when she runs out of milk. (She lives outside the city limits so its about a 20 min drive to the grocery store.)  I just chuckled to myself because when we run out of milk, I just have to go to my pantry and pull out the almonds and I’m set!  This homemade almond milk really is amazing.  Enjoy!