5 Years Together

5th-candleAccording to my WordPress account, today marks the 5 Year Anniversary of when I set up my WordPress account.  And wow…how things have changed, yes?

When I originally began my blog, it was under the name “veggiefoodlover” and I was reviewing restaurants and vegetarian food items.  While I still do reviews on restaurants and vegetarian food items…I do so much more now.

About 4 years ago, I started to take up running.  Well, technically on April 4, 2016, it will be 5 years since I began running…officially…as that was the date of my first ever race…a little 5K in Louisville, Kentucky.  I have only stopped on occasion for pesky little (and some not so little) injuries.

In addition to the running, I also have started formulating my own gluten-free/vegan/vegetarian/allergen-free recipes.  I am contemplating my own cookbook, in fact.  Which, is really damn exciting.  I just need to make some time to actually piece one together.

And…the big one…I was diagnosed as a Celiac.  First came the lactose intolerance…followed by the weeks and weeks and months of doctors appointments and exams and tests…trying to figure out why, despite maintaining a good diet, my body was dropping weight.  It was a very scary time, and thanks to my friend, Heather, we finally got it all figured out and a proper diagnosis was given.

So, the blog became a little bit of everything going on in my life.  Gluten-free products (good and bad…and there have been quite a few bad), gluten-free recipes, lamenting the loss of ice cream and cheese, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, local and far-away restaurants and how they work with my food allergies…and how good (or bad) their food is, running, races, injuries, vacations…we’ve been through a lot together these past 5 years.

I even re-branded my blog under the name “The Celiathlete”…and that is where I stand now…

I appreciate each and every person who takes a moment just to read the thoughts I put down on a page.

Here’s to many more years and blogs ahead…

Eight Blessings for Eight Miles

I have said it numerous times since once again striking out on the road and attempting to come back from the torn hip labrum, the injury that has plagued me now for a year.  Exactly a year.  I noticed my Facebook memories showed where I posted that I had “pulled a muscle in my back…”  That was where this all started.  The beginning of the downward spiral.

EVERY RUN IS A BLESSING!

While my weekday runs have been kept short and easy, my mileage is slowly increasing.  By about 1-2 miles a week.  Physical therapist approved.

Last week, I ran 5 miles.  This week…I gave 8 miles a go.  And I finished it.  Around Mile 6, my hip flexor started to twinge, which made me evaluate my running form, and do exactly what my physical therapist instructed to do.  I kept my footfalls as light as possible and brought that knee up, so that the right hip and leg wouldn’t get lazy.  My Bambi leg will get stronger.  It has to.

So…with 8 miles down, I thought I’d share 8 blessings in my life these days.  Here goes:

1.  My sister and nephew coming to visit me next weekend.

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We are a fun-type of goofy when we are together.  Seriously, there is never a dull moment when the Brady sisters get together.  And her youngest boy is a ham…as you can tell from this picture.  HAHA!  I have been dying to have her come back to visit, and this time we get an added bonus of Chace.  Karla, seriously, I can’t wait to see you and spend some time with you!!

2.  Annie May, Ashley, and Laura – and the rest of the crew at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe on Frankfort Road in Louisville, Kentucky.

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If you live in the Louisville area, or are visiting, or passing through…make a point of getting over to Frankfort Avenue and stopping in at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.  This place feeds me 3 times a week (Soft Pretzel Wednesday, Saturday Breakfast, and Sunday…with the take-home breakfast goodies).  Amazing gluten-free eats.  Most are vegan as well.  The Apple-Cinnamon French Toast…is amazing.  And right now…heart-shaped doughnuts.  Oh…hell yeah.  This place has been giving me a variety of foods, all safe for me to eat…for almost 5 years now.  I am so lucky and thankful to have this place in my area.  If you have food allergies or not, if you love good food, you gotta stop here.  And if you don’t see yourself coming to the area, check out their site, because they do ship some items nationwide!  And while there, go ahead and peruse the menus.  BTW…I highly recommend the vegan mac & cheese (OMG), the chocolate chip cookies, the COOKIE CAKE!, the toaster pastries, and…well…EVERYTHING, really.  I do think I’ve had it all.

3.  Sales.  Sales.  Sales.

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It’s not that I’m cheap, but I like to buy things and not spend a lot of money.  I am a sale-seeker, a bargain-hunter.  I love me a good sale.  And today, after my run and breakfast, I went to the mall and bought about 7 items…for less than $30.  LOVE a good sale.  And good (and cute) clothes to boot.  Oh yeah…retail therapy.

4.  MyBread Gluten Free Pita Bread.

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You know what love is?  Love is never having to be without pita bread.  And that’s not easy when you are a Celiac.  Not only does MyBread Gluten Free Bakery make gluten-free pita bread (and sell it….at stores…I get mine at the Whole Foods in Louisville, Kentucky), they make it deliciously good.  It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free.  And they are SO SO SO good!!  I’m making Italian nachos tonight for dinner…and these will be the nacho part of said dinner.

5.  Tea.

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Specifically…Dryad Tea, based out of Denver, Colorado.  I discovered them at the sci-fi convention, StarFest a couple of years ago.  I’ve been ordering ever since.  Their artisan teas are hand blended and all inspired by music, mythology, geekery, and works of literature.  AND…my roommate, Cathy, had a blend made specifically for me for Christmas.  It’s called “In Summer” (like Olaf) and contains green tea (my favorite), strawberry, ginger, chamomile and mint.  It’s fantastic.  My favorite tea…and it was blended specifically for me.  All teas are vegan and gluten-free friendly.  Check out their site…place an order…for real!

6.  Swimming.

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I. HATE. SWIMMING.  Okay, technically, I really don’t hate it.  I just haven’t learned to embrace it yet.  There is something about the water that makes me anxious.  Maybe it was my near-drowning experience as a child.  I can swim.  I’m a good swimmer (just ask my coach), I just have some weaknesses. One of which is convincing myself I won’t drown if I put my face in the water.  I’ve gotten better about that, but, UGH, I get worn out.  Endurance in the pool doesn’t happen if I have to breathe out in the water.  I hate it because this makes me feel nonathletic and weak.  Top that off with the fact that I don’t like not being good at something.  So, whenever I have to get into the pool, it’s a struggle.  But I keep doing it.  Even when I don’t want to.

7.  Disney.

Disney_LogoWhether it’s the parks, the movies, the races, or just the store…I’ve always had a soft-spot for Disney.  And now that they pretty much rule the world…

Don’t hate…I used to dream of becoming an animator for Disney.  I could draw every Disney character.  I probably still can!  I love visiting Disney World and Disneyland.  I never went as a kid, but I think that makes me appreciate the trips now more than ever.  I love RunDisney events.  They’re always amazing and fun.  And I love Disney Movies.  I’m still working my way through all the animated films in order…but, progress is being made.  This weekend…Toy Story 3.

8.  The X-Files.

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Anyone else out there an X-Phile?  I was beyond elated when The X-Files returned to television.  Sure, it’s only for 6 episodes, and they are halfway through them, but it’s like hanging out with old friends again.  I was the biggest X-Files fan in Big Flats, New York, I believe.  And I was okay with that.  This show was life-changing.  And being able to hang out with Mulder & Scully again has been a nice treat, for sure.  I can’t wait to start the entire series from the beginning…which is happening soon!

~*~*~

Little things and big things…everything and anything can be a blessing.

Nuun Year Dash (Virtual) 5K – New Albany, IN (February 4, 2016)

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Nuun Year Dash 2016 Virtual 5K

Race: Nuun Year Dash (Virtual) 5K

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: February 4, 2016

Time: 25:38

As you may have noticed on the side of my blog…or through my postings on social media (like my Instagram), for the second year in a row, I was given the opportunity to be an Ambassador for Nuun.  I have been using Nuun since I began training for my first marathon, and I haven’t looked back to Gatorade or those sports drinks since.  I don’t like the way all the sugar in those drinks messes with my stomach and body…so Nuun was a fantastic choice for me.

What’s even better is, just this month, they released their new and improved formula for their Nuun Active and Nuun Energy varieties.  These tablets that you drop into your water now use a combination of plant-based sweeteners that help provide a balanced sweetness profile.  This is obtained by using a combination of monk fruit extract and stevia leaf extract.  Nuun Active and Nuun Energy also now include 1 gram dextrose (d-glucose), a natural, fast-releasing carbohydrate serving roles in the production of the Nuun tablets (in regards to tablet integrity), as well as its ability to bind sodium and water to help increase the rate of fluid and electrolyte delivery.  In addition, both Nuun Active and Nuun Energy are now certified gluten free, vegan, and Informed-Choice (trusted by sport certified).   The upgrade was, ultimately, done to help take your favorite hydration product, and make it better.  With the addition of a non-GMO sourced dextrose, the rate at which fluids and electrolytes make their way to working muscles increases.  And the use of plant-based sweeteners provides an ideal sweetness profile, without being too over-powering or sweet.

I know that got a little scientific, but it’s a big deal and those of us who are a part of the Nuun family are excited about these changes.  Especially me.

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Proud Nuun Ambassador

All that being said, as part of the Nuun Ambassador team and as a runner, once again, attempting a comeback from a nagging (1 year on February 16) hip labrum tear injury…I really wanted to participate in the Nuun Year Dash 5K/10K virtual race that was being held.  I normally would have kicked in for that 10K distance, but I’ve worked too hard at getting back on the road to push too much, too hard, too fast.  I stuck with the 5K distance, registered, and awaited the package with all the swag to arrive.

And it did…back on February 1.  The actual event is taking place from Friday, February 5 – Monday, February 8…but my weekend is pretty packed and after my “long” run on Saturday (longest run since August when I did a 16 miler on leg with a stress fracture (which I wasn’t aware of at the time)) of only 8 miles, my hip might be done for.  So, the training plan I am quasi-following had me scheduled for 3 miles on Thursday…so I figured I could run from my job to my home and tack on the additional .1 (yep…I live 3 miles away)…and that way I get it done (a day early, but still done).  My roommate drove the car home from work…no worries, LOL!

At about 4:10 pm on Thursday, I went to go get changed, for the first time since August, into “racing gear.”  Granted, this is a virtual 5K, and while there are prizes being awarded, the biggest reward to me, at this time, is the fact that I’m getting out there again and participating in group runs and…(virtual) races.  I had no expectations for time or placement…I just wanted the distance.  So, I stepped out in my bright colors (I’m always bright), my hair color, pigtails, and the provided race big.  I knew I was going to freeze out there.  It was around 33 degrees Thursday when I left work, and since the previous day had a high of 50, I didn’t think about the change in temperature when I packed my bag the night before.  I put my Nuun Year Dash t-shirt on over my long sleeve tech shirt and hoped it would keep me warm for the (at least) 30 minutes I was out running.  I got the provided race bib pinned on…left my stuff with my roommate to take home…and left the office just after 4:30 pm.

The biggest challenge, after my Garmin found it’s signal, which took forever, was going to be the stoplights and rush hour traffic.  But this wasn’t the first time I’ve run home from the office…so…I knew what I was getting myself into.  This is, however, the coldest it has been when I have run home from work, so there is that.  HA!

I started by the YMCA and ran through the parking lot, around my building, up an incline, back onto Main Street, back toward the YMCA, managed to hit the light at the right time to cross the street and make the trek home.  It was cold and windy…but the leg and hip felt good.  I felt good.  It had been ages, it seemed, since I ran home from the office.  It was a blessing just to be able to do this.  I was cautious, of course, trying to remember my training in physical therapy because the last thing I need to do is get another stress fracture because I am compensating for the hip.  The run felt good, and when I caught myself favoring the hip and applying more time and pressure to the opposite leg, I fixed it immediately.  I had to top at a couple of stop lights on the way, but once they changed and I made sure traffic was aware of me (I was in bright, fluorescent yellow pants…I’m hard to miss!), I continued on the route I had run so many fall, spring and summer days before.  I probably got some pretty strange looks, being the only person out and running, wearing a race bib, but that’s part of the fun.  I’ve never been normal…why start now?

I made the turn onto the road I live off of, with about 1.5 miles to go.  There was a 4-way stop to navigate through, but I swore I saw my car (driven by the roomie) pull out just as I turned…so she would make it home to be my race photographer.  YAY!  I slowed slightly at the 4 way stop…then when I knew for sure all the drivers were aware of me, I crossed and made my way to the stoplight about a quarter mile further up the road.  I had to stop again and wait for the lights…one to cross the road, and then the other to cross to the other side of the homestretch because that way I could just turn into my apartment complex and not have to dodge traffic to get there.  Once that was accomplished, I had just over a half mile left.  I made a small climb over a hill…knowing it was the last incline of the day…so I pushed a little more…then ran past the old cemetery…up the way…past a house with a barking dog…and toward my apartment complex.  I half expected my roommate to be standing out there with the sign she holds at all my races and camera ready…but there was no sign of her.  At all.  My watch beeped for 3 miles just before I made the turn into the drive of the apartment complex.  I took the turn toward my apartment building, and still no sign of the roommate.  And then I hit 3.11 miles and…was done.

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Me after completing the Nuun Year Dash Virtual 5K in my own city

After I stopped my Garmin and then started to walk to cool off, she rounds the corner, on her phone, still doing work, camera in hand…but the moment was done and so was I.  I had her snap a few pictures (no official finisher photo this time) before calling it a day and heading upstairs for a nice hot shower to take the chill out of me.  Because I was cold.  I never really warmed up on that run, which is weird for me.

SO…while the official results have yet to be tallied, I can tell you this much…my official time for the Nuun Year Dash (Virtual) 5K is 25:38.  I keep telling myself, I’m fresh to my comeback.  Speed will (hopefully) eventually come back.  For now, just be thankful for the time out on the road, and the ability to be out there running again.  I’m really proud of myself for pushing it (a little) and for getting this run done…with perfect negative splits to boot!  It’s hard, because I used to be so focused on my numbers and so speed driven, that this slow down hasn’t been an easy transition for me.  I push as hard as my body allows sometimes, and while it’s not up to par with where I used to be, this is a fresh start…and I have to realize that with these limitations with my hip…I may never be pushing those 7 minute miles again.  It’s not easy…believe me…there have been tears shed over this…but the best feeling right now…is my feet on that pavement again.  Every run is a blessing.  Even the slow(er) ones.

I am so proud to be a part of the Nuun Family and hope to continue to be an ambassador for their amazing (and new and improved) products.  If you haven’t tried Nuun yet…I encourage it.  It’s a great way to make your water count and to stay hydrated.  Even on the cold runs.  This race wasn’t against the others competing and participating, but against all the self-doubt, fear, and pain that I’ve dealt with for almost a year.  This is definitely the start of, what I hope will be, a beautiful comeback.

(Obligatory hashtags: #nuunambassador2016 #nuunambassador #nuun #nuunlove #nuunlife #nuunhydration #stayhydrated #NuunYearDash #makeyourwatercount #letsruntogether)

Be A Hill Seeker…

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Hill repeats near home – 5 times up!

Be a hill seeker!

Most of us try to avoid hills, but what’s so good about flat?

Think about it:  flat tires, flat hair, flat returns and — the ultimate — flatlining!

Life happens on the hills!

There are opportunities to prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you ever imagined.

If you never attempt the ascent, you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side!

Every Tuesday, without fail, it’s hill repeat day.  We all know from previous entries that I am NOT a lover of running hills.  I know that hills make you stronger, but, damn, I just…hate them.

That being said, hills are what I’m supposed to be running.  Seriously.  My physical therapist said my hip flexor and adductor muscles benefit more from the hills because it’s forcing them to work together, and, trust me, they don’t always play nice.

Tonight, I was supposed to go out to Cherokee Park and do hill repeats, but we had the possibility of bad weather around the time that the run would be kicking off.  So, instead, I opted to play it safe (which means…the weather never happened)…and keep it close to home.  It just so happens that there is a winding, paved hill across the street from my apartment, leading up to a local park.  Fantastic.  It wasn’t how I wanted to do my hill repeats, but I had visions of getting out to Cherokee Park and having the run canceled.  The plan said 3 miles…4 hills.  I did a short warm-up, running through the parking lot toward the hill, and when I hit the base, it was game on.  Time to climb.  This hill isn’t as steep as the ones at Cherokee and Iroquois Parks…but it is relentless, winding, and just keeps going.  So, it was a longer climb instead of a steeper climb.  No biggie.  It still involved a lot of work on my behalf to get to the top and jog back down, only to do it all over again.

Well, 5 climbs later, with the recovery jog down, I hit 3.25 miles.  I probably could have gone one more time, but as I’m attempting a longer run this weekend, I felt it best to stick to the plan for now.

All that being said, this is the first time I have come out of hill repeats (in the 3 weeks I’ve done them) and still been able to walk normally.  No limping.  For the first time, I might actually not have to take 3 days to fully recover from a hard effort.

And, again, as of right now, time is the furthest thing from my mind.  I treat each run as a blessing, because after almost a year…each run I am able to complete is just that.  A blessing.  I have missed this feeling!  Speed is irrelevant…right now it’s about building my endurance and my strength back up.

I count today, even though it was done on my own, as a very good day.  Definitely a win.

Who would have thought I’d actually look forward to hill day?

Life’s Too Short to Miss the Sweeter Things

Two fun facts about me:

1. I love eating healthy
2. I love sweets (especially chocolate)

What we have here, my friends, is a constant battle of sheer willpower.  But, the fact of the matter is…sometimes you just have to find a way to treat yourself.  Naturally, I stick to my necessary gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian lifestyle…however, this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy some of the finer things in life.

That being said, 2016 is a year of change for me.  I’m trying to improve myself, my body, my soul, my mindset…I’m trying to reach both long-term and short-term goals.  And part of that is definitely making certain tweaks to the diet.

I’m not saying I am cutting out sweets and desserts entirely.  That’s inhuman.  But, I am cutting back on them.  And once the current ones in the pantry are moved out…they aren’t coming back in.  I buy gluten-free…so I’m too cheap to just toss the stuff away.

That being said, I’m always game for trying new ways to make an indulgence healthier.  And awhile back, the amazing Lottie Bildirici, better known in the social media world as “Running on Veggies” posted about the treat she made for Kara Goucher (yes…THE Kara Goucher) when she was coming to NYC to run the NYC Marathon.  Kara chose blondies as her treat and Bildirici got to work researching and coming up with a recipe that would not only seem like a treat, but be made with real ingredients, nothing processed, and be healthy.  When the recipe posted, I was beyond intrigued.  Granted, my foray into baking using beans as a base resulted in brownies that tasted like black beans, so I did have my reservations going into this…but I decided to give it a try.

Blondies made without flour…and by using garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and dates as the sweetener.  Well…there was only one way to find out how this would turn out.  I hoped for the best, since Kara Goucher was a fan…but…hey…some things you have to try yourself.

So this was what I put into my food processor this past Sunday afternoon:

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Everything but the dairy-free dark chocolate chips, that is.  Any nut butter (or nut-free butter) will work, but I’m a huge fan, and an ambassador, for NuttZo…and it really is the best stuff on the market.  Find it.  Trust me…it’s worth the price!

After giving everything a whirl in the food processor, I was left with a light and fluffy fatter.  I folded in the chocolate chips, sprayed down some muffin tins and began to evenly distribute the batter into 24 muffin tins.

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After baking for around 40 minutes, I removed the pans from the oven and let everything sit, untouched for over an hour.  At that point, I moved everything to a sheet pan (carefully) and then into the freezer.  But not without trying one.

First of all, they don’t taste bean-y…and they don’t taste like dates either.  They actually taste like a decadent little dessert or muffin.  Especially when warmed up in the microwave for about 30 seconds or longer.  Although, I love them frozen too…but I’m weird like that.  These are an amazing treat and one that I don’t feel bad about eating because…it was made from real food.

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I know a lot of people look down on those who enjoy a treat every now and again…but the fact of the matter is…we’ve got it all wrong.  Not all calories are created equal.  Just like now not all carbohydrates and fats are either.  That’s the being said, I am a firm believer in counting nutrition, not calories.  And that’s what making something like this is all about.

And trust me…they are SO good.

If you want to give them a try…you can get the recipe here!  They are easy to make, and delicious.  Trust me…you’ll want to keep these on hand!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack or dessert…these are truly a delicious and healthy treat.

Eat real food.  These treats are more like a healthy choice than an indulgence.  And what’s not to love about that?!

Product Review: Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Product: Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables – $8.50

Risotto is one of those dishes that you love to hate.  Not so much in the dining and devouring part…but the making of said dish.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a risotto fanatic as much as the next person, however…I much prefer the unorthodox way of cooking it…in a dutch oven…in the oven.  Baked.

Stovetop…just never seems to want to work out fright for me.

That being said, back in my April (Spring) 2015 Cuisine Cube, I received a package of risotto from Bountiful Pantry’s gluten free selection.  I was pretty stoked.  Gotta love risotto.  I couldn’t wait to find a night to cook it up.

And then…I just never got around to it.  With everything that was going on with my hip injury, recovery, broken leg, travel, more travel, more recovery, the holidays…it’s been pretty non-stop since I received this box in the mail.  Thankfully, it was good through April of 2016…so it wasn’t a waste.

Before I get into the product itself…here’s a little bit about Cuisine Cube.  Cuisine Cube is a subscription service that delivers 5-6 gluten-free, full-size products to your door for as little as $34.99/month. Inside the cube, you will discover full-size products (not sample sizes) that are made by local and smaller, artisan companies, rather than those that you can find at the average grocery store.  It has introduced me to so many new and delightful products.  Each box contains a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert product…and then, sometimes, an extra bonus item.  Who doesn’t love a little something extra, right?   Keep in mind, however, that Cuisine Cube has gone through some changes as of May.  No longer do they strictly only offer gluten-free cubes.  In addition to their gluten-free option, they now also offer Artisan and Vegan cubes as well.  The Artisan cube means that you have no food allergies and foods that contain common food allergens will be included.  The Vegan cubes contain products that are dairy and animal free.  And, they still have the Gluten Free cubes, which will have products that contain no gluten or wheat.  So, if you’re really interested in being introduced to the smaller, lesser-known, artisan companies, give Cuisine Cube a try!  It’s like…Christmas…or your birthday…every month!  Who doesn’t love that?!  I did love it and I hope I’m able to resubscribe soon.

The dinner feature in the April (Spring) 2015 Cuisine Cube was the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables.  Bountiful Pantry is best known for their healthy, easy-to-prepare, and delicious mixes ranging from appetizers, to soups, to salads, to dips, to stews, to chilies, to chowders, and various sides, among other things.  Inspiration for their mixes stem from their home on the island of Nantucket, where the often cool, damp weather would inspire the desire for an inviting pot of soup.  By starting with family favorites and classic New England favorites, Bountiful Pantry has created delicious and satisfying recipes that are easy to share.  Since the creators follow a healthy, low-sodium diet, focusing on taste, they are seeking and finding new ways to pack flavor into their mixes using a variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices.  They use the finest all-natural ingredients, including vegetables picked and dried at their peak of freshness.  There are no preservatives, added salt of MSG in their mixes, and they are gluten free as well.  Even better, meals can be prepared in as little as 30 minutes.  Gotta love that.

Well, this weekend seemed like the ideal time to cook up a risotto because Sundays I’m usually batch cooking anyway.  And as I’m working on clearing out my pantry, this was a logical choice.  And I was pretty excited about it too.  Because…risotto!!  The only thing I wasn’t excited about was cooking it.  But, no worries, it’s super easy.  I first heated up 5 cups of vegetable broth.  Then, I melted 4 tablespoons of vegan butter (Earth Balance) in a pan.  Once it was melted, I added chopped onion and let it soften to the point of translucency.  I took 1 cup of the broth and put it in a bowl with the dried vegetables and let it soak.  Then, in went the rice to the skillet with the butter and onion.  I gave it a stir to coat it all.  And then…the long and tedious task of adding 1/2 cup broth and stirring began.  Each time more broth went in, the rice would begin to plump up more and more.  And when the broth was gone…and my rice was still a little crunchy…in went water until I got that perfect rice consistency.  Then, the vegan parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of white wine went in.  More stirring…and then…dinner was served.

With a glass of the white wine I used in the risotto.  Just sayin’.

The Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables was amazing.  Creamy and rich.  The vegan parmesan really enriched the flavor and texture, bringing it to that perfect risotto consistency.  The Arborio rice took a little longer to cook, but once it got to the proper texture…it was a fantastic dish to devour indeed.  There is, naturally, an option to serve this as a side dish, but my roommate and I chose it for our dinner, so we took 4 servings of it instead of 8…having leftovers for lunch later this week.  And I can’t be more excited about having it again.  I loved how perfectly this cooked up, and despite having to add a bit of water, it got to that perfect rich and creamy consistency and the flavor…was spot on.  The vegetables softened up and the seasonings perfectly added to the taste, no added salt or anything.  Perfection.  And all in a bag, ready to go.

So, what all is in the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables?  Nine ingredients.  Yes…just nine.  They are: Arborio rice, peas, carrot, corn, onion, tarragon, chervil, parsley, and chives.  This mix is gluten-free, non-GMO, no MSG, and no added salt or preservatives.  This product is certified by the Celiac Sprue Association.

As for nutritional information for the Bountiful Pantry Risotto with Garden Vegetables…this isn’t bad.  Even when you add in the butter, onion, cheese, veggie broth and wine, it is reasonable for risotto.  A serving of the dry mix is 1/4 cup (51 grams) and there are 8 servings per package.  In each serving, you will be consuming 170 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, and 4 grams protein.  Not bad at all.

If you love decadent, rich, creamy and and flavorful risotto…why do it all from scratch yourself?  Bountiful Pantry helps make it a little easier with their package of Risotto with Garden Vegetables.  Big flavor.  Big eats.  It was amazing from the first bite to the last.  My roommate and I probably could have eaten the entire pan if I hadn’t set the rest of it aside for lunches.  It’s that good.

So, head over to Bountiful Pantry‘s Web site and place an order for one of their numerous mixes.  But, if nothing else, try the risotto.

Bountiful Pantry's Risotto with Garden Vegetables

Bountiful Pantry’s Risotto with Garden Vegetables

 

 

 

 

If I Can Get Through This…

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5 Miles at The Falls of the Ohio…pain-free!

It’s Saturday night and I’m finally home after a long, but busy-busy-busy, day out and about in Louisville.  I have a tummy full of delicious Indian food from Shalimar, I’m fresh out of a hot shower, and I’m reveling in a day well spent.

But it was how the day started that truly set the tone.  I got up, earlier than necessary, to be able to fit in my core and hip strengthening exercises.  I even did a slight dynamic warm-up (with hot tea because it was pretty chilly this morning), outside of my apartment building, testing the hip flexor and seeing if it wanted to cooperate or be cranky today.

It was a little tight…mostly because it was early morning and I’d been sleeping (and I finally got some decent sleep) and it was cold.  But it worked through the exercises my physical therapist got me, and I went upstairs to grab a bite before getting together all my stuff and heading to the Falls of the Ohio to go for my longest run (either outside or in) to date…since August.

5 miles.

5 miles used to seem like a warm-up to me.  Today, it felt like it was the start of a marathon.  I had butterflies in my stomach, going through every scenario of how this run might turn out.  I was there, with strangers and some friends, and I knew there was only one way to find out.

I set out with the group running 4 miles…and hoped for the best.  Especially since the start for us was straight up a hill.  HA!

The whole time, in my head, I’m sitting there thinking…”left, right, left, right”…because I chose not to run with the metronome.  I couldn’t imagine listening to that thing for 5 miles.  And then it was “lift the knee, lift the knee.”  And then, “This feels………OKAY!”

And so, there I was, running the Greenway and feeling like I was a runner again.  My hip twinged only a few times, and that was my reminder to check my form.  When the people doing 4 miles got to the turn around point, I had further to go.  I needed another half mile before I got to turn around and head back.  I needed 5…so there I was, leaving behind the group and striking out on my own.  I had run over there before, so I knew that ahead would be a lot of desolate area.  I saw 5 deer, which was awesome…but it was literally just me and a bunch of nothing.  I turned around when I hit 2.5 miles and started back.  Some of the run/walkers were at the water stop or just making it to the bridge as I came back that way.  I rejoined everyone, got up another hill, and began running my way back to the start point.

When I hit 4 miles…I knew that I was now in uncharted territory.  I had run 4 miles of hills the past two Tuesday nights…and I am pretty much crippled at the end of those runs for the next two (2) days…forcing me onto a treadmill for any scheduled mileage to simply take the pounding off my joints and body.  I drew in a breath and set my feet to work…now really making a conscious effort to focus on my form.  I wasn’t about to break into a limp, which is what happens after I stop running hills. (NOTE: My physical therapist wants me running hills, because it activates the muscles in my hip that don’t want to work together).  And then…I got back to the starting tent and I stopped my watch.  I started walking to cool down a little and…no limp.  No pain.  NO PAIN!

PERFECT NEGATIVE SPLITS!  Yep…perfect.  And I wasn’t even trying.  I was just running by feel.

I did all my stretches and plyometric exercises assigned to me by my physical therapist.  Still felt good.

But, I do think that the crowning moment was when Deana came in at the halfway point of her run and saw me.  She stopped and asked if I was done and how it went…then gave me a hug and said the thing that has stuck with me through the entire day:

“We’re going to get through this!!  We are going to get through this!”

As she has been dealing with nagging injuries as well, hearing it said to me by someone who understands…by someone who has not only encouraged…but inspired me…pushed me…and knows exactly what I am going through…I believed it.  And it was what I needed.

So, thank you, Deana.  And thank you to everyone on these training runs.  I change my program at the start of February…making it a little more challenging, but without stepping it up too much too soon.

I’m cautious these days…and I’m okay with that.

I’m out.  And I’m running.  And that’s what matters right now.

I’m going to get through this.