Rodes City Run 10K – Louisville, KY (March 18, 2017)

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The KDF Ambassadors that found me – Chris, Melissa, Me, Leah!

Race: Rodes City Run 10K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 18, 2017

Time: 48:40

Welcome to the second (and, sadly, my last) race of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running.  The Rodes City Run 10K!  I had managed to get the okay from my physical therapist to boost myself up to 6 miles 2 weeks following the Anthem 4.7K (HAHA.  I’m still bitter).  So, the weekend in between I made sure to get in 5 easy miles at the Falls of the Ohio with the Norton Sports Health Training Group. All the high-fives I got from my friends and strangers that day pretty much made it one of my most epic runs ever.

I don’t think I stopped smiling.  And…as we all know from photos…I have a big smile!

So, with permission to tackle Rodes as long as I took it easy and didn’t “pull an Anthem” and run it really fast, I immediately contacted my training partner, Matthew, and talked him into joining me with the intention that he would help keep my pace in check.  He agreed, and we signed up (I got in before the discount deadline).  Locked in.  Ready to run.

My plan for this run was to keep it between an 8:20-8:40 pace.  Matthew figured we’d average more on the 8:40 scheme of things…and I was okay with that.  Keep in mind…it is very hard for me to participate in a race and NOT actually race it.  But…remember…the goal is thinking long-term and I have some stuff coming up in the future that I’d like to be in peak condition for.

We made plans to meet up at the McDonalds on W Broadway (where the #KDFMarathon Ambassadors were meeting for the group photo(s)).  And, just like that…Rodes was a go to RUN…NOT RACE.

So, on Friday, I ate an early dinner at work (the closest thing I had to pizza was my Mama Mia Quinoa) before heading over the river to do a couple of things…but first and foremost…I was picking up my race packet.  I was actually honored (and freaked out) to be the recipient of one of the seeded bibs in the top 200…which gives you the option of starting near the front of the race itself.  Like…elite-type-shit.  I was BIB 43.  Really, they do base this seeding off of not just race times, but also the times you have completed the Rodes City Run in the past.  I’ve done this race 3 times prior to this one, I believe.  So, don’t go thinking I’ve actually achieved some overnight elite status.  It’s a nice compliment and benefit that the race offers, and if I were in better shape and condition this year going into it, I might have even risked the closer-to-the-start-line start.

I did a little cooking that night before running through my PT exercises and stretches, foam rolling, and calling it a night.  I had to get up fairly early to fit in all the necessary PT stuff the day of the race (it honestly takes close to 2 hours sometimes, but it’s necessary to keep me out there and I try not to whine or complain about it…too much).  The weather was crazy that day.  It was really warm out when I went to do my dynamic warmup and stretches.  I had been expecting cooler temps and overdressed.  I was dying.  But I didn’t have much time to mess around with, so I just sweat it out and went inside to change into clothes for the race.  I opted for a short sleeve shirt with shorts instead of capris.  And since my running shorts are a bit unflattering at the moment…I tossed on one of my fun Sparkle Skirts as well.  Hey…since my KDF Race Ambassador shirt is part of the uniform right now, I work around that.  And it’s not my normal bright, vibrant colors.  Sparkle Skirts help with this.  HA!

I ate a light breakfast, grabbed a banana to eat 30 minutes before the race, packed up clothes to change into, and tossed on a pair of arm-warmers into Cathy’s race backpack…just in case.  It was so warm out when I was warming up, I figured I wouldn’t need them.  I threw on a hoodie and we headed down to the car.

SO glad that I opted for the hoodie.  My mild morning and turned a bit chilly and with the wind that kicked up…it was near the point of me being cold.  Already.  I even commented that I should go back up and put the capris back on, but there simply wasn’t enough time for that.  I was locked into the shorts.

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My Power Nap game is STRONG!

We made the ride over to Louisville and managed to easily get parked near The Brown Hotel.  Easy in and easy parking on a ramp.  We backed in to make our exit plan a bit easier to manage too.  But…we were about 20 minutes early and I wasn’t about to get out in the cold now and wait around.  So, I did what I love to do on race mornings…

I took a nap.

This is not an exaggeration or a joke.  I find these little power naps, pre-race, to be just what this body needs at times.  So, I had the time and took full advantage.  Until the 7:40 am meetup time was approaching and I knew I needed to eat my banana and get to the meeting spot.  As I had a big mug of tea before breakfast that morning, I made a quick (and unusual because…princess) stop at the port-o-potties just outside the parking garage before continuing on to the McDonald’s meeting spot.

Just as the sign was in view, I received a text from Leah, one of my fellow ambassadors.  She said she couldn’t find anyone else and I told her I was like…1 minute away.  I found her…then Matthew found me…and then Melissa (let’s face it…we all know Melissa now!) texted to say that she and Paul were parking and on the way and they’d walk as fast as they could.  This was probably the least-organized meet-up we’d had this entire time…and it shows by the smattering of photos of random KDF Marathon Ambassadors pre-race.  I managed to get into the grouping of Chris, Melissa, and Leah.  So…we have that.

Race start was inching closer and Matthew and I wanted to go find a spot to line up.  BTW…funniest bit of this entire thing was that Matthew registered late (it’s a tradition of sorts, I guess, HA!) and was issued a WALKER big.  So…he went to packet pickup and they sent him over to services to get it fixed and their “fix” was simply ripping the green sticker that said WALKER off of it.  I joked that with me having to dial it back and wearing a seeded bib…and him in a WALKER big…we’re a complete mess and will confuse the hell out of them.  Seriously…I this amused me WAY too much.  We maneuvered through the sea of people to a spot near the middle of the front of the middle-of-the-pack group (with a smattering of walkers).  No sooner had we done that…the whistle sounded (we barely heard it) and the wheelchair racers were off.  The caution tape was rolled up and the runners moved ahead.

And soon…we were joining them.

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Chris & Cathy with the sign!  This photo was in the Louisville Voice Tribune!

We started off at a really easy pace.  I pointed out Cathy ahead waiving the sign and gave a wave as we passed.  The photographers captured me pointing.  No joke.  And then we just sort of settled in.  I think at one point, Matthew asked, “Am I holding your pace back too much?”  And I replied with…”Let’s pick it up a little.”

This is how the rest of it played out…

Just as we’re starting through our first mile, Matthew (aka: Eagle Eyes), spotted our friend Michael, and gave a shout-out.  Michael pointed out that his wife, Laura, was just ahead in the pink and white and we should say HI.  So, we picked it up and scooted up there.  Laura was focused and we kept our greetings short before continuing on.  The pace felt good to me…and as we were moving through the pack of runners, Matthew said, “I think that’s Tammy’s ponytail.”  Sure enough…Tammy was just ahead…so we pushed up to say hey to her.  She pointed out that we were definitely above the pace I had said I told my physical therapist I would run Rodes in…

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The Chik-Fil-A cows got in on the sign action too!

…And she was right.  As we moved ahead we hit Mile 1 and the digital clock said 7:54 at the mile.  We decided to ease back.  We thought.  Well, I mean we did ease back in theory.  We slacked up a bit, but when people are running with you in a giant mass, you sort of just…go with the flow.  When talking became hard, Matthew would remind me that we needed to ease off the gas…and we did…until we didn’t any longer.  Mile 2 was even faster than Mile 1…averaging around a 7:49 pace.  I didn’t realize this at the time though.  Matthew and I were just focusing on the long road ahead of us at this point.  Four more to go…and thankfully most of this mile leading to 3…was a nice downhill.

I love downhill.  It is my favorite speed.  HA!  I felt like I had backed off again, and that was what I was supposed to be doing, so…that’s good, right?  I cruised down the hills and tried not to push myself too much on the inclines.  After all, I had just been cleared to start in on hills again.  So…there was that.  But, it’s like I said…it’s hard for me not to race when I’m in a race.  I go into these things with the mindset of having fun.  I don’t ever set time goals; nor do I look at my pace or my watch.

Usually.

But when we hit the marker for Mile 3, I glanced down and said, “Um…we just did a 7:28 mile.”

And so…we truly made an effort to back it down once more.  And by that I mean we slowed it down.  We had some nice climbs, which I said were downhill at one point and that had Matthew teasing me about my directional skills for the rest of that mile.  But, it did feel like a downhill to me.  We might have been going up, but my effort wasn’t.  I felt relaxed, and it felt EASY!

The remainder of the race we actually averaged a 7:52 for miles 4-6.  As we came back onto Broadway to run back to the finish line,   And it was just shortly after this turn, where I can see, all the way in the distance, the inflatable that arched over the finish line…that I hear from behind me…

“Well, you don’t look like you’re limping.”

Totally busted on my speedy 10K that was not supposed to be this speedy.  It was my physical therapist.  He came up beside me.  I introduced him to Matthew.  He asked me if the hip was feeling good.  I told him I had no problems.  He fist-bumped me…and ran on ahead.

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Matthew & I bringing it home at the finish line!

I just about died.  What is the likelihood of that happening…for real?  We hit Mile 6 and were in are less-than-quarter-mile finish.  So, we picked it up a little and crossed the finish line in under 50 minutes.  Slower than last year.  Slower than the year I had bronchitis.  But…I would like to think, if I hadn’t kept backing off the pace, I could have had a great run there.  Not a PR…it’s going to take a miracle to break that…but I’d like to better my Rodes time in the near future.

Overall…I felt good before the race…I felt fantastic during the race…and I felt amazing after the race.  There are so many times where I feel like I’ve lost speed or fitness…and then something like this happens, where I don’t come near a PR…but I feel good the entire time, and I feel like I could give more…but under orders to dial it back…and I just surprise myself and realize maybe I haven’t lost that much after all.

So…the official results of the Rodes City Run 10K are that I finished in 48:40.  Not even attempting to set a PR…so not even comparing.  Just loving how easy this speed felt for me and how I finished with fuel in the tank.  I’m getting it back  This race helped prove that.  I was 421/4246 finishers overall.  I was the 75/2391 for women finishers.  And I was 17/358 in my age division.  I’m really happy with this.  Even more so because I know what I am capable of and that I am actually capable of more.  I am so glad that I decided to run this race.  Even if my initial intention was to keep it between a 8:20-8:40 pace, and in the end…I averaged around a 7:50.  I know that part of what helped me out was having a friend running with me, to keep me focused on anything other than the race itself.  This race made me feel confident again.  It was just what I needed.

Maybe next year I can aim for a goal to beat my best Rodes City Run 10K time.  Or, if I’m feeling really good about things…try to set that new 10K PR.  But for now, I’ll relish the fact that I’m back…and I’m getting stronger.

Following the race, Cathy and I had every intention of getting coffee and eating protein bars for breakfast…but we detoured and hit up North End Cafe where I enjoyed coffee, a gluten-free pancake and a side of fruit.  Then…we got macarons from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.

And life was good.

Just as it should be.

Like it never changed.

I’m still smiling.

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North End Cafe’s Gluten-Free Pancake, side of fruit, and coffee!  Perfect reward for a good race day!

A Wild & Wonderful Weekend

In the midst of everyday stresses and stressors, it’s always nice to have a little break from the things that are just…making you feel so BLAH about life and what you are doing with your life.

For me, this week, it was having my beautiful sister, Karla, drive up from Birmingham, Alabama, with her eldest son, my nephew, Landon.  I didn’t know how much I needed her and the distraction of having her and Landon here to really just allow me to relax, smile, and be me again!

Family, especially my sister, is, apparently, the cure to what ails, troubles, and bothers you.  I’ve been having…a not so amazing time these past few weeks…and, unfortunately, it’s something I am not really allowed to discuss.  Censorship sucks, yes?  YES!  But…just trust me…the type of personality I have and the person I am…it’s been bothering me on a fundamental level, which, has added a lot of added stress to my already chaotic life.

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Suckage.

But this weekend…was amazing.  I love spending time with my sister…and it doesn’t happen often enough.  So, her texts and calls that ask what I’m doing on certain weekends means…she’s coming to visit.  And I LOVE when she comes to visit.  She and I are best friends and sisters and just…have always been close.  So, me living this far away for 11 years (YES…11 years as of Friday)…has not been easy on either of us.  But here is some of the mischief that we got into this weekend, helping me to not even think about the bad and sucky things that have made a certain portion of a time of my day…a thing I have resented and even loathed at times over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s to sisters…and nephews…and family…and general FUN!  They make the world right again.

1.  Fish in the Water

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One thing Karla and I had discussed for Landon to do while here was to go to the new water park in New Albany.  Unfortunately, Friday left us with thunderstorm warnings and the threat of pop-up storms.  So, at around 3:30…when she arrived and we left the office…the lifeguards were being sent home and the park was closing.  So, Plan B…go to the YMCA and let him swim.  He was swim tested and given permission to go to the life guard chair in the lap pool and to go down the slide in the kids pool.  So, for a good portion of the afternoon…about an hour and change, that’s what he did.  Cathy, Karla, and I all sweltered to death in the humidity of the pool area of the YMCA while he played and cooled off in the pools.  It was worth it to see the smile on his face!

2.  SUSHI TIME!

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My sister commented a week or so ago about how delicious my vegetarian sushi looked when I Instagram-ed it and posted it to Facebook.  And then…I had a brilliant moment of brilliance.  My nephew, Landon, is a very, very, very picky eater.  BUT…he does love cheese things.  Cheese quesadillas, cheese sandwiches, mac & cheese….ALL THE CHEESE!  With the excitement over sushi on my post, I thought of the perfect place for us all to grab dinner, that even Landon couldn’t turn his nose up and refuse to order anything.  Dragon King’s Daughter to the rescue!  For those of you who are not local, Dragon King’s Daughter is an Asian-fusion restaurant with two locations…one in New Albany, Indiana, and one in Louisville, Kentucky.  The menu includes traditional fare from the Far East, as well as contemporary fare with a unique twist.  They offer classics of Japanese dining such as lemongrass miso, vegetable, and sushi rolls, as well as a multitude of new creations including a mixture of East and West forms and flavors.  On the kids menu…a cheese quesadilla…and for the adults…we all went sushi.  My sister and I figured we could get a roll each and split one…so I got the Vegetable Roll, she got the Buffaroll, and we split the Green Acres Roll.  Cathy went for the fishies…and got the Shrimp Tempura Roll and the Dragon King’s Daughter Roll.  And after that…a trip over to the Comfy Cow for an ice cream dessert.  What a great first few hours.

3.  Playtime at the County Fair

It just so happens that the Floyd County Fair happens across the street from where I life.  Convenient, yes?  After dinner and dessert, we came home and walked over to the fairgrounds to scope out some rides and the barns with Landon.  He went on three rides (he had 4 tickets, but he wanted his mom to ride with him on one he wasn’t sure about).  He loved going to see the animals.  And one of the highlights for me was seeing my sister crack up every time the goats bleating.  Her laugh is so contagious.  We all shared lemon shakeups and just walked around.  After that…it was time for showers and then we were all down on the couch to watch Zootopia and then…they took over my room and went to bed and I crashed out on the couch so I could get up early and head out for my 12 mile run and get it done before too much of the morning was passed.

4.  It Runs in the Family

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One of the best things we decided to do, was to go for a short run together.  After my 12 miler, I got home and Karla and Landon put on their running clothes.  We hiked up to Sam Peden Park and ran a loop.  It was hard for Karla, as she hasn’t run in a long while…and she’s not used to the crappy air quality of the Ohio River Valley, but she was a trooper and pressed on.  I ran right there with her to encourage her…and Landon…he was busy chasing down the Army men who were running there.  He beat quite a few.  It was awesome.  Landon has amazing speed and gorgeous running form.  He’s a natural and I love watching him run.  Needless to say, it was a great way to start the day as a family.

5.  Wild Eggs

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Breakfast was the next most important stop on Saturday.  We stopped off at Highland Coffee for some coffee first…and then took the drive over to Westport Road to go to Wild Eggs.  Landon already knew he wanted pancakes and BACON.  He made sure to tell me that if I got an omlette, he wanted my BLUEBERRY muffin.  Since I can’t eat the muffin, I was totally cool with this.  It had been forever since I went to Wild Eggs for breakfast…but it was a nice return.  They even have gluten-free bread and a gluten-free menu now.  LOVE that.  Yes…it even includes gluten-free pancakes, French toast and the like.  That was exciting.  But after 13 miles of running and a hike to and from the park…I wanted some protein.  So I ordered the Surfer Girl Omlette (fresh spinach, wild mushrooms, tomato, cream cheese and onion and topped with diced fresh avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream and fresh alfalfa sprouts. Served with skillet potatoes).  I got mine without the cream cheese and sour cream.  My sister got the same thing, just without the mushrooms (she hates mushrooms).  And Cathy got the Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict (green chili cheddar corn cakes,topped with chorizo, two poached eggs and queso fundido, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions and avocado. Served with skillet potatoes and an Everything Muffin).  And, yes, I got a blueberry muffin for Landon.  He was pretty full after eating the two pancakes that were as big as his face and the bacon he ordered…but he took a few bites.  The rest…came home with us and then went home with them today.

6.  Pierced Ears

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Okay, here is something that I didn’t expect to happen this weekend.  My sister and I got to talking about earrings…and she brought up how her daughter (she’s 16 months) had her earrings work out perfectly…and how my mom (whose holes closed because she stopped wearing earrings) had just gotten her ears pierced a few weeks ago.  I said that I keep saying I need to get it done but just haven’t pulled the trigger.  I think a part of me thinks it will fail again.  As a kid, I gave the pierced ears a try about 5 times, but always and an allergic reaction to them.  My sister was the same way, but it worked for her as an adult.  So, she told Cathy to pull into somewhere that could pierce my ears.  We did.  And now I sit here with beautiful 4mm white gold studs in my ears.  Karla taught me how to clean and turn the earrings every day (3 times a day)…and the rest is history.  So here is hoping that they work out this time around…because I have wanted to have pierced ears for a long, long time.  Leave it to my sister to get me to do something like this on a short weekend visit.  HA!

A shopping trip to a few of our favorite stores followed up that little adventure.

7.  Putt-Putt

Because you can’t just spend the day shopping when you have a 9-year-old boy with you, we took Landon to the Renaissance Fun Park.  We had discussed Go Karts…but opted, instead, for putt-putt.  It had been ages since my sister and I went putt-putting.  It was a lot of fun.  The easy holes on the course they put together there are actually quite challenging.  But we had a blast.  Afterwards, Landon and I took on some air hockey…which he won…and then he played a few more games after that…until the money on his card ran out.  It was worth every moment to see him out there laughing and being a competitive little boy.


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.  SOCCER!!!

One of the main reasons my sister aimed for this weekend was that the local professional soccer team, Louisville City FC, was playing on Saturday night.  And, since Landon is a HUGE soccer fan, and soccer player himself, we thought it would be fun to take him to a match.  I said I wanted to get him a replica jersey for him to wear during the match and she picked him up a hat and then got a t-shirt for Chace.  I made sure Karla wore the logo t-shirt I owned to the match as well.  They got some pizza for dinner and we settled into our seats at midfield to enjoy.  I have never seen Landon so into an event as that soccer game.  Seriously, he was shouting at the players and the refs…and it was just magical and fun and amazing.  I bought him ice cream at half time because…it’s my job as Auntie…to spoil him and get him hyped up on sugar.  HAHA!  In the end, after a horrible call by a ref, we ended in a draw of 1-1…and Landon had hoped that some of the players would come over to the midfield (they usually do) so he could get pictures and some autographs, but they all returned to the locker room without coming over.  He was bummed, but he still had a fantastic time, and I loved seeing him light up the way he did when Louisville City scored the first goal of the match!

9.  Home-Cooked Breakfast

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I gave my sister and Landon the option of grabbing breakfast out at a restaurant before they hit the road…or having me cook breakfast for them.  Landon really wanted waffles (with powdered sugar, which he now LOVES thanks to Wild Eggs putting it on his pancakes), scrambled eggs…and bacon.  So, my sister and I hit the grocery store for bacon (this vegetarian does not have bacon on hand), eggs, and a gluten-free waffle/pancake mix.  And then, this morning, I got to cooking.  I started the waffles first, knowing that would take the most time.  He wanted the Mickey Mouse shaped waffles…so I made that happen for him.  And, because we adults weren’t too sure we wanted waffles, we had gluten-free avocado toast with our eggs.  I started cooking the bacon before Karla emerged from the bedroom, but she took over that so I could focus on toasting the bread, doing the waffles, and scrambling the eggs.  It all finished up at the right time…everything done when it should be.  Breakfast was served.  And I didn’t take a picture of it, but Karla and I cook epic breakfasts together.  And Cathy now has lots of bacon in the fridge for this coming week.  Which makes her happy.

After that…they had to hit the road and get home…

It was hard to let them go, but I know Karla’s husband and other two kids were missing her and Landon like crazy.  I just was having such a good time and all the time together went by way too fast.

They got home late this afternoon…and she said that they missed me as well.

I hope we do it again soon.

Sisters really do make everything better!

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Take The Heat

Guess what, folks?

It’s SUMMER!!

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And let’s face it…the Olaf/Frozen/In Summer references don’t get old.  Because…it’s Olaf.  And Olaf is awesome.  Anyone who says so has no soul.

Summer is H-O-T.  HOT!  So hot.  And while I prefer to train in the heat…the one thing I do suffer through (like most other people) is the humidity.  And being that I live in the Ohio River Valley…it’s pretty damn humid.  Like…all the time.  One morning, this past week, I got up to run and it was 84 degrees at 4 am.  That’s not normal!  And it’s not even July yet.

With all that being said, how about I highlight some of the things that made this hot and stormy week a little cooler…

1.  Game of Thrones

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So, last Sunday was, possibly, one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones.  The battle scene, shown above, was one of the most intense and best things I have ever seen on television.  Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, was amazing in this episode and totally deserves to win some awards.  I mean, he really had 100 horses charging at him.  That is not CGI!!  Unfortunately, my HBO Now stream was locked up (as was the rest of the world, apparently), so I ended up having to stay up an hour later than usual to actually watch the episode.  I was NOT looking forward to spending an entire day off the Interwebs if I saved it to watch the following day.  It was totally worth it, but damn, it through off the rest of my week for sure.

All that being said, tonight is the season finale!  OMG!!!  I hope HBO Now isn’t bogged down this week and that the finale lives up to this past week…because…DAMN!

2.  Blueberry Picking
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First of all…yes…I picked the blueberries pictured above.  I went to Bryant’s Blueberries with the intention of only picking 5 pounds of berries…but the crop of Blue Crop berries this week were AMAZING!  I mean…big and ripe and awesome.  Oh yes…I was in a good place.  So, as it was bound to happen…I got 10 more pounds.  WORTH IT.  These are the best blueberries I have ever had.  Forget anything you get in the store.  I don’t know if more jam will be in the future, but I think some blueberry bagels and/or waffles and/or pancakes will be happening.  And blueberry muffins are definitely happening.

3.  Louisville City FC…SOCCER BABY!!
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So, on Tuesday (which meant I did my hill repeats in the heat of the day…after 2 spin classes on Monday), and last night, I was at Louisville Slugger Field, not for baseball…but for soccer!!  I am a season ticket holder to Louisville’s very own professional soccer team.  In fact, last night’s match was broadcast on ESPN3.  Which is pretty cool.  We also had our highest attendance record to date, finally breaking that 10,000 mark.  In fact, it was 10, 062 showed up for the match last night.

But, beyond that, after the match on Tuesday night, I got to get my picture with my favorite player this year, Enrique Montano (#20).  I look horrible in the picture, as I still had my hat on (I hate hats), and I had been melting in that heat I had been speaking about…but this picture is…awesome!  I love when the payers come over to the midfield section to meet the fans.  And Montano is very good about that.  Happiness.

If you’re local and haven’t made it to a Louisville City FC match yet…stop delaying.  Our team leads our division…so we’re pretty awesome.  It’s worth it

4.  Fun Hair
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I don’t think it will last for long, but on Wednesday afternoon, I went to my hairdresser and we got a little funky with my hair.  Teal.  Yes…I dyed my hair teal.  Not all of it, but quite a bit of it.  The problem is, I workout and run quite often, so I sweat.  And my hair, just being blonde, doesn’t hold color too well.  So, I’m enjoying it while it lasts, but it’s already, sadly, fading.

5.  Roadside Assistance
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I’m not talking about AAA or the local trucks that stop and help out stranded drivers.  Nope.  I’m talking about a super-amazing project that I am a part of with some great friends of mine.  One of my girls, Indy (aka: Jennifer), had a spark of genius about creating a project that centers around the songs released off of Peter Cincotti’s new album.  Since Exit 105 was released the other day, Indy put together a Tumblr blog and posted a recipe already for a cocktail based off the song “Long Way From Home.” So from now until Peter’s birthday on July 11th, we’ll be developing and sharing recipes inspired by the songs on the EP. These will be shared everywhere we can think to post them, but will also be collected onto a Tumblr blog-http://exit105-roadside-assistance.tumblr.com/ Check it out!!

And if you are unfamiliar with the talent of Peter Cincotti…discover him…NOW!

Did you do anything amazing, fun, and/or exciting this past week?  Ever dye your hair a crazy color?  Got any fun plans for the upcoming 4th of July holiday?

Product Review: Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes

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Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes

Product: Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes – $3.99+

Sometimes, I don’t remember why I pick things out to try…they just sort of intrigue me at the time when I am at the grocery store.  It happens.  And while I have been steering mostly clear of packaged and processed foods, sometimes you just have to give in and try something that calls to you.

And that is apparently what happened when I snagged a box of Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes.  Let me tell you…the box makes these things look amazing.  Like little broccoli hashbrowns.  Or…broccoli and potato latkes.

I love potato pancakes (latkes)…and I love broccoli.  So this was basically Dr. Praeger’s brilliantly meshing the two of them together.  BRILLIANT!!

Dr. Praeger’s is a multi-generation, family-owned food company founded by two heart surgeons.  The company is committed to encouraging a more sensible and healthier way of eating.  Everything created by Dr. Praeger’s begins with their no-compromise recipes that help support an active lifestyle.  Every ingredient that goes into each and every Dr. Praeger’s product is pronounceable and recognizable.  You know how I love that!

As I stated above, I LOVE Broccoli!  Like…LOVE IT!  Always have.  Always will.

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So, imagine my elation when I spotted this little box in the freeze section of one of the many grocery stores I frequent.  I don’t know why I felt the need to snatch it up and try it…but it was like…meant to be.  Because it was BROCCOLI…and…

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…POTATO!

I’m Irish.  Potatoes and I are BFFs.  Like…for real BFFs.  I eat at least…at least two potatoes a week, but usually more.  No joke.

The box of Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes describes these little treats as a savory blend of broccoli, potatoes and onions.  There are six (6) cakes in each box, making it easy to decide whether you want to eat these as a snack, a side, or as a meal.

For me…MEAL!

Oh yes…meal time.

It was actually a Friday afternoon where these were pulled out of my freezer.  I had a half day at the office and was going to head into Louisville to get my grocery shopping done early so that I could go pick blueberries Saturday afternoon instead of running around and grocery shopping then.  So, I wanted something that was easy to make, not too big (as I was cooking up Gluten Free & Vegan BLT Sammies…with a side of guac and blue tortilla chips.  So, an easy, fast, and filling lunch was what I was looking to make for my roommate and I before we hit the numerous grocery stores.  Because otherwise we are a bit like this with any samples at said grocery/natural food stores.

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The Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes are really easy to prepare.  Each round cake is individually wrapped, so, again, you can pick how many you make.  The serving size is two (2) cakes, but as this was lunch, I made up all 6, so each of us could have three (3) each.  The preferred method for cooking these is the one I used…preheating the oven to 450°F and putting the cakes on an ungreased baking pan.  The cakes go into the oven for about 5-7 minutes until browned.  Then, you carefully flip them over, cook for another 4-6 minutes, until heated through and browned.  You can also cook these in a skillet or in the microwave, but the oven baked these up to perfection.

They honestly looked like little broccoli hashbrowns.  Which is fine.  Because hashbrowns are one of life’s best foods to ever be invented, created, and consumed.  They smelled fantastic.  And I ended up topping them off with a drizzle of a vegan lemon cream sauce that I had made earlier that week for another dish.  Lunch was served…and it took less than 20 minutes.  LOVE it.

First of all, the oven technique really does cook up the Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes to a crispy perfection, all without the use of butter or oil.  And as I’m trying to cut back on some of that…that was a big thing with me.  I was afraid they would be mushy and soft, but they totally crisped up on the outside, getting that gorgeous golden color and crunchy texture.  The inside…warm…soft…and perfect.  You get a lot of broccoli flavor in each bite, but you get potato and onion and whatever spices are blended into the mix.  It was delicious.  I was beyond surprised.  I had one without the sauce, and it was fantastic.  They have the same consistency as a latke or potato pancake…but the flavor is more complex with the addition of the broccoli.  I loved these.  So simple…yet so delicious!

So, let’s take a look at the ingredients that go into the Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes.  These amazing cakes of green goodness are made from broccoli, potatoes, onion, expeller pressed canola oil, oat bran, potato flakes, egg whites, arrowroot powder, sea salt, garlic, and black pepper.  The Broccoli Cakes are gluten-free, kosher, and non-GMO.

As far as nutrition goes, with ingredients like that, you will love the nutritional info in the Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes.  A serving size is two (2) of the cakes and their are 3 servings (or 6 individually wrapped cakes) per box.  This serving will provide you with 130 calories, 6 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams sugars, and 4 grams protein.  Believe it or not, these are quite filling…because the sampling snack monsters were kept at bay.

Dr. Praeger’s as a remarkable line of gluten-free and vegetarian offerings in their product line-up.  Not everything they make is gluten-free and vegetarian though, so read the boxes.  They label everything, so you will know just by looking at the box.  I have never had a Dr. Praeger’s product that I haven’t loved…and I think lots of that is that they really do strive to use real ingredients and real foods in each and every one of their products.  If you haven’t tried the Dr. Praeger’s Gluten Free Broccoli Cakes yet…go to wherever Dr. Praeger’s items are sold near you…and grab a box.  Trust me…you will not be disappointed.

Moving Forward…No Regrets

You know…it’s heating up outside.  Yes.  It is.  And I sort of love it.  I really, really do!  I mean, I don’t want those blazing hot triple digits, but I have been waiting for the warmer weather…and suffered through the chilly, cold, bitter winter.  We never really have spring here, so…yeah, I’ve been waiting for this.

Yesterday was beautiful.  It was humid, but definitely not as stifling as last week.  And I met with my training partner in a new space with new people…the Louisville Landsharks.  Most of them were keeping their runs down to an hour or 2-6 miles, as they were all doing the TriLouisville triathlon this morning.  As he and I are both running hilly races (and selfishly, we really didn’t want to take on Eastern Parkway), we continued on into Iroqouis Park, and ran all the way to the top and then back.  It was one of my best training runs to date.  I felt good during and after.  Now before…before…not so much.  Let’s take a look at some stuff this week.

1.  Grandma’s Marathon
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When I started back to training this past January, after being cleared to run, and getting approval from Katie, my physical therapist, to follow the Norton Training Program as they all prepped for a late April marathon or half marathon (I ran the half), it was all part of going back and forth between the full and half training program as I prepped for the NYC Half Marathon and then…Grandma’s Marathon.  I was signed up to run it.  It’s my grandpa’s absolute favorite marathon.  And this year…it was their 40th Anniversary.  Big!!  I pepped for this by jumping right into a 20 miler in April because…I needed to see how my body could handle long, long distance.  I came out of it feeling great.  But I didn’t feel ready.  So I transferred my bib and that was that.  The race ran yesterday…and that morning, I felt good.  I felt really good.  Physically, I could have gone out and run this marathon and completed it.  But I think, mentally, I need more time before tackling the 26.2 mile distance.  So, while giving up my spot in that marathon was the best choice, it wasn’t an easy one.  I don’t regret it…but I know I could have done it…now.  Even though the race did get black flagged due to extreme heat.  Runners were allowed to stay out…but that’s pretty intense.  Still…I do sort of wish I had gone…but I know this will just make me better and more prepared (mentally) for my brutal (but beautiful) September race.

2.  The Best Water Stop Ever
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Need a good laugh?  Check this out.  As I mentioned, Matthew and I were running 14 miles yesterday and we took it to the hills.  Along the way, there are a few spots we can stop to refill our water bottles.  When the weather gets this humid and hot, hydration is important.  So, on our way back to our starting point, we made our final water stop, thinking we were actually embarking on closer to 15 miles (which was fine…) to finish up.  We filled up at the water fountain, took some swigs and poured the water over our heads to cool down.  And started on our way again.  Only to see that our finishing point…was not but 0.15 miles away.  Seriously, we rounded the corner from the little alcove the water fountain was in and…BOOM.  We could see our start point.  We both busted out laughing.  But it did get us to our 14 miles we set out to run…so there was that.  This is what happens when you do something new.  You don’t exactly know how much further you have to go.  HA!

3.  Mediterranean Food
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My roommate might be addicted to a meal that I make…although not too often.  I say this because last night, I had the bright idea of making some Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) for dinner.  I had one last batch of grape leaves in the fridge to use.  But…as I went to get dinner prepped, as the rice was cooling…I noticed the grape leaves had gone bad.  I told her we’d just have them tomorrow, but she insisted she’d been looking forward to them all day, and actually went out to Meijer to pick up more grape leaves.  That was how much she wanted me to make these.  So…for dinner, I cooked up the dolmades, served it with tzatziki and a side salad of greens and veggies and a garlic vinaigrette.   It was really good.  I love making these.  Sort of labor intensive…but worth it.  Besides, the Mediterranean Diet has been proven to be the healthiest one out there.  Consider me…a giver of health.  HA!

4.  How A Superhero Learns To Fly…
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So…last Sunday, I had my friend Natalie over for dinner.  I cooked up Smokey Zucchini Cakes with a Creamy Lemon Sauce, and some Cauliflower Breadsticks.  She brought the fruit.  SO GOOD!  And then, we all settled in to watch Zootopia, rounding out the Disney Animated Movies In Order (as it is currently the last one) marathon.  She had never seen it, so that was fun.  But, during the movie, there was a loud BANG that sounded at the door.  Instead of cowering and wondering what it was, Cathy, Natalie and I sprung up to go check it out.  We ain’t afraid of no ghost…intruder…whatever it was.  Turned out it was the wind, but it we all laughed at how we were ready to get our crime fighter mode on. Which started this talk about being Superheroes.  Which lead to Cathy in a Jane hat (Firefly), carrying a Captain America shield (Marvel), with a cloak on (Lord of the Rings) and a pipe…for some reason (Sherlock), armed with a plunger (Dr. Who); Natalie in a pirate hat and coat, armed with a pistol and sword; and me in a mermaid dress and a squid hat carrying a Dinglehopper…er…I mean a fork…

We were…the Fandom Fighters…and we went outside in public like this and got caught by one of my neighbors.  It was so much fun.  I haven’t laughed like that in a long time.

Don’t ask why I have a mermaid dress…


5.  Blueberry Picking
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Cross another thing off the Summer Bucket List.  For real.  Yesterday…after my humid and hot run, and after refueling with some Allergen Free Biscuits and Jam from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe…Cathy and I headed out to New Salisbury, Indiana, to Bryant’s Blueberries.  There, under the screaming hot, mid-day sun…we picked 10 pounds of blueberries.  What am I doing with 10 pounds of blueberries.  Jam!!  I am making jam.  And, apparently, scones.  Because Cathy keeps mentioning scones.  And…I’m sue there will be pancakes.  Pancakes are always a good idea.  Or…maybe donuts.  Hmmm…I’ve been meaning to make some donuts.

Or maybe…blueberry bagels.  I need to make bagels.  I might make bagels…I should make bagels.

Anyway…I have ALL THE BLUEBERRIES!!  Blueberries for days!!!

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And I’m known for my jam…so…I can’t wait to give some of these out to people!!

6.  Finding Dory
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Well, the Renaissance Faire is a no-go this weekend.  It is, after all, Father’s Day weekend.  That being said, Cathy and I needed to fill in some time…so we are off to see Finding Dory this morning.  SO excited for this sequal.  Finding Nemo is probably my 2nd favorite Pixar movie (the first being Inside Out).  So, this is a big huge deal for me.  And I’m so excited to go.  Other than being a film lover, and someone who used to want to animate for Disney, I just love the Finding Nemo story.  And it is INCREDIBLE how far technology has come since the release of the original movie in 2003.

7.  Earth to Echo
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Okay…I realize that the film, Earth to Echo, came out over 2 years ago, but I’ve been in this 2 year loop of ALL THE DISNEY ANIMATED MOVIES for the past 2 years.  So, now I’m watching movies I wanted to see, but couldn’t since Disney was taking over my life, time, and movie watching time slot.  I had my eyes on Earth to Echo for a long while…as it was made as an homage to Spielberg.  I mean, the plot is pretty much lifted from E.T., but also borrows heavily from The Goonies and other 80s movies about kids hanging out and doing things.  But it is filmed in that old-school Spielberg technique which just makes you feel like you are right there in the movie itself.  I didn’t expect too much, but this film was adorable and I loved every moment of it.  Seriously.  If you overlooked this one…it’s on Netflix…go watch it…NOW.

8.  Father’s Day


And…last, but not least…HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!  My dad has been such a steadfast, supportive, and integral part of my life.  I may live in a totally different state, but he has always cheered for me, guided me, and helped me to understand the value of making it in the world…on my own.  He’s why I am a strong, independent woman.  My dad is one of the nicest men in the world, still opening doors for my mom, my sister and me when we are with him, still waits at the security check until I am completely through at the airport, and still wants to take me out to eat when I come visit.  He’s my (super) hero…and I am lucky to have such an amazing man to call my dad!!

Did you do anything special in honor of Father’s Day?  Seen any good movies lately?  Ever pick blueberries?

Hope everyone had an epic week!!

Product Review: Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix

Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix

Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix

Product: Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix – $3.99+

Who doesn’t love sprinkles?!

I mean, be honest here!  Who in the world doesn’t love sprinkles?!

Sprinkles make the world go ’round.  Sprinkles bring happiness and joy.  Sprinkles are what smiles are made of.  Sprinkles…totally rule!

And pancakes…who doesn’t love an amazing, buttery, soft, amazing pancake?!

Pancakes are awesome.

I mean…seriously…they are one of life’s most perfect food.  Don’t argue this with me.  It’s true.

So…imagine my glee…my elation…my “I MUST BUY THIS NOW AND EAT THIS” attitude when one day, while in Louisville and shopping the aisles of the Walmart Neighborhood Market (because, hey, it’s less skeevy than the regular Walmart), I spotted a gluten free mix that involved both sprinkles…and…pancakes.

It wasn’t a dream.  Nope.  It was a reality.  And this very special (and happiness-inducing) product is brought to your grocery store shelves by the one and only…Hungry Jack.  Yes…the Hungry Jack known for potatoes and syrup and regular amazing pancake mixes.  That Hungry Jack.

Turns out they now offer a Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix.

Yep…you read that right…Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix.  How many different ways can you say, “Get in my belly!”?

I purchased this box of pancake and waffle mix back in…October.  I had every intention of making them while my parents were visiting, but, instead, my dad requested lemon poppyseed muffins…so this had to wait.  However…good things come to those who wait.  And patience is a virtue.  One I don’t normally have when pancakes and sprinkles are involved, but, hey, I can be an adult.

I ended up bringing the mix with me to Columbus, Ohio, over the New Year weekend.  It’s tradition to spend said holiday with my friend Jenn…and Jenn is quite open to gluten-free foods.  She even has gluten free foods stashed in her kitchen for my visits.  She eats said gluten free foods with me.  Well, since Sunday we traditionally cook the breakfast, I told her I’d bring the mix and we could have some pancakes that morning.  She upped the carb-fest with the promise of using up some more of the Magners Syrup we made when we made boozy waffles the last time I visited.

And so…game on.

The pancakes are super easy to mix up.  The box says that 1 cup of the mix and 3/4 cup of water will make enough batter for 6-8 pancakes.  This is false.  Since there were 3 of us, this is what I made, thinking we all could have 2 pancakes, but I ended up adding more mix and water just to get the last necessary pancake for 6 pancakes each made from about 1/4 cup of the batter.  So…trust me, you’ll need a slight bit more for those 6 pancakes.  8 isn’t happening.

All that being said, when these were browning on the skillet, they not only puffed up beautifully, but they got that rich, golden color too.  The pancakes had that nice crisp outside, but were cake-y and soft and fluffy on the inside.  And…they had sprinkles.  Seriously…so, so, so good.  Kind of like eating a slice of cake for breakfast, because…sprinkles!

All that being said, I am only now getting around to typing up this review.  But in that time, I have also decided to give the waffle recipe a try.  This just involved 2 cups of the mix (lots of sprinkles), 1-1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I substituted unsweetened applesauce), and 1 egg (or egg replacer).  Just stir it up until you get rid of any large lumps…pour into the waffle iron…and let them cook to that perfect golden brown.  This made 6 large Mickey Mouse waffles…but the box claims it will make 12 (4×4-inch) waffles.

The waffles were even better than the pancakes.  And for the first time, my gluten free waffles got to a perfect golden brown on the outside.  I was so impressed.  And when I served them up (with a splash of real raspberry maple syrup from Michigan), it was like…a food epiphany.  I mean…cake.  Cake all over the breakfast plate.  Not only were my waffles Mickey Mouse shaped, but they had sprinkles in them…and looked and tasted like an indulgent treat.  Oh yeah.

So…I had the mix as pancakes…and then as waffles…so…how was it?

The product that the Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix produces is fantastic in either form.  From the splattering of rainbow sprinkles to the rich, buttery flavor that comes from the buttermilk base…it’s pancake perfection.  A rainbow of pancake perfection. These are the unicorns of gluten free pancakes.  The pancakes and waffles are soft and fluffy on the inside, golden and crispy on the outside.  And that…it pancake and waffle perfection if you ask me.  In addition, this mix actually is a good source of calcium.  And a nice way of having candy (or sprinkles) for breakfast.

might still be a little (or a lot) excited about these.

Anyway, as always, let’s take a look at what goes into the Hungry Jack Gluten Free Funfetti Pancake & Waffle Mix.  This mix is made from rice flour, sugar, dextrose, leavening (baking soda, calcium phosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, candy bits (sugar, vegetable oil [palm and palm kernel], modified corn starch, confectioners glaze, soy lecithin, colored with [yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, yellow 6]), potato starch, pea fiber, buttermilk, tapioca starch, canola oil, and contains 2% of less of: salt, potassium bicarbonate, hydroxypropyl, methycellulose, xanthan gum, calcium carbonate, eggs, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, yellow 5, and red 5.  Yeah…not a very clean eat, but nice for a treat every now and again.

As far as nutrition goes, the mix isn’t too bad.  The serving size is 1/3 cup of the dry mix (or about 3 4-inch pancakes) and the box contains about 11 servings.  This serving will dish up 190 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, less than 5 mg cholesterol, 540 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 10 grams sugars, and 3 grams of protein.  Despite being a pancake and waffle mix with sprinkles in it…the fiber and protein is higher than most to make you feel full longer.  So, there is that.  There is also 15% calcium and 4% iron in each serving.

So, yeah…delicious, amazing, fun, and fluffy…it’s everything pancakes should be.  It’s everything waffles should be.  And it is what so many gluten-free pancake mixes fail at being.  I loved these.  I have no shame in admitting it.  It’s nice to change things up and have a bit of a treat every now and again.  This mix was a fun, and also delicious way of brightening my breakfast plate…and my morning.

Product Review: Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix + Recipe Bonus

Harvest Muffins made with Zema's Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix

Harvest Muffins made with Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix

Review: Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix – $7.99+

It seems like ages ago, back on a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, when my parents first took me to Organic Harvest, the latest and newest health food store in their area.  I was gobsmacked by the amount of products inside this store that I had never seen before.  I might have heard of the brand, but the product itself or even the brand, was not available to me in any convenient form.

So, naturally, I went on a shopping spree.

Because…I do that.

Well, I get very overburdened with mixes.  I do this to myself, naturally.  I just get really, really excited when I see something new.  Or course, as of late, I’ve been making a point of eating more unprocessed foods for breakfast than something that comes out of a box (cereal included) or from a mix.  So, yeah, the pantry is well stocked with so many mixes that I honestly just need to work through.  And as this one was (obviously as the packaging has been since updated) nearing expiration…it was time to use it up and move it out.  So, out came the Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix.

Zemas Madhouse Foods is committed to manufacturing gluten-free, ancient grain baking mixes that help support a clean eating lifestyle through the use of minimally processed ingredients that can be safely incorporated into diets that are limited, allergy-free and diabetic.  They are committed to keeping their products free of dairy, soy, rice, yeast, tree nuts, peanuts, sulfites, additives, trans fats, preservatives, and refined sugar.

Now, I had high hopes for this mix.  I was first introduced to Zema’s Madhouse Foods by Cuisine Cube when I tried their mix for Focaccia and/or Pizza Crusts.  I loved it.  So, the fact that I had another Zema’s Product (yes…I had this one before Cuisine Cube sent theirs), I had very good expectations for this.  But…why stick to something as simple as the box exclaims.  After all, this is a pancake and waffle mix, and there are recipes for both on the back.  But I am really pancaked out these days and waffles are great…but a pain to make (time consuming, really).  So…I opted for the other recipe on the box, making a few minor adjustments to fit what I had in my pantry and my own idea of what constites a Harvest Muffin.

Oh, yeah…I made muffins with the Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix.  Yes.  Muffins.  I sort of ripped off Udi’s version of a Harvest Muffin, but utilized most of the recipe from the back of this exact box.  YAY!  The recipe will follow, of course.

Naturally, I can’t bake something and not try it.  How else am I going to report on it?  So, after these came out of the oven and rested for 10 minutes in the pan, I removed them and put them on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.  After running some gluten-free and dairy free goodies downstairs to my neighbors, I came back upstairs and decided that both my roomie and I had an obligation to see how the muffins turned out.  If they were crap, well, we certainly didn’t have to keep them.  But…if they were good, they were getting bagged up and put in the freezer for those stressful and hectic days where cooking a breakfast is just not feasible.

Let me tell you…Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix is amazing.  Seriously.  Okay…so the muffins are a little dense…but I’ve grown to that being mostly the norm when it comes to gluten-free goodies (especially of a bread-like quality) that I bake.  However, there is a lot of flavor in each and every bite of these muffins.  And I absolutely love the combination of the sweet potato and pumpkin flavors, making this a perfect autumn mix for any sort of morning recipe…even pancakes and waffles.  Just…really good.  And not overly sweet either, which is a nice change.  I love dessert as much as any girl, but I mostly want my muffins to be muffins, not a fruit/veggie based cupcake.  But, maybe that’s just me.  The fact that there is no added sugar in the mix is a big plus with me, as I am working on cutting down on the amount of sugar I eat every day.  I also love that this mix is made with the superseed trio of hemp, chia and flaxmeal.  Flax is one of the best gluten-free plant-based sources, which contains alpha-linolenic acid, which converts in the body to the same heart-protective Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, sardines and mackerel.  It also contains 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon, which promotes intestinal health.  The chia seeds (like chia pets, yes!) are also naturally gluten-free and contain Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, calcium and protein.  LOVE a breakfast that packs a bit of extra nutrition into each and every bite through healthy and beneficial ingredients.  This might be a mix, but it has great ingredients making it a better choice than all the lack-luster and nutrient-sparse mixes on the shelf.  Oh yeah…have your breakfast treat and treat your body too.  Now we’re talking.

Let’s discuss the ingredients that go into Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix, shall we?  This mix is made from sorghum flour, organic flax seed meal, sweet potato flour, potato starch, organic quinoa flakes, tapioca flour, aluminum free baking powder (monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, corn starch (made from non-GMO corn)), hemp seeds, organic cinnamon, contains less than 2% of each of the following: baking soda, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sea salt, organic ginger, and nutmeg.  This product is manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility free of the top 8 allergens(milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish).  It is vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and verified non-GMO.

As for nutrition information, here you go…a serving of Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix is 1/3 cup of the dry mix (44 grams), and the box contains around 6 servings.  In each serving, you will be taking in 150 calories, 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 29 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 2 grams sugars, and 4 grams of proteins.  This one might actually be the best nutrient-packed mix out on the market to be honest.  WOW!

And now…the promised recipe!

Recipe: Gluten Free Harvest Muffins

Servings: 18
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Bake 28-30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Zema’s Madhouse Foods Gluten Free & Sugar Free Peruvian Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 2 eggs (or egg replacer)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used agave)
  • 1/3 cup oil of choice (I used coconut)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas
  • 1/2 cup craisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mix and xanthan gum.  Set aside.

n a large bowl, whisk all liquid ingredients together.  Add the dry mix to the wet mixture and combine,  Add in the pepitas and craisins, mixing well.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 28-30 minutes.  Check the doneness with a toothpick.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then take muffins out and cool on a rack.

This recipe freezes well.

~*~*~
I have the remaining 17 muffins in my freezer now for hectic crazy days…but I already am looking forward into diving into them.  I’m sure it won’t be long.

If you are interested in a pancake mix with more benefits than sugar and fillers, I can’t praise Zema’s Madhouse Foods enough.  Their Gluten Free and Sugar Free Peruvian Sweet Potato Pancake & Waffle Mix surpassed all expectations.  And I didn’t even make pancakes or waffles with them.  Go figure.  Although, I am more than certain this mix would make some of the best pancakes or waffles out there.  Next time I pick up another box of this mix…I think I’ll go for traditional pancakes and waffles.  That being said…give this muffin recipe a shot!  And seek out Zema’s Madhouse Foods in your natural food stores…or order online!  It’s worth the hunt.

Restaurant Review: Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tucker & Bevvy Brealfast, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tucker & Bevvy Brealfast, Honolulu, Hawaii

Restaurant: Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast, Honolulu, Hawaii

Hangry.

That was all there was to it.  We were all hangry.  Our flight out of Kauai to island hop over to O’ahu was the earliest one available.  We were up at 4 a.m.  Some of us sooner.  Some of us without getting much sleep.  But between the three of us, we were all just picking at everything.

And the added unseasonable humidity wasn’t helping matters.  For me…I was doing okay…but my traveling companions don’t take to the humidity well.  So, lack of coffee and food was setting in.  But…we made the short hike over to Hee Hing Plaza and climbed the stairs to the second floor.  We stepped inside, happy to be in some air conditioning and took a table near the middle of the dining area.  A nice waitress came over with glasses of water and menus and explained to us the three new specials that Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast was now offering.  After that, she let us ponder what we wanted and returned soon after when we looked ready to order.

Jenn had one question about the pancakes, and when she was given an answer as to what size they were, she ordered up.  One single Ricotta Pancake ($4.00) with a side of bacon ($4.00).  Cathy went with the House Omelette (bacon, potato, cherry tomato, spinach & parmesan) with Sourdough Toast ($11.50).  As for me, I wanted one of the new specials for the menu:

The Smashed Avocado Toast ($9.50) on Gluten Free Toast with a Side of Fresh Fruit ($6.00).

Order in, and we continued to sit there and attempt to wake up.  This usually meant that Cathy rambled on about something while Jenn and I pretended to listen or just simply blinked at her.  It was one of those mornings.  We watched as plates were brought out to fellow diners…all of the food looking amazing.  I was ready to get something other than a protein bar in my tummy, that was for sure.

After a bit of a wait…out came some food.  Happiness is food arriving at your table when you are hot, tired, and hungry.  Jenn’s pancake was fluffy and looked and smelled amazing.  The Web site says they serve 100% maple syrup…but she tasted it and shunned it.  Not pure maple.

Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast's House Omelette with Sourdough Toast

Tucker & Bevvy Breakfast’s House Omelette with Sourdough Toast

Cathy’s omelet was packed with vegetables.  In fact, the entire top layer was vegetables.  Inside the egg was the bacon and potatoes.  It looked amazing.  And, she does love her sourdough toast when we’re out to eat.  She’s always stuck with the gluten-free stuff in our apartment due to the kitchen needing to be completely gluten-free (save for her own boxed snacks and cereals).  She devoured it.

And my Smashed Avocado Toast was fantastic.  I knew this was what I wanted the moment I saw it on the board at the restaurant.  It is no secret that avocado and I are BFFs and when smashed over toast…I’m in a happy place.  This version of Avocado Toast was made with lemon juice, an Egyptian spice blend, and toasted pistachios on top.  The pistachios were a nice touch, and one I never would have thought of.  But…lo and behold…it totally changed my idea of Avocado Toast.  This was amazing.  It was love at first bite…all the way down to the last bite.  Because, yes…I ate it ALL!  ALL of it.  Completely all of it.  And the big bowl of fresh fruit as well.  The fruit was fresh and ripe and sweet…and I didn’t need it, but damn, it tasted good.  Bananas, strawberries, blueberries and grapes.  That’s the good breakfast life.

We all pretty much ate what was put in front of us.  Cathy ate most  of hers.  She almost had all the eggs gone and left two of the slices of bread.

In the end, we were happy with the fact that we now had delicious food in our stomachs.  It was an unexpected breakfast stop, but well worth it.  I am forever dressing up my avocado toast with toasted pistachios.  I mean…HELLO!  Mind blown.  Culinary eyes opened.  Heck yeah…LOVE.

So, while Tucker & Bevvy was a spur-of-the-moment choice so the three of us didn’t claw each other’s eyes out…our hanger pains were tamed by the delicious breakfast foods at Tucker & Bevvy.  Seriously, I’d go back for that toast in a heartbeat.  Breakfast is love…and this was true love.

Gluten Free Avocado Toast with a Side of Fresh Fruit

Gluten Free Avocado Toast with a Side of Fresh Fruit

Product Review: SweetieBeans! Rise n’ Shine Pancake Mix

SweetBeans! Rise 'n Shine Pancake Mix

SweetBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix

Product: SweetieBeans! Rise n’ Shine Pancake Mix – $7.49+

Sorry about not having a retail price for you on this product I am about to review.  I just guessed as the link on the actual Web site for the company itself leads to an error and I can’t find anywhere else to draw a price from.  I’m guessing here.  My apologies.***

**Updated with actual ordering price**

BUT…now let’s cut to the chase.

When it comes to breakfast foods, you can’t quite beat the perfect pancake, right?  Hell, I eat pancakes for dinner sometimes.  Done that since I was a kid.  We always loved when my mom made breakfast for dinner, and the tradition carries on still in my family.  We are a breakfast-loving bunch, let me tell you!

When it comes to mixes out there for gluten-free pancakes, I have hit on the entire spectrum.  I have had the amazing.  I’ve had the so-so.  And I’ve had the horrible.  I absolutely love pancakes (they are so versatile…with what you put in them and what you put on them), and I feel that pancakes should turn out perfectly…every freakin’ time.  So, why is it that some gluten-free products get that right, and some…just don’t come close.

Pancakes are all about texture.  You want them to be hearty, yet light and fluffy.  This is a very difficult balance to reach.  And I definitely have my go-to favorites when it comes to the gluten-free pancake mixes that are out on the market.  I thought I had covered them all (or at least the wide-spread ones) until my February (Happy V-Day) 2015 Cuisine Cube tossed another one my way.

So, first let me recap for you what Cuisine Cube is all about, shall I?  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?!

So, the February box arrives and I uncover this large pouch of SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix.  SCORE!!  Pancakes are amazing.  I was quite excited about them.  And after tucking all that month’s products away in their proper places, I had every intention of making pancakes with this mix.  And then…I got hurt.  And life got busy.  Very, very busy.  And it was left to sit on the pantry shelf with some random bread mixes and other baking/breakfast items that I have yet to delve into.

But, my good friend, Harry, brought me some amazing local, and freshly picked (by himself!) blueberries on Friday and I knew that blueberry pancakes had to be made.  I’d been craving them, but I keep eating all the blueberries like candy instead of baking/cooking/making things with them.  Hey, give me a fruit and I’ll devour it…even if I just pop them from the bag and nosh.  Seriously.  That’s how much I love fruit, particularly berries.

So, after my Monday morning spin class, I came home and retrieved the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix from my pantry, mixed 2 cups of it with 1-3/4 cup water and stirred it up.  Added these amazing blueberries and it was time to make the pancakes.

Sweetie!Beans is a true labor of love.  Several years ago, through a series of health related unfortunate events, the creator’s family became aware that they had food allergies and were going to have to make a few dietary adjustments…which meant completely excluding wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, casein, peanuts, walnuts, food dyes, pesticides, and yeast.  Because it was a health matter, the entire went cold-turkey on their allergy elimination and found that within a few months they were feeling much better.  The food, however, for people who were considered “foodies” was lacking now.  The items were lackluster, back in the day when cakes tasted like cardboard, fried foods were soggy, and cookies were incomprehensible.  The father of the family took matters into his own hands and got into the kitchen.  This didn’t happen overnight, but through years of trial and error, he found the perfect blend.  Word spread, and soon people were asking him to bake cakes for their special occasions, and all went over well, despite that they were vegan and gluten free.  Talk about winning!  And with that, SweetieBeans! was born…the company named after the nickname he gave the love of his life, his wife, back when they were 17 years old.

As for the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix…the batter combined with all the ingredients to form this slightly thick, but smooth, consistency.  It was ideal.  I got out my 1/4 cup measure cup and dropped the batter onto the skillet to begin to cook.  So often, gluten-free pancakes don’t get that amazing golden crust on the outside, but these did.  And it didn’t take long for the batter to get there either.  I started to see the edges begin to bubble and firm up, so I went ahead and went to flip the first batch over.  Perfection.  So, this made me feel really good about the way these would taste when all was done.  And while these didn’t get overly fluffy in size, but they weren’t flat either.  These had the perfect amount of lift to them.  They weren’t heavy, nor were they particularly filling.  I ate mine while cooking up another round of them and ended up hoovering the two I had plated for myself.  Seriously.  They were gone almost as soon as I poured my Sohgave Blueberry Syrup over them.  I think, because of the name, my roommate thought these were made with bean flours, so she had said that she was surprised they didn’t taste like bean.  I told her it was just the name and nothing to do with the blend of flours that were used to create the pancake mix itself.  She, a lover of pancakes like me, also enjoyed these.  She said they cooked up well and had good volume to them.  So, since she isn’t a Celiac or gluten-free…this is a great endorsement.  Were they the best we’ve had?  Nope.  But they rank right up there!  I was pleasantly surprised, honestly.

With that in mind, let’s discuss what goes into the SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix, shall we?  This mix is a blend of sorghum flour, rice flour blend (rice flour, rice bran), white rice flour, sugar, tapioca starch, and contains less than 2% of each of the following: baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, corn starch, potato starch, potato flour, natural flavor, xanthan gum, sea salt, monocalcium phosphate, magnesium carbonate.  This mix is gluten-free (obviously), vegan, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free, peanut-free, walnut-free, free of food dyes, free of pesticides, and yeast-free.  Loving it?  I know I am!!

As for nutrition, a serving size of SweetieBeans! Rise ‘n Shine Pancake Mix is 1/3 cup of the dry mix.  This serving will give you 170 calories (remember, unless you add some chocolate chips or berries or peanut butter…all you put into this mix is water…so this amount remains the same!), 1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans-fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 2 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, and 3 grams of protein.  So, it will fill you up, but it won’t make you feel ridiculously full.

For me, I loved this mix at first bite.  To say that I was surprised is an understatement.  After being burned with pancake mixes promising me the best gluten-free pancakes and ending up with anything but that, it was nice to have a product actually deliver.  In fact, I look forward to reheating the other batch I made while devouring mine like they were going out of style this morning.  Some foods I just can’t savor.  Not when it had been so long since I had something taste that amazing.  Pancakes should be simple and delicious.  SweetieBeans! gives you this and more.

I’m a fan!  Trust me…you will be too.  But first, we need to figure out how to order more!

(Thanks to Tim’s comment below, you can order this mix and the other SweetieBeans! mixes at this link: https://gourmetfoodland.com/products/mixes/gluten-free/

Product Review: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Product: Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix – $4.49+

It was October 2014 and I was entering the great land of Trader Joe’s in Louisville, Kentucky.  I had just passed the big center display of bananas when my gaze fell upon an end cap that was holding a bunch of pumpkin goodness.  I love anything pumpkin.  This is no secret.  And a Trader Joe’s mix with pumpkin pancake-y goodness?  HELLO!  Sign me up.

I snagged a box of it and gave the sad Celiac eyes to my roommate.  And…yes…we fit them into the budget.  Sad Celiac eyes work wonders!!  So, checkout was complete.  And fall turned into winter.  And then spring came around.  And while I had been making things for breakfast…pancakes even…I had other mixes and flour blends that had to be used first.  But, as the great kitchen pantry purge continues…Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix was up to bat today!

So, this morning, I decided to haul out the Mickey (Mouse) waffle maker and make some pancake waffles.  Why?  Because waffles are delicious and fun…and these are shaped like Mickey.  They win.  Always.  I mean, pancakes probably would have been less labor intensive but…I was craving waffles for awhile.  In fact, I sort of promised my roommate I’d make waffles after we went to our gluten free bakery Saturday morning for breakfast and she lamented that she wished they still offered their gluten free waffles (and pancakes).  So, a promise is a promise.

Mixing up the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix is super easy.  Simply get out a bowl and crack an egg inside.  Then, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter (or oil).  I melted down 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance.  Then, whisk them together.  Add in 2/3-cup of water plus 2 additional tablespoons and whisk that up as well.  Then, scoop out a cup of the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix and add it to the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy.

So easy.  I had all that done by the time my roommate hauled herself out of her room.  Perfect timing.  I ladled the mix into the waffle maker and closed the lid, allowing it to cook to that perfect crusty outside, soft inside consistency.  It usually takes about five minutes to get there.  And while that was working, I warmed up some pure maple syrup to pour over it.  YUMMY!  I lifted the lid of the waffle maker when the steam subsided and lo and behold…the perfect pumpkin-y gluten-free waffle shaped like Mickey Mouse.  YES!  I was already feeling good about this mix.  I slathered it up with some Earth Balance spread and then dowsed it in some maple syrup.  I then got my own waffle working and prepared to do the same thing.  Once again, the perfect waffle emerged, with this golden crust on the outside.  I was elated.  As the third (and final) waffle (now in the freezer) was working, I settled in to enjoy my breakfast.

So…it was awesome.  Let me just say that.  Some flour mixes and pancake mixes don’t get that golden crust on the outside, but Trader Joe’s managed it to perfection with this mix.  It had the perfect amount of pumpkin spice flavor.  Not too much.  And not too little (although my roomie says that she didn’t get much pumpkin).  I disagree with the roomie and think that the amount of pumpkin flavor was spot on.  As I am the pumpkin freak…I know best.  The crust on the outside was crisp and crunchy and the inside of the waffle was light and soft and just…so amazing.  I was in love with each bite.  I may have hoovered it, using the last bite to mop up any extra syrup lingering on the plate.  Really, very impressed.

The Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix was a new product that was introduced last October due to numerous requests from their fans of the original Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix, who had found themselves now eating a gluten-free diet.  The Trader Joe’s peeps went to work for months to get the right texture (no soggy, heavy pancakes allowed) and finally it it spot on, even getting the seasoning right to bring that warm fall-ish feeling to the finished product.  The recipe for the pumpkin pancakes (the one I listed above) was on the side of the box to make sure you succeeded on your pumpkin pancake quest.  They did well.  They did very well.

The Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix is made from white rice flour, potato starch, cane sugar, dehydrated pumpkin flakes, buttermilk powder, tapioca flour, molasses powder, baking powder, sea salt, organic vanilla flavor, expeller pressed canola oil, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground ginger, xanthan gum, annatto for color, and ground nutmeg.  This mix is gluten-free and cholesterol free.

A serving of Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix is 1/3 cup dry mix or 2 pancakes prepared.  A serving of the mix will provide 130 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.  It contains 250 mg sodium and 7 grams of sugar.  The dry mix will also give you 29 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.  When it is prepared as per the instructions on the side of the box, you will be taking in 210 calories and 8 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 70 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, and 7 sugars.  Prepared, you will have29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

Honestly, it is one of the better gluten-free pancakes mixes out there.  I was above and beyond happy with the way my Mickey waffles came out.  Not only were these full of perfect pumpkin flavor, they were crispy and soft and the texture was right where it needed to be.  Trader Joe’s definitely nailed the gluten-free pumpkin goodness in these.  I hope this mix is back on the shelves this upcoming fall.  Total yum!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Mickey Waffles made with Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Gluten Free Pumpkin Mickey Waffles made with Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix