Running off the winter weight

Hello everyone and Happy Monday!

It’s that time of year again here in North Dakota. The holidays are over, football is officially over for the season and we are 3 months into a cold, dry winter. Breakout the face masks and winter tights…it’s time to RUN!!

And by run I don’t mean to the Caribbean, although that is really a great idea as well. I definitely wouldn’t mind laying on the hot sandy beach in Puerto Morelos with a slushy, sweet Pina Colada in my hand!704924_10151255862641033_796574077_o

Ahhhhh….but back to running.

So what I’m actually talking about is the physical act of running. Running for exercise, running for stress relief, running towards a goal. Whatever kind of running you are in to. But sometimes, the thought of running is better than actually doing it.

I just started training for my 4th half-marathon and let me tell you, it is harder than you think to get back into running. Since getting pregnant about 2 years ago, I’ve run no more than a couple of miles at a time. And I was taking it pretty easy whenever I did run. So let’s just say I’m not in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.

But if I can go from hardly running a mile to running 13.1 miles, so can YOU!

There are countless plans and programs out there to help get you to the finish line. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to try something like the Couch to 5K plan to get you going. This is a great training program for beginners. The website provides a ton of great advice for those people who want  to get into running slowly and safely plus a bunch of other resources and plans. This is the type of plan I used when I first started running over 8 years ago. It’s an easy, gradual way to get into running that most people can handle.

The 16 week half-marathon plan:

Now that I’ve been running for years, I’ve come up with my own version of how I train for an event. I came up with this schedule for a half-marathon based on a bunch of different plans I’ve used over the years and tweaked it to fit my current schedule. I don’t have a ton of time during the week so I limit the times I train to only twice during the week and both Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, you can tweak my plan to fit your schedule. I would also mention that my plan is for someone who has already been running and can somewhat easily run 3 miles with only a few breaks. The mileage in the plan goes up every week so it is a little intense for beginners.

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16 week half-marathon training plan

Explaining the plan:

As I mentioned before, because of my limited schedule, I only run 4 days a week. Some people like to run 5-6 days a week but I just can’t fit it in. I plan my long runs for Saturdays with a recovery run on Sundays, and two medium length runs during the week.

My Tuesday run is my longer mid-week run and that is the run where I just focus on my distance. I don’t worry about speed or anything else but getting the miles in.

My Thursday run is either a hill or speed run. The hill run is great to help build stamina and give those quadriceps a good workout! Doing hill runs will benefit you if you are doing pretty much any race, even in the flat lands here in North Dakota. I remember the first time I ran the Fargo 1/2 marathon and came up to an underpass. Running up the other side of that thing after already running 10 miles was ridiculously hard because I hadn’t added any hill runs into my training.  Even those little tiny hills can wear you out if you aren’t prepared for them!

The speed run is to help with…you guessed it…your speed! If this is your first race, it’s probably the last thing you care about but you may want to add a speed run into your training plan if you’ve already ran a race and want to improve on your time.

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Oh the boredom of stretching! Pretty much everyone I know hates stretching but it is SO important! It not only helps lengthen your muscles for a longer stride but helps prevent dangerous injuries. This article from Fitday does a great job explaining the benefits of stretching. I only actually schedule myself one day off because I use my other “off” day to do some extra stretching or yoga. You can certainly replace the Stretch/Yoga day for an off day if you want but I would highly recommend trying to fit some kind of stretching in to your other off day.

The last thing I wanted to mention about my plan is the Strength Training day. I really have a tough time fitting this in but strength training for runners is so beneficial! I think Runner’s World says it best that “supplementing a running program with strengthening exercises will not only aid in injury prevention but will make you a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner.” These 10 exercises can easily be done in only 30 minutes and can be done once or twice a week as time allows.

Okay folks, let me know if you have any questions or need any advice. I’ll do my best to help if I can!

Cheers!

Angie

 

 

 

 

Happy Hump Day & a Painting the Town Party review

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Oh yeah, it’s Hump Day everyone! Is this week flying by or is it just me?!

Yesterday was another beautiful day here in Bismarck! I think we might have topped out at a sunny 48 degrees! Glorious day for a run outside which is what I did after work before picking my little one up.

To top the day off, I had a “girls date” with my dear friend Jenna. We had plans to “Paint the Town” and I was pretty pumped for a girls night out.

The Paint the Town Party is an event put on by one of our local news stations, Towns Square Media. We were able to buy tickets through this really great site called Seize the Deal. Seize the Deal is one of those daily deal websites that offers discounts on local restaurants as well as tickets for activities around town. It sounded like a really great time! Admission got you one ticket to Painting the Town Party at Lucky Ducks which included class and instruction time, two adult beverages and a shared appetizer. And best of all, you get to go home with a canvas painting that you made!

I loved that the class was held at Lucky Ducks! It is a local restaurant and bar that has really unique and delicious sandwiches as well as other lunch and dinner items. My all time favorite is their Teal Sandwich, a delicious combination of sliced turkey breast, sprouts, cucumber, tomato, & a wasabi aioli. I usually get it on the wheat and have it toasted. Yummmmmmmm….

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Anyway, back to the painting the town. I arrived at Lucky Duck’s a little late of course…story of my life! Jenna had gotten there on time and got us a spot. They had the upstairs section of the Pond, Lucky Duck’s Bar, sectioned off and had the tables already set up with canvases and paint when I got there. AND the wine was already being served. There are bonuses to being late.🙂

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After getting settled in and helping myself to a plate full of the awesome taco dip & tortilla roll-ups, we got to work.

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Jenna getting in touch with her inner artist.

Adding some "snow" after completing my gray background

Adding some “snow” after completing my gray background

Jenna and I

Jenna and I

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Almost finished!

Almost finished!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our finished work!

Over all, it was a really fun event! My only critique would be the expense, $45 which included the above mentioned adult beverages, appetizers, art supplies & instruction. There are actually other classes like this available in town for $20 or less where you bring your own wine if you want and get to create an art piece and take it home.

I did love that the event was at Lucky Ducks, which is in downtown Bismarck. Had Jenna or I been able to stay out later, it would have been fun to go to some of the other downtown pubs to have a cocktail after our class.

Also, the instructor did a really great job considering how full the room was. Lots of ladies…and one lucky guy…enjoying tasty wine and good company make a noisy bunch. But she did a great job getting to each table to make sure we were keeping up and not butchering our work.

All in all, I would definitely recommend taking one of these classes if you live in Bismarck. They are on Tuesday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 at Lucky Ducks. You can buy tickets to the event here.

Hope you all had a fabulous Hump Day!

Cheers!

Emily’s Sweet Potato Bites

The sun was shinning, no wind and FORTY-FIVE degrees outside! It may be January in North Dakota but yesterday felt like a crisp spring day in May! I just love days like that! It was so nice to have a little break from the cold. Helps a person make it through those long cold months of a mid-western winter.

I absolutely had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get Emily outside. So we went for a quick walk after work in Sertoma Park. Sertoma is a beautiful 3 mile long park that runs along the Missouri River on the West side of Bismarck. It has a great multi use path that keeps pretty clear through the winter…just need to watch for the flooded areas when all the snow melts after days like yesterday.🙂

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The Ferris wheel may be quiet and still this time of year but it’s still a unique feature in an otherwise lackluster winter landscape.

In the summer and nicer months of the year, Sertoma is a very popular park for family gatherings with its many shelters and play gyms, access to Dakota Zoo and we can’t forget about the awesome SuperSlide Amusement Park!

We ended up having a really great walk! It was crisp but warm enough to enjoy a 30 minute stroll and take a couple of pictures. Emily stayed content with a little snack and lots to look at!20150126_163336

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There are many old river trees throughout Sertoma Park. I especially love this one. I’ve seen it used in many family pictures and even looks beautiful in its naked winter wear.

After we got home and enjoyed some leftover beef street tacos (recipe to come for that) and got Emily washed up and snuggled up in bed, I decided to get some sweet potato bites made for her for the week.

Sweet and savory at the same time, these sweet potato bites are probably Emily’s all time favorite finger food. They were one of the first recipes I made for her and she’ll still eat them cold or warm. And they are SO good for her! These little morsels are a very good source of vitamins like B6, A, & C,  low in Sodium, and a great source of Dietary Fiber. (Nutritional info.)

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To get these tasty treats ready, I take one medium sweet potato, wash and scrub it clean of all dirt, and peel the skin off with a veggie peeler. DSC_0003

Once you get it prepped, use a sharp knife to slice and dice the potato into cubes about the size of a large pea.

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Once you finish slicing & dicing, coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and toss in the bites. Drizzle no more than 1/2 tsp. of olive or grape seed oil over the bites & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix it all up until the bites are coated and glistening.

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Bake the sweet potato bites in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until they are soft but not soggy.  Let them cool to room temperature…try not to eat them all while you wait.😉 Once they are cool enough, I portion the bites out into 4 plastic baggies and put all the baggies into a labeled freezer bag and toss into the freezer for use later in the week.

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These bags are great to grab and go if you’re out and about or to use as a backup veggie for dinner or a snack.

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I hope you and your little one enjoy these tasty sweet potato bites as much as we do!

Until next time🙂

Angie

Sweet Potato Bites

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Time: 10 min prep, 30 min cook
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 tsp. Olive or Grape Seed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and scrub sweet potato of all dirt, and peel the skin off with a veggie peeler. Slice and cut it into bites a little bigger than a pea.

Coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and toss in the bites. Drizzle no more than 1/2 tsp. of olive or grape seed oil over the bites & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix it all up until the bites are coated.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the bites are soft but not soggy.  Let them cool to room temperature. Once they are cool enough, portion the bites out into 4 plastic baggies and put all the baggies into a labeled freezer bag for later use.

Thought of the day…Fitting It All In

It was the end of a busy Monday and I was finally just sitting down to read for a few minutes. Sitting in my cozy bed, I found myself thinking about my day. As a full-time working mom, I’m constantly struggling with how to manage everything. From caring for and spending QUALITY time with my daughter, to FOCUSING on what needs to be done at work, to making dinner and picking up the house…Clock_Runningit always seems to be a battle against time and energy. How do you find time for yourself, your partner, your health?!

It seems to be the question on everyone’s mind. I’ve talked to other moms, read articles online, and tried a few things out and came up with a few ideas on how to Fit It All In!

  • SLEEP! The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for an adult. I know that sounds impossible some days but it’s so important to give your body time to rest and recharge so you CAN make it through your day.
  • Make a schedule and stick with it! I use my Google calendar to do this. It’s what works for me but do whatever works best for you. I just enter my schedule into my calendar and boom…reminders 15 minutes before my task to keep me moving on to the next thing.
  • Take your breaks at work. This one is really hard for me. I usually just end up eating lunch at my desk and leave work with tired eyes from staring at my computer all day. Take the recommended 15 minute breaks if your job allows it. Go walk around your building or block. If it’s cold out, like it is here in January, walk around INSIDE the building. I’m lucky to work in a large complex so there are lots of halls and floors to get a decent little walk in 15 minutes. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Exercise!! Now how do you fit that in? That one is tough. I recently started training for a 1/2 marathon so I’m running twice a week on my lunch break and twice on the weekends while my daughter naps. Another one of my favorite things to do lately is a morning bathroom workout! It only takes 10-15 minutes and it gets my blood pumping right away in the morning. What does a typical bathroom routine look like you ask? A little something like this…
  1. 1 minute jumping jacks
  2. 15 squats (Be sure your knees don’t go over your toes!)
  3. 15 tricep dips (I use the side of my tub for these)
  4. 10 pushups – use your knees if you need to – I do🙂
  5. 10 lunges (each leg)
  6. 20 knee highs
  7. 30 second plank
  8. 20 leg raises (check out this video to see how to do this one)
  9. 5 jumping squats (another good video)
  10. Finish it up with 10 good old-fashioned sit ups (So much harder than they were in grade school!)
  •  Wake up 30 minutes earlier. This somewhat contradicts my point of getting your 8 hours but if you’ve gotten at least 7 hours of sleep and need to get a few more things done in your day, get up 30 minutes earlier. Hopefully, no one else is awake yet and you can do your morning bathroom workout, shower, get ready, get the coffee going, get your lunch together and start breakfast before anyone else gets up!
  • The dishes can wait. One of the hardest things for me is NOT cleaning when I get home from work. Many days, the dishwasher needs to be emptied, a load of laundry needs to be thrown in, maybe the garbage could be taken out and goodness knows the rest of the house could use a deep clean! My daughter is 14 months old now and it feels like just yesterday I could hold her sleeping in one of my arms while I did those dishes. Now, she’s trying to take my hand to help her toddle around the house, pointing at everything, and stealing the dogs toys. IT GOES SO FAST! Don’t spend those precious few hours you get to be with your children doing the dishes! Hold their hands. Kiss their cheeks. LAUGH with them and sing songs and dance with them. That’s what I try to do every day with Emily and they are the best hours of my day. You can do the dishes when the kids are sleeping🙂
  • Kiss your partner and say I Love You EVERYDAY! This one isn’t hard and only takes a minute but makes up for a lot of the lost time you used to spend together. At the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, the toys put away, grab a glass of wine or water and sit down with your partner. Even if you don’t talk but just sit next to each other, those moments matter.
  • LAUGH! This isn’t something that helps you Fit It All In but it really makes the day so much better!

I hope this list help you try to make it through your busy day! I’m sure some of you have more to deal with but remember to just take a deep breath, stretch &  smile before you rush on to the next thing.

Angie

 

 

Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole

There isn’t much I like better mid week than Taco Tuesday at the Miller House. This Tuesday I revamped a Taste of Home recipe and came up with my Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole!

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As I’ve mentioned before, we LOVE Mexican food at our house. Recipes like this one and the one below are some of our favorites.  I swear I must be half Mexican, half Italian with my deep love of Mexican food & pizza!

I’ve loved Mexican food for as long as I can remember. I remember one of my favorite dishes from when I was a kid, my Mom’s Beef Enchilada Casserole. Oh the cheesy, slightly spicy mess of it still makes my mouth water! I’m definitely going to have to create a healthier version of it and share with you all.

But today, I want to share this tasty Mexican casserole that was a big hit at our house…even my 14 month old loved it!

First, gather all your ingredients and get chopping! I like to prep all my veggies and get my spices out before I start cooking. Goes so much faster that way!

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Next, place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with about 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil. Add in 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1/2 medium chopped onion, & 1 chopped red or green pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.

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Toss in the lean ground turkey. Cook until meat is no longer pink, or about 10 minutes.

 

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Now it’s time to spice things up! Stir in chicken stock, flour, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander & salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until thickened.

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While things are simmering and smelling awesome in your skillet, open the can of black beans, drain & rinse, & get mashing. I just use my handy potato masher to do this. Add in the 1/2 cup salsa of your choice. I love this Kramer’s Homemade Salsa but go with whatever floats your boat! Mix this up and get ready to layer.

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Place two tortillas in a round 2-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, bean mixture and corn; repeat layers. Top the whole thing of with the sharp cheddar cheese.  Now it’s ready to bake!

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Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is all melted and bubbly. Remove and let it stand for about 5 minutes before cutting. I like to pile on the toppings with this one. The more avocado on a Mexican dish the better in my eyes!  But feel free to add/delete what ever toppings you like. I added lettuce, tomatoes, avocado,  & sour cream to mine.

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Oh look at that pile of cheesy tortilla goodness! Serve it up with a veggie of your choice and some chips & salsa and you’ve got a delicious Mexican meal to complete your Taco Tuesday!

Hope you enjoy!

Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 25 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive or grape seed oil
  • 1 Tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Red or green pepper, chopped
  • 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can (16oz) Black beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt, optional

Directions:

  • Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with about 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil. Add in 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1/2 medium chopped onion, & 1 chopped red or green pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  • Add lean ground turkey. Cook until meat is no longer pink, or about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in chicken stock, flour, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander & salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until thickened.
  • While things are simmering, open the can of black beans, drain & rinse, & mash. I just use my handy potato masher to do this. Add in the 1/2 cup salsa of your choice and mix together.
  • Place two tortillas in a round 2-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, bean mixture and corn; repeat layers. Top the whole thing of with the sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is all melted and bubbly. Remove and let it stand for about 5 minutes before cutting.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado,  & sour cream.

Cinnamon Baked Pear Bites

Emily’s favorite Pear Bites

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When my daughter started eating finger foods, I struggled to find a variety of healthy foods for her to eat.  I really wanted to provide her with vegetables, fruits, healthy carbs, & proteins that she could eat on her own. One of her all time favorites are these baked pear bites! So easy to make and cheaper, healthier & yummier than the fruit cups you can buy in the store.  Although,  I admit I’ve bought the fruit cups in a pinch.🙂

So to get started, set your oven to warm at 350 degrees.

Wash 2 pears & cut in half. Cut the core out of the middle of each half. Place them flesh up in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about 1 inch of water.
DSC_3001Bake for about 20 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. This is the part where you enjoy the comforting aroma of baking pears…so delicious!

Remove pear halves from baking dish and set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, cut each pear half in half & use a knife to remove the skin. Slice & cube pear quarters into bites a little larger than a pea. Put bites into a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and mix. I sometimes add a pinch of nutmeg for a little added spice. Definitely give them a try…you may end up having to make another batch for your little one!😉

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Cinnamon Baked Pear Bites

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears ( I use Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Turn oven on to 350 degrees.

Wash  pears & cut in half. Cut the core out of the middle of each half. Place them flesh up in a baking dish. Fill dish with about 1 inch of water.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork.

Remove pear halves from baking dish and set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, cut each pear half in half & use a knife to remove the skin. Slice & cube pear quarters into bites a little larger than a pea. Put bites into a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and mix. I sometimes add a pinch of nutmeg for a little added spice.

About

Hello and welcome to Northutopia!

About the blog…

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Northutopia is a little blog I began as a fun little place to share my love of living in North Dakota, of cooking, reading, running, and now, being a mom.

I love living in the mid-west! Many people may wonder why I would choose to live in a place where the temperature varies from -30 degrees Fahrenheit (before the wind chill) to 100 degrees! Well that is what Northutopia is all about! I love finding the beauty in the little things and ways to have fun through our long, freezing winters.

Northutopia is also about FOOD! I love food. I love eating it, making it, talking about it…did I mention eating it? Here, you will find healthy, affordable meal ideas that will feed your whole family, including your little ones!  I firmly believe in the value of sitting down together as a family EVERY night and work hard to make that happen. Finding a healthy meal that everyone will enjoy, including my 14 month old, is a challenge but I love seeing her try new things and I love spending a few minutes being able to chat with my husband about his day over a nice family dinner.

You’ll also find reviews on books, local eateries & cafe’s, & travel destinations…where to stay, where to eat, what to do. My husband Jeff and I loved to travel pre-baby and are making it a point to still make a couple of trips a year now that we are Three instead of Two.

A little more about me…

Photo Jun 13, 12 57 37 PM My name is Angie Miller, proud wife of Jeff Miller and mom to  one beautiful little girl Emily. I work full-time outside of the home as an Executive Coordinator at an Engineering firm in Bismarck, ND. I love living in North Dakota, most of the time.🙂 It admittedly gets trying come January when its negative 30 degrees out most days but I always try to find ways to keep busy and have fun through those long winter months.

I love food! I love finding fun healthy recipes to try as well as working to perfect our favorites. We love Mexican food and pizza in our house so I’m always trying to find healthy alternatives so we can enjoy our favorites without feeling guilty. I’m a big fan of organic and natural products and try to use those in my cooking as much as possible.

Running is my stress relief. I love the way I feel after finishing a good 6 mile run! Ahhhh…so tired and yet rejuvenated! I finished my first full marathon in October of 2012. I’ve ran three 1/2 marathons so far and just signed up for my forth 1/2 marathon in Fargo this spring. Slightly nervous for this one since it’s my first event since having a baby and taking it easy over the last year. I love helping people find the joy of running and being active so please let me know if you have any questions in that area or would like a training plan!

Thanks for visiting! You can contact me at northutopiablog@gmail.com with any questions, advice, or comments.

Cheers!

TGIF…and thoughts on beauty

First of all, I have to apologize for not posting anything in almost 3 months! Life has changed a bit in recent mounths…I’m going to be a Mom!! We are expecting our first child this November and couldn’t be more excited! More to come on all of that soon. For now, I wanted to just say “Hi” to my few followers and finally put up this post I started months ago but still wanted to get out there.

Second, TGIF!!!

Friday has been my favorite days of the week for many years, for many reasons. It’s the beginning of the weekend for one. Who doesn’t love that? People seem to be happier on Fridays which adds to its already glowing luster. There are even songs celebrating the glory of this day…”Friday I’m in love” – The Cure, “Last Friday Night” – Katy Perry, and let’s not forget Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

I woke up this particular Friday a little tired from coughing half the night away, thank you Bronchitis, but still drug myself out of bed and to the gym. Although I didn’t get to much accomplished there, it still made me feel better to start my Friday with a little exercise.

So, while I was sweating away on the elliptical this morning, I thought about exercise and beauty. I exercise mostly because it makes me feel good and I like to maintain a healthy body weight. But I have talked to many people while working in the fitness industry who stress and obsess about their weight. Body image is such a huge issue for so many woman and problems with it seem to arise earlier and earlier in girls.

With those thoughts in mind, I wanted to share an amazing book given to me by one of my dearest friends.
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“Operation Beautiful” by Caitlin Boyle is a collection of stories, some in post-it form, about finding your inner beauty and letting go of the negative opionions you have of yourself. It is truly a beautiful book about changing your outlook on life and lifting your, and maybe someone else’s spirits by leaving positive messages in unlikely places. I love how Stepfanie Romine from SparkPeople.com says that “Operation Beautiful is tea and sympathy, a kick in the pants, and a pep talk from a trusted friend all in one. Caitlin walks the walk and expertly weaves her own deep-held secrets in with life-changing stories of women from all around the world…should be mandatory reading for women everywhere.”

Definitely a must read!

Everyone have a great weekend and I promise to not fall off the face of the earth again soon!🙂

Ahhh, the avocado

There has been a lot of hype lately about the wonders of the avocado. And I have to say, I have definitely jumped on that bandwagon! I am slightly obsessed with avocados. It is such a versatile fruit that can be eaten by itself, added to a sandwich to kick it up a notch, mashed into tasty guacamole or added to so many different dishes.

Theses little green fruits are filled with fiber, potassium, vitamins, and folic acid. You probably already know they’re a great source of healthy fat and fiber, but what else do you know about the awesome avocado? Here are a few things I learned today through our workplace wellness program…

Avocado fun facts:

* Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins E and K, B vitamins, and folic acid.
* They have more potassium than bananas, and they also contain vitamin A, magnesium, and Beta-cryptoxanthin, which may reduce the risk of arthritis.
* About 75% of an avocado’s calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat.
* Avocados act as “nutrient boosters,” enabling our bodies to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in foods that are eaten with avocados.

How to eat an avocado:

* Avocados must be mature to ripen properly. Once picked, they ripen in a few days at room temperature (or faster if stored with other fruits such as apples or bananas).
* A ripe avocado has a soft texture (like a cross between a hard-boiled egg yolk and butter) that makes it great for spreading on breads and sandwiches. It’s also yummy in guacamole, salads, burgers, eggs and omelets, and sushi rolls.

Here is a great site to learn how to pick a ripe avocado, how to cut, slice, peel and pit it, and some other great avocado facts:
http://www.avocadocentral.com/how-to/how-to-cut-how-to-peel-prepare-avocados

So, with creamy smoothness of an avocado on my mind, I made an easy, healthy tuna sandwich with avocado and sautéed veggies for lunch. I’m pretty sure I made everyone at the office jealous while I ate my yummy lunch at my desk.🙂

Easy Healthy Tuna Sandwich with Avocado and Feta

Tuna Avocado Sandwich

Tuna Avocado Sandwich


Ingredients:
2 slices Whole Wheat Bread
1/2 can Albacore Tuna in water, drained
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 celery stick, chopped
1 tsp Lt. Mayo
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 Tbsp Lt. Feta crumbles

Directions:
Mix tuna, red pepper, celery, mayo, lemon juice, salt & pepper together. Lay sliced avocado onto one slice of bread, top with tuna mixture, feta, and other slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!