Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Yield: 12 Standard Muffins

(Recipe Adapted from numerous trial/error standard muffin recipes)

2- Cups gluten-free flour mix ( I prefer Pamela's Artisan Flour Blend)

1/3 cup Raw/Organic Cane Sugar

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon Coarse Celtic Sea Salt ( It's the only salt I have in my pantry)

2 large Local Brown Eggs ( Local/Pasture Raised Eggs are Amazing)

3 Medium Overripe Bananas

1/2 Cup StonyField Organic French Vanilla Yogurt

1/2 to 1/3 Cup Trader Joe's Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds (Or use your preferred Almond Butter) 

Mixing and Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a  12- cup muffin pan with paper muffin cup/liners

2. Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl

3. In a Stand Mixer, add the peeled bananas, eggs, yogurt and peanut butter. Beat all ingredients together for 1 minute.  ( You can also use a hand mixer)

4. Incorporate dry ingredients into Stand Mixer bowl with wet ingredients

5. Using a medium scoop or 1/4 measurement cup, add mixture to the muffin cup lined muffin tray

6. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool.

Serve warm, or heat up the next day. I smeared some blackberry preserves on the muffins:) 


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Quilt of Motherhood

My redhead, almost nine years ago, on Old Orchard Beach, Maine

The Quilt of Motherhood:

 Comes in phases
- there is never a moment, when your never really Not needed
- struggling to find a balance between "letting her fly" and keeping her "wings clipped"
-finding opportunities to keep communications and connections strong
- constantly reassessing and evaluating your role as a mother, no matter the age of your child or children
- being open to and willing to see, that with each phase of motherhood comes opportunity for new memories and perspectives
-knowing that you can't stop or turn back time, instead learning to embrace the teen years and guide with love and wisdom
Raising a daughter to admire and respect you; not be jealous of or compete with you

-My relationship with my own mother has ebbed and flowed over the years, like patches of a quilt pieced together over the years, 
-every square and stitch-by-stitch a reminder of the relationship that was built over time, 
-with a careful eye, an unwavering love, and some moments when it might have felt like the stitches holding together those precious squares, just might have come undone

Now, my mother and I sit side-by-side under that quilt, sewn together, stitch-by-stitch, -our relationship over the years, laid out like the squares on a patchwork quilt, 
-each square representing a moment, memories. 
-The edges frayed, but stitches that came undone -now mended, 
-the quilt of memories now holding us close together again

I want to lay the foundation for my daughter
- help her to lay out her life, square by square, 
-keep the stitches of our relationship strong, so that she and I can sit, someday with our quilt draped lovingly over our shoulders. 

Share your reflections on motherhood. How do you "let go a little", without your heart aching, to let your children grow? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opportunities, Goals: Excited for What's Next

     So, two weeks ago, I ran my first marathon.  It seems so surreal, to now actually be able to call myself a "marathoner"! I've been reflecting on the training and miles logged during this "marathon training cycle".  This was a journey of not only physical strength, but mental as well.  All those miles, weeks and weeks of pavement under my feet, brought me a strength and sense of renewed ability in myself.  The ups and downs of long runs, speed workouts and core fitness, gave me purpose and confidence.  Finishing my fall racing season with accomplishing 26.2 miles has given me strength and determination to reach for new and exciting opportunities! 

      I'm taking time right now to relax and recharge.  Autumn is my favorite season and I'm taking the time to soak up and savor the vibrant colors and cool, crisp weather.  

     During this "down time" from running, I'm embracing other areas of fitness.  Pilates, barre and basic core strengthening exercises to help me recover and strengthen my muscles. I've had some issues with tendonitis in my right calf, down through my ankle and arch of my foot.  As much as I want to jump back into running, I'm being cautious and my return to road running will build back up gradually. For now I'm cross training on the spinning stationary bike and elliptical. 

I placed an order for this Acu-ball kit from ACU-SYSTEM on Amazon.  I'm continuing to stretch and massage my lower legs and feet daily. 

     I'm so excited to be an Ambassador the Zooma Annapolis 10k and half marathon race on Saturday, May 30th.  The Zooma Women's race series is one of my favorite races!  I've been lucky enough to run Zooma Annapolis several times and Zooma Cape Cod last fall.  The Zooma Women's Race series is the ultimate race-cation! I look forward to the beautiful race locations, fabulous network of women and a pampered race experience!  Race recap for Zooma Annapolis can be found here, and my Zooma Cape Cod race recap here,
     Another huge opportunity presented itself earlier this week!  Thanks to my running friend, Colleen at "LiveFreeAndRun", who posted information about the Road Runners Club of America coaching certification in Vienna, Va on her FB page! I've been wanting to get my coaching certification in running so I can learn more about the sport and open the door to coaching opportunities! I'm now a member of the Road Runner's Club of America and registered for my two-day coaching certification course! 

     So, I'm excited about the new adventures ahead for me!  I am completing my goals, one mile at a time! With each new season, comes new opportunities! What's new and exciting for everyone else? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Maine Marathon: Full Race Recap

     I'm finally ready to settle in to my cozy corner of my house on a rainy day here in southern Maryland.  Finally able to reflect on all the details of running my very first marathon.  Barely a week ago, I ran 26.2 miles.  Incredible to think that it was 10 months ago when I decided to hit the register button on the Maine marathon website.  18 weeks of training with Hal Higdon's novice 1 marathon training plan.  Training that included three weekday runs and long runs on Saturday.  There were hiccups along the way with marathon training that included slight adjustments in speed and mileage due to some lingering heel/achilles tendonitis issues.  In the end, I set out to accomplish my goal. My goal was to go "home" and run 26.2 miles through the towns in coastal southern Maine that held my childhood memories and still pull at my heart. 

     No words will ever adequately describe my emotions in regards to running the Maine marathon as my 1st marathon.  So many random thoughts in my heart throughout the training and in the days leading up to running 26.2 miles.  One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted my parents to see me cross the finish line, in the state in which they had raised me.  

    Ten days out from the October 5, 2014 Maine marathon, I stressed and worried about the weather.  I really didn't want to run 26.2 miles in the rain.  For ten days I watched the forecast fluctuate from rain, to clouds and sun, back to rain and finally sun!  On the drive up to Maine Saturday morning, it was rainy and cool.  My parents had made the trip up to Maine with me.  My parents no longer live in Maine.  I drove up to their house in New Jersey Friday night and then Saturday morning we drove up to Maine.  We arrived in Maine Saturday around 12:00pm and drove straight over to Sullivan gymnasium on the University of Southern Maine's campus for race bib and packet pick up. 

Even on a dreary Saturday, the vibrant fall colors were bursting with brilliance! Love that I have these pictures with my mother and father. 

     Packet pick up was fast and easy.  The Maine marathon has excellent race organizers and volunteers!  My parents and I enjoyed walking around the Expo browsing products and sampling items from various vendors.  I loved being able to experience the marathon weekend with my parents.  There is something so nostalgic about "going home" with your parents, even at the age of 39!! 

Highlights and Thoughts on the Maine marathon weekend in words and pictures:

The Maine marathon "Goodie Bag" is packed full of so many awesome samples of products! Included in the goodie was the infamous can of B&M Baked Beans!! 


I was so excited to see EnergyBits had a table at the Expo!  I bought some Recovery Bits samples and chatted for a moment with the two representatives!  

Some samples I purchased from the EnergyBits table! I still haven't tried the Generation UCAN. I'm waiting until I'm back to running again with more mileage and intensity. 

I follow RunJanji on twitter! The proceeds from the sale of their running apparel gives clean water to countries around the world! Loved that they were at the Maine marathon Expo! I purchased this long sleeve giraffe print! 

That night at the Marriott Residence Inn in Scarborough, Maine, I wore my Maine shorts to bed!  I knew my race day outfit would be a color combo of gray Lucy Active Wear shorts which have an awesome back pocket that fits my driver's license and iPhone 5s.  My light blue long sleeve Lululemon shirt has a zippered pocket for my Charmed Bar for "real food" refueling!  

Race day morning in Portland, Maine! The foggy, early Sunday morning drizzle, gave way to partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid 50's. A bit warm for an October morning in Maine! The start of the Maine marathon was on Baxter Boulevard overlooking Back Cove! 

The Maine marathon course!! 

My splits for 26.2 miles!  I was holding strong and steady until mile 17.  Around mile 17, my calves and hips started to ache.  At mile 22 I stopped at the medical tent to get my painful blister on the side of my foot bandaged.  Then, my ITBand tightened at mile 25 and I could barely bend my right knee! I was determined to cross the finish line after having come so far with training and only having a mile or so left at this point in the race!! 

     I had every intention of taking more pictures as I ran the course, but I didn't want to distract myself or waste time fumbling with reaching for my phone in my back pocket.  I did stop at mile 21 to take a picture and give my parents a text update! The Maine marathon course was dotted with beautiful fall foliage and peaks of Casco Bay. 

Mile 21 picture! Somewhere in Falmouth, Maine! I was still feeling okay here and excited to be running back into Portland and the finish line! 

Gorgeous view of Mackworth Island in Casco Bay from Martin's Point bridge, running back to Portland around mile 22-23! 

Another runner on the course graciously stopped to take my picture!  I wanted a few pics on the course to capture this milestone in my running career!  

Another running friend sent me this picture on my cell phone after the race!  So grateful that this moment of approaching the finish line was captured! 

Sheer pride and a huge sense of accomplishment for myself.  Could not have asked for a more beautiful day! The Maine marathon medal was everything "Maine" and more than I could have imagined! A moose standing in front of green pine trees on one side and the outline of Maine engraved on the back of the medal! 

My GPS watch was a little longer than the course. My final, official course time was 4:41:17! 

Hours after running the marathon, showering and relaxing at the hotel for a bit, my parents and I drove back into Portland. I wanted one more glimpse of the Portland waterfront from Commercial street in the Old Port!  

     Final thoughts! The Maine marathon was well organized with water and Gatorade stops! The outpouring of support from residents in the towns of Portland, Falmouth and Yarmouth were above and beyond amazing! Live bands performing along the course, residents cheering and providing organge slices, grapes and encouragement filled the course!!  I saw my journey to 26.2 realized! I finished it out to the end.  I ran my race.  I left a piece of my heart and soul on this course.  This was the right choice of marathon for me to mark as my first!  From Maryland, to New Jersey and Maine, 11 hours by car.  Running 26.2 miles through the towns I grew up around in Maine- Timeless.  No other course would have mattered as much to me.  Even if I never run another marathon, the Maine marathon has left an indelible mark forever. Update:  I would like to run the Maine marathon again. . . Someday. 

How memorable was your first marathon?  How important was the location of your first marathon? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maine Marathon: First Glimpse

     The Journey.  It started 18 weeks ago. One goal in mind. Run 26.2 miles through the towns of Maine that echoed with the memories of my childhood. My very first marathon.  I went "home".  I ran. I finished. The finish line was so sweet.  

     It was a mild fall day. Sunday October 5, 2014. The fall foliage near peak. 

Still savoring this moment.  It was truly a "finish" filled with tears of accomplishment. This was the marathon that summed up all I love about running, Maine and where I am in my life now.   Miles and miles of memories, reflection and inner strengths revealed. 

So much more to share on my very first marathon, but for now . . . This is where I pause

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five: Favorite Fall Activities

Happy Autumn! A fun link up for me today with Cynthia- YouSignedUpforWhat
     Autumn is most likely my favorite season of the year.  While many people spend days longing for hot, sunny, summer days; I anxiously await for the return of autumn.  The arrival of autumn always conjures up happy childhood memories of beautiful coastal Maine and the Mid Hudson Valley in Upstate New York.  These two places, where divided my childhood, always offered up gorgeous autumn foliage and fun family activities.  Autumn is gorgeous with its trees stained beautiful hues of orange, red, and gold.  The weather is perfect for outdoor activities! 

     My favorite time of year to train and run races is during the autumn months!  The weather is cool and air is drier.  Many races occur during peak foliage in the area.  The weekend of October 4th/5th I drive up to Maine to run the Maine marathon.  Along the drive I'm sure to see stunning autumn colors! 

There are so many wonderful autumn activities to enjoy!  

1. I love traveling to various apple orchards throughout the Northeast region.  Apple orchards abound with cider, doughnuts and beautiful views while picking apples. Fresh picked apples are juicy and crisp with the flavors of autumn. 

2. Autumn festivals, including state and county fairs.  Growing up in Maine, I remember going to the Acton county fair.  The smell of fried dough, sausages and candied apples filled the air.  These were opportunities to have sweet treats that just don't taste as yummy any other time of year!  Another great activity at fairs is the opportunity observe and learn note about local agriculture and farm animals! 

3. Pumpkin patch and hayride tours!  Family fun awaits at local pumpkin patches!  Many pumpkin patches offer "pick your own" pumpkins and hayrides through the patch!  

4. Strolling the beaches!  I spent many autumns as a child, strolling the beaches of Maine with my parents and friends.  The beaches in Maine at this time of year aren't crowded, the summer tourists have long departed.  Sunny afternoons with a light sweater or jacket were all we needed while we enjoyed the ocean views and searched for shells.  My favorite moments on the beach were with a light sweater and my toes in the soft, cool sand. 

5.  Autumn baking!  Okay, I consider baking at this time of year a very important activity!  Those picked apples and pumpkins are just waiting to be baked into breads, muffins, cobblers and pies! The smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, laced with sweet honey and brown sugar, fill the house! After a long hot summer and not wanting to turn on a hot oven; autumn arrives and is celebrated with yummy baked treats bursting with autumn flavor!  

     I live for mild autumns days and chilly nights!! A good cup of hot coffee scented with hazelnut and a pumpkin scone sound good!! 

Happy autumn Friday!! Next weekend, it's the Maine marathon for me!! Most likely this will be my final autumn race this season!! 

What's your favorite autumn race (road or trail)? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Meal Planning

It was a beautiful Sunday! 

     As I have mentioned and outlined in previous blog posts, I plan ahead and shop for groceries once a month.  I use a printable wincalendar monthly template to plan out dinner meals for the month.  Most meals that I plan can be eaten for two to three days at a time.  My husband and daughter don't mind leftovers for two or three nights! The meals I prepare are made with local, organic and seasonal produce.  All my other grocery needs come from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in Annapolis.  When I drive up to Annapolis once a month to grocery shop, I bring reusable cooler bags and then purchase bags of ice to pack the groceries for the trip home.  I spend a couple hours each Sunday, while multi-tasking with laundry and lesson plans, to prep and cook two or three meals for the week! 

     This Sunday I used one whole chicken for two different meals! I try to prepare meals that are one-pot sensations!! I really try to stretch the addition of chicken because I like to buy high quality, pasture raised chicken. 

Meal One: Three Nights! 

Chicken Enchiladas: My Pantry Version! (Ingredients I had available)

I packaged up the chicken broth and the other half of the whole chicken. The liquid from simmering the whole chicken will be used for the Chicken, Corn and Potato Chowder

Ingredients and Meal Preparation:

1 Whole Chicken White Oaks Pasture Raised Natural Chicken Rating of 5/5
- slice whole chicken down the middle and brown on both sides in Dutch oven with olive oil, fresh chopped garlic ( 3 large cloves) and one whole scallion.
- add 2 cups water and place lid on chicken. Cook on medium low for an hour. 
- remove whole chicken and let cool, before removing skin and picking off meat
- Save the liquid/broth for the next recipe! 

2 cups cooked Brown Basamatti Rice

1 Jar Stonewall Kitchen Black Bean Salsa

1 Jar Trader Joe's Chunky Garlic Salsa

1 Package Trader Joe's Handmade Flour Tortillas ( substitute Udis Gluten Free Tortillas)

1 Package Shredded Cheddar Cheese

- Use half of the cooked chicken to shredd into the cooked brown rice. Save the other half of the chicken for another use. Use a large baking dish and drizzle olive oil all over the pan to coat. Add a layer of tortillas the spread the chicken and rice mixture, top with some Corn and Black Bean Salsa, shredded cheddar cheese and then add the top layer of tortillas. Drizzle olive oil over top layer of tortillas and then spread the jar of chunky Garlic Salsa on top, the sprinkle more shredded cheddar cheese.  Place in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. This meal is two or three nights depending on size of portions cut and size of family.  

Meal Two: Chicken, Corn and Potato Chowder! dairy and gluten free! 

Meal Prep! 

- I sautéed three large garlic cloves, one whole shallot and the chicken skin, bones from the half of carcass I used in the enchiladas, in olive oil on medium low heat. After 30 minutes I removed the chicken skin and bones/ carcass. I added the liquid/broth from the night before and the package of Frontier Soup Chowder mix. I simmered this soup for about 30 minutes, then added 6 peeled and cubed russet potatoes. I also added pink Himalayan sea salt and paprika to taste.  I omitted any flour or dairy. The potatoes add a starchy thickness to the soup. The soup simmered for another hour and then I shredded in the other half of the whole chicken from the other night!! This meal will last three nights with 1 cup servings and some crusty French bread! My husband usually gets 2 cup servings! 

     During the school week, dinner is just portioned out, reheated and served!! The kitchen is clean until Thursday or Friday. Towards the end of the week we have light sandwiches, eggs with hash browns or baked potatoes with veggies! This saves money and time during the work week! No money spent on unhealthy take-out!! 

What's on your meal plan for the week! How do you stay healthy and plan meals on a budget?