Grace Not Perfection

Happy New Year!  I just know 2020 is going to be an awesome year.

Ron and I started the new year off with a 5k.  It was called the Commitment Day 5k and was a super way to kick off the year.  The weather was a little chilly but oh so beautiful.  The course was mostly flat and went through a pretty green-way and also on some sidewalks and roads in Cary, NC.

Ron and Mel Commitment Day 5k

All smiles at the start!

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Coming in Strong!

 

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I swear, I am running here at the finish. I have no idea why it looks like I am walking! LOL

Our times were 38:12 and 39.08 with me scooting in just a little bit ahead of Ron this time.

After the race we came home and I felt so energized all day.  We got the Christmas decorations down and put away and lots of other household chores.

The theme for the race was #onepositiveaction.  It really is amazing how one little thing can set you up for many more positive steps throughout your day.  Making my breakfast and lunches ahead of time is something that I have been doing for years and years and if I I miss this step, my week really can take such a negative turn.  I end up tempted to go to fast food restaurants and even if I do choose a grocery store or a healthier restaurant, I usually eat more and spend way more money.

So, here’s a breakdown of my my breakfast and lunches.

I used to make overnight oats but now, I’m hooked on smoothies.  I was hesitant at first about making smoothies ahead but they really have mostly the same ingredients as overnight oats and I figured they’d work out okay.  I’ve tried it for about a month and the last smoothie is as good as the first so I’m confident I’m going to be okay.  The silly reason I’ve started doing this is that I hate getting the flax seeds stuck in my teeth.  Flax seeds are so beneficial so I don’t want to give them up.  With smoothies, they don’t get stuck!

And here’s my lunches.  It is always a Hugh Jass Salad!

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Peppers, onions, and cucumbers. The apple there is only for one salad. I don’t prep those ahead.

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Celery, beans, carrots, tomatoes

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Spring Mix and Kale mix

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Don’t they look pretty!

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Ready to chop!

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Oops, forgot some herbs!

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Now all chopped up! I’ve timed it and this salad is a commitment in itself.  Takes me about 30 minutes to eat this!

So there you go.  There’s my positive actions that I try to do every week.  I don’t get bored at all and rarely deviate from these basic ingredients.  I do want to add some micro greens to the salads and I need to get my booty in gear and plant some.

My biggest goal of the year is to go SOS.  Salt, Oil, and Sugar free.  I first heard of this method of weight loss from Chef AJ and I do believe it is a very healthy way of life.  I’m a self-confessed salt-a-holic and I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to sugar as well.  Well I did okay on January 1 and 2 but by the 3rd I decided to add just a little Earth Balance to my rice noodles.   Then my hand reached for the salt shaker.  Before the night was over I had 2 handfuls of vegan chocolate chips!  I was sad yes but I didn’t throw in the towel and granted myself grace.  I’ve been hearing about Grace Not Perfection lately and it may be my 2020 mantra!

What positive actions are you taking for 2020?  I pray you grant yourself grace when you need it.

xxoo,

Melissa

Swamp Sludge

 

I used to call my green smoothies, Green Monsters, but after last week when my sister dubbed them Swamp Sludge, the name has stuck.  And besides, these 2014 smoothies have taken on a whole new personality from the ones I first began drinking back in 2010.

In the olden days, I’d start in the bottom of the Vitamix with some almond milk, add a frozen banana, a scoop of protein powder, and maybe some berries, then a couple of handfuls of spinach.  They were delicious and a great recovery drink after my long runs.

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Now Swamp Sludge is a Green Monster on steroids!

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Ron invented these and I am so thankful that he takes the extra time and prepares these for us.  If it were up to me and I in charge of getting our protein recovery drink ready at 5:00am on a Saturday morning, it would probably be a tame little green monster at best.

Nothing doing for Ron.  It’s Swamp Sludge or bust!

Ron starts with green juice as the base.  Green juice is prepared in his Omega Vert juicer and has many of these in it on any given day:  kale, SuperGreens mix, celery, ginger, apples, and carrots.

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He puts probably about 2 cups of this juice in the Vitamix and then he adds some fresh blueberries and strawberries.  Next come the powders.  Garden of Life protein mix, spirulina, maca, and chlorella powders.  These powders are not sweet at all so today he added a little of this mix.

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This one is super sweet and a little bit will do ya.

After our long runs with Galloway on Saturday, we head to the truck and our cooler.   You won’t find anything this nutritious or delicious ANYWHERE!  You can’t buy this stuff!  In a pinch a Bolthouse Farms juice or a Smoothie King smoothie will get you close but those just can’t hold a candle to Swamp Sludge.

It does sound and look disgusting but I promise you, it is the bomb!  One Mason jar full satisfies me and I’m good to go until well up into the afternoon.   Do yourself a favor and next time someone offers you some chocolate milk after a long run, thank them kindly and go whirl up some Swamp Sludge.

Happy Sludging Friends!  🙂

 

Energy Balls

The other weekend my sister shared this recipe with me and I loved it so much I had to share it with you.  I made them for our 4th of July party and everyone loved them too.

I’m calling them Energy Balls but they are very similar to this recipe that I found online. 

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All you do is take 1/2 cup flax, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, and 1 cup oats and mix them up in a bowl.  Then take the wet ingredients and add them.  1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey, and a splash of vanilla.

I made 2 batches today and I used the vegan carob chips so some of them would be totally vegan.  Ron is getting very picky about anything dairy and I wanted to make sure he would eat them.

That’s coconut in the container on the left and I rolled some of the balls in that.  I love coconut and this was an awesome addition.

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Above are the ones with the carob chips.  I used creamy raw almond butter instead of peanut butter.  They were really easy to ball up due to the creamy nature of the raw almond butter from a brand new jar.

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These are the ones with the Nestle chips.  I used some regular almond butter from the fridge on these and they were a little harder to ball up.  If you keep your nut butter in the fridge, I’d recommend that you nuke it a little to help it get to a more creamy consistency.

Lydia tasted one before she left for work and she said she liked the ones from the party better and I used peanut butter in those.  I like these just fine.  It took me quite a while to get used to almond butter but now I prefer it over peanut butter.

I can’t wait to enjoy these all week for that needed afternoon energy.

I think the calories are probably around 100 per ball.

In other news, I got some cute new purple hand weights.  I’m loving the 30 Day Shred!

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Go make some energy balls and have a wonderful week!

 

Banana Birthday Bonanza

I got up early and got my motivation on at the Jeff Galloway Marathon Training kickoff meeting.  This was my second time hearing him speak and wow!  Best running motivational speaker ever!  I’m already signed up for the Thunder Road Marathon in November but after today, I’ve got my sights set on a 50k as well.  Look out Google.  I’ll be searching you soon and seeing if I can find a 50K race to coincide with my training schedule.

Why a 50k you ask?  Well, Jeff says that one of the best things that can help you get faster is to run longer.  Jeff already has a 26 mile training run in his marathon training schedule.  And he says veteran runners shooting for time goals will benefit greatly by running even longer.  29-30 miles or more!  Jeff mentioned one person took over a half hour off his marathon time by running longer training distances.  Oh, no!  Has the ultra bug just nibbled at my toe?  I sure hope not!

My friends, I’ve just looked it up and 50k = 31.0686 miles

If you’ve been a reader here at A Handful of Spinach for long, you know that I am obsessed about getting faster.  I want to qualify for Boston and to do that, I’ve got to drop over 47 minutes off my best marathon time.  Hey, if Matt can do it, I can too right?!  I’m not really trying to hack my way in to Boston, but I am looking at doing all I can to get there.  So here we go.  This is my plan.  This year at Thunder Road, I need to run a 4:30!  There.  I’ve said it.  It’s out there.  Now to put in the work and get it done.  4:30 won’t get me to Boston this year but it will move me in the right direction.  Next year I can shoot for 4:15 and then before you know it, I can sneak in under 4:00 and qualify.  Jeff Galloway is almost 69 and he just ran a 4:09 and qualified again and ran Boston last month.  And, he did it by running insanely short intervals.

My plan is as follows:

Can you tell I’m motivated?  It might have been the Galloway meeting.  It might be because it’s my birthday and I feel better at 49 than I did at 29.  Or it might have a little something to do with this awesome Banana, Peanut Butter, Chia Seed Smoothie.  Wowzer!  Who needs Cook-Out?  I tell you this is it.  Probably the best smoothie I’ve ever made!

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Start with one cup of un-sweetened almond milk.  Add one frozen banana, 1 TBSP PB2, 1 TBSP chia seeds, 1/3 cup Old Fashioned raw oats, and a few ice cubes.  Whirl it up and enjoy!

Here’s to a great day everyone!  In just a little while Ron, Andie, Jonathan, Mason, and Lydia are taking me to Fiction Kitchen for my birthday dinner.  I hope I don’t jump out of my seat and embarrass everyone with the ultimate natural high I’m on.

I’m going to have to check out that PB2 and make sure Ron didn’t add any secret ingredients to that powder.  LOL

Happy Running Friends!

Eating to Live

It’s been well over a year and a half ago that I first read Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Even so, I find myself returning to his philosophy again and again.  I really like everything about Eat to Live.  And now that the new year is just around the corner, it was quite natural for me to think of  trying to drop a few pounds.  Thinking of dieting and then thinking of Eat to Live made me decide to take the plunge.

I’m vegan again.

However….

When I think of my friend Robin and her beautiful hens and all her wonderful eggs I really love omelets.

When I think of my sister Rosa and her husband William and their awesome salmon salads, I am perfectly ok with having salmon once and a while.

When I think of my dad and brothers and deer meat, I’m all about some venison chili.

When I think of my brother in law, Willis’ fish fries, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

You see, I’m fine with occasionally consuming animals.  The problem I run in to in my daily life is that if I’m walking around labeling myself a carnivore, it won’t be long before my car might veer into Cookout for a cheeseburger and milkshake.  It won’t be long before I’ll grab a Filet-o-Fish at McDonalds when one of my daughter’s ask me to stop by for them.  Heck, I might even get a Cajun Fillet Biscuit at Bo Jangles after work one night.

Even if I label myself a vegetarian, I’ll start to grab the Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer before you know it.

Vegan is the only label that keeps me safe.  If I say I’m vegan, I keep on the straight and narrow a lot better.  Does that make sense at all?  I hope so because I really am at a loss as to how to explain my food philosophy.  Embarrassed smile

Ok so now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let me get on to my first day of the 6 week Rapid Weight Loss Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live plan.

Ron and I stocked up at Whole Foods last night.  Here’s a shot of some of our loot.

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This morning I had 1/2 cup of some awesome granola.  I put some frozen blueberries and almond milk in it.  I also had a small banana and half a cup of black coffee.

For lunch, it was a gorgeous salad.  Much prettier than this picture shows.

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I used a raspberry balsamic vinegar as a dressing and it was perfect.

I also had a bowl of a GBombs soup that Ron made last night.

GBombs stands for Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.  This is the backbone of how to eat according to Dr. Fuhrman.

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Ron took some kale, sprouted beans, onions, mushrooms, cashews, and goodness knows what else and created a delicious masterpiece.  He can’t tell me exactly what he did but I’m sure his recipe was similar to  this recipe.

I also had some grapes at lunch.  I was a little full but I ate them because even though fruits and veggies are unlimited, you are not supposed to eat between meals.

To be honest, I was pretty hungry when I got home from work.  I’ve learned a trick though and what I did was drink a cup of hot green tea.  I didn’t sweeten it with anything and I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it.  Thankfully, it was delicious and just what I needed to get me through until dinner.

Dinner was another huge salad but we also had some roasted zucchini and carrots.  Ron and I dined on those while this awesome soup simmered.

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After it simmered for 15 minutes, Ron took out 2/3 of the veggies and put them in the Vitamix with 1 cup of raw cashews.

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Here’s the finished product.

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It’s crazy how creamy and delicious it was and not a drop of milk was used.

Ron had 2 huge bowls but those salads fill me up so much I only had one.

A little while later I whirled up some frozen mangos and bananas with some unsweetened almond milk for this scrumptious sorbet.

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I guess it looks a little like mashed potatoes however, I promise you, it was cold and sweet and just the right ending to my first day Eating to Live.

I’m excited to see how it goes for the next six weeks.

I’m also very excited that my friend Robin has invited me to do a 100 day running challenge beginning on January 1.  I’ve seen a lot of people doing this sort of thing and I’ve always been intrigued.  I guess I better rest up tomorrow and get ready to Run Run Run!

Happy Eating Friends!

Happy Running!

Prep Work

After church today, Ron and I spent a little time in the kitchen preparing some of our food for the upcoming week.

Good news is, we worked well together and didn’t fight.  My mother always said to me that if you can work together in a kitchen then you’ve got a good chance to stay together.  Now, I can’t say  we’ve always worked well in the kitchen.  But today we did.  We were humming right along just like Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith did in the closing scene of Working Girl.  (I couldn’t find the the scene I’m talking about but I do hope you remember it.  It was so cute.)

We made some awesome granola.

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We got those 4 servings that we stored in the glass bowls.  I also put 3 servings in baggies.  That left about a 1/2 serving and I had to eat that.  It was so good.  The part that you bake had pumpkin seeds, raw almonds, flax seed, shredded coconut, rolled oats, vanilla extract, coconut oil, sea salt, and maple syrup.  The recipe called for grade B maple syrup and all we had was grade A.  Ron reasoned that grade A had to be better.  I looked it up on Google and it seems to me that they both are about the same.  The B has less sugar and is supposed to have more flavor.  I bet grade B is more expensive and grade A is already about 6 times the price the normal syrups that we used for years.

After it baked, you add the dried blueberries and dried cherries.  This is going to be delicious in the morning with ice cold almond milk over it.

Next we made some pancakes.

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When Ron and I taste tested one he said he bet it tasted like a peanut butter cookie.  (They have almond butter in them.)

He was right.  These are so dense.  The reason we made another breakfast item is because YU said the pancakes make great snacks and I was concerned that we would need some.

Our last item we cooked up was the cauliflower chowder.

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It has some Dinosaur Kale in it as well as the cauliflower and some red peppers.  YU suggested that you add some quinoa or buckwheat.  Ron cooked both.

Here’s the buckwheat.

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And the quinoa.

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We ended up stirring in the buckwheat and saved the quinoa for another dish later in the week or for breakfast.

That buckwheat really made it a very filling chowder.  Ron and I had a serving tonight and we put 4 large servings in the fridge for later.

I got a good run in today but Runmeter is still not working properly.  I downloaded the updates and they helped a little but the distance was all over the place today.  It had me at a 7 and 8 minute pace at times and we all know I’m no where near that fast.  I’m going to give it a couple of more chances but I’m really thinking I’ve wasted 5 bucks.

At church today we had some special music and the duet sang a beautiful old hymn.  I loved it.  This YouTube is one of Alan Jackson performing it.   I do hope you find a blessing.  I know I did today.  The part where it says sinner come home made me cry.

Have a great week everyone.

Plant Powerful

Ron and I went to my favorite restaurant tonight:  The Remedy Diner in downtown Raleigh.  I just love that place.

Our choices were all vegan with the exception of the cheese on the Greek salad.

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Oh my goodness.  This salad was just what I was craving tonight.  We told the waiter that we were sharing and he split it up for us before he brought it out.  I just love it when they go that extra mile and do that for you.

Next came our entrees.  I chose the Philly Fake Steak.

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I asked for it on gluten free bread instead of the hoagie.  That made it a bit messy to eat but boy was it good.

Ron got the Tempeh Tantrum.

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This sandwich was the winner of the PETA’s Top 5 Vegan Sandwiches in the USA.  Pretty cool huh.  It consisted of marinated tempeh, homemade vegan pesto mayo, vegan bacon, avocado, and lettuce.  The bread was toasted Sourdough.

I ended up cutting my Philly in half and gave it to Ron so he could give me half of his.  I loved my Philly but I must say that Tempeh Tantrum was pretty darn good.  When I bit into it, I could have sworn I was eating a BLT (minus the T) with the creamiest, tastiest mayo you could imagine.  Loved it!

I left my chips and opted for Remedy’s famous coconut cream pie.

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Don’t let those 2 forks fool you.  Ron was drinking Aviator beer on tap and when he does that he has no interest in sweets.  I ate the WHOLE thing.  It was delicious.  Don’t quote me on it but I think it is vegan too.

Our next stop was Whole Foods.

I was just introduced to YumUniverse by my good friend Rebecca.  It’s a website devoted to a Plant Powerful diet.  I’m not saying I’m going vegan again.  I’m not even saying I’m giving up salmon and tilapia on Friday nights.  I’m just saying I do feel much better when I eat mostly plants.  YumUniverse is also big into being gluten free.  I tried to go wheatless for a few weeks before Christmas and I failed miserably.  It is very hard not eating wheat.  I think it’s harder for me to go without wheat than is is dairy.  However, the evidence is mounting up on the benefits of a gluten free diet so I’m going to give it another go.

YumUniverse is having a 30 day challenge beginning Feb. 1st.  Ron and I were too excited about it to wait.  We shopped tonight and got almost everything on the shopping list YU provided in our starter kit.

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(Please excuse the sloppy panoramic picture.  I tried to do it right but my camera stitched my 2 shots together a little off center.)  You get the idea though.  Lots and lots of really great fruits and veggies.

Take a look a our wonderful kale!

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The darker one in the back is called Dinosaur Kale and it’s grown organically in Asheville, NC.  The kale in the front is the regular curly one that we eat and juice all the time.

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There were 7 lemons on the shopping list.  I haven’t looked ahead to know what in the world we will do with those.

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We got some oregano, dill, and chives there in the front.  I really hope to grow some fresh herbs myself soon.  That little thing behind the red onion is a shallot.  For some reason I was thinking a shallot was more like a leek.  I looked everywhere for it.  Ron knew immediately and found it by the garlic.

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Some of these items are gluten free oat flour, hulled hemp seed, and the pricey Madagascar vanilla in the front.

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All those brown bags in the back with the numbers on them are from the bulk bins.  We got things like shredded coconut, cannellini beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and raw cashews there.

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One of this week’s recipes calls for dried blueberries.  A nice sales girl named CJ helped us find them and since they were a little expensive and we hadn’t tried them, she marked on the back “Sample.”  I was so impressed with her customer service!

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Free Dried Blueberries!  Smile  Woohoo!

Here’s a couple more shots of our loot.

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Gotta admit.  The Bone Suckin’ Sauce was not on the list but I’m addicted to it.

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We are having quiche one day.  No idea how we are going to make it without eggs or cheese.

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Ron’s one splurge was a growler of Green Man beer.

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I really am not a big beer drinker but I love Green Man!  I think it’s because the brewery is so nice.

When we got to the register, Ron and I were trying to guess how much we spent.  I guessed $200.  Ron said it would be more like $300.  We were both so happy when it only came to $150!  And, some of the items will last and last.  I told Ron that my Bone Suckin’ Sauce is not to be used to bathe in.  (He loves it too.)  We won’t have to buy vanilla or that gluten free oat flour for a while.

I’ll post some pictures and link to the recipes this week as we make our meals.

Oh, and one last thing.  I spent $4.99 on the new Runmeter App.

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It is supposed to be the most advanced iPhone app for running, cycling, etc.  It worked really good for me while I was running and I think it was dead on accurate.  I ran my normal neighborhood route and I know I went 6 miles.  The 1:15 was probably correct too.  Ron was running near me and his Garmin recorded a similar time.  The only problem was that it’s supposed to automatically post your run to Dailymile and to FB if you want it to.  It did, but it posted that I ran only 5 miles in one hour.  I’ve got to do some reading up on this to see if I can figure out where the error was.

I’ll do a full review soon.  But so far…..Runmeter is not worth $4.99.  Sad smile

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.  I’m running again after church tomorrow and then it’s all housework and cooking for me.

Night all!

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(Like my new haircut?  It is super short!)