Pesto Broccolini Panini

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When I was in college, I discovered a love for broccoli sandwiches.  Surprisingly the cafeteria at my college was quite good and offered the most delicious focaccia broccoli sandwich.  I remember the weekend when I attempted to make a broccoli sandwich for my brother.  He thought it was a strange, but lucky for me, was willing to try it anyway.   If I remember correctly, he really enjoyed the sandwich even if it was unconventional.

Today we are going to build a Pesto Broccolini Panini together.  To start, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Broccolini
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Feta
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Pesto (check out my vegan recipe here)
  • Rye Bread

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Cover two slices of rye bread with pesto.  Don’t be afraid to thoroughly cover the bread.  There is nothing worse than a dry panini!  Next, add some steamed broccolini.  I only steamed the broccolini for 3 minutes so it would remain crisp and fresh.

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Follow the broccolini with roasted red pepper.  Be sure to cover the entire slice of bread.

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Next comes the feta! Don’t be afraid to pile it high.  You could substitute the feta with goat cheese if you prefer.   Feta and goat cheese tend to be great substitutes for one another.

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Lastly, add the sliced almonds.  The almonds give the panini a bit of protein.  It also adds a nice crunch!

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Over medium heat cook the panini on a griddle until the inside is warm and gooey and the bread gets crispy with grill lines (about 5 minutes on each side).

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Now start eating! Nom Nom Nom!

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If you aren’t a big fan of broccoli, you could easily make this panini with asparagus, which would also pair beautifully with the other ingredients.

What is your favorite unconventional recipe/food?

IDEA World Fitness Expo + Blogilates Giveaway

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(Melissa, Jamie and me)

On Saturday I went to the IDEA World Fitness Expo!  It was a last minute decision and I’m thrilled I went.   I was a little nervous because the convention is geared toward professionals in the industry, but I found out that they offered a Fitness Fanatics Day Pass for the non-professional type. It pretty much rocked my world!

I started the day with Tony Horton for a little Speed, Balance and Range of Motion workout.   You may know Tony (we are on a first name basis now) as the creator of P90X.  I can see why everyone loves him.  Tony’s high energy workouts are part yoga, part intervals, part sports athlete and very intense!

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I also ran into Gina from Fitnessita!  She was so nice and just as relatable in person as she is on her blog.  Just another highlight of my first fitness convention!

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(Sorry for the blurry picture quality)

I also attended the Beachbody’s Mega Workout Featuring Chalene Johnson, Shaun T and once again, Tony Horton.

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Chalene started us out with a little TurboKick.  Boy, can that girl move!  It was hard to keep up with her!  Next Shaun T followed suit with an Insanity workout.  Whoa! My abs were burning!
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(Check out that girl’s six pack!)

I was really sweating bullets by the time Tony returned to the stage for more SBR workouts.  Oh my goodness…my core was so sore the following day!  After all the workouts, there was a short Q and A with the three fitness legends.

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Later I went to the Expo, where I ran into Cassey from Blogilates.  She was so sweet and gave great blogging advice!  (I really need to get into YouTube videos.)  I bought a few of her workouts tops, which are adorable.  I love the inspiring phrases.

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At the Expo I got a TON of goodies. Everything from Quest Bars, Vega Protein Powder, Nogii Bars, and even flash drives.

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I got so many goodies that I will be giving away half of them!  And the adorable Blogilates workout top!  Enter to win everything in the picture above by doing one of the three options below.  Be sure to mark that you have completed one of the options using Rafflecopter.  The winner will be announced on Friday.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s your favorite type of workout class?  Dance, Endurance, Strength?

“Target Practice” Friday

We have made it to Target Practice Friday and I could not be more excited! Even though work has been insane, overall it’s been a pretty good week health wise.

Remember when I borrowed stole the idea for this series from the ladies over at Fit.Fun.Femme. It’s where I share my progress on my short term goals.

Duathlon - Monday involved a 3 mile run followed by a 9 mile bike ride.  While my ride was slow, my run was a little faster than my normal pace.  I ran a consistent 9:30.  I also went to spin class on Thursday night.

Improve Pace - Other than my 3 mile run on Monday, I didn’t focus on speed work this week.

50 Push Ups -  On Tuesday I met with my personal trainer, Craig, where I did 4 sets of 10 push ups.  However, Thursday was all about the push ups! Check out this workout…

Upper Body Workout

I saw someone doing the stability ball knee ins with push ups on Tuesday and had to try them on my own!

Half Marathon – Saturday I got the big 9 mile run in with the Pasadena Pacers.  That’s the longest distance I have ran so far!  My pace was slower but I finished so that counts for something, right?

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In addition to my 3 mile run on Monday, I got  a 4 mile trail run in on Wednesday with my lunch time running buddy, Ben.  (He is training for a full marathon and just started running the same time I did!)

Eating Clean - I have to say my eats weren’t too bad this week.   The Bear worked late last night, so I had the opportunity to get take-out from my favorite vegan restaurant, Real Food Daily. In the past, I would have used this opportunity to veg out on junk food, but now it creates the perfect time to eat the healthy foods the Bear refuses to eat.  I ordered the vegan veggie wrap and tropical green juice.  Yum!

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My friend, Hosanna, also gave me some homemade fig jam and Dolma, which is a dish similar to stuffed bell peppers. Doubleplus yum!

IMG_20130808_123106-sI have the day off from work!  I’m planning on getting a long run in today instead of Saturday because I’m contemplating on attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention Saturday. I discovered it on a few other blogs this week and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to attend a fitness convention.  I mean, it’s in my backyard.  When else will I have chance like this?!  What do you think?  Should I go?

Women’s Saucony Guide 6 Running Shoes

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Since I started running, I have become accustomed to getting the occasional blister from time to time.  When I stepped up my game and started to train for races I noticed a pattern in the location of my blisters.  I also noticed pain in my hips after long runs.  Turns out I needed more arch support.

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Since I purchased the Women’s Saucony Guide 6 running shoes, I have not had a single blister and my hips are still running strong.  For which, I have to accredit the ProGrid foam used in the midsole.  The Saucony Guide 6s have the arch support that I need, and the cushion in these shoes is like a dream! This is my first pair of Saucony shoes, and I have to say I have been very pleased over the last 3 months.

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I remember when these puppies were brand new in the box… seems like so long ago!

The Saucony Guide 6s have a narrow toe box which is perfect for my narrow feet.  One thing I really enjoy about these shoes is that the midsection is a bit wider.  Normally I have issues with my feet going numb because the shoe is too tight preventing optimal blood circulation. I can’t say I ran into that with the Guide 6s, however some people have complained about the snug fit.  I happened to get fitted for the correct size, so that may be why they fit so beautifully.

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The Saucony Guide 6s have a heel to toe offset of 8mm, which is supposed to help with heel striking that can lead to serious injuries.  The sole also features IBR+ pad that have been integrated with deeper grooves in the forefoot for more flexibility.

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I need to remember to take pictures of my shoes right after I buy them so I don’t have to scrub them to hide the months of wear and tear!

Overall I am very happy with my Saucony Guide 6s purchase.  They got me through my first 10k and will be there for my first half marathon.  The fact that I am running on blister free feet doesn’t hurt matters either!

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On that note, my lunch time running buddy, Marco, recommended that I purchase Balega Blister Resist socks.  Spending $10 for one pair of socks is not something that I commonly do, but these socks are truly UUH-Mazing!  They feel like I am running on little baby clouds… Okay, I’m exaggerating but you get the point!

What are your favorite running shoes?

Do you alternate between multiple pairs of running shoes?

What’s the most you have ever spent on a pair of socks?!

Carnitas Chile Relleno Tacos

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On my anniversary this year, I discovered my lust for pork. Before I thought that pork was dry and tough.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would fall in love with pork. I guess it goes to show that it’s a good idea to re-try foods that were previously unappetizing.  I also hated mushrooms and shrimp until very recently.  Our taste buds are always evolving!

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After my anniversary dinner with the Bear, I wanted to experiment with my own pork recipe.  I figured that you can’t go wrong with a slow cooker recipe as they are the easiest out there.  It doesn’t matter the cut of meat, it will always turn out tender and delicious.

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Growing up in San Diego, we had some of the best Mexican food that the U.S. has to offer, which was just one benefit of being so close to the border.  The Bear would say the other benefit of Mexico is Coca-Cola with real sugar cane.  FYI, never tell the border patrol that you are bringing Coke across the border. They may get the wrong idea!  The Bear knows this from experience…

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…Anyways, I had a hunger for Mexican food the other day, so I decided to make Carnitas Tacos.

Carnitas Chile Relleno Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8
 

Ingredients
  • 3lbs pork roast
  • 1 can green chilies, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 T chili powder
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 t caynene
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t brown sugar

Instructions
  1. Combine all spices in a small bowl.
  2. Cover the pork roast with half of the seasoning.
  3. On a skillet over medium heat, brown the pork roast in grapeseed oil.
  4. Cut the pork roast into smaller chunks.
  5. In a slow cooker, combine pork roast, onion, green chilies, and water.
  6. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  7. Shred the pork roast using two forks.
  8. Add shredded pork to corn tortillas and top with avocado, cheese, or corn salsa (or all three!)

 

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I stumbled upon a can of green chilies in the pantry and thought it would be fun to combine two of my favorite Mexican recipes… Chile Rellenos and Carnitas Tacos!  The combination was delicious!  The Bear ate four MONSTER tacos while I ate the two in the picture.

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Turns out pork isn’t as unhealthy as I previously thought!  Check out these health benefits from pork:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin B12
  • Thiamin
  • High Protein Content
  • Zinc

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Look what I found at Trader Joe’s and Von’s – corn and wheat tortillas!  They are a little chewier than corn or wheat tortillas, which I absolutely loved!  The Bear liked them too! Normally he doesn’t like corn or wheat tortillas and only eats flour tortillas.  Success! I love finding a healthy ingredient that he actually enjoys. :)

What food(s) did you hate as a child, but enjoy as an adult?

PB&J Smoothie

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Picking up where we left off… the weekend was filled with good friends, food, and fun.  On Saturday, our friends family Brett and Beth visited for the first time in what seemed like forever.  We went to the Bear’s new favorite restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  The steaks are cooked to perfection and we definitely indulged in some amazing food.

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Aren’t the mugs below the cutest!?  They were a gift from Brett and Beth.  Love getting new blogging props!

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Before the Bear and I headed out for a bike ride on the beach Sunday morning, I made a PB&J smoothie.  Peanut butter and jelly is one of my favorite combinations. PB&J sandwiches are my favorite for breakfast, and as some of you may know, I tend to eat it start from the jars.

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One morning while I was running, I came up with the idea for a PB&J smoothie.  I was craving something cold (hello summer!) and a PB&J sandwich at the same time.  This weekend I decided to test out my idea and it turned out really good!

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PB&J Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 1
 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • ⅓ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!

 

The peanut butter adds protein to the smoothie, while the oats add fiber.  You can blend the peanut butter into the smoothie or add the peanut butter on the top of the smoothie.  I actually prefer it on top because you will get chunks of peanut butter which makes the flavor more prominent.

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While this smoothie may have more calories than other smoothie due to the peanut butter, the calories kept me full until lunch.

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This PB&J smoothie would also be perfect after a hot summer workout!

“Target Practice” Friday

Guess what time it is? It’s Target Practice time! Where I share my progress on my short term goals.  Remember when I borrowed stole the idea for this series from the ladies over at Fit.Fun.Femme.

Duathlon - The Bear bought a fitness bike and we road for a cool six miles on Monday.  I also went to spin class on Thursday. Tonight I was supposed to be riding for 9 miles followed by a 5k run, but I am not feeling well and want to save my energy for my long run planned for tomorrow.

Improve Pace - I’m really excited to share my progress on this goal! Last Saturday, I ran with my friend Terry, from the Pasadena Pacers, who is much faster than me.  She really pushed me to improve pace, and I ran the last mile of our 6 mile run at a … drum roll please…  7:30 pace!!!!!!! :) :) :)  I never thought I could run that fast!

I also did some interval training on the elliptical this week.  It was very intense!

Elliptical Butt-Kickin' Interval Workout

50 Push Ups - Last week my goal was to make it to 40 push ups… and I did!  I’m not going to lie, the last 5 push ups were not quite as low as the first 35 push ups, but I’ll take what I can get.

Half Marathon – I ran 6 miles on Saturday, and 3 miles on Wednesday.  I need to work on getting more miles in each week.

Eating Clean - As you know, I didn’t eat well last weekend which resulted in a migraine.  The rest of the week was pretty clean. I made my Broccoli Stuff “Baked” Potato with Red Pepper Sauce again.

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I also had a Kale Broccoli Slaw from Trader Joe’s which was delicious!  I replaced the mayonnaise based dressing with Bolthouse Farm’s yogurt based dressing.

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On a eating clean note… next week I need to focus on eating more vegetables and less fruit, nuts, and nut bars. Even though they are healthy foods, the sugar and fat adds up.

On a fitness note… ever since I have been running with the Pasadena Pacers, I feel so much stronger from running up hills every weekend.  I think that has made the biggest impact on improving my pace. On Saturday I’m running 9 miles for the first time!  I’m very excited to be getting closer to my half marathon goal.  For this 9 miles I’m going to try what Cassie from Rural Running Redhead does whenever she runs a new distance…

‘Whenever I run a new distance, I just tell myself that I’m running the new miles first. So after your first mile, you can think, “Well, I’m glad I got that new mile out of the way. Now I just have to do the 14 I did last week.” It’s a silly mental trick, but it works for me!’

Sometimes the mental tricks are what get me through the miles, and Cassie runs FAST marathons so I’ll gladly take any advice she has to offer!

On a weekend note… our good friends, Brett (half-alien, half-ironman enthusiast) and Beth (beautiful, supportive wife and mother) are coming to visits us in L.A tomorrow.  (Oh! And they have a beautiful daughter, Brooklyn!) I haven’t seen them in 8 months.  So excited!!!  Little does Brett know that I’m probably going to bombard him with a gazillion triathlon questions! Anyways…

Happy weekend adventures!

Frozen Hot Chocolate 10k

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I registered for the Frozen Hot Chocolate 10k today!  I know, I know!  This is the third race I signed up for in three weeks.  I really want to get more races under my belt and I would love to beat my PR since the last 10k.

Registration

One reason I was drawn to this race is the fact that the course is through downtown L.A.  Even though I have lived here for 4 years, I still haven’t spent much time in downtown.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to see more of the city. Plus, running for chocolate doesn’t hurt matters either!

Frozen Hot Chocolate Race Course

But the main reason I wanted to participate in this race is because Ronald McDonald House Charities is the official charity partner of the Hot Chocolate series.   Ronald McDonald House Charities provides housing for families and children facing a serious medical crisis so they can stay close by their hospital at little or no cost.   I can’t say enough good things about Ronald McDonald House Charities.  They were truly helpful to my family during a medical crisis several years ago.  I am extremely excited to support the organization and their cause during this race.

Since I have been running with the Pasadena Pacers, I have learned so many new things about running!  Below are a few new tips I have learned from more experienced runners.

Running Tricks to Improve Pace

  • Negative Split – This is when you run the first half of your race at a slower pace than the second half of your race. The reason this method is successful is because it take several miles for your body to warm up.  Once you are warmed up, your joints are lubricated and your endorphins have kicked in making the second half of your run faster without any more effort.
  • Word Triggers -  Create a trigger word to remind you to relax while running.  As our body gets tired from running, our shoulders end up by our ears and our hands clench up into fists.  Using a trigger word will remind you to keep good running form so you can save energy for your lower body.
  • Landmark Targets –  Use landmarks to improve pace.  Tell yourself you’ll pick up the pace until you reach the next light post.  Experienced runners use this technique to out run opponents.

My goal for this race is to run an average 9 minute pace throughout.  I think that will be possible with all the speed work I have been doing lately.

What is your favorite type of chocolate?  White, Milk, or Dark?