April Foodie Pen Pal Reveal–What I Sent My FPP!

I asked my FPP, Jessica to do a write-up review of the different items I sent her for the April Foodie Pen Pal. I was excited to hear how she liked the different items. Take it away, Jessica!
Hello!  My name is Jessica, and I was lucky enough to be paired up with Megan this month for Foodie Pen Pals!  Megan was an excellent partner and gave me a TON of goodies in my package!  Here’s a quick run down of what I received:
The box of goodies sent to Jessica.

The box of goodies sent to Jessica.

Archer Farms Blueberry Nut trail mix:  This stuff is divine.  I have tried their other trail mixes before, but not this one – and I think this might actually be my favorite.  Megan really listened when I said I was looking for healthy snack items, and this really fit the bill.
Archer Farms Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti Granola:  Okay, I totally devoured this before I could even eat it with a spoon and milk, as it shows in the picture on the package.  Great idea for someone who has a sweet tooth like me, yet this has 30g of whole grain and lots of fiber!
The Ginger People Ginger Chews:  These were totally new to me.  I have never heard of anything like them!  I was honestly a bit hesitant to try them (I know, I’m a wimp) but I love them, truly!  They are great for afternoons in the office or for my evening driving commute.
Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips:  Megan can read my mind, I swear.  I saw these at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and I don’t know why I didn’t buy them, because I was totally salivating just looking at them.  I was shocked when I saw them in my box!  Needless to say, they are already gone, and are a wonderful sweet snack after a meal.
Trader Joe’s Fruit Chews:  I hadn’t had these since childhood, and they brought back so many good memories!  They are yummy, yet make me still feel healthy while eating them.  🙂
Kentucky’s Bourbon Brittle:  I couldn’t even get a picture of this – that’s how fast it was devoured!  My parents were visiting when I opened this package, and they both dove for this!  (Huge Bourbon fans!)  I let them split it, and they couldn’t get enough!  🙂
FPP
Overall, I am so happy and lucky to have had Megan prepare my Foodie Pen Pals package this month!  It’s been great to “meet” you Megan, and I can’t thank you enough!  You definitely have a new blog reader in me!
Thanks, Jessica! I’m so happy you loved everything, and now you’ve talked me into trying the coconut chips from TJ’s!
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April Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

This is my second month participating in the Foodie Pen Pal program, and I have had a great time with it! It’s fun to try to guess what your pen pal might like or guess what they haven’t tried yet. Then you wait with anticipation to see what you’ll get in the mailbox.

Jessica, my FPP, will reveal what I sent her in a later post. So first, here is what I got from Maddie in Arkansas!

(My apologies for the bad photos--I left my camera in Indiana, so I'm using just my IPhone right now.)

(My apologies for the bad photos–I left my camera in Indiana, so I’m using just my IPhone right now.)

Inside the package was a box of cake-in-a-mug mix! I attempted one recipe a while ago, and I was pretty happy with it. This isn’t something from scratch, but looks delicious (I love coffee cake), so I’m waiting for the right night for M and I to enjoy this.

Flax seed to go!

Flax seed to go!

Also, Maddie sent me some travel packets of flax seed for me to try = AWESOME! I’ve been wanting to incorporate flax seed in more baking, but I balk every time I see the price and don’t buy it. She’s great for sending me these packets! I can’t wait for my first smoothie or baking! Maybe this will be the kick in the butt I need to just start buying flax seed. (Any tips on good deals?)

There were two yummy flavors of LaraBar that I love: keylime and peanut butter cookie. I usually get the peanut butter cookie one to M, but I think this time I might keep this flavor for myself. 😉 Add in the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt, and my sweet tooth is happy!

Huckleberry soda and pickled watermelon rind

Huckleberry soda and pickled watermelon rind

The two out-of-the-norm items were the pickled watermelon rind and the huckleberrry soda. I took the watermelon rind with me to a cookout on Friday, but I couldn’t convince anyone to try it with me. I’m waiting to find the right time for M and I to try it at the same time. The Flathead Lake Gourmet Soda is touted as “Montana’s Legendary Soda”. I had never heard of it before, but the flavor intrigues me. I haven’t crack it open yet because I don’t know if it’s caffeinated or not (it doesn’t take much caffeine to keep me up all night), but I think I’ll love it.

Maddie definitely did a great job introducing me to some new, adventurous things, food-wise! I’ll report back on the watermelon rind and the huckleberry soda when I give them a taste!

Does the idea of receiving adventurous food items intrigue you? Join in the FPP fun!

Here are a few details about Foodie Penpals. 

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for May, check out The Lean Green Bean to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

*If you’re from Europe, please click here to signup.

Kona Kase — A Belated Review

Where has the time gone?? It seems like suddenly the days all flew by. I got the March Kona Kase weeks ago, but time slipped away and I haven’t been able to give you a full review…until now!

The aspect behind the Kona Kase is to bring the latest in health snacks and treats for the health nut every month, all in a convenient box in your mailbox! You can get all these goodies for just $15 a month.

I loved the inspiration saying on one of the cards in the box:

Saying

Anyway, the box had a few new (to me, at least) items, and a couple that I had seen before. I’ve tried the CLIF Shot Bloks while I was training for the Run The Bluegrass, but they’ve been hard to find, so I’m excited to stow away the cran-razz flavor for when I’m able to get back into training! And the Clif Bar Crunch Granola Bar was a nice change for my mid-morning snack at work.

Case

The other yummies included:

Suncups: I absolutely love creamy caramel and chocolate! These are like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, only with caramel, and organic.

TCHO: Inside the box I had four different flavors of chocolate from San Francisco. PureNotes Dark Chocolate (with subtle “nutty” notes), SeriousMilk “Classic” Milk Chocolate with caramel notes, PureNotes Dark Chocolate, and SeriousMilk Cacao Milk Chocolate with lush and fudgy notes. The “notes” were definitely subtle in each flavor. I was a little disappointed in the lack of “nutty notes” in the one flavor (I love nuts in chocolate), but the Cacao Milk Chocolate was smooth and flavorful.

NutButterWild Friends Nut Butter: I’ve never had sunflower seed nut butter, and this was chocolate-flavored, but it was delicious! Especially with my crisp Jazz apple, it made for a great snack at work. I love the pouches because it makes packing easy.

BruBar: An all natural energy bar some times means not the sweetest or the prettiest looking, but it wasn’t too bad. These bars are vegan, with whole grains. I snacked on some before CrossFit one day and it was what I needed to push through a WOD.

Everything packed in this fun, orange box, is perfect to fuel you on the go. I wish I had a hiking trip I could have packed all of this into a bag for, but instead I just spread them out throughout the month!

If you’re interested in trying Kona Kase for yourself, hit up their website for more information.

Good Reads 4.27.13

Happy Rolex Weekend! For those not in the horse world, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event is this weekend here in Lexington, and it’s always a good time. International riders (Olympians and World Champions) all come to Kentucky to compete in our form of the triathlon–dressage, cross country, and show jumping in three days. NBC usually shows coverage of Rolex after the Kentucky Derby (which is next weekend!), so be sure to check it out (or you can YouTube it).

LinkLove

Anyway, here’s this week’s link love:

Smart Snacking (The Lean Green Bean Blog): Lindsay offers some great tips in this blog about snacking smarter. Just because you’re watching what you eat doesn’t mean you should stick to only three meals a day. In fact, I have a mid-morning snack just about everyday. Lately it’s been two clementines and some Wheat Thins, but other times I’ll have an apple and peanut butter. Plus lots of water. What’s your favorite at-work snack?

Failing UP (RunToTheFinish): Amanda has a great way of how to take a step back and look at the brighter side of things. She points out that you aren’t necessarily failing, but being given a chance to improve every time. It’s something I need to practice more in my life in so many ways.

3 Ways a Running Partner Can Change Your Running (Live, Love & Run…): Melissa’s hubby made two huge strides in his health that should be celebrated–he quit smoking and he’s starting to workout and run! Her post is inspiring, which always makes me hope maybe I can get M back to joining me at the gym (or maybe CrossFit?) and maybe even enjoying some (shorter) runs together. Kudos to H (and Melissa for being so supportive)!

Dear Body, Thank You for Taking on These Extra 5 Pounds (StudioEats): For anyone who has battled added a little weight here and there (that’s probably all of us at some point in our lives), this post is for you! I, too, have added on about 5-7 pounds from my wedding back in October. The holidays, and then stress, and now lack of running hasn’t helped matters. But Jamie had a great point: “When we gain weight, it is usually a sign of something else going on. Stress, boredom, lack of excitement in our lives, overwhelm.” A lot of that describes me and my life. But take a look back at everything that’s happened in those months of gaining weight and be thankful for your current health.

What blog posts struck you this week?

Exhausting Week

TGIF! It’s been one long, exhausting week for me! Volleyball started back up, which meant back to late nights, plus just long days at work. The Kentucky Derby is next week, so the office is buzzing with news, etc., which means we’re constantly working. Love this time of year!

I wasn’t able to go to CrossFit until Wednesday (no more Monday night classes for me now–job #2 takes priority). By the time 5 pm came around on Wednesday, I was chomping at the bit, excited to get to class!

Warm-up was a 3 minute AMRAP of medicine ball curls (10 at a time) and 5 pushups. I was really concentrating on my form–it felt awkward with the medicine ball. I think I did three rounds.

Then there was the WOD:

WOD

Our 6 pm class was pretty big (12 people), so we made it a partner workout. We did 3 rounds of 5 dead lifts, 10 pull-ups (with the band or jump-ups), and 15 kettle bell swings. While one partner did the workout, the other rested. Repeat this three times.

For our dead lifts, Heather and I did 45 pounds, used a 17.6 lb KB, and did the jump-ups. Everything felt fine (I think I could have used some more weight on the dead lifts and kettle bell, but that’s OK, since I’m just starting out), but I don’t know if I was doing the jump-ups correctly. You see, if you have just started and aren’t on the bands yet for pull-ups, you start by jumping to pull yourself up over the bar. You should still be pulling up with your arms, but using a little momentum from your legs. I didn’t feel like I was using my arms as much as I should, so I kept talking to Coach Taylor and others about my form. Taylor said I looked fine, so who knows?

WOD2

It definitely was a sweat session!

During one of my rest periods, I got a text from a friend asking me to fill-in on his volleyball team just one hour after I finished with CrossFit. I have a hard time saying no to friends, so I agreed. After 24 burpees and a short stretch session, I rushed home to take the girls to the park for some tennis ball action, then back again to head to Marikka’s, leaving M on his own for dinner.

These muffins rock as a great mid-morning snack!

These muffins rock as a great mid-morning snack!

How good of a friend am I? Try playing sand volleyball, barefoot, in 45* weather after a full hour of butt-kicking CrossFit. Yep. My feet were so cold–they started cramping as I drove home as they thawed out! I was plumb exhausted when I got back, but had enough energy to make these awesome banana oatmeal breakfast muffins I found on Pinterest for our breakfasts the next couple of days. The muffins were a hit with me, M, and some of M’s co-workers. (I added some chopped almonds instead of walnuts, but didn’t have any flax seed. Plus a few got some chocolate chips because I knew M would like that.)

Around 11 I crashed for the night, absolutely exhausted. Thursday morning I had my third physical therapy appointment, which I’ll fill you in on later.

Right now, I’m looking forward to the weekend–M actually has Saturday AND Sunday off, so hopefully we’ll get to do some things together and hang out! (Boo on the predicted storms all weekend, though!)

What’s on tap for your weekend?

Hitting the Sand & Back to HIIT

This week kicks off my busy period…wait, when do I not have a busy period? Anyway, I digress…

Sand volleyball season is now in full swing here in Lexington. This is my third year reffing for a bar league on the southside at a German restaurant/bar called Marikka’s. We have two sand courts out back with leagues playing Monday through Friday. In previous years I’ve reffed 3-4 nights a week, but this year I’m cutting back to only one night, plus filling in wherever needed. It also means I’m basically working from 8 am until about 12:30-1 am, which makes for some long days.

Last night was the first night back in the referee’s chair.

This will be my view every Monday night until mid-October.

This will be my view every Monday night until mid-October.

When I ref, I have only an hour between my full-time job getting out at 5 and when I have to be at the bar with my court open (6). Some people might think that’s not enough time to do much of anything, but, thanks to having my gym just 5 minutes from work, I’m able to squeeze in a high intensity workout in about 20-30 minutes.

Yesterday, because of an appointment and traffic, I only had 20 minutes to get in a good sweat. So here was my workout:

1 minute jump rope
30 seconds push-ups
10 wall balls (14-lb medicine ball)
Repeat for a total of 10 minutes

20 seconds rope waves
50 crunches
Repeat twice

Then I did some of my physical therapy workouts, which included lunges, side-ways leg lifts, back kicks, and then about 5 minutes of stretching.

I was out of the gym by 5:45 and on the road towards Marikka’s.

How do you fit in sweat-worthy, short-on-time workouts?

Recipe: Mom’s “Poor Man’s” Sloppy Joes

Some times you just want something simple to eat, whether it’d be for lunch or dinner. I grew up with my mom making this simple dish for lunch on the weekends when we wanted something more than simple sandwiches. So she would make what she called a “Poor Man’s” sloppy joe.

Easy mid-week meal: Sloppy joes on whole wheat bread with SteamFresh green beans and potatoes

Easy mid-week meal: Sloppy joes on whole wheat bread with SteamFresh green beans and potatoes

We never had the pre-made sloppy joe stuff in the can. We just made our own:

Mom’s “Poor Man’s” Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground turkey
Dried chopped onions
Ketchup
BBQ sauce

  1. Brown the ground turkey with chopped onions (a couple of shakes’ worth)
  2. To taste, add ketchup and BBQ sauce (with a couple tablespoons of water). I like my sloppy joe to have a little bit of a tang from the BBQ sauce, so I’ll have a little more of that than the ketchup. I’ve never measured out how much of each I use, but be sure to have some water so the mixture can simmer some.
  3. Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes. Serve on a slice of whole wheat bread.

I’ve used the leftovers on top of a salad mix after a run and it tasted awesome.

Good Reads 4.20.13

Happy Saturday!! Here’s another serving of Good Reads for your weekend reading:

Yogurt is Not a Meal (Dangerously Hardcore): A great post from a personal trainer about healthy eating. Some times we get so caught up in the fact that if we eat all veggies and low fat foods we’re eating a healthy diet–but we’re not. Our bodies need more than just those things to keep burning fuel (calories) and keep y ou active and healthy. Important to note: “What’s happening here is that your body isn’t getting what it needs on a regular basis, so it starts craving what it’s not getting. This is the part you need to learn if you ever want to be successful.”

Why Women Should Not Run (Dangerously Hardcore): I know, I know, I don’t normally list two posts from the same blog, but when I was reading the above post, I saw this and it caught my eye. I totally agree that you should cross-train–everybody should, not just women. You need to do more than the same type of exercises and sports everyday. My physical therapist and I talked about this post during my appointment and he mentioned how he gets a lot of overuse injuries, especially in children. It’s a controversial post. Read it. Discuss.

Things That Matter (& Things That Don’t) (Carrots N Cake): Tina’s been on vacation to Ireland, so her blog has had a lot of scheduled posts lately. But apparently she came on and posted real quick about the Boston Marathon bombing and short, but poignant post. (NOTE: I know there were tons of Boston blog posts, and they all are great posts with many deep thoughts and feelings, I couldn’t pick just one or two, but I encourage you to check some of them out!)

Dally of Kentucky: Call Me Badonkadonk (The Daily Corgi): OK, so I had to do a little self-promoting here. The Daily Corgi wanted to feature my Corgi, Dally, as their Dog of the Day on Friday! I was able to write her bio and include a bunch of photos. I encourage to check it out!

Making Ripples (Life as a Running Mom): Short and sweet–how do you plan to make ripples of positivity in your life? Even the littles things can turn out to be huge.

And this…which I needed after a week like this:

Thanks to On The Rodeo Road for this image. http://www.ontherodeoroad.com

Thanks to On The Rodeo Road for this image.
http://www.ontherodeoroad.com

Fast Track Program for CrossFit

Last night I went to my second session at Man O’War CrossFit. This time it was part of the Fast Track Program (FTP) they have to help teach CrossFit newbies the basics of the workouts, while getting a good workout as well. (Whereas on Monday, I did an actual WOD with those who had already been doing CrossFit.)

After a warm-up of running 200 meters and stretching, Taylor took me and three other girls through the motions of the push presses and dead lifts with PVC pipes, that way we could get the technique down before adding weight. Then he walked us through wall balls–let me tell you, those sound easy, but they really aren’t! I know now what Tina means when she says she hates them because they can crush you. I was using just a 10-lb medicine ball and there were times I almost lost my balance when the ball came back into my hands! But it definitely was a good workout!

Once we had the basics down, we went through our WOD for the FTP:

FTPWOD

We worked with just the bar (no weights this time) and 10-lb medicine balls for the 8 minute AMRAP: 5 push presses, 10 dead lifts, 15 wall balls.

I think I ended up doing 6 rounds, plus 5 push presses and 2 or 3 dead lifts, before time expired. Taylor told us we didn’t have to throw the ball up to the tall marker on the wall this time, but I really wanted to push myself to know that I could do it, so I made sure every rep counted. I had a little bit of trouble with the push presses and remembering to get my head through my arms for each rep, so that’s something I need to work on. You really do a lot of concentrating during CrossFit!

We finished the workout with 17 burpees–the box has a 1,000 burpee challenge for the month of April. (I’m up to 62, thanks to my two days there! LOL) Then we foam rolled (it hurts so good) and were finished! I’m going to try to go back on Friday for the late class, since Dally has a chiropractor appointment right after work.

Taylor said he likes to have everyone do at least four of the FTP classes so that way they come into regular WODs armed with the knowledge and ability to perform the exercises in good time, and not hold anyone back. So I have two more classes to go!

I’m really liking CrossFit! You can’t think about anything else besides what you are doing at that moment, or else you’ll mess up your form or lose count. And the hour goes by so quickly!

Have you stopped going to a regular gym and only go to CrossFit boxes?

Crockpot Enchilada Casserole Love

Sunday night I did a little bit of weekly food preparation of my own, but mostly for Monday night’s dinner. I was inspired by Lindsay’s Crockpot Enchilada Casserole and decided this would be a great vegetarian meal for M and I to have.

I’ve done the Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas, but this seemed so much easier (probably because I didn’t have to wait for the roasting time). This was basically chopped up the veggies, throw them (in layers) in the Crockpot and go.

The casserole is so colorful in the CrockPot!

The casserole is so colorful in the CrockPot!

Here are the substitutions I made:

Black Beans –> Lentils
Enchilada sauce –> Chunky Salsa
Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Cumin –> Cumin, Black Pepper, Diced Onion

I chopped up a red bell pepper and sweet potato and combined that with frozen corn and fresh spinach. So my layers were: whole wheat tortilla strips, spinach, veggies, spices, salsa, cheese, repeat two more times (except leave off the cheese until closer to the end).

I served mine with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

I served mine with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

This was delicious, and like I said, so easy!