Roasted Greek-Style Chicken & Vegetables

Spring is all about rebirth. On Easter Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about fresh starts and changing some of my behaviors. Lately, I’ve been barely running and my diet has been off. With my own wedding quickly approaching this fall (!!!), I’ve got some weight to lose.

I decided that I need to get back into a grocery shopping and meal prep routine and that I’m going to make a new recipe (or one I haven’t made in a long time) each week. Let’s be honest- I’ve hit the Hy-Vee salad bar a bit too frequently and haven’t been cooking.

So what HAVE I been doing? Wedding planning and working. Between the two, there hasn’t been any much time for other things.

Yesterday,I decided to make a recipe that I saved from Weight Watchers a while back. I had ripped it out of one of the Weekly collateral pieces and saved it in my “recipe folder.”

While I had every intention to follow the recipe, I got home to realize I had purchased a cucumber instead of zucchini. Just my luck! So, I tossed in some green and red bell peppers and called it a day. It was delicious and so easy to make (small steps).

ChickenGreek-Style Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
4 servings, 4 SmartPoints/serving

Chicken breasts, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and zucchini are seasoned with fresh lemon, oregano, garlic and olive oil and then roasted all at once.

Ingredients
2 spray(s)cooking spray
5 tsp olive oil, extra virgin, divided
3 clove(s)garlic clove(s), chopped
1 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, divided
1⁄2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1⁄4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
2 small uncooked zucchini, or 1 large, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cup(s)grape tomatoes, halved
14 oz canned artichoke hearts without oil, drained well and halved
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s)

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat a large nonstick baking pan with cooking spray.
Step 2
In a large bowl, combine 4 teaspoons oil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon zest, salt and pepper; add vegetables and toss to coat. Lift vegetables out of bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving some oil mixture in bowl. Place vegetables in an even layer on one side of prepared pan, leaving room for chicken. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat; place on empty side of pan.
Step 3
Roast until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, stirring vegetables once, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle vegetables with remaining 1 teaspoon each oil and zest; toss to coat. Drizzle chicken with any pan juices. Yields about 3 ounces chicken and 1 cup vegetables per serving.

Additionally, I’m trying to refresh my half-marathon training plan. I have three half-marathons coming up and with only a few longer run under my belt, I’ve got some work to do. I’ve been dreading just about every run lately and hating it more with every stride.

Remember when I use to crave a long run? Remember when those runs were my alone time and time to reflect? While I’m not feeling that way right now, I’m determined to force myself back into the swing of things.

I’ve got a great running community near where I live and those group runs are the only thing getting me through. Yesterday was a start. 5 miles in the morning along with lifting and another 6 miles in the evening. I’ll do another 4-5 miles tonight and lift again and hopefully get a long run in tomorrow.

I’m determined to fuel my body correctly and get my mind and spirit back to a healthy place. Easter was just the fresh start I needed.

 

 

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How I lost 3 lbs at the Iowa State Fair

As many of you already know, the Iowa State Fair is MY FAVORITE event of the year. In my 28 years of living, I have never missed the fair. As I kid, I had 4-H projects selected to be displayed at state fair and showed rabbits there. In high school, I served on the 4-H State Council and volunteered several days. In college, I interned two summers for the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation where I organized 500+ volunteers for the duration of the fair and was charged with stocking several merchandise booths.

Fairfield & Rosetta!

Fairfield & Rosetta!

As an adult, I always take vacation time to go back and volunteer for the Blue Ribbon Foundation and see many people that I only see once a year.

My mom was selected as "Iowan of the Day" for being an awesome lady who serves the community.

My mom was selected as “Iowan of the Day” for being an awesome lady who serves the community.

For some, the Iowa State Fair is about the corn dogs, funnel cakes, cheese curds, bacon wrapped ribs, and fried Oreos, but for me, it’s so much more than that. I tried to stay on track with my food while I spent four days at the Iowa State Fair, following a work trip to Chicago for three days. I made a few slip-ups and didn’t run much while I was away (AND missed a long run!) so you can imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale this morning to find I had lost 3.4 lbs, even AFTER eating at Texas Roadhouse last night!

So, how did I do it? Well, I’ve spent today reflecting on how exactly I managed to do it and have the following things to thank:

Chicken Kabob

Chicken Kabob

Healthy choices
Despite what you may think, there are actually a lot of healthy options available at the ISF and they aren’t hard to find. I enjoyed the following items:

Chicken Kabobs at Beattie’s Watermelon Patch
Fresh cut watermelon at Beattie’s

Seriously, the BEST watermelon

Seriously, the BEST watermelon

Turkey Tenderloin and Pulled Turkey (hold the bun) at Iowa Turkey Federation booth
Taco Tater at Cattleman’s Beef Quarters
Pork loin at Iowa Pork booth
Salad with black beans, salsa and veggies at The Salad Bowl
Fruit Kabob at The Salad Bowl

Fruit kabob!

Fruit kabob!

(**All Simply Filling!)

If there’s something you REALLY want to have that you might not get the rest of the year, go for it! For me, there wasn’t anything that I felt I was missing out on so I pretty much stuck to the wonderful healthy options. The great thing is that you’re not “stuck” at a restaurant where you have to order something. There are so many options (most of them on a stick) and you don’t have to sit down anywhere. Therefore, while some members of the group can go to one place, you can take a few extra steps and get something you want, and still enjoy one another’s company.

Breakfast
I started each day with a good breakfast. Each morning I either had non-fat Greek yogurt or hard boiled eggs on a stick. These kept me fueled and feeling satisfied until lunchtime. We worked at the Iowa Egg Council booth a couple mornings where we served FREE eggs on a stick, which meant breakfast was easy!

Egg on a stick!

Egg on a stick!

Stayed busy
I go to the ISF to be with my family, see the sights, and to volunteer. The busier I stay, the less time I focus on food. When I’m bored, I eat more. I know that about myself, so I need to do a better job at avoiding boredom while I’m at home. I have PLENTY of things to be doing! I focused on the sights, sounds and the people- the true reasons I enjoy the fair.

Listened to my body
I took the time to evaluate whether or not I was hungry. If I ate when I saw others eat, I would have been eating the whole day, alongside everyone else.  Was I hungry? What will fulfill my hunger? Am I hungry enough to eat an apple or am I just in the mood to snack?

Walked, a lot
I didn’t get my runs in but I was on my feet most of the day. I clocked anywhere from 4 to 8 miles a day. AND I participated in the Fairgrounds 5K! It was super fun to run through the campgrounds and fairgrounds on a beautiful morning with other fair-goers. Loved it! My feet hurt each night and never felt fully recovered by morning.

Had supporters
I had a great support system. My family knows I try to eat healthy and did a fabulous job in making it easy for me. My mom had yogurt, apples, grapes and diet green tea waiting for me. One day, she even packed me a sandwich thin so I could lose the bun on my pulled turkey sandwich and substitute it for a sandwich thin. My mom, dad and brother also let me have a bite or small portion of their foods so I was still able to enjoy rhubarb/strawberry crisp, chocolate chip cookies, guinea grinder, grater tater, and fresh salt-water taffy. AND of course I still had a couple beers with friends.

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Last year, I gained 5 lbs during one weekend at the fair and I was determined to do better than that. While there’s always things I could do better, I feel really good about my progress.

What’s the one food you HAVE to have at a fair?

The long run that wasn’t meant to be

My alarm sounded at 4:30 this morning. I turned it off. Again, it went off at 4:45 AM… which meant it was time to get ready for my 23-miler in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. I crawled out of bed and went thorough my Saturday morning routine. Bathroom, wash face, brush teeth, change into the clothes I laid out the night before, deodorant, Body Glide, fix the rats nest (my hair) and grab a yogurt with fruit. It’s nearly the same routine every Saturday during training season.

This morning did feel a little different though. Besides starting in the dark, I was sore all over from my Thursday night at the gym. RIPPED and yoga gave me more of a workout than I realized at the time. Arms, chest, quads, and glutes were all on fire!

Mentally, I had prepared and was ready to rock. At 7 miles I began to feel pain in my foot. Plantar WON’T GO AWAY. At 10 miles it was very painful and at 11 miles, it was apparent that 23 miles wasn’t in my future. I began overcompensating and started to feel the pain in my hip from the awkward run/limp thing I was doing just to get by.

At 12 miles I was back home and got a pep talk from my running partner. It sucks! Logically, I knew it was time to quit instead of force injury upon myself but I wanted that last long run more than you know. For some reason, training this go around has seemed difficult and I just wanted to kill this 23-miler. Ugh.

The good news is that really, the rest of my training has been on track and I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. I have complete confidence that with Carrie’s help and  a little rest, I’ll be ready for race day. I am, however, second guessing my sub 4-hour marathon goal. I want it- BAD. I may have to incorporate some additional speed work after Chicago and shoot for sub-4 in Memphis this December, instead.

Why does it feel like I HAVE to PR? Why can’t I just go to Chicago, have a heck of a time with my bestie, and be PROUD for finishing another marathon?! Anymore, it doesn’t seem like finishing is enough. I need to work on my mindset. That’s the real goal for the next three weeks leading up to Chicago.

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you… (ok, honestly, it’s been a while since I cooked something other than popcorn for dinner). So I thought I’d do just that. I knew I’d be at the gym late on Thursday and it’s never fun to have to find something at 8:30 PM so I decided to break out my CrockPot. I threw these items (below) in along with some seasonings and BINGO- dinner.

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A close up of some of the items I used.

salsachicken

I put this “salsa chicken” as I like to call it over rice on Thursday, ate it plain on Friday and will have it on a salad probably tomorrow. For those of you that follow Weight Watchers- all of these items are Simply Filling!

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Yummy in my tummy: salsa chicken on brown rice

Yummy in my tummy: salsa chicken on brown rice

Thirty-Seven Days

THIRTY-SEVEN. 37 days!!

Only 37 days until the Chicago Marathon. I’ve got one 20-miler under my belt and a 23-miler on the horizon. I’m running slower than I’d like to be and I’ve got some severe foot pain at the moment.

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I’ve been enjoying the Rockin’ Runnerz group on Wednesdays evenings and have turned them into semi-long runs. I run 4-6 miles before meeting up with the group, where we run six more. After last night’s run, I woke up early this morning to work out. I could barely walk and couldn’t even think about running, so I hit the elliptical instead. My next massage is 2 weeks away and I can’t WAIT. I’ve been rolling my calves—which I believe is the source of my foot pain. Tonight I attended two classes at the gym—R.I.P.P.E.D and yoga. I thought yoga might help my whole body and I felt so much better after—physically and mentally.

Can't stretch enough!

Can’t stretch enough!

Lately, I’ve been getting the urge to switch-up my workouts and incorporate more lifting so that’s going to be the goal for the next few weeks. A stronger and leaner body will help me on race day. Less miles and smarter training may be the direction I need to head in.

This past week I celebrated being a Weight Watchers Lifetime member for FOUR YEARS. That means I’ve maintained my goal weight for 4 years, without going 2 lbs over my goal weight. Not even once! In fact, I’m currently about 12 lbs under my goal. My personal goal is to lose 3-4 lbs before the Chicago marathon. I call it my “racing weight,” and no, I’m not sharing that number with you. J

This weekend is the Pub2Pub 10K, which I’ve been looking forward to. Last year, I came in first in my age division so I have high hopes for this year’s race. I have an idea of what I’d like my time to be but with little speedwork lately and a sore foot, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m mostly looking forward to seeing friends—some that I trained for my first marathon with!

After long runs lately, the only thing that even remotely sounds good for lunch: egg sandwiches. Yep. Toast, two fried eggs, salsa. So, tell me—what’s your post-long run/race meal?

Race this weekend and 23-miler next weekend… then the dreaded tapering begins!