Saturday, October 26, 2013

TC 10 mile Race Report: October 6, 2013

Waiting for the start.  All the photos in this post are credit of my running buddy, Rose.
Pre-race smiles in the middle of the pack.
Morning sunlight pouring down Summit Ave.

Another late race report following another satisfying race!  To my good fortune, I was selected to run in the TC 10 mile, the little sister race to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.  Runners are chosen through a lottery system for the TC 10 mile so I always feel pretty lucky when my number gets pulled!
This year, I started the race with a speedy running buddy of mine (and talented photographer as you can see from this photos!).  After a summer of hardcore hiking and training, Rose was ready to PR.  I didn't know what to expect although I hoped to beat my time from Women Run The Cities 10 mile race without overdoing it.  (I still had a half marathon trail race and the Monster Dash Half marathon ahead of me!)
Some of the most memorable moments of this race were before we even arrived at the start line.  The TC 10 mile starts at a very early 7 am in order to clear the line and set up for the marathon's 8 am start.  This is pretty early for a road race, and too early to expect a ride from my dear husband (especially with a six month old to tote along!).  So, Rose (who is an avid biker and major fan of public transportation) encouraged me to rent a "Nice Ride" and bike with her to the Metrodome (which I mistakenly call the "metronome" almost exclusively).  Even though I had never rode a "Nice Ride" before, I thought, "Well, why not!?  It's a good warm up!"
So, with the sky still full of stars, I headed to the nearest nice ride station.  Trouble was...the station wasn't where I remembered.  After a little run up and down Lake Street, I finally found a station, hopped on a bike, and headed to the greenway to meet my buddy.  I could see her light flashing in the distance so I started singing the flying monkey song from Wizard of Oz as I headed towards her.  It felt very surreal!
We arrived at the start line with plenty of time to spare (and just enough time to make it through port-a-pot line...the setting of a second funny pre-race moment...a huge suburban attempted to get out of a parking structure blocked by runners waiting for the port-a-pot...and those runners weren't moving for fear of losing their place in line!  I don't think the driver was prepared for such a hold up!)

At last, the horn sounded, and Rose and I cruised through the first few miles together.  At around mile three, we spotted her husband on the top of the Franklin Bridge.  We waved and yelled at him but he missed us.  Luckily, we ran up the ramp to the bridge itself and caught his attention thanks to Rose's impressive amplification of his last name.  He waved at us and then headed (according to Rose) back to bed.  After crossing Franklin Bridge, I checked in with myself and decided I better pick up the pace if I wanted to PR.  I knew I had more speed in me than I was exerting so I might as well give it a try.  I wished Rose luck and powered on.

The next few miles, I listened to music, tried to catch fit women, and focused on the next mile marker.  Strong.  Steady.  Relaxed.  I told myself.  I breathed, and moved between phases of feeling tired and heavy legged to phases of relaxed strength.  That's the thing with running distance races- I find that the tired phases don't necessarily last the whole race; I just need to hold tight and the tiredness cycles into a steady run again.  Refusing to look at my Garmin, I ran by effort, a strategy that's worked well for me in the past.

As I passed the Cathedral and headed downhill to the Capitol, I saw Mike and Misha waving from the sidelines!  I crossed the finish line and immediately checked my watch- a new 10 mile PR! Mike, Misha and I found each other and headed to the capitol steps to meet Rose.  Not long after, she strolled our direction with a big smile on her face- a PR too!  We were happy campers!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pretty much every weekday morning.

As a teacher, I am a creature of habit.

 5:30 alarm, sleep
5:40 alarm, sleep
5:50 wake up
Head downstairs, get coffee and oatmeal started.
Do 8 minutes of abs while waiting for coffee and oatmeal.
Eat breakfast, read emails, check weather, and toodle around feedly and pinterest
6:30 Feed Misha or prep milk, brush teeth, floss, comb hair and get dressed.  Pick out a scarf to wear.
7:15 Bike to work, enjoy the fall colors
7:45 Meet with students about essays, respond to work emails, get ready for classes
8:30-11:30 Teach!
11:30-12:00 Wrap up materials, get ready for tomorrow's classes.
12:00 Bike home, enjoy leaves again!
12:30 Home sweet home!  Cuddle and feed Misha.
1:00 Eat lunch outside on our picnic table and make plans for the afternoon.

Unlike my mornings at work, weekday afternoons have yet to fall into a routine.  Although sometimes I yearn for this, I am okay with no routine with one caveat.  I need to spend some time moving, and preferably, outside.  For me, working up a sweat can make a world of difference in terms of how the rest of the day shapes up.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race Report: Women Run The Cities 10 Mile

I am going to keep this race report brief as it is already overdue and I am running another 10 mile race this Sunday!

I signed up for Women Run The Cities for four reasons.
1. One of my favorite local trail races, the surley loppet half marathon, was already full.
2. I love all female events.
3. The start and finish line is only two miles from my house (perfect distance for an easy warm up).
4. Breaking up a training cycle with local distance races keeps me motivated.

I didn't have a concrete race plan, but I approached the race as a training run.  This means no PR-ing (unless I feel downright incredible and a PR pace feels like floating on air which is highly unlikely).  That said, I wanted to feel tired at the end of the race to mimic the fatigue I should feel during the last stretches of a goal race.  To accomplish this, I left home extra earlier and jogged over to the start line, a nice and easy two mile warm up.  I always love running and biking through the neighborhoods early in the morning.  There is something so peaceful about households waking up, turning on the coffee, and taking in the brisk autumn air as they go out to collect the paper.

Oh right...I said this report was going to brief.  Oh dear.

I wore my garmin but I decided to run by feel and resisted looking at my pace.  I took the first few miles nice and easy (by the time the race started, I had cooled down from my "warm up" so I had to warm up all over again...ah, the benefits of old age).  I passed a few pace groups but I resisted checking out the pace.  I just wanted to listen to my body.  Coming up to the turn around beneath the overpass (around mile 4), I saw a running friend of mine on the other side.  I decided I would catch up to her and stick with her for a while so I wouldn't be pressured into pushing my pace.  This was a good goal since I would have to tackle a long gradual hill in order to reach her.  It gave me something to think about!  I caught up to my friend and paced her through mile 8.5.  It was wonderful to catch up because she is something like a running mom mentor.  She is just turned 50 and she is in great shape!  We talked runner mom philosophy and then parted ways so I could kick it in a bit during the last mile and half.

I felt pretty strong as I was cruising toward the finish.  There were a couple other women striding in so I tried to stick with them.  It helped to remind myself that I ran a speedy 5k at the end of triathlon only a month or so before so I had a kick in me.

Race results: 18/108 in my division.

Not a PR- but that's a good thing.  :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Weekend Run Highlights

I planned to run somewhere around 12 miles for Saturday's long run, but due to the steamy temps and my tired legs, I ended somewhere in the 11 mile range including a few walking intervals.  Saturday's saving grace was a running buddy who kept me entertained with explanations of cultural theory and a goal setting session for our thirties.  We to be glamorous thirty year-olds on a budget?

We passed a family placing a red wagon and cute blue chair out on the curb.  We confirmed that the goods were free and convinced the family to put the goods in their backyard so we could grab them post-run.  If only folks were leaving little black dresses and kate spade bags curbside...

Sunday was an easy five mile run to stretch out my legs after Saturday's slog.  I like to go out with Misha on Sunday am's since we often aren't together anymore in the mornings.  Misha likes to be my coach, smile at me, and look around as we cruise around River Road.

This Sunday, we passed this neighbor kid who offered free lemonade much to the dismay of a second for-profit lemonade stand across the street. I first encountered this do-gooder during my warm up.  He encouraged me to stop, "Just a friendly cup of free lemonade...just a neighborly cup!" he advertised.  I promised I would stop on the way home if he was still there.

Sure enough, buddy boy was at his corner (now with watermelon too!).  I told him I was ready to take him up on the offer.  He was pretty pumped.  We talked business.  Apparently, the market was low.  He was thinking of setting up shop on river road when "that big race happens."  "You mean the Twin Cities Marathon?"  I told him he would have a lot of takers then.  We talked education.  He recommended his school.  "How do you like it?" I asked.  "It's good.  It has a pool," he said.  "Cool."  I told him that Misha wasn't ready for school yet but he is a good running coach.  The kid cheerfully enthused, "He's the team mascot!"

Misha and I on Franklin Bridge on a cloudy Sunday run. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Training Ponderings...

***For those of you who read this blog primarily for Misha updates, I apologize for my training-related posts but these will keep coming as running and training are important parts of my life!  Don't worry- Misha posts will continue too as he is a complete love nut.  
Hanging with mom...
With the YWCA sprint triathlon under my belt, I am looking ahead to the fall running season as well as pondering future training and racing goals now that I am a mother!

This fall, I have signed up for three races: Women Run The Cities 10 mile, the TC 10 mile (little sister race of the Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon) and my priority race- the Ortho Monster Dash Half Marathon.  Despite the fact that I love trail running and racing, I intentionally signed up for three road races because they are closer to home and easier to train for with a baby in the mix!

However, as I put together my fall training plan, I find myself weighing different options and struggling to set attainable but challenging goals.  I know I want to do my long runs on Saturdays along with two weekdays dedicated to intervals, hills, thresholds, or another workout of this caliber.  However, when I consider the rest of my plan, the regular sprinkle of easy, shorter runs are convenient, but they don't necessarily help to make me faster or fitter.  So, I am wondering...should I take a risk and try something new that would require some dedication?  Or, should I relax and prioritize convenience as I settle into the working mom mode?  Advice, anyone?

Some of the other training options I've been considering for this fall/winter:
-Joining the masters swim team at Macalester
-Running with a local YWCA track group on Thursday mornings (free!)
-Organizing an all-women/teachers running group at my school
-Lifting weights (this would be really nice to do with a partner!  Anyone interested?)

Reflecting on the big picture, I must ask myself- what do I hope to get out of training?  What would I like to accomplish- this fall, this year, and in the future?  It's important that these goals are attainable but I also believe that a true goal requires dedication, work, and risk to make it worthwhile.  And most of all, I must be passionate about it!

Tentative Goals for 2013-2014:
Complete an olympic distance triathlon
Run the Superior Trail 25k (or 50k???) in May

Saturday, August 31, 2013

YWCA Women's Triathlon Race Report- 8/18/13

Preface: I wanted to write this race report while it was all still fresh, but with a four month old and my return to work, this post quickly dropped its priority status.  Luckily, I jotted down some key memories immediately after the race to stimulate my writing later.  Those anecdotes are included here!
Almost two weeks ago, I crossed the YWCA Women's Sprint Triathlon finish line for third year in a row.  As I raised my hands in the air, the announcer cheered me on, "Molly of Minneapolis- This is her first triathlon post baby Misha!  She just had a baby and triathlon!"
This shot truly captures the thrill of the finish line.  
Last year, Misha completed the race with me and my mom in the "buddy heat."  Only a few weeks pregnant, I kept my mom company as she worked her way through her first 500 yard open water swim, 15 mile bike ride, and 5k run.  This year, we signed up as a "mother-daughter team" with each of us competing in our own age group.

Posing for a post race mother-daughter team photo...with grandson/son Misha Man!  Still in his pajamas...
After a summer of moderate training to regain fitness postpartum, I approached this tri with a range of goals.  First, I hoped my overall time matched or approached my 2011 finishing time. Second, I wanted to beat my times in each of the events including the transitions.  And third, I hoped to place in the top ten of the women of my age group.  These seem like big goals even in hindsight, but I also told myself that if it wasn't my day, no big deal.  I would just go with the flow and blame a slow race on a recovering post-baby body.  For some, this kind of self talk might have provided an excuse for wimping out on race day.  But during my years of training, I've discovered that giving myself permission to "go with the flow" works well as a pre-race calming mechanism. Then, most of the time, my competitiveness kicks in when I need it to.  This is part of the mental game.

The morning of the tri, my whole family woke up in darkness- Mike, Misha, mom, dad, and me.  Misha didn't really know what was going on and fell back asleep in the midst of the excitement.  The rest of us ate bagels with peanut butter and bananas and I chugged a cup of coffee before hitting the road.

Misha waiting for his mom to cross the finish line.
Before I get into the race details, I must acknowledge my SUPPORT CREW!  I could not have done the tri without my husband and my dad!  They were such troopers!  Not only did I see (and hear) them on the course three times, but they positioned Misha so he could see his mama cruise by.  They were willing to deal with the hassle of a giant orange stroller and bottles of milk so they cheer me on with Misha Man.  I don't think many husbands and dads (grandpas!) are so accommodating.  I am one lucky triathlete.

So, the race.  As I gathered myself in the hour before my start, I selected specific inspiration for each leg.  During the swim, I decided to picture my dad watching for me from the shore.  The same guy who  taught me to swim and yelled my name every time I took a breath during my swim team days.  I also thought about river otters as they are, decidedly, one of my spirit animals.  (What's the other one, you ask?  Perhaps a reveal for the future, my friend.)

Swim: From a physical standpoint, I positioned myself to the right and front of my heat.  I wanted to get out there fast so that I could avoid the swimmers who start fast but quickly peter out.  I also wanted to be as close to the booeys as possible so to avoid adding distance to my swim.  The first 100 yards were ridiculous- lots of flaying arms and legs.  By the first turn, however, I was free from the pack and able to relax into a suitable pace.  Looking around, there didn't seem to be many pink caps around (age group marker)- a good sign!  By the second turn, I noticed that someone was drafting me- in a pink cap, no less!  I tried my best to free myself but I have no open water training so I wasn't successful.  The two of us ran out of the water and into the transition area.

I am in the blue one piece bathing suit in the middle of the photo...adjusting my goggles.  I am pretty sure that the girl who beat me is in the black and turquoise tri suit in the far right of the photo.
Transition 1: My drafter came in handy because it was clear she had a mental map of the fastest route to our bikes (they are organized by age heat).  I followed her lead.  Transition 1 took me forever because I wasted more than a minute putting on tri shorts and t-shirt over my one piece bathing suit. A tri suit or outfit is essential for my next race.

Bike: During the bike, I thought about Misha.  I often think about him when I am training.  Sometimes, I picture him as a teenager, training for his own sports and encouraging me to keep up with him.  The first mile was a bit of a mind game as I changed gears (rah rah) from swimming to biking.  Once I got some gatorade and half a luna bar in my system, I felt reenergized and concentrated on passing people.  I watched out for women in my age group (our ages were written on the back of our calves) and aimed to keep a fast but manageable pace.  There was one age grouper that caught me around 7 miles and we switched back and forth until I out-biked her in the last mile.  As I headed towards the transition area, I saw my mom heading out on her bike!  She yelled my name in passing and I sent her good vibes!

Transition 2: Something ridiculous like 27 seconds.  I was out of there!

Run: As for the run leg, I turned to two of my favorite mantras: "smooth and strong," and "I am here now" (from Another Mother Runner blog).  I didn't have my garmin watch on so I didn't know what pace I was going.  The thing about the bike to run transition is that it is hard to tell how fast I'm going because my legs just feel so weird.  However, as I headed out of the transition area and onto the run course, I heard my dad say, "She's so fast."  This gave me confidence.  If I looked fast, I must be starting at a solid pace.  During the first mile, I reminded myself "I am here now."  Forget about the swim and the bike, and just be present in the moment, in this case a 3.1 mile run- a distance that I usually view as a warm up.  I shook off the bike by the end of the first mile.  With two miles left, I repeated "smooth and strong" in my head and looked to pass people.  There were some girls who looked about my age less than a quarter mile ahead.  When I approached, I realized that they were from an earlier heat (thus, not my age group) but it felt good to pass the youngsters anyway.  Folks cheered me on as I headed towards the finish line.  There weren't many racers around me but I still wasn't certain about my pace, time, or place.  I was pretty tired as I headed into the finishing zone but I heard Mike and my dad once more.  They told me to pick it up!  So I did!  (Even though I didn't want to!)

I was pretty excited when I saw these results:

It was hard for me to believe that I actually got second place in my age group, but there it was!  I beat all of my times from two years ago except for the swim.  Perhaps most exciting was my run time- 7:14 pace!  My best 5k in college was 21:00 minutes and that was without swimming or biking before the race! This just goes to show that sometimes not knowing my pace can be a blessing.  If I knew I was running a 7 minute pace in the first mile, I might have backed down.  I will definitely do more runs/races by feel instead of by pace in the future.

Next year, I will be in a different and more competitive age group.  One of the great things about triathlons is that women usually get better as they get older.  As I reflect on my race and training, there are so many things that I could do differently to help improve my time, but I will save this reflection for a future post.  For now, I want to celebrate this victory and take in this moment!!!!

With the first and third place winners AND OLYMPIAN MARATHONER- Carrie Tollefson!  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Delicious AND Nutritious

Today I made a pesto from my inherited 1977 Moosewood cookbook.  My mom wrote "good" with a double underline, so I knew it must be a worthy recipe.  I have been preparing giant batches of salads and grilled meats to keep me from eating cereal on nights Mike is at grad school.

In my opinion, the trick to tasty wholesome food is in the dressing.  I will eat a plate of plain raw veggies, but I enjoy a tossed salad with a mustardy vinaigrette beneath grilled chicken with a Mediterranean, yogurt-based marinade.   My favorite dressings are light (not saturated in mayonaise) and savory.  I prefer lime and cilantro over lemon and mint.  I avoid garlic because I cannot stand the aftertaste (still...hours later), but I do like green onions, chives, and red onion.

Tonight, I tossed whole wheat noodles with a couple scoops of the pesto (recipe below- as noted, I skipped garlic and butter) and served them with tomatoes and olives over salad greens.  Delicious!  (And...nutritious! as I like to say!).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running Update

Since receiving my midwife's blessing to run again, I am taking a balanced approach to regaining fitness.  I am pretty sure that I could sweat out a five miler, but I've decided to ease back into the kind of training that I did pre-pregnancy to prevent injury and potential frustration at not meeting unrealistic expectations.

With that in mind, I am combining walking and running- slowly increasing the running segments and warming up and cooling down with lots of walking.  I've been doing this about every other day.  On my non-run days, I have been following a post-natal strength plan that Olympic runner (and mom!) Carrie Tollefson put together for runner's world.  

So far, I feel energized and strong.  I am proud of myself for adding strength exercises into my routine since, historically, I am bad at weight lifting consistently.  But, Carrie Tollefson told me that I should strengthen my running muscles before I actually start running so I am listening to her. 

As for Misha, he is totally content in the running stroller (as demonstrated in this post-run photo).  I make sure to run only on smooth paths so he bounce around too much.  It's funny; I have noticed he sleeps a lot more when I am running as opposed to walking.  He must love running as much as I do!  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's motherhood made of?

This is not exactly a Misha Man update.  This is more of a Molly update.  I know; you worried "Duly Noted" suddenly became a full fledged baby blog.  Don't fret.  I am still here.  But, I am experiencing momification.

As I move from stroller to rocking chair to cozy leather chair, I get my first tastes of motherhood. What's motherhood made of?  Milk and music, blankets and books, tea, baths, and meandering walks.

The day is broken into fragments.  Go for a walk (or run!)...go home.  Go to the market...go home.  Sit at the coffee shop...go home.  It is much too risky to pair two outings together- however brief- if the faintest possibility of hunger (mine or Misha's) lingers.

With Mike working, I surround myself with music, blankets, and books.  Blankets hang over armchairs and books pile on end tables.  With Misha curled in my arms, I wrap a blanket around the two of us and pick up whichever book I left there.  Prone to reading a few books at a time, I enjoy the scattered nature of this reading habit.  If my eyes are too tired or my hands too full, I put on some music (Bob Marley, Bach, or Songza) and let it fill the space.

What else?  Cups of earl grey or irish breakfast tea with generous pours of soy milk.  Long baths in herbal connections.  Walks through our Minneapolis neighborhood underneath the flowering trees, smiles at passerbys oogling at baby.  Children playing in the park and visualizations of Misha growing into a little boy.  Runs along river road- at last!- with Rachel the dog wagging her tail.  

These are the sensory, tangible snapshots of my early days of motherhood.

In the children's book, All The Things I Love About You, the mother tells her son, "I love when you hold my hand.  And even when you let go...I know I haven't."  This line stands out in the book because it doesn't fit the pattern of the other lines.  It is the first time that the mother mentions an intangible.  How could she still hold her son's hand if he lets go?

Yet, this intangible is an essential part of momification.  Whether Misha is cradled in my arms or in Mike's as I am out running, he is a constant presence swirling in my headspace.  Appropriately, Mike gave me a locket for mother's day- making tangible the invisible.  So, even when his little fingers aren't wrapped around mine, I haven't let him go.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

News Flash!

This just in- Molly gets her midwife's stamp of approval and can resume running (officially)!!!!  I am SO happy!  Misha doesn't even know the miles ahead of him.  Big shout out to the Milwaukee moms for the BOB stroller.  As you can see in this photo, Misha's infant carseat snaps right into the stroller frame.  He is as cozy as can be.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dinner Menu- After the fact

Over the last two weeks, we had some great meals thanks to a solid menu plan and an eager cook (my mother!).

Here's the rundown:

Monday: Pasta with shrimp and Trader Joe's pesto
Tuesday: Leftovers...or, as my parents say, "Schmorgusboard!"  After Misha's arrival, we received an onslaught of delicious dishes from our wonderful friends.  We needed to clean out the fridge to make room for a new batch of groceries!
Wednesday: Joan's famous Black Bean Soup with a tasty salad and an incredible loaf of bread from whole foods.  I forgot how much I love whole food's bread.  I must also comment on Joan's soup- she made up the recipe herself and it was seriously the best black bean soup I have ever tasted.  Apparently, it had beer and cocoa powder in the mix.
Thursday: Coconut Curry Chicken Soup with grapes and orange slices and a loaf of bread.
Friday: Punch Pizza Take Out
Saturday: Gathering at friend's
Sunday: Trader Joe's pork tenderloin (cooked with rosemary) with Moosewood tabbouleh, homemade hummus, and pita wedges.

Monday: Cold pasta salad with an assortment of fresh vegetables, canned tuna, and garbanzo beans.
Tuesday: Stir fry with leftover pork tenderloin, israeli couscous, leftover stir fry veggies from Costco, some fresh veggies, and sliced pineapple on the side.
Wednesday: Greek Style Turkey Burgers in pita with arugula, tomatoes, and cucumber yogurt dip.
Thursday: Two Bean Soup with kale and dakota bread from Great Harvest and salad
Friday: Takeout pizza and salad
Saturday: Three Bean Vegetarian chili with queso and Trader Joe's cornbread

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Weekly Menu Volumes 4 & 5: Feb. 23rd to March 8th

I didn't post last week's dinner menu, so this is a double feature post.  (As a side note- SAT question of the day is a routine warm up in my English class.  The subject of week's grammar question was a 1930's ploy to attract more moviegoers by offering a double feature- two films for the price of one.  I asked my students if they ever went to a "double feature."  They giggled and looked around.  I told them not to worry as my mom was a real supporter of "double feature"- one of her more rebellious habits along with McDonald's ice cream for lunch.)

Anywayssss- to the menus!

February 23rd-Friday, March 1st
Saturday- "Homemade" pizza...although there really isn't anything homemade about this bought crust, mozzarella log, italian sausage, basil, and pizza sauce.
Sunday-Salmon, Israeli couscous, and steamed green beans.
Monday- Brocoli and cheese soup (cooking light- thanks mom!) with baked potatoes ( easy).
Tuesday- Veggie stir fry (we still have not finished a humongous bag of cosco frozen vegetables) with brown rice.
Wednesday- Pulled Pork Sandwiches (slow cooker!  cooking light!  easiest recipe ever!) with coleslaw
Thursday- Parent/Teacher conferences....
Friday-Dinner with friends- take-out style!  Our friends have a one-year old.  They invited us over for a low-key evening and to our delight, suggested take-out!  And, to our utter delight, Quang take-out!  Quang is our favorite Vietnamese spot in the cities if you ask us.  Mike gets the 301 and I get the 307.  I think take-out dinner with friends will catch on big time once baby Vasich is born!

Sunday, March 3rd-Friday March 8th

Sunday-  Dinner at our neighbor's with the Longfellow crew.
Monday- Turkey sloppy joe's with sweet potato fries.
Tuesday- Leftovers...
Wednesday-Tilapia with asparagus and couscous w/red pepper.
Thursday- Spaghetti with marinara and turkey meatballs.
Friday- Noodles takeout?  We get to babysit Otis!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekly Menu: Volume 3- Feb. 18th-Feb. 22nd

Soba noodles with tofu and sesame paste

Green lentil soup with coconut milk and curry butter

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers in pita with cucumber tzatziki


Homemade pizza with fixin's

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Menu Vol. 2- February 10-15th

I set two goals as I planned this week's menu: 1)use up a hug bucket of chickpeas that I soaked and cooked last weekend, and 2)incorporate the sad looking cauliflower*** at the bottom of the veggie drawer.

Sunday- I decided I better tackle these goals TODAY with some Sunday soup making that will provide for a couple meals later in the week.
Soup 1: Syrian Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Tahini from New England Soup Factory Cookbook
Soup 2: Cauliflower Soup with aged cheddar and mustard croutons from Super Natural Every Day

Monday-Stir fry vegetables with tofu

Tuesday- Leftover soup!

Wednesday-Early Valentine's Day date night at Al Vento, one of our favorite Italian spots in the city.  Last year, we ordered something like a 1/2 quart of wine to share and the server brought us a full quart. Needless to say, that will not be happening this year!  :)  The olive oil for bread dipping is perfect at this little corner restaurant.

Thursday-My parents come to town!  I plan on having leftover soup and crusty bread on hand.  Although I may need to switch this Friday's meal if we're getting bored with leftovers around here.

Friday-Homemade pizzas with fixin's.

***Cauliflower was too sad; I had to buy a new one (but I used it immediately!).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Menu Planning

Sometime in the last few years, I started weekly menu planning to guide grocery shopping, save money, and reduce the frequency of the question- "What's for dinner?"  Although we allow a degree of flexibility (the temptation of half price burger night at our favorite local spot can be strong), menu planning helps us to stick to our food budget, eat healthier, and eliminate the stress of pulling together dinner after a long day at work.

Mike and I were pretty proud of ourselves when The Biggest Loser*** gave each contestant $70 to pay for one week of healthy groceries.  70$ per person?!  That's not much of a challenge.  We listed the groceries we would've added to our cart: rolled oats, bananas, milk, eggs, grains, vegetables, dried beans, olive oil...Basically, we know how to feed ourselves well and that's something to be proud of.

Here's this week's menu:
Sunday: Carrot Soup with tahini and roasted chickpeas, homemade pita chips with sesame seeds
Monday: Roasted salmon and brussel sprouts, Trader Joe's wild grain mix
Tuesday: Homemade pizza with caramelized onions, fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella, spinach salad
Wednesday: Vegetable stir-fry with soy glazed tofu over brown rice
Thursday: Trader Joe crabs cakes with sweet potato fries (roasted with olive oil, sea salt, pepper)
Friday: Whole wheat spaghetti with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce

What's on your menu?  Do you menu plan before grocery shopping each week?  

***I confess; I am a fan of the show.  I started watching this season and the emphasis on balancing healthy eating and exercise as well as the goal of reducing childhood obesity echoes some of my own priorities.  Admittedly, I do fast forward through some of the more emotional segments as I am more inspired by the contestants' hard work than their sob stories.  Furthermore, I will only watch the show on DVR as I cannot deal with the ridiculous scene breaks during the weigh-ins!  Fast forward!!!!