How to: Truffle Avocado & Ricotta Toast Recipe

I knew training for a marathon was going to be time-consuming, but I’ve still been surprised how little free time I’ve had over the last month.

This is my public service announcement to my friends: If you only see me once (or less) between now and April, I still love you. I’m just running somewhere. Your best chance to see me is signing up for a cross-training class with me. (Seriously, get a Classtivity pass and we’ll book something together. We can do something not-exercise-related afterwards, I promise.)

Anyway. Another side effect? Running so much has the training hungers kicked into high gear (running torches calories, yo). And running for hours has me especially craving comfort food. But rather than simply consuming all the calories I’ve spent time burning, I like to find options that taste decadent but are still healthy.

Something I can’t get enough of lately? My friend Diana‘s Truffle Avocado & Ricotta Toast recipe.

Diana invented this recipe a few weeks ago, and it’s one of those things that sounds good, but when you actually bite into it: magic. She also gave permission for me to feature it here. (Because she’s just that good of a friend.)(And probably because she doesn’t have her own blog.) The point is, this is a great (healthy) option that still provides that comfort food punch because of the cheese and avocado — exactly what I’ve been needing lately.

Here’s what to do:

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Truffle Avocado & Ricotta Toast

Ingredients:
1-2 slices of whole wheat toast (or gluten-free bread, if you’re Diana)
1-2 T white truffle oil
3-4 T ricotta cheese
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
sea salt or flavored salt (Diana uses Lawry’s seasoned salt) to taste

Ingredients
1. Toast the bread.
2. Drizzle bread with truffle oil.
3. Top with ricotta cheese.
4. Add slices of avocado.
5. Salt to taste. Enjoy!

 

 

Running Games

Not surprisingly, training for the marathon is giving me flashbacks to training for my first half.

Mostly because, starting yesterday, almost every long run is going to be the longest distance I’ve ever run at one time.

Ever.

When I trained for the half, that meant it was the first time I’d ever run five, six, eight, ten, twelve, and, finally, 13.1 miles. Training for the full means the first time running 14, 16, 18, 20 (twice), and, finally, 26.2.

My brain has a hard time aligning those figures with the actions required to accomplish them. When I start thinking about the number of hours in the cold, foot strikes on the cement, and energy burned, it can be a little overwhelming.

My running partner, Diana, and I talk a lot about the “games” runners play to make the long runs more bearable. You’re not running ten miles. You’re running five miles out, and then five miles back. You’re not just running for two hours; you’re burning enough calories to eat whatever you want for dinner.

Sometimes the mental games work. Sometimes you dig deep, grit your teeth, and just grind out another few miles.

Plus, as everyone east of the Bay Area knows, it’s pretty dang cold out. (Yeah, marathon training in the winter may not have been the smartest choice.) I find I don’t even fret about the distance anymore so much as I dread the cold.

That walk from my apartment to the subway to get to the park? Worst part of my week.

I like to think that by the time the real race rolls around (and spring weather with it), I’ll be so thrilled to be able to feel my face and fingers, the whole thing will be a breeze. (Right?)

I hope so. Because the worst part of Saturday’s 14-miler was easily the sub-30 temperatures. And, you know, when it started to snow during the last half-mile. That was just the cherry.

Brr...
Brr…

Overall, though, it has been interesting to see how training changes my perceptions on things. It used to kill me to run more than two miles. In fact, I can remember a time when running two miles sounded like torture.

On Saturday, when I hit nine miles, my first thought was actually, “Yessss, only five more!

Who am I, you guys?

How to: Cinnamon Crunch Toast Waffles Recipe

I’ve mentioned a few times how, ever since I started working in the city again, Joey has taken on a lot of the cooking.

It’s great for me because I’m usually exhausted at the end of the day, great for him because he actually really enjoys it, and great for us because it saves money and we don’t have to wait until 10 o’clock at night to eat.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a few examples of me braggingsharing the things Joey has made, and because my Kitchen Adventures have become few and far between, I thought it could be fun to start sharing his recipes on the blog.

I’m accepting recommendations for what we should call this segment. So far, all I’ve got is “Joe on the Range.” (Yup, this from a girl in marketing. Sigh.)

We’re kicking off with Joey’s Cinnamon Crunch Toast Waffles, the perfect choice for a day-off breakfast.

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Stop drooling.

When we found out we both had the same day off of work, I requested a lazy-day brunch of waffles. Joey set to work. Here’s how to make ’em.

CINNAMON CRUNCH TOAST WAFFLES

Ingredients
2 cups pancake mix (Joey used Aunt Jemima)
1 cup water
1/2 cup egg nog
2 t brown sugar
1 T cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 c crushed graham crackers
1 banana, sliced
Maple syrup

Instructions
1. Turn on waffle iron. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Combine pancake mix, water, egg nog, brown sugar, and 1 T cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
3. Once waffle iron is hot, pour half cup of batter mixture and cook waffle to desired crispness.
4. Plate cooked waffle and sprinkle with crushed graham crackers and cinnamon. Top with banana slices and maple syrup if desired.
5. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite lazy-day breakfast recipe?

Try something new: Core Fusion Barre Class

It’s kind of ironic that I’m a runner because I tend to get bored with the same kind of workout if I do it for weeks on end.

I guess I stick with running because, when you’re training for a race, you’re always striving for different distances. If the end goal changes, it’s a little easier to stay focused.

For other workout classes, though, I’ve never been able to do the same thing for more than a year. So I was pretty intrigued when Diana introduced me to Classtivity.

For $99, you get ten classes that you can redeem at basically every boutique gym in the city. (They’re also in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, and D.C.) You can “spend” all ten classes at the same gym, or try ten different ones. There’s a whole range of classes from yoga and pilates to boot camps and spin, so it’s impossible to get bored.

The cost breaks down to about $10 per class, which, in this city, is an amazing deal. (The average class you take would typically cost around $40-$50.)

A big part of training for the marathon is cross training my legs and strengthening my core and upper body, so clearly this kind of deal interested me.

And just so things don’t get monotonous around here, I thought it could be interested to share what I think of the new classes I’m taking. Maybe not. But maybe? I’ll rate the gyms and the classes? Eh?

Here we go!

Last night, I took a Core Fusion Barre Class at Exhale New York in Soho.

The Gym
Space: The gym was on the second floor of the building. The overall space wasn’t exceptionally large (the lobby was downright cramped as one class files out and the other files in), but the actual studio was fine. There are two dressing rooms with curtain doors and one bathroom. You keep your belongings in cubbies.
Cleanliness: Super clean. You spend a couple of minutes before class wiping down the barre, weights, mats, etc. They also have fancy soaps and stuff in the bathroom so you can wash your face, which I always appreciate.
Attitude: Excellent. Not a snob to be found. My teacher, Erin, was incredibly sweet and encouraging but still pushed you to push yourself.

The Workout
Difficulty (Out of 10, 1 being “could do it in my sleep” and 10 being “omg I can’t walk”): Easily a 9. This class. This class is so hard. I am not a weak person, and I never wimp out on finishing sets, and I had to wimp out so many times. Remember how sweet I was saying Erin was? Behind that pretty smile, there lies a drill sergeant. She told us mid-class that a professional dancer friend of hers once almost threw up in the middle of her class. So…don’t feel bad if it’s tough for you. (Each move can be modified, though, so don’t be too scared!)
Experience: This one was a great workout. Every part of my body felt strengthened, and you get that ballet/pilates feel of stretching all your muscles while they’re strengthened. Just go in expecting it will be hard, but totally worth it. (Plus, each of the workout “sets” only takes about three minutes, and then you stretch. It just feels like an eternity.) And I don’t know about you, but I always feel significantly fancier working out with a ballet barre. So there’s that.
Afterburn (how I felt the next day): As soon as I left the class, I already felt that muscle “buzzing” feeling that I get after a long run. My body is a little sore this morning, but not in a bad way. I’m glad the overall soreness isn’t too bad because I have to run ten miles in a few hours.

Final grade: A+! I’m definitely planning to do this one again.

Ok, so was that helpful? Have I convinced any of you to join me next time? I’m taking another new class tomorrow, so maybe that will be a post later this week.

Have a great weekend!

The Great Spending Project of 2014

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about money.

Not to say I’m obsessed with it or the idea of always getting more. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I spend a fair amount of time thinking about budgeting.

It’s part of my list-making nature. I make lists of things I need to buy. I make lists of things I would like to buy. I calculate in my head where each percentage of my paycheck needs to go. (Rent, car payment, food, fitness, clothes, etc.)(And in that order.)

Like most women in their mid-to-late-20s, I’ve been trying to focus more on the quality of what I buy over the quantity.

In the old countrydays, I would schlep over to Forever 21 or H&M and load up on about six things for under $90 and consider myself a budgeting genius. (Spoiler alert: I was not.)

But after watching the clothes that I spent my hard-earned money (and it always worked out to be a fair amount of money no matter how low each individual price tag happened to be) fall apart or quickly go out of style within in a matter of months, I had to start checking myself.

Which isn’t to say I’m investing in Prada bags and Chanel blazers just yet. (Or ever.) But I am getting closer to really defining my “personal style,” or whatever so I stop making impulse buys and really consider how a piece will fit into my life before clicking “submit order.”

One step of this was deciding to only wear seven colors, which makes it a lot easier to turn down anything overly trendy. But a lot of it comes down to plain, old-fashioned will power.

Because I will always be able to find a new dress that I want. (Seriously. ALWAYS.) For that reason, I’m trying to remind myself when I see something I like that I have seen many things I like in the past. And I will see many things I like in the future. Things will never stop popping up.

To help quiet my overactive brain, though, I thought it might be helpful to make yet another list. This one a list of things I plan to buy in 2014. Wouldn’t it be kind of amazing if I could stick to it? At the very least, it ought to give me pause before any sudden PayPal purchases.

I’m not going to count restaurants, coffee, or drugstore runs in this list, or any of the aforementioned monthly bills. We’re just talking tangible positions I would ideally own for a while. Okay, really we’re talking about clothes and stuff for the apartment.

LET’S GO!

1. Bridesmaid dress for Becca’s wedding. I’m pretty sure I have it picked out, I just need to order. Should run me about $125.
2. Three dresses for Paris and the four (4) other weddings I have in 2014 besides Becca’s. I’m leaving this open to any three, though there are a few from ModCloth I have my eye on.
3. New coffee table. I reaaaaally want this one from West Elm, but I’m hoping to find something on Craigslist that is less exp-ah-nsive.
4. Vintage map for the living room. I want a giant one for the wall by the computer.
5. New curtains/curtain fabric for the bedroom.
6. Two to three new pillow cases for the living room throw pillows.
7. Four to five white matted picture frames from IKEA.
8. One to two new pairs of running shoes for when my new ones wear out.
9. More workout clothes, specifically two more tops and at least three new sports bras. (TMI?)
10. Poster for the bedroom. (I have a postcard I want to get blown up to poster size…still trying to work out the logistics of that if anyone has done this before.)
11. New indoor mat for the front door.
12. Shoe rack for Joey.
13. Two to five storage bins for the linen closet.

Ok, I think that’s it. Thirteen bullet points, about thirty items. I’m going to keep myself accountable by promising right now to tell you anything I buy outside of the list. (Hopefully it’s not anything too embarrassing…)

I feel good about this, though. Let the great spending project of 2014 begin.

Letting go.

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One of the funny things about blogging is that sometimes it helps you sort your own brain out. Like, sometimes, I’ll write a post, and then for the next couple of hours I’ll be like, “Huh…I didn’t even know that’s what I thought.”

Writing and words have always been so comforting to me. It’s why I’m a rambler. I love finding exactly the right words to define what’s bothering me or how I’m feeling.

I’ve also been running a lot lately, which just means plenty of time to think.

When I wrote yesterday’s post, it made me think more about the idea of bravery. One of my favorite definitions of bravery has always been that it is not the absence of fear, but rather feeling fear and persevering anyway.

I was so painfully shy as a kid, I always feel like I missed out on things. As a result, I’m always trying to be a bit braver. To stand up for myself, and especially for others, even when I’m afraid of getting shot down. Diving head first into scary things never fails to boost my self-confidence after the fact, so why wouldn’t I chase those opportunities?

I also started thinking about the other things I want to be. More patient. More considerate. More helpful. More perceptive. More loving. More understanding. More unflappable.

Joey once pointed out to me that one of the main reasons I get upset (when I get upset) is when things don’t happen the way I want them to. Since then, I’ve been making an effort to not let the little things get to me. To not be such a control freak. (I swear, I’m trying.)

So maybe that’s my real 2014 goal. If 2013 was the year of polishing up my life, 2014 is the year I become more difficult to phase. Tougher to trip up.

In a way, it’s really just deciding to be more in control of my life and my feelings, rather than letting outside influences affect me so strongly. It’s not totally out of line with my Happiness Project philosophy.

Do I think I’ll be able to switch off my Type A tendencies overnight? No. I don’t think I even want to. But I do want to be able to keep everything in its place.

Here’s to happier, breezier year.

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Marathon Training Update: 12 miles

For the last few years, I’ve been saying that I would like to run a full marathon someday.

The funny thing is, I don’t think I have really believed I would do it. Especially after battling my first real running injury, I had kind of added running a marathon to the list of things it would be cool to have done but that I didn’t really expect to do. (You know, like swimming with sharks. Walking on the moon. Cutting my hair into a bob.)

In fact, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the run I did if not for my ambitious friend who I had already discussed going to Paris and running a marathon with (separately). When I agreed to do it (at the same time), I did so despite the nagging voice in my brain whispering in a panicked voice that this was a bad idea.

Part of the problem was that the Philly Half wasn’t great for me. My training was tough, and I hadn’t run a 10+ miler that didn’t make me feel like death in over a year. I was really worried I had made a terrible (and expensive) mistake.

So when I set out to run twelve miles yesterday, it wasn’t without a healthy dose of trepidation.

New running shoes I'm really counting on to boost my confidence.
New running shoes I’m really counting on to boost my confidence.

I’m pleased to say, though, that the run went pretty great. I felt good at the end (though a little sore). My legs and hips felt a little tight, but I made it through without needing to stop at any point. That sounds like such a minor thing, but I can’t begin to tell you how much it put my mind at ease.

Because I can do this. It’s just going to be hard. But I’m a big believer in not running away from stuff just because it’s hard.

So now I can say, confidently, that I am running a full marathon. In April. In Paris. And this time, I really believe it.