Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I Eat Wednesday: The Canadian Eats Maple Syrup

More of the same - the usual meat/greens/carbs. I have a couple meals on here that are different from the past What I Eat Wednesday post. I try to take pictures of the more interesting meals, otherwise they would all look pretty much the same. Variety = spice of life, right?

This is a "what I had in the fridge" pizza. The last time I went to Trader Joe's, I bought two pizza doughs and threw them in the freezer. It's a great meal in a short amount of time and super versatile. I had some spinach that was too wilty for salad and BBQ pork that I had to eat or toss in the freezer. I used the herb crust, which I think is the best. This made about two and a half servings. 

Chicken Caesar salad made from a Dole's salad kit and some frozen grilled chicken. I used all the lettuce and half of both the dressing and the cheese, which I saved for my lunch the next day. I find that the salad kits always provide WAY too much dressing so I always buy lettuce or spinach to make another salad with. 

Grilled chicken with plain pasta and broccoli. There was a phase of my life where I only ate the most boring bland food ever and plain pasta was something I ate three times a week for dinner. I don't like eating pasta more than once a  week now and usually mix it up between brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa or couscous. As weird as it sounds, plain pasta is a little bit of a comfort food for me. 

Honey maple salmon with Cajun sweet potatoes and broccoli. The idea for the glaze for the salmon comes from my Canadian Henley host family - just mix a little bit of honey mustard with a little bit of maple syrup. I used authentic Canadian maple syrup but I'm sure Aunt Jemima would work just fine. It is delicious. 

Join me! #WhatIEatWed or comment below! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The 2014 Booklist

I have a problem. I’m a little in denial about it, but it recently came to light when I was perusing The Book Corner, my favorite bookstore in Philly. Normally I am a loner when it comes to book shopping but this time I convinced Andrew to come with me. We walked, and I didn't bring a bag, which is a grocery store trick for not buying a lot of food. I was hoping it would work for books. Ninety minutes and nine books later, we headed out to dinner.  NINE BOOKS LATER. And this is after Christmas and my birthday, where I got seven books. I have more books than most people I know. I haven't even read all the books on my shelf, but I can't stop. I love reading and there's just something so great about the possibility of a new book. But I do need to work on reading the books I own. 

In true Type A fashion, I've now created a list of books I already own. Here's my reading list for 2014 divided by section and why I want to read them in ten words or less. 

Citizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - I liked The Nanny Diaries. 
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld - Already read it, it's awesome, needs to be reread. 
The Manticore by Robertson Davies - Famous Canadian author, getting in touch with my roots. 
Gone by Michael Grant - Dystopian YA fiction, my fav. 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Came highly recommended.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - My brother gave it to me for Christmas. 
The 100 Year Old Year Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson - It was free. 
Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson - It looks hilarious. 

Non Fiction
Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar - Better than Lean In
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - I heard it will make me smarter. 
Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop by Cynthia M. Bulik - Psychology of food is interesting. 

Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp - Psychology, food and feminism. 
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert - Psychology of happiness. 
Losing It: America’s Obsession with Weight and The Industry that Feeds On It by Laura Fraser - Diets are a load of crock. 

The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel - Might as well see what all the fuss is about. 
Bookkeeping for Dummies by Lita Epstein - I need to learn this stuff. 

Making A Life, Making a Living by Mark Albion - It's got lots of good quotes. 
The Essential HR Handbook by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell - Industry reading is always helpful. 

What's on your list for 2014? Comment, find me on twitter with #2014booklist or email me!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What I Eat Wednesday: Meat on Meat on Meat

One of the number one questions I get when people find out that I work out two or three times a day, six times a week is "what do you eat?" The answer is complicated. As a lightweight rower, I have to fuel my body for practice but not overindulge. It's a balance I am still tweaking and fine tuning as I continue with training.

On a couple Wednesdays a month, I'd like to share some pictures from my kitchen. This past week was a little different because I had off work, so I had the time (and the Christmas gift certificates) to shop at Wegman's and Trader Joe's.

I bought 11 pounds of meat at Wegman's this weekend. Since Wegman's is a hike from where I live in Philly, getting to go is always a treat. They have really good prices on high quality food. I bought so much meat that I had to leave half of it in my boyfriend's full size freezer because it wouldn't fit in mine! My New Year's resolution is to eat more meat, so I'm going to say I'm off to a decent start. 

Dinner: Honey mustard salmon from Trader Joe's cooked in the oven, garlic butter broccoli and plain linguine with a little bit of parmesan cheese. 

 Dinner: Oven baked chicken with Italian seasoning, plain linguine with a little bit of parmesan cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts. And a mouthful of ramen, that I ended up giving back to my boyfriend because I was too full! 

Lunch: Whole wheat couscous and spicy jalepeno chicken sausage with red pepper flakes, both from Trader Joes. If I had known couscous was so easy to cook, I would have replaced any and all pasta in my diet a long time ago. I made a big batch of this for work lunches. 

Dinner: Steamed broccoli, crockpot pulled pork and my roommate, Claire's, version of fried rice. Both the pulled pork and fried rice were part of weekend food prep so I can come home from practice and have dinner ready in under ten minutes. Blue plates supposedly help to curb appetite - not really sure if that works for hungry rowers post erg workout. 

Comments? Questions? Email me or leave a note below! Want to share what you eat with the world? Tweet with #WhatIEatWed

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Transitioning into 2014

"Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." - Joan Didion

What I’ve figured out over the past year is that it’s hard to write about things that are hard. Or rather, it’s hard to write and then share with others things that are not going well. This blog was becoming a burden to write because I felt pressured to show a positivity that I didn’t always have in late 2012 and much of 2013. I was trying to be that girl, the one that had everything together and was able to share it with the world. But in 2013, I did not "have it all". I went through some things that I did not feel comfortable and still do not feel comfortable writing about. According to the Holmes and Rahe stress test, the amount of life stressors I had during the twelve months I stopped writing means that I am about 100% due for a serious illness or injury. (Scores higher than 300 indicate an 80% chance….I scored a 649). I’m willing to be that I am not the only recent college graduate who would score that high either. Even for my peers who moved back home to their childhood bedrooms and hometowns, life is very different without school. Change is constant and there are many times when life is overwhelming, terrifying and stressful.

That’s not to say that 2013 was a bust. A lot of really amazing things have happened since I last posted. I lived by myself for two months. I got an awesome new job. I took a graduate school class (and got an A). I met some amazing people and cemented existing friendships. I completed my first year of year-round training. I began a great relationship. I cried a lot, but I laughed a lot harder and that is what has brought me back to writing. Maybe the Internet doesn’t need one more twenty-something posting crafts, recipes and feelings. But I grew to fill this space and I missed it.

To 2014.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reflection on a Season in Philadelphia

Yes, dear readers, I have once again procrastinated writing. I don’t forget about you all; this blog is always at the back of my mind whenever I discover something new or think of great advice to share with my readers.  But it is true that time really flies and oftentimes my blog has been shoved to the side in favor of being with the real live people in my life who make things great. And I won’t apologize for that – if there has been one thing I learned this summer, it is that face-to-face time with the people you care about matters more than anything else in the world.

But now, unbelievably, it is fall. I have lived in my new apartment for a month and a half, and I have lived in the great city of Philadelphia for five months. I think one of the reasons I have put off blogging so long is because I feel like my life right now is a dream. Obviously, there are bad days and stressful days, but I can say with all honesty that I think my life right now is great. I am living in a city that I’ve always had kind of a romantic notion about – stemming from my high school regatta days and continuing through racing here during my collegiate years and the summers in between. I am a year-round member of Penn A.C., where I share a dock and a locker room with former Olympians. Former Olympians who say “hi” to me when I launch my boat as they are docking (and it takes every ounce of self control to not geek out). I have great teammates. I have a job at Drexel University where I have awesome co-workers. I teach classes at Rowzone Manayunk where I get PAID to make erg workouts and motivate clients through them. My new apartment is amazing – we don’t have a lot of furniture or fancy things, but it is finally a place that I can unpack all of my belongings without knowing I have to repack and move them eight months later.  I feel like I can finally settle myself in and discover who I am and what I want from life without all the chaos. I feel more focused than ever, even though most of the time I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off just trying to make it through the day.

At school, I was always told that rowing after college was way harder to manage. I assumed this was in reference to the time commitment of a full time job and a full training schedule. Personally, I think this is the least hard part of rowing now. I get up, I go rowing, I go to work, I go rowing, I go to bed. To me, this is simple.  I’ve woken up before 5:30am and gone to bed before 10pm since I was 14.  It’s the way I work well and it probably won’t ever change.

One of the hardest parts to adjust to is the volume of training.  In the past month, I have battled two fevers, multiple cold sores and been so sick that I missed my first on the water practice in over a year just because my body is adjusting to the load. But I would have to say that the harder part is explaining myself to people. In college it is acceptable to bend over backwards for your sport, because most people assume you’re getting a scholarship for it (in my case, that was still wrong). In real life, people are split into two camps. The first camp are the people who think that rowing is a “sport and social” club; that I go a couple times a week and it’s a grand old time. These people don’t understand that practice is mandatory and think that I skip Happy Hour because I’m antisocial. Trust me, when it’s pouring and freezing and all the muscles I didn’t know I had are burning, I wish I was eating nachos and drinking margaritas. Then there is the other camp of people who just think that I am crazy. They see how much time I put in at the boathouse and they wonder what kind of person would put so much energy into something that doesn’t involve a paycheck.

And I don’t even know if I could verbalize why I do it. Words can’t justify the way I feel on the good days. The 5 a.m. launch in complete darkness with perfect water where I am the only person on the river for an hour; feeling so invincible and realizing that to anyone passing by that I am just two blinking lights gliding across the surface of the water.  The Friday night row in rain so hard and so cold it takes my breath and my vision away and all I can do is feel my muscles continue to take each stroke as I wait for the downpour to stop. The feeling of freedom on the last hard stroke of a Saturday practice with the knowledge that I don’t have to begin to beat myself up again until Monday morning. Crossing a race finish line knowing that I gave it 110% of my best effort and no matter what the results say, I will be happy with that knowledge. And the fact that I never, ever have trouble falling asleep.

There are so many days that I wish I could attach a Go Pro camera to my head so that I could replay my day to my coworkers and friends to say, “See this is what I do; this is my way of life”.  But it’s not something that can be explained. I just hope that those who don’t understand know that what I do makes me truly happy and accomplished – a feeling that can’t be found through socialized drinking, retail therapy or any of the other “grown up” coping mechanisms out there. If someone had asked me in March if I thought I was going to still be rowing at this point in my life, I would have probably told them no. But I am and it is the best choice I have ever made.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spicin’ It Up: Four Ingredient Cajun Sweet Potatoes!

One of the greatest food discoveries I have made in Philadelphia is Whole Foods’s “Six Dollar Box”. For six dollars, Whole Foods will let you pick a meat and two sides from the deli counter. Due to my diet, this is a great way for me to be able to go out to eat delicious, good quality food with friends on the cheap. My favorite side at Whole Foods is definitely the Cajun Sweet Potato fries. They are AMAZING! My only problem with them was that they are a tad too spicy for me. So of course I needed to find a way to make them at home so they will be just right (and I can have them all the time). After some experimenting, I think I’ve figured it out. Here’s the secret:


7 medium sweet potatoes – I got mine at Trader Joe’s in a bag

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Cajun spice (or more if you like it really spicy! Can be found in most spice sections)

3 packets of Wawa hot sauce (or about 3 tablespoons of another brand)

1. Preheat the oven for 400 degrees.

2. Wash the potatoes  

3.Cut into pieces -  here I experimented with round, cube, fry shaped etc.

4. Stir everything together.

5. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, stirring halfway through. In order to make sure it's cooked, poke them with a fork...or taste test!

Serving Size: One potato (or about 160g)
Calories per serving: 145 calories
Makes seven servings and keeps well for about a week in the refrigerator, which makes them a great food to have around when you’re in a rush. These were great for my lightweight diet, with required that I have 200g of sweet potato for my dinner. The spice on the sweet potatoes amped up my meal from super boring to something normal people would eat!

Any nutrition expert will tell you that sweet potatoes are considered a superfood – good source of vitamin C and magnesium, sources of iron, magnesium and Vitamin D. They are also high in carotenoids, which help ward off cancer. This recipe has all of those things, plus a spicy kick! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Independence Day Regatta: Year Two

It’s amazing to me that the last time I updated was the middle of June. This summer has flown by and it’s easy to see why – every single day is packed! With five hours of rowing a day, there really isn’t a lot of time for other things besides going to work, prepping and eating food and sleeping. 

Independence Day Regatta has come and gone. IDR marks the moment last year when I first started thinking about rowing for a summer program. My IDR experience last year – car-topping a single and crashing on a couch- was completely different from this year. Last year I raced the Intermediate 1x (unaffiliated), this year, the Intermediate Light 1x, Open 2x and Open 4x for Penn AC. I was originally supposed to be in the Intermediate Light 2x but the Tuesday before IDR, my double partner broke her hand in a biking accident and I was put in the single instead. Both of us were really disappointed because we had been working very hard in our double and planned on racing towards a good result. This change of plans meant that my race and therefore my weigh-in was two days earlier than expected. My first weigh in as a 130 lightweight was definitely a tough one, but I hit the mark exactly: 130.0! Can’t say I’m not accurate. 

 I had a fair race in the heat and was able to make top two without pushing my hardest. The final on Saturday was a completely different story. I knew I had tough girls to race and had to have a good race to even hang with the pack. Unfortunately, my nerves got the best of me and I overgripped my oars, giving me the worst forearm cramps I’ve ever experienced in my life…beginning at 1500m to go. I crossed the finish line in last place at 26spm barely able to hang on to the handles. I was very disappointed with this, not just because I got last, but because I felt I wasn’t able to row to my potential at all and test my skills against girls I feel like I could compete with. However, the bright side is that I did at least make the final and got more racing experience. Now I know what to work on and that I have a lot of room to improve!

On Sunday, I raced in the Open 2x and Open 4x. The 2x was a last minute entry in order to give me a race in a double after we had to scratch the lightweight double. We had an okay race, we were just racing people way, way faster than we were. Like World Championship medal faster. As someone who should not only be racing as a lightweight but also in the intermediate category, this was definitely intimidating. But once again I gained more racing experience. We encountered the same situation with the quad. We put together a good race but were just outclassed. But I have to say that even through all the last minute changes and tough racing, I learned a lot and was fairly pleased with the weekend. 

 I love rowing for Penn AC. Every single person comes to practice excited and ready to row, even when we’re exhausted. Rowing in Philadelphia has refueled and revitalized my love for the sport completely. As far as my transition to a lightweight rower, things have definitely been hard but not unmanageable. My diet has worked great and although it is challenging to pass on beer and burgers when I’m out socializing, the reward has been worth it. It also helps that most of the people I know here are rowers, former rowers or coaches and understand what I am going through. The support is amazing. I definitely have a lot of thoughts about my shift to a lightweight rower so there will be a whole post about that at some point! But for now, enjoy a picture of what I eat on a regular basis. 

This Wednesday begins Club Nationals, a race I have never participated in before. I will be racing in the Intermediate Light 2x, Intermediate Light 4+ and Intermediate Light 4x. I am very excited for lots of racing over five days with a great team! GO PENN AC!