Cold Weather Essential

Most of you know that I’ve been in, well, hibernation-training mode for the past few months. While this weekend offered a beautiful glimpse of the spring that has to be right around the corner, it feels like the polar vortex is back for the time being. However, unlike the past few weeks, today I decided to brave it.

The reason? I had a new piece of gear to try out. Something that had the potential to change one of my cold weather issues: my head.

Most runners get this. A hat doesn’t cut it…while it’s great at first, it generally ends in a sweaty, uncomfortable mess. Cold weather headbands, regardless of fabric, generally slide around and become more like distractions than cold weather solutions. Ear muffs seem like they’d be perfect, right? Only problem: they don’t wrap around the head like a headband, so they’d never hold up for long runs.

Until now. Gone for a Run, the source of all running essentials and a great all-around company has created AIRMuffs. These lightweight ear warmers are designed with runners in mind, featuring ultra light, itch resistant micro-brushed polyester fabric and an adjustable ‘stay-put’ fit. In addition to being practical, they’re also super fun, available in both black and pink.

photo (1)photo (2)

If you can’t tell, I was pretty excited to give these a try, like I am with anything that has the potential to keep me comfortable without causing a mid-run distraction. Today was the day. My conclusion? They’re a cold-weather essential.

My favorite features:

  • Unlike wool warming options, this fabric stayed dry, comfort at its best.
  • The light foamy ear panels kept my ears warm without blocking out my ability to hear my surroundings, safety is a must.
  • The design, how fun are these things?
  • The adjustable strap ensured a fit that was personalized and perfect for me.
  • It didn’t move. That’s right, no need to adjust mid-run.

Bottom line: Gone for a Run’s AIRMuffs are a new cold weather running essential. Check them out here, and take a look at the other unique, fun products available!

AirMuffs

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Red Beet and Spinach Ravioli (gluten free)

It’s Tuesday! That means yesterday was meatless Monday in the Pyne house. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite days for experimenting in the kitchen. Last night’s menu? Red Beet and Spinach Ravioli with a creamy garlic sauce. The outcome? Delish. One child and husband approved. It’s going on the “make-again” list!

Red Beet Spiniach Ravioli 4

 

They may not look like the most amazing culinary masterpieces, but the taste overrode the rest. Try them out!

Red Beet and Spinach Ravioli (Gluten free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 roasted red beet OR can of red beets (not pickled!)
  • 2 cups organic baby spinach
  • 4 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 TB water
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups g-free flour blend of your choice
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 TB oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp fresh minced garlic

Directions

  • Drop the beets, spinach, olive oil, water and baking powder into a food processor. Blend until smooth (or smooth-ish)
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add the beet and spinach mixture. Knead until a target dough consistency is met…add additional water or flour if needed.
  • Cover and allow the dough to rest for 1-2 hours.
  • Combine the cheeses, oregano and 1/2 tsp salt in a separate dish.
  • When the dough has finished resting, roll it out onto a floured surface to about 1/8 an inch OR thinner. The thinner the better.
  • Slice the dough with a pizza cutter into wide strips (seen below in image A).
  • Drop teaspoonfuls of filling into the strips about an inch apart, then slice between drops (image B).
  • Fold dough over the mounds and press the edges together (Image C).
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
  • Drop the raviolis into the water. When they float, remove them (about 3-5 minutes).
  • In the meantime, combine melted butter, garlic and milk to make the cream sauce. Pour this over the ravioli and serve hot.

 

A.Red Beet Spiniach Ravioli 1

B.Red Beet Spiniach Ravioli 2

C.Red Beet Spiniach Ravioli 3

Hydration: The Solution

I have a confession: I have a disdain for coconut water. This is complicated because I know it offers one of the most complete solutions for hydration, especially for distance runners. In fact, it’s been recommended to me by my doctor on multiple occasions as something superior to traditional sports drinks that are filled with unnatural ingredients that can cause more harm than good.

It’s even more complicated by the fact that I struggle with hydration issues and electrolyte imbalances in big ways. After most long runs (say 9 out of 10), no matter how much I hydrate during the run or what I do afterwards, I end up with debilitating headaches that require medication and in extreme cases, trips to urgent care or even the emergency room. I also struggle – like many runners – with stomach issues during long runs…usually starting around mile 8. I’m constantly on the lookout for a solution…which is why I’m really excited to introduce this next product!

Yesterday I set out for my second to last long run before the Rock n’Roll Half Marathon in Washington, DC on March 15. It was a 14-miler, my first time over 13 miles since my last failed half. I was terrified…but, I had heard about a great product, Cocogo and I was hopeful.

The product is marketed as a new premium sports drink made with real fruit (giving it great flavor!) and coconut water in a stick pack. It’s quickly becoming recognized for it’s great taste and performance enhancements. Cocogo has been credited with providing steady energy, eliminating muscle cramps and being easy to digest. I was intrigued.

Cocogo

As per the package’s directions, I mixed 4 packets (recommended amount for intense flavor and extreme workouts, lesser amounts are needed for basic hydration needs) of Cocogo Grape with 14 ounces of water. I had my water bottle and set out.

Every 20 minutes I took a swig of the drink…still unsure of what the result would be. Unlike stomach issues, my headaches don’t start until about an hour after I finish a run. I was pleasantly surprised!

It was delicious. Plain and simple, I could not taste the coconut, just the grape (which is excellent for someone who has issues with coconut water!). It was sweet, but not overly sweet and was something I could enjoy whether working out or not. This gave it huge marks in my book.

The claim that it’s easily digestible was absolutely confirmed. Generally even water hits my stomach wrong during runs. I had no cramps and no stomach issues…this was a huge plus!

The real test came after my run, however. But, unlike any run of my past, I experienced no headache. To me, this meant a lot. The electrolytes did their job, and I was able to enjoy the rest of my day without any issues.

To me, I can say, without hesitation, that Cocogo proved itself in big ways. This is my new drink of choice for top performance and I look forward to using it during my upcoming race in DC.

If you’re looking for a complete sports hydration solution that does what it says it does, without the extra additives, this is your solution. Check out Cocogo’s website for more information. While my favorite flavor is grape, lemon-lime and raspberry passion fruit are also available and delicious.

BEST NEWS EVER: I’ve officially become a Cocogo Ambassador. Use the code TAKETWOBLOG at check out to receive 40% off any order you place!

For a quick reference, check out how it stacks up to other sports drinks in this graphic:

Cocogo Grid

Note: I was given packets of Cocogo to review for free, however, the opinions expressed above are my own and I do not promote a product unless I stand behind it 100%. Additionally, it’s important to discuss any major changes to a fitness regimen with a doctor to ensure overall health; what’s best for one person may not be for another.

Week 3: Believe

Alright, I’ve got to go out on a limb and say that out of the 3 weeks of the Move Nourish Believe Challenge, Week 3 was by far my favorite. It focused on Believing and looking inward to find real strength, at least that’s what I took from it.

The daily challenges were as follows:

Week Three: Believe

2/17: Spoil Yourself! – Do something just for you today! Take a walk, go to yoga, spoil yourself!

2/18: 5 Mindful Minutes – Do good to your body, meditate for 5 minutes and find your zen.

2/19: Be Happy – Show us your happy place!

2/20: Thankful Thursday – Let us know what you are thankful for!

2/21: Share the love – S/O to your #1 supporter/motivator!

I started out Monday by taking a break from the miles and doing something for me. Had a great time Rowing a 5K and just enjoying something different. It was a nice change of pace. Tuesday morning I took the time to meditate before jumping into work and saw my focus increase throughout the day…may have to make this a regular thing. My happy place for day 3? Anywhere with my little guys. Spent some time loving on them. Yesterday I practiced thankfulness. The sun was shining and no snow was falling from the ground. That’s something special lately!

Then, today was about sharing the love. My number one supporter? My husband. He’s been with me through it all…he loved me when the weight was here, but when I was ready to change, he stepped up to the challenge. He became my running trainer and eventually my partner. He’s stuck by my side during some gnarly first races where I was not generous and wanted to quit, and has helped me become who I am today.

After 2During 3During 2

Who are you grateful for? What could you do, starting today to get back on track in the new year? How about embarking on your own personal challenge? It doesn’t have to be a part of a bigger movement, get out there and do something for you today. Look for new ways to challenge yourself physically and emotionally and look for the positives that surround you. The past 3 weeks have been a blessing for me…make the next few weeks the same for you! I challenge you 🙂

 

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Green Wonton Manicotti

You guessed it; it’s Tuesday which means yesterday was Monday…meatless Monday!

The Green Shells were a big hit a few weeks back, so I went with something similar; tried to up the nutrient factor a bit and came up with this: Green Wonton Manicotti. Once again, it was super easy to make and went over well!

Green Wonton Manicotti

 

Green Wonton Manicotti

Ingredients:

  • Gluten free wonton wrappers (I use this recipe)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce of your choice (I used Ragu).

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Prepare the wonton wrappers according to the recipe.
  • In a food processor, combine cheeses, spinach and spices; pulse until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Spread the mixture onto individual wonton wrappers and roll into tubes and place in a baking dish.
  • Spread desired amount of sauce over the wraps.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

It’s really that easy and the taste is wonderful! Give it a try!

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Weekly Recap…Nourish

To start…Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re celebrating with someone special, with friends or on your own; take the time to celebrate something! Have some fun, get creative and relax.

We’re definitely having fun here at our house:

Vday 1

vday 2

But, today was something other than a holiday. It was also the day to wrap up week two of Lorna Jane Active and Fit Approach’s Move, Nourish, Believe Challenge!

To follow through on this week’s challenges I went meatless on Monday, which was pretty simple; we’ve started this trend already! I got creative and made the Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100’s Cauliflower Lentil Tacos. Even the kids ate them..delicious! Tuesday, or, Take Your Lunch to Work Tuesday required a little creativity since well, my work is here at home. I stuck with the healthy nourishment theme and made my favorite chicken tacos; fresh chicken and veggies made for an excellent mid-day snack. Wednesday was all about tracking what you eat. I found it to be an interesting exercise in paying attention to what actually goes in my body. Thursday I put my new food processor to use to create a delicious spinach, carrot, strawberry, banana green smoothie. Then, today I rounded out the week by going vegan for lunch with a Beet, Orange and Tofu salad. Again, delightful.

It’s been a fun week; a lot of these challenges were in line with what I already do, but it’s fun to shine some light on a few ways to live healthier! I’m looking forward to next week’s challenges centered around “Believe!”

Interested in joining along? The challenges are as follows:

2/17: Spoil Yourself! – Do something just for you today! Take a walk, go to yoga, spoil yourself!

2/18: 5 Mindful Minutes – Do good to your body, meditate for 5 minutes and find your zen.

2/19: Be Happy – Show us your happy place!

2/20: Thankful Thursday – Let us know what you are thankful for!

2/21: Share the love – S/O to your #1 supporter/motivator!

Try it out and share your experiences! I’m looking forward to having some friends along for the journey!

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Last night it totally happened. I was craving something sweet like no other. Specifically, I was craving Italian Ricotta Cake that Piazza Sorrento in Hershey makes that can only be considered gluten free perfection. I didn’t have a lot of time, and wanted to make it a LITTLE better for us.

So, I started playing around. What happened wasn’t what I was originally going for, but the whole cake was gone within an hour of completion (not just because of me, but my parents stopped by and, well, John and the boys loved it).

Check it out below and by all means give it a try!

Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Chocolate Ricotta Cake

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 box or bag of the chocolate gluten free cake mix of your choice…this can also be made with regular cake mix if you’re not gluten free!
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the cake mix, 1 egg, 2 egg whites, applesauce and water. Pour into prepared 9×13 cake dish.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, sour cream, agave, vanilla, cocoa powder and remaining eggs and egg whites.
  • Pour evenly over the UNBAKED chocolate cake mix.
  • Bake for 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

You can add an icing if you’d like, I recommend a whipped cream cheese one, but, this is great as a stand alone cake.

Enjoy!

 

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!