You should totally check out MissZippy's Larabar giveaway. If you haven't caught onto the trend Larabars are this amazing bites of healthy, deliciousness. They are made from fruit and nuts and contain 9 or less ingredients. The best part, even with about five million flavors, none are over 200 calories! My favs are all in the low 100s. They make for a great snack and I buy them by the semi-truck full.


Veg it up!

My last post discussed the spinach swap, which got me thinking, what are other great ways to sneak in some extra veggie servings? Because, well, can you ever get too many veggies in? (My IBS says yes… yes, you can get too many veggies, Alisa) So let’s discuss this matter…

Salads. Giant bowl. Enough produce to last a lifetime. End of story. (I totally want to end this post here, but then nobody would read my blog.)

Smoothies! Amanda at Run to the Finish brought up throwing spinach into your smoothie. I swear, I’m the creator of this idea, I don’t care what anybody says. But have you done other veggies? My mom swears by beets, I personally think they smell like garbage, so even if they taste amazing, I will never try them out. I love carrots. I chop them up and blend well (if you have a sucky blender, microwave your carrots with a bit of water, then blend). I also dig cucumbers! Not just in general, but in the smoothie form. You guys should try cucumbers + watermelon + ice for a refreshing summer bev!

Grated. Oh man, life would suck without my graters. Whenever I make anything with ground meat (generally turkey), I grate in a little something-something. (How sad is it that I tried to type somethin’, but I just physically do it? Nerd alert!) Carrots work the best for this. Burgers, tacos, meatloaf, whatever your heart desires! Try it in pancakes too, the carrots add an amazing sweetness! And just like the spinach swap, this is great, because you end up eating less of the caloric foods and more of the veg-tastic goodness.

So I’m going to go snack on some veggies and contemplate more ways to eat the good stuff, but I’ll watch Never Say Never first. I started the movie already and it’s pretty fantastical. Not gonna lie, I’m starting to get the fever. And I hope that I’m not the only one.

And because there’s a strange lack of pictures in my posts lately, here’s some Guinness lovin!





What’s the last movie you watched?

Currently learning about the Biebs, otherwise the last movie before this was Gulliver’s Travels and I adored that movie!

Any other veggie tricks you care to share?

I know I’m forgetting something good.


Have you done the spinach swap?

No, it’s no the latest dance crave… it’s the latest health craze! But I could create a dance to go with it if you would like!

It’s swapping in spinach for pasta in your favorite dish. So you get all the yumminess of the sauce, and less of the calories from the pasta. PLUS you’re adding in vital nutrients from the spinach and the dish tends to be more filling. I hear from some friends out in the LA area that restaurants are even adding this onto their menus (just like restaurants are filling giving the option to get a veggie or turkey burger, instead of the beef one).

I love my pasta (hello, my name is Alisa and I’m a carb-o-holic)! So I can’t do the full swap (no pasta, makes me an angry person), but I’ve been doing a variation of this for years! I can eat an entire box of pasta, if left alone, so here are some of my ways to trick myself into eating less.

  • Sometimes I will put so chopped up spinach at the bottom of the bowl, so I add less noodely goodness.
  • I like to chop some asparagus and throw it into the pot of pasta in the last few minutes, so when I fill up my bowl with the same amount, I get less pasta. (This works great for the penne shape, since they are similar in size and shape to asparagus)
  • Veggie curls! Zucchini works wonderfully, but carrots work too (and there are probably other veggies that I haven’t tried). Again, throw them into the pot of pasta in the last few minutes so they cook up. This is fun with linguine OR even instead of linguine.
  • Simple solution: spaghetti squash! Duh. And that’s a boatload of S’s! Sorry.
  • And my final one: Cook up some squash (of any kind, I love acorn), mash it up with some milk (or white wine!) and mix with pasta! I love to make this, pour into a baking dish, top with some bread crumbs, and bake it up.
    • For my mac and cheese lovers, stir some cheese in the squash and you get the same rich creaminess, with some of the flavor, and a lot less calories!

Now, I know that if you’re really craving pasta-heaven, not all of these ideas will suffice. But they are great ways to “sneak” in more veggies and cut out extra calories. My love handles thank me for this.


What are some of your favorite swaps?

I love making “milkshakes” by combining a bit of almond milk with frozen fruit and blend away. I also like putting berries into the bottom of my bowl before I scoop my coconut milk ice cream!

How much pasta can you eat in one sitting? Favorite way of consuming?

Maybe not a whole box, but probably half a box. I love pasta in any form, but for some reason, plain just sings the loudest to me. No sauce, just noodelicious-ness!


Five For Friday–Summer Edition

I fell asleep to thunderstorms last night, so you can only imagine how NOT surprised I was to wake up to thunderstorms this morning. Too bad, it was finally not so unbearable hot outside and the humidity was not horrible either. I waited it out hoping that I could get in a solid long run, because I haven’t done one since June. After an hour of sitting around waiting, I knew I had to work out, because I needed to get stuff done today! Thank goodness that I still have a stash of workout dvds floating around my house and there are lots of available choices on hulu.

Of course, it was beautiful out by the time I finished trying out a Bollywood workout on Hulu, but too bad. This was a fun workout, but I don’t think I got my usual “burn” that I get from running. But I looked like an idiot doing this, so Guinness was happy! All those years of dance class and I still have no coordination!

I know I’ve been a downer about summer lately, but I’m usually a positive person, so I’m a doing a FIVE THINGS I like about summer.

1. Grilling: Not only is it a healthier option, but everything tastes better on the grill. Right?

2. Margaritas on the deck at night: There is no other way to truly enjoy a margarita (well, in the dead of winter, with the heat turned up works too).


3. Dinning al fresco: This goes with numbers one and two! Listening to the birds chirp and feeling the breeze… it makes food taste better. Plus tons of restaurants and bars open up their patios and it just makes going out a little more exciting. Plus, some places allow dogs on their patios! Sunsets + food = Awesome!


4. Locally grown produce (and lettuce and herbs from MY pots!): If it’s not fresh, it just doesn’t taste the same. I could live at farmer’s markets and have become close with some of the farms. And I’m glad the bunny population does not come up on my deck to eat all my lettuce and herbs, I’m use them daily!


5. Extra sunlight: This is the only draw back to winter for me. I enjoy going to work at 5am and having the sun be out.


Now it’s off to buy some new towels and bathroom accessories! Highlight of my day!


What’s your favorite thing about summer?

It’s totally the produce for me.

Do you enjoy shopping for homey things? What are the colors in your bathroom(s)?

I’m beyond excited to get my own place to decorate! My shower curtain has tons of colors, but I picked out a sage green and chocolate brown that go with the curtain and using very natural accessories. Like a dark bamboo soap dispenser and shower hooks made with hemp. I’ll take pictures once I’m moved!


Exciting things are happening here!

I was having too much fun yesterday playing with Windows Live Writer to actually post! Thank you guys for all your advice on my blogging issues. Feel free to give me more if you think of anything you with you knew back when! Also, if you never saw before, please feel free to answer any questions on my last post. Life is already better with my Live Writer! Whenever I say Live Writer, I think of Ghostwriter. You guys remember that show?

It’s been freaking hot and humid here in the Midwest. If I didn’t need to leave the house, I would know from the complaints all over Facebook and Twitter. It’s ridiculous. I’m pretty sure these are all from the people hating on winter and asking for summer. You want summer? You get summer! I on the other hand do not do well with humidity or heat. I get angry and cranky. I will yell at inanimate objects in front of others. I will growl. All these have happened in the past 24 hours. But the positive is, I still forced myself to run yesterday and today! I sweated off my sunscreen in the first two minutes yesterday. I wish I brought a camera, because it was disgusting. I was supposed to do nine miles, but I called it quits after 4. No use beating a dead horse. Or a dead Alisa.

So today I went with a different approach. Short and sweat. I mean sweet. Sprintervals it is! I did a five minute warm up and cool down, but in between was the sweet. 45 seconds all out sprint, 60 second recovery, repeat ad nausuem. or at least ad sweatuem. But what killed it, was my kick A playlist. I made a summer runs playlist in June and just haven’t been feeling it, until this heat wave.

summer playlist

I may have lost about a total of 8 pounds of pure sweat the last two days, but at least I rocked out while doing it.


Do you use playlists to change your mood about a workout?

Always! I also use them according to seasons and upcoming events. My Christmas playlist is fantastical!

What’s your favorite season?

Winter, without a doubt. I’m not a huge fan of cold, but I’m a follower of the idea that you can always put on more layers. You can only take off so many before you get in trouble. Spring comes in a distant second, only because I love that moment were everything turns green!


Blog Assistance, puh-lease!

So I'm trying to make this blog amazing. I found myself a niche that I'm going to build into, (post tomorrow - how to make healthy, healthier... get excited), I'm playing with layout possibilities (pages? pages! Yeah, I got me some of those now. Still a work in progress though.), but now, to make blogging better, I'm going to ask for advice.

1) Windows Live Writer - I know a lot of big time bloggers use this. PBF and SR are the two that pop into my head right now. Who else uses this? Is WLW as life changing as it seems? Would anybody recommend not going this route with a smaller blog?

2) Being the Paparazzi - Do you guys really all carry around your cameras and snap hundreds of pictures a day? Am I the only loser with only giant cameras? I treasure my D80 so much that I barely take it out of my house and only for major occasions. And my digital is from the second round of digital cameras, so it's about the size of a brick. It was one of the first ones that didn't use an entire floppy disk to download pictures. Yeah, I'm that old-school.

3) Interests - What is your favorite part of your favorite blogs? Is it the workout ideas? food porn? personal life tidbits? healthy living advice? funny pictures? general mutual interests?

4) Is it possible to have too many pictures of my dog on here? Because I don't think so!

5) Friends and Family - Most of my close friends and family are weirded out by blogging. The claim it's bad to put that much personal information online. None of them have facebook even! This is why none of them are ever shown or named on this here blog.

6) Have you ever known someone in real life, but discovered they have a blog life too? How did you handle it? I just recently discovered someone who did me wrong in college floating around the blogosphere. I have seen her comment on some of my favorite blogs. It's strange. I feel like I need to hide to avoid some sort of blog confrontation, because our real life friendship ended very messy and I don't want to make a messy situation for any of you. But on the other hand, a part of me feels like everyone is getting jipped, because she's hiding the hurtful side of herself that ruined a part of my life, so I should just come right out and make a scene. (I feel like this is the plot to a really, really bad made for tv movie. If it's not, I'm totally selling the idea.)

Thanks guys! I hope all of you in the midwest are enjoying the horrible heat. I'm just sitting here thinking about snow, winter, temperatures below 70, sweaters.... perfect!


It's good to be back!

I had to take a forced break from blogging. I've missed each and every one of you so much!

I was struggling with my running, so I turned to my ex trainer for advice. He is one of the most patient beings I have ever encountered and he was the first person to take the time to help me learn to run again. So I knew I could ask him for advice. After a long chat over coffee, we came to two conclusions (of which I already knew of):
1) I'm an all or nothing person.
                 So even though I knew that I needed to step back on my exercise because my IBS was making me really weak, I went extreme and said no running and nothing fitness related. The most exercise I was getting was rolling over on my bed and complaining about the effort.

2) I don't do well with comparing myself to others.
                 Some people thrive on it and use that to fuel their own fires. I use it as an excuse to stop, because if I'm not the best, it doesn't matter. I need to stop making running a competitive sport and get back to the point where it was something for me to challenge myself with.

The solution he came up with to both of those problems was to stay away from blogs. (hushed gasps are heard across blogger and wordpress) Most of the blogs belong to healthy individuals and many (I'm looking at you SR) can go run 20 miles on a whim. I struggle with at least doing three miles at a time. Also, my average pace is slow even for a snail. I'm pretty sure walkers are going faster than me (no, really, I've actually encountered that). So I'm sitting here, not running because I have no strength and then I'm sitting more, because, why bother at this point, and I'm reading these blogs of people doing 10 miles at a 7 min/mile pace and it's frustrating. So again, why bother?

I had to get back in touch with Alisa. And how Alisa runs. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I'm finally back in my groove, I'm not running as much as I should (that's all IBS related now), but I'm not so down and out. And also, as hard as it is, I'm trying to just be thankful that I can run. When I was 16, I was told my arthritis in my knee was so bad that I would probably never run. I hadn't run since I was probably 14 years old. That's over 10 years. This is HUGE for me. Some days I wake up and still can't believe that I am able to run. I'm tearing up just thinking about how amazing that is.

But to the more important part, I got the text today from my wonderful PT. He said, he thinks I've made enough mental and emotional gains in the past two weeks to start blogging again (let's not tell him how I cheated occasionally, shhhh). But in that time off I've really thought about how to shape this lovely blog of mine. So instead of a random blog of food and running, I had to decide: a running blog that cooks or a cooking blog that runs? Based on what you just read, I hope you realize I picked that latter. And so I'm bringing back some yummy recipes!

Today was Bastille Day! For those that slept through world history class (don't try to pretend you didn't), it is the day in which the French people stormed the Bastille, which was the big prison in Paris, to gain ammunition. It was the highpoint of the French Revolution. Think of it as the same as our 4th of July. Of course, I had to create a French feast to go along with this wonderful day. And I brought along my friends wine and bread.

This is the mushroom and shallot quiche. Along with the beans and fennel.
(I don't have a set recipe for quiche, since my mom has made it since I was born, but this is a good estimate)

2 frozen pie shells (yes I used frozen and yes I am proud of it)
6 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
16 oz shredded Swiss cheese

1. Beat eggs and half and half until well blended. Stir in nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.
2. Split Swiss cheese equally between two shells.
3. Pour egg mixture into pie shells.
4. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then turn down temperature to 325 and bake for about 30 minutes.
5. Quiche is done when lightly browned on top, but will still have some "jiggle" in the middle (think, pudding).

 So that's the basic recipe. Today I switched things up a bit and did TWO different flavored quiches, just by adding in a few ingredients. In both versions, add into quiche in step 2, on top of the cheese.

In one quiche, I sauteed two thinly sliced shallots with one pound finely diced portabello mushrooms. Once all the liquid was cooked off and everything was softened, I stirred in one large clove of garlic, finely diced, and cooked for about thirty seconds. Let cool for a bit before adding to the quiche.

In the other quiche, I tossed 8oz of pancetta, about 6 thin asparagus spears, finely chopped and a good handful of sun-dried tomatoes diced.

Roasted Lemony Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 lemons, sliced into wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Toss ingredients together on baking sheet. (Go easy on the salt, because lemon and salt tend to activate the same part of your tongue, so it could be a bit much)
2. Roast at 400 for about 15 minutes, stir half way through.
3. Just before serving, use tongs to give the lemons a bit of a squeeze, then mix well with green beans.

Roasted Fennel (so it's a take off of my new favorite winter recipe, fennel is French, leave me alone!)

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide wedges
1 large onion, root end left intact, then cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1. Combine fennel and onion with oil and toss to coat. 
2. Mix all spices in small bowl to blend. Sprinkle spice mixture over vegetables and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and generous amount of pepper. 
3. Roast at 450 until vegetables are tender and browned, turning once, about 45 minutes. (that's the original, I did it at 450 for about 30 minutes, then finished at 400 with everything else, about 15 minutes. It worked perfect this time)


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