Saturday, December 17, 2011

Training again...Ouch

It has been a little over week since I started "training" after 2 weeks spent mostly horizontal in bed.  My number one concern was the infection coming back plus avoiding overuse injuries developing from trying to come back too quickly.  Before getting sick my training was developing a solid base for 2012.  Welll....being off for that length of time and asthmatic, I wanted to be smart at this point in the season to see how my body was reacting to the training with my power, pace and heart rate to get back where we left off.
Becca - 2010 Post North Georgia Gaps Ride & Run

 I started with easy spinning for about 30 minutes and felt like I had just ridden 100 miles in the North Georgia mountains and a brick run I did in 2010.  My easy spinning power caused my HR to go into zone 3.  YIKES!  So it became a soft pedal day.  Over the next 3 days I gradually increase my bike time and my heart rate and power zones started to correlate.  Walking and yoga were added to the routine. 

After a few easy days on the bike & walking I was finally ready to start EASY running which I did a few 20-30 minute before beginning to even considering having my heart rate in my upper zone 1.  At first, I know that my tights had weigts stuffed in them; but they eventually fell out! 
Last swimming, I waited a little longer on swimming because of 2 reasons, 1st my shoulder had an incident at the beginning of November during a mountain biking weekend and 2nd is I dread getting in a cold pool & struggle regulating my body temperature.  Luckily, swimming easy was okay.  Now holding any interval was not going to happen for a few days but 3K was pretty easy on my first day back to the pool.  Positive!!! 
After about 9 days my power levels, pace & heart race started to come back in line and I am feeling ready & excited to begin serous training again. (Of course it does not hurt to realize that Ironman TX is in 5 months)  Coincidence to see an article today on active and I am thankful for my coach (Kathleen) instilling in me when you have systemic symptoms to not workout.  (Scare Tactics to Prevent You From Exercising While Sick). 

Next goal... staying healthy! I have good start with my daily green smoothie!  YUM!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Comfort Food - Butternut Squash Soup

My memory of butternut squash as a child was in a frozen square package that I only saw on Thanksgiving; it was nasty stuff with no flavor that my mother would try to make palatable by adding brown sugar.  Fast forward... now squash is one of my favorite fall foods with butternut squash at the top of the list. It has a subtle sweet nutty flavor that is perfect for fall and winter recipes with the added bonus of high in vitamins and minerals. Just one cup has 298% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A; YAY for my eyes that are starting to experiencing the "I am about to turn 40 and spent my life on a computer" vision.  It also has a significant amount of Vitamin C, E, B6, Folate with daily recommended values of 49%, 10%, 11%, 9%, respectively; plus a mineral content of magnesium (12%), potassium (14%) and Manganese (14%).  Not only is this squash tasty it has some great health benefits. 

For a quick and easy side dish, I will remove the skin with a potato peeler, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size chunks.  Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven until fork tender.  I have also been known to add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, gloves and even curry powder.  Add some root vegetables such as beets and parsnip for a heavenly combination of flavors.  Another favorite of Kris's is butternut risotto; this takes patience but worth it.

On a chilly autumn evening, it is hard to beat the smooth silky texture of a butternut squash soup.  While preparing the soup the smell calms the body and mind of all the days tensions.  The past week I made 2 different soups; a curried butternut and a roasted butternut squash soup.  I enjoyed both soups but the roasted soup has a more rich deeper flavor and color; the molasses, sage and balsamic vinegar aid in the development of the rich soup.  For both recipes, they are from the food network with my little twist to reduce the fat and sugar while trying not to reduce flavor.

The curried butternut soup is an easy soup recipe that simmers the squash until tender.  The changes I made to the recipe are added a cup of celery and carrots to the onion and garlic mixture to saute together.  Next I omitted the honey; I tasted the soup and it did not need the extra sweetness after the addition of carrots.  During the time the soup was simmering, I roasted the seeds with a drizzle of oil and salt; then roasted seeds were added to the soup for some texture and garnish.

Glaze for Roasting
The roasted butternut squash soup is more involved but worth the effort.  My freezer always has the spice rub ready to use on vegetables, pork, chicken or anything I feel like.  The recipe to roast the squash has a few changes in it to for healthier choices.  1/2 cup of butter, YIKES, I reduce to 1/4 cup and instead of all butter a mixer of butter and coconut oil gives the soup a slight coconut taste.  The sugar again was not included; the molasses in the recipe give it enough of a sweetness plus some extra iron; which I am always looking for ways to add iron into my diet. 

Once the roasting sauce & squash are well mixed, the roasting begins... creating a fragrance of sage and sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and molasses that fills the kitchen. WOW, how much longer my stomach is starting to speak to me?
Roasting the squash
The magic is beginning in the oven; time to start the soup and ready to finish when the squash is fork tender.  I do not use the half and half but instead add 1 cup extra of the squash.   

An immersion blender is used to create the smooth silky texture...time to EAT! 

Finally, if you have never made a soup or cooked with a squash the first recipe is easy and hard to make a mistake.  I love the second recipe it is worth the extra effort.  I am now hungry just writing about it and need to make some more soon!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Truffles (a.k.a. Reindeer Turds)

Where did Reindeer Turds come from?  Kris saw me working on them and promptly called them Reirdeer Turds.  I finally made my first Christmas treat of the season!  I feel so far behind on shopping, decorating, baking and all the fun Christmas activities but with my new found energy I am moving forward to catch up.  I love baking at Christmas and excited to try some new healthier recipes.  This new one was so easy that I was able to complete it while I had dinner in the oven.  I cannot take credit for the recipe but I am not sure where it came from; I saw it on T.V. during my illness stuper and wrote down the primary ingredients with no quanties.  It peaked my interest because it uses no added sugar just the sugar from the dates; (YUM) which have a high sugar content but also have over 15 minerals including potassium, magnesium, selenium and calcium plus fiber and antioxidants.  It was a perfect recipe for me to try since I have dates handy for those times when I want something sweet; they are nature's candy. 
Even though the truffles are made with a natural sweetner; they are a snack. One truffle is about 50 calories and these little jewels are truely decadent snack for the holidays.

Chocolate Truffles
2 Cups Dates
1/2 Cup Walnuts (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Dark 72% Cocoa Powder
Dried unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Add all ingredients except coconut to food processor and blend until a ball is formed. Remove from processor and refrigerate long enough to cool to make it easier to roll into balls. I refrigerated for about 15 minutes.  Next roll into balls then roll in the shredded coconut.

Makes about 2 dozen.


Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Days of Illness

I hate whining but my last 12 days have had zero cheer; except maybe for the brief time I had narcotics at the hospital for the headache. (I hate drugs but needed it to lesson the pain.)
On a different note, I know that the Today Show is on from 7am-11am; who is commentator each hour; and when they show the local news and weather.  At least, I did get some holiday shopping, cooking and fashion tips during this time.  TV was about the only thing that I could do; reading or computer work was virtually  impossible because I could not lift my head. 

What did I have?  Some virus and sinus infection but because of the high fever and severe headache my doctor sent me to emergency to get checked for meningitis based on negative strep and flu test.  Fortunately, this came out negative but they did find a lovely sinus infection and felt I had a virus.  So after fluids, pain killers and some rest they sent me home with the usual instructions.  Happy to leave the hospital to rest in my own bed. 

I have had terrible sinus headaches; but lucky me the spinal tap fluid leaked compounding the pain.  (It was described to me as fluid leaking and my brain does not have as much padding.) OMG, no pain medication helped.  After 2 days, doctor call to follow-up and told me to go back to the emergency.  I waited another 1.5 days and could not take the pain any longer.  Off to the emergency room again... drugs, fluids and a blood patch later.  Back at home the headache was bearable and I finally did rest but then the fever spiked again.  After more rest, liquids...I finally feel like I fought this little bug.
Thursday came and it felt like Christmas...  I received a gift of some energy; so what would any endurance athlete do?   I did an easy spin for about 45 minutes; first workout since Saturday, November 26. Missing this much training is somewhat none ideal for Ironman training.  I monitored my body closely; definitely not 100% my HR was in upper zone 1-2 and I was spinning very easy.  My number one concern is trying to start to soon then back sick; so careful easy workouts and taking quite a few steps back in training plan is on my schedule for a couple weeks. But I would rather not go through my past 2 weeks EVER again; and I will be back to full training soon enough.

Now time to get ready for Christmas!  I am soooooo excited to spend my 1st Christmas with my husband in our own home.  Now off to decorate the house... here is what I did last night before bed to prepare for the tree this weekend.