Friday, July 4, 2014


The #100bySummer challenge... 

100 miles of cardio in 7 weeks.
Not that hard, right?
It boils down to about 2 miles a day. 

There are all sorts of fitness challenges floating around, particularly in that time of year barreling headlong into summertime. But this particular challenge was inspired by the girls at Tone It Up - you know the ones who have that show on Bravo? Well, maybe you don't know. But Bravo is just about the only channel I watch, so therein lies my current perspective of the world outside of Ames.. whatever. 

The important part is that I did it. Not only that, but I got J to do it too! (He didn't run for a bikini body, but he did run for himself. And maybe a little bit for me, too.) I am so proud of us! Especially since I've never been a good runner. Oh, believe me --- I've given running the ol' college try. Many times. It's always hard. But this time, it was a bit easier for three reasons. 

  1. Other people were doing the exact same thing I was doing. There's a little community of people (mostly women) out there who were posting to Instagram (#bikiniseries #toneitup #100bysummer), documenting their progress, and providing a bit of outside support. It worked. 
  2. I learned to pace myself. With a heart rate monitor (this kind: Polar FT4). It's time to get serious, ya'll. 
  3. Perhaps most importantly, J was willing to go with me. Rain or shine. Hail or humidity. His pace isn't exactly as slow as mine, but he really made an effort to keep with me. I think it was comical at times.. You know how slow I was running? But he didn't laugh. Too much. 

The challenge technically ended on June 21 (the first day of summer!). I posted photos on Instagram throughout the 100 mile challenge to document our progress and thought it would be nice to round them all up here. Enjoy!

Mile 1: We started the challenge the same weekend of Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa and got in our first 4 miles. 
Mile 5: Showing off our Christmas running shoes courtesy of J's parents.

Mile 8: On the way home from Main Street.
Mile 11: Early morning run with the man of the house.

Mile 14: One of the first places I visited in Ames - Olde Main Brewery - with Ian and Tiffany
Mile 17: Started the day off right. That always means a green smoothie. 
Mile 19: Down to the farmer's market on Main.

Mile 23: You just have to get off the couch. The rest is easy. 
Mile 26: Ada Hayden park.
Mile 30: The first of *many* cloudy/rainy days in a row. And a massaged kale salad. That's right. I said massaged.
Mile 34: Minor head trauma due to unexpected hail storm. Whoopsie.
Mile 38: First run with the new toy! Thanks, J!
Mile 42: Lots of good work-outs in the Ozarks! These little beauties live down the street from J's parents. They always come to greet us at the fence.
Mile 46: And these guys.. :) Such troopers!
Mile 58: ....aaaaannnd the blisters that I began taping like a pro.  
Mile 63: A little uphill hiking at Ledges State Park with the boys.
Mile 67: Met this dude at the neighborhood park over Skunk River. 
Mile 70: Made the best roasted garlic and wilted spinach egg pitas after my "passing with a D" mile of the 100 by summer challenge.

Mile 83: Another rainy day in Iowa at the downtown Des Moines farmer's market. 

Mile 88: I ran 5 miles without stopping for the first time ever. I think this hot air balloon in the sky was a visual reward for all my hard work so far. 

Mile 95: Train tracks and green grass in Ames.

Mile 99: Field of dreams. 
Mile 100: My neighborhood for the last 3 years.
"I like my one better than my zero." - Jason
Mile 111: Everything that is good. 

And there you have it. One hundred eleven miles under our belt, and then some (in the weeks that followed).

Have a happy holiday! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spring Chicken Linguine No-Fredo with Peas and Asparagus

Do you like peas?
How about asparagus? You like that?


My I present to you: Spring Linguine Chicken No-Fredo with Peas and Asparagus (and Bacon)!!**

There is a reason this is called no-fredo. Because this is NOT alfredo sauce. I don't often go for half-ass healthy recipes (like alfredo made with half and half...), but there is a recipe for one such pasta with peas and bacon in one of my old Cooking Light mags that has survived a couple of cross-country moves.  So, as you can see... no-fredo and I have a history. 

I love pasta. But, as you know, noodles (along with bread and other deliciously simple carbohydrates) sure do pull the short end of the stick when it comes to healthy eating. So, when we choose to make it for ourselves, it makes the most sense to pack it full of vegetables and use ingredients with a lot of flavor.

Spring Linguine No-Fredo

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves 8

4 slices center-cut bacon
2 shallots, chopped
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (divided)
16 oz linguine pasta
5 Tbsp butter, salted (divided)
16 spears fresh asparagus, cut into 2” pieces
2 cups half and half
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded (two generous handfuls)
1 cup peas, frozen
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Remove cooked bacon from pan, crumble and set aside.
2. In the same pan, sauté shallots, garlic, and 1 ½ tsp thyme in the bacon fat until softened (about 3 minutes).
3. While shallots and garlic are cooking, sauté asparagus in a separate pan with 1 tablespoon butter and ½ tsp thyme until crisp-tender (about 4 minutes).
4. Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan, then add half and half and chopped parsley.  Gently simmer for 5 minutes. Add Parmesan a little at a time, whisking until all cheese is melted before adding the next batch. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. 
5. While the no-fredo simmers, boil the pasta to al-dente according to package directions.  
6. Add the peas, mushrooms, sautéed asparagus, and sliced chicken breast to the shallot mixture in the big skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and the chicken is heated through.
7. Drain cooked pasta and add to big skillet.
8. Pour no-fredo sauce over the pasta and gently stir to combine with pasta, veggies and chicken. Voila!

Nonfat half and half: Calories 492, Total Fat 15.0 g, Cholesterol 74 mg, Protein 32 g, Fiber 3.5 g
Regular half and half: Calories 535, Total Fat 21 g, Cholesterol 95 mg, Protein 32 g, Fiber 3.5 g
(Heavy cream [1cup]): Calories 559, Total Fat 25g, Cholesterol 111 mg, Protein 32g, Fiber 3.5g)

Don't get me wrong, this pasta would be absolutely heavenly with a thick, velvety, alfredo cream sauce. And more bacon. But that's not what I made. The lower fat version of no-fredo sauce is thin and won't pull together like a heavy cream sauce, so please don't expect that if you choose the non-fat route. In fact, the sauce pretty much broke down over heat. But, gosh darn it, this pasta was tasty, cost less than 500 calories per serving, AND it reheated well for lunch the next day. Feel free to use whatever type of cream you desire, but if you go full-fat alfredo on me, I recommend following a different recipe for the sauce (like this one from the Pioneer Woman) rather than simply subbing cream for the half and half.

* See the beginning of this post regarding my favorite thing to do when choosing dinner recipes.
**Don't feel too bad for him. In all honesty, HE is the one who suggested an asparagus pasta. And he actually enjoyed the asparagus in this dish (at least more than the peas). 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Blackberry Clementine Oatmeal Muffins

I wish I were a morning person. There is something extravagant about the quiet moments before most of the world wakes up - stealing them all for yourself, pretending you are all alone. That's the introvert in me, I suppose.

Buuuutttt.... the introvert half of me sleeps late and walks in to work five minutes after the hour. Routinely.

(We can't be winners all of the time.)

This recipe might make up for some of that non-winnerness, though. I made a variety of different oatmeal muffins a few weeks back using the same clementine-bannana base.... some with fresh blackberry, some chocolate chip, toasted coconut and walnut, raisin and dried dates. Hands down, the blackberry ones were our favorite. (Well.. and the chocolate chip ones.. always chocolate).

Blackberry Clementine
Oatmeal Muffins

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Yield: 18 muffins

1 small clementine (whole)
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup honey
5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2¼ cups almond milk
36 fresh blackberries

Cupcake liners
Non-stick spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Chop clementine into quarters (skin and all) and puree in a high power blender or food processor.
3. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Mix in the pureed clementine, eggs, vanilla, and honey.
4. Add oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and mix well with wet ingredients.
5. Pour in milk and combine.
6. Line muffin tin with paper liners and spray each with cooking spray.
7. Push two blackberries into each muffin.
8. Bake muffins for 30 minutes and cool before serving.

Once cooled to room temperature, muffins may be frozen in gallon-sized bags.  Then, defrost them overnight in the refrigerator or microwave for 1-2 minutes. Enjoy a healthy breakfast on the go!

NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving, 2 muffins):
Calories 301, Total Fat 5.7 g, Cholesterol 41 mg, Sodium: 476 mg, Protein 8.1 g, Fiber 7.2 g

This "batter" has the best orangey flavor. I used one small clementine (of the Halo variety), but would have used two if I'd had another in the house. If you want, substitute one of the bananas for a second small clementine... I bet that would be awesome. Now, these muffins may or may not get me out of bed a bit earlier, but either way, I can pull one from the freezer as I rush out the door. And I don't have to sacrifice breakfast to make it to work on time!

Please let me know how yours turn out if you try them!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Glazed Vegan Lentil Loaf

It's been busy around my little house. Or, rather, I should say it's been busy outside of my little house.
So much to think about.
So much to do.

Cabinets to organize.
Articles to read.
Budgets to narrow.
Lists to make.
Papers to shred.

But that's why weekends like this one make me feel so content. Toes in the water, legs in the sun, surrounded by a family that makes it look so easy to love and be loved (no matter the drama or responsibilities swirling in the background). Even though they are not technically my own, I will always be grateful for people like that.

Salt of the earth.
(I believe he said it best.)


So, after a long Memorial Weekend and a little over-indulging, I have just the thing. Don't balk at the long list of ingredients -- the end result is incredibly flavorful and just absolutely full of veggies! I followed this recipe for The Ultimate Vegetable Lentil Loaf from Julie at The Simple Veganista.

First of all, I doubled the recipe so that we'd have leftovers for a couple of future weeknight dinners. Also, in place of the bell pepper, I used a bag of frozen Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions (I really love the layer of flavor that the fire roastedness adds).

And oat flour! This was my first opportunity to make oat flour with the milling blade of my trusty Nutribullet. If you don't have oat flour or a mill grinder, I'm thinking regular all-purpose or whole wheat flour would be fine. Of course, the texture of this loaf is a little softer than your average meat loaf, but it actually stands up really well. J and I even made "Lentil Loaf Sandwiches" for lunchtime leftovers the next day.

Glazed Vegan Lentil Loaf

Prep time: 45 min 
Cook time: 50 min
Servings: 6

1 cup dry lentils
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 small bell pepper
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1.5 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
½ heaping teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¾ cup oats
½ cup oat flour

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1. Rinse lentils and combine with broth in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes.  When cooked, set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
2. Mix the flaxseed meal with the water and refrigerated until needed.
3. Coarsely chop the garlic, onion, pepper, carrot and celery. Toss in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
4. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add chopped vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes. Add next 7 ingredients (all spices) and mix until well combined. Turn off heat and cool for about 10 minutes.  
5. While vegetables cool, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the side.
6. Pulse ¾ of the cooked lentils in the food processor until coarsely blended.
7. In a big bowl, mixed blended and whole lentils, sautéed seasoned vegetables, flax mixture, oats and oat flour.
8. Press the mixture into a loaf pan lined with parchment overhanging the sides - OR - scoop equal spoonfuls into 12 greased muffin cups. 
9. Mix ketchup, vinegar and maple syrup for the glaze and baste over top of the loaf.
10. Bake the loaf for 50 minutes - OR - muffins for 35 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

Calories 216, Total Fat 7.7 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 685 mg, Protein 7.4 g, Fiber 7 g

Don't skip the glaze. It adds yet another layer of flavor and tastes a bit like barbecue sauce. You might even want to save some to baste after baking. If you choose to make muffins instead of a larger loaf, you'll reap the benefit of a much shorter bake time and easy portion sizes for freezing and defrosting a weeknight dinner. So good, and soo good for you! If I've piqued your interest, please give it a try and let me know what you think.


I've had a lot of "AHA!" moments this year. (This lentil loaf is only one example of an AHA! moment.) You know - those little bursts of clarity that provide peace of mind and confidence in your own decisions? Such maturity makes me feel very adult-ish, but I actually don't mind growing up at all. It takes only a single second to remember that I am an incredibly lucky girl and I have so much to look forward to - anywhere my feet should land.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taco Salad

I often think that having a second one of myself at home would be pretty great. I'm fun. I'm easy going. I cook. Right now, for example, my stomach is grumbling so loud that it could possibly be mistaken for the thunderstorm outside because it's after 10 am and I haven't made anything for breakfast. (But wait!! I have showered and combed my hair, so let's not go making any assumptions about how productive I will be today.) So, anyway, while this girl lays on the couch wondering what to eat, the other Lindsey would've already made some sweet potato almond butter muffins and the house would smell like fresh baked yum.

Yeah. Since that's not happening... I do have another sweet potato recipe that I'm pretty excited to share with ya'll this weekend. It's sweet. It's smokey. It's spicy. And guacamole.

My recipe is inspired by this one, written by Erin of Naturally Ella. These tacos have made their way into our bellies a few times already. The first time we made them, I was so pleasantly surprised by the flavor combo that I didn't for one second miss the cheese or sour cream that generally adorns your average taco or taco salad.

This go 'round, I decided to skip the tortillas and mix everything together with some salad greens to increase leaf intake (it's all about the beans n' greens, ya'll) while cutting the refined carbohydrates. With a little extra lime juice and a big dollop of guacamole, I didn't need to add salad dressing, but a light avocado vinaigrette would work really well here (if you are so inclined to make some, try blending avocado, white wine vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil with a little S&P).

Did you know that chipotle peppers are really just smoked jalapeños? These babies truly supply the flavor to this dish and cannot be substituted or omitted. Chipotle peppers come either canned in adobo sauce or dried. J and I both keep the dried variety in our respective spice cabinets. While this kind does take a little time to rehydrate and we miss out on the adobo sauce, they're super cheap and so easy to pull out  at a moment's notice (without an extra trip to the grocery store). If you purchase the canned variety, you should omit the water and add the adobo sauce to the blender instead.

Intimidated by the heat of chipotle? The spice is toned down a bit with the addition of honey, but you should probably use a small pepper (or half of a large one), or de-seed a dried pepper if you are not sure you can handle the spice. Definitely use less chipotle if you are reducing recipe. For the guacamole, you may also choose to substitute a de-seeded jalapeño for the serrano since jalapeños are not quite as hot.

 Chipotle Sweet Potato & Black Bean Taco Salad with Guacamole

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Servings: 6

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed (about 3 cups)
4 cloves garlic
1 dried chipotle pepper, rehydrated in ¼ cup warm water for 30 minutes
1.5 Tbsp honey
Juice of 1 large lime
29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
Guacamole, for serving
10 cups salad greens - or - 12 corn tortillas
avocado vinaigrette, optional (see text)

2 small, ripe avocados
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ large onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 roma tomato, seeds removed and chopped
Juice of 2-3 lime wedges
¼ tsp salt

1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add onions, garlic and sweet potato. Saute for 4 minutes.
2. In a blender or food processor, liquefy the rehydrated chipotle and water with honey and the juice from one lime. Add the chipotle sauce to the skillet and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add black beans to the skillet and gently mix to combine. Cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until sweet potato is cooked through.
4. While sweet potato mixture is cooking, prepare guacamole. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add lime juice and salt to taste.
5. Spoon sweet potato mixture over salad greens (or into corn tortillas) and top with guacamole. Serve with a lime wedge and a cold beer.

NUTRITION INFORMATION (per salad serving, 6):
Calories 337, Total Fat 10 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 192 mg, Protein 12.4 g, Fiber 15.2 g

Try it this week! As I alluded, the original recipe is for sensational tacos, so if you are in the mood for un-salad, by all means - grab a couple of tortillas and get busy! I recommend small corn tortillas over flour. You won't be disappointed. Either way, the final addition to this delicious tasty fest is a cold beer with a slice of lime. Dos Equis is my favorite. Obvi. 

Speaking of XX, we should probably add that to my invisible grocery list. If I had another Lindsey around here, she'd probably be writing this down and making plans for dinner tonight. Just sayin'.