When it’s cold outside, it calls for something warm and hearty to fill you up. After a successful round of Whole Foods burgers and homemade sweet potato fries (I needed my iron fix for the race on Saturday!), we decided to try our luck at a pot of chili. It’s amazing the healthy and satisfying dishes you can create with just a few ingredients.

M&M Chili (No, not the chocolate candy kind)

-1 can each of black beans, kidney beans, and white beans

-1 can tomato paste

-1 can stewed tomatoes

-diced onion


-red pepper

-chili seasoning, in addition to salt, pepper, garlic powder

Mix all ingredients into large pot over low-medium heat. Cover and let cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on how hot you want it. Add a dollop of fat free plain Fage yogurt and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese for an extra treat! Delicious, but it sure is filling. Best part is–plenty for leftovers.

M&M Chili

Also, last night’s burger and sweet potato fries. We filled the patties with a small cube of brie and grilled the burgers (no hormones or additives) on our George Foreman grill to remove any excess grease or fat. For the fries, we sliced 2 sweet potatoes thin and put them on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and parmesan cheese (if desired).

Healthier version of burger and fries

Hope this food will help sustain me during my 15K!

Mother Nature, Don’t Fail Me Now

Snow-zilla has struck again in NYC. This time, in the form of a slushy mess. It’s been raining snow (yes, I said raining) like crazy since 6 a.m. this morning. Naturally, everyday New Yorkers are freaking out. You would think the puddles on every corner are made of hot lava the way they stun people. Sure, it’s nasty out, but this is nothing compared to Central New York.

Normally, I would be thankful for this storm that canceled my afternoon class and allowed me to get my necessary chores (aka laundry) finished. However, as a result of the heavy wintry mix, my family’s flight to Tampa for the Gasparilla was also canceled! Fortunately, Jimbo called Delta Airlines and got switched to later flight. Hopefully by mid-morning everything will be cleaned up, especially on the RUNway.

I’ve been gearing up for the Gasparilla all week and it would be a bummer to miss it. After some long runs (and a sore knee), I spent the latter part of the week cross training and doing yoga. Though it’s a little weird to wake up and not go running, I was lucky that I was tapering during a week of messy weather. The winter weather caused a tragic accident in Central Park today. A 56-year-old man was killed by a heavy branch falling from the weight clumps of snow. So sad :( Makes me thankful that I run with a road ID thanks to Liz, should anything unexpected ever happen.

Hoping to put this gloomy week behind me and make it to Florida tomorrow! I need me some 15K down south.

Run for Haiti

Yesterday, my sister and I participated in the four mile Run for Haiti in Central Park. It was a beautiful, sunny February day that drew a crowd of about 10,000 dedicated runners and walkers. It was so great to see that many people willing to wake up early on a Saturday and take on the challenging hills of uptown Manhattan–all for a really good cause. New York Road Runners (who organized the race in less than a month!) raised close to half a million dollars, which will go directly to New York City’s Haiti Relief fund.

In addition to positively impacting the people of Haiti, Liz and I both ran really well! Liz clocked in at 33 minutes and 39 seconds, an average of 8:24 per mile. Pretty stellar for someone who hated running less than a year ago! Now, she is running almost every day and I’ve enjoyed watching her transform into a runner both physically and mentally (even if she does get annoying when she tries to compete with me)! Go Liz!

I finished in 28 minutes and 53 seconds, with an average pace of 7:13. It felt good to get my legs moving for a short, fast run rather than my usual long ones. It definitely got me excited to run the Gasparilla in Tampa this weekend, though my legs are a little sore today from the lactic acid buildup. Yoga is calling my name right now.

Once again, my mom and her friend Libby surprised us at the finish line. It is always great seeing a familiar face and hearing my mom scream at the top of her lungs. It was just what I need to push the last 50 yards and finish in under 29. Thanks fans! She also got a good picture of Liz and me post race that I’ll post later.

Stone Barns

It’s been a week since I’ve had the privilege of dining at Blue Hill Restaurant at  Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY and I’m still thinking about it. My family decided to go all out for my birthday dinner, and it was worth it (plus we had a gift certificate, an added bonus)!

For those of you unfamiliar with the culinary experience, Blue Hill is an elegant restaurant located on the 80 acres of land gifted from David Rockefeller. As a side note, Rockefeller Estate is also my most favorite place to run. There are miles and miles of shaled paths, rolling hills, farmland and vegetation. Challenging, scenic and peaceful all in one.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns supports the farm and agriculture center in many ways as not only a tenant on the property and largest buyer of the farm products, but also as a creative partner that contributes to celebrating, teaching and advancing community-based food production and all around healthy eating.

The restaurant is especially unique because seasonal ingredients and local resources determine the daily menu. All the waiters ask is that you inform them of any special dietary needs or allergies before beginning dinner. We chose the five course feast (don’t be mislead, the portions are small), which included a fresh salad, mini beet burgers, striped bass, Hudson Valley beef, and vanilla and goat cheese ice cream and tart. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

They also provided us with fresh onion ciabetta bread, and they never let the basket come close to empty. The service was impeccable. Truly felt like royalty. It’s not just a meal, it’s an experience.

I think my next cooking experiment is going to have to be beet burgers and goat cheese ice cream, those were my faves. I highly recommend dining at the restaurant. There is also another Blue Hill in New York City for those looking for something more convenient.

The only thing that would have made it better was if it was warmer out and I had the opportunity to go for a run in the park beforehand!

** Please note, I incorrectly identified Blue Hill as Stone Barns Restaurant in my original post. I have corrected that mistake.**

Run. Snow. Swim.

This morning I had a slippery, slushy run in the park. Though it did look very pretty blanketed in snow, the path was still a little bit of a mess. They weren’t allowing the usual rush hour traffic through so that was good. I managed to make it around the big loop without falling on my face, so I’ll consider it a success.

Later, after lots of homework and a three hour class, I decided to join Liz for another swim practice at Asphalt Green while she was coached. It was just like the old Pleasantville Swim Team days, though she didn’t yell at me tonight to stop talking and go faster.

The sets were pretty challenging for me, especially since I’ve only swam twice since September. We did lots of individual medleys, which include all four strokes–butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Let me tell you, butterfly is tiring. By the fifth I.M. by arms were barely clearing the water. I did manage to lead the lane though which I was proud of. I guess I still got it after all ;)

The running and then swimming made me excited for the upcoming triathlon season. I started to think how much better I could be if I joined the master’s team full time in the spring and seriously trained for the swimming portion. Then again, maybe all that chlorine got to my head.

If anyone has any off-season triathlon tips, I’d love to hear them!

My body is officially dead right now. Arms, legs, everything. After some butternut squash ravioli and a leftover chocolate-covered strawberry from my birthday, I’m ready to call it a night. As tired as I am, I can’t help but embrace the exhausted feeling, knowing that I worked really hard tonight. Thanks Coach Liz for a great practice!

T-minus 1 1/2 days until two-hour boxing boot camp at Kapatid Martial Arts in Pleasantville!

SNOW running outside today!

So, because of this:

Lonely, snow-covered bikes at Columbia. These students must have found alternate transportation home.

I couldn’t run outside today. Or barely walk, for that matter.

Though I’m sure there are some hardcore runners who have the special treads to put on their sneakers or snow shoes so that they didn’t have to miss an outdoor run in the park, I did not. As much as I wanted to enjoy the Central Park winter wonderland, I was not up for slipping in the snow. Even though we barely accumulated a foot in the city, the snowfall today is now known as “Blizzard 2010.”

After four years of college in central New York, where it took three plus feet of snow in 2007 to cancel school (the first time in 20 years), I can’t help but chuckle at the reactions of people. In their defense, it was pretty messy outside. As if my walk straight up hill to school wasn’t already intense enough, the snow in my face made it pretty difficult to see where I was going and how soon before I fell. But, it was worth the treacherous walk to see this:

College Walk at Columbia University. This photo was taken just minutes before I was caught in the crossfire of a snowball fight. OUCH!

Even better, school closed after 3 p.m. and my class was at 6 p.m. Score!

I’m hoping the roads are clear for a long run tomorrow morning because my indoor track workout was less than thrilling.

Birthday Bites

In honor of my 23rd birthday yesterday, I enjoyed some delicious spanish tapas and sangria with some of my favorite people (Molly, Liz, Jamie and Mom). We went to Cafe Ronda on the Upper West Side. Our menu choices included patatas, bravas, artichokes, empanadas, calamari and a few others that I think I ate too fast to remember. As always, the red wine sangria was to die for.

For dessert, we had dulce de leche crepes, complete with a candle. And, oh yeah, I almost forgot, the restaurant played a spanish version of happy birthday over the speakers so the entire restaurant sang along. Only mildly embarassing. Photo proof of the awkward smile:

Cafe crepe, candle, and birthday carols

And, just for kicks, Saturday’s version of birthday cake. Yes, I know–I have A LOT of running to do to make up for it. I’m working on it. Bootcamp is this Saturday after all. That should do the trick.

Making a wish over my carrot cake

All in all, great birthday. Here’s to my 23rd year (or is it 24th? I never was a math person).

Dip Day(s)

This weekend marked both my 23rd birthday celebration and the Superbowl. Theme: DIP! On Saturday, we had some friends over. Here’s a little taste (no pun intended) of the menu, most of which I made myself:

-Hummus made with chick peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh parsley, salt and pepper. Served with pita chips, zucchini and carrots

Spicy Cheddar Cauliflower Dip, a recipe I found on the Whole Foods website. This was a party favorite. So much so, Molly made round two for her brother’s dip off on Sunday.

-Flatbread pizzas from the Farmer’s Market at Columbia

-Brie and crackers (sorry, didn’t make that)

-Salsa and chips (didn’t make that either)

And oh yeah, champagne too.

On Sunday, I walked across town via Central Park to Liz and Jamie’s to watch the Superbowl. Here’s a glimpse of what I saw.

Sunset in Central Park, Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Since I walked all that way (from Morningside Heights to Upper East Side), I thought I deserved some more dip. Check out our “nacho pie”

Nacho pie with Superbowl backdrop. I think I see Kim Kardashian in the crowd!

It’s not as bad for you as it looks. Baked tostitos, topped with ground turkey, salsa, reduced fat cheddar, fat free Fage greek yogurt, avocado, and a little hot sauce. Microwave for two minutes. Dig in! I bet you can guess it didn’t take long for us to finish this.

All I can say is…there’s no calories in birthday cake (or any food consumed during your birthday week for that matter). Anyway, I’m gearing up for a long birthday run in the park tomorrow before the “blizzard” hits. And then I’ll blog about my tapas birthday dinner. What can I say, I love me some small plates variety!

Just keep swimming.

Tonight I went to master’s swim practice with Liz at Asphalt Green (thanks Liz for letting me borrow your goggles). As it turns out, I picked a good night. The sets were short and fast, concentrating on good technique and breathing. Not only was I relieved that I didn’t have to swim thousands of yards, I really needed a high intensity workout after some long, slow runs this week. It’s amazing the difference a little extra burst of anaerobic effort makes. Burn more fat and feel more energized! And after a day off the pavement, I’m hoping my legs feel good on my run tomorrow.

The best part of swim practice, was the delicious post workout meal Liz prepared. She used the Whole Foods recipe for black bean burgers that I tried out this past summer. After prepared, just a few minutes on the Foreman grill and they’re ready to eat. We decided to ditch the buns and just top with avocado and salsa because there are already bread crumbs in the burgers.

On the side, Liz experimented with a very unique quinoa salad she made up herself. Avocado, tomato chunks, crumbled feta, cilantro, lemon and lime juices. Absolutely divine. The avocado and cilantro reminded me of guac (what’s not to love about guac?) and the quinoa has plenty of protein to aid in post-workout recovery.

Black bean burgers and quinoa salad.

As a post-dinner surprise, I brought along an apple crumb pie I bought at the farmer’s market outside Columbia today. Enough said.

Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil Disappoints Pale Population

I don’t think I was the only one crossing my fingers that Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil would not see his shadow this morning in Pennsylvania. Looks like six more weeks of winter is ahead.

Not only do I really need some UV rays to brighten up my ghostly pale complexion, I’m also getting tired of running in the cold. Does anyone ever get the stiff knees while running? I don’t know if it is the result of taking a few days off of running or what, but my run today didn’t feel too great. My knees were aching the whole time.

I read some tips, and as it turns out it is largely due to the cold. Though I did warm up with kettle bell swings, push ups, sit ups and some downward dogs so it shouldn’t have been this much of an issue. It’s supposed to be close to 4o degrees tomorrow so I’m hoping for a better run.

Meanwhile, I’ll start a countdown to my Florida trip for the Gasparilla race. 24 days!! The sun better be shining!