Reviews: Simply Chocolate Chip Cookies & Kashi Frozen Meal

Congratulations to commentor #15 – Jesse from JHams runs the NYC Marathon! You are the lucky winner of the lara bar goodies :-) Email me your address!

 

Pillsbury Simply Chocolate Chip Cookies

Awhile back, I received a coupon for a free package of Pillsbury Simply… cookies. These ready-to-bake cookies are free of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and colors so they seemed right up my alley. I chose the chocolate chip variety, but peanut butter is also available.

Simply chocolate chip cookies

The cookies were very easy to make, I placed the dough balls on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  After removing the cookies from the oven, they looked golden brown, but a little soft to the touch.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Overall, I would give these cookies 3 out of 10 stars. I liked that they contained all natural ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla, etc. and they were easy to make, but they just didn’t taste that good. The cookies were kind of bland and the texture was too crumbly. Making cookies from scratch isn’t too difficult (and it’s kind of fun!), so I would recommend homemade over ready-to-bake varieties anyday.

Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken

In the attempt to empty out my freezer, I made this Kashi frozen meal for dinner a few nights ago. The meal was easy enough to prepare although it did take longer than the microwave directions suggested. Once heated and plated, the food actually looked very similar to the front of the box.

Kashi frozen meal

This dinner had great nutritional stats – 300 calories, 8 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of protein. I think this frozen meal would make a good small-ish lunch, but it might be a little skimpy for dinner. To fill me up, I had a sliced apple and some almond butter on the side.

Kashi lemongrass coconut chicken

The chicken and grains were very yummy, but the veggies got a little mushy in the microwave. Also, this dish has a strong lemongrass flavor, so make sure you like lemongrass before buying! I would give Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken 6.5 out of 10 stars.

News you can use:

Have your own health/food/fitness blog? Check out HealthBlogHelper for tips on how to make it better!

Like cereal? Like FREE cereal? Lucky for you, Kashi is giving away mini-boxes of Honey Sunshine, Heary-to-Heart, and Go Lean Crunch!

Mmm, a 1,200 lb cupcake that involves 800 eggs and 200 lbs each of sugar and flour. This is definitely a dessert made for sharing :-)

Did you know that today, August 31st is National Trail Mix day?

Question: What are your favorite trail mix ingredients?

From Glamour.com’s Shape Up! Blogger: How to Fuel Long Runs and Still Lose Weight

Good morning and Happy Monday! After a busy (and sweaty!) weekend of packing, moving, and unpacking I’m now back to my regular weekday schedule (sort of). Today I have a special guest blogger – a lovely lady who’s training for her first half-marathon while shaping up her diet. I love Glamour Magazine and have been a long time reader of Glamour.com’s Shape Up! Blog, so I’m super pumped for you all to meet Karina. Welcome to The Runner’s Kitchen!

karina_run

Hey Runner’s Kitchen readers! I’m Karina, Glamour.com’s Shape Up! blogger. What that means is that I’ve gone public with my lifelong battle with weight. For the last few months, I’ve been following Body by Glamour, a food and exercise plan that has radically changed my life. I write about my daily struggles, setbacks, and breakthroughs; and the hilarious social drama that ensues when people have to adjust to the skinnier, new me…I can’t get enough of it, really!

So how does Runner’s Kitchen fit into all of this?

When I first signed on as the Shape Up! blogger back in April, I also told the entire world that one of my goals was to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon in September. I know that might seem like a piece of cake to many of you, Runner’s Kitchen Readers, but this was a bold move on my part: I had never run more than 3 miles when I made that crazy announcement! Since then, I have run my first 5K, 10K and completed a 10-mile trial run. I kinda have the running bug, to tell you the truth.

The Philly Half-Marathon is less than three weeks away, which means I’ve been running longer and farther in preparation. At this point, I’m averaging a total of 20 miles per week. (I run every other day.) Some days I’m really tired, but mostly I just love being in motion. I’m amazed at what my former super-sedentary body can do! My biggest hurdle, however, is deciding what to eat. I haven’t reached my weight loss goal yet, but I now have to think about fueling my body to run as well. I need carbs to make it through long runs, but I have to limit my carb-intake in order to finish shedding this weight. How does that work? I’m not exactly sure.

That’s how I stumbled on Megan and Runner’s Kitchen:

So what am I eating?

I am by no means on a no-carb diet. The basic gist of the Body by Glamour food plan, which was created by celebrity nutritionist Rachel Beller, R.D., is relatively simple:

- Eat at least 8 grams of fiber at breakfast.

- Have a midmorning and midafternoon snack that is 150 calories.

- Build every lunch and dinner like a pyramid: Veggies are the base, lean protein is next, and a small amount of healthy carbs tops it off.

- Treat yourself every day. As in have a piece of chocolate or that scoop of ice cream, (we all know how much Megan LOVES her ice cream!) just keep it at 120 calories or less.

-Get at least seven hours of sleep every night.

Simple, right? The problem is that sometimes, I feel really tired mid-run, or just plain ravenous the day after. Which is why I decided last week that I needed to add an extra carb or two to my menu the day before a big run. Take the other day for example:

For breakfast I had a Trader Joe’s Moral Fiber Orange Cranberry Muffin with some scrambled egg whites, 1 tbsp reduced-sugar jam, and a cup of cranberry green tea.

breakfast

This muffin, at 240 calories, is packed with fiber (12 g) and a decent amount of protein (6g). Normally, I would only have half a muffin, but on a day before a run, I allow myself a double portion. (Plus I love it!)

For a mid-morning snack, I had some Oikos nonfat vanilla yogurt with fresh cantaloupe. Full of protein and yummy too!

midmorningsnack

For lunch, I had some leftover grilled chicken from dinner the other night with homemade Greek salad (feta, Kalamata olives, red onion, red, green and yellow peppers) over a bed of greens. SO good and filling!

lunch

For my mid-afternoon snack, instead of the usual apple and string cheese combo, I opted for a Peanut Butter Gnu Flavor and Fiber bar. There are always a couple of these stashed in my gym bag for pre or post-workout meltdowns!

afternoonsnack

For dinner, I probably had a combination of my favorite foods, EVER: Half a cup of whole wheat pasta, turkey meatballs in Marinara sauce, with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and baby Bella mushrooms sautéed in a little canola oil and garlic, all topped off with some shredded Parmesan cheese. SO GOOD! Seriously.

dinner

And finally, as a treat later that night, I had a slice of angel food cake with 1 tbsp raspberry jam and a cup of peppermint tea.

nighttreat

So there you have it! As you can see, I’m doing my best to stick to my food plan while still eating a healthy amount of carbs. I hope it works! I know you Runner’s Kitchen readers are savvy when it comes to this, so if you know of any other weight-loss friendly carbs I can eat, please share. And wish me luck in Philly next month!

Moving Day – Meet My New Roommate!

Boxes

Hello Readers! I’m currently packing up my life and in the process of moving to a new apartment.

Highlight of the day, finding the 7 pairs of Asics Nimbus that I’ve acquired over the past 2 years -

Asics

While I’m schlepping boxes and getting sweaty, I have a special guest post from my new roommate. You might already recognize her from our cooking adventures or the Boston Marathon re-cap, but in any case – Meet Alma!

Hi Runner’s Kitchen Readers!  It’s Alma – Megan’s running buddy and new roommate. Megan and I actually met during a ½ Marathon last fall.  We were running side-by-side for most of the first five miles before we introduced ourselves and worked together to have a great race.  Now we’re Boston Marathon Finishers and Central Park Track Club teammates.

I’m a professional musician, performing and teaching in many different situations – including 14 concerts at Carnegie Hall!  Since my main instrument is the French Horn, and I am a relatively small person, I need to be in great physical condition to be able to play my best.  It takes A LOT of air to fill 27 feet of brass tubing!  This is where running comes in…

In this Guest Post, I’ll share the story of my journey from injury to fitness, but before I start, I’d like to share my usual breakfast. Most of the time, the first sound I hear after the alarm clock is the rumble of my tummy demanding food.  I answer my stomach’s call with stove-cooked oatmeal:

  • 1.5 cups 1% Milk
  • 1 cup (yes, a WHOLE cup) rolled oats
  • Dark Chocolate Chips (approximately 20)

I start by boiling the milk, and I add the oats just before the milk boils over.  If you’ve never boiled milk before BEWARE – do not take your eyes off of it!  After adding the oats, I stir and reduce the heat (about level 3-4 of 10 on my stove).  I let the oats cook 4-5 minutes, pour them into a bowl, and then add dark chocolate chips and stir until I have some nice, thick, and chocolaty goo.  Yum!  This breakfast contains 550-600 calories and is extremely filling.  To lighten it up (besides the obvious solution of cutting the portions of oats and milk) you could also cook the oats in water and add yogurt or a smaller amount of milk later.  I do this myself when I’m taking a week off or running lower mileage.  I would also like to add that, even if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t be afraid to eat a solid breakfast.  I’ve actually lost 10 pounds since I switched to eating a higher-calorie breakfast.  I’ve needed the extra calories to fuel an increase in running mileage (from about 25 to 35-50 miles per week)!

Chocolate oatmeal

Now, as promised, the story of my slow and gradual journey from being injured to being in the best shape of my life…  so far!  ;-)

Part I: In January 2008, I was pretty happy with how my running was going… I was running about 20-25 miles a week and had just run my best 5K since High School (21:17) and a Half-Marathon in 1:48:27.  Then disaster struck – I developed tendonitis in my right foot and was unable to run for more than two months.  I tried to make friends with the swimming pool, but still managed to get pretty out of shape.  In addition to losing fitness I was often crabby.  I had never before realized how important running was to maintaining balance in my life!

When I could walk without pain, my doctor said I could run for 4 minutes.  (Only 4 minutes!?!?!)  Two days later, I could do 5, two days later 6…Once I got to 10 minutes of running, I could add 2 more minutes at a time. When I reached 20 minutes, I could add 3 minutes of running at a time.  It was so frustrating!   Being patient paid off though, when about a month later, I could run for 30 minutes without pain.  From then on, I could increase my mileage normally (conventional wisdom says not to increase more than 10% every week and to include one reduced mileage week every 4 weeks or so).  Continuing to run every other day, I slowly increased my mileage and started to think about running faster.  In early June, I ran the NYRR Mini 10K in 49:08- 7:54 min/mile pace.  In a huge leap of faith, signed up to run the Philadelphia Marathon (to be run November 23rd).

alma new york mini 08

I continued to run 3-4 days a week, and run the occasional race.  My only goal was to be prepared to run the Marathon distance.  In early October, I ran a 1:42:12 (7:48 pace) at Grete’s Great Gallop (the Half Marathon where I met Megan!) and realized that I could do more than just finish the Marathon, I could qualify for Boston!  Even though I was feeling super fast and fit, I continued to run only 4 days a week.  My highest mileage week looked like this:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 7 miles

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 7 miles

Friday: Off

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 20 miles

Total: 38 miles

When November 23rd came around, I ran a 3:38:55, more than a minute faster than I needed to qualify for Boston.

Alma Philadelphia Marathon

Part II: After the obligatory week off from running, I started to get excited about training for Boston!  Still mindful of the foot injury I had suffered nearly a year before, I felt that it would be OK for me to start running 5 days per week and to incorporate one quality workout every week.  I joined Megan’s club, the Central Park Track Club (CPTC) and started attending their road workouts on Thursday nights.  These workouts usually consisted of 4-8 miles of running at 10K to ½ Marathon pace in addition to a warm-up and a cool-down.  I also ran a few races during my Boston build-up, including the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues & Shamrocks 5K on March 1st where I lowered my 5K PR (personal record) to 20:24 on a hilly course, and the Colon Cancer Challenge 15K where I ran 1:05:42 (7:03 pace and also a PR)!  My highest mileage week (March 23-29) looked like this:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 12

Wednesday: 6

Thursday: 10

Friday: Off

Saturday: 20

Sunday: 3

Total: 51

Megan (battling the same injury that she’s nearly recovered from now- fingers crossed!) and I ended up running Boston just to finish, in 3:47:46.  I’d never run a big city marathon before, and it was quite the experience!  I literally high-fived hundreds of people during the last few miles!

We finished!

Part III: The Boston course had really beaten up my body, and I had some lingering IT band issues, so I started my recovery with a week off, followed by 2 weeks of running 3-5 miles every-other-day.  At this point, with my next big goal, the ING New York City Marathon a whole 25 weeks away (!!!) I decided to have some fun and run a few shorter races.  I felt that now it would be safe for me to start running 6 days per week, and to incorporate a second “quality” workout to my training week.  So, I started to go to CPTC’s Tuesday track workouts.

My most recent goal was to run well at NYRR Team Championships, a 5-mile race where all of the New York area running clubs fight it out for bragging rights and double points in the Club Points Series.  I had a great race, covering 5 miles in 32:35 (6:31 pace). Here’s what my training schedule looked like 3 weeks before Team Championships:

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 8.5 including 6 x 600m @ 5K race pace

Wednesday: 4

Thursday: 9 including 2 x 2 miles @ 10K race pace

Friday: 3.5

Saturday: 5

Sunday: 14

Total: 44

Now that Team Championships are over, I’m looking forward to preparing more specifically for the Marathon again… although I’m definitely going to try to fit in a cross-country race and the Fifth Avenue Mile.

I wanted to share this story with you, the Runner’s Kitchen readers, because it proves that slow but steady does win the race.  When I began listening to Doctors’ and coaches’ advice and increased my mileage and intensity gradually and conservatively, I not only regained the level of fitness I had before I was injured, but greatly improved upon my previous level.  The 14 months it took be to get from not running to running 6 days a week were completely worth it because I was INJURY FREE the whole time (soreness doesn’t count, haha).  You can get faster and run longer – you just need to be smart about it.  When you combine smart training with adequate rest, cross/strength training, and healthy eating (Megan’s full of great ideas about that one!) you’re setting yourself up for healthy, happy, and sustainable running.  HAPPY RUNNING!

Bison Burgers & Cucumber Salad

Last week, Nate offered to make his signature dish: cucumber salad. This salad is packed with veggies, water, fiber, and antioxidants. Perfect for hot summer evenings!

Nate makes cucumber salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Splash of rice vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • Splash of EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine all veggies in bowl
  • Add vinegar, olive oil, S&P
  • Toss to coat

Summer Salad

We enjoyed the salad with bison burgers on sesame seed buns and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. To make the bison burgers, I took 1 lb of lean bison meat and mixed it with 1/3 cup diced onion and a splash of Worchestire sauce. Next I divided the meat into 4 oz portions and placed them on the George Foreman grill. They cooked super fast!

Nate's Bison Burger

Bison Burger

The next day, in an attempt to use leftovers, I scrambled an egg, added some feta cheese and ketchup, and served it on a toasted sesame seed bun. With veggie salad on the side!

Egg sandwich

Lara bar give-a-way!!!!

Look what I found last night:

Lara bars

A new Whole Foods location opened up on the Upper West Side (swoon) and they were fully stocked with lara bars, including the new flavors! Ahh, I’ve been searching for these guys for weeks! Inspired by the lovely Holly, I will be sending one lucky reader a stash of lara bars (including pb&j!) as well as some other surprise goodies. To enter, leave a comment telling me what you do to cheer yourself up. I’ve been having a rough week and could use some good advice :-) You have until Sunday at 11:59pm to leave a comment/enter the contest.

Blog Birthday!

Hello readers and happy Thursday. One year ago today (August 27, 2008) The Runner’s Kitchen was born. In honor of the blog’s birthday, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite posts. Enjoy!

Cupcakes

First day of posts:

Breakfast 8/27/08

A Sweaty Run Ends With…

Pretty Salad and Carbs

Training for the New York Marathon – Fall 2008

First 20 mile Run

Fall Traditions and Another 20 miles

26.2!

Holiday Baking – December 2008

Pies, Pies, Pies

Mexico City Trip – February 2009

Part 1

Part 2

Training for the Boston Marathon – Spring 2009

Turkey Meatballs

The Runner’s Commute

FoodBuzz 24,24,24: Manhattan from North to South

Alma & Megan Cook

Boston Marathon Recap

Summer 2009

Couple’s Triathlon Relay – 1st Place!

Mighty Montauk Triathlon

Cardamom Peach Pie

Adventure to Governor’s Island

Cape May, Rehoboth Beach, & Dogfish Head

Question: What’s your favorite type of birthday cake? I love marble cake with vanilla buttercream icing!

Jersey: The Diner, the Shore, the Garden State Parkway

On day 4, we were up early again for some exercise. After the requisite coffee, I headed out for a 35 minute run on the boardwalk. I felt great! I really picked up the pace at the end and finished strong. After my run, I walked for about 20 minutes to cool down.

Coffee on the porch

Once I returned to the B&B, I downed a big glass of water and a juicy apple.

post-run Megan

After Nate returned from Attila Gym and we showered and packed up our bags, we said goodbye to the Holly Beach Bed & Breakfast.

Our next stop – a New Jersey diner breakfast! I was really craving an omelet and the Las Vegas diner delivered.

New Jersey Diner

I ordered the spinach and feta omelet with homefries and whole wheat toast.

Spinach and feta omelet

Toast

Nate ordered the sausage and cheddar omelet (Nate – where are the veggies???)

Diner omelet

My run made me one hungry lady – I ate every single bite :-)

Licked clean

After a few more hours of beach time, we hit the road and headed back to the city.

Nate drives

At a rest stop I bought a strawberry-banana Odwalla smoothie. This smoothie has a lot of sugar, so you might not want to drink it every day, but it’s a  pretty good rest-stop find.

Odwalla smoothie

On the train back to the city, I broke into my fudge stash. Check out the yummy flavors: Snickers (on top), Cookies ‘n Cream, and Chocolate Chip. The shop where I bought this smelled SO yummy. Everyday they use fresh whipping cream and make the fudge on-site.

fudge!

My big brunch coupled with a long day of travelling kind of killed my appetite. But once we arrived back at my apartment, I knew I should eat something filling. I toasted up the last of my French Meadow Bakery hemp bagels and topped it with peanut butter, berry jam, and a banana. Yum!

Bagel

The beach was fun, but now it’s back to  my regular workday schedule. Happy hump day!

News you can use:

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Want to be healthier and leaner? Check out these 50 simple ways to get more nutrients and eat fewer calories.

Cape May, Rehoboth Beach, & Dogfish Head

Day 3 started with some early morning coffee on the front porch.

Coffee on the porch

Then Nate and I ventured to the nearby gym for an a.m. workout. We procured day passes, shot up some steriods, and travelled back in time to 1985. Seriously people, this gym was hilarious. Posters of Arnold Schwarzanegger covered the walls, 80’s music pumped through the sound system, and protein shakes flowed like water. I think I was one of only 2 women in the gym. I found an elliptical and sweated to my fav Bon Jovi songs for 45 minutes. After some stretching, it was time for food!

Meat-head gym

Course # 1 was OJ, a small piece of homemade chocolate cake, and a fruit cup.

Breakfast Day 2

Course # 2 was a plate of beautifully presented french toast covered in powdered sugar and raspberry drizzle. Mmm!

Fancy French Toast

After some much needed showers, we hit the road and headed to the ferry in Cape May. My family was spending the week in Ocean City, MD and we planned a lunch-time rendez-vous in Rehoboth Beach (a good half-way meeting point).

Cape May shoreline

Breakfast was good, but it was lacking in protein. I snacked on some smoked almonds and 8 oz of low-fat chocolate milk to fill me up. The smoked almonds were a real nutritional powerhouse – 250 calories, 9 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 10 % RDA calcium, 10 % RDA iron, and a good amount of Magnesium and Manganese.

Protein-packed snacks

We hopped on the 11am ferry from Cape May, NJ to Lewes, DE and enjoyed the 70 minute ride full of sunshine and sea breezes.

Ferry to Lewes, DE

A shuttle bus ride later (yay, public transportation!) Nate and I arrived at the Dogfish Head Brewpub. Since Nate loves microbrews, he was in heaven!

Dogfish Head

I don’t get visit with my family very often, so it was great to spend time with them :-)

Dogfish Head Brewery

Me and Rachel (my sis!):

Megan and Rachel

Rachel and her friend Eric:

Rachel and Eric

Yum, yum, yum! I ordered the grilled portobello sandwich for lunch. My grilled portobello mushroom was served on a crusty roll with grilled onions, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion. I ate all of my veggies, 1/2 the bread, and most of my side salad.

Grilled portobello sammie from Dogfish head

I heart vegetables!

Accompanied by a refreshing glass of Dogfish Head Lawnmower beer. This beer was meant to be enjoyed after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day!

Lawnmower Beer

Nate enjoyed the “Indulgence Burger” – local, grass-fed beef topped with an onion ring, cheese, and bacon!

Local and grass-fed beef

After lunch with the fam, we explored Rehoboth Beach. It was such a beautiful sunny day!

Rehoboth Beach

At 4:30pm, we returned to the Brewpub for a tour of the original brewing equipment and the distillery. Most Dogfish head beer is now brewed at the company’s Milton, DE brewery, but some special batches are still made at the restaurant.

from the Dogfish Head website:

Not only was Dogfish Head Delaware’s first brewpub, it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. Our very first batch, Shelter Pale Ale, was brewed on a system which essentially was three little kegs with propane burners underneath. Brewing 12–gallon batches of beer for a whole restaurant proved to be more than a full time job. When the doors to the pub first opened, we brewed three times a day, five days a week! The one benefit to brewing on such a small system was the ability to try out a myriad of different recipes. We quickly got bored brewing the same things over and over – that’s when we started adding all sorts of weird ingredients and getting kind of crazy with the beers!

 We learned a lot about the beer-making process. Dogfish head’s signature beers – the 60 minute and 90 minute IPA’s were originally produced in a very creative way. In order to add the hops over a long period of time (rather than all at once), the founder filled a vibrating foos-ball table with hops and rigged it so that it slowly dropped the hops into the beer barrel. The process took about 90 minutes, hence the 90 minute IPA! I don’t remember details, but I think adding hops over time (rather than all at the beginning) changes the flavor of the beer.

Microbrewery tour

Dogfish Head distillery

Dogfish Head

During our explorations of Rehoboth, we found a cute little bakery called The Bake Shoppe. Check out these S’mores danishes:

Smores Danish??!!

And giant cookies!

Rehoboth's Bake Shoppe

I couldn’t resist the tart cherry-white chocolate cookie. I had about 1/3 on our ferry ride back to Cape May. Delicious!

Cherry white chocolate cookie

We arrived in Cape May around sunset and took a walk around town to check things out. Around 9pm, I was ready for some food! I found a veggie-licious pizza with super crispy crust. I shared a little of my pizza and diet coke with Nate and we enjoyed it at a table overlooking the beach. Lovely.

Veggie slice

Obviously, I am nearly incapable of ending the night without ice cream. Nate helped me finish a waffle cone full of Moose Tracks. Yum!

Ice cream = happiness

After a day full of sun, ocean breeze, and good food it was time for bed….

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Beach Recap!

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