A sweetgreen copycat–Kale Winter Salad

Want to know what my favorite type of recipe is? It’s one where I don’t have to cook anything! Yup, like any good Dietitian, I love my salads. I love them so much that I’ve been spending a ton of time at my local sweetgreen (an NYC salad spot featured in my fav “fast food” joint post). What I think is so great about sweetgreen is that they change their menu seasonally to feature produce that is fresh and local. I’m pretty obsessed with one of their seasonal salads right now, which features pears and apples, so I decided to recreate it at home (and save myself the $11) in this Kale Winter Salad.

kale salad with apples, pears, cheddar cheese, toasted almonds

I wasn’t sure that anything goes together better than apples and cheddar cheese until I tasted apples, pears, cheddar cheese and toasted almonds together. The sweet and salty combination of the fruit and cheese is topped with the crunch and nuttiness of the almond. I also threw a hard-boiled egg on top for some added protein. I used a balsamic vinaigrette to top it all off, but feel free to drizzle your favorite dressing on top. This Kale Winter Salad will fill you up but won’t weigh you down, and it’s packed with antioxidants and fiber.

kale salad with apples, pears, cheddar cheese, toasted almonds

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

4 cups of kale, washed and de-stemmed

1 honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced

1 bosc pear, thinly sliced

2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced

2 ounces white cheddar cheese, sliced into 1/2″ x 1/2″ cubes

1/3 cup slivered unsalted almonds

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A winter seasonal salad with kale, apples, pears and toasted almonds

Directions:

  1. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot (after 1-2 minutes), place the almonds on the pan. Shake consistently for 2-3 minutes. When the almonds begin to brown, take them off the stove.
  2. Divide the following ingredients evenly between two bowls– kale, apple slices, eggs, cheese and almonds. Top with your favorite dressing and enjoy!

15 Things I’ll Never Forget About the TCS NYC Marathon

Running the TCS NYC Marathon was an incredible experience that I will never forget. To give a simple recap of the race would not do justice to the magnificence of this once in a lifetime running adventure. Plus, I like to do things differently than other bloggers (in case you haven’t noticed). So I’m sharing the 15 most significant parts of the marathon that will stay with me forever. Hopefully, this takes you through my emotional and mental marathon journey without all the physical suffering.

recap of the TCS NYC Marathon

  1. The training. I began my training in the excruciating August heat. After running 12 miles on a treadmill to avoid the heat, I knew I had the mental energy to complete my training. My training continued with 5 runs per week on extremely sore legs that never fully recovered, and then I really knew I could do ANYTHING. The most annoying part of the training was the constant hunger. Believe me when I tell you that it’s possible to get sick of carbs.

2) Getting to the start. The NYC Marathon starts at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. The only ways to get there are to take a REALLY early morning bus or the Staten Island Ferry. To avoid the insane crowds, I decided to take a later (9am) ferry, which worked out perfectly. When I got to Staten Island, I only had to wait for a bus to Fort Wadsworth for about 30 minutes (instead of 1-2 hours, like the people before me). One thing I could’ve never expected was the insane amount of traffic on Staten Island. It took us 45 minutes to go three miles. I made it to the start just in time for my 10:40 am start.

3) The start. Waiting on the upper level of the Verrazano Bridge for the race to start was thrilling. When it was time, the announcers counted off with an “on your mark…”, then a cannon shot off (yes, a cannon!), and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played through the speakers. Running over the Verrazano Bridge was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and it made me feel like I was on top of the world.

4) The spectators and their energy. After crossing the bridge, I started my journey through Brooklyn with unrelenting energy from screaming spectators. The air was electrified with the voices of energetic fans, and it put a smile on my face for miles. That smile continue for many miles, especially when I ran into my first friend at mile 7 in Park Slope.

5) My first sign at mile 11. I’ve run a ton of races. In fact, I ran 9 races in 2015 alone to guarantee my entry into this marathon. But I’ve never had anyone on the sidelines with a sign just for me. That changed at mile 11 of the TCS NYC Marathon. I was beyond thrilled to have own personalized spectator moment.

TCS NYC Marathon sign

6) Hitting 13.1 and feeling great. I’ve run 8 half marathons, and I know what it feels like to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles. I’m usually tired and happy it’s over. But when I hit 13.1 in this race, I felt fantastic.

7) Seeing my family at 16. To get to mile 16, I had to run up the Queensboro Bridge, which is a bit tough after running for 2+ hours. This is where many people around me dropped down to a walk, but not me. I knew my family was waiting for me at mile 16, and I was so excited to see them! And alas, another sign!

family at TCS NYC Marathon

8) Running the streets of Manhattan. I performed much of my training on the streets of Queens and in Central Park. Running up 1st avenue was cooler than words can describe. As a native New Yorker, who is constantly dodging cars, bikes and other pedestrians, I felt free flying through the streets of Manhattan on my own two feet.

9) Hitting “the wall” in the Bronx. After that “free” feeling in Manhattan, I felt pretty terrible in the Bronx. I definitely hit “the wall” at mile 20 and endured aches and pains that were brand new to me. Plus, I lost mental energy as everyone around me was taking walk breaks. Words cannot really describe the agony and exhilaration of running miles 20-26.

10) Mile 24. The Bronx was leading me to mile 24, where I knew my family would be waiting again. If they weren’t there in Central Park, I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to get from mile 20 to 24. Having the support of people on the sidelines does so much for your mental energy–it’s really incredible.

11) Those last two miles. After I reached mile 24, I didn’t care about the pain anymore. I felt a new burst of stamina from seeing my family, and I was ready to get to the finish line. I won’t say the last two miles were easy, but the thought of being so close to the finish line gave me new adrenaline. And, of course, seeing the words “Finish” after 26.2 miles of running is indescribable.

12) Receiving congratulatory texts. One of the coolest parts about running was knowing that people were tracking me from all over the country. Two RD friends tracked me from Washington DC and Seattle, and they both sent congratulatory messages as I crossed the finish line. My cousin tracked me from Florida. My other friends tracked me from Atlanta. Hell yeah for technology!

13) The greatest runners high ever. After the race, I had to walk about a mile to exit Central Park. I picked up this awesome poncho, and I enjoyed my runner’s high. I didn’t even feel tired or hungry– I was just excited. Going down the stairs to the subway definitely sucked, but otherwise, I was on cloud nine.

family-after-marathon

14) Feeling more sore than I knew was possible. I could barely walk the next day. My day went something like this: Get up. Lay back down. Ice my joints. Heat my muscles. Repeat. But by post-marathon day 3, I was walking normally again.

15) Wanting to run again. I felt 100% about a week after the marathon, which could only mean one thing for a runner–I wanted to run again. Bill kept telling me to wait another week, but it’s so hard to go from running 30+ miles a week to not running at all. The Sunday after the marathon, I went out and ran a few miles and felt great. Now, I’m doing more yoga and running less. But my next goal is to run the NYC ½ Marathon (in March) faster than I ever have before!

 

5 Reasons To Drink a2 Milk

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a2 milk. All opinions are my own, and I only work with brands that I use and would recommend to others.

“I’m lactose intolerant.” That’s something I’ve been hearing more often from my athlete clients. As a constantly hungry long-distance runner, I’m always on the lookout for high protein foods that will curb hunger and repair muscles after a workout. My refueling beverage of choice is mother nature’s protein drink–milk. Each 8-ounce glass of milk contains 8 grams of convenient and healthy protein that’s perfect for post-workout recovery. I recommend milk to all of my athlete clients.

a2 milk is natural cow's milk that people with lactose intolerance can enjoy!

But when my clients state “I’m lactose intolerant”, I’m usually left making a list of less nutritious dairy alternatives. Well, that’s not the case anymore because of a2 milk!

Haven’t heard of a2 milk? You’re in luck. I’m breaking down what it is, 5 reasons you should drink it and where you can find it!

  1. People with lactose intolerance can drink a2 milk.

Cows have a mixture of a1 and a2 proteins that go into milk. Conventional milk contains both proteins, but a2 Milk comes from cows that ONLY produce the a2 protein. These cows are not genetically modified, but are naturally selected for their a2 genes. A simple DNA test shows which cows have the a2 protein and they are isolated to make a2 milk. Like some humans have brown eyes, while others have blue eyes, some cows have the a1 protein and some cows have a2.

Why is this important? Research has shown that the a2 protein does not cause the same inflammatory response that the a1 protein causes in those that  suffer from lactose intolerance. By drinking true a2 Milk from cows that naturally produce only the pure A2 protein, people with lactose intolerance can enjoy good old cow’s milk without any gastrointestinal discomfort.

2. Each glass has 8 grams of protein.

After a tough workout, many people think they need loads of protein from a shake when they just need a little extra protein from something like a glass of milk. Don’t like just plain milk? Chocolate milk has been proven to be a great recovery drink after an intense workout. After a long bout of endurance activity, like running or biking, it is necessary to repair muscle damage with protein and replace depleted carbohydrate stores. Chocolate milk has just the right combination of carbs (chocolate) and protein (milk) to ensure adequate recovery. It’s also a much cheaper and more natural alternative to expensive protein shakes. A2 milk has the same amount of protein as conventional milk and it’s a great, cheap and convenient sources of protein for athletes with lactose intolerance.

3. An 8-ounce glass of a2 milk has 9 essential vitamins and minerals.

One glass of a2 milk has the same amount of nutrients as all of these foods COMBINED:

  1. The protein of 1.5 medium eggs
  2. The riboflavin of ⅓ cup whole almonds
  3. The niacin of 20 cherry tomatoes
  4. The calcium of 10 cups of raw spinach
  5. The phosphorous of 1 cup of kidney beans
  6. The Vitamin B12 of 4 ounces of turkey
  7. The Vitamin D of ¾ ounce of salmon
  8. The vitamin A of ¾ cup of broccoli
  9. The potassium of 1 small banana

All of that in ONE small glass of a2 milk! You definitely can’t get that in dairy alternatives.

4. It helps build strong bones in kids and adults.

A2 milk has the same amount of calcium as traditional milk. Eating food sources of calcium is the best way to keep bones strong throughout your lifetime. If you’re not a big milk drinker, try adding milk to your oatmeal, smoothies and baked goods.

5. A2 milk is free of hormones and antibiotics and is made in the USA.

The a2 milk company works with sustainable family farmers to guarantee that their cows are not treated with growth hormones or rBST and that the milk is antibiotic free. The majority of a2 milk comes from pasture-raised cows that daily access to outdoor pastures, are never given added hormones, and are fed an all vegetarian, plant-based diet. A2 milk comes from dairy cows in the USA, and it’s widely available in the US. Find a2 milk in a store near you today!

 

The Recipe ReDux: Chocolate Olive Oil Fig Cakes

Can you guess what time it is? I’ll give you a hint…

“The holiday baking season is upon us. Time to pull out all the stops. Show us the healthy holiday dessert you will be sharing with family and friends this season.”

It’s Recipe ReDux time! This month’s challenge had me scratching my head, since my first inclination for recipe development is to think of savory recipes. But I do like to create recipes that are different, simple and enjoyable, and I think that’s exactly what I did here.

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a recipe for a chocolate cake with olive oil and figsI’ve always wanted to try an olive oil cake, and I’m so happy I did! The olive oil make the cake really moist, while the figs bring home the flavor of the holidays. And what cake would be complete without chocolate? These delicious mini cakes are made in a muffin tin, so they are portion controlled, and there’s only 1 tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe!

Makes 8 mini cakes

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 mashed banana
1 large egg
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 dried figs, chopped finely
cooking spray
4 dried figs, sliced

chocolate olive oil fig cake

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, pour the cocoa powder and hot water. Whisk until well combined, then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, sea salt and baking soda.
  4. To a separate bowl, add the mashed banana, egg, olive oil and lemon zest. Use a mixer to thoroughly combine the wet ingredients.
  5. When the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and continue to mix. After that is incorporated, add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and repeat until all of the flour is mixed in.
  6. Turn the mixer off, and add the 6 dried figs to the cake batter. Stir with a spoon.
  7. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each slot 3/4 of the way up with batter. Top with sliced figs. Bake for 20 minutes.
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Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

Well, I did it! I completed my first ever marathon this past Sunday. It was an absolutely incredible experience, and I will be posting about it later this week. In the meantime, I’m telling you this because I can finally start eating more flavorful foods.  Although I running (and eating French Toast), it prevents me from eating spicy foods. The constant up and down motion of running is not conducive for eating spices or fibrous foods (read more about why running upsets your stomach here).  That’s why I celebrated my two-week rest from running by creating a Spicy Cocoa Popcorn.

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popcorn with cocoa powder and cayenne pepper

I absolutely love to make air popped popcorn at home. It’s not only extremely easy, but it’s such a healthy way to enjoy this whole grain snack without all the extra butter. All you need is a bag of kernels and a popcorn machine. If you don’t have a popcorn machine at home, you can easily make popcorn on your stove top (just follow the direction on the bag). Air popped popcorn is one of my favorite low-calorie snacks, coming in at just 35 calories per cup. Plus, the mixture of cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, a drop of sugar and salt adds a savory and sweet taste with a little kick. And the best part is that it tastes great without any butter!

healthy popcorn with spices

Makes 5-6 servings (a serving is 1 cup)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Directions:

  1. Make the popcorn in a popcorn maker or on the stove top. If using the stove top, follow the directions on the bag.popcorn with cocoa powder
  2. To a small bowl, add the cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, sugar and salt. Stir the spices together.
  3. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl. Coat with the spice mixture. Toss well until it’s evenly coated.