Cleveland Marathon Ambassador!

You guys. I am SO excited to share with you that I’ve been chosen as one of the 2015 Cleveland Marathon ambassadors! There’s a pretty cool group of people chosen  – and some awesome bloggers whose blogs I already follow, which just makes it even better.

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Looks, it’s me – koskim! So, what does that mean?

Next year I’ll have to decide what race I run. I’m likely going for the half marathon and going to see if I can beat last year’s time. Then, I’ll share with you my training schedule, tips, news and other fun running facts for any of you running the race. OR any of you just running in general! The race will be in May so even if you’re not running CLE (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be), the weather should be nice enough for some outdoor miles and training for whatever your heart so desires.

Stay tuned for more info. In the meantime, some running humor and inspiration. Because I’m in a giddy running mood!

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Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

I somehow missed most of the pumpkin baking season this year. Between work, traveling and who knows what happened, I barely baked with pumpkin this year. Which means that I still have one large jar of pumpkin puree in my pantry just begging to be used. Seriously, its TALKING to me, guys. Yes, I have a problem.

So, I used half of the giant can to make this amazing pumpkin bread. But I still have some left. Instead of immediately baking with it – I decided to try something not-so-sweet based on what I had in my pantry. I didn’t tell B these had pumpkin in them until after he tried (and enjoyed) them – so that should tell you something. Success? Yes!

pumpkin black bean burgers i crashed the web

Pumpkin Black Bean Burgers

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. cooked grain of your choice – e.g. rice, quinoa, freekeh, etc. I used freekeh which has a similar texture to rice but more whole grain, protein and fiber
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 c. black beans)
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin

Here’s what you do:

  1. Saute the diced carrot and green onion in olive oil until softened.
  2. Divide the rinsed and drained canned beans in half. Mash half of them with a fork – not so they become a paste but enough so that they become mushy.
  3. Put it all together! Mix together pumpkin, cooked freekeh (or quinoa or rice), whole beans and mushy beans, cooked veggies and flax seed. Combine until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Add spices (cumin, garlic powder and chili powder) and continue to mix well.
  5. Create 4-5 patties, about 1/3 – 1/2 cup in size and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the patties harden somewhat so they keep their shape while cooking.
  6. When hardened, cook the patties! I put them on a pan sprayed with Pam and cooked on medium until each side was somewhat browned.
  7. Enjoy! I like mine with avocado on top of a salad.

pumpkin black bean burgers i crashed the web

Some questions for you:

  • What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Do you have any savory recipes to share? Please? :)
  • Do you like veggie burgers?
  • Have you tried freekeh yet? If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a few recipes to share here and here.

Pumpkin Bread

As you may realize, I haven’t had enough time this fall to get in all the pumpkin baking I typically do. Right now, all I’ve done is make pumpkin snickerdoodles - they were the bomb by the way if you haven’t made them, it isn’t too late! But knowing that the unofficial end of pumpkin season is coming to an end soon, I knew I had to have one last pumpkin baking hurrah.

It was a cold evening so I was in the mood for some baking (who am I kidding .. it could’ve been 90 degrees and I’d be in the mood for baking…). I opened my refrigerator and my freezer – and I had only 1/2 stick of butter left for baking. Half of a stick! That narrowed down my baking choices. Thankfully, I remembered I had torn out a few (and pinned of course) pumpkin bread recipes that called for little-to-no butter. And that’s what I decided to make.

Oh yeah- this turned out SO good that I made it twice. TWICE. That’s four loaves! Get on it before pumpkin season ends!

pumpkin bread - i crashed the web

Pumpkin Bread 

(Recipe is slightly modified from a few recipes I had on hand)

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. water

For the glaze:

  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl – flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and sugar. Place a well in the middle, this is where you’ll insert your wet ingredients.
  3. Mix together wet ingredients – 4 eggs, beaten, with canned pumpkin, oil and water. When mixed well, pour into the well of the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix everything together with a spatula or wooden spoon – do not overmix. Mix until all ingredients are just combined and dry ingredients are wet.
  5. Pour into to greased loaf pans – I used two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 sized pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool done loaves from the oven for about 5 minutes. While still warm, pour glaze over top and use a spatula to spread evenly if you want the top to by shiny. To make glaze, whisk together melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Variations – I made two loaves as normal. With the next batch, I added white chocolate chips (not too many- maybe about 3/4 c) to one loaf and then finely chopped pecans to the other loaf. Yum!

Some questions for you:

  • When do you think pumpkin baking/coffee/spice/etc. season ends? Is it already over for you?
  • What’s your favorite kind of quick bread? This may be a new favorite! Though my mom’s zucchini bread is still on top for year-round goodness.
  • What are you in the mood to bake these days? If you don’t bake – what dessert is on your mind?

pumpkin bread

Gettin’ Over Hanger (trying out a new snack)

We’ve all been there. We’re suddenly so hungry that our vision is blurred. We need food – fast – otherwise not only will our stomach start to growl but we will too. That’s right, I’m talking about HANGER.

I am used to eating food pretty much every few hours of my day. A sample day in the life of my stomach includes:

  • 8 a.m. post-workout breakfast, typically egg whites and vegetables.
  • 10 a.m. snack, typically some sort of fruit and a handful of nuts. Or if I’m out of fruit and need something quick, half of a protein shake.
  • 12:30 p.m. lunch! I tend to eat some sort of protein (chicken or veggie burger), some sort of bean and veggies. So yesterday, for instance, I had a homemade pumpkin black bean veggie burger with cabbage and quinoa salad.
  • 2:30 p.m. afternoon snack – either a protein shake, some yogurt with granola and fruit or fruit with a handful of nuts.
  • 3:30 p.m. afternoon snack #2 (don’t judge!) – usually some cut up veggies like broccoli or carrots or celery.
  • 7 p.m. dinner!  And maybe something sweet afterwards.

Hmm, writing this out makes me realize how much I snack … a coworker once told me that she thought I was “always eating” and now I see why!  But if I don’t – and especially if I’ve worked out in the morning (which is 9/10 days) – I get HANGRY. Yes, you know the drill – I’m mean, not fun to be around and certainly not fit for a client-facing job.

That’s why, when Hillshire contacted me about the new product line, Hillshire Snacking, I was super pumped to try out them out. Hillshire has created a new snacking option perfect for busy adults, young professionals, etc. Take a look at all the cool varieties of somewhat healthy (I like my snacks to be 100-200 calories, if possible – especially when I eat so many a day!), high protein options! The perfect opportunity to beat hanger.

I had a chance to try the Grilled Chicken Bites with Sweet Chili Sauce and I was surprised at how good it was. I’m a fan of snacking on high-protein options, like chicken, so this was a perfect snack. At 140 calories, this gluten free snack pack was fun – it reminded me of being a kid and having snacktime at school!

hillshire snacking grilled chicken bites with sweet chili sauce

Some unique ways I enjoyed my  snack included:

At a networking event. Ok, I don’t make it a habit of bringing my own food but I happened to have one in my bag and I was so glad! The event was supposed to have food but they ran out.  Yes, I took a selfie of me and my bling (not the necklace – the chicken :)).

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On my floor, after a workout. Sometimes you can’t wait to shower and make lunch or breakfast – so this was a perfect quick option! And with 15 grams of protein I felt good about refueling with this.

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At my desk before an 8 a.m. meeting. I had meant to bring it for a lunchtime snack but sometimes you get a craving for chicken at 7:30 a.m. – don’t you?

Here’s what it looks like:

Yup, eating on the floor!

Yup, eating on the floor!

The sweet chili sauce is just that – sweet. Since I prefer my snacks with a little kick, I tried adding some hot sauce one day. Amazing!

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Some questions for you:

  • Have you tried the Hillshire Snacking line? If not, leave a comment – I have a coupon for a free one that I’d be happy to send to you! Just let me know which one of the cool varieties you’d like to try and answer the other 2 questions I have below!
  • What’s your go-to snack?
  • How many snacks do you have a day? 1? 2? 3? I can’t be the only one who has more than 1 snack … right?
#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship with Hillshire. This means that Hillshire provided compensation, including product, for me to try out! But all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’m Totally Okay with Eating on the Floor Sometimes

We’re back! We were back in Cleveland this weekend which meant I had a great time catching up with friends, hitting up some local places and of course getting in some baking time :) (I know, I’m addicted)

Seriously, it as such a great weekend – a little working out, a little baking, a little relaxing and a little hanging out with friends – all parts for a perfect few days off from work.

first baking of the weekend - magic bars!

first baking of the weekend – magic bars!

Friday night started out at the Cleveland Boxing Invitational! B is on the associate board for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and this year was the inaugural boxing event, a fundraiser, held inside Tower City. It was so cool to see the indoor mall all decked out for the event, including a boxing ring! I don’t care too much for boxing, but it was fun to be at the event with everyone.

Tower City set up for the Cleveland Boxing Invitational

Tower City set up for the Cleveland Boxing Invitational

 Cleveland Boxing Invitational

Boxing!

Saturday morning I sat on the couch for a while debating whether or not to go outside for a run or just stay inside and cross train or use the dreadmill. The weather looked pretty outside with blue skies – but it was in the low 30s (colder than it had been in a while) and we had gotten some snow on Friday so the sidewalks looked pretty treacherous. I finally decided to get over myself and pull out my Yaktrax, put on my ProCompression socks, and go outside. I’m SO glad I did – I put on a new playlist, made it for 5+ glorious miles and smiled nearly the whole way!

Ready to run with my socks and Yaktrax

Ready to run with my socks and Yaktrax

Some untouched snow- until I ran on them!

Some untouched snow- until I ran on it!

Sweaty post-run selfie

Sweaty post-run selfie

Saturday afternoon/evening was my monthly Ladies Craft Beer Society meeting – once a month we get together and over craft beers try a new craft. This month? Coasters at Platform Brewery!

Getting ready for some crafts!

Getting ready for some crafts!

Finished product!

Finished product!

Ladies with the finished product

Ladies with our coaster

Sunday was pretty perfect in my book. I woke up somewhat early, got in an easy workout (2 miles on the treadmill and then 50 minutes elliptical plus free weights and abs), then did some baking (pumpkin bread!), food prep for the week and watched football.

pumpkin bread

pumpkin bread

veggie burgers for the week

veggie burgers for the week  – I also made chicken breasts, more freekeh and quinoa for some meals.

After some cooking and baking, the weekend ended with an easy dinner – takeout Chinese AND sushi. I hot some great shrimp wonton soup, sashimi and a rainbow roll. And I may have eaten it, on the floor, while watching old episodes of the Walking Dead (no judgement).

sushi

Some questions for you:

  • Did you get in any baking in the cold weather this weekend?
  • Do you have snow near you yet?
  • How do you keep running in the winter?

Wonderful Wintry Week In CLE

Brrrrrrr. Okay, while it’s only November, it’s clear that winter is here. For those of you in Cleveland, you know what I’m talking about. That’s right – SNOW.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Northeasterner at heart so I know snow. It’s pretty. I’m familiar with it. I hate people who complain ever year as if they’ve never seen it before. Still, the first snow of the year is always difficult and that is what hit us this week.

Still – what a fun week we had! I know I typically write weekend wrap-up posts, but we had so much fun this weekend I figured, why not share our fun from the week as well? It’s a nice reminder that even in the winter in Cleveland when things get cold and dark, there’s still so much fun to be had – any day of the week. So now – a few sentences per photo for a quick look at this week:

nano

One night, B and I met up with his siblings for an impromptu trivia night at Nano Brew, a local bar that features pretty good food (I love their chorizo bean chili!) a wide selection of beers and – that’s right – trivia on Tuesday nights. It was fun, but we didn’t win. We did get all the final questions right, though, and ended with 76 points!

giant slice at edisons

Another night we hit up another place for Trivia, Edison’s in Tremont. The game wasn’t as much fun but the food – omg. LOOK at all those veggies on that pizza!

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NEWSIES is in town! B and I had tickets and I enjoyed every single minute of the performance. I sang along (in my head) and smiled the whole time. I loved the movie as a child and even though the show wasn’t 100% the same it as still so much fun.

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The mural was at a house B and I looked at this week. It took up the entire all next to the kitchen and living area. It’s kinda dark but you can see there’s a dog playing piano and someone passed on on the right with a bottle …

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Crockpot meals are the best when you have a long day at work and the weather is cold. I made a spicy black bean soup and topped it with avocado and Greek yogurt. The leftovers for lunch were so good and with the 5 jalapeños I put in there (plus hot sauce and chili powder) it was definitely spicy. I may have to share the recipe.

That’s it! How was your week?

  • Did you get snow? What’s your favorite snow activity?
  • Do you use a crockpot? Favorite soup recipe?
  • Spicy foods – yay or nay?

Race Recap: Savannah Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Half marathon number 4 and likely my last for 2014 has come and gone! This past weekend B, Mary and I went to Savannah to run their Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  It was a really really fun race!

I had already met my running goals for the year – to run a sub-2 hour half and to run 3 races this year – so I planning on just enjoying the race. Enjoying the flat course, the sunshine, the live music along the course and seeing the city of Savannah.

B had decided he wanted to run a sub 1:55 or so, so I told him I would hang back and run with Mary. Mary was aiming for a sub-2 hour race so I told her to feel free to run ahead if I was slowing her down. She’d run plenty of sub-2 hour half marathons unofficially (as part of training runs, full marathon races, etc.) but I knew she was hoping to get a “real” one in the books. I really and truly didn’t care how I did, I just wanted to have fun!

Who knows why – maybe it was the long night of sleep I had the night before, or the fact that I hadn’t run since Monday, or the fact that our last half marathon had been pretty difficult, but for some reason, I was feeling great pretty much the whole race!

Pre-race shot!

Pre-race shot!

Everyone lined up at the start.

Everyone lined up at the start.

Here’s a brief recap, mile by mileish, of how I felt:

  • Miles 1-3: What a beautiful day for a run! I’m so glad I opted to leave my vest at the gear drop. 45 degrees in Savannah feels different than 45 in Cleveland!  No wind … few hills … and these people cheering us on in these neighborhoods are great!
  • Miles 4-6: Hmm it feels like we’re going pretty fast. But I don’t want to slow Mary down. Time for Gu #1!
  • Miles 7-9: Well we were doing great but Mary had to stop to use the bathroom.  We’ve all been there during a race … stomach issues + one portapotty and thousands of other runners = not the best day. My legs are stiff from stopping to wait but I’m still feeling pretty good and I’m just going to enjoy this. No need to push it to finish under 2 with that 3+ minute bathroom stop. Oh well!action shot
  • Mile 10: Longest mile ever. The scenery is nice as we’re now going through some pretty neighborhoods but all this weaving around houses is getting boring. Thank goodness for the next Gu.
  • Miles 11-12: Goodbye marathoners! So happy I’m only doing half. And the caffeine from this Gu may be kicking in … I’m feeling pretty good again! That band playing Weezer was great! Why did the 12 mile marker not have a time clock?
  • Mile 13: Woohoo one more mile!  And one of the only hills in the race. Where did Mary go? If I pick it up and finish this last mile strong, maybe she’ll still get her goal?
  • Last .1: I sped up too early on in that mile but hooray I’m done! And omg the clock is under 2?!
photo courtesy Marathon Foto - I may have to purchase it!

photo courtesy Marathon Foto – I may have to purchase it!

That’s right, even with our break in the middle, Mary and I both achieved the under 2-hour time. What a great moment!

rock n roll savannah half marathon

Except for one mile, I felt good the entire time. The weather was great, course was flat, fun and entertaining and even with a 3+ minute break, we still got under 2 hours. The post-race entertainment was great and the crowds and music along the course was fun. All in all it was a well run race and a great event!

rock n roll savannah half marathon

Awaiting the post-race entertainment – Phillip Phillips!

Some questions for you (answer in the comments!):

  • Runners- do you have a favorite half marathon?  What makes it your favorite? How do you fuel during a long runs? In the past I’ve typically had a Gu about halfway through. This time I started with a few Sports Beans and then had a Gu about mile 5 and another around miles 9-10. It seemed to work really well!
  • What’s the next race you’re doing? A Thanksgiving run?
  • Are you training for anything?