Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review Time: Reds All Natural Burrito's


When I eat lunch, I'm usually starving after a full morning of various activities. Half the time I eat leftovers, and if I'm at work, it's a turkey sandwich. Which gets boring after a while, and when it's freezing cold out (hello polar vortex) a hot lunch is comforting.

I recently had a chance to try "clean" burritos by Red's All Natural. What makes them clean?  Their products are 100% natural, preservative free, non-GMO, made with antibiotic and hormone free meat, and rBGH-free cheese.

Mike and I love Mexican food, but it's not the healthiest choice, and when I think of frozen burritos I'm reminded of the kind they used to sell at the convenience store in my college town. They get hard in the microwave and are pretty much the worst thing you can eat. So we were happy to give Red's a try.

They have several varietes, including chicken, steak, bean and cheese, even BBQ, in 11 oz burritos, and a
5 oz snack size. There is also a line of Quesadilla's, made with buffalo chicken, pulled pork, and steak.

The first one I tried was bean and rice, which I had for lunch on a No Meat Monday.  You can microwave them, but since I had time I put it in the oven, which I made the tortilla crispy. 

As you can see, the beans were whole, and not mushy, with a nice mix of corn, onion, tomato, cheese and brown rice.  I usually put a side of salsa on mexican food, but I didn't need it here. 

Mike had the chicken, then steak burritos for lunch two different days while he was at work. He didn't take a picture, but he said it was quality meat, not like the mystery meat you usually find in frozen products.

Next up was the Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas. 

Once again the quesadillas were filled with real, quality ingredients. This time I added some salsa for dipping, and paired it with a salad to complete my lunch.  

The verdict? I shy away from frozen convenience foods, but I'll keep a supply of Red's in our freezer for when we need a quick lunch that is actually good for you, and tastes great too!

You can find Red's in most major grocery chains, including Target.

*Note: I was sent samples of Red's products for the purpose of this review. The opinions of the product are my own. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rewind, Rehash, Reflect, Renew

I was doing the dishes earlier, amid the noise of two televisions, one turned to Lilo and Stitch, the other to the local news, with one sick kid, a barking dog, all of us still in pj's, and thought how I haven't had a time to reflect on the past year, much less set goals for the new one rapidly approaching.

Then out of nowhere, I heard Joni Mitchell's River, which is the type of song that perfectly fit my mood. I located it's source, an ipod sitting under a book on the kitchen table that someone forgot to turn off, listened for a bit, took down the calendar, then sat down to think about 2013.

I feel like we've come a long way since last January, Mike and I were both unemployed, but happily, we are ending the year in jobs that we both enjoy, and hope to stay in for a long time.

I got out of the habit of writing down how many miles I run on my daily calendar, it seemed like since I had different races going on throughout the year, I didn't need to keep doing it. But now I'm curious as to what the final total was, so I'm going to start keeping track again.

There was the Shamrock Run:

Then I fell down some stairs and wrecked my ankle.

During the summer, I made some great new friends and we ran in the early morning, training for The Boilermaker.

Then came the Empire Half:

I tried Cross-Fit, and my arms blew up.

My fitness goal for 2014 is to get planking again, and I want to add more half's to my schedule. I really like that distance, the training is manageable, and it's long enough to feel accomplished at the end.

We spent lots of time in the Adirondacks, a place we truly feel like we can escape to.

Although there is a bench on the lake where you can get WiFi, just for a minute or two.

We were reminded again of how life can change in an instant, and how fortunate we are in so many ways.

Although I got tired of picking rubber bands up from every corner of the house.

I loved watching the kids challenge themselves in different ways this year.

Luke flipping off the high board:

Frank thinks he's the third child.

Every night at 7:00 he brings his bone into the kitchen, and drops it at my feet, which means he wants me to put peanut butter in it.  Every. Night.

Speaking of the kitchen, I once again cooked Thanksgiving dinner, and Mike mastered the art of deep fried turkey.

In 2014 I want to finally master marinara sauce.

I really can't ask for a better ending to 2013.

I haven't made any major resolutions, aside from dropping some more un-wanted pounds before our next trip to Disney.

I'm going to keep moving forward, staying positive, hopeful, and grateful.

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2014.....

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Putting Out The Reindeer Food

I hope your season was Merry, 
and that the New Year brings you joy!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cinco por Sunday

1. I'm a fan of cooking double batches of certain foods, like soups and stews, then freezing the leftovers. It makes a crazy weeknight that much easier when you can pull something of the freezer in the morning, put it on the stove at the end of the day, and you're all set. We even do it with certain meats, like grilled sausage, that you can add to pasta. Although it's probably a good idea to label the freezer bag, so you know exactly what you are defrosting.

Case in point, the other night Mike and I decided to have angel hair with marinara, mixed with a bit of a sausage patty which was already cooked, and frozen.  I was on the phone when he was putting the meal together, and when I looked at my plate, I thought the sausage looked a little, soft.  As we started eating, it reminded me of a salmon and pasta dish that I had once when we were in Amsterdam.  It was good, just, weird.  Until I realized......we had mixed a salmon burger into the sauce.

Not sausage.

2.The Christmas season is in full swing, and I have fully embraced the festive spirit.  Although it seems like as soon as I cross one thing off my To Do List, another thing gets added.  While I was shopping yesterday, I found a shirt to wear to an upcoming "Ugly Christmas Sweater" party:

Yeah, it's pretty sweet.

3. Look! I have new running shoes!

I'm so excited that Brooks decided to mix it up and add pink to the new Adrenaline, my last few pairs have been blue.

I have others in my closet, some Asics, Nike, and Mizuno, but the Adrenaline have been my favorite.  Mike has been hounding me to toss some of them, but I like to keep them around, and literally see the miles, sweat, dirt and even some tears that those shoes have witnessed.

4. Tonight Eliza had a pajama party fundraiser for her Girl Scout Troop, it was held in the same place where she and Luke went to preschool.

I was feeling a bit sentimental walking out of the building with her, like we did so many mornings three short years ago. I asked E if she remembered those days, but she was more interested in finishing her leftover popcorn.

5. I apologize for not posting the winner of the Spartan Race giveaway sooner, but Congrats to Teresa, shoot me an email and I'll get you set up!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm using the Wii Fit U and Fit Meter, and you can too!

My kids, as well as Mike and I, are no strangers to video games.  

Luke has had his fill of Minecraft, but is still a fan of Mario, Eliza plays various games on the computer, Mike plays an online chess game with friends, and I have a slight addiction to Candy Crush.  I limit screen time for the kids, while Mike and I might play when we have a few minutes to kill, like on a long line at the grocery store, or in a waiting room. 

A few years ago we invested in a Nintendo Wii for Christmas, along with Wii Fit, and it was a fun way for me to stay accountable while working on my New Years Resolutions.  We've been happy with what we've had, but a couple of weeks ago we were given the opportunity to try out the new Wii U, Wii Fit U, as well as the new Fit Meter!

Wii U is a High Definition Game System, the GamePad controller is a new way to play, by creating a second window into the video game world, the controller has a LCD touch screen, along with the traditional button controls and two analog sticks.

The GamePad includes motion control, a front-facing camera, microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.  The GamePad allows you to connect to the Internet, where you can download games from the Nintendo e-shop, which is where we downloaded Wii Fit U.  

I will share more about Wii U, but for this post I will focus a bit on the Wii Fit U, and the Fit Meter. 

The first thing we needed to do for Wii Fit U, was to create a Mii Profile, step on the balance board, answer a few question, let it do a body analysis, then look at our results.  Mike and I knew we each needed to drop a few pounds, so it was no surprise when that was confirmed by the Wii. The Fit Meter is a pedometer, which records the number of steps you take, the calories you burn, altitude and temperature.  We then linked each of our Fit Meters to our Mii Profiles, and were ready to go.

The next day we clipped the Meters to our waistbands, and went on with our days.  I had a full day of Christmas Shopping ahead of me, (I know, I know, but I have to go when I can) I wanted to hit my goal of 10,000 steps, and throughout the day, I would check on my progress.  At the end of the day, I simply held the Fit Meter in front of the Wii U GamePad, and my information was automatically linked to my Mii profile.

You can see I went over my goal!

Mike's job has him at his desk most of the day, but this is a sample of one of his workdays:

I especially like how user friendly the Fit Meter is, with just three buttons it's easy to scroll through each screen. Plus when you sync the info to the game, it's fun to compare what Mike and I both accomplished in our walking day.  There is a section on the game that allows you to choose a walk or climb from a part of the world, and "walk" it through the Fit Meter.


Do you currently have a Wii U and a Wii Balance Board? If you download the game from Nintendo eShop on your Wii U between now and Jan. 31, 2014, enjoy the game for a full month, then go and purchase a Fit Meter ($19.99 MSRP*), then sync the Fit Meter with your free version of Wii Fit U at any time, you can keep using Wii Fit U forever, at no additional charge. Click here to learn more!

I will share more of our whole family's experience with Wii Fit U in another post this week, so stay tuned!

*Note, I was sent a Wii U, Wii Fit U, and Fit Meters for the purpose of this review. My opinions, as well as those of my family, are our own.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watch the World Championship Spartan Race, and Enter To Win A Free Race Entry!

Do you ever think that this could be you?

Spartan Race has been voted the #1 obstacle race by Outside Magazine and they've been the global leader in obstacle racing since 2005. This race gives you a chance to go back to your ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life.

To see the Spartan Race in action, make sure to tune in to the NBC Sports Network on Saturday December 7th, for the 90 minute Spartan Beast World Championship:   

A few months ago I worked with the folks at Spartan Race on a giveaway, and for those of you who entered but didn't win, here is another chance to win a free entry to any open heat in any 2013 - 2014 Spartan Race in the continental U.S.!  To enter, simply leave me a comment, telling me how you plan to challenge yourself in the New Year......yes 2014 is closer than we think! 

If you can't wait to see if you've won, you may click on this URL which will generate a code for 15% off your registration in a Spartan Race:

I will choose a winner on Friday, November 29th.  

Good Luck!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cross Fit Made Me A Pin Cushion

I'll admit that I'm not good at cross training.  Given the choice between running 6 miles or a Jillian Michaels dvd, I'll take the run.  I'm actually not that bad in the summer, I swim as often as I can and ride my bike. But I'm well aware that to avoid injury and be stronger overall, I need to do something other than just cardio.

First up in this quest, was to try Cross Fit. I've been curious about this killer workout for a while now, it certainly seemed fun, especially after seeing photos of my friends on facebook, tossing medicine balls against walls and pounding monster truck tires with a sledgehammer.

After the Empire Half, I figured it would be a good time to start something new, and my sis in law Jeannine said she would go to the Foundations classes with me.  Off we went on a Monday night, feeling a little nervous but excited.

If you aren't familiar, in order to participate in Cross Fit workouts, you must complete six Foundation classes in a two week period.  Each class is about an hour, where you learn the "foundations" how to have proper form for each exercise.

We started out slow, with a warm up that had us kicking our legs, doing a series of squats, and crawling up and down the mat. This lead into how to properly hold and lift barbells and more squats.  Then came the WOD, or Workout Of The Day.

Our WOD started off on the rowing machine for 200 meters, then to the mat to do 15 squats,15 push ups (I do girl push ups, they wanted you to do the real deal) jump on a wooden box 15 times, then back to squats. You did this three times, the first time for 15 reps, then 12 reps, then 9 reps, finishing on the rowing machine for 200 meters.

Oh yeah, and they time you.

I was most fearful of the box, this was higher than any platform I've ever encountered in a step aerobics class back in college, you need to swing your arms for momentum, launch yourself up, land on both feet, stand up, then jump back down.  At first I thought I would just bash my shins on the edge of the box, but I took it slowly, and did a good job of not falling off the thing.

The push ups were another story entirely, the coach said that we could do a modified version, after touching our chest to the mat, we could curl up in a yoga type movement to get ourselves back up.  By the last set of reps, I felt like a fish that had just been caught and slammed onto a dock, I was literally slapping my body down on the mat.  I had really red knees to prove it.

I finished this in 9:22, I came in at the middle of the pack which wasn't too bad.  I was a stinky sweaty mess, when I got home Mike wouldn't come near me, he said I smelled worse than a 10 mile run.

The next day I was really sore, like post-marathon sore, where you can't sit on the toilet without wincing, and I had to walk down the stairs sideways, but I was looking forward to the next class.

Dun Dun Duuuuuun!

The next WOD was a doozy.  It involved lifting a 35 lb barbell, doing a squat, then putting the barbell back on the floor, repeat 10 times.  Then we ran to a bar for pull-ups, something else I couldn't do.  The coach gave me two thick stretchy bands to loop over the bar, I set my foot into them, sunk down, then the band gave me the momentum to haul myself back up and above the bar.  Aside from the fact that I almost launched myself into the drop ceiling, it was fun.  We did this 10 times, ran back to the barbell for 10, and back to the bar for 10.  At the end of this workout I had done 50 reps of each exercise. In 10:40.

The next day was Halloween.  I woke up with an ache in my upper middle back, and felt swollen.  As in my hands looked like pin cushions, my arms were sausages, and you couldn't see my collar bones in my chest.

I could have been Popeye for Halloween.

I asked a couple of friends who do Cross Fit if this had ever happened to them, and it had, which made me feel a little better.  Of course I googled my symptoms, and got nervous when I read about Rhabdo.  I called my Aunt C who is a Nurse Practitioner, she thought it was a build up of lactic acid, told me to drink water and take ibuprofen.

The next day it was worse. My arm was a solid, hard tube, you couldn't even see my elbows.  It didn't hurt, it was just extremely puffy.  I was grocery shopping, and remembered that when my kids were babies and I was nursing them, that cabbage leaves help relieve engorgement.  So I bought a head of cabbage, and wrapped it around my arms.  I kept it on for a couple of hours, when I removed it I could see see a difference, but then it swelled back up.


Saturday I saw Aunt C, and she said to wear my compression sleeves or tops. I did that for a few days, and slowly started to see improvement. I went for a four mile run to see if that would help flush things out, but it didn't.  It wasn't until a full seven days later that the swelling went down.  That day I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment, he explained that the swelling happened because for some reason my lymphatic system didn't drain properly.  He also said it was very odd that it happened.  He agreed with Aunt C, that it was probably a good idea that I not try Cross Fit again.

I called the Cross Fit Coach, but I must not be calling at the right time because I get voice mail. Jeannine has been doing the workouts, the other night one of the guys in our group showed her his puffy arms!  J told the coaches about my puffy arms, and they said they've never heard of that happening.


I think I'm going to stick to traditional ways of cross training.

Time to dust off the Yoga For Runners DVD.