Liebster Award Q&A

Liebster Award Badge

 

One of the great things about the blogging community is the way in which it really is a community. When I started blogging in December, I was looking for a way to share my thoughts on running, recipes, and life in general with the world. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I also missed writing for fun about subjects I enjoy, and I realize now that’s a part of me I never want to give up again! On a related note, this past Saturday was my 20th day straight of blogging, unplanned by me but the creative juices had been flowing for the past few weeks. That probably won’t happen again, I’ll keep it to 4-5/week at the sweet spot for me. But part of the reason I kept writing was because people kept reading! Another thing I didn’t know was how all the bloggers out there (and there are many, many more than I ever imagined) who found their way to my little corner of the web would be so supportive of my blog, and would themselves have such creative content that I’d become a daily reader of theirs. There was so much to learn over the past few months, and every day is another surprise. Like last Friday, when I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Peppermint Girl. I’d never heard of it, but I think it’s a great way to encourage connections between bloggers. So, without further ado, on to her questions for me…

 

What inspires you the most in life?

My biggest inspiration in life is seeing other people doing what makes them happy. For a long time, I thought I had to be the best at one thing or another, whether it was what I really wanted or not. I struggled to pick one thing and define myself solely by it. Now I understand that I’m much happier and on my way to living a full life by doing lots of things that I enjoy, whether I’m awesome at them or just average. In fact, that’s how I came up with my blog title. A Renaissance Runner Girl likes to run – and cook gluten-free treats, and look at art, and hang out with friends and family, and ski in winter and swim in summer!

What time of day do you write the best content for your blog?

I write the best content either early in the morning, before I go out for a run, or mid-afternoon, when I’m done with schoolwork or my internship and ready for a change of pace. 

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Ode to Oats: Snickerdoodle Success

Happy Monday! Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. I’m thankful the sun is shining, birds are singing, and spring is firmly in the air. While that means I’ll be munching on fresh fruits and veggies more than ever, I won’t be neglecting my oats anytime soon. I’ve shared the story of how I accidentally created my oatmeal cakes. These are a staple for me, usually eaten two or three or even four mornings each week! More in winter, a little less in summer. I still much prefer them to regular bowls of oatmeal because they’re more substantial, and it takes just as much effort to cook oatmeal on the stove when you factor in time spent standing over a pot, so why not have your cake and eat it too instead?

When I started blogging and reading other blogs, I discovered the phenomenon of so-called ‘overnight oats’ and literally hundreds of recipes. I tried a few of them, thinking that it combined oats with Greek yogurt, which I love, so it must be good. Truth be told, I was not blown away. The most promising combination basically tasted like those Chobani Oats yogurts, which is to say, oat-y yogurt. It was fine, but not what I was expecting. And overnight oats without yogurt did not float my boat, because I definitely prefer anything where oats are the dominant flavor to be served warm.

I’d also seen a few recipes for “growing” your oatmeal. I didn’t want to stand over the stove, so I ignored them. And then I found Chocolate Covered Katie’s voluminous oat trick. I gave it a try, and though my microwave is so touchy that I need to stand in front of it pushing start and stop for a few minutes, the whole cooking process takes about five minutes! However, though an awesome trick and one I am thankful to Katie for sharing, the resulting bowl of oats was a little too pudding-like for my taste. I stirred a little Greek yogurt in next time I tried, and that worked better for me. The third time, I hit the jackpot, by adding in some egg whites as well, and a bit of ground flaxseed. Together, these extra ingredients gave the oatmeal a slightly fluffier but more substantial consistency, and there was an extra punch of protein. I consume a bit more protein than average and can definitely feel it when I don’t have enough in the morning, so this was great.

 

Trying Katie's trick

Trying Katie’s trick

 

Finally, I discovered Peanut Butter Fingers, a blog I found because I was Googling to find deals on peanut butter (don’t ask, I’m a fiend, and I like peanut butter that happens to be a little bit pricier than average!) Julie’s recipe for egg white oatmeal provided the last tip I needed for a truly great bowl of oats. Her instructions included stirring every so often, which I had not thought to do when I reheated my oats the next morning after removing them from the fridge. So I ended up taking some ingredients and instructions from each recipe, and combining them to create the bowl that works best for my breakfast needs. There’s a saying about how all art builds on other art, and I think that’s true for cooking too – but I want to give credit where credit is due, so many thanks to both Katie and Julie! Below is the recipe for my Snickerdoodle Cloud Oatmeal Bowl. I wouldn’t have perfected it without them!

 

A cinnamon snickerdoodle cloud

A cinnamon cloud

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

Scrumptious snickerdoodle spoonful

Scrumptious snickerdoodle spoonful

1/2 cup milk of choice

1 cup water

1 egg white

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp flaxseed

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar or other sweetener

 

Instructions:

1. Use Katie’s voluminous oat trick the night before by stirring together all the ingredients and microwaving in a large bowl or measuring cup. But my recipe includes some extra thickening ingredients, so you will only want to microwave for 3 minutes or so (depending on your microwave) and if it’s anything like mine, you’ll need to stop/start more often! Let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Leave the mixture in your fridge overnight.

3. The next morning, take out your oatmeal and microwave for 2 minutes, stopping halfway through to stir.

4. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired. Enjoy!

 

Have you tried any tricks from other bloggers and stumbled upon a new favorite recipe? 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Sunny Sunday ramblings and a scrumptious scramble

I hope everyone is having a lovely Eastover weekend, filled with family, friends, food, and fun (Easter + Passover = Eastover. It’s the new spring edition of Chrismukkah). For me, a satisfying Saturday gave way to a sunny Sunday, making this a perfect couple of days. It was also perfectly alliterative…yes, I’m still at it with the S’s! I’m on a roll after sharing Sasha’s story with you yesterday. Anyway, yesterday was sunny but extremely windy, so while my run was in a pretty green Central Park, it wasn’t exactly picture perfect. I literally had to hold on to my hat! This morning’s walk was much more peaceful, though when the wind is crazy it does feel like a bit of an adventure.

NP on Wednesday morning required a headband and gloves...this weekends workout was short sleeves and shorts!

NP on Wednesday morning required a headband and gloves…this weekends workout was short sleeves and shorts!

I did 9 miles at an easy pace, the wind insistent but stopping short of blowing me down. With 5 miles on Tuesday, 6 and change on Wednesday (4 at November Project + 1 and a bit there and back), and 6 on Friday, my grand total mileage for the week was just about 26.2. If only I could make up my mind to commit to that in one day – I’m getting there! For now, I ran against the wind with a smile, and a squint when the leaves and sediment swirled up too close. I especially enjoyed it when the song ‘Saturday Morning’ by Eels came streaming into my headphones. I have an iPod shuffle that I wear while running, since I don’t like carrying my phone, so each song is a surprise. This song fit perfectly with the moment as I headed down the park path near the Great Lawn, and was also a little bit of a throwback, since it was on one of the O.C. albums that I bought for my first iPod at 13 or 14 – meaning, nearly a decade ago, which is just head-spinningly crazy!

When I got home, I decided to whip up a scramble for my post-run breakfast. I had brunch plans with friends around 2, so I didn’t want to refuel to the point of being stuffed. I just needed something to tide me over, and I’d already eaten oatmeal for my pre-run morning snack. I like having smoked salmon on the weekends, because it reminds me of weekend morning breakfasts when I was little.

Back then, I scarfed down cereal or Eggos before school (oh, for the days before my wheat allergy was diagnosed, and all I had to worry about was avoiding almonds and oranges…). But on weekends, my mom would sometimes make us pancakes with maple syrup, chocolate chips, and a delightful topping called Strawberry Piggy Sauce that Stonewall Kitchen discontinued some years ago to our chagrin, because after asking at the company store in Maine, we were told we were the only ones buying it. Other days, my dad would head over to the deli to pick up a dozen bagels to pair with cream cheese and lox. Of course, my bagel days are long behind me, but I still love lox, or smoked salmon, which stayed a crucial part of my diet in college (the Brits enjoy smoked fish just like the Scandinavians and New Yorkers) – and I’m always finding ways to incorporate it into breakfast dishes. Which brings us to yesterday’s smoked salmon scramble, just like the lox ‘n onions scrambled eggs you’ll find at any diner. Make a big batch for an Easter or Passover brunch (sans wrap, it’s kosher for Passover) – or whip up a portion later in the week for a quick and tasty gluten-free breakfast!

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‘Happiness is a warm puppy’

So said Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts. I am in complete agreement. My dog Sasha, a beautiful yellow Labrador, is the center of attention in our family, and in return she is loving, loyal, and always ready to snuggle. She is a consistent source of comfort and joy in our lives, and I don’t know what we’d do without her. So although I’ve shared a few photos of her before, I wanted to take today to give you a proper introduction!

A winter puppy

A winter puppy

 

Our first dog when I was growing up was Shayna, another yellow Labrador, who was a member of the family before my brother or I were even thought of. She was a wonderful dog, who definitely behaved according to her place as our predecessor, watching over us like a guardian who slept between the doors of our two bedrooms at night. Sadly, she passed away when I was in middle school. A few years later, we decided it was time to bring another puppy into our family, and Sasha was born on Valentine’s Day of 2006.

 

 

 

We got the call from the breeder while watching the figure skating competition of the Torino Winter Olympics. My mom and I both loved Sasha Cohen’s routines, and thus came our Sasha’s name! I like to joke that it was already in the cards. Shayna came first in our family, but before her, my parents’ respective dogs when they were younger were named Sparky and Socky. It was a totally unintentional tradition, but Sasha carried on the S initial.

 

Taking over the armchair in the library

Taking over the armchair in the library

She grew from the most adorable little puppy into one of the cutest adult dogs ever. It’s funny, but she seems to know her place in our family just like Shayna did – except her place is that of the baby, who came into a household with two teenagers and was doted on by everyone. And she still has a puppy face, even at age 9. When Sasha is in a room, she commands the attention of everyone present. She has her spot on a choice piece of furniture in every room of my childhood home, whether it’s right in the middle of your bed or on the center cushion of the living room couch.

 

 

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WIAW #4: From PB&J to Gourmet

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. This post features Monday’s eats. I think my PB&J cravings and insatiable appetite that day were the result of doing my first long run on Sunday since the NYC Half (I jogged to the start of the 10k, making it 8 miles and change). I’m always extra-hungry for a few days after one of those. In fact, after this morning’s November Project PR Day, I’m not sure my tummy is going to STOP growling! The sunrise was a beautiful way to usher in April…but now I need to make some breakfast to start my monthly eats off right. So without further ado…

Breakfast: I was really craving PB&J Monday morning. Before my run, I had a salted rice cake with a smear of Peanut Butter & Co Smooth Operator and some blueberry jam, topped with fresh blueberries. I did 5 miles in the sunshine in the park, just a nice and easy pace, and felt fabulous. Both my food and fitness for the wee hours seemed to be exactly what I needed. Then, when I got home, I mixed up a PB&J Oatmeal Cake and put it in the oven to bake while I showered and readied myself for the day. My stomach was already rumbling, so I had a peach Greek yogurt to tide me over. The oven timer couldn’t chime a moment too soon! I enjoyed my oatmeal cake with some more fresh blueberries and a crisp Pink Lady apple, and a mug of Green Mountain Wild Blueberry coffee. Scrump-diddly-umptious!

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Lunch: An assortment of snacks to get me through a long afternoon of class and internship. As regular readers know, I tend to eat a lot of little things strung together during the day, bookended by a big breakfast and dinner, because I’m often on the go and dislike feeling weighed down (as I snack, my backpack gets lighter!) OR hungry (because for me, hungry = hangry). This day featured a salad of greens, cabbage, and carrots, with smoked sockeye salmon and feta cheese, topped with Annie’s honey mustard vinaigrette as my ‘lunch’ entree. I ate this with a side of baby carrots around 12:30. I ate the muffin around 2pm before leaving school for Lincoln Center, and had the apple and pretzels around 4pm while at my internship. Then I had a pre-dinner snack when I got home around 6pm and had to wait a bit for dinner as I was going out to eat with a friend. To tide me over for the hour, I had the yogurt – banana cream, with some kettle corn and blueberries crumbled in. 

 

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My pack of snacks for the day

 

 

 

 

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Snow and Signs of Spring

Marching through the spring snow

Marching through the spring snow

This winter seemed like it would never end, what with the snow and freezing temperatures taking over the Northeast from the holiday season well into March. There was half a foot of fresh powder on what was technically the first day of spring in the tristate area! I’m grateful that where I live wasn’t hit as hard as Boston or Buffalo. And though I may lace up and dash through the snow, waking up for my workouts all winter no matter what, brushing off concerns with the thoughts that others have it worse, I’m still so thrilled when signs of spring appear.

 

 

A river runs through once more

A river runs through once more

Earlier this week, I saw a ship chugging down the East River under a sparkling sun. The river is no longer frozen, with floes of ice so large it would be dangerous for any boat to pass through. While it’s still chilly, the water is moving again and nature is back on its proper course. The sparkling sun attested to that fact! On a related note, I took this photo from the river running path, which is finally free of the thick sheet of ice and resulting slush that made it hazardous for months. This means that November Project PR Day for April won’t require running in an ice bath!

 

 

Fuel for body and mind

Fuel for body and mind

Thursday we had misty rain, with temps in the mid-50s and rising. Today was a little nippy again (snowflakes!) That plus nerves meant I was experiencing some shivers this morning. I ate a small breakfast before heading to Columbia for the 8:30am start. A half-cup of coffee, a Chobani Oats apricot yogurt, a small apple, and a few squares of dark chocolate with black tea leaves (hey, dark chocolate is brain food!)  The new Chobani Oats flavors also contain chia, quinoa, and amaranth. I didn’t realize when I picked it up, and it was the first time I tried chia seeds. I’ll have to give them another go though, because the pre-test stomach butterflies were very unhelpful.

 

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WIAW #3

WHAT-I-ATE-WEDNESDAY-NEW-BUTTON-PEAS-AND-CRAYONS

 

Welcome to another round of WIAW! I’m here to share yesterday’s eats with all of you, and can’t wait to see what everyone else over at Peas and Crayons has been cooking up. I was on the go pretty much all day, so you’ll see a lot of snacks! I woke up in Connecticut, went to a doctor’s appointment, hopped on Metro North and got off for class in Morningside Heights, took the subway to my internship at Lincoln Center, walked home across Central Park to the Upper East Side for dinner, left again for a Junior League meeting, and got home for good around 9pm. During that time, I consumed a lot of my go-to snacks, actually triple-timing both Greek yogurts and apples. At least I branched out with the varieties – a Dannon Greek Strawberry Banana, Fage 2% Acai Blueberry, and Fairway 2% Plain for the Greek yogurts, and Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, and Empire apples. And so, without further ado…

Strawberry banana yogurt + crispers

Strawberry banana yogurt + crispers

 

Breakfast: Today was a little snack-y, beginning with an early breakfast before an appointment in Connecticut. I had a Greek yogurt with some gluten-free Crispers (generic Crispix, sans barley malt) and a cup of decaf coffee, and an apple.

 

 

Brunch follows breakfast

Brunch follows breakfast

 

Brunch: After my appointment, I came home to eat, grab my stuff, and hop on a train back to Manhattan to head to an early afternoon class. I knew it might be my only real meal for awhile, so I whipped up a turkey cheddar omelette and had some salad with honey mustard dressing on the side (and another apple, yes). I also had a second cup of decaf coffee – a Dulce de Leche Cake Boss K-Cup.

 

 

 

 

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On-the-go PB&J Yogurt

 

Early afternoon snack: While in class at school, I had a Fage 2% blueberry yogurt with a Peanut Butter Cup muffin crumbled in. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer mixing my own fruit, peanut butter, etc. into Greek yogurt, but these are great for when you’re on the go and don’t have that option! I packed the muffin, two yogurts, and the soy crisps pictured below and had them with me on the train.

 

 

 

 

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A little like Dunkaroos!

Late afternoon snack: I found these mini rice cakes (or that’s what I thought they were) and decided to give them a try because I love anything apple cinnamon (like my Caramel Apple Cinnamuffins!) They turned out to be little crispy cakes made of soy protein, and made a decent little snack with a 2% Greek yogurt. I mixed some peanut butter into the yogurt and dipped the cakes in, a fun little treat to brighten my afternoon, during the two hours working at my internship that I squeezed in after class.

 

 

 

 

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A simple salad to start

Dinner: Sometimes, even the most food-focused among us are in a rush and haven’t prepared anything ahead of time. I got home from my internship at 6pm and had exactly half an hour to cook and eat dinner before heading back out to a Junior League committee meeting at 7pm. So I turned to my freezer, where I try to keep a stash of a few frozen meals for times like this. I usually stick to some brands that I feel okay about eating – Amy’s, Evol, and Garden Lites to name a few. The meals are pricier than cooking, of course, but like I said, we all have crunch times! Tonight, I actually tried a new one, Udi’s Gluten Free Broccoli and Kale Lasagna.

 

 

Saved by Udis

Saved by the Udi’s bell

I’ve had Udi’s products before, but only recently saw their new line of frozen meals in stores near me. Since these boxed meals are never enough food to satisfy me, I try to add in whatever plain veggies and protein I have on hand in the fridge. Tonight, that meant frozen broccoli and cauliflower, and some plain cocktail shrimp. I tossed a few shrimp on a salad to eat while the meal was in the microwave, and then dug in. The meal appeared very “white” when cooked, which isn’t something I really like (colorful food is a must for both health and enjoyment in my book!) but I cut through the noodles and there were bright flecks of carrots and greens. It was pretty good – the cheese was a bit bland, but it hit the spot.

 

 

Blueberry sorbet with sprinkles

Blueberry sorbet with sprinkles

 

Then later, when I got home after my meeting, I had some blueberry sorbet with sprinkles for an evening snack, followed by an apple and some popcorn. I tend to eat most of my food between 8am and 8pm, but I’ve found it’s best to have a substantial snack if I eat dinner early and head out again – otherwise, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach growling!

 

 

 

An Empire apple and Skinny Pop

An Empire apple and Angie’s popcorn

 

I enjoyed my snacks while watching an episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. There’s barely anything left on television that I actually watch anymore – now that Parks and Rec is over (and sadly it seems like Hart of Dixie has followed suit) all my mindless entertainment comes from old favorites. It’s probably for the best – I don’t have much time to spend in front of a TV anyway!

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.