WHAT IS A VIRTUAL RACE?

runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series - yellow shoe medalSince I’ve caught the running bug, I’ve seen more and more virtual races. At first I didn’t pay it any attention but the medal bling caught my eye for Father’s Day Superdad 5K. The race is $27 and you will receive 2 medals and bibs. The extra medal is to give to the favorite dad in your life, which I thought was neat. Plus, at least $5 of every entry will be donated to Soles 4 Souls which is even better.

So what is a virtual race and how does it work? Glad you asked! 🙂 A virtual race is one in which you decide where and how you are going to get in your miles. You can walk, run, indoors/outdoors, with a group or solo, so you decide the place and time. It’s a cool way to keep people motivated to run!

For most, if not all races, a portion of the entry fee will be donated to a charity. You’ll receive a bib, bling and sometimes a swag bag in the mail prior to the date of the race. After the race you will then post your results. Every race is different so make sure you read what is included and how you post your results.

Although I haven’t participated in a virtual race, there is one that has caught my eye and I’m still debating if I am going to register, it’s the runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series. The series is made up of 3 races over a period of 7 weeks. Each race has a different medal included with it.

runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series - red shortsThe first race from May 15-June 1, 2016 is the Yellow Shoes race and you’ll receive a beautiful medal of Mickey’s yellow shoe. The second race from June 5-June 18, 2016 and it’s the Red Pants race and the medal is inspired by Mickey’s iconic red pants. The final leg of the series is from June 19-June 30, 2016 and it’s the White Glove 5K. This medal spotlights Mickey Mouse’s legendary white gloves.

runDisney Virtual Running Shorts Series - white glove

runDisney has the option of signing up for each race individually($39) or you can sign up for the series($142) . If you commit to the series you’ll receive an additional series medal plus a Mickey tumbler. They also have different bibs available to download for each race.

 One of the complaints that I’ve read from this race is that Disney is not donating a portion of the entry fee to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society but they will be making a donation.

The other complaint is the cost…it is quite a penny to participate in this race considering they aren’t spending the money on the resources you would normally need for a road race but the medals sure are pretty! One of the funniest comments I’ve read about Disney’s first virtual race is the one below…

facebook comment

It’s true though, they are pretty much charging for some neat medals and “us” crazes are willing to purchase them. Being that it’s the first one, I want to be a part of it and who doesn’t love all things Disney?? Oh and another thing that I have to agree with others is that they aren’t mailing the medals out until 30 days after the series if you choose that option. If you pay for each individual race you’ll receive your medal 30 days after each race. That stinks! I’d prefer to have my medal, run and then post of pic with my medal the same day. I’m debating if I sign up for it, if I’ll wait to run the 3 races after I receive my medals in the mail.

The last thing is that Disney is NOT asking for runners to show proof, which makes the comment above even more relevant…here buy some medals! We know there will be people who will just purchase the medals and not run but I’m sure this will motivate more people run. Nevertheless, they aren’t forcing us to participate in the series so no need to complain. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.

XO Selena

I CAUGHT THE RUNNING BUG

5K Races Columbia SCI’ve been MIA for a while because I have been suffering from the running bug..lol. Ok, that’s not the real reason why have have been MIA but I thought it was a great excuse. Honestly I haven’t made the time to blog, create, or share recipes. A 9 year old soccer player has taken over my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world but I just have to find a balance. I’ll write more about finding balance in a separate post.

Running has always been something that I did every now and then. My previous employer had a running club where you paid a $25 fee for the year and they paid your entry fee for just about any local race. I ran more then but that was back in ’09. On a whim, I signed up for the Women’s Heart & Sole 5 Miler in 2015(top right pic) and decided to let Amiyah run with me. She had never ran a race before and I drag her out of bed early for a 5 mile run…yikes! She was a trooper, dnt only was it 5 miles but it was raining that morning and continued throughout the entire race but it was very well worth it!

We ran/walked at her pace because since she hadn’t done any training for the race I didn’t want to put too much pressure on her. We crossed the finish line together at 1:00:03 and grabbed our medal, rose and chocolate covered strawberries at the finish line. This is one of the best races that we run, mainly because its for bad a%% women ONLY, so no men allowed! 🙂

Heart and sole 5 miler

Fast forward 1 year and 7 additional races under our belt(including a 5K at Castaway Cay- Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) and we are back at the Women’s Heart & Sole for 2016. I managed to persuade a group of bad a&& women to run with us and it was lots of fun! We had beautiful weather and we managed to shave a few minutes off of our time from the previous year. Amiyah crossed at 47:48 & I crossed at 48:17. Normally she’ll wait for me but because I beat her in the previous race, she made sure she beat me in this one. She definitely gets her competitive genes from me!

In one of the races(Run For the Troops 5K) I placed 3rd in my age group…woohoo! Amiyah and I were headed to the car but still listening to the age group announcements and when I heard my name we took off running towards the stage and laughed the entire way in disbelief! We were both shocked. She would have won in her age group but I didn’t “officially” sign her up. In most of the races she has placed first in her age group. Including in the below pic, the Savannah Women’s 5K. Her age category was 19 and under so not bad if I do say so myself

Savannah Womens Half 5kWhat I enjoy most about running and I think what keeps me signing up for races is that fact that we can do them together and she enjoys it! We aren’t able to do as many because of her full soccer schedule but when we have a free weekend we try to take advantage of that. I have to admit that I’m now obsessed with getting a finishers medal at the finish line. I may not win my age group but I at least want a little bling to take home. 🙂 #willrunforbling

Race Medal Bling

One observation is that I do need to do better with training for these races. I’ll admit I normally don’t train much but I have been doing some cross training on my Peloton bike. My next race is June 4th, Sweat It Out 2016 and I’ll be doing this one solo!

Are you a runner? Do you have any tips to share?

XO Selena

INSTANT HAPPY JOURNAL

365 days of inspiration, gratitude and joy

Lately, one of the first things that I’ve asked a co-worker, friend or family member is, “Have you seen the movie War Room”? I get excited when they have because we get to discuss one of the most POWERFUL movies to hit the big screen in a while. If they haven’t seen it then I highly encourage them to go see it. Most of the time they have gone after I recommended the movie and were so happy I recommended it. So I want to ask you, have you seen the movie “War Room”? If not drop everything you’re doing and GO SEE WAR ROOM!

Currently with everything going on in the world we need this movie. The world needs healing because we are so broken. Once you go see it you’ll understand why it spend a few weeks at #1 at the box office. Upon leaving the movie theater I went straight to the Christian bookstore and picked up a daily devotion book and a journal. Most of my post are about health and wellness but spiritual and mental health are just as important as physical health.

Honestly that is one area that I haven’t been focusing on lately and it probably is the most important area I need to work on. I’ve been reading my daily devotion and writing in my journal daily and making sure I focus on what I’m grateful for. So, when I saw that one of the books available on Blogging for Books was, Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn, I knew I had to choose it. It goes right along with the current chapter I’m in, in my life. If you are on social media then I’m sure you’ve run across some of Karen Salmanohn’s quotes and amazing accompanying artwork.

Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn is a small, colorful journal with a happiness prompter for all 365 days. So what are “happiness prompters”,  they are a range of motivational quotes, thought-provoking questions, scientific research studies, and soul-stirring philosophical thoughts. The thing I like about the happiness prompter is that it allows you to focus on the good in your day, as well as give you something to think and journal about. It has 365 different happiness prompters which I think will help with never not knowing what to write about. You fill in the date so if you skip a day, no worries, you are going at your own pace.

I’m excited to start using this new journal along with my daily devotion and would have bought this journal even if it wasn’t sent to me. I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the pages I turned to; “Life is about doing things that don’t suck with people who don’t suck.” – John Green. For that day is also says, List some unsucky people you love-and why!

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Selena

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

5 IN 5

5 In 5 For Every Season by Michael Symon

A few things that I look for when deciding to purchase a cookbook is whether their are plenty of pictures and if the recipes have minimal ingredients. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE to cook but I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. I have a 8 year old who keeps me on the go so I chose Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season by Michael Symon, cohost of The Chew, with Douglas Trattner as my next book to review. Who doesn’t like quick recipes, right?

The recipes are organized by season so if you’re trying to save money and shop based on what’s in season then he has laid it out for you. He has also included a holiday recipe section to help your dinner parties go a little smoother. He has gathered 165 recipes, each has 5 fresh ingredients with about 5 minutes of heat time. The 5 fresh ingredients do not include the oil or seasonings that are not considered fresh so most of the recipes have more than 5 ingredients.

While I haven’t tried any of the recipes, I have to be honest, I’m not sure if I will. It’s just a lot of recipes that don’t appeal to me. Anchovy doesn’t seem appetizing to me and I don’t eat pork, well with the exception of bacon, so I can do without those recipes. I’m wondering if their are more pork recipes included because it doesn’t take as long to cook pork. Another letdown is the lack of pictures. Not every recipe has to have one but yes I do want the majority of the recipes to have a picture included. The 2 recipes that I probably will try have pictures included which are the Thai-Style Shrimp Salad and the Autumn Panzanella. Don’t they say you eat with your eyes first, well these 2 recipes look delicious!

Well if I haven’t deterred you from purchasing this book, yet piqued your interest you’ll have to wait a little longer because it’s not available to purchased until September 22, 2015. If you do purchase it please let me know your thoughts.

Selena

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

SMALL BITES OF HEAVEN

Martha Stewart's Appetizers

It’s PARTY TIME! Summer will soon be coming to an end and next thing you know we’ll be knocking people over at Wal-Mart to get our 9th $2.99 chopper. No matter how many we have, we just can’t say no to a Black Friday deal. When Fall comes around I look forward to all the food.

I received a copy of Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart to review. So far this is my FAVORITE book that I’ve received and I haven’t tried 1 recipe YET. This book is packed with so many appetizers to make for a great dinner party. Flipping through the pages makes me want to plan a dinner party just to try out the many recipes.

The first thing that stands out about Martha Stewart’s Appetizers book is that EVERY recipe is accompanied with a picture. Don’t quote me on that but I’m pretty sure that a picture is included with every recipe. That’s a make or break for me when I’m looking through a cookbook to determine if I want to purchase it or not so 2 thumbs up for that.

In addition to the mouthwatering recipes, there are party planning tips and strategies included to help you throw a successful party. Some of the tips include are, settling on a menu, establishing a timeline, strategizing your shopping, serving essentials and more.

You can’t have a party without a few cocktails so no worries there are recipes for signature cocktails that are sure to be a hit at your party. Again I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the layout of this book. Martha Stewart’s first book was published in 1982, so clearly she knows how to put together a great cookbook. While there are tips included, the focus of the 254 page book is on the recipes. 

Martha Stewart’s Appetizers by Martha Stewart will hit the bookshelves September 8th which is plenty of time to test out a few recipes before the holidays. I’ll definitely share what I try and I hope you do the same. CHEERS!

Selena 

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

FIND YOUR PERFECT BLEND

The blender girl smoothies

You can never have too many smoothie recipes and I’m always looking for new smoothies to at to my library. I was sent The Blender Girl Smoothies by Tess Masters from blogging for books. The smoothie recipes are broken down by category; light and fruity, clean and green, an exotic ride and desserts. The recipes contain the nutritional facts and its great to actually see this information for smoothies. It’s eye opening because some of these recipes contain a BUNCH of sugar. It’s really going to make me more aware of the amount of sugar I add to my smoothies.

The beginning of the book contains a section on how to build your own smoothie. You start with the liquids, base(fruits or vegetables), cream, greens, boosters(oil, superfoods, powders, etc.), and magic(spices, herbs, sweeteners, etc.). The recipes included icons to show whether they fit in the following categories; detox, weight loss, immunity, energizing, protein rich, alkaline, inflammation, contains nuts, or unsweetened. So if you need to improve your health in a certain area then you can build your smoothies to target those areas.

The smoothie pantry at the end of the book goes into greater detail of what ingredients can be used in each category of building your own smoothie. Different liquids, greens, herbs, spices, coconuts, superfoods, flavor enhancers and sweeteners. I’m looking forward to trying the dessert smoothies, like the Apple Pie in a Glass, Brownie Batter, Strawberry Shortcake, Peach Crumble and Carrot Cake.

Smoothies are a great way to add more greens to your daily nutrition. Seeing the nutritional has made me realize the two smoothies a day is not the best for me. Even though fruit is a natural sugar it’s still sugar. My normal smoothie consist of water, spinach, ground flaxseed, Vega Sport protein powder, frozen banana, strawberry and pineapples so it’s time to switch it up.

 

 FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

NATURE’S ORIGINAL WHEAT

EINKORN Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably familiar with gluten intolerance and seen plenty of gluten free labeling on food packaging. While some people have to give up wheat due to celiac or similar diseases, others have made a personal choice to give up gluten. Although I haven’t personally given up wheat, I have read that over the years wheat has been altered and not in a good way. When I heard about the book Einkorn by Carla Bartolucci, I wanted to find out more about “nature’s original wheat”.

First, what is Einkorn? What I learn from the new book Einkorn by Carla Bartolucci is that, Einkorn is similar to emmer, spelt, durum, and soft wheat. All wheat is a descendant of wild einkorn, and yet einkorn remains as the original diplod wheat, with only two sets of chromosomes, and the only one never to be hybridized. Hybridization is the crossing of distinctly different different species of plants to form a new variety with a new genetic makeup.

The book goes into more detail about the history of einkorn and how Carla and her family discovered and began using it. The majority of the book is full of recipes, which I like. Some recipes use einkorn all-purpose flour and other recipes use whole grain einkorn flour. Locally I was only able to find the einkorn all-purpose flour and will have to order the whole grain flour. In the beginning section of the book Carla explains how to work with einkorn flour and it’s very helpful. Definitely do not overlook this information and skip to the recipe section. I must admit that I usually don’t read the beginning of cookbooks but since I wanted to learn all about einkorn I read it.

One thing I learned about is einkorn sourdough starter need to make the bread recipes. This process takes about 6 to 10 days to get the starter strong enough to bake great bread. I wanted to make bread but after reading the process to make sourdough starter, I decided to start with something that wasn’t as complicated…COOKIES! Can’t go wrong with satisfying my sweet tooth. These cookies were GREAT! The first batch I baked for 14 minutes and they were very cook well through. The second batch I baked for 11 minutes and they turned out much softer and even more delicious. It may depend on your oven, how long you need to bake the cookies. These were a hit with the family so I’ll definitely make these again.

 

 CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Einkorn Flour

Ingredients:
2 Cups (240 g) all-purpose einkorn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (138 g) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (110 g) (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, one separated
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (210 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars for 2 minutes, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Add 1 egg, the separated egg yolk, and vanilla and beat on a medium-low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed just until the flour is incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and continue beating until the dough is evenly mixed. Do not overmix, or the dough will get too warm. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4. Roll 2-tablespoon (35 g) scoops of cookie dough in your hands into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches around each cookie. Bake the cookies in batches for 14 minutes until the edges are golden and the center is soft but cooked through, Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Einkorn Flour

ENJOY!

Selena

 FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

A MODERN WAY TO EAT

A MODERN WAY TO EAT BY ANNA JONES

A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones is the latest book that I chose from Blogging for Books. It’s packed with over 200 vegetarian recipes. Just in case you are wondering, no I am not converting to a vegetarian. I chose this book because even though I eat meat it’s great to have a different variety of vegetables to go along with my meals. Roasted broccoli, asparagus and okra can get old after a while. A Modern Way to Eat is a very impressive cookbook. It’s over 350 pages and you can tell that the author took some time with putting this cookbook together.

Included are options for breakfast, salads, soups, easy lunches, hearty dinners, drinks, sweet treats and more. No worries, the cookbook actually has delicious sweet desserts and not broccoli on a stick. Of course, I wanted to go for a dessert but since I made cupcakes for my last review, I decided to go with a breakfast option. I made the Lemon Maple Granola and it was one of the easier recipes. Their are several recipes throughout the book and included in different sections are guides of how she puts together a recipe. The recipe guide is great because if you want to choose a different vegetable, herb, spice, etc, she list several options to choose from.

In addition to the recipes their are other guides included in the book, such as information on the different types of grains and how to cook the grains, the different types of flours, a guide to when the different vegetables, fruits and herbs are in season and lots more other guides. On the downside, a lot of the recipes call for more ingredients then I would like. Overall, this is one of the most detailed cookbooks that I have owned. Their isn’t a picture to go with each recipe but it is a great balance. The next recipe that I will share from this cookbook is the Kale and Black Sesame Sushi Bowl so make sure you check back for that.

 

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”

LEMON MAPLE GRANOLA

a modern way to eat - 200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing)

Who doesn’t like a little granola along with your yogurt? Its been a long time since I’ve made my own granola and if I would have remembered how easy it was to make, then I would have made it sooner. This recipe comes from one of the books that I received from Blogging for Books, A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones. Instead of using all oats, the recipe calls for half oats and half quinoa flakes. This was the first time I’ve tried or heard of quinoa flakes. You’ll find it in the healthy food section near the cereal. I purchased it from Kroger.

 If you can’t find the quinoa flakes or don’t want to spend $8-$9 for it then you can use 3 cups of oats instead. The great thing about the Quinoa flakes is that it’s a complete source of protein so it’s a great source for adding additional protein to your “diet.” Try the recipe below and it literally took 10 minutes to prep so you can have a container full of granola in no time.

a modern way to eat - 200+ satisfying vegetarian recipes (that will make you feel amazing)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup/170 g maple syrup or runny honey

2 large handfuls (1 1/2 cups/150 g) rolled oats

2 handfuls (1 3/4 cups/150 g) quinoa flakes

2 handfuls (1/2 cup/80 g) seeds
(I use sunflower and pumpkin)

2 handfuls (1 cup/150 g) nuts
(I use skin-on almonds and pecans), chopped

a handful (1/4 cup/30 g)
unsweetened dried coconut

grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

a handful (3/4 cup/100g) raisins

2 handfuls (3/4 cup/100g) any
other dried fruit, roughly chopped
(I used dates and dried apricots)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.

Mix the oats, quinoa flakes, seeds, chopped nuts, coconut, and lemon zest in a large bowl, then scatter over two large, lightly oiled baking trays.

Pour over the maple syrup or honey and mix well with your hands to coat everything. bake for 20 minutes. Remember to give it a good stir every 5 minutes or so.

After 20 minutes, add all the fried fruits and put back into the oven for another 10 minutes to get that slightly chewy, caramelized fruit texture. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Store in airtight jars or containers for up to 1 month.

 

Adapted from: A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones

THE SWEETAPOLITA BAKEBOOK

The Sweetapolita Bakebook

The latest book that I’ve requested from Blogging For Books has arrived and it’s a sweet treat! The majority of my post are healthy food recipes but I’m a foodie and I love all types of foods including sweets. The Sweetapolita Bakebook caught my eye because it not only includes mouth watering recipes, it also includes tips and techniques on baking. You can tell from the cover that it’s going to be a great book.

The book starts with a Guide to Sprinkles. There is even a recipe on making sprinkles. Who would have ever thought to make your own sprinkles. In addition to a section highlighting sprinkles, there’s also a chapter on layered cakes, fanciful cakes, cookies, frosting and fillings, baking and decorating techniques and more. 

The bakebook includes some fancy cakes and cookies. I chose to make one of the simplest cake recipes and chose the cupcake variation, the Super White Cake. I also paired it with the Vanilla Bakery Frosting. The great thing about this recipe was that it was easy to make and wasn’t overly sweet. You can read more about changes I would make the next time I make it.

Next, I plan to try the Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies and the Royal Icing. I’ve tried to make my own royal icing and it didn’t turn out so great. It was very runny so I’m going to give this recipe a try along with the sugar cookies. Hopefully they’ll turn out better then my other attempt because they ended up in the trash…

If you are looking to take your baking up a notch and learn to create fancier cakes and cookies then this cookbook if for you. I don’t know that I would recommend this book for someone who is starting out to bake because I think the majority of the recipes are elaborate. There are some great tips and baking techniques that will be helpful to anyone at any level.

Sweetapolita, super white cake with vanilla bakery frosting

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”