Why I Decided to Avoid Sugars and Grains

1929931_41118940356_5476_nWhen I look back at my life, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t dieting. I remember being a fifth grader and thinking I need to lose about 20lbs so that I could look like the rest of the girls in my class. When I was in 7th grade I decided to become a vegetarian because I thought it was a healthy way to loose weight. Somewhere between 8th and 9th grade I tried becoming anorexic. I knew this was wrong at the time, but I wanted to do anything to look like the girls in the rest of my grade and my sister who was known in our family for being stick thin. Luckily the last diet failed miserably, and after 15 hours of not eating I realized that this lifestyle was not worth it.

 

Right before I graduated College I became serious in running. Although there were other reasons I turned to running, one was because I thought I could finally loose that extra weight. As I ran more and more, I started wanting to learn about running more and more. I started to listen to different running podcasts to improve my running.

One day, I was listening to Runner Academy Podcast, and I heard Timothy Noakes talk about the affects of sugar on the body. When I heard him speak, I was skeptical because I was brainwashed that the body needs carbohydrates, especially during long distance running. The next week I was listening to Marathon Training Academy which had this crazy man called Vinnie Tortorich. For the first time, I began to consider removing sugar from my diet. Trevor and Angie-the hosts of Marathon Training Academy- had tried out the lifestyle and made me interested in trying.

Last January (It was the end of January, so it wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution) I decided to finally give up sugar. I soon learned that there are a lot of grains that also have sugars in them, so I gave them up too.

The first week was awful. I had this dull headache for the whole week that became worse every time I thought about food. Cupcakes just looked amazing, and I wanted to eat all of them!!!!! I loved Reeses peanut butter cups and I contemplated driving to the store and buying a whole bag to eat before I got home…But I resisted these urges and eventually they disappeared. One day I woke up and I just felt GREAT! For once I could focus my mind on one thought without being distracted. I could walk into the Teacher’s Lounge and resist the mountain of sweets that looked delicious! I felt empowered.

A year later, there are several things that I noticed that have changed with my decision to live No Sugar No Grains. First of all, I have reduced the stomach pains I received after I ate a meal. I never realized that these pains were something other than digestion until I eliminated digestion. Secondly, I realized that my acid reflux and heartburn was eliminated. I always thought that because this problem ran in my family I was screwed. Lastly I lost about 30lbs and reduced my pants size.

Now, I have a degree in Education, NOT in any type of health or medical field. I am not a

My Mom and I, by the bean in Chicago

My Mom and I by the bean in Chicago

doctor, nor would I ever try to be one. But this is a lifestyle that I believe in that works for me. I understand that there are many people who may disagree with what I choose to eat. Suck it up Buttercup! I am doing what I feel is best for me. Finally I feel like I have won the diet war!

The Truth about Kale Chips

I have been attempting to live the #NSNG lifestyle for almost a year now. Recently, I have been browsing Pintrest, trying to find new and exciting recipes to try. When I search for recipes, I want to find ones that I can make NOW!!! I usually open up my fridge and ask myself “What can I do with all this Kale?” I have no idea what I was expecting to come up with. Kale Doughnuts, or Kale Cookies? I wanted some magical recipe that instantly made kale sound exciting. However, after the search was made, the truth came out that there was no magical recipe. What did come up, was recipes that I have already heard of…And lots and lots of recipes for Kale Chips. Disappointed in my failed search, I reluctantly clicked on a pin for Kale Chips.

Numerous bloggers compared eating Kale Chips to potato chips. I do not know what secret spice these cooks are sprinkling on their kale chips, but I highly doubted that the end result was comparable to potato chips. Eager to prove the bloggers wrong, I decided to whip up a batch and see for myself how awful they tasted.

I plucked off the leafy parts from the thick stem and ripped the leafs into smaller pieces. Then I added about 2 Tbs. of Fat Louie Olive Oil to the Kale and mixed it until every piece was saturated in the oil. I then spread out the Kale on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and seasoned the Kale. Lastly, I placed the Kale into the oven at 250 for 30 minutes.

Finally, the buzzard broke the silence of my kitchen. I was surprised, because the Kitchen actually smelt good. For about a minute, I just stood by the oven, trying to decided if this was a good idea. Reluctantly, I grabbed a small piece that looked like it got seasoned well. Now, I will not compare these to Potato Chips, but this was actually tasty. Because the kale is baked at a low temperature for a longer amount of time, the water seems to dry out of the kale, leaving a dry crunchy snack. Season the Kale to your preference and you have yourself a tasty alternative to eating junk food.

I dare you to try this for yourself!Casey's Kale Chips

Casey’s Kale Chips

1 cup Kale (remove thick stems)

2 Tbs. Fat Louie Olive Oil (Sicilian)

1 Tbs. Dill

2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Salt (add more to taste)

Chop up kale into bite size pieces. Add olive oil and toss in kale until everything is completely covered. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine spices and sprinkle evenly onto the kale. Make sure to only have one layer of kale on the sheet. If you have too much Kale, it will not dry out and will be left soggy. You can be creative and season the kale with your favorite seasoning.

Enjoy-

C

Shrimp Tomato Artichoke Soup

Hello Internet,

I know what everyone is thinking. “Oh Boy,” your shaking your head. “Here is another lady creating a food blog.”

So I am going to apologize in advance, if you are annoyed because EVERYONE and their mother are starting up a foodie blog. I guess I was always late for jumping on the latest trends. When I was growing up, I was the last student in my class to get a cell phone (I was a junior in High School). Our family never had cable TV, or even high speed internet growing up. And I am sorry to say, I first listened to “What Does the Fox Say” about two months after it became popular. Needles to say that I am usually late on the trends.

So why is this twenty-something starting up a cooking blog just like everyone else? Well today was a blustery, snowy day in northwestern Wisconsin. Like any other frigid day, I decided to whip up some soup to eat by my fire. I started scanning Pintrest, like I do every other day. I remembered a can of artichokes I had in my food pantry FOREVER. “I wonder if I can create a soup with artichokes in it” I thought to myself. The kettle came out, cans were cracked open, and I started cooking up a storm. In the process of making this soup I thought of all the times I cooked, created an amazing recipe and failed to write it down. Later I would go back and try to remember everything I threw into a recipe…Sometimes I would succeed…Other times I would fail.

Today was different. I was going to finally write down what I was doing, so that later I could actually remember what I was doing.

All in all, this blog is for ME (and my short term memory). If you like the recipes that I post on here, great. If not, don’t make them. If you want to tweak the recipe…go for it (I know I do it all the time!)

Here’s the recipe from today’s Shrimp Tomato Artichoke Soup.

Ingredients:
2 Tbs. Fat Louie’s Olive Oil (Sicilian)
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms chopped
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 14oz can of whole artichoke hearts (chopped)
2 Tbs. basil
1 12oz bag of frozen medium cooked shrimp
2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
1/2 cup half and half
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. ground cayenne red pepper
*Salt/Pepper to taste

Saute onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add Garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until the onions are slightly browned. Drain/rinse tomatoes and artichokes and add to the base. On low heat, add stock and half and half to the base. Allow soup to cook until it starts to boil. Defrost and peel the frozen shrimp while waiting for the mixture to boil. Once the soup is boiling, add shrimp, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to your soup. Allow soup to continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

The Road to my FIRST marathon: Bank of America Chicago Marathon

I always knew that I wanted to run the Bank of America-Chicago Marathon as my first marathon. As a teacher, I LOVE DOCUMENTARIES. Call me a geek, but I love watching Spirit of the Marathon. Ever since I first watched this documentary I knew the Chicago Marathon would be my first marathon.

The road to my first marathon was a bumpy one. I had been running consistently for four years before I first decided to sign up for the marathon. I finally tried to sign up for the 2013 Chicago marathon in February. However, there was a glitch in the site used for race registration, so I was forced to enter the first lottery. I must have been lucky because, $175 dollars later, I was registered for the marathon.

Everything was great leading up to the marathon. I was living up north at my parents cabin, because I was teaching summer school in a small town. There was no internet, and barely any cell reception at this place. The cabin also only has four TV stations that come in through the antenna from the roof. Needless to say I did a lot of running done.

As the summer ended I was preparing to move to Eau Claire, WI to start my first real teaching job. One Sunday night, I was grumbling about going on an eleven mile run. My mom tried to be supportive, and asked if I wanted her to bike along while I ran. This was something new so I ultimately said yes. Running while someone is biking with you really is not the best idea; especially when you are on small, curvy, hilly, country roads.

At mile two of the run, I was feeling like I was on top of the world. I defeated some monster hills and was now running down hill. This was the part of the road where there was a dangerous curve and two cars were coming at me from two different directions (and FAST!). I glanced back and could hear the tire of the car behind me crunching the gravel next to the road. If I didn’t move over, I would be road kill. In an effort to not die, I dove to the side. My right foot stepped on a broken off piece of pavement. I heard the crunch of my bone breaking. Later that evening, I found out that I broke my fifth meta-tarsal and would not be running the 2013 Chicago Marathon.

It was Thanksgiving before I ran again. My family has the tradition of completing a Drumstick Dash before we chow down on delicious food. I completed the 5K much slower than I usually run, but I ultimately finished. That whole winter I started rebuilding my running base. That winter was a Doozy! My fifth graders had indoor recess for a whole month and a half because the wind chill was below zero. Running outside, was awful, so I was forced to run inside, at the gym. I call it the death mill. But by the time signup for the 2014 Chicago Marathon Lottery came around I was pumped to enter.

Two weeks after I found out I “won the lottery” for the second time, I got really sick. I had a false diagnosis of strep throat and was put on antibiotics. A few days later, I was getting worse instead of better. I had five large lumps on my neck and the back of my head. The only thing that I could get down was ice cubes. After two IV’s in my arm and lots of tears in urgent care, I was diagnosed with Mono.  This is the worst I have ever felt in my life! I remember laying on my bed just wanting to die, but not having enough strength to carry through with the plan. Slowly but surely, I got better.

Even though I now had a split time of two minutes slower than my original time, I continued to run a
few miles 3-5 times a week. I ran solely on how I felt that day. I did find that on the days that I didn’t run, I felt more fatigue.

As fall approached, I felt stronger and healthier. After everything that I had overcome, I was ready to dominate this marathon.

The weather on the day of the marathon couldn’t have been more perfect. That summer I had done many runs in high temperatures and humidity. I was so thankful that it was going to be a high of 54 by noon! The rain that the meteorologist had predicted was pushed off until that night and despite the wind, the sun was out and shining.

For this being a race of over 40,000 runners, I never felt the amount of people actually at the race. I got in line for the port-a-pot right away and found my place in the coral slightly before the first wave took off. Because I am turtle slow, I was in one of the back corals. This was a little frustrating because I felt a little disconnected from the start of the race. However as I saw the starting line, I was pumped up.

The first mile of the race, you run under this tunnel. I knew that my mom and college roommate, Alli, would be waiting for me just outside the tunnel. As I saw them, they started cheering, which caused everyone around them to cheer for me too! I was glad that I pinned on my name to the front of my shirt before I started. For the first 19 miles I had hundreds of fans cheering me on.

The first part of the race blurred together, but I was feeling good. We ran through some pretty sections of northern Chicago. The crowds were amazing and full of energy. At mile 8 there was a senior living center that had the patients looking out of the window cheering us on. This moment brought a smile to my face. My favorite had to be running through Boystown. There were gay men dressed in army pants, throwing guns. Also there were some people dressed up in drag that were cheering the crowd. One pretty lady said that she liked my leopard leggings.

I accomplished my goal of running the first half without stopping. At the halfway point I heard the most amazing thing from a lady. “Come inside and use our bathrooms!” Of course I took up that opportunity.

After I stopped to use the bathroom, I realized that my hip was starting to hurt. Every step there was a stabbing pain that dug deep into my butt. This made me worried. I had never felt this pain before, and it was only mile 14. Between mile 14 and 19 I completed a walk 1 minute run 4 minutes pace. I blasted my music and tried to ignore the pain.

At mile 19 I got to see my Mom, Alli and Uncle Pete again. Right before I spotted them, I decided to eat my cliff bar. As I approached my family, my mom asked me if I was eating a cookie. “I wish I had a cookie…” I though inside my head. I don’t really remember what I said to them, but I do remember breaking into tears two minutes after I passed them. I just wanted to be done and I still had 7 more miles to go. The last 7 miles was awful. I could barely run any more.

As I turned into Chinatown, I was transformed into a different world. For some reason this moment gave me clarity on what I had to do to finish the race. I needed to find someone… Anyone… to talk to, and get me through this hardship. Luckily I was able to strike up a conversation with this dietitian from Chicago. As I talked to her, the miles slowly went by. We had now slowed down to a crawl but every step I was closer to the finish.

Finally I saw that beautiful 2 and 6. My Mom, Alli and Pete were right under the sign. I attempted to run so that they could see me, but I think it looked more like a horse trotting with 3 legs instead of a girl running. Seeing them gave me strength to finish. As I turned the corner, I suddenly saw the only hill on the course. WHY WOULD YOU PUT THIS HILL RIGHT THERE? I made it up, and turned the corner to finally see the finish.

As I was running, I started choking up. I thought of all the things I had been through over the last two years. Finally I had accomplished this goal, and I was so proud of myself. The first thing that I received

after crossing the finish line-which I think marks me as a marathoner more than receiving the medal- was the amazing mylar blanket. As they draped this blanket around my shoulders, I really felt like a marathoner!!! As I received my metal, I felt on top of the world, I could do anything. Now I just needed to get back to the place to meet my family.

I said goodbye to my marathon friend on the corner of some street. I was so happy, and was even happier when Alli handed me a Dr. Pepper. What a great friend.

Looking back now, I am still proud of my accomplishment of completing my first marathon. Although it wasn’t a stellar performance, I know what I can do better next time to improve. I am a strong and confident woman who can accomplish anything. Seeing my students the next day, was the best thing ever. They were even prouder of me than I was of myself.