Thursday, August 19, 2010

Run For Your Life!!!

Isn't it amazing how the life experiences we have in our teen years can effect our self esteem for the rest of our adult lives?! Like many people, my defining moments were in gym class. Specifically, it was the 1-mile "warm up" run at the start of each class. I don't recall a single day where I made it through the entire mile without stopping to walk...and I had gym class every day for all 4 years of high school.

College wasn't much better for improving my physical fitness. I selected a university that tore down its football stadium and erected a library. You can see where my priorities were....

As an adult, in an attempt to have the ability to eat more without gaining weight, I started working out at the gym on and off during the years. Most recently, when I turned 30, I enrolled in a boot camp at 5am. Why? Because I'm a complete Type-A with an all or nothing approach to everything I do. Throughout the 12 weeks (which I hated every minute of) I grew stronger. At the end, we did a 3 mile treadmill run as a test. I ran the entire way. I amazed myself and learned that the key to running the entire way was running slowly.

I enrolled in a 5k, and then another, and then in January 2009 I decided I was going to run a half marathon. For 9 months, I adhered to my training plan on and trained entirely on my own. On September 13, 2009, I ran (without walking) the Crystal Lake Half Marathon in 2:12. It was truly a defining moment in my life because I never thought I could do it.

The following year my husband, who has struggled to add muscle to his naturally tall and lean physique, finally realized that maybe he should take up running since he looks like a runner anyway. His approach was entirely different than mine. He started participating in the FREE fun group runs at our local running store, the Running Depot.

I would never have been caught dead running with a group during my training, because it was like a flashback of high school gym class, where I risked coming in dead last every time. However, when I went to pick up my husband after one of his fun runs, I noticed that many of the people there were "normal" looking people. They came in all shapes and sizes and all levels of fitness. Some were even working on a run/walk plan. Some of them had run 1-3 miles, while others had run 17 miles.

The Running Depot in downtown Crystal Lake is a real local gem with employees who are there to support and promote the overall love of the sport, not sell you a bunch of gadgets you don't need. If you have ever considered running, I highly recommend you go and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes and then read The Courage to Start by John "The Penguin" Bingham.

And for those who already run, there is still time to sign up for the 2010 Crystal Lake Half Marathon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

As if you needed one more reason to know the source of your food....

228 MILLION eggs recalled!

Don't worry--I am not going to shock you with the gory details of the likely conditions in that Iowa egg production plant at this center of this recall, you can google around for that info on your own. What I can tell you is that as a pregnant mom with two young kids, I was happy to have the peace of mind that my family, born and unborn, was safe. I know the farmer that raises the chickens that lay my eggs. Last fall, my son even had the privilege of going on a real live "egg hunt" on our CSA's farm and meeting our hens in person.

Even though I swallow hard each time I pay $4/dozen for the brown and white protein packed beauties, I know that I'm paying a 400% mark up for superior taste, nutrition, safety and a little kindness to the animals entrusted to human care. Plus, when I buy the eggs right off the farm, I get a shelf life of a full month or so before I have to use them up. In my house, they never go to waste.

Try this experiment some time to see how fresh your eggs are (or have your kids try it as a wonderful educational project):
Place an egg in a glass of water.
-If it sinks and lies flat on the bottom, it's really fresh
-If it just begins to float, it's about a week old
-If it will stand upright at the bottom of the glass, it's about 3 weeks old
-If it floats, don't use it

And if you've been dying to know whether you have to refrigerate your eggs-here is the answer. Fascinating!

Eggs are a staple in our diet. We eat them all the time because they are a great way to "hide" vegtables for the kids. Here is one of my favorite egg recipes that "hides" turnips: Cooking Light's Rosti Casserole. If you want to go hard core, you could skip the frozen hash browns and grate your own locally grown potatoes in this recipe.

Most of the local farmer's markets I know in the area have at least one vendor selling eggs. Here are only a handful of local sources for eggs:
Walkup Heritage Farm-Crystal Lake
Green Earth Farm-Richmond
Robinson Family Farm-Poplar Grove (Woodstock Farmer's Market)
Farmer Nick's-Walworth, WI (Crystal Lake Farmer's Market)

If you've never tried a farm fresh egg, let this 228 million egg recall be your sign that today is the day to give one a whirl!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I have a bit of news that has kept me from blogging: I'm expecting baby #3 in February 2011!

While I had full intentions of experimenting with okra and squash blossoms in July and August, the baby decided against it. Sleep and crackers was its preference! Nothing that was spicy, sweet, salty, or had the faintest odor of any kind was crossing my lips. I have even given up coffee. *GASP* My friends are still sticking their heads out the window looking for flying pigs!

But welcome second trimester! My energy is up and I'm ready to dig deeper in that CSA box and re-enter my garden (which my husband has done such a beautiful job maintaining while I was napping) to discover new recipes with local food.

One edict that my doctor set forth was not handling raw milk or eating non-pasturized cheese (listeria risk). This forced me to cancel my much anticipated participation in a cheese-making class featured at Angelic Organics in Rockford. Angelic Organics Learning Center offers so many wonderful classes--see the schedule of upcoming events here.

So please accept my apology for my absence and stay tuned for more local love!