Friday, January 29, 2010

This Week's Healthy Recipe

And the cooking continues. This week I made lots of good things but this is my favorite. This is another weight watchers recipe.

Greek Shrimp with Orzo

12 oz uncooked orzo
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp crumbled feta

Cook orzo in salted water according to package directions without added fat; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic; cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano; bring to a simmer. Add shrimp; cook until shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Spoon cooked orzo into shrimp mixture; stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Spoon about 1 1/4 cups of orzo-shrimp mixture into a bowl and top with 1 teaspoon of feta. 7 weight watchers points per serving.

Here's how it turned out-pretty and yummy!

I found this one to be easy and tasty. Shrimp are simple to cook and also very fast. This one made plenty of leftovers so Brian and I were able to enjoy it again later in the week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jumping Back In

Well, I did my first real post pregnancy race this weekend. I'm nowhere near top form but this is a unique race that Brian and I could both run (without needing a sitter) so I felt I should go for it. It was an hour track run. Basically, you run around a track for one hour and the person that goes the farthest wins. They run two separate heats. The first is for runners that plan to keep a slower than 7:30 minute/mile pace and the second is for those that plan to go faster. In the past, I've been in the fast heat but there is no way I could do 7:30 pace for an hour right now and logistically this allowed Brian and I to take turns watching Darwin while the other was running. (In the picture, I'm the first girl in white.)

I was a little nervous going to the race because I'm so much slower than I was before I got pregnant. Brian reminded me that it is great I'm running at all only 3 months after giving birth. He was right so I decided to just go out there and do my best. I was hoping to do 8:30s but I ended up being able to do 8:19 pace! I went 7.21 miles which is the longest run I've done since April 2009. My pace was fairly even as well so I was pretty happy. The only thing that sucked about the day was that several people came up to me and asked me why I ran so slow. WTF?!?! Maybe because I was pregnant and then gave birth. I wanted to punch a couple of them in the face. I can't believe that someone would think I would have a kid and then just start running the same times I did a year ago. Some of these people were just clueless and may actually think that is how it works. One lady has several kids of her own and is an L&D nurse. She should know better.

The big story of the day was Brian. He won the race in a very dramatic fashion. I love running but I admit it is not the most exciting spectator sport. This race was the exception to that rule. With a minute to go the race was so close than anyone in the top 5 could have taken it. In the end, Brian came from behind and won by 79 feet. The second and third place guys were only 6 feet apart! It was really fun to watch. Brian had a sacral stress fracture last summer and had to take 12 weeks off. His recovery and comeback were difficult so this win was a very big deal for him. Most of the time he is so far ahead of me in a race (even when I was in great shape) that I don't get to see him finish. Thanks to the format of the event I was able to see the whole thing and I loved it.

I'm not sure when my next race will be but until then I'll just keep training. I feel really good about my comeback and it feels great just to get out there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Organized Cooking

As a runner, it is important to me to eat somewhat healthy but it certainly isn't easy. As a kid, my mom and I were on the road every night. I lived in a really small town and I was a gymnast. We had to drive an hour each way for me to get to workouts that lasted 3 hours. We did this 5 days a week. My nightly dinners came from the drive thru and I developed some really unhealthy eating habits. Even to this day I love to eat fast food and my sweet tooth is ridiculous.

A few years ago I started cooking. Not much and nothing too difficult. I also didn't do it very often, but it was a start. Two years ago I became obsessed with Food Network. I'd watch it all day long but I rarely cooked anything. When Brian moved in he commented on how weird it was that I watched it all day yet never made anything. For whatever reason, this motivated me to get cooking-literally. Turns out, I'm not that bad and the tips I've learned from watching all that Food Network really gave me an edge.

When I found out I was pregnant I became determined to cook regularly. I wanted my child to grow up in a home where most of the dinners were homemade. Not because I'm trying to be June Cleaver or anything, but because I want him to like good food and not associate dinner with take out or drive thru. I work 4, 10 hour shifts a week, organize a year long running series and do some running of my own. I knew it would be difficult to find the time to make dinner on a regular basis so I came up with a plan. I cook 4 nights a week and I do all the prep work on the weekends. This next part is going to sound pretty anal and it is really but I cannot live without organization. Our menus are on a set schedule:

Wednesday-Pizza (takeout)
Thursday-Soup/Sandwich or Pasta

This really helps me narrow down my recipe searches. I am the least busy at work on Tuesdays so I search for my recipes on that day. Once I've found everything, I type up a quick shopping list and I'm ready for the next week. I find most of my recipes online with the majority coming from Weight Watchers. Once I have them all printed up I make notes on them about what can be done in advance. Any prep work like chopping, forming burgers, making sauces, etc... is done on Sunday and this makes cooking a snap each night. It is like everything is ready made. Also, Brian has decided to take over Thursday so I will eventually only be cooking 3 nights a week. Right now he still needs a little help and supervision but I think he'll be on his own soon. As for the weekends, we do some take out, some restaurant and some left overs.

Most of the time the recipes are good but not great but it seems like at least one or two a week are real standouts. I've decided to share the best recipe of each week with all of you including any make ahead tips and of course, a picture. A real picture too, not one I got online but an actual picture of the dish I made.

Last night I made Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms and it was great! I got this recipe from Weight Watchers.

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms

2 tsp veg oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (4, 4 oz pieces)
2 cups mushrooms, small and halved
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a nonstick skillet.

In a medium sized bowl, mix 2 tbsp of vinegar, the mustard and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Saute chicken until cooked through-about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Heat remaining tsp of oil in skillet. Saute mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining tsp of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are a deep brown color-about 2 minutes longer.

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms. 4 servings total with only 3 Weight Watcher points each.

I found this recipe to be very easy. The only thing I did ahead of time was wash and halve the mushrooms. Two things I couldn't live without on this one are a garlic press and a meat thermometer. I do not have the knife skills to mince a piece of garlic but a garlic press does it for me in an instant. Get one if you don't already have one. For me, I hate chicken, or any meat really, if it isn't perfectly done. It is really easy to overcook meat and no one wants to eat that. With a meat thermometer, you are never guessing. You know exactly when the chicken is done and done perfectly. I always cook poultry to 165 degrees and then take it off the heat immediately.

Here is a picture of the finish product.

I added a half cup of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice-Whole Grain Variety. I do not have time to cook sides so I use these all the time. They are ready in 90 seconds! Love that! This added 2 points to the meal.

For more color you could certainly add veggies. Trust me, this one tastes better than it looks.

Monday, January 18, 2010


This blog would not exist without Darwin so it seems only fitting that he have his very own post.

Darwin was born on 10/14/09 which just happened to be our one year wedding anniversary. I checked into the hospital at 6am and Pitocin was started. At 8:15 the doc broke my water and I started feeling contractions at 8:30. An hour later I was in hell and at 10:30 I finally got my epidural which was heaven! At noon they checked me and I was fully dilated! Once they got the room set up I started pushing and 25 minutes later, he arrived.

He was an easy baby from the very beginning. He took to breastfeeding easily and he slept 5 hours straight his first night in the hospital! He started sleeping 8 hours straight when he was 2 months old. He has been an absolute joy since the moment he arrived. Here's a few snapshots from his first 3 months.

Welcome to My World

Hello everyone! I'm Andi and yes, like many others, I have decided to enter the blogging world. I don't really know if what I have to say will appeal to many people or any people at all. I figure it will make for a great journal in the least!

About me:
Well, I think most people that know me would refer to me as a runner. I ran track in jr. high, high school and college and then dabbled in running and triathlons until 2003. At that point, I gave it all up and focused on school. I was in a very unhappy marriage which was made worse by struggling with severe male factor infertility. Our only hope was IVF but he was a full time student and although I was working full time as an audiologist, I was also in school part time finishing my doctorate. Family was going to have to wait until our financial situation turned around. So move forward 3 years and we still didn't have a family, he still hadn't finished school and there I was with 45 lbs to lose-the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I had finished my doctorate so I had no excuses now. I remembered how happy I had been when I was a runner and wanted to start again but at 5'5" and 170 lbs, it was too hard on my joints. I decided right then I was going to change my life. At the time I thought that meant lose weight and start running again. Little did I know that was only the tip of the iceberg.

I joined Weight Watchers and quickly lost enough weight to start running again. Once I did that, the weight came off even quicker. I joined the Little Rock Roadrunners Club and became a member of their competitive racing team. By the time the 2007 racing season started in January, I was down to my college racing weight! I started attending training runs with the club and became friends with the most wonderful group of people. At the same time, I got a huge raise at work for finishing my doctorate. I was now super healthy, very happy and had the money to go forward with IVF. Unfortunately my husband was no longer on board and we decided to divorce. It was actually a great thing. He still hadn't finished school. He had no idea where his life was going and I suddenly felt like I was in complete control of mine. That year, I trained harder than I ever had and was the third overall female in the state wide running series. In March, I met a guy, Brian, on a training run and we quickly became best friends. He coached me through my marathon training at the end of 2007 which lead to me qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Life was good. I headed into 2008 with more running goals than you could imagine. The season started off kinda slow. I wasn't running like I thought I could and when Boston rolled around in April, I ran much slower, 3 hours and 49 minutes, than I had hoped. When I got back to Arkansas I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon and started some serious training. Within a few months I was running times faster than I had ever imagined. I ran a 19:42 5k in August and I knew things were going to go well at Chicago. Brian and I decided to elope and felt that doing it right after the marathon would be the best timing ever. I ran Chicago on October 12th and finished in 3 hours and 22 minutes which beat my best marathon time by more than 17 minutes. Two days later Brian and I got married in beautiful Key West. Life was perfect.

When we returned home it was a very busy time. I had just accepted the position of Arkansas State Representative to the Road Runners Club of America. That meant that I would be in charge of the Grand Prix Series which is a state wide series of races lasting from January to November of every year. Thankfully, Brian had been deeply involved with the organization for many years so he was able to provide a lot of direction and some much needed help. While we were planning for the 2009 series I found out that I was pregnant. We were TTC but it had only been one cycle so it really did come as a shock-especially after my previous experience with infertility. We were both so happy. For a week I floated on a cloud and was so excited about our little secret. Only 6 days later I woke up and found that I was spotting. A few hours later I was full on bleeding and the happiest week of our lives came to a very sad ending. As bad as it was, I knew that miscarriage was quite common so I tried to be as upbeat as I could. I had gotten pregnant on the first cycle. This was a good sign. Also, the Grand Prix Series was starting and I didn't have time to dwell on it. In February, just days before the second race of the season, I found out that I was pregnant again. Other than a bleeding scare at 8 weeks, the pregnancy was uneventful. I was even able to run until I was 36 weeks!

On October 14th, 2009, our one year wedding anniversary, we welcomed our son, Darwin Beck into this world. Like most first time moms, I was shocked at how much my life changed. Getting a training run in is a real challenge now. We bought a treadmill and this helps a lot. When I went back to work 12 weeks after he was born things got even crazier. I always wonder how I'm going to get everything done between 10 hour shifts at work, spending time with Darwin, being a wife to Brian, organizing the Grand Prix and trying to get some training time for myself. I realize that by trying to make it all happen I may make myself crazy but I've always been an overachieving type A personality so I simply must try. I plan to use this blog to document my running comeback, Darwin's milestones and any pearls of wisdom that I find along the way.