Winter Running – be prepared


It took me a good while to wrap my head around winter running. Here in Southern Ontario we get some deep freeze temps, snow and ice that make running dangerous and really uncomfortable. What I’ve found is if you’re prepared for the elements, you can run safely and comfortably.  With a lot of trial and error I finally figured out what gear and clothing works best for me and I want to share them with you.

Please keep in mind that my winter gear has been collected over a few years and not all at once. It’s expensive so I tend to buy just one or two quality items a year or slowly upgrade to higher quality.

Let’s start from the head and work our way to the toes.

Headgear


To keep my head and ears warm I use the the famous Buff on all my runs. This tube like head gear (the ones that the TV show Survivor uses) can be worn so many ways. I normally wear it folded once and worn over my ears like a thick headband and sometimes I wear it over my ears and face to keep the wind chill off.

Check out their website but be careful because you’ll want them ALL. They also make them with merino wool 😍

Of course any cozy wool hat is sometimes needed too.

Noxgear!!! Light Vest. < strong><<<<<<<<<
ssential for all my dark runs. This vest is pretty incredible, so light weight that you forget you have it on, fits snug so it never moves, easily worn over a hydration vest or running jacket AND you can choose a different colour every time you wear it, make them flash with an easy press of a button. It takes 3 AAA batteries and they last forever.

Join my Noxgear group "My Fitness Hobby" and get a 30% off coupon code. http://www.noxgear.com/noxgearnation/ always see runners and cyclists out wearing these, I’ve been told I look like a running alien!

Leggings and Pants When shopping for winter legging you want them to have a brushed interior that’s extremely warm and comfortable. Made from stretchy, durable high tech materials that won’t stink up your closet. A great material to look for is Merino Wool!!

Most of the big box stores like Sports Check, The Gap, MEC , REI and The Running Room all offer a good selection. Although expensive,  I buy most of mine through LuLuLemon, I find the quality is very high and the items just last me for years. When I’m putting in some serious miles, I need my gear to work and not fail. I also don’t want to replace them very year so buying quality is key.

When the wind is high and it’s pressing -20c I use an outer shell over my leggings. MEC has a great selection, my go to by MEC are the Pearl Izumi Thermal Barrier Pant.

This outer layer will keep your thighs and bum from freezing as you run through the wind and wet snow.

Base Layer and Jacket! always lean towards a Merino Wool blend long sleeved shirt. Believe it or not I’ve found all my base layer Merino Wools at COSTCO!  For more information on this material check out https://www.smartwool.com/discover/why-merino-wool/merino-wool-101.html<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ade winter running jacket by New Balance. Mine is 2 years old but much like this jacket I found online. https://ca.shop.runningroom.com/collections/reflective-jackets/running-room-unisex-printed-reflective-jacket-156560.html<<

Most big brands sell amazing jackets that will block the wind, offer reflective elements and breathable. Also, buy a size that will allow layers underneath!

Feet and Footing!If your feet are cold and wet and your falling all over the place, you’re going to be super uncomfortable, ya?

My feet don’t tend to get cold unless they get wet so I avoid the slush as much as possible. I have yet to master the dry feet.

My go to socks is the Woman’s Ankle Copper Sole Sock found at Marks Work Warehouse.

When I’m out running in the winter and the roads and trails are ice, I want traction so I feel confident, I bought a cheap pair of tracks from Costco for $14 very similar to these found on Amazon.

They come in size small, medium and large, depending on your shoe size. They just slip right over your running shoe. They take a bit to get used to but they’ll give you all the confidence you need on icy roads or trails.

My best advise is to follow this chart based on temperature.

Dress for it and you’ll love it!!

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

This is a thick, rich fall feels soup has tons of flavour. Something I put together with things I had on hand. Super easy and quick to make. My kids enjoy this soup with a nice crusty loaf of bread for dipping. 


Prep time 25 minutes

Cooking time 45 minutes


What you will need:

I tbs butter, ghee or olive oil 

1 medium sized carrot diced

1 medium sized onion diced 

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed. 

3-4 cups of broth (900ml) (veggie, chicken or beef) use what you have or prefer. 

Salt and pepper to taste 
▫️Preheat oven to 400F, place squash cut side down on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil (or oil of your choice). Roast till tender, approx 40 minutes. 

(If you are tight for time, you can skip the above and just cube the squash and add it directly into the pot to cook down with the carrot and onion)

▫️ On medium heat, melt butter in a large pot, cook onion and carrot for 5 minutes. 

▫️Add broth, roasted squash, salt and pepper, simmer on medium to low heat for 30-40 minutes (once carrots are soft)

▫️Transfer the soup to a blender, and blend until smooth. Return to pot, and mix in any remaining stock to get your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

DELICIOUS !!

Breakfast Sausage 

There is something empowering in making your own food, knowing what’s in it! 

This recipe has become a family favourite. We can eat these at every meal and great for breakfast on the go and school lunches. 

You can play with the spices to fine tune it to your liking but below is what my family likes. 

When I make this recipe, I always double it and put 1/2 of the cooked sausage rounds in the freezer. 


What you will need;

2 pounds of ground pork

Mix in:

2 tsp salt 

2 tsp black pepper 

1 1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp dried ground oregano 

1/4 tsp dried savory 

1/8 tsp ground ginger

Pinch of cloves

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cold water 

2 tbs of olive oil

⚪️Using my hands, I get in there and knead and squeeze the mixture until it’s all well blended. 

⚪️⚪️Once blended, I make about 2oz balls, flattened into sausage rounds. 

⚪️⚪️Heat a large frying pan on medium to high heat with approx. 2 tbs of olive oil and pan fry both sides till cooked through. About 5-6 minutes each side. I like to cut one open to make sure it’s cooked. (No pink) *You can also make ground sausage and skip the whole making sausage rounds step. 


If you’re not using all the mixture at once, you can freeze it in a freezer bag up to 2 months. 

Enjoy!!

Spring Roll Stir-fry Bowl! 

I always seem to have left over meat that I need to get eaten! Whether it is chicken, a roast beef pork chop or eggs.  It can be tossed in with this vegetable combo and be very satisfying and healthy! 

What you need – 

1 cup of shredded cabbage 

1/4 cup shredded carrot

1-2 cups baby spinach 

(1-2 cups of Bok choy would be fabulous too) 

1 cup steamed broccoli cut into bite sizes

2 tbs of fresh cilantro cilantro

1 tbs olive oil 

1/4 cup cashews 

Salt and pepper 

Add 3oz protein, I use whatever left overs I have, chicken diced up or use pork, steak or bacon!

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add all the ingredients, stirring frequently. It doesn’t take long, maybe 3 -5 minutes till everything is heated through. 

Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper or your favourite seasoning and voila! 

Serves 2 or one of me 😉

Enjoy. 

▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️

I found this Asian inspired salad kit at Costco that consists of cabbage, carrot and cilantro if you are feeling a tad lazy like me. (I just didn’t use the dressing kit for this meal)

Thinking about doing a Whole30? …here is my take on it. 

Before I did my first Whole30, I was terrified! All the stories I had read online and with friends made me question if it was all worth it. The list of detox symptoms and crazy feelings didn’t leave me excited and jumping for joy to start. But I knew I needed to jump in with both feet, because I needed to get a grip on my health, needed a better understanding of food and what food was doing to me, and to discover how it was making me feel. Of course I wanted to lose some weight and to figure out a healthy food balance, too.

I knew there was something in my diet that was giving me bloat, mood swings and weight gain. Obviously the candy and chips was a big part of it, but I needed to learn what MY body wanted and what would make it run better. I figured, it’s only 30 days, I can do ANYTHING for 30 days.

I Instagrammed the shit out of the subject and joined a Facebook Whole30 group. I learned the hard way that there are some tough Whole30 divas that don’t want to hear about your banana and egg concoction because it breaks the rules. BEWARE: not everyone is on the same journey. I don’t follow all the rules of life so why would I doing this! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Everything was compliant in my books, and I left that group soon after to join another W30 Facebook group that had kind gentle souls who didn’t pass judgment. 

The weekend before my Monday Whole30 Day 1, I prepped and cleaned and prepped and cleaned, I listed and made a menu. Got my hubby in on it too! Gahhh, it’s a lot of work, but being prepared brings you peace when that sugar dragon appears. 


Day 1, 2, 3 and 4 were surprisingly easy and exciting. I felt in control and had all my meals ready; I had the plan! Well, Day 5 rolled around, and look the fook out! I woke up with a raging headache and attitude! I would have eaten anything sugary to make my dragon go back to sleep. Sugar is a crazy drug and I definitely felt the urge of it, so scary! 


I had a few days of fighting the demands. I had a lot of alone time, walks, hot baths. I went to bed super early every night. By day 15 I was on track, super bored of food and wanted my life back. I made no plans with friends, I didn’t want to be put in any situation that would lead me to “failing”. 

When I reached Day 30, I felt pretty bad ass. I felt so good and people noticed the difference. My skin felt better, I slept better, my insides functioned better, I was nice to my kids! I told EVERYBODY that would listen to read Whole30 and to give it a try. I just felt amazing. 

Whole30 is not a forever thing and I don’t recommend you do many full rounds but a 5-10 day reset every couple months is very helpful to clean it up if you’ve fallen. It always reminds me how great I feel when my body has the right ingredients to work. 

Whole30 was a life changer and I will forever cook this way and lean towards the foods my body craves. 

So, if you are planning your first Whole30, keep it simple!, plan to be bored and miserable for many days of it but keep in mind that it is ONLY 30 days and it’s only food. 

My simple menu consisted mostly of the below. I would stir fry it or make it into a salads. I would purchase fresh herbs to make it flavourful. 

▪️coconut milk and cream (in my tea, coffee, curry, soups)

▪️shredded chicken 

▪️flank steaks 

▪️cut up raw veggies, steamed and or roasted veggies

▪️ sweet potato hash or just noodles sweet potato 

▪️avocado/guacamole 

▪️ Nuts. Lots of nuts!! 

▪️hard boiled eggs (so many eggs in all forms)

▪️baby spinach was added to EVERYTHING

▪️chunky tuna salad with all the veggies was a winner at least 3x a week.

▪️pickles!!! 


I had the Whole30 shopping list on my refrigerator to remind myself what I could have.  I felt like if I just ate whole foods, I was safe with no added crappy ingredients, but I always read the labels of canned or boxed items. Also, when it came to meats, even though I couldn’t afford to buy all organic and free-range this and that, I bought the best that I could afford. 

Don’t overthink it, keep it simple, and remember to be kind. 🤗😂

Good luck 😉 

Running Tips – getting started. 


If you are gearing up for your first 5k or half marathon there are a few  things that I need to share with you. If I knew these things before I started running it would of made my journey a whole lot easier. 

First, let’s talk shoes! 


Please please pleeeease get fitted for a proper pair of running shoes, non of these Walmart trainers. Go to a running store and they’ll narrow it down to the right shoe that’s best for you. They’ll analyze your running style and foot strike.  To be honest, it is trial and error to find the perfect shoe and that will happen over time but start with a recommendation from a pro. All shoes will feel amazing in the store but the true test is after you’ve run a few miles in them.  Use a treadmill, so if the shoes don’t cut it, you can rerun them. Most stores will not return them if worn outdoors. After a few years I’ve figured out that I’m a Saucony girl all the way. 

Training schedule 

Find a training schedule or join a clinic that fits with your needs and goals. If you’re not new at this running thing but want to train for a race, you can get print one off from google! Most training programs for any distance are 12 weeks long. Read the entire schedule and look at your life and see how this fits in. Plan it, schedule it and get pumped to start. Realistically there WILL be interruptions during this 12 week period. People get sick, other obligations need to fit in too. Life happens! Also, don’t over do it. The training schedule is designed to build your strength and endurance. Trust the training and don’t do more then it suggests or your setting yourself up for injury.

Find a buddy system

These buddies will be your lifeline. They’ll push you and encourage you, they’ll set their alarms and meet you on those cold early mornings, they’ll hold your water belt when you need to pee.  If people are depending on you, you won’t let them down and vise versa. The buddy system saved me during our cold winter training mornings. Accountability is a must! 


Let’s talk about chafing, shall we!!!!


Chaffing is a serious pain in the ass…. literally. There is nothing worse then coming home from a run, peeling off your schweddy clothes and stepping into a warm shower and get hit with that sting, it’s like a jelly fish wrapped itself around you and stung you in all the privates. I learned quickly that Vaseline was my best friend. I put that jelly on all my lady bits. I’ve narrowed it down, for me anything over 12k requires Vaseline. The chafe heals quickly but if you keep chafing in the same spot, over time you’ll have a nice red scar. So, Glide or good old fashion Vaseline in all those tender areas. You’ll figure it out 😉 

Spend your money on good quality gear. If you buy good quality it will last and you won’t need to replace it for along time Every year I invest in one good peice, I now own a good pair of winter weight leggings, lighter spring fall leggings, one good pair of capris and shorts. I can’t stand clothing that bunches(chafing) or always needing pulling up. You want your clothing to work as it should. My once a year big spending goes to LuLu Lemon for all my leggings. My tops are off the sales racks at the running stores, The GapFit or Joe Fresh here in Canada. Always always get it on sale because I find running clothing is very over priced. 
At first you’ll find yourself very tired after your training runs, take a power nap. This tired feeling does go away as your body gets stronger.  Listen to your body and rest after each run and be sure to fuel your body with what it needs. I like a nice carb and high protein meal after each run. I’m also 42 years young so naps are a daily business around here. 

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Running is supposed to be joyful, it’s active meditation, therapy and an amazing calorie burner. It’s not easy out there but once you find your rhythm you’ll feel so good. Just don’t give up, trust your training. You’ll get stronger and most runs will feel amazing. I say that because some really suck but the hard runs are what gets you stronger physically and mostly mentally. You are training your body but always training your mind to tolerate the “pain”. 

Your body is capable of amazing things and you are stronger then you think. Your mind will try talk you down and tell you to stop, but just keep going, if only for one more minute. Mind over matter sista. 


Let’s go!! 

Cilantro Lime Chicken 

My friend gave me this recipe and I was a little skeptical because I’ve never marinated chicken in lime juice before, but I I iowas blown away by all the faioolivours in this dish! New family fav!

What you’ll need:

Boneless/ skinless chicken thighs-10 small or 6 large. (I used 10 small)

Juice of two limes

1/2 cup olive oil 

4 cloves of garlic, minces

1 tbs cumin

1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves/no stems 

Dash of red pepper flakes (I used about 1 tsp, add more if you want more heat)

Sprinkle of salt (approximately 1 tsp)


⚪️ Combine all the ingredients in a shallow casserole dish and mix well, add the chicken thighs and stir so they are all coated in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and leave refrigerated for a min of 30 min, max 3 hours. You may add more olive oil if you need to beef up the marinade so all the chicken is good and coated. 


⚪️⚪️ Heat a large frying pan with olive oil, approximately 2 tbs of olive oil. Once the pan is nice and hot, place the chicken one by one into the pan, don’t overcrowd. Cook for approximately 5-10 minutes, then flip. 


Timing depends on the thickness of your thighs. Once both sides are golden brown, cut a thick part of a thigh to see if it’s cooked through. 

Once cooked, serve with your favourite rice and grilled veggies. I drizzle the drippings from the pan onto the rice before serving. 

Also amazing served on your favourite salad or wrap sandwich. 

Enjoy! 

Simple Tomato Sauce

This recipe is our family go to. Clean ingredients and can be served as is or with ground beef or meatballs.


Simple and clean ingredients


What you will need-

Blender, food processor or a hand held blender can work too

2 cans of whole tomato(796 ml or 28 oz)

3 cups of fresh baby spinach, chopped small

2 small onions diced

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

2 tbs dry basil

1 tbs dry parsley

3 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper for taste (about 2 tsp each)
Add olive oil to a deep pot and heat. Add onion and garlic and cook till softened, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the spinach and simmer on low to medium heat for 30+ minutes.


If I’m home all day, I’ll get this going early and let simmer for a couple hours stirring every 15 minutes with a little added water. If I’m short on time, I’ll simmer for 30 then process in my blender.

Before I add the sauce to my blender, I measure out 1-2 cups of the chunky sauce and set it aside to add back in later (I do this to add some extra texture to the blended sauce)  Blend the sauce till smooth or less chunky.


Once blended, put back in the deep pot with that chuncky sauce that you had put aside.

Add baby spinach and simmer till the spinach is soft and a little “lost” in the sauce.

If your kids don’t like the sight of green stuff, you can add the spinach in the beginning and process in the blender with the sauce so it appears to not even be there !

Enjoy!

Lara Bar Energy Balls

I found this recipe during my first Whole30 and was amazed how easy it was. I would snack on one or two after a run or workout. These are so easy and cheap to make,  I have not bought any Lara bars since! 


This recipe is the easiest and such a healthy treat for the family. My kids love them and think they taste like caramel. I always triple the recipe!!

Prep time – 15 minutes

Serving – 15 balls (when I triple the recipe)

What you will need:

Food processor or heavy duty blender

30 grams cashews

80 grams of pitted dates

Pinch of salt 

Only 3 ingredients!
⚪️ Measure and combine all the ingredients in the food processor, pulse/blend till you reach a good crumble. If your dates are on the dry side, add a teaspoon or two of warm water and pulse a few times to make the mixture sticky. 

⚪️⚪️ Roll into bite sized balls 

I prefer to store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I enjoy them more when serves cold. 
Enjoy! 

Loaded Sweet Potato


This dish was created using an Oh She Glows recipe. 

This is the best meal that I have made in a very very long time. The layers of flavours are simply perfection. What a satisfying dish!

Serves 2

Preparation – 70-90 minutes

What you’ll need:

2 medium sweet potatos

⚪️ Preheat oven to 350.  Poke holes all around the potato, bake on a roasting pan for about 40-60 minutes. It may take longer depending on your oven. Bake till soft, knife slides right through.

For the Avocado Cilantro Crema layer–  (I doubled this part)

1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, large stems removed

1 small clove of garlic

1 medium avocado

4 tsp fresh lime juice

1 tbs water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

⚪️ Add garlic and cilantro to food processor and process till minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth. I like small bits of cilantro still showing.

For the Chili Beans layer

1 tbs olive oil

1 cup diced sweet onion

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 (14-ounce/398 ml) can of black beans, drained and rinsed.

Salt and pepper for taste

2 green onion, thinly sliced

⚪️ Using a medium skillet, heat the oil, add onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, until soft. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and black beans and cook for another minute or two. Add salt and pepper at the end and stir to combine.


The assembly: 

Slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise. Using a fork, gently mash the flesh to loosen and fluff. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper.

Layer with the avocado crema and black beans by the spoonful. Garnish with green onion,  pinch of chili powder and cumin and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I added a little Greek yogurt to the top of mine.
Enjoy!

Basil and Spinach Pesto 

During my Whole30,  I really needed flavour for my meals and this basil recipe was it! Such a perfect match to all my dishes,  gives them a pop of flavour. This Pesto is amazing on roasted potatoes, roasted veggies, chicken, steak, salads, fish, rice, pasta.. You can add it to everything! 

Pesto Chicken Sandwich

What you’ll need: 


1/2 cup walnuts (sometimes I use cashews)

3 cloves of garlic 

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1 cup spinach leaves 

Juice of 1/2 lemon 

1 1/2 cups of extra/virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

⚪️ heat pan, when a its good and hot place the nuts on the pan and toss around till lightly brown. About 2 minutes 

⚪️⚪️Combine the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil and spinach and pulse until chopped. Add the lemon juice. While mixing on low speed, add the olive oil in a slow stream until all the ingredients are fully blended. Add the salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to combine.


This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze in serving sizes inside cube tray. 

Enjoy!

Recipe http://whole30.com/2015/04/pesto/