farmer's market inspired {beets + oranges + avocado salad}

If you ask me, weekends are for relaxing (most of the time) so my idea of cooking is mostly salads.  As you can tell from previous posts, I am already yearning for the spring and summer seasons, and this salad evokes that "farmer's market" feeling.  Here I use a few of my favorite ingredients.  

First let's talk beets.  There is something I love about root veggies, especially beets.  It is a very humble root that packs a punch in the flavor department when cooked properly.  Here I have used it as the main ingredient for super simple salad that has a lot of flavors into one plate.  Add some avocados, tangerines, and basil drizzled with a quick and easy champagne vinaigrette and you have all the components of a superb salad. 

But not only does it taste good; it is good for you.  Beets, the main ingredient, is high in fiber and a natural cleanser.  It contains many vitamins and minerals to include potassium, magnesium, iron, beta carotene, folic acid and vitamins A, B, C.  These are all important building blocks for a runner's nutrition, right?  Well here is one more.  They are a high source of energy because they are high in sugars, yet they have a low glycemic index, which means it releases slowly into the system.  

Avocados are high caloric yet they are considered a good fat (that doesn't mean you can eat it every day).  And I read this online but did you know that by consuming avocados with other fat burning foods you can improve you body's nutrient absorption by up to 400%?  Hello, sign me up for that!  Like beets, avocados contain a lot of nutrients that are essential to body's performance but in addition, they contain 18 amino acids which the body can form into a protein, which makes this veggie/fruit a go-to for vegetarians and vegans.  

And finally, mandarins: my favorite citrus.  I can eat a whole case if I don't watch it!  These delicious oranges are super charged with vitamin C but also with other phytochemicals that have been shown to help prevent cancer.  That is really good news, and yet another reason for me to eat them!  And when combined with the other two ingredients you have plant-based power in a fork!  Here is the recipe:

Winter Farmer's Market Salad
2 roasted beets cut into bite sizes
1-2 mandarins separated into segments
1 avocado, diced
1-3 tbsp basil
1/3 cup Champagne vinegar
1 tsp watercress mustard
1/3 cup of olive oil

In a bowl whisk the raspberry vinegar, the mustard and oil.  Add the beets and toss until they are coated.  Add salt & pepper as needed.  Then gently fold in the avocado, mandarins and basil.  Serve and enjoy!  

This salad will be one of the many meals I will be having this week, as I "reset" my nutrition clock.  The following meals will be making up the bulk of what I eat this week:

Almond "yogurt" with blackberries
Overnight Oats with Cinnamon Whipped Honey
Green Goddess Protein Smoothie

Black Bean Quinoa Patties
Black Bean Burritos (see a black beans trend?)
Avocado, Tomatoes and Cod Salad

Baby Greens Salad with Grilled Salmon
Vegetarian Chili
Leftover Black Beans Burrito
Beets, Avocado, Mandarins Salad

Banana w/ Peanut Butter
Protein Shake
Rice Chips with Hummus

Alright everyone!  I hope you enjoy your weekend!  
Happy eating and happy running!

fitness friday: running twin cities, food & a health scare

Hello everyone!  Today I am linking with Jill Conyers for Fitness Friday, and have a few things to share.  First...the marathon.  That elusive long distance that has eluded me for such a long time...

Hold on, I'm going to stop trying to be all politically correct here for a second because the marathon just annoys me.  This is the one distance that pisses the heck out of me.  Why?  Because since two freaking thousand ten I have been tying to run it and midway through my training I get some type of injury that keeps me from finishing.  Stupid injuries!  I hate them! Ugh... ok, I'm back. 

So I was saying the marathon, or as the cool runners refer to "the 26.2" (as if abbreviating makes it sound like a cake walk), is the one distance that I want to do so desperately.  Am I'm going to.  Oh, it's on.  And this year to help me, I am recruiting a coach in hopes I can make it to the finish line.  In deciding which marathon to race, I looked at a variety of criteria and checked constraints and limitations (can you tell I'm  military planner at heart?).  There were many options but in the end I decided on the Twin Cities Marathon to take place on October 6, 2013.  I have to admit (and I know this will sound weird to some) that I am running this particular marathon because I have come to really like the state of Minnesota.  Yeah, let me say his again: Me, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico-- and now lives in North Carolina, loves Minnesota which is like the freezer of the U.S.  But I do!  People are so friendly there and it is a beautiful state.  Ok, the fact that my very handsome boyfriend and his family live there may have something to do with my liking of the state.  :0) 

One of the aspects I am still trying to decide is if  I want to run for a charity, but that is still debatable.  There are a few that really picked my curiosity but I'm not sure I want to add the stress of fundraising to my marathon training. All I know right now is that I am thrilled to have a goal to train for again.  Let the training begin!

Now on to food because it is my second favorite thing.  This week I have focused in getting a blank start to my nutrition.  It has been crazy the past few months and after Christmas, I I've had a really hard time getting my nutrition back in check.  But I consider the past few days a success, focusing more on clean veggies, juicing and other clean eats. 

And this is a trend I will continue because on Wednesday I got my cholesterol checked and to my horror, my bad cholesterol is 299!  I freaked out big time when the doctor told me this because the optimal number is 200.  So instead of putting me on meds right away, he wants me to go on a mostly vegetarian diet.  His words were "Nothing with a face or a mother".  I feel bad because a day before I had the yummy venison sausage sandwich above...because it is so good! My other eat this week which I loved was polenta cakes with garlicky mushrooms.  So good! I don't know about you but I cannot wait for Spring and Summer, and the myriad of seasonal produce that follows, so I can get creative in the kitchen.  Always something to look forward to. 

Tell me, what delicious foods have you had?
What are your race plans for 2013?
Ever had any cholesterol issues?

{shoe review} asics gel-noosa tri 8

Last year, the husband of my friend Amy was getting ready to run the Disney Marathon and he bought these crazily flashy running shoes.  I was instantly in love!  They were bold, colorful and looked like fun. I knew I had to get a pair.  Never mind that I did not know if they were the right running shoe for me.  They were the Asics Gel- Noosa Tri 6.

Asics Gel Noosa Tri-6

Luckily for me, they fit awesomely and are my favorite shoe to run, especially here in the South where it is so bloody hot!  As you can tell, these are no longer wearable and the sole is plain flat.  Nothing left.  That's how you know you love a shoe!   After the last few runs I knew I needed new shoes and wanted to stay with this model.  

I was actually surprised to see that since I bought the Noosa 6, two newer versions (Noosa 7 and 8) have come out.  I chose the Noosa 8 and upon trying it at the store, I knew I had the same comfortable shoe I had before except, this one was not as flashy (which is one of the reasons I loved it in the first place. So sue me, I'm a girl!). 

Asics Gel Noosa Tri-8  (Black/Confetti)

Now, what do I think of the Noosa 8?  It is obvious that many upgrades have been made yet it has maintained the integrity of what made me a Noosa 6 fan.   The shoes was originally designed for triathletes, yet it has found a line of followers because of its lightness, comfortability and stability.  An ounce lighter than previous versions, the Tri 8 has a perforated sockliner and an upper portion made out of open mesh to enhance breathability.  This feature is very important to me because running with socks always causes me to get blisters... no matter what type of sock, and this allows the moisture to be released.  Like previous versions, this shoe comes with your typical laces, in addition to elastic easy-on laces, which is perfect for the triathlete who has to change shoes fast during transitions.  One thing I think improved on this model is the heel and tongue grips which secured the shoe comfortably while allowing me to get in an out of it quickly.  But above all, this shoe provides better support and stability than the Noosa 6.  

I am a 6'1"/ 189 lbs. female (yeah, skinny I'm not) and a heel stricker when I run.  The rubber material of this shoe really absorbs the impact of my heel strike which makes for a softe stride wen I run.  And one last thing: the toe box of this shoe seemed a bit narrower compared to the Noosa Tri 6, and I had to go half a size up.   So keep that in mind when getting sized. 

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

{one foot in front of the other} lemon orzo salad

That is how every journey begins... taking a single step. Whether you choose to take another it is up to you. I once took the steps and then stopped.   Many circumstances influenced this decision but in the end it came down to me.  Years later it was up to me again to take that initial step again.  And I did.

Welcome to Asphalt & Trails!  This is my little corner of the world where I document my love for running and food.  It is said that food is one of the key components of peak performance, and whether you are an elite athlete or not (hello me!), you have to admit it: if we run or exercise, we think about food throughout the day.  Sometimes, obsessively.  What we put in our mouth is as important as the amount of training we subject our bodies too.  To not pay attention to our nutrition is to waste all that training time.  Which is what I found out the hard way.  And so, this past April, I took that proverbial step again and slowly but surely started shedding weight, increasing in strength and improving my performance.  I want to continue this trend and share with you what has worked for me, what did not work and how to make the most of what we eat, to reap the benefits with our performance.

There amount of information on what to eat and what not to eat is overwhelming, and can be very discouraging.  Here is my personal position: 1) everything in moderation, unless you have food allergies and cannot consume certain types of food.  2) eat with the seasons, which is not only good for you and also for your pocket.  But it is just fun!

One of the greatest things about seasons is the anticipation of the next one.  Each brings their own appeal our minds automatically remembers images and memories of the changing seasons. This winter season I am thinking of Summer and the bountiful of produce that come out to greet us from the farmer's market stalls.  For  the past few days I have had images of plump ripe tomatoes, sweet basil and fresh herbs.  And today I am sharing with you the fruition of those thoughts with this lemon orzo salad.  It is bright, fresh and very pretty. Here is the simple recipe, which I cannot claim because it is not mine, but honestly, I forgot where I found it.  May it brings you as much pleasure as it brings me when I eat it.

Keep Running!!!

Fitness Friday