Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sweet & Salty Candy Bar Blondies

Thick, chewy, sweet and salty - I'm not sure there's a better dessert combination.

I found the recipe for Sweet & Salty Candy Bar Blondies at Keep it Sweet Desserts - a website I am obsessed with. Lauren Lilling is the owner and baker behind the business and her Black and White Blondies have been featured on the Today Show AND were voted Best on the East Coast. I consider her a good authority on what makes a delicious blondie :)

Lauren's blog also features recipes for other delicious-looking desserts, salads, sandwiches, etc. I definitely recommend checking it out - although as a warning, you should probably be prepared for the drooling that's bound to happen.  

Bring these to any gathering and they'll be gone before you know it!

Sweet & Salty Candy Bar Blondies
*From Keep it Sweet Desserts

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup M&Ms
1/3 cup Heath Bars (about 8 mini bars), chopped
1/4 cup Reece's Pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. Stir constantly to combine and remove from heat once the butter is melted. In the meantime, combine flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. 

Combine eggs and vanilla, then whisk into the butter and sugar mixture. Then add the flour, salt and baking powder mixture and stir to combine. Finally, mix in the peanuts and candy until well combined. 

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Hint: A pizza cutter is the perfect tool for cutting perfect dessert squares!

My questions for you:
  1. What is your favorite dessert?
  2. Which candies might you add to your own version of candy bar blondies?
I hope you have a delicious Thursday ;)

- ST

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rock n Sole 5k Race Recap

So . . . Saturday's race - the short story is the Hoan Bridge won again. 

Rock n Sole was my first half marathon - I participated in the inaugural event - yes, the one with all the heat and water issues. At the time, I thought I was so well-trained for the race, but in reality, I was just a clueless newbie runner! I was fortunate enough to not run into any hydration issues but the heat and humidity that day made for a miserable first half marathon experience. I remember feeling completely dazed at the end of the race and could barely gather myself enough to go find my mom who was spectating. 

The bridge definitely beat me that first race. But going into this year's event, I figured I'm a lot more experienced and also the weather was decent so it could add up to a nice race!

I lined up pretty close to the front because I wasn't in the mood to weave around slower runners throughout the first mile. Turns out it was a smart move - I took off as soon as the race started along the flat bit of course that led into the dreaded Hoan Bridge. 

The Bridge actually wasn't that bad and I even managed to pass several runners. During tough stretches like these, I like to focus on runners in front of me and see how many I can pass. It turns it into a game of sorts and makes the race effort seem a little less painful - or at least painful for a reason! Going into the hairpin turnaround, I counted 2-3 female runners in front of me.

Airborne near the turnaround

Running down the Hoan Bridge seemed like a piece of cake in comparison to the uphill. One woman passed me but I felt pretty confident I could catch her later on in the race. Until . . . it felt like someone stuck a knife in my calf. What started as a dull ache quickly progressed to all-out pain. I knew instantly it was a strain. I was forced to stop for a bit at the bottom of the bridge because the pain became too much. I tried massaging the area but it didn't help. I decided to try running again and hoped the pain would subside. 

Unfortunately, it did not go away and I had to stop again soon after the first break. At that point I wondered if I needed to pull out of the race. A bunch of runners passed me while I was standing at the side of the road and that motivated me to get going again - but I had to stop soon after and start walking. It was so frustrating because I knew I still had plenty left in the tank. 

It was only because more people were passing me that I forced myself to start running again. On a pain scale of 1-10, I was at about a 7-8 - not good, but there was no way I was going to walk the rest of the race. I grit my teeth and somehow managed to pass several of the people who had passed me before crossing the finish line. 

Flying toward the finish line

So ready to cross the finish line

Here are my results:

Time: 22:21
Pace: 7:13
Gender Place: 9th (tie)
Overall Place: 53/1,645

Looking back, it wasn't the smartest decision to keep racing as I could barely walk for the remainder of the weekend. My calf is still healing, so I'm taking another rest day today and will hopefully be able to run easy by Tuesday. 

The Bridge is now 2/2. I'm definitely doing this race again next year to try and even the score a bit!

Here are my questions for you:

  1. Did you race Rock n Sole this weekend? If so, how did you do and what did you think of the course?
  2. During a race, do you stay focused on your own pace or do you make it a point to try and pass other runners?
  3. Any tips for healing a calf strain faster?

Hope you all had a great weekend!

- ST

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Training Well Means Eating Well

Hey Everyone! I'm going to start this post off by naming a new winner for my PRO Compression sock giveaway. Since the original winner did not claim her prize, the new winner is Kate Krise! Please send me an email ( with your mailing address within the next 48 hours to claim your prize. 

Note: Actual prize not pictured

And with that, it's back to the regular scheduled programming! Last week was the start of marathon training and I'm happy to note that it was a success. I finished the week with 52 miles and plenty of upper and lower body strength training and core work. 

This week, things are on the light side again - mileage in the mid-30s - because I'm doing the Rock n Sole 5k race this weekend. I've learned that I can't do higher volume training during a race week - for me, it's a recipe for injury!

So, lately I've been doing some thinking about how training well is more than just racking up miles. Over the winter and spring, I was pretty lax about my diet. Since I wasn't training for any major distance races, I could afford to slack a bit without it taking a toll on my running.

But now that I'm starting another cycle of marathon training, I'm focusing a lot more on eating right to fuel my training. This means eating foods like organic chicken, salmon, sweet potatoes, spinach, blueberries, bananas, nuts, kefir, plain Greek yogurt and whole-wheat breads. It means cutting out foods like deli meat, refined grain products, soda and pre-made or packaged foods with ingredients I don't recognize. 

Here's a typical day from this week's diet:

Breakfast: 1/2 whole grain blueberry bagel (Natural Ovens) + 1 serving plain kefir
Lunch: Whole wheat tortilla w/shredded organic chicken and avocado + 1 serving organic roasted tomato and red pepper soup + 1 banana
Dinner: Salmon + 1 mashed sweet potato + steamed spinach
Dessert: Blueberries with a dallop of plain Greek yogurt
Snacks: Pistachios, raw vegetables, Larabar

As for treats - only on a limited basis. I recently read that professional runner Meb Keflezighi treats himself to one mini Snickers bar after a long run. That definitely made me re-think how I reward myself after a tough workout or long run. If Meb only gets one mini Snickers bar, there's no reason I should be gobbling up cookies and Frappuccinos. One mini treat is the limit. 

One square of chocolate is an appropriate post-run treat

Which brings me to eating out and alcohol. Ugh, these really are tough ones. I love going out to eat but it tends to bring out my inner chubby girl. I usually cave and order things like mac & cheese with a side of fries. So until Lakefront Marathon, I'm capping my eating out at two meals per week. That can be a lunch and dinner or two lunches. As for alcohol - the limit is one drink per week.

I think it's a very doable plan and mostly a matter of being aware of what I'm eating and drinking and carefully reading labels (did you know most tortillas are filled with preservatives??). I'm excited to see how this all pans out come October!

My questions for you:
  1. What do you eat during a typical day?
  2. Does your diet change when you are training for a big race?
  3. What do you eliminate when trying to clean up your diet?
I'm looking forward to hearing your answers!

- ST

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Try It: Zola Coconut Water and Acai Juice

Before getting into the main topic of today's post, I want to take a moment to announce the winner of my PRO Compression socks giveaway. The winner is . . . Kate from Hear Me Out!

Congrats! Please send me an email ( to claim your prize. If not claimed within 48 hours, I will select a new winner. 

So . . . In the past, I've tried coconut water without much luck. I understand the health benefits, but the taste has always been so-so at best. Still, I was excited to have the opportunity to review Zola Fruits of the World coconut water and acai juice - I figured this brand might be the one to change my mind about the beverage!

Zola sent me three beverages to try: 

Coconut water - Still not my favorite thing to drink in the world, but the Zola brand tastes a lot better than other coconut water I've tried in the past! One thing I really liked about Zola was the packaging - the large cans were unlike other brands I've tried in the past.

Coconut water with pulp - This was completely new to me. At first, I wasn't sure I liked it - I'm not used to solid pieces floating in a beverage. I eventually decided I do like it although it took some getting used to.

Acai juice - Another new thing for me! For some reason, I was expecting the juice to be tart. Instead, it was sweet and really delicious. This is something I would most definitely drink again!

After trying the three flavors, I started thinking that it would be fun to mix the coconut water with the acai juice. A few coworkers decided to get in on the experiment and we agreed that this combo is a winner - the perfect "mocktail" :)

A perfect afternoon pairing!

Thanks Zola for the review opportunity and also many thanks for the awesome sunglasses - a perfect addition to my collection!

Here are my questions for you:
  1. Have you tried coconut water? If so, what do you think of the product?
  2. Have you ever replaced traditional sports drinks with coconut water? How did it work out for you?
  3. Have you tried any new products lately? If so, I want to know all about it!

I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

- ST

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A New Training Cycle + Weekend Bits and Pieces

Good morning! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was exactly what I needed - a few days off to relax and enjoy feeling fully rested before starting a new marathon training cycle. 

That's right - the new cycle starts this week! I finished writing my training plan over the weekend -  realizing, of course, that small adjustments will likely need to be made throughout the next few months.

Here's the plan for week 1:

Monday: 6 miles @easy pace (AM); 4 miles @easy pace + strength training (PM)
Tuesday: 6 mile workout (3 miles @half marathon pace); core work
Wednesday: 6 miles @easy pace (AM); 4 miles @easy pace + strength training (PM)
Thursday: 8 miles @easy pace (including 4-6 hill repeats)
Friday: 4 miles @easy pace
Saturday: 16 mile long run
Sunday: Rest Day

Training aside, here are a few other bits and pieces:

My new Oiselle Lesko Shimmel tank arrived in the mail late last week. It's the perfect fit and the color just screams summer. I highly recommend checking it out even if you're not a runner - it's the perfect top for any type of fitness activity. 

Also comes in grey and navy!

I finally made Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. I ended up making a vanilla buttercream frosting and topping with organic turbinado sugar and cinnamon. All I can say is yum - these cupcakes are divine :)


I got together with my friends Laura and Sheila on Saturday to get dinner at Cafe Manna and then spectate a race. I've been to Cafe Manna a few times and every time the food is great. This time I had the vegetable torte and it didn't disappoint! 

Cafe Manna's menu is vegetarian and vegan and 100% delicious!

As for the race, this one was a trail event with distances of 100 miles, 100km or a 38 mile "fun run". Crazy, right? We got to the race in time to see the 100 mile winner cross the finish line at about 17:54 - as in 17 hours, 54 minutes. I'm in complete awe of everyone who participated in the race and can't even begin to imagine the type of physical and mental endurance needed to finish this type of event. I have no excuse to ever again complain about a 6 mile training run :)

That's about it for me and my weekend. Now it's your turn to tell me:

  • Have you ever done or would you ever consider doing an ultra trail event, like a 100km or a 100 mile race? 
  • What upcoming races are you training for and what training plan(s) are you using?
  • What are your current favorite pieces of workout clothing?

Don't forget that Wednesday is National Running Day - it's a great excuse to get a few extra miles in ;) Also, remember to enter my PRO Compression sock giveaway - I'm picking a winner on Wednesday!

- ST