Oh my gosh has it really been four days?!

I apologize profusely for my stint away from the blog. This week included a work trip that became much busier than I ever expected. Here is what you can expect to see tomorrow:
1) An awesome healthier pad thai recipe
2) Capital Grille review
3) Amtrak dining options- WOW!
4) Brooklyn Half Marathon Race Recap- even with THREE bathroom stops (in the woods) and having to wait at two water stations since they were out of water I lowered my time by 2 minutes according to NYRR since the MORE and 4 mins and 20 seconds based on my watch (I stopped it while I was waiting for water at the two stations)!! I still have a long way to go but i’m moving in the right direction!
5) NIKE running top review and running with a hat
See you guys tomorrow! Bo and I are off to our first rooftop party of the season and the weather is gorgeous!
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A Wonderful Memorial Day weekend with great friends, food, and activities!

Sometimes it’s wonderful long weekends like this Memorial Day weekend that truly make you take a step back and appreciate all that you have and how blessed you truly are. Bo and I enjoyed a wonderful, but very stressful long weekend. As usual, we planned way too many things like finishing the apartment, enjoying a fun dinner out, laying out, long run, heading down to Philadelphia for a BBQ with our best friends, and attempting to go through each of our respective “junk piles.” Well, three days later i’m excited to say that we accomplished each task and didn’t kill each other in the process. We even had some fun surprises along the way.
Friday: I had the opportunity to enjoy an amazing raw lunch at Caravan of Dreams with Gena, Gina, and a few other local bloggers. Gina and “the pilot” were in town with their sweet friends for a NYC weekend of the finest fashion. I was so excited to hear they were able to see two of my favorite Broadway shows, Avenue Q and Rent as well as enjoy some wonderful weather. It was such a pleasure to meet them and for the first time, feel like a New York resident as I was able to provide some help during their trip. Luckily Gena and Melissa were also there who are the local experts! Later that night I met Bo at Saks after his haircut and we enjoyed a fun dinner at Tao. Every now and then we crave a trendy night out in a swanky atmosphere. Since we didn’t plan far enough in advance we weren’t able to get reservations. But, Bo had the great idea of going and trying to get a spot in their lounge since we saw on the website that they serve their full menu in the lounge, bar, and restaurant. This was the perfect solution and also allowed us some AMAZING people watching! Since we were done relatively early and couldn’t get in touch with our city friends, we figured this was a great opportunity to explore Long Island City. Bo had heard about Harry’s Water Taxi Beach and convinced me that heading down there to enjoy the evening was a great idea. Boy was he right! Who ever thought I could find great music, sand, and friends at a BEACH on Long Island City. The bar was a perfect end to the evening and we actually ran into Melissa and her friends and had a great time laughing and enjoying a few drinks.

Saturday: We both slept in and enjoyed a recovery day. This included a quick dash into the city to pick up our latest Craigs List find from Chelsea and hit Pottery Barn for some wonderful accesories that i’d been lusting over such as throw pillows, a comfy throw, and Bo’s beloved bathroom accesories. After doing all that we could handle we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon on the rooftop reading and catching a few rays. In true, Bo and Ashley fashion, around 5 we caught our second win and decided it was time to enter our version of hell- Ikea. While I appreciate the fact that some folks love this place and that it does have some wonderful steals, I can’t handle the crowds or slow walkers. But, we were in and out in no time and found a great 6.5 foot white bookshelf which matches our desk perfectly. And yes, in true Ikea value, it was only $59! That night we relaxed, over indulged on our own inside grill party of homemade wings, chicken sausage, and veggies via our new favorite tool, my cast iron grill pan.

Sunday: Sunday isn’t even worth mentioning as we both had to work after sleeping in so I took to the patio and enjoyed some Vitamin D while pounding out the work while Bo trucked it to Midtown for a few hours at the office. We did however enjoy an AMAZING movie that I highly recommend- Frost Nixon. ABSOLUTELY amazing performances by everyone involved!

Monday: Monday was a perfect day. We woke up early for what we hoped would be a 10 mile run even though we returned home 2 hours later feeling defeated after Mapmyrun told us it was only 8.85. But, I conquered my fear of bridges as Bo convinced me to run the TriBoro bridge the Wards Island Park Pedestrian bridge. Our trail started in Long Island City, progressed to Astoria Park along the East River which was surprisingly interesting, over the Triboro Bridge, through the development and crazy consturctions that appears to be NYC’s newest sports field area, over the footbridge to 101st Spanish Harlem (we think?), uptown until we were both famished and thirsty and caught a cab upon reaching 69th street and THINKING we’d covered 10 miles. Regardless it was a great run together in the sunshine and exploring new areas. That afternoon we treked down to Philadelphia for a fabulous Memorial Day/Welcome home party hosted by one of my best friends, Sarah. It was especially great as her boyfriend just returned from deployment in Japan with the US Navy. It was a wonderful afternoon catching up with our closest Philadelphia friends and enjoying great food. Which, brings me to three fabulous recipes. One is courtesy of Kath, my girlfriend Katherine and Real Simple circa 2006, and the other is from Sarah. I hope you all will enjoy these recipes as much as we did!

Sarah’s Simple Tasty Marinade:
1/2 cup or less of Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons of Montreal Steak Seasoning

Sarah says, “I shook the seasoning on, poured in the dressing, just enough to coat, and placed the meat in a plastic container, shook it up, and let it sit overnight-roughly twelve hours. Same thing for the chicken because I only had steak seasoning. I think the dressing really helps.” She created succulent skewers of steak and chicken pieces with this marinade!

Katherine’s version of a Real Simple Classic
Here’s the recipe from Real Simple (circa 2006!) for the salad I brought. I more than doubled it for today, and I think i used less mozzarella than it calls for. Clearly, with something like this, proportions are up to you!

3 ripe peaches (peeled, if desired)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Maldon sea salt)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cut each peach into wedges, then cut each wedge in half or thirds crosswise. In a large bowl, combine the peaches, basil and mozzarella. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. You can cover and refrigerate the salad for several hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. This was definitely one of the favorites and absolutely DIVINE! I enjoyed seconds for sure!
Kath’s Greek Quinoa Salad (our new favorite dish)
60 frozen shrimp, thawed
1 cup dry quinoa, prepared as directed
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 a pint cherry tomatoes
1 zucchini, chopped into 1 in pieces
1 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup chopped mixed olives
2 tbsp capers
1 lemon + its zest
2 tsp olive oil
1 block Fat-Free Presidential Feta Cheese (or your own favorite)
Fresh or dried oregano to taste

Cook shrimp, quinoa, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, zucchini in your method of choice. Toss together with cucumber, olives and capers. Drizzle with lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil dressing.

Makes about 14 cups each of which have 115 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein!

Sorry for the long post but I guess these allergies that i’m suffering, or the Claritin D that i’m on, have me a bit wired and yearning to get out some extra energy! 🙂

Finally a few great giveaways:
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Carb Loading?

I had the wonderful opportunity to do a guest post for the gorgeous Meloncauliflower while she’s away in paradise with her boyfriend! If you have any questions about carb loading feel free to email me or drop a comment! I’ll hopefully have Bo post our favorite pasta recipe later today.
Happy Memorial Day weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend with lots of sunshine, summer excitement, outdoor activity, and oh yes a beer or two! 🙂 If you haven’t been to our blog, A Healthier, Happier Bear, my fiance and I focus on our work towards living a happier, healthier life together in New York City! Since next weekend many of our favorite ladies in the blog world will be running half marathons and marathons, I thought I would do a quick post on the ins and outs of carb loading.
What is Carb Loading? Carb loading can be defined as the act of consuming large amounts of carbohydrates to increase glycogen storage in your body to provide extra energy during a physically demanding exercise, such as a marathon.
When should I start Carb Loading? In the case of a marathon, carb loading is a must during the week of the marathon, particularly in the final three days before race day. Our bodies have the capability of storing large amounts of glycogen which is converted from consumed carbohydrates. By consuming more and exercising less (your taper period), your body is able to store more glycogen. In the case of a half marathon, it is normally recommended that your carb load the day before the marathon.
So I can eat bowls and bowls of pasta right? No, the most beneficial carbohydrate is complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are the most beneficial for your body and include such foods as potatoes, yams, beans, peas, wheat bread, bananas, macaroni, spaghetti, cereal, raisins, apples, bagels, syrup, brown rice, corn, carrots, and root vegetables. Mix a variety of carbs into your diet to create a nice balance. Make sure you don’t experiment with foods during the week before the marathon or half marathon. The last thing you want is stomach problems! For example, during carb loading you may have a more carb laden day by having a bagel and banana for breakfast, apple for snack, homemade brown rice with vegetables and tofu for lunch, and then include starchy vegetables such as corn/peas/yams with your dinner. Be sure that you carb load not FAT LOAD!
Should I avoid protein the day before the race? NO!! Your body needs a great deal of protein on a daily bais and therefore you should eat a samll amount of low-fat protein at each meal. Some great proteins include eggs, yogurt, turkey, beans, and lentils. Once again, ensure that you don’t experiment with your protein choices.
Will carbo-loading make me fat? It is normal to gain 1-3 lbs the week of carb loading for a marathon and .5-1 lbs when carb loading for a half but this is due in part to the taper week. But don’t panic! This weight gain is good; it reflects water weight and indicates you have done a good job of fueling your muscles. For every ounce of carb stored in your body, you store almost three ounces water. Should I eat the most carbs at lunch before the race or dinner? New York City Marathon Queen Grete Waitz once said she never ate a very big meal the night before a marathon, as it usually would give her trouble the next day. Depending on how sensitive your stomach is, this may be a great idea. You can always enjoy a large pasta lunch and this will then give the food plenty of time to move through the system. Bo and I normally have a pasta dinner the night before and having a more carb focused lunch than normal. But, we never deviate from our standard pre-race dinner of fresh pasta, a light homemade tomato sauce, and a protein. We once made the bad decision of trying italian sausage the night before the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Needless to say it made for a difficult race because we were searching for portapotties! Remember that you’re always better off eating a little bit much than too little the day before! Don’t overstuff yourself though! You can also experiment throughout your training by introducing different carb meals in before long runs.
How much water do I need? Be sure to drink more water than normal. You should also abstain from too much wine and alchohol as they will keep you from being at peak performance level. You want to get to the point where you are using the bathroom every 2-4 hours but make sure it doesn’t become clear. You don’t want to overhydrate because your body can only absorb so much fluid.

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